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Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour

Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour

  • Auckland
  • Queenstown
  • 15 days
  • 4.8 / 5.0 (154 reviews)
  • from NZD$4,285.00

Main Highlights

  • Dolphin swimming
  • Visit Milford Sound
  • Cycle sections of the New Zealand Cycle trail
  • Camp out by beaches & lakes
  • Hike the amazing Tongariro Crossing
  • Mt Cook Hooker Valley Walk
  • Dig your own hot pool
  • Great food including fresh crayfish
  • Visit a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Discover the wild, rugged beauty of the West Coast
  • Enjoy stunning sunrises and sunsets
  • Lots of great inclusions

Grand Traverse New Zealand Tour - Top to Bottom:

DOWNLOAD PDF ITINERARY

If you are starting in Auckland and have around 2 weeks to tour the best of the country then this trip is for you.  Our Grand Traverse trip launches from the City of Sails (Auckland) and takes in the country's finest natural highlights as you head south. This is one of our top rated tours with highlights including:

- Try NZ's most spectacular great walks.  We offer plenty of walks on this tour but there are a few we'd highly recommend.  In particular trying the World's best one day walk, The Tongariro Crossing

- Adventure activities for everyone.  This tour offers a huge range of adventure activities to suit all tastes.  A few favourites include sea kayaking, Hobbiton, Ogo, Maori village, hot pools, zipline canopy tour, luge, giant swing, skydive, bungy, whale watching, dolphin swimming, deep sea fishing, surfing and all the options of NZ's adventure capital, Queenstown.

- Stay in amazing locations: With a department of conservation license we have access to beautiful sites by beaches, lakes, mountains and forests. A spacious, shared tent is included in the tour price or upgrade and have the tent to yourself.  For a taste of rural luxury you can also upgrades to cabins most nights.

- Experience beaches, mountains and lakes: New Zealand it totally unique for its vast diversity of landscapes - from towering snow capped mountains and turquoise lakes to golden beaches and bubbling geysers.  On this tour you'll get to experience them all with staggering landscapes everyday.

- Cycle rides for all levels:  If you decide to hire a bike on this tour you'll find an excellent range of rides to enjoy.  From forest rides in Rotorua to wonderful coastlines stretches by the Pacific. You will fill your lungs with the freshest air and escape the crowds.

- Lord of the rings landscapes:  You've seen the films, now walk in the landscapes. From Mount Doom to Hobbiton you'll get up close and personal to these other worldly locations.  

 

visiting the thermal geysers on tour

The thermal wonders of Rotorua by Tim Parkinson

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE GRAND TRAVERSE TOUR:

We have included the following must do experiences and essential trip requirements so you don’t need to worry about missing anything:

- Accommodation: Included in the tour price is shared tent accommodation, two people per tent. You can upgrade to your own tent for a small additional cost.

- Food: Most meals are included (see the detailed itinerary which outlines exactly what is included on a day-to-day basis). We can also cater for a broad range of dietary requirements.

- Cook Strait Ferry Crossing: Connecting the North and South Islands, this 3 hour journey through the tranquil Marlborough Sounds is an experience on its own, complete with stunning views.

A few other free inclusions are Otago Early Settlers museum, Te Papa museum, dig your own thermal pool on Hot Water beach, plus much much more! 

views over queenstown on tour

Views over Queenstown by Matthias Gudath

ACCOMMODATION & HOW IT WORKS:

Hostels: There is one night where camping isn’t feasible and we stay in a hostel dorm room, this is in Picton. 

End of Trip Transport Options:

The Grand Traverse tour has you finishing in Queenstown where there are regular daily flights to Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland with either Air New Zealand or Jetstar. There are also bus and shuttle services travelling daily from Queenstown to Christchurch costing from $70 NZD.

For more useful information visit our How It Works page here.

  1. Pickup location: 31 Wellesley Street West, 7:45am

    We leave Auckland at 8am and drive south towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel as locals call it, is a popular holiday spot for us Kiwi’s and it's not hard to see why. With stunning white sandy beaches, dense fern forests and a rich history of both Maori and European settlement, the Coromandel Peninsula is the perfect place to start your trip!

