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21 Day Kakapo Small Group Tour

Days
21

Pricing From
$10590

North Island / South Island
Book Now

Overview

Welcome to the ultimate New Zealand small group tour. In the 23 Day Kakapo small group tour, experience a colourful kaleidoscope of country life, Maori culture and leisurely touring with four two-night stopovers and one three-night stopover. Explore the beautiful Northland, Abel Tasman National Park and Kaikoura coastlines. You’ll see Tongariro National Park, Aoraki (Mt Cook), Milford Sound and the West Coast rainforests.

Included Activities & Entrance Fees

  • Learn about the history of Northland and the mighty Kauri tree at the Kauri Museum, Matakohe.
  • Enjoy a spiritual journey with Maori guides to Tane Mahuta, the ancient ‘Lord of the Forest.’
  • Cruise across the glistening waters of Hokianga Harbour and sand boarding.
  • Explore Kerikeri’s historic Stone Store.
  • Learn about the history of New Zealand at the Waitangi Treaty House.
  • Enjoy a dolphin cruise out to the famous Hole in the Rock and Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands.
  • See thousands of twinkling glowworms on a guided tour through Kawiti Caves.
  • Visit a working Kiwifruit orchard, meet the growers and taste the fruit fresh off the vine.
  • Cruise across Lake Rotoiti on the luxury yacht “Tuia” before soaking in mineral hot pools on the edge of the lake.
  • Meet the locals and learn about their Maori and European ancestors at Lake Tarawera.
  • Wander New Zealand's most colourful geothermal park at Wai-O-Tapu.
  • Enjoy a scenic cruise across the Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound on-board the Interislander ferry.
  • Taste a selection of wines in Marlborough, New Zealand’s premier wine-growing region.
  • Take a cruise to the golden sands of the Abel Tasman National Park.
  • Meet a South Island farming family on a working sheep and beef farm and enjoy their warm hospitality.
  • Experience the pristine landscapes of Milford Sound with a 1.45 hour nature and wildlife cruise.
  • Soar high above the Southern Alps from Milford Sound to Queenstown on a scenic flight.

Included Sightseeing and Exploring

  • Explore Russell, the first capital of New Zealand.
  • Travel the dramatic highway through the Karangahake Gorge.
  • Discover the bush-fringed lakes of Rotorua’s Lake Rotoiti and Lake Tarawera.
  • Experience the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua.
  • Visit the thundering Huka Falls and Wairakei geothermal power station.
  • Take in the expansive views of three active volcanoes from Lake Taupo.
  • Enjoy the wilderness of the Tongariro National Park in the central North Island
  • Explore New Zealand’s creative capital, Wellington.
  • Take a memorable photograph of the Church of the Good Shepard on the shores of the turquoise-hued Lake Tekapo.
  • See New Zealand’s highest mountain in the Aoraki/Mt Cook region.
  • Drive through the diverse beauty of the Lindis Pass and Kawarau Gorge.
  • Experience pure New Zealand at its finest with a visit to Fiordland, Mt Aspiring, Tai Poutini Westland and Arthur’s Pass National Parks.
  • Learn about Arrowtown’s place in New Zealand’s gold mining history.
  • Explore the shores of the Great Southern Lakes of Wakatipu, Wanaka and Hawea.
  • Take a walk through thick beech mountain forests in Haast Pass.
  • Get up close and personal with the breath-taking Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.
  • Walk through native New Zealand rainforests and experience the powerful blow holes at the Punakaiki Pancake rocks.
  • Drive the dramatic Otira Gorge highway to Arthur’s Pass and say hello to New Zealand’s cheeky mountain parrot, the Kea.

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Kakapo Small Group Tour

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Auckland - Hokianga(B)

After meeting everybody in Auckland your New Zealand adventure begins with a real local’s treat, Muriwai Beach on the West Coast, a Kiwi favourite. Follow your guide for a short stroll along the headland for stunning views of the Tasman Sea and gannet colony on the nearby clifftops.

