1 Auckland To Paihia
Kia Ora! Meet up with your Contiki Crew in Auckland, New Zealand's largest and most cosmopolitan city. Surrounded by volcanoes, islands and a stunning harbour, you'll soon understand why this is the “City of Sails” and was once home to the America's Cup. This morning we'll crossing the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge & take in the full-blown vistas of the harbour, Rangitoto, and other neighbouring volcanic islands on the way. With a stop at Parry Kauri Park, there's time to walk through this famous reserve and see many of New Zealand's ancient Kauri (a native tree). Some of the Kauri are 50m high and over 1000 years old. The final stop today is the small coastal town of Paihia. It's the gateway to the Bay of Islands, one of New Zealand's photogenic natural playgrounds. Your Trip Manager will point out the colonial style Treaty House at Waitangi. This is where modern-era New Zealand was born when the British Crown and Maori signed a treaty in 1840. You'll also find out about local Maori culture as you check out the Nga Puhi tribal lands. Tonight, get to know the other Contiki travellers, Trip Manager and Driver over a typical 'Kiwi' dinner - fish 'n' chips - where you can eat outdoors under the night sky if the weather is good. After dinner, head out to a local music venue in Paihia with the group.
With a full free day here, you'll really get to enjoy the laid-back, natural beauty of the Bay of Islands. Chill out, or choose from loads of activities on offer here. There's a catamaran cruise where you can stop off at remote islands, swim and feast on a tasty BBQ lunch. If you're lucky, you'll even spot some dolphins. Or you could use your free time to head off with some friends to learn about New Zealand's settler history. Jump on a ferry out to New Zealand's former capital, the pretty township of Russell. Grab an ice-cream, relax in its cute cafés and walk past some of the town's historic cottages. We also offer you the option of a day trip to Cape Reinga, New Zealand's most northern point where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean merge. Our Local Guide can tell you all about the Maori beliefs associated with this site. Then it's off to the sand dunes of Ninety Mile beach and a drive through the Northland Region. Lastly, for the adrenaline-junkies, there's a chance to go parasailing - perfect for getting views of the awesome surrounding bay scenery.
3 Paihia To Auckland
With our beach fix complete, it's time to say goodbye to the paradise of Paihia & head back to the 'City of Sails', Auckland! On arrival, your expert Trip Manager will get you in the know with all the details you need to know (and more) on the country's largest city. In the city, it's time for new views, literally...you'll get the guaranteed best views of Auckland with an included trip up the iconic Sky Tower. As the Southern Hemisphere's tallest building, standing at 328m with views up to 80km into the distance including the Hauraki Gulf & Manukau harbour & volcanic landscape, mean you're right where you need to be. Take in the views, walk on the glass platform (if you're game) & frame up some shots as you soak up the scene. Back at ground level, you will have a chance to experience some of Auckland's great nightlife. Try K Road for some alternative vibes or Ponsonby hot spots like The Ponsonby Social Club, Chapel Bar or the Long Room for some cool beats & equally cool people, or Parnell for a taste of the true Auckland by night.
4 Auckland To Rotorua
Laters Auckland! Today we drive through the lush farmlands of Waikato, an area that produces many of New Zealand's best Rugby players for the All Blacks, on route to Hobbiton Village. That's right, it wouldn't be a complete experience without a stop at the "Shire". When you catch your first whiff of that .. 'unusual' sulphur smell, you'll know we've arrived in Rotorua. Famed for its spurting geysers, boiling mud pools & hot springs, gondola and speeding luge rides, Rotorua is a natural wonderland, and then some. Tonight the culture will sky rocket with a traditional Maori hāngi dinner & dance performance, and perhaps best of all, the chance to get involved in the world-famous HAKA. Tongues at the ready peeps.
