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The New Zealand Epic – 24 Day Tour

It may not look so big on the map, but New Zealand is a big country full of epic destinations. This comprehensive New Zealand tour departing from Auckland delivers the most immersive NZ experience possible.  

You’ll get up closer and personal with New Zealand in your small group by exploring the beaches of Coromandel, the glaciers of the rugged West Coast, the snow-capped Alps of the South Island and the adventure capital of the world in Queenstown.

The tour includes accommodation, transportation and a local Kiwi guide. Starting and ending in New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland, the tour travels down the middle of the North Island. In Wellington we catch the ferry across the Cook Strait to the epic South Island, and we tour the Island in a clockwise direction before returning to the North.

24 days? You’ll wish it was longer. 

Highlights

  • Visit Kaikoura and learn about its marine life 
  • Check out the famous pancake rocks at Punakaiki
  • Dig your own spa at Hot Water Beach
  • Learn to surf in the cozy little surf town of Raglan
  • Experience the Adventure Capital of the World – Queenstown

What's Included

  • Transport, Breakfast and Accommodation (max 6 share, upgrades available)
  • Passionate kiwi guide
  • Maori Cultural experience in the Coromandel and Rotorua
  • Traditional Maori ‘Hangi’ (food cooked using heated rocks and buried in an underground oven)
  • Explore an extraordinary geyserland, with candy coloured water at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
  • Sail between the North and South islands across the iconic Cook Strait
  • Stay for two nights deep in the rain forest on the South Island's west coast
  • Learn to carve your own ‘Tiki’ pendant from bone
  • Gondola ride in Queenstown to see panoramic views of the "Adventure Capital of the World"
  • Spend time in the stunning Abel Tasman National Park, with one night on an overnight boat trip (summer only)
  • Small Groups - Max 16
  • Guided tour of every location. We show you places you would miss when travelling on a bus pass
  • Plus many surprise stops on the way

Important Notes

  • Departure Time / Location: 8.30am at Haka Lodge Auckland

Book Now

PRICE: $4,399 NZD

Number of Days 24

Starts: Auckland Finishes: Auckland

Tour Type: Small Group Tour

DEPARTURES

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Tour Itinerary EXPAND ALL

Today we start your adventure by heading north to the Bay of Islands, exploring Northland and Paihia. This is both the most tropical part and hottest part of New Zealand, and is home to some of the North Island’s best beaches and scenery. Kick back and relax and leave the planning and surprises to our guides. Your New Zealand tour has begun!

ACCOMODATION

Haka Lodge Paihia

Today is yours to explore Paihia. You can swim with dolphins, skydive or go sailing, go on a day tour to Cape Reinga or just chill out with new friends and take it all in. The choice is yours.

ACCOMODATION

Haka Lodge Paihia

SIGHTS

Optional Paid: Sydiving, swimming with dolphins, Hole in Rock Cruise, Cape Reinga Day Tour

On the way back to Auckland today, we'll visit the mighty Tane Mahuta, “the Lord of the Forest” in the Waipoua Forest.

This is largest known kauri tree standing today, and estimates put his age at between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. We’ve got a few more secret spots to visit during the day, before heading back to Auckland to spend the evening in New Zealand’s biggest city.

ACCOMODATION

YHA Auckland

SIGHTS

Included: Tane Mahuta

On our first day, our meeting time is at 8am where we will have prepared a continental breakfast at the reception of YHA International. Today you'll meet your guide and the rest of your group, and we'll highlight everything you need to know during your trip.

Our tour begins in the country's largest city - Auckland. You'll learn a bit more about the city as your tour guide takes you on an orientation tour depending on the season and weather of that day. After this, we are headed off to Coromandel - one of New Zealand's favorite getaways. It's home to spectacular remote beaches, deep forests and clear blue waters. Today you'll also have the opportunity to carve a kiwi pendant from a bone.

A great way to end our first day is to visit the world-famous Hot Water beach where you can dig your own jacuzzi as you dig a hole in the sand where natural hot springs bubble up. Perfect!

ACCOMODATION

Turtle Cove Backpackers. 

SIGHTS

Included: Hot Water Beach, carve your own pendant 

Optional Paid: Sea kayaking

Today we will check out the cliffs down by Cathedral Cove, you might recognize them form the Chronicles of Narnia. It's a beautiful place with perfect beaches and massive rock arches, a very famous spot in the Coromandel. After that we will head west through green hills dotted the hundreds of sheep, making our way to Waitomo. 

ACCOMODATION

Waitomo Kiwipaka

SIGHTS

Included: Cathedral Cove

Today we'll check out the world famous glowworm cave in Waitomo! You can either explore the caves through black water rafting or a more leisurely boat ride. 

Inside the cave, you'll see a sky filled with blue stars as you turn you headlamp off. If you have the thirst for adventure, you can choose to abseil down into the caverns, tube, zipline and climb waterfalls. There are many different ways to explore the caves, one to suit every level of adventure.

We'll head to Rotorua after lunch, this town is best known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. It is dubbed as the "Vegas of New Zealand." Rotorua has exciting and endless activities to offer for everyone. You can also experience the adrenaline rush with Zorb. It's a favourite activity and a kiwi invention that involves rolling down a hill inside a giant air cushioned ball. Tonight, we'll experience the traditional Maori heritage and witness the Maori cultural performance.

