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Home11+ Day Group Tours from Christchurch › 17 Day New Zealand Magic Guided Tour

17 Day New Zealand Magic Guided Tour

Take a journey across patchwork plains, over shimmering blue waters, through mistshrouded forests and along roads hand-carved into sheer mountainsides.

17 Day New Zealand Magic Guided Tour

Travel through almost every type of natural landscape you could imagine, as you make your way from Christchurch in the South Island to Auckland in the North Island.

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Tour Type: Group Tours
From: Christchurch to Auckland
Departs: Selected dates
Duration: 17 days
Tour Code: LCBA

Regions Visited

Click on the region name to view more information about the region

Christchurch, Franz Josef, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Te Anau, Dunedin, Tekapo, Picton & Marlborough Sounds, Wellington, Rotorua, Auckland, Bay of Islands

Tour Inclusions

  • Experienced Travel Director and Driver Guide
  • Comfortable accommodation
  • Travel by luxury air-conditioned coach
  • Airport transfers (flights to arrive prior to 4pm on day 1, flights can depart anytime on day 17)
  • Full buffet breakfasts (16)
  • ‘Highlight dinners’ (2)
  • Dinners (9)
  • Tour through Christchurch to witness the incredible rebuild of the city
  • Visit a greenstone factory and watch the jade artists at work
  • See awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier
  • Visit serene crystal clear Lake Wanaka
  • Sail across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak for a unique ‘highlight dinner’
  • Let loose in the adventure capital Queenstown
  • Cruise on breath-taking Milford Sound
  • See spectacular Lake Tekapo and Lake Te Anau
  • Marvel at Fur Seals at Ohau Point and Whales at Kaikoura
  • Set sail on Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Visit Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand
  • Explore New Zealand’s capital Wellington
  • Discover the arts and traditions of New Zealand’s Maori culture
  • Feast on a Maori Hangi at a unique dinner experience with the Tamaki family
  • Cruise through Waitomo’s famous Glow Worm Grotto
  • Cruise in the stunning Bay of Islands and through the ‘Hole in the Rock’

Day By Day Itinerary

DAY 1: WELCOME TO CHRISTCHURCH

Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Flights can arrive any time prior to 4.00pm and you will be transferred from the airport to your Christchurch hotel. After you check-in, you can head out and explore Christchurch. Step back in time to a grand era of transport and relax as the Christchurch Tram takes you around the ‘must-see’ central attractions. The tram drivers provide a live commentary throughout the loop, identifying points of interest, historic architecture and the changes the city is under-going since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. This evening, meet your fellow passengers and your AAT Kings Travel Director at a Welcome Reception and dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis

DAY 2: CHRISTCHURCH / FRANZ JOSEF

First up this morning you will board the TranzAlpine train and head out through the Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass. This spectacular train journey dates back to 1914, and is rated as one of the world’s most scenic train trips. The train forges through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys. Then you head off to the drift-wood strewn beaches of Hokitika. As well as being one of the few West Coast communities to embrace its coastal landscape, Hokitika struck it rich in the resources stakes. Here you will visit a pounamu factory (native greenstone or jade), for the chance to see master carvers at work creating intricate pieces of jewellery and art. Maori tradition says it is bad luck to buy pounamu for yourself, so if you fancy a trinket of your own, make sure you have someone there to purchase it for you. Your final destination for today is the extraordinary rivers of ice that make up Franz Josef Glacier. You may want to get up close and personal with the glaciers on a helicopter flight. Your flight will hover over the snow face, and may land high up in the valley so that you can walk across the ice fall – subject to weather conditions (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

DAY 3: FRANZ JOSEF / QUEENSTOWN

If weather conditions are unfavourable on Day 2, you will get another chance to fly up to the glaciers this morning. If you aren’t flying, you might want to take a stroll through the small but lively Franz Josef village. Then you will head out of Franz following an ancient greenstone trail. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers. Travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the rainforest marvel of the wild West Coast to the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes. From here you will travel further into Central Otago and view Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows, followed by the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Hawea you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan. Stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. Later, you will stop and visit the faithfully restored gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. As you amble down the beautiful tree-lined avenues, past the 19th century wooden buildings, you will feel like you have stepped into a movie set. Then it’s on to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand!

