New Zealand Overland: South to North Island
At a Glance
Experience a stunning natural playground on your overland adventure in New Zealand! Starting from vibrant Christchurch, explore glaciers, fjords and towering mountains at scenic South Island. Drive on to the sunny North Island for wildlife adventures, Maori cultural excursions, relaxation and world class wines.
Arrival at Christchurch
Kia Ora! Welcome to New Zealand, the youngest country on Earth! On arrival in Christchurch, ‘The Garden City’, you will collect your rental car at the airport and drive to your hotel. Christchurch is New Zealand’s second-largest city and the gateway to the South Island. Bordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean. There is nowhere else in the world where, within two hours of an international airport, you can ski at a world-class alpine resort, play golf, bungy jump, raft, mountain bike, hot-air balloon, wind surf, whale watch and visit internationally-acclaimed wineries and gardens. The rest of the day is at leisure for you to explore the city with its numerous heritage structures, museums, parks, gardens, cafes, malls and restaurants. Overnight stay at hotel.
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.
One-way Transfer from Christchurch to Franz Joseph - Franz Josef Helicopter Flight with Snow Landing
Depart Christchurch and travel beside the Waimakariri River, over the Southern Alps and onto the alpine village of Arthur’s Pass before arriving in Greymouth. Travel south along the rugged West Coast to arrive at the glacier region of Franz Josef and fox Glaciers.
See the Franz Josef Glacier from the air on a 20-minute helicopter flight above ice falls, snow fields, and crevasses. Lift off above the Franz Josef Glacier, which stretches through Westland Tai Poutini National Park, with thick forest that creeps to the edge of the ice. Mid-way through the flight, the pilot will touch down on part of the glacier snowfield, in a location that could otherwise be reached only with specialized equipment and mountaineering guides. After time to snap some photos and enjoy the view, return to the helicopter for the flight back to Franz Josef township, where this tour concludes at the original departure point.
Transfer from Franz Josef to Queenstown - Evening Skyline Gondola
Travel down the West Coast, past spectacular mountain ranges and native forests and lakes to the Haast Pass, gateway to the World Heritage Westland National Park. Continue around the shores of Lake Hawea to arrive in the alpine resort of Queenstown. In the evening make your way to the base of the Queenstown gondola, located within walking distance from downtown. Take a seat on the gondola for an exciting ascent to Bob’s Peakat Skyline where the Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar awaits. During the ride, soak up the magnificent mountain views of the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Queenstown and the aquamarine waters of Lake Wakatipu – part of Southern Lakes region of New Zealand’s South Island. On arrival at the skyline restaurant, fill your plate with a delicious buffet, with your choice of 4-course lunch or 6-course dinner. Sink your teeth into local favorites including South Island salmon, seafood, salads, roast meats and desserts. Return back to your hotel for overnight stay
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.
Transfer from Queenstown to Mount Cook
Depart Queenstown and its surrounding lush green farmland and relax as you take in the spectacular scenery that changes from the winding Kawarau River Gorge to rugged ranges and mirror lakes. Journey through the historical gold mining region of Central Otago and over the Lindis Pass as you arrive at the Mt. Cook National Park, New Zealand’s great alpine park which has the highest mountains and the largest glaciers. The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the Alpine paradise of Mt. Cook – a larger than life experience.
Transfer from Mount Cook to Christchurch
This morning, travel down the western side of Lake Pukaki at the foot of New Zealand’s tallest mountain – Mount Cook – and onto Tekapo. The views of this alpine region are breathtaking as you head towards the stunning, glacial fed Lake Tekapo. Visit the famous Church of the Good Shepherd standing in picturesque solitude on the foreshores of the lake, and drive through magnificent landscapes across the fertile Canterbury Plains to arrive back in Christchurch.
Full Day Kaikoura Whale Watching
Today morning proceed on a full-day wildlife tour of Kaikoura from Christchurch. It includes a scenic drive from Christchurch over the Canterbury Plains before arriving in Kaikoura. Once in Kaikoura, make your way to a lookout to enjoy the breath-taking views. Next, make your way around to a seal colony before heading into Kaikoura for some free time to explore and maybe have some lunch. Then board a modern catamaran for an exciting whale watch tour. This tour offers up-close encounters with the giant sperm whale. A typical whale watch encounter may include fur seals, pods of dusky dolphins and endangered wandering albatross. Sit back and relax in comfort on your return journey to Christchurch.
Departure from Christchurch
Today morning check-out from your hotel. You will be transferred to the airport to catch your return flight back home. Your tour ends with happy memories.
Arrival at Wellington
Upon your arrival at Wellington, you will be transferred to your hotel. Check-in and relax for some time.
In the morning, enjoy city tour of Wellington. There’s no better way to discover Wellington’s rolling hills, rugged scenic bays, and iconic architectural landmarks than on this 2.5 hour guided tour. The must-see attractions include the famous Beehive and parliament buildings. The Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral is the Southern Hemisphere’s finest example of Gothic Revival architecture. Admire the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, and the breath-taking views of the city from the summit of Mount Victoria. Return to downtown with a drive around the rugged scenic bays of the harbour. Perhaps take a ride on Wellington’s famous cable car (own expense). Visit the summit of Mt. Victoria and take in amazing, 360-degree views across the city, hills and harbour. On your return to Wellington, ride past the rugged southern bays and beautiful coastline. Overnight stay at hotel.
Departure from Wellington
Arrival at Auckland - Transfer to Rotorua - Evening Maori Culture Performance
Today morning checkout from the hotel and transfer to airport to catch your flight for Auckland. Upon arrival at Auckland, board the bus to Rotorua. Reach Rotorua and check-in to your hotel. In the evening experience Māori culture with traditional ceremonies, cultural performances and an authentic hangi dinner with an evening tour of Tamaki Māori Village on the outskirts of Rotorua. As you travel by coach deep into the heart of an ancient tawa forest, your driver guide will explain the protocol for entering a Māori village as manuhiri (visitors). Upon arrival, experience a powhiri (formal welcome ceremony) before entering the village. After a fearsome challenge by a group of warriors and the exchange of a peace offering, you will be warmly greeted and brought onto the marae (meeting house area) with songs and dance. Step inside the village and be transported into another world. Discover the sights and sounds of pre-European Māori life as the villagers demonstrate traditional Māori activities and crafts. See how intricate woven art pieces were created, hear stories of ancient ancestors, see traditional weaponry displays and tattooing in action. You’ll have time to relax and chat to your hosts or wander around the tribal marketplace before your cultural tour ends with the poroporoaki, an official closing ceremony.
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.
Day at Leisure
Today you are free to explore Rotorua on your own.
Transfer from Rotorua to Auckland
In the morning check-out from your hotel and board the bus from Rotorua to Auckland. The journey takes about 4 hours to reach Auckland. Upon arrival, check-in to your hotel and relax for some time. The rest of the evening at leisure. Auckland has something for everyone- the adventurous, the sophisticated, the young and the young at heart. From 24-hour casinos and live theater to cinema, clubs, pubs, bars and dance spots, you can party all the way to breakfast time.
- 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