You will visit: South Island & North Island, including Christchurch, Lake Ohau, Dunedin, Queenstown, Franz Josef Glacier, Wellington, Taupo, Rotorua, Waitomo & Auckland
It’s not called the adrenalin capital of the world for nothing! Dive into the thrills of the South Island - from Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown's non-stop action, you’ll need loads of energy to keep you going! Continue the adrenaline rush as you head through "The Lord of the Rings" country to the North Island, packed with Maori culture, cruising on Lake Taupo, Waitomo's caves & metropolitan Auckland. NZ's two small islands definitely packed full of adventure!
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Top Offers & Trip Notes
Itinerary + Inclusions & ME Time Optionals
ME Time Optionals
ME Time optionals will take your trip to a whole new level with unforgettable experiences unique to the places you visit. See more, do more, live more & go home completely regret-free. Costs for these aren’t included in your tour cost & are payable to your Trip Manager in local currency.
On our trips we don't just take you to the destinations, we make sure you get under the skin of every place you visit. From amazing food & accommodation, to exclusive access to incredible experiences, with Contiki you'll get unbeatable value & a completely unique travel experience.
Arrive in Christchurch & check into the Ibis Hotel Christchurch from 2pm. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore then meet your fellow travelers & Tour Manager this evening.
Kia Ora! Meet up with your Contiki Crew in Christchurch and hit the road traveling through Mackenzie Country.
We’ll stop off to see the intense milky blue waters of glacially-fed Lake Tekapo. Kick start your tour with a spectacular optional glacier flight over Mt. Cook, Australasia’s highest peak. With views over towering Mt. Cook and a lakeside position, our overnight stay at Lake Ohau in a traditional ski lodge is all about its fantastic location.
Tonight, get to know the other Contiki travellers, your Tour Manager and Driver over dinner. Then relax in the hot outdoor jacuzzi, or play darts at the lodge bar.
- Pick up a treat at NZ's famous Cookie Time factory
- See the historic Church of the Good Shephard
- See Mt. Cook across the beautiful blue glacial Lake Ohau
- Stop at Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo & Geraldine
- Air Safaris NZ$330
This morning it’s time to leave this stunning area as we head towards the student city, Dunedin!
We’ll hit the road & make a stop at Benmore Dam for a look at this impressive structure & maybe spot some gliders – it’s one of the world’s premier spots for this pretty cool sport. We’ll also stop in at historic Oamaru, with it’s cute old buildings, many of which are made out of it’s own stunning white Oamaru stone. Take a peek at Moeraki, our next short stop, for a look at these massive boulders located right on the beach. It’s hard to believe these impressive formations really are natural & they make for some pretty cool pics to show off to your mates.
On arrival in Dunedin you’ll see why it really is the city that looks old, but definitely thinks young! Before we arrive into the city centre we’ll head to the base of Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street, for a look at the sheer angle! Then it’s time to hit up Dunedin. Originally a Scottish settlement, you’ll see references to the city’s past dotted throughout the city. This afternoon arrival we’ll visit the iconic Speight’s Brewery for a look at how this iconic Kiwi brew is made. As you tour the brewery with our guide, learn about the brewing process of this much loved Southern Ale. You’ll finish up with a few tasters so you’ll discover for yourself why the locals love it so much!
There’s loads of places to head out in Dunedin, from cool clubs & bars in the Octagon to the student pub vibes around George Street. So later, why not take it up a level & head to some of the local night spots for a taste of how partying is really done! Ask your Tour Manager for some tips on where’s hot to head, or make your way to one of the local favourites around the Octagon – there’s a huge variety of places to head for a fun night out.
- Stop at Oamaru & Benmore Dam
- Visit the impressive Moeraki Boulders
- See Baldwin Street, the world's steepest street
- Tour & tasting at the iconic Speight's Brewery
- Speight's Ale House Dinner NZ $31
This morning, we make our way towards New Zealand’s adventure hub, Queenstown! This place is awesome. With so many amazing activities to choose from, plus fantastic nightlife, cool people & stunning surroundings, you’re in for a few incredible days here. First though, we make a stop at the original home of bungy jumping. You can even have a go yourself if you're brave enough! This is one high-energy destination that has something for everyone. From jet boat rides to fantastic local food, gorgeous countryside and the world’s most southern wineries, the list really is endless.
