11 Day Small Group Tour of New Zealand
This is New Zealand’s South Island, a place of uncommon adventures and unforgettable encounters. It’s a land of warm people and strange creatures, ancient cultures and modern cities.
Take a romp across the island on this 11-day escorted small group tour to uncover back-road treasures and breathtaking landscapes — the kinds of things gigantic tour groups never get to see. You’ll travel on a comfortable, cozy bus with an intimate group of no more than 18 folks just as up for a good time as you are.
(Pssst…! Looking for a little extra fun before or after this tour? Ask us, and we’ll put together a personalized extended vacation itinerary just for you.)
The Stuff Roadtrip Dreams Are Made Of…
You’ll traverse some of the most beautiful terrain on earth, including sweeping tussock lands, aquamarine lakes, towering mountain peaks, and golden-grass ranges. You’ll follow the ancient trails used by Maori people.
And you’ll cling to your seat on Milford Road, a stunning gem of alpine highway that snakes across steep mountains, along glacier-studded valleys, and past dazzling waterfalls and mirror-like lakes.
- Extreme natural beauty: massive peaks, lush rainforests, imposing glaciers, and dramatic fiords;
- Intimate lunches – featuring fresh, local produce prepared by friendly Kiwi hosts;
- Wild times with mischievous mountain parrots, sunning seals, and rare white herons;
- Vibrant city experiences in Christchurch and Queenstown;
- Cruising & flying at Milford Sound – a majestic fiord set in a remote, wild gash of land where lush rainforest clings precariously to steep rock faces.
Click ⇓ to expand the links below for more information and the full Day-By-Day Itinerary
⇓ Tour Dates 2015 – 2016
Nov 20, 2015 to Nov 30, 2015
Nov 27, 2015 to Dec 7, 2015
Dec 11, 2015 to Dec 21, 2015
Dec 25, 2014 to Jan 4, 2016
Jan 15, 2016 to Jan 25, 2016
Jan 22, 2016 to Feb 1, 2016
Jan 29, 2016 to Feb 8, 2016
Feb 5, 2016 to Feb 15, 2016
Feb 12, 2016 to Feb 22, 2016
Feb 19, 2016 to Feb 29, 2016
Feb 26, 2016 to Mar 4, 2016
Mar 4, 2016 to Mar 14, 2016
Mar 18, 2016 to Mar 28, 2016
Mar 25, 2016 to Apr 04, 2016
Apr 1, 2016 to Apr 11, 2016
Apr 15, 2016 to Apr 25, 2016
Apr 22, 2016 to May 2, 2016
- Meals: All breakfasts (B), 2 lunches (L), and 1 dinner (D). Our memorable lunch experiences will soothe both stomach and soul, and range from warm meals served by gracious homestead hosts to high-country cuisine.
- All accommodations: Accommodations include comfortable hotels, and peaceful waterfront and alpine retreats.
- Coach Transportation & Guide: Transportation in a comfortable and cozy air-conditioned coach for up to 18 travelers, plus a knowledgeable Kiwi driver/guide.
- Transfers from and to the Christchurch Airport.
⇓ Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch
There’s nothing like a soft bed and a hot shower after a long flight. Your friendly Kiwi guide will meet you at the airport and whisk you off to your hotel so you can stretch out, freshen up, and get your bearings in this strange new time zone.
- Once you’re feeling refreshed, it’s time to explore Christchurch on your own. A massive 2011 earthquake left the city badly fractured and it is still in recovery. Head over to the Central Business District for a rare glimpse into a city rebuilding and reinventing itself for the future.
⇓ Day 2: Christchurch – Aoraki / Mt. Cook (B, L)
- After breakfast you’ll be transferred to the International Antarctic Center to meet everyone with your small group tour and head south to our special lunch destination, Akaunui Farm homestead. You’ll experience the warm hospitality of Di and Ian Mackenzie while lunching on fresh produce from their bountiful garden and learning about farming in the lush Canterbury plains.
- After a stop at one of the most photographed sites in New Zealand – the Church of the Good Shepard and the high country sheep dog on the edge of the aquamarine waters of Lake Tekapo, you’ll head up the road to Aoraki – Mt Cook – for the evening, surrounded by the towering mountain peaks and magnificent alpine scenery of this World Heritage area.
⇓ Day 3: Aoraki / Mount Cook – Queenstown (B)
- Steal away for a morning stroll in this spectacular area before setting off over the mountain-rimmed Mackenzie Basin and golden-grass ranges of the Lindis Pass towards Queenstown.
- Soar on the Skyline Gondola for a scenic overview of Queenstown, New Zealand’s adrenalin adventure destination. Your hotel tonight comes with a spectacular view of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Range.
