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Wildlife, adventure and helicopter rides on a 13-day family trip across the North and South Island

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What's Included

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers
  • Jet boat experience
  • Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

With bubbling mud pools, beautiful islands, wonderful wildlife and adrenaline-pumping activities, New Zealand is the perfect setting for an unforgettable family adventure.

This epic 13-day exploration starts in Rotorua, a lunar-like landscape of steaming craters and erupting geysers. Enjoy an exhillarating ziplining adventure, learn about Maori culture and discover the picture-perfect village of Hobbiton made famous in the Lord of the Rings. A short flight will then bring you to Wellington, New Zealand‘s picturesque capital. Explore its museums and galleries and enjoy an exclusive tour of the Weta Studios where you can get up close to the props used in the filming of The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia and more. You’ll also get up close to some of New Zealand’s famous wildlife with a night-time tour of Zealandia.

A scenic cruise along the Cook Sound will bring you to the Marlborough Sounds where the beautiful Bay of Many Coves is your home for the next two days. Explore the sparkling blue waters and swim, sail and kayak to your heart’s content. There is also plenty of wildlife of your doorstep too, including a group of resident penguins who live under the lodge. It’s then onto Kaikoura where you’ll enjoy an unforgettable whale watching boat trip and swim with the playful seals.

The last stop on your family adventure is Queenstown, New Zealand‘s adventure capital. Here you’ll take to the skies with a scenic helicopter flight to Milford Sound and get the adrenaline pumping with a jet boat ride through narrow canyons, with 360° spins thrown in for good measure.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-4

Rotorua

Flights & Transfers

Flight

Flight from Auckland to Rotorua

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Accommodation in Rotorua

thermal-park-rotorua
Three nights around Rotorua Three nights around Rotorua

Steaming mud pools, erupting geysers and Maori traditions all make Rotorua and Taupo a special area to visit and one that is distinctively unique to the rest of New Zealand. Explore geothermal parks before heading into nearby native forests for hiking or mountain biking the numerous world-class trails. Lake Taupo is actually a volcano crater, the lake’s deep blue waters draw visitors with its idyllic swimming holes, reputable fishing and adventure sports. On a clear day the views stretch out over the glassy water to the snowcapped volcanoes of Tongariro National Park in the distance.

rotorua-ziplining
Ziplining adventure Ziplining adventure

Today enjoy a guided excursion through the evergreen native forests of the Mamaku Plateau, just minutes from Rotorua. Experience one of the North Island’s last remaining remnants of untouched forest in the most exciting and unique of ways.

Take on the sights, smells and sounds of the forest on a tour where you'll see tree and bird species not seen on any other country on earth. These include centuries-old giant trees, monster tree ferns and perching plants. If you are lucky you may even hand feed wild native birds. The journey traverses a 1.2 km network of ziplines (flying foxes) walking trails, suspended bridges and treetop platforms. Along the way, your guide will bring the forest to life as you learn about its history, inhabitants and the conservation dream driving it all.

The highlight for many is the jaw-dropping 220m Tui Song zipline where you step out of the canopy of a 500-year-old rimu tree and fly over a long forgotten valley deep into the forest beyond.

Maori Family Experience and Redwoods Nightlights Maori Family Experience and Redwoods Nightlights

Begin the evening with an immersive cultural experience with a private dinner of Kiwi cuisine with two course at a Maori family home. Next up is a magical walk on a series of suspension bridges between 22 Californian redwoods, the forest illuminated by huge hanging lanterns designed by famous NZ artist, David Trubridge.

Hobbiton
Hobbiton tour Hobbiton tour

Visit the Hobbiton movie set near the rural town of Matamata, made famous as the original setting of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Your tour gives an astonishing insight into how these movies were made and which parts were filmed here. You will see Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill, the iconic double arched bridge and other structures and gardens built for the films. Spectacular views extend across to the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills of the movie set, which is still a working sheep and cattle farm.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Rotorua airport

Flight

Flight from Rotorua to Wellington

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Days 4-6

Wellington

Accommodation in Wellington

Two nights in Wellington Two nights in Wellington

Nestled on rolling green hills that spill down to a charming harbour, New Zealand’s capital is an epicentre of culture and creativity - renowned for its arts, gastronomy, heritage and bohemian character. The CBD is a creative hub and easy to get around by foot. Wander pedestrianised Cuba Street to get a taste of what makes this city tick with its theatrical street performers, colourful sculptures, cafes spilling out into the road, boutique shops and numerous watering holes to sample the local craft beers and coffee that the city is renowned for. Wellington is also home to New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa, which is well worth a visit for an interactive account of the country's history and insight into Maori culture and traditions.

weta-studios
Weta Studios tour Weta Studios tour

A must for any film lover, this tour allows you to get up close to the props, weapons, armour and vehicles crafted for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia and more.

You'll also enjoy a three-course meal at CoCo at the Roxy and dine among incredible artworks, movie memorabilia and sculptures.

