Having a small group allows us to make your tour personal, flexible and unforgettable!
So you want to explore both islands of New Zealand but don't have that much time? This is your tour! Our 16 day adventure takes you from the international cities of Auckland or Christchurch and squeezes in as much as humanly possible. Because we listen to our tour members, this tour has evolved from previous feedback - so you can be sure that we include our favourite locations!
A Haka Tour is not just a standard New Zealand holiday. We promise you will leave having both learned and experienced our country first hand, pushed yourself to limits you never thought you could reach, made a great group of friends from all around the world, and played a role in a thousand stories to amaze the folks with back home.
There is no difference to your experience whether you go on the forward (Auckland to Christchurch) or reverse (Christchurch to Auckland) route. Sweet as.
Day 1 - Auckland
Kia Ora! Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city with a quarter of the country’s population. Voted as one of the best cities to live in the world, this place is buzzing with atmosphere and has heaps to do and see! With our accommodation centrally-situated, you have everything on your doorstep and after meeting your tour group (no cheesy introductions, we promise!) your guide will take you for an orientation tour to show you the best of what Auckland has to offer!
On the agenda for today are some of our favourites, including canyoning (abseiling down waterfalls surrounded by rain forest in Piha Canyon), climbing or bungy jumping off the iconic Auckland Harbour bridge, shark diving, sailing an America's Cup yacht and learning to surf Auckland's wild west coast beaches to name a few! As always your Haka Tour guide is on hand to help plan your day and maximise your time in NZ!
If you would prefer to relax on your first day, Auckland’s shopping is some of the best in the country, or there are numerous bars and restaurants to choose from – a much recommended place to go is down in the Viaduct Harbour along the attractive quayside. Admire the view from the top of the Sky Tower, or alternatively take a trip over to Wakihere Island from the harbour and hire scooters for the day.
Day 2 - 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.
Day 3 - 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!
Day 4 – 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.
Day 5 – 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.
Day 6 – Taupo
Taupo is a place which will spoil you with choice, and therefore we have set aside a full day to take full advantage of the area.
In the need for a thrill? Skydive, drive a four wheel car on volcanic farm land, ski on an active volcano, experience a scenic flight over a world heritage area, or bungy jump over the Waikato River. The Taupo bungy is New Zealand’s highest Water Touch bungy and is just 10 minutes from the town centre.
We strongly recommend you also consider the Tongariro Crossing, which is rated as one of the best day treks in the world! We don't disagree!
Alternatively, take a breather and check out the constantly active thermal landscape, taste geothermally bred prawns, play golf, soak in a thermal hot spring, or indulge in exclusive boutique shopping. The nightlife here also comes well recommended, bustling with many restaurants, cafés and groovy lounge bars.
As always, many suggestions and activities are free of charge, and for those that aren’t, we have secured discounted prices for all group members!
Day 7 – Taupo to Wellington
The journey from Taupo to New Zealand’s capital is roughly 380 km, one of our longest drives. However, the scenery is spectacular and will hold your interest as we head around Lake Taupo and south. “Lord of the Rings” fans will be thrilled to hear that today we will be travelling past Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, which make up the conical volcano that was Mt Doom in the films.
Before we reach Wellington itself, we make a stop at Gravity Canyon - the ultimate extreme adventure park! Ride the world's first "Extreme Flying Fox" (zip line), the North Island's highest bungy and the "Giant Swing", all at an exclusive rate for Haka customers! (Can be booked on the day.)
After we have quenched our thirst for adrenalin, we reach the city, and our tour guide will take us for a drive along the harbour and up to Mt. Victoria for a gorgeous 360 degree view of the city.
Day 8 – Wellington to Kaikoura
It is an early wakeup call today as we have to catch the morning Inter-islander ferry to the South Island. 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.
Day 9 – 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.
Day 10 – 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.
Day 11 - 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 (below)!
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.
Day 12 – Queenstown
Welcome to the Adventure Tourism Capital of the World! You are spoilt for choice with adrenalin-filled activities everywhere you look.
Amongst our favourites are jet boating, white-water rafting, skiing and boarding, mountain biking, and of course bungy jumping!
Bungy was born in this town, and we have negotiated a very reasonable discount on the Nevis High Wire Bungy (134 metres high!) and the Kawarau Bridge Bungy (43 metres high). Another option which will blow you mind is the canyon swing where you are secured in a full body harness and dropped for 60 metres! Complete adrenalin rush!
However, if this sounds a little bit too much, there are more relaxed ways to enjoy Queenstown, which was named after Queen Victoria. It is quite simply beautiful, and there are many scenic walks surrounding the town.