    We’ll stop for lunch in the seaside town of Tairua before continuing on to Hahei Beach - the gateway to Cathedral Cove. You can either go for a walk along the coastline or take to the water on one of the best sea kayak activities in the country. Cathedral Cove has a limestone archway that featured as the gateway to Narnia in the movie 'Prince Caspian' and is a great place to take a dip in the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. Our camp this evening is very close to another iconic location, Hot Water Beach, so named because there is a unique geothermal reservoir of hot water under the sand. At low tide, we’ll grab our shovels and head down to dig our very own hot pools in the sand - the perfect way to start off our adventure!

     

    • Meals: Dinner
    • Bike Rides: 8km Road Cycling
    • Walks and Hikes: Stunning Coastal Walk to Cathedral Cove
    • Optional Activities: Sea Kayaking, Hahei Explorer
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 4 hours
  2. This morning after breakfast, we'll drive down to the historic gold mining town of Waihi, home to an awesome beach and 'Martha's Mine', an actual working gold mine. Afterwards, we’ll continue on our journey to Rotorua, a geothermal wonderland!

    There are heaps of optional activities in Rotorua and something for everyone. If you’re interested in adventure, go for the award winning Canopy Tours eco zipline tour! If you’d prefer to relax, go for a healing soak at the Polynesia spa, or if you’d like to explore the natural geothermal features of the area, there's plenty of walks where you can see the activity for free. For a cultural immersion experience, we recommend heading to the incredible Te Puia where you'll learn about Maori culture, experience the breathtaking Haka and feast on a traditional Hangi meal. There’s a lot to pack into one day but we promise it will leave you wanting more!

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
    • Bike Rides: Hauraki Rail Trail and the Whakarewarewa Forest Park
    • Walks and Hikes: The Windows Walk in Karangahake Gorge and short walks in Rotorua
    • Optional Activities: Mitai Maori Village, Zorb, Luge, hot pools, Zipline Canopy Tour
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 3 - 4 hours
  3. We begin the day with a drive to visit a natural hot spring, wake up with a nice soak in the geothermally heated water and listen to the calming sounds of nature - the perfect way to start the day! Our next stop on the way into Taupo is the mighty Huka Falls, an impressive waterfall found along the Waikato river. This is also our drop off point for those wanting to go white water rafting or skydiving! If you’re not doing these activities there's a great walk or a bike ride into the city along the river's edge - be sure to stop off at the natural hot spring along the way or get an adrenaline buzz from the Taupo bungy which is conveniently located on your way into town. You’ll have some time in Taupo to grab some lunch and check out New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo, before we make our way to Tongariro National Park, where we’ll be spending the night.

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Huka Falls Trail and Taupo Lake Front
    • Walks and Hikes: Walk along the edge of the Waikato River from Huka Falls stopping off at thermal stream before exploring Taupo
    • Optional Activities: Skydiving, bungy, giant swing, Te Puia - Te Ra Guided Experience
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2 hours
  4. Voted one of the best day hikes in the world, today's 19.4km walk takes in some of New Zealand’s most impressive and diverse landscapes. The challenging Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike covers a small section of the country’s oldest national park and dual UNESCO world heritage area, the Tongariro National Park. On a fine day you’ll be able to see Mt Ruapehu, the North Island's highest peak which stands at a towering 2797 metres. You'll also be able to see Mt Ngauruhoe, which featured in Lord of the Rings as Mount Doom.

    If you'd prefer not to do this hike, your Guide will take you to see some lesser known but equally stunning views and offer up some cycle options for our bikers. When everyone is back together after the hike we'll start making our way to our camp, situated along the Kapiti Coast.

