- Get up to $90 cash back per person when you book with us
- A huge 23-day itinerary that covers both the North & South Islands of New Zealand
- 22 nights high-end hostel accommodation, in shared dorm rooms with shared facilities
- 1-night accommodation at a shared cultural experience, with shared facilities
- 23 breakfasts, 1 fish & chip dinner with bay views, & 1 traditional Maori hangi dinner
- Journey through 7 National Parks, including Abel Tasman National Park
- Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds & take a Sundowner Cruise in the Bay of Islands
- Walk to the spectacular arched cavern of Coromandel’s Cathedral Cove
- Visit Te Puia to learn about Maori culture & discover Rotorua’s geothermal wonders
- See the thundering power of Huka Falls
- Check out the views from Matairangi/Mount Victoria, Wellington
- Board the iconic ferry ride between the North & South Islands across the Cook Strait
- Get up close to Kaikoura’s cutest residents at a local seal colony
- Take a tour of Christchurch & see its inspiring regeneration
- Visit the Church of the Good Sheperd
- Join unparalleled stargazing in Tekapo’s Dark Sky Reserve
- Carve your own pounamu (greenstone/jade) pendant in Franz Josef
- Learn to paddle a waka (Maori war canoe) along the Abel Tasman coastline
- Services of an expert tour manager
- Transport onboard a comfortable 22-seat Toyota Coaster
- Departs from the meeting point at Haka Lodge Auckland, 373 Karangahape Road, Auckland (meeting location may change, please check your final documents for the confirmed location
23 Day Epic New Zealand TourExperience 23 unforgettable days as you explore both the North & South Island of New Zealand on a truly monumental adventure.
- Optional activities & accommodation upgrades
Why do we love this
We love how much you get to see of New Zealand on this tour - from North to South with a few secret spots thrown in!
What to Expect
Over 23 unforgettable days (and 23 nights), you'll experience it all: secluded beaches, jaw-dropping scenery, Maoriculture, mountainous ranges, lush rainforests and more adventure activities than you could ever tick off your bucket list.
From the idyllic Bay of Islands, through a geothermal wonderland of bubbling mud, traversing mighty mountains and then hiking the blue glacial ice of the wild West Coast, you'll soon see that New Zealand is filled with many different landscapes and opportunities for adventure!
This small-group guided New Zealand tour of the North and South Islands will visit Coromandel, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Kaikoura, Wanaka, Queenstown, Tekapo, the Bay of Islands, Abel Tasman National Park, Punakaiki and Franz Josef Glacier, with the option to visit Hobbiton, The Tongariro Crossing and Milford Sound along the way.
Day 1 – Auckland to Paihia
You'll start with an 8.00 am welcome breakfast today before your adventure kicks off! Start with a scenic drive to the subtropical "Winterless North". This is the name given to the Northland region of New Zealand, as it's one of the sunniest in the country.
The area is home to some seriously ancient and impressive kauri forests. Stop at the largest, the Waipoua Forest, to meet Tane Mahuta, the biggest tree! At over 1,250 years old and over 51 metres tall, he's looking pretty good for his age.
By the afternoon, you'll reach the town of Paihia, the jewel of the Bay of Islands. You'll arrive in the early evening, and as the sun sets, indulge in a fish and chip feast overlooking the water. It doesn't get more Kiwi than that!
Day 2 – Paihia
With more than 140 sub-tropical islands dotted around the coastline, there's plenty to fill your day. Hitting the water is the best way to enjoy the coves and beaches here, and the optional activities are endless. Cruise through a natural rock archway, explore the ocean floor on a scuba mission, sail in search of the local dolphins (or even swim with them!), or snorkel your way around beautiful islands.
For an epic day of exploration, take a road trip to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand, to see where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collide. It's an unforgettable sight. Alternatively, thrill-seekers will relish the chance to fly high above the ocean on a parasailing adventure. Or, you can hire a kayak, sailboat or stand-up paddleboard and check out the Bay of Islands from sea level.
Whatever you choose, you can be sure you'll have an incredible day in this watery paradise.
Finally, hop on board a catamaran for a Sundowner Cruise! Departing at 5:00 pm, you'll enjoy some smooth sailing aboard a catamaran and explore the inner bays of Paihia, Opua, Russel and Waitangi from a different perspective.
Day 3 – Paihia to Auckland
On day three, it's time to wave goodbye to the spectacular Bay of Islands. However, before travelling back south, discover the region's important role in New Zealand's history with a trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. With a great museum and lots to see, this spot provides unforgettable insight into Maori culture. The 35-metre carved waka (ceremonial war canoe) is the world's biggest and is a must-see.
