This relaxed 10-day getaway introduces you to the highlights of New Zealand's North and South Islands in luxurious style. Between exclusive excursions and tours, you'll embark on scenic road trips between some of the country's loveliest boutique lodges. Soar over Rotorua in a floatplane, cycle between the wineries of Hawke's Bay, cruise around Art Deco Napier in a vintage car, boat across the glassy waters of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, and soak in natural hot springs on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.


  • Spend your evenings in luxury at secluded boutique lodges
  • Take a scenic floatplane flight over the geothermal wonders of Rotorua
  • Feast on Maori song, drama, tradition, and food at Te Pa Tu
  • Go wine tasting in both the Hawke's Bay and Central Otago regions
  • Marvel at the beauty of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi from the air and water

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, All Blacks Rugby Experience, Ahi Restaurant Auckland
Day 2 Exclusive Waiheke Wine Tour Auckland
Day 3 Drive to Rotorua, Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, Glowworm Paddleboard Tour Rotorua
Day 4 Scenic Floatplane Tour, Wai Ariki Spa, Māori Feast & Performance Rotorua
Day 5 Drive to Napier, Art Deco Vintage Car Tour, Gannet Safari Napier
Day 6 Full-Day Hawke's Bay Wine Cycling Tour Napier
Day 7 Fly to Queenstown, Skippers Canyon 4WD Tour, Evening Onsen Session Queenstown
Day 8 Full-Day Gibbston Valley Wine Tour Queenstown
Day 9 Fly-Cruise-Fly to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Queenstown
Day 10 Glenorchy 4WD Safari, Depart Queenstown  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, All Blacks Rugby Experience, Ahi Restaurant

You'll stay right at the water's edge in the luxe Park Hyatt Auckland

Kia ora! Welcome to New Zealand's North Island! Begin your adventure in Auckland, the country's largest city. With two bustling harbors and more than 500,000 sailboats and yachts, it's easy to see why Auckland is nicknamed the "City of Sails." A private driver will be waiting to transfer you to the 5-star Park Hyatt Auckland. Check into your luxurious suite, where you'll enjoy waterfront views across Waitematā Harbour. The hotel's design pays tribute to the Māori wharenui (house), blending art and community ties, and offers your first taste of the local culture.

This afternoon, you'll dive into New Zealand's beloved national sport as you see what it takes to be an All-Black. Experience the excitement and emotion of game day and discover the stories behind some of rugby's most famous players, moments, and matches. This guided experience introduces you to the game before leading you through state-of-the-art displays combining sound, images, interactive technology, and hands-on activities. Discover the country's deep passion for rugby, experience the full force of the All Blacks haka (ceremonial war dances), and tackle interactive zones.

This evening, you'll taste the best of seasonal New Zealand cuisine at Ahi, a chic restaurant that honors the passionate suppliers and growers from across New Zealand. Savor a handful of ever-changing dishes paired with wine, each telling an authentic food story of Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand).

Day 2: Exclusive Waiheke Wine Tour

Waiheke Wine tour exclusive
Waiheke Island is home to more than 30 boutique vineyards

After breakfast, board a ferry from downtown Auckland, enjoying a pleasant cruise through the Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island, New Zealand's famous wine island. On arrival, your private guide will meet you and whisk you to the first vineyard for a tasting and light lunch. Later, visit two more estates to taste local wines, plus a craft brewery and distillery, where you'll try an award-winning whisky.

As a private experience, you can tailor the day to suit your interests, so if three wineries are too many, you can opt to include different activities instead. Pop by local artist studios or sculpture gardens, go for a scenic coastal walk, or even take an exhilarating zipline ride across lush native bushland. When your day is over, take the return ferry to the city. From here, it's only a 10-minute walk back to the Park Hyatt, where you could dine at the acclaimed on-site Onemata or make a reservation at one of Auckland's top restaurants near the waterfront.

Day 3: Drive to Rotorua, Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, Glowworm Paddleboard Tour

Witness the movie magic of Hobbiton when you walk through the movie set

Your road trip starts this morning as you collect a rental car and cruise three hours south to Rotorua, New Zealand's famous geothermal city. This area is one of the world's most active volcanic regions, and you'll find bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers, and natural hot springs. Your scenic journey also passes through the setting for J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth in "The Lord of the Rings" movies. Set in the heart of the Waikato region's farmland, you'll reach The Shire and the Hobbiton Movie Set, where you can explore Bilbo's house and drop into the Green Dragon Inn to sip ale, cider, or ginger beer.

