New Zealand Encompassed: Harbours & Houseboats

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Overview

Now's the time to explore New Zealand on your terms with this tour that's affordable for young travellers. Don't just get a taste for New Zealand, sink your teeth into it on this comprehensive 24-day trip — our longest in this part of the world. Get close to the land by exploring national parks, glaciers (pretty cool, are we right?), and a sustainable farm then embarking on an expert-led kayak excursion. Best of all, you’ll get to explore the magnificent Bay of Islands, home to some of the world’s top fishing. By the end of these 24 days, you'll be wishing your trip were much, much longer.

Itinerary

Day 1: Auckland

Arrive at any time.

It’s time to make some memories! Join your CEO and group for a night out in Auckland. Dinner, drinks, ice cream? You’ll mix and match these depending on the mood of the group to enjoy a wonderful evening. So what are you waiting for? You can choose to grab dinner somewhere tasty, or to head to Giapo ice cream parlour—contributor to Planeterra for a sweet snack, or to go check out craft beer bars downtown like Little Creatures and Habana Joe's. The options seem endless, but regardless of where the night takes you just make sure you snap loads of pictures because there’s no doubt you’ll want to remember this.

Arrive in Auckland at any time. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and explore the city. Visit the Maritime Museum, walk the waterfront, or even take the ferry to Waiheke Island.

Day 2: Auckland/Bay of Islands

Get off the beaten path and travel north on backroads, stopping to see giant kauri trees (some of the largest trees in the world) along the way. Then hop in crystal clear waters for an included snorkelling activity at the Goat Island Marine Reserve. See what life under the sea is all about before boarding a large houseboat for an overnight trip through the beautiful Bay of Islands.

Depart early and travel to a local reserve with giant kauri trees. Native to New Zealand, these trees are some of the largest in the world. Learn about their importance to European settlement in New Zealand. Head to the Goat Island Marine Reserve for an included activity of snorkelling to see abundant sea life (seasonal).

Continue on to the Bay of Islands and board a houseboat – your home for the night. While on board, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins that may be frolicking nearby!

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Bay of Islands/Paihia

Make the most of your time on the boat with a free morning to do all of the things you didn’t get to do yesterday. Hop in the water for some kayaking or snorkelling. Visit the nearby islands to do some more exploring, or maybe try your hand at fishing. Then, it’s time to hop off the boat and give the town of Paihia some love. Do some hiking through the lush native forest, go chase some waterfalls, walk along the beach, or grab ice cream and cool off in town while people watching. Then find your group for dinner together in this backpacker haven.

Enjoy a morning of activities from our boat base. Then travel back to the mainland for a walk around the small town of Paihia. An optional visit to the Treaty House in the nearby town of Waitangi is highly recommended.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Paihia/Auckland

It’s always nice when you get some time to catch your breath! Take advantage of this free morning in Paihia to stroll the waterfront, check out the historic Waitangi Treaty grounds, lounge in the town centre with an ice cold drink, or go out on a whim and book a skydiving adventure. No matter what you decide you’re only real job today is to have some fun.

The group returns to Auckland in the early evening. Then everyone will head out for drinks together or to enjoy some delicious ice cream!

Take advantage of optional morning activities such as skydiving, fishing or visiting the historic town of Russell. Travel back to Auckland.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 5: Auckland/Raglan

Begin your journey along backroads to a remote eel farm (this might sound strange, but life’s more fun when you embrace the bizarre) where you will learn about sustainable aquaculture and the conservations farm’s methods regarding traditionally farmed marine life.

After, get on the water for some sea kayaking; exploring remote parts of the harbour before indulging in a picnic lunch. With full stomachs and a relaxed atmosphere the group will head to our lodge just a few minutes drive from the famous surf and arts town of Raglan for the night.

Travel backroads to a remote conservation farm where they are using natural means to boost the stocks of traditionally farmed marine life. Farmers have created a balanced ecosystem to attract native birds and animals back to the area.

After, kayak to a remote part of the harbour for a boat cruise and lunch, before heading to our lodge a few minutes drive from the famous surf and arts town of Raglan for the night.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Raglan

Wake up amid the adventurous in the picturesque North Island town of Raglan. This laid-back place may well be New Zealand’s perfect surf town and you’ll get to enjoy an included surf lesson to get you out in the waves.

The afternoon is yours for the taking; head on a hike around the Wainui Reserve, grab a kayak or stand up paddle board and traverse the harbour, or embrace the Indigenous art scene and shop from place to place finding the perfect memento for your trip. Your only job today is to get out, relax, and have fun!

