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New Zealand Uncovered Tour

Join this premium, 20-day small group tour of the North & South Island, combining geothermal wonders, stunning nature, & Maori culture.
Auckland, New Zealand
Duration
Duration
20 Days, 19 Nights
Max Group Size
Max Group Size
16
Minimum Age
Minimum Age
18 years
Fitness Level
Fitness Level
Moderate
Meals
Meals
Partially included
Start & End Location
Start & End Location
Auckland or Christchurch

What's Included

  • Get up to $90 cash back per person when you book with us
  • A 20-day premium tour of New Zealand, exploring both unmissable highlights of the North & South Island
  • An itinerary designed for small groups of travellers in their mid-thirties & upwards
  • 19 nights in twin-share 3–4 star accommodation, with a mix of hotels, motels, lodges, & rainforest retreats
  • 11 continental breakfasts & 4 dinners, including a traditional Maori hangi cooked in an underground oven
  • Walk a stunning coastal track to Cathedral Cove 
  • Soak up a sunset boat cruise in the West Coast surf town of Raglan, with a fish'n'chip dinner
  • Visit a Maori Village & see the mighty Pohutu Geyser, watch the haka & learn more about Maori culture
  • Brave the Redwoods Treewalk, crossing 23 raised suspension bridge
  • Hike through the forested gorge of Ruakuri
  • Take the iconic & scenic Interislander ferry over the Cook Strait
  • Taste some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc at a Marlborough wine tasting
  • Cruise through Wanaka on a scenic e-bike (bicycle with electric motor) experience
  • Carve your own pounamu (jade) pendant in Franz Josef
  • Take in the stunning Southern Alps & the vast Canterbury Plains aboard the TranzAlpine inland rail journey.
  • Services of an expert tour manager
  • Transport onboard a comfortable 22-seat Toyota Coaster 
  • Auckland to Christchurch tours depart from the meeting point at Ramada by Wyndham Newmarket Auckland, 41 Gillies Avenue, Newmarket, Auckland (meeting location may change, please check your final documents for the confirmed location
  • Christchurch to Auckland tours depart from the meeting point at Bealey Suites, 263 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch (meeting location may change, please check your final documents for the confirmed location) 

What's Excluded

  • Optional activities & accommodation upgrades

What to Expect

This incredible small-group tour of New Zealand is created for travellers in their mid-thirties and upwards. In just under three weeks, you'll discover New Zealand's unmissable highlights, including geothermal wonders, other-worldly glaciers, sublime beaches, lush forests, lofty mountains, secluded swimming spots, UNESCO World Heritage Areas, flora, fauna, heritage and culture.

 

Travellers can choose to depart Auckland and finish in Christchurch or opt for the reverse itinerary with all the same great experiences, just in the opposite direction. The tour includes special activities such as one of the world's most scenic train journeys, a guided scenic e-bike tour, a traditional Maori meal, a walk amidst towering treetops, and a night of glamping.

 

Plus, there's also free time for you to choose optional add-ons such as hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, kayaking to a natural hot pool, climbing a glacier, visiting an off-shore eco-sanctuary, exploring Hobbiton, or flying above an active volcano!

 

At the end of the day, you can relax in comfortable 3–4 star twin-share accommodation to ensure you have a great night's sleep ready for the following day's activities.

 

Day 1 – Auckland

 

Day 1 is pretty chill! All you need to do is check in, settle into your accommodation and be ready for the 6:00 pm pre-tour meeting. Here you will meet your Tour Manager and be introduced to your new road trip friends.

 

Afterwards, the evening is yours to enjoy. A good night's sleep is recommended in order to be ready for tomorrow's early start, but you may want to experience Auckland's exciting nightlife – the choice is yours!

 

Day 2 – Auckland to Coromandel

 

After a continentalbreakfast, it's time to board the comfortable air-conditioned vehicle for the journey away from the city and towards the Coromandel Peninsula, a paradise of beautiful beaches and misty rainforests. The drive is truly spectacular, and you'll want to have your cameras ready as the magnificent coastline and ocean come into view. 

 

The Coromandel is home to the famous Hot Water Beach, where if the tide times allow, you can dig your own personal hot tub.

 

You'll arrive in Whitianga with 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 3 – Coromandel to Raglan

 

Today's road trip to the arty surf mecca of Raglan will give you a first glimpse of the North Island's rolling tree-lined hills and valleys. Plus, your guide has some incredible sights for you along the way, including the 55-metre high Bridal Veil Falls.

 

There's plenty to enjoy in this laid-back township. As a surf town, it's the perfect place to grab a board and hit the waves. It's the ideal destination both for beginners and experienced surfers.