Then, after lunch, it's back on the bus and back on the road. There are also some beautiful waterfalls around the area, which your guides know how to find. Stop off at one for a little break.
You'll head back to Auckland via Northland's east coast, which boasts stunning beaches and coastal walks. Be sure to have your swimwear handy; if there's time, you'll get to squeeze in a swim at your guide's favourite spots!
After an epic day, you'll reach the bright lights of the City of Sails in the early evening.
Day 4 – Auckland to Coromandel
Leaving the big smoke behind, the next leg of your adventure takes you to the Coromandel Peninsula, a veritable paradise of beautiful beaches and misty rainforests. The drive here is epic – the road twists and turns dramatically round the coastline, and the ocean gets clearer and more pristine before your eyes. So get your camera ready because the views are magnificent!
The Coromandel is home to the famous Hot Water Beach – thousands visit each year to dig their own personal hot tub here. If the tide times allow, you'll definitely grab your buckets and spades and get busy!
Later, travel on to Whitianga, where you'll arrive in plenty of time for your guide to show you around. Sample the sandy beaches, take a surf lesson with the locals, or simply enjoy the vibes.
Day 5 – Coromandel to Rotorua
Start your morning with a leisurely walk along the cliffs and down to Cathedral Cove (which you might recognise from the Chronicles of Narnia). With perfect beaches and massive rock arches and columns, it's one of the most popular places in the Coromandel.
Alternatively, take an optional guided Cathedral Cove kayak trip and check out this stunning coastline from a different angle, accompanied by a local dolphin or two, if you're lucky!
Later this afternoon, you'll head towards Rotorua; en route, visit Matamata – best known for being the home of Hobbiton. For Lord of the Rings fans, an optional visit to Hobbiton Movie Set is an absolute must-do. On a fully guided tour of the 12-acre Middle-earth set, you will see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn!
If hobbits aren't your thing, there are plenty of scenic short walks to enjoy Matamata's lush green rolling hills.
While most of the North Island is volcanic in some way, Rotorua is exceptional for its geothermal activity. With neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore, there are more unique natural wonders in Rotorua than in many other places in the world.
Day 6 – Rotorua
Today is a free day to explore Rotorua and its surrounding area however you like. Talk to your guide for the best free things to see and do in the neighbourhood (Kuirau Park's steaming and hissing mud pools are a great option).
However, if you want, there are also several optional activities you can choose from that you can book with your guide. For example, if adrenaline is your thing, the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world, on the Kaituna River, is begging to be conquered on an exhilarating rafting trip. Or perhaps you'd like to try thundering down grassy hills in a giant air-cushioned inflatable ball (a.k.a ZORB)?
Alternatively, head deep into one of New Zealand's most ancient forests and let the fun begin on a 3-hr eco canopy adventure. Experience over 600 meters of ziplines and swing bridges, plus learn about the native wildlife and ecology as you fly from tree to tree.
Another option is a guided kayak trip across scenic Lake Rotoiti to the spectacular Manupirua Springs Hot Pools, which are only accessible by boat. Have a leisurely soak while your guide cooks a delicious Kiwi BBQ Dinner. After dinner, enjoy a sunset paddle across the lake and visit the glow worm caves.
However you choose to spend the day, you're sure to tick a few things off your bucket list!
Day 7 – Rotorua to Murupara
This morning, you'll visit Te Puia Maori Village. Here, you'll learn more about Maori history and culture, come face to face with the Pohutu Geyser, see jumping mud pools and get up close and personal with kiwi birds.
Later this afternoon, you'll head to Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara – a living Maori village where you will experience a tribal tour by a village elder. Here, you'll also have a chance to learn the world-famous haka and weave your own dinner plate using flax.
Tonight's dinner is a traditional hangi meal. Cooked in an underground earth oven, you can expect tender meat and delicious vegetables infused with a smoky, earthy fragrance – it will fill your puku (belly) right up!
The best part about spending the evening at Kohutapu Lodge? The majority of proceeds from this activity go back to the local community.
Day 8 – Murupara to Taupo
It's only a short drive to your next destination, Taupo, and there's plenty to discover along the way. Your trusty guide will ensure you don't miss a thing, from mesmerising mud pools to the thundering rapids of the Huka Falls and Aratiatia Dam.