Head down to the beach for an included surf lesson. The afternoon is open for optional activities such as yoga, stand up paddle boarding or exploring the many trails in the area.

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Raglan/Rotorua

Another day another chance to explore! Today the group will begin journeying to Rotorua with a stop along the way in Waitomo. Here you can choose to go caving in the famous Waitomo caves, where you will see glow worms light up the cave’s ceiling just like stars in the night sky (sounds like a pretty unforgettable experience to us.)

Next stop is Rotorua, notable for its geothermal activity (think hot springs galore) and culture. Once the group arrives here you will visit a local village for an engaging cultural experience to help you better understand the Maori way of life.

Stop en route at Waitomo. Enjoy free time to visit the Waitomo Caves, famous for their glow-worms and adventure activities, or explore this scenic area by foot.

Continue to Rotorua for an engaging cultural experience on the grounds of a historic Maori village.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 8: Rotorua/Taupo

Travelling to Taupo on a clear day is nothing short of breathtaking. From the shores of the lake to the snow capped peaks of Tongariro National Park in the distance, there will be no shortage of photo opportunities. Then, once again, the day is yours so take advantage of the adrenaline capital of the North Island and book some fun activities with your fellow adrenaline junkie friends. Get sprayed with water as you whitewater raft, soak in serenity in thermally heated pools, or stroll downtown in search of something tasty to try. The day is yours and you can spend it as adventurous or as relaxing as you’d like. The group will continue on to spend the night near the shores of Lake Taupo.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 9: Taupo/Wellington

Hit the road to the nation’s capital at the southern end of the North Island. Take in the ever-changing scenery, swap travel stories with your group, and simply reflect on your journey. The group will arrive early enough to visit the National Museum, Te Papa — home to displays of historical Maori artifacts and modern exhibits. Then the choice is yours, so take that cable car ride to the hills overlooking the city, or make that stroll along the Oriental Parade happen because you're here now and you might as well take advantage of everything around you. The group will finish the day off with an optional night out on the town together in the central business district.

Travel to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. Arrive early enough for a visit to the National Museum, Te Papa.

Take a short walk from our accommodation to see the sights of the central business district. Finish the day off with an optional night on the town.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 10: Wellington/Abel Tasman National Park

Don't forget those cameras before hopping on the morning ferry to cross the Cook Strait. Pro tip: make sure you stand outside and marvel at the views of the Marlborough Sounds at the tip of the South Island. Then drive past lush native forests, beautiful clear waters, blue skies, and golden sands as the group travels to Abel Tasman National Park. Spend the night on a floating boat hostel under the stars.

Catch a morning ferry and cross the scenic Cook Strait. Make sure to stand outside and enjoy the views of the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island. Disembark and transfer to Abel Tasman National Park, well-known for its stunning white sand beaches. Board a water taxi to transfer to the middle of the National Park for the night. The night will be spent on a floating boat hostel.

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Abel Tasman National Park

Picture this: birdsong ringing from the treetops as you wander through the undergrowth stumbling upon occasional waterfalls nestled in the midst of the forest. You take a dip in one of the refreshing pools before finding your way to pristine coastline and turquoise bays where you can soak up the sun and relax in the sand.

This is the kind of day that awaits you in Abel Tasman NP, you are free to explore the golden beaches and winding waterways any way you’d like! So have fun, build a sand castle for us, and let the adventures continue!

Includes: Breakfast

Day 12: Abel Tasman National Park/Westport

It’s off to Westport today! Breathe in the fresh air and soak in the beautiful views as the group heads south down the coast of black-sand beaches. Make a (very cool) pit stop to a seal colony in Cape Fouldwind and watch these majestic animals in their habitat before continuing on to Westport for the evening. Once you arrive grab a beer, talk to some locals, and discover the true charm of this coal mining town.

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Westport/Franz Josef

Continue on a scenic drive south along the coast to Punakaiki; think pancake rocks and blowholes (man, those are two random things we never thought would be in the same sentence). As a special spot full of local secrets Punakaiki is a great place to hop out of the bus, stretch those legs, and appreciate the strange beauty nature can create.

Then it’s forever onward to Franz Josef where you can, and should, take advantage of free time to enjoy optional activities like hiking, horseback riding, and sea kayaking. As the day winds down follow coastal roads to arrive at a unique wilderness lodge set in the rainforest for the night.

Continue following the coastal road towards Franz Josef arriving at a unique wilderness lodge set in the rainforest for the night.

