Highlights of the North & South Islands
At a Glance
Explore the diverse landscapes and highlights of both the North and South Islands on this New Zealand vacation. From the geothermal waters of Rotorua to the Fiordlands in the South, a melting pot of cultures in cosmopolitan cities, Maori heritage, abundant wildlife and sweeping coastline – experience it all!
Arrival at Auckland - Self-Drive
On arrival collect your Rental Car. The rest of the day is free to explore at your leisure.
Auckland - Rotorua (Self-drive) via Hobbiton
Today check-out from your hotel and travel southeast to the town of Matamata. Experience the real Middle-Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the bucolic setting for The Shire that featured in the Peter Jackson directed films, The Lord of the Rings. Then, drive on to Rotorua, New Zealand’s geothermal wonderland, steeped in Maori culture and history.
Full Day Waitamo Caves and Gloworm Tour with Te Puia Thermal Reserve
Today experience the natural wonders and cultural highlights of Waitomo Caves and Rotorua with an action-packed full day sightseeing tour. Travel north into the King Country region, home of the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Travel through these underground limestone caverns on a 45-minute guided tour and hear how the amazing stalactites, stalagmites, and other weird and wonderful rock formations were formed over 30 million years. The magical Glowworm Grotto is a highlight – travel by boat along an underground stream, while above you thousands of tiny glowworms illuminate the cavern. Enjoy a picnic-style lunch served on board the coach (vegetarian and other dietary options available on request) as you return to Rotorua.On the outskirts of the city, get a taste of New Zealand’s farming industry with a four-wheel drive tour of the Agrodome, a working organic farm. You’ll also witness an entertaining farm show, including sheep-shearing and a sheep dog trial. Continue to Te Puia where you will enjoy a performance of Māori culture including singing and dancing, followed by a guided tour of the neighbouring Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley where you will see the mighty geysers and boiling mudpools, Return back to your hotel for overnight stay.
Transfer from Rotorua to Christchurch
In the morning check-out from your hotel and you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Christchurch. On arrival in Christchurch, you will be transferred and check-in to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day exploring Christchurch on your own.
Hanmer Springs Hot Pool & Jet Boat Full Day Tour
Discover the charming village of Hanmer Springs on this full-day tour from Christchurch. Get your heart pumping on a jet boat ride through stunning Waiau Gorge and afterwards relax and rejuvenate in hot thermal pools. Leave Christchurch behind you after a pick-up from your hotel and enjoy the 90-minute drive north to Thrillseekers Canyon. Here make the most of the canyon’s stunning river and experience a great adrenaline rush with a jet boat ride through Waiau Gorge. After your thrilling jet boat experience, arrive in Hanmer Springs. This peaceful village, surrounded by mountains and forests with fresh alpine air, is a popular local spot. Its marvellous scenery, as well as award-winning natural thermal pools, makes this an extraordinarily restful area. Enjoy lunch at the Garden House Cafe after a full day of excitement. At Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, take a dip in the sulphur pools and relish the soothing experience. After your bath, have some time to explore the village and absorb the local atmosphere. Return back to Christchurch for overnight stay.
Christchurch City Tour
Board a luxury coach for an interactive guided tour of Christchurch. See the best the city has to offer including 4 premium attractions—Punting on the Avon, the Gondola, the Botanic Gardens, and the Tram.Start with the iconic attraction of Punting on the Avon. As you sit on cushioned seats in a flat-bottom boat, your Edwardian-dressed guide leads you on a 30-minute ride on the river, past willows, woodlands, and leafy banks. Next, visit the seaside villages of Sumner and Redcliffs. En route, pass the “earthquake artwork” created by shipping containers designed to strengthen the seaside hill suburbs. Experience the natural beauty of the Botanic Gardens on an electric solar-powered vehicle, see the finest range of exotic and indigenous plants in New Zealand, and learn the history of this treasured oasis. Then visit the Re-Start Shopping Precinct, a development constructed with shipping containers, breathing new life into the devastated center of town following the city’s earthquakes. Ride the Gondola and admire 360-degree views across the plains, Alps, the city, and the harbor. Experience the Time Tunnel ride, shop, and stop at the Red Rock Café. Then board the Tram, with a newly extended track, and enjoy a unique and historic way to view the inner city. A full circuit lasts 50 minutes, including 17 stops, and trams runs approximately every 15 minutes. Return back to your hotel for overnight stay.