Continue to Rotorua—you'll know you've arrived when you can smell the sulfur! Check into your luxurious lodge, the 5-star On The Point, a boutique stay at the edge of Lake Rotorua. Settle into your suite and squeeze in a game of tennis, or find the property's friendly donkeys and sheep for a visit before this evening's adventure. Close to dusk, you'll paddleboard along the lake's shoreline and enjoy a brilliant sunset from the water. Then, float inside a handful of small and enchanting glowworm caves. Admire the constellation of thousands of bioluminescent creatures sparkling like a galaxy of stars above.

Day 4: Scenic Floatplane Tour, Wai Ariki Spa, Māori Feast & Performance

Scenic flight Mt Tarawera - Orakei Korako - Floatplane
Take a floatplane flight over Mount Tarawera (photo courtesy of On The Point)

Today you'll take to the skies to see the beauty of Rotorua's wild geothermal activity from above in a floatplane. This small-group excursion takes you above Mokoia Island and over the volcanic peak of the 3,680-foot (1,121 m) Mount Tarawera. Continue south, over the Waimangu Valley, to view other natural landmarks like Frying Pan Lake, Inferno Crater, and the Wai-O-Tapu reserve. Follow the Waikato River to the hidden valley of Orakei Korako, then land on the river, where you'll swap to a boat and then begin a land-based exploration of Rotorua.

After a busy morning exploring, it's time to relax. Nestled on the foreshore of the stunning Lake Rotorua, Wai Ariki Spa offers a restorative journey grounded in te ao Māori principles, Ngāti Whakaue culture, and traditional healing practices. Under the guidance of the local iwi (tribe), you'll move from heat to cool, mud to water, and air to steam to maximize the therapeutic benefits of this two-hour multisensory, immersive progression.

Plan your trip to New Zealand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Finally, this evening, you'll be invited as a manuhiri (guest) to Te Pā Tū (Tamaki Māori Village) for a three-course feast and celebration of dancing, music, and storytelling. The themes change according to the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar), but the night always kicks off with an opening ceremony while you're served kai horotai (appetizers). Listen to stories and songs in the forest amphitheater, then follow your Māori guide to your three-course hākari (feast).

Day 5: Drive to Napier, Art Deco Vintage Car Tour, Gannet Safari

Hop in a stylish vintage car and explore the Art Deco architecture of Napier

Today, you'll make the three-hour drive to Napier, a coastal city set among the vineyard-grooved landscape of Hawke's Bay. In 1931, a violent earthquake and subsequent fires destroyed most of the commercial heart, and the people of Napier rebuilt their city with an Art Deco flare. On arrival, discover the city's distinctive architectural heritage in style with a private tour in a 1930s vintage car. Go for a spin around Napier's famous Art Deco Quarter, historic Port Ahuriri, and a delightfully quaint Art Deco residential suburb as your driver shares stories of the city's past.

Afterward, continue to your accommodations at Rosewood Cape Kidnappers, perched on a peninsula above the Pacific, complete with a world-class 71-par clifftop golf course. The 5,930-acre (2,400 ha) estate is encircled by predator-proof fences, making it a sanctuary for kiwis and the world's largest mainland colony of gannets. Expect 5-star luxury on this working cattle farm, with an infinity pool, spa, stellar wine cellar with tasting tours, and gourmet tasting menus. Relax in your elegant room or suite, then meet a private guide for this afternoon's bird-watching safari.

Your destination is the world's largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Your private air-conditioned 4WD will traverse riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, native bushes, and steep gullies. Pause at a spectacular cliff top to enjoy views right across to the Mahia Peninsula. When you reach the gannets, you'll get within a few feet of these remarkable birds.

Day 6: Full-Day Hawke's Bay Wine Cycling Tour

Return to your lodge for an afternoon at the spa or on your terrace (photo courtesy of Roseland Cape Kidnappers)

Saddle up for a full-day Hawke's Bay adventure that combines fresh air, exercise, and the region's exquisite wines. This self-guided cycling tour kicks off with visits to renowned wineries clustered around Havelock North, including Craggy Range, Black Barn, and Te Mata Estate. At each stop, you'll taste their acclaimed vintages. Afterward, continue on the trail, weaving through picturesque orchard country alongside the Tuki Tuki River.

Your scenic ride continues along the stunning Hawke's Bay coastline, taking you to the coastal settlement of Te Awanga for lunch. Around this area, you'll visit even more acclaimed wineries, including Elephant Hill, Te Awanga Estate, and Clearview Estate. After a full day of cycling and wine tasting, you'll return to the lodge in the late afternoon, where you can soothe tired muscles with a treatment in the opulent on-site spa.

