- Explore the major attractions in Sydney before wine tasting in the Hunter Valley
- Discover New Zealand's wine culture and stunning Milford Sound / Piopiotahi
- Enjoy river rafting in Mount Aspiring National Park and learn Wellington's history
- Keep your head toward the sky as you gaze up at Rotorua's Red Forest
- Experience geothermal activity and beaches before seeing Auckland's gems
|Arrive in Sydney (Australia)
|Sydney Sights Tour, Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise
|Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour
|Day Trip to the Blue Mountains National Park
|Fly to Queenstown (New Zealand), Optional Activities
|Full-Day Trip to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi
|Wine Tasting in Bannockburn
|Glenorchy Safari Tour, Optional Activities in Queenstown
|Fly to Wellington, Explore Wellington
|Wellington Half Day Tour, Wētā Cave Workshop
|Explore Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary
|Fly to Rotorua, Redwoods Nightlights
|Geothermal Rotorua Tour, Optional Forest Canopy Tour
|Optional Activities in Rotorua
|Transfer to Auckland via Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves
|Auckland Bush & Beach Tour
|Explore Auckland, Sky Tower Dinner
Day 1: Arrive in Sydney (Australia)
Welcome to Sydney! Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to your hotel, where you can take some time to relax and unwind. Often mistaken as Australia's capital, Sydney is a vibrant coastal city with plenty to see and do. Situated on the country's east coast, it boasts beautiful white-sand beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach and Manly Beach, and iconic landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Once you've rested, take a walking tour to see the city's origins in The Rocks, then continue to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Sydney Tower.
Cap off your first day in Australia with a sunset cruise on the harbor. From the water, admire the Opera House, Fort Denison, Luna Park, and more as the sun sinks into the port, and the city skyline comes alive. With plenty of great bars and restaurants, there is no shortage of things to see, do, eat, and drink tonight.
Day 2: Sydney Sights Tour, Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise
Meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a tour of the city. Start with a visit to the historic Rocks area and hear about its early convict history. Marvel at 18th-century sandstone architecture such as Hyde Park Barracks and St Mary's Cathedral. Head to Mrs Macquarie's Point for magnificent Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge views. Then travel along the coves and shores as you pass through areas such as Kings Cross and Rose Bay before arriving at Watsons Bay. Here, you can take a short coastal walk with views of the South Pacific Ocean and the entrance to Sydney Harbour.
Later, visit the Bondi beachfront promenade, soak up some sun, and enjoy a coffee or cool drink. Continue to Tamarama and Bronte beaches before returning to the city via Paddington, a trendy district with elegant terrace houses and boutique shops along Oxford Street. Finishing in Darling Harbour, you'll then board a Sydney Harbour lunch cruise. Enjoy a buffet-style Aussie barbecue lunch onboard as you soak up incredible views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Day 3: Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour
Join your small group this morning for a getaway from the city to enjoy fabulous food and wine in Australia's oldest wine-growing region. Just two hours north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley combines world-renowned wines, local produce, and stunning countryside. With over 90 cellar doors, this tour focuses on the boutique wineries, where the winemakers' passion is evident. This trip's flexible itinerary gives you access to a range of excellent wineries where you'll learn about the wine's origins and sometimes even meet the winemakers.
Day 4: Day Trip to the Blue Mountains National Park
The Blue Mountains National Park is one of seven national parks that comprise the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. This wonderland of rocky outcroppings, steep ravines, and hazy eucalyptus forests boasts stunning views. Today's guided tour will take you off the beaten track to visit remote lookout locations and discuss the region's history, flora, and fauna. Leave early from your hotel, and stop at Calmsley Hill, a working farm where you'll find to kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas. Take time to wander and then continue to ascend the Blue Mountains.
You'll visit one of many stunning outlooks overlooking the Jamison Valley with beautiful vistas. Next, you'll reach Eaglehawk Lookout, a small lookout point with views of the famous Three Sisters rock formation. The character of the Three Sisters changes throughout the day and seasons as the sunlight brings out an ever-shifting palette of colors. Learn about the legends behind this famous rock formation, then go around the mountain toward Blackheath Village for lunch at the Hydro Majestic. Marvel at the spectacular views as you have lunch before returning to Sydney.
Day 5: Fly to Queenstown (New Zealand), Optional Activities
Say goodbye to Australia today as you catch a three-hour flight to Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island. Upon arrival at Queenstown's airport, your driver will meet you and take you to your hotel in the city. Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, from this alpine town, you'll have soaring views of the Remarkables mountain range, an area famous for skiing, skydiving, river rafting, and bungee jumping. Depending on your energy levels, you could follow the Gibbston Valley wine trail to Michelin-Star chef Josh Emett's restaurant, Rata, or take a ride on a 100-year-old steamship, the TSS Earnslaw.
