18 Day Essence of New Zealand

18 Day Essence of New Zealand

Discover New Zealand's essence on an 18 day AAT Kings Best Buys guided expedition. Experience the wonders of Queenstown, Milford Sound, Nelson, Napier, Rotorua, Auckland, and more.

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Tour Info

Tour Type: Low Cost Coach Tour
From: Christchurch to Auckland
Departures: Oct 2020 to Mar 2021
Price: From (NZD) $5820 per person
Tour Operator: AAT Kings Tours
Duration: 18 Days
Tour Code: lcqa


16 nights accommodation in superior hotels and 1 night on an overnight cruise
17 fully cooked breakfasts (B), 1 Lunch (L) and 6 dinners (D)
See mighty Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain
Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo
Tour the sights of Dunedin
Explore New Zealand's only castle – Larnach Castle
Overnight cruise on the Milford Mariner
Explore the Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Two days at leisure in Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital
Visit historic Arrowtown
Stay at spectacular Franz Josef Glacier
View the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki
Watch artisans carving pounamu (jade) in Hokitika
Free time in Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park
Cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound from Picton to Wellington
Visit Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand
Enjoy a city walking tour in Napier
Immerse yourself in Māori culture at a hāngī feast and concert
Enjoy the Agrodome Farm Show
Explore the geothermal valley at Te Puia in Rotorua

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

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Day 1
Arrive Christchurch

On arrival at Christchurch Airport you’ll be transferred to your hotel. This evening meet your Tour Director and fellow travellers for a welcome reception and dinner.

Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch

Day 2
Christchurch - Ōmarama

Drive over the rich alluvial farmlands of the Canterbury Plains to Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki. Pause to view the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd before revelling in the alpine landscape of Mt.Cook National Park.

Stay: Heritage Gateway Hotel, Ōmarama (B)

Day 3
Ōmarama - Dunedin

Travel via Oamaru, with its famous white limestone buildings, to Dunedin, a region of unique landscapes and fascinating cultural history, for an orientation tour.

Stay: Kingsgate Hotel, Dunedin (B)

Day 4
Dunedin - Overnight Cruise on Milford Sound

Today is a feast for the senses. Travel along the Devil’s Staircase and the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Te Anau. You’ll be awestruck by the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s largest. See rainforest, ancient glaciers and mountain ranges, and drive through the Homer Tunnel. Pass Lake Matheson, Pop’s View Lookout, Cleddau Valley and the Chasm, before arriving in Milford Sound for your overnight cruise on the Milford Mariner.

Overnight Cruise: Milford Mariner, Milford Sound (B, D)

Note: Milford Mariner does not operate 21 May – 15 September. During this period there will be a day cruise on Milford Sound and accommodation in Te Anau or Queenstown.

Day 5
Milford Sound - Queenstown

This morning depart for Te Anau, on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. Explore the Te Anau Glowworm Caves before travelling to the adventure capital of Queenstown.

Stay: Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Queenstown (3 nights) (B, D)

Day 6
Queenstown (Free Time)

Explore exciting Queenstown your way, all day. Take it easy with wine and garden tours or walk on the wild side with jet boat rides and white water rafting. Whatever you choose, Queenstown will surprise and exhilarate. (B)

Day 7
Queenstown (Free Time)

Another action-packed day or time to relax – tailor your own agenda to suit! (B)

Day 8
Queenstown - Franz Josef Glacier

First stop today is the gold mining village of Arrowtown, a colourful township steeped in local history. Next is Cromwell and its sensational stone fruit. Then it’s a trio of lakes – Lake Dunstan, Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Travel through Haast Pass which winds its way through Mount Aspiring National Park and dramatic mountain and forest scenery. View the amazing Thunder Creek Falls and continue north along the coastal road to Franz Josef Glacier – a rare, still advancing glacier.

