NZ1 Next-to-none New Zealand TOUR


Aotearoa: Land of the Long White Cloud


Auckland: City Tour; Waitomo Caves; Rotorua: Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve; Wellington: Te Papa Museum; Doubtful OR Milford Sound overnight cruise; Mt Cook scenic overflight


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Thu 12 Nov 2015Thu 26 Nov 2015 $5830
Thu 25 Feb 2016Thu 10 Mar 2016 $5830
Thu 10 Nov 2016Thu 24 Nov 2016 $5830

Optional Single Supplement: $1400 (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $700, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.

Tour Overview

New Zealand is one of the most popular locations for tourists from all over the world and after we step outside off our plane, we will quickly understand why this is so. Explore the shorelines of Doubtful OR Milford Sound and see the dense rainforest that lines these turquoise waters. We might spot a Bottlenose Dolphin playing or the rare penguin making its way along the shore. A flight over Mount Cook gives us a better view after we explore the Canterbury Plains. The beauty of New Zealand isn't always out in the open; the stars above our heads while in the capital city, Auckland, is a sight we will enjoy, but nothing compares to the glow of a thousand glow-worms along the ceiling of Waitomo Caves. It is interesting to understand how the locals make use of the hot steam that is constantly coming from the earth in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

Regions visited: Oceania And South Pacific
Countries visited: New Zealand


The overnight stay on the Fiordland Navigator on Doubtful Sound was excellent. The organization and transportation through Real Journeys was impressive and their staff on board were helpful and efficient. The flight over Milford Sound was a great experience. Te Papa Museum was a highlight.

The excursions I enjoyed the most were the airplane excursion, train ride, Doubtful Sound cruise. Drivers were excellent and considerate. Every restaurant an adventure. Very good food. Our tour leader Jonathan was kind and attuned to the needs of the individuals in his care. He was happy all the time. Very innovative and selfless. Great sense of humor. Value received, very good trip.

Excellent tour, well-organized, well-executed by our tour guide, liked the small size of participants, appreciated only having to think about lunch/tea

The "flight-seeing" over Mt. Cook was spectacular, as was the Doubtful Sound overnight excursion. Also enjoyed the Maori meal and performance in Rotorua.Beautiful buses, especially the ones designed to slope up towards the back, enabling back-seat passengers to see out the front window. Excellent drivers, and lots of room for the 15 members of our group.

I booked with AA because of satisfaction of other tours offered by AA. Security in the quality of your offerings. The sales and consulting staff were friendly and patient. My favourite excursions were the airplane flight over Mt. Cook, cruise on Doubtful sound, Airplane museum tour, Wither Hills winery tour, sheep show. The transport was excellent. The coaches clean and comfortable. Lindsey Sterling, our driver, was a blessing every day, knowledgeable, very capable and safe driver, and more than dependable. We all loved him. The meal plan was better than could be expected. Great restaurants. Very well planned. Jonathon, our tour leader, made sure we were always given rich background information about the activity at hand. He never failed to be pleasant and in good humor. He was very capable. A credit to the company. Yet another positive travel experience with AA

I enjoyed all the excursions. The Doubtful Sound cruise was a highlight for me--beautiful weather,good food and sealife sightings, especially the crested penguins. Both the Te Papa and Aukland Museums were fantastic and the Waitomo caves were fascinating.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Auckland
Arrival in Auckland.

Located in the northern part of New Zealand, the cosmopolitan city of Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in the country. The geographical location of Auckland is such that it lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the southeast, the Manukau Harbour to the southwest, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and northwest. The region is also the site of Auckland Volcanic Field, comprising of around 50 volcanoes. This is perhaps the most vibrant and bustling city in New Zealand. Auckland is also the biggest Polynesian city in the world, a cultural influence reflected in many different aspects of city life.

Overnight in Auckland.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Auckland: City Tour
This morning we begin our tour of Auckland. Travelling via Auckland's 'Golden Mile' (Queen Street), our tour takes us through the university grounds past many of Auckland's historical buildings. We will make a stop at the Parnell Rose Garden before continuing to Parnell Village, the Central Business District, the Mission Bay area, Tamaki Drive, and the Harbour Bridge before our visit to the Auckland Museum. Three expansive levels tell the story of New Zealand's history, from emergence as a nation through the loss and suffering of war, to their uniquely ancient natural history and priceless Maori and Pacific treasures.

