This 10-day route takes you through New Zealand's stunning north and south island, where you can visit rugged fjords, see towering mountain ranges and subtropical forests, admire countless volcanoes, explore volcanic plateaus featuring geysers and boiling mud pools, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the southern lights at an International Dark Sky Reserve. You'll learn about the traditional Maori culture as honored guests of a Marae and take part in a traditional Hangi cooked meal. Meet unique wildlife from the flightless Kiwi bird to myriad marine life such as the little blue penguin, fur seals, albatross and inquisitive dolphins. This adventure is filled with stunning landscapes, unique flora and fauna, rich culture and activities to suit every traveler.
As a dedicated international adventurer for 15 years, your host Laura Hamm has traveled in almost 40 countries on 5 continents, living abroad in 7 different countries including New Zealand. Her love affair with New Zealand began in 2007, spending a full year exploring as much of the beauty there as possible. Throughout the trip, as well as in the planning stages leading up to your departure, take comfort in knowing that your #1 job is simply to show up and enjoy yourself. Laura will help to take care of all your arrangements, and help you navigate each destination to make the most out of every day.
Arrive to Auckland airport (AKL) this morning (or the night before) and your driver will take you to your centrally located hotel. Meet with your local guide at 12p in the hotel lobby to head out for an orientation city tour followed by an afternoon boat tour to experience the diverse marine wildlife and stunning scenery of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. You'll see wild marine mammals and rare birds living in their natural habitat, and our community partner will be on-hand to provide expert insight to New Zealand's marine life. After the boat ride, we’ll enjoy an evening Welcome Drink on the waterfront together. Afterwards, you may dine and explore Auckland’s nightlife or catch up on a good night’s sleep, before our exciting adventures continue.
Today we'll head over to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. One of the North Island's best-kept secrets, the Coromandel is known for its stunning white sand beaches, turquoise waters and secret coves, which are perfect for a swim or to explore on foot. You can hike the coastlines, visit the iconic Cathedral Cove (made famous by the Chronicles of Narnia movies), kayak the pristine waters, carve your own traditional bone pendant or simply relax. In the early evening we’ll gather together for a proper Welcome Dinner at a unique local restaurant offering incredible local specialties. After we'll visit Hot Water Beach where you can dig your own spa pool in the natural thermal waters hidden beneath the sand - is offered as the tide is perfectly timed to line up with a late night visit under the stars. A true New Zealand experience!
After a relaxed morning we'll make our way to Tauranga located on the Bay of Plenty of the North Island. As you arrive into Tauranga you will spot the famous “Mauao” or better known as “The Mount.” Mt Maunganui is known for its idyllic beaches and picturesque views from atop the peak. Your have an orientation walking tour of the town along with the opportunity to hike to the summit for some incredible photo opportunities. The afternoon and evening are free for you to explore Mt Maunganui at your own pace. You might also check out the boutique shops and galleries clustered along the high street, explore some more local walking tracks, relax on the beach, or even choose to take a surf lesson!
We continue to Rotorua, a geothermal wonderland and cultural hub of New Zealand. Upon arrival, you can choose between two unique offerings. First up is Canopy Tours, an award winning activity in the heart of New Zealand Native forest where you’ll be led by local guides, swing through the trees on lengthy zip-lines, have the chance to feed wild native birds and learn about how this company gives back to the protection of New Zealand Wildlife. Or, you can join your on a visit to the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal park, described as “one of the most surreal places on earth,” with mud pools, sulphur pools and geysers. After lunch, we will head to a traditional Maori village where our group will be privately welcomed and hosted. You’ll experience an incredibly array of cultural immersion during your overnight stay in the Marae including a whakatau (welcome) and traditional Māori greeting (Hongi), and learn more customs the Māori follow. You'll see why this area is so important to their culture, and how the local people use the hot pools and steam for daily living. Learn about the native plants that grow within the village, and how Rotorua city utilized our natural resources, and the importance of weaving with the opportunity to create your own treasure out of flax. In the evening we’ll enjoy hearty Māori kai (food), cooked using traditional geothermal techniques, followed by time for storytelling where you will learn about local myths and lore.
Saying goodbye to Rotorua after breakfast, we'll take an early morning domestic flight to the Garden City of New Zealand. Your new local guide will provide an orientation tour of the South Islands premier city today. Once arriving into the city you'll enjoy lunch and an Urban Art Tour to soak in the uniquely artistic aspect of Christchurch’s rebuild. After you have had your city-fix we will head to the Akaroa Peninsula. This French settlement town is known for its quaint cafes, quirky shops and the dramatic bays that surround it. Just a short drive away from the town centre is New Zealand's largest blue penguin colony and the surrounding waters are home to the smallest marine dolphin. This evening is the best opportunity to visit the local penguin colony, full of surprises and natural beauty as well as the little blue friends.
