We arrive in the Bay of Islands around midday and check out the sights surrounding Paihia, including the historical location of Waitangi. Northland is rich in history and Maori culture and with its clear water, huge kauri forests, and 144 islands to explore you will soon see why Kiwi Experience heads up north. Swim with the dolphins, experience the Excitor Fast Boat, ride out to the famous hole in the rock, or go kayaking, sailing, fishing, diving, snorkelling, or just relax on the beach!
Roll yourself out of bed and be prepared for an action packed day up to Cape Reinga. This area is sacred to the Maori people and the day trip to Cape Reinga is a MUST DO. The day is full of walks and free activities. Drive along 90 Mile Beach, see huge kauri trees, body board down the gigantic sand dunes, view the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean clashing, gather shellfish on the beach, and experience one of New Zealand’s best fish ‘n’ chip shops!
Departing late afternoon, you have the best part of the day to experience one of the many activities on offer in the Bay, or simply chill on the beach with a good book. The drive back to the “big smoke”, which us Kiwis affectionately call Auckland, is relaxed and we have you back in the city in time to find some dinner and hit the town.
After visiting the Kiwi Experience office we head towards the Coromandel Peninsula and spend the afternoon at Cathedral Cove; accessible only on foot or by kayak. This beautiful coastal spot is great for swimming, sea kayaking, and spotting dolphins if you’re lucky. We then carry on to Hot Water Beach (rated one of the top ten beaches in the world by Lonely Planet) where you can take a surfing lesson and head out with your shovel at low tide to dig your own hot pool in the sand.
After an early start our first stop is the Karangahake Scenic Reserve to explore a native bush-clad gorge, swing bridges and a bit of New Zealand’s gold mining history. Next it’s onto Waitomo (wai meaning water, tomo meaning cave) where you will get the chance to see glow-worms, stalactites, cave coral, fossilized oysters and other crazy stuff in the limestone caves formed from 40 million year old dead fish.
We start the day with a walk through the Ruakuri Reserve and a breakfast stop at the Long Black Café before heading through to Rotorua. In the afternoon you’ll have a chance to go along to a farm show, go Zorbing, luging, and try out a crazy activity or two at Agroventures. In the evening you can experience a traditional Maori hangi (feast) and concert with Tamaki Tours - a night not to be missed!
The first activity of the day is exploring the geothermal reserve of Te Puia, with New Zealand’s largest geyser and a chance to see a real live Kiwi bird. The afternoon journey to Taupo includes stop offs to explore the area’s lakes and Taupo’s famous Huka Falls. Taupo is rightly known as the adventure capital of the North Island with optional activities on offer such as skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating, the Volcanic Centre and the spectacular Tongariro Crossing!
We recommend staying an extra night in Taupo because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Enjoy a sleep-in (for those not doing the Tongariro Crossing) and experience one of the many activities on offer. A walk down to Spa Park to relax in the natural hot springs by the river is a great way to spend the day (or night). Alternatively if you have time head off on our 'East As': 4 day, 3 night unique add-on trip around the East Cape, which takes you to places few tourists get to see.
We head south around the “great lake” towards the Tongariro National Park for a picnic lunch and a two hour walk through native bush and waterfalls. In the afternoon we travel through to the ultimate adventure lodge - River Valley, situated amongst towering cliffs and bush-clad hills. The lodge offers grade five rafting on the Rangitikei River, scenic horse riding, and a small golf course. Spend the evening enjoying the delicious roast dinner and relaxing by the open fire.
We head away late after a morning white water rafting or horse riding, and head throughthe rolling hills full of deer, cattle and sheep. We arrive in Wellington late in the afternoon. This city is the undisputed capital of culture, the arts, restaurants, fashion and nightlife. It’s home to the largest cultural attraction in New Zealand, Te Papa Museum, which is well worth a look (and it’s free).
You can choose to take the Interislander ferry across to the South Island, through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds; or arrange a flight. Travel via the Pelorous Bridge to Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest city, then on to Kaiteriteri at the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. You can simply wile away the evening on the golden sand beach just metres from your accommodation. Kaiteriteri is a great spot to begin an adventure (on foot, by kayak or by water taxi) into Abel Tasman National Park.
Spend the morning kayaking out to Split Apple Rock and along the golden bays nearby Kaiteriteri, looking out for the local marine wildlife; or catch a water taxi to a one of the bays in the Abel Tasman National Park to go for a morning stroll in the native New Zealand forest. A late departure from Kaiteriteri will take us to Westport, so you can meet the team from Buller Adventure Tours where you can experience the best value for money jet boating, horse trekking and quad biking in New Zealand.
Today we cruise down the spectacular Highway 6 that stretches along the rugged Tasman shoreline. The road winds along diverse landscapes, which never cease to amaze both locals and visitors alike. Highlights include the Cape Foulwind seal colony, rugged beach walks and the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Tonight your Driver Guide will arrange a group meal for you at the Mahinapua Hotel, known as the legendary “Poo Pub”. It’s an awesome evening of fancy dress and a good way to get to know your fellow travellers.
Our first stop this morning is the Bushman’s Centre, where you will get an insight into how people make a living on the coast with helicopter deer recovery, old timber-milling techniques and possum trapping. We then head through to the Franz Josef Glacier Village, nestled in the Westland National Park.
