New Zealand: Untamed Landscapes 15 days / Nature & Wildlife Tours
About This Experience
New Zealand is the birthplace of bungee jumping—but you don’t have to free-fall into the Kawarau Gorge to have your breath taken away. This island nation is often called the “adrenaline capital of the world”; you’ll understand why when you cruise through the fjords of Milford Sound or ascend the peaks of the Southern Alps. Amid these spectacular untamed landscapes, you’ll get a taste of the welcoming Kiwi culture and the country’s renowned sauvignon blanc.
Look for this symbol throughout the tour itinerary to discover sustainable highlights. Sustainable highlights include activities that benefit indigenous cultures or help protect local wildlife.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
12 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 5 three-course dinners with beer or wine, 1 wine tasting
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Stunning volcanic landscapes
The intriguing Maori culture
The South Island’s beautiful bays & beaches
The spectacular Milford Sound
Sharing a home-cooked meal with a Kiwi family
Following in Frodo’s footsteps
Overnight Flight2 nights
Queenstown3 nights - hotel info
Investigate Queenstown, NEW ZEALAND’S ADVENTURE CAPITAL
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport and escorts you to your hotel. You’re free to spend the remainder of the day as you wish, whether you want to catch up on your sleep or begin your own explorations of this charming resort town. At an included dinner, meet your fellow travelers.
Feel the adrenaline on a gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak
Optional Excursion - Walter Peak
Get to know Queenstown at your leisure. You might ascend nearby Bob’s Peak via the Skyline Gondola or take in lakefront views from one of the city’s many laid-back cafes. Tonight, you’ll have the choice of enjoying an evening to yourself or joining our optional excursion to Walter Peak.
Walter Peak $99* pp
Board the steam-powered TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown for a cruise across Lake Wakatipu. Your destination is Walter Peak, one of New Zealand’s most famous sheep and cattle stations. There, you'll enjoy a four-course dinner at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant and watch a sheep-shearing demonstration and sheep dog show before embarking on another scenic cruise back to Queenstown. Please note: In June and July, the TSS Earnslaw will be undergoing routine maintenance. During these months, travelers will travel on a launch boat and dinner will be included at a Queenstown restaurant. Additionally, a wind-and-waterproof jacket and comfortable shoes are recommended.
Cruise through the waterfall-laden fjord of Milford Sound
Depart early this morning to see the breathtaking scenery of Milford Sound. The journey takes you through the Five Rivers farming region and around the shores of Te Anau Lake and into fjord country. After climbing to the Homer Saddle and driving through the Homer Tunnel, follow the beautiful Cleddau River into Milford Sound. On arrival, board a boat for a cruise around the sound. Created during the Ice Age, the fjord knifes out into the sea, between native forests and sheer cliff faces. This is some of the most memorable scenery in the world, and the view of the mile-high Mitre Peak is truly unforgettable.
Fox Glacier1 night - hotel info
MOTOR PAST SHEEP-DOTTED PLAINS AND TURQUOISE LAKES TO THE SOUTHERN ALPS
Make your way to Fox Glacier this morning, passing by the Kawarau Gorge, the birthplace of bungee jumping. You’ll also cross the Southern Alps via the Haast Pass and witness the placid waters of Lake Moeraki, Bruce Bay and Lake Paringa.
Hokitika1 night - hotel info
Gaze up at Fox Glacier, from the mountain to the rainforest
Optional Excursion - Fox Glacier Helicopter Ride
This morning, you’ll venture to Fox Glacier. Consider an optional helicopter ride to better appreciate the glacier’s monumental size and for a chance to step foot on the glacier. This afternoon, you’ll drive through countryside that once hosted New Zealand’s West Coast Gold Rush and arrive in Hokitika in time for dinner.
Fox Glacier Helicopter Ride $199* pp
Get close to the ice falls of Fox Glacier and experience the solitude of a snow landing in this natural alpine wonderland.
Nelson2 nights - hotel info
Navigate through the bursting blowholes on the Pancake Rocks
Drive along South Island’s scenic west coast. Breaking out to the edge of the Tasman Sea, you’ll turn north as you make your way toward the distinctive “pancake” rocks and tidal blowholes of Punakaiki. Pass through the dramatic Buller Gorge and before arriving in Nelson.
