Grand Island Explorer

Grand Island Explorer

20 Days

The ultimate adventure tour of New Zealand. Explore New Zealand's northern heartland - from the secluded beaches of the coast to the volcanic craters and thermal features of the central plateau then discover the splendid South Island with its glaciers, mountains, fjords and wild west coast.

Tour Information

This tour may operate in either direction.

Day 1: Auckland - Bay of Islands
We leave Auckland and drive north through fantastic scenery towards New Zealand 's winterless north. We cross lush green farmland and make a stop at the Kauri forests to see the giant ancient trees. Upon arrival we make our way to the port to board our overnight cruise boat. On board we find a games room, bar and full fun facilities. The boat is equipped with kayaks, snorkelling gear and other equipment for all the planned stops at the islands on this 24 hour tour. Sit back and enjoy one of your trip highlights. This boat tour will be substituted May - Oct with another boat tour of equivalent value, quality and experience which may or may not be overnight depending on conditions.
(Cruise Accommodation)

Day 2: Bay of Islands
Today we have a host of available activities including kayaking, a boat trip to the islands or just relaxing on the boat.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 3: Bay of Islands - Waitomo
We have an early start and make our way south to Waitomo via Auckland . We cross the harbour bridge and get a great view of the city of sails. Here we stop for lunch and then carry on through to Waitomo which is famous for its limestone caves, glow worms and black water rafting.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 4: Waitomo - Rotorua
Today we have some great choices. You can do the boat trip and walk through the glow worm caves or go black water rafting. This is an unforgettable trip involving hiking and descending an underground river floating on an inner tube. The sights are fantastic and this will be one of your highlights. After lunch we go to Rotorua to visit Whakarewarewa, site of the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and thermal area. See Geysers and boiling mud pools in an amazing display of mother earth's power. We check in to our lodging and you have the option of a Maori Hangi dinner and concert for afterwards.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 5: Rotorua - Taupo - Mt Ruapehu
We head to Taupo, just 1 hour away and is the north island home of extreme sports. On the way we visit the spectacular Huka falls. Here you can bungy, jet boat as well as do many other activities or just relax by the world's biggest Crater Lake . We then drive on to Mt Ruapehu to be ready for our next days activities.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 6: Mt Ruapehu
There are several options for the day. Many will want to hike the famous Tongariro Crossing track. A good day hike which is known as the best of its kind in New Zealand . This hike has spectacular views of the volcanic plateau and the lakes. Those who do not go on the hike can go mountain biking or explore the beautiful local area. During the winter the upper hike is not available due to snow and a lower forest hike will be offered weather permitting. Skiing and snow boarding plus other local sights are available during winter months.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 7: Mt Ruapehu - Wellington
We leave National Park smartly and head through the central north island to the capital city Wellington . Here you can see the fantastic new museum on New Zealand called Te Papa. Later we will have dinner out on the town overlooking the bay.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 8: Wellington - Nelson via ferry
We cross to the south island on the inter island ferry and enjoy the fantastic scenery of the Marlborough Sound. From Picton on the other side we drive to Nelson, heart of the wine producing area. Nelson is a very pleasant sunny place and home of some of the most beautiful sea kayaking in the world. We spend the afternoon exploring the town.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 9: Nelson
Today there is a huge variety of activities to choose from including kayaking, boating, sailing, mountain biking or just relaxing in town or on the beach. Nelson is very picturesque and is a delight to visit.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 10: Nelson - Christchurch
We drive to Christchurch down the rugged Kaikoura coastline with its great views and marine life. Time to go out on the town and enjoy the nightlife in New Zealand 's third biggest city.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 11: Christchurch - Hokitika
Today we drive from the east to the west coast crossing over great plains then over the dividing mountain range before entering the lush sub tropical rain forests of the stunning west coast. We stop for short walks at beautiful hidden locations along the way
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 12: Greymouth - Franz Joseph Glacier
The drive down the coast today is stunning. We stop for a break at deserted beaches and exquisite hidden lakes then pull in to Franz Joseph Glacier for a view of the glacier before night falls.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 13: Franz Joseph Glacier
Today we have many options. There are spectacular flights available in both helicopters and ski planes. The flights offer unequalled views of the mountains, valleys and glaciers and there is the option of a snow landing depending on the trip you pick. There are also guided walks onto the glacier and excellent light hikes available in the valley.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 14: Franz Joseph Glacier - Queenstown
We drive the remainder of the west coast and climb up through the Haast pass into the Southern Alps . This is a stunning drive with fantastic views of the mountains, rivers and lakes. Lots of great stops to take photos today. Tonight we arrive in Queenstown for three full days of fun and activities.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 15 - 17: Queenstown
Over these three days you have the chance to see and experience the extreme activity capital of the world. There is simply no end to the fantastic line up of activities including, bungy, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, helicopter rides, jet boats and paragliding. There is also a huge variety of shops, restaurants and fun things to see in town. On day one in Queenstown we will do a tour of the area in the bus to orientate you on Queenstown and to show you the outer areas like Arrowtown which is a quaint old gold mining town with lots of history. After that you have two days free to enjoy the area and do your own thing. An unforgettable place.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 18: Queenstown - Milford Sound
We drive through to Milford Sound to go aboard the Milford Wanderer floating hotel fjord cruiser for your overnight cruise through the fjords. This place is stunning with tall mountain peaks, waterfalls and crystal clear water. You get to paddle a kayak over the tranquil waters and to see fantastic marine life. During the winter months of May to October this is a day trip only without kayaking. We also offer the awe-inspiring Dart River Jet Safari as an alternative to Milford for those who would prefer this in winter.
(Cruise Accommodation)

Day 19: Milford Sound - Omarama / Mount Cook Nat'l Park
After returning to dry land we drive up to Omarama near the foot of New Zealand's highest peak, Mt Cook. The drive is over expansive high country farmland with views of the Alps , rivers and lakes. Here we have a last night out with all the gang before returning to Christchurch . This night will be spent in Mt Cook National Park whenever possible.
(Backpacker / Cabin Accommodation)

Day 20: Omarama/Mt Cook- Christchurch
We swing into Mt Cook and hope to catch a view of this spectacular mountain. There are wonderful lake views and photo opportunities galore. From there we continue on to Christchurch and say our goodbyes.

Booking Information What's Included?
  • Services of a professional tour leader
  • All transportation by mini-bus
  • 19 nights fully accommodated
  • National Parks en-route
  • Waitomo Caves entrance
  • Overnight boat trip in Bay of Islands on cruise boat
  • Entrance to the Wakarewarewa Maori arts
    and culture centre
  • Visit to Te Papa museum in Wellington
  • Inter island ferry crossing
  • Overnight Milford Sound cruise
    (this will be a day cruise on May - Oct departures with an option of the Dart River Jet Safari instead)
  • Kayaks on the Milford Wanderer (summer only)