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Fiords, mountains, friendly cities and great wine - a 2-week trip to see the best of both islands

Personalised journeys from start to finish

Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel

Every detail taken care of

What's Included

  • Privately guided tours and experiences
  • Whale watching and Milford Sound scenic flights
  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers and domestic flights
  • Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

A wonderful introduction to New Zealand, this 15-day luxury trip takes in both New Zealand’s North and South Islands, passing through epic landscapes, friendly cities, combed vineyards and endless coastline.

Begin in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city and, with its mix of culture, cuisine, music and art, one of the world’s the most liveable urban centres. Receive a warm welcome and be introduced the region’s history and wonderful beaches.

Next up is the geothermal landscapes of Rotorua and Taupo, a place of verdant forests, clear lakes and billowing geysers. During your time here, board a helicopter and fly out to White Island, New Zealand’s only permanently active volcano, circling the steaming crater before landing on volatile landmass for an unforgettable hike.

Continue on to the gently rolling hills and golden plains of Hawke’s Bay for vineyard tours and wine tasting while based at a peaceful rural lodge, then fly across the Cook Strait to South Island for two nights on the rugged coastline around Tasman Bay, discovering its secluded beaches and forested interior.

Venturing ever southward, your next stop is the seaside town of Kaikoura, a haven for marine wildlife, where you’ll get the chance to spot whales from the air, dolphins from a boat and swim with seals. End in vibrant Queenstown for three days exploring this particularly handsome corner of the country. Take a scenic helicopter flight to the iconic Milford Sound and cruise on its waters under Mitre Peak, and tour colonial towns and famous vineyards for a fitting finale to your time in New Zealand.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-3

Auckland

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Meet and greet at Auckland airport

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Accommodation in Auckland

Two nights in Auckland Two nights in Auckland

New Zealand’s largest cosmopolitan centre is a lively mix of culture, cuisine, music and art with ample green spaces and easily accessible beaches. It is the modern melting pot of the Pacific with influences from Asia, the Pacific islands and Europe along with traditional Maori culture. A fresh and vibrant city, Auckland boasts some of the best restaurants in the country, and the harbour, which underwent a revamp before hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011, is now a wonderful place to soak up the buzz of this exciting city.

Auckland volcanoes tour Auckland volcanoes tour

Auckland is one of the world’s most diverse and captivating cities and the largest Polynesian city. It is built on a fertile volcanic isthmus nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea with two main natural harbours, the Waitemata and Manukau. This tour covers the highlights of Auckland based on a number of iconic volcanic cones of historical significance and provides an opportunity to learn about how they shaped the history of the city.

Auckland's West Coast Auckland's West Coast

Auckland's windswept west coast black sand beaches are a magnet for surfers, photographers and nature lovers. Visit Muriwai Beach to see the impressive clifftop gannet colonies (from August to March), or nearby Te Henga (Bethells Beach) to stroll the sand and explore the
enormous sand dunes at Lake Wainamu.

Down the coast is Piha, a popular surf beach watched over by majestic Lion Rock, and Karekare, made famous as a backdrop for the film The Piano.

waitomo-glow-worms-cave-auckland-new-zealand
Private transfer to Rotorua via the Waitomo caves Private transfer to Rotorua via the Waitomo caves

Enjoy a scenic drive from Auckland to Rotorua via Waitomo for very special glow worm experience. The drive passes through a region riddled with limestone caves formed over 30 million years ago. Your tour will take you to two spectacular caves, one filled with twinkling glow worms and the other with stalactites and stalagmites.

Days 3-5

Rotorua and Taupo

Accommodation in Rotorua and Taupo

thermal-park-rotorua
Two nights in Rotorua and Lake Taupo Two nights in Rotorua and Lake Taupo

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.

white-island-helicopter
Helicopter Experience: White Island Helicopter Experience: White Island

Fly to, and land, on New Zealand’s only permanently active volcano, White Island. Leaving Rotorua, you fly past the northern lakes district before crossing the coast. As you approach you will enjoy aerial views of the active crater before landing on the lunar-like surface. Here you will embark on a leisurely guided tour of the island's crater floor to view active steam vents, hot streams, vibrant sulphur formations and the steaming crater. The landscape is constantly changing as the activity forms new features and removes old ones. The Crater Lake changes in depth and temperature so that from one day to the next, the landscape is different.