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort

DAY 4: QUEENSTOWN AT LEISURE

Explore exciting Queenstown your way! Why not soar through the trees on a Ziptrek Ecotour, or raft the mighty white water rapids of the Kawarau River? Take the opportunity to encounter a Queenstown legend and ride the Shotover Jet Boat or venture out onto the Dart River for a longer jet safari. If laid-back and relaxed is more your idea of fun then join a Queenstown Original Wine Tour and sample some of Central Otago’s award-winning wines, or play a round of golf at one of the spectacular alpine courses around Queenstown. Your AAT Kings Travel Director will assist you in booking all of your chosen optional experiences. After a day of activity, sit back and enjoy a peaceful evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station. Launched in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw is the largest and grandest vessel ever to ply Lake Wakatipu. Today, the TSS Earnslaw is believed to be the only coal-fired passenger carrying vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere. Partake in a gourmet BBQ Highlight Dinner at Walter Peaks’ Colonel’s Homestead and then enjoy an entertaining after-dinner farm show providing a glimpse into high-country farm life. On the cruise back to Queenstown, join in a vintage sing-a-long or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort

DAY 5: QUEENSTOWN / TE ANAU

Today is one of those days where you will want to have your camera battery charged, and ready to go. And you will probably want to have a spare battery or two on hand… just in case. From the beautiful sights of Queenstown, you will travel out to the spectacular scenes of Milford Sound. You will stop at Mirror Lakes where, as the name suggests, you can see the stunning mountain scenery perfectly reflected in the waters of the lakes. Then on to the Homer Tunnel, man’s attempt to master the sheer rocky ranges, still left rough-hewn around the edges. As you emerge out the other side of the tunnel, you are presented with one of the world’s most dramatic alpine drives, down through the Cleddau Valley. You will have a stop at the Chasm, where the roaring Cleddau River has carved its way through solid rock, and then it’s on to Milford Sound, where you will cruise the waters of this natural wonder. Your cruise meanders down the sound, taking in the Bowen and Stirling Falls as these plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord. After leaving Milford Sound, you will journey 119km through the Fiordland National Park and out to Te Anau on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. This evening you have the opportunity to head out across the lake to the Glow Worm Caves for a tour (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Luxmore Hotel

DAY 6: TE ANAU / DUNEDIN

You may want to take an early morning walk along the shoreline of the South Island’s biggest lake, before you depart the township of Te Anau this morning. The heavily forested, rugged mountains of Fiordland National Park turn into rolling, grassy hills as you meander your way down to the city of Dunedin. Dunedin, also known as the Edinburgh of the Sough, has strong connections to its northern hemisphere sister city, even down to sharing many of the same street names – so take a wander down George Street, noting Dunedin’s Scottish ancestry. With the rest of your free afternoon you may wish to take part in an optional experience to see more of the region. Take a Wildlife Cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit the Speights Brewery – a New Zealand institution or ride the historic Taieri Gorge Railway. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City

DAY 7: DUNEDIN / OMARAMA

This morning you have some free time in Dunedin. You may want to visit the Dunedin Railway Station, or journey out to the gorgeous Larnach Castle – New Zealand’s only castle. Or you may just wish to roam around the beautiful grounds of New Zealand’s first university, Otago University. From Dunedin you will then travel through to the township of Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and its famous white limestone buildings. As well as shipping limestone to the bigger cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for construction of their Town Halls and various churches, Oamaru locals made sure that their own town represented the best in limestone building the mid-late 1800’s had to offer. Then you will journey along the Waitaki River, for a photo stop at the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. The Waitaki River marks the boundary between the regions of Canterbury and Otago, and with its large catchment it is an ideal source of hydro-electric power. Your day finishes in the heart of the Mackenzie Country at Omarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Heritage Gateway Hotel

DAY 8: OMARAMA / CHRISTCHURCH

You may want to take in Mount Cook National Park from the air this morning, on a scenic flight out over New Zealand’s highest peak, the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers (optional – at own expense). Sweeping views across the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo framed by a backdrop of rugged hills and snow-capped mountains provide stunning alpine photography opportunities. You will visit the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd, and stop for a quick photo with the bronze statue of a collie dog, the touching tribute to the sheepdogs which helped develop the Mackenzie Country. This afternoon head through the South Canterbury country towns of Fairlie and Geraldine and out over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch. Enjoy a city sights tour and see how Christchurch is rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Pop into the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square, the temporary home of the Christchurch Cathedral. It is the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard! Tonight, speak with your Travel Director about dining recommendations in Christchurch’s inner city.

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis

DAY 9: CHRISTCHURCH / PICTON

Today we travel over the Canterbury Plains and over the Lewis Pass, stopping at the small Alpine village of Murchison. Known as the ‘whitewater capital’ of the country due to the many rivers in the region. Later, we enjoy stunning scenery of the Buller Gorge before arriving to the Marlborough region, world-famous for its Sauvignon Blancs amongst other quality wines. This evening you will finish your adventure in the South Island in the pretty seaside fishing village of Picton.

