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Home11+ Day Group Tours from Christchurch › 21 Day Spirit of New Zealand Guided Tour

21 Day Spirit of New Zealand Guided Tour

Indulge in a little star-gazing before retiring to your private cabin for your overnight stay on Milford Sound. Journey out to Abel Tasman National Park and take a stroll along seemingly untouched golden beaches. Hear how the coastal city of Napier rebuilt in Art Deco style after the devastating earthquake of 1931.

21 Day Spirit of New Zealand Guided Tour

Venture into parts less travelled on this fabulous New Zealand guided tour.

Super Special - Save up to $790 per person!

Save up to $790 NZD per person on selected travel dates. Terms & conditions apply - ask us for details.

Tour Type: Group Tours
From: Christchurch to Auckland
Departs: Selected dates
Duration: 21 days
Tour Code: LCQB

Regions Visited

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

Christchurch, Dunedin, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Franz Josef, Punakaiki, Nelson, Picton & Marlborough Sounds, Wellington, Napier, 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 21)
  • Full buffet breakfasts (20)
  • Lunch (1)
  • ‘Highlight dinners’ (2)
  • Dinners (12)
  • Tour through Christchurch to witness the incredible rebuild of this city
  • Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo
  • Explore New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle
  • Spend the night cruising on magical Milford Sound
  • Let loose in the adventure capital, Queenstown
  • Gondola ride and dinner at Skyline Restaurant on Bob’s Peak
  • Taste Central Otago stone fruit at a local orchard
  • See awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier
  • Watch artisans carving native greenstone (jade) in Hokitika
  • Punakaiki, home to Pancake Rocks & Blowholes
  • Visit Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand
  • Immerse yourself in Maori culture at a Hangi & Concert
  • Explore the geothermal valley at Te Puia in Rotorua
  • Cruise through Waitomo Caves famous Glow Worm Grotto
  • Relax in the Bay of Islands
  • Visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Reserve

Day By Day Itinerary

DAY 1: WELCOME TO CHRISTCHURCH

On arrival at Christchurch Airport you’ll be transferred to your hotel. This evening meet your Travel Director for a welcome reception and dinner.

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis

DAY 2: CHRISTCHURCH / OMARAMA

Board your coach to see the extensive work carried out to rebuild the city after the devastating earthquake of February 2011. Later, travelling over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains, the spectacular sightseeing begins.

Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki are first up. Next you’ll visit the Church of the Good Shepherd before soaking up the sensational alpine landscape of Mt. Cook National Park – a scenic highlight! You may choose to take an optional scenic flight over Mt. Cook (weather permitting).

Accommodation: Heritage Gateway Hotel

DAY 3: OMARAMA / DUNEDIN

Your day starts with a journey along the Waitaki River, and 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. The Benmore Dam holds back New Zealand’s largest artificial lake, and when the Benmore Power Station was opened in 1965 it was the largest power station in New Zealand. Even today, it is still the second largest, and generates enough electricity each year for about 298,000 average New Zealand homes.

From the Waitaki Valley 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.

This afternoon you will make your way down to the Southernmost New Zealand city, Dunedin. With the rest of your free afternoon you may wish to take part in an optional excursion 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: Kingsgate Hotel

DAY 4: DUNEDIN / MILFORD SOUND

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. After leaving Te Anau, you will journey 119km through the Fiordland National Park and out to Milford Sound on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for.

Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. 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 for your magical overnight cruise on Milford Sound.  (Please note: Cruise does not operate 21 May-15 September. During this period there will be a day cruise on Milford Sound and accommodation in Queenstown).

Accommodation: Overnight Milford Sound

DAY 5: MILFORD SOUND / QUEENSTOWN

This morning depart for the township of Te Anau, on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. Here you’ll explore the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves by boat with a Local Guide, before continuing to New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort

DAY 6: QUEENSTOWN

Explore exciting Queenstown, your way. You may like to consider taking one of our optional experiences. You could ride the Shotover Jet boat, join a wine tour, play a round of golf, take a 4WD minibus excursion through Skippers Canyon or explore Queenstown on your own.

