This tour includes a small group, a great guide (Colin Mairs), centrally located hotels, all sightseeing, and unforgettable experiences.
Here’s the important information:
- New Zealand in 14 Days. North and South Islands.
- Oct 22 – Nov 4, 2018
- & March 4 – March 17, 2019.
- Starts in Auckland. Ends in Christchurch.
- Overnight stays: Auckland (2), Rotorua (3), Oamaru (1), Queenstown (3), Franz Josef (2), Christchurch (2).
- Tour price covers: accommodation every night of the tour; all breakfasts; 9 other meals; transportation throughout the tour; internal flight from Rotorua to Christchurch; services of a professional tour guide; admissions for all group activities mentioned on the itinerary; all tips for drivers, local guides and waiting staff.
- Highlights: Waitomo Glowworm Caves; Hobbiton; Rotorua Maori experiences; Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony; Winery visit and tasting; Cruise on Milford Sound; Franz Josef Glacier Valley walk; scenic train ride across the Southern Alps from Greymouth to Christchurch.
- Oct 22 – Nov 4, 2018.
- Tour price: US$4,450 per person
- Early Pay Discount: US$4,150 per person(if you pay the full balance before January 31st 2018).
- March 4 – March 17, 2019.
- Tour price: US$4,750 per person
- Early Pay Discount: US$4,450 per person(if you pay the full balance before May 31st 2018).
- All details bound by our Terms and Conditions.
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Detailed information: New Zealand in 14 Days Tour
Our adventure to the Land of the Long White Cloud starts in Auckland and ends in Christchurch. Your guide Colin Mairs will introduce you to the real New Zealand. You’ll discover Colin’s favourite spots in his hometown of Auckland; wonder at glowworms in Waitomo; knock doors at Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings fans!); immerse yourself in Maori culture in Rotorua; sample world-class New Zealand wines on site of production; marvel at the beauty of Fiordland and Milford Sound; walk in the footsteps of a glaciers, and take a stunning train ride across the Southern Alps. Join us for New Zealand in 14 Days!
- A small group which will become like one big family. Maximum 24 tour members.
- Full-time services of a professional tour guide and local guides who will enhance your interpretation and enjoyment of New Zealand.
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 17 activities • Auckland Museum • Waitomo Glowworm Caves • Geothermal park in Rotorua • Traditional Maori hangi meal • Hobbiton • Blue Penguin Colony • Moeraki boulders • Winery visit and tasting • Milford Sound Nature Cruise • Cardrona Distillery tour and tasting • Franz Josef Glacier Valley walk • Greenstone (jade) carving demonstration • TranzAlpine train ride • Quake City visit • Canterbury Museum… and more.
- All group transportation from Auckland to Christchurch, including internal flight Rotorua to Christchurch, and TranzAlpine train ride Greymouth to Christchurch.
- 13 nights’ accommodations in centrally located hotels.
- All breakfasts and 9 other meals.
- All tips for drivers, guides, and waiting staff at group meals.
- Option for Early Pay Discount if paying 9 months’ before tour start date.
- Optional single supplements — we have a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
- Solo travellers may be able to arrange a same gender room share. Email email@example.com to discuss.
• Please note: You are responsible for the cost of your own drinks at meals and free-time sightseeing. International flights not included in tour cost. See Terms and Conditions for important details regarding all of the above.
This tour is fairly active. To get the most out of the experience, you should be in reasonably good shape. The most active days average 5-6 miles of walking (often over uneven surfaces and including climbing hills or steps). You will have to carry your own bag up to your hotel room so we also advise packing light.
Daily Activity Indicator
• Light = 2–4 miles walking over mostly level terrain during the course of the day.
• Moderate = 2–6 miles of walking during the course of the day with some hills and stairs.
• Strenuous = 2–8 miles walking during the course of the day with hills, stairs, and uneven terrain.
Day 1 – Welcome to New Zealand (Oct 22, 2018 or March 4, 2019)
We’ll have our “Welcome to New Zealand” meeting at 4pm in our hotel in Auckland. After the meeting we’ll head out for an orientation walk of the neighbourhood and then get to know each other better over dinner in a local restaurant. Sleep in Auckland (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light. Dinner and welcome drink included.
