20 Day Legendary NZ Tour Itinerary

Abel Tasman Summer Dawn

Auckland - Coromandel

Kia ora (hi) and welcome to Aoteraoa (New Zealand)! 

Leaving the big smoke behind, we head to the Coromandel Peninsula, a veritable paradise of beautiful beaches and misty rainforests. The drive here is epic – the road twists and turns dramatically round the coastline and the ocean gets clearer and more pristine before your eyes. Cameras ready – the views are magnificent! 

The Coromandel is home to the famous Hot Water Beach – thousands visit each year to dig their own personal hot tub. If the tide times allow, we’ll definitely grab our buckets and spades and get busy! 

We arrive in the Coromandel with plenty of time for your guide to show you around. Sample the sandy beaches or simply enjoy the vibes.



  • Breakfast
  • Visit Hot Water Beach

Accommodation: Coromandel - 1 Night



Coromandel to Rotorua

Cathedral Cove

Special note: Due to severe damage caused by extreme weather in early 2023, the Cathedral Cove walking track is closed until further notice. You can still opt to kayak from Hahei to Cathedral Cove, or you can simply relax at Hahei Beach. Many roads on the Coromandel Peninsula also remain impassable. For this reason, some route adjustments will take place to ensure you are still able to experience New Zealand safely. Your leader will inform you of any further details regarding the daily itinerary as you travel.


Later this afternoon we head towards Rotorua; en route, we’ll visit Matamata – best known for being the home of Hobbiton.

For Lord of the Rings fans, a visit to Hobbiton Movie Set is an absolute must-do. On a fully guided tour of the 12 acre Middle-earth set you will see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn!

If hobbits aren’t your thing there are plenty of scenic short walks to enjoy Matamata’s lush green rolling hills.

While the majority of the North Island is volcanic in some way, Rotorua is exceptional for its geothermal activity. With neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore, there are more unique natural wonders to be found in Rotorua than many other places in the world.


  • Breakfast
  • Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Accommodation: Rotorua - 2 Nights

Kayaking Beautiful Cathedral Cove


Free Day In Rotorua

Today is a free day to explore Rotorua and its surrounding area. Talk to your guide for the best free things to see and do in the neighbourhood (Kuirau Park’s steaming and hissing mud pools are a great option).

There are also a number of optional activities you can choose from –white water rafting, zip-lining, rolling down a hill in a giant inflatable ball, river sledging and more!

If adrenaline is your thing, the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world, on the Kaituna River, is begging to be conquered on an exhilarating rafting trip.

Perhaps you’d like to try thundering down grassy hills in a giant air-cushioned inflatable ball (aka ZORB)?

A day trip to Waitomo is another option today. Famous for its glowworms there are a number of ways to experience these twinkling creatures up close.

Discover the magic of both the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, as well as the enchanting Ruakuri Cave on a ‘2 cave combo’ walking/boat tour. Or you can float along an underground river on a Black Water Rafting trip as the glow worms light your path.

However you spend today, be sure to get a good night’s sleep as there are more Rotorua adventures tomorrow!

Meals: Breakfast 

Waitomo Glowworms Caves


Rotorua to Murupara

This morning we visit Te Puia Maori Village. Here you’ll learn more about Māori history and culture, come face to face with the Pohutu Geyser, see jumping mud pools and get up close and personal with kiwi birds.

Later this afternoon we head to Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara – a living Māori village - where you will experience a tribal tour by a village elder.

Here you’ll also have a chance to learn the world-famous haka dance, and weave your own dinner plate using flax (a type of plant).

Tonight’s dinner is a traditional hāngi meal. Cooked in an underground earth oven you can expect tender meat and delicious vegetables infused with a smoky, earthy fragrance – it will fill your puku (belly) right up!

The best part about spending the evening at Kohutapu Lodge? The majority of proceeds from this activity go back to the local community.


