New Zealand Encompassed: Harbours & Houseboats

18-to-Thirtysomethings, Auckland to Wellington
Image by G Adventures

Information from G Adventures

Tour description

It dosen’t look so big on the map, but New Zealand is positively massive once you’re there in person. This comprehensive 24-day trip — our longest in this part of the world — delivers the most immersive NZ experience possible. Get close to the land by exploring glaciers, national parks, a sustainable farm, and meet the water up-close on expert-led kayak excursions and during surf lessons. Best of all, you’ll get to explore the magnificent Bay of Islands, home to some of the world’s top fishing. 24 days? You’ll wish it was longer.

What's included

  • Your G for Good Moment: Resourceful Ōtautahi Walking Tour, Christchurch Your Welcome Moment: Meet Your CEO and Group Your First Night Out Moment: Connect With New Friends Your Hands-On Moment: Surf Lessons, Raglan Your Big Night Out Moment: Wellington Your Discover Moment: Franz Josef Your Discover Moment: Queenstown Your Big Night Out Moment: in Wellington, Wellington
  • Overnight houseboat excursion with onboard activities including snorkelling, fishing, and kayaking (Bay of Islands)
  • Conservation farm visit (Raglan)
  • Sea kayaking excursion (Raglan)
  • Maori cultural experience
  • Seal colony visit
  • Walks in Franz Josef and Abel Tasman National Parks
  • Fiordland NP visit
  • Milford Sound nature cruise
  • Mountain biking excursion (Central Otago)
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Highlights

  • Explore the bay of islands on a houseboat
  • Sea kayak to a harbour for a picnic lunch
  • Hike abel tasman national park
  • Get your heart pumping in the adventure capital of the world
  • Bike along the historic otago rail trail

Itinerary

Day 1: Auckland Arrive at any time. It’s time to make some memories! Join your CEO and group for a night out in Auckland. Choose to enjoy dinner somewhere tasty as a group before heading to Giapo ice cream parlour—contributor to Planeterra or to check out craft beer bars downtown like, Little Creatures and Habana Joe's. Make sure you take loads of pictures because you’ll want to remember this special night.

Day 2: Auckland/Bay of Islands Get off the beaten path and travel north on backroads, stopping to see giant kauri trees (some of the largest trees in the world) along the way. Then hop in crystal clear waters for an included snorkelling activity at the Goat Island Marine Reserve. See what life under the sea is all about before boarding a large houseboat for an overnight trip through the beautiful Bay of Islands.

Day 3: Bay of Islands/Paihia Make the most of your time on the boat with a free morning to do all of the things you didn’t get to do yesterday. Hop in the water for some kayaking or snorkelling. Visit the nearby islands to do some more exploring, or maybe try your hand at fishing. Then, it’s time to hop off the boat and give the town of Paihia some love. Do some hiking through the lush native forest, go chase some waterfalls, walk along the beach, or grab ice cream and cool off in town while people watching. Then find your group for dinner together in this backpacker haven.

Day 4: Paihia/Auckland It’s always nice when you get some time to catch your breath! Take advantage of this free morning in Paihia to stroll the waterfront, check out the historic Waitangi Treaty grounds, lounge in the town centre with an ice cold drink, or go out on a whim and book a skydiving adventure. No matter what you decide you’re only real job today is to have some fun. The group returns to Auckland in the early evening. Then everyone will head out for drinks together or to enjoy some delicious ice cream!

Day 5: Auckland/Raglan Begin your journey along backroads to a remote eel farm (this might sound strange, but life’s more fun when you embrace the bizarre) where you will learn about sustainable aquaculture and the conservations farm’s methods regarding traditionally farmed marine life. After, get on the water for some sea kayaking; exploring remote parts of the harbour before indulging in a picnic lunch. With full stomachs and a relaxed atmosphere the group will head to our lodge just a few minutes drive from the famous surf and arts town of Raglan for the night.

