24 Day EPIC NZ Tour
- Price from:
- 2999 NZD /person
- +64 3 980 4252
- +64 3 980 4292
- Payment Types:
- Credit Card
- Travellers cheque
- Wire Transfer
- 15 days
- 1 hour
- Location Start:
- Location Finish:
- Start time:
- 8 am
- End time:
- 5 pm
- We Speak:
Last updated: 01/26/2010
Our 24 DAY "EPIC NZ" TOUR covers all bases... and beyond! You will get up-close and personal with New Zealand's deepest and darkest secrets, as well as encountering all the essential tourist areas. Be prepared when we say that this tour is not for the faint-hearted!
If you want to travel Aetearoa New Zealand and you have the time, we do recommend 3-4 weeks. This will allow you to truly get to grips with what our beautiful country has to offer you. We have designed our 24 day NZ tour with this in mind, and the route has gradually evolved according to both our tour managers' and our previous groups' feedback.
Starting and ending in Auckland, the tour descends down the middle of the North Island, crosses the Cook Strait at Wellington, and then circles the South Island in a clockwise direction before returning to the North. It is not so much of a tour as a journey, and one that we would like to think opens your eyes to our culture whilst ensuring every day is a fresh adventure to challenge and inspire you.
Raglan to Auckland
Before you know it, it’s your final day. After potential surfing and exploring the town of Raglan in the morning, we reach Auckland by 5pm to say our final goodbyes.
Auckland to Coromandel
We depart from Auckland early and set off for the Coromandel peninsula. One thing that is great about travelling with Haka Tours is that your Tour Manager will break up each journey with unique stops along the way. These off-the-beaten-track places give you an inside look to New Zealand that the other tour companies miss out on! Some of the stops are written about in this itinerary, others we like to keep as surprises!
Volcanoes dominate much of the land between the Coromandel and Auckland. Remnants of this volcanic activity can be found in the form of natural hot pools and one of the highlights of the region is Hot Water Beach, where around low tide you can dig in the sand and make your own hot tub! Conditions permitting, the surf can also be pretty good in this area.
We reach the gorgeous Mercury Bay and Whitianga, and check into our accommodation before taking a quick tour about town. Included in the tour this afternoon is the opportunity to carve your very own kiwi pendant from bone – a souvenir that many of our group members choose to wear for the rest of their trip!
In the evening your guide will take you to the Lost Springs, a luxury spa resort where you are able to have dinner and relax with a drink in the natural hot pools.
Coromandel to Rotorua
Experience the gorgeous coastal scenery of the area with a walk along the cliff top to Cathedral Cove, a bay made famous by films such as The Chronicles of Narnia. Pure New Zealand! Snorkelling is also available for all at Hahei.
After lunch we make the short journey down the coastline and inland to the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua, one of the longest standing tourist destinations in New Zealand. Geothermal activity first attracted tourists to this inland region in the 19th century. Volcanic landscapes and thermal wonders dominate the landscape – geysers, hot springs, mud pools and silica terraces and colourful cliffs and slopes. Rotorua is consequently accompanied by the distinctive smell of sulphur.
One of our favourite activities located just outside the city is the Zorb – undoubtedly a kiwi invention! Roll down the hill whilst inside a giant air-cushioned ball! For an alternative experience, the Agrodome is located just over the road where you can watch sheep shearing, sheep dog shows and a variety of other farm-related goings-on.
The therapeutic qualities of geothermal springs were recognised early on by Maori settlers, and so Rotorua is also a town steeped in Maori culture and history. This evening we are all invited to a “marae” (meeting ground) for a Maori cultural performance and “hangi” feast, where the food is cooked below the ground and tastes absolutely delicious!
Rotorua to Waitomo Caves
It is an early start for white-water rafting and sledging on the Kaituna River, including the 7 metre Tutua Falls! This activity is a definite highlight for many of our tour members, but if it doesn’t sound like your thing then your tour guide will show you around Rotorua, or you can visit one of the rather inexpensive geothermal hot spring baths in the area.
After lunch in town we take a trip up the Rotorua gondola (cable car) to another stunning panoramic view and the chance to ride down on the luge – heaps of fun!
