New Zealand North Island Explorer Southbound

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4.6 . Excellent
95%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
12 days
From: $ 3,325 $ 277 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Be welcomed to Whakarewarewa by the Maori people who have lived there for over 700 years and wonder at the area’s steaming Te Puia geysers, bubbling mud pits and lakes.
  • Feel the rush of Huka Falls, where a 100-metre-wide river is forced through a narrow volcanic chamber, causing a torrent of incredible speed.
  • Explore the Abel Tasman National Park independently or on an optional tour, hiking through thick native forest and emerging on deserted sandy beaches.
  • Choose to join the group for a full-day trek over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, hiking past aqua coloured lakes, craters and volcanos.
  • Cruise in between green islands Marlborough Sounds, where the hilly islands were once towering mountains and the channels were once dry valleys.

Short Description

Discover New Zealand’s North Island – with a taste of the South – on this 12-day adventure from Auckland to Christchurch. Ease into it with a few days soaking up the beauty of the Bay of Islands, then learn ancient Maori traditions and witness geothermal marvels in Rotorua. Choose whether to tackle the epic Tongariro Alpine Crossing and visit the cultural capital of Wellington. Explore sunny Nelson and the beachfront bush of Abel Tasman National Park and cap it off with time in Kaikoura, where the shores are filled with seals. Discover incredible landscapes and Maori culture of Te Ika-a-Maui (the Maori term for the North Island) with plenty of free time to explore at your own pace.

Style Small group tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City Auckland
End City Christchurch

Itinerary

Day 1 Auckland

Kia ora! Welcome to Auckland, surrounded by volcanoes and filled with friendly locals and Maoritanga (the Maori way of life). Your adventure kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm at your accommodation. If you have extra time before your trip begins you can take a tour to one of the many outer islands in the Hauraki Gulf, hike to one of the 48 volcanic cones, or keep it simple with a stroll and a coffee (the lively Ponsonby area is a good start).

Day 2 Bay of Islands

Depart Auckland this morning, head north to the beautiful Bay of Islands. There's some beautiful scenery along the way, so sit back and enjoy the rolling green hills as your leader explains a bit about this part of New Zealand and what's coming on the journey ahead. Take this time to organise what you’d like to do in the Bay of islands, as options need to be finalised this morning in order to secure places. Take a look at the optional activities listed tomorrow for an idea of what’s on offer. There will be stops in small towns so you can stretch your legs and grab a snack en route. Arrive in Paihia and settle into your accommodation and enjoy the sea breeze, perhaps with one of New Zealand's many renowned white wines or small-batch craft beers in hand. As the sun goes down head out on the water for an evening dinner cruise.

Day 3 Bay of Islands

Today you have a free day to partake in any of the optional activities you organised yesterday, or alternatively to relax and enjoy the gorgeous bay. Fancy a cruise to the Hole in the Rock, a full-day sailing tour or the chance to get airborne in a parasail? All these activities and more are available to book while you’re here.

Day 4 Rotorua

Embrace an early start and head back down south to Rotorua, passing back through Auckland. Rotorua is full of geysers and boiling mud pools caused by extensive geothermal activity. It’s also considered the Maori heartland and a place where many ancient traditions live on. This evening choose whether to participate in an optional Maori cultural experience, which includes a traditional hangi dinner (where food is cooked either underground or in the naturally boiling spring waters. You can also talk to your leader about booking an optional night walk through the nearby redwood forest, where you can stroll the canopy in the light of lanterns hung in the 100-year-old trees.

Day 5 Rotorua

After breakfast,  another free day in gorgeous surrounds means you can be as active or restful as you’d like. Maybe head to Dansey Road Scenic Reserve for a tour with kiwi bird experts and a zip-lining adventure through 1000-year-old canopy. You could also do a tour that combine trips to the glow-worm caves of Waitomo and the film set of Hobbiton (where the Shire sections of Lord of the Rings were filmed). If you’re flush with cash, consider the once-in-a-lifetime chance to reach White Island – an active marine volcano – by helicopter. If you’re after a relaxing day, perhaps hang back and soak in the thermal pools or mud baths.

Day 6 Taupo – Mt Ruapehu

Eat breakfast then make tracks for the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute before heading out of town to the spectacular Huka Falls, where a 100-metre-wide river is forced to travel through a narrow volcanic channel, resulting in a powerful rush of water. Spend a little time on the viewing bridge snapping pictures, then continue to Taupo. Once in Taupo you’ll have enough time (around 3 hours) to squeeze in an optional bungy jump or a ride in a speedboat (both subject to availability and extra cost). If you’d prefer you can always relax on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake. Continue to Mt Ruapehu to get ready for our next day's activities. You're situated in the heart of the wilderness up here, in cosy lodgings with a spa and an excellent restaurant on site. Those tackling the Tongariro Alpine Crossing tomorrow will want to get a good rest.

