12 Day Essential New Zealand Itinerary

Lake Wanaka

Welcome to Auckland!

Haere Mai and Welcome to the 'City of Sails'

Relax, you are officially on holiday! We have arranged for you to be met and transferred to your accommodation. The remainder of the day is yours to do as you please. There is plenty to see and do in Auckland. New Zealand’s largest city is located between two large harbours and 48 extinct volcanic cones scattered over the city are evidence of it's volancic past. They also provide a perfect location for viewing the city! A diversely cultural place, Auckland is a great location for marine adventures, wine tasting, forest walks and urban sophistication.

Some Activities and sightseeing options if you have time:

Explore Waiheke Island    Island Kayaking Adventure    America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky TowerRelax on the BeachRangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine TourWhale and Dolphin SafariMuriwai Surf Beach

Accommodation Auckland - 1 Night

Auckland Viaduct
The Copthorne Hotel Auckland City has positioned itself firmly as an excellent all-round venue for conference and accommodation requirements. Decorated in warm classic tones, individual room balconies offer a variety of views from cityscapes to parklands, to overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. Central location, superior facilities and friendly personalised service make this an ideal place for your next stay.
Copthorne Auckland


Auckland - Hobbiton - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua

Depart Auckland this morning and travel through lush farmland to Matamata. Take a guided tour of the famous Hobbiton Movie Set, located on a picturesque 1,250 acre sheep and beef farm. Here, the village of Hobbiton was carefully created in amazing detail as a film location for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie trilogies.

During your guided tour you will see sights such as Hobbit holes, the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn, and you will learn how farmland was transformed into a living, breathing piece of Middle-earth. After exploring Hobbiton, enjoy a delicious lunch at the Green Dragon Inn.

At the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, take a 45-minute guided tour through impressive underground caverns and learn how stalactites, stalagmites and other limestone structures were formed over millions of years. Your tour includes a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto – glide silently along an underground river as you gaze at the twinkling glowworms overhead.

After visiting Waitomo and Hobbiton, continue to Rotorua, arriving in the early evening.

Accommodation Rotorua - 2 Nights

This 4 star property is perfectly situated next to Lake Rotorua and is just a brief stroll from the City centre, close to many restaurants and bars. The hotel offers world class residential style accommodation. Restaurant Nikau offers a good range of evening menu choices, while the Brassiere Poolside Restaurant is the perfect place to start your day with an alfresco style breakfast beside the geothermal heated pool.
Millenium Hotel Rotorua


Rotorua & Maori Cultural Experience

Guests are picked up from their accommodations and taken through forestry and farmland to New Zealand's largest boiling mud pool. Their guide leads them through a series of colorful hot springs and volcanic features at Wai-O-Tapu. They then witness the eruption of the Lady Knox geyser at 10:15 am.

Following this, there's a short drive to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, where their guide explains the Mt. Tarawera eruption, which created this spectacular geothermal park covered in bush. This award-winning eco-tourism adventure is a must-see experience!

Maori Cultural Experience
The Mitai Maori Village offers you an authentic introduction to Maori culture.This indigenous cultural experience incorporates a traditional hangi meal, cultural performance, warrior canoe and sacred freshwater spring.

See warriors in traditional attire paddling in an ancient warrior canoe, view glow worms in their natural habitat and walk around at the sacred freshwater spring. Feast on a traditionally cooked hangi meal cooked in the ground. See displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance. You’ll learn about Maori historr, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art).

Pohutu Geyser Rotorua


Rotorua - Christchurch

Today you will take an internal flight from Rotorua to Christchurch (cost of flight not included). You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the Airport.

There may be time for some last minute sightseeing or shopping before making your way for your onward flight. New Zealand’s second-largest city 'Christchurch' 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. All public services and spaces are running as normal, and Christchurch continues to be a vibrant city to live, work and play. 

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night

Christchurch City Tram


Christchurch - Mt Cook National Park

Leave the city today westwards through the Canterbury plains, you will find a superb location for some great photos at Lake Tekapo. Tekapo is one of three significant, neighboring lakes that border the Mackenzie Valley in New Zealand's South Island. 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. 

Accommodation: Mt Cook Village - 1 Night

Mount Cook National Park

A stunning destination surrounded by the silent splendor of the Southern Alps and with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the surrounding National Park World Heritage area. There is a selection of properties within the Terrace Road campus from Hotel to Chalet and Mountainview Motels - all budgets and standards can be catered for.

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook


Mt Cook National Park - Queenstown

This morning you will have free time to explore Mount Cook National Park. In the afternoon, head South from Mount Cook, pass 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. Relax as you take in the spectacular scenery that changes from rugged ranges and mirror lakes to the winding Kawarau River Gorge before, emerging into the lush green farmland surrounding Queenstown. Your destination for the next four days.

Accommodation Queenstown - 4 Nights

Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu

Sitting on the crystal-clear shores of Lake Wakatipu, Novotel Gardens is centrally located - only a five-minute walk to town on level ground - home to prime restaurants and boutique shopping. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with views from private balconies over manicured landscapes, with the property being adjacent to the beautiful Queenstown Gardens.