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Franz Josef

The adventures are far from over! Remember all those activities you missed out on yesterday? Today is all yours to tackle them as you please. From helicopter hikes to walking on the Franz Josef glacier there’s bound to be something you’ll want to check off that bucket-list.

If your goal is to make actual contact with the glacier then try a heli-hike or guided ice walk. Or you could let nature be your guide and lose yourself in the rainforests, lakes, and waterfalls that surround Franz Josef. If you’d rather stay in town, then grab a bite to eat before booking a spa treatment at the Glacier Hot Pools... the choice is yours!

Includes: Breakfast

Day 15: Franz Josef/Queenstown

Hit the road to the adventure capital of the world — Queenstown. Sit back, relax and gaze out the window as you drive away from Glacier Country and wind through lush forests back to the coast and into the mountains over Haast Pass. The photo opportunities will seem endless (make sure those cameras are charged.) Then gear up and get ready because the adrenaline is going to be pumping the next few days.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 16: Queenstown

Let’s put it this way, if you’re the sort of person that loves adventure mixed with adrenaline all while exploring one of the most scenic places in the country, then Queenstown is for you!

Gear up for two days that are sure to leave you breathless. Free time in Queenstown is no joke, so be a dare devil and get ready to have those hearts pumping with some adrenaline-filled options like jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking or skydiving.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 17: Queenstown

Let’s put it this way, if you’re the sort of person that loves adventure mixed with adrenaline all while exploring one of the most scenic places in the country, then Queenstown is for you!

Gear up for two days that are sure to leave you breathless. Free time in Queenstown is no joke, so be a dare devil and get ready to have those hearts pumping with some adrenaline-filled options like jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking or skydiving.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 18: Queenstown/Te Anau

Let your breathing finally return to normal as the group departs Queenstown to visit Fiordland National Park. After arriving, soak up the chill vibes on a boat cruise through one of the most iconic places in New Zealand — Milford Sound. Marvel at the views of one of the wettest places on Earth and then if you are feeling up to it, book a cruise across Lake Te Anau to visit a cave that is home to thousands of glowworms.

Day 19: Te Anau/Central Otago

It’s time to discover the natural beauty of Te Anau with a morning of free time. Head out to hike on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, visit the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, and try a savoury pie from Miles Better Pies. Then, it’s time to transfer to Wedderburn in Central Otago to give the eastern part of the South Island some love.

Includes: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 20: Central Otago

Enjoy the unique landscape of Central Otago while biking 35 km on the Otago Rail Trail. Pass through this powerful landscape of weathered ancient mountains, alpine herb fields, and fast flowing rivers. Cycle through one historic town after another and sample some local food and drink as you go (Pinot Noir lovers rejoice).

Includes: Breakfast

Day 21: Wedderburn/Christchurch

Scoot on up to Christchurch to explore the South Island’s largest city and one of the places in New Zealand with the strongest English influences. Wander around Christchurch in the afternoon and learn how it was rebuilt following two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Enjoy some free time this evening to see what the nightlife is all about with your travel tribe and grab some shut eye in a converted jailhouse to finish the evening.

Overnight in the very unique converted jail house.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 22: Christchurch/Kaikoura

Mountains, marine life, and magic! Kaikoura is pretty darn special, so special in fact, that it may be the South Island’s best kept secret. The best way to experience it is to get out there and witness what this rugged coastal town does best. Book a whale watching cruise, swim with seals, or just take a walk along the coast admiring the scenery. In the afternoon try bird watching, swim with dolphins or splurge on flight over the peninsula.

Spend the afternoon swimming with dolphins or taking a scenic flight over the peninsula.

Bird watchers will be pleased to know that big ocean birds such as albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters frequent the area.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 23: Kaikoura/Wellington

Reminisce and reflect as you and the group travel to Picton to catch a ferry back to Wellington. Watch the majestic scenery of this country unfold before you and simply appreciate the moment (we know you’re probably already making plans to return.) Once back in the city grab some grub with your travel crew and let the good times roll for one last night out together.

Includes: Breakfast

Day 24: Wellington

Depart at any time.

Or... if you aren't ready to leave extend your trip a bit because let's face it, you'll probably never regret staying a bit longer.

We highly recommend post-accommodation to fully explore this vibrant city. Looking for a lift back to Auckland? Add on the "Auckland Express" and ride with your CEO back north. Ask your sales CEO or agent about this Extra.

What is the Auckland Express Extra? Depart Wellington at 6am and return to the Nomads Auckland hostel for around 5pm (8-9 hours driving time). If you have booked this transfer NOT on the last day of your tour, you must book post-accommodation through G Adventures. All services must be connected.

Includes: Breakfast

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