23 Day Discover National Parks Hiking Tour

23 Day Discover National Parks Hiking Tour

Forest, ferns and gullies, New Zealand's national parks are captivating masterpieces of environmentally balanced art, bewitching senses and inspiring wonder at every turn.

Tour Info

Tour Type: Self Drive Tours
From: Auckland to Christchurch
Departures: Jan 2020 - March 2021
Price: From (NZD) $10215 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Duration: 23 Days
Tour Code: GWDNPH


22 nights accommodation
Rental vehicle of your choice
3 day Hollyford Track guided walk
Waitomo Caves guided tour
Whirinaki Loop one day walk
Guided Tongariro Crossing 1 day walk
Abel Tasman walk and cruise
Franz Josef heli-hike
Admission to Franz Josef hot pools
Full day guided Hooker Valley Walk at Mt Cook
Scenic ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton
Full day Coast and Rainforest Walk


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.

Click here for our full terms and conditions.

Click on the prices below to enquire.

* Prices shown are per person (based on two people travelling).
* 2 Bedroom Motel pricing also available with Exclusive Specials. Please request a quote for prices.

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Auckland

Welcome to Auckland! Pass through customs, collect any baggage and be met by one of our friendly representatives, ready to whisk you away to your city accommodation via an executive sedan. 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. (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 2

Rise and shine. It’s time for your all-day tour of Auckland, a city surrounded by breath-taking views and packed with things to do – and that’s exactly where you’re going today. Out of the city.

Our first stop will take you to the sweeping decks of the Arataki Centre in the Waitakere Ranges, where you can absorb a sense of pristine serenity and admire the Maori carvings guarding the buildings. Feeling calm and collected? Great. It’s time to go west.

Your guide will lead you through Auckland’s coastal rainforest, where the local flora and fauna kisses a rugged coastline and the green ferns grow large. Pick a path along a bubbling stream, breathing in the fresh, isolated air, before writing your name on the black sand beach close by. Tuck into a kiwi-style lunch and watch the waves come in.

Your post-lunch journey encourages you to explore an untouched, ancient rainforest, where mature 1000-year-old kauri trees tower over the thriving canopy, shading the forest floor from natural threats. Let your guide quietly set the scene, sharing histories and facts about the native animal species, increasing your appreciation for this beautiful and unseen part of Auckland.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 3
Auckland - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua

Take delivery of your rental car this morning. Head 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 grotto’s. 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 glow worm lights. On completion of this tour, continue over the forested Mamaku Ranges to reach the “thermal city” of Rotorua. (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 4
Rotorua - Whitinaki Trek - Rotorua

Enjoy a full day exploring some of Rotorua’s natural wonders and scenic highlights on a day trek through the internationally renowned Whirinaki Forest, fringing the Te Urewera National Park. You’ll follow a pristine river path through towering rimu, totara and kahikatea trees, making it all worth it with an impressive waterfall and breath-taking canyon. If you’ve made good time on this moderately easy walk, you’ll be invited to soak and relax in a natural hot spring, getting your first real taste of thermal Rotorua.

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 5
Rotorua - Taupo - Tongariro National Park

Pack a lunch and strap yourself in for a short drive to Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake and popular hotspot for sight-seeing, picnicking and camera-snapping moments. Begin your trip at the Aratiatia Rapids, pausing to learn more about the unique power generation system, and continue onwards to the mighty Huka Falls on the Waikato River, before reaching the banks of Lake Taupo. Have a nibble and take a walk before continuing onto Tongariro National Park, centred around the volcanoes of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. The park is only one of a handful of sites in the world that has dual World Heritage status in recognition of both its natural and cultural values. (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 6
Guided Tongariro Crossing Trek

A real and rare treat, the Tongariro Crossing Track is your own mini-journey into the reaches of volcano country, as a guided tour takes you on a one-day adventure across active terrain. Get your camera ready, as you’ll soon be getting up close and personal with lava flows, mountain springs, emerald lakes, volcanos and stunning views. This is a once in a lifetime trek, so don’t forget a battery pack to keep your phone charged.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 7
Tongariro National Park - Wellington

Take a southern road to Wellington and wind your way through a river-sprung landscape. Break up the drive with a few strategic stops, the first in Shannon for a short hoot at the owl sanctuary; followed by the majestic Mangaweka Gorge and finally Kapiti Island, ideal for bird enthusiasts and those who love to something off the beaten track.

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 8
Wellington - Picton - Nelson

You’ll have very little time behind the wheel this morning, as you drop the car at the Interislander Ferry Terminal, ready to cross the Cook Strait to the South Island. 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, pick up a new rental car and journey to Havelock, a small town famed for its Green Shell Mussels. Between bites to eat, explore the forest glades of Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve; or for something a little more adventurous, ascend via ridgeline to a 417m peak. You will stop in Nelson for two nights, the gateway to the famous Abel Tasman National Park. (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 9
Nelson - Abel Tasman National Park - Nelson

Drive through Motueka to Kaiteriteri and board your boat. Relax in style, as you cruise the stunning golden inlets of the Abel Tasman coast. Laze on an idyllic beach or choose a walk exploring the beaches and forests. There are various trails available, ranging from 2 to 6 hours long. Rejoin your cruise back to Kaiteriteri and return to your hotel late afternoon.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 10
Nelson - Punakaiki

Head south down State Highway 6 through Murchison, making your way to the West Coast. The Murchison Skyline Walkway zigzags through mixed beech and podocarp forest, native ferns, and bracken and broom covered slopes on the outskirts of Murchison – it’s worth breaking your journey here for the 90 minute walk before you navigate the awesome Buller Gorge. 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.

