It’s easy to spend a whole year in New Zealand but if you don’t have that much time but still want to see the very best of this country this tour is for you. In 24 days you’ll head north from Auckland to the stunning Bay of Islands where you’re pretty much guaranteed to see dolphins. Venturing further north we visit New Zealands northernmost point of Cape Reinga where you can go sand boarding on giant sand dunes.

Heading back down south we visit the Coromandel Peninsula where you can dig your own hot tub on the beach and visit the beautiful Cathedral Cove. Heading to the centre of the North Island you’ll experience Maori culture with a traditional meal, see the bubbling hot pools in Rotorua and marvel at the amazing Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Also in the North Island is a visit to one of the best museums in the world, Te Papa in Wellington.

Onto the South Island and we visit some of the most beautiful national parks in the world, including Abel Tasman and Mount Aspiring national parks. As well as visiting the famous Franz Josef Glacier you’ll have 2 days to explore the adventure capital of New Zealand, and home of bungy jumping, the beautiful Queenstown. There are plenty of day trips to stunning places to see unbelievable scenery and native wildlife included on this complete tour of New Zealand.

24 Day Complete New Zealand Tour Highlights

Auckland to Auckland via everything!

  • Auckland, the city of sails
  • Hug a Kauri tree
  • Paihia, gateway to the Bay of Islands
  • Cape Reinga & Sandboarding
  • Hot Tub on the beach
  • Kaituna waterfall walk
  • Maori cultural experience
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Blue Duck Station – a working farm
  • Te Papa, national museum
  • Abel Tasman National park
  • Wine-Tasting in Marlborough
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes
  • Cape Foulwind wild seal colony
  • Mt Aspiring National Park
  • Doubtful Sound
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Lake Matheson, mirror lake
  • Jet Boating
  • Adventure capital of NZ, Queenstown
  • Wanaka – beautiful bike ride
  • Hooker Valley Hike
  • Hanmer Springs
  • Kaikoura

This is a great tour for your first visit to New Zealand, because you can see all the highlights whilst getting to know a great bunch of new friends!