- Stop in Alexandra in Central Otago
- Stop at AJ Hackett's Kawarau Bridge
- AJ Hackett Bungy - Kawarau Bridge NZ$195
This morning, you’ll take a ride on ‘The world’s most exciting jetboat’ the iconic Shotover Jet! Hold on tight - speeding down the Shotover River on a jetboat amongst the fierce canyon walls (so close you could probably touch them) is a thrilling experience & getting a pic to take home of the group in action is a must. Next up, legendary Queenstown! This traveller favourite is world renowned as the home of action & adrenalin & needs no introduction – your time here is guaranteed to be epic, no matter what you choose to do.
The nightlife here is equally as awesome as its adrenalin fixes, tonight you will have a chance to visit some of the town’s hottest nightspots you're sure the start the night out right.
- Set your pulse racing with a hair-raising ride on the Shotover Jet
- Entry to one of Queenstown's hottest nightspots
- Group Photograph NZ$18
- Canyoning NS$199
With two more days here, you’ve got time to try out adrenaline-pumping activities, to take it easy with a glass of local wine or beer and of course, to party – something Queenstown is known for.
There’s also the option to take advantage of our explore more highlight optional – your chance to experience the stunning Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s gems. This slice of paradise has been voted one of the world’s top destinations & is known around the world for its gorgeous waters & stunning scenery. Set in Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site so get ready for the epic scenery – high mountains rise straight out of the sea and waterfalls pour down sheer cliffs into the deep, dark waters of the fiord.
You’ll get the ultimate angle on this natural wonder from the water when we cruise – you’ll learn about this jaw-droppingly beautiful region from the on-board nature specialist. You’ll get a really good look around the area and up close to its more hidden spots.
You can chill out and enjoy the scenery on deck & hopefully you’ll get a chance to spot seals, dolphins, whales and penguins.
Choose to take a coach over, then jump on a boat & cruise this stunning spot then head back to Queenstown on the coach. Or, if you’re feeling up for it, there’s the option to fly back to Queenstown too.
Walk around the quaint town, hit the shops or head down to the lake for beautiful views of the surrounding mountain ranges, fittingly called The Remarkables. Board the old steam boat, the TSS Earnslaw, for a lake cruise and see it all from the water.
For adrenaline junkies, there’s bungy jumpy, sky diving, jet boating, canyon swinging and quad biking. In fact there are so many adventure activities in Queenstown that you couldn’t do them all in the 2 days if you tried. For those who like to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground, take an easy-going hike or push yourself with a tougher trail.
Pumping at night, Queenstown is the place to hit some of New Zealand’s best bars and clubs. With cool cocktail bars, old-style pubs and plenty of clubs, there is so much to choose from.
- NZone Skydiving 9,000 ft. NZ$299/ 12,000 ft. NZ$339/ 15,000 ft. NZ$439
- Milford Sound NZ$159
- AJ Hackett Bungy - Thrillogy NZ$399
- AJ Hackett Bungy - Nevis NZ$275
- AJ Hackett Bungy - The Ledge NZ$195
- AJ Hackett Skyswing - Nevis Arc NZ$195
- AJ Hackett Skyswing - The Ledge NZ$160
- Kawarau or Shotover Rafting NZ$219
- Heliraft NZ$299
- Walter Peak Horse Riding NZ$119
- Dart River Wilderness Safari NZ$219
- Funyaks NZ$319
- Skyline Restaurant NZ$79
- Canyon Swing NZ$205
- Ziptrek Ecotours From NZ$185
- Queenstown Adventurer Canyoning NS$199
Relax on the coach, chat with friends and take in the stunning scenery as we head to the rugged West Coast. Leaving the golden grasslands, cliffs and hills of the Otago region behind us, we travel through Haast Pass. See the ancient rainforests and small glaciers that give this area its unique atmosphere - we also make stop at the majestic Thunder Creek Falls. Then cruise past remote beaches and the coastal dunes of the West Coast before arriving in the Westland National Park, where lush bush land and glaciers almost reach the sea.
We overnight in Franz Josef, a cute alpine township.
