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Thrifty ToursEssential New Zealand

From the north to the south, this journey will see you experience all the essential New Zealand destinations. Get up close and personal with the Maori culture, be amazed by the scenery onboard the TranzCoastal Train and cruise on the world renowned Milford Sound.

 New Zealand independent tour
 Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch
 10 days/ 9 nights
 Hotel 4 star
  Customisable? YES Enquire Enquire
 Viewed 11 times in the last 7 days

Included in this tour package

Tour map
Rotorua, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

At a glance - Essential New Zealand

Day 1: Travel to Waitomo Caves and then onto Rotorua, visit Tamaki Maori Village this evening. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 2: Visit Te Puia thermal area, Rainbow Springs and the Agrodome. Free time this afternoon. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 3: Travel south today to Wellington via Lake Taupo. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Day 4: Some free time in Wellington this morning before flying to Christchurch City. Accommodation: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square

Day 5: Today head south to the Edinburgh of the South - Dunedin City. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

Day 6: Cross the Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland. Accommodation: Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas

Day 7: A highlight of your trip - the world heritage area of Milford Sound. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 8: Chill out or explore the adventure capital of Queenstown. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 9: Another day to enjoy the activities and scenery of this alpine resort. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 10: Head north today to Mt Cook National Park. Following lunch continue to Christchurch City.

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Essential New Zealand - Detailed Itinerary  

Day 1: Travel to Waitomo Caves and then onto Rotorua, visit Tamaki Maori Village this evening

Essential New Zealand - Day 1

Auckland to Rotorua including Waitomo Caves with GreatSights

Enjoy a tour from Auckland to Rotorua including a guided tour of the fascinating Waitomo Glowworm Caves.  Leaving Auckland in the morning you travel through the lush farmland of the Waikato and King Country regions. Your experienced local driver guide will provide a commentary as you travel to Waitomo and point out sites of interest including Rangiriri, the location of a historic Māori land wars battle between forces loyal to the Māori King and the Colonial Government in 1863. On arrival in the small town of Waitomo enjoy a guided tour through the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves with their amazing stalactites, stalagmites and other limestone formations. Finish the tour with a silent boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto - a subterranean cavern lit up by the lights of thousands of tiny glowworms. Continue your tour this afternoon by driving to Rotorua, passing through the beautiful Fitzgerald Glade where the roadside trees arch overhead to form a tunnel of natural greenery.

Tamaki Maori Village Cultural Tour and Hangi Dinner

Journey back in time to a Pre-European lifestyle experience of customs and traditions. Enjoy the night's festivities with the people of Tamaki Maori Village as you are treated to a banquet of succulent foods cooked the traditional Maori way. Rediscover the Maori village as it comes alive to the sound and activities of tribal songs, dances, myths and legends and browse throughout the largest after hour's tribal marketplace in Rotorua. Includes dinner.

Your Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Rotorua's largest 4 star deluxe hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 2: Visit Te Puia thermal area, Rainbow Springs and the Agrodome. Free time this afternoon

Essential New Zealand - Day 2

Rotorua Sights: Te Puia, Rainbow Springs and Agrodome with GreatSights

Discover three of Rotorua's best visitor attractions on this morning Rotorua sightseeing tour. Gain an insight into New Zealand's Māori culture at Te Puia.  You'll see Te Puia's woodcarving and weaving schools and see how these ancient Māori art forms are being passed on to a new generation of master artists. Experience Rotorua's famous geothermal activity with a tour of the neighbouring Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Then onto the Agrodome, a working organic farm where you can find out all about farming life in New Zealand, watch a sheep shearing display and see sheep dog trials where the hard-working farm dogs show off their amazing skills. New Zealand wildlife and natural scenery is on display at Rainbow Springs Nature Park, where you can get up close to all kinds of native flora and fauna including the famous kiwi, a flightless native bird.

Your Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Rotorua's largest 4 star deluxe hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 3: Travel south today to Wellington via Lake Taupo

Essential New Zealand - Day 3

Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Intercity Depot

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Intercity Coach Depot.

Rotorua to Wellington by InterCity Coach

Your coach journey from Rotorua to Wellington takes you via the township of Taupō and New Zealand's largest lake. The lake itself is actually a gigantic volcanic caldera formed during one of the worlds largest ever eruptions. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand's three world heritage sites and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast, with its coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton. The Kapiti Coast leads into Wellington, New Zealand's capital. Wellington sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre), so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and explore New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, which is also close by.

Private transfer Wellington airport to hotel

You will be met on arrival into Wellington airport and transferred to your hotel.

Your Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Located just 2 minutes walk to Te Papa Museum, the vibrant Courtney Place and local Theatres the Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay is in a superb location to enjoy Wellington.

