DAY 1 - Christchurch to Wellington via Kaikoura & Picton
It’s another jaw-dropping drive up to the top of the South Island today. The coach cuts across the Canterbury Plains to Kaikoura.
Arriving in Kaikoura will see us amongst a seaside settlement known for whales & dolphins, so have those cameras at the ready as we roll around the coast. We'll stop at a seal colony, where you'll struggle not to break into a collective 'cuuuute' as you watch these guys sunning themselves on the rocks.
Our next drive takes us 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.
We dock in the capital city of Wellington, where no doubt New Zealand's well-cultured capital will prove an utter delight. After an orientation through the narrow streets a night on the town will be on the cards, plus an optional dinner to start the night off as we mean to go on.
DAY 2 - Wellington
The day is yours to explore Wellington! In the early evening we'll head to a local cafe and try the famed flat white coffee in its city of origin (sorry Australians). Then you'll have a free afternoon, or (from Oct 2020) we'll meet Parris Quinn our 2019 changemaker, and try some of her Heart Parcels brownies. Heart Parcels is a charity that Parris started to ensure Wellington's homeless have enough food to eat. Buy a delicious brownie here and the proceeds go straight towards feeding people living on the streets of Wellington. If it's a Monday night, you're welcome to join Paris as she hands out donations. It's inspiring stuff.
DAY 3 - Wellington to Mount Ruapehu
We wave goodbye to Wellington and its beautiful scenery and we prepare ourselves for our next adventure – and trust us, this one is bucket-list worthy.
Known as the après-ski capital of the North island, Ohakune is a tranquil town with stupendous view. Today you have the option to go mountain biking along one of NZ's most picturesque track, "the Old Coach Rd" or spend the day bettering your skills on the slopes or generally treating yourself to all the snowy based activities on offer, then tonight snuggle down in our Special Stay ski lodge, located in prime position at the base of Mt. Ruapehu.
DAY 4 - Mount Ruapehu to Lake Taupo
Wake up in the spectacular surroundings of Mt. Ruapehu with the epic views of the volcano, and you have the option this morning to go mountain biking along one of NZ's most picturesque track, "the Old Coach Rd" before we head to Taupo.
Volcanic peak views & trout fishing will seamlessly slip us into quaint lake life. But don't be fooled by the seemingly still scenery - a bungy jump or skydive are both on the menu if that adrenaline itch needs scratching.
DAY 5 - Lake Taupo to Rotorua via Huka Falls
As we leave Lake Taupo keep an eye out for even more recognisable ‘The Lord of the Rings’ backdrops.
220,000 litres (58 000 gallons) of water gush over Huka Falls per second. Just let that sink in for a minute. Wild, right? Even wilder still is the Huka Falls Jet experience – a thrilling ride that will get you experiencing the full force of the falls and leave you with even more of a taste for adventure.
When you catch your first whiff of that… ‘unusual’ sulphur smell, you’ll know we’ve arrived in Rotorua. Upon arrival in Rotorua we get to learn some fascinating info on NZ's national birds, as well as watch new lives hatch right in front of our eyes! How impressed are you right now? Soak in a hotspring, go skydiving or take a canopy tour - there's plenty of time for you to make the best of this town. Tonight we enjoy a Maori dance performance and feast on a Hāngi dinner that is sweetly roasted in the ground.
DAY 6 - Rotorua
The day is yours to roam free in this geothermal paradise. Soak in a hot spring, go white water rafting or hike up a volcano. The options are limitless and the decisions are yours. We recommend the Rotorua Dawn Canopy Tour, exclusive to Contiki, where you'll watch the sun rise, eat some breakfast and drink coffee up in the towering trees as the birds make start their morning calls. Then, you'll get to soar 1200m through the forest on the ultimate zipline adventure.
DAY 7 - Rotorua to Auckland
Famed for its spurting geysers, boiling mud pools & hot springs, gondola and speeding luge rides, Rotorua is a natural wonderland and then some. But don't let the allure of this place consume you, for there's a fun stop at Hobbiton village we must complete. Join us at our short visit at the land of 'Lord of the Rings', before we head to Auckland. That's right, it wouldn't be a complete experience without a stop at the "Shire".
DAY 8 - Auckland to Paihia via Parry Kauri Park
We'll cross Auckland's Harbour Bridge admiring the 'City of Sails' harbour before starting our journey north to Paihia.
Parry Kauri Park
We'll waste no time exploring what this country is famed for - unfathomable nature. Ancient Kauri trees that stand up to 50 metres high and hold over 1000-years of history will delight a walk through the reserve of Parry Kauri Park.
-Walk through native Kauri Forest
On arrival to the Bay of Islands we're starting off with a dose of Kiwi history on a guided tour at Waitangi Treaty grounds where in 1840 New Zealand officially became a nation of two communities. And because we like to give you that something extra, how about a free admission at the Treaty museum, in case you seek a bit more detail on Kiwi history.
DAY 9 - Paihia
Whether it's parasailing or a fast boat ride - today's (idyllic) list of optionals reads like a who's who of adventure. This area is filled with natural beauty and is sure to inspire your inner wild child. Make the most of the Free Time Add-On experiences on offer - tomorrow we head back to the big city vibes.
DAY 10 - Paihia to End Auckland
Feeling salty and sun-kissed we wave goodbye to beautiful Paihia & sashay our way back down NZ in the direction of Auckland.
Time to say adios to the wolf pack and re-live the dream that was the land of the long white cloud, no doubt also dreaming of what might be next in store on an upcoming Contiki adventure, Asia, adventure?