From Muriwai we head for Northland, the "birthplace of the nation". Skirting the Kaipara Harbour we continue to the excellent Matakohe Kauri Museum to learn the history and significance of the mighty kauri tree. In the ancient Waipoua Kauri forest we meet our friends from Ngapuhi, the northernmost Maori tribe. Ngapuhi are the guardians of the Hokianga harbour where Kupe "the great navigator" became the first person to set foot on Aotearoa. We’re welcomed with a special "Karakia" from our hosts and then walk to the magnificent kauri tree "Tane Mahuta". We relax over a drink in our beachside accommodation with new friends.

Stay 1 Night Copthorne Hotel Resort, Hokianga

Day 2Hokianga - Bay of Islands(B)

Our day starts with a harbour cruise with another of our Ngapuhi friends, Pete (a real hard case!). He’ll tell you why all Kiwis have heard of Opononi and take us on our first foray off the beaten track, across the harbour for a walk along the deserted beach and for the adventurous, the chance to try sandboarding!

Northland is one of the narrowest spots in the North Island which makes for an easy day from the Hokianga to the Bay of Islands on the "other side". We’re in no rush, there’s time for plenty of stops along the way, like the famous Stone Store in Kerikeri, New Zealand’s oldest stone building. We’re now in the beautiful Bay of Islands, where we continue onto our home for the next two nights. From our hotel walk just across the lawn to the Waitangi Treaty House for our guided tour. You’re standing on the spot where in 1840 Maori chiefs and Queen Victoria’s representatives signed the treaty which gave birth to the nation.

Stay 2 Nights Copthorne Hotel Resort, Waitangi

Day 3Bay of Islands(B)

Getting out on the pristine waters of the Bay of Islands is an absolute must! Take your pick from swimming with dolphins or a relaxed cruise to Cape Brett and the famous "Hole in the Rock". Whichever you choose, you’ll see why we loved coming on holiday here so much as kids and how two nights here is the perfect start to your tour.

Your fun on the water finishes at Russell (Kororareka), the very first capital of New Zealand, a small town with a rollicking 19th century past. It’s come a long way since it was a favourite haunt of whalers and sealers, with no police or laws you can imagine what went on! Visit the colonial buildings, walk the waterfront or climb Flagstaff Hill for spectacular views before the short ferry ride back to Paihia.

Day 4Bay of Islands - Auckland(B)

Today’s another chance to get off the beaten track, one of the real advantages of travelling in a small group. Our first port of call are the Kawiti Glowworm Caves. The caves are named after the famous Maori chief of the area Kawiti and still belong to his family. His great grandson Te Tawai Kawiti showed the first visitors through the caves in the 1950s.

Glowworms are something most Kiwis grew up with but are surprised to learn that they’re extremely rare in other countries. The ancient limestone caves are home to millions of twinkling glowworms including the famous Milky Way cavern that you’ll learn all about from your friendly guide. This afternoon we head back to Auckland.

Stay: 1 Night Grand Mercure, Auckland

Day 5Auckland - Rotorua(B)

From Auckland our tour continues to Rotorua via the lush pastures of the Waikato and fruit basket of the Bay of Plenty. Our first stop is the dramatic Karangahake Gorge for a stroll alongside the Ohinemuri River through native bush to the relics and ruins of this region's gold-mining past.

Near Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, we'll visit a working Kiwifruit orchard before continuing on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Along the way, at Okawa Bay, we 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 memorable end to an awesome day.

Stay: 2 Nights Novotel Rotorua Lakeside, Rotorua

Day 6Rotorua(B, L)

We’ve got two nights in Rotorua, so take it easy this morning! Perhaps stroll down to the lakeside, just minutes from your hotel, or enjoy one of Rotorua's many guided tours and attractions. Don’t miss nearby Ohinemutu marae, one of only two living Maori villages left in New Zealand. We'll head to the famous 'Buried Village of Te Wairoa' for a hosted lunch with our friends David and Karen, you’ll love them and their stories from their Maori and European histories.

After lunch let’s take a walk around the village itself before we learn all about our national icon (the Kiwi bird) and the amazing efforts that go into ensuring their survival at the Rotorua Kiwi Encounter. When you see a live Kiwi you'll be amazed at how big they are!

Day 7Rotorua - Tongariro National Park(B)

No Kiwi holiday would be complete without a visit to the surreal, geothermal reserve of Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable.

