Unforgettable 17 days exploring New Zealand's North & South Islands!
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Group Size: Avg 22, Max 30
Trip code: NXGKBC
Duration: 17 days
New Zealand - land of fairy-tale scenery, Maori traditions, hobbits, and ice ice baby! This epic 17 day group tour takes in the diverse highlights of both North and South Islands, from snow-capped mountains and vast glaciers, to rolling vineyards and turquoise seas. Learn the Haka with Maoris in Rotorua, hang with the hipsters in Wellington, tuck into an authentic Hangi lunch and get your adrenaline pumping with a bungee jump in Queensland – sweet as!
- Cruise Milford Sound fjord – one of the most beautiful places on Earth
- Go wine tasting in the stunning Marlborough region
- Visit the magical Waitomo Caves, lit by thousands of glow-worms
- Explore Tongariro National Park, including Lake Taupo and the magnificent Huka Falls
- Stay in a traditional Maori marae, and learn the Haka
Day 1: Auckland to Marae stay via Waitomo. Kia ora – welcome to New Zealand! We’re heading to our traditional Marae stay, with a stop at the Waitomo Caves. Choose to visit on foot, by boat or on a black-water raft! The magical caves are lit up the fairy-tale sparkle of thousands of tiny glow-worms – you have to see it to believe it! Near Rotorua we’ll stay in a traditional Maori marae where we’ll learn some Haka moves and watch a Poi dance, before tucking into a delicious dinner.
Day 2: Rotorua. Free day in Rotorua. Check out the geo-thermal attractions, the Government Gardens and the local museum. We’ve also got some amazing optional activities – pamper yourself with a mud bath and spa, take a canopy tour, try zorbing and white water rafting, or for all the Lord of the Rings fans out there, the Hobbiton movie set tour is a must.
Day 3: Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Lake Taupo. Travel to Tongariro National Park - an awe-inspiring landscape sculpted by volcanic eruptions and ice-age glaciers. Marvel at the colourful hot springs, bubbling mud pools, Huka Falls and Lake Taupo.
Day 4: Tongariro National Park. Turn the heat up again; we’re heading back into the volcanic park! We’ll take you on a short guided walk through the rugged landscape. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk the legendary Tongariro Alpine Crossing. If you’d rather save your legs, there’s an optional quad-biking experience on offer – awesome!
Days 5 - 6: Wellington. Continue south to the vibrant capital city of Wellington – regularly voted one of the coolest cities in the world! You’ll go on a city tour, and then have the rest of your stay to explore the city at your own pace. With hip craft-beer pubs, a lovely harbour, one of the best interactive museums in the world and a Lord of the Rings workshop, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Days 7 - 8: Wellington to Nelson. Hop on the ferry to South Island today. Stop at a family-run vineyard before arriving in the charming coastal city of Nelson. You’ll enjoy a delish Kiwi barbecue, and then have free time to explore the city’s funky cafes and amazing art galleries on day 8. Optional activities include kayaking and seal-spotting, skydiving or a day tour of Abel Tasman National Park.
Day 9: Nelson to Kaikoura. Pretty Kaikoura is right on the ocean, backed by the ruggedly beautiful Kaikoura mountain range. Take a walk along the seafront, keeping your eyes peeled for seals and humpback whales. Then grab some insanely fresh seafood from one of the fish restaurants downtown. We’ve got an amazing optional activity on offer too – swimming with dolphins! It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Day 10: Kaikoura to Christchurch. We’ll travel on to Christchurch today. Full of street art, quirky cafes, independent boutiques and cutting-edge architecture, it’s a great place to spend a day or two. Explore some of the hipster bars tonight with your travel buddies.
Day 11: Christchurch to Fox Glacier via Hokitika. We’ll go from sipping lattes in the city to visiting NZ’s most famous glacier – a 13km long wintery wonder. Travel through epic scenery to get there, stopping at Lake Matheson for that killer Insta-shot. When the lake is still, the snow-capped mountains are reflected in the water – it’s unreal!
Day 12: Fox Glacier to Queenstown. Explore the glacier today with a combined helicopter ride and hiking experience or with a scenic flight– unforgettable. Hop on the bus to Queenstown. The city’s nightlife is buzzing so get out there! If you didn’t get your fill of the cold stuff on the glacier, why not check out the ice bar?
Days 13 - 15: Queenstown including Milford Sound. Queenstown is a thrill-seekers paradise! Over the next few days you’ll have the opportunity to try bungee jumping, jet boating, canyon swinging, white-water rafting, jet boating, skydiving and funyaking – phew! On day 14, we’ll visit Milford Sound. A deep blue fjord bordered by a jaw-dropping series of rock faces and dramatic waterfalls, Milford Sound is without question, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Day 16: Queenstown to Lake Ohau via Arrowtown. Travel to Arrowtown. Get those thighs warmed up – we’re saddling up on mountain bikes for a ride along the banks of the Arrow River. Our home for the night is a cosy lodge. Enjoy a tasty homemade dinner with your mates tonight and clink glasses to the amazing couple of weeks you’ve just spent together.
Day 17: Lake Ohau to Christchurch. It may be our last day, but we can still squeeze in some fun. Stop at Lake Tekapo for one more envy-inducing selfie before we head back to Christchurch. We’ll have one final wander around the funky city, before swapping numbers and saying our goodbyes – sniff, sniff. We’ll miss you guys!
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You’ll need to fly into Auckland Airport (AKL). We’re kicking off early on day 1, so we recommend that you book your flight to arrive the day before or earlier. You’ll need to arrange your own transfer from the airport and your own accommodation if you arrive the day before.
Your trip will end in Christchurch in the late afternoon/early evening of day 17. We recommend you book an extra night after your trip ends and fly home the following day. The nearest airport is Christchurch International Airport (CHC).
If you have selected the Christchurch to Auckland route, you will need to arrange flights to land into Christchurch and out of Auckland.
16 nights’ accommodation is included as part of the Grand Kiwi adventure. This is on a multi share basis, in a range of hotels, hostels, motels and cabins. Accommodation is based on four people sharing in same-sex dorms. Twin or double rooms are available at an extra charge. You’ll also enjoy 1 night in a traditional Maori Marae. A marae is a complex of traditional carved wood houses belonging to a particular tribe, with a central meeting house at their heart. Marae life is very communal with everybody usually sleeping in the same room and eating all together.
Some but not all meals are included. We’ll provide a total of 16 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 5 dinners. The rest of the time you’ll have to buy your meals (and all your snacks and drinks) yourself. This gives you maximum flexibility to eat wherever and whenever you like, and to try traditional Kiwi cuisine.
You must be a minimum of 18 years old to join this trip. This trip is designed for 18-39 year olds.
Visitors who are transitting through or entering New Zealand as tourists will need to hold an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before travelling to New Zealand. Tourists will also need to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) alongside the ETA. Tourists can enter for up to 6 months. People entering New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa do not require an ETA.
If you are planning on working at all during your time in New Zealand, you will need to apply for a Working Holiday Visa (available to 18-30 year olds) and can do this by visiting the New Zealand Immigration website.
This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:
Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.
Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.
Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.
Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.
Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.
24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.
It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.