17 Day AAT Kings Kia Ora New Zealand
Auckland to Christchurch
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
AAT Kings

17 Day AAT Kings Kia Ora New Zealand

It’s hard to pick a highlight of this New Zealand tour from north to south. Is it the fiords and glaciers of Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, explored on a tour? The gem-like Bay of Islands from Auckland? The bubbling geysers and thermal springs of Rotorua? Or perhaps the mountain vistas of Queenstown? In between you have cosmopolitan cities, wineries, train rides, beaches… how does one country pack so much punch?

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Quick Itinerary Details

Escorted Coach Touring

This suggested tour costs from NZD$7,654 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

17 days/16 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 35 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions

Auckland City Tour
Huka Falls
Interislander ferry crossing
Maori Village Experience & Hangi (dinner), Rotorua
Milford Sound Cruise
TranzAlpine Rail Journey
TSS Earnslaw cruise & dinner at Walter Peak high country farm, Queenstown
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland

Day 2: Auckland - Bay of Islands

Day 3: Bay of Islands Free Time

Day 4: Bay of Islands - Auckland

Day 5: Auckland - Rotorua

Day 6: Rotorua Free Time

Day 7: Rotorua - Wellington

Day 8: Wellington - Picton

Day 9: Picton - Christchurch

Day 10: Christchurch - Omarama

Day 11: Omarama - Dunedin

Day 12: Dunedin - Te Anau

Day 13: Te Anau - Queenstown

Day 14: Queenstown

Day 15: Queenstown - Franz Josef/Waiau

Day 16: Franz Josef/Waiau - Christchurch

Day 17: Farewell from Christchurch

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Boats in the Auckland Harbour

Auckland is hypnotic, the kind of place you could easily lose yourself in for a couple of days. Or weeks. Arrive at your leisure and explore waterfront precincts filled with yachts, take a cruise out to the wineries of Waiheke Island, or just meet fellow travel companions over a few local tipples tonight.

Staying in:

  • Holiday Inn Express, Auckland (1 night)
Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Say goodbye to the ‘City of Sails’ as you journey north to New Zealand’s dramatic Bay of Islands from Auckland – 140 droplets of land ringed by turquoise sea. It’s undeniably beautiful, but it also holds a special historical secret: this is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, between Captain William Hobson and Māori chiefs. Your guide, perhaps a descendant of one of the original signatories, will explain the significance of the site, while pointing out the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe and a carved meeting house.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort (1 night)
Hole in the Rock Bay of Islands

If there’s a travel destination that inspires wanderlust, the Bay of Islands is it. Today, trip the light fantastic and head off in whatever direction you please. Perhaps travel up to Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua, the very top of New Zealand, via idyllic Ninety Mile Beach. Or glide around on an historic tall ship, enjoy local drops on a wine tour of the region, or join a tour of Russell and learn more about the settling of the Bay of Islands.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort (1 night)
Aerial View of the Bay of Islands

Today, New Zealand’s most northerly city is well and truly on your radar. Whangarei is a place where waterfalls meet beaches, galleries meet museums. It’s like the country in a tantalising snapshot – a union of nature and forward-thinking culture. Explore at your leisure before sinking back into your seat for the mesmerizing commute back to Auckland.

Staying in:

  • Holiday Inn Express, Auckland (1 night)
Glowworms in a cave in Waitomo

Another day on a tour in Auckland. Lucky you. After a morning of sightseeing, set your GPS for the Waikato River and your Waitomo Caves tour. This place is radiant – quite literally. While cruising cavernous waterways, your route is cast in a magical light by thousands of glowworms. It’s a landscape almost as otherworldly as Rotorua, where mud pops and jettisons from bubbling geysers, and steam rushes skywards from cracks in the Earth. Tonight, delve deep into  Māori  culture and traditions at Te Puia. Your dinner, a hangi cooked underground, is served while you overlook the spectacular geothermal valley. The highlight is a Māori  cultural performance in the beautifully carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua.  Enjoy your packed lunch today knowing that a donation is being made on your behalf to local charity Auckland City Mission, where real change can start with just one meal.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Rotorua Hotel (1 night)
Champagne pools in Rotorua

Explore at your own pace today, but with plenty of tips from your Travel Director. Want a bit of down time?  We wouldn’t blame you for simply blissing out at in the steamy thermal springs at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa. Animal lover? Go behind the scenes on a working kiwi nursery and hatchery. Hobbit fans will want to take advantage of today’s opportunity to visit the sights featured in The Lord of the Rings movies at Hobbiton. These beautiful landscapes are not only a bucket list tour for Hobbit fans but a gorgeous countryside getaway.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Rotorua Hotel (1 night)
View of Huka Falls

You’ll hear Huka Falls well before you see it – at this natural wonder, a staggering 220,000 litres of water thunder over an 11-metre-high waterfall every second. The road ahead unfolds in a broad panorama of Lake Taupo, its waters so vivid and blue you’ll think someone has taken the glasses off your nose and cleaned them for the first time. Traverse the Kapiti Coast to New Zealand’s cool little capital, Wellington, where there are so many restaurants and bars to choose from, you’ll need a guidebook. Wait, you have an in-the-know Travel Director to talk to about your Wellington tour.

