Pristine New Zealand

North Island: Rotorua – Whirinaki Forest – Tongariro National Park – Waiheke Island – Local Wineries
South Island: Fiordland National Park – Queenstown – Milford Track – Routeburn Track – Kepler Track – Lake Te Anau – Mount Aspiring National Park – Glenorchy

Days: 13 Days
From: US$8499 + TAX
Activity Level: Easy
Group Size: 4 – 12 People
Days: 13 Days
From: US$8499 + TAX
Activity Level: Easy
Group Size: 4 – 12 People

Trip Overview

If time is of the essence, and you simply have to experience the contrast between the North and South of New Zealand, while still keeping the pace smooth and easy (just like our Pinot Noir), then your journey starts here.

Cruise out to Waiheke Island , New Zealand’s most sought after island lifestyle destination, to walk the coast and sample wine before taking a short trip to the cultural heart and most dynamic geothermal area of New Zealand – Rotorua. Walk in the magical fern forest of Whirinaki, before exploring the outrageously beautiful landscapes of the volcanic central plateau.

Then it’s on to the South Island where you’ll discover a new meaning of the word ‘dramatic’ in Fiordland and Milford Sound. Walk the valleys and forests surrounding Lake Wakatipu and relax with some of the world’s finest wines from Central Otago.

In true kiwi comfort and style, relish the diversity that is the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.

Areas Visited – North Island:
– Rotorua
– Whirinaki Forest
– Tongariro National Park
– Waiheke Island
– Local Wineries

Areas Visited – South Island:
– Fiordland National Park
– Queenstown
– Milford Track
– Routeburn Track
– Kepler Track
– Lake Te Anau
– Mount Aspiring National Park
– Glenorchy

Itinerary

Day 1 - Waiheke Island Wine & Walking

What better way to get 10 days of walking and indulgence underway, than a short cruise across the Hauraki Gulf from our largest cosmopolitan city of Auckland, to Waiheke Island? A spectacularly beautiful place where bohemians decided to escape the rat race in the 60s, now home to some of our most exclusive wineries and stunning coastline. We’ll wander the coastal Park Point Peninsula walk, before sampling the acclaimed local artisan red wines. After a short cruise back across the Hauraki Gulf, we’ll head south through the rolling green countryside to Rotorua for our first night.

Accommodation: VR Rotorua Lake Resort, Lake Rotoiti.(view details)

Walking: 2 hours, easy walking on a flat coastal walkway with amazing views of the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland Harbour.

Wine: Waiheke is a premier wine growing area in New Zealand. Sample and enjoy.

Dining: Selection of Puhoi cheeses & local island fare.

Day 2 - Ancient Forest Walk, Whirinaki

Wake up in Rotorua, the cultural hub of New Zealand, and sample our fine espresso coffee before we head to a fairy-tale forest you have to see to believe. Whirinaki Forest is home to ancient ferns, podocarp rainforest, and box canyons carved out by millions of years of precipitation. Apart from the gorgeous sound of native bird song, it’s quiet, serene, and tranquil – although you could be forgiven for half expecting a dinosaur to wander past in this timeless and untouched environment. We’ll spend the evening appreciating local culture and history at a Maori cultural & dining experience at Te Puia.

Accommodation: VR Rotorua Lake Resort, Lake Rotoiti.(view details)

Walking: 3 hours of easy walking alongside the Whirinaki River on a flat, wide, smooth trail through podocarp sub-tropical rainforest.

Dining: We’ll dine at Te Puia this evening, experiencing a ‘Hangi’ – a traditional Maori feast cooked in an earth oven.

Day 3 - Walk Huka Falls, Lake Taupo, Silica Rapids & Tongariro National Park

No need to hurry this morning – we’ll take our time with breakfast, before heading south to our largest inland body of water – Lake Taupo. Draining from the lake is the Waikato River, which starts its journey through a tight cataract and spectacular chute – Huka Falls. We’ll walk the trail to the Falls and have lunch on the lakefront. Afterwards, we’ll take the Silica Rapids walk, which follows a cascading stream through mountain beech forest to the creamy white terraces carved out from thousands of years of volcanic activity. Our lodging tonight, in the volcanic central plateau is the ornate and beautiful Chateau Tongariro Hotel.

