18 Day Natural New Zealand

18 Day Natural New Zealand

Step outside your comfort zone and experience a New Zealand that is magnificent, wild and authentic. From the thermal springs of Rotorua to the cool blue splendour of glacial towers, this 18 day independent tour of New Zealand will be a truly once-in-a-lifetime holiday!

Tour Info

Tour Type: Independent Coach Tour
From: Auckland to Christchurch
Departures: Jan 2020 - March 2021
Price: From (NZD) $4383 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Duration: 18 Days
Tour Code: RJ301i


17 nights accommodation
All coach, ferry and rail transport and transfers
Optional breakfasts
Daily departures
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Māori hāngī feast and concert
Te Puia geothermal experience
Rainbow Springs Nature Park
Agrodome farm show
Half-day sightseeing tour of Wellington
Scenic Interislander cruise
Half-day Otago Peninsula wildlife cruise and tour
Milford Sound cruise, including lunch


Prices are per person based on twin-share, and are subject to availability. Prices are correct at the time of submission but are subject to change without notice. Valid for travel January 2020 – March 2021. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $250 per person is required at time of booking.

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Auckland

Welcome to Auckland! After clearing customs and immigration you will be transferred from Auckland Airport to your hotel in the central city. After checking in and getting yourself settled, turn your roving eye outside and enjoy a free afternoon in the ‘City of Sails’. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and has so much to offer, from deserted islands to lush native bush, sheltered inshore waters to the wild Tasman Sea, and sophisticated city streets to backroad rural charm. Perhaps explore the vibrant waterfront and ride the Dockline Tram.

Day 2
Auckland - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua

From Auckland travel south along the Southern Motorway to reach the market garden area of Pukekohe. Continue through Hamilton, New Zealand’s fourth largest city, and the fertile Waikato region to arrive at Waitomo.

For over 100 years, Waitomo Glowworm Caves have attracted millions of people from all over the world. The moment you enter this subterranean wonderland you’ll discover an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos. You will experience a boat trip like no other, journeying through the starry expanse of the cave while your way is lit by a multitude of tiny glowworm lights. On completion of this tour, continue over the forested Mamaku Ranges to reach the geothermal city of Rotorua. (2 nights)

Day 3

This morning you will be met at your accommodation for your morning sightseeing tour of the city. Rotorua sits calmly atop some remarkable cracks in the earth’s crust – sometimes giving the impression that the town is on fire. This impression is reinforced by the hot mists of Te Puia, with roaring geysers and boiling mud pools heated to unbearable temperatures. These contrast with the calm of the marae grounds and the work of the artisans at the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. Also see the Kiwi House, displaying these rare, native birds.

Other highlights on your tour of Rotorua are the native and exotic vegetation at Rainbow Springs Nature Park, and their world renowned pools of tame trout. The Agrodome farm features a vital section of New Zealand’s agriculture, with sheep shearing and a sheep dog display. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city further.

Tonight, you’ll be treated to a Māori feast, as Te Pō’s cultural experience promises hours of fun, thought and kai (indigenous food). After a formal Māori welcome, relax and enjoy a captivating performance by the local people, including traditional songs and the renowned haka. Following a truly delectable dinner, you will be transported by people movers to enjoy the spectacular lighting of the geothermal Te Whakarewarewa Valley and an essential hot chocolate. (D)

Day 4
Rotorua - Wellington

Drive south to Wairakei, wreathed by steam, then to Taupō. Skirt Lake Taupō and cross the volcanic landscape of the Desert Road, past the majestic peaks of Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu. Continue across the fertile plains of the Manawatū and along the rugged Kāpiti coastline to Wellington. (2 nights)

Day 5

This morning a half-day tour of the city will take in the Parliament Buildings, the ‘Beehive’, Old St Paul’s Cathedral, panoramic views of the harbour and city from Mount Victoria, and a ride on the historic Cable Car (optional). This afternoon is free, perhaps to visit Te Papa or the Museum of City and Sea.