ACCOMODATION

YHA Treks

SIGHTS

Included: Maori cultural evening

Optional Paid: Black water rafting, ZORB

Unique natural wonders can be found in Rotorua and it is exceptionally known for its geothermal activity. Enjoy the wonders of nature by witnessing neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore.

We can start our day by choosing white water rafting or sledging on the Kaituna River which includes a 7 metre waterfall. However if you prefer to stay dry, there are many other scenic views to discover around town.

 

Are you a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Now is the chance to visit Matamata and tour the Hobbiton film set! Be a hobbit for a day! Have fun reenacting scenes from the movies with group or just enjoy sipping the pub's famous ginger beer. You can also get a glimpse of our national icon the Kiwi bird in the Otorohonga Kiwi House.

After having unch in town, we may take a trip up to Rotorua gondola using a cable car to witness breath-taking panoramic view of Rotorua and the chance to ride down on the luge (like go-karts with no engine).

Extraordinary geyserland and thermal parks can be appreciated when we stop at Orakei Korako or Waiotapu while heading to Taupo. Walk around and check out all the unique geothermal activity in the area.

ACCOMODATION

Blackcurrant

SIGHTS

Included: Wai-o-Tapu

Optional Paid: White water rafting, Hobbiton tour

On this day, we leave early as this is the longest journey of our tour. Take pictures of the magnificent Mt Ruapehu, Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe (known as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings). We then join the Desert Road where you can see a mountain range on the right and Kaimanawas on the left. If you are lucky enough, you can catch a glimpse of wild horses in the Kaimanawas.

Upon request, our next stop is at Mokai Gravity Canyon where you can experience extreme adventure. Feel the rush as you try New Zealand's second largest bungy, flying fox or canyon swing.

As we go along the journey we pass through the towns of Bulls and Levin. Nothing is more fun than having a BBQ along the Kapiti Coast. We then reach Wellington by early evening. You have freedom either to dine in the Courtney District or cook together as a group in our accommodation.

ACCOMODATION

YHA Wellington City

SIGHTS

Optional Paid Activities: Gravity Canyon

Today is yours to explore New Zealand's coolest capital city. You can visit Weta Studios (where Lord of the Rings were produced), the National Museum Te Papa, the Botanic Gardens or just walk around the waterfront. 

ACCOMODATION

YHA Wellington City

Today begins with the sailing across the Cook Strait. This is no ordinary ferry crossing, and will likely be a highlight of your time in New Zealand!

After taking in a vineyard or two soon the green mountains around the Marlborough Sounds rise up welcoming us to the South Island. We then head along the coastline to Kaikorua, passing seal colonies along the way. 

ACCOMODATION

Dusky Lodge

SIGHTS

Included: Cook Strait Crossing

The day begins with your choice of activities, most likely one that will take in the abundant marine life found offshore. We suggest either swimming with dolphins, or alternatively going on a whale watching tour. You can choose to just relax and have coffee in one of the town's cafes, if you prefer!

In the afternoon, we'll head down the stunning coast and onto Christchurch, where we spend the evening. 

ACCOMODATION

Haka Lodge

SIGHTS

Optional Paid Activities: Whale Watching, swimming with dolphins

Your day begins with an orientation tour of Christchurch’s surrounding area. Sadly the earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 have damaged many buildings, including the iconic cathedral – but the city is in the re-build stage and things look optimistic for its future.

After lunch we leave the South Island’s ‘Garden City’ and head south to the jewel of the Mackenzie Country, Lake Tekapo – an alpine village in the heart of the South Island high country. It sits at the edge of its stunningly beautiful glacial lake, completely surrounded by the impressive Southern Alps. 

ACCOMODATION

Hostel accommodation

SIGHTS

Optional Paid Activities: Hot Air Ballooning, Learn to Surf at Sumner

This morning if you’re feeling energetic, hike up to the summit of Mt John. With awesome views of the Southern Alps, you’ll feel on top of the world. Speaking of views, today’s scenic drive to Queenstown is a show-stopper.

From the golden tussocklands of Mackenzie country – where epic battles of Return of the King were filmed – to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, it’s like you’re driving into a postcard.

We’ll pause for lots of photo stops en route to give your camera a workout, including a stop at the spectacular Kawarau Gorge. This also happens to be the World Home of Bungy, give it a go or enjoy watching the jumpers scream their way through the gorge!

Whether you’re an adrenalin junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. With two nights and plenty of daylight hours here, get ready – this town certainly knows how to live life to the max!

ACCOMODATION

Haka Lodge

SIGHTS

Included: Gondola ride to Bob's Peak

Optional Paid: Loads of adventure activities to choose from

You have a whole day to spend in Queenstown and you are spoilt for choice! There are heaps of adventure activities on offer, or you can opt to do a day trip down to Milford Sound.

For a more relaxed day, your guide may take you to Glenorchy (one of the best drives on the South Island) where there are heaps of half and full day walks. 