- Explore tiny Arrowtown
- Drive through Haast Pass & see Thunder Creek Falls
This morning, get physical and pull on your crampons, grab an ice-pick and head out onto the ice of either the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier. On this optional activity, you’ll learn about how these glaciers came about with our professional Local Guides.
Otherwise, you can get a bird’s eye view over these icy formations and sweeping vistas in an optional helicopter ride.
- Helihike NZ$415
- Franz Josef Glacier Heli NZ$210
- Franz Josef / Fox Glacier Heli NZ$295
- Mt. Cook / Franz / Fox Heli - Grand Tour NZ$420
- Mt. Cook (western face) / Fox and Franz Heli NZ$370
- Ice Explorer NZ$319
- Across Country Quad Bikes Riders NZ$159 / Passengers NZ$69
- Glacier Country Kayaks NZ$115
Sticking to the untamed coastline, we stop in at the former gold rush town of Hokitika on the West Coast. It’s great for a look into a traditional Maori art. Watch authentic carvers work with New Zealand greenstone (jade) and learn about the importance of this stone. You could even pick up a piece to take home. We travel east through stunning Arthur’s Pass, following an old trade route. The dense native forest, alpine atmosphere and crystal clear rivers give the area its pioneer feel. Then it’s back to Christchurch for a chilled out evening.
- See a demonstration of traditional Maori greenstone carving
- Scenic drive across the Southern Alps
It’s another jaw-dropping drive up to the top of the South Island today. The coach cuts across the Canterbury Plains to Kaikoura. This seaside settlement is known for whales, dolphins and delicious, fresh crayfish sold from roadside vans. We’ll stop at a seal colony before travelling up the wild, rugged east coast and the wine country of Marlborough. Jump on the Inter-Island ferry and leave the South Island behind. Cruise through the gorgeous Marlborough Sounds, where thick forested peaks rise straight up from the sea. It’s a camera-friendly spot with picturesque inlets, remote coves and tiny beaches that dot the islands. You’ll also see some old wooden baches (New Zealand holiday houses) and boat jetties. We dock in the capital city of Wellington - the country’s political centre and cultural core with funky shops, fringe festivals, galleries, as well as a huge amount of cool cafes and bars. Take the time to say your farewells & and swap contact details with your new travel buddies as your tour ends this afternoon in Wellington.
- Spectacular drive along the Kaikoura Coast & visit to a seal colony
- Drive through New Zealand's largest wine growing region
You’ve got a full day to discover Wellington – its compact centre is perfect for exploring on foot.
Walk alongside the harbour or visit the innovative Te Papa Museum for a look into New Zealand history and culture.
You could take a walk around New Zealand’s political heart by visiting some of its government buildings. Take in the iconic ‘Beehive’ building & its distinctive shape, which was specially designed to cope in case of an earthquake.
You could hang out on alternative Cuba Street, watch street performers or rummage through some of the surrounding retro stores. If you’re hungry, try out some of the great ethnic foods you can find in this multi-cultural city, like sushi, Thai, kebabs and Italian gelatos.
For something different, learn about the age-old art of tattooing at the Tattoo Museum. From traditional Maori moko (face tattoos) through to colourful contemporary designs. There’s even a tattoo parlour on site if you’re game!
- See more of the sights made famous in the "The Lord of the Rings"
- Kapiti Quad Bikes NZ$165
- Rover Rings half/full day Tour NZ$95/$189
- Lord of the Rings Tour(s) NZ$95/$189
Spot the dramatic volcanic landscapes today that were used as backdrops in "The Lord of the Rings", when we drive past World Heritage-listed Tongariro National Park. The park is also home to the still active volcano, Mt. Ruapehu, which doubles as NZ’s biggest ski field.
Continue on to the popular low-key resort town of Taupo. Here, there’s some of the best trout fishing in the country and some of the most amazing long-distance views of Tongariro National Park’s three volcanic peaks.
Cap off your day with our optional dinner cruise out on New Zealand’s largest lake – Lake Taupo - where you can have a go at fishing!
Later, back on land, play some pool at one of Taupo’s lakeside bars.