Wellington is compact, cultured, and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafés, restaurants, museums and all kinds of shopping. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty.

Day 6
Wellington - Interislander Cruise - Nelson

Today you will catch the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait and through the tranquil Marlborough Sounds to Picton. Where will you sit? Inside or outside? Try to vary your experience if you can, as some of the sights are better seen without the barrier of a window.

Once you’re on dry land again you will journey through Havelock, a small town famed for its greenshell mussels. If you have time, make sure to stop for a bite to eat and explore the forest glades of Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, or for something a little more adventurous, ascend via the ridgeline to a 417m peak. From there continue on to Nelson. (2 nights)

Day 7

Today is at leisure and there are lots of options, including beaches to explore, harbour cruises, walks, or adventure activities. Nelson is also the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, the smallest of New Zealand’s national parks, with glittering beaches, turquoise water, and spectacular ocean views. Perhaps enjoy a cruise in this spectacular area. (2 nights)

Day 8
Nelson - Punakaiki

Today you will  head south through Murchison, making your way to the West Coast. At Hawks Crag the road has been hacked out of solid rock – be ready for the dramatic overhang, lending shade and character to the route. The road to Punakaiki hugs the coast, providing spectacular views of wild beaches and the tempestuous Tasman Sea.

Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. The best time to visit the blowholes is at high tide when they are at their most powerful. The track has many lookouts and areas for fantastic photos to be taken of the rocks, blowholes, and beautiful mountain views.

Day 9
Punakaiki - Franz Josef

The morning is at your leisure. The Truman Track is a short walk worth doing while you’re here – nearing the coast it passes through typical West Coast flax flats before emerging onto a sprawling headland with stunning views up and down the local shoreline. This afternoon you will be heading down the West Coast.

Home to towering rainforests, mountains and glaciers, tranquil lakes as well as rushing rivers, this coastal paradise is steeped in history dating back to the gold rush era of the 1860s. Tonight you stay at Franz Josef – unique in the fact that the glacier descends from the Southern Alps to just 240m above sea level, amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest. (2 nights)

Day 10
Franz Josef

Today you have a whole day at leisure. Perhaps enjoy an optional guided walk on the glacier, a heli-hike or a scenic flight, or an unguided walk to the terminal face. Franz Josef Glacier extends 12km from the high snow fields of the Southern Alps, and the terminal face is just 5km from the Franz Josef township.

Day UP
Glacier Upgrade Package

Treat yourself and upgrade your accommodation in Franz Josef to the 5-star Te Waonui Forest Retreat, a luxury lodge hotel nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest. Our upgrade package includes luxurious accommodation, dinner on the first night – an indulgent 5-course degustation menu in The Canopy Restaurant – and a la carte breakfast both mornings. We’ve also included a stunning Franz Josef heli-hike to help you make the most of your time in the region. Ask us for a price!

Day 11
Franz Josef - Wanaka

Farewell Franz Josef as your coach takes you further south alongside braided riverbeds, native forests and roadside waterfalls, before climbing up over the Haast Pass and through Mount Aspiring National Park. If you have time, stop and stretch your legs while drinking in the scenery. Impressive mountains touch the sky, remnants of the Ice Age glacial valley. Continue along the shores of Lake Hawea to arrive at the waterside playground destination of Wanaka.

Day 12
Wanaka - Queenstown

Take a trip today through the historic goldfields of Central Otago to Queenstown, a beautiful alpine resort town regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier holiday destinations.

The capital of adrenaline, beauty and local foodie culture, you can pick and choose from a long list of adventures. From thrilling funyak tours along the Dart River to horse riding in Glenorchy, or taking a tour of Lake Wakatipu via the TSS Earnslaw, there is certainly something for every speed. (2 nights)

Day 13

Today is completely at your leisure to enjoy the many sights of this resort situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown offers something for everyone – you can enjoy the quiet beauty and tranquility, or enjoy the walking trails in the town area. For sheer excitement there is white-water rafting, helicopter rides, the famous jetboats, bungy jumping to pump your adrenalin, and off-road 4WD tours with plenty of river crossings.

