Ultimate New Zealand - both islands

Starts in Auckland

Ends in Christchurch

16 days

15 nights

Ultimate New Zealand Tour

Explore both the North and South Island in 16 days, 15 nights. This small-group tour combines New Zealand highlights with incredible lesser-known destinations. This tour will impress even the most discerning traveller. You will leave with plenty of memories & stories to share for years to come.

Experience New Zealand in style on our 16-Day Ultimate New Zealand tour, designed to showcase the most uniquely beautiful destinations in Aotearoa.

Itinerary of the 16-Day Ultimate NZ Tour

  • Tour Guide
  • Small-Group Tour - Max 24
  • Luxury Coach
  • 15 nights accommodation
  • 15 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • Lake Aniwhenua Cultural Experience
  • Whirinaki Rainforest Tour
  • Huka Falls
  • Lunch at Church Road Winery
  • Coastal Pacific Train Experience
  • Tranzalpine Train Experience
  • Abel Tasman National Park Vista Cruise
  • Greenstone and Glass Blowing Factory visit
  • Seafood Experience in Haast
  • Scenic trip through the spectacular Haast Pass
  • Blue Pools Walk
  • Visit Arrowtown and Wanaka
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
  • Hokonui Moonshine Museum
  • Larnach Castle
  • Moeraki Boulders
  • Single: NZ$8,749
  • Twin-share: NZ$6,899

Prices per person, in New Zealand Dollar (NZD).

This is why So Many Travellers Love The Ultimate New Zealand Tour

Travellers worldwide still have fond memories and want to share stories of their Kirra Tour. We have been creating memorable New Zealand experiences since 1968. Our passion for this country is displayed through our unique itineraries.

See what's included in our 16-Day Ultimate New Zealand Tour.

Superior Accommodation

15 nights accommodation in high-end hotels

Premium Coach

luxury coach and world-class tour guide

Small Group Tour

minimum of 9 travellers, maximum: 24

Food

15 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners included.

Map of the 16-Day Ultimate New Zealand Tour

Itinerary of the 16-Day Ultimate New Zealand Tour

Day 1: Arrival day to Auckland

Haere Mai and Welcome to Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), the largest city in New Zealand and home to over 2 million people. The magic of Auckland is in it’s diversity from culture to the environment. There are over 44 volcanoes in the area and 2 harbours, which explains why Auckland is known locally as the ‘City of Sails’.

Take the afternoon or early evening to explore after you make your way to Neusto Hotel in central Auckland.

Arrival: Anytime

Accommodation: Nesuto Hotel or similar

Day 2: Auckland to Rotorua

This morning we’ll be leaving Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and heading for the Rotorua region. Our first stop today is the Okere Falls. The falls lie on the Kaituna River which has cultural significance to the local iwi (tribes) in the area. Currently, the River is used for tourism, specifically white water rafting and sledging. We’ll stop by the Falls and see if we can spot some brave rafters going over the falls in their raft.

Next, we’ll continue on, skirting around the edge of Lake Rotorua to a lookout point where we’ll have a view of the infamous Mount Tarawera, once the home of the renowned pink and white terraces before a violent eruption destroyed them in 1886. This evening we’ll arrive in Rotorua township and check into our hotel, enjoy a delicious dinner together and then settle in for a luxurious night’s sleep at the Distinction Rotorua.

Accommodation: Distinction Rotorua or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Free Day in Rotorua

Known as the North Island’s geothermal hot spot and hub for all the very best adventure activities, Rotorua is definitely one of the best places to explore… even if your nostrils tell you otherwise! There is so much to see and experience here and you have a full free day to see as much as you like.

If you want to see some geothermal activity for free, we recommend taking a walk around Kuirau Park to see boiling mud pools and steaming lakes.

You can book a multitude of tours via your Tour Guide and with options such as white water rafting, ziplining through the trees, relaxing at the Polynesian Spa and taking a Gondola up to see the amazing Rotorua Skyline you truly are spoilt for choice.

Visit: Rotorua

Accommodation: Distinction Rotorua or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 4: Rotorua to Lake Aniwhenua to Taupo

This morning we venture off the beaten track to the shores of Lake Aniwhenua in Murupara. Kohutapu Lodge is owned by a local Maori family who is passionate, not only about showcasing their Maori tribal heritage but also about making a difference in the local area.

Murupara is an impoverished community that has been transformed for the better through tourism and commercial development. Through community-driven initiatives and a clear vision to provide more opportunities for the local youth, Kohutapu Lodge has paved the way for change in the area.

Begin the experience with a guided tour of the sacred Maori rock carvings before arriving at the Lodge to witness the preparation of ground cooked hangi and tasting it for yourself!

After lunch, we’ll depart for the lush, green Whirinaki rainforest for a guided tour along the Rongoa trail. Spot native endangered birds and ancient medicinal plants, and learn more about the history of the forest, including the myths and legends before enjoying a hot kawakawa tea in the forest and a final karakia.

