Best Buys

Essence of New Zealand

18 Day Guided Vacation | Christchurch to Auckland

Culture and nature unite in this inter-island New Zealand tour. Oh, and there’s a good dose of food and wine on the side to deliver a well-rounded taste of North and South. Whether you’re into wide, open spaces – Milford Sound, we’re looking at you – bubbling geysers, gem-like glaciers or windswept coasts. Whether you’re a history, sport, architecture or culture buff. This New Zealand guided tour is for you.

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Adult Twin i A person 16 years and over (note a person 16–17 years must be accompanied by a person 18 years and over). All prices are per person, land only unless otherwise indicated.
Above lowest price is based on 2024-10-03 departure

$8060

Single i A person, who must be 18 years and over, travelling alone, must pay the single room price. All prices are per person, land only unless otherwise indicated.
Above lowest price is based on 2024-10-03 departure
Prices above are per person in USD
Single rooms are limited and subject to availability
Child prices may be available on request

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Trip Details

trip-details-whats-includedWhat's included

  • • Specialist team of two highly experienced Travel Director and Driver Guide
    • Centrally located premium hotels
    • National Park entrance fees

trip-details-diningDining

  • • 17 Full Breakfasts
  • • 4 Dinners
  • • 2 Highlight Dinners

trip-details-flight-infoFlight Information

  • Day 1 – flights to arrive prior to 4.00pm into Christchurch Airport
    Day 18 – flights to depart any time from Auckland Airport
    Flights are not included in the holiday price
    Return airport to hotel transfers are not included in the holiday price

trip-details-what-to-bringWhat to Bring

  • • Warm layers in cooler months
  • • Camera
  • • Comfortable walking shoes
  • • Sunglasses, sunscreen and hat
  • • Water bottle

trip-details-fitness-level-requirementsFitness Requirements

    Low level of fitness required

Itinerary Generating PDF...

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Arrive early to see just how Christchurch has transformed itself since the 2010/11 earthquakes. The best way to do this? Aboard the city’s tram. It loops past historic attractions as well as some new ones. Meet your fellow travellers this evening for a Welcome Reception.

  Hotel: Wyndham Garden

Step out with your guide for a deeper dive into ‘The City of Gardens’ before traversing the colourful Canterbury Plains: the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and snow-capped mountains. Your Indoor Dark Sky Astronomy Experience at Tekapo, hosted by passionate guides, will forever change the way you see the night sky. You'll see for yourself it may be one of the quietest spots on the planet, yet it has one of the busiest skies in the universe.

  Hotel: Heritage Gateway Hotel

  Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Architectural drama awaits in Dunedin. While away the afternoon in atmospheric art-lined alleys or sipping a lager or two in Speight’s Brewery (a national institution).

 

  Hotel: Dunedin Leisure Lodge

  Included Meals: Breakfast

If you’ve got an odd urge to hear Slim Dusty while traversing rolling green pastures en route to Gore, you’re not alone, it's the country music capital of NZ. Invercargill is obsessed with something else: motor vehicles. Tributes to speed legends colour the city. So it's only fitting that you visit Classic Motorcycle Mecca for a tour and Highlight Dinner.

  Hotel: Kelvin Hotel

  Included Meals: Breakfast, Highlight Dinner

The ferry ride to Stewart Island is wild and wonderful. When you arrive, you’re welcomed by the country’s southernmost community. It’s largely untouched, which means endemic flora and fauna thrive here. But don’t take our word for it. Meet the locals on a Village & Bays tour.

  Hotel: Kelvin Hotel

  Included Meals: Breakfast

You’ve probably already noticed that there’s a lot of farmland here in New Zealand. It’s fitting, then, that you meet southern girl Laura, who will introduce you to the sheep farm where she was born and raised. The Real Country Farm Show, a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, offers an authentic taste of what rural New Zealand is like. For every guest, we donate funds to The Fairlight Foundation, Advancing Women in Agriculture. Continue to Queenstown and take the afternoon at your own pace.

  Hotel: Copthorne Hotel and Resort

  Included Meals: Breakfast

Today, sign up to dive deep into Milford Sound/Piopiotahi within World Heritage listed Fiordland National Park, best explored on an optional tour cruising the waterway. Don’t be surprised if you see dolphins and seals.

