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Thrifty Tours12 day New Zealand Highlights

This 12 day tour allows you to experience some of the highlights of New Zealand in a short time.  Some superb inclusions ensure a varied and exciting tour.

 New Zealand independent tour
 Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch
 12 days/ 11 nights
 Motels
  Customisable? YES Enquire Enquire
 Viewed 17 times in the last 7 days

Included in this tour package

Tour map
Mitai Maori village, New Zealand
Dart River Jets, Glenorchy

At a glance - 12 day New Zealand Highlights

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland City. Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Day 2: Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua. Accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Day 3: Hobbiton day tour from Rotorua and this evening discover the unique Maori culture at Mitai. Accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Day 4: Fly Rotorua to Christchurch today. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 5: Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park . Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Day 6: Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 7: Free day to explore Queenstown. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 8: Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 9: Dart River Safari tour this morning, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner this evening. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 10: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Newmans coach. Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Day 11: Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 12: Depart Christchurch today.

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12 day New Zealand Highlights - Detailed Itinerary  

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland City

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 1

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Auckland City Sights Afternoon Tour with GreatSights

Discover first-hand why Auckland is regarded as one of the best places in the world to live, with a half-day tour of its scenic highlights. Travel through the city centre, including Auckland's famous Queen Street, Karangahape Road with its chequered past and eclectic vibe and fashionable Ponsonby. Cross over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, enjoying views of the Hauraki Gulf and city skyline, and visit the Viaduct Harbour and the revitalised Silo Park waterfront precinct. See historic buildings around the University of Auckland before continuing over Grafton Bridge to the Auckland Domain. The Domain is the city's oldest park and, at 75 hectares, one of its largest. Developed around an extinct volcano, it features tropical gardens, duck ponds and public art, and is also home to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. After visiting the Domain, the tour continues through the boutique shopping area of Parnell Village, where you'll stop for a short afternoon tea break and along the scenic waterfront route of Tamaki Drive. Your Auckland city tour ends with a trip back along the waterfront, finishing in downtown Auckland.

Your Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Waldorf Stadium Apartment Hotel offers 4.5 star self-contained apartment accommodation in downtown Auckland City. Located a short walk from Britomart Transport and Entertainment Precinct, Auckland Waterfront and Ferries, Queen Street and Vector Arena, Waldorf Stadium is in a wonderful location to visit all of Auckland Cities attractions in.

Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Day 2: Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 2

Auckland to Rotorua including Waitomo and Rotorua Experience with GreatSights

This full day tour has it all! From the magical glowworms and world-famous limestone formations of Waitomo to the rich cultural heritage and geothermal bounty of Rotorua. Includes a visit to the glowworm caves, a Māori cultural performance, a visit to the Agrodome and bubbling mud pools and geysers.

Your Accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Tuscany Villas offers guests luxurious accommodation in the heart of the city, with new modern designs and comfortable furnishings and a personal and friendly service.

Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Day 3: Hobbiton day tour from Rotorua and this evening discover the unique Maori culture at Mitai

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 3

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua

Discover the real Middle-earth when you take this two hour guided tour of Hobbiton. Beginning with a drive through a picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm, you'll experience stunning views over the Kaimai Ranges. You'll then be escorted through the 12 acre movie set learning memorable anecdotes about the shooting of the films. You'll see Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and The Party Tree, as well as learning how this piece of Waikato farmland was turned into the Shire.

Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.

Your Accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Tuscany Villas offers guests luxurious accommodation in the heart of the city, with new modern designs and comfortable furnishings and a personal and friendly service.

Meals included: Dinner

Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Day 4: Fly Rotorua to Christchurch today

Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Airport.

Air New Zealand flight Rotorua to Christchurch

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

The Bella Vista Motel and Apartments, Christchurch, offer accommodation in a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities.

Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 5: Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 5

Christchurch to Mount Cook with GreatSights

Depart Christchurch in the morning and travel through the lush farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, where you can see the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd as it stands in solitude next to the vibrant blue waters. Leaving Tekapo, continue into the Southern Alps towards Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's tallest mountain. Along the way your driver guide will keep you entertained and informed with commentary on the area's history and sites of interest. The tour concludes on arrival at Mount Cook Village, where you can explore and soak up the views of Aoraki / Mount Cook as it towers above.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Enjoy a glacier experience that is unique in New Zealand and one of only three in the world. Get up and close and personal with icebergs, on a glacial terminal lake.

It is extremely rare for a glacier to terminate into a lake and rarer still to find one that is accessible to visitors. Join your group on our boat for an intimate encounter with a glacier -- see massive icebergs and soaring ice cliffs. You'll experience seldom seen and inaccessible parts of New Zealand's largest glacier in a safe way aboard your boat. Few people can say they have seen, touched and tasted 500 year old ice. Now you will be one of them!

Tours depart from Mount Cook Village outside The Hermitage Hotel, where you'll board a small bus for an enjoyable trip to the Tasman Valley. This is followed by a relaxing 30 minute stroll through the National Park to your waiting MAC boat. Now it’s time to witness the changing ice face of the Tasman Glacier and the icebergs it spawns on the Tasman Glacier Lake. Throughout your 2.5 hour trip (45 min to 1 hour on the lake) your experienced guide offers an informative and entertaining commentary that ensures you don't miss a thing.