At Waitomo there is a distinctive limestone region where surface water and underground streams have dissolved the rock over tens of thousands of years, creating an amazing system of underground caves. As the small town is only two hours from Rotorua, we reach our accommodation by late afternoon, via a couple of surprise stops! In the evening your guide may take you on an exciting torch lit trek around some of the area’s caves.
Waitomo Caves to Taupo
You cannot visit Waitomo without experiencing its main attraction – the glow-worm caves, which have attracted people for over 100 years. The moment you enter this subterranean wonderland you'll discover an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos, with its amazing stalactites and stalagmites - mother nature's decorations.
There is a choice of various ways to journey underground through the caves and limestone chambers and passages – our particular favourites are black-water rafting and a wicked four hour caving trip which starts with an awesome abseil!
If the caves really don’t appeal, then there are choice of walks around the area, or go watch the Angorian rabbit shearing – a sight to be believed with your own eyes!
On the way to Taupo we make a stop at Orakei Korako, an extraordinary geyserland and thermal park included within your tour price. The park is the ideal way to see some great examples of the thermal activity in the North Island and you can walk around at your own pace. Don’t forget your camera – there are some stunning ranges of kaleidoscope colours and truly unique sights to be seen!
We reach our accommodation and check in by the late afternoon. With a whole day to explore Taupo tomorrow, feel free to relax at the hostel or experience some of the town’s best nightlife in the evening.
Lake Taupo was created a few thousand years ago in what was the largest volcanic eruption in 5,000 years. The eruption was so dramatic that records report the sun became hazy in places as far as China. What is left today is a fresh-water lake the size of Singapore and the largest in Australasia.
You can start off the morning with an epic skydive over the lake, and on a clear day you can see both the west and east coast of the North Island. Skydiving is the ultimate thrill and never fails to get great feedback from all those who do it!
Alternatively, go quad biking, play golf or bungy jump over New Zealand’s longest river, the mighty Waikato. In the afternoon we offer the option to take a cruise on The Barbary sailing boat to see Maori rock carvings alongside Lake Taupo at Mine Bay. Or you can find a secluded beach, indulge in boutique shopping, or enjoy a good feed at one of the many restaurants or cafes.
In the evening your guide will treat you to a soak in some naturally-heated thermal rock pools situated in a local park. It will keep you warm for hours!
We have all your options covered and you are spoilt for choice. As always, a large number of our suggestions and activities are free of charge.
Taupo to Wellington
On the way to Wellington we drive along the Desert Road that divides the Rangipo Desert, an area with poor vegetation because of bad soil conditions and drying winds. The climate is harsh and in winter it is not unusual to see snow. However, the biggest attractions on this road is that of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, the volcano better known for Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings. On the other side of the road is the lesser noticed Kaimanawa Range, home to a breed of wild horses that can be spotted on rare occasions.
We make a stop at Mokai Gravity Canyon, an extreme adventure park including the world’s most extreme flying fox and New Zealand’s second largest bungy. Tour members are welcome to do the bungy, flying fox or canyon swing and do not have pre-book.
After this we pass through the towns of Bulls and Levin, before briefly touching upon the west coastline. In the summertime we like to pause along the Kapiti Coast and have a BBQ on one of the beaches in front of the dying sun. Unfortunately in the winter the weather is usually too cold or the sun has already set. Either way, we reach Wellington by nightfall and head straight for our central accommodation. The evening is free for your own leisure time.
Wellington to Kaikoura
It is an early wakeup call today as we have to catch the morning Inter-islander ferry to the South Island (we will be back in Wellington on day 20 to explore properly). The ferry crossing is one of the most beautiful in the world, and passes through the Cook Strait into the Marlborough Sounds, with views of the Kaikoura Ranges in the distance.
Upon arriving into Picton we have a short break to explore the port and get something to eat before travelling on to Kaikoura. Meaning “to eat crayfish”, this coastal settlement is rich in marine activity, with its deep sea trench allowing sea creatures such as whales, dolphins and seals to come up close and personal. The water here is as deep as the mountains surrounding it are high, a concept some find hard to get their heads around!