We continue on our adventure to "Great Lake" Taupo, for a stop at the famous Huka Falls. We’ll take our time and make plenty of stops around the lake to enjoy the magnificent views of our three volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. The lunar landscape of the volcanic plateau is our next stop at Tongariro National Park. You’ll love the grandeur of our home for the night Chateau Tongariro at the foot of Mt Ruapehu, the perfect spot to stretch your legs on a short walk before dinner.

Stay: 1 Night The Chateau Tongariro, National Park

Day 8Tongariro National Park - Wellington(B)

After a relaxed breakfast at the historic Chateau Tongariro we drive up the mountain road to the Top of the Bruce to enjoy panoramic views over the volcanic plateau. We drive around the slopes of Mt Ruapehu before we make our way down the centre of the island to our capital Wellington.

We stay two nights in Wellington as we reckon you can’t miss "the coolest little capital in the world". We’ll check out the city's sights and head up Mt Victoria for the stunning views over the harbour before getting settled for the night. We’re right in the heart of Wellington's vibrant hub of museums, theatres, galleries, boutiques and cafes.

Stay 2 nights Bolton Hotel, Wellington

Day 9Wellington(B)

The day is yours to enjoy, you are at the heart of all the action at The Bolton Hotel, a short walk to the waterfront, Te Papa National Museum and all the eateries and boutique breweries that Wellington is famous for.

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 or drop into the Embassy theatre which hosted the world premier back in 2003.

Day 10Wellington - Interislander Ferry - Nelson(B,L)

We cruise on the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait and into beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton to plant our feet firmly on “Te Waka a Maui”, the South Island. Our first port of call is Forrest Wines for tasting and lunch with a local right in the heart of the world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.

From wine country we head through the heart of Marlborough toward Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way we cross the Pelorus River bridge, scene of the Barrel Run from the Hobbit movies. In Nelson relax and unpack, this is home for two nights.

Stay 2 nights Trailways Hotel, Nelson

Day 11Abel Tasman National Park(B,L)

Today is a highlight of the tour for many people – everyone has seen stunning photos of Abel Tasman National Park and now you’re here. Take your pick from a full scenic cruise or a cruise/walk combo to walk a section of the coastal track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

The coast is dotted with islands just offshore, sheltered bays, estuaries and golden sand beaches. Lie on the beach, or go for a swim, keeping your eye out for dolphins who often make an appearance. After your magical day out we'll return to Nelson for another night.

Day 12Nelson - Kaikoura(B)

Heading towards Kaikoura the road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges 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. One of the many highlights is viewing the seal colony with a backdrop of the Kaikoura mountains and coastline.

There are many optional excursions including whale watching cruises and flights. For those keen on an easy walk the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway offers a chance to explore the headland and enjoy the Pacific Ocean views with some interesting Maori history along the way.

Stay 1 night White Morph Inn, Kaikoura

Day 13Kaikoura - Aoraki/Mt Cook(B, L)

Leaving the coast we drive over the Hunderlee Hills to the Canterbury Plains. We stop for a special lunch at Akaunui, a 100-year-old homestead surrounded by large gardens and dine on wonderful fresh produce prepared by your warm hosts Di and Ian Mackenzie. Get a great insight into life on a working sheep and dairy farm.

After lunch we continue through Burke's Pass to the spectacular Mackenzie Country for sweeping vistas of tussock lands and the Southern Alps. We’ll make plenty of stops en route, we can’t miss the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo and the unreal turquoise blue of glacier fed Lake Pukaki.

Stay: 1 Night Aoraki/Mt Cook Village Accommodation

Day 14Aoraki/Mt Cook - Queenstown(B)

Always a memorable time on tour, your day in Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and ‘home ground’ of the most famous Kiwi of all, Sir Edmund Hillary. Take your pick from exploring the dramatic landscape on one of the many easy walking tracks around the village, or make it an experience you’ll never forget with a boat cruise on the glacial lake, a scenic flight or a heli hike high up on the Tasman Glacier!