Overnight in Auckland.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Auckland - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua
This morning as we depart from Auckland we will travel to the crest of Mt Eden and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the city. This dormant volcano, complete with crater, allows us to clearly view Auckland's setting between two harbours.

We leave the 'City of Sails' and travel south through the rich farmland of the Waikato region before arriving at the world-famous Waitomo Caves. Here we will experience a guided tour of the underground limestone caverns and glowworm caves. After this unique experience we continue on to Rotorua, an area of abundant geothermal activity. Rotorua is in the middle of what is called the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which runs from northeast to southwest across the North Island. The area has long been a popular spa area and the locals make use of the hot steam that rises to the surface for heating their homes, cooking, and building their own private hot pools.

This afternoon we will visit the Te Puia Thermal Reserve and Maori Arts and Crafts Center. Here we will discover boiling pools of mud and geysers that spout up to 30m (100 feet).

Tonight we will enjoy a Maori Hangi (feast) and cultural performance of song and dance.

Overnight in Rotorua.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Rotorua - Wellington
Today we follow the 'Thermal Explorer Highway' to the heart of the North Island. This highway takes us through some of the most stunning scenery in New Zealand, along a path well-known for its geological wonders -- from huge limestone caves, to bubbling geothermal areas and volcanic plateaus.

We will view the Wairakei Steam Valley where the thermal energy is harnessed in the world's second largest geothermal power plant. We will see spectacular Huka Falls, located on the rushing Waikato River. We will also visit Lake Taupo, the water-filled crater of an ancient volcano. Surrounded by stunning volcanoes, bush clad mountains and a spectacular landscape; this is the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere.

We then continue to travel south to Wellington. Our journey south takes us on the spectacular desert road along the edge of the World Heritage Site at Tongariro National Park. Established in 1887, Tongariro was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. This is also a dual World Heritage area, a status that recognizes the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

Overnight in Wellington.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Wellington - Cook Strait Crossing - Blenheim
This morning we enjoy a city sightseeing tour, including a tour of the Parliament Buildings. We will also visit Te Papa, New Zealand's fantastic 'National Museum'. Here we will have a guided tour of the highlights from New Zealand's natural environment, art, and history.

This afternoon we will take the 3-hour journey across Cook Strait to the South Island. This journey is considered be one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. Named after James Cook, the Cook Strait connects the Tasman Sea on the west with the South Pacific Ocean on the east. Upon our arrival in Picton we will continue our journey and travel through vineyards and wineries to Blenheim. Framed by mountains, this is one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand.

Overnight in Blenheim.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Blenheim - Christchurch
Today we will enjoy a spectacular scenic journey between the mountains and the sea as we travel through the Marlborough region. This geographic region has a growing international reputation for it's white wine production.

We later arrive in the thriving seaside settlement of Kaikoura, an area offering unique whale and dolphin watching experiences. Several different species of whale can be seen off Kaikoura at different times of the year, but almost always the huge Sperm Whales. There is also a large and readily observed colony of Southern Fur Seals at the eastern edge of the town that we will visit.

We continue to travel between the Pacific Ocean and rugged Kaikoura Ranges to Christchurch, the 'Garden City'.

Overnight in Christchurch.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Christchurch - TranzAlpine Train - Franz Josef
This morning we will board the award-winning TranzAlpine Train, one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys. Our route will take us across the vast patchwork farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and we will enjoy stunning scenery as we journey through spectacular gorges, river valleys and across the country's greatest mountain range, the magnificent Southern Alps.

After approximately 2.5 hours we will disembark at Arthurs Pass and continue to Hokitika by coach, a journey along the west coast and bringing us to the World Heritage-listed area of South West New Zealand (Te Wahipounamu). Shaped by millions of years of glacial movement, the fiords and coasts of South West New Zealand are outstandingly beautiful.

Hokitika was a gold rush town in the 1860s, and the countryside around Hokitika is dotted with historic sites related to its mining past. Today Hokitika is known for its arts and crafts produced by local artisans. After a break for lunch, we continue to Franz Josef. The magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is widely regarded as the gem of New Zealand's West Coast Glaciers.