  Hotel: Copthorne Hotel and Resort

  Included Meals: Breakfast

Around the next bend is the Alpine countryside of the Southern Lakes, from Lake Dunstan to oh-so-blue Lake Hawea and lovely Lake Wanaka. Over the Haast Pass, the town of Franz Josef/Waiau at the edge of the Westland World Heritage Park, awaits.

  Hotel: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

  Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Wandering Hokitika’s windswept shore on the West Coast feels a bit like you’ve discovered the end of the Earth. The town’s other natural beauty is pounamu (native greenstone or jade). Prepare yourself for Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and blowholes; they owe their existence to the thundering surf that will lull you to sleep.

  Hotel: Scenic Hotel Punakaiki

  Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Ease along the Heritage Highway toward Nelson. Press your nose against the glass as your coach weaves through Buller Gorge and Kahurangi National Park, a place of wild rivers, high plateaus, alpine herb fields and coastal forests.

  Hotel: The Rutherford Hotel

  Included Meals: Breakfast

Today is at your leisure. Lace up your hiking shoes, or sit back on a boat and soak up the silence of Abel Tasman National Park. This wilderness inspires calm, its golden beaches framed by sculpted granite cliffs that all unite to create one of the country’s most legendary coastal tracks.

  Hotel: The Rutherford Hotel

  Included Meals: Breakfast

You’ll want a window seat for the cruise from the South Island to the North aboard the Interislander. This spectacle unfolds as you glide through Queen Charlotte Sound to NZ’s cool little capital of Wellington.

  Hotel: Travelodge Wellington

  Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Your morning city sights tour will end at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. After the opportunity to visit, travel to the Art Deco mecca, Napier. 

  Hotel: Scenic Hotel Te Pania

  Included Meals: Breakfast

After a devastating earthquake in 1931, Napier completely rebuilt itself in just two years. The end result is architectural Nirvana, a city home to the world’s greatest concentration of Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Striped Classical buildings. This morning get the lowdown from your in-the-know local guide on a Napier tour. Your afternoon is at leisure.

  Hotel: Scenic Hotel Te Pania

  Included Meals: Breakfast

This evening, explore Te Puia's geothermal valley, and learn about Maori history and culture on this guided experience, which includes hangi-inspired cuisine and a cultural performance in a finely carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua. It ends on a high at the Pohutu Geyser, where, armed with a hot chocolate you'll view one of New Zealand's geothermal wonderlands.

  Hotel: Sudima Lake Rotorua

  Included Meals: Breakfast, Highlight Dinner

Today, it’s your choice. Hobbit fans will want to take advantage of the opportunity to tour the sights featured in The Lord of the Rings movies at Hobbiton. Want a bit of down time? Bliss out at Wai Araki Hot Springs & Spa.

  Hotel: Sudima Lake Rotorua

  Included Meals: Breakfast

Welcome to Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’. You’ll understand how it got its moniker when you glimpse yachts gliding around its two harbours. But today your sights are firmly set on the city’s other love: rugby. The interactive All Blacks Experience explores an introduction to the game as a part of New Zealand culture.

  Hotel: Holiday Inn Express, Auckland

  Included Meals: Breakfast

It’s amazing how much of two islands you can see in 18 days. Provided you have the right people at the helm, and like-minded company, that is.

  Included Meals: Breakfast

Please note: This itinerary may be subject to change.


Essence of New Zealand

Best Buys

18 Day Guided Vacation

Christchurch to Auckland

Culture and nature unite in this inter-island New Zealand tour. Oh, and there’s a good dose of food and wine on the side to deliver a well-rounded taste of North and South. Whether you’re into wide, open spaces – Milford Sound, we’re looking at you – bubbling geysers, gem-like glaciers or windswept coasts. Whether you’re a history, sport, architecture or culture buff. This New Zealand guided tour is for you.

Highlights

Flexible Vacations

We’ve crafted an itinerary with plenty of two-night stays, so you can sleep in and take the pulse of your destination, whether Queenstown, Wellington, Nelson or Rotorua.

Iconic Sites

From the bubbling geysers of Rotorua to the gem-like surface of Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, nature and culture unite across the North and South islands.

