- Take a day trip from Auckland to visit the stunning Waitakere Ranges
- Visit movie sets from "The Lord of the Rings" in two stunning locations
- Hit the slopes in Queenstown's spectacular Coronet Peak or the Remarkables
- Cruise on Milford Sound / Piopiotahi's tranquil waters and spot fur seals
- Taka helicopter tour of glaciers near Queenstown on your last day
|Day 1||Arrive in Auckland, Explore||Auckland|
|Day 2||Morning in Auckland, Visit the Waitakere Ranges||Auckland|
|Day 3||Drive to Rotorua, Hobbiton Movie Set Tour||Rotorua|
|Day 4||Transfer to Christchurch, Explore||Christchurch|
|Day 5||Day Trip to High Country Station & Edoras||Christchurch|
|Day 6||Scenic Transfer to Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 7-8||Two-Day Skiing & Snowboarding Adventure||Queenstown|
|Day 9||Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Cruise||Queenstown|
|Day 10||Morning Helicopter Tour, Free Time in Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 11||Depart Queenstown|
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, Explore
Welcome to Auckland on New Zealand's North Island! Your driver will wait at the airport to transfer you to your hotel. Take some time to relax before heading out to explore. Bound by the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Auckland has two bustling harbors, and it's not hard to see why it's nicknamed the ''City of Sails."
For supreme views, scale the 1,075-foot-tall (328 m) Sky Tower with its dizzying observation deck, and have lunch at its iconic Orbit Restaurant, a 360-degree revolving dining experience. Or make your way to the top of Mount Eden, one of the city's 48 volcanic cones. At the Auckland Museum, you can also stroll around the flower-filled Wintergardens and learn about the city's Polynesian and European roots.
Alternatively, 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 Auckland's waterfront to the Pacific Ocean. Keep a close lookout for the orcas and bottlenose dolphins that regularly visit the waters close to the city, or visit the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park for up-close viewings of whales, dolphins, and sea birds. For dinner, check out the city's world-class dining scene before a good night's rest.
Day 2: Morning in Auckland, Visit the Waitakere Ranges
After breakfast at your hotel in Auckland, you'll have the morning to explore the city on your own. Consider hopping on a cruise from Auckland's Waitemata Harbour and learn about the most well-known city landmarks. Sail under the Harbour Bridge and take in the city skyline, Rangitoto Island, North Head, and the Bean Rock Lighthouse. Alternatively, you could head back to the Sky Tower and do a Sky Walk, an outside loop around the pergola just over 600 feet (192 m) above ground, or "sky jump" off the tower for a controlled free-fall to the base.
In the afternoon, leave the city behind, traveling about 30 minutes to the spectacular Waitakere Ranges and its rainforest and beaches. At Arataki Center, high on a ridge, you'll have breathtaking panoramic views from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Take a walk in the rainforest, and follow trails among fern and kauri trees. Then head to the beach along the wild and rugged Piha west coast, where you can swim or lounge.
Day 3: Drive to Rotorua, Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
This morning you'll be picked up for the drive to Rotorua. This geothermal area is peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools, and steaming geysers, thanks to its location within one of the world's most active volcanic regions. At the start of your journey, you'll head south from Auckland over the Bombay Hills to the rich farmland of the Waikato region. After stopping for lunch, you'll travel through the heritage town of Cambridge, where tree-lined streets add to the English-style atmosphere.
Then it's time to journey through Middle-earth to the Hobbiton movie set from ''The Lord of the Rings" and ''The Hobbit" films. On arrival at Shire's Rest, you'll embark on your Hobbiton movie set tour, where you'll see 44 Hobbit holes, the double arch bridge, the party tree, and the Green Dragon Inn (where a complimentary beer, cider, or ginger ale is included). At this stunning location, you can take a photo at the door of Bilbo's house, Bag End, and look out over Hobbiton to the hills in the distance. After the tour, drive to your hotel in Rotorua, where you'll stay the night.
Day 4: Fly to Christchurch, Explore
This morning, after breakfast, your driver will take you to Rotorua airport for a flight to Christchurch on the South Island. Take some time to settle in before heading out to explore New Zealand's second-largest metropolis.
This vibrant city is known for its green spaces like Hagley Park and the Botanical Gardens—hence its nickname "Garden City"—and a stroll through one is always a good idea. For something more imbued with history, take a tour down the Avon River / Ōtākaro led by guides in Edwardian costume, or ride one of the city's 19th-century trams past Cathedral Square and the Canterbury Museum.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Day Trip to High Country Station & Edoras
Get ready for an adventure-filled day today as you journey to the remote and beautiful High Country Station after breakfast. The area is home to Mount Sunday, an incredible mountain with sweeping views over the Rangitata River. Mount Sunday got its name from a time when boundary riders (horse riders who maintained the perimeters of a cattle or sheep station) met here on Sundays.