Overnight at Franz Josef.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Franz Josef - Haast River Valley - Queenstown
Today we will view some truly magnificent scenery as we travel along the rugged west coast to Haast. Here we will experience a unique river safari, capturing breathtaking views of the massive glacier formed Haast River Valley, flanked by towering peaks, cascading waterfalls and dense temperate rainforest. The one hour trip through the mighty Haast River Valley allows us to journey into the heart of Te Wahipounamu -- the South West World Heritage Area and experience a close-up encounter with this untouched landscape and its remarkable natural features.

We then rejoin our coach and continue to Queenstown.

Overnight in Queenstown.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Queenstown: At Leisure
Today is a nicely timed free day. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is New Zealand's premier four-season lake and alpine resort. Queenstown has a compact and sophisticated downtown area tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Dwarfed by the surrounding mountains, there are amazing views from everywhere.

You may choose just to relax, wander the streets, and soak up the atmosphere of the region. Or, you may wish to join one of the optional excursions available (booked locally), such as a lake cruise, wine tour, jet boating, or a local garden tour.

Overnight in Queenstown.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Queenstown - Doubtful Sound Cruise
We will depart Queenstown this morning and head toward beautiful Lake Manapouri. We cruise across the lake and then travel by road over Wilmot Pass, stopping along the way to experience some of Fiordland’s densest rainforest and to view the colourful alpine moss gardens. We board the Fiordland Navigator at Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound.* There is plenty of time to enjoy the stunning views and to discover the hidden arms of Doubtful Sound. Fur seals and bottlenose dolphins are often seen and at times, rare penguins can be observed. There is also time for you to kayak around the shoreline or go exploring in the tender craft with our nature guide. As the shadows lengthen we'll drop anchor at a favourite mooring for the night. After the day's activities, we enjoy a delicious evening buffet meal in the spacious dining salon.

The Fiordland Navigator is purpose-built for cruising in the fiords. The vessel offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining salon/fully licensed bar and observation lounge. Our trip features private cabins with twin side-by-side beds and en suite bathrooms.

NOTE: Please pack an overnight bag for the cruise. Your main baggage will be kept in storage.

* Occasionally, due to availability limitations or scheduled / unscheduled ship maintenance, we may include a cruise on Milford Sound.

Accommodation: Overnight on Fiordland Navigator

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 11 Doubtful Sound - Te Anau - Dunedin
Our cruise continues this morning. The physical grandeur of towering peaks descending into moody waters, outstanding waterfalls from high-up ice-age valleys and fiords clad with ancient vegetation, create a powerful atmosphere of solitude and serenity.

We then disembark and proceed to Te Anau with time at leisure for lunch. We then continue across the South Island to the East Coast and the city of Dunedin, renowned as the 'Edinburgh of the South'.

Overnight in Dunedin.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Dunedin - Otago Peninsula Excursion - Dunedin
Today we will journey to the nearby Otago Peninsula. The Otago Peninsula, together with its 20 km long Otago Harbour, is the home of an abundance of magnificent and world famous wildlife. The Otago Peninsula is predominantly of volcanic origin, steep and, on the Pacific Ocean side, very rugged. The harbour side is relatively warm, sunny and sheltered.

Our scenic drive will take us past lush green pastures, small bays and inlets,sandy beaches, rugged hills, and volcanic landforms.

Overnight in Dunedin.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Dunedin - Mt. Cook
Today we journey north along the coast to view the unique Moeraki Beach boulders before turning inland and traveling towards New Zealand's highlands and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mt. Cook National Park. Along the way we'll stop at Oamaru, famous for its impressive streetscapes with many buildings constructed of local limestone.

Mount Cook Village is at the base of Mount Cook, probably the most spectacular national park in the country and one that rivals most scenery you'll see in the European Alps. The park, 680 sq km (270 square miles), contains more than 20 peaks over 3000 m (10,000 feet), including Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in Australasia. The Maoris called it Aoraki, 'the Cloud Piercer.' It also features the world's longest temperate-zone glacier, the Tasman.

After a few hours for some exploration -- possibly a leisurely walk to a glacier -- we continue to our hotel.

