12 day New Zealand Highlights
Independent tour (bus & coach) from Auckland to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

12 day New Zealand Highlights

This 12 day tour allows you to experience some of the highlights of New Zealand in a short time.  Some superb inclusions ensure a varied and exciting tour.

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Tour summary and feature

Independent tour (bus & coach)

This suggested tour costs from NZD$4,441 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

12 days/11 nights

Motels

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 110 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions
Intercity Coach Travel
- Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland accommodation
- Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
- Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation
- Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Airport - Private Transfer
1 dinner, 1 special dinner
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland City. Accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Day 2: Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua. Accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Day 3: Hobbiton day tour from Rotorua and this evening discover the unique Maori culture at Tamaki. Accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Day 4: Fly Rotorua to Christchurch today. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 5: Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park . Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Day 6: Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 7: Free day to explore Queenstown. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 8: Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 9: Dart River Safari tour this morning, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner this evening. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 10: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Greatsights coach. Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Day 11: Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 12: Depart Christchurch today.

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 12 day tour starting in Auckland

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland City
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 1
We recommend Cover More Travel Insurance

We recommend that all travellers take out comprehensive travel insurance for their trip to New Zealand. Cover More offers quality travel insurance, which will give you the peace of mind and freedom to venture with confidence, knowing you'll have support and assistance whenever you need it.
The Inbound Options Plan gives you the highest level of cover and benefits available, such as:

  • Trip cancellation and amendment which protects your travel investment
  • Medical and dental emergencies
  • Lost luggage and personal belongings
  • Travel delay

You can tailor your cover further by adding on winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. Cover-More also covers activities such as horse riding, jet boating, bungy jumping, skydiving, and snorkelling to name a few. Chat with us for a quote, and for the full product disclosure statement.

Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Auckland Sky Tower Admission

Standing at 328 metres (just over 1000 feet) - the Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers panoramic views of the Auckla...

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Standing at 328 metres (just over 1000 feet) - the Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers panoramic views of the Auckland landscape. Travel in glass-fronted lift to one of three spectacular viewing platforms, or for a little more excitement do a SkyWalk - an outside loop around the pergola 192 metres (just over 600 feet) above ground. If you're really bold, Take the quick way down and SkyJump off the tower - a controlled free fall to the base. Inside, the Sky Lounge offers coffee and light meals while the iconic Orbit Restaurant is Auckland's only 360 degree revolving dining experience.
 

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Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.
Day 2 - Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 2
Auckland to Rotorua including Waitomo and Rotorua Experience with GreatSights

Departing early, this full-day tour has it all! From the magical glowworms and world-famous limestone formations of Waitomo to the rich cultural heritage and geothermal bounty of Rotorua. Includes a visit to the glowworm caves, a Māori cultural performance, a visit to the Agrodome and bubbling mud pools and geysers.

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.
Day 3 - Hobbiton day tour from Rotorua and this evening discover the unique Maori culture at Tamaki
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 3
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua with GreatSights

Setting out from Rotorua, your Hobbiton Movie Set tour starts with a scenic drive across the Kaimai Ranges to Matamata, a small town in the Waikato region known for its thoroughbred industry and dairy farming. Along the way, your local driver guide will provide informative commentary and share stories about the region and its history.
Just outside of Matamata is the private working farm that was transformed into The Shire for the award-winning The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies. The home of Tolkien's beloved hobbits Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin has been preserved since filming wrapped, and now draws visitors from around the world.

Take a two-hour guided tour of the movie set and learn how this picturesque farmland was transformed into a living, breathing piece of Middle-earth. Your guide will show you Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Party Tree, the Mill and many other structures from the movies. After your Hobbiton movie set tour, you will hop back on the GreatSights coach and retrace your steps back to Rotorua.

Te Pā Tū Evening Maori Cultural Experience

New Zealand’s Most Awarded Cultural Attraction, Tamaki Māori Village presents TE PĀ TŪ. Feast on song, drama, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest Pā (village) –blanketed by towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and a forest-formed amphitheatre. Te Pā Tū shares Māori history, traditions, and cultural aspirations across 4-hours of celebration and feasting. These events change with each season of the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar. 

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.

Meals included: Speciality Dinner

Day 4 - Fly Rotorua to Christchurch today
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 4
Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Airport.