We recommend staying an extra night in Franz Josef because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Today is your chance to hike on the Franz Josef Glacier, rated as one of the top three activities to do in New Zealand, by Kiwi Experience passengers. You could also take the option of a heli-hike, and be flown up the glacier, or take a more sedate approach and explore the various walks in the area.
We start out early in order to catch the perfect mirror reflection of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps on Lake Matheson. We then cruise down the last stretch of Highway 6, stopping at popular scenic spots along the way. Then it’s into Mount Aspiring National Park, arriving in the awe-inspiring destination of Wanaka in the afternoon.
It’s only a short drive today through to New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown. Highlights include Puzzling World, skydiving over Lake Wanaka and stopping at the world’s first commercial bungy site - the Kawarau Bridge. On arrival in Queenstown you can book all activities and confirm onward bus travel at Base, as well as get a group photo with all your new West Coast mates. Then it’s out on the town exploring Queenstown’s infamous nightlife with all the crew!
We recommend staying an extra night in Queenstown because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Queenstown is rated as one of our passenger’s favourite spots to hang out in New Zealand. Take the time to spend a few days here as it is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Make the most of the beautiful lake and surrounding walks, or get into a whole range of adrenalin pumping activities. If there was one activity that you couldn’t miss it would be the day trip to Milford Sound, commonly referred to as New Zealand’s most beautiful spot!
We head towards the east coast via the massive Clyde Hydro Dam and the Central Otago fruit growing basin. Dunedin is famous for its student activity, being home to 20,000 plus students at Otago University, the city is also well known for its Scottish heritage. On arrival we do a city tour including a visit to Baldwin Street, the world's steepest street and in the evening there is an option to visit another icon of Dunedin, the Speights Brewery with one of their tours and tastings!
The Catlins is probably as far south as you may ever go. Travel through awesome native forest, sandy beaches and see rare wildlife. The might of the New Zealand sea-lion (New Zealand’s largest native mammal) is a real highlight as are the many short walks to the Catlins natural attractions, which includes a 180 million year-old fossilised forest (where you are also likely to see Yellow-eyed penguins returning from a hard days fishing). The night is spent in Invercargill, home of the world’s fastest Indian and Henry the tuatara!
Here you have the choice to hop over to Stewart Island - it’s definitely worth the visit, an island paradise with a kiwi (bird) population 100 times that of the kiwi (human) one.
Travel through to Milford Sound checking out the most amazing scenery in New Zealand along the way. The day includes a two hour boat cruise through the sound exploring soaring peaks, towering waterfalls and New Zealand nature at its best. See the Homer Tunnel, gigantic waterfalls and amazing fiords. See the Homer Tunnel, gigantic waterfalls and amazing fiords. If you have the time jump off in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park and home to a stunning lake, and/or in Milford Sound to spend a night or two. Provided the weather and bank balance permits you have the option of flying back to Queenstown, otherwise the Kiwi Experience bus will take you back to the adventure capital.
We head out of Queenstown, through the Lindis Pass, so get your cameras ready because this is ‘Lord of the Rings’ territory. After stopping to admire Mt Cook at Lake Pukaki, we travel to Lake Tekapo with its amazing location by snow-capped alps and clear starry skies. Lake Tekapo has something for everyone - relaxing at the lakeside and taking in the untouched view, soaking in the hot springs, discovering one of the many scenic walkways or checking out the mind-boggling stars in what is the world’s largest dark sky reserve.
We have a straight run into Christchurch, our largest city in the South Island and the 3rd largest in New Zealand. Witness a city rebuilding and flourishing in the wake of the 2011 earthquakes. Check out the funky Re:Start Mall and keep your eyes peeled for the sweet pop-up bars around the city.
Departing Christchurch bright and early, we arrive at Kaikoura in time for you to check out what Kaikoura is most famous for - its whale watching, or swimming with the dolphins or the seals. Spend the evening chilling on the beach or sampling some of the best seafood New Zealand has to offer for your dinner. In fact, the name Kaikoura means to eat Crayfish (“kai” meaning to eat, “koura” meaning crayfish).
We head north and take in the last of the dramatic Kaikoura coastline. It’s a spectacular drive - voted New Zealand’s best - and we stop for a close look at the seals that lay about on the rocks all day long. We make our way to the Picton ferry terminal in time to catch the afternoon sailing to the North Island. Say farewell to the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) and we’re on our way! The ferry ride takes a few hours so chill out and enjoy the view of the amazing Marlborough Sounds!
We’ve got quite a distance to cover today, so we leave early from Wellington to beat the rush hour traffic. We pass through Taihape, where we drop off and pick up people for River Valley Adventure lodge. Departing Taihape we head to the Central Plateau, home of the Tongariro National Park, where we can drop you off in the township of Turangi if you wish to access it. Then it’s through to Taupo and if the weather suits, it’s time to skydive!
This morning we head north to Rotorua, renowned for its Maori heritage and thermal activity in the area. After dropping off passengers in Rotorua, who are spending a night or two here, we make our way to Matamata (aka Hobbiton). You can jump off here if you’re a Lord of the Rings nut. Then it’s onwards through the rolling countryside to Auckland, otherwise known as the ‘City of Sails’. We call into the Kiwi Experience office for a chance to purchase merchandise, confirm future bookings or extend your trip even further!