21 Day Spirit of New Zealand

21 Day Spirit of New Zealand

Take in the spirit of New Zealand on a 21 day AAT Kings Best Buys guided expedition. Be amazed by Milford Sound, Queenstown, Punakaiki, Napier, Rotorua, Bay of Islands and more.

Please Note: - For all departures from April 2020 onwards, there are some minor changes to the tour itinerary. Your Relaxing Journeys consultant will advise of changes at time of booking.

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Tour Info

Tour Type: Low Cost Coach Tour
From: Christchurch to Auckland
Departures: Oct 2019 to Mar 2021
Price: From (NZD) $6360 per person
Tour Operator: AAT Kings Tours
Duration: 21 Days
Tour Code: lcqb


20 nights accommodation in superior hotels and 1 night on an overnight cruise
20 fully cooked breakfasts (B) and 11 dinners (D)
See mighty Aoraki Mount 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, the 'adventure capital of New Zealand'
Gondola ride and dinner at Skyline Restaurant on Bob's Peak with spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu
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 Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand
Enjoy a city walking tour in Napier
Immerse yourself in Māori culture at a hāngī feast and concert
Visit the Agrodome Farm Show
Explore the geothermal valley at Te Puia in Rotorua
Visit the beautiful Bay of Islands
Cruise through the famous Hole in the Rock
Visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Reserve

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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.

Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch

Day 2
Christchurch - Ōmarama

Visit the city this morning, then travel over the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo and view the Church of the Good Shepherd before continuing to Mt. Cook National Park. You may choose to take an optional scenic flight over Mt Cook (weather permitting).

Stay: Heritage Gateway Hotel, Ōmarama (B, D)

Day 3
Ōmarama - Dunedin

Travel via Oamaru, with its famous white limestone buildings, to Dunedin, a region of unique landscapes and
fascinating cultural history. Take an orientation tour, then enjoy quiet time to explore the city or relax at your hotel.

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 national park. See rainforest, ancient glaciers and mountain ranges, and drive through the Homer Tunnel. Pass Lake Matheson, Pop’s 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 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 resort town 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 jetboat 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. (B)

Day 8
Queenstown - Franz Josef Glacier

First stop 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) (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 demonstration. Later travel to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. You will stay in an eco-resort right on the waterfront. Enjoy dinner while watching the thundering surf at your doorstep!

Stay: Punakaiki Resort (B, D)

Day 10
Punakaiki - Nelson

Soak up the scenic wilderness of the Heritage Highway through the impressive Buller Gorge and the Kahurangi National Park before arriving in Nelson. This afternoon you’ll visit the World of Wearable Arts and Classic Cars.

Stay: Grand Mercure Monaco Resort, Nelson (2 nights) (B, D)

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 and cruise on tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound then you head across Cook Strait to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Enjoy a city sights tour before you visit Te Papa, where you’ll explore New Zealand’s nature, art, history and cultural heritage.

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

Day 13
Wellington (Free Time)

Explore Wellington at your own pace today. You might like to take an optional experience tour of Parliament, or a behind-the-scenes guided tour through 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. Enjoy a city walking tour with a local guide and learn how Napier was rebuilt after a devastating Earthquake in 1931.

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

Day 15
Napier - Rotorua

Travel past Lake Taupō, the largest lake in New Zealand. Visit Huka Falls and then it’s on to Rotorua, where a sightseeing tour will include views of Lake Rotorua.

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

Day 16
Rotorua Sightseeing

Visit the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia. A tour of Rotorua’s geothermal fields follows, with bubbling mud pools, spectacular geysers and crater lakes. This evening enjoy a hāngī feast and concert at Tamaki Māori Village. (B, D)

Day 17
Rotorua - Auckland

Visit the Agrodome Farm Show, the multi award-winning stage show, to gain an insight into agriculture in New Zealand. You’ll see the art of sheep shearing, sheepdog demonstrations, cow milking, bottle feeding of lambs, and an exciting sheep auction. Visit the farming community of Matamata to experience a farming demonstration before lunch at Longlands Farm. Continue to Auckland where your city sights tour takes in Bastion Point, Viaduct Harbour and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Stay: VR Queen Street, Auckland (B)

Day 18
Auckland - Bay of Islands

Depart Auckland over the Harbour Bridge through Orewa and along the scenic Hibiscus Coast. Walk among the kauri trees at Parry Kauri Park. Explore Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand, and then it’s off to Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Enjoy a scenic cruise to Cape Brett and the famous Hole in the Rock formation.

Stay: Copthorne Hotel and Resort (Garden View) (2 nights) (B, D)

Day 19
Bay of Islands (Free Time)

Today is free for you to experience the beauty of the Bay of Islands at your own pace – perhaps go dolphin watching, take a coach trip to Cape Reinga via idyllic 90 Mile Beach, a day of sailing, or even a guided sea-kayaking trip. Tonight is at leisure so why not dine at a local restaurant. (B)

Day 20
Bay of Islands - Auckland

Visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds where New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. Later return to Auckland. Celebrate your trip at a farewell dinner with your Tour Director and newfound friends.