In the evening, Queenstown’s vibrant nightlife is second to none. Once again, much of the surrounding area was used for many of the “Lord Of The Rings” filming locations.
Day 13 – 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!
Day 14 – 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 are 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) is 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.
Day 15 - Franz Josef
Franz Josef and Fox are New Zealand’s most famous glaciers and are found in a World Heritage Site. The former is unique in that it descends from the Southern Alps to just 240 metres above sea level, surrounded by the lush vegetation of a temperate rainforest.
You cannot visit Franz Josef without paying your respects to the glacier. Both the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are world-renowned on account of their relative accessibility and the low level to which they descend, although they no longer extend far enough down their valleys to reach the forest. The most popular way of visiting the glacier is with a half day guided trek, but there are also full day or heli-hike options available.
The Franz Josef glacier is unique in that whereas most glaciers are retreating, Franz still flows almost to sea level. Surrounding the glacier is a stunning landscape of temperate rainforest of ancient podocarp trees and other evergreen species. The combination of ice and temperate rainforest is a unique feature of New Zealand's glacier country and is an ecosystem found nowhere else on the planet.
If you can afford it, we highly recommend reaching the bluest ice via helicopter with a heli-hike. Trekking on the glacier is nowhere as strenuous as it sounds, but if it doesn’t sound like your thing, then your guide will take you as close to the bottom of the glacier as possible. There is some awesome quad biking for the afternoon (booked on the day), horse trekking, or otherwise relax in the hostel’s spa pool, TV lounge or have a drink in one of the cafés or bars. Alternatively, there is some great surfing to be had at nearby Okarito.
Day 16 – Franz Josef to Christchurch
We head to the beautiful west coast on one of the most spectacular drives in the world. A rugged, primeval landscape of luxuriant rainforest juxtaposed against breathtaking beach and ocean waves.
Along the way from Franz Josef we pass through Ross, a town that arose from gold mining. The gold rush days of the second half of the 19th century were largely responsible for opening up the West Coast for settlement. Before this there was a small number of Maori who searched for greenstone, or Jade. We take a break at Hokitika to visit a Jade factory. This place experienced a massive gold rush in the late 1860s and today remnants can be seen everywhere: in original buildings and in the landscape, altered by excavations and vast mounds of tailings.
We also make a quick stop at the Bushman’s centre where you can taste a Possum pie or sink a drink in the Puke Pub (us kiwis are classy folks!).
We reach Greymouth Train Station by lunchtime, where you board the Tranz Alpine train. The crossing takes 4 and a half hours and travels through the absolutely stunning Arthur’s Pass. You reach Christchurch at 6pm and say your final goodbyes before making your separate ways.
After your tour!
So what now? We offer additional nights’ accommodation in Auckland/Christchurch from $28 NZD per night. Alternatively, you can complete your New Zealand travels by heading back to Auckland and jumping on one of our 6 day Subtropical Far North tours (10% off when you have already booked a 16 day Amplified NZ tour). These have been designed and are run by our Head Tour Manager Steve, who knows the “Winterless North” like the back of his hand.
Whether you choose to stay on, return home or continue travelling overseas, we promise to have given you a New Zealand experience not just to remember, but to value as one of the best trips of your life!
Accommodation – quad or 6 shareServices of experienced Tour ManagerTransportGuided tour at each destinationBreakfast every morningAn evening’s entertainment at a “marae”View Franz and Fox GlaciersGondola ride to the top of QueenstownEntrance to the Orakei Korako Geyserland and Thermal ParkExplore natural rainforests, hidden canyons & waterfallsCruise across the Cook Strait in the Marlborough SoundsVisit Mokai Gravity Canyon – an extreme adventure parkTwo nights in Queenstown – adventure capital of the world!Taste a "hangi" and witness a haka performanceView Mt Doom from Lord of the RingsSwim in turquoise lakes, canyon pools and clear mountain riversHeaps of extra unique adventures along the way that other tour companies miss out on!
Upgrade your accommodation to double / twin with en-suite for $1,099Add single discounted activity options Add an Extreme Activity Pack - the pack for the 16 day tour is only $1,199Select a Bay of Islands add on package, before or after your tour, from $210Explore the beautiful Northland Region on our 6 day tourDay trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown for $160Walk "The Tongariro Crossing" - from $46Add a Snow Tour during the winter season! Options from 3 to 7 daysSelect extra nights' accommodation before or after your Tour
Please ask about any of our Optional Extras
Tour Starts: Auckland / Christchurch at 8amTour Ends: Christchurch at 6.30pm / Auckland at 5pm