Your Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.

Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Day 6: Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 6

Mount Cook to Queenstown with GreatSights

Depart Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park in the afternoon and head south through the tawny tussock of the Mackenzie Country. En route enjoy a stop in the quaint village of Omarama. Crossing the Lindis Pass this is one of New Zealand's highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres, you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range come into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head towards the adventure and activity capital of New Zealand. Tour concludes this evening on arrival into Queenstown.

Your Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 7: Free day to explore Queenstown

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 7

Free day in Queenstown

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Head down the Gibbston valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown. Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water rafting.
 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boat the Shotover Canyon

Jet boating on the Shotover River is one of the must do Queenstown activities, even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge climbed aboard ‘Big Red’.  During this unforgettable ride you’ll skim across shallow water, past rocky outcrops as you hurtle through the narrow chasm of the Shotover Canyon before your skilled driver takes you into a scream worth 360 degree spin.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere - and take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and Coronet Peak - one of Queenstown's Ski field.

Your Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 8: Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 8

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with an extended 2.5 hour Nature Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On board a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the Milford Mariner for a leisurely extended cruise of the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rain forest, mountains and wildlife with extensive commentary by the on board nature guide. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Lunch

Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 9: Dart River Safari tour this morning, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner this evening

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 9

Dart River Wilderness Jet

An hour and a half of thrilling high-speed wilderness jet boating skimming across the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Hear about flora, fauna and history on a 30-minute rolling forest walk with your friendly guide. On a backroad tour of Paradise immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Learn about the Pounamu (Greenstone) that made the Dart River a key trading route for early Māori. Tales of early settlers who carved rich farms from the rugged landscape.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a dinner cruise from downtown Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw – an iconic Queenstown experience. Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and surrounds as you cruise across the lake to historic Walter Peak high country farm. You’ll be greeted of the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead. Enjoy the ambience of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses and tea & coffee. After dinner, you’ll enjoy a short demonstration of life in the high country. Now it’s time to cruise home under the southern stars. Join a sing-a-long with the on board pianist or simply enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

Your Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Dinner

Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 10: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Newmans coach

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 10

Queenstown to Franz Josef with GreatSights

From Queenstown to Franz Josef discover the wild beauty of New Zealand's West Coast. Leaving Queenstown, travel by luxury coach through the stunning scenery of the South Island. Your driver guide will provide entertaining commentary and point out sites of interest as you pass by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Dunstan, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. After a morning tea break in Makarora on the border of Mount Aspiring World Heritage Park, you'll travel through the Haast Pass, journeying through native beech forest and over the Southern Alps, before emerging on the West Coast. This remote area has a ruggedly beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. Skirt the coast and see waves crashing on rocky beaches before returning inland. Before arriving in the afternoon at the small village of Franz Josef. From here you can explore the world famous Franz Josef Glacier.

Glacier Valley shuttle

You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Valley Eco Tours and taken on a short tour to view the glacier. Your shuttle vehicle will transfer you up the Franz Josef valley to the road end. Here you will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier from a viewing platform. Or enjoy one of the short walks available in this area. You will be returned to your accommodation by the Glacier Valley Eco Tours shuttle.

Your Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Day 11: Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch

12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 11

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with GreatSights

This morning travel north through the small townships of Whataroa and Harihari. Stop at the Bushman's Centre for refreshments and a chance to experience a bit of West Coast humour. Continue through the township of Ross, which in the late 1800s was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields. In 1903 the largest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand was discovered at Jones Creek, not far from the town centre. It weighed 2807 grams. The New Zealand Government later purchased the nugget and presented it as a coronation gift to King George V. On arrival in Hokitika there is time to purchase lunch and explore the town centre. Hokitika is the administrative and commercial centre for this part of Westland. The major primary industry is timber milling. Dairy and sheep farming, commercial fishing, white baiting and eel processing being the other major industries. Continue onto Greymouth Railway Station from where you catch the world famous TranzAlpine train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Your transport from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine scenic train, offers a chance to take in one of the world's great train journeys. The train -- with carriages specially designed to allow you to take in all the amazing views on offer -- will carry you from the Tasman Sea up into the Southern Alps and through Arthur's Pass National Park to the Pacific Ocean.

The train offers a comfortable and relaxing way to cross Arthurs Pass from the South Island's wild West Coast to the more tamed east coast and its biggest city. Leaving Greymouth Station, you will travel through lush West Coast rain forest before climbing into to the spectacular mountains of the Southern Alps. And, after a stop in Arthur's Pass for a breath of mountain air, you'll travel dramatic gorges and the beautiful Waimakariri river valley to emerge on the farmland of the Canterbury Plains. From here the train crosses the plains for an early evening arrival in Christchurch city.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

You will be met by a private transfer driver at Christchurch train station who will take you to your Christchurch accommodation. (Look for a driver holding a board displaying your name after arriving into the station.)

Your Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

The Bella Vista Motel and Apartments, Christchurch, offer accommodation in a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities.

Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 12: Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

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