- Discover Queenstown's neighboring vineyards and sample cool-climate wines
- Take a leap off one of the world's first bungee jumps, Kawarau Bridge
- Marvel at the blue-white pinpricks of glowworms in the Te Anau Glowworm Caves
- Relax with a happy hour cruise on Lake Wanaka
|Arrive in Queenstown, Explore
|Glenorchy Safari Tour, Appellation Boutique Wine Tour
|Kawarau Bridge Bungee Jump, Shotover Jet Boat Ride, Onsen Evening Session
|Visit Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Go Hiking in & Around Te Anau
|Enjoy a Cruise on Milford Sound / Piopiotahi
|Explore Wānaka & Go Hiking, Lake Wānaka Happy Hour Cruise
|Free Day in Wānaka with Optional Activities
|Depart New Zealand
Day 1: Arrive in Queenstown, Explore
Welcome to New Zealand! Spend your first day here exploring Queenstown at your own pace. This town is the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world, with many adrenaline-inducing activities available in the area, like paragliding and bungee jumping.
For more relaxing activities, start the day with a walk, jog, or bike ride around Lake Wakatipu. Then, check out nearby Arrowtown or brave the steep, winding trip to Macetown to learn more about New Zealand's 19th-century gold rush. You could also follow the Gibbston Valley wine trail or ride a 100-year-old steamship, the TSS Earnslaw.
Day 2: Glenorchy Safari Tour, Appellation Boutique Wine Tour
Kick off your second day with a tour of Glenorchy, a small settlement known as a filming location for "The Lord of the Rings." A 4WD safari will allow you to experience it, traveling on one of the South Island's most scenic drives. Look outside your window for panoramic views of the Southern Alps and the backdrop for Tolkien's Middle-earth. Isengard, Ithilien Camp, Lothlórien, Fangorn Forest, and Amon Hen are a few of the stops you'll make and sites you'll see during the tour.
Consider taking a tasting tour through Central Otago's best boutique vineyards in the afternoon. The excursion crosses Gibbston, Bannockburn, and Cromwell, three subregions known for their excellent cool-climate wines, which are generally more acidic and lighter than other varieties. Pick your favorite wine to pair with lunch at a fourth vineyard, and take a walk through historic Old Cromwell to end your journey among some of the most picturesque vineyards in New Zealand.
Day 3: Kawarau Bridge Bungee Jump, Shotover Jet Boat Ride, Onsen Evening Session
Get ready for a day of adventure as you enjoy some exciting outdoor activities. Begin with a visit to one of the world's first bungee jumping spots at the Kawarau Bridge. If you are ready to leap, this is the place to do it. There is an option to jump alone or in tandem with another person. Next, take an exhilarating ride through the Shotover River Canyons in a high-speed jet boat that seems to defy gravity. Be prepared to get wet as your jet navigates through 46 miles (75 km) of rapids and narrow twists and turns.
Then, take some time this evening to slow down as you relax in a hot pool under the stars. Based on the Japanese bathing tradition, Onsen Hot Pools offers cedar-lined steaming pools on a cliffside overlooking the Shotover River. Enjoy an hourlong soak accompanied by a drink and snack as you take in the alpine scenery. The water temperature averages 101°F (39°C), but one of the summer pools is kept cold for those who relish the thought of an icy plunge!
Day 4: Visit Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Go Hiking in & Around Te Anau
Transfer to Te Anau today and discover the Te Anau Glowworm Caves on a tour, which starts with a cruise across Lake Te Anau on a luxury catamaran. Disembark and enter the caves through Cavern House, taking time to peruse the displays that tell the story of this 12,000-year-old underground cave network. Next, your guide will take you along a limestone pathway, pointing out whirlpools, intricate rock formations, and an underground waterfall. Board a small boat to glide through the darkness, surrounded by the blue-white pinpricks of thousands of glowworms on the cave walls and ceiling.
Enjoy some other activities around Lake Te Anau when the tour is finished. This is an excellent place for walking, boating, fishing, hunting, kayaking, mountain biking, swimming, and water skiing at Brod Bay. Te Anau is the closest town with facilities to Fiordland National Park, a wilderness area famed for its tramping (long-distance walking) and spectacular scenery. There are several excellent hiking tracks here, including different sections of the Kepler Track and a three-hour roundtrip track leading from the Visitor Centre to the Upukerora River.
Day 5: Enjoy a Cruise on Milford Sound / Piopiotahi
See the entire length of the Milford Sound / Piopiotahi fjord onboard a nature cruise today. You'll get a close-up of Milford from a local's perspective as you get soaked under glistening waterfalls.
Following the cruise and picnic lunch, visit the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory. The observatory offers a journey through this unique marine reserve's natural history, geology, and conservation efforts. Then, descend 33 feet (10 m) beneath the water into a spacious viewing room for uninterrupted views of the undersea world, where you'll see rare black coral and colorful sea creatures. Afterward, you'll cruise back to Milford wharf.
Day 6: Explore Wānaka & Go Hiking, Lake Wānaka Happy Hour Cruise
Transfer to Wānaka this morning. This scenic resort town sits on the shores of one of the largest bodies of water in the Queenstown Lakes District, Lake Wānaka, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Settle into your accommodation, then head out to explore the walking and hiking trails (suitable for all skill levels) around Wānaka. First, head to the Department of Conservation information center to get updates on track conditions and weather, as well as trail options for your level and timeframe. A few options are the Outlet Track, Mount Iron Track, Roy's Peak Track, or Isthmus Peak Track.
Later, take a gentle cruise around picturesque Lake Wānaka while relaxing with a glass of local wine or beer and a selection of cheeses. The cruise will take you toward the highly-photographed Wānaka Tree before continuing to Waterfall Creek and Ruby Island. You'll then head to Stevensons Peninsula before returning via Beacon and Eely points.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Free Day in Wānaka with Optional Activities
Use today to explore Wānaka on your own. Or, if you'd prefer an organized activity, there are several options you could try. For example, you could take a 4WD safari to explore the private farm tracks on a historic sheep, cattle, and deer station. You'll visit sites like Nehenehe, an ancient Māori settlement abandoned in the 1830s, and the ruins of one of Wānaka's first European settler's farmhouses (1880s). You could also opt for a wine tour, where you'll taste wines at four vineyards, then travel to Old Cromwell Town, a Gold-rush era town restored with boutiques, restaurants, and cafés.
Another option is to tour a 10-acre (4 ha) lavender farm to sample Lakes Honey and many on-site lavender products. Or try a deep canyoning adventure, where you'll explore a natural wonderland of powerful waterfalls, forested pools, and sculpted rock faces. You could also visit Puzzling World, which features a multi-level outdoor maze and optical illusion rooms, try skydiving, or go jet boating on the Mātukituki River.
Day 8: Depart New ZealandIt's time to say goodbye to New Zealand! A driver will transfer you to the airport for your flight home at the appointed time. Have a safe and comfortable journey!
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 eight days in New Zealand, or discover the best time to visit New Zealand.