Staying in:

  • Travelodge Wellington (1 night)
The Beehive in Wellington, NZ parliament building

Your final few hours in Wellington should – must – begin with a coffee. The city is known for its uber-cool cafés, designed to fuel you through a session at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. Onwards to the Inter-islander for a cruise across Cook Strait, from the North Island to the South, through a maze of arms and inlets into the sleepy seaside village of Picton.

Staying in:

  • Picton Beachcomber Inn (1 night)
View of Picton Harbour

There aren’t many beaches more dramatic than the black sands of Kaikoura. Bonus points if you spot a sea lion or sperm whale frolicking offshore. Talk to your Travel Director for tips on the essential restaurants to dine in tonight – Christchurch has reinvented itself in more ways than one.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Hotel Christchurch (1 night)
Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch

Christchurch tours show that the city is not only rebuilding itself after the devastating 2010/11 earthquakes, but is changing the way architects think about design. Case in point the mind-bending Transitional Cathedral, made largely of cardboard, and Turanga, the gold-clad central library. From here, your outlook is the Canterbury Plains: the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo, snow-capped mountains and atmospheric towns. Take it in on an optional scenic flight for added perspective of Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere.

Staying in:

  • Heritage Gateway Hotel (1 night)
Railway Station in Dunedin

If you’ve ever wanted to see New Zealand’s oldest public gardens, today you’re in luck. Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and limestone buildings, stands proud before you journey further south toward the Edinburgh of the South: Dunedin. It’s easy to while away the afternoon in the city’s atmospheric art-lined alleys. Or venture further afield to discover the wildlife that thrives in this pretty pocket of the country – fur seals and penguins among them.

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (1 night)
Larnach Castle Dunedin

Time is on your side this morning. Sleep in or channel your inner royalty on a visit to grand Larnach Castle – the only one of its kind in the country. Dunedin’s Scottish ancestry is everywhere you look, from the manicured grounds of Otago University to the city’s main George Street. Rolling green hills dotted with doe-eyed sheep are replaced by soaring mountains as you weave your way into Fiordland National Park and the South Island’s biggest lake and the town of Te Anau. Soak up the serenity – it doesn’t get any better than this.  Te Anau is also home to magical glowworm-filled caves accessed by boat across the lake. We highly recommend a visit. Soak up the serenity – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Staying in:

  • Distinction Luxmore Hotel (1 night)
Reflective water in Milford Sound on a clear day

From the moment you step outside today, nature rules. Your route through Fiordland National Park is an intoxicating union of beech forests, alluvial flats, meadows and mirror-like lakes. Gin-clear rivers carve the countryside, with all roads leading to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi. Cruising this World Heritage-listed expanse will give you goosebumps, a string of waterfalls creating a misty curtain across sheer escarpments. Look out for dolphins – they’re a common sight here.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown (1 night)
Queenstown wharf at sunrise with mist over the mountains

Take today at your own pace. Like things fast and furious? Feel the wind in your hair on the high-octane Shotover Jet, perhaps. There’s a reason why Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the country. Nature lover? Discover some of New Zealand’s feathered friends at a wildlife centre. Wherever you wander, make sure you’re back in time to glide across Lake Wakatipu aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue dinner.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown (1 night)
Main Street Arrowtown

Try and keep count of today’s lakes. Leaving Lake Wakatipu behind, Arrowtown appears on the horizon. We know you’ll want to linger in the movie-set-like streets, lined with trees and character-filled boutiques. But Lake Dunstan awaits, as do its orchards. Pause to refuel on flavour-packed stone fruit. Then there’s Lake Hawea followed by Lake Wanaka, with its Instagrammable shoreline of poplars and willows. Over the Haast Pass,  the pretty town of Franz Josef awaits. Get some perspective on an optional scenic flight over this natural wonder – if the weather behaves, you may even get to land on it.

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (1 night)
View of Franz Josef Glacier

Swap snow for pounamu (native greenstone or jade) in Hokitika. In Māori tradition, it’s bad luck to buy this sacred stone for yourself; flutter your eyelids at your loved one. Just when you thought your adventure couldn’t get any better, you’ll aboard the TranzAlpine train bound for Christchurch, through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Hotel Christchurch (1 night)
AAT Kings Coach

Two New Zealand islands. Multiple glaciers. Endless lakes. Thermal springs. Black beaches, and white beaches. An endless parade of wildlife. We hope you find the words to describe this epic adventure to your family back home.

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17 Day AAT Kings Kia Ora New Zealand

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Mar 9, 2024
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