    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Tongariro River Trail if not doing the Tongariro Crossing
    • Walks and Hikes: Tongariro Crossing! Best day hike in NZ traversing active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park
    • Optional Activities: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 5 hours
  5. This morning it's a short drive to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand! We'll arrive before 9am giving you most of the day to explore. We recommend checking out the exhibits at the famous Te Papa Museum, getting some Lord of the Rings behind the scenes insight at Weta Workshop or take the iconic red cable car up to the Botanical Gardens. The capital also boasts a thriving café culture, as Wellington is renowned for serving NZ's best cup of coffee.

    Later on we’ll be travelling across the Cook Strait by ferry to the South Island. The journey takes around 3 hours and travels through the incredibly scenic Marlborough Sounds. The rolling green hills coupled with the deep blue waters make for a magical sight, especially on a clear day. If you can, make your way outside and try to spot dolphins playing in the sounds. As camping isn’t possible, we'll stay at a great hostel in Picton. 

     

    *NOTE: The 2024/25 tour will include an extra night in Picton to explore the Marlborough Sounds region

     

    • Meals: Breakfast
    • Bike Rides: None today as you’ll be too sore from Tongariro and there’s lots to see in Wellington city!
    • Walks and Hikes: You’ll have plenty of time on your feet exploring the coolest capital, Wellington!
    • Optional Activities: Te Papa National Museum of NZ (free), Weta Workshop, Cable car
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 1 hour + 3 hour ferry crossing
  6. This morning we'll depart Picton and travel through the Marlborough region towards the coast where we’ll see amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and mountains in the distance. We’ll make a stop for lunch along this stretch of coastline and try to spot the native Fur Seals that often relax on the rocks in front of the ocean.

    When we arrive in Kaikoura, there are some great optional activities that all involve the ocean! Go whale watching, sea kayaking or fishing, or if you’d prefer to stay on dry land, there’s a great walk around the peninsula or you can hop on your bike and take in the views on two wheels. Our camp tonight is down at the beach and we’ll be preparing a fresh seafood meal, perfect for Kaikoura (unless of course you don't eat seafood, in which case we'll prepare something equally delicious for you).

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Explore the scenery of Kaikoura by bike
    • Walks and Hikes: Walk the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway where you’ll see a vast coastline, the Kaikoura Ranges, and some pretty cute seals - expect to take lots of snaps!
    • Optional Activities: Whale watching by boat or by plane, deep sea fishing
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  7. This morning you'll have the opportunity to take part in one of the most popular activities in New Zealand: swimming with dusky dolphins! It’s an early start but it’s a great way to begin your day from the epic sunrise to getting to spend time with wild dolphins - this is the kind of once in a lifetime experience you won't soon forget. For those of us who aren't swimming, we’ll have a leisurely breakfast and the chance to explore Kaikoura before heading south to Christchurch.

    Christchurch is one of New Zealand’s most famous destinations, and there is so much to see and explore. Still on the mend after two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, you can see evidence of rebuilding happening all over the city. With the chance to rebuild, comes new opportunities and Christchurch has seized the opportunity to become NZ’s coolest city, rivalling Wellington in terms of laneway bars and amazing eateries. Christchurch is also known locally as the Garden City, thanks to the vast Hagley park and the Avon River which runs through it. Jump on a scooter or take the tourist tram and explore that Christchurch has to offer this afternoon. This evening, we’ll be staying in some great accommodation just outside the city centre.

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Cycle into camp along a quite country road through fields of cows, sheep and deer with a mountainous backdrop
    • Walks and Hikes: The Peninsula Walkway is a must if you missed it yesterday! You’ll also have plenty of time on your feet when we stop through Christchurch to check out the awesome rebuild of Christchurch city!
    • Optional Activities: Dolphin swimming, dolphin viewing
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 4 - 5 hours
  8. This morning, we’ll wake up after a great night’s sleep and hit the road towards arguably the most beautiful part of the South Island. We’ll take an incredibly scenic journey to the breathtaking Lake Tekapo, where you will see the most spectacular turquoise waters which get their colour from the glacial flour brought down from the rivers flowing from glaciers high up in the mountains.

