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2 2 2 Auckland Christchurch

Small Group Tour

Small Group Tour

18 Day Tour North & South Island

Start: Auckland
Finish: Christchurch

Whats included:

  • 17 nights high-end hostel accommodation (includes 1 night before the tour starts)
  • Plus 1 Overnight stay at Māori village experience
  • 18 tasty breakfasts
  • 3 dinners; a traditional hangi at Tamaki Maori Village, a roast dinner at River Valley Lodge, and a buffet dinner at the Skyline Stratosphere restaurant overlooking Queenstown
  • Waitomo Glowworm Cave Tour
  • A guided Te Puia tour
  • Natural hot springs at Spa Park
  • Inter-island ferry ticket
  • Wine tasting in the Marlborough region
  • Christchurch City street art tour
  • Dark Sky Project, Lake Tekapo
  • Roys Peak hike shuttle
  • Glenorchy and Lake Wakatipu day tour
  • Greenstone carving
  • Various scenic hikes including the Hooker Valley in Mt Cook National Park and Franz Josef glacier valley walk

From the secluded beaches and volcanic craters of the north to the glaciers, mountains and fjords in the south, this is our most immersive experience possible. Adventure activities aplenty throughout the trip, with accommodation and some activities included (see below), our all-inclusive tours are hassle-free, authentic experiences for those short on time. From Auckland to Christchurch and everything in between, this tour has New Zealand covered.

This tour departs Auckland at 8:30am from TMACS Backpackers (118-122 Nelson St, Auckland CBD). Your accommodation has been booked here for the night before departure, meet the group at 6pm in the lobby for a pretour briefing. Let us know if you can't make this.

Read more on our Booking Guarantee here

Tour Dates - 2022 

Day 1Auckland to Hot Water Beach

Departing Auckland we head south-east to the pristine beaches of the Coromandel and the world-famous Cathedral Cove (included). Here you have the option to kayak around this stunning coastline (optional activity) as well as the opportunity to visit Hot Water Beach (included); a unique surf beach where if you catch the tide right, you can dig a hole in the sand to create your own personal spa pool.

Accommodation

  • Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park

Experiences & Highlights

  • Explore Cathedral Cove; famous for its iconic rock archway with stunning views of the Coromandel coastline.  
  • Relax at Hot Water Beach; by digging your own spa pool where the water is naturally heated deep within the earth to emerge through golden sand.

Day 2Hot Water Beach to Waitomo

Leaving the gorgeous Coromandel behind we’ll venture into the enchanting Karangahake Gorge nestled among the Kaimai Ranges, for a hike (included) amongst the walkways and old mining tunnels. If that isn’t enough fun for one day, then never fear, next we’ll be heading over to Waitomo ('wai' meaning water, 'tomo' meaning hole) for a magical tour of the world-famous glow-worm caves. For those feeling a little more adventurous, you will have the opportunity to experience a Black Water Rafting trip.

Accommodation

  • Waitomo Homestead Cabins

Experiences & Highlights

  • Hike through the Karangahake Gorge; boasting beautiful scenery and spectacular mining remnants including disused gold mining tunnels.
  • Magical Glowworm Caves in Waitomo
  • Explore the underground cave system with Black Water Rafting (not included)

Day 3Waitomo to Rotorua

We start the day with a walk through the Ruakuri Reserve and say goodbye to those glowing little critters. Next, we'll pass through The Shire of Hobbiton where you’ll have the opportunity to discover the Hobbiton Movie Set (optional activity) before rolling on through to Rotorua; a mystical land of bubbling mud pools, rocketing geysers and natural hot springs. This afternoon, we head off to visit the Tamaki Māori Village where you will be immersed in the traditions and cultural values of the Māori people. Participate in a pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony), learn about the history of the marae (village) and the Rotorua-area from a local Māori guide before feasting on some top kai (food) from the hāngi pit. Afterwards, gather around a blazing bonfire where you will enjoy Māori myths and legends before relaxing in a private forest spa pool and retiring for the night in a traditional carved whare moe (sleeping house).