 

If surfing isn't your vibe, then check out the excellent blend of cafes, bars, and galleries – the streets ooze character and creativity. Relax on the black sand beach and leave any lingering jet lag behind, or enjoy a variety of bush and coastal scenery on Raglan's walking trails.

 

For dinner tonight, tuck into New Zealand's unofficial dish – fish and chips – on board a relaxing sunset boat cruise of Raglan Harbour.

 

Day 4 – Raglan to Rotorua (via Waitomo)

 

The day's first destination is an optional stop at the Waitomo Caves, famous for its glow worms. There are fantastic and informative walking tours of the caves where you can learn more about the history, geology and Maori mythology of this unique area of New Zealand.

 

For those who prefer to stay above ground, why not explore the tree-studded gorges and limestone arches of the nearby Ruakuri Forest Walk – it's a firm favourite amongst the guides.

 

This afternoon you'll make your way to Rotorua, famous for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. The adventures here begin with The Redwoods Treewalk. This amazing included activity allows you to experience the majestic Redwood Forest from a series of suspension bridges and living decks (platforms), elevated from 9-metres to 12-metres at the highest point.

 

Day 5 – Rotorua

 

Rotorua has it all: natural beauty, unique geothermal landscapes, and iconic Lord of The Rings destinations. You'll spend a full day here, with plenty of time to explore as you like and join a variety of optional activities. 

 

A visit to the picturesque Hobbiton movie set is a must-do activity for any Lord of the Rings fan. But, even if you haven't seen the films, it's impossible not to be charmed by this gorgeous Hobbit village set amongst the lush green hills of Matamata.

 

Alternatively, for a truly epic brush with nature, fly high through the lush ancient forest canopy on a zipline tour complete with swing bridge crossings and treetop platforms. It's a brilliant way to get to know the native plants and birds – many of which are unique to New Zealand.

 

This evening you're welcomed to a Maori village for an unmissable cultural experience featuring combat demonstrations and, of course, the breathtaking haka. However, this experience extends beyond the performance – you'll have the chance to see magnificent geothermal activity, including the Pohutu Geyser and get to spot kiwi birds. Finally, enjoy the perfect finish to the evening with dinner included in the form of a delicious hangi cooked in an underground oven.

 

Day 6 – Rotorua to National Park (via Taupo)

 

Rotorua is a spectacular whitewater rafting destination, and with expert guidance, it can be experienced by first-timers and pro-paddlers alike. For the ultimate thrill this morning, you can raft the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world – the 7-metre Tutea Falls on the Kaituna River.

 

If that's not your cup of tea, spend the morning exploring Rotorua's many attractions, such as the ultra-relaxing Polynesian Spa or perhaps the naturally-impressive Kuirau Park full of steaming hissing and boiling geothermal pools.

 

From Rotorua, it's a quick drive to Taupo, a beautiful lakeside town with a stunning mountain backdrop. However, your guide will take the slow and scenic route, with time to check out bubbling mud pools and thundering waterfalls, including Huka Falls, en route.

 

You'll finish the day nestled in Tongariro National Park, where you'll spend the next two nights. This is also home to one of the ten best one-day walks in the world – the Tongariro Crossing.

 

Day 7 – National Park

 

Is today the day you brave the Tongariro Crossing? Considered one of the world's top 10 best one-day walks, this 19.4km mountain trek boasts emerald green lakes, ventingsteam, lava flows, craters and rich green bush. It's not for the faint-hearted, as it's a challenging day! However, every step of the way, the views are spectacular.

 

If 19.4km is a little too far for you, there are plenty of shorter walks and hikes to enjoy. However you choose to spend today in this UNESCO World Heritage Area, you won't forget it.

 

Day 8 – National to Wellington

 

The next stop is the hip and happening Wellington. Perched on the edge of a spectacular harbour encircled by green, towering hills, Wellington is a stunning and compact city. Vibrant, exciting and cultured, the nation's capital combines the stimulation and sophistication of a big city with the quirkiness and personality of a much smaller town.

 

After a quick afternoon orientation from your guide, head up to Mount Victoria for some of the best views in town. 

 

This evening, the city lights are yours to enjoy. Discover why Wellington is celebrated for its foodieculture – you are truly spoilt for dining choices tonight. Wellington is also widely regarded as the craft beer capital of New Zealand, so feel free to enjoy a pint or two. 

 

Day 9 – Wellington

 

Soak up the atmosphere of vibrant Wellington. Famous for being a bit windy, be prepared to ditch the hairspray and go with the flow. 

 

Today includes a drive around the bays through central Wellington to the BotanicGardens and Parliament Buildings. You will also stop by Weta Studios, most famous for its creative contribution to all things Lord of the Rings. Take an optional tour to see prop-makers in action and learn about the immersive world of filmmaking.