ACCOMODATION

Haka Lodge

SIGHTS

Optional Paid: Day tour to Milford Sound

After the excitement of Queenstown, today is a chance to chill. Wanaka is Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister, a mere one hour drive away. On the way we’ll stop in at charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of old world character.

Blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake, you’ll soon see why Wanaka’s considered to be one of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain towns. There are stunning hikes and bike rides all around for a welcome chance to chill.

One of the best ways to admire Wanaka is from the air. Treat yourself to a skydive or a scenic flight in a vintage plane – you can even take a flying lesson, or if you prefer to keep your feet closer to the ground, stroll or bike around the lake and check out the famous Wanaka Tree, standing all alone in the water. As always, it’s your trip and your choice: you do you.

ACCOMODATION

Hostel accommodation

SIGHTS

Optional Paid: More adventure activities

After a relaxing morning in Wanaka, the journey to Franz is an another stunner – many of our guides rate it as their favourite drive in New Zealand.

As we hit the road, we’ll stop at one of our favourite lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option.

From the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won’t want to nap on the bus in case you miss anything. Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way.

Between September and December it’s whitebait season (a small fish that’s a delicacy in New Zealand). Fried up with eggs and served on toast, it’s a local treat and shouldn’t be missed. We’ll stop at one of the local spots for a taste during the season.

We roll into Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5 kilometres from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.

ACCOMODATION

Hostel accommodation

The Franz Josef glacier is a must see on the West Coast of the South Island. Surrounding the glacier is a stunning landscape of temperate rainforest of ancient podocarp trees and other evergreen species. The combination of ice and temperate rainforest is a unique feature of New Zealand’s glacier country and is an ecosystem found nowhere else on the planet.

Te Wahi Pounamu (which means ‘the place of greenstone’ in Māori) is the name given to the this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of pounamu (greenstone/jade) to be found here. Included in your tour today is a special opportunity to carve your very own pounamu pendant at a local gallery.

There are heaps of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier; If you can afford it, we highly recommend reaching the bluest ice via helicopter with a Franz Josef Glacier heli-hike. Maybe you’d prefer to kayak on a glacial lake; or just relax in the steamy hot springs down below.

ACCOMODATION

Hostel accommodation

SIGHTS

Optional Paid: Franz Josef Ice Explorer, quad biking, mountain biking

We head up the beautiful west coast on one of the most spectacular drives in the world en route to Punakaiki.

We take a break at Hokitika to visit a Jade factory. This place experienced a massive gold rush in the late 1860s and today remnants can be seen everywhere: in original buildings and in the landscape, altered by excavations and vast mounds of tailings. This small group adventure tour stays at the Te Nikau Retreat. A firm favourite on tour, the resort is set 3km north of Pancake Rocks; a set of beautiful lodges and cabins in peaceful rainforest beside the coast. In the evening we watch the sunset over the ocean. Pure bliss! 

ACCOMODATION

Te Nikau Retreat

We have the entire day to explore this remote and untouched region of the West Coast. There are heaps of activities to consider – from surfing, horse trekking, kayaking or simply going for a walk and taking in the view. South of our accommodation is the village of Punakaiki and its ‘Pancake Rocks.’ These huge columns of limestone that resemble pancakes are worth more than a couple photos – and with the heavy swell at high tide, water is forced up through blowholes. You also can choose to make your own knife in Barrytown. You begin by forging your own blade from red hot steel, and then complete your knife with a native timber handle. Sounds like a great souvenir, eh? 

ACCOMODATION

Te Nikau Retreat

SIGHTS

Included: Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

We leave Punakaiki early today, en route for the clear blue waters of the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way we continue to explore the West Coast – hopefully checking out seal colonies and remote windswept beaches. We will arrive at our accommodation by early evening – a remote farm just on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park. 

ACCOMODATION

Farm on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park

Today we explore Abel Tasman – New Zealand’s smallest but still stunning national park. You might choose to experience the park by kayak – no experience necessary, guides will teach you the basic skills needed. Alternatively you can choose to go for a walk on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track and explore native forest and secluded beaches. Summer has us staying on a boat docked on one of the bays, whereas winter has us heading down to Nelson – only about an hour away. Nelson is the sunshine capital of New Zealand and a beautiful seaside city to explore. Keen to see Abel Tasman from above? Check out Skydive Abel Tasman for the chance to jump from 16,500 feet above the beautiful blue waters of the national park. 

ACCOMODATION

Farm on the edge of the National Park

SIGHTS

Optional Paid Activities: Skydive, kayaking in the National Park, canyoning

Included: Hike on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

On our journey back towards Picton, where we will cross to Wellington once again on the Inter-Islander ferry this evening, we break up the drive by stopping at Havelock, the centre of the New Zealand green-lipped mussel industry. The Mussel Pot Café is a popular stop for seafood fans! There is more time to explore the small town of Picton, and your guide may take you for a cultural walk to learn more about the area. By the time we reach Wellington it will be around 10pm and so the rest of the evening is up to you! 

ACCOMODATION

YHA Wellington

SIGHTS

Included: Cook Strait Ferry

Take a deep breath, swap stories and photo’s and journey back to Auckland, where it all started.

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