Akaroa Day Tour with Harbour Cruise
Today travel to Akaroa over the beautiful Banks Peninsula, formed following violent eruptions of two ancient volcanoes. The high summit route gives glorious views of Akaroa Harbour, the Canterbury Plains and the distant Southern Alps and the remote bays and farmlands. The Akaroa crater nurses the picturesque harbour and Akaroa village, the only French settlement established in New Zealand. Visit the Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory for a cheese tasting of locally made cheeses, the only remaining cheese factory on the peninsula from a bygone era. After lunch you join the Eco-marine Nature & Harbour cruise on the Akaroa Harbour. Your cruise is packed with highlights including the rare, NZ native dolphin – the Hector’s Dolphin, as well as penguins and other sea birds. And you’ll see giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa’s fascinating past. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and history of the harbour.
Transfer from Christchurch to Queenstown
Today, travel across the fertile Canterbury plains before arriving at the Lake Tekapo continue to the south to the small town of Twizel before travelling to the historic Central Otago region to Lake Wakatipu and the alpine resort of Queenstown. Spend the rest of the day exploring Queenstown on your own.
Ride the Queenstown gondola and enjoy scenic views over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables range.
Full Day Milford Sound Cruise
Today take an unforgettable journey into the heart of Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination. You’ll experience the world-famous fiord in all its natural glory – surrounded by dense rainforest, glacier-carved valleys and beautiful waterfalls. Leaving Queenstown, travel in comfort along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and into southern farmland to Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island. After a morning tea stop (own expense), travel along the lake and into Fiordland National Park. Enter the picturesque Eglinton Valley, a place of ancient alpine forest and gushing waterfalls and one of only a few road-accessible glacier valleys in New Zealand, and take advantage of the photo opportunities on offer along the Milford Road, like the stunning Mirror Lakes, where on a calm day the surrounding mountain ranges are perfectly reflected in the still waters, and Knobs Flat, where glaciers have carved their mark on the terrain. Your glass-roof coach will provide amazing views of the dramatic skyline as you cross the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, with stunning mountain peaks all around. Stop at Monkey Creek and sample some of the purest water in the world (but watch out for cheeky kea – native mountain parrots!). Travel under the mountains through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km passageway drilled into solid rock, then experience The Chasm, a short but impressive walk over footbridges spanning a series of powerful, swirling waterfalls and rapids. At Milford Sound, board your 1 hour 45 minute cruise and set off to explore the region that Rudyard Kipling called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Travel the length of the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea, gliding past glacier-scarred rock walls and waterfalls that tumble through valleys and crash into the sea far below. Lush native forest clings to steep cliffs, while wildlife including seals, penguins and dolphins are regular visitors to the icy waters. After your cruise, return to Queenstown by coach for overnight stay.
Day at Leisure
Today, the day is at leisure to explore the city or one can explore the endless optional attractions available.
Queenstown Highlights with Shotover Jet Activity
Visit six of Queenstown’s top attractions on this half day Queenstown tour! The guided tour is hours filled with fun and excitement, beginning with a visit to a stunning lookout at Queenstown Hill; from here, snap lots of photos and enjoy panoramic views of the city, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and Lord of the Rings film sites! From the lookout, you head to the AJ Hackett Bungy Bridge, where you join a behind the scenes tour and watch the brave jumpers take the leap! Next, make your way to Gibbston Valley Winery for a tasting of three on-site produced fine wines and check out the region’s only cheesery. From here, you are transported to Middle Earth at the Kawarau Gorge, a film location for the Lord of the Rings’ Pillars of the Kings. Next, you discover the fascinating Arrowtown, an area rich with history and colonial architecture; visit the Lakes District Museum and the Chinese miners’ settlement and browse the boutique shops and eateries. Finally, stop at Shotover Gorge. Shotover Jet is the worlds most exciting jet boat ride and is a spectacular way to finish off your Queenstown Highlights tour. It appeals to the young and the old and is one of the “Must Dos” in Queenstown. 25 minutes of blood racing adrenalin as you jet boat the Shotover canyons. Your tour driver will help you check in at the Shotover Jet river base and then depart. The transfer back to Queenstown will be provided by the Shotover Jet courtesy shuttle which drops off at the Station building in the centre of town
Departure from Queenstown
Today morning check-out from your hotel. You will be transferred to the airport to catch your return flight back home.
- Tour Guide
- Passport fees, immunization costs, city taxes at the hotel and local departure taxes (wherever applicable)
- Optional enhancements like room or flight upgrades, or local camera or video fees
- Additional sightseeing, activities and experiences outside of the itinerary
- Early check-in or late check-out from hotels (unless otherwise specified)
- Breakfast, lunches, dinners and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), unless specified in the itinerary
- Any international and/or domestic flights, unless explicitly mentioned as an inclusion
- Excess baggage charges, and where applicable, baggage not included in your fare
- Tips for services and experiences
- Any Visa required, unless mentioned as an inclusion
- Read useful information and terms for more on what is included and excluded