Sustainable Travel

A guided tour of the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia to view traditional demonstrations, contributes to its success, committed to preserving and promoting Māori arts and crafts.

Natural Wonders

More than 97% of Stewart Island is protected national parkland – unspoilt and largely unpeopled. It’s a magnet for the kiwi bird, which thrives here.

Accommodation

Your Guided Holiday includes a range of quality accommodation for your comfort.
The accommodation you will enjoy on this tour includes:

Optional Experiences

Please note, prices for Optional Experiences are subject to change.

To ensure your holiday is filled with memorable experiences, we have included a range of quality Optional Experiences for you to choose from and partake in, if you wish, during your holiday. The experiences can be booked on tour through your Travel Director.

Air Safaris - Grand Traverse Scenic Flight (Mt Cook)

NZ$470 Adult NZ$375 Child

Explore the alpine wonderland of the Southern Alps’ highest peaks and glacial lakes on this 45-minute scenic flight, including Murchison Glacier, Tasman Glacier, Main Divide, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, westland coastal rainforests and Mount Cook.

Air Safaris - Grand Traverse Scenic Flight

Canopy Tours - The Original Canopy Tour (Rotorua)

NZ$189 Adult
NZ$159 Child

Canopy tours zipline adventure activity is an experience of a lifetime. You’ll be transported to a long forgotten ancient forest just like the whole of New Zealand once was. Experience a low impact mode of transport to get you high in the ancient canopy! In total there are 6 ziplines totalling more than 650 metres, the highlight for most being the jawdropping 220 metre tui song zipline that departs from 22 metres up a 1000 year old tree. Beat that for a setting! There are numerous treetop platforms at varying heights above the forest floor where you can observe and take in the magic of the environment around you.

Canopy Tours - The Original Canopy Tour

Haast River Safari (Franz Josef Glacier)

NZ$119 Adult NZ$69 Child

Travel on a purpose built fully enclosed river jet boat with front-loading access. Great visibility is ensured, yet you remain warm, dry and comfortable, making this a unique and safe experience suitable for anyone of any age to participate in and enjoy.

Haast River Safari

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour (Rotorua)

NZ$259 Adult NZ$194 Child

Travel from Rotorua to Matamata then onto Hobbiton for your tour of the move set with Hobbiton Tours. Experience the real Middle-earth at the Hobbiton Movie Set, where, in the heart of the Waikato region, you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.  You will be fully guided around the 12-acre set; past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon Inn, where you will be presented with a complimentary, exclusive Hobbit South-farthing beverage to conclude your own Middle-earth adventure.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Pure Glenorchy - Lord of the Rings Scenic Tour (road-Queenstown)

NZ$189 Adult NZ$99 Child

Lord of The Rings Scenic Tour: Visit the stunning locations from Lord of The Rings. Encounter lsengard, Lothlorien Forest, The Misty Mountains, Ithilien and many more. Experience the absolute beauty of the Dart River Valley and our closest world heritage area. Learn about the remarkable history and unique culture of Glenorchy. Our tour feature’s some of the world’s most spectacular scenery visiting Mt Aspiring World Heritage Area, Glenorchy, The Dart River Valley and Paradise. Encounter ancient beech forest, braided rivers and glacier carved valleys.

Pure Glenorchy - Lord of the Rings Scenic Tour

The Helicopter Line - Neve Discoverer Flight 20mins (Franz Josef Glacier)

Adult: $330.00 NZD

Lift off and fly up over the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier to land amongst this alpine wonderland on a 20-minute scenic flight. Highlights include landing at the head of the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier and a snow or icefall landing.

The Helicopter Line - Neve Discoverer Flight 20mins

Larnach Castle Tour (Dunedin)

NZ$91.00 Adult NZ$54.00 Child

Let your local driver take you on an exciting Otago Peninsula drive to New Zealand’s only castle. Your guided tour of the Larnach family home will give you insight into not only the architecture and style of the stately building, but also into William Larnach’s family life and the restoration done by the current owners during the past three decades. Enjoy views from the tower and marvel at the immaculate gardens before your return to Dunedin.

