This holiday includes an authentic New Zealand escorted tour with a maximum group size of just 18 like-minded travellers, so not your average ‘coach tour’. Experience the colourful kaleidoscope of New Zealand country life, Maori culture and leisurely touring, explore both islands including the beautiful Northland, Abel Tasman National Park and Kaikoura coastlines. You’ll also see Tongariro National Park, Aoraki (Mt Cook), Milford Sound and the West Coast rainforests.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, please contact one us to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport. We can arrange a stopover en-route if you’d like to break the journey – ask us for options.
After meeting everybody in Auckland the tour begins with a drive northwards to Muriwai Beach on the West Coast. A short stroll along the headland leads to stunning views of the Tasman Sea and the gannet colony nesting on the clifftops.
Skirt the Kaipara Harbour and continue to Matakohe Kauri Museum to discover the history of the kauri tree. North of Dargaville you will enter the primaeval forest of Waipoua to accompany Footprints Waipoua, a group dedicated to preserving the traditions and culture of Ngapuhi, the northern Maori tribe, to visit the magnificent kauri Tane Mahuta.
This evening, relax over dinner in your harbour-side hotel with your fellow travellers.
Today, you’ll cruise out on the Hokianga Harbour, a spiritual place for Maori, on the MV "Hokianga Express" to go ashore on the golden sand dunes. If you're feeling adventurous, you can ride a body board down the dunes.
Then drive across the island to the East Coast and visit the Stone Store in Kerikeri, New Zealand's oldest stone building. Later, take a guided tour through Waitangi Treaty House, a significant place in New Zealand history, where Maori signed the Treaty of Waitangi with Queen Victoria’s representatives in 1840.
From your nearby hotel, there are stunning views out to the beautiful Bay of Islands.
From Paihia, you can either board a purpose-built catamaran to swim with dolphins (gear provided) or take a relaxed cruise out to this maritime park of 144 islands to Cape Brett and the “Hole in the Rock” and go ashore at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island.
Both cruises disembark at Russell (Kororareka), the first capital of New Zealand. Known as the “hell hole of the South Pacific”, it was a favourite haunt of whalers and sealers. Visit the colonial buildings, walk the waterfront or climb Flagstaff Hill for spectacular views. Later on, catch the ferry (15 minutes) back to Paihia to transfer to your hotel.
Today you’ll visit the Kawiti Glowworm Caves where you walk through ancient limestone caves on a guided tour with descendants of Maori chief Kawiti to view thousands of twinkling glowworms.
Further south you’ll stop at the Native Bird Recovery Centre in Whangarei to meet some of New Zealand’s cheeky and unique native birdlife. This centre provides rehabilitation for injured and sick birds, including the national icon, the flightless Kiwi. Returning to your harbourside hotel in Auckland, you have the evening to relax and explore.
This morning you head southeast through the lush dairy farmlands of the Waikato. Touring New Zealand’s dramatic Karangahake Gorge, take a stroll
alongside the Ohinemuri River through native bush to the relics and ruins of this region's gold-mining past.
Next, pass through Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, the landscape dotted with Kiwifruit orchards before continuing on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Along the way, at Okawa Bay, you’ll board "Tiua", a 53ft catamaran for a relaxing sail on serene Lake Rotoiti to secluded coves and natural hot pools reached only by boat - a great way to finish your day.
This morning there's time for relaxation. Perhaps stroll down to Lake Rotorua, a minute from your hotel, or enjoy one of Rotorua's many unique attractions.
This afternoon you will drive out to beautiful Lake Tarawera. At Pounamu Lodge share your experiences over an exclusive lunch with hosts David and Karen, Rotorua locals, who have many stories to tell of their historic links to this region.
Later there's time to further explore Rotorua. The vibrant museum gives a unique insight into the town's rich Maori culture and its significant impact on New Zealand history.
No New Zealand tour would be complete without a visit to the surreal, geothermal reserve, Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable.
On the road into Taupo, you get to view the turbulent Huka Falls where the Waikato River thunders through a narrow chasm. From Taupo, there are magnificent views across the lake to the three active volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, the highest mountain in the North Island.
These mountains of the volcanic plateau are our next destination, the World Heritage Tongariro National Park. Take a walk in the park this afternoon.