After lunch we’ll head south, over the Lindis Pass and through the rugged scenery of the Kawarau Gorge onto Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand. We’ll all head up the Gondola to Bob’s Peak for breathtaking views to give you a bird’s eye view of the stunning Wakatipu. Tonight take your pick from the best of Queenstown's restaurants and bars, all an easy walk from our home for the next three nights!

Stay: 3 Nights Scenic Suites, Queenstown

Day 15Milford Sound Day Trip(B)

Today is all about the one and only Milford Sound, from Queenstown we follow the shores of the great southern lakes 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. The very best of Milford.

Day 16Queenstown(B)

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.

What do we love in Queenstown? 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".

Day 17Queenstown - Wanaka(B, L)

Our day starts with a short hop to leafy Arrowtown, where gold mining history comes alive beside the Arrow River and in the excellent museum. Then we head into tussock country for the climb up the Crown Range and our last views of the beautiful Wakatipu basin. We call into picture perfect Cardrona Hotel, its history dates back to the colonial era, then continue on to Wanaka. We relax with fine wines and the chance to meet locals over lunch at their Wanaka lakeside home. Hmm, anyone thinking of moving here yet?

Our hotel this evening is right on the lake edge, you’ve got plenty of time after lunch to discover this lovely lakeside town for yourself. Bike the waterfront trail, get out on the lake in a kayak or head next door to Rippon Vineyard for wine tasting with a view.

Stay: 1 Night Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

Day 18Wanaka - Franz Josef(B)

Today is a quintessential kiwi day, where else in the world can you visit the seaside, a rainforest and a glacier all in the same day? In New Zealand, no worries! We start off following the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before reaching the pristine mountain and river scenery of the Mount Aspiring National Park. Then it’s up and over the Haast Pass through beech forests, past cascading waterfalls and clear blue pools before following the Haast River out to the sea. There’s plenty of time for short walks and photo stops on the way, we’re in no hurry.

Head north through the lush, prehistoric Gondwanaland forest of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, stopping at Ship Creek to stroll the beach, keep your eye out for dolphins feeding in the shallows. Get your camera ready for Lake Matheson’s famous reflections and our first glimpse of Fox Glacier descending from Aoraki/Mt Cook. Our home for the night is Franz Josef.

Stay: 1 Night Scenic Hotel, Franz Josef

Day 19Franz Josef - Punakaiki(B)

Your morning is free to discover Glacier Country and Westland, right in the heart of Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. Walk to the Franz Josef Glacier Valley lookout or cruise out on Okarito lagoon on an optional kayak or boat trip in search of the Kotuku - White Heron.

We head north through countryside dotted with little lakes and boulder strewn rivers. Hokitika is the Pounamu (greenstone) capital of the country and you’ll have the chance to visit the carvers as well as glass blowing, wood and copper artisans. We arrive at our home for two nights in Punakaiki, right on the beach in the perfect spot to enjoy your last few sunsets in New Zealand.

Stay: 2 Nights Punakaiki Resort

Day 20Punakaiki and Paparoa National Park(B)

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.

Day 21Punakaiki - Christchurch(B)

Wake up to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach, cross New Zealand’s main divide, traverse the stunning Canterbury High Country and cross the plains into the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.

Highlights include the Otira Viaduct, a spectacular cantilevered road through towering mountains to Arthur’s Pass National Park one of the best places in the country to see the hilarious antics of our alpine parrot, the Kea. Stretch your legs in the beech forests at Arthur’s Pass National Park and again at the massive limestone rocks at Castle Hill before we reach Christchurch in the late afternoon. We'll say our goodbyes with drop offs at Christchurch Airport or your city accommodation.

Note: Arrival time into Christchurch is around 4:30pm 

Cost per person

October 2021 - April 2023

  • Twin:   NZ$10,590
  • Single: NZ$13,390

PAYMENTS

  • 20% Deposit per person on booking, balance 60 days before departure.

CANCELLATIONS

  • Bookings cancelled more than 60 days before departure incur 20% of tour cost.
  • Bookings cancelled between 59 days and 45 days 50% of tour cost.
  • Bookings cancelled between 44 days and 31 days 75% of tour cost.
  • Bookings cancelled within 30 days or less of tour departure 100% of tour cost.
  • No refunds will be made after travel has commenced.