Complete New Zealand Tour

24 Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Auckland to Paihia
The day starts bright and early when you’re picked up from your accommodation and we head north to Paihia, stopping at a few beautiful places on the way. You’ll get the chance to hug a Kauri tree (one of the world’s mightiest trees), as well as enjoying a hike to a waterfall and stopping for lunch in the scenic Waipu Cove. Before settling into our accommodation for the night we visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (own expense). You have a free evening after we join each other for a group meal.
– Accommodation included: Beachfront hostel
– Activities included: Tree hugging huge kauri trees at Parry Kauri Forest, Waipu Cove
– Optional activities: Waitangi Treaty Grounds
– Meals :Dinner
Day 2 – Paihia to Hokianga
Paihia is the gateway to the Bay of Islands so this morning we take a wildlife cruise amongst the 144 islands which are bursting with marine life. There’s no better way to see the stunning Bay of Islands than by boat – keep an eye out for wild dolphins. In the afternoon it’s off to the Hokianga Harbour, where we will see the huge sand dunes. In the evening you have the chance to take part in a Maori-guided twilight encounter, where you’ll visit the Waipoua Forest, learn about Maori legends and the spiritual inhabitants of the forest, and visit the largest Kauri tree in the world, the “God of the Forest” Tane Mahuta (own expense). We finish the day with a Kiwi classic for dinner, traditional fish and chips.
– Accommodation included: Waterside lodge
– Activities included: Bay of Islands wildlife boat trip
– Optional activities: Footprints Waipoua twilight encounter, bone carving
– Meals :Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Hokianga to Auckland
We start the morning with a ferry ride across the Hokianga Harbour to go sand boarding down massive dunes (weather dependent) before we start to make our way south through the mighty Waipoua Forest. Here you will have the opportunity to see NZ’s largest Kauri trees. We visit the idyllic Kai Iwi Lakes for a swim in the beautiful crystal clear waters surrounded by a pure white sandy beach, before returning to Auckland for a late afternoon arrival.
– Accommodation included: Central city hostel
– Activities included: Hokianga Ferry ride, sand boarding, visit Waipoua Forest (NZ’s largest Kauri trees), swim in the Kai Iwi Lakes
– Meals :Breakfast
Day 4 – Auckland to Hahei
We depart Auckland and head south east to the Coromandel peninsula and the pristine sands of Hahei Beach, from which you can access the famous Cathedral Cove. Accessible only by foot, boat or kayak, Cathedral Cove is a ‘must see’ on the Coromandel Peninsula. Afterwards we gather for an entertaining hands-on ‘Kaimoana’ (seafood) cooking class to prepare a delicious feast of fresh local seafood for dinner (non-seafood option available).
– Accommodation included: Comfortable beachside accommodation
– Activities included: Walk to Cathedral Cove, Kaimoana cooking class
– Optional activities: Cathedral Cove Kayaks
– Meals :Dinner
Day 5 – Hahei to Rotorua
Today we’re heading to Hot Water Beach, a unique surf beach where you can dig a hole in the sand to create in your own personal spa pool (tide dependent). After the beach, we’ll make our way towards Rotorua, stopping before we get to town to stretch our legs with an easy walk to watch white water rafters navigate the waterfalls of the Kaituna River. This evening you will be welcomed into the authentic Tamaki Maori Village, where you will discover Maori art, ancient rituals and traditions. Tonight we dine on a delicious hangi (Maori feast), enjoy an interactive cultural performance and the company of our Maori hosts.
– Accommodation included: Central city lodge
– Activities included: Dig your own spa pool at Hot Water Beach, Kaituna waterfall walk, cultural experience with traditional hangi meal, kapa haka (Maori song and dance) and interactive performance
– Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Full day in Rotorua
You have a full free day in Rotorua to discover this area which is well-known for its Maori heritage, adventure and geothermal activity. You have the chance to do some great optional activities, such as a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, white water rafting, ziplining through native bush, mountain biking and more. A great option to finish the day is to spend the evening soaking in the hot pools at the luxurious Polynesian Spa.
– Accommodation included: Central city lodge
– Optional activities: Visit Hobbiton, white water rafting, Zorbing, the luge, ziplining, mountain biking, Polynesian Spa
– Meals: Breakfast
Day 7 – Rotorua to National Park
Make sure you set your alarm last night as we have a very early start so we can make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Tongariro National Park,’ . You’ll get the chance to do what is rated as one of the world’s best one day walks, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Trek through dramatic natural scenery past volcanic peaks, vast craters and stunning turquoise lakes on one of the most spectacular treks in New Zealand and try to spot some Lord of The Rings film locations. Alternatively you can go on one the shorter walks around this volcanic region or visit the Volcanic Centre Museum.
– Accommodation included: Alpine lodge
– Activities included: Tongariro Alpine Crossing and transfers, or Taranaki Falls walk and Tawhai Falls (Gollum’s Pool)
– Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 – National Park to Blue Duck Station
After your big day of hiking, you get a chance to sleep in and we won’t depart until mid-morning. Phew! Our destination today is one of the most remote parts of the North Island. We’re heading for the award winning Blue Duck Station in Whakahoro, a 7,200 acre high country farm that is both a working sheep and beef station and an environmental conservation leader. This afternoon you get the opportunity to take part in a 4WD Bush Safari and farm adventure, where you’ll explore this vast land and the New Zealand native bush, discover the remains of an unbelievable local history, and learn about the farm’s conservation efforts. Your dinner is cooked using local produce.
– Accommodation included: Remote country station lodge
– Activities included: 4WD eco-wilderness farm adventure
– Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Blue Duck Station to Wellington
We arrive into Wellington around midday. Wellington is known as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, and it’s a great place to check out the lively arts scene, shopping, craft breweries and café culture. As New Zealand’s capital city, it is home to New Zealand’s parliament and the iconic Beehive government building. This afternoon, you have the option to tour the world famous Weta Workshop, marvel at the wonders of Te Papa National Museum or wander along the Oriental Parade.
– Accommodation included: Central city hostel
– Optional activities: Weta Workshop Tour, Te Papa National Museum, craft beer sampling
– Meals: Breakfast
Day 10 – Wellington (via Picton) to Abel Tasman
Leaving Wellington we’ll travel across the Cook Strait to the South Island’s coastal town of Picton. We’ll get on the coach and check out the famous Marlborough wine region. We visit a local vineyard’s cellar door to sample New Zealand’s world famous Sauvignon Blanc, before heading to the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park. Tonight we enjoy some delicious seafood and a BBQ dinner at our exclusive campsite accommodation.
– Accommodation included: Beach accommodation in the national park
– Activities included: Bluebridge Ferry trip, winery cellar door visit
– Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 – Full day in Abel Tasman