Stay: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (Douglas Wing), Franz Josef (B, D)

Day 9
Franz Josef - Punakaiki

You can see Franz Josef Glacier from the air or take a glacier hike (both optional). Depart for Hokitika, home of pounamu (jade), for a studio visit and carving demonstration. Later travel to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. You’ll stay in an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront. Enjoy dinner while watching the thundering surf at your doorstep!

Stay: Punakaiki Resort (B, D)

Day 10
Punakaiki - Nelson

The Heritage Highway leads you through a scenic wilderness to the plunging Buller Gorge and pristine Kahurangi National Park before arriving in Nelson.

Stay: Rutherford Hotel, Nelson (2 nights) (B)

Day 11
Nelson (Free Time)

You’ll have the option to journey to the top of the South Island and enjoy a relaxing cruise in the Abel Tasman National Park, or perhaps take a short bush walk, relax in sunny Nelson or explore the many arts and craft shops. (B)

Day 12
Nelson - Wellington

Visit the seaside village of Picton with free time to explore. Cruise on tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound before heading across Cook Strait to the North Island and Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Enjoy a city sights tour
before a guided tour of Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.

Stay: Travelodge, Wellington (2 nights) (B)

Day 13
Wellington (Free Time)

Wellington is celebrated as the country’s creative and culinary capital and today is yours to explore the city at your own pace. You might like to take an optional experience tour of Parliament, or the Weta Workshop, creators of special effects for The Lord of Rings and The Hobbit films. (B,D)

Day 14
Wellington - Napier

Travel through the dairy farming land of Manawatu to Napier. Your special packed lunch today won’t only be wholesome, it will also feed a Kiwi child who may otherwise go without, through the charity ‘Eat My Lunch’. Traveling to Napier, a city whose unique concentration of beautiful Art Deco architecture is due to its rebuilding after the 1931 earthquake. Enjoy a walking tour with a local guide.

Stay: Scenic Hotel Te Pania , Napier (B, L)

Day 15
Napier - Rotorua

Journey to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, and then visit mighty Huka Falls on your way to Rotorua, where a sightseeing tour will include views of Lake Rotorua. Visit Te Puia, the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. A tour of Rotorua’s active geothermal fields follows. Gain insight into traditional Māori culture this evening
while you enjoy a Highlight Dinner at the Tamaki Māori Village.

Stay: Hotel Ibis Rotorua (2 nights) (B, D)

Day 16
Rotorua Free Time

Today is yours to explore at your own pace. (B)

Day 17
Rotorua - Auckland

Travel through the lush dairy-farming district of Waikato en route to Auckland, where you’ll take a tour of the city.

Stay: VR Queen Street, Auckland (B)

Day 18
Depart Auckland

Your holiday comes to an end this morning after
breakfast. (B)


There are 2 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.5 out of 5.

Overall Tour Rating
Value For Money
Tour Pace
Relaxing Journeys Experience

Tour Reviews

Perfect holiday. Even before, excellent working with Mani. Cam (travel director) and Mark (driver) made the holiday perfect! Thank you so much!
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
Tour content exceeded my expectation and was excellent value for money. The tour was well balanced and included the main highlights we wanted to visit. In particular Milford Sound overnight cruise-pancake rocks-Maori evening -lunch in Matamata. The coach was of high standard and the driver excellent. I did not expect top accommodation but the hotels in Dunedin and Rotorua were poor. The Tour Director whilst knowledgeable wittered most of the time and was adept at upsetting most if not all the people on the tour. Overall a thoroughly good experience. I would like to thank you for the way in which you dealt with our booking.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience

Enquire about our 18 Day Essence of New Zealand

18 Day Essence of New Zealand
Low Cost Coach Tour
Tour Code: lcqa
From (NZD) $5820 per person
Save (NZD) $305 per person
Enquire Now
Departures: Oct 2020 to Mar 2021
2 reviews (4.5/5)

Discover New Zealand's essence on an 18 day AAT Kings Best Buys guided expedition. Experience the wonders of Queenstown, Milford Sound, Nelson, Napier... Read More

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18 Day Essence of New Zealand
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