Breakfast this morning is at the historic Chateau Tongariro nestled at the base of Mount Ruapehu, following this is a relaxed drive along the mountain road to the Top of the Bruce to enjoy panoramic views over the volcanic plateau.
In the afternoon drive round the slopes of Mt Ruapehu to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. You’ll tour the city's sights and drive up Mt Victoria for the views over the harbour.
Your contemporary inner city hotel is at the heart of Wellington's eclectic cafe scene.
The day is yours to explore, you are at the heart of the action at The Bolton Hotel, a short walk to the waterfront and Te Papa National Museum. Wellington is the food lovers' capital of New Zealand with a huge selection of cafes and boutique breweries to choose from. Ask your MoaTrek Kiwi guide his favourites.
Wellington is also the spiritual home of "The Lord of Rings" where you can visit Weta Workshop and see how all the props are made.
This morning you’ll cruise on the Interislander ferry for three hours across Cook Strait and up beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton. With your feet firmly planted on “Te Waka a Maui”, Maori for the South Island, your next stop is a wine tasting at Allan Scott's vineyard at the heart of Marlborough's premier wine region, renowned for sauvignon blanc.
Afterwards, ascend gradually to St Arnaud village and Lake Rotoiti, a scenic gem nestled in the beech forested mountains of the Nelson Lakes National Park. Visit the Department of Conservation Centre before driving down to Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.
Today you have a choice of a full scenic cruise or a cruise and walk from Marahau along the stunning Abel Tasman coastline. Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park. It protects 23,000 hectares of the most natural stretch of easily accessible coastline in New Zealand.
The coastline is characterised by islands just offshore, sheltered waters, estuaries and golden, sandy beaches. Lie on a beach, or even go for a swim if the weather is warm. The park is sheltered from ocean swells and enjoys a mild climate. After your cruise or walk, you’ll return to Nelson.
Return to Blenheim through Pelorus Bridge and Havelock and leave behind the dry hills of Marlborough for the Kaikoura Peninsula. The road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges as we head south and the views are truly spectacular. Your afternoon is free to explore Kaikoura’s bountiful marine wildlife - a result of the ocean canyon close offshore.
There are many optional excursions from swimming with seals and dolphins to whale watching cruises and flights. One of the many highlights is viewing the seal colony with a backdrop of the Kaikoura mountains and coastline.
Leaving the coast you’ll be driven over the Hunderlee Hills to the Canterbury Plains. Stop for a special lunch at Akaunui, a 100-year-old farm homestead surrounded by large gardens, and dine on wonderful fresh produce straight from the vegetable garden of your hosts, Di and Ian Mackenzie.
Driving through Burke's Pass to New Zealand’s spectacular Mackenzie Country, encounter sweeping vistas of tussock lands and the magnificent mountains of the Southern Alps. A visit to the Church of the Good Shepherd, on the edge of aquamarine Lake Tekapo, makes for an unforgettable photo stop.
Welcome the day at the foot of Mt Cook, at 3,754 metres New Zealand's highest mountain, known as Aoraki “the cloud piercer”. You have the option of exploring the dramatic landscape by taking an early morning walk in the valleys near Mt Cook or treating yourself to a scenic flight or a cruise on a glacial lake.
Travelling south down the Mackenzie Basin, over the Lindis Pass and through the rugged scenery of Kawarau Gorge you’ll reach Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand. Catch the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for breathtaking views. This evening enjoy the variety of Queenstown's cafes and bars.
From Queenstown, you will drive to Te Anau and magnificent Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park. The Milford Road is one of the most spectacular drives on this small group New Zealand tour - dense beech forests, massive mountains, crystal clear waterfalls and mirror lakes.
On arrival in Milford, you board a launch to cruise out onto Milford Sound, dominated by iconic Mitre Peak and home to birdlife, seal colonies and pods of dolphins. A magical flight over the Southern Alps returns you to Queenstown at the end of a fantastic day of touring by land, sea and air.
Today is all about the one and only Milford Sound. From Queenstown we follow the shores of the great southern lakes Wakatipu and Te Anau before heading into the heart of Fiordland National Park on the spectacular Milford Road.
On arrival at Milford cruise by launch out onto the sound dominated by iconic Mitre Peak and home to birdlife, seal colonies and pods of dolphins. A magical flight over the Southern Alps returns us to Queenstown at the end of a fantastic day of touring by land, sea and air.