Today you have a free day to explore the incredible Abel Tasman National Park. Check out this stunning coastal area which is famous for being one of the sunniest spots in New Zealand. Walk the coastal track and discover some of New Zealand’s best natural golden sand beaches or choose an optional activity like sailing or sea kayaking (own expense). Tonight you can self-cater and use the BBQ facilities at our accommodation on the edge of the national park.
– Accommodation included: Beach accommodation in the national park
– Activities included: Abel Tasman Track and Aqua Taxi or stand-up paddle board hire (SUP)
– Meals: Breakfast
Day 12 – Abel Tasman to Franz Josef
An early start as we head south along the ‘wild’ West Coast, travelling on the rugged rocky coastline that makes this stretch of road one of the country’s top drives. We stop at Cape Foulwind to view a wild seal colony that’s active year round, then make our way further down the coast to visit the spectacular limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. After that, we carry on to our next overnight stop in the quaint little West Coast town of Franz Josef, home of the mighty Franz Josef Glacier.
– Accommodation included: Hostel close to all attractions
– Activities included: Cape Foulwind seal colony, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks walk
– Meals :Breakfast, Dinner
Day 13 – Full day at Franz Josef
You have a free day to explore Franz Josef or to take a guided tour (highly recommended). There are also many excellent bush hikes available in the area. Tonight we self-cater, giving you the opportunity to dine at one of the local cafes and restaurants in town or make use of the communal kitchen at our accommodation.
– Accommodation included: Hostel close to all attractions
– Optional activities: Glacier heli-hike, scenic helicopter flight
– Meals :Breakfast
Day 14 – Franz Josef to Makarora
We head further down the West Coast towards Mount Aspiring National Park, stopping to take in the breathtaking scenery at the amazing mirror-like Lake Matheson, NZ’s most photographed lake. You’ll see waterfalls as we travel through Haast Pass towards Makarora and then visit the stunning Blue Pools. On arrival in Mount Aspiring National Park we go jet boating to experience the best in shallow water boating, viewing pristine waterways, snow-capped peaks and native bush.
– Accommodation included: Unique mountain chalets
– Activities included: Walk around Lake Matheson – Mirror Lake, walk through beech forest to the Blue Pools, Jet Boat Mt Aspiring National Park
– Meals :Breakfast, Dinner
Day 15 – Makarora to Doubtful Sound
Our first stop today is Fiordland National Park, one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations, with stunning ice-carved fiords, valleys, lakes and mountain scenery. We’ll visit Doubtful Sound, the deepest of all the fiords, surrounded by towering peaks and huge waterfalls and board a purpose-built boat and enjoy complimentary afternoon tea while cruising past fur seals, penguins and dolphins. There are also sea kayaks available to explore the fiord.
– Accommodation included: Overnight on the boat, anchored within a secluded bay in a UNESCO World Heritage Site
– Activities included: Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise, sea kayaking, wildlife spotting
– Meals :Breakfast, Dinner
Day 16 – Doubtful Sound to Queenstown
We depart Doubtful Sound around midday, leaving behind stunning Fiordland to head for Queenstown, the ‘adventure capital of the world’. Queenstown offers an optional big (make that huge) night out with excellent restaurants, pubs and live music.
– Accommodation included: Lodge located close to town with awesome views
– Meals :Breakfast
Day 17 and 18 – Queenstown
You have two free days to fully explore everything on offer. Queenstown is a great place to spend a few days, no matter what your past-time of choice is. Options you can choose, at your own expense,  include: bungy jumping, zipline tours, canyoning, Shotover River jet boating, skydiving or walk up Ben Lomond or Queenstown Hill for amazing views, or just enjoy the stunning scenery around you and do nothing.
– Accommodation included: Lodge located close to town with awesome views
– Optional activities: AJ Hackett Bungy, Canyon Swing, Skyline Gondola and Luging
– Meals :Breakfast
Day 19 – Queenstown to Mt Cook
We’ll jump back on the bus for a short drive to Wanaka, where we’ll spend the morning cycling along some of the world’s most beautiful lakeside bike paths. After lunch, we head over the Lindis Pass through the picturesque Mackenzie region to the base of the country’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. There is time for a hike through the Hooker Valley for breathtaking views of the dramatic mountain landscape, or opt to take an alpine scenic flight (own expense). This is also one of the best places in New Zealand to join an evening stargazing tour.
– Accommodation included: Alpine lodge
– Activities included: Mountain biking in Wanaka, scenic walk in Hooker Valley
– Optional activities: Big Sky Stargazing or scenic heli-flight
– Meals :Breakfast, Dinner
Day 20 – Mt Cook to Christchurch
Today we make our way through a landscape made famous in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. We’ll take a break for a stroll around Lake Tekapo, iconic for its historic church and turquoise waters. Between Tekapo and Christchurch there is an option for thrill seekers to hop-off and join a top-notch Grade 5 white water adventure on the Rangitata River (own expense). Those not rafting will continue on to Christchurch, where your driver guide will point out the highlights of the South Island’s largest city. The rafters will rejoin the group at the accommodation in Christchurch this evening.
– Accommodation included: Modern central city backpackers
– Activities included: Explore Lake Tekapo area
– Optional activities: Rangitata white water rafting
– Meals :Breakfast
Day 21 – Christchurch to Hanmer Springs
This morning we drive from the city centre to the historic French settlement of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. After exploring the delights of the village, we’ll have time for lunch – make sure you sample one of the wonderful French pastries on offer in the cafes. Next, we head to the peaceful alpine town of Hanmer Springs, where you can spend the evening surrounded by mountains and forest as you relax in the thermal hot pools. Tonight is a group dinner.
– Accommodation included: Cozy alpine chalets
– Activities included: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
– Meals :Dinner
Day 22 – Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura
We start today with an invigorating walk up Conical Hill for the best views in Hanmer Springs. Then, we’ll make our way to the East Coast and the coastal village of Kaikoura, famous for a huge array of natural wonders from land to sea.  We arrive in Kaikoura so you have free time to experience all this location has to offer. Why not go out on the water and experience one of Kaikoura’s famous dolphin and whale spotting tours (own expense), see seals sitting right beside the road at Goose Bay or wander around the peninsula and check out the breathtaking views from the lookout.
– Accommodation included: Warm modern hostel
– Activities included: Conical Hill walk, peninsula walk and seal colony visit
– Optional activities: Whale watching, swim with dolphins
– Meals :Breakfast
Day 23 – Kaikoura to Wellington
Today we’ll travel north on a scenic drive along rugged coastal roads to Picton, where we catch the interisland ferry crossing over the Cook Strait back to Wellington. The evening in Wellington is free – why not discover some this funky town’s culinary delights at one of the top notch restaurants along Cuba Street.
– Accommodation included: Central city hostel
– Activities included: Ferry from Picton to Wellington
– Meals :None
Day 24 – Wellington to Auckland
Today is an express day via National Park back to New Zealand’s largest city Auckland.  We stop along the way for photo opportunities and have lunch in National Park town, before heading back to Auckland for a late afternoon arrival. We hope you had a blast on your New Zealand journey!