There are cruises on the lake and a visit to a high country sheep station, as well as wine tasting tours. You can visit nearby Arrowtown where the main street has been preserved since the 1860s gold rush days, and try your luck panning for gold in the adjacent Shotover River.

Day 14
Queenstown - Milford Sound - Te Anau

An early start takes you alongside the lake to Kingston, then to Mossburn and Lake Te Anau. Soon you plunge into the beech forests of the beautiful Eglinton Valley then it’s on through the Homer Tunnel to the awesome Cleddau Canyon and the steep descent to Milford Sound.

Upon arrival, board either the Milford Mariner or Milford Wanderer – specifically designed fiord explorers – and settle in for a 2.5-hour cruise. Milford Sound is nothing short of heart-stopping, inducing subconscious smiles in the hard to please and easily bored almost instantly; it’s simply magnificent. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins!

Later today your coach climbs back over the divide and returns you to Te Anau. (1 night) (L)

Day 15
Te Anau - Dunedin

This morning cross the Waimea Plains towards the farming community of Gore, then continue across the rolling hill country of Southland and South Otago to Dunedin. Second-largest city in the South Island, the cityscape glitters with gems of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, the legacy of the city’s gold rush affluence – First Church, Otago Boys’ High School and Larnach Castle. Other prominent buildings include Olveston House and Dunedin Railway Station. Dunedin is also notable now as centre for eco-tourism. Arrive early afternoon. (2 nights)

Day 16

Cruise the length of the beautiful Otago Harbour. Experience unrivalled viewing of the exciting diversity of wildlife which abounds on spectacular Taiaroa Head, the only mainland nesting place for northern royal albatross in the world, home to New Zealand fur seals, and eight other nesting bird species. You may also see dolphins, sea lions, and a fascinating array of rarely-seen ocean birds including other species of albatross, penguins, as well as marine mammals in their natural environment. Enjoy a scenic peninsula tour by coach before returning to the city. The rest of today is at leisure.

Dunedin is teeming with scenic walks and easy trails, as short tracks criss-cross the Otago Peninsula as well as the town belt… and let’s not forget Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street. Don’t cheat yourself out of curious paths and sights that don’t make it into many guide books – ask a local for the inside story.

Day 17
Dunedin - Christchurch

Leaving Dunedin, sit back and enjoy the scenery as you head along the coastal highway to Koekohe Beach, stopping for a walk to view the mysterious, spherical, 60-million-year-old Moeraki Boulders. On to the town of Ōamaru to sample the South Hill Walk, perfect for stunning coastal views from Cape Wanbrow. Tick off towns like Timaru, Geraldine and Ashburton as you make you way back to Christchurch.

Day 18
Depart Christchurch

Sadly your trip has come to an end. We hope that you have thoroughly enjoyed your experiences in New Zealand. Today you will be met at your accommodation and transferred to the airport for your onward journey. Have a safe trip home.


There are 1 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 5 out of 5.

Overall Tour Rating
Value For Money
Tour Pace
Relaxing Journeys Experience

Tour Reviews

Overall, the choice of places was very good. The glow warms cave was perhaps not so essential. The pace was indeed relaxing and very appropriate for people our age (65-70). The choice of accommodations was generally appropriate, though the places in Punakaiki and Te Anau are somewhat far from the centre. The supershuttle arrangement is very convenient. Overall we had a wonderful experience, and we are grateful to Relaxing Journeys.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience



New Zealand has a great deal of things to see and do, why not add one of our optional sightseeing activities to your trip. Prices are per adult (we'll adjust your quote for any children).

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18 Day Natural New Zealand
Independent Coach Tour
Tour Code: RJ301i
From (NZD) $4383 per person
Save (NZD) $438 per person
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1 reviews (5/5)

Step outside your comfort zone and experience a New Zealand that is magnificent, wild and authentic. From the thermal springs of Rotorua to the cool b... Read More

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18 Day Natural New Zealand
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