North and South Islands New Zealand Trip 22 days (depart Auckland)

Trip name: Aotearoa

A special trip just for you, although we are more than happy to tailor-make any itinerary to suit you.

Auckland - Paihia - Russell - Bay of Islands - Hahei beach - Coromandel Peninsula - Hobbiton - Lake Rotorua - Waitomo - Lake Taupo - National park - Wellington – Nelson - Marahau - Abel Tasman National park - Kaikoura - Christchurch –  Arthurs Pass National park - Hokitika - Franz  Josef and Fox glacier - Lake Wanaka – Mount Aspiring National park - Queenstown - Milford Sound - Fiordland National park and World Heritage site - Lake Te Anau - Lake Tekapo - Aoraki Mount Cook National park and World Heritage site - Christchurch.

Please note all trips can depart from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown.


Included at no extra cost: 

  • Lake Taupo famous Huka falls
  • Fun, famous Hot water beach
  • Coromandel Cathedral Cove walk
  • Ata Whenua scenic movie Te Anau
  • Beautiful Diamond lake walk Wanaka
  • Donegal House, Irish pub, farm Kaikoura
  • Ohau Point waterfall seal colony Kaikoura
  • Auckland spectacular Mount Eden lookout
  • Lake Matheson our most photographed lake
  • Spectacular Mount Victoria lookout Wellington
  • Te Papa “must see” National museum Wellington
  • Sightseeing Arrowtown historic gold mining village
  • Millbrook world-class famous golf resort, Arrowtown 
  • Walk, hike Aoraki/Mount Cook village to the Hooker valley, base of Aoraki/Mount Cook
  • Lake Tekapo, Mount John café. Lonely Planet rate as one of the best café’s in the world!
  • Yealands International Award winning Seaview winery, the world’s most environmental and sustainable



Day 1: Overnight Auckland

Pick up from Auckland International airport to your accommodation. 

Travelling distance & approximate time: 30kms/19 miles: 45 minutes. 


Day 2: Overnight Paihia, Bay of Islands

Depart Auckland late morning to Paihia, Bay of Islands, over 150 islands

Travelling distance & approximate time: 238kms/148 miles: 4 hours.

Auckland, approximately 1.5 million people and known as the “City of sails” is a sailor’s paradise, one in three locals have a boat. Auckland is extremely multi-cultural, with many Maori, Asian and Pacific island people from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga etc. Our Prime Minister (2015) John Key lives here.  Explore two harbors and 20 extinct volcanoes.

We depart Auckland for the beautiful Bay of Islands and the relaxed seaside village of Paihia, often called the “gateway” to the Bay.

Highlights include:

  • Visit the beautiful Auckland waterfront and Viaduct Basin
  • New Zealand"s America’s Cup yachting campaign base
  • Sky City Tower viewing platform, highest Southern Hemisphere 
  • City sights in and around New Zealand’s biggest city
  • Stunning views of Waitemata and Manukau harbors
  • 360 degree views from the top of Mount Eden, extinct volcano
  • Auckland shopping is available along Queen street
  • Visit the historic Marae, Treaty of Waitangi meeting house at Paihia
  • Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Bay of Islands and the very scenic tranquil village of Paihia

Optional extra activity:

  • A.- Boat trip to beautiful Russell, first capital of New Zealand
  • B.- Bay of Islands boat cruise to “Hole in the rock”, often see dolphins


Day 3: Overnight Hahei beach

Mid afternoon depart Paihia to Hahei beach, Coromandel Peninsula. 

Please note, option to stay 1 or 2 extra nights Hahei beach

Travelling distance & approximate time: 398kms/247 miles: 5 hours.

Hahei is stunningly beautiful. Relax on white sandy beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula. Enjoy world famous scenery at Cathedral Cove by foot or kayak. We visit Hot Water beach for some fun, dig out the sand and build your very own spa pool and relax.


Day 4: Overnight Hahei beach

Free day Hahei and Hot Water beach Coromandel Peninsula.

A great opportunity today to kayak in one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations, or, if you prefer, chill out on the beach or walk to stunning Cathedral Cove, where the New Zealand Tourism Board films promotional material to promote our beautiful country to the world. 

Whiti Farm Nature park, close encounters of the animal kind.

It's a place of interest for many visitors, young and not so young. You can run and play or casually stroll around over eight acres of mature farm park like surroundings and enjoy a short bush walk.  Meet, hand feed, cuddle, and interact with over 40 species of friendly farmyard and exotic animals, Fallow deer, Scottish highland cattle, Emus, Alpacas, Possums and lots more, see all this in a fun, safe and clean environment.  Bring a picnic lunch, your camera, and a sense of adventure to play and explore.

