DAY 1 - Auckland to Paihia via Whangarei
Welcome to the land of the long white cloud: New Zealand! Time to meet your Contiki crew and get ready for the adventures on the horizon. We'll cross Auckland's Harbour Bridge admiring the 'City of Sails' harbour before starting our journey north to Paihia.
But first, a stop off at the stunning yacht marina in Whangarei. Here we'll check out the weird and wonderful Huderwassert art centre, a unique architectural project dedicated to the ecological activist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. After lunch we'll hit the road again onwards to the Bay of Islands.
On arrival to the Bay of Island 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. Tonight we'll feast like the locals as we enjoy a true Kiwiana fish'n'chips as we overlook the glittering Bay of Islands.
DAY 2 - 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 3 - Paihia to Auckland
After breakfast this morning, feeling full, salty and sun-kissed we wave goodbye to Paihia & sashay our way back down NZ in the direction of Auckland.
Arriving in Auckland we've got a array of awesome Free-Time Add-Ons to choose from. Adrenaline junkies, get ready for a bungee jump, climb over the iconic harbour bridge or sky jump off the Skywalk. For those who prefer to keep two feet on the ground, why not get your taste buds tingling with a multi-sensory icecream experience at Giapo Chef's Table?
DAY 4 - Auckland to Rotorua
Laters Auckland! 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, on route to Rotorua.
When you catch your first whiff of that .. 'unusual' sulphur smell, you'll know we've arrived in Rotorua. Famed for its spurting geysers, boiling mud pools & hot springs, gondola and speeding luge rides, Rotorua is a natural wonderland, and then some. We'll stop off at the New Zealand Kiwi Hatchery, the largest conservation project for the kiwi bird in the world. Watch these adorable little birds roam around, stand in a human-sized kiwi burrow, and visit the incubation centre, where over 2100 kiwi chicks have been born. Who knows, maybe you'll see a newly-hatched kiwi chick!
Tonight the culture will sky rocket with a traditional Maori hāngi dinner & dance performance, and perhaps best of all, the chance to get involved in the world-famous HAKA. Tongues at the ready peeps.
DAY 5 - 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 6 - Rotorua to Lake Taupo via Huka Falls
From Rotorua, we make our way to Lake Taupo, but not before a cheeky stop-off at the awesome Huka Falls. 220,000 litres (that's 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 Hukafalls 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. A good thing really, given Lake Taupo is on the horizon.
We arrive at Lake Taupo, the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. Volcanic peak views & trout fishing will seamlessly slip us into quaint lake life. But don't be fooled by the seemingly still scenery - a bungee jump or skydive are both on the menu if that adrenaline itch needs scratching.
Screen reader support enabled.
DAY 7 - Lake Taupo to Mount Ruapehu
We drive through the central plateau to the southern end of the Tongariro National Park, Ohakune is known as the aprés ski capital of the North Island.
Today you have the option to go mountain biking along one of NZ's most picturesque track, "the Old Coach Rd".
Tonight we stay in a heritage listed building built in 1913 which is now a vibrant modern ski lodge, located at the base of a volcano, Mt Ruapehu with views unlike any other you've seen.
DAY 8 - Mount Ruapehu to Wellington
These landscapes are unique and the sights will leave you breathless. On route to the windy capital Wellington where we'll show you the sights of this city.
As much as we've been loving the nature time, the change of scenery to New Zealand's well-cultured capital will prove an utter delights. After an orientation through the narrow streets of Wellington 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 9 - Wellington
Ready to explore Wellington in all its glory? Today, we'll head to a local cafe and try the famed flat white coffee in its city of origin (sorry Australians). Caffeinated and refreshed, we'll take a trip to Zealandia, a 225-hectare (basically massive) eco-sanctuary that protects over 40 rare native wildlife species. Because Zealandia is fully fenced, you'll be able to walk alongside incredibly rare birds like the hihi and the takahē. Look out for the tuatara, a prehistoric reptile known as a 'living fossil', which can only be found in New Zealand!
DAY 10 - Wellington to Kaikoura via Picton
So long north island! Today we're making tracks for your southern brother, darting across the Cook Strait via the Inter-Island ferry.
Our first port of call on the South Island will be Picton, the gateway to wine country. Sauv blanc, anyone?
Our next drive takes us through Marlborough’s wine country along the rugged east coast. Arriving in Kaikoura will see us amongst a seaside settlement known for whales & dolphins, so the camera needs to be on 110% charge 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.
Next up, we'll visit Kaikoura Wildlife Rescue to meet a local wildlife biologist, Sabrina Leucht, who has been working to build a dedicated wildlife hospital in Kaikoura. We'll learn about the types of wildlife we might encounter here, which threats they face, and what we can all do to make a difference - locally and in our own hometowns.
After a busy day of wildlife wonders, we'll check into our seafront hotel, before heading out for a spot of dinner. Did you know that Kaikoura literally translates into 'eat (kai) crayfish (koura)'? So, no prizes for guessing what type of local cuisine we'll be trying!
DAY 11 - Kaikoura
We all love a free day - especially one spent in beautiful Kaikoura! We recommend taking a whale watching tour, where you'll have the opportunity to see giant sperm whales in action, as well cute seals, dusky dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Other free time add-ons include a thrilling helicopter ride over the Kaikoura Peninsula, a kayak trip across the coastline, and more. We'll stay another night in Kaikoura after an action-packed day, before heading to Christchurch tomorrow morning.
DAY 12 - Kaikoura to Christchurch
So long Kaikoura! Arriving into Christchurch almost marks the end of our adventure (sob). But not before an inspiring tour of the city that was totally rebuilt after the Christchurch earthquake. Look out for the Cardboard Cathedral, the only cathedral in the world to be built mostly from plain old cardboard!
Our time together has been nothing short of perfect, so don't leave it to long before coming back to hang with us for Contiki 2.0.