New Zealand - Land of the Long White Cloud
• Geothermal mud pools and geysers
• Glowworm caves and Maori culture
• Christchurch's garden city
• Historic steamship and working sheep farm
• Milford Sound cruise & Milford Track Walk
• Whale watching
• Turquoise blue glacial hikes and soak in mineral hot pools
• Visit to the 'Lord of the Rings' Hobbiton movie set
• 16 land days
• Maximum 16 travelers
• Start in Auckland, finish in Queenstown
• All meals included
• Includes 1 internal flight
• Activity Level: 3
FROM: $8,195 USD
= has guaranteed departures
Comfortable accommodations with private bathrooms. Our beautiful lodge located within Milford Sound has limited availability and a few rooms may have a shared bathroom for 1 night.
Spectacular natural wonders, cosmopolitan cities, friendly people, a comfortable climate...all elements of the perfect travel destination - New Zealand. On this active trip, explore caves, geothermal areas and glaciers. Go whale watching, visit a working sheep farm, and learn about the fascinating Maori culture.
On the North Island, travel to Waitomo and the fairy tale glowworm caves and explore the Cave of the Spirit "Te Ana o te Atua". Experience the boiling mud pools at Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley, and enjoy breathtaking scenery around Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park.
We return back to Auckland and fly to Christchurch in the South Island. We'll have a scenic boat ride through the Waiau Canyon followed by a soak in the hot pools. We'll ride the historical Earnslaw steamship and enjoy a whale watching excursion, as well as marvel at the peaks and glaciers of Mount Cook. We end our trip with a cruise and 2 overnights in Milford Sound National Park.
This 16 day off-the-beaten-track itinerary offers the very best of New Zealand's natural wonders, while encompassing the 'must see' highlights.
Click the PDF icon to download the New Zealand detailed itinerary
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN AUCKLAND
Upon arrival into Auckland, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Auckland is built on an isthmus and is surrounded by water on both sides. Consequently, boating is a common hobby here and Auckland is fondly referred to as the ‘City of Sails’. Tonight, you’ll meet your guides and the rest of your group with a welcome dinner as we prepare for our adventures ahead!
Overnight in Auckland
DAY 2: KARANGAHAKE GORGE WINDOWS WALK, TO ROTORUA
We depart Auckland in the morning and head south along the Hauraki Plains and through a small town of Paeroa, famed for its natural spring waters. We’ll hike along the Karangahake Gorge – an area steeped in mining history, which we’ll learn about as we walk on old mining tram lines and through purpose built gold mining tunnels. Afterwards, experience the real Middle-Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton movie set, the bucolic setting for The Shire that featured in the Peter Jackson directed films, The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit Trilogies. The tour starts with a drive through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Afterwards we’ll drive to Rotorua, considered the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture and the spiritual home of New Zealand’s tangata whenua (original people of the land). Rotorua is also famed for its geothermal activity – which you can distinctly smell as you arrive into the town!
Overnight in Rotorua.
DAY 3: LAKE OKATAINA, MAORI PA SITE, TE PUIA THERMAL WONDERLAND AND MUD POOLS
Lake Okataina is one of the many beautiful Rotorua lakes and we’ll spend the morning visiting the stunning lake and wandering along its shores. This area was traditionally inhabited by the local Maori people and those who’d like a walk can walk to explore the remnants of a ‘pa’ site – where a traditional village once stood. Later this afternoon we will journey to Te Puia and the Whakarewarewa geothermal valley – a place of gushing waters, steaming vents, boiling mud pools and impressive geysers. Tonight you’ll enjoy a cultural performance by members of the Te Arawa tribe and share a traditional feast. A hangi, as it’s known, is prepared by wrapping food and burying it in the earth to cook over hot stones. This healthy cooking method is similar to steaming and imparts a wonderful flavor.
Overnight in Rotorua.