    Today, go for a hike, a bike ride, or just relax at camp. If you’d like to see some if the amazing sights of Tekapo from the skies, go for an epic scenic flight this afternoon, and this evening, you can go for a soak in the nearby hot pools or enjoy some world famous star gazing at the Mt John Observatory - you are staying in an International Dark Sky Reserve, after all! 

    • Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
    • Bike Rides: If you're not rafting in the morning hop on your bike and head to the Peel Forest walks. In the afternoon enjoy the trails at Lake Tekapo Regional Park then ride to camp
    • Walks and Hikes: A variety of walk options today including the protected conifers of Peel Forest and then this afternoon you'll have some time to walk along the edge an incredible glacial lake or walk to the Mt John Observatory and take in 360 degree views of Tekapo
    • Optional Activities: Tekapo Hotel Pools, Dark Sky Project - Dark Sky Experience, Virtual Stargazing Experience or Summit Experience
    • Available Upgrades: Yes - limited options
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2 hours
  9. Today you get to immerse yourself in the snow-capped mountain scenery that New Zealand is famous for. This morning we’ll explore the spectacular Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. We’ll hike to the base of NZ’s highest mountain following a trail up the Hooker valley where you’ll cross swing bridges and experience stunning views of the mountains before finishing up at a glacial lake with some awe inspiring views of the Hooker Valley glacier - trust us, you’ll want to bring your camera for this!

    Next, we’ll travel back towards the Pacific coast and make a quick stop in the historic town of Oamaru before getting to the small village of Moeraki, where we’ll camp for the night. Go for a walk this evening to a great view point offering expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and try to spot a little Blue Penguin along the shore. 

     

     

    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: During the afternoon you can ride a short section of the Alps2ocean trail followed by a ride out to Katiki Point Lighthouse where you'll find a Yellow-eyed penguin colony
    • Walks and Hikes: Enjoy walking into the start of Mt Cook National Park in Hooker Valley. A three hour return hike, you’ll be blown away by the mountainous landscape not to mention a glacier during the hike.
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 4 hours
  10. If the tide is low then we can walk along the beach to the mysterious Moeraki boulders. These perfectly round spheres of rock have formed over millions of years and have found their way onto the beach near Moeraki and make for some fun photo opportunities.

    Afterwards it’s onto the historic Scottish city of Dunedin, the South Island's second-largest city. This southern city is home to the world’s steepest residential street and the coastline is home to some fantastic and rare wildlife. It’s possible to take a tour onto the Otago Peninsula to view some of this diverse wildlife which includes Albatross and Fur Seals. For the adventurous, why not try surfing at one of Dunedin’s best breaks! Our camp is a short distance from St. Kilda beach with a variety of restaurants close by to choose from.

    • Meals: Breakfast
    • Bike Rides: Ride from camp into town or out to the Otago Peninsula later in the day if you’re not doing any optional activities
    • Walks and Hikes: You’ll feel your heart pumping through your chest as you take a stroll up the world’s steepest residential street!
    • Optional Activities: Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour, Otago Early Settlers Museum
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  11. Today is one of our longer travel days as we drive through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic natural scenery on our way to Fiordland. Make sure you have some snacks, and that all your devices are fully charged, particularly your camera! Large parts of the landscape along the drive today have been carved out over thousands of years, leaving stunning paths weaving through snow-capped mountains. Tonight’s camp is on the lakeside in Te Anau. The bikers can go for a ride on the lake to lake Te Anau trail and the rest of us can enjoy a leisurely walk along the lakefront or head up to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary where we can see the endangered native Takahē. If you’d like to do an activity, we recommend the incredible glowworm caves tour and boat ride.

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Walks and Hikes: Short walks today as we’re on a mission to get to Fiordland National Park!
    • Available Upgrades: Yes (limited options)
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 5 hours
  12. Today we’ll travel along one of the world’s most scenic roads and into Milford Sound! Described as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. We highly recommend boarding a cruise, where you'll see dramatic waterfalls and snow-capped peaks and if you’re lucky, some wildlife! At different times of year, penguins, dolphins, seals and even whales have been spotted at Milford. As it’s just the one road in and out, we head back along the same breath-taking route to our lakeside camp in Te Anau. Along the way, we drop off those doing the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. This hike is a haven for native birdlife. Charge up your camera as this hike offers everything from mountainous peaks and sheer rock faces to pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls and dense, luxuriant forest. 

