New Zealand Journey

National Geographic Journeys, Auckland to Queenstown
Image by G Adventures

Information from G Adventures

Tour description

Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s stunning landscapes and multicultural heritage, travelling by plane, train, van, boat, and cable car through the North and South Islands. Discover magnificent fjords, ethereal glowworm caves, and snowcapped peaks; visit picturesque vineyards and explore vibrant cities; and imbibe the wisdom and knowledge of the country’s indigenous Maori culture.

What's included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Waiheke Island Wineries, Waiheke Island Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Meet a Maori Elder, Rotorua
  • Waitomo Caves tour
  • Traditional Maori hangi feast and entertainment
  • Scenic TranzAlpine train
  • Ride the Queenstown gondola
  • Wilderness day cruise (winter) or overnight cruise (summer) in Fiordland National Park
  • Internal flight
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Highlights

  • Sample wine with local experts on waiheke island
  • Learn about maori myths and traditions
  • Experience the geothermal mysteries of rotorua
  • Glide along the tranzalpine railway
  • Relax at a rainforest lodge
  • Cruise through fiordland national park searching for wildlife and waterfalls

Itinerary

Day 1: Auckland Arrive at any time.

Day 2: Auckland Take an orientation walk in Auckland, one of the most multicultural cities in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ll then catch a ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island, a haven of world-class vineyards and idyllic beaches. Visit two wineries to learn about New Zealand's burgeoning wine industry and the history of viticulture in the country while sampling some of the local blends.

Day 3: Auckland/Rotorua Drive to the lakeside town of Rotorua, situated over an active geothermal zone and known for its volcanic features and rich Maori heritage. Stop en route at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and take a boat ride through this spectacular underground realm to see thousands of flickering glowworms light up in the dark.

Day 4: Rotorua Spend a free day in fascinating Rotorua. Opt to explore a geothermal park, walking past bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools, or go on a white-water rafting excursion. This evening, visit Tamaki Maori Village and enjoy a private welcome ceremony; then sit down for an exclusive talk with a Maori elder, learning about the community’s traditions, myths, and legends. Later, we’ll witness a captivating performance of Maori folklore while dining on an array of traditional foods prepared in a hangi, or underground oven.

Day 5: Rotorua/Christchurch Enjoy time at leisure this morning before catching a flight to Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. Take some time to explore this small city on your own.

Day 6: Christchurch/Franz Josef Board the TranzAlpine train—one of the world’s most scenic rail routes—for a breathtaking journey through verdant plains, beech forests, and majestic, misty mountains. Disembark at Arthur’s Pass—the highest pass in the Southern Alps—and continue on a private vehicle to a rainforest lodge near the town of Franz Josef, our home for the next two nights.

Day 7: Franz Josef Discover the natural wonders of the Franz Josef area on your own today. Opt to take a helicopter up to the stunning Franz Josef Glacier and hop out for an unforgettable hike on the jagged ice; embark on a guided interpretive walk that follows a riverbed along the glacier’s retreat; soak up in natural hot pools surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery; and more.

Day 8: Franz Josef/Queenstown Set out towards Queenstown on a drive along the South Island’s magnificent west coast. Stop at tranquil Lake Matheson, where, on a clear day, you can capture a postcard-perfect image of New Zealand’s highest peaks reflected in the water. Continue to Queenstown, pausing for short walks through the rainforest and visits to picturesque waterfalls.

Day 9: Queenstown/Fiordland National Park Discover the glacially carved wilderness of Fiordland National Park on a cruise. Glide past shimmering waterfalls and towering cliffs, and look out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and little blue penguins with our naturalist guides. Depending on the season, we’ll spend the night onboard in comfortable cabins, enjoying time to relax on deck and watch the stars.

Day 10: Fiordland National Park/Queenstown Rise early for a wildlife viewing cruise along the pristine fjord. Then navigate back to Queenstown and spend the rest of the day at leisure in this fun-loving lakeside town, known as the adventure capital of the world.

Day 11: Queenstown The day is yours to explore Queenstown. Choose to go bungee jumping at the world’s first commercial bungee jumping site; Cruise lake Wakatipu on a historic steamer; experience a thrilling jet boat ride; or visit a local winery to sample the region’s award-winning vintages. This evening, enjoy a cable car ride to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic vistas of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps.

Day 12: Queenstown Depart at any time.