This evening, our destination is Taupo. First, we’ll stop at the spectacular Huka Falls to see more than 22,000 litres of water per second thundering into the Waikato River. Then we’ll continue on to our hotel, the fabulous Hilton Taupo, a 19th-century building that combines Victorian charm with modern decor. The resort-style hotel houses a tennis court, a fitness centre and swimming pools.

Visit:: Murupara, Whirinaki, Taupo

Accommodation: Hilton Taupo or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Hangi Lunch + Dessert

Activity: Kohutapu Lodge Tribal Tour, Whirinaki Rainforest Tour

Day 5: Taupo to Napier

After a delicious breakfast, it’s time to leave Taupo and travel along the Napier-Taupo Highway to what is widely regarded as the ‘Tuscany of the Southern Pacific’.

The stunning Hawke’s Bay region boasts some of the best wineries around and a visit here would not be complete without a trip to Church Road Winery. Established in 1897, the team at Church Road were the first in New Zealand to craft an exceptional Bordeaux-style Red Wine.

After a wine tasting, you’ll sit down for lunch in the magnificent Tom McDonald cellar to enjoy an afternoon of delicious food and exceptional wines and soak up the ambience and heritage of this historic building. Later, it’s an easy drive into the beautiful coastal town of Napier.

Known for its perfectly preserved Art Deco facades, Napier is often referred to as a 1930’s film set. You have the option to stroll along the tree-lined promenade this evening and sample some fresh seafood from one of the many restaurants.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Te Pania or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Visit: Church Road Winery

Day 6: Napier to Wellington

Today it’s time to leave the Art Deco capital and journey down to Wellington, our sparkling capital city, where modern business style blends with a cultured, bohemian spirit.

On the way, we’ll stop in Greytown, Wairarapa's oldest town, for a spot of lunch. A picturesque village with restored Victorian buildings, Greytown is a charming place to stop, refuel and do some boutique window shopping before we continue our journey to Wellington.

With a population of fewer than 200,000 people, there is no capital city on earth that marries relaxed and refined better than Wellington. The afternoon is free but we highly recommend a visit to our national museum Te Papa and your entrance fee is included. This evening is yours to explore Wellington.

Visit: Wairarapa, Wellington

Accommodation: Novotel Wellington or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Activity: Te Papa

Day 7: Wellington to Nelson

After breakfast this morning, you’ll take the Ferry to the South Island, don’t miss the spectacular views of the sunken valleys meeting the sea that form the Marlborough Sounds.

We’ll then head to Nelson arriving at our destination mid-afternoon, the coach will take you on a scenic drive along the seaside. This evening there’s plenty of time to relax, explore the area and the option to taste some of Nelson’s fine local beverages.

Visit: Picton, Nelson

Accommodation: Rutherford Nelson or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Activity: Omaka Museum

Optional activities: Hike to the centre of NZ, Craft beer tasting, wine tasting

Day 8: Abel Tasman National Park

Travel to the seaside resort town of Kaiteriteri and spend the morning cruising the stunning Abel Tasman National Park - a coastal paradise known for its golden sand beaches.

See the iconic Split Apple Rock and call into the most popular beaches along the coastline as you sail up to Totaranui and back. This afternoon we’ll take the scenic route and arrive back in Nelson mid-afternoon.

Visit: Kaiteriteri, Abel Tasman National Park, Totaranui Beach

Accommodation: Rutherford Nelson or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Activity: Abel Tasman National Park Vista Cruise

Day 9: Nelson to Christchurch

This morning we’ll travel back to Picton and here you’ll jump on board the magnificent Coastal Pacific train and journey down to the capital of the South Island in luxury, soaking up the gorgeous scenery en-route.

See Kaikoura's rugged coastline, beautiful mountains, and rolling farmland of Canterbury before you arrive late afternoon in the South Island's Capital Christchurch. Tonight we’ll have a group dinner at the hotel.

Visit: Picton, Kaikoura, Canterbury, Christchurch

Accommodation: Rydges Latimer or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Activity: Coastal Pacific Train

Day 10: Christchurch to Dunedin

After breakfast this morning, we’ll journey south down the coast and across the Canterbury Plains. We’ll pass through the township of Oamaru, home to some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand before heading onto the mystical Moeraki Boulders

These geological marvels began to form about 60 million years ago and were exposed by the erosion of sedimentary rocks over time. We’ll arrive in Dunedin with plenty of time to make the most of this Scottish City.

Visit: Christchurch, Oamaru, Moeraki Boulders, Dunedin

Accommodation: Scenic Dunedin City or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 11: Dunedin to Te Anau

We’ll visit the iconic Larnach Castle of Dunedin this morning for a stroll through the magnificent gardens before departing for Te Anau. First, we’ll make a stop in Gore for a trip to the Illicit Past... Gore’s colourful past as a centre for illicit whisky distilling and bootlegging is brought to life at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum.

The adventures of the Scottish settlers and their exploits to avoid run-ins with the law are kept alive through dioramas, audio-visuals and artefacts. You can taste Old Hokonui made from the original recipe at the end of your visit, or even take a bottle home with you.

Afterwards, we drive to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland, where we’ll spend the evening.

Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Te Anau or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Activity: Larnach Castle, Hokonui Moonshine Museum

Optional activities: Speight’s Brewery, Dunedin Train Station

Day 12: Te Anau via Doubtful Sound to Queenstown

Depart from Te Anau this morning to Manapouri, where you’ll enjoy a leisurely cruise across the lake to West Arm. This is followed by a short coach trip on New Zealand's most expensive road, travelling over Wilmot Pass and pausing along the way to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view Doubtful Sound glistening far below.

At Deep Cove, board a modern catamaran and allow the majesty and vastness of the fiord to take your breath away. Enjoy the on-board commentary that provides insight into the region’s history, flora and fauna as you view spectacular towering mountains and wildlife.

Later we’ll drive to Queenstown, skirting through lush farmland and around Lake Wakatipu to the picturesque alpine resort of Queenstown.

Visit: Lake Manapouri, West Arm, Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound, Queenstown

Accommodation: Heritage Queenstown or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Activity: Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

Day 13: Day at leisure in Queenstown

Today is yours to experience New Zealand’s adventure capital for yourself. Queenstown boasts an incredible array of activities and your Coach Captain can assist with booking any optional extras you’d like to do.

Take a ride on the world-famous Shotover Jet Boat, travel to the top of Bob’s Peak by gondola for spectacular views, take a tour to the gold mining area of Skippers Canyon, or for the adventurous, try white water rafting or bungy jumping.

Alternatively, browse in the many shops and galleries in town or relax at one of the many cafes or bars along the lakefront.

Accommodation: Heritage Queenstown or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 14: Queenstown to Haast via Jackson Bay

View incredible scenery as you travel through Arrowtown, an area steeped in fascinating history relating to early settlement and the gold mining era.

Next, we visit Wanaka, a popular township on the edge of the lake with a spectacular mountain backdrop. Then we’ll enter Jackson Bay, a spectacular place and one not many people will be able to say they’ve done! Jackson Bay marks the farthest point of the West Coast's road network.

We’ll have an amazing West Coast lunch at The Craypot - a quirky, little caravan style restaurant situated on the esplanade before heading towards Haast, our destination for the evening.

Tonight we stay at the Heartland Hotel, a popular local establishment where the locals come to mix and mingle at the Frontier Bar.

Visit: Wanaka, Arrowtown, Jackson Bay, Haast

Accommodation: Heartland Haast or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15: Haast to Franz Josef

Travel north along the coast of the Westland National Park, home of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. This remarkable part of the country was shaped by the dynamic glaciers and boasts lush temperate rainforest growing beneath towering mountains.

We’ll stop in Fox Glacier with the option to walk the gentle 2.6km track around Lake Matheson. Nestled amongst ancient forests and famous for mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, Lake Matheson is a serene and beautiful place to spend time.

This evening we’re spending the night in the Franz Josef township, surrounded by lush rainforest and impressive mountains. We’ll enjoy a delicious group dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Canavans.

Visit: Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson

Optional activities: Glacier Viewpoint

Accommodation: Scenic Franz Josef or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16: Franz Josef to Christchurch

Today you’ll travel to the vibrant, artistic town of Hokitika where we’ll visit the amazing Greenstone and Glass blowing factories and watch some talented artists at work before continuing on to Greymouth, a historic town known for jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods.

Once there, you’ll make your way to the Greymouth Train Station, where you’ll board the Tranzalpine train. Considered to be one of the world’s greatest train journeys, prepare to be blown away by these epic vistas of forests, plains and mountains.

Upon arrival in Christchurch, you’ll be collected by your Guide and transferred to the hotel where your trip ends. We hope you leave with many happy memories of us.

Visit: Hokitika, Greymouth, Christchurch

Activity: Greenstone and Glass Blowing Factory visit, Tranzalpine train

Meals Included: Breakfast

What Travellers Say About Kirra

Tour Dates

7-Day Northern Explorer9-Day Southern Dream10-Day North & South16-Day Ultimate New Zealand
21 October 202229 October 202221 October 202221 October 2022
11 November 2022- FULLY BOOKED19 November 2022 - FULLY BOOKED11 November 2022 - FULLY BOOKED11 November 2022 - FULLY BOOKED
18 November 202226 November 202218 November 202218 November 2022
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27 January 2023-27 January 202327 January 2023
24 February 20234 February 202324 February 202324 February 2023
10 March 20234 March & 18 March 202310 March 202310 March 2023
7 April 202315 April 20237 April 20237 April 2023
Northern Explorer InfoSouthern Dream InfoNorth & South InfoUltimate New Zealand Info

Compare our Premium Coach Tours

Cheers to the good life in Taupo

Northern Explorer: 7 days, 6 nights

Adrenaline capital of the world: Queenstown

Southern Dream: 9 days, 8 nights.

Abel Tasman National Park: another NZ must-see

North & South: 10 days, 9 nights

The mysterious Moeraki Boulders

Ultimate NZ: 16 days, 15 nights

Ready to book a Kirra Premium Coach Tour?

Visit your local travel agent or contact us directly to make a booking.

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