Highlights include:

  • Famous Hot Water beach
  • Hahei beach and Cathedral Cove

Optional extra activities:

  • A - Whiti farm park nature experience
  • B - Kayaking to beautiful Cathedral Cove                                                                                                                                              

Day 5: Overnight Lake Rotorua

Depart Hahei to Lake Rotorua via Matamata and Hobbiton village

Travelling distance & approximate time 212kms/132 miles: 3 hours.

A very special experience next is your Hobbiton movie set and farm tour near Matamata, south of Hamilton. See the village where Sir Peter Jackson’s magical work comes to life. In Rotorua enjoy sightseeing around this very scenic town. Wander at your leisure lakeside, we view the lovely historic museum building in beautiful landscaped grounds, great stop for refreshments. In Rotorua, 35% of the population are native Maori.

Highlights include:

  • Lake Rotorua sightseeing

Optional extra activities:

  • A - Hobbiton movie set and farm tour, sightseeing
  • B - Geothermal mud pools and Geysers experience
  • C - Tamaki Maori cultural evening experience, Hangi and concert


Day 6: Overnight Lake Taupo

Depart Lake Rotorua to Lake Taupo via Waitomo

Travelling distance & approximate time 86kms/54 miles: 1.5 hours.

Taupo is our largest lake at 650 square kilometres/500 square miles, the same size as Singapore. It is also the cheapest location in New Zealand to skydive because it is not a commercial airport. We view the very impressive Huka falls where every 10 seconds enough water flows beneath you to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool. Huka lodge is where Queen Elizabeth stayed in 1953. See the mighty Waikato river, our longest at 425 kilometres/350 miles. We visit world famous Waitomo glowworm caves for some awesome adventure. We drive past the impressive Wairekei Geo-thermal power stations then onto beautiful lake Taupo. Their local McDonalds restaurant has a very cool vintage DC 3 plane next door so you can sit in the pilot’s seat and enjoy your burger.   

Highlights include:

  • Wairekei Geothermal region
  • Huka falls and Waikato river

Optional extra activities:

  • A - Skydiving and or Parasailing lake Taupo
  • B - World famous Waitomo glowworm caves 


Day 7: Overnight Tongariro National Park

Depart Taupo to Tongariro National Park.

Travelling distance & approximate time 72kms/45 miles: 1 hour.

This morning we will be up at dawn for an early departure to make our way to this impressive UNESCO. World Heritage site, Tongariro National Park. Today is your opportunity to experience what is rated now as one of the worlds’ best one day walks, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Highlights include:

  • Tongariro National Park
  • Mount Ruapehu, Whakapapa, New Zealand’s biggest skifield

Optional extra activity:

  • World famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, weather dependent, Department of Conservation approval required


Day 8: Overnight Wellington

Depart Tongariro National Park to Wellington.

Travelling distance & approximate time 334kms/208 miles: 4.5 hours.

Waiouru National Army Military museum optional extra activity  

We travel via rural villages of Ohakune, popular with skiers in winter. Taihape, gumboot throwing “capital of the world” onto rural villages of Hunterville and Bulls. We travel along the coastline with views of Kapiti island, a Nature reserve with many endangered species of our native wildlife. Arrive in Wellington late afternoon, 


Day 9: Overnight Wellington

Free day Wellington, capital city

New Zealand’s capital city and often referred to as ‘Wellywood’ after the huge world-wide success of Sir Peter Jackson’s trilogy Lord of the Rings, and more recently ‘The Hobbit’. Stroll along the scenic harbourside, enjoy many cafes and along to Oriental bay with its beautiful golden sandy beach. Visit our National musuem. a real treasure, Te Papa,

Highlights include:

  • Oriental bay
  • Te Papa National museum
  • Mount Victoria sightseeing
  • Parliament buildings and free tour

Optional extra activity:

  • Lord of the Rings and Weta workshops

Day 10: Overnight Marahau

Depart Wellington to Marahau, Abel Tasman National Park via Picton and Nelson

Travelling distance & approximate time 199kms/124 miles: 3 hours (+ 3 hours Ferry crossing Cook Strait)

We depart early from the capital city to Picton sailing through the beautiful tranquil Marlborough sounds approximately a three hour journey. Lunch in Picton, then view the biggest boat marina in the South Island at Waikawa bay. Travel by road onto sunny Nelson via the very scenic Queen Charlotte sound. We drive past the turn off to New Zealand’s only Outward Bound school at Anakiwa, See many beautiful and charming, mainly holiday homes, in this very tranquil setting. Next via Havelock the green mussel “capital of the world”. Free time in Nelson then onto Marahau and the Abel Tasman National Park. Brief stops in Mapua, a lovely tranquil seaside village and peaceful Motueka.


