These 11 days exploring New Zealand’s North and South islands are the ideal introduction to this small country that feels huge. Utilizing a diverse range of transport – train, gondola, boat, plane – you’ll connect with locals in artsy beach towns, roam through an ancient rainforest, learn about local legend and cuisine from the Maori, and breathe in all the clean air you possibly can. Come to New Zealand a stranger. Return home an honorary Kiwi.
Hauraki Gulf Marine Park whale and dolphin experience. Visit scenic Bridal Veil Falls. Farm visit with local lunch. Raglan harbour cruise. Visit a geothermal Maori village with a local guide. Meet a Maori elder. Enjoy traditional Maori hangi feast and entertainment. Orientation walk in Christchurch. Scenic TranzAlpine train. Queenstown Gondola ride. Wilderness day cruise (winter) or overnight cruise (summer) on Doubtful Sound. Interesting articles, helpful tips, and photography advice from National Geographic before you depart. Internal flights. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Cruise Hauraki Gulf Marine Park for a whale and dolphin experience, learn about Maori myths and traditions, experience the geothermal mysteries of Rotorua, glide along the TranzAlpine railway and relax at a rainforest lodge, cruise through secluded Doubtful Sound searching for wildlife and waterfalls
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
Group Leader Description
This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager, leader and driver – this person is experienced in the routes travelled and will organize and lead the meal preparations and has experience in cooking a variety of local and international dishes for large groups.
As the group coordinator and manager, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.
We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Group Size Notes
Max 16, Avg 12.
Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. The above information applies to G Adventures group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.
Mini-bus, plane, train, boat, walking.
About our Transportation
Our vans are mini-coaches. Occasionally with smaller group sizes we will use smaller, equally comfortable 13-seater vehicles. All mini-coaches tow a trailer for luggage and camping equipment (when needed). All groups have one CEO/Driver.
The vehicles are factory built with comfortable seats and air-conditioning. It is mandatory to wear a seatbelt while riding in our vehicles.
A local flight is included in this trip – Your CEO will give you your ticket on the day of flight.
We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels (9 nts), cruise boat (seasonal) (1 nt).
My Own Room Exceptions
Night 10: Doubtful Sound
There are three main ways for visitors to get from The Auckland Airport to the centre of town.
The ‘Airbus Express’ is the public bus and will take about 1 hour. Tickets are $16 and can be bought in the airport or for cash on the bus – look for the big blue bus. You will be dropped at the transit centre which is about 50 metres from the Hotel.
’Super Shuttle is the main minivan service – you can book tickets online or pay the driver direct – the cost will vary between $30 and $80 depending on the group size – you will be dropped at the door of the hotel.
Taxis operate from right outside the door – the cost will be about $75 to be dropped right outside of your hotel.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have pre-booked an airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our local office in Melbourne. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so we may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Office (Melbourne)
During office hours, 9am-5pm Local Time
From outside Australia: +61 3 9413 5820
From within Australia: 03 9413 5820
After Hours Emergency Number (Australia) From outside Australia: +61 432 705 621
From within Australia: 0432 705 621
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local operations manager, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
The max luggage allowance on domestic flights within New Zealand is 20 kgs, 1 checked bag and 1 carry on per person.
You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. We recommend the use of a well-labeled duffel bag, soft bag or backpack (whichever you find easiest to carry). Suitcases or heavy luggage are not recommended for the health of the CEO! A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential as you will have the chance to walk and hike in different national parks during these trips. This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, your lunch and a water bottle.
For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for days spent hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry easily once wet.
•Passport (with photocopies)
•Travel insurance (with photocopies)
•Airline tickets (with photocopies)
•Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
•G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
•Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
•Light fleece top
•Light windproof/waterproof jacket
•Sturdy walking shoes
•Watch or alarm clock
•Flashlight or headlamp
•Camera, memory card(s) and charger
•Electricity plug adapter
-Camera with extra memory cards and batteries
-Waterproof backpack cover
Laundry can be done at least once a week while on tour – most cities have laundromats where you can buy soap and wash your laundry in coin-operated machines. Your CEO will advise you along the trip where you will be able to do your laundry.