Accommodation: Chateau Tongariro – one of the finest hotels in New Zealand. Old world charm meets modern convenience here, with heart stopping views of the central plateau, including Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Ngauruhoe & Mt. Tongariro. (view details)

Walking: 1.5 hours of flat walking along the Waikato River bank, all the way to the Huka Falls cataract and waterfall. 2.5 hours (return) of gentle incline through mountain beech forest to the Silica Rapids above the treeline.

Dining: For dinner, we’ll trust the chef of the Chateau’s incredible kitchen.

Day 4 - Delve into Tongariro National Park - Rest, Recreation & Recharging

Birdsong, the breeze whistling through ancient mountain forest, wide open arid volcanic landscapes, picture perfect volcanic peaks, waterfalls and clear flowing waters. It’s no wonder this is a World Heritage site. Here it’s easy to recharge with a walk in spectacular surrounds, while contemplating the simpler things in life. It’s a place that will make you slow down, rest and re-energise.

Accommodation: Chateau Tongariro.(view details)

Walking: A flat 2 hour walk around an ancient explosion crater, now a hidden lake – Lake Rotopounamu. Home to huge stands of native podocarp trees up to 1200 years old, this place is other-worldly. The afternoon is yours to explore or relax. One option is to walk 2 hours round-trip (flat) on the wide open tussock slopes of Mount Ruapehu to the thunderous Taranaki Falls.

Other activities: There’s a 9-hole golf course right out front of the Chateau Tongariro. If swinging a club is your thing, then ticking off a round at the foot of New Zealand’s highest volcano is a must-do.

Dining: Lunch always tastes better in beautiful, isolated places, so it’s only appropriate that we have lunch at quite possibly the most beautiful lakeside beach in the world – Lake Rotopounamu. In the afternoon, Chateau Tongariro High Tea will be available, an indulgent exercise best experienced from in front of the Ngauruhoe window.

Day 5 - Visit Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland

We’ll step just outside the door of the Chateau for a walk on the lower slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, which looms large over the hotel and the surrounding landscape. Later we’ll head back north, bound for Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland – New Zealand’s premier area of geothermal activity. Bubbling mud, steaming cracks in the earth and myriad sulphuric colours and smells surround us as we walk through this incredible area.

Accommodation: VR Rotorua Lake Resort, Lake Rotoiti.(view details)

Walking: 1.5 hours of walking on the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu. If this walk doesn’t take your fancy, then there’s many a delightful surprise to be found in Whakapapa village and shorter walking trails right outside the door.

Other Activities: The Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland experience is unforgettable.

Dining: Tonight we’ll dine right on the shores of Lake Rotorua.

Day 6 - Fly to Queenstown, Central Otago Winery

We’ll head north to Auckland airport this morning and board a short flight to Queenstown, where another world awaits. The rugged peaks of the Remarkables Mountain range rise sharply out of the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu on one side. Turn 180 degrees and the spectacular views carry on as far as the eye can see – simply stunning. What better way to celebrate your arrival on the South Island than by venturing down the Kawarau River Gorge to a local winery? The Central Otago region is New Zealand’s finest producer of Pinot Noir. We’ll taste, tour, and immerse ourselves in the wine making process, before relaxing in Queenstown with views of the Remarkables and the surrounding peaks.

Accommodation: Crowne Plaza, Queenstown.(view details)

Walking: An optional short walk (1 hour) of the town and lakefront to orientate yourself.

Other activities: Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand. You name it and you can do it here. Just ask us!

Wine: Central Otago is New Zealand’s most spectacular vineyard region. The inland mountainous location provides a semi-continental climate with crisp winters, hot summers, cool night time temperatures and low rainfall. The unique climate combines with glacially derived soils, to produce spectacular Pinot Noir.