Accommodation

  • Tamaki Maori Village

Experiences & Highlights

  • Hike through the Ruakuri Reserve; a spectacular loop walk taking you through a forested gorge, past natural sculpted cliffs and under low limestone arches.
  • Spend the evening and night at a Māori village where you'll learn about the history and culture of the locals. 
  • Opportunity to visit Hobbiton; a behind the scenes of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings movies on this guided tour (not included)
  • Immerse yourself into Maori culture and history by exploring Rotorua, and renowned for its geothermal activity.
  • Check out the natural boiling, bubbling and steaming geothermal wonderland at Kuirau Park

Day 4Rotorua to Taupo

If you haven't had a chance yet to explore the geothermal reserve of Te Puia, we will check it out this morning before heading onto Great Lake Taupo, taking in a walk to the pounding Huka Falls (included). In Taupo there is lots to do, just tell us what you’re in the mood for and we’ll get you there. The lake itself (actually an extinct volcano crater) is a sight to behold from the shoreline (included), but the more adventurous might want to take the opportunity to experience optional activities such as sail across the lake on a yacht to the Māori rock carvings, or even get a birds-eye view by skydiving above it.

Accommodation

  • Taupo Urban Retreat

Experiences & Highlights

  • Walk the Huka Falls walkway; a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River where you can witness the phenomenon of natural hydro power.
  • Soak under a waterfall or in the naturally heated rock pools whilst taking in the stunning views of the deep green, crystal-clear waters at Spa Park.

Day 5Taupo

Taupo’s central location means it’s a hop, skip and a jump away from other world-class activities which we give you the option to experience on this free day. Head up the Sky Waka (extra activity) to experience Mount Ruapehu or hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (extra activity); a dramatic landscape of stunning contrasts created by extinguished lava flows and emerald lakes. It’s no surprise Tongariro is often described as one of New Zealand’s best one-day hikes. 

Accommodation

  • Taupo Urban Retreat

Experiences & Highlights

  • Hike the Tongariro Crossing; one of New Zealands best one day hikes (shuttle not included)
  • Soak under a waterfall or in the naturally heated rock pools whilst taking in the stunning views of the deep green, crystal-clear waters at Spa Park.

Day 6Taupo to River Valley

We head south around the “great lake” towards the Tongariro National Park for a picnic lunch and a two-hour walk through native bush and waterfalls. In the afternoon we travel through to the ultimate adventure lodge - River Valley, situated amongst towering cliffs and bush-clad hills. The lodge offers grade five rafting on the Rangitikei River, scenic horse riding and an amazing dinner with homegrown produce. Spend the evening enjoying the delicious roast dinner and relaxing by the open fire.

Accommodation

  • River Valley Lodge

Experiences & Highlights

  • Hike the Taranaki Falls walk in the Tongariro National Park
  • Spend the day at River Valley Lodge; nestled on the Rangitikei River
  • Go white water rafting on the Rangitikei River (not included)
  • Horse Trek through the rolling hills with amazing scenery out to the nearby National Park (not included)
  • Enjoy a group roast dinner with produce that is organically grown at the lodge.

Day 7River Valley to Wellington

Today, we’ll cruise through the southern end of the North Island to the capital, Wellington. Here you can experience Mount Victoria (included) and then passengers have the opportunity to experience the national museum, Te Papa (included) and get amongst the thriving craft beer scene.

Accommodation

  • Nomads Backpackers

Experiences & Highlights

Day 8Wellington to Kaikoura

Today you’ll kick off by experiencing what’s regarded as one of the most beautiful inter-island crossings in the world, the Cook Straight (included). Arriving into the top of the South Island we’ll journey through the dreamy Marlborough region, home to more vineyards than your eyes can see. Stopping off for a tasting (or two…) along the way (included) to Kaikoura to spot unique marine life and experience local Kiwi cuisine.