What’s included in your 24 Day New Zealand Tour?

  • Experienced tour guide
  • 23 nights’ accommodation
  • Meals: 20 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 12 dinners
  • Multi-share accommodation (or upgrade to twin/double/single)
  • Bluebridge Ferry between North and South Islands
  • Tree hugging at Perry Kauri Forest
  • Swim at Waipu Cove
  • Bay of Islands wildlife cruise
  • Hokianga ferry ride and sand boarding
  • Visit Waipoua Forest and Tane Mahuta (NZ’s largest Kauri tree)
  • Swim at Kai Iwi Lakes
  • Walk to Cathedral Cove
  • Kaimoana cooking class
  • Hot Water Beach
  • Kaituna waterfall walk
  • Maori cultural experience, including traditional hangi meal and interactive performance
  • 4WD eco-wilderness farm adventure
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park
  • Winery cellar door visit
  • Walk in Abel Tasman National Park
  • Aqua Taxi ride or Paddle board hire
  • Visit Cape Foulwind seal colony
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks walk
  • Walks around Lake Matheson and the Blue Pools, Mt Aspiring National Park
  • Jet Boat Ride in Makarora
  • Doubtful Sound overnight cruise
  • Sea kayaking in Doubtful Sound
  • Mountain biking in Wanaka
  • Walk up Hooker Valley track, Mt Cook National Park
  • Explore Lake Tekapo area
  • Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
  • Conical Hill walk
  • Seal spotting in Kaikoura

Start:               Auckland CBD

Start time:      7:00am

Finish:            Auckland CBD

Finish time:    6:00pm

Duration:        24 days/23 nights

Tour may cost extra depending on the type of accommodation you choose.

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