Today is yours to make the most of the infinite choice of day tours and activities Queenstown has to offer, your "Kiwi Guide" will be right there to help.
Why not take a jet boat ride on the remote and beautiful Dart River in The Lord of the Rings scenery, walking along the lakeshore and the Botanic Gardens or take a thrilling raft ride on the Kawarau River. Other favourites are wine tasting in the celebrated boutique vineyards of Central Otago, golf on one of New Zealand’s best courses, a day walk on the famous Routeburn Track or cruising Lake Wakatipu on the 1912 Steamship, the TSS Earnslaw.
Your first destination is the leafy village of Arrowtown where gold mining history comes alive beside the Arrow River. Heading into tussock country, the road climbs up the Crown Range with expansive views of the Gibbston Valley. Next, call into picture-perfect Cardrona Hotel, its history also traces back to the gold mining era, then continue on to Wanaka. Relax with fine local wines and catch up with the locals over a private lunch at a Wanaka homestead.
There's free time after lunch to discover this lovely lakeside town for yourself. You can bike the lakefront trail, kayak or even walk up to Rippon Vineyard to wine taste with a view.
Today you drive beside Lake Hawea and the head of Lake Wanaka before reaching the pristine mountain and river scenery of the Haast Pass in Mt Aspiring National Park. Well-maintained short tracks through beech forests lead to cascading waterfalls and clear blue pools where trout lurk.
Continuing north through the lush, primaeval rainforest of Westland World Heritage Park, you stop at Ship Creek to stroll the beach and take the boardwalk through swampland rainforest. Lake Matheson is famous for reflections of the Southern Alps and at Fox Glacier, we view the glacier descending the mountain slopes.
Driving north mirror lakes, boulder-laden rivers and glimpses of the Southern Alps lead on to Hokitika where you visit craft galleries – Pounamu (greenstone) carving, glass blowing, wood and copper artisans. The coastal road to Punakaiki follows ancient Pounamu trails used by Maori and the unique flora includes the southernmost nikau palms.
Just up the road is the leading local attraction – the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, sculpted limestone sea stacks and towering cliffs. If the tide is right, blowholes thunder spreading clouds of spray. You get to celebrate your travels tonight at the hotel’s restaurant.
The surrounding Paparoa National Park is very different to any other area on the trip, towering limestone cliffs and karst rock formations with beautiful river valleys draped in subtropical forest.
You’ll have plenty of time to discover the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. There are also some great optional activities here, our favourite is the Glowworm Caves at Charleston but there are also exceptional walking tracks including the Truman track to an isolated beach and the coastal walkway at Cape Foulwind.
Retracing your steps down the coast to Greymouth, you’ll drive up the Otira Gorge on a spectacular cantilevered road through towering mountains to Arthur’s Pass National Park. There are dramatic views from the lookout at the top of the Gorge and you'll have the chance to watch the mischievous antics of the Keas (alpine parrots) in the carpark.
Stretch your legs in the beech forests at Arthur’s Pass village and take a walk to see the massive limestone rocks rising out of bare pasture at Castle Hill before we descend Porter’s Pass to the Canterbury Plains reaching Christchurch in the late afternoon. Depart late in the day or add some time on in Christchurch at the end of your stay.
Why not add in a stopover in Australia or the South Pacific? Speak to your consultant for more details.
This is just one example of our small group escorted tours, if you’re looking for something a bit shorter in length, or just want to visit one island maybe, get in touch and we’ll put together some options for you.
Similarly, if you love the itinerary, but prefer to do all or some of it as a self-drive, we can help with a tailor-made holiday to New Zealand for you.
New Zealand is a year-round destination and there is always something to see and enjoy whatever time you decide to travel. High season runs from December to February (summer), prices will be at a premium at these times and availability limited so it is advisable to book in advance. March to April and September to November can be a great time to travel as the weather is fine and the crowds fewer. Low season is May to August (winter) for most of New Zealand, this is, however, the best time for skiing and so ski towns such as Queenstown will be at their busiest.
We’re experts in planning tailor-made holidays, so whether you’re looking for a luxury New Zealand holiday, ideas for a road trip or multi-stop flights to New Zealand with stopovers – let us help you with the planning. Our experts can tailor-make precisely the trip you’re looking for – this itinerary is purely a suggestion, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.
21 nights in New Zealand including: