Epic New Zealand
Destinations Destinations
Queenstown, Lake Tekapo, Rotorua, Coromandel, Kaikoura, Wanaka, Auckland, Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Taupo, Christchurch, Wellington
Activity Activity
Nature & Wildlife, Culture, Active
Tour Type Tour Type
Group tour
Physical Level Physical Level
Easy
Season Season
January - December

This epic New Zealand adventure begins with a drive north through ancient forests from Auckland to the sandy beaches of Paihia, gateway to the Bay of Islands. After exploring some of the 140 subtropical islands, travel to the Coromandel for kayaking, coves and more beaches. Next, explore Maori culture in Rotorua while bathing in hot springs, before travelling to volcanic Lake Taupo for skydiving and hiking. Travel through the mountains to arty Wellington for craft beer and street food, before crossing the Cook Strait to the south island for dolphin and whale-watching at Kaikoura. Head into the hills around Lake Tekapo for stargazing, before getting your adrenaline pumping in adventure capital Queenstown, where you can bungy jump, canyon swing and jet ski. If you're after more adventure, head to the slightly quieter Wanaka for hiking and biking, before heli-hiking on the ice at awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier. Next, head to Punakaiki to see the 30 million-year-old Pancake Rocks, before venturing into the Abel Tasman National Park for rainforests and yet more awesome mountains. End your trip in Christchurch.

Tour itinerary

What you'll see and do

Auckland to Paihia

After our 8am welcome breakfast, you’ll kick off our tour with a leisurely scenic drive to the subtropical “Winterless North”.

The Northland region is home to ancient and impressive kauri forests. You’ll stroll through the largest of these — the Waipoua Forest — to meet Tane Mahuta, the largest of them all. At over 1,250 years old and over 51 metres tall, it's looking pretty good for its age.

You'll reach the town of Paihia, the jewel of the Bay of Islands, in the early evening. As the sun sets, you'll enjoy a fish and chips feast overlooking the water.

Includes: breakfast, dinner
Paihia

With more than 140 sub-tropical islands dotted around the coastline, how will you spend your day in the Bay?

Hitting the water is the best way to enjoy the coves and beaches of this corner of paradise, and the options are endless. Cruise through a natural rock archway, hire a kayak, sail boat or stand-up paddleboard, explore the ocean floor on a scuba mission, sail in search of the local dolphins, or snorkel your way around beautiful islands. Check out our optional activities for ideas or hit up your guide for inspiration.

For an epic day out, take a road trip to Cape Reinga — the northernmost tip of New Zealand — to see where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collide. It’s an unforgettable sight.

Includes: breakfast
Paihia to Auckland

Today, discover the Bay of Islands’ important role in New Zealand’s history with a trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, for an unforgettable insight into Māori culture. The 35-metre carved waka (ceremonial war canoe), the world’s biggest, is a must-see.

After lunch you'll say goodbye to the Bay. There are some beautiful waterfalls around the area, so you’ll stop off at one of them, depending on the weather.

We head back to Auckland via Northland’s east coast, which boasts stunning beaches and coastal walks. You'll arrive in Auckland in the early evening.

Includes: breakfast
Auckland to Coromandel

Leaving Auckland behind, we head to the Coromandel Peninsula, a veritable paradise of beautiful beaches and misty rainforests. The drive here is incredibly scenic — the road twists and turns dramatically round the coastline.

The Coromandel is home to the famous Hot Water Beach — thousands visit each year to dig their own personal hot tub. If the tide times allow, we’ll definitely grab our buckets and spades.

We arrive in Whitianga with plenty of time for your guide to show you around. Sample the sandy beaches or simply enjoy the vibes.

Includes: breakfast
Coromandel to Rotorua

This morning walk along the cliffs and down to Cathedral Cove. With perfect beaches and massive rock arches and columns, it’s one of the most popular spots in the Coromandel. Alternatively, take an optional guided Cathedral Cove kayak trip and check out this stunning coastline from a different angle.

In the afternoon you will head towards Rotorua; stopping en route at Matamata, best known for being the home of the Hobbiton movie set. For Lord of the Rings fans a fully guided tour of the 12 acre Middle-earth set is a must-do — you will see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn.

Includes: breakfast
Rotorua

Today is a free day to explore Rotorua and its surrounding area. While the majority of the North Island is volcanic in some way, Rotorua is exceptional for its geothermal activity. With neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore, there are more unique natural wonders to be found in Rotorua than many other places in the world.

If adrenaline is your thing, you can take a rafting trip on the Kaituna river — the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world. Another option is a day trip to the famous Waitomo Gloworm Caves, which offer a number of ways to experience the twinking creatures up close.

Includes: breakfast
Rotorua to Murupara

This morning you will visit Te Puia Maori Village, where you’ll learn more about Māori history and culture, come face to face with the Pohutu Geyser, see jumping mud pools and get up close and personal with kiwi birds.

Later this afternoon you'll head to Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara — a living Māori village — where you will experience a tribal tour by a village elder. Here you’ll also have a chance to learn the world-famous haka dance, and weave your own dinner plate using flax (a type of plant). Dinner will be a traditional hāngi meal, which is cooked in an underground earth oven.

The best part about spending the evening at Kohutapu Lodge? The majority of proceeds from this activity go back to the local community.

Includes: breakfast, dinner
Murupara to Lake Taupō

It’s only a short drive to your next destination, Lake Taupō, and there’s plenty to discover along the way. From mesmerising mud pools to the thundering rapids of the Huka Falls and Aratiatia Dam, your guide will make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Lake Taupō is New Zealand’s largest lake — believe it or not, it’s roughly the same size as Singapore. This place is all about the thrills and spills, and there are plenty of options in store this afternoon. Get your hair wet with a water touch bungy jump, take an unforgettable skydive or a sunset lake cruise for amazing lake and mountain views.

Includes: breakfast
Lake Taupō and the Tongariro Crossing

You can spend today either relaxing around Lake Taupō or hiking the Tongariro Crossing — often classed as one of the best full-day walks in the world. This 19.4-kilometre mountain trek in Tongariro National Park boasts emerald green lakes, venting steam, lava flows and craters.

If you’d prefer to take it easy, jump on a boat for a sailing trip to view Māori rock carvings. Or head to Spa Park and soak until your fingers are wrinkly. However you choose to spend today we guarantee you won’t forget it.

Includes: breakfast
Lake Taupō to Wellington

It’s a big drive from Taupō to Wellington, but there’s some unmissable scenery on offer. You'll journey through Tongariro National Park and the Rangipo Desert, which is home to three active volcanic peaks — Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu. You'll also pass through two of the North Island’s quirkier towns which you'll get a chance to explore.

We pull into Wellington in the afternoon, with just enough time for film buffs make a trip to Weta Workshop, where the special effects of Lord of the Rings and Avatar were produced. This evening you'll get to head out and enjoy the capital's fantastic food and craft beer scene.

Includes: breakfast
Wellington to Kaikōura

Soak up the atmosphere of vibrant Wellington.

Your guide will introduce you to the city with an orientation tour — including a drive around the bays through central Wellington to the Botanic Gardens and Parliament Buildings. If there wasn’t a chance yesterday we’ll take a trip up Mount Victoria for the best views in town.

Later on you'll say farewell to the North Island with a scenic ferry across the Cook Strait. The South Island has a stunning welcome in store for us — gliding through the Marlborough Sounds as we approach Picton Harbour, you’ll feel like you’re in another world.

Your next destination, Kaikōura literally means “to eat crayfish”, and the area is teeming with them. The nutrient-rich waters of this area attract a wide variety of marine wildlife including the stars of the show — the whales and dolphins.

Includes: breakfast
Kaikoura to Christchurch

The chance to swim with dolphins in the wild is a massive New Zealand highlight for many travellers, and Kaikōura is one of the best places to find them, with pods of up to 300 of these playful creatures hanging out here at any one time.

If you want to get up close to the giants of the ocean, a whale watching tour here is the way to do it. Humpbacks, sperm whales and orca all stop by at various times of year, so this is a great chance to meet some of them.

After visiting the local seals on your way out of town, the road trip continues to your home for the night – Christchurch, known as the “Garden City” for its peaceful parklands and lazy rivers.

Includes: breakfast
Christchurch to Ohau, via Lake Tekapo

This morning you’ll explore iconic downtown Christchurch and your guide will show you the creative ways the city is being rebuilt after the life-changing 2011 earthquake here.

After lunch you'll leave the city behind and head for Lake Tekapo. The lake’s breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop is a photographer’s dream come true.

Tekapo has been declared an International Dark Sky Reserve and the super clear skies make it the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies on a clear night. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Includes: breakfast
Ohau to Queenstown

This morning if you’re feeling energetic, hike up to the summit of Mt John, which has incredible views of the Southern Alps.

The drive to Queenstown will take you through the golden tussocklands of Mackenzie country and bungee-jumper favourite Kawarau Gorge to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. You'll have two nights here to enjoy the many options the city has to offer.

Includes: breakfast
Queenstown

With a full day in Queenstown, you'll have plenty of activities to choose from: paragliding over the lake, mountain bike parks and trails, bungy jumping, horse riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, and swinging through a canyon are just a few options on offer.

For scenery lovers, a trip to Milford Sound is a must-see. Whether you fly or drive, the scenery en route is as amazing as the destination. Once on the Sound, sailing beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you’ll understand why some call it the “8th Wonder of the World”.

Tonight you have around 40 bars to choose from — your guide will fill you in on their favourites – to share your adventures with your travel buddies.

Includes: breakfast
Queenstown to Wanaka

One last morning in Queenstown with a number of options to choose from, including a canyoning experience, Lord of the Rings 4x4 safari, or a jet boat ride along the Shotover River.

After the excitement of Queenstown, this afternoon is a chance to relax. Wanaka is Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister, a mere one hour drive away. On the way we’ll stop in at charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with plenty of old-world character.

Blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake, you’ll soon see why Wanaka’s considered to be one of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain towns. There are stunning hikes and bike rides all around for a welcome chance to relax.

Includes: breakfast
Wanaka to Franz Josef

This morning is about exploring Wanaka. Optional activities include a flying lesson, skydiving, a bike tour along Wanaka’s lakeside, or a lake cruise and nature walk on Mou Waho Island. If none of those appeal, there are lots of scenic short walks in the area.

The journey to Franz Josef is another stunner — many of our guides rate it as their favourite drive in New Zealand. You’ll stop at one of our favourite lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option.

From the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won’t want to nap on the bus in case you miss anything. Your guide will have some fantastic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way.

You will arrive in Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5 kilometres from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow

Includes: breakfast
Franz Josef

With Aoraki/Mount Cook — New Zealand’s highest mountain — twinkling behind the glaciers, Franz Josef is about as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand.

Te Wahi Pounamu (which means ‘the place of greenstone’ in Māori) is the name given to this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of pounamu (greenstone/jade) to be found here. Included in your tour today is a special opportunity to carve your very own pounamu pendant at a local gallery.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier; weather permitting, to get up onto the bluest ice you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers. Maybe you’d prefer to kayak on a glacial lake; or just relax in the steamy hot springs down below.

Includes: breakfast
Franz Josef to Punakaiki

Driving along the incredible coastal road and exploring the West Coast forests, it will almost feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

You’ll visit one of the famous artisan greenstone factories in Hokitika as we make our way north, as well as passing through some old gold mining towns before arriving in Punakaiki.

One of Punakaiki’s many natural wonders is the subtropical rainforest — and you will be staying in the heart of it for the next two nights.

Includes: breakfast
Punakaiki

Whether you decide to soak up the sun on the unspoilt beaches or stroll through the rainforest to a chorus of birdsong, you’ll shed your cares in this magical place.

A short walk to see a giant stack of pancakes is a must-do: Punakaiki's limestone Pancake Rocks developed over 30 million years ago.

Today you could try your hand at surfing or exploring the region’s underground caves by tube. Or simply relax by the beach near your rainforest home.

Includes: breakfast
Punakaiki to Abel Tasman

Cruising up north from Punakaiki, the untouched coastline gives way to rivers and gorges before you drive over the hills and down towards the bayside town of Nelson, to stock up on supplies before your next remote hideaway in Marahau.

Marahau is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, which boasts golden beaches, tranquil lagoons and crystal clear waters.

Includes: breakfast
Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman is home to lush forests, golden sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views, not to mention the local seals, dolphins and bird life.

You might like to hike part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track — one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks — or paddle a kayak to Split Apple Rock.

You could jump, slide, abseil, float and zipline your way through the park on a canyoning adventure, or simply relax on the beach.

Includes: breakfast
Abel Tasman to Wellington

Today is the last day of your tour.

You’ll start things off by learning to paddle a traditional waka (Māori war canoe). Experience a karakia (blessing for protection), and learn tikanga (Māori knowledge and etiquette) all while getting out on the water to enjoy this unique included activity.

Your road trip continues along the northern edge of the South Island this afternoon. You’ll make a quick stop at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve (a film location for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) and make your way through Havelock as you wind our way towards Picton to catch the afternoon ferry to Wellington.

The tour officially finishes at 8pm today in Wellington, but your accommodation tonight is included.

Includes: breakfast

Upcoming departures

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25 Sep 2020 17 Oct 2020 Enquire
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Where to stay

Sample accommodation suggested by our New Zealand experts.

Accommodation is in dorm share hostels (4-6 per room), upgrades to private rooms available on request.

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Haka Lodge Queenstown
Simple

Haka Lodge Queenstown

Haka Lodge Queenstown opened just a few years ago, close to the city centre and kitted out with top of the line facilities...

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Haka Lodge Taupo
Simple

Haka Lodge Taupo

Haka Lodge Taupo offers a variety of up-market dormitory rooms for those travelling on a budget, and a wide range of private rooms for those who enjoy their own space...

Tour inclusions

Get in touch now for more details

Included Some meals

Continental breakfasts every day, as well as a fish and chips dinner and traditional Māori hāngī meal cooked in an underground oven.

Included Accommodation

All accommodation is included in the tour price.

Included Guided excursions

All tours include a passionate Kiwi guide.

Testimonials

What people are saying about Haka Tours

K
Kristina
24/09/2020

Don't give it a second thought — visit New Zealand and sign up for a Haka Tour! I just got back from the South Island Haka tour and definitely have to say it was one of the best vacations ever. The trip was entirely stress-free and fun, every city we visited was amazing, scenery unbeatable, accommodation was clean and nice and I made lifelong friends that I hope to travel with again in the future. Worth every penny!

W
Wade
24/09/2020

Best tour ever! Did the Amplified New Zealand Tour from Auckland to Christchurch. It was an amazing experience from front to back, enabled by the flexibility and experience of Andy advising where and when to do activities. Would absolutely recommend this as a great way to see and experience New Zealand quickly!

H
Helena Anne
24/09/2020

Amazing trip last week with Haka Tours. Perfectly paced and flawlessly organised thanks to Andy. Nice size group, good accommodation and long drives were never frustrating. It's lovely to be on an organised tour and still have independence. Very impressed with Haka, I'll certainly be back to explore the North island!

Days

23

From only

NZ$4,227 pp

This tour is operated by Haka Tours
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