Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour
Auckland to Queenstown
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Great Journeys of New Zealand

Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour

Join this scenic tour through the heart and soul of New Zealand. Immerse yourself in history, culture, and geology as you travel off the beaten track through New Zealand's regions. Encounter the volcanic peaks of Middle Earth in Ruapehu, witness the engineering marvels of Raurimu Spiral and Otira Tunnel, sip world-class wine among the vines in Marlborough, spend a day by the ocean in Kaikōura, experience the mesmerising blue lakes of the South Island, discover sacred pounamu and ancient forests on the West Coast, and explore New Zealand’s city life in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown.

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Quick Itinerary Details

Guided Coach & Train Tours

This suggested tour costs from NZD$8,549 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Queenstown

15 days/14 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 133 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions

Punakaiki Rocks
TranzAlpine Rail Journey
West Coast Treetops Walkway
View of the glacier from the parking lot
Travelling through the Southern Lakes
Haast, Mrs Jones Fruit Stall and Arrowtown Visit
Northern Explorer Scenic Train from Auckland to National Park
Northern Explorer Scenic Train from Tongariro National Park to Wellington
Wellington City Tour
Interislander ferry crossing
Marlborough Wine Tour
Coastal Pacific Rail Journey
Christchurch Tram
14 breakfasts, 4 dinners
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 2: Northern Explorer Scenic Train from Auckland to Ohakune Carrot Capital of New Zealand
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 3: Discover Ohakune Ruapehu and Tongariro National Park
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 4: The Northern Explorer Train from Ohakune to the capital Wellington
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 5: Explore Wellington
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 6: Sail south from Wellington to Picton then onto Blenheim for a world class wine tour
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 7: Board the Costal Pacific Scenic Train in Bleheim and head to the Seaside town of Kaikoura
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 8: Explore Kaikoura then back on the train to head Christchurch
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 9: Explore Christchurch including a Tram City Tour
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 10: Board the TranzAlpine Scenic Train from Christchurch to Greymouth
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 11: Experience the West Coast from Greymouth to Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 12: Exploring South From Franz Josef to Southern Lakes and Queenstown
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 13: Explore Queenstown there is something for everyone
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 14: The close to an adventure of a lifetime
Accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Day 15: Farewell Queenstown

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 1
Explore Auckland

Kia ora! Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand’s City of Sails! Auckland is known for its multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts, and culture. Your great journey will officially begin the moment you check into your hotel room. After reading your welcome letter from your Journey Director, head out and explore all that Auckland has to offer. This is the perfect opportunity to visit the Sky Tower or shop along bustling Queen Street. You may even fancy a drink in one of the charming bars or eateries of Vulcan Lane.
After an exciting day on the town, join your fellow travellers as well as the Journey Director at this evening’s welcome reception.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 2
A Scenic Journey to Ohakune

Today you will marvel at rural New Zealand’s lush landscapes from the comfort of your seat onboard the Northern Explorer scenic train journey. From the green pastures of the Waikato to the icy mountain streams of Ruapehu, you won’t want to miss a moment. If you are interested in culture and history, enjoy the audio commentary as you cross historic viaducts and traverse up the Raurimu Spiral. This experience is one like no other.
For the next two nights, you will stay in Ohakune. This charming town is the adventure base for the Tongariro National Park - home to three volcanic mountains. Tongariro National Park is also recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 3
Discover Ohakune, Ruapheu or Tongariro National Park

Today is free for you to discover one of Ohakune’s exciting excursions. Choose from the many optional activities on offer and personalise your perfect holiday. Perhaps you will hop aboard a historical rail cart journey or join a horse trekking experience that takes you along expansive hills, mountains, rivers, and into the native bush.
If you're after an active day, why not explore Ohakune’s historical cycle trail? Rent e-bikes and discover old viaducts, tunnels, old settlers’ camps, and reclaimed native forests along the Old Coach Road!
For dinner, we recommend taking a casual stroll around town. Grab some kai (food) and a drink alongside the locals at the pub in true Kiwi fashion.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 4
Ohakune to Wellington on the Northern Explorer Train