Day 11: Overnight Marahau

Free day Abel Tasman National Park, explore the nicest golden sandy beaches in all of beautiful New Zealand. make sure you see Kaiteriteri beach, our very best. Kayak amongst fur seals. take a leisurely water-taxi ride, or, hike for as long as you like. 

Highlights include:

  • Sightseeing in New Zealand’s sunniest region
  • Quaint seaside villages of Mapua and Motueka
  • Swimming, remote isolated golden sandy beaches
  • Hiking/trekking/walking part of the famous Abel Tasman track
  • Marahau, end of the road, start of the famous Abel Tasman track
  • Visit New Zealand’s nicest beach, Kaiteriteri with true golden sand

Optional extra activities:

  • A – Hiking
  • B - Sailing
  • C - Kayaking
  • D - Water Taxi sightseeing


Day 12: Overnight Kaikoura

Depart Marahau to Kaikoura via Nelson

Travelling distance & approximate time 305kms/190 miles: 4.5 hours.

We travel via Nelson and Blenheim to our world famous Marlborough wineries and vineyards, Hunters winery where Nelson Mandela has visited and Montana New Zealand’s biggest winery. Oyster bay, Cloudy bay, Yealand’s etc. We stop at Peter Yealand’s Seaview winery in Seddon, said to be the most environmentally friendly and sustainable winery in the world. Stop at Ohau Point waterfall, special surprise here. Onto Kaikoura where “mountains meet the sea”. Maori meaning Kai-food koura-crayfish or lobster.

Highlights include:

  • City sights Nelson, the geographical centre of New Zealand
  • Stop at beautiful Pelorus river bridge, time for ice-creams
  • On a clear day see the North Island across Cook Strait

Optional extra activities:

  • Kaikoura swim with playful Dusky dolphins or New Zealand Fur seals


Day 13: Overnight Christchurch

Depart Kaikoura to Christchurch.  

Travelling distance & approximate time 183kms/114 miles: 3 hours.

Whale Watch Kaikoura is world famous and the best time to experience this is early morning before any wind comes up, far easier to see these giants of our oceans. This unique location has resident giant Sperm adolescent male whales approximately twelve in total and individually named by the boat captains, for example one is called Noodles. Travel onto beautiful Christchurch the “garden city”. Brief stop for refreshments and perhaps ice-creams at Cheviot, Cheviot is the name of one of our 32 breeds of sheep.

Highlights include:

  • World famous Whale Watch
  • Sightseeing Christchurch city

Optional extra activities:

  • Whale Watch Kaikoura


Day 14: Overnight Christchurch

Free time and city sights Christchurch. 

Highlights include:

  • Botanical gardens
  • Cathedral Square city centre
  • Historic bridge of Remembrance
  • Arts centre historic English Gothic architecture
  • Sign of the Takahae and Cashmere hills lookout
  • Mona Vale, rose gardens, view private Fendalton homes
  • Sumner beach, bring your towel, time for a swim and ice creams
  • Port Lyttelton, lunch option, Rapaki, Governors bay and Sign of the Kiwi
  • Lyttelton historic stone plaque where settlers first landed 16th December 1850
  • Spectacular views of city, South Pacific ocean, Lyttelton harbor, Southern Alps

Optional extra activities:

  • A - Punting on the Avon river
  • B - Central city sights by historic Tram
  • C - Day trip to beautiful Akaroa harbour, Banks Peninsula
  • D - Traditional Maori cultural performance including Hangi dinner
  • E - Day trip to alpine village Hanmer Springs via Waipara vineyards & wineries 
  • F - Mount Cavendish Gondola spectacular harbour, city, mountain and South Pacific ocean views


Day 15: Overnight Franz Josef glacier village

Depart Christchurch to Franz Josef glacier village.

Travelling distance & approximate time 385kms/240 miles: 5 hours.

We travel across the Canterbury Plains to the majestic Southern Alps. See beautiful lakes Pearson and Grasmere. Brief stop in Arthur’s Pass, before heading down the infamous Otira gorge, sometimes closed in winter time because of snow and ice, Enjoy spectacular scenery of the rugged coast line of the West Coast. We travel via ancient native rain forests. Spectacular views today of the mighty Tasman sea.