This morning, you'll learn all about the history of the Maori people, their customs & traditions, plus have the opportunity to ask questions & learn as much as possible about this amazing spot - it's the perfect way to get in the know. With the rest of the day free to explore the way you want, you can advantage of the city's awesome thermal environment & treat yourself to a spa treatment or massage. Our tip: With so much buzz around the amazing thermal mud treatments found here, we love picking up some products to take home as a gift (or for ourselves!). There are loads of other ways to spend your time too if adrenalin is more your thing, like getting views of the city from a gondola, then speeding down a hill on a luge, or getting a splash as you raft the Kaituna River - the options for things to keep you busy in Rotorua are endless. Or, if chilling out is more of what you're into, then or hit up a café for a flat white coffee or make tracks to the shops for a spending spree.
6 Rotorua To Lake Taupo
On the way to Taupo, a visit to the raging Huka Falls will impress. Tonnes of water surge over these falls at a rate of 220,000 litres (58 000 gallons) per second. It's only a short drive today to the popular low-key resort town of Taupo. Here, there's some of the best trout fishing in the country and some of the most amazing long-distance views of Tongariro National Park's three volcanic peaks. Cap off your day with our optional dinner cruise out on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo - where you can also have a go at fishing! Later, back on land, play some pool at one of Taupo's lakeside bars.
7 Lake Taupo To Mount Ruapehu
Mt. Ruapehu We drive through the central plateau to the southern end of the Tongariro National Park, Ohakune is known as the aprés ski capital of the North Island. Today you have the option to go mountain biking along one of NZ's most picturesque track, "the Old Coach Rd". Tonight we stay in a heritage listed building built in 1913 which is now a vibrant modern ski lodge, located at the base of a volcano, Mt Ruapehu with views unlike any other you've seen.
8 Mount Ruapehu To Wellington
"Mt. Ruapehu: These landscapes are unique and the sights will leave you breathless. On route to the windy capital Wellington where we'll show you the sights of this city. Wellington: As much as we've been loving the nature time, the change of scenery to New Zealand's well-cultured capital will prove an utter delights. After an orientation through the narrow streets of Wellington a night on the town will be on the cards, plus an optional dinner to start the night off as we mean to go on".
You've got a full day to discover Wellington - its compact centre is perfect for exploring on foot. Walk alongside the harbour or visit the innovative Te Papa Museum for a look into New Zealand history and culture. You could take a walk around New Zealand's political heart by visiting some of its government buildings. Take in the iconic 'Beehive' building & its distinctive shape, which was specially designed to cope in case of an earthquake. You could hang out on alternative Cuba Street, watch street performers or rummage through some of the surrounding retro stores. If you're hungry, try out some of the great ethnic foods you can find in this multi-cultural city, like sushi, Thai, kebabs and Italian gelatos. For something different, learn about the age-old art of tattooing at the Tattoo Museum. From traditional Maori moko (face tattoos) through to colourful contemporary designs. There's even a tattoo parlour on site if you're game!
10 Wellington To Christchurch
Jump on the Inter-Island ferry and leave the North Island behind. The South Island means a complete change of scenery with loads of wild nature. Cruise through the gorgeous Marlborough Sounds, where thick forested peaks rise straight up from the sea. It's a camera-friendly spot with picturesque inlets, remote coves and tiny beaches that dot the islands. You'll also see some old wooden baches (New Zealand holiday houses) and boat jetties. After the cruise, it's another jaw-dropping drive to Kaikoura, via Marlborough's wine country. We travel on to the wild, rugged east coast and stop at a seal colony, before passing through Kaikoura. This seaside settlement is known for whales, dolphins and delicious, fresh crayfish sold from roadside vans. The coach cuts across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
11 Christchurch To Franz Josef Glacier
After a leisurely start to the day we begin our journey west through stunning Arthur's Pass, following an old trade route. The dense native forest, alpine atmosphere and crystal clear rivers give the area its pioneer feel. We'll stop in at the former gold rush town of Hokitika on the West Coast. It's great for a look into a traditional Maori art. Watch authentic carvers work with New Zealand greenstone (jade) and learn about the importance of this stone. You could even pick up a piece to take home. Sticking to the untamed coastline, we arrive in the Westland National Park. Franz Josef is our stop for the night, a town where lush bush land and glaciers almost reach the sea.
