Self Drive NZ Adventure with Young Adults Itinerary

New Zealand Family Adventure with Young Adults - 15 to 20

Fly north to the Beautiful Bay of Islands

The sub-tropical region of the Bay of Islands is a stunning Maritime Park with 144 islands, secluded bays, and an abundance of marine life including marlin, whales, penguins, dolphins, gannets and many other species. Being somewhat sheltered, the area is ideal for yachting, fishing, kayaking and diving. Rolling countryside, tidal estuaries, mangroves, sparkling and long silvery beaches abound. It is an area of considerable historical significance, and is the place where Maori and European signed the Treaty of Waitangi that joined them as one nation. Long considered the cradle of Polynesian and European settlement in New Zealand, the area is rich in history and natural beauty. 

After arriving at Kerikeri Airport we will transfer you to your hotel and the rest of the day is free to explore.

Accommodation Paihia - 1 Night

Bay of Islands, Northland.

Commanding a memorable situation on the waterfront only 100 metres from Paihia wharf, near the township and close to the main attractions. Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge Paihia offers views across the Bay's brilliant blue green sea to famous Russell. This welcoming Paihia hotel is an ideal base from which to explore the scenic and historic Bay of Islands.

Kingsgate hotel Autolodge


Three Day Sailing Adventure - Bay of Islands

This is a sailing paradise and unsurprisingly a favourite cruising ground for many a keen Kiwi sailor. So enjoy the Bay of Islands the way the locals do, on a boat with a small group of like-minded people, spend carefree days in an incredible setting doing the things you enjoy, take in the natural beauty at a leisurely pace.

This is an all-inclusive sailing expedition gives you three magical days of kayaking, snorkeling, fishing and exploring. Enjoy the diversity of the Bay of Islands first-hand and learn about the area’s fascinating history. It’s the perfect start to your New Zealand holiday. 

No other trip will let you explore this unique area in quite the same way.

Sample Itinerary Day 1: Depart Paihia wharf at 8am. Spend the morning at sea, catching fish and spotting wildlife. Lunch stop at Roberton Island followed by a walk to a lookout and swimming/snorkelling. Afternoon sail to Oke Bay for our overnight stop. Evening kayak/ beach combing and bbq dinner.

Accommodation: 2 Nights Aboard The Sailing Ship Manawanui

Sailing in the Bay of Islands

The next two days will be spend on a boat. The journey will take you and your family onto the ocean and on to uninhabited islands. Explore the destinations by kayaking, snorkeling and walking. She is a 72 ft (22 m), 1981 John Pugh cutter-rigged steel ketch. A proven go-anywhere boat, she is designed for comfort and safety and has been around the world twice. 

Sailing in the Bay of Islands.


Day 2 of your Sailing Adventure

Sample Itinerary Day 2: 8am breakfast followed by a sail to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock. Hike to Cape Brett lighthouse followed by fishing and a sail to Deepwater Cove. Snorkelling in the marine reserve in Deep Water Cove. Sail to Waewaetorea Island. Sunset dinner on deck. 

NB: This is a sample itinerary. The routes and activities are entirely weather dependent. Basically, the cruise is best described as island-hopping, with a few hours of passage making followed by an exploration of our destination and a good meal.

Kayaking in the Bay of Islands.


Day 3 of your Sailing Adventure

Sample Itinerary Day 3:  8am breakfast followed by a walk to the top of Waewaetorea for a panoramic view of the Bay of Islands. A few hours spent relaxing on the beach,kayaking, snorkelling. Sail to the Black Rocks to harvest green-lipped mussels for lunch. Fresh seafood lunch followed by a sail in the afternoon seabreeze back to Paihia. Arrive Paihia around 3.30/4pm. Then its a very short 1 hour drive to Tutukaka.

Approximate Distance: 90 kms | 56 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Accommodation: Tutukaka - 2 nights

The Bay of Islands consist of 144 Islands, many of which are uninhabited.

Pacific Rendezvous Resort is situated on a 26-acre peninsula overlooking the Tutukaka Harbour entrance. All apartments have a view of the sea, either an ocean view or a harbour view. Some of the best beaches are found on the Tutukaka coast - we especially recommend the stunning Whale Bay. 

A standard room at the Pacific Rendezvous overlooking the Tutukaka Harbour.


Raglan (Little Hawaii) For Some Bohemian Tranquility

The ruggedly beautiful West Coast is where the mighty surf of the Tasman Sea tumbles and crashes onto vast black sandy beaches. The untamed natural beauty you’ll find here nourishes the soul; isolated and wild, you’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Famous for surfing, music, artisans, cafés and bohemian lifestyle’s, the Raglan community is set on the beautiful west coast. This is a relaxing isolated place where you can spend time at one of the many beaches swimming, surfing, kayaking and body-boarding.  Raglan is home to one of the best left-hand breaks in the world and is the perfect place to sit on the beach, eat fresh fish & watch the sun go down.