Luggage: Try to keep to one suitcase weighing around 23kgs and one small carry on bag.

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Auckland - Hokianga(B)

After meeting everybody in Auckland your New Zealand adventure begins with a real local’s treat, Muriwai Beach on the West Coast, a Kiwi favourite. Follow your guide for a short stroll along the headland for stunning views of the Tasman Sea and gannet colony on the nearby clifftops.

From Muriwai we head for Northland, the "birthplace of the nation". Skirting the Kaipara Harbour we continue to the excellent Matakohe Kauri Museum to learn the history and significance of the mighty kauri tree. In the ancient Waipoua Kauri forest we meet our friends from Ngapuhi, the northernmost Maori tribe. Ngapuhi are the guardians of the Hokianga harbour where Kupe "the great navigator" became the first person to set foot on Aotearoa. We’re welcomed with a special "Karakia" from our hosts and then walk to the magnificent kauri tree "Tane Mahuta". We relax over a drink in our beachside accommodation with new friends.

Stay 1 Night Copthorne Hotel Resort, Hokianga

Day 2Hokianga - Bay of Islands(B)

Our day starts with a harbour cruise with another of our Ngapuhi friends, Pete (a real hard case!). He’ll tell you why all Kiwis have heard of Opononi and take us on our first foray off the beaten track, across the harbour for a walk along the deserted beach and for the adventurous, the chance to try sandboarding!

Northland is one of the narrowest spots in the North Island which makes for an easy day from the Hokianga to the Bay of Islands on the "other side". We’re in no rush, there’s time for plenty of stops along the way, like the famous Stone Store in Kerikeri, New Zealand’s oldest stone building. We’re now in the beautiful Bay of Islands, where we continue onto our home for the next two nights. From our hotel walk just across the lawn to the Waitangi Treaty House for our guided tour. You’re standing on the spot where in 1840 Maori chiefs and Queen Victoria’s representatives signed the treaty which gave birth to the nation.

Stay 2 Nights Copthorne Hotel Resort, Waitangi

Day 3Bay of Islands(B)

Getting out on the pristine waters of the Bay of Islands is an absolute must! Take your pick from swimming with dolphins or a relaxed cruise to Cape Brett and the famous "Hole in the Rock". Whichever you choose, you’ll see why we loved coming on holiday here so much as kids and how two nights here is the perfect start to your tour.

Your fun on the water finishes at Russell (Kororareka), the very first capital of New Zealand, a small town with a rollicking 19th century past. It’s come a long way since it was a favourite haunt of whalers and sealers, with no police or laws you can imagine what went on! Visit the colonial buildings, walk the waterfront or climb Flagstaff Hill for spectacular views before the short ferry ride back to Paihia.

Day 4Bay of Islands - Auckland(B)

Today’s another chance to get off the beaten track, one of the real advantages of travelling in a small group. Our first port of call are the Kawiti Glowworm Caves. The caves are named after the famous Maori chief of the area Kawiti and still belong to his family. His great grandson Te Tawai Kawiti showed the first visitors through the caves in the 1950s.

Glowworms are something most Kiwis grew up with but are surprised to learn that they’re extremely rare in other countries. The ancient limestone caves are home to millions of twinkling glowworms including the famous Milky Way cavern that you’ll learn all about from your friendly guide. This afternoon we head back to Auckland.

Stay: 1 Night Grand Mercure, Auckland

Day 5Auckland - Rotorua(B)

From Auckland our tour continues to Rotorua via the lush pastures of the Waikato and fruit basket of the Bay of Plenty. Our first stop is the dramatic Karangahake Gorge for a stroll alongside the Ohinemuri River through native bush to the relics and ruins of this region's gold-mining past.

Near Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, we'll visit a working Kiwifruit orchard before continuing on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Along the way, at Okawa Bay, we 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 memorable end to an awesome day.

Stay: 2 Nights Novotel Rotorua Lakeside, Rotorua

Day 6Rotorua(B, L)

We’ve got two nights in Rotorua, so take it easy this morning! Perhaps stroll down to the lakeside, just minutes from your hotel, or enjoy one of Rotorua's many guided tours and attractions. Don’t miss nearby Ohinemutu marae, one of only two living Maori villages left in New Zealand. We'll head to the famous 'Buried Village of Te Wairoa' for a hosted lunch with our friends David and Karen, you’ll love them and their stories from their Maori and European histories.