Taupo is a beautiful lakeside town with a stunning mountain backdrop. Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake – believe it or not, it's roughly the same size as Singapore! This place is all about the thrills and spills, and there are plenty of optional activities available for the afternoon.
Get your hair wet with a water touch Bungy jump, take an unforgettable skydive or a sunset lake cruise for fantastic lake and mountain views. Bring your swimwear today as one of the best secret stops is on the cards!
Day 9 – Taupo
Today you'll spend a whole day in Taupo exploring at your own pace. Are you in the mood for peaceful lakeside tranquillity or unlimited adrenaline and adventure? Either way, this lake town has got you covered.
For many, the ultimate adventure on offer here is hiking. The Tongariro Crossing is among the top 10 full-day walks in the world. This 19.4-kilometre mountain trek boasts emerald green lakes, venting steam, lava flows and craters. You'll come back grinning from ear to ear before falling into bed and sleeping like a baby.
However, if you'd prefer to relax, jump on a boat for a sailing trip to view Maori rock carvings. Or head to Spa Park and soak until your fingers are wrinkly.
Day 10 – Taupo to Wellington
It's a big drive from Taupo to Wellington, but there's some unmissable scenery on offer, and Lord of the Rings junkies are in for a treat!
This journey takes you through Tongariro National Park via the Rangipo Desert. Some of your favourite Lord of the Rings battle scenes were filmed here. The Desert Road boasts incredible views of three active volcanic peaks – Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu. You may know Mount Ngauruhoe as Mount Doom, so be sure to snap a Mordor selfie!
You'll also pass through two of the North Island's quirkier towns, where your guide has a couple of surprises up their sleeve.
Finally, you'll pull into Wellington in the afternoon, with just enough time for film buffs to make a trip to Weta Workshop, where a talented team of artists and designers produced the special effects of Lord of the Rings and Avatar.
New Zealand's capital is famous for its bars and eateries and is a paradise for craft beer lovers – you'll be spoilt for choice tonight!
Day 11 – Wellington to Kaikoura
Packed with quirky cafes and beautiful street art and famous for its wind, Wellington will blow you away in more ways than one! Your guide will introduce you to some of their favourite spots this morning. If there wasn't time yesterday, you'll also take a trip up Mount Victoria for the best views in town.
This afternoon you'll say farewell to the North Island with a scenic ferry journey across the Cook Strait. It's a 3hr 30min journey, and the South Island has a stunning welcome in-store as you glide through the Marlborough Sounds on the approach to Picton Harbour. You'll feel like you're in another world!
The next destination, Kaikoura, literally means "to eat crayfish", and the area is teeming with them. The nutrient-rich waters of this area attract a wide variety of marine wildlife, including the stars of the show – the whales and dolphins.
Day 12 – Kaikoura to Christchurch
Start your morning in Kaikoura with some optional activities. The chance to swim with dolphins in the wild is a massive New Zealand highlight for many travellers, and this is one of the best places to find them. Pods of up to 300 of these playful creatures hanging out here at any one time.
Alternatively, if you want to get up close to the giants of the ocean, a whale watching tour is the way to do it. Humpbacks, sperm whales and orca all stop by at various times of the year, so this is a great chance to meet some of them.
Finally, after visiting the local seals on your way out of town, the road trip continues to your home for the night – Christchurch, known as the 'Garden City' for its peaceful parklands and lazy rivers.
Day 13 – Christchurch to MacKenzie Country
Spend the morning exploring iconic downtown Christchurch and enjoying this quirky city. Your guide will show you how the city is being rebuilt after the life-changing 2011 earthquake here. There's plenty to see – Christchurch locals are an innovative and creative bunch, and there's tons of art around to check out. The Transitional Cathedral, created from cardboard, is also worth a look!
After lunch, you'll leave the city behind and head for Lake Tekapo. This spot will take your breath away! The lake's stunning turquoise colour and mountain backdrop are a photographer's dream come true. The tiny Church of the Good Shepherd stands right at the water's edge, and couples travel from all over the world for wedding shots in front of it. So grab some confetti and congratulate any passing brides!
This evening, you'll look to the skies for some stargazing. Tekapo is declared an International Dark Sky Reserve, and the clear skies make it the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies. So sit back, relax and enjoy.
Day 14 – MacKenzie Country to Queenstown
If you're feeling enthusiastic this morning, hike up to the summit of Mt John. With fantastic views of the Southern Alps, you'll feel on top of the world.
Speaking of views, today's scenic drive to Queenstown is a show-stopper! From the golden surrounds of Mackenzie country – where Peter Jackson filmed epic battles of Return of the King – to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, it's like you're driving into a postcard.