 

Wellington has a feast of cultural attractions, and its crowning glory is Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. Situated on Wellington's magnificent waterfront, this internationally acclaimed museum combines leading-edge technology with traditional exhibits to tell the stories of New Zealand's land and people. The museum is free for all.

 

If being outdoors is more your thing, head off to Kapiti Island for an optional nature tour. Here you can see endangered birds up close and learn more about New Zealand's unique flora and fauna.

 

Day 10 – Wellington to Kaikoura

 

This morning you'll say farewell to the North Island and take one of the world's most scenic ferry journeys across the Cook Strait. The South Island has a lovely welcome in store as the ship glides through the Marlborough Sounds, approaching PictonHarbour. You'll feel like you're in another world!

 

One of the best ways to explore Marlborough, the region at the top of the South Island, is with your tastebuds. That's why you'll jump straight on an included wine tasting to sample some of the best vineyards in the country and their famous sauvignon blanc. 

 

After lunch, the next destination is Kaikoura which 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 11 – Kaikoura to Christchurch

 

The optional chance to swim with dolphins in the wild is a massive New Zealand highlight for many travellers, and Kaikoura is one of the best places to find them, with 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 here 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 the 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 12 – Christchurch to Ohau (via Lake Tekapo)

 

This morning you'll explore iconic downtown Christchurch, and your guide will show you the cool and creative ways the city is being rebuilt after the life-changing 2011 earthquake here. Christchurch folk are an innovative and creative bunch – the Transitional Cathedral, created from cardboard, is totally inspirational.

 

Then, mid-morning, you'll head for Lake Tekapo. Keep your camera ready, as the lake's breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop are a photographer's dream come true. It's also home to the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, which stands right at the water's edge, proving that small is bold and definitely beautiful. 

 

Day 13 – Ohau to Queenstown

 

Today's journey is particularly scenic. From the golden tussock lands of Mackenzie country – where Peter Jackson filmed epic battles of Return of the King – to the dramatic peaks of the SouthernAlps, it's like you're driving into a postcard.

 

Your guide will pause for many photos stops en route to give your camera a workout, including a stop at the spectacular Kawarau Gorge. This also happens to be the world home of Bungy! Give it a go or enjoy watching the jumpers scream their way into the gorge.

 

The end destination for this afternoon is Queenstown. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, this scenic town 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 14 – Queenstown

 

With a full day in Queenstown, let's work on that bucket list! There are heaps of optional add-ons to choose from: extreme jet boat rides, river kayaking, horseback riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, and the Skyline Gondola are just a few favourites.

 

For scenery lovers, Milford Sound is a must-see. Whether you fly or drive, the scenery en route is as incredible as the destination. Once on the Sound, as you sail beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you'll understand why we call it the "8th Wonder of the World".

 

Day 15 – Queenstown to Wanaka

 

With another free morning in Queenstown, you have another chance to tick off your bucket list today. What will it be? A trip to the top of the Skyline Gondola, or perhaps an adrenaline-pumping jet boat ride through the Shotover Canyon? You decide!

 

This afternoon you'll jump back onto the road and head off to Wanaka, a quick one hour drive away. The drive is a scenic highlight in itself, and en route, you'll stop in charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of old-world character.

 

This afternoon is your chance to relax in stunning Wanaka, known as Queenstown's slightly quieter little sister. Blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake, you'll soon see why Wanaka's considered one of New Zealand's most beautiful mountain towns. There are breathtaking hikes and leisurelybike rides for a welcome chance to relax.

 

Day 16 – Wanaka

 

Today is your chance to explore one of the most beautiful towns in the southern lakes region with plenty of activities to tempt every lover of the outdoors. Start the day off with an included scenic e-bike experience. It's like a regular bike but has a small motor, so you don't need to pedal as hard.

 

Then, pick and choose from a range of optional activities. One option is a visit to Mou Waho Island. Accessible only by boat from Wanaka and famous for being home to an (unnamed) island, in a lake (Arethusa Pool), on an island (Mou Waho), in a lake (Lake Wanaka), on an island (the South Island) in the ocean (the Pacific!). Sounds complicated, but once you are there, it will all make sense!

 

In Wanaka, there are also many walks, hikes and biking trails to choose from – check out the famous "Wanaka Tree" while making your way around the lake! Or, if you feel like relaxing, ask your guide to recommend their favourite secret spots to enjoy the surrounding scenery.

 

Lastly, one of the best ways to admire Wanaka is from the air. Treat yourself to a skydive or a scenic flight in a vintage plane – you can even take a flying lesson!

 

You'll mix things up tonight by heading to the stunning Criffel Station for a night of glamping (aka glamorous camping)! Think fancy canvas tents with decadently comfortable beds and the great outdoors right on your doorstep.