After breakfast, we begin our day by travelling from National Park to Mt Ruapehu. You won't want to leave this mini excursion to Middle Earth without a panoramic photo in hand!
Joining the Northern Explorer train once again, you will wave goodbye to this UNESCO World Heritage Site as you settle into your uber-comfortable seat. Don’t get too comfortable though; dramatic rivers, gorges and ravines are just around the bend! Stretch your legs and explore the open-air carriage to acquire the best views from the train.
As you glide through rich green farmland and past a dramatic coastline, indulge in afternoon tea while drinking in the views. All too soon, the train will arrive into Wellington, leaving the picturesque Porirua Harbour behind you.
Arriving at Wellington Railway Station, you are just a stone’s throw from downtown, the Beehive, and Parliament Buildings. Welcome to New Zealand’s Capital City! You won't want to waste a moment of time after checking into the hotel – your evening is free to explore this award-winning cultural and culinary capital from Queen's Wharf to Cuba Street and beyond.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 5
Explore Wellington

The perfect day does exist – and it includes exploring Wellington! Today is free for you to experience vibrant Wellington as you please. Start by joining our Wellington City introduction tour and then heading off to explore Cuba street’s cafes, bookstores, and eccentric shops. Get cultured at the Te Papa Museum or Zealandia to uncover the rich stories of Aotearoa New Zealand. You won’t get bored with the plethora of activities on offer. From urban eco-sanctuary, cable cars, botanical gardens and more, the list goes on! If you need any suggestions or recommendations, just reach out to your experienced Journey Director.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 6
Adventure to the South - Haere ra to Te Ika a Maui

This morning you will say poroporoaki ki te motu raki (good-bye to the North Island) as you sail to the South Island, crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry. As the shores of the North Island slowly disappear, enjoy a hearty seafaring breakfast in the Ocean View restaurant.
Around mid-day, you will be spoiled with harbour views entering the Queen Charlotte Sound. Admire the beauty of this coastal paradise as you arrive at the gateway of the South Island, Picton. Step off the Interislander Ferry and join your next world-class experience on a Marlborough Wine Tour!

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 7
Blenheim to Kaikoura on the Coastal Pacific Train

After enjoying a delightful breakfast, the morning is yours to explore sunny Blenheim. Enjoy the roses at Upton Oaks Garden or perhaps learn a thing or two about aviation at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
You’ll hear the hoot of the Coastal Pacific train as it pulls in to bring you on yet another scenic experience. This time – along the rugged coastline of the South Island. On this train journey, you will glide across remote beaches, between mountains and sea, on a timeless voyage of breath-taking beauty. Keep an eye out for the fur seals lazing on the rocks!
Once in Kaikoura, the evening will be yours to enjoy some iconic kai moana (seafood) at one of the well-known restaurants.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 8
Kaikoura to Christchurch on the Coastal Pacific Train

Today will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will have the opportunity to go whale watching! Enjoy today’s optional thrill of an up-close encounter with the world's largest-toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale. Want to get an aerial experience of the wildlife? Why not request a plane or helicopter ride to capture the true grandeur of it all?
Whether you have decided to go llama trekking or swimming with the dolphins and seals, we're sure you will be feeling peckish. Head to the beach to sample some iconic New Zealand food - you can't go wrong with the humble Kiwiana fish and chips. Work off the deep-fried delights by wandering through the wonderful array of local artisan stores and souvenir shops.
In the late afternoon, your journey will continue, once again, on the Coastal Pacific Train en route to Christchurch, or “The Garden City”. The spectacular scenery doesn’t cease to amaze as you journey south through the rolling hills and flat plains. Enjoy the relaxing journey with a glass of wine in hand from the scenic café.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 9
Explore Christchurch

