Best of New Zealand
PLEASE NOTE: We can help you add, adjust and tailor the itinerary to suit your requirements. Each clients itinerary is different. We work to your budget and take advantage of current specials in the marketplace for your time of travel.
Destinations: Christchurch, Franz Josef, Wanaka, Te Anau, Queenstown, Rotorua, Auckland
Experiences: Culture, Scenery, Food and Wine, Wildlife, Adventure, Relaxation
No. of days: 12 Days
In just 11 days you cover both the North and South Islands of New Zealand experiencing very different landscapes with the most stunning scenery around. You start in Christchurch on the East Coast before heading over to the West Coast via the TranzAlpine Railway, one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys. Driving down the lush West Coast to Franz Josef you have a helicopter tour of the national parks showcasing amazing views of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier glaciers and Mount Cook. You get to cruise on Lake Te Anau and through Doubtful Sound. Enjoy a gourmet food, wine and sightseeing tour in Queenstown before and an exhilarating jet boat tour into Mt Aspiring Park. Fly off to Rotorua to relax and spend time in the geothermal center of New Zealand before driving to Auckland to explore the city and finish your tour with a wonderful evening wine tasting on Waiheke Island.
DAY BY DAY:
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland International Airport and transfer to the domestic terminal for your next flight to Christchurch. Arrive in Christchurch and transfer to your accommodation. This afternoon you’re on a sightseeing tour, the best way to showcase Christchurch. You’ll be picked up from your accommodation, the trip begins on the western side of the city before travelling through the central city, the port and seaside suburbs and the Sign of the Takahe. The key highlights include Canterbury University, Riccarton House and Riccarton Bush, Mona Vale, Hagley Park, Antigua Boat Sheds, Botanical Gardens, Upper Worcester Boulevard (around the Museum and Art Centres), Victoria Clock Tower, Lyttleton, Evans Pass, Sumner, Mount Pleasant and the Sign of the Takahe. Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and punting on the Avon River or wander through the Arts Center and shops. (1 night Christchurch)
Day 2: Today you leave Christchurch to head to Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island. You’ll be traveling on the TranzAlpine Train, one of the top scenic journeys in the world. Along this journey you’ll see epic vistas, the Southern Alps and see spectacular gorges and river valleys. The train will stop in Arthurs Pass before descending towards the West Coast through beech rain forest and will conclude in Greymouth. Here you will pick up your rental car and begin your drive to Franz Josef, approximately 5 hours. (1 night Franz Josef)
Day 3: You’re off on a scenic mountain helicopter tour today. This premier flight lets you experience two of New Zealand's finest National Parks. Discover the gigantic expanse of the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier snowfields with a landing at high altitude. This flight includes fantastic views of the Tasman Glacier and Mount Cook so have your camera’s ready. The flight lasts 40 minutes including the snow landing. This afternoon you leave Franz Josef to begin your drive to Wanaka, approximately 3.5 hours. Spend your afternoon exploring the pretty Lake Wanaka and enjoying one of the many walks available. (1 night Wanaka)
Day 4: Today you leave Wanaka and make your way to Te Anau, approximately 3.5 hours with plenty to see and enjoy on the way for example Lake Wakatipu, Lake Manapouri and the Manapouri Dam. This afternoon you’re off to see the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. Cruise across Lake Te Anau on a luxury catamaran to the western shore, disembark and join a specialist nature guide for an above and below ground experience. The guide will explain aspects of the cave and its various inhabitants above ground before heading below ground to a twisting network of limestone passages filled with the whirlpools and waterfalls of the Tunnel Burn Stream. Follow the path deep underground before transferring into small boats to drift silently below thousands of glowworms inhabiting a silent, hidden grotto. Re-trace the steps out of the caves and return to Te Anau by catamaran. (2 nights Te Anau)
Day 5: It’s all about scenic beauty and wildlife on a full day Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise today. Cruise across the crystal waters of Lake Manapouri to West Arm where a coach will take clients across the alpine route of Wilmot Pass through some of Fiordland's most dense rainforest. Upon reaching Deep Cove board the vessel Patea Explorer for a 3 hour cruise exploring the waterways of this serene and isolated fiord. Patea Explorer is a 31.01 metre cruising catamaran. View spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest and mountains and various wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin. On the return cruise, the vessel's engines are turned off and you are treated to 'The Sound of Silence' before re-tracing steps back to Manapouri.
Day 6: Leaving Te Anau this morning you drive to Queenstown, approximately 2 hours 15 minutes. This afternoon you’re on a gourmet wine and food sightseeing tour. Enjoy wine tasting at a minimum of four wineries including sightseeing and a behind the scenes tour of Gibbston Valley vineyard, New Zealand’s only wine cave. Learn about the wine making process, and enjoy premium wines with superb local produce at one of the region's top winery restaurants. (2 nights Queenstown)
Day 7: This morning you’re going deep into Mt Aspiring National Park. Boarding your coach in Queenstown. A scenic drive takes you along the edge of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy where you will board a Dart River jet boat for a 1 and a 1/2 hour journey through the Dart River's ever-changing braided river system. You will be thrilled by the jet boat's capabilities (including jet spins) and awed by your surroundings of breathtaking snow-capped mountains, ancient native forest, waterfalls, and glacier valleys frozen in time. The jet boat ride is followed by an easy 30-40 minute guided walk through ancient native Beech forest. The tour finishes with a journey by 4WD safari vehicle along a back-road route while hearing stories about the surrounding countryside and stopping to view scenery that has formed the epic backdrop for many international films, including 'The Lord of the Rings'. Tour concludes approximately 6 hours after commencement, at Station building back in Queenstown. You have this afternoon at leisure. There are many activities in Queenstown including cruising Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, bungy jumping, exploring Arrowtown, or visiting the Queenstown gondola.
