12 Day National Geographic New Zealand Itinerary

Cruise ship coming into Milford Sound


‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand!

Welcome to Auckland ‘The City of Sails’. On arrival into Auckland make your way to your accommodation for this evening. You may have time to explore New Zealand’s largest city before joining your travel companions early evening for a pre-dinner drink and a preview of your National Geographic Journey of New Zealand itinerary.

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: CityLife Auckland - 2 nights (or something similar)

Offering spacious accommodation in the heart of Auckland CBD, CityLife Auckland features a fitness centre, an indoor heated pool, a restaurant and a bar. All rooms includes a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a minibar and an en suite bathroom with bathrobes and luxury toiletries. Some rooms have cooking and laundry facilities
City Life Auckland


Waiheke Island Wineries

Catch the ferry to picturesque Waiheke Island to learn about New Zealand’s highly celebrated wine industry in its founding region. Tour a boutique vineyard and learn from our host about the process of making the syrahs, merlots, and chardonnays that the region is so well-known for. Enjoy a taste of the vineyard’s estate-grown olive and avocado oils. After, continue to one of Waiheke’s original wineries for a tour and tasting – while learning about the evolution of wine production in New Zealand. Return to Auckland this evening via a scenic ferry ride.

Meals: Breakfast 



Waitomo Caves & Rotorua

Heading towards Rotorua we stop at Waitomo Caves where we will take a boat ride through the caves and see thousands of flickering glowworms lighting up the walls.
Rotorua sits over an active geothermal zone with bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools in different areas around the town. This is a fascinating region with Maori history and culture tied directly to the geothermal aspects of the land.

Waitomo Cave Excursion 

Enjoy a peaceful boat ride through caverns covered with magical glowworms that are unique to New Zealand. Hundreds of thousands of these tiny creatures radiate luminescent light in underground caves carved by rivers and time. Take in more than 120 years of cultural and natural history on this unique excursion.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua  - 1 night (or something similar)

Glowworm Caves
This 4.5 star deluxe property is perfectly situated next to mystical 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 that is suitable for those travelling on business and for leisure. Restaurant Nikau offers a good range of evening menu choices, from the Restaurant's famous Nikau Burger to fine dining options, 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 at Leisure & Maori Cultural Experience

Embark on a day-long journey to Kohutapu Lodge, a Maori-owned establishment, to delve into New Zealand's indigenous culture. Marvel at ancient rock carvings and understand their spiritual importance to the Maori, historically and currently. Experience the traditional preparation of a hangi lunch, cooked in an underground pit, and share this delectable meal with Maori hosts. Post-lunch, explore Whirinaki Rainforest's 800-year-old podocarp trees, learning about the forest's history, identifying native birds, and discovering medicinal plants. Conclude the trip in Rotorua, with an optional dinner or a relaxing dip in the hot springs.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Hangi lunch at Kohutapu


Rotorua - Christchurch

Enjoy free time this morning in Rotorua before catching a flight to Christchurch. This afternoon, meet with a local expert and explore lesser-known paths around Christchurch on a unique walking tour of the city.

Walking Tour of Christchurch 

Meet with a local expert and explore lesser-known paths around Christchurch. Learn how the people of Christchurch are transforming the community of Christchurch after the devastating earthquake in 2011.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation:  Chateau on the Park​  - 1 night (or something similar)


The Chateau on the Park is a resort style hotel nestled amongst 5 acres of beautifully maintained gardens, the hotel offers tranquility and seclusion that you would normally expect to find miles from a city. The Chateau offers quality rooms with a view and the complex has all the facilities you would expect from a hotel of this standard, conveniently located to fully experience all the city has to offer.

 Chateau on the Park - Christchurch


TranzAlpine Train Journey

Travelling by train still remains one of travels most exciting experiences. This morning we board Tranz Alpine Train that journeys between Christchurch and Greymouth. We leave Christchurch crossing the Canterbury Plains before following the Waimakariri River and traversing the spectacular Southern Alps. before finally descending through native beech forest into Greymouth. From Greymouth we transfer to a coach and continue down the west coast to the township of Franz Josef.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat  - 2 nights (or something similar)

Rainforest Retreat is centrally located in the heart of Franz Josef Village , Secluded yet handy to every local activity. Nestled in six acres of idyllic native bush at the foot of precipitous mountains the Rainforest Retreat is a inviting place to stay. Each unit was built exclusively to embrace its beautiful, secluded, natural environment providing guests with choices of either forest floor or mid canopy bush views.
Rainforest Retreat


Explore Franz Josef

Today is a free day to explore the region around Franz Josef. You are in the heart of the Westland National Park, considered to be the most diverse and beautiful areas in New Zealand and the home of the Kea, a protected native parrot that thrives in the chilly environment and is infamous for its inquisitive and often destructive behaviour! 
Simply relax in the Glacier Hot Pools or if you are feeling adventurous take a Glacier Heli Hike and land on the glacier with an experienced guide to explore the towering peaks and ice formations.