Day 6: Full-Day Trip to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi
Today, prepare for a full-day tour of the gorgeous Milford Sound / Piopiotahi in Fiordland National Park. Meet your driver for a four-hour drive hugging Lake Wakatipu until you reach Fiordland National Park. Witness its immense beauty with glacier-carved valleys and blue lakes. When you arrive at Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, take a boat tour across the fjord and enjoy rainforests, waterfalls, and Mitre Peak views. You'll spot seals, penguins, and possibly dolphins as you glide across the calm waters.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Wine Tasting in Bannockburn
Discover the best of Central Otago's wine region as you visit Bannockburn, a former gold mining town. After being picked up by your guide, witness the seemingly endless oasis of vineyards and orchards as you head to this region. Once you've arrived, have lunch at Mount Difficulty and dine with fantastic views over Bannockburn's dramatic landscape. During this tour, you will visit five of the finest wineries in the Gibbston and Bannockburn wine regions. These wineries include Amisfield, Peregrine, Mount Difficulty, Domain Road, Felton Road, Carrick, and Chard Farm.
Day 8: Glenorchy Safari Tour, Optional Activities in Queenstown
Start your day with a visit to Glenorchy, a small settlement known as a filming location for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. A 4WD safari will allow you to experience it while traveling on one of the South Island's most scenic drives. Admire the panoramic views of the Southern Alps, which were the backdrop for Tolkien's Middle-earth. Isengard, Ithilien Camp, Lothlórien, Fangorn Forest, and Battle of Amon Hen are a few of the stops you'll make during the tour. The rest of the day is yours to explore, and there are many optional activities to choose from.
Take the Glacier Explorer, a scenic 50-minute helicopter flight from Queenstown heading west over the Queenstown Basin and Paradise Valley into Mount Aspiring National Park. The exhilarating flight takes you past towering mountains and dramatic ice falls before landing on one of the glaciers within the Forbes Mountains. If you'd prefer to explore the national park on land, you could take a Wilderness Jet boat adventure along the glacier-fed Dart River.
This evening, another option is boarding the TSS Earnslaw steamship for a ride on Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak High Country Farm. Here, enjoy a barbecue dinner featuring rotisserie-cooked meats, seasonal vegetables, and salads, followed by dessert and New Zealand cheeses. You can also watch demonstrations about high country life on the farm. After the meal, step back on board the steamship and join a sing-along with the ship's pianist. Watch the lights of Queenstown come back into focus as you return to town.
Day 9: Fly to Wellington, Explore WellingtonThis morning, a driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for a quick one-hour flight to Wellington on New Zealand's North Island, where you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel in town. Once settled in, check out the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, whose permanent collections range from Māori taonga to 17th-century English furniture to a rare colossal squid specimen. Or visit the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata, a waterfront gallery housing portraits featuring influential New Zealanders or created by Kiwi artists.
Day 10: Wellington Half-Day Tour, Wētā Cave Workshop
Visit New Zealand's capital city's best sights before experiencing the beauty of central Wellington's coastline. This morning, you'll join a tour of Mount Victoria to witness Wellington's stunning landscapes and harbor below. Then follow the coastline to the Wētā Cave Museum, the showpiece of Peter Jackson's film empire. After a drive to the south coast, you'll return to the city for a ride on the Cable Car and a walk around the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens. The tour concludes with a visit to the Beehive and Parliament Buildings.
Later today, enter the cinematic world of the Wētā Workshop. Visit the workshop's museum and see the characters, props, and sets from films such as "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "Furious 7," and "Master and Commander." Observe artists at work on costumes and sets and see how fantasy comes to life. Marvel at the bigatures and miniatures for which the workshop is famous.
Day 11: Explore Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary
Discover New Zealand's quirky capital today, truly a city with something for everyone. If you haven't already, visit Te Papa, the national museum. If you'd rather head out of town, try one of the nearby sandy beach bays, also home to some of Wellington's best cafés. Alternatively, take a two-hour round trip to Martinborough and enjoy a leisurely lunch in the beautiful wine country. Stop off at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough for a tasting. Or take the winding Remutaka Hill drive from the city. When you reach the top, stretch your legs at the lookout and enjoy the panoramic views.This evening, you'll head 10 minutes out of central Wellington to visit the 500-acre (225 ha) wildlife eco-sanctuary Zealandia, home to native New Zealand wildlife. Surrounded by a predator-exclusion fence, the sanctuary protects animals like kiwi, tuatara, and tiny Maud Island frogs. The best time to visit on a guided tour is at night. Led by a guide and a flashlight, you can come face-to-face with one or more of the many nocturnal species that live in Zealandia.
