9 Day North to South Explorer

9 Day North to South Explorer

If your time in New Zealand is limited, this 9 day independent coach tour takes you to many of Aotearoa's most popular destinations. Visit the magical Waitomo Glowworm Caves, geothermal Rotorua, New Zealand's adrenaline capital – Queenstown, and Australasia's highest mountain – Aoraki Mount Cook. Including a domestic flight, you will also be treated to a cruise on awe-inspiring Milford Sound.

Tour Info

Tour Type: Coach & Fly Tour
From: Auckland to Christchurch
Departures: Jan 2020 - March 2021
Price: From (NZD) $2799 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Duration: 9 Days
Tour Code: RJ314


8 nights accommodation
All coach, ferry and rail transport and transfers
Optional breakfasts
Daily departures
Internal flight from Rotorua to Queenstown
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Māori cultural experience, hāngī and concert in Rotorua
Te Puia geothermal experience
Rainbow Springs Nature Park
Agrodome farm show
Milford Sound day tour and 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

Haere mai, welcome to Auckland! Pass through customs, collect any luggage, and be met by one of our friendly representatives ready to whisk you away to your city accommodation. 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 plenty of sights, shopping and street appeal for even the pickiest of travellers.

Day 2
Auckland - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua

With an early morning departure from Auckland you will be travelling southbound towards the Waitomo via the city of Hamilton, which sits on the banks of the Waikato River. 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. Tonight, you’ll be treated to a Māori feast, a cultural experience which 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 as well as 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) (2 nights)

Day 3

This morning you will experience more Māori culture and the amazing thermal wonderland at Te Puia. Te Puia is also home to the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, where the ancient teachings of Māori ancestors have been preserved and continue to thrive. Continue on to the Rainbow Springs Nature Park, an attraction like no other. Set in 22 acres of beautiful native trees and streams, you will see a huge variety of New Zealand’s most precious inhabitants including the Kiwi Conservation Centre. New Zealand’s thriving agricultural industry is on show at the Agrodome, where you will witness a sheep shearing display and sheep dog trials. The afternoon is at leisure.

You can explore some of Rotorua’s natural wonders and scenic highlights by visiting the internationally renowned Whirinaki Forest, fringing the Te Urewera National Park. You will follow a pristine river path through towering rimu, tōtara and kahikatea trees, reaching an impressive waterfall and breathtaking canyon.

Day 4
Rotorua - Internal Flight - Queenstown

This morning you will be transferred from your accommodation to the Rotorua Airport for your southbound flight to Queenstown. Your flight is included in the tour price. Be sure not to miss the stunning scenery as you descend into Queenstown; it really will take your breath away. After arriving into Queenstown you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. Your afternoon is at leisure. (3 nights)

Day 5
Milford Sound Cruise

It’s an early departure today as your coach follows the southern arm of Lake Wakitipu to Lumsden, and onward to Lake Te Anau. The scenery changes dramatically from tussock covered grasslands to glacier-hewn valleys as you enter the Eglington Valley and travel through the breathtaking man-made Homer Tunnel before reaching Milford Sound.

Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board your launch for a spectacular cruise where you will see the wonders of Mitre Peak, glacier-scarred rock walls that rise 1,200m vertically from the sea, and waterfalls that tumble from hanging valleys to crash into the sound far below. 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!

On completion of your cruise you will return to Queenstown by coach, arriving in the evening. (L)

Day UP
Milford Sound Return Flight Upgrade Package (From NZ$395pp)

Upgrade your itinerary to include a return scenic flight to Queenstown taking in magnificent views of the alps, glaciers, lakes and forests of Fiordland National Park. (Duration 35 mins.)

The flight shaves approximately 4 hours off a return by coach. It is, however, very weather dependent, so if the weather doesn’t play ball you will need to return by coach and we will refund the upgrade price.

Day 6

It’s time to make memories in Queenstown. Pick and choose from a long list of adventures – from thrilling funyak tours along the Dart River to horse-riding in Glenorchy,  panning for gold in Arrowtown to taking a tour of Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, there is certainly something for every speed.

If you’re not ready to break the spell of the last few days a scenic walk may do the trick, exploring the diverse range of stunning trails the region delivers in troves.