Day 7 Mt Ruapehu

Today you can choose whether to tackle the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This full-day (approximately 7-hour) hike is considered one of the best in New Zealand and offers rocky trails, magnificent aquamarine lakes and volcanic steam vents. This approximately 20-kilometre trail through remarkable landscapes is no walk in the park – trekkers need to have a good level of fitness and the track is tough in parts. For those who don’t want to take on this all-day trek, there are plenty of shorter walks and tracks that begin near the accommodation. It’s also possible to book an optional scenic flight to get a bird’s eye view of the area.

Day 8 Wellington

Leave Tongariro National Park behind and head to the New Zealand capital of Wellington. With more eateries per capita than New York City, Wellington is a fantastic place for foodies. It's also home to the world-class Te Papa Tongarewa (Container of Treasures) museum, which you’ll visit today. In your free time, perhaps ride the free cable car to the Botanic Gardens for some spectacular views of the city and the harbour. Maybe take a walk down Cuba Street this evening and grab a drink in one of the many bars.

Day 9 Nelson

Eat breakfast in Wellington, then cross over to the South Island today via the Marlborough Sounds on a scenic ferry ride. Once upon a time, rising sea levels filled valleys with water, resulting in the stunning waterways and steep islands (formerly mountaintops) you see today. Continue to picturesque Nelson, which enjoys the sunniest weather in all of New Zealand. Enjoy free time to explore at your own pace on arrival.

Day 10 Nelson

Take a day to explore Nelson with a huge amount of optional activities to choose from. Take a kayak or sailing tour through the waters of Abel Tasman National Park, or maybe a tour of the coves and bush trails. Of course, if you’d prefer to explore on your own, you can buy a ticket on the shuttle and head to the Abel Tasman to explore independently. Whatever you choose, have plenty of space left on your memory card, because the photo opportunities are many. Tonight, you’ll have an included dinner at your accommodation to look forward to.

Day 11 Kaikoura

Drive the beautiful coastline to Kaikoura, known for its rich marine life. On arrival you’re free to explore this mountainous coastal town. Two of the most popular activities on offer here are sperm whale watching and swimming with wild dolphins. Chat to your leader about how to book these optional activities. If you prefer to stay dry there are plenty of hikes in the area, either along the coast or into the bush. In the evening, consider trying the excellent local seafood, such as crayfish. After all, you're in the town named after it ('kai' means food and 'koura' means crayfish).

Day 12 Christchurch

Enjoy a relaxed morning in Kaikoura. After midday, drive to Christchurch where your trip ends on arrival.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 3,325
Price Per Day: $ 277 per day
Checking price

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3,955 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

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4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 2,971
Great 659
Average 127
Disappointing 63
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Value
4.6
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4.6
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4.6
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New Zealand North Island Explorer Southbound

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Expensive country and most activities don't come cheaply!

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This trip takes all the hard work out of visiting the two islands that make up New Zealand. The major tourist areas are covered, but if you're looking for time in the big cities, then you need to make extra time at either end of the trip. There's a lot of driving involved, but that would be the case whichever way you decide to travel around New Zealand. The van is comfortable and the roads are good. There are some activities included, but more are optional which is really the only way it could be. There's so much to do, but remember that NZ is quite an expensive country and most activities don't come cheaply!
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Very good trip

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Very good trip and I had an excellent time with great travel companions. Major highlights were the heli-hike on Franz Josef glacier, jet boating on Dart River, swimming with dolphins at Kaikoura and the Tongariro Crossing hike. One major improvement item is that the subhuman pod accommodation at Breakfree on Cashel needs to be changed ASAP.
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Planes, trains, buses... and a felucca !

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
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Planes, trains, buses... and a felucca !

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This was an unforgettable holiday and for sure I will return to Egypt, only for longer the next time.
Top Tips
• Don’t forget insect repellant for your overnight Felucca trip
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Where do I start .......

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Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
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Dubrovnik to Venice - Great Tour

5.0
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Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This was me and husband's third Intrepid tour (first was India, second was Iceland) We so enjoy the immediate friends made within small groups like this and also the knowledgeable guides in countries we are not familiar with. Our tour guide - Ivance was so much fun. She went above and beyond as a tour guide. Responded to late night issues, assisting with finding activities on free days, and creating a celebration for one of the people on our trip for their birthday. All restaurant recommendations were top notch.
There was a slight mix up with our transport when arriving in Dubrovnik. Our flight was delayed, cancelled, and while I was able to communicate the change in itinerary we somehow still missed our ride. However, after emailing Intrepid and explaining we tried to call the emergency number, they reimbursed us for our payment for the transfer as well as the taxi we ended up having to take. This was our first time to the Balkans and were were so happy that we had the most amazing group and tour guide. This was our first big trip since 2018 (due to covid) and we could not have chosen a better one.
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Ferry,Van

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 15

Accommodations

Lodge (11 nts)

Guides

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. In New Zealand your group leader is also your driver, taking you from start to finish in a coaster vehicle. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Our crew are chosen for their driving skills, their knowledge of the country, their personality, and of course their leadership abilities. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 12

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • Breakfree Christchurch
  • 165 Cashel St
  • Christchurch
  • Christchurch
  • 8011
  • NEW ZEALAND
  • Phone: +64 800 448 891

Trip ID#:

intrepid-PTONU

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