Explore Zealandia by night Explore Zealandia by night

Explore the sanctuary by torchlight as your guide leads you in search of some of the more distinctive sights and sounds of New Zealand’s native forest. Experience many of the rare and endangered species and see those which only come out at night. See unique species such as wētā, glow worms, and tuatara. Your group may see some of the 130 little spotted kiwi who call Zealandia home. Sightings of kiwi are common on these tours but are not guaranteed, and if you are lucky you may even spot morepork, pāteke, longfin eel, little spotted kiwi, Maud Island Frog, kākā, and takahē. Gain insights into New Zealand’s natural history and the significance of the unique species within Māori culture. The tour will end with a replenishing cup of hot kawakawa (bushman’s tea) in the visitors' centre.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Wellington Airport

Flight

Flight from Wellington to Blenheim

Transfer

Private transfer to Picton

Transfer

Boat transfer from Picton to Bay of Many Coves

Days 6-8

Marlborough Sounds

White Sailboat, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Two nights at Bay of Many Coves Two nights at Bay of Many Coves

The Marlborough Sounds is an adventurer’s paradise where you can indulge your passions, challenge your senses, and try new things you’ve always dreamed of doing. Take to the waters by kayak or motoryacht, arrange a fishing charter, or head out in search of dolphins - including the rare Hector’s dolphin - with the chance of swimming with these incredible marine mammals. You can also explore this beautiful ribbon of coastline by hiking a section of the famed Queen Charlotte Track, go bird watching, bush walking, tour the vineyards of Marlborough or relax on your own personal beach, by the pool or at the spa.

Private boat charter around the Marlborough Sounds Private boat charter around the Marlborough Sounds

Beviamo is a 42-ft luxury yacht and the perfect vessel for exploring the Marlborough Sounds. The boat has a twin helm and two steering wheels, making it ideal for people who want to try their hand at sailing, in the knowledge that support is close at hand. Your skipper has been sailing in the Marlborough Sounds for over 55 years and knows the area like the back of his hand. As you naviagate the tranquil waterways on this half-day excursion, you'll soon realise there is no better was to discover this beautiful part of New Zealand.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Boat transfer from Bay of Many Coves to Picton

Transfer

Train to Kaikoura

Transfer

Private transfer to your lodge

Days 8-10

Kaikoura

Accommodation in Kaikoura

Two nights in Kaikoura Two nights in Kaikoura

Kaikoura, a quaint village between the snowcapped Kaikoura Range and Pacific Ocean, is a haven for wildlife fanatics and adventure sports enthusiasts alike. For the former, the region has been dubbed the ‘maritime Serengeti’, the sea here one of the best places in New Zealand to go whale and dolphin watching. For the active, there are wonderful hiking and mountain biking trails along the coast, fine surfing, sea kayaking and more.

Whale watching boat trip Whale watching boat trip

Head out into the waters by boat and get close to the world's largest toothed predator, the giant sperm whale, in their natural environment.

Seal Swim Kaikoura Seal Swim Kaikoura

Meet your guides and fellow swimming in Kaikoura where you'll be provided with warm, buoyant wet suits and snorkeling equipment before taking a short bus and boat trip .Along the way you will be given a briefing on New Zealand Fur Seals, aspects of snorkeling, seal swimming etiquette and safety. One to two experienced guides, equipped with large float boards will then accompany each group in the water. From here every tour is different as the seals are totally wild. Due to the seals natural curiosity swimmers can reasonably expect to get some interactions, some up close and personal. Generally around one hour is spent in the water before returning back to base for hot showers.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

Flight

Flight from Christchurch to Queenstown

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Days 10-13

Queenstown

Accommodation in Queenstown

Three nights in Queenstown Three nights in Queenstown

From the towering alpine ranges that envelop Queenstown, to its laidback lakeside sister Wanaka and the incredible Milford Sound, this is easily one of the most spectacular regions of the country. Seek out one of the endless thrills on offer here from skiing, white water rafting, canyon swinging, jet boating, mountain biking and bungy jumping, or slow down to the cosmopolitan pace of life in Queenstown and cool Wanaka and you’ll discover its flourishing arts scene, excellent vineyards, fine dining and quiet lakeside shores where you can take in the incredible scenery. And, of course, Milford Sound with its spectacular 1692m-high Mitre Peak (Rahotu in Maori) is unmissable.

milford-sound-helicopter
Helicopter Experience: Milford Sound with fjord cruise Helicopter Experience: Milford Sound with fjord cruise

Explore Milford Sound's stunning fjord from both the air and the water. Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter flight past spectacular rivers, valleys and mountains with blue-green ice falls, and land on Mt Tutoko glacier in the heart of Fiordland National Park. Upon landing in Milford, you'll enjoy an unforgettable cruise past sheer cliffs and waterfalls - keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and penguins.

Kjet jet boat experience Kjet jet boat experience

Board your twin-engine jet boat and speed across crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu at breath-taking speed, surrounded by majestic mountains and mesmerising scenery. Zoom under the Kawarau Dam onto the deep green waters of The Kawarau River, complete with lots of 360° spins. You will then arrive at the pier for a complimentary view from Queenstown's Underwater Observatory.

Horse ride: Dart River Stables half day tour Horse ride: Dart River Stables half day tour

A short way out of Queenstown, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, lies Glenorchy, gateway to New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park and Te Wahipounamu. Renowned for its natural beauty, notably in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, ride alongside and across braided, glacial fed rivers and take in the spectacular scenery, including views of The Misty Mountains, The Wizard’s Vale and The Mighty Methedras.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Queenstown Airport

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An Epic Family Adventure in New Zealand

13-Day Example Trip
 
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