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation. Visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as far as possible, but rules do change and sometimes without warning. While we provide the following information in good faith, it is vital that you check the information yourself and understand that you are fully responsible for your own visa requirements.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The Australian currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD).
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in New Zealand and can be used to purchase small and large items. When purchasing products or services with a foreign credit card you may be charged additional fees by your credit card company for foreign purchases.
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Both Cirrus and Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. Both Visa and Master Cards are the most widely accepted credit cards. While ATMs are commonly available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work check with your bank before you travel. A visit to an ATM can be arranged on Day 1 and other days of the trip.
Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of local currency (preferably smaller bills, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s) and credit cards is best. Currency exchange is best obtained prior to travel or at the airport, currency exchange is easy to find in New Zealand in the gateway cities and most banks do accommodate.
Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
It is not customary in New Zealand or Australia to tip service providers, but if you do experience outstanding service it is good to do so. Such service would only usually be in places like quality restaurants and it would be very rare that you would tip more than 10%. Unless specifically asked to do so at the time (by your CEO) – do not tip your local guides. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, you may consider a small tip – but it certainly isn’t expected.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES ON TOUR
All prices are per person, in NZD amounts and are subject to change as services are provided by third party operators. Please note there may be weight restrictions on certain activities (eg skydiving 100 – 110 kg) and that availability of some optionals is not guaranteed due to weather conditions and space.
Kayak and Coffee $79
Stand Up Paddle Boarding $79
Polynesian Spa $22 and upwards
Guided Glacier Valley Walk $75
Ice Explorer Guided Hike (Heli transfer) $325
Heli Hike $429
Quad Biking $150
Bungy Jumping $180-$260
Canyon Swing $205
Jet Boat $135
Winery Tour $175-$225
Lord of the Rings Horse Riding Tour $195
Earnslaw Steamship Cruise $55
Please note: Usually there is time for one activity in each location.
Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that quite often we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings for trip specific information.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
Trip Specific Safety
Heed the caution signs at all times in National Parks and other remote areas in New Zealand and Australia.
Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility’ is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at:
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEO has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
Our commitment to responsible tourism inspired us to establish the Planeterra Foundation in 2003, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities around the world through support of local organizations and community projects in the places that we visit on our tours. G Adventures pays all of Planeterra’s administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation goes directly to support our projects. We also match all donations up to $30,000 per year to double the impact! For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit www.planeterra.org
Donate when you book your trip!
We offer travellers the opportunity to help us give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating $3 at the time of booking. Of course any amount above $3 is welcome! 100% of these proceeds will go directly to support our G Adventures for Good projects.
To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to donate to Planeterra, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking)
Weather can change dramatically and without warning – we recommend layering.
Travel Forum - The Watering Hole
Max 16, avg 12
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
Allow USD310-405 for meals not included.
10 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
PRODUCT_LINE: ONING, ID: 23758
Day 1: Auckland
Please make your own way to the joining hotel. Our CEO will have a welcome meeting this evening.
Auckland is a fantastic city with so much to see and do. Should you want more time to explore on your own, we recommend booking pre-nights.
Jump right into your adventure by adding the ‘Auckland Sailing: America’s Cup Experience’ extra to your tour. Work with a crew to sail around Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour on a competitive yacht, and take in the stunning views. PLEASE NOTE: If booking this extra, a pre-night in Auckland is highly recommended as this activity may start early in the morning on Day 1.
Day 2: Auckland (1B)
Enjoy a short orientation walk and some free time to explore the city. After, cruise Hauraki Gulf Marine Park on a research boat in search of whales, dolphins and sea birds. After our cruise spend one-on-one time with one of the expert crew to allow a deeper discussion on marine wildlife and conservation.
