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!

Book and pay your deposit by 31 January 2019 to receive a 5% discount off your independent coach tour price for this month

Tour Info

Tour Type: Independent Coach Tour
From: Auckland to Christchurch
Departures: Feb 2018 to May 2019
Price: From (NZD) $4083 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Duration: 18 Days
Tour Code: RJ301i


17 nights accommodation
All Coach, Ferry & Rail Transport & Transfers
Optional Breakfasts
Daily Departures
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Maori Hangi (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 May 2018 – March 2019. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person is required at time of booking.

Click here for our full terms and conditions.

Book and pay your deposit by 31 January 2019 to receive a 5% discount off your independent coach tour price for this month

* Note: Prices shown are per person (based on two people travelling). Prices are valid for travel until March 2019

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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 the 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, with 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 Auckland’s 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’ll experience a boat trip like no other, journeying through the starry expanse of the Glowworm 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 “thermal city” of Rotorua. Stay 2 nights in 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, roaring geysers and boiling mudpools heated to unbearable temperatures. These contrast with the calm of the marae grounds and the work of the artisans at the 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, which are world renowned for their pools of tame trout. The Agrodome Farm features a vital section of New Zealand’s agriculture, 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 Maori feast, as Te Po’s cultural experience promises hours of fun, thought and Maori kai (indigenous food). After a formal Maori 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 Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley and an essential hot chocolate. (D)

Day 4
Rotorua - Wellington

Drive south to Wairakei – wreathed by steam, then to Taupo. Skirt Lake Taupo, and cross the volcanic landscape of the Desert Road past the majestic peaks of Tongariro, Ngaruahoe and Ruapehu. Continue across the fertile plains of the Manawatu and along the rugged Kapiti 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 Mt Victoria as well as a ride on the cable car (optional). This afternoon is free, perhaps to visit Te Papa Museum 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 shops. 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 – watch as boats bob on Wellington harbour, disappearing in the distance as you head into the majestic Marlborough Sounds, chugging away to Picton.

Once you’re on dry land again, you will journey through Havelock, a small town famed for its Green Shell 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, the gateway to the famous Abel Tasman National Park, for a two night stay.

Day 7

Today is at your leisure and there are lots of options including beaches to explore, harbour cruises, walks or adventure activities. Nelson is also the gateway to the 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 park. (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 Pancake Rocks, Blowholes and the 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 1860’s. Tonight you stay at Franz Josef – unique in the fact that the glacier descends from the Southern Alps to just 240 metres 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 12 kms from the high snow fields of the Southern Alps. The terminal face of the Franz Josef glacier is just 5 kms 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 south along the West Coast alongside braided riverbeds, native forests as well as 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, as impressive mountains touch the sky, remnants of the Ice Age glacial valley. Continue along the shores of Lakes Hawea, to arrive at the water-side playground of destination of Wanaka.

Day 12
Wanaka - Queenstown

Just a trip today through the historic goldfields of Central Otago to Queenstown, a beautiful alpine resort town and 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 and 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 alpine resort town situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown offers something for everyone – you can enjoy the quiet beauty and tranquility of this mountain retreat or several walking trails in the town area. For sheer excitement there is white-water rafting, helicopter rides, the famous jet boats, bungy jumping to pump your adrenalin, and offroad 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 1860’s gold rush days and you can 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 – our 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. Overnight in Te Anau. (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 and Dunedin Railway Station. Dunedin is also notable now as centre for ecotourism. Arrive early afternoon for a 2 night stay in Dunedin. (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 Moeraki Beach, stopping for a walk to view its mysterious, spherical, 60 million-year-old boulders. On to the town of Oamaru, 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.



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) $4083 per person
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Terms and conditions apply. Please see tour overview for more information.

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 ... Read More

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18 Day Natural New Zealand
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