Day 7
Queenstown - Aoraki Mount Cook

Leaving Queenstown you will soon reach picturesque Lake Hayes and travel through Kawarau Gorge, home of award-winning wineries and the famous Kawarau Gorge bungy bridge. You will travel past the township of Cromwell and its many orchards before crossing Lindis Pass and into the Mackenzie Basin. Hydro-electricity canals and glacier-fed lakes will guide you into the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Aoraki Mount Cook is Australasia’s highest mountain at 3,764m. The national park covers over 70,000 hectares of breathtaking alpine scenery and is also home to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Day 8
Aoraki Mount Cook - Christchurch

This morning is at your leisure. Hike around one of the walking tracks, take one of the scenic flights to get up close to Aoraki Mount Cook and the Southern Alps’ magnificent glaciers. You also have time to explore the Tasman Glacier via the terminal lake. This afternoon you’ll travel down the Tasman Valley past Glentanner Park, Lake Pukaki and Tekapo, where you can view the Church of the Good Shepherd by the lakeshore. The altar window offers awe-inspiring views of the lake and mountains.

The coach then continues on towards Fairlie. Continue your journey through diverse farmland and descend to cross the Canterbury Plains before arriving in Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city.

Day 9
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 4 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

We enjoyed our first time visit to NZ. Though the time we spent is short - we have a real great time enjoying ourselves visiting places that have being arranged for us by our tour consultant, Marie Sarmon.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
Wonderful tour! Auckland and Queenstown were our favorite spots! The hotels were great and everything went perfectly smoothly on our independent tour of both islands.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
I enjoyed a very unique and memorable travel experience in my first trip to New Zealand. The North to South Tour included a wide variety of cities, terrain, weather and sightseeing experiences. All of the New Zealanders that I met were really nice and friendly. I appreciated how well Relaxing Journeys coordinated every detail: all the connections to and from each destination. This was especially reassuring, since I was traveling on my own. I enjoyed the flexibility and the numerous options on the Independent Tours. My favorite activities were: Auckland City Tour; Glow Worm Caves in Waitomo; attractions in Rotorua; TSS Earnslaw Cruise to Walter Peak Farm; and I especially liked Christchurch. I was very impressed with the coach drivers. Their narration about the destinations, history and culture about NZ was very interesting to hear. As far as suggestions for improvement. 1. The coach on the Waiheke Island Tour had no air conditioning. It was a very warm and humid day, making it quite uncomfortable. Ironically, the fan motor on this coach was so loud, that we could not hear any of the narration by the driver. 2. The coach driver for the Milford Sound Tour left me behind: he said I was not there, and I was. I wish someone would have called me on my mobile phone...that would have been so easy to do, but he just left without me. Afterwards, I made numerous calls to rearrange my sightseeing tours, so it ultimately turned out OK, but this was a difficult day indeed. 3. The pace of the Rotorua attractions was too demanding. I wish that the 3 sightseeing activities in Rotorua had been scheduled for all day, instead of only in the morning. I would suggest that the Geothermal and the Agrodome be in the morning, and Rainbow Springs Park be in the afternoon. The Sheep Show was really great, and I would have also liked to go on a full farm tour at the Agrodome. 4. Queenstown was hard to navigate since my hotel was far from the CBD, and the hilly terrain made walking challenging. Also, very scary to be a pedestrian crossing the streets: no traffic lights, and the cars drove rather fast. I wish there had been a shuttle service from the CBD to my hotel; even for a reasonable fare or fee. 5. In Mount Cook, the departing location for coaches from the Hermitage Hotel was from a designated departure lobby on the 2nd floor, not from the foyer, as my written instructions indicated. Not being sure about where to meet the coach was rather anxiety-producing, especially after my experience of being left behind for Milford Sound. Now, back to the positives. My tour consultant, Toni Harris, provided an exceptionally high level of customer service: before, during and after my tour. I want to express my sincere appreciation to Toni for going above and beyond, for courteously and patiently answering my numerous questions, and for coordinating everything so beautifully.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money


Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
The tour was very well organized. We enjoyed it. Interesting places, beautiful views. Good hotels. No complaints from our side. Fully recommendable tour!
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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9 Day North to South Explorer
Coach & Fly Tour
Tour Code: RJ314
From (NZD) $2799 per person
Save (NZD) $279 per person
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Terms and conditions apply. Please see tour overview for more information.

4 reviews (4.5/5)

If your time in New Zealand is limited, this 9 day independent coach tour takes you to many of Aotearoa's most popular destinations. Visit the magical... Read More

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9 Day North to South Explorer
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