Beautiful Bay of Islands
WELCOME TO NEW ZEALAND!
Begin your 24 Day Epic New Zealand Tour with heading to Paihia. After a welcome breakfast you will head to the Northland region.
On our way to the Bay of Islands we visit some ancient and impressive kauri forests and visit the Hokiangi Harbour which is famous for its 150 metre high sand dunes. If you like and the weather allows it, you will have the possibility to go sandboarding - an unforgettable experience! Once arrived in Paihia in the Beautiful Bay of Islands and after your check-in in the Haka Lodge, you will enjoy some fish and chips at the waterfront together with the other group members.
Meals: Breakfast and Fish & Chips in the evening
Accommodation: Paihia - 2 Nights
Free Day in the Bay
Rich in culture, history and natural resources, Paihia is the place of friendly locals, happy cafes and people enjoying life whether it is swimming with dolphins, taking in a spot of retail therapy, bush walking or just lazing on the beach. Known as the jewel of the magnificent Bay of Islands, with shimmering safe waters and superb beaches, there are plenty of recreational activities among the 144 islands: sail, fish, swim, dive, snorkel, charter a launch or paddle a sea kayak around the islands. Paihia is the perfect stepping stone into the Bay of Islands, and a wonderful place for people of all ages.
Some other recommended excursions available in the Bay of Islands:
|Historical Island Cruise||Diving Rainbow Warrior||4WD Adventure Cape Reinga|
|Sailing the Islands||Dolphin Swimming||Giant Kauri Forest Walk|
|Cultural Tour of Waitangi||Golf at Kauri Cliffs||Sea Kayaking the Bay|
Paihia - Auckland
After breakfast we visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. (cost included) This is the location of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document and the accord between Maori Chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. Gain a deeper understanding during a guided tour of Waitangi with one of the traditional guides and enjoy a high-quality cultural performance in the beautifully carved meeting house (Whare Rūnanga). Explore one of New Zealand’s oldest and most visited historic homes and learn about the treasures within, visit treasures such as the Treaty House, Meeting House, Flagstaff and Ceremonial War Canoe.
After lunch you will head back to Auckland. On your way, you will stop in at Kawakawa to visit the famous Hundertwasser Toilets.
Accommodation: Auckland - 1 Night
Auckland - Coromandel
Today after breakfast stroll up Maungawhau/Mount Eden for an amazing view of Auckland. Later head up to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula.
The Coromandel Peninsula is located in the east of Auckland, on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf. An impressive, heavily forested mountain range runs right up the middle of this peninsula - it’s bordered on each side by miles of spectacular coastline.
The idyllic seaside village of Hahei, (HA-hey) is a small settlement situated on the eastern side of the Peninsula. Yes there are a couple of restaurants, cafes and fish and chippy, but essentially this is a secret hideaway were Kiwi families take their holidays – its all about the beach, where the waves are generally safe for children and the wide beach is ideal for a game of volleyball or to throw a Frisbee. The bay also provided a location for the filming of the fantasy feature, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
Hot Water Beach
The natural up-welling of geothermal hot water rising from deep below can reach temperatures of hot as 64ºC (147ºF) and because of this people flock to the usually deserted Beach to find the hot water bubbling through the golden sand. The water contains large amounts of salt (NOT salt water), calcium, fluorine, magnesium, potassium bromine and silica – with the locals believing a bath a day keeps the doctor away. Dig your own hot tub at the Hot Water Beach in the late afternoon!
Accommodation: Coromandel - 1 Night
Coromandel to Rotorua
This morning walk along the cliffs and down to Cathedral Cove (which you might recognise from the Chronicles of Narnia). With perfect beaches and massive rock arches and columns, it’s one of the most popular spots in the Coromandel.
Alternatively, take an optional guided Cathedral Cove kayak trip and check out this stunning coastline from a different angle, accompanied by a local dolphin or two if you’re lucky!
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.
Accommodation: Rotorua - 2 Night
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!
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.
- 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@example.com for more information
Accommodation: Murupara - 1 Night
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.
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.
- Find natural hot springs
Accommodation: Taupo - 2 Nights
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.
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.
Accommodation: Wellington - 1 Night
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.
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.
Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night
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.
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.
Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 Nights
Today relax and enjoy the stunning lakes & rivers - there is a bounty of vineyards, cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the wider district of Queenstown, Arrowtown 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 Walk||Highest Bungey Jump||Explore Arrowtown|
|Biking Skippers Canyon||Round at Millbrook Golf Resort|
|Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise||Dart River Jetboat Safari|
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)
Accommodation: Wanaka - 1 Night
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.
Accommodation: Franz Josef - 2 Nights
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.
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.
Accommodation: Punakaiki - 2 Nights
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.
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.
Accommodation: 2 Nights
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.
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
OPTIONAL TRANSFER TO AUCKLAND Need to get back to Auckland? Tomorrow we offer an optional transfer day where you can catch a ride on the Haka bus with your tour guide back to Auckland, arriving around 7pm. There is a small cost to this additional service.
If your plan is to stay in Wellington there is still plenty to see and do. Perhaps a self-guided tour of Te Papa Museum, or visit the famous Weta Workshop where a lot of Lord of the Rings props were designed.
*Although your accommodation for this evening is included, breakfast tomorrow morning will be at your own cost*
Accommodation: Wellington - 1 Night
Please contact us for current pricing and availability
- Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- Maori Cultural Experience
- Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
- Interislander Ferry
- Skyline Gondola Queenstown
- Star gaze in Tekapo
- Expert Tour Guide
- All transport
- 24 x nights’ accommodation (max 6 share, upgrades available)
- All maps, passes and shuttles
- Daily breakfast
- All maps, detailed trail advice and recommendations
- Small group sizes (16 max)
- 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