DAY 4: HUKA FALLS NEAR TAUPO, HIKE LAKE ROTOPOUNAMU
This morning we'll head south to our largest inland body of water, Lake Taupo. Draining from the lake is the Waikato River, which starts its journey through a tight cataract and spectacular chute – Huka Falls. We’ll explore the trail to the falls and have lunch at a local cafe on the Taupo waterfront. After lunch we’ll travel south around Lake Taupo past many rivers popular with fly fishing, so we may see some anglers trying their luck! For those who are keen, we’ll then walk some of the loop track around a crater lake, Lake Rotopounamu in Tongariro National Park. Lava flows, active craters, hot springs, lakes, forest, tussock and alpine herbfields make up many of the scenic attractions to the park.
Overnight in the Ruapehu region.
DAY 5: TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK - TARANAKI FALLS WALK & SILICA RAPIDS
Wide open arid volcanic landscapes, picture perfect volcanic peaks, waterfalls and clear flowing waters; it’s no wonder this is a World Heritage Site! We begin with the Taranaki Falls loop which traverses varied landscape with a large waterfall tumbling over the edge of large lava flow which erupted 15,000 years ago. We will walk a distance of 5km/3 miles around the loop.
Later we will take the Silica Rapids walk, which follows a cascading stream through mountain beech forest to the creamy white terraces carved out from thousands of years of volcanic activity. The Silika Rapids loop is an easy 7km loop that will take us 2.5 hrs around. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure before our dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight in Turangi.
DAY 6: WAITOMO CAVES AND GLOWWORMS, RETURN TO AUCKLAND
Today we’ll get to explore below the surface, as we head to the spectacular Waitomo Caves. We will take a walk through Ruakuri Cave, among stalagtites and stalagmites, to learn more about the geological significance of the area and unique to New Zealand. Then we’ll hop into a boat to glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto, with amazing commentary from our local guides. We'll enjoy lunch at a charming farmhouse and afterwards we’ll head back to Auckland to catch our breath before heading to the South Island.
Overnight in Auckland.
DAY 7: FLY TO CHRISTCHURCH, WALKING TOUR
After breakfast we fly to Christchurch. Often referred to as the Garden City, Christchurch features many majestic trees and extensive parks and gardens, the most notable of which is expansive Hagley Park in the heart of the city. Bordering the park you will find the botanical gardens and the Gothic revival building which houses the Canterbury Museum. The Avon River gently winds its way around these inner city landmarks and out through sprawling suburbs to the Pacific Ocean. We'll begin with a visit to the International Antarctic Center to learn about the amazing feats of the early explorers, what is currently happening now with Antarctic research, and see some delightful penguins! We'll enjoy lunch in the botanical gardens and afterwards enjoy a walking tour of Christchurch. Learn all about the 2011 earthquake that shook the city and how its been rebuilt.
Overnight in Christchurch.
DAY 8: HEAD NORTH TO KAIKOURA, WHALE WATCHING TOUR
Today we’ll travel up the coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura, which received its name from an early Maori explorer and translates as kai (to eat) and koura (crayfish). Today Kaikoura maintains its fishing heritage. After lunch we'll board our boat for a whale watch. We may encounter New Zealand fur seals, pods of dusky dolphins and the endangered wandering albatross. We may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales. Kaikoura often hosts the world's largest dolphin, the orca, and is home to the world's smallest and rarest, the Hector's. Kaikoura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of albatross, 14 varieties of petrels and 7 types of shearwater.
Overnight in Kaikoura.
DAY 9: HANMER SPRINGS FOREST, SCENIC JET BOAT AND SOAK IN MINERAL WATERS
After breakfast we’ll head inland on a scenic road past Mt. Lyford to the mountain village of Hanmer Springs, set in a breathtaking natural landscape and surrounded by forests and mountains, Hanmer Springs is a well-known spot for its thermal hot springs. Upon arrival we’ll hop into a jet boat to take us down river to the Waiau Gorge to see the steep canyon walls and rugged cliff faces. Experience the trill of travelling across just centimetres of water or rotating through a 360° spin, famous features of the amazing jetboat technology, first invented in New Zealand! This afternoon, we'll take the Conical Hill Walk to the lookout 200 meters above Hanmer Spring Village (duration 1 hour.)