See how this spectacular mountain was transformed into Edoras, the capital city of the Rohan people from "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. Marvel at its rugged, unspoiled beauty and breathe in the clear mountain air while you indulge in a gourmet sparkling wine picnic.
Day 6: Scenic Transfer to Queenstown
You'll need a hearty breakfast this morning before you venture into the heart of the beautiful South Island. First, cross the vast Canterbury Plains and enter MacKenzie Country—home to sizeable high-country sheep stations. Next is the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, which is the first of the large Southern Lakes on your journey. From there, you'll continue to Lake Pukaki, where you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of Aoraki / Mount Cook towering over the lake on clear days. Farther along, is the town of Twizel, which was the location of many of "The Lord of the Rings" movie scenes.
After lunch, you'll cross the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand's highest roads, with the summit reaching 3,185 feet (971 m), linking the Mackenzie Basin into Central Otago. The next major town is Cromwell, a significant fruit-growing region that sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. Follow the sheer cliffs toward Queenstown and Gibbston, one of New Zealand's premier wine-growing regions. Approaching Queenstown, the impressive Remarkables mountain range and beautiful Lake Wakatipu come into view as you head toward the adventure capital of New Zealand.
Once you arrive in Queenstown, you should visit the Snow Centre located on the ground floor of the Station Building and collect your MyPass card for your skiing and snowboarding adventure in the coming days. This will save you time as you'll avoid the morning queues and can head straight to the mountain with more time to ski and ride. MyPass sorted, there are two luxurious dining options for this evening. Pick between the Botswana Butchery with its roaring log fires or the award-winning Rātā run by Michelin-starred chef Josh Emett.
Day 7-8: Two-Day Skiing & Snowboarding Adventure
The following two days are dedicated to hitting the slopes for an exhilarating ski or snowboard adventure. Fuel up at breakfast in Queenstown before you board the NZSki Snowline bus to take you to the mountains. Everything you need for the slopes, including the latest ski and snowboarding gear, is available for rent directly on the mountain. You'll need to bring or purchase your gloves, goggles, or sunglasses from the retail outlets.
Two fabulous après ski dining options exist for this part of your trip. On the first night, treat yourself to a dining experience at Skyline's Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar at the top of the gondola in Queenstown. As you tuck into the signature buffet dinner, take in the panoramic views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the surrounding mountains from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
On the second night, step aboard the TSS Earnslaw steamship for a ride on Lake Wakatipu to the Walter Peak High Country Farm. Here, you'll enjoy a barbecue dinner featuring rotisserie-cooked meats, seasonal vegetables, and salads, followed by dessert and New Zealand cheeses. 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 sail back to town.
Day 9: Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Cruise
After breakfast at your hotel, head out on a small group day tour of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. Departing from your Queenstown accommodation, you'll first head to Te Anau before taking the famous Milford Road to reach the spectacular fjord formed by ancient glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years.
Experience a stunning two-hour small boat nature cruise on the water, where you might see fur seals, kea (New Zealand's native alpine parrot), and occasionally dolphins. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch while you hear lots of fun and informative commentary from the local guide. Soak up the peace of the area as you sail past towering cliffs, rushing waterfalls, and beautiful inky waters, before heading back to Queenstown for the night.
Day 10: Morning Helicopter Tour, Free Time in Queenstown
Today you'll be soaring high above epic glaciers on a scenic 50-minute helicopter flight from Queenstown. After breakfast at your hotel, your driver will be waiting to take you to the helicopter base. You'll climb aboard the helicopter and fly west over the Queenstown Basin and Paradise Valley and into Mount Aspiring National Park.
Enjoy this exhilarating flight past spectacular mountains and blue-green ice before landing on one of the many glaciers within the Forbes Mountains. There's time for photos in the snow before heading back toward Queenstown, past hidden alpine lakes and Skippers Canyon's rich gold mining history.
Return to Queenstown, where you can take a scenic ride on the Skyline Gondola, one of the steepest cable car lifts in the Southern Hemisphere. You'll climb over 1,400 feet (450 m) to Bob's Peak for panoramic views of the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and sparkling Lake Wakatipu. After admiring the views, ride the peak's two hilltop luge tracks. The gondola will take you back down the mountain, or you can hike or mountain bike back down for an added thrill.