Approximate Distance: 381 kms | 237 miles  Total Driving Time: 5 hours 20 mins

Accommodation Raglan - 2 nights

Sunset in Raglan.
Bow Street Studios waterfront location offers seven beautiful self-contained, two-story apartments. Each Apartment has a grandstand view of our famous Raglan sunsets.The apartments are big with a homely feel and right in the heart of Raglan. Need more space? Choose our Cottage. Moved to Raglan by barge in 1874 it is one of Raglan's original homes. The cottage sleeps up to five, has a full kitchen and living area.
Bow Street Studios


Surf, Learn to Surf or Relax on the Beach

Whether you want to learn surf or you have already master the sport, Raglan is definitely the place for you to come and enjoy surfing. Learn all techniques thanks to an innovative system of dry land surf board model that allow you to experience surfboard dynamics prior to entering the water. Whether in a group or individual lessons, the emphasis is put on fun and safety for a pleasurable and safe ocean experience. In just a few lessons, you can be taken from riding the whitewater to gliding along open faced ground swells!

If you're not a surfing fan then Ocean Beach is a fine place for a swim or a body boarding session. Lifeguards patrol the western end of the beach during the summer months - it's safest to swim between the flags.

Après-beach...And after beach time, the area offers plenty of possibilities, like a zipper line “Flying Fox”, hiking trails on Mt Karioi, mountain biking or glowworm caves or sip a great espresso. This lively surf town has an interesting creative culture and a wonderful choice of cafés and arts and craft boutiques.

Surfing Raglan.


Lost World Epic Caving Adventure - Waitomo

We consider this to be Waitomo’s best caving adventure and it’s dramatic! You start with a 100 meter abseil (330ft) into the depths of the ‘Lost World’ – this is considered the world’s longest commercial caving abseil (rappel) and it takes some fifteen minutes to get you down – and that is just the beginning! In the company of a very experienced guide, you start your journey.

Once down, you embark on a journey back to the surface through one of the worlds most incredible cave systems. Climbing upstream you follow a challenging underground river by whatever means, so its: swimming, climbing ropes, wading, exploring vaults the size of cathedrals, up waterfalls and monolithic stalactites, squeezing through tight cracks and jumping into deep black pools!

This is a full on caving experience and you need to be fit and you are going to get very very wet, but fear not you’ll be in the safe muddy hands of some of New Zealand’s most experienced guides. (minimum age is 15 for the Lost World)

Not quite your cup of tea: We have a great selection of alternative caving adventure's from sedate glowworm viewing, black water rafting (floating on an inner tube through a cave) Just ask about our selection of beginner to moderate underground adventures.

Approximate Distance: 102 kms | 63 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 20 mins

Accommodation Waitomo - 1 night

Waitomo Lost World

These Wilderness Cottages were built to capture the unique beauty of its surroundings. This farm is a fantastic example of what Waitomo is renowned for: subterranean caves with glowworms, rough limestone out-crops, lush green fields and friendly people. There are a number of walking tracks through our native bush. There are also a number of rock climbing areas which are mapped out for those interested.

Wilderness Cottage


Rotorua Rafting & Natural Hot Pools

The great thing about the Kaituna River is that it is not only one of the most popular whitewater runs in the country, with the distinction of being the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall, but it is also very scenic and takes you through the depths of a magnificent bush-lined gorge steeped in Maori history. The exhilarating seven metre drop of whitewater is the ultimate rafting experience in New Zealand! The Kaituna is classified as a grade five river because of its seven metre waterfall, however it is suitable for all people who are reasonably comfortable in water.

Too scary? We have various rafting options available from Grade 2 to 5  

Spend your afternoon soaking in Rotorua's Polynesian Spa. Very relaxing thermal hot pools with onsite massage therapies.

Approximate Distance: 137 kms | 85 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 50 mins​

Accommodation Rotorua - 1 night

Rafting in Rotorua.
Located only a short way from the town centre and the lake front, our motel in Rotorua has been independently assessed by Qualmark as 4 star quality accommodation. Easy to find on Lake Road and from the moment you arrive, you'll enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the nearby aquatic centre, the CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Bella Vista


Geothermal Rotorua / Queenstown

Wai-O-tapu Thermal Wonderland

Just south of Rotorua lies Wai-O-tapu, a wonderland of stunning geothermal activity and a really exciting place to visit. Wai-O-Tapu means 'Sacred Water' and it is easy to see why as the hot pools range in colour from turquoise blue, rich green and gold to an almost olive/yellow, make the water a dazzling kaleidoscope of natural colour.