Air New Zealand flight Rotorua to Christchurch
Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Day 5 - Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 5
Christchurch to Mount Cook with GreatSights

Depart Christchurch in the morning and travel through the lush farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, where you can see the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd as it stands in solitude next to the vibrant blue waters. Leaving Tekapo, continue into the Southern Alps towards Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's tallest mountain. Along the way your driver guide will keep you entertained and informed with commentary on the area's history and sites of interest. The tour concludes on arrival at Mount Cook Village, where you can explore and soak up the views of Aoraki / Mount Cook as it towers above. Please be aware, due to the remote location of the property there are no shops at Mt Cook Village. We recommend you stock up on any supplies you may want before leaving Christchurch.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and on...

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Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

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Your accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.
Day 6 - Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 6
Mount Cook to Queenstown with GreatSights

Depart Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park in the afternoon and head south through the tawny tussock of the Mackenzie Country. En route enjoy a stop in the quaint village of Omarama. Crossing the Lindis Pass this is one of New Zealand's highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres, you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range come into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head towards the adventure and activity capital of New Zealand. Tour concludes this evening on arrival into Queenstown.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.
Day 7 - Free day to explore Queenstown
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 7
Free day in Queenstown

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic, and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour.
Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata' or simply take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Jet Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride! Skim past rocky outcrops at close range in...

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Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride! Skim past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breathtaking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world-famous Shotover Jet full 360-degree spins!

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this sp...

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Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak and the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.

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Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.
Day 8 - Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 8
Milford Sound Cruise and coach tour from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with a 1 hour 40 minute Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On boarding a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown or Te Anau, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the modern, spacious vessel for a leisurely cruise in the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and the wildlife. During the cruise your friendly crew provide commentaries in several languages and point out the sights such as Mitre Peak and the Pembroke Glacier.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.
Day 9 - Dart River Safari tour this morning, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner this evening
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 9
Dart River Wilderness Jet

Journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park, where myth, heritage and fantasy come to life.
As one of Queenstown’s most exhilarating activities, the Wilderness Jet adventures on a spectacular journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience – a delicious gourmet BBQ buffet meal and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting.
Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and its surroundings as you cruise across the lake to the historic Walter Peak high country farm aboard the TSS Earnslaw Steamship.
Enjoy the ambiance of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses, tea and coffee.
After dinner, watch the farm dogs in action with a sheep-herding demonstration and say hello to the other farm animals. Finally, cruise home under the southern stars and enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Dinner

Day 10 - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Greatsights coach
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 10
Queenstown to Franz Josef with Intercity

Leaving Queenstown early, travel by coach through the stunning scenery of the South Island. You will pass by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Dunstan, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. After a morning tea break in Makarora on the border of Mount Aspiring World Heritage Park, you'll travel through the Haast Pass, journeying through native beech forest and over the Southern Alps, before emerging on the West Coast. This remote area has a ruggedly beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. Skirt the coast and see waves crashing on rocky beaches before returning inland. Before arriving in the afternoon at the small village of Franz Josef. From here you can explore the world famous Franz Josef Glacier.

Glacier Valley Shuttle

You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and taken on a short tour to view the glacier. Your shuttle vehicle will transfer you up the Franz Josef valley to the road end. Here you will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier from a viewing platform. Or enjoy one of the short walks available in this area. You will be returned to your accommodation by the Glacier Valley Shuttles.

Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.
Day 11 - Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 11
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with Intercity

This morning travel north through the small townships of Whataroa and Harihari. Stop at the Bushman's Centre for refreshments and a chance to experience a bit of West Coast humour. Continue through the township of Ross, which in the late 1800s was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields. In 1903 the largest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand was discovered at Jones Creek, not far from the town centre. It weighed 2807 grams. The New Zealand Government later purchased the nugget and presented it as a coronation gift to King George V. On arrival in Hokitika there is time to purchase lunch and explore the town centre. Hokitika is the administrative and commercial centre for this part of Westland. The major primary industry is timber milling. Dairy and sheep farming, commercial fishing, white baiting and eel processing being the other major industries. Continue onto Greymouth Railway Station from where you catch the world famous TranzAlpine train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

On arrival at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Day 12 - Depart Christchurch today
12 day New Zealand Highlights - Day 12
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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Remember - we can create this itinerary with any style of accommodation or customise to suit your interests and timeframe. Just contact us here.

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May 29, 2022
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