After lunch let’s take a walk around the village itself before we learn all about our national icon (the Kiwi bird) and the amazing efforts that go into ensuring their survival at the Rotorua Kiwi Encounter. When you see a live Kiwi you'll be amazed at how big they are!

Day 7Rotorua - Tongariro National Park(B)

No Kiwi holiday would be complete without a visit to the surreal, geothermal reserve of Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable.

We continue on our adventure to "Great Lake" Taupo, for a stop at the famous Huka Falls. We’ll take our time and make plenty of stops around the lake to enjoy the magnificent views of our three volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. The lunar landscape of the volcanic plateau is our next stop at Tongariro National Park. You’ll love the grandeur of our home for the night Chateau Tongariro at the foot of Mt Ruapehu, the perfect spot to stretch your legs on a short walk before dinner.

Stay: 1 Night The Chateau Tongariro, National Park

Day 8Tongariro National Park - Wellington(B)

After a relaxed breakfast at the historic Chateau Tongariro we drive up the mountain road to the Top of the Bruce to enjoy panoramic views over the volcanic plateau. We drive around the slopes of Mt Ruapehu before we make our way down the centre of the island to our capital Wellington.

We stay two nights in Wellington as we reckon you can’t miss "the coolest little capital in the world". We’ll check out the city's sights and head up Mt Victoria for the stunning views over the harbour before getting settled for the night. We’re right in the heart of Wellington's vibrant hub of museums, theatres, galleries, boutiques and cafes.

Stay 2 nights Bolton Hotel, Wellington

Day 9Wellington(B)

The day is yours to enjoy, you are at the heart of all the action at The Bolton Hotel, a short walk to the waterfront, Te Papa National Museum and all the eateries and boutique breweries that Wellington is famous for.

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 or drop into the Embassy theatre which hosted the world premier back in 2003.

Day 10Wellington - Interislander Ferry - Nelson(B,L)

We cruise on the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait and into beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton to plant our feet firmly on “Te Waka a Maui”, the South Island. Our first port of call is Forrest Wines for tasting and lunch with a local right in the heart of the world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.

From wine country we head through the heart of Marlborough toward Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way we cross the Pelorus River bridge, scene of the Barrel Run from the Hobbit movies. In Nelson relax and unpack, this is home for two nights.

Stay 2 nights Trailways Hotel, Nelson

Day 11Abel Tasman National Park(B,L)

Today is a highlight of the tour for many people – everyone has seen stunning photos of Abel Tasman National Park and now you’re here. Take your pick from a full scenic cruise or a cruise/walk combo to walk a section of the coastal track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

The coast is dotted with islands just offshore, sheltered bays, estuaries and golden sand beaches. Lie on the beach, or go for a swim, keeping your eye out for dolphins who often make an appearance. After your magical day out we'll return to Nelson for another night.

Day 12Nelson - Kaikoura(B)

Heading towards Kaikoura the road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges 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. One of the many highlights is viewing the seal colony with a backdrop of the Kaikoura mountains and coastline.

There are many optional excursions including whale watching cruises and flights. For those keen on an easy walk the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway offers a chance to explore the headland and enjoy the Pacific Ocean views with some interesting Maori history along the way.

Stay 1 night White Morph Inn, Kaikoura

Day 13Kaikoura - Aoraki/Mt Cook(B, L)

Leaving the coast we drive over the Hunderlee Hills to the Canterbury Plains. We stop for a special lunch at Akaunui, a 100-year-old homestead surrounded by large gardens and dine on wonderful fresh produce prepared by your warm hosts Di and Ian Mackenzie. Get a great insight into life on a working sheep and dairy farm.

After lunch we continue through Burke's Pass to the spectacular Mackenzie Country for sweeping vistas of tussock lands and the Southern Alps. We’ll make plenty of stops en route, we can’t miss the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo and the unreal turquoise blue of glacier fed Lake Pukaki.