- Dramatic drive along the Desert Road, through the volcanic landscape made famous in "The Lord of the Rings"
- See the active volcano Mt. Ruapehu
- View Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake
- Taupo Bungy Bungy NZ$169, Swing NZ$119
- Rock'n Ropes Adventure Course NZ$70
- Dinner / Party Cruise NZ$75
- Taupo Tandem Skydiving From NZ$249
On the way out of Taupo, a visit to the raging Huka Falls will impress. Tonnes of water surge over these falls at a rate of 220,000 litres (58 000 gallons) per second.
It’s a short drive to Rotorua, famous for its spurting geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and ‘interesting’ sulfur smell.
For some crazy ‘Kiwi ingenuity’, try an optional called zorbing. It’s an activity where you get inside a huge plastic ball and roll down a 200m hill, either by yourself or with a friend.
Rotorua is an important hub of Maori culture. To recognise this, we have an included authentic cultural experience, complete with a fantastic Maori hangi and traditional dance concert. Some of the foods you can try from the hāngi are sweet potato and chicken cooked on hot rocks in an underground pit – just as they have been for centuries. Listen to stories, songs and chants while learning about ancient Maori mythology and beliefs.
- Visit the mighty Huka Falls
- Guided tour of the 'Sulfur City', Rotorua
- See Rotorua's bubbling geothermic mud pools
- Traditional Maori hāngi dinner & dance performance
- Hukafalls Jet NZ$115
- Ogo Ranges from NZ$35
- Skyline Gondola and Luge Rides NZ$32
This morning, get an insider look at New Zealand’s unique Maori culture & history as we tour Rotorua’s famous Te Puia Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. You’ll learn all about the history of the Maori people, their customs & traditions, plus have the opportunity to ask questions & learn as much as possible about this amazing spot – it’s the perfect way to get in the know.
With the rest of the day free to explore the way you want, you can advantage of the city's awesome thermal environment & treat yourself to a spa treatment or massage. Our tip: With so much buzz around the amazing thermal mud treatments found here, we love picking up some products to take home as a gift (or for ourselves!). There are loads of other ways to spend your time too if adrenalin is more your thing, like getting views of the city from a gondola, then speeding down a hill on a luge, or getting a splash as you raft the Kaituna River – the options for things to keep you busy in Rotorua are endless.
Or, if chilling out is more of what you’re into, then or hit up a café for a flat white coffee or make tracks to the shops for a spending spree.
- Locally Guided Tour of Te Puia Maori Arts and Crafts Institute
- Hobbiton Movie Set Tours NZ $110
- Whakarewarewa Thermal Village NZ $35
- Kaitiaki Rafting NZ$99, NZ$109
- Rotorua Canopy Tours NZ$139
- Mt. Tarawera Trek NZ$149
- Agro Adventures NZ$95
Next up is Waitomo and the Waitomo Caves. Famous for their incredible limestone formations and glowworms, the caves are a stunning subterranean world. For adventure, you can head deeper into the caves in an optional activity and see them either on foot or by tubing down an underground river
Tonight, it’s traditional Kiwi BBQ dinner and a visit to a typical country pub. Kick back with your new friends and some of the locals. Maybe try out the local beer – it’s good!
- Enjoy a traditional Kiwi BBQ or pub dinner (seasonal)
- Waitomo Caves Tour NZ$45
- Black Water Rafting NZ$129
- Ruakuri Caves Tour NZ$69
Today we drive through the lush farmlands of Waikato – an area that produces many of New Zealand’s best rugby players for the All Blacks - before arriving in Auckland.
As New Zealand’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Auckland is surrounded by volcanoes, islands and a stunning harbour. You’ll soon understand why this is the "City of Sails" and was once home to the America’s Cup. Here we'll show you the city spots on an included sightseeing tour before heading up the iconic Sky Tower.
Take in the views, walk on the glass platform (if you’re game) & frame up some shots as you soak up the scene. Back at ground level, you will have a chance to experience some of Aucklands great nightlife. Try K Road for some alternative vibes or Ponsonby hot spots like The Ponsonby Social Club, Chapel Bar or the Long Room for some cool beats & equally cool people, or Parnell for a taste of the true Auckland by night.
- See the 'City of Sails' harbour made famous by the America's Cup
- Catch a 360° view of Auckland with a trip up the Sky Tower
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