Experience New Zealand’s dramatic scenery and warm hospitality
Today, travel through the vineyards and orchards surrounding Nelson en route to the stunning Abel Tasman National Park. You’ll board a catamaran for a relaxing journey through South Island’s pristine coves and turquoise waters. You’ll see Kaiteriteri Beach, Torrent Bay and Bark Bay as well as the world-famous Split Apple Rock. Tonight, dine with a Kiwi family at a home-hosted dinner.
Wellington2 nights - hotel info
Sip a sauvignon blanc to say farewell to the South Island
Breakfast, Wine tasting
Leave sunny Nelson for a wine tasting in Marlborough, a region renowned for its sauvignon blanc, before spending some free time in the nearby town of Picton for lunch. This afternoon, board a ferry for a scenic cruise across the Cook Strait to the capital city of Wellington on North Island.
Take in the Welly culture
Spend the morning getting a feel for Welly’s culture with your local guide. Together, explore the interactive exhibitions at Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, before taking in views of the city from Mount Victoria and wandering along the Wellington Waterfront.
Rotorua2 nights - hotel info
TRAVERSE THE NORTH ISLAND’S VOLCANIC MOUNTAINS AND CRYSTALLINE LAKES
Travel south along the edge of the Kaimanawa Range. You’ll stop at Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Later, arrive in Rotorua, a city built on a geothermal hot spot and a mecca for adventurers and lovers of the great outdoors. Tonight, savor an included traditional Maori hangi feast.
Explore the redwood forests and clear blue lakes of Rotorua
Optional Excursion - Maori Cultural Tour
Situated in a breathtaking valley, Rotorua is the gateway to the North Island’s Bay of Plenty region. Today you’ll take a guided tour of Rotorua, including the Government Gardens, a public park and site of great historical importance to the local Maori people. You’ll escape to the towering redwoods of the Whakarewarewa Forest and view the cerulean waters of nearby Lake Tikitapu before enjoying a free afternoon. One popular attraction is the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, located within the famous Bath House at Government Gardens. Or, you might embark on our optional half-day Maori Cultural Tour highlighting the traditions and rituals of the Maori people.
Must be booked 20 days before departure
Maori Cultural Tour $89* pp
Discover the indigenous roots of New Zealand culture with a half-day visit to the Maori village of Whakarewarewa, in the heart of the Rotorua Region. Originally the site of a Maori fortress, the geothermal landscape has long been utilized by the Maori people for cooking and heating. A local guide will introduce you to the unique traditions of the Maori people, who continue to live in harmony with nature. After a walk around the village, the tour continues with a scenic drive around the lakes district that surrounds the spectacular volcanic Mount Tarawera.
Auckland1 night - hotel info
Bask in the glimmer of glowworms in the Waitomo Caves
This morning, you’ll transfer to Auckland, stopping to tour the Waitomo Caves, known for their remarkable glowworms. Descend into these caverns and board a subterranean cruise. Later today, arrive in Auckland and explore New Zealand’s largest and most populous city on a guided sightseeing tour. In the evening, come together with your group for a farewell dinner.
Extend Your Stay
Add Fiji City Stay $689*
Conjure up your fantasy of paradise on earth: you’re probably imagining Fiji. Gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, crystal-clear lagoons, colorful coral reefs, lush tropical rainforests and majestic mountains—that’s what makes this island nation in the South Pacific one of the most enticing places on Earth. Paradise, aside, perhaps the true allure of Fiji lies with the warmth of the people and the fascinating blend of cultures that has endured for centuries.
Fiji3 nights - hotel info
Passport & Visa Requirements
In order to enter New Zealand (as well as the Republic of Fiji, on the tour extension), U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. When entering Fiji, U.S. and Canadian citizens are automatically issued a visa upon arrival. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, please contact the relevant embassies for your entry requirements.