  • Breakfast
  • Visit Te Puia Maori Village
  • See kiwi birds
  • See the Pohutu Geyser
  • Learn the haka
  • Learn to weave flax
  • Dinner (a hangi cooked in an underground oven)

Please note: Private accommodation upgrades are not available for this night of the tour due to the limited availability of accommodation. In special circumstances other arrangements may be possible - please contact [email protected] for more information

Accommodation: Murupara - 1 Night

Rotorua Geothermal
Surrounded by lush farmlands and forestry, Kohutapu Lodge overlooks the pristine Lake Aniwhenua - teeming with Rainbow and Brown trout. Accommodation options range from self-contained cottages to lodge cabins, powered and tent sites – there is something for everyone here! Owned and operated by a local Maori family, we are delighted to share with you our stories, our culture, our kai (food) and the warmth of our manaakitanga (hospitality).
Kohutapu Lodge


Murupara to Taupō

It’s only a short drive to our next destination, Taupō, and there’s plenty to discover along the way. From mesmerising mud pools to the thundering rapids of the Huka Falls and Aratiatia Dam, your trusty Haka guide will make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Taupō is a beautiful lakeside town with a stunning mountain backdrop. Lake Taupō is New Zealand’s largest lake – believe it or not, it’s roughly the same size as Singapore!

This place is all about the thrills and spills, and there are plenty of options in store this afternoon. Get your hair wet with a water touch bungy jump, take an unforgettable skydive or a sunset lake cruise for amazing lake and mountain views.


  • Breakfast
  • Find natural hot springs

Accommodation: Taupo - 2 Nights

sailing Lake Taupo


Taupo & Surrounding Area

Pack in a day of adventure in Taupo. Choose from many different optional activities, such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a Skydive, the Water Touch Bungy or the Lake Taupo Sailing. (cost of activities not included)

One of the add-ons, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered as the best one-day walk in New Zealand. This challenging hike weaves its way through awe inspiring volcanic landscapes with active steaming craters, limestone green coloured lakes and off course the massive dome volcanoes. The summit offers fantastic views over the Central North Island. A good level of fitness is required to enjoy this hike.

Meals: Breakfast

Tongariro National Park


Taupo - Wellington

The road this morning takes you to a grand view of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. The stunningly blue fresh water of Lake Taupo is sitting in the South Pacific's largest volcanic crater. Heading further South you follow the Desert Road and enjoy amazing views of Tongariro National Park’s Volcanoes. The landscape becomes dominated by rivers and valleys. The Mangaweka Gorge is a scenic masterpiece and as you follow the state highway, the Kapiti Coast becomes New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.

Wellington is a compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafes, restaurants, museums, theatre and all kinds of shops. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty. As New Zealand’s capital, this city is rich in political history.

Lord of the Rings fans may want to experience a Weta Workshop Tour in Wellington today. 


  • Breakfast
  • Scenic drive through Tongariro National Park
  • Mt Victoria Lookout

Accommodation: Wellington - 1 Night

Wellington Statue Waterfront


Wellington - Kaikoura

Today is a travelling day, making our way to beautiful Kaikoura. After breakfast we head up Mount Victoria for  best views of Wellington. Later this afternoon we board the InterIsland Ferry from Wellington to Picton - the gateway to the South Island of New Zealand. 

Kaikoura is known as New Zealand’s ‘Serengeti of the Sea’. The natural wonders are breathtaking. Fur seals lounge on the rugged coastline and, just offshore, whales and dolphins thrive in an ocean that teems with life. Discover all the beautiful spots of this area. The night will be spent in Kaikoura


  • Breakfast
  • Cook Strait Ferry Crossing

Accommodation: Kaikoura - 1 Night



Kaikoura - Christchurch

This morning you may want to get up close with dolphins. Enjoy the Dolphin Encounter Tour or go Whale Watching. (cost not included)

Leaving Kaikoura and the coast you will then head inland towards the rural Canterbury plains, once again passing through viticulture of the Waipara wine region, before arriving in Christchurch.

New Zealand’s second-largest city and the gateway to the South Island, Christchurch sits on the very edge of the Canterbury Plains and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. The city itself has bounced back after a series of major earthquakes, and has shown its resiliency with a number of new and exciting developments popping up everywhere. Don’t miss the 'Re Start Shopping Mall', made out of shipping containers, as well as the many funky Pop Up bars dotted throughout the city.