The steaming vents with New Zealand’s largest bubbling mud pool while being surrounded by huge volcanic craters make the experience very other worldly - but wait, there is more... the Highlight is the Lady Knox Geyser that spectacularly erupts daily at around 10.15am (ish)

Alternate excursions in and around Rotorua:

See Geysers & Boiling Mud    Polynesian Hot Springs  Whirinaki Forest Walk
Thermally Active GolfBiking the Mighty ForestsFlight to Volcanic Island
Museum of Art & HistoryEvening Cultural Experience   White Water Rafting

Fly to New Zealand's Adventure Capital - Queenstown

Accommodation Queenstown - 2 nights

Geysers at Rotorua.
Offering a variety of one and two bedroom apartments set in a relaxing garden setting, you are only a five-minute walk to Queenstown's bustling centre. These quality suites and apartments have courtyards, balconies with alpine views and are self-contained and are complemented by high quality facilities and services to enhance your personal experience. A breakfast restaurant serves a continental breakfast.
Queenstown Appartments


Free Day in the Adventure Capital

It is well known Queenstown is New Zealand’s ‘four season’ resort town and arguably the adventure capital of the world. There are certainly enough crazy activities here to challenge the teens – Sure jump off a bridge, try skydiving or roar down a river in a jet boat, but Queenstown offers much more as you can just as easily go fishing, golfing, gold panning, wine tasting, or boating. One thing is certain your family won't run out of things to do.

Recommended Queenstown excursions:

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

Jet boating in Queenstown.


Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

When the last day-boat ties up in early evening and the visitor’s leave a silence descends... An overnight cruise amidst the spectacular Milford Sound is a "once in a lifetime" experience and certainly one the most beautiful places in New Zealand. It's no wonder it was described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world'.

Cruise the full length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in the sheltered Harrison Cove. Then it’s of exploring with the nature guide in the ships tender crafts and kayaks spotting the resident seals, dolphins and penguins, before enjoying a delicious evening buffet meal in the spacious dining saloon, before retiring to your cabin.

Approximate Distance: 289 kms | 180 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 

Accommodation Milford Sound Cruise - 1 night

Milford Sound Cruise
For the ultimate Milford Sound experience, spend the night aboard the Mariner and wake up to the dawn of a new day in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Milford Mariner then anchors in a sheltered cove, where you can join the nature guide and explore in the vessel’s tender craft (small boat) and kayaks. Or, if you prefer, you can simply relax on deck and soak in the beauty of this amazing place or go for a swim (if you’re brave enough). As evening falls, enjoy a delicious carvery buffet in the dining saloon, prepared freshly by our onboard chef. Then relax in the company of fellow travellers or indulge in some star-gazing before retiring to your private cabin 
Milford Sound Overnight Cruise


Penquins, Seals & Dolphins

Dolphins such as Dusky, Bottlenose and Hectors are regularly seen swimming in Milford Sound, while lay about on the rocky shoreline enjoying the sun are the inquisitive New Zealand Fur Seals. Penguins are numerous throughout the fiords. Two species predominate, especially the rare yellow-eyebrowed Fiord-land crested penguin and the Little Blue Penguin.

Once back on land its time to return to Queenstown.

Approximate Distance: 289 kms | 180 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 

Accommodation Queenstown - 3 nights

A cute seal.
Offering a variety of one and two bedroom apartments set in a relaxing garden setting, you are only a five-minute walk to Queenstown's bustling centre. These quality suites and apartments have courtyards, balconies with alpine views and are self-contained and are complemented by high quality facilities and services to enhance your personal experience. A breakfast restaurant serves a continental breakfast.
Queenstown Appartments


Shotover Jet

The Shotover Jet is another adrenaline thrill you'll never forget. From the moment the accelerator hits the floor, your adrenaline hits the roof as you power through the Shotover River and deep into the Shotover River canyons! It's an amazing ride, as the Shotover Canyon walls tower over you, and your driver skilfully whips the boat past rocky outcrops, and skims around crags and boulders.


Shotover Jet


The Iconic Bungy Jump

Celebrate the end of your tour with a Bungy jump from the Kawarau Bridge.

Take the leap of a lifetime off the100 year old Kawarau suspension bridge. Kawarau Bridge was the first full-time bungy jump site in the world and is the place where adventure tourism began in New Zealand. The bridge platform is 43 metres above the Kawarau River and the jumper has the option of a head and shoulders splashdown in the river if you feel like cooling off.


Queenstown Bungy


Homeward Bound

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

Sadly, your NZ family adventure is at an end. We know you will enjoy our New Zealand Family Adventure and our promise to you is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about the NZ Family Adventure - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

Bon Voyage New Zealand

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What Steve says about this tour: This tour is designed to get your older teens enthusiastic. With rafting, sailing, caving, and wildlife encounters, there are numerous fun and adventurous activities for all to enjoy. Guests also enjoy the scheduled down time and opportunities to learn about indigenous Maori culture.
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