12 Franz Josef Glacier
This morning, get physical and pull on your crampons, grab an ice-pick and head out onto the ice of either the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier. On this optional activity, you'll learn about how these glaciers came about with our professional Local Guides. Otherwise, you can get a bird's eye view over these icy formations and sweeping vistas in an optional helicopter ride.
13 Franz Josef Glacier To Queenstown
Cruise past remote beaches and the coastal dunes of the west coast before hitting Haast Pass. Ancient rainforests, small glaciers and waterfalls give this area its unique atmosphere. There's even more scenery changes when we cross the Southern Alps and enter the region of Otago, with its golden grasslands, cliffs and hills. Next up: Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. This is one high-energy destination that has something for everyone. From jet boat rides to fantastic local food, gorgeous countryside and the world's most southern wineries, the list really is endless.
Today is yours to get acquainted with Queenstown and spend some time mulling over the activities up for grabs in the next two days. First stop is the legendary Kawarau Bungy Bridge, get your morning adrenalin hit with a heart pounding jump at the world home of the bungy. Later, take a stroll around beautiful Queenstown, nestled in the Southern Alps this stunning town has plenty to offer other than adventure activities.
With two more days here, you've got time to try out adrenaline-pumping activities, to take it easy with a glass of local wine or beer and of course, to party - something Queenstown is known for. There's also the option to take advantage of our explore more highlight optional - your chance to experience the stunning Milford Sound. Milford Sound is one of New Zealand's gems. This slice of paradise has been voted one of the world's top destinations & is known around the world for its gorgeous waters & stunning scenery. Set in Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site so get ready for the epic scenery - high mountains rise straight out of the sea and waterfalls pour down sheer cliffs into the deep, dark waters of the fiord. You'll get the ultimate angle on this natural wonder from the water when we cruise - you'll learn about this jaw-droppingly beautiful region from the on-board nature specialist. You'll get a really good look around the area and up close to its more hidden spots. You can chill out and enjoy the scenery on deck & hopefully you'll get a chance to spot seals, dolphins, whales and penguins. Choose to take a coach over, then jump on a boat & cruise this stunning spot then head back to Queenstown on the coach. Or, if you're feeling up for it, there's the option to fly back to Queenstown too. Walk around the quaint town, hit the shops or head down to the lake for beautiful views of the surrounding mountain ranges, fittingly called The Remarkables. Board the old steam boat, the TSS Earnslaw, for a lake cruise and see it all from the water. For adrenaline junkies, there's bungy jumpy, sky diving, jet boating, canyon swinging and quad biking. In fact there are so many adventure activities in Queenstown that you couldn't do them all in the 2 days if you tried. For those who like to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground, take an easy-going hike or push yourself with a tougher trail. Pumping at night, Queenstown is the place to hit some of New Zealand's best bars and clubs. With cool cocktail bars, old-style pubs and plenty of clubs, there is so much to choose from.
17 Queenstown To Te Anau Via Milford Sound
Alright, it's time to return our adrenalin levels to a normal level and make tracks to the spectacular natural wonder of Milford Sound. Welcome to New Zealand's most stunning attraction, with a magical combination of mountain peaks, forest-clad cliffs and deep dark waters. We take an included cruise of the fiord and experience the beauty of this pristine destination by boat, the best way to see Milford Sound in all its glory. Later, we head to our home for the night in stunning lakeside town of Te Anau.
18 Te Anau To Lake Ohau Via Arrowtown
Departing Te Anau we will make a stop at a true Kiwi farm experience, to discover how country life really looks like in this corner of the world. Anyone up for sheep shearing or milking a cow?! We make a quick stop for lunch in this historic gold mining town before heading onto Lake Ohau. We will stop by a farm to experience true country NZ life. Envisage - Horse back farmers, mustering sheep using dogs. Following that we travel to Arrowtown for a lunch stop then onto Lake Ohau.
19 Lake Ohau To Christchurch
Kick start the day with a spectacular optional glacier flight over Mt Cook. Later, we'll stop off to see the intense milky blue waters of glacially-fed Lake Tekapo, before travelling back through the MacKenzie country to Christchurch. Make your last night on tour one to remember and enjoy a fun night out with your friends!