 

Day 17 – Wanaka to Franz Josef

 

After a relaxing morning in Wanaka, the journey to Franz Josef is another stunner – many of the guides rate it as their favourite drive in New Zealand. Once you hit the road, you'll stop at one of the most popular lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option.

 

From the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won't want to nap on the bus in case you miss anything. Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way.

 

You'll arrive in Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5km from town, begging to be explored tomorrow.

 

Day 18 – Franz Josef 

 

Awake to a snowywonderland, 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) to be found here. Included in your tour today is a special opportunity to carve your very own pounamu pendant at a local gallery.

 

Then, there are heaps of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier; weather permitting, to get up onto the bluest ice, you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers. Maybe you'd prefer to kayak on a glacial lake or just relax in the steamy hot springs down below.

 

As well as the awesome glacier activities, you could also try out quad biking, horsebackriding and even a bit of group karaoke tonight in Franz Josef!

 

Day 19 – Franz Josef to Christchurch

 

Having spent nearly three weeks on the road, it's your last full day on tour! After breakfast, you'll head further along the beautiful west coast on another of the most spectacular drives in the country (and, some would say, the world). It boasts a rugged, ancient landscape of luxuriant rainforest juxtaposed against breathtaking beaches and ocean waves.

 

Stop at Hokitika and visit a greenstone factory, a great place to stock up on souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Time permitting, you may also visit the National Kiwi Centre, where there is guaranteed viewing of rare kiwi birds in their nocturnal house.

 

On the way back to Christchurch, you'll traverse the South Island on the stunning TranzAlpine train crossing. Travelling across the Southern Alps through Arthur's Pass, this is considered one of the world's most scenic train journeys. Along the way, you'll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River and see miles of native beech forest.

 

You'll arrive in Christchurch around 6.30 pm before transferring to your accommodation.

 

Day 20 – Christchurch (Post Tour Debrief)

 

Today is the final day of the tour, where you'll exchange photos and stories over breakfast before saying your goodbyes and parting ways.

 

Where we Visit:

  • Auckland
  • Coromandel Peninsula
  • Hot Water Beach
  • Whitianga
  • Raglan
  • Waitomo
  • Rotorua
  • Taupo
  • Tongariro National Park
  • Wellington
  • Cook Strait
  • Marlborough
  • Kaikoura 
  • Christchurch
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Ohau
  • Kawarau Gorge
  • Queenstown
  • Arrowtown
  • Wanaka
  • Criffel Station
  • Franz Josef
  • Hokitika 
  • TranzAlpine 
  • Christchurch
Tour Options
  • New Zealand Uncovered Tour – Christchurch to Auckland
    FromNZD $7499
    Check Availability
    Next available 15 Dec 2022
  • New Zealand Uncovered Tour – Auckland to Christchurch
    FromNZD $7499
    Check Availability
    Next available 14 Mar 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Everyone has their own favourites, but in general, these are the most popular:

  • Kayaking – Coromandel
  • Hobbiton & Rafting – Rotorua
  • Milford Sound Day Trip – departs Queenstown
  • Heli Hike – Franz Josef
02022-05-23 14:53:54
2022-05-23 14:53:541

Yes! The wonderful thing about a small group tour is that even if you join the tour as a solo traveller, by the end of the tour, you will have met new friends from around the world!

 

Accommodation is a twin-share room, and if you are travelling alone, the crew will arrange for you to share a room with a fellow guest (of the same gender), or you have the choice to upgrade to a private room.

 

Please also note that there are no single person supplements unless you want to have your own private room - in this case, upgrades are available.

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Included in this tour are 11 continental breakfasts and 4 dinners – including a traditional Maori hangi, cooked in an underground oven.

 

The guides know the best places in each town and city for different budgets and tastes, and they will point these out on the way to each location.

 

The tour group, along with your guide, will often head out to a local pub for a beer and a meal. Evening meals can range from NZ$25 upwards.

02022-05-23 14:53:54
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Yes – they often have vegetarian/vegan guests and all cafes and restaurants in New Zealand will offer meat-free options. If you can’t see anything on the menu, just ask, as most places will happily prepare something for you.

02022-05-23 14:53:54
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This tour was designed for travellers in their mid-thirties and upwards; however, anyone over the age of 18 is welcome to join. More important than age is an attitude – the guides have found over the years that if you have a thirst for adventure, then age is no barrier. Please do keep in mind, though, that a reasonable level of fitness is required for any optional activities.

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Policies

Terms & Conditions:

  • 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

Cancellation Policy:

  • 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 60 days – Loss of 99NZD
    • 30–59 days – 50% of tour cost
    • 15–29 days – 75% of tour cost
    • Within 14 days – 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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