This evening you can soak, relax and take in the view of the snow capped mountains and forests of the Southern Alps in the thermal pools. There are nine open-air thermal pools, three sulphur pools and four private thermal pools, as well as a sauna/steam room. The mineral spas are great for soaking after a day of walking and, if you want a bit of extra pampering, you can arrange a massage after your soak.
Overnight in Hanmer Springs.
DAY 10: PEEL FOREST, EXPLORE LAKE TEKAPO
This morning we’ll head south again to Peel Forest for a 1 hour walk amongst ancient podocarp trees and many varieties of ferns. After lunch, we’ll travel inland towards Aoraki Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, and Lake Tekapo – an unreal turquoise-blue colored glacial lake. We’ll visit the ‘Church of the Good Shepherd’ on the shores of the lake – easily one of the most scenic locations for a church you’ll ever come across! Tonight, the wide open spaces, regular clear evenings and lack of artificial light provides us with the perfect opportunity to gaze at the Southern Hemisphere’s constellations, including the Southern Cross.
Overnight in Lake Tekapo.
DAY 11: EXPLORE AORAKI/MT. COOK, SIR EDMUND HILLARY CENTRE
The highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt. Cook was first named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori. This region was Sir Edmund Hillary’s training ground as he prepared for his and Tenzing Norgay’s famous summit of Mt. Everest in 1953. A range of short walks (up to an hour in duration) are possible from Mount Cook village, including the Glencoe Walk & Govenor’s Bush Walk. These tracks are surrounded by peaks, glaciers, native vegetation and mountain streams, and provide excellent views of Aoraki/Mt. Cook on a fine day. We can also spend some time exploring the visitor's center at Mt. Cook village which has an amazing museum about the climbing history of the mountain and its geology. Enjoy lunch at an alpine restaurant which offers spectacular views of Aoraki Mount Cook from every seat. We will also visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre, built as a tribute to one of the world's greatest explorers and which showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region.
Overnight in Twizel.
DAY 12: QUEENSTOWN, RIDE THE HISTORICAL EARNSLAW STEAMSHIP
Today we’ll journey to the excitement of the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown. This small resort town packs in a lot of adventure including bungee jumping, jet boating, skydiving, mountain biking and hiking opportunities, as well as great local cafés, bars, and restaurants. This afternoon we’ll hop onto the historic steamship the T.S.S Earnslaw, which has been cruising lake Wakatipu for over 125 years! It will take us to the working sheep station, Walter Peak, where we’ll experience life on a working sheep farm where we will enjoy a BBQ lunch. Once back in Queenstown we’ll visit ‘The Winery’ where we’ll have a chance to taste the delicious local pinot noir wines grown in this area.
Overnight in Queenstown.
DAY 13: EXPLORE FIORDLAND, OVERNIGHT AT MILFORD SOUND
This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland, where along the way we’ll stop off for some beautiful viewpoints and short walks such as Mirror Lakes, the Chasm and the Marian gantry. Once we drive through the Homer Tunnel we’ll emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breathtaking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand meters to the Tasman Sea, and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water.
Once in Milford we’ll embark on a cruise of the fiord itself to get up close and personal with the dramatic sea cliffs and thundering waterfalls. This evening we’ll retire in the stunning Milford Lodge right on the riverside and you’ll have the chance to go for a twilight wander to see if you can spot some glowworms!
Overnight in Milford Sound.
DAY 14: MILFORD TRACK GUIDED WALK
Today we explore Milford Sound with an easy 7 mile/11 kilometre round trip walk alongside the cascading Arthur River, then Lake Ada, on a well maintained track takes you to your destination, Giant Gate. Wandering along in the lush green forest you’ll think you’ve stumbled right into Narnia! This scenic waterfall is best viewed from the large swing bridge. At this point you return, walking under ancient temperate rainforest surrounded by an array of ferns, mosses and lichens in vibrant shades of green. Learn about the fascinating human heritage of the track. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the surroundings.