Day 6: Raglan Wake up amid the adventurous in the picturesque North Island town of Raglan. This laid-back place may well be New Zealand’s perfect surf town and you’ll get to enjoy an included surf lesson to get you out in the waves. The afternoon is yours for the taking; head on a hike around the Wainui Reserve, grab a kayak or stand up paddle board and traverse the harbour, or embrace the Indigenous art scene and shop from place to place finding the perfect memento for your trip. Your only job today is to get out, relax, and have fun!

Day 7: Raglan/Rotorua Another day another chance to explore! Today the group will begin journeying to Rotorua with a stop along the way in Waitomo. Here you can choose to go caving in the famous Waitomo caves, where you will see glow worms light up the cave’s ceiling just like stars in the night sky (sounds like a pretty unforgettable experience to us.) Next stop is Rotorua, notable for its geothermal activity (think hot springs galore) and culture. Once the group arrives here you will visit a local village for an engaging cultural experience to help you better understand the Maori way of life.

Day 8: Rotorua/Taupo Travelling to Taupo on a clear day is nothing short of breathtaking. From the shores of the lake to the snow capped peaks of Tongariro National Park in the distance, there will be no shortage of photo opportunities. Then, once again, the day is yours so take advantage of the adrenaline capital of the North Island and book some fun activities with your fellow adrenaline junkie friends. Get sprayed with water as you whitewater raft, soak in serenity in thermally heated pools, or stroll downtown in search of something tasty to try. The day is yours and you can spend it as adventurous or as relaxing as you’d like. The group will continue on to spend the night near the shores of Lake Taupo.

Day 9: Taupo/Wellington Hit the road to the nation’s capital at the southern end of the North Island. Take in the ever-changing scenery, swap travel stories with your group, and simply reflect on your journey. The group will arrive early enough to visit the National Museum, Te Papa — home to displays of historical Maori artifacts and modern exhibits. Then the choice is yours, so take that cable car ride to the hills overlooking the city, or make that stroll along the Oriental Parade happen because you're here now and you might as well take advantage of everything around you. The group will finish the day off with an optional night out on the town together in the central business district.

Day 10: Wellington/Abel Tasman National Park Don't forget those cameras before hopping on the morning ferry to cross the Cook Strait. Pro tip: make sure you stand outside and marvel at the views of the Marlborough Sounds at the tip of the South Island. Then drive past lush native forests, beautiful clear waters, blue skies, and golden sands as the group travels to Abel Tasman National Park. Spend the night on a floating boat hostel under the stars.

Day 11: Abel Tasman National Park Picture this: birdsong ringing from the treetops as you wander through the undergrowth stumbling upon occasional waterfalls nestled in the midst of the forest. You take a dip in one of the refreshing pools before finding your way to pristine coastline and turquoise bays where you can soak up the sun and relax in the sand. This is the kind of day that awaits you in Abel Tasman NP, you are free to explore the golden beaches and winding waterways any way you’d like! So have fun, build a sand castle for us, and let the adventures continue!

Day 12: Abel Tasman National Park/Westport It’s off to Westport today! Breathe in the fresh air and soak in the beautiful views as the group heads south down the coast of black-sand beaches. Make a (very cool) pit stop to a seal colony in Cape Fouldwind and watch these majestic animals in their habitat before continuing on to Westport for the evening. Once you arrive grab a beer, talk to some locals, and discover the true charm of this coal mining town.

Day 13: Westport/Franz Josef Continue on a scenic drive south along the coast to Punakaiki; think pancake rocks and blowholes (man, those are two random things we never thought would be in the same sentence). As a special spot full of local secrets Punakaiki is a great place to hop out of the bus, stretch those legs, and appreciate the strange beauty nature can create. Then it’s forever onward to Franz Josef where you can, and should, take advantage of free time to enjoy optional activities like hiking, horseback riding, and sea kayaking. As the day winds down follow coastal roads to arrive at a unique wilderness lodge set in the rainforest for the night.