We introduce you to the town with a walk over the peninsula from South Bay to the northern seal colony, where many fur seals choose to bask lazily along the rocks. If the conditions permit, there may be a chance to go snorkelling along this area and your guide may catch something for dinner! In the evening we cook and have a bonfire on the beach when the conditions permit us.
Kaikoura to Christchurch
This morning is for activities and you have the chance to swim with dolphins, watch for whales, learn to surf or even play mini golf. Dolphin swimming is incredibly popular, with groups often seeing hundreds of dolphins at a time!
We have lunch from a seafood cart along the esplanade, allowing you to admire the stunning view of turquoise ocean met with snow-capped mountains. This is the true New Zealand living that we love! Afterwards we set off on the short drive to Christchurch, aiming to arrive by late afternoon.
As the internationally famed 'Garden City', Christchurch's well-established expansive parks and public gardens are guaranteed to impress. Wide tree-lined avenues, beautifully maintained gardens, ambling inner-city rivers and restored heritage buildings make this a picture-perfect city with a definite English feel. At the centre of the inner city, the neo-Gothic Cathedral is a well-depicted Canterbury icon.
Out of the city lies the suburbs of Sumner and Taylor’s Mistake, Christchurch’s surfing capitals. Both have a small town feel ideal for a break from the relative hustle and bustle of Christchurch and your guide will give you a tour here tomorrow morning.
For when we arrive, the bars, cafés and nightclubs here are some of the best in New Zealand and are hugely popular with the locals. Located along Oxford Terrace against the Avon River and near to our accommodation, there is a selection of restaurants and bars for all tastes, aligned against a serene backdrop. Alternatively, the hostel as always has kitchen facilities for anyone wanting to cook.
Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
Escape the city with Extreme Jet Boating or a Hot Air Balloon ride this morning. There also may be another chance to go surfing at Sumner for anyone interested.
For those not participating in activities, your day begins with an orientation tour of Christchurch’s surrounding area, including Sumner, Lyttleton, Castle Rock and up and around the Port Hills, before heading back into the city and along the cultural precinct where the Art Gallery, Museum, Botanic Gardens and Arts Centre are to be found.
After lunch we leave New Zealand’s ‘Garden City’ and head south. The jewel of the Mackenzie Country, Lake Tekapo is an alpine village in the heart of the South Island high country. A ski resort in winter and aquatic playground in summer, it sits at the edge of its 20 kilometre glacial lake namesake, completely surrounded by the impressive Southern Alps.
The landscape is outstanding, sculpted by successive Ice Age glaciers, the remnants of which continue to discharge fine ‘rock flour’ giving the lake its intense turquoise hue. The sky is huge and of extraordinary clarity, making this one of the world’s best locations to probe the heavens from its observatories atop Mt John.
This striking landform of solid rock, overlooking the town, has stood firm against the onslaught of glacial action over thousands of years and now shelters a camping ground, ice-skating rink and a launching bay for boaties to enjoy family fun, fishing and waterskiing. It also provides us with 360° views of the uplands, lakes and mountains from its summit. Weather permitting we take a trip up to the top to admire the view.
Our accommodation is situated right along the edge of the lake.
Lake Tekapo to Queenstown
We have time to enjoy Lake Tekapo before leaving for Queenstown in the mid-morning. Consider experiencing the region on a one hour scenic flight, one of our highest reviewed activities!
Your guide will take a break at one of the many salmon farms along the drive to allow you to feed the salmon and taste some sashimi. After heading past Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook (the highest in New Zealand at 3,764 metres) and through the village of Omarama there is a chance to experience some wine tasting just outside of Queenstown. In particular the Otago region is known for its excellent Pinot Noir.
Queenstown, named in honour of Queen Victoria, is well-established as the "jewel in NZ's tourism crown", with more adventure options per square metre than any other similarly-sized town across the globe by far. It is also one of the most beautiful settings on earth, nestled beside Lake Wakatipu in the Southern Lakes district.
Your guide will begin by giving you an orientation tour around the town centre, before checking into our accommodation. We are situated a five minute walk from the centre of town – allowing great accessibility but also a quiet night’s sleep.
In the evening we take the Queenstown gondola (included in tour price) to view our spectacular surroundings. There is also an awesome luge track and restaurant. Something that shouldn’t be missed, however, is a visit to the infamous Fergburger café where you can try one of the numerous different delicious burgers. The nightlife in the town is also second to none and there is always something going on no matter what day it is.