Overnight at Mt Cook.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Mt Cook - Christchurch
This morning we enjoy (weather permitting) a scenic flight-of-a-lifetime -- the "Grand Traverse" -- a spectacular scenic flight-seeing experience allowing you to explore the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks. This 'flight-seeing' experience encompasses two World Heritage National Parks and 200 sq km of New Zealand's most memorable and spectacular scenery: Beautiful turquoise glacial lakes, golden tussock lands and braided river systems of the Mackenzie basin; remote High Country sheep stations, glacial valleys and landforms; the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park -- a magical world of permanent ice and snow.

The fixed wing aircraft ensures that every passenger has a window seat and all aircraft have wings-above to ensure optimum viewing below. Pilots provide a full and informative commentary.

We continue with a visit to Lake Tekapo, and then we leave the 'High Country' and cross the Rakaia River towards Christchurch.

Overnight in Christchurch.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Departure
Departure from Christchurch.


Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Copthorn Hotel Auckland

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Auckland
Country: New Zealand

Located right on Auckland's waterfront, Copthorne Hotel Auckland HarbourCity provides quick and easy access to Auckland’s bustling Viaduct Basin, Central
... District, shopping, bars, restaurants, harbour activities and the Vector Arena.

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Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Rotorua
Country: New Zealand

The Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua, previously known as the Lake Plaza Rotorua, is the largest hotel in the area and
... a lakeside location that is second-to-none. Every room features an ensuite bathroom, wireless broadband internet, Sky Television.

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Chateau Marlborough

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Blenheim
Country: New Zealand

Chateau Marlborough offers luxury 5 star Blenheim hotel accommodation in the heart of one of New Zealand's most famous wine
... Choose from a range of boutique hotel accommodation options, including a luxurious 2 bedroom Grande Penthouse, 1 bedroom Grande Apartments, Grande Studio Suites, Executive Suites, Superior Suites & Classic Suites, all of which are self-contained.
The only 100% locally owned and operated Qualmark rated hotel in Marlborough, Chateau Marlborough is the only 5 star Hotel in the top of New Zealand's South Island; enjoy the beautiful surroundings overlooking Seymour Square Gardens and it's only an easy 2 minute walk to Blenheim’s town centre.

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Heritage Christchurch

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Christchurch
Country: New Zealand

Christchurch is a long way from the Mediterranean – nevertheless, the opulence of an Italian High Renaissance Palazzo awaits you
... the Heritage Christchurch. Designed by Joseph Clark Maddison and opened in 1913, the hotel is listed as a category one building on the Historic Places Trust Register, reflecting its status as a building of national significance. The hotel’s grand design is fitting: after all, Christchurch is regarded as the Garden City, and is regarded internationally for its culture and refinement.
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Overnight Cruise

Location: Doubtful Sound
Country: New Zealand

Location: Doubtful or Milford Sound

The Hermitage

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Mt Cook
Country: New Zealand

From an intrepid journey through glacial valleys to a mouth-watering culinary dining adventure, The Hermitage Hotel is the perfect place
... base your adventure and discover why this region has endeared itself to Kiwi adventure seekers for so long.

Choose from premium hotel rooms, motel units or cozy chalets.Add world-class activities such as Glacier Explorers, Tasman Valley 4WD and Argo Tours, Big Sky Stargazing, Mount Cook Guided Day Walks, scenic flights or the visual extravaganza of the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and you have a unique, year-round alpine adventure perfect for the family holiday or your next romantic getaway.

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Trip Information

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Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and local restaurants); lunch on overnight cruise. All land transport, sightseeing (including scenic overflight) and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.


Tour Leader gratuity, most lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

Subtropical in the north and temperate in the south. The warmer months (Oct-Mar) are the most pleasant, though you must be prepared for a wide range of conditions.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Transportation throughout via a/c private motor coach. The trip is not strenuous though it is busy; you must be prepared for some full days and early starts.


Well-located, air-conditioned, mid-range (3 star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout (probably shower only). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than doubles. Porter service is usually available at hotels though you should be independent with your luggage. The sound that we cruise can vary depending on space availability and other scheduling considerations. We board either the Fiordland Navigator (Doubtful Sound) or the Milford Mariner (Milford), both of which feature private twin-bedded cabins and operated by our partners, Real Journeys (view the full itineraries and vessel descriptions at

Our hotels in New Zealand are chosen primarily for location, cleanliness, security, and comfort. We regret that mid-range hotels in the region do not generally provide free wifi; it is available, but it may be costly.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, coach captain, local step-on guides.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)




TOUR ENDChristchurch