This morning you have choices in Akaroa - either spend the hours at your leisure around the town or indulge in one of the marine activities available. Akaroa Harbor is the only place on the entire planet where you can get up close and personal with New Zealand’s playful Hector’s dolphin – the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin species. Choose from an adventurous swim in the water with them (operated responsibly of course) or stay dry aboard the delights of the harbor sailing cruise. We’ll depart mid-afternoon for Mackenzie Country, stopping at the iconic Lake Tekapo with its beautiful turquoise waters surrounded by the breathtaking Southern Alps. Arriving at our countryside hotel, we'll spend the evening stargazing. The Mackenzie Country International Dark Sky Reserve is one of the best places in New Zealand for stargazing as the sky is often astonishingly clear!
We'll leave early for Aoraki/Mt Cook Village, the base of NZ’s highest mountain. A range of easy walks ranging from 1-3 hours are at your disposal including the 3hr Hooker Valley Track. This well-known walk in New Zealand has serenity and the incredible views of the towering mountains. Later, we’ll travel further South to Wanaka, a small town situated North of Queenstown and famous for its stunning lakefront cafe views, surrounding mountains and friendly locals. In the afternoon we’ll head to at Criffel Farm a former sheep farm converted to one of New Zealand’s largest deer breeding and stud farms in 1993 and showcases hundreds of acres of rolling farmland, natural creeks, tracks and beautiful homestead cottages. You can marvel at the incredible views on a sustainable farm tour and we'll enjoy a farm-style dinner which we’ll all cook together as a group. Relax and enjoy your surroundings before heading to bed on the farm.
We'll have a hearty farm-style breakfast before heading to the town centre of quaint Wanaka. Take a stroll down to the lake where you can keep an eye out for the famous tree (#thatwanakatree), and snap a pic while enjoying the bright colors of nature that surround you. You can opt for a bike tour or wine tour, which is a great way to explore the rest of the surrounding areas of Wanaka and get some history from an experienced guide, or the more adventurous traveler may opt for ‘waterfall climbs’ - not for the faint hearted! After your free time in Wanaka, we'll continue our journey to Te Anau! - a town that’s known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park. Upon arrival we'll enjoy down time for dinner and time to wander around the picturesque town that’s set on another pristine lake which often lights up in the eve as the sun sets behind the mountains.
Today we'll visit Milford Sound. Fiordland National Park is breathtaking with its towering mountains, native New Zealand trees, glacier carved valleys, hundreds and thousands of cascading waterfalls + cheeky NZ wildlife. You will stop for some short walks before arriving into Milford Sound and boarding your shared vessel for a nature cruise through the Sound. This interactive cruise is hosted by specialist nature guides who share their local knowledge with lively and informative commentary while roaming the vessel delving into the history, geology and wildlife of the fiord. You'll enjoy excellent wildlife viewing including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season. With raincoats available on board, there's even a chance to get up close & underneath the waterfalls! After an incredible day of exploration, we’ll return to Te Anau’s peaceful streets and head out together for our final group dinner. Recount your favorite memories from the trip and revel in the bonds we’ve created together!
You will be transferred on one final journey through the stunning landscapes from Te Anau to Queenstown airport (ZQN) in time for your departing international flight (departures should be after 11a).
7 nights accommodations in clean & comfortable 3-4 star hotels + Overnight at traditional Māori Marae + Traditional farm stay
Transfer from Auckland airport and drop off to Queenstown airport + Ground transport between each destination in comfortable, private vehicles +Domestic flight from Rotorua to Christchurch
Guided visits to Cathedral Cover, Hot Water Beach, Mt. Maunganui, Christchurch urban art walk, Lake Tekapo & Wanaka town
Hiking opportunities at Hooker Valley & Mt. Maunganui
Participate in a Māori whakatau (welcome) & opportunity to perform a traditional Māori greeting (Hongi) + Learn Māori weaving & create your own treasure + Evening of Māori storytelling
Whale & Dolphin Safari with our Community Partner Project Jonah + 5% of sales donation to their organization
Daily breakfast + 1 lunch + 4 dinners + welcome drinks
Join a likeminded community of curious and active explorers
Double Occupancy - Twin BedsUp to 2 travelers
Double Occupancy - Double BedUp to 2 travelers
Single OccupancyUp to 2 travelers