New Zealand

New Zealand Grand Tour

If you can stretch to three weeks, our Grand Tour allows you to tick off all the highlights but also add in some hidden gems. The tranquil surrounds of the Coromandel Peninsula are particularly enticing, packed full of stunning beaches and unusual flora and fauna. On the South Island, we’ve included an overnight cruise in spectacular Doubtful Sound as well as time in the picturesque Banks Peninsula at Akaroa. The trip ends in Christchurch.

Highlights

  Dig a thermal pool at Coromandel
  Whale-watching at Kaikoura
  Heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier
  Walk, bike, horse-ride at Wanaka
  Doubtful Sound overnight cruise
  Swim with dolphins at Akaroa

22 days from £2,500 pp

Plus international flights from £950

A three-week holiday for a family of four to New Zealand usually costs from £10,000 to £14,500 plus flights, depending on type of accommodation.

View pricing guide

New Zealand Grand Tour day-to-day itinerary

Day 1 Auckland
Arrive into Auckland where you will be met and taken to your hotel. Enjoy a leisurely day exploring the city’s surprisingly small centre and enjoy a bird’s eye view from atop the famous Sky Tower. Here you can take glass-fronted elevators to the viewing deck for stunning vistas of Auckland in all directions. Why not take dinner here – a superb introduction to the sumptuous fresh seafood and lamb New Zealand is famous for.


Days 2-3 Coromandel Peninsula
This morning collect your rental car and drive to the Coromandel Peninsula, the perfect place to recover from the long flight. You have free time to enjoy pristine beaches, towering forests and the unusual flora and fauna. Perhaps cruise or kayak to Cathedral Cove where you may witness a pod of dolphins or traverse the Coromandel coastal walkway. You could also board the Driving Creek Railway and follow the narrow-gorge mountain trail or grab a bike and cycle a leg of the Hauraki rail trail. An absolute must is a visit to Hot Water Beach where you can dig your own personal thermal pool in the sand – fun for all ages!


Day 4 Hobbiton
Experience Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the bucolic setting for The Shire from ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Drive through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges and enjoy a guided walk of the ten acre site visiting Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn and the Mill – Hobbit fan heaven. Afterwards head to your farmstay where you will be greeted by your hosts and enjoy dinner in this tranquil setting – the perfect intro to the Kiwi rural way of life.


Day 5 Rotorua
Time for some explosive action! Head to nearby Rotorua, well known for its thermal activity (and rather pungent aroma…).  There is no shortage of bubbling mud, erupting geysers and the cause of the unique scent, sulphur hot pools. Take a soak in the hot springs and explore the magnificent local Redwood forests on an amazing 700m hanging bridge walkway.  For the daredevils out there, why not tackle the world’s longest zig-zag Zorb track – with or without water!

This evening you will experience local culture at a Maori village, nestled in a 200 year old ancient Tawa forest. Learn about Maori art forms and traditions, witness the unique Poi dance and the famed, powerful Haka and indulge in a mouth-watering three-course Hangi feast, steamed underground in the traditional way.

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Days 6-7 Picton and Queen Charlotte Sound
Flying to the South Island (usually via Auckland) you will head to Picton, a small port town on the picturesque Marlborough Sounds, a truly beautiful region full of gorgeous scenery and wildlife.

The next morning join a guided sea kayak trip. The coastline here is stunning with overhanging native tree ferns and dazzling aquamarine waters, home to seals, dolphins and penguins. Then head back to land and either hike or bike 12km of one of New Zealand’s most scenic trails, the Queen Charlotte Track, with sumptuous views throughout. A water taxi will return you to Picton.


Days 8-9 Kaikoura
Make your way to Kaikoura in your hire car, perhaps stopping off at some of the wineries in Blenheim en route. Kaikoura is where the mountains meet the sea and is also known as the whale-watching capital. The following morning experience an up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale on an exciting four-hour wildlife cruise.

The afternoon can be spent exploring beaches packed with sea lions and indulging in freshly caught seafood cuisine. Highly recommended for all the family is the superb ‘Swimming with Dolphins’ experience – enjoy the company of these amusing and friendly creatures in their own natural environment in a responsible and fun way. How do you attract their attention? Simply sing through your snorkel and flap your arms!


Day 10 Arthur’s Pass
Depart for Christchurch where you will swap your rental vehicle for a campervan. Travel across the Canterbury Plains and inland following a dramatic mountain route to Arthur’s Pass, an alpine village tucked into the Southern Alps. The region is full of stunning scenery, waterfalls, birdlife and a multitude of walks for all abilities.


Days 11-12 Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
Time for some truly breath-taking scenery guaranteed to grab the attention away from any electronic devices… Travel through the untouched beauty of the Southern Alps and past waterfalls cascading over the aqueduct (particularly spectacular in the rain). Once you hit the West Coast be prepared for even more drama as you travel the highway with the ocean on one side and steep native forest on the other. This is New Zealand scenery at its best!