This evening why not consider a cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue dinner at the Colonel’s Homestead? An entertaining after-dinner farm show provides a glimpse into high-country farm life. Then join in a sing-a-long on your cruise back to Queenstown.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort

DAY 7: QUEENSTOWN

Another action-packed day or take time out to relax. Tonight we ride a gondola up Bob’s Peak, and dine at the Skyline Restaurant, Stratosfare, overlooking Queenstown – the ultimate way to end a highlight day!

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort

DAY 8: QUEENSTOWN / FRANZ JOSEF

This morning you will leave the alpine wonderland of Queenstown behind, and begin the passage through Central Otago and out to Westland. On the way out of the Queenstown region, 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.

From here you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan, where you will stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Dunstan, you will travel further into Central Otago and view the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea, followed by Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows.

Following an ancient greenstone trail, you will travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes, to the rainforest marvel of the wild West Coast. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers.

Our 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 9: FRANZ JOSEF / PUNAKAIKI

This morning, you have the opportunity to experience the Franz Josef Glacier from the air or take a glacier hike to the terminal face (both optional experiences). Later, we travel to Hokitika, home of the native greenstone (jade), for a factory visit. Then, continue to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.

Tonight we stay in an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront. Enjoy dinner while watching the thundering surf at your doorstep!

Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort

DAY 10: PUNAKAIKI / NELSON

Soak up the scenic wilderness of the Heritage Highway through the impressive Buller Gorge and the Kahurangi National Park before arriving in Nelson. This afternoon you’ll visit the World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars.

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Monaco Resort

DAY 11: NELSON

On this day at leisure, you’ll have the opportunity to journey to the top of the South Island and enjoy a relaxing cruise in the Abel Tasman National Park, or perhaps take a short bush walk, relax in sunny Nelson or explore the many arts and craft shops. The choice is yours!

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Monaco Resort

DAY 12: NELSON / WELLINGTON

Visit the seaside village of Picton and cruise on tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound, before you head across the Cook Strait to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Enjoy a city sights tour before you visit   Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, to explore New Zealand’s nature, art, history and cultural heritage.

Accommodation: Travelodge

DAY 13: WELLINGTON AT LEISURE

A free day to see the sights. Perhaps take a tour of Parliament or one of the Lord of the Rings movie tours, or even cruise to Somes Island in Wellington Harbour (own expense).

Accommodation: Travelodge

DAY 14: WELLINGTON / NAPIER

Travel through the vineyards of the Wairapa and Hawkes Bay on your way to Napier. Enjoy a city walking tour with a local guide and learn how Napier was rebuilt after a devastating Earthquake in 1931.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Te Pania

DAY 15: NAPIER / ROTORUA

Travel inland to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand. Visit the mighty Huka Falls and then it’s on to Rotorua. On arrival a sightseeing tour takes in views of Lake Rotorua.  This evening enjoy a Maori Hangi feast highlight dinner and concert at the Tamaki Maori Village.

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis

DAY 16: ROTORUA

Travel to Lake Taupo, the largest in New Zealand. Visit mighty Huka Falls en route to Rotorua. Take a sightseeing tour with views of Lake Rotorua. Enjoy an evening of fun and laughter and gain an insight into traditional Maori culture followed by a delicious buffet highlight dinner at the Tamaki Maori Village.

Tonight you have the option of staying at your hotel or on a nearby farm. Enjoy genuine New Zealand hospitality this evening and spend the night on a nearby farm. You’ll enjoy dinner and breakfast, comfortable accommodation and a farm tour to introduce you to the way of life. (Additional cost).

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis

DAY 17: ROTORUA / AUCKLAND

You’re off to see the multi-awardwinning and highly entertaining Agrodome Farm Show, to gain an insight into agricultural life in New Zealand. You’ll see the art of sheep shearing, sheepdog demonstrations, cow milking, bottle feeding of lambs and an exciting sheep auction. Later, travel through the dairy farming district of Waikato then continue to Auckland for a city sightseeing tour.

Stay: VR Queen Street Hotel & Suites

DAY 18: 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 view)

DAY 19: 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 view)

DAY 20: BAY OF ISLANDS / AUCKLAND

This morning you will visit the historic 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 or Meeting House. 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 21: FAREWELL FROM AUCKLAND

Your holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You’ll be transferred to Auckland Airport for your onward flight.

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