Day 2 – Auckland
After breakfast we’ll head out to discover Auckland. Just what makes this one of the most liveable cities in the world? We’ll start with a short panoramic tour in the coach and then visit the Auckland Museum to learn more about NZ’s history and Maori culture. The rest of the afternoon is free for your own explorations in the City of Sails. Bus: short journeys. Walking: moderate to strenuous. Breakfast included.
Day 3 – Glowworms and on to Rotorua
Today we drive south and begin with a visit to Waitomo Glowworm Caves. These limestone caves are home to thousands of luminescent larvae. We’ll learn all about their life cycles and eating habits and gaze in amazement at the creations of nature. Then we’ll head on to the neighbouring town of Otorohanga, the self-proclaimed “Kiwiana” town, for a lunch stop. We end the day in Rotorua, our home for the next 3 nights. Sleep: Rotorua (3 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light to moderate. Breakfast included.
Day 4 – Rotorua
We start the day with a visit to Wai O Tapu Geothermal wonderland. See the mudpools and eclectic range of natural colours in this other-worldly landscape. After lunch we’ll meet our local Maori guides and learn more about the first people to settle in New Zealand and how they live their culture today. This evening we round off our Maori immersion experience with a musical performance and traditional Maori hangi meal. Bus: 1.5 hrs. Walking: moderate to strenuous. Breakfast and evening hangi meal included.
Day 5 – Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings)
Lord of the Rings fans prepare to yell “I’m going on an adventure!”… This morning we visit Hobbiton; film set for Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy movies. We’ll return to Rotorua for lunch and the rest of the afternoon is free – some may wish to join a trip down to Huka Falls and even ride on a Jet boat to them, others might want to soak in Rotorua’s thermal spa waters (jet boat and spa admissions not included). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate. Breakfast included.
Day 6 – Rotorua to Christchurch
A morning flight takes us from Rotorua to Christchurch on the South Island. We’ll drive south across the Canterbury Plains, crossing New Zealand’s longest bridge over a braided river. The Southern Alps to the west provide a natural barrier for this area. After a lunch stop in Timaru we continue to the Victorian heritage town of Oamaru. This evening after dinner in the hotel we’ll see the world’s smallest penguins in their natural environment. We watch from an outdoor seated area as the Blue Penguins return from their day’s fishing. Learn about their life cycles and conservation efforts from the colony guides. Sleep: Oamaru (1 night). Flight: 1.5 hrs. Bus: 3.5 hrs. Walking: light. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 7 – Queenstown
A beautiful day for the scenery as it cranks up a gear with every inch closer to Queenstown. Our first stop is at Moeraki where mysterious large boulders up to 60 million years old line the beach. We then head inland to the heart of Central Otago Wine Region. Enjoy some friendly hospitality and a gourmet kiwi barbeque lunch at Ophir. Otago is the world’s most southerly wine region and we’ll discover what makes this the ideal place for Pinot Noir at a local winery. Tasting included. We arrive into Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, in the early evening. Sleep: Queenstown (3 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate. Breakfast and lunch included.
Day 8 – Fiordland & Milford Sound
The stunning scenery continues today as we make a day trip to Milford Sound. Again it cranks up gears all the way until the climax at Milford Sound itself. We’ll take various stops for short hikes along the way. At Milford Sound we enjoy a 2 hour nature cruise with commentary from the local guide. We cruise the full length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea, admiring waterfalls, rainforest, the towering peaks and wildlife. A picnic lunch is included on board the cruise. We’ll return to Queenstown in time for dinner and perhaps a beautiful sunset. Bus: 7 hrs. Boat: 2 hrs. Walking: light to moderate. Breakfast and lunch included.
Day 9 – Queenstown free day
Today is a vacation from our vacation. You have the full day at leisure in Queenstown. There are plenty of options available from cruising on an old steamboat on Lake Wakatipu, to mountain biking, luge riding or jet boating (optional activities not included). No bus. Walking: up to you. Breakfast included.
Day 10 – Over the Haast Pass to Franz Josef
Leaving Queenstown, we make a short drive to the Cardrona Distillery. New Zealand’s newest distillery has only been operational since early 2016 but is already winning awards for its spirits. After a tour and tasting at the distillery we will also enjoy lunch here. We then skirt the western side of Lake Hawea and climb gradually to cross Haast Pass. We’ll stop for short walks along the way, and arrive into Franz Josef township in the early evening, where we’ll dine together. Sleep: Franz Josef (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light to moderate. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day 11 – Franz Josef Glacier
This morning is at leisure but keen hikers and landscape photographers may wish to join a morning excursion to Lake Matheson to see this famous mirror-like lake (no extra cost). Options for light to strenuous walks. This afternoon our main activity is the Franz Josef Glacier Valley walk. We visit the valley with local guides who allow us to gain access beyond the public barriers. We’ll learn how glaciers have shaped this remarkable landscape and more about New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna. Bus: 1.5 hrs. Walking: moderate to strenuous. Breakfast included.
