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AAT Kings

14 Day AAT Kings New Zealand Marvel 24/25

One country, two islands, two weeks, countless highs… this could well be the ultimate New Zealand guided tour. Standouts include gem-like Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere, cruise through World Heritage listed Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, Waitomo Caves tours to spot glowworms, and expeditions across turquoise lakes. We haven’t even mentioned the atmospheric towns and cities yet – tours in Queenstown, Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch all beckon.

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Quick Itinerary Details

New Zealand Escorted Tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$6,595 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Auckland

14 days/13 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 85 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Interislander ferry crossing
Maori Village Experience & Hangi (dinner), Rotorua
Milford Sound Cruise
TranzAlpine Train from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass
TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak high country farm, Queenstown
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
13 breakfasts, 7 dinners, 1 special dinner
Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Christchurch Tram

There are plenty of reasons to arrive in New Zealand’s ‘Garden City’ early, among them the astonishing transformation that has reinvigorated streets since the devastating 2010/11 earthquakes. Explore at your leisure. We recommend jumping aboard the Christchurch Tram – the conductors are a hoot – to glimpse the mind-bending Transitional Cathedral, made largely of cardboard, and Turanga, the gold-clad central library.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Hotel Christchurch (1 night)

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Glacial Lake near Franz Josef

When the journey matters just as much as the destination, jump aboard the TranzAlpine train. This scenic spectacular – the start of your tour of the South Island of New Zealand – takes you through tunnels and over viaducts, with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys along the way. Arriving in Hokitika, your outlook is all pounamu (native greenstone or jade). In Māori tradition, it’s bad luck to buy this sacred stone for yourself; flutter your eyelids at the one you love. Around the corner is Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere, compact of snow and ice that shimmers like a gem. Get some perspective on an optional Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere flight tour over this natural wonder – if the weather behaves, you may even get to land on it. Now that’s cool.

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Street in Arrowtown

If you thought the scenery yesterday was dramatic, wait until you hit the Haast Pass today: over the saddle, the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes spreads before you in a patchwork of blues and greens. First up there’s lovely Lake Wanaka, with its Instagrammable shoreline of poplars and willows. Then Lake Hawea – the colour of an Ice Mint – and Lake Dunstan, where you’ll pause to refuel on flavour-packed stone fruits. As tempting as it is to linger in Arrowtown’s movie-set-like streets, Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables await in Queenstown.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown (1 night)

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Skyline Lookout in Queenstown

Today, choose your own adventure – there are plenty to be had. Feel the wind in your hair on the high-octane Shotover Jet, perhaps. Or discover some of New Zealand’s feathered friends at a wildlife centre. Wine aficionado? Sip your way through surrounding vineyards. Wherever you wander, make sure you’re back in time to glide across Lake Wakatipu aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue dinner and a little late-night dancing.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown (1 night)

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Milford Sound Cruise

There are some travel days that defy the imagination. Thankfully, you don’t have to dream about all the natural highs in today’s itinerary – they’re about to become a reality. Your route from the Mirror Lakes through the Cleddau Valley is the entrée to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, a cavernous wonderland where waterfalls thunder from ancient escarpments into inky water where dolphins play. You’ll likely spot them on your Milford Sound/Piopiotahi cruise. It’s all part of World Heritage listed Fiordland National Park, an intoxicating union of beech forests, alluvial flats, meadows and gin-clear rivers, carving up the countryside. This is your backdrop all the way to Te Anau. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any more magical, glow worm-filled grottoes make an appearance. We highly recommend a visit.

Staying in:

  • Distinction Luxmore Hotel (1 night)

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Aerial View of Otago Peninsula

On the banks of the South Island’s biggest lake, Te Anau turns on the sunrise charms. Enjoy a morning stroll before swapping the forested slopes of Fiordland for the rolling green hills of the Edinburgh of the South. Welcome to Dunedin, a beguiling union of both Māori and Scottish heritage (it was colonised by Scots in the 19th century). While away the afternoon in atmospheric art-lined alleys or sipping a lager or two in Speights Brewery (a national institution). Or venture further afield to discover the wildlife that thrives in this pretty pocket of the country – fur seals and penguins, anyone?