Part of the tour includes a walk through crumbling mining ruins to view the weathered remains of what was a working factory abandoned in 1933. On the flight back enjoy wonderful aerial views of the wider Bay of Plenty.

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.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your lodge in Hawke's Bay

Days 5-7

Hawke's Bay

Accommodation in Hawke's Bay

Sunrise at Te Mata Peak, Napier, Hawkes Bay
Two nights in Hawke's Bay Two nights in Hawke's Bay

The North Island’s wine country is one of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions with golden colours stretching across arid plains. The scene here is made up of vineyards and orchards laden with fruit, fertile farmlands that sweep to the perfect waves on the coast and laidback seaside settlements.

Hawke’s Bay food and wine tour Hawke’s Bay food and wine tour

Become absorbed into the vibrant world of Hawke’s Bay wine. You'll have the chance to meet the people passionate about crafting world-class wine, visit some of the best wineries, and taste their award-winning labels. Rich soils and warm growing conditions attract innovative food producers and you'll get to sample a myriad of delicious products.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Hawke's Bay Airport

Transfer

Flight from Hawke's Bay to Nelson

Days 7-9

Nelson and Abel Tasman

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your lodge

Accommodation in Nelson and Abel Tasman

Two nights in Nelson and Abel Tasman Two nights in Nelson and Abel Tasman

New Zealand’s sunniest region has a diverse geography ripe for exploring from golden sand beaches to dense forests, the clearest fresh water lake in the world and secluded, enticing rivers. At the heart of it all is a creative, easy-going city deemed one of New Zealand’s most liveable. The region’s biggest attraction is the Abel Tasman National Park, the country’s smallest national park that frequents the front pages of tourist brochures with its dream-like golden sand beaches, emerald green waters and friendly fur seal population. Hike, boat or kayak into one of its many beaches and coves.

Kayaker, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Abel Tasman day trip Abel Tasman day trip

Get a taste of all the Abel Tasman has to offer from the comfort of an Abel Tasman Charters' boat. You can just stay on board and relax or take one of the kayaks for a paddle. Go for a swim, snorkel over the marine reserve or be dropped off for a bush walk. Enjoy a delicious lunch and then do it all again. During the day you'll pass Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, Marahau, round golden sandy bays, Adele and Fishermans Islands, and cruise on to Tonga Island seal colony. The cruise itinerary is flexible, and your friendly, knowledgeable skipper will ensure you are able to learn about the national park - if there is something to see on your day trip, like dolphins riding the bow wave or New Zealand fur seals fishing, then it can happen.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Kaikoura

Days 9-11

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.

Scenic whale watching flight Scenic whale watching flight

Whale watching by from the air offers a unique perspective and the opportunity to view whales and dolphins in their natural environment, experiencing the true magnitude of some of the world’s largest animals, and offering a fabulous view for photographers. This scenic flight lasts for around 30 minutes.

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.

kaikora-dolphin
Dolphin cruise Dolphin cruise

Enjoy a private cruise to spot the dusky dolphins inhabit the coastal waters off Kaikoura all year round. They are renowned for their acrobatic leaps and interactive behaviour.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Queenstown

Days 11-12

Christchurch

Accommodation in Christchurch

Overnight in Christchurch Overnight in Christchurch

Enjoy an evening at leisure in Christchurch, once known as the most English city of New Zealand with its manicured gardens, quaint trams, stately houses and a vast central park. Since the earthquakes on 2010 and 2011, the city has reemerged as a cultural and creative hub with some wonderful restaurants, boutiques and friendly locals.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Christchurch Airport

Transfer

Private transfer to Christchurch

Days 12-15

Queenstown

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your lodge

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.

Skyline Queenstown Gondola ride Skyline Queenstown Gondola ride

Enjoy a relaxing ride to the summit of Bob's Peak for the best views of Queenstown and the surrounding ranges.

Private tour of Queenstown Private tour of Queenstown

See the best that Queenstown has to offer with your private guide. The day can be tailored to your interests and can include a look around colonial Arrowtown, visiting some local wineries, bike riding, hiking, photography and many other scenic highlights.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Queenstown Airport

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    We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.

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    From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.