Day 12: Fly to Rotorua, Redwoods Nightlights
Catch another short one-hour flight to Rotorua this morning, and upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel. Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity, with a landscape of mud pools, geysers, and hot springs, as well as a deep history of Māori culture. Once settled in, explore this geothermally-active area. Rotorua has several prominent Māori tribes, and traditional villages welcome visitors. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, luge tracks, a zipline, and more.
Day 13: Geothermal Rotorua Tour, Optional Forest Canopy Tour
Get ready for the ultimate volcanic and geothermal experience. Meet your guide at the hotel and discover the hot springs, geysers, and boiling mud pools of Rotorua. You'll see ancient volcanoes and lush dense forests as you travel through farmland to New Zealand's most extensive geothermal system, Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland. While there, you'll walk along the trails to see fascinating volcanic formations like sulfur pools and geysers. Make sure you're around at 10:15 to see the Lady Knox Geyser erupt.
Day 14: Optional Activities in Rotorua
Today you'll have free time to explore Rotorua at your own pace. There are plenty of optional activities to choose from. Experience the thrilling Kaituna River as you're taken to Tutea Falls, the highest waterfall. With your expert guide, your team will enjoy a 50-minute action-packed ride down 14 epic rapids in a tight, twisting, warm water jungle canyon. Or, on a self-guided tour, see Te Puia Springs, home to Pohutu Geyser, which erupts up to 20 times a day, shooting a plume of scalding water up to 100 feet (30 m) into the sky. Or, visit the Kiwi Conservation Centre, a bird refuge that includes the iconic flightless New Zealand icon.
Tonight, you can choose between two dining activities for a hāngī experience (Hāngī is a traditional Māori method of cooking using heated, buried rocks). You can visit Te Pā Tū (Tamaki Māori Village) for a three-course hākari (feast) and a celebration of dancing, music, and storytelling. During the feast, choose from hāngī dishes (meat, fish, and vegetables) and other local specialties from Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand.
Or enjoy an in-depth experience of the customs and traditions of the Māori with a traditional pōwhiri welcoming ceremony and a kapa haka (Māori performing arts) concert. Savor a banquet that combines contemporary cuisine with a traditional hāngī, then enjoy the spectacular lighting of the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley and wander around the brilliant natural attractions, including the world-famous Pohutu Geyser.
Day 15: Transfer to Auckland via Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves
With your driver, you'll leave Rotorua in the morning and hit the road for the three-hour drive to Auckland—stopping along the way at Middle-earth and the famous Waitomo Caves. Reach the Hobbiton movie set from "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" films, and embark on your Hobbiton movie set tour. You'll see sets like the 44 Hobbit holes, the Mill and Double Arch Bridge, The Party Tree, and the Green Dragon Inn. Take a photo at the door of Bilbo's House, Bag End, and look out over Hobbiton with the hills in the distance. Following the Hobbiton tour, enjoy lunch in the marquee beside the Green Dragon Inn.
Day 16: Auckland Bush & Beach Tour
Meet your guide in the hotel lobby to discover the sights in and around Auckland. From the center of town, pass through The Domain and the elegant suburb of Ponsonby before heading over the Harbour Bridge to the North Shore. Stroll Narrow Neck Beach in historic Devonport, then summit Mount Victoria, Auckland's highest volcano. Wrap up the morning part of your tour with a visit to the fish market and Viaduct Harbour.
Later on, leave behind the bustle of the city and head northwest to taste the vintages of Auckland's Heritage Wine Region of Kumeu. Sit down to lunch at a contemporary vineyard restaurant, sip world-renowned wines, and marvel at the dramatic coastline nearby. Your journey will also take you to one of the few mainland gannet (a large white seabird) nesting sites in the world, perched on the Muriwai Cliffs overlooking the Tasman Sea.
Day 17: Explore Auckland, Sky Tower Dinner
It's your last full day in New Zealand, and you're free to explore. To appreciate more of the North Island city's scenery, take a stroll around Waitemata Harbour. Roughly translated to "sparkling waters" in the Māori language, the harbor is a starting point for sailing, cruising, and whale watching excursions. It also connects the main port of the city and the Auckland waterfront to the Pacific Ocean. Here, be on the lookout for the orcas and bottlenose dolphins that regularly visit the waters close to the town, or visit the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park for up-close viewings of whales, dolphins, and sea birds.For the ultimate dinner with a view, reserve a table at Orbit 360°. Dine at the top of the Sky Tower, which rotates once every hour for panoramic views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf. The restaurant focuses on local and seasonal produce, with meat and seafood dishes highlighting New Zealand's cuisine in a three-course set menu.
Day 18: Depart Auckland
Your epic Australia and New Zealand adventure concludes today. When the time comes, your driver will take you to the airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!
More Great New Zealand Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to New Zealand? Check out these other New Zealand itineraries, explore different ways to spend 18 days in New Zealand, or discover the best time to visit New Zealand.
A note on diacritical and retroflex markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.