Day 14: Franz Josef The adventures are far from over! Remember all those activities you missed out on yesterday? Today is all yours to tackle them as you please. From helicopter hikes to walking on the Franz Josef glacier there’s bound to be something you’ll want to check off that bucket-list. If your goal is to make actual contact with the glacier then try a heli-hike or guided ice walk. Or you could let nature be your guide and lose yourself in the rainforests, lakes, and waterfalls that surround Franz Josef. If you’d rather stay in town, then grab a bite to eat before booking a spa treatment at the Glacier Hot Pools... the choice is yours!

Day 15: Franz Josef/Queenstown Hit the road to the adventure capital of the world — Queenstown. Sit back, relax and gaze out the window as you drive away from Glacier Country and wind through lush forests back to the coast and into the mountains over Haast Pass. The photo opportunities will seem endless (make sure those cameras are charged.) Then gear up and get ready because the adrenaline is going to be pumping the next few days.

Day 16: Queenstown Let’s put it this way, if you’re the sort of person that loves adventure mixed with adrenaline all while exploring one of the most scenic places in the country, then Queenstown is for you! Gear up for two days that are sure to leave you breathless. Free time in Queenstown is no joke, so be a dare devil and get ready to have those hearts pumping with some adrenaline-filled options like jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking or skydiving.

Day 17: Queenstown Let’s put it this way, if you’re the sort of person that loves adventure mixed with adrenaline all while exploring one of the most scenic places in the country, then Queenstown is for you! Gear up for two days that are sure to leave you breathless. Free time in Queenstown is no joke, so be a dare devil and get ready to have those hearts pumping with some adrenaline-filled options like jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking or skydiving.

Day 18: Queenstown/Te Anau Let your breathing finally return to normal as the group departs Queenstown to visit Fiordland National Park. After arriving, soak up the chill vibes on a boat cruise through one of the most iconic places in New Zealand — Milford Sound. Marvel at the views of one of the wettest places on Earth and then if you are feeling up to it, book a cruise across Lake Te Anau to visit a cave that is home to thousands of glowworms.

Day 19: Te Anau/Central Otago It’s time to discover the natural beauty of Te Anau with a morning of free time. Head out to hike on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, visit the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, and try a savoury pie from Miles Better Pies. Then, it’s time to transfer to Wedderburn in Central Otago to give the eastern part of the South Island some love.

Day 20: Central Otago Enjoy the unique landscape of Central Otago while biking 35 km on the Otago Rail Trail. Pass through this powerful landscape of weathered ancient mountains, alpine herb fields, and fast flowing rivers. Cycle through one historic town after another and sample some local food and drink as you go (Pinot Noir lovers rejoice).

Day 21: Wedderburn/Christchurch Scoot on up to Christchurch to explore the South Island’s largest city and one of the places in New Zealand with the strongest English influences. Wander around Christchurch in the afternoon and learn how it was rebuilt following two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Enjoy some free time this evening to see what the nightlife is all about with your travel tribe and grab some shut eye in a converted jailhouse to finish the evening.

Day 22: Christchurch/Kaikoura Mountains, marine life, and magic! Kaikoura is pretty darn special, so special in fact, that it may be the South Island’s best kept secret. The best way to experience it is to get out there and witness what this rugged coastal town does best. Book a whale watching cruise, swim with seals, or just take a walk along the coast admiring the scenery. In the afternoon try bird watching, swim with dolphins or splurge on flight over the peninsula.

Day 23: Kaikoura/Wellington Reminisce and reflect as you and the group travel to Picton to catch a ferry back to Wellington. Watch the majestic scenery of this country unfold before you and simply appreciate the moment (we know you’re probably already making plans to return.) Once back in the city grab some grub with your travel crew and let the good times roll for one last night out together.

Day 24: Wellington Depart at any time. Or... if you aren't ready to leave extend your trip a bit because let's face it, you'll probably never regret staying a bit longer.