Day 8: Today you fly from Queenstown to Rotorua. Drive to Queenstown Airport and return you rental car before boarding your short flight to Rotorua. Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity, ancient forests, pristine lakes, history and culture. Enjoy an afternoon at the Polynesian Spa, voted as one of the top 10 spa’s in the world (Medical and Thermal Spas) by Conde Nast Traveller. There are 35 hot mineral pools including an adult’s only pool, family spa, private pools and deluxe bathing in the Lake Spa. You’ll also find a comprehensive range of spa treatments. This evening you get to walk high above the ground through the magnificent Redwood Forest on the Redwoods Treewalk. The nightlights create a magical experience as you wander around the 27 platforms. (2 nights Rotorua)
Day 9: You’re off on a geothermal tour today. You’ll be picked up at your accommodation and transported to the starting point for your tour. You get to experience the amazing geothermal activity, gushing geysers, boiling mud pools and the many colors of every tint and hue displayed in the pools, lakes, craters, steaming vents and mineral terraces of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Then enjoy the Waimangu Volcanic Valley nature walk amidst a stunning volcanic landscape with spectacular views of hot crater lakes, steaming cliffs, hissing fumeroles, colorful silica terraces, rare thermally adapted plants and the opportunity to see some of NZ's native birdlife. Overall walking time is approximately 2 hours for a distance of approximately 1.25 miles. This afternoon you get to visit Whakarewarewa The Living Maori Village. The tour takes in all the geothermal highlights within the village including how the villages utilize the geothermal in their everyday lives, their history back to the starting of tourism in Rotorua, and traditions that have been handed down through generations they still practice today. This tour includes an hour long Guided Tour and complimentary 30 minute Cultural Performance.
Day 10: Today you drive from Rotorua to Auckland, approximately 3 hours not including stops. While in Taupo take time to enjoy the New Zealand’s largest lake and a visit to Huka Falls while you are there. Return your rental car in Auckland. (2 nights Auckland)
Day 11: You get to explore Auckland today on a guided Auckland half day highlights tour this morning. Be amazed by dramatic views of numerous volcanoes, expansive vistas across Auckland's Waitamata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean and the marine village of Devonport. On this Auckland City Highlights Half Day Luxury tour you will see why Auckland is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This afternoon is at your leisure until 4.30pm when you board a ferry for a Twilight Wine and Dine tour on Waiheke Island. A 40 minute cruise takes you across the Hauraki Gulf to Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke Island. On arrival at Mataitia board your coach to begin a late afternoon tour that visits the award winning Stonyridge Vineyard and Restaurant with its spectacular vineyard valley views for wine tastings, before heading to Batch Winery, the highest altitude vineyard on the island, which boasts stunning views across the Hauraki Gulf. Enjoy a tour of their unique gravity-fed wine making facility, wine sampling, and a two-course dinner with wine while watching the sun set across Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf. Finish your evening with a coach back to Matiatia for your ferry back to Auckland. What a great way to spend your last evening in New Zealand.
Day 12: Leaving New Zealand today you begin your journey home.
1 night Christchurch
1 night Franz Josef
1 night Wanaka
2 nights Te Anau
2 nights Queenstown
2 nights Rotorua
2 nights Auckland
Christchurch sightseeing tour
TranzAlpine Railway journey
Glacier helicopter flight including snow landing
Te Anau glowworm nature cruise
Doubtful Sounds nature cruise
Queenstown gourmet wine and food tour
Mt Aspiring National Park wilderness jet safari
Rotorua Polynesian Hot Springs
Redwoods Treewalk at night time
Rotorua Geothermal Wonderland tour
Maori cultural experience
Auckland sight seeing tour
Waiheke Island gourmet food and wine tour
All aspects of this itinerary can be changed to suit your requirements.
The itineraries provided are great introductions to your chosen destination. You can create a travel plan using the itinerary provided or make modifications to destinations, activities and accommodation and create the dream trip you want.
Not every traveler is the same, we get that and so that’s why we recommend making changes to suit your needs. In fact, we insist - we want you to have the best trip.
If you would like any recommendations for dinner or shopping areas please let us know we are happy to help and make bookings for you where necessary.
To travel to Australia you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and we can process an ETA Visa for free for US Citizens. We will need a copy of your Photo Page of your Passport. Nationalities of any other countries please enquire with your agent to see if you are eligible for a free ETA Visa or if you need to apply for a Visitor Visa.
To travel to New Zealand you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority. More information on the NZeTA application requirements and process can be found on our FAQ page here.
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment. We will provide a travel insurance quote at the time of booking, and you are free to use our recommended insurance with Travelguard, find your own, or book without insurance.
A product that we can offer is a Cancel For Any Reason policy that will provide you with 80% back in refunds. If the cancellation is for medical reasons there is a 100% refund..
Downunder Journeys services travel requests from the United States and Canada for travel to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tahiti. All pricing on this website is in US Dollars.
All of the sample itineraries on this website do not include airfares as the airfare price changes daily and to ensure you get the best possible price we will work with the best airfares at the time. If you happen to buy your airfare first and then need a package to fit it, we can certainly help with that as well, just let us know.
As an idea for a 2-week vacation to Australia or New Zealand we recommend a budget of around $8,000-10,000 (including economy airfare), this would be for a 4 star and above itinerary, a little cheaper if we did more moderate accommodations.