Christchurch, the hub for South Island exploration is also a wonderful city that blends modern architecture and technology with the existing 19th-century Anglican influence. Often remembered for its earthquake in 2011, the city is still rebuilding itself into a multicultural haven. So, without further delay, jump on the historic tram to learn the history, tales and culture of Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Enjoy your free time as you explore the Arts Centre, Quake City Museum, Antarctic Centre, and botanical gardens. There is also a multitude of delicious cafes tucked into quaint side streets we're sure you will love. If you are in the mood for something different, set off for Akaroa, an ‘incroyable’ French coastal settlement just outside the city. 
Dinner awaits as you join your fellow travellers once again to tell them about the exciting places you have discovered.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 10
The TranzAlpine Scenic Train

The moment has come to experience the world-famous TranzAlpine journey through the Southern Alps to the West Coast! On this fantastic escape, you will see epic vistas, soar on the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and experience miles of native beech forest. The natural scenery isn’t the only marvel though. The TranzAlpine will also pass through the Otira Tunnel, a true engineering marvel of almost 100 years!
Once you arrive on the West Coast, you will travel even further off the beaten track by coach to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Here you will walk amongst limestone formations before finishing your day in the coastal town of Greymouth.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 11
Explore the West Coast

This morning you start your West Coast adventure by visiting one of the South Island’s most popular activities– the Treetop Aerial Walkway. This elevated adventure will get you acquainted with the locals – the ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees.
After your sky-high experience, continue south into Glacier Country. Franz Josef Glacier is quite special in that it survives in the warm coastal rainforest temperatures. With a short walk to a viewpoint, you'll get a fantastic view of the vast valley, as well as a sneak peek of Franz Josef Glacier itself. If you would prefer to get up close, we recommend booking an optional helicopter flight. This will ensure you are getting the best possible view of this natural wonder.
After your glacial experience and checking into the hotel, you’ll have some free time to enjoy Franz Josef town. Indulge in a helicopter flight, nature walk or tap into some natural tranquillity at the local hot pools.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 12
Explore the Southern Lakes

Today you will be exploring the mountainous Haast Pass. With changing landscapes around every bend, this journey to Queenstown will be one of the most scenic drives you may ever take. Marvel at the beaches, crystal blue lakes and rivers, mountain peaks, lush vineyards, charming plains and stunning glaciers as your Tour Director guides you between local hidden gems.
Emerging on the other side of the pass, explore a local fruit hotspot before exploring the cobblestone streets of the historic goldmining settlement of Arrowtown. After an exciting plunge into the history of this gold rush village, you will arrive in the world-famous resort town of Queenstown!

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 13
Explore Queenstown

Enjoy a free day to explore everything Queenstown has to offer. Today we highly recommend that you join an excursion to the 8th Wonder of the World - Milford Sound/Piopiotahi. It truly is a remarkable experience! Milford Sounds/ Piopiotahi is a scenic escape approximately three hours from Queenstown. The natural landscape will engulf you as you waltz through plunging valleys and under towering peaks. This could possibly be one of the most scenic drives you'll experience in your lifetime! Take this encounter to the next level by soaring like the Piopio (ancient bird) by plane or helicopter.
Whether you’ve decided to hop aboard the steamship lake cruise on the iconic TSS Earnslaw or marvel at the power of ancient roaring rivers - tonight you have the night to indulge in Queenstown's exciting nightlife. Sip cocktails and indulge in the sparkling views of Lake Wakatipu.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 14
Another day to explore Queenstown

Queenstown truly has something for everyone. Personalise your day to be as active, or relaxed as you’d like. Whether it’s sipping wine in Gibbston Valley, or bungy jumping with AJ Hackett, there is no shortage of activities to delight your senses.
This evening you’ll come together as a group for a farewell dinner before departing.

Your accommodation: 3-3.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Classic New Zealand Highlights Tour - Day 15
Depart Queenstown

Your journey will end after enjoying a final breakfast with your fellow travellers. You will be transferred to Queenstown Airport for your departing flight.

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Mar 22, 2024
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