Airport & Departure Taxes
All airport and departure taxes for your tour are included in the total trip cost printed on your invoice, except for those noted here. All visitors departing New Zealand must pay an airport departure tax directly to the airport. At press time, this tax was $25 New Zealand dollars and is subject to change without notice. In addition, those taking the extension to Fiji must pay an airport departure tax. At press time, this tax was 30 Fijian dollars (approximately $16 USD/CAD), and is subject to change without notice.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you’ll have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing & Packing Tips
In the tropics, lightweight clothing is suitable year-round. During the southern winter (June– August), warm clothing is advised, as is rainwear for the South Island of New Zealand. Sneakers are advised for exploring reefs and beaches, as are sun hats and sunscreen. There will rarely be an occasion for formal attire.
There are no health risks associated with traveling to New Zealand. Travelers should take particular care of sun exposure and drink plenty of liquids. If you choose to go swimming, be careful of powerful surf. Make sure to obey signs and lifeguard orders and always swim between the well-marked flags. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider for the latest health updates and overseas travel requirements.
In New Zealand, there are many good local varieties of fish and seafood, excellent venison and superb fruits, including kiwi and passion fruits. For lunch, tea rooms serve savory meat pies, quiche and desserts.
Round-trip flights arrive in Queenstown and leave from Auckland (or Nadi on the extension). All other transfers are serviced by private motor coach and ferry. In your free time, you may wish to explore the locations via public transport. While in Auckland, transportation by ferry, rail and bus is now connected by the Britomart interchange.
New Zealand operates on 240 volts.
New Zealand is 17 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST).
The unit of currency you’ll be using on your tour is the New Zealand dollar (and the Fijian dollar on extension). Better rates of exchange are found in those countries. We recommend taking a combination of ATM/bank cards and credit cards. All are widely accepted. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
What an amazing trip! This was my first time to the South Pacific and I am so glad that I chose to dedicate one whole trip to just New Zealand. There is so much that this country has to offer, from snow capped volcanoes and icy glaciers, to sheep-spotted meadows and placid lakes. Each day offered a new array of breathtaking scenery and is worthy of at least a two-week experience. Not only is the nature on this tour unmatched, but the culture is so rich and interesting. You'll learn so much in two weeks about the Maori culture and the modern Kiwis! The highlight on this tour for me was dining at the Kiwi family's house. It gave us insight into a true New Zealander's life and allowed us the opportunity to ask questions in a relaxed setting. I coulnd't have asked for a better experience. The fact that I can tell my family and friends that I walked on a glacier, zip-lined over a gorge, and pet a baby lamb all in one trip is incomparable. I can't wait to take my next trip with Go Ahead!
As per the tour guide, Anya, we were assured that any post cards given to the hotel staff at the check-in desk would be promptly mailed. Well, it has been 3 weeks, and not one had arrived. Did they bother? Did they just throw them away? This may sound petty to some people. but it is a big deal for me. So that is only thing that basically soured this wonderful experience for me. Otherwise, fantastic trip.
A Nation of Wonderful Sights and People
Do not misunderstand that this tour is very fast paced. It was wonderful, don't get me wrong, and we saw an excellent cross-section of New Zealand, but there was little "Down" time. This was a fantastic way, however, to see some of the countryside and really experience what all of New Zealand looks like, not just the most photographed spots as you fly from point to point.
Great Tour -- Once we got there
This tour is fantastic. Erika is extremely knowledgeable and makes it fun to learn about the Maori culture. Doug, our bus driver on the North island, was also a great source of information and fun to be around. Chris, our driver on the South island, tackled those winding roads with ease. A group of us left from Montana. We understand weather delays, but were disappointed with the on call agent when our originating flight to Denver was cancelled. One of our group had to go up to the airport to get us booked the next day for flights. She got very little assistance from the on call person. After we were rebooked, she gave us incorrect information. We spent the travel time thinking that we not only missed the sightseeing in Aukland and the welcome dinner but that we were also going to miss the Glow worm caves. That was something we were really looking forward to. We were pleasantly surprised when Erika met our bus and told us our group was waiting for us! There are a couple tweaks that as a group we thought would make the experience better for subsequent groups, but as we were the first tour with this agenda, that is to be expected. All in all, it was a great group of people on a great adventure!