Larnach Castle Tour

City to Sea Tour (Dunedin )

Adult: $105.00 NZD
Child: $45.00 NZD

Meet our unique local wildlife and discover why Dunedin is NZ’s nature capital. Enjoy a special wildlife experience around Taiaroa Head and out to sea. Enjoy uninterrupted views of the royal albatross nesting colony, the world’s only mainland breeding site for albatross. Watch as these huge birds glide in from the ocean on three metre wings and then soar high above the hillside. The boat will get close to spectacular volcanic cliffs for postcard views of a historic lighthouse. Below the cliffs you’ll watch as NZ fur seals play, swim and interact around their breeding rookery. A short way out to sea and we may spot rarely seen ocean birds, like other albatross species, cormorants and petrels. On some trips we come across sea lions, blue penguins, dusky dolphins, hectors dolphins and other marine mammals.

City to Sea Tour

Speights Brewery - Guided Tour (Dunedin)

Adult: $35.00 NZD

No visitor to Dunedin should leave without taking the Speight’s Brewery Tour. Since 1876 the brewery has been proudly producing Speight’s legendary ales from the same site in Rattray Street. On the Speight’s Brewery Tour you’ll see, smell, touch and taste the ingredients that go into making Speight’s beers – and of course, get to sample “The Pride of the South” for yourself!

Speights Brewery - Guided Tour

The Helicopter Line - Mountain Scenic Flight 40mins (Franz Josef)

Adult: $580.00 NZD

Discover the gigantic expanse of the Franz Josef and Fox snowfields on this 40-minute scenic flight. Cross the main divide for breathtaking views of Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Highlights include a snow landing, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and Mt Cook.

The Helicopter Line - Mountain Scenic Flight 40mins

The Helicopter Line - Twin Glacier Flight 30mins (Franz Josef Glacier)

Adult: $425.00 NZD

From a mantle of pure white snow, massive rivers of ice wind their way down glacier valleys. Explore the glaciers, an incredible natural phenomenon on this 30-minute scenic flight. Highlights include a snow landing at the head of the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier.

The Helicopter Line - Twin Glacier Flight 30mins

Abel Tasman Seashuttle - Discover Day (Nelson)

NZ$108 + $50 return transfer Adult NZ$108 + $50 return transfer Child

The ultimate boat cruise and walk combination in the Abel Tasman National Park. With a two hour walk option, the Vista Day shows all the best the Abel Tasman has to offer with a Full Scenic Boat Cruise, visits to Split Apple Rock and a Fur Seal colony, golden beaches, forest walking and wildlife encounters all in one superb day out.

Abel Tasman Seashuttle - Discover Day

Kiwi Birdlife Park (Queenstown)

Adult: $52.00 NZD
Child: $26.00 NZD

The Kiwi Birdlife Park is a wildlife sanctuary found in the heart of Queenstown. They hold and display over 20 species of native NZ wildlife in our 5 acre Park, all of which are part of nationally managed programmes. Your entry fee supports their conservation work. They offer guaranteed kiwi viewing in our specially constructed nocturnal houses, audio tours (available in English and Japanese; allow 45min), Conservation Shows (11am, 3pm; allow 30min) and Kiwi Feedings (10am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 4.30pm; allow 15min). They offer an all-day pass and the park can be enjoyed in all weather. Experience conservation in action!

Kiwi Birdlife Park

Skippers Canyon Scenic Tour & Jet Boat (Skippers Canyon)

Adult $189  Child: $115

The Skippers Canyon Scenic Tour offers a great balance of stunning scenery and local history just a short drive from central Queenstown. The trip includes a guided drive into historic Skippers Canyon via the infamous Skippers Road, on board commentary from knowledgeable drivers about the history of the area including the miners who battled the harsh New Zealand conditions to extract gold from the richest gold bearing river in the world.

Skippers Canyon Scenic Tour & Jet Boat

Rotorua Duck - Tarawera and Lakes Tour (Rotorua)

Adult: $105.00 NZD
Child: $60.00 NZD

Discover Rotorua’s spectacular lakes area from the comfort of a fully restored World War II amphibious vehicle, able to travel on land and water. A 90 minute fun-filled and scenic journey that ventures onto the three Rotorua lakes, and is accompanied by an entertaining and informative commentary.