Accommodation: Beachcomber Inn

DAY 10: PICTON / WELLINGTON

Enjoy a quiet start to the day. Your AAT Kings crew and coach will join you on board the Interislander for a cruise across the Cook Strait, from the South Island to the North. Surprisingly it takes longer to cruise through the Queen Charlotte Sound and up the Tory Channel than it does to cross the open ocean of Cook Strait. You will meander through a maze of arms and inlets out of Picton. Upon arrival, you will head out on a city sights tour of Wellington taking in New Zealand’s parliament buildings, and a visit to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. Discover New Zealand’s nature, history, art and heritage, and then enjoy some time at leisure. Indulge in Wellington’s renowned coffee culture, or take a walk along Lambton Quay. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Travelodge

DAY 11: WELLINGTON / ROTORUA

Follow the state highway out of New Zealand’s capital city this morning and along the Kapiti Coast, the traditional summer playground of the inhabitants of Wellington city. Pass through a number of small towns along the road to Rotorua, each with their own personality and quirks. Probably the quirkiest of all would have to be Taihape… the self-proclaimed gumboot capital of the world. You will then journey south over the Central Plateau, New Zealand’s main volcanic area. In a country of contrasts, perhaps nothing is more striking than the three peaks of Tongariro National Park rising starkly from the surrounding plateau of tussock and near-desert. The three mountains, Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe that make up the National Park are all active volcanoes, and are popular in winter and summer – skiing and snowboarding on the mountainous ski fields , and amazing walks including the Tongariro Crossing. The road ahead unfolds in a broad panorama of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. The stunningly blue fresh water of Lake Taupo is home to some of the best trout fishing in the world. On arrival in Rotorua an orientation tour takes in views of Lake Rotorua. Tonight an evening of culture, history and scrumptious food awaits you at the Tamaki Family Marae. Wander through the ancient forest village and learn about Maori art forms and traditions, followed by a concert featuring local performers. Experience an authentic Maori Hangi meal, steamed underground in the traditional way. Tonight an evening of culture, history and scrumptious food awaits you at the Tamaki Family Marae. Wander through the ancient forest village and learn about Maori art forms and traditions, followed by a concert featuring local performers. Experience an authentic Maori Hangi meal, steamed underground in the traditional way.Tonight an evening of culture, history and scrumptious food awaits you at the Tamaki Family Marae. Wander through the ancient forest village and learn about Maori art forms and traditions, followed by a concert featuring local performers. Experience an authentic Maori Hangi meal, steamed underground in the traditional way.

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis

DAY 12: ROTORUA

Today is your chance to experience the scenic wonders of the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. This morning you will head to the Agrodome Sheep Show, a hilarious, interactive way to gain an insight into New Zealand’s biggest industry – agriculture. After the Agrodome, you may wish to travel back to Rotorua township and relax lakeside, or you may prefer to choose from one of the varied Optional Activities on offer. Take a scenic flight out over Lake Rotorua for a bird’s eye view of the region. You may even want to stop at the top of Mt Tarawera, the site of the largest eruption in New Zealand’s living memory! Explore Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park, and take a ‘behind the scenes’ tour through the working kiwi nursery and hatchery. Visit Te Puia and join a guided tour through the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, home to famous Pohutu Geyser and the bubbling beauty of the mud pools. Later, why not spend a little more time experiencing the thermal wonders, with a soak in the hot mineral waters of the Polynesian Spas? Your AAT Kings Travel Director will assist you in booking all of your chosen optional activities. Tonight you have the option of staying at your hotel or on a nearby farm. A warm welcome awaits you on your New Zealand rural homestay and your hosts will provide you with the wonderful Kiwi hospitality that really makes you feel ‘at home’. Enjoy dinner and breakfast, a tour to introduce you to their way of life and comfortable accommodation in their home or cottages. You may choose to meet the animals, which may include sheep, cows, deer and many others, or simply relax and enjoy the company of your hosts and the scenic surroundings. (Additional cost).

Accommodation: Ibis Hotel

DAY 13: ROTORUA / AUCKLAND

This morning you will travel through the King Country region which was at the centre of the New Zealand Wars in the 1860s to Waitomo Caves. See the amazing underground Glow Worm Grotto by boat and walk through the limestone caverns. This afternoon you will follow the meandering trail of the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, past the lush farmlands of the Waikato Region. As you journey over the Bombay Hills, the landscape changes from green, grassy meadowlands to the edges of suburbia. As you make your way into the heart of New Zealand’s largest city, you will stop at Bastion Point and the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, as you will get stunning shots of Auckland, the North Shore and the Waitemata Harbour. This evening celebrate your holiday, and enjoy dinner at your hotel with your Travel Director and fellow travellers.