Day 7: Fly to Queenstown, Skippers Canyon 4WD Tour, Evening Onsen Session

Settle into a secluded lakeside retreat just outside Queenstown (photo courtesy of Rosewood Matakauri)

Drop your car at the airport this morning and board a flight to Queenstown—the South Island awaits! Sitting on Lake Wakatipu at the base of New Zealand's Southern Alps, Queenstown is considered the adventure sports capital of the world and the place to chase hair-raising thrills, from skydiving and extreme bungee jumping to jet-boating and ziplining. Your flight will take around 4.5 hours, with a stop in Auckland. On arrival, collect a rental car and check into the secluded Rosewood Matakauri, a luxury lodge set on the shores of the lake with panoramas of The Remarkables mountain range.

Relax after your flight in your sumptuous suite or private villa, all offering terraces and views over the lake. Later this afternoon, you can dive into the surrounding landscapes with a private 4WD trip along Skippers Road, one of the most adventurous roads in the world. Your driver will take you high above the Shotover River, where you'll soak up awe-inspiring scenery from high above the gorge. Once known as the "richest river in the world," you can still find the precious metal there today. As you journey through the canyon, your private guide will stop by historic sites from the region's gold rush past.

End your first evening on the South Island gazing at the night sky while immersed in an Onsen hot pool. Set high into a cliffside, each private pool overlooks the magnificent Shotover River Canyon. Here, the experience is about unwinding and soaking up Queenstown's spectacular scenery as your mind and body surrender to the deep warmth and gentle massage of the private pools. 

Day 8: Full-Day Gibbston Valley Wine Tour

Explore the beauty of Central Otago's vineyards, backed by rolling hills

Your penultimate day in New Zealand starts with a leisurely pace as you visit four of Central Otago's best cellar doors, including a stop at the famous Gibbston Valley underground wine cave. With the help of your charismatic wine guide and knowledgeable cellar staff, you'll sample over 18 spectacular cool-climate wines, pausing at a vineyard for a scrumptious lunch partway. As you travel between vineyards in a luxury Mercedes van, you'll learn about the local region, its stories, facts, and legends.

Alternatively, you could opt for a more active cycling wine tour, taking in the spectacular scenery of the Gibbston Valley on two wheels as you follow a winery map and the Gibbston River Trail, which connects more than seven wineries, a tavern, and a brewery into an easy loop. If you still have daylight on your return to Queenstown, consider riding the Skyline Gondola to catch panoramic views over Queenstown, Coronet Peak, and The Remarkables. From here, you can embark on hiking trails and mountain biking routes or take the downhill luge track back to town.

Day 9: Fly-Cruise-Fly to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi

The world-famous Milford Sound
The world-famous Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is an unmissable day trip while in Queenstown

Any trip to New Zealand should include a visit to the spectacular Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. If you're short on time but ready for the adventure, the Fly-Cruise-Fly option from Queenstown takes you to the heart of the Fiordland region and back in half a day. Your scenic flight from Queenstown will soar over the rugged backcountry of Central Otago, offering views of alpine lakes, lush rainforest, rugged snowcapped mountains, and the glacially carved valleys of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and Fiordland National Park.

Once at Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, you'll board an intimate and immersive two-hour cruise and simply relax while taking in the passing scenery of Mitre Peak, cascading waterfalls, towering cliffs, and native animals. If you're lucky, you'll spot seals basking in the sun, dolphins leaping, and sometimes the rare Fiordland crested penguins. After soaking up nature from the water, you'll fly back to town, where you can spend the afternoon at the lodge or stroll around Queenstown.

Day 10: Glenorchy 4WD Safari, Depart Queenstown

Safari of the scenes Glenorchy (LOTR)
Experience the best of Middle-earth when you take a nature safari across Glenorchy

On your final morning in New Zealand, you'll traverse the countryside searching for the filming locations that brought Tolkien's Middle-earth to the big screen on a Glenorchy 4WD safari. Today's off-road adventure will give you the chance to experience the otherworldly panoramic landscapes as you follow one of the South Island's most scenic drives. Look outside your window for brilliant views of the Southern Alps, and enjoy the ride as you explore "The Lord of the Rings" filming locations such as Isengard, Ithilien Camp, Lothlórien, Fangorn Forest, and the Battle of Amon Hen.

Later on, you'll hop back in the car for the final time and make your way to the airport to drop off your rental and catch 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 10 days in New Zealand in luxury, 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.


Map of New Zealand Luxury Highlights: North & South Islands - 10 Days
Map of New Zealand Luxury Highlights: North & South Islands - 10 Days