Accommodation

  • Dusky Lodge

Experiences & Highlights

  • Inter-Island transport across the Cook Strait; one of the most enjoyable and beautiful ferry journeys in the world (included)
  • Wine tasting in the Marlborough region (included)
  • Visit Kaikoura Seal colony; one of the best wildlife experiences in the country where hundreds of native fur seals call Kaikoura home.

Day 9Kaikoura to Christchurch

Start the day with a sleep-in or for the more adventurous head out to sea to witness spectacular marine life such as dolphins, whales, albatrosses and so much more (extra activity). Around mid-morning, we’ll head up the Kaikoura Peninsula walkway to walk among a large seal colony (included). After a morning experiencing a real-life Planet Earth episode we’ll cruise to the diverse city of Christchurch, where we will go on a walking tour of the city (included) to learn about the street art, see the blooming botanical gardens, and learn about the history of a city that’s experienced so much in recent times.

Accommodation

  • All Stars Inn

Experiences & Highlights

  • Hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
  • Enjoy the amazing panaramic views of Kaikoura at the top of the lookout
  • Discover the hidden gems of Christchurch in a city street art trail (included)

Day 10Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Saying goodbye to Christchurch, we’ll hit the road and cruise into the magnificent Mackenzie Country, home to Lake Tekapo. Here we will visit the charming stone Church of the Good Shepherd (included), sat next to the breathtakingly blue waters of the lake framed with colourful lupins. As night falls, we will visit the Dark Sky Project situated among the UNESCO Dark Sky reserve (included).

Accommodation

  • Lakefront Lodge Tekapo

Experiences & Highlights

  • Marvel at the stars at the Dark Sky ProjectLake Tekapo, where science, Māori heritage and fascinating multi-media installations bring together a ‘Big Bang’ of awe and inspiration.
  • Visit the The Church of the Good Shepherd; situated on the shores of Lake Tekapō amongst the natural beauty of the lake and the mountains.
  • Hike up Mount John for a 360-degree panorama of the surrounding mountains, lakes and Mackenzie Basin flats.

Day 11Lake Tekapo to Mt Cook

Cruising past the ‘powerade factory’ Lake Pukaki (you’ll know what we mean when you see it) we head for Mount Cook village where we will enjoy a couple of breathtaking scenic hikes in the National Park (included) which will break your internet and blow your mind. Here you will have the opportunity to experience the Tasman Glacier by helicopter or take a scenic flight through the Mt Cook National Park (Aoraki). 

Accommodation

  • YHA Mt Cook

Experiences & Highlights

  • Spend the day at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.
  • Hike the Hooker Valley track to Hooker Lake. An awe-inspiring landscape of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana on one of our best day hikes - wind up the Hooker Valley past alpine streams and glaciers in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook.
  • Enjoy a scenic flight over Aoraki National Park (not included).
  • Go skydiving over Aoraki National Park (not included). 

Day 12Mt Cook to Queenstown

After a morning of exploring Mt Cook National Park we drive on through the stunning Lindis Pass and onto Queenstown; known as the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. This evening we enjoy a buffet dinner at the Stratosphere Restaurant, located at the top of the Skyline Gondola and giving epic panaramic views of Queenstown. The perfect place to eat with a view.

Accommodation

  • Nomads Queenstown

Experiences & Highlights

  • Even more free time at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.
  • A buffet dinner with panaramic views of Queenstown at the Skyline Stratosphere Restaurant.
  • Queenstown; the adventure capital of New Zealand

Day 13Queenstown

Carrying on the adrenaline-pumping theme, you have a full day to fill with activities that suit all budgets and appetites for adventure. Try your hand at activities such as white water rafting, bungy jumping, skydivingjet-boating or canyon swinging… if you dream it, it probably exists here in Queenstown. Speak to your Driver Guide who will be able to point you in the right direction.

Accommodation

  • Nomads Queenstown

Day 14Queenstown

Today we will head out into the heartlands of Otago to the picturesque town of Glenorchy to experience a scenic landscape brimming with southern charm.