Franz Josef ‘village’ is tucked into the base of the western side of the Southern Alps. Highly recommended early the next morning is a visit to Lake Matheson at sunrise where you can get reflections of Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, and Mt Tasman, on the still surface.  Today you will take a helicopter ride, landing on either Franz Josef or Fox Glacier (no, not a polar bear in sight), or a heli-hike where you will don crampons and enter a realm of incredible blue ice formations, hidden crevasses and winding streams. The world of ‘Frozen’ comes to life and geography lessons take on a new meaning (min age 8yrs).


Days 13-14 Wanaka
The next two days allow you to stretch your legs and enjoy the astonishing backdrops New Zealand is famous for. Hike the stunning 5km Hooker Valley Track in Mt Cook National Park then head to the gorgeous lakeside town of Wanaka where there are over 750kms of trails to choose from to suit all abilities. Explore Mount Aspiring National Park where teens can tackle more challenging mountain pass routes and younger ones in buggies can enjoy accessible riverside trails through beechwood forests to crystal-clear pools. Summit Roy’s Peak, go horse-riding or quad biking in the beautiful Cardrona Valley or hire a kayak or SUP and paddle the tranquil lake waters to a secluded beach for a picnic lunch. It’s great to get out of the vehicle at last!


Days 15-16 Queenstown
Travel via the historic village of Arrowtown to world-famous Queenstown – New Zealand’s adventure capital. A smorgasbord of activities awaits the entire family. Marvel at the stunning views as you ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola – the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere. Once you reach Bob’s Peak, jump on your specialised luge cart, select your track, then take control as you zoom down the luge course. Then catch the chairlift back to the start zone and, well, remember that overused childhood expression; “Again! Again! Again!”.

Older ones might like a bit of adrenalin with a bungee jump or sky dive. Younger families can take a lake cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Farm situated on picturesque Lake Wakatipu. Or if you are looking for a more heart-racing water experience then everyone will enjoy a thrilling ‘Funyak’ safari. Take an exhilarating jet boat ride up the Dart River deep into the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park. From here you’ll then travel back down river at your own pace in a unique ‘Funyak’ (a stable inflatable kayak), exploring pristine waters as they flow from the Southern Alps to Lake Wakatipu. Enjoy a gourmet buffet lunch before heading via 4-wheel drive coach to locations from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’. More Frodo and Bilbo Baggins time…


Day 17 Doubtful Sound
Time to head to the ‘Jewel of the South’ – Fiordland National Park. From Lake Manapouri you will travel deep into the heart of the untouched world of Doubtful Sound. Board your overnight cruise ship and sail out to the Tasman Sea, spotting penguins and fur seals along the way. Kids will love watching pods of bottle-nose dolphins frolicking in the ship’s wake. Explore the shore by kayak or tender (or even swimming brrrrrr…) and drink in the majesty of the dense rainforests and sheer cliffs towering over you. Drop anchor in a quiet cove and spend a magical night amidst stunning fiordland scenery – a truly remote location. And no WiFi!


Day 18 Te Anau
Return to Manapouri at lunchtime. This afternoon is free to explore the many walks and options of the Te Anau region including a floatplane trip over famous Milford Sound. This evening you will board a scenic cruise across beautiful Lake Te Anau to the famous Te Anau Glow-worm Caves. Take a guided floodlit walk into the forest to view native flora and fauna then head below ground to witness a twisting network of limestone passages and the roaring whirlpools and waterfalls of the Tunnel Burn Stream. Transfer into small boats to drift silently along the river below a display of glittering glow-worms. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a sparkling display that is nothing short of extraordinary.


Day 19 Dunedin
Back in your campervan, travel through Southland to the Highland-influenced city of Dunedin. You may wish to detour through the Catlins, a spectacular coastal stretch of rugged beauty, native forests, high cliffs, waterfalls, caves, Nugget Point lighthouse and a petrified forest.


Day 20 Otago Peninsula
Cruising the length of beautiful Otago Harbour, you will enjoy unrivalled wildlife viewing of albatross, fur seals, dolphins and numerous ocean birds. Take a scenic drive along the Otago Peninsula to the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve to view the rarest penguin in the world. Children will love being able to get so close to these amusing, waddling creatures from a unique system of covered trenches and viewing hides – Happy Feet indeed.


Day 21 Akaroa
Follow the coastal road to Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula just outside of Christchurch.  Allow time to stop at the remarkable Moeraki boulders, a naturally occurring series of stone marbles dotted along the coast offering some really fun trick photo opportunities for budding photographers. Akaroa is a charming village with a very European vibe. Its peaceful waterfront is the perfect spot to enjoy one last seafood feast.


Day 22 Christchurch
Time to fit in one final quintessential New Zealand wildlife experience! Cruise into the heart of the bay for the opportunity to swim with New Zealand’s rare and spectacular Hector’s dolphins in a calm, marine environment. Return the campervan to Christchurch airport and board your flight home with salt on your skin, sea air in your lungs and memories that will last your family a lifetime.

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Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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