21 Day AAT Kings Spirit of New Zealand 23/24
Christchurch to Auckland
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
AAT Kings

21 Day AAT Kings Spirit of New Zealand 23/24

Dozens of lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Just as many beaches. A good dose of Māori history and culture. Glaciers, gorges and bubbling geysers. Wine, wonderful food and wildlife. It sounds like the recipe for the best New Zealand tour ever. We haven’t even touched on the forward-thinking cities and atmospheric towns you’ll encounter on a Christchurch tour, Wellington tour, Bay of Islands tour... And so much more. Pack your stamina.

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Quick Itinerary Details

Escorted Coach Touring

This suggested tour costs from NZD$9,814 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Auckland

21 days/20 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 30 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions

All Blacks Experience
Christchurch City Tour
Day trip to Stewart Island
Huka Falls
Interislander ferry crossing
Maori Village Experience & Hangi (dinner), Rotorua
Punakaiki Rocks
Te Puia Maori Arts & Crafts
Visit a Local Orchard
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch - Omarama

Day 3: Omarama - Dunedin

Day 4: Dunedin - Invercargill

Day 5: Stewart Island

Day 6: Invercargill - Queenstown

Day 7: Queenstown

Day 8: Queenstown - Franz Josef

Day 9: Franz Josef - Punakaiki

Day 10: Punakaiki - Nelson

Day 11: Nelson

Day 12: Nelson - Wellington

Day 13: Wellington

Day 14: Wellington - Napier

Day 15: Napier - Rotorua

Day 16: Rotorua Free Time

Day 17: Rotorua - Auckland

Day 18: Auckland - Bay of Islands

Day 19: Bay of Islands

Day 20: Bay of Islands - Auckland

Day 21: Farewell from Auckland

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Christchurch Tram

Community spirit is strong in Christchurch, as you’ll discover exploring its streets at your leisure. We recommend jumping on the tram to tour Christchurch and discover how the city has rebuilt itself since the 2010/11 earthquakes. Look out for the Transitional Cathedral, made largely of cardboard, and Turanga, the gold-clad central library.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Hotel Christchurch (1 night)
Church of the Good Shepherd - Tekapo

More of the city is revealed on a Christchurch tour before the colours of the Canterbury Plains spread before you: the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo, snow-capped mountains and atmospheric towns. It’s quite the backdrop for the stone-hewn Church of Good Shepherd. Opt to take in the drama from afar on a scenic flight over Mount Cook and the Southern Alps, Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. Could the start of your New Zealand guided tour be any more epic?

Staying in:

  • Heritage Gateway Hotel (1 night)
Dunedin Railway Station

Easing through the Waitaki Valley, you’re en route toward New Zealand’s oldest public gardens. They lie in the pretty town of Oamaru, known for its stately tree-lined streets and limestone buildings. Architectural drama of a different kind awaits in Dunedin. While away the afternoon in atmospheric art-lined alleys or sipping a lager or two in Speights Brewery (a national institution). Or venture further afield to discover Larnach Castle, which nods to Dunedin’s Scottish link – it’s known as ‘Little Edinburgh’ for a reason. In truth, it could also be known as ‘Little Galapagos’: fur seals and penguins thrive in this part of the South Island.

Staying in:

  • Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin (1 night)
Aerial Dunedin - Otaga Peninsula

Rolling green pastures dotted with wide-eyed sheep are your backdrop to Gore. Fun fact: this is the country music capital of New Zealand. Invercargill is obsessed with something else: motor vehicles. Tributes to speed legends colour the city, telling the story of everyone from Burt Munro to Bill Richardson – his shed full of classic vehicles is the largest private collection of its type in the world.

Staying in:

  • Kelvin Hotel (1 night)
Penguins on Steward Island

Wild, wide and wonderful, Stewart Island’s rugged coastline cuts a dramatic form in the Southern Ocean. It’s largely untouched – 97% is national parkland – which means that endemic flora and fauna (including a menagerie of birds) thrive here. But don’t take our word for it. Meet the locals on a tour through valleys and bays. Later you may choose to take a cruise out to wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island, or furher explore Stewart Island by E-bike.

Staying in:

  • Kelvin Hotel (1 night)
Lake View on Queenstown

You've probably already noticed that there's a lot of farmland here in New Zealand. It's fitting, then, that you meet southern girl Laura, who will introduce you to the sheep farm she was born and raised on. Continue to Queenstown and take today at your own pace.  Continue to Queenstown and take today at your own pace. Like things fast and furious? Feel the wind in your hair on the high-octane Shotover Jet, perhaps, twisting and revving along Queenstown's Shotover River. There's a reason why Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the country. Wine aficionado? Sip your way through surrounding vineyards. Tours of the South Island don't get much tastier than this. There's also an afternoon cruise on 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)
Skyline Queenstown

We wouldn’t blame you for using today to linger by the banks of Lake Wakatipu, marvelling at sky-scraping, snow-tipped Remarkables. But if you want to venture further afield, we can point you in the right direction. A spot of bungy jumping at the place it was born, perhaps? Or an epic journey through Fiordland National Park for a Milford Sound tour. This yawning gorge was carved by waterfalls, wind and weather. It’s the natural playground for dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. There’s a reason why this part of the island has World Heritage status.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown (1 night)
Franz Josef Glacier

We know you’ll want to linger in Arrowtown’s movie-set-like streets, lined with trees and character-filled boutiques and restaurants. But the Alpine country of the Southern Lakes is calling, from Lake Dunstan – pause for juicy stone fruit picked fresh from the tree – to oh-so-blue Lake Hawea and lovely Lake Wanaka, with its Instagrammable shoreline of poplars and willows. Over the Haast Pass, Franz Josef Glacier, a white-out of snow and ice, shimmers like a gem. Get some perspective on an optional flight over this natural wonder – if the weather behaves, you may even get to land on and tour Franz Josef Glacier. Trips to New Zealand don’t get any cooler than this.