Stay: 1 Night Aoraki/Mt Cook Village Accommodation

Day 14Aoraki/Mt Cook - Queenstown(B)

Always a memorable time on tour, your day in Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and ‘home ground’ of the most famous Kiwi of all, Sir Edmund Hillary. Take your pick from exploring the dramatic landscape on one of the many easy walking tracks around the village, or make it an experience you’ll never forget with a boat cruise on the glacial lake, a scenic flight or a heli hike high up on the Tasman Glacier!

After lunch we’ll head south, over the Lindis Pass and through the rugged scenery of the Kawarau Gorge onto Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand. We’ll all head up the Gondola to Bob’s Peak for breathtaking views to give you a bird’s eye view of the stunning Wakatipu. Tonight take your pick from the best of Queenstown's restaurants and bars, all an easy walk from our home for the next three nights!

Stay: 3 Nights Scenic Suites, Queenstown

Day 15Milford Sound Day Trip(B)

Today is all about the one and only Milford Sound, from Queenstown we follow the shores of the great southern lakes 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. The very best of Milford.

Day 16Queenstown(B)

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.

What do we love in Queenstown? 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".

Day 17Queenstown - Wanaka(B, L)

Our day starts with a short hop to leafy Arrowtown, where gold mining history comes alive beside the Arrow River and in the excellent museum. Then we head into tussock country for the climb up the Crown Range and our last views of the beautiful Wakatipu basin. We call into picture perfect Cardrona Hotel, its history dates back to the colonial era, then continue on to Wanaka. We relax with fine wines and the chance to meet locals over lunch at their Wanaka lakeside home. Hmm, anyone thinking of moving here yet?

Our hotel this evening is right on the lake edge, you’ve got plenty of time after lunch to discover this lovely lakeside town for yourself. Bike the waterfront trail, get out on the lake in a kayak or head next door to Rippon Vineyard for wine tasting with a view.

Stay: 1 Night Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

Day 18Wanaka - Franz Josef(B)

Today is a quintessential kiwi day, where else in the world can you visit the seaside, a rainforest and a glacier all in the same day? In New Zealand, no worries! We start off following the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before reaching the pristine mountain and river scenery of the Mount Aspiring National Park. Then it’s up and over the Haast Pass through beech forests, past cascading waterfalls and clear blue pools before following the Haast River out to the sea. There’s plenty of time for short walks and photo stops on the way, we’re in no hurry.

Head north through the lush, prehistoric Gondwanaland forest of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, stopping at Ship Creek to stroll the beach, keep your eye out for dolphins feeding in the shallows. Get your camera ready for Lake Matheson’s famous reflections and our first glimpse of Fox Glacier descending from Aoraki/Mt Cook. Our home for the night is Franz Josef.

Stay: 1 Night Scenic Hotel, Franz Josef

Day 19Franz Josef - Punakaiki(B)

Your morning is free to discover Glacier Country and Westland, right in the heart of Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. Walk to the Franz Josef Glacier Valley lookout or cruise out on Okarito lagoon on an optional kayak or boat trip in search of the Kotuku - White Heron.

We head north through countryside dotted with little lakes and boulder strewn rivers. Hokitika is the Pounamu (greenstone) capital of the country and you’ll have the chance to visit the carvers as well as glass blowing, wood and copper artisans. We arrive at our home for two nights in Punakaiki, right on the beach in the perfect spot to enjoy your last few sunsets in New Zealand.

Stay: 2 Nights Punakaiki Resort

Day 20Punakaiki and Paparoa National Park(B)

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.

Day 21Punakaiki - Christchurch(B)

Wake up to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach, cross New Zealand’s main divide, traverse the stunning Canterbury High Country and cross the plains into the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.

Highlights include the Otira Viaduct, a spectacular cantilevered road through towering mountains to Arthur’s Pass National Park one of the best places in the country to see the hilarious antics of our alpine parrot, the Kea. Stretch your legs in the beech forests at Arthur’s Pass National Park and again at the massive limestone rocks at Castle Hill before we reach Christchurch in the late afternoon. We'll say our goodbyes with drop offs at Christchurch Airport or your city accommodation.

Note: Arrival time into Christchurch is around 4:30pm 

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