Day 12 – Hokitika and scenic train ride to Christchurch
Travelling up the west coast this morning we’ll arrive to the town of Hokitika, famous as a centre for greenstone (jade) carving. We’ll enjoy an informative and entertaining greenstone carving demonstration with master carvers. At Greymouth we wave goodbye to our bus driver and board the train to Christchurch. One of the world’s great train rides, we travel in comfort through chiselled alpine mountains, crossing deep gorges and alongside ice-fed rivers. Lunch is served on board the train. We’ll arrive into Christchurch in the evening. Sleep: Christchurch (2 nights). Bus: 2.5 hrs. Train: 4.5 hrs. Walking: light. Breakfast and lunch included.
Day 13 – Christchurch
This morning we start with a short walk over to our first visit of the day: Quake City. The unique multi-sensory attraction coordinated by Canterbury Museum informs, engages and educates visitors about the region’s earthquakes. Your afternoon is free in Christchurch, known as the ‘Garden City’, Christchurch due to it’s many parks and gardens, amongst them the expansive Hagley Park in the heart of the city. Christchurch is also a city going through change following two earthquakes with a major rebuilding program taking place. Tonight we’ll share memories of New Zealand and toast new friends at our final dinner together. No bus. Walking: moderate. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 14 – Tour Over After Breakfast (Nov 4, 2018 or March 17, 2019)
Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Christchurch Airport is easily reachable by public transport, taxi or uber from our hotel. There are various car rental companies located near the airport if you are going to extend your South Island road trip. For those flying home, your international flight is most likely going to be out of Auckland airport so you’ll need a short hop flight to take you up to there. The main airlines for this are Air New Zealand and Jet Star. Your guide will be on hand to offer any other onward travel advice. We hope you enjoyed the ride!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Being in the Southern Hemisphere New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere. Late October / early November is late spring in New Zealand. For this time of year the average daytime temperatures are between 61-66 F (16-19 C). Average 9 to 12 rainfall days in a month. More chance of rain in the north. The sun rises around 6am and sets around 8pm. This is arguably one of the best times of the year to visit as there are less crowds but usually decent weather. Some warm November spring days can feel like summer. That said, it is advisable to pack layers (from light t-shirts to fleeces).
First and Last Hotels
If you’re thinking of booking extra pre- or post-tour nights at the same hotels as the tour, the contact information for the first and last hotels we use will be included in your tour confirmation email. Roughly one month prior to the tour departure, we’ll email you directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as the complete list of hotels we’ll stay at during the tour.
Getting to New Zealand
You may want to arrive a day or two before the tour begins —it will help considerably with the jet lag! This will allow you to make the most of the first few days of the tour, rather than struggling through them and then only starting to enjoy yourself quarter of the way in. You’ll most likely be looking for international flights in and out of Auckland. It is the main international airport for New Zealand, which makes additional travel to other countries before or after your tour quite easy. Remember the tour ends in Christchurch so you’ll also need to book either a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland or travel over land, and ferrying across the Cook Strait to the North Island. For information about flying to New Zealand, ask your local travel agent or check online sites such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Opodo, Expedia. Remember you will cross the international date line going to New Zealand so in effect you “lose a day” going, but you “get that day back” when you return home. Plan carefully when booking flights so as not to mix up the time difference. Most of mainland USA is between 16 to 19 hours behind New Zealand time. Hawaii is 22 hours behind New Zealand time. Europe is between 10 to 12 hours behind New Zealand time. If you have any questions about extending your travel in New Zealand or elsewhere contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Sightseeing on Your Own
If you arrive in Auckland before your tour begins, use our New Zealand travel tips sent to you before the tour to get acquainted. Walk around and breath in plenty of fresh air to help get over your jet lag. Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Auckland that we will not do as a group: Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island, Auckland Art Gallery, the Maritime Museum, Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. We will also send tips and ideas for extra time you may have with the pre-tour information and we’ll be happy to advise with post-tour plans.
For advice on packing see our Packing page.