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

Your choice of accommodation

Day 11
Punakaiki - Franz Josef

Enjoy a walk along the beach this morning before heading down the West Coast. Home to towering rainforests, mountains and glaciers, tranquil lakes and 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)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 12
Franz Josef Heli-Hike

Thrills and chills abound, as we combine a scenic helicopter flight over the Franz Josef Glacier, with a guided walk amongst the ice caves, pinnacles and crevices – this is alpine country as you’ve never seen it. You’ll enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains with plenty of snap-happy opportunities and the chance to learn more about this magnificent glacier.

Your guide chooses the route, ensuring you see only the most spectacular ice formations, leading you into icefall terrain that is usually seen only by experienced mountaineers. With a spotless safety record, rigid assessments, and using exclusive quality equipment, your safety and enjoyment is taken seriously by the folks at Heli-Hike.

After your trek is complete, bathe under a rainforest canopy and climb into the Franz Josef Glacier hot pools for some warm R&R.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 13
Franz Josef - Wanaka

Farewell Franz Josef and travel down the West Coast, alongside braided riverbeds, native forests and roadside waterfalls before climbing up over the Haast Pass and through Mount Aspiring National Park. Stop the car, stretch your legs and drink in the scenery, as impressive mountains touch the sky, remnants of the Ice Age glacial valley. Take your time and drive along the shores of Lakes Hawea, stopping in Makarora for an essential, short walk along the Blue Pools Track nearby. After getting back to your car it is a short drive to arrive at the water-side playground of destination of Wanaka.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 14
Wanaka - Te Anau

Today, you will make your way to Te Anau via Queenstown, over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots) along the way. Too much to handle? Cautious drivers can take the route that runs beside the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan and the Shotover River. From Queenstown drive through the Devils Staircase on route to Te Anau. Remember that your pre-tour briefing for the next day’s Hollyford Track walk is at 5.15 pm.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 15
Te Anau - Holyford Track Day 1 - 19.5km Walking

Drive through the Eglington Valley to the start of the track in the Hollyford Valley. Visit the museum at Gunn’s Camp on the way. The track follows the Hollyford River in the shadow of the majestic Southern Alps. Your guide will keep you entertained, rousing a laugh or smile with historical legends, commenting on local forest and bird life as you meander through native beech forests. After a delicious dinner at the lodge, relax or visit the nearby glow-worm colony.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 16
Holyford Track Day 2 - 15km Walking

After another delicious breakfast take another jet boat ride to Martins Bay Spit, a famous landmark that separates the Tasman Sea from the Hollyford Valley. Learn about the lifestyle of the early Maori as well as the flora and fauna of this remote area. After lunch back at Martin’s Bay Lodge board your helicopter and fly along the rugged coast into spectacular Milford Sound. In Milford you’ll be met by your coach driver and travel the impressive Milford Road through the Famous Homer Tunnel and back to Queenstown.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 17
Holyford Track Day 3 - 8.5km Walking - Te Anau

Get ready to take another jet boat ride to Martins Bay Spit, a famous landmark that separates the Tasman Sea from the Hollyford Valley. Learn about the lifestyle of the early Maori as well as the flora and fauna of this remote area. After lunch back at Martin’s Bay Lodge board your helicopter and fly along the rugged coast into spectacular Milford Sound. In Milford you’ll be met by your coach driver and travel the impressive Milford Road through the Famous Homer Tunnel and back to Te Anau.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 18
Te Anau - Queenstown

High country landscapes and trout fishing rivers are features of the road to Queenstown. The latter part of your drive clings scenically to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Take a break when you reach the small town of Kingston – there are a couple of short walks that will give you great views of Lake Wakatipu. (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 19
Explore Queenstown

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 and horse-riding in Glenorchy, to panning for gold in Arrowtown or taking a tour of Lake Wakatipu via the TSS Earnslaw, there is certainly something for every speed. Or, 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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 20
Queenstown - Mt Cook

Today, travel through the rugged and beautiful landscape of Otago. Cross the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country to arrive at Mt Cook National Park a World Heritage listed site. Mt Cook is New Zealand highest mountain at 3764 metres. The park covers over 70,000 hectares of breathtaking alpine scenery and is also home to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in the Southern hemisphere.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 21
Mt Cook

Prepare yourself for some of the most breath-taking views that you’ve ever witnessed, as your Hooker Valley tour begins. From your hotel, walk to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier (13.5kms return) taking in the solemn Alpine Memorial and crossing over the Hooker River by swing bridge on the way. Enjoy wonderful views of Aoraki Mount Cook’s southern face, sparing a gasp or two for the surrounding glaciers and mountains.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 22
Mt Cook - Christchurch

Before leaving Mt Cook National Park, be sure to stop and view the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo, built on the lake’s edge of local stone and oak in 1935. Leaving the High Country, cross the vast Canterbury Plains to the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 23
Depart Christchurch

Sadly your holiday is at an end and you will be returning your car to the airport today for your onward flight. Here, we bid you a fond farewell and hope you leave with many happy memories of your stay in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Your choice of accommodation


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).

Enquire about our 23 Day Discover National Parks Hiking Tour

23 Day Discover National Parks Hiking Tour
Self Drive Tours
Tour Code: GWDNPH
From (NZD) $10215 per person
Save (NZD) $1021 per person
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Terms and conditions apply. Please see tour overview for more information.

Forest, ferns and gullies, New Zealand's national parks are captivating masterpieces of environmentally balanced art, bewitching senses and inspiring ... Read More

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23 Day Discover National Parks Hiking Tour
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