The wildlife cruise of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is highly subject to weather and sea conditions and does on occasion get cancelled at the last minute. While unfortunate, this is completely outside of our control and we ask that you appreciate that this is entirely in consideration of passenger and crew safety. If the cruise is cancelled, your CEO will arrange an alternate activity for the group to enjoy.
Dolphin and Whale Experience
Day 3: Auckland/Raglan (1B, 1L)
Drive a scenic route, visiting an eel farm which focuses on developing sustainable aquaculture. Enjoy lunch, featuring food which has been sustainably produced on the farm. Continue to the artsy town of Raglan and enjoy a cruise on the stunning harbour.
Eel Farm Visit
Raglan Harbour boat Cruise
Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s), 180km)
Day 4: Raglan/Rotorua (1B, 1D)
Rotorua sits over an active volcano with bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools in different areas around the town. This is a fascinating region with Maori history and cultured tied directly to the geothermal aspects of the land. Relax in one of the hot pools fed by water coming directly from the natural springs.
Bridal Veil Falls Walk
Tamaki Maori Village
Meet a Maori Elder
Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s))
Day 5: Rotorua/Christchurch (1B, 1L)
This morning visit Whakarewarewa, a Maori village with a local guide who explains the geothermal aspects of the region. Enjoy a light lunch of corn cooked in a natural hot pool and a traditional hangi pie. Fly to Christchurch and take an orientation walk with the CEO.
Whakarewarewa Geothermal Village Visit
Flight (1.00-1.75 hours)
Day 6: Christchurch/Franz Josef (1B)
Train (4.00 hour(s))
Private Vehicle (2.50 hour(s))
Day 7: Franz Josef (1B)
Options are plentiful. Choose from a helicopter hike, ice walking on the glacier, or soaking in the hot pools amongst the stunning scenery.
Day 8: Franz Josef/Queenstown (1B)
Early start to travel to the picturesque Lake Matheson. When the weather is right, you can get a great photo of the Southern Alps reflected in the lake. Follow the wild West Coast Road, through the rainforest before stopping for some short walks and waterfall visits.
Private Vehicle (6.00 hour(s), 365km)
Day 9: Queenstown/Doubtful Sound (1B, 1D)
In the evening, enjoy a delicious three course buffet dinner prepared by our onboard chef and served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travellers, savour some of the fine wines at our licensed bar and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.
The Fiordland Navigator is a purpose built vessel designed to replicate a traditional trading scow and is perfectly suited to cruising the fiords.
**Boat is subject to change
*Please note that the itinerary for this day varies in the winter:
Winter Schedule 18 May – 20 Sept Doubtful Sound/Te Anau
Drive the scenic route around Lake Wakatipu to the town of Manapouri. Travel by boat and bus to arrive at an eco cruise boat. Spend the afternoon cruising the stunning Doubtful Sound, one of the most untouched, remote places in the world. Marvel at the steep cliff walls and cascading waterfalls. The boat offers excellent chances for wildlife viewing in the area. Dolphins, penguins, seals and a variety of birds are some examples of what you can hope to see. In the evening, head to Te Anau for the night. We take in a screening of the award winning ‘Ata Whenua – Shadowland‘ Fjordland on Film documentary at the local cinema before having a group meal.
Doubtful Sound Overnight Wilderness Cruise
Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s), 250km)
Day 10: Doubtful Sound/Queenstown (1B)
Kick off the day with a hearty cooked breakfast and spend the rest of the morning exploring other parts of the fiord. We then return to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri, returning to Queenstown late afternoon. Opt for a farewell dinner with your group.
Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s), 250km)
Day 11: Queenstown (1B)
For more time to explore Queenstown, we recommend booking post nights with your agent if you are interested in the countless adrenaline-packed activities in the town known as the “adventure capital of the world.” Jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking, and sky diving are some of the activities available.