Accommodation: VR Queen Street Hotel & Suites

DAY 14: AUCKLAND / BAY OF ISLANDS

This morning depart Auckland City and travel north over the Harbour Bridge. Journey through Orewa and along the scenic Hibiscus Coast, the birthplace of Sir Edmund Hillary. Enjoy a stop at Parry Kauri Park and take a walk among New Zealand’s native forest giants, the Kauri trees. Your travels then take you into Whangarei, the northern-most city in New Zealand, where you can wander around the art galleries and through the marina in the Town Basin. This afternoon you will travel into the beautiful Bay of Islands. Experience spectacular scenery as you cruise through game fishing waters to Cape Brett and, weather permitting, through the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ formation. The return cruise to Paihia meanders through picturesque islands – see deserted sandy beaches and secluded bays and keep your eyes peeled for the marine life. This evening enjoy dinner with your travelling companions at the hotel.

Accommodation: Copthorne Resort (garden room)

DAY 15: BAY OF ISLANDS

Today is a completely free day, for you to experience the beauty of the Bay of Islands. Perhaps head back out on to the water and go on a dolphin watching cruise, and maybe even jump in the water for a swim with these magnificent creatures. Or take a coach trip up to Cape Reinga – the very top of New Zealand, via idyllic Ninety Mile Beach. Experience a day of sailing aboard a historic tall ship, enjoy wine tasting around Kerikeri, or join a jet boat Heritage Cruise and learn a little more about the settling of the Bay of Islands. Tonight you are free to dine as you wish. You may want to experience a ‘Kiwi tradition’ – fish and chips on the beach, or glide down the Waitangi River on board the Ratanui for a sumptuous dinner cruise. Your AAT Kings Travel Director will assist you in booking all of your chosen optional experiences.

Accommodation: Copthorne Resort (garden room)

DAY 16: BAY OF ISLANDS / AUCKLAND

This morning you will have the opportunity to visit the Waitangi Treaty Reserve, where New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. As you stroll through the reserve, you will see highlights such as the Waka – Maori War Canoe and an intricately carved Marae – Meeting House (optional – own expense). Alternatively, you may want to travel over to historic Russell, New Zealand’s first capital. This afternoon sit, back and relax as you make your way down through Northland’s lush farmland scenery and past the sprawling suburbs of the North Shore of Auckland. This afternoon, you may want to head out and explore Auckland. Take a walk down Queen Street, to the main shopping precinct or catch a $1.00 bus (leaves from outside the hotel) down to the Viaduct Harbour and the Auckland Waterfront region. This recently developed area of central Auckland has cafes and restaurants galore. Take a seat in the sunshine and enjoy a relaxed dinner while watching the activity on Waitemata Harbour.

Accommodation: VR Queen Street Hotel & Suites

DAY 17: FAREWELL FROM AUCKLAND

Your AAT Kings New Zealand holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. Your flights can depart any time today, and you will be transferred to Auckland Airport.

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01 October 2018 - 31 March 2019

Start Date End Date Single traveller Guaranteed departure Availability
5 November 2018 21 November 2018 $7,880 NZD Yes Fully Booked
12 November 2018 28 November 2018 $7,880 NZD Yes Fully Booked
3 December 2018 19 December 2018 $7,880 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
10 December 2018 26 December 2018 $7,880 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
31 December 2018 16 January 2019 $7,880 NZD Yes Enquire / Book

01 January 2019 - 31 March 2019

Start Date End Date Single traveller Guaranteed departure Availability
7 January 2019 23 January 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
14 January 2019 30 January 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
21 January 2019 6 February 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Fully Booked
28 January 2019 13 February 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
4 February 2019 20 February 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
11 February 2019 27 February 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
18 February 2019 6 March 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
25 February 2019 13 March 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
4 March 2019 20 March 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
11 March 2019 27 March 2019 $7,645 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
18 March 2019 3 April 2019 $7,645 NZD No Enquire / Book

01 April 2019 - 31 May 2019

Start Date End Date Single traveller Guaranteed departure Availability
8 April 2019 24 April 2019 $7,220 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
15 April 2019 1 May 2019 $7,220 NZD No Enquire / Book
6 May 2019 22 May 2019 $7,220 NZD No Enquire / Book
13 May 2019 29 May 2019 $7,220 NZD No Enquire / Book

01 June 2019 - 30 September 2019

Start Date End Date Single traveller Guaranteed departure Availability
17 June 2019 3 July 2019 $6,890 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
15 July 2019 31 July 2019 $6,890 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
12 August 2019 28 August 2019 $6,890 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
26 August 2019 11 September 2019 $6,890 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
2 September 2019 18 September 2019 $6,890 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
9 September 2019 25 September 2019 $6,890 NZD Yes Enquire / Book
30 September 2019 16 October 2019 $6,890 NZD Yes Enquire / Book