Dining: New Zealand is a melting pot in many ways, especially when it comes to food. Queenstown is renowned for an incredible array of world class dining options and we’ll be sure to choose a restaurant that reflects that, as well as local New Zealand fare.

Day 7 - Free Day in Queenstown

Elegant, exciting, welcoming, compact and always beautiful, Queenstown is a place for anyone and anything. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by stunning peaks, you’ll find a quiet sanctuary indoors or outdoors here, or an activity to get the adrenaline flowing. Dine, indulge, drink, walk, fly, float, ride – just let your guide know how you’d like to spend your time here. Be sure to soak in the many moods of the lake and forget about the world outside this amazing place.

Accommodation: Crowne Plaza, Queenstown.(view details)

Dining:* A foodie’s dream – ask us for local tips and recommendations, there will be something to please everyone’s tastes.

Other activities: We’re often asked about fly fishing and Queenstown, with its abundant lakes and tranquil rivers is a premier spot. We can help you arrange a day out exploring the local rivers, no problem (optional).

Day 8 - Routeburn Track & Milford Sound

As we drive into Fiordland National Park, ‘glorious’ is just one word that will pop into your head. As the granite peaks get steeper, higher and more imposing, the rainforest flanking them grows ever thicker and the rivers ever clearer. We’ll walk to a viewing point on the Routeburn Track, before dropping down into Milford Sound and discovering what the words ‘beautiful’ and ‘dramatic’ really mean. Here, you’ll see waterfalls like nowhere else in the world. This place receives over 21 feet of rain a year, so it might well be raining during your time here – and if it is, you’ll see this place REALLY come alive!

Accommodation: Milford Sound Chalets. The mountain view chalets here bring comfort and class to an isolated and wild place. The sound of the local birdlife will make your private chalet experience one to remember.(view details)

Walking: A 3 hour round trip walk to the Key Summit viewing point on the Routeburn Track is our first walk. There’s a bit of elevation in this one, but don’t worry, it’s a slow and steady walk to a viewpoint that will knock your socks off. We’ll then walk 10 minutes to The Chasm on the way in to Milford Sound to look down into the throat of a tight canyon carved out by millions of years of rushing water.

Dining: Dinner at Milford Lodge. We’ll also have a sumptuous lunch spread prepared in the Hollyford Valley.

Day 9 - Walk the Milford Track & Afternoon Cruise Milford Sound

Wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed, sip your latte on the deck of your chalet, listen to the roar of waterfalls, spy the native Kea (the world’s only alpine parrot) and prepare for a walk through exquisite native forest on the world famous Milford Track. Later today, we’ll board a boat for a scenic cruise of the Sound for a unique perspective on this glorious wilderness area. Today is a day to immerse yourself in an area unique to New Zealand and a balm for busy minds and bodies.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel, on the shores of Lake Te Anau.(view details)

Walking: A 2 hour walk from Sandfly Point on the Milford Track. This trail follows the Arthur River, which flows into Milford Sound.

Other activities: A cruise on Milford Sound.

Dining: The deep south has flavours of its own worth sharing and Te Anau is famous for showcasing its local cuisine.

Day 10 – Glow Worm Cave Experience & Walk Kepler Track

A boat journey across Lake Te Anau brings us to a glittering grotto of glow worms. These fascinating bugs light the way in a 200 metre system of caves, underground waterfalls, sculpted walls and swirling pools. From the darkness of the glow worm caves, we’ll head back into the light of Te Anau and on to the world famous Kepler Track, where we’ll walk a section that skirts the edge of the Waiau River under the canopy of pristine mountain beech forest.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel, on the shores of Lake Te Anau.(view details)

Walking: 2.5 hours walking along gently undulating trail of the famous Kepler Track Great Walk.

Other activities: The glow worm caves & Lake Te Anau boat cruise.

