We pass through Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, where we'll visit a working Kiwifruit orchard before continuing on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Along the way, at Okawa Bay, we board "Tiua", a 53ft catamaran for a relaxing sail on serene Lake Rotoiti to secluded coves and natural hot pools reached only by boat - a memorable end to an awesome day.
Day 2: Rotorua tours and activities
We’ve got two nights in Rotorua, so take it easy this morning! Perhaps stroll down to the lakeside, just minutes from your hotel, or enjoy one of Rotorua's many guided tours and attractions. Don’t miss nearby Ohinemutu marae, one of only two living Maori villages left in New Zealand. We'll head to the famous Lake Tarawera for a hosted lunch with our friends David and Karen, you’ll love them and their stories from their Maori and European histories.
Day 3: Rotorua - Tongario National Park
No Kiwi holiday would be complete without a visit to the surreal, geothermal reserve of Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable. We continue on our adventure to "Great Lake" Taupo and stroll to view the famous Huka Falls.
We’ll stop around the lake on our way to Tongariro National Park. You can either relax in your hotel, the Chateau Tongariro, and enjoy the close up views of the mountains - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu or walk to the Taranaki Falls. This is a classic North Island walking trail with gentle terrain, great views and unique native plants.
Day 4: Tongariro National Park - Wellington
After a relaxed breakfast at the historic Chateau Tongariro we drive up the mountain road to the Top of the Bruce to enjoy panoramic views over the volcanic plateau. We drive around the slopes of Mt Ruapehu before we make our way down the centre of the island to our capital Wellington.
We stay two nights in Wellington as we reckon you can’t miss "the coolest little capital in the world". We’ll check out the city's sights and head up Mt Victoria for the stunning views over the harbour before getting settled for the night. We’re right in the heart of Wellington's vibrant hub of museums, theatres, galleries, boutiques and cafes.
Day 5: At Wellington
The day is yours to enjoy, you are at the heart of the action at The Bolton Hotel a short walk to the waterfront and Te Papa National Museum. Wellington is the food lovers' capital of New Zealand with a huge selection of cafes and boutique breweries to choose from. Ask your MoaTrek Kiwi guide his favourites.
Wellington is also the spiritual home of "The Lord of Rings" where you can visit Weta Workshop and see how all the props are made.
Day 6: Wellington - Picton - Blenheim - Nelson
We cruise on the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait and into beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton to plant our feet firmly on “Te Waka a Maui”, the South Island. Our first port of call is Forrest Wines for tasting and lunch with a local right in the heart of the world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.
From wine country we head through the heart of Marlborough toward Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way we cross the Pelorus River bridge, scene of the Barrel Run from the Hobbit movies. In Nelson relax and unpack, this is home for two nights.
Day 7: Nelson - Abel Tasman National Park
Today is a highlight of the tour for many people – everyone has seen stunning photos of Abel Tasman National Park and now you’re here. Take your pick from a full scenic cruise or a cruise/walk combo to walk a section of the coastal track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
The coast is dotted with islands just offshore, sheltered bays, estuaries and golden sand beaches. Lie on the beach, or go for a swim, keeping your eye out for dolphins who often make an appearance. After your magical day out we'll return to Nelson for another night.
Day 8: Nelson - Kaikoura
Heading towards Kaikoura the road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges and the views are truly spectacular. Your afternoon is free to explore Kaikoura’s bountiful marine wildlife - a result of the ocean canyon close offshore. One of the many highlights is viewing the seal colony with a backdrop of the Kaikoura mountains and coastline.
There are many optional excursions including whale watching cruises and flights. For those keen on an easy walk the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway offers a chance to explore the headland and enjoy the Pacific Ocean views with some interesting Maori history along the way.
Day 9: Kaikoura - Aoraki / Mt Cook
Leaving the coast we drive over the Hunderlee Hills to the Canterbury Plains. We stop for a special lunch at Akaunui, a 100-year-old homestead surrounded by large gardens and dine on wonderful fresh produce prepared by your warm hosts Di and Ian Mackenzie. Get a great insight into life on a working sheep and dairy farm.
After lunch we continue through Burke's Pass to the spectacular Mackenzie Country for sweeping vistas of tussock lands and the Southern Alps. We’ll make plenty of stops en route, we can’t miss the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo and the unreal turquoise blue of glacier fed Lake Pukaki.
Day 10: Aoraki Mt Cook - Queenstown
Always a memorable time on tour, your day in Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and ‘home ground’ of the most famous Kiwi of all, Sir Edmund Hillary. Take your pick from exploring the dramatic landscape on one of the many easy walking tracks around the village. Kea Point is our favourite, a gentle undulating track with incredible close up views of the valley and the mountain itself. Alternatively take a boat cruise on a glacier lake, scenic flight or heli-hike on the Tasman glacier!
After lunch we head over the Lindis Pass and through the rugged Kawarau Gorge onto Queenstown - the adventure capital of New Zealand and our home for two nights.
Day 11: Queenstown - Milford Sound
Today is all about the one and only Milford Sound. From Queenstown we follow the shores of the great southern lakes Wakatipu and Te Anau before heading into the heart of Fiordland National Park on the spectacular Milford Road.
On arrival at Milford cruise by launch out onto the sound dominated by iconic Mitre Peak and home to birdlife, seal colonies and pods of dolphins. A magical flight over the Southern Alps returns us to Queenstown at the end of a fantastic day of touring by land, sea and air.
Day 12: Queenstown activities and day tours
Today is yours to make the most of the infinite choice of day tours and activities Queenstown has to offer, your Kiwi Guide will be right there to help. What do we love in Queenstown? A jet boat ride on the remote and beautiful Dart River in "The Lord of the Rings" scenery, walking along the lakeshore and the Botanic Gardens or take a thrilling raft ride on the Kawarau River. Other favourites are wine tasting in the celebrated boutique vineyards of Central Otago, golf on one of New Zealand’s best courses, a day walk on the famous Routeburn Track or cruising Lake Wakatipu on the 1912 Steamship, the TSS "Earnslaw".
After your activity fly out in the evening or do what many of our travellers do and extend your stay a day or two in Queenstown the MoaTrek team will be happy to make additional accommodation recommendations in Queenstown.