Novotel Queenstown


Day at leisure Queenstown

Enjoy today a free day in Queenstown. The surrounding area is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards and the natural landscape with wild rivers, high peaks and deep canyons has allowed Queenstown to developed an exciting array of outdoor adventure activities - and there's plenty to choose from. But if you are just want to chill out then Queenstown's compact downtown area is relaxed during the day and huge fun at night. In any season, you can count on stylish designer shops and many trendy restaurants offering a kaleidoscope of dining experiences.

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

Queenstown Wharf


Spectacular Milford Sound Cruise

The Road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The first part is relatively mild farmland, then you’ll ease into beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. Look for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes. The rough hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into Milford Sound, an amazing 22km-long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak. A cruise on Milford Sound will be an essential component of your time in Fiordland, or you can get up close and personal in a sea kayak. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces and seals are some of the things you’ll remember.

Milford Sound Mitre Peak


Dart River Wilderness Safari - TSS Earnslaw Cruise

Take today a one and a half hour of Jet Boating to the upper reaches of the Dart River, deep into Mt Aspiring National Park. Stunning mountains, alpine bush, glacial lakes and icy rivers are waiting for you on this spectacular trip. After this unforgettable boat safari, take a 40 minute walk through ancient beech forests. You will learn about this interesting area and its history before continuing to the isolated hamlet of Paradise - home to many Lord of the Rings filming locations.  

This evening you will board the TSS Earnslaw. Enjoy a scenic cruise from Queenstown, across stunning Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. A delicious BBQ Dinner will be served on the sun terrace at the Colonels Homestead. 

Queenstown TSS Earnslaw Steamship


Queenstown - Franz Josef Glacier

Continue today to Franz Josef and travel along the rugged West Coast Road and over the Haast Pass. Discover the rich alpine rainforest as you journey through this historic region. Through the Gates of Haast is a lost world that’s so spectacular and remote UNESCO designated it a World Heritage area.

Once arrived at Franz Josef, you will be met and taken on a short tour to view the Glacier. View the glacier from a viewing platform or enjoy a short walk. The Glacier Valley Eco Tours shuttle will bring you back to your accommodation. * You can only do the Franz Josef Eco walk in summer as the winter timetable has the coach arriving at 4.10pm. (this will be deducted from your tour price)

In the summer months there is free time to explore Franz Josef township. Perhaps take a scenic flight over the magnificent Franz Josef Glacier or over Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere or a valley walk with a local glacier guide (all own expense). 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.

Excursions available in and around the Franz Josef area:

Kayak Okarito Lagoon 

   Glacier Hot Pools      Glacier Scenic Flight

Horseback Riding  

   Walk to Glacier Face   Glacier Heli-hike


Accommodation Franz Josef - 1 Night

Franz Josef Glacier
At Punga Grove, all of our stylish accommodation is set amidst the native Franz Josef rainforest. Our mountainside motel has been designed to maximise the beauty of the greenery with decks, outdoor areas and conservatory windows virtually putting you deep in the rainforest. All apartments include a fully equipped kitchen.
Punga Grove


Franz Josef - Greymouth - Christchurch

This morning you will travel by coach to Greymouth. Then you will board the Tranzalpine to Christchurch. The TranzAlpine Train, renowned as one of the great train journeys of the world. Descend through spectacular gorges, river valleys and over massive viaducts before completing your journey at Christchurch.

Accommodation Christchurch - 1 Night

TranzAlpine Rail Journey
Rydges Latimer Square in Christchurch overlooks scenic Latimer Square, an iconic New Zealand green space with ample room for travellers to roam and enjoy the shade of lush, broad-leaved trees. This contemporarily kiwi designed rooms & suites are spread over four levels, with the piece de resistance being the fifth level penthouse suite which boasts views stretching from the Port Hills to the Southern Alps.
Rydges Latimer Square Christchurch


Bon Voyage!

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage! Today we say farewell. We take care of your transfer to Christchurch Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday.

Christchurch Punting Avon River


What is an Independent Coach Tour

Tour Inclusions

  • 4 Star Accommodation
  • Experienced Driver Guides
  • Detailed and informative commentary
  • Travel in an air-conditioned coach
  • 24 Hour Assistance
  • Daily Departures
  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves
  • Maori Cultural Experience Rotorua
  • Thermal Mud Pools & Geyster 
  • Hobbiton Day Tour
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise
  • Dart River Safari Tour
  • TSS Earnslaw Cruise including BBQ Dinner
  • Glacier Valley Shuttle
  • TranzAlpine Rail Journey
  • Return airport transfers - flight details to be provided 14 days prior to travel
12 Day Highlights of New Zealand Map

NZ Journey Planner image

Download for free - simply complete the details below to download.

Free Customisable NZ Holiday Itinerary

Use our Itinerary Planner and we'll email you back a customisable New Zealand holiday Itinerary!
Preferred Holiday Type

Pricing terms

The price is based on current exchange rates but is only an approximation. Please contact us for a final price