Dining: More flavours from the deep south await this evening.

Day 11 - Glenorchy & Jet Boat the Dart River

Begin the day on the shores of one awe inspiring lake and mountain vista and end it on another, with the beauty of Southland and a jet boat ride up one of New Zealand’s most incredible river valleys. We’ll make the journey back to Queenstown through rolling hills that eventually turn into the jagged peaks of the Wakatipu area. After a little time to enjoy lunch, we’ll replace the hustle of Queenstown with the quiet world of the Dart River valley via jet boat – a high speed journey on the glacial waters of this incredible wilderness area. Finish the day in the beautiful and isolated Glenorchy at the furthest and most stunning end of Lake Wakatipu.

Accommodation: The Headwaters, Glenorchy.(view details)

Other Activities: Stroll the shores of Lake Wakatipu just down from Glenorchy after our jet boat ride on the Dart River.

Dining: Fine dining at the edge of the world best describes dinner in Glenorchy.

Day 12 - Walk Routeburn Track

Start the day with breakfast and incredible lakeside views before we delve back into the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. We’ll return to the world famous Routeburn Track with a walk along the banks of the Routeburn River. Deep greens of native beech forest, crystal clear waters cascading below, and narrow valleys to wide open spaces make this a varied and unforgettable day of walking. Of course if you’d like to take things slower today, there’s no better place to relax and unwind with a good book as you soak up the surroundings.

Accommodation: The Headwaters, Glenorchy.(view details)

Walking: 3-4 hours of walking along the gently undulating trail alongside the Routeburn River.

Dining: A delicious picnic on the Routeburn Track and dinner in an equally impressive setting, in Glenorchy.

Day 13 - Return to Queenstown, Depart

We’ll take our time this morning, enjoying the quiet at the head of the lake, before making our way back along the shoreline to Queenstown. We’ll wave goodbye at Queenstown airport for departing flights, unless of course you can’t get enough of Queenstown and decide to stay, in which case we’ll drop you off at your choice of accommodation.

Request a Full Itinerary

What’s Included

Once you arrive, we want you to relax, escape the day to day, and indulge in the incredible sights, sounds, tastes and hospitality that make our trips world beating so we include almost everything in our trip fares.

Your trip fare includes:

  • All your meals.
    – New Zealand is the home of fresh and decadent produce. It’s a big part of the New Zealand experience, so we’ve made sure most of your meals are included – breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are a couple of instances where dinner isn’t included, so you can head out and explore the options on your own. We’ve specified this with an asterisk * next to the dining description in the itinerary.
  • Transport on the ground.
    – When you arrive, we’ll pick you up from Auckland airport or your hotel, and we’ll take care of the rest, until we drop you off at Queenstown Airport. Our passenger vehicles are roomy and comfortable.
  • All guiding
    – A fantastic guide will take your trip from “great” to “I don’t know how life will be same”. Our incredible local guides are on-call 24/7 on your trip and will ensure that your New Zealand experience is seamless, relaxing and welcoming – you won’t want to say goodbye at the end of your trip!
  • All accommodation.
    – It’s as much about the where, as it is the what. So we’ve chosen beautiful places to sleep, rest, experience and escape to.
  • All activities in the itinerary.
    – Walking in wild, scenic and beautiful places is what we do. Although we’ll also be taking a lake cruise and soaking in hot pools. There are some optional activities that aren’t included highlighted as “optional”.
  • Wine.
    – With dinner every night (where included), we’ll feature a couple of bottles of local wine. Whilst we wouldn’t describe ourselves as connoisseurs, we love our local wines and enjoy sharing them with our guests in beautiful surrounds.

Not Included:

  • Flights to New Zealand
    – This trip starts in Auckland and finishes in Queenstown. Chat to our team for advice on best times to travel and routes to get here. 
  • Free day activities
    – There is a free day in Queenstown on day 7, allowing you time to sample some of the many activities available in this bustling hub. 

Departure Dates

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