You have a whole day to spend in Queenstown and you are spoilt for choice! Skydiving, paragliding, rafting, the Shotover Canyon Swing, Nevis and Kawarua Bridge bungys, quad biking, and boat trips are all on the cards!
For a more relaxed day, your guide may take you to Glenorcy where there are multiple half and full day walks. Another awesome and world famous experience that we fully recommend is a day trip to Milford Sound – absolutely gorgeous.
Queenstown to Wanaka
We drive over the Crown Range along the highest inland road in the country. Get your cameras out at the ready for spectacular views! Our first stop for the day is for coffee in the oldest pub in New Zealand, the Cardrona Hotel. Our second is Cardrona Adventure Park, where everyone is invited to drive monster trucks and eight-wheeled argos!
At the end of our journey we are greeted by the shores of picturesque lakes Wanaka and Hawea. Over 1,300 feet deep and an incredible blue, both lakes are fringed by breathtaking mountain ranges. Wanaka is situated on the lake of the same name, facing north and blessed with an incomparable alpine panorama.
During summer, wake-boarding, water-skiing, stunning lake cruises and swimming are always high on the agenda but in the winter Wanaka is a complete snow sports destination. Four alpine resorts (Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snow Park and Snow Farm) cater for everyone’s ski and snowboarding needs, from well-groomed beginner slopes to thrilling off piste chutes & powder bowls; adrenaline-pumping pipes to tranquil cross country skiing trails. For those of you that want to up the ante’ during the winter and spring months, we have a discounted heli-skiing option in either Wanaka or Queenstown which we guarantee will take your Haka experience to a whole new level!
Wanaka to Franz Josef
Wake up with uninterrupted views of the stunning Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. Anyone is welcome to begin their day with a mind-blowing skydive with views of both Fox Glacier and Mt Cook in the distance!
There is heaps to see and do along our drive today so we set off as early as possible, passing along the shores of Lake Hawea, and back around to Lake Wanaka for the second time. Your guide will stop to allow you to take photos as the scenery here is beautiful.
The road that we travel across is that of the Haast Pass, the lowest crossing of the Southern Alps at 536 metres. The east to west transition of climate is strongly marked by the changes of landscape – from the alpine surrounding of Wanaka to the luxuriant rainforest of the West Coast. The prevailing moisture-laden westerly winds that impinge on the sharp mountain barrier of the Southern Alps result in heavy rainfall for which the whole West Coast is well known. Hence there are many stunning waterfalls on this journey and your tour manager will take you to one of our favourites, the Roaring Billy Falls.
The town of Haast signifies our arrival at the coast and we take our first look at the ocean from the Ships Creek viewing point. Between September and December it is whitebait season and so we will try to find a place to buy some. Whitebait (small fish) are considered a rare delicacy in New Zealand and is best cooked in a fritter with eggs – great for breakfast!
The climate and subsequent rainforest is to account for why this region is so desolate and unpopulated. Between the mountains and the almost unbroken stretch of surf beaches are low hills and broad terraces among which are beautiful forest-fringed lakes, and a surprising number of places of historical interest. Knights Point is another beautiful look out, offering the chance to view the beautiful forest along this coastline.
There is another skydiving opportunity as we reach Fox Glacier in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. We reach Franz Josef by the early evening and check in to our accommodation – a cosy motel with a native bush backdrop.
- Inclusions -
- Accommodation (quad share, with option to upgrade); transport via tour vehicle, interislander ferry and Tranz Alpine train; breakfast; tour manager; bone carving experience; evening visit to marae with Maori haka performance and hangi feast; Queenstown gondola ride, entrance to Orakei Korako Thermal Park and heaps of other small inclusions!
- Exclusions -
- Lunch/dinners, flights.
- Extras -
- Single discounted activity options, Extreme Activity Packs, extra nights' accommodation, accommodation upgrade to twin/double with ensuite, day trip to Milford Sound, Bay of Islands trips, Tongariro Crossing, and so on!
Check out www.hakatours.com for more details and other tour options!
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Email the tour operator - 24 Day EPIC NZ Tour
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