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sample new zealand tours

At Destination Seekers we offer a completely bespoke service, ensuring that your itinerary is perfect for you. For inspiration, please find below a sample tour of New Zealand.

Complete New Zealand

Day 1 to 2: Auckland

Arrive in New Zealand's "City of Sails", Auckland, the country's largest metro area.

In the morning explore the city. Sandy beaches, native bush and lush rainforests give way to a vibrant urban culture humming with life. Options include Viaduct Harbour, nearby Waiheke Island, walking to the top of Auckland's highest volcano, Mt Eden for exceptional views of the gulf, climbing the Sky Tower standing at just over 300m tall or scale the outermost perimeter of the Harbour Bridge. Today you will also need to collect your North Island rental car ready for your onward adventure.

Day 3 or 4: Rotorua

The drive south from Auckland to Rotorua (136 miles: 2.6 hours) takes you past the Bombay Hills and into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of Waikato. When you reach the town of Matamata you can visit the fully intact Hobbiton film set used for shooting the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Leaving Hobbiton, when you see the signs of steam and other geothermal activity you will know you have arrived at Rotorua.

The next day explore Rotorua. Sprinkled with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the world’s most active volcanic regions. Additionally, Rotorua is home to several prominent Maori tribes and a visit to a Maori Village should be high on your agenda. There are also adrenaline activities in the area at Velocity Valley Adventure Park.

Day 5 to 6: Wellington

The drive from Rotorua to Wellington (273 miles: 5.3 hours) takes you via the township of Taupo, home to New Zealand’s largest lake. You will also pass Turani, Rangipo Desert, Tongariro National Park, Waiouru, Taihape and Mangaweka. Follow the coast through Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton to arrive at your destination, Wellington.

Spend your day in Wellington discovering all this brilliant city has to offer. The windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food, and fashion. The jewel is Te Papa Museum where you can get an enlightening history lesson. Another great activity is visiting Weta Workshop Experience, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar.

Day 7: Picton 

Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the 3 hour Interislander Ferry, which is a 92km journey and ‘one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world’. On this cruise you pass interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859), the seal colony on Red Rocks and Oterangi Bay. The Cook Strait offers spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island. The cruise also takes you through Marlborough Sound, a region of photogenic mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays. Today you will also need to collect your rental car for the South Island ready for your onward adventure.

Day 8: Kaikoura

The journey from Picton to Kaikoura (98 miles: 2.1 hours) takes you through Blenheim and the wine producing region of Marlborough. The world class wines here are well worth tasting. Next you will travel down one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. There is the chance to view the native wildlife here such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals.

Once in Kaikoura there are a myriad of exceptional choices to explore the abundant marine life, which is what draws visitors to this region. Whales, seals and dolphins are frequently spotted year round here. These can be seen on boat trips, kayak expeditions or even via a scenic flight.  

Day 9 to 10: Christchurch

Today you travel down the coast towards Christchurch (111 miles: 2.5 hours). The road then takes you inland through the Waipara Valley wine region. If you have time you could detour to Hanmer Springs for a relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you'll see a new and improved city, rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

The next day is yours to explore Christchurch. You can go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three. For nature enthusiasts, wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens. There are also options to explore the surrounds of the city, including skiing, mountain biking, wine tasting or whale watching. Or you could take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for an authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.  

Day 11: MacKenzie Country

Driving into the heart of the South Island from Christchurch to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (217 miles: 4.1 hours), you will travel through breath taking scenery. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo, after which New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook comes into view. Pass Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue colour.

*Optional: you can add an extra day here to walk into the national park.

Day 12 to 13: Dunedin

Today’s drive from Aoraki Mount Cook National Park to Dunedin (197 miles: 3.7 hours) will take you past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. You will go through Omarama, and drive through the Waitaki Valley. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre.

The following day you have time to explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula, where you can see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

Day 14 to 15: Te Anau

The drive from Dunedin to Te Anau (246 miles: 5.0 hours) takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Drive through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

*Optional: If you have the time, embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote and beautiful Doubtful Sound.

The next day, take the road to Milford Sound (145 miles: 3.6 hours) for some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. If you need to stretch your legs get out of the car for the Chasm Walk, to see several powerful waterfalls. Arriving into the village of Milford, take a day cruise into the heart of the sound. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord before back-tracking the way you came.

Day 16 to 17: Queenstown

Today you’ll cross vast tussock lands from Te Anau to Queenstown (102 miles: 1.9 hours). Pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation before you arrive at the Remarkables mountain range which towers over your approach into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

The next day is yours to explore Queenstown and its surrounds, and also to try out the adrenaline fuelled activities on offer. These activities include the Shotover Jet, Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski. If this isn’t for you Queenstown offers far more than a fast-paced action-packed holiday. Gibbston Valley wine trail offers the region’s best Pinot, or you could take a leisurely lakeside stroll, drive through Lord Of The Rings Country, or ride the gondola for breath-taking views.

Day 18 to 19: Fox Glacier

Your drive today takes you from Queenstown to Fox Glacier (199 miles: 4.0 hours), on a day full of spectacular scenery and experiences. First you pass through the stunning alpine town of Wanaka, after which you will follow the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to Makarora, Mt. Aspiring National Park. If your legs need a stretch, a walk to Blue Pools through lush rainforest is an excellent stop. Crossing the Haast River, you then have a short distance until you arrive in Fox Glacier.

You have the next day to explore the mighty Fox Glacier, the largest glacier on the west coast at 13km long. Examples of activities include a Heli-hike or ice-climbing. You can also walk through the forest to view the glacier wall. 

Day 20: Christchurch 

Travelling back to Christchurch involves driving from Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station (122 miles: 2.5 hours) and then taking the TranzAlpine Scenic Train from Greymouth to Christchurch. Considered one of the world's great train journeys, you'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. You will pass lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps.

Day 21: Home 

Today you will leave New Zealand

Inspired? Contact Destination Seekers to talk through your requirements and plan your perfect bespoke adventure.

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