DAY 1 - Christchurch to Lake Ohau via Lake Tekapo
Christchurch what's up? New Zealand's South Island is the home to adventure, adrenaline and good times and we're here to take it all on.
We'll stop off to see the intense milky blue waters of glacially-fed Lake Tekapo. Here (from October 2020) we'll also get to enjoy an unforgettable Dark Sky experience, an interactive multimedia exhibition that mixes stargazing, science and traditional Māori astronomy, teaching us how the Māori people used to use stars to harvest food, and about the importance of reducing light pollution.
Onto Lake Ohau, with its glorious views of Mt. Cook. Yet another swoon-worthy location where you'll have to pick that jaw up off the ground.
DAY 2 - Lake Ohau to Te Anau via Arrowtown
Another day, another natural wonder to discover.
We make a quick stop for lunch in this historic gold mining town before heading onto Te Anau.
Arriving in the stunning lakeside town of Te Anau, why not take a guided jet boat trip to Fiordland National Park? From Te Anau through lake Manapouri, it's an exhilarating way to soak up the scenery. You can also take a trip to the ethereal glow worm caves or simply cycle the gorgeous trails through native bush.
DAY 3 - Te Anau to Queenstown via Milford Sound
It's time to make tracks to the spectacular natural wonder of Milford Sound.
Welcome to New Zealand's most stunning attraction, with a magical combination of mountain peaks, forest-clad cliffs and deep dark waters. We take an included cruise of the fiord and experience the beauty of this pristine destination by boat, the best way to see Milford Sound in all its glory.
Later, we head to our home for the night in Queenstown.
DAY 4 - Queenstown
Today is yours to get acquainted with Queenstown and spend some time mulling over the activities up for grabs in the next two days. First stop is the legendary Kawarau Bungy Bridge, get your morning adrenaline hit with a heart pounding jump at the world home of the bungy. Later, take a stroll around beautiful Queenstown, nestled in the Southern Alps this stunning town has plenty to offer other than adventure activities.
DAY 5 - Queenstown
With our last day in adrenalin city edging closer, this is the time to push yourself to the limits and jump over any mental barriers you've put up around yourself. Embrace the spirit of adventure and conquer those niggling fears once and for all. For those who did their dash yesterday, a day staying mellow and enjoying this beautiful region will prove more than sufficient.
DAY 6 - Queenstown
It's times like this that you really start to work out what sort of traveller you are. And human for that matter. You might be the one trailing through wine country and doing a spot of horse back riding, or you may be that guy that crams in a bungy jump, a skydive and a heliraft & still craves more. It's your holiday - run wild as you see fit.
DAY 7 - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier via Wanaka & Haast Pass
Time to return our adrenalin levels to normal and make tracks to the wild (and often wet) West Coast and it's towering glaciers. But before we do, bridge bungy jump, anyone?
Enjoying our scenic drive we'll stop for lunch in Wanaka, a pretty ski resort town situated on a lake front and dwarfed by mountains. This town is fast becoming one of NZ's most popular spots, and a trip to the 'Dough Bin' for a luscious pie should be high on the list today.
Our first piece of NZ eye-candy comes in the form of Hasast Pass, beautified by ancient rainforests, small glaciers and waterfalls. Note how the scenery changes as we roll away from Queenstown through the Southern Alps.
Franz Josef Glacier
Playing host tonight is the town of Franz Josef, home to some of NZ's finest natural beauty with bushlands and glaciers that almost reach the sea. Tomorrow we'll be out and about making the most of it - who's excited?
DAY 8 - Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier
This morning will be another big ol' tick off the list as we take to the ice of Franz Josef Glacier. We've got a heli ride over the glacier up for grabs, or the opportunity to carve your own Pounamu (jade) pendant, under the tuition of a Maori mastercraftsman. Pounamu is sacred to the Māori people, and this is a great way to learn about its cultural significance, while also creating a beautiful please of jewellery. An optional highlight today is a boat cruise across Lake Mapourika. But this ain't your ordinary boat cruise. You'll cruise up the glassy lake, framed by glaciers and mountains, before switching to a stand up paddle board and gliding along a narrow estuary. This takes you to your journey's destination, the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, where you'll get to meet New Zealand's adorable but vulnerable national bird.
DAY 9 - Franz Josef Glacier to Christchurch via Hokitika & Arther's Pass
Franz Josef Glacier
Armed with a new found appreciation for frozen water, we hop back on the coach & start making our way back to Christchurch.
In the gold rush town of Hokitika we'll watch authentic carvers get to work on green jade and take a look at traditional Maori art. Back on the coach we're coastline bound to one of the islands most jaw-droppingly beautiful spots...
Take in the beautiful scenery as we wind our way across the highest and most spectacular mountain pass across the Southern Alps.
Tonight we'll sleep well in Christchurch, drifting off to the pleasant memories of NZ's natural beauty that seasoned our day.
DAY 10 - 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 11 - 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 12 - 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 13 - 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 14 - 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 15 - 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 16 - 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 17 - 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 18 - Paihia
Whether it's parasailing or a fast boat ride - today's (idyllic) list of activities 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 adventures on offer - tomorrow we head back to the big city vibes.
DAY 19 - 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?