Highlights include:

  • Canterbury Plains
  • Arthurs Pass National park
  • Unique doughnut Springfield
  • Spiritual hub of ancient Castle hill
  • Mighty majestic Southern Alps
  • Driftwood sculputres Hokitika beach
  • Visit Ngai Tahu's Pounamu Jade factory in Hokitika
  • Beautiful lake Mahinapua and ancient Rain forest
  • Visit Ngai Tahu's Pounamu, Jade, shop in Hokitika
  • Knights Point lookout stunning sea views and seal colony
  • Journey through World Heritage Westland National Park


Optional extra activity:

  • A - Indulge in a famous local delicacy, whitebait
  • B - Native Rimu tree top walk ancient rain forest beautiful lake Mahinapua


Day 16: Overnight Franz Josef glacier village

Free day Franz Josef glacier village to enjoy this world famous region, take a "once in a lifetime" scenic glacier heli-hike flight. Explore this remote scenic West Coast village set amongst an ancient rain forest with funky cafe's and restaurants, historic churches, beautiful riverside picnic areas in full view of this majestic and inspring glacier.

Optional extra activities:

  • A - Skydive, adrenalin plus
  • B - White Heron Colony Okarito
  • C - Hot pools in an ancient rain forest
  • D - Once in a lifetime glacier helicopter hike

Day 17: Overnight Wanaka

Depart Franz Josef to Wanaka via Fox glacier

Travelling distance & approximate time 285kms/178 miles: 4 hours.

We continue through ancient native Rain forests of the World Heritage Westland National Park. We stop at beautiful tranquil lake Matheson, the most photographed lake in all of New Zealand. Enjoy one of the most beautiful bush walks anywhere in the world! Visit a wonderful café here with stunning views of snow-capped Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. See Fox glacier. We travel west to east over the mighty Southern Alps via spectacular Haast Pass to beautiful lakes Hawea and Wanaka, then onto Mount Aspiring National Park.

Highlights include:

  • Lake Matheson
  • Fox glacier and village
  • Blue pools, Makarora
  • Lakes Hawea and Wanaka
  • Rippon vineyard and winery


Day 18: Overnight Queenstown

Depart Wanaka to Queenstown via Arrowtown and Millbrook

Travelling distance & approximate time 71kms/45 miles: 1.5 hours.

We pass the Cardrona ski-field, then stop at the iconc historic Cardrona hotel for refreshments. Enjoy a spectacular drive up and over the Crown range our highest road. We visit the world famous A. J. Hackett bungy site, Kawarau bridge, the world's first commercial bungy, then beautiful Millbrook golf resort. Next  is the very scenic historic gold mining village of Arrowtown. We continue onto spectacular and exciting Queenstown.

Highlights include:

  • Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Cardrona Whiskey Distillery and tastings 
  • Visit the unexpected, famous "bra" fence
  • Visit world famous Millbrook golf resort
  • Stop at the famous historic Cardrona hotel
  • Visit world famous A.J. Hackett bungy bridge
  • Spectacular drive up and over the Crown range
  • We visit the very scenic historic gold mining village Arrowtown
  • Queenstown sights and orientation tour including lake Wakatipu

Optional extra activities:

  • A - World famous A.J. Hackett bungy jump
  • B - Skydive Wanaka awesome views lake Wanaka & Mount Aspiring National Park
  • C - Arrowtown, treat yourself to yummy iconic kiwi jaffas, minties and more delicious sweets  


Day 19: Overnight in Queenstown

Free day Queenstown, “Adventure capital of the world”.

Today enjoy this beautiful and spectacular world-class location, real New Zealand. Picnic on the beautiful shores of lake Wakatipu. Awe inspiring views of the Remarkable mountains. Enjoy watching parasailing, jet boating, paragliding or cruise on the historic vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw to scenic Walter Peak station, option farm experience.

Fun attractions and adrenalin activities (Optional extra)

  • A - Glenorchy Dart river safari
  • B - Gold panning Kawarau river
  • C - Jet boating Shotover Canyon
  • D - Golf world-famous Millbrook
  • E - Skydive beautiful Queenstown 
  • F - Lord of the Rings Nomad safaris
  • G - Tandem paragliding Coronet Peak with Skytrek
  • H - Gondola ride Bob’s Peak, fun luge rides available
  • I  - Horse trekking Glenorchy Lord of the Rings location
  • J - Heli-picnic high up above this world-class resort with stunning 360 degree views
  • K- TSS. Earnslaw Vintage Steamship cruise to Walter Peak station including sheep farm experience

And much more ...

Day 20: Overnight Lake Te Anau

Depart Queenstown to Milford Sound and Lake Te Anau.

Travelling distance & approximate time 398kms/248 miles: 6 hours. (our longest day)

World Heritage Fiordland National Park.