Overnight in Milford Sound.
DAY 15: RETURN TO QUEENSTOWN
This morning we'll retrace our steps back out to Milford and head towards Queenstown, along the scenic Milford Road. It’s a spectacular drive back through the mountains, and we’ll stop along the way for lunch and to stretch our legs. Tonight, we’ll celebrate our two weeks of adventure with a farewell dinner together with our new friends.
DAY 16: DEPART QUEENSTOWN
We transfer to the airport for our international flights homeward today.
HOW BIG ARE THE GROUPS?
Each group is limited to 16 participants. Small groups are an important ingredient in adventure travel. They allow for more interaction and more personalized service throughout the itinerary.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE?
All accommodations throughout; all meals, starting with dinner on day 1 and finishing with breakfast on departure day (i.e. the last day of the ElderTreks tour); bottled drinking water throughout the trip; all internal transportation; airport transfers on day 1 and departure day (i.e. the last day of the ElderTreks tour); all day trips and entrance fees as outlined in the itinerary; tips for hotels (porterage), bus driver, restaurants, national guides, and spot guides; services of a trip leader.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE?
International flights, tips to ElderTreks tour leader, alcoholic drinks, visa’s and travel insurance.
ARE THESE “EDUCATIONAL” TOURS?
Yes, in the broadest sense of the word, “educational”. We visit churches and historical sites and have talks and discussions on many aspects of history, culture and nature. We believe that it is equally educational to meet local people on a non-commercial basis, visit their homes and even try to learn a few words in the native language. Sometimes the most “educational” moments are spent walking through an old quarter of a city.
HOW DO WE TRAVEL DURING THE TOUR?
All local transportation is included in the land price of the trip. We use a van or small bus throughout the trip.
WHAT ARE OUR ACCOMMODATIONS LIKE?
We always stay in good accommodations — both hotels and guesthouses, where rooms have a private bath or shower.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?
The climate is moderate: expect day time highs of around 80-85°F (26-29 ?C ), during the summer months and night time lows of around 50°F (10 ?C ). The weather can vary between plenty of sunshine and typical coastal rainy days.
WHEN IS PAYMENT DUE?
A non-refundable deposit of $500 USD (plus insurance if you require it) is due at time of booking and will reserve your place on the tour. Payment of the full land cost is due 120 days before departure. Cancellation charges are applicable and are outlined in the “Terms and Conditions” section of our brochure.
IS MEDICAL INSURANCE REQUIRED?
Insurance coverage is not included in the cost of your trip. Please note that medical insurance is not required for this adventure but is recommended. ElderTreks offers comprehensive travel insurance with Manulife for Canadian guests, and John Hancock for American guests. Please CLICK HERE to view and purchase your insurance policy today. If you are purchasing insurance elsewhere, please ensure you provide the details to ElderTreks as soon as possible.
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE ON THE TOUR?
There is a detailed “What to Take” list in our Trip Kit, which we will send to you after you have booked the trip.
WHAT MEALS ARE INCLUDED?
All meals during the itinerary are included, starting with dinner on day 1 and finishing with breakfast on departure day. We eat a variety of local foods prepared in a wide range of settings.
CAN YOU ARRANGE MY FLIGHTS?
We would be happy to take care of your air arrangements. ElderTreks offers personalized flight itineraries — not group flights. Stop over en route, come in a few days early, or extend your stay. Call us for a customized itinerary.
WHAT IF I WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION?
If you have any further questions about the adventure, please call our office for more details. A Trip Specialist will be happy to answer your questions. A Trip Kit containing further details on the destination will be sent to you once you have booked the trip.
Dates & Prices
All Prices are currently listed in USD
*Single Supplement is the additional amount applied to the cost of the trip to those who are travelling solo and do not wish to share.