  • Breakfast
  • Visit a seal colony

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night

Kaikoura Sperm Whale


High Country Lake Tekapo

After having breakfast and exploring the city centre of Christchurch, we head to Lake Tekapo. We leave the city today westwards through the Canterbury Plains, Stopping at at Lake Tekapo for a fantastic photo opportunity. Tekapo is one of three significant lakes that border the Mackenzie Valley. Golden tussock grass carpets the surrounding hillside and roll away into the distance where the Southern Alps frame the horizon. The charming 'Church of the Good Shepherd' sits alone on its shores and the views to our highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook are remarkable.

You may want to check out the Southern Alps in a Hot Air Balloon or take a Scenic Flight. (not included)

This who area is one of the worlds first 'Dark Sky Reserves' so stargazing is amazing.


  • Breakfast
  • Christchurch City Tour
  • Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Experience Tekapo’s Dark Sky Reserve

Accommodation: Tekapo - 1 Night



Tekapo - Queenstown

After breakfast it's a hike up Mt John to enjoy amazing views of the Southern Alps. Then we journey South from Mount Cook and through the high country towns of Twizel and Omarama before entering the beautiful Lindis Pass, the pass offers a unique mountain and tussock grassland scenery - Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve was formed in 1976 and was one of the first tussock reserves in New Zealand.

On your way you may want to Bungy Jump at Kawarau Gorge or take pictures of the amazing landscapes.

The scenery changes from rugged ranges and mirror lakes to the winding Kawarau River Gorge before emerging into the lush green farmland surrounding Queenstown.


  • Breakfast
  • Hike up Mt John (optional)
  • Visit Kawarau Gorge

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 Nights



Explore Queenstown

Today relax and enjoy the stunning lakes & rivers - there is a bounty of vineyards, cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the wider district of QueenstownArrowtown and the Gibbston Valley. You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy Queenstown and part of its charm is the array of less hectic quality activities on offer – but if interested Queenstown is home to the ultimate adventure bucket list – Just ask. 

Recommended excursions around Queenstown.

Routeburn Day WalkHighest Bungey JumpExplore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

Biking Skippers Canyon      Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise  Dart River Jetboat Safari      

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail

Meals: Breakfast

Dart River Jet


Over the Crown Range to Wanaka

Today our first discovery is nestled beside the Arrow River - the postcard-perfect village of Arrowtown, where the pioneer gold mining era comes alive. Continuing on we drive into tussock country and climb the road into the Crown Range looking out to sweeping views of the Gibbston Valley.

Explore Lake Wanaka in the afternoon by foot, bike or boat. You either may want to choose to go Skydiving in Wanaka, to have a Tiger Moth Aerobatic Plane Ride, to do a Bike Tour or to enjoy a Lake Cruise & Island Nature Walk. (activities not included)


  • Breakfast
  • Visit Arrowtown – a charming and historic gold rush village

Accommodation: Wanaka - 1 Night

Lake Wanaka


The West Coast / Glacier Country

Spend the morning enjoying Wanaka, perhaps go on a Bike Tour or a Lake Cruise & Island Nature Walk. (optional & cost not included)

Continue your journey this afternoon and travel along the rugged West Coast Road and over the Haast Pass. Discover the rich alpine rainforest the Gates of Haast is a lost world that’s so spectacular and remote that UNESCO designated it a World Heritage area.

The magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is widely regarded as the gem of New Zealand’s West Coast glaciers. Take the opportunity to experience the most spectacular glacier environment anywhere in the world, offering a range of glacier hiking options.


  • Breakfast
  • Lake Hawea Lookout
  • Haast Pass

Accommodation: Franz Josef - 2 Nights

Wild West Coast


Franz Josef Glacier

Today learn to carve a pounamu pendant (greenstone/jade) with your group. (included) Afterwards there is free time to explore. Many adventures await - try a Glacier Heli Hike, a Scenic Helicopter Flight with Snow Landing or how about a Kayaking Tour deep into the rain-forest. If you feel like relaxing there are steamy hot springs to chill and soak.


