Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s stunning landscapes and multicultural heritage, travelling by plane, train, van, boat, and cable car through the North and South Islands. Discover magnificent fjords, ethereal glowworm caves, and snowcapped peaks; visit picturesque vineyards and explore vibrant cities; and imbibe the wisdom and knowledge of the country’s indigenous Maori culture.

Trip highlights

Fiordland National Park Overnight Wilderness Cruise, Spend an afternoon cruising dreamy Fiordland National Park, one of the most stunning and pure places on the planet. Steep cliffs and inspiring waterfalls serve as the ideal backdrop for the dolphins, penguins, seals, and thousands of birds that compete for centre stage – all on a nature-viewing eco-expedition you'll remember forever.

Meet a Maori Elder, Enjoy a private welcome in Tamaki Village from a Maori elder. Learn about the community’s traditions and myths, as well about the history of the Maori people and their connection to the Rotorua landscape.

Itinerary - 12 Days

Day 1 Auckland

Arrive at any time.

Day 2 Auckland

Take an orientation walk in Auckland, one of the most multicultural cities in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ll then catch a ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island, a haven of world-class vineyards and idyllic beaches. Visit two wineries to learn about New Zealand's burgeoning wine industry and the history of viticulture in the country while sampling some of the local blends.

Day 3 Auckland/Rotorua

Drive to the lakeside town of Rotorua, situated over an active geothermal zone and known for its volcanic features and rich Maori heritage. Stop en route at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and take a boat ride through this spectacular underground realm to see thousands of flickering glowworms light up in the dark.

Day 4 Rotorua

Spend a free day in fascinating Rotorua. Opt to explore a geothermal park, walking past bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools, or go on a white-water rafting excursion. This evening, visit Tamaki Maori Village and enjoy a private welcome ceremony; then sit down for an exclusive talk with a Maori elder, learning about the community’s traditions, myths, and legends. Later, we’ll witness a captivating performance of Maori folklore while dining on an array of traditional foods prepared in a hangi, or underground oven.

Day 5 Rotorua/Christchurch

Enjoy time at leisure this morning before catching a flight to Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. In the afternoon, meet with a local expert for a walking tour designed specially for National Geographic travellers, exploring the city’s lesser-known paths and learning about Rekindle, a social enterprise that offers workshops on resourcefulness.

Day 6 Christchurch/Franz Josef

Board the TranzAlpine train—one of the world’s most scenic rail routes—for a breathtaking journey through verdant plains, beech forests, and majestic, misty mountains. Disembark at Arthur’s Pass—the highest pass in the Southern Alps—and continue on a private vehicle to a rainforest lodge near the town of Franz Josef, our home for the next two nights.

Day 7 Franz Josef

Discover the natural wonders of the Franz Josef area on your own today. Opt to take a helicopter up to the stunning Franz Josef Glacier and hop out for an unforgettable hike on the jagged ice; embark on a guided interpretive walk that follows a riverbed along the glacier’s retreat; soak up in natural hot pools surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery; and more.

Day 8 Franz Josef/Queenstown

Set out towards Queenstown on a drive along the South Island’s magnificent west coast. Stop at tranquil Lake Matheson, where, on a clear day, you can capture a postcard-perfect image of New Zealand’s highest peaks reflected in the water. Continue to Queenstown, pausing for short walks through the rainforest and visits to picturesque waterfalls.

Day 9 Queenstown/Fiordland National Park

Discover the glacially carved wilderness of Fiordland National Park on a cruise. Glide past shimmering waterfalls and towering cliffs, and look out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and little blue penguins with our naturalist guides. Depending on the season, we’ll spend the night onboard in comfortable cabins, enjoying time to relax on deck and watch the stars.

Day 10 Fiordland National Park/Queenstown

Rise early for a wildlife viewing cruise along the pristine fjord. Then navigate back to Queenstown and spend the rest of the day at leisure in this fun-loving lakeside town, known as the adventure capital of the world.

Day 11 Queenstown

The day is yours to explore Queenstown. Choose to go bungee jumping at the world’s first commercial bungee jumping site; Cruise lake Wakatipu on a historic steamer; experience a thrilling jet boat ride; or visit a local winery to sample the region’s award-winning vintages. This evening, enjoy a cable car ride to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic vistas of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps.

Day 12 Queenstown

Depart at any time.

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