⇓ Day 4: Queenstown – Te Anau – Queenstown (B)
- Fiordland National Park is largely inaccessible by land. There is only one way into this wet wilderness, and you’re taking it: the Milford Road. This stunning gem of alpine highway snakes across steep mountains, along glacier-studded valleys, and past dazzling waterfalls and mirror-like lakes.
- Cruise Milford Sound with your specialist nature guides, gliding so close to the action that gushing waterfalls soak the foredeck and leave you drenched but exhilarated. Or just drift gently past pods of playful dolphins, sunning fur seals, and waddling penguins. This majestic fiord is set in a remote, wild gash of land where lush rainforest clings precariously to steep rock faces. At their highest, these sheer walls pierce the sky some 3,900 feet above you.
- Up, up, and away: an exhilarating flight takes you above the fiord, with its steep cliffs and mountaintops, landing you gently in Queenstown.
⇓ Day 5: Queenstown (B)
- Tour Queenstown like a king. Some of your optional adventures include: a cruise aboard a vintage steamship, a jet boat ride along Dart River (yes, you did see it in Lord of the Rings!), or an exploration of your own design.
⇓ Day 6: Queenstown – Wanaka (B, L)
- Discover the leafy little village of Arrowtown, famous for its mining past. You’ll call in to the rustic Cardrona Hotel, whose own history is intertwined with the gold rush era.
- For lunch you’ll have a warm home cooked meal compliments of your hosts, Annabel and Adam Spier. Their lovely homestead overlooks the lake and the Treble Cone ski area.
- Spend the remainder of the day exploring the myriad things to do in Wanaka.
⇓ Day 7: Wanaka – Franz Josef (B)
- Trek through the pristine mountain and river lands of Haast Pass in Mt. Aspiring National Park. Well-maintained trails lead you through native beech forest to cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear pools teeming with trout.
- Journey through the lush, primeval rainforest of Westland National Park. At Ship Creek, you can walk along the beach to a dune lake, then cut back through swampland rainforest.
- Catch your first glimpse of the mighty Franz Josef glacier as it carves a path through the rainforest.
⇓ Day 8: Franz Josef (B)
- Enjoy the serene wilderness of this remote World Heritage Park. Take an optional early morning flight over the Southern Alps and experience the thrill of landing on a glacier. Or, opt for a guided hike onto the glacier instead.
- Visit the tiny, isolated settlement of Okarito, wedged between the Tasman Sea and Okarito Lagoon. The lagoon is a feeding ground for the rare white heron (kotuku) which breeds in the nearby 1,000-year-old kahikatea rainforest. Kayak across the lagoon’s shallow waters or opt for a cruise downriver to a hideaway tucked away in the rainforest.
- End the day by unwinding in Franz Josef’s hot pools (optional), before dining in the village.
⇓ Day 9: Franz Josef – Punakaiki (B, D)
- Meander up the coast to Hokitika this morning. Here, you’ll find craft galleries featuring New Zealand’s famous pounamu (greenstone) carving, glass blowing, and wood and copper artistry.
- As you wind along the coast to your hotel, you’ll follow part of the ancient trails used by the Maori. The coastal road kisses the Tasman Sea as it winds through wild rainforests. Depending on the tide, the blowholes at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – limestone sea stacks surrounded by towering cliffs – may be spewing the ocean’s spray.
- This evening is a celebration of food, wine, and memories with your new-found friends.
⇓ Day 10: Punakaiki – Arthur’s Pass – Christchurch (B)
- Your final drive takes us back down the coast and up through Arthur’s Pass National Park, where you may spot the mischievous antics of the keas.
- Stretch your legs in the beech forests at Arthur’s Pass village before descending down across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
- You’ll arrive back in Christchurch at your hotel for a final night’s sleep in New Zealand. (After ten days of adventure, there’ll be plenty to dream about!)
⇓ Day 11: Christchurch – Home (B)
- “Do we have to go now?” No, not yet… you’ll want to linger just a little longer before your flight to Auckland and bidding New Zealand goodbye.
Mt. Cook: The Hermitage, 4+-star (1 night)
Queenstown: Scenic Suites, 4-star (2 nights)
Wanaka: Edgewater Resort, 4+-star at water’s edge (1 night)
Franz Josef: Punga Grove, 4-star luxury studio (2 nights)
Punakaiki: Punakaiki Resort, 4-star resort near a wild Tasman beach (1 night)
- International Flights to New Zealand;
- Transportation to and from Christchurch;
- Meals not specified;
- Optional activities including glacier walks, jet boating, scenic glacier flights.
⇓ Ask Us More!
(Pssst…! Have a group of 4 or more adventurers traveling with you? Ask us – and just for you – we’ll customize this small group tour to suit your dates.)