You'll pause for lots of photo stops en route so you can snap some pics and remember this area forever. You'll make a stop at the spectacular Kawarau Gorge, which also happens to be the World Home of Bungy. Give it a go, or enjoy watching the jumpers scream as they plummet down the gorge!
Then, it's on to more adrenaline and adventure in Queenstown. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, this city has something for absolutely everyone. With two nights and plenty of daylight hours here, get ready – this town certainly knows how to live life to the max!
Day 15 – Queenstown
With a full day in Queenstown, it's time to tick some things off your bucket list! There are many optional activities, like paragliding over the lake, bungy jumping, horse riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, or swinging through a canyon! There are also mountain bike parks and trails to die for.
For hikers, the Ben Lomond day walk will be right up your alley. But beware, it's not for the faint-hearted! This walk is a firm tour guide favourite, and they can recommend great shorter walks too.
For scenery lovers, Milford Sound is a must-see. Whether you fly or drive, the scenery en route is as fabulous as the destination. Once there, as you're sailing beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you'll understand why some call it the "8th Wonder of the World."
Come nightfall, and you have around 40 bars to choose from! Your guide will share their favourites, and no doubt you'll discover some of your own.
Day 16 – Queenstown to Wanaka
Spend one last morning in Queenstown, squeezing in any last-minute activities to get that final thrill.
Then, after the excitement of New Zealand's adventure capital, the afternoon offers the opportunity to chill. Wanaka is Queenstown's slightly quieter little sister, and it's just a one hour drive away. On the way, you'll stop in at charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of character.
As you cruise into Wanaka, you'll soon see why it's considered one of New Zealand's most beautiful mountain towns. It's a seriously stunning sight blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake. There are also fantastic hikes and bike rides all around the town to enjoy.
Day 17 – Wanaka to Franz Josef
This morning is about exploring Wanaka. How, exactly, is up to you! Optional activities include a flying lesson, skydiving, a bike tour along Wanaka's lakeside, or a lake cruise and nature walk on Mou Waho Island. Also, don't forget to check out That Wanaka Tree that sits alone in the lake.
Next, it's onto Franz Josef, with a stunning journey to get there. Stop at lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. You'll want to stay awake for the rest of the trip, too – from the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views; you won't want to miss anything. Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way.
You'll roll into Franz Josef in the late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5 kilometres from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
Day 18 – Franz Josef
After waking to snowy surroundings, your day exploring the stunning Franz Josef Glacier begins! With Aoraki/Mount Cook (New Zealand's highest mountain) twinkling behind the glaciers, Franz Josef is about as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand.
Te Wahi Pounamu, which means 'the place of greenstone' in Maori, is the name given to this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of pounamu (greenstone/jade) that you can find here. Today, you'll participate in a special activity where you'll have the opportunity to carve your very own pounamu pendant at a local gallery.
Afterwards, it's time to get stuck into the many optional activities at Franz Josef Glacier. Weather permitting, you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers! Or, maybe you'd prefer to kayak on a glacial lake; or just relax in the steamy hot springs – the choice is yours.
As well as the awesome glacier activities, you can also try out quad biking, horseback riding and even a bit of group karaoke tonight in Franz Josef.
Day 19 – Franz Josef to Punakaiki
Today you'll depart glacier country for Punakaiki. Driving along the incredible coastal road and exploring the lush West Coast forests almost feels like you've stepped back in time. It's a rare treat to experience such remote prehistoric landscapes, so make the most of this awesome opportunity to unplug from the outside world.
You'll visit one of the famous artisan greenstone factories in Hokitika as you travel north. Then pass-through some old gold mining towns before arriving in Punakaiki.
One of Punakaiki's many natural wonders is the subtropical rainforest – and you are staying in the heart of it for the next two nights! Cook up a group dinner (not included) in this rainforest paradise, and be sure to end the day watching the sunset over the ocean.
Day 20 – Punakaiki
Enjoy some free time in Punakaiki. Whether you decide to soak up the sun on the unspoilt beaches or stroll through the rainforest to a chorus of birdsong, you'll shed your cares in this magical place.
A short walk to see a giant stack of pancakes is a must-do: Punakaiki's limestone Pancake Rocks developed over 30 million years ago. You'll see what water pressure can do when the waves power through some seriously impressive blowholes – watch out for that spray!
Today you could try your hand at surfing or exploring the region's underground caves by tube. Or simply chill by the beach near your rainforest home. On a clear night, head to the beach with your buddies and watch the stars come out to play – seriously, is there a better way to end the day?