Stay: VR Queen Street, Auckland (B, D)

Day 21
Depart Auckland

Your holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to Auckland Airport for your onward flight. (B)


There are 8 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.8 out of 5.

Overall Tour Rating
Value For Money
Tour Pace
Relaxing Journeys Experience

Tour Reviews

Fabulous tour enjoyed every minute of it.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
Overall the tour was amazing. As I haven't done a coach tour before I found the pace tiring but the extra days in one place kept it all in balance. I wanted to see as much as possible in the time I had and it certainly delivered. The organisation was great, accommodation ranged from good to just ok (ibis not good especially in Rotorua). Boat trip on Milford Sound was amazing only disappointment was sharing 4 to cabin (not made clear on booking) when had opted for twin share. Inclusive visits all good. Extra excursions great but more info on what is available if you don't partake would be useful.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
The tour was amazing, with diversity of areas and relaxing breaks.k
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
A great trip overall! My main criticism related to the tour director: her delivery was rambling, confusing and difficult to follow with essential information frequently hard to understand. Her manner was often abrasive with often deprecating/insulting answers to basic questions. On the other hand our driver was superb - very helpful and an excellent driver. Hotels were generally extremely good, though (as expected) the Ibis hotels used were only average and the Kingsgate Hotel in Dunedin was awful - appalling food and virtually no internet access.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
If you have 21 days, do this tour. You will not be disappointed. It's truly spectacular ... and it just keeps getting better and better. The drive to and overnight cruise on Milford sound is awesome. You will never forget the view from your Queenstown hotel. The optional Skippers Canyon scenic tour and jet boat ride is a ton of fun. The west coast drive to Nelson is unbelievably beautiful. We almost skipped the Abel Tasman scenic cruise and hike. That would have been a huge mistake. It is indescribable. Wellington is very nice, as is the Thermal Wonderland. The Hobbiton excursion out of Rotorua is magical. The Bay of Islands is exceptional. Sky City and the ride up the tower is the highlight of Auckland. If you do this tour, you will come away having seen almost ALL of New Zealand. It is exceptional.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
Hubby and I enjoyed our tour. What a land of epic scenery and wildlife - even got to enjoy slightly out of season snow and generally a bit colder than expected. Tour really well organised and made more pleasurable by Vale and Monica who went out of their way to make every person welcome and individually catered for as far as possible within the time constraints of the tour. Good pace of tour and included activities were great with quite a bit of scope for personal choice on free days. Loved overnight on Milford Sound and Glowworm Caves and all the special places in between destinations that we would never have known to go to had we been driving ourselves. Hotels were generally good and some were really lovely in scenic locations. I was surprised by the many opportunities to do laundry- you really could pack less! How wonderful it is when everything is taken care of- where to stay, eat, do! Easy and sweet as!
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
Very good, comprehensive tour with excellent driver (Trent) and tour director (Ted). Liked the fact there were less than 30 in the group so everyone got to know each other. The places visited were all enjoyable though many felt they would have liked longer in some e.g. Dunedin and Napier. The accommodation and food were almost all excellent except for the Ibis in Auckland which was very tired and disappointing. The staff, too, were unfriendly in stark contrast to every other hotel we had stayed in where everyone was greeted very warmly. The service from Relaxing Journeys was first class. Thank you!
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
We had the best tour guide - Ted, and an excellent driver for most of the tour. The 2 of them certainly bounced off each other and made it for a humorous atmosphere at times. Their local knowledge of culture, history and photo stops etc. were certainly beyond excellent. I learned so much from them. We went to some of the most amazing sites and land features and had some amazing experiences. I would highly recommend the 21 day tour, I cannot imagine trying to experience what we did in a shorter time. We were told that we had covered over 3,500 kms. during the tour. Ted marked our maps with the route we had travelled, which is a help when we are unfamiliar with NZ Maori place names. Downside: Some of the accommodation venues were too far away from town, especially on a multi-day stay. The room we had in Ibis in Christchurch was very pokey. It was hard trying to live out of a smallish suitcase for 21 days... given the requested case size, yet others ignored this. With souveniers etc. we bought, we had to buy an extra carry bag. Overall, well and truly enjoyed our trip.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience

Enquire about our 21 Day Spirit of New Zealand

21 Day Spirit of New Zealand
Low Cost Coach Tour
Tour Code: lcqb
From (NZD) $6360 per person
Save (NZD) $335 per person
Enquire Now
Departures: Oct 2019 to Mar 2021
8 reviews (4.8/5)

Take in the spirit of New Zealand on a 21 day AAT Kings Best Buys guided expedition. Be amazed by Milford Sound, Queenstown, Punakaiki, Napier, Rotoru... Read More

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21 Day Spirit of New Zealand
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