  • Breakfast
  • Carve your own pounamu necklace


Franz Josef - Punakaiki

Your destination today is Punakaiki. The heaving, rugged swells of the Tasman Sea have carved the coastline of the South Island’s West Coast over millions of years, creating unique, otherworldly geological formations. Nowhere is this effect on the landscape more profound than on the Punakaiki coastline. Here, sandstone cliffs and ravines tower high above the ocean, complete with hundreds of horizontal slices along their vertical faces, closely resembling huge stacks of Pancake Rocks.

Deep inside these formations lie narrow, vertical air shafts that are met with horizontal tunnels. Around high tide or during stormy weather, ocean swells rush through these blowholes, throwing up columns of dazzling ocean spray high into the air. When the sun is peeking through spectacular cloud formations at the same time, reaching its rays through the columns of water, the effect is dazzling.


  • Breakfast
  • Visit Hokitika Greenstone Factory
  • Stay in a rainforest retreat

Accommodation: Punakaiki - 2 Nights

Punakaiki West Coast


Free Day in Punakaiki

This morning check out the famous Pancake Rocks.

This afternoon there is time for some very cool activities. You could hike through the amazing coastal rainforest and explore stunning west coast beaches. You may like to try out an underground rafting and glowworm adventure or perhaps try kayaking, horseback riding or explore the region's underground caves. (cost not included) 

How about spending the night on the beach around a bonfire enjoying this remote and beautiful location.


  • Breakfast
  • Stay in a rainforest retreat
  • Visit the Pancake Rocks
  • Dinner 
Pancake Rocks


Punakaiki to Abel Tasman

Cruising up north from Punakaiki, the scenery gets better and better. The powerful, untouched coastline gives way to rivers and gorges before we drive over the hills and down towards the bayside town of Nelson, to stock up on supplies before our next remote hideaway.

Marahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park , boasts golden beaches, tranquil lagoons and crystal clear waters. Abel Tasman is the perfect contrast to the wildness of the rainforests and mountains.

Why will you fall in love with Abel Tasman? Lush forests, sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views… not to mention the resident wildlife. Get ready to lose your heart to the most popular National Park in New Zealand.

​​​​​​Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: 2 Nights

Sailing Abel Tasman


Abel Tasman National Park

Continue your journey to the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. Golden beaches border the translucent turquoise sea, and sandy estuaries fringed by natural forests. The walking tracks here, both in land and coastal are famous for their outstanding beauty. Walking or Kayaking or kicking back ion one of the many beaches is what its all about. Plus you have the added bonus of face-to-face encounters with marine wildlife.

Meals: Breakfast

Abel Tasman


Abel Tasman to Wellington

Today is the last day of your tour!

You’ll start things off by learning to paddle a traditional waka (Māori war canoe). Experience a karakia (blessing for protection), and learn tikanga (Māori knowledge and etiquette) all while getting out on the water to enjoy this unique included activity.

Our road trip continues along the northern edge of the South Island this afternoon. We’ll make a quick stop at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve (a film location for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) and make our way through Havelock as we wind our way towards Picton to catch the afternoon ferry to Wellington.

As the lights of Picton Harbour fade into the night, relax on board together for a chilled evening.

The tour officially finishes at 8pm today in Wellington, but your accommodation tonight is included.


  • Paddle a Waka (war canoe)
  • Visit Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve
  • Cook Strait Ferry Crossing to Wellington

*Although your accommodation for this evening is included, breakfast tomorrow morning will be at your own cost*

Accommodation: Wellington - 1 Night


Itinerary Variations

The tour operator endeavors to enhance trip itineraries. In instances where improvements are feasible or circumstances necessitate changes beyond their control, the tour operator retains the prerogative to modify the published itinerary and implement substitutions as needed.

What Kasey says about this tour: This is a tour I would highly recommend for travellers looking for an in depth 3 week long trip to New Zealand - but travelling on a restricted budget. All the highlights of the North and South Island are included.
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