Milford Sound is one of the most remote, wilderness and stunning locations in the world. Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise breathtaking Milford Sound truly one of the “wonders” of the world (sometimes see dolphins, penguins, often fur seals). Travel via the awesome Cleddau valley and the infamous Homer tunnel. Stop off at the amazing Chasm, a breathtaking and spectacular gorge. Also see the Mirror lakes, so tranquil and beautiful. We travel back to the beautiful lakeside resort town of Te Anau, Maori meaning “Place of many flowing waters”.

Highlights include:

  • Walk part of the Kepler track
  • Two hour fiord cruise Milford Sound including lunch
  • Visit a local Department of Conservation site office
  • See  towering mountain peaks, spectacular waterfalls, the awesome Cleddau valley, Mirror lakes, the Chasm and much more

Optional extra activities:

  • A - Ata Whenua movie Te Anau
  • B - Glow worm cave evening experience lake Te Anau
  • C - Enjoy a spectacular two hour Milford Sound boat cruise lunch included


Day 21: Overnight Lake Tekapo

Depart Lake Te Anau to Lake Tekapo via Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Travelling distance & approximate time 418kms/260 miles: 5.5 hours.

An early start as we travel through some very typical scenic New Zealand country side. See lush rich farmland, mainly red deer, sheep and some dairy. Via Mossburn, deer capital of New Zealand and see their impressive local wind farm. We travel up over the Lindi Pass, 1,000 mtrs/3,500 feet, sometimes closed in winter because of snow and ice, dangerous. Brief stop in Omarama, Maori meaning, “place of light”. In 1995 the World Gliding championships were held here.

Travel through the very barren desert like landscape of the famous MacKenzie basin to the spectacular Aoraki Mount Cook National Park with 19 peaks over 3,000 meters/10,500 feet. Walk up to the mighty Tasman glacier (our longest at 27kms/16miles) view lake Tasman with its impressive icebergs. Then travel onto beautiful lakes Pukaki and Tekapo. Interested in star-gazing? Tekapo is the one of the prime locations on earth with incredibly clear night skies.

Highlights include:

  • Mount John observatory lookout and café
  • Spectacular photo stop lake Pukaki lookout
  • Walk to the Tasman glacier, see icebergs in the Tasman lake
  • Tarras village, visit local musuem to see famous Shrek the sheep  
  • Visit lake Tekapo and the most photographed church in New Zealand, the “Church of the Good Shepherd”

Optional extra activities:

  • A -Visit one of three salmon farms, taste and option to buy fresh & delicious
  • B - Aoraki Mount Cook National Park scenic helicopter flight with snow landing
  • C - Visit the iconic and impressive Hermitage hotel and Sir Edmund Hillary centre
  • D - Mount John observatory evening tour star gazing with Earth & Sky, one of the best locations on earth for seeing our spectacular night sky


Day 22: Overnight Christchurch

Depart Lake Tekapo to Christchurch.

Travelling distance & approximate time 226kms/140 miles: 3.5 hours.

Travel up over Burkes Pass to this quaint rural village, step back in time to the 1950's, great photo opportunities. Visit the oldest church in New Zealand. Onto villages Fairlie and Geraldine. Then onto Christchurch via the beautiful expansive farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, wheat and barley are grown here plus sheep, dairy and deer farming. Free time, also more sightseeing in Christchurch, the “Garden city”.

Tour ends: 


Something in particular you want to experience? Please do not hesitate to ask, we will do everything possible to make it happen for you.

Whether you want a full on adrenalin packed adventure or a quiet, slow paced relaxing trip, or a mix of both, we are happy to tailor-make an itinerary especially to suit you.

We offer Maori cultural trips (including overnight), world-famous Lord of the Rings trips, Hobbiton, visit many beautiful National parks, World Heritage sites. See majestic glaciers, pristine lakes and rivers, remote golden sandy beaches, active volcanoes, enjoy our unique nature and wildlife., Visit world-class award-winning wineries, Experience fun activities, amazing attractions and much more.

Whatever the occasion, Real New Zealand Tours will ensure you enjoy a world-class experience.


Trip price 

North and South Island self-drive or private driver (fully guided) trips are available with accommodation (as requested) double occupancy. Single supplement accommodation is also available for single occupancy and is additional, 

Trip prices vary depending on the number of people travelling, the style of accommodation requested, the time of year (seasons) and transport options available. 

Please contact us for more information.

Real New Zealand Tours specialises in handcrafted luxury travel with self-drive or private driver (fully guided) trips - personalised bespoke tailor-made itineraries to ensure you have a truly unique and authentic experience. 

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