Accommodation

  • Nomads Queenstown

Experiences & Highlights

Day 15Queenstown to Wanaka

After a couple of amazing days in Queenstown, today we leave it behind and set off for Wanaka. This afternoon you'll get the opportunity hike Roys Peak which gives you amazing views across Lake Wanaka and the peak of Mount Aspiring. Or if you're more inclined to relax, take a walk or bike ride round the lake and look out for the famous Wanaka tree. 

Accommodation

  • YHA Wanaka

Experiences & Highlights

  • Roys Peak; a 6 hour return hike giving you an amazing backdrop of Wanaka and Mount Aspiring (only accessible November to May)
  • Mt Iron hike (alternative to Roys Peak); providing 360-degree views of the The Pisa range, the Upper Clutha Basin, Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. (June to October)
  • Visit the famous Wanaka tree

Day 16Wanaka to Franz Josef

This is one of the most scenic drives of your tour. We’ll cruise by the breath-taking Lake Hawea, past the aptly named ‘Blue Pools’ and visit the pounding Thunder Creek Falls before visiting Lake Matheson; a spot that makes a mockery of Instagram filters. We’ll then arrive in Franz Josef where we’ll retire to a wilderness hostel deep in the rainforest itself.

Accommodation

  • Rainforest Retreat

Experiences & Highlights

  • Thunder Creek falls; an extremely tall and easy accessible 96-metre waterfall, located in Mt Aspiring National Park. 
  • Lake Matheson; nestled in ancient forest and is famous for mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.

Franz Josef

Incredible Franz Josef sits in the world heritage area, the combination of alpine scenery and west coast rainforest makes for an epic setting for your free day. You can experience a Heli-Hike on the glacier or you can explore this lush corner of New Zealand (for free) on foot; hitting up the many walking trails in the area. Relax afterwards in a Hot Spring with breathtaking views.

Accommodation

  • Rainforest Retreat

Experiences & Highlights

Day 17Franz Josef to Christchurch

Today we travel from coast to coast right over the Southern Alps! We’ll stop for the chance to carve your own greenstone necklaces (pounamu), a unique gift from this special place. Then a journey through the Arthur’s Pass National Park, a landscape of 2 halves. Ascending the western side, we’ll venture through dense rainforest alongside and over deeply gorged rivers, on the eastern side, you'll see wide, shingle-filled riverbeds and vast swathes of beech forest. Along this road, we will stop off at the Devil’s Punch Bowl and the breath-taking Castle Hill (included).

Experiences & Highlights

  • Scenic hikes across Arthurs Pass
  • Walk the Castle Hill track; wander through majestic limestone rock formations of special significance to Ngāi Tahu.
  • Devils Punchbowl waterfalls. 

What's Included

What our passengers think

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Faq's

  • I’m a solo traveller... will I meet other solo travellers?

    Absolutely! The majority of our passengers are travelling solo. Kiwi Experience is a social experience guaranteed to leave with new friends from across the globe.

  • Am I too old/young for Kiwi Experience?

    We welcome the young, and the young at heart aboard our buses, there is no upper limit! There is however a lower limit; you’ll need to be 18 at the time of travel.

  • What visas do I need?

    Luckily, many nationalities are able to visit New Zealand for less than 3 months without a visa. However, if you are not from one of these countries, obtaining your own visa is your own responsibility. We ask that you check out the Immigration New Zealand website before booking your Kiwi Experience trip.

  • Do I need travel insurance?

    While not mandatory, travel insurance is recommended and should be taken out when travelling with us. As well as making sure your expensive stuff is covered, you should also get comprehensive travel insurance (covering you for all medical expenses you could incur while travelling).

  • How much should I budget for each day?

    We recommend you budget between $70 - $100 per day to cover food and super fun times. From time to time, it may be worth putting a little more aside to pay for the really crazy stuff like skydiving.

  • How much luggage am I allowed to bring?

    Passengers are allowed one 23kg suitcase/backpack and one day bag, as there are strict weight restrictions on our buses.

Available Dates

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