Rotorua Duck - Tarawera and Lakes Tour

Weta Workshop - There and Back Again Guided Tour (Wellington)

NZ$99 Adult NZ$60 Child

This movie-based experience provides a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse of Weta Workshop, the home of the special effects wizards whose work features in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies. The tour invites you to view the creative processes of a Weta technician and to touch, feel, and hold real props, weapons and models from the films the creative Weta team have worked on. Return transfers from the Wellington i-Site are included.

Weta Workshop - There and Back Again Guided Tour

Altitude Wine Tours - Twilight Wine & Craft Beer Experience (Queenstown)

Adult: $209.00 NZD

It’s always 5 o’clock at Altitude Tours. Join our Twilight Wine and Craft Beer experience for a fun and entertaining late afternoon tastebud tingling adventure! Visit three unique locations around Queenstown and Gibbston with a minimum of 12 tastings of some of the finest drops in the region. Now, here’s the twist, if beer is more your thing then bounce from vines to hops and taste some local craft beers instead.

Altitude Wine Tours - Twilight Wine & Craft Beer Experience

Bread to Bottle Tour MTM Experience (Dunedin)

Adult: $25.00 NZD

Visit Dunedin Craft Distillers, the first distillery in Aotearoa New Zealand and one of only a handful worldwide, to produce botanical spirits from surplus bread and bakery products that would otherwise go to landfill. Discover on this Make Travel Matter Experience, how owners, Jenny McDonald and Sue Stockwell do it in a ‘Bread to Bottle Tour’ which takes you through the process used to turn bread into spirits.

Bread to Bottle Tour MTM Experience

KJET (Queenstown)

NZ$135 Adult NZ$69 Child

Take on the mighty Shotover River with Kawarau Jet (KJet) – Queenstown’s original Jet boat ride. Only KJet offers a 60 minute Queenstown Jet boat experience with unforgettable thrills, spins & exhilaration across three waterways in one of the world’s most stunning locations.

KJET

Real Journeys - Walter Peak BBQ Dinner and Earnslaw (Queenstown)

NZ$189 Adult NZ$85 Child

Relive the elegance of turn-of-the-century travel with a cruise on Queenstown’s iconic vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. Launched in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw is the largest and grandest vessel ever to ply Lake Wakatipu. The TSS Earnslaw makes several trips daily across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm on the western shores. A cruise on this gracious heritage vessel is the perfect way to experience Queenstown’s magnificent alpine scenery. Upon reaching Walter Peak High Country Farm, you can disembark for an insight into New Zealand’s farming lifestyle. Enjoy an evening dining at the Colonel’s Homestead followed by an entertaining Sheep Show!

Real Journeys - Walter Peak BBQ Dinner and Earnslaw

Zealandia (Wellington)

Adult: $64.00NZD
Child: $32.00NZD

ZEALANDIA has some of the most unique biodiversity and advanced conservation techniques in the world. Join an experienced guide on an engaging and informative walk through the picturesque sanctuary to witness the native wildlife that is once again living on the mainland. With everything in ZEALANDIA living wild, nature-guru guides use their knowledge of birdsong, habitats, and local flora to track down even the rarest of our unique animals.

Zealandia

Monarch Wildlife Cruise & Larnach Castle Tour (Dunedin)

NZ$160 Adult NZ$80 Child

Let your local driver take you on an exciting Otago Peninsula drive to New Zealand’s only castle. Your guided tour of the Larnach family home will give you insight into not only the architecture and style of the stately building, but also into William Larnach’s family life and the restoration done by the current owners during the past three decades. Enjoy views from the tower and marvel at the immaculate gardens before your return to Dunedin. Join our invigorating Wildlife Cruise around Taiaroa Head, home to the world's only mainland nesting place of royal albatross. Watch as these huge birds glide in from the ocean and soar high above their hillside nests.

Monarch Wildlife Cruise & Larnach Castle Tour

Ulva Island (Stewart Island)

Adult: $119.00NZD
Child: $59.00NZD

Discover Stewart Island on a leisurely cruise of Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary. The cruise will showcase stunning scenery, hidden coves, and unspoilt beaches. Hear fascinating stories of early Māori history and European settlement from your guide. Keep a look out for fur seals and penguins. Stop at renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island for a 45-minute guided walk. It is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species.

Ulva Island
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