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (1 night)
Pancake Rocks - Punakaiki

There aren’t many communities on the wild West Coast, Hokitika is one, and boy does it make the most of its setting. Wander the windswept coast before discovering the town’s other beauty: pounamu (native greenstone or jade). In Māori tradition, it’s bad luck to buy this sacred stone for yourself; flutter your eyelids at your loved one. Prepare yourself for Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and blowholes; they owe their existence to the thundering surf that will lull you to sleep.

Bell Tower in Nelson

Sit back and relax – that’s all you have to do today as you ease along the Heritage Highway toward Nelson. Press your nose against the glass as your coach weaves through Buller Gorge – a deep canyon home to New Zealand’s longest swingbridge – and Kahurangi National Park, a place of wild rivers, high plateaus, alpine herb fields and coastal forests.

Staying in:

  • The Rutherford Hotel (1 night)
Nelson Inlet

Sleep in or work up a sweat – today is completely at your leisure. We have a few ideas up our sleeve, of course. Lace up your hiking shoes and head off on a bushwalk, or sit back on a boat and soak up the silence of Abel Tasman National Park. This pocket in the north of the island inspires calm, its golden beaches framed by sculpted granite cliffs that all unite to create one of the country’s most legendary coastal tracks.

Staying in:

  • The Rutherford Hotel (1 night)
Wellington Cable Car

Swap wheels for water aboard the Inter-islander for a cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound, up the Tory Channel and across Cook Strait, from the South Island to the North, navigating a maze of arms and inlets into New Zealand’s cool little capital of Wellington. Bring your appetite – the city is known for its oh-so-cool restaurants and bars. Ask us for tips before your  day in Wellington  kicks off tomorrow.

Staying in:

  • Travelodge Wellington (1 night)
Aerial View of Wellington

After a strong coffee – take your pick of Wellington cafes; they’re all excellent – it’s time to choose your own adventure. Stroll through Te Papa, the city’s mindboggling museum, or tour Parliament. Peter Jackson fans will have their sights set firmly on a Lord of the Rings movie tour or visit to Weta Workshop, where special-effects wizards work their magic creating goblins and dinosaurs for blockbuster films. It’s a bit like heaven for movie geeks.

Staying in:

  • Travelodge Wellington (1 night)
Napier Town Centre

After a devastating earthquake in 1931, Napier completely rebuilt itself in just two years. The end result is architectural Nirvana, a city home to the world’s greatest concentration of Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical buildings, in a gelato of colours and forms. If these walls could talk… instead, get the lowdown from your in-the-know local guide on a Napier tour.

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Te Pania (1 night)
Maori Cultural Experience in Rotorua

The road ahead unfolds in a broad panorama of Lake Taupo, the largest (and perhaps bluest) of its kind in the country – it feeds thundering Huka Falls, which you’ll hear well before you see. 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, Maori culture and traditions are in the spotlight at Te Puia. Your journey starts with a guided tour including the Māori Arts & Crafts Institute, followed by a hangi dinner overlooking the geothermal valley, and a Māori cultural performance in the meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua.

Staying in:

  • Sudima Lake Rotorua (1 night)
Rotorua Town Hall

Today is Rotorua tour day of many decisions, but with plenty of tips available 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. Soak your travel weary limbs, or have a masseuse treat your muscles to a makeover. Animal lover? Go behind the scenes on a working kiwi nursery and hatchery to see how these endangered animals are cared for.  Hobbit fans will want to take advantage of the opportunity to tour the sights featured in The Lord of the Rings movies at Hobbiton.

Staying in:

  • Sudima Lake Rotorua (1 night)
Auckland Harbour

From New Zealand’s longest waterway, the Waikato River, to its largest city: welcome to Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’. You’ll understand how it got its moniker when you glimpse yachts gliding around its two harbours. But today your sights are firmly set on the city’s other love: rugby. As part of your Auckland tour you’re kicking about at the interactive All Blacks Experience. You’re serenaded with a performance of the haka, before journeying through the sporting team’s remarkable history via various displays and presentations.

Staying in:

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

140 – that’s how many droplets of land ringed by turquoise sea comprise the Bay of Islands, your tour destination de jour. 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)
Aerial View of 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, 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)
Whangarei Marina

For a little more northern exposure, make your way to Whangarei, the island’s most northerly outpost and 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)
Aerial View of Auckland

Over three weeks, we hope you’ve packed your address book with the names of new friends and your camera with photos of New Zealand’s most inspiring attractions. But at the end of the day, it’s the memories that will fuel your flight home. Trips to New Zealand don’t get any more epic than this.

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