Day 21 – Punakaiki to Abel Tasman
Cruising up north from Punakaiki, the scenery gets better and better. The powerful, untouched coastline gives way to rivers and gorges before you drive over the hills and down towards the bayside town of Nelson to stock up on supplies before your next remote hideaway.
Marahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, boasts golden beaches, tranquil lagoons and crystal clear waters. Abel Tasman is the perfect contrast to the wildness of the rainforests and mountains.
Day 22 – Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman is a true beauty! Lush forests, golden sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views – not to mention the local seals, dolphins and bird life. You've got a full day of free time today to explore this stunning location. You might like to hike part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track – one of New Zealand's nine Great Walks – or paddle a kayak to Split Apple Rock.
Alternatively, you could jump, slide, abseil, float and zipline your way through the park on a fantastic canyoning adventure. Fancy a relaxing day instead? Choose yourself a golden beach and make yourself at home.
Day 23 – Abel Tasman to Wellington
Today is the last day of your tour! You'll start things off by learning to paddle a traditional waka (Maori war canoe). Then, experience a karakia (blessing for protection), and learn Tikanga (Maori knowledge and etiquette), all while getting out on the water to enjoy this unique included activity.
Then, the road trip continues along the northern edge of the South Island this afternoon. Make a quick stop at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve (a film location for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) and make your way through Havelock, winding towards Picton to catch the afternoon ferry to Wellington.
As the lights of Picton Harbour fade into the night, relax onboard together for a chilled evening. The tour officially finishes at 8:00 pm in Wellington, but your accommodation tonight is included.
Where we Visit:
- Waipoua Forest
- Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- Coromandel Peninsula
- Hot Water Bach
- Cathedral Cove
- Te Puia Maori Village
- Huka Falls
- Tongariro National Park
- Rangipo Desert
- Lake Tekapo
- Church of the Good Shepherd
- International Dark Sky Reserve
- Haast Pass
- Franz Josef
- Abel Tasman
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Around 70% of guests are solo, so you can absolutely join this or any other tour.
Everyone has their own favourites, but in general, these are the most popular:
- Kayaking – Coromandel
- Hobbiton & Rafting – Rotorua
- Skydiving – Taupo, Wanaka or Abel Tasman
- Canyon Swing & Nevis Bungy – Queenstown
- Milford Sound Day Trip – departs Queenstown
- Heli Hike – Franz Josef
Your guide will supply a continental breakfast each morning of your tour. This will consist of cereal, toast, tea, coffee and juice. And they take any special requests also.
Lunches and dinners are at your own expense. The guides know the best places in each town and city depending on your budget and what you are after, and they will point these out on the way into each location.
Some nights the tour group may choose to cook a meal together. You will head to a supermarket to get everything and then cook as a group at the hostel. Whoever joins in splits the cost, and it usually works out to be about $10 NZD per person. It's a fun, social and cheap dinner.
Likewise, the tour group and guide often head out to a local pub for a beer and a meal. Meals can range from $15 upwards. In summer, it’s not uncommon to have a BBQ washed down with a few drinks.
- The minimum age is 18 years.
- The Operator requires a minimum number of bookings in order for a tour to be financially viable & to have a pleasant group atmosphere.
- Itineraries are subject to alteration without notice & are intended as a guide only. The Operator reserves the right to change the itinerary without any notice.
- Some activities are strenuous in nature. Passengers should be of reasonable health and fitness and carry all required medication and accept that degrees of risk are involved. The Operator must be advised of any prior medical conditions at the time of booking.
- If for any reason you do need to cancel your tour there are a few things to be aware of. Your $99 is a non-refundable deposit, however, in the event that you need to cancel outside of the cancellation period The Operator will hold your deposit on file for life & this can be used towards a future departure
- Upon cancellation, you will be liable to pay a fee to cover the cost of expenses incurred by The Operator at the time of booking in the below schedule. Tour Cost is inclusive of any additional activities and pre/post accommodation
- Outside 45 days Notice – Loss of $99NZD
- 8–44 days Notice – 50% of tour cost
- Within 7 Days Notice – 100% of tour cost
- Changes to activities & additional accommodation are not permitted within 45 days of departure to tour
- If you need to change to an alternative departure date you may do so in accordance with the below fees:
- Outside 45 days Notice – No fee
- 8–44 days Notice – $500 Admin Fee
- Within 7 Days Notice – 100% of tour cost
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