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (1 night)

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Larnach Castle in Dunedin

If you didn’t get a taste for Dunedin’s Scottish heritage yesterday, you surely will today. Explore grand Larnach Castle at your leisure – this is, after all, the only one of its kind in the country – then wander the manicured grounds of Otago University or the city’s main George Street for an additional reminder of the city’s ties to Europe. If you’ve ever wanted to see New Zealand’s oldest public gardens, today you’re in luck with a visit to Oamaru, known for its stately tree-lined streets and limestone buildings.

Staying in:

  • Heritage Gateway Hotel (1 night)

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Church of Good Shepherd

Your outlook this morning is the Canterbury Plains: the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo, hemmed by snow-capped mountains and atmospheric towns. If it seems familiar, that’s because it regularly stars on postcards. Take it in on an optional scenic flight for added perspective of the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere. Back on the ground, it’s time to become reacquainted on a Christchurch tour, your in-the-know guide pointing out the city’s miraculous transformation over the last decade. Local spirit is strong here.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Hotel Christchurch (1 night)

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Journey along Pacific Coast near Kaikoura

Forget powdery white sand – once you’ve seen the dramatic black Kaikoura cove, you’ll be spoilt for all future beach-bashing. Bonus points if you spot a sea lion or sperm whale frolicking offshore; a sighting is practically guaranteed if you opt for an aerial tour over the coastline. Your onward route skirts the pink-tinged crystallisation ponds of the Lake Grassmere Salt Works, before arriving in the pretty seaside fishing village of Picton.

Staying in:

  • Picton Beachcomber Inn (1 night)

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Wellington Cable Car

Cruising through Queen Charlotte Sound, up the Tory Channel and across Cook Strait is a journey as scenic as it is serene. Today’s chariot, the Interislander, transports you from the South Island to the North, navigating a maze of arms and inlets into New Zealand’s cool little capital of Wellington. We hope you got some rest on your journey, because you’ll need all your stamina to explore the award-winning (and eye-opening) Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand on a Wellington tour. Ask your Travel Director for tips on where to sip wine and coffee tonight – this city is known for its uber-cool cafes, restaurants and bars.

Staying in:

  • Travelodge Wellington (1 night)

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Maori Cultural Experience

Follow the lead of locals along the Kapiti Coast, the summer playground of Wellingtonians – for good reason. The road ahead unfolds in a broad panorama of Lake Taupo, the largest (and perhaps bluest) of its kind in the country. It’s a landscape almost as otherworldly as Rotorua, where mud pops and jettisons from bubbling geysers, and steam rushes skywards from cracks in the Earth. Tonight, delve deep into Maori culture and traditions at Te Puia. Your dinner, a hangi cooked underground, is served while you overlook the spectacular geothermal valley. The highlight is a Māori cultural performance in the beautifully carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Rotorua Hotel (1 night)

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Rotorua Town Hall

Sometimes, the best adventures are those that you have when you least expect them. Like wandering into Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa and falling into a few hours of bliss while soaking in steamy thermal springs. Who knew nature was this relaxing? Or discovering endangered birds on a working kiwi nursery and hatchery. Hobbit fans will want to take advantage of the opportunity to tour the sights featured in The Lord of the Rings movies at Hobbiton. These beautiful landscapes are not only a bucket list tour for Hobbit fans, but a gorgeous countryside getaway.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Rotorua Hotel (1 night)

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Waitomo Caves

Before you reach your final destination, get set to glow on a tour through the Waikato River’s Waitomo Caves. This place is radiant – quite literally. While cruising cavernous limestone waterways, your route is cast in a magical light by thousands of glowworms. Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, appears on the horizon, dazzling with not one, but two harbours. And plenty of yachts to decorate both, as you’ll see from the lookout at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Staying in:

  • Holiday Inn Express, Auckland (1 night)

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Aerial View of Auckland

The ‘City of Sails’ flutters as if waving goodbye as you make your way home – with two weeks’ worth of extra baggage (all that wine!) and an innumerable number of memories.

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