Meals included: Breakfast

Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Day 4: Some free time in Wellington this morning before flying to Christchurch City

Essential New Zealand - Day 4

Wellington City

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.

Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you're a foodie at heart, a two hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For a educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

Private transfer Wellington hotel to Airport

You will be collected from your Wellington hotel and transferred to the airport.

Air New Zealand flight Wellington to Christchurch

Fly from Wellington Airport to Christchurch Airport.

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: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square

A modern hotel tower built alongside an historic heritage-listed building, Novotel Christchurch is perfectly located in the very heart of Cathedral Square. Featuring spacious rooms with contemporary design and double glazed windows, you're just a short walk to restaurants and entertainment.

Meals included: Breakfast

Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square

Day 5: Today head south to the Edinburgh of the South - Dunedin City

Essential New Zealand - Day 5

Private transfer accommodation to Intercity coach stop

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the coach stop.

Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity Coach

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. Pass through the towns of Timaru followed by Oamaru, most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Continue along the coast and into the city of Dunedin.

Dunedin Coach Stop to Accommodation Transfer

On arrival into Dunedin you will be met from your coach and transferred to your accommodation.

Your Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

The Scenic Hotel Southern Cross provides stylish inner city accommodation and is the perfect location from which to explore Dunedin. Just a short walk to the Octagon, Railway Station, theatres, shops, and close to Otago University.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

Day 6: Cross the Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland

Essential New Zealand - Day 6

Dunedin Accommodation to Coach Stop Transfer

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to the coach stop in time for your departure.

Dunedin to Te Anau by Intercity Coach

Enjoy this scenic coach trip across the magnificent Southland Countryside from the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin, to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Your Accommodation: Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas

The Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers a range of accommodation from hotel rooms and suites to villas. Ideally located on the lake front this hotel is just a few minutes stroll from the shops, cafes and many activities Te Anau has to offer.

Meals included: Breakfast

Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas

Day 7: A highlight of your trip - the world heritage area of Milford Sound

Essential New Zealand - Day 7

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Te Anau, and onto Queenstown

From Te Anau, you travel by coach along the spectacular Milford Road. Photo stops are made on the way into Milford, with additional photo stops and a short walk on the return journey. Real Journeys experienced drivers enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area. On reaching Milford Sound, you join a Nature Cruise for a leisurely cruise the full-length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. A nature guide provides fascinating interpretation throughout the cruise. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

The 4 star deluxe Millennium Hotel Queenstown is located in the heart of Queenstown within minutes of the central shopping and entertainment area.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 8: Chill out or explore the adventure capital of Queenstown

Essential New Zealand - Day 8

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

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 Heli-ski.

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: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

The 4 star deluxe Millennium Hotel Queenstown is located in the heart of Queenstown within minutes of the central shopping and entertainment area.

Meals included: Breakfast

Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 9: Another day to enjoy the activities and scenery of this alpine resort

Essential New Zealand - Day 9

Enjoy a second day in Queenstown

With such an abundance of activities on offer, one day in Queenstown is never enough!  Today you’ll have some spare time for those things you didn’t get to do yesterday.  For more thrills you can choose from jet boating, luging, bungy jumping or a canyon swing. If golf is your game, the exceptional Millbrook Golf Course is the place for you. Explore a little further afield - nearby historic gold mining township Arrowtown, is a popular destination and features many original buildings and features. At the head of Lake Wakatipu sits Glenorchy, the scenic drive here is worth the trip alone, however arriving into this peaceful township you could easily rest the day away.  Nearby is the start of the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.  You can enjoy a section of this track as a day walk or for the ultimate wilderness adventure choose the 3 day all-inclusive fully guided option.  To really appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds this area, a scenic flight or hot air balloon ride will take your breath away.  For a slightly more grounded experience, the Skyline Gondola offers fantastic views of Queenstown and the Remarkables.

Your Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

The 4 star deluxe Millennium Hotel Queenstown is located in the heart of Queenstown within minutes of the central shopping and entertainment area.

Meals included: Breakfast

Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 10: Head north today to Mt Cook National Park. Following lunch continue to Christchurch City

Essential New Zealand - Day 10

Queenstown to Christchurch with GreatSights (Includes Lunch)

Travel to the foothills of New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook, on a full-day sightseeing tour from Queenstown to Christchurch. Setting off from Queenstown, travel through ruggedly beautiful landscape and over the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country. Enter the amazing Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's highest mountain, where there is time to stop for lunch and a chance to enjoy the amazing alpine scenery. During your stop at Mount Cook Village, enjoy a delicious lunch at the famous Hermitage Hotel. In the afternoon, travel past Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo, where you can view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd against the backdrop of this vivid blue glacier-fed lake. Then continue through the diverse farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, the Garden City, where your tour concludes.

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