DAY 1 - Christchurch to Kaikoura
Contiki crew, are you ready?! We'll kick start the morning with an inspiring tour of the city that was totally rebuilt after the Christchurch earthquake in 2011. Look out for the Cardboard Cathedral, the only cathedral in the world to be built mostly from plain old cardboard!
Next, we're back on the Contiki coach, travelling through South Island to reach Kaikoura by lunch.
We'll stop off at a seal colony on the seafront to get our daily fix of cuteness, before heading to Kaikoura Wildlife Rescue to meet a local wildlife biologist, Sabrina Leucht. She has been working to build a dedicated wildlife hospital in Kaikoura and Contiki has been helping with the fundraising! 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 2 - 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 seas, 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 3 - Kaikoura to Wellington
After breakfast, we'll head back on the Contiki coach, destination Wellington: the capital of NZ since 1865, when it replaced Auckland. Almost thirty years later, Wellington parliament was the first in the world to allow women the right to vote. A pretty cool city all in all.
By the afternoon, we'll have reached Wellington, just in time for a tour of the city. After our 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 4 - 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 5 - 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 6 - 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 7 - 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 8 - 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 9 - Rotorua to Auckland
Ta-ra, Rotorua! We head to Auckland for lunchtime, where there's an 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 10 - Auckland to Paihia via Parry Kauri Park
We'll cross Aucklands 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 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.
DAY 11 - 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 12 - Paihia to Auckland
Feeling salty and sun-kissed we'll wave goodbye to beautiful Paihia & sashay our way back down NZ in the direction of Auckland.
Our adventure comes to an end in Auckland today. Make sure you swap contact deets and start planning the next adventure. Anyone for 'Straya?