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

Meals: Breakfast 

Franz Josef Glacier


Wild West Coast to Queenstown

Today is a travelling day. We travel south along the rugged West Coast this morning stopping at Lake Matheson to view the stunning snowcapped peaks of the Southern Alps reflected in the lake’s dark waters. We then continue through the Haast Pass, one of only three passes through the Southern Alps to Queenstown ’The Adventure Capital’ of New Zealand.
Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu the scenery surrounding Queenstown is incomparable. On arrival, we will take a Gondola Ride above the town to take in the magnificent panoramic views of Queenstown, the Remarkables, and the surrounding district.
You can opt to enjoy an outstanding dinner showcasing locally produced and iconic New Zealand dishes at Queenstown’s Skyline Restaurant located at the top of the Gondola ride. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Peppers Beacon Hotel   - 1 night (or something similar)


With splendid lake and mountain views, this is one of Queenstown's best hotels situated in the "capital of activities". Luxurious facilities such as a spa pool, sauna, massage service and gym will make sure every minute is well spent. An outside BBQ is available to be used for a nice group meal. The hotel includes its own breakfast area and is minutes away from many good restaurants.

Peppers Beacon


Fiordland National Park and Cruise

From Queenstown we drive the scenic route to the lakeside town of Manapouri in Fiordland National Park a World Heritage Area.
From Manapouri we embark on an amazing cruise through the moody and mysterious Doubtful Sound. Onboard the Fiordland Navigator experienced nature guides will provide commentary on the wildlife sightings ensuring you don’t miss any of the highlights. Watch out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and the Fiordland yellow eyebrow crested penguin.  After anchoring for the evening you will have the opportunity to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat.

Dinner will be prepared by an onboard chef and served in the dining saloon. Before retiring to your private cabin (with ensuite bathroom) take time to gaze at the stars and listen to the sound of ‘silence’. 

**Please Note: The itinerary for this day varies in the winter: 18 May – 20 Sept. Also, these tours go to either to Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound overnight

Meals: Breakfast and dinner

Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator Doubtful Sound (or similar) - 1 night

Doubtful Sound Cruise

The Fiordland Navigator is a purpose built vessel designed and perfectly suited to cruising and staying overnight in the remote Doubtful Sound. The Navigator has spacious viewing decks, dining saloon, licensed bar and observation lounge and also carries kayaks and a tender craft onboard - at your disposal. As well as having comfortable accommodation.

Fiordland Overnight Experience


Fiordland National Park - Queenstown

After a hearty breakfast, we spend the morning cruising Doubtful Sound back to Deep Cove. In particular, we are on the hunt to view the resident bottlenose dolphins that patrol the fiord or the New Zealand fur seal seen basking as the sun rises warming the rocks they occupy and when in the season the rare Fiordland crested penguin. 

**please note the tour may go from either Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound 

We return to Queenstown

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Peppers Beacon Hotel   - 2 nights (or something similar)

A cute seal.

With splendid lake and mountain views, this is one of Queenstown's best hotels situated in the "capital of activities". Luxurious facilities such as a spa pool, sauna, massage service and gym will make sure every minute is well spent. An outside BBQ is available to be used for a nice group meal. The hotel includes its own breakfast area and is minutes away from many good restaurants.

Peppers Beacon


Queenstown at Leisure

You may want to try some activities today or may just want to relax in one of the many waterfront cafes and reflect on your fabulous National Geographic Journey of New Zealand.

Recommended excursions in and around Queenstown:

Routeburn Day WalkHighest Bungy 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 

Bon Voyage New Zealand


Homeward Bound

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before departing from Queenstown Airport to connect with your flight home.

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

Haere rā (goodbye) we hope you enjoyed our National Geographic Australian & New Zealand Journey and our promise to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible. We hope you leave with a huge smile on your face when recalling your time in New Zealand.

Have a great homeward journey and we hope to see you again soon.

You may also be interested in the 23 Day Australian and New Zealand National Geographic Journey...

Bon Voyage


Included Highlights

  • Visit scenic Bridal Veil Falls
  • Farm visit with local lunch
  • Raglan Harbour cruise
  • Tour Waitomo Caves
  • Meet a Maori elder
  • Enjoy traditional Maori hangi feast and entertainment
  • Orientation walk in Christchurch
  • Scenic TranzAlpine train
  • Queenstown gondola ride
  • Wilderness day cruise (winter) or overnight cruise (summer) in Fiordland National Park


  • Internal flights only
  • All transport to/from included activities
  • Comfortable 4 Star Accommodation
  • Chief Experience Officer (CEO)
  • Modern Mini Coach and Guide
  • Meals (see day by day itinerary)
Nat Geo Large Map
Nat Geo Adventures

See Pricing Options
Profile picture for user Nicole
What Nicole says about this tour: This has become a popular small group tour because of the blend of authentic kiwi experiences. You get cultural, nature-focussed and immersive activities. People love getting hands-on and seeing so many fabulous North and South island locations. The high quality accommodation and knowledgeable guide add to the overall journey.
Enquire Now
NZ Journey Planner image

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

Free Custom NZ Holiday Itinerary

Use our Itinerary Planner and we'll email you back a custom New Zealand holiday Itinerary within 24 hrs!
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