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
    • Walks and Hikes: Routeburn Track (must be pre-booked and hikers will rejoin the group in Queenstown)
    • Optional Activities: Milford Sound Cruise, Te Anau glowworm caves tour & boat ride
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  13. After breakfast this morning, we’ll make our way to Queenstown, the adventure capital of NZ that sits along the shores of the photogenic Lake Wakatipu. There’s a huge selection of activities to choose from here, from an adrenaline pumping bungy, canyon swing and skydive to a relaxing steam boat cruise or gondola ride  – this place has it all. There are great tracks around the lake ideal for bikers and hikers and all with wonderful views of this alpine region. Camping isn’t feasible in this bustling alpine village, for the next two nights we stay in dorm-share accommodation in a centrally located hostel. Perfect for making the most of all Queenstown has to offer!

    • Meals: Breakfast
    • Bike Rides: Queenstown offers a variety of different trails, so head out on your bike once we arrive in town
    • Walks and Hikes: Plenty of walks we can recommend once we have arrived in Queenstown. If you’re into taking on a hill for views or leisure lakefront strolling, Queenstown won’t disappoint!
    • Optional Activities: Bungy jumping, skydiving, horse-riding, white water rafting, jet boating & the list goes on! You are in the adventure capital of the world!
    • Available Upgrades: Yes to a private room
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  14. With so much to do we’ll spend another full day in the fantastic Queenstown, so everyone has the opportunity to have those once in a lifetime experiences. Speaking of experiences, may we suggest trying the legendary Fergburger! For those on the Routeburn Track, you will rejoin the group here today and this evening you’ll be able to experience everything this vibrant resort town has to offer. Tonight, we dine out at one of Queenstown’s many delicious eateries - a great chance for your group to enjoy a feast at an iconic Queenstown eatery (own cost).  

     

     

    • Meals: Breakfast
    • Bike Rides: Awesome bike options to choose from! Cycle past jaw dropping landscapes, vineyards, great cafes and more!
    • Walks and Hikes: Plenty of mountains you can hike to enjoy inspirational views of Lake Wakatipu and the alpine surrounds!
    • Optional Activities: Bungy jumping, skydiving, horse-riding, white water rafting, jet boating & the list goes on! You are in the adventure capital of the world!
    • Available Upgrades: Yes (limited options)
    • Drive Distance: No Driving today
  15. A last chance to indulge in the Queenstown action before finishing your tour with us here and saying farewell to your fellow Flying Kiwi travellers!

    • Meals: Breakfast
    • Bike Rides: Road cycling around town or on one of the many Queenstown trails

TOUR PRICES:

Tour price

$4285

Bike hire

$320

Single tent upgrade

$165

Bring your own bike

$145

Sleeping bag hire

$80


2023/24 DEPARTURES FROM AUCKLAND 

MONTH

DEPARTURE DATE

JANUARY 2024

16TH - FULLY BOOKED

FEBRUARY 2024

1ST - FULLY BOOKED

17TH

MARCH 2024

20TH

APRIL 2023

5TH

 

2024/25 TOUR PRICES

TOUR PRICE FROM OCTOBER 2024 $4715  
BIKE HIRE $500
SINGLE TENT UPGRADE $200
SLEEPING BAG HIRE $85

 

2024/25 DEPARTURES FROM AUCKLAND

*Note, the Grand Traverse tour in 2024/25 will be 16 days, one day longer than the current tour

MONTH DEPARTURE DATE
OCTOBER 17TH, 31ST 
NOVEMBER 14TH, 28TH
JANUARY 16TH, 30TH
FEBRUARY 13TH, 27TH
MARCH 13TH, 27TH
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Trip Reviews

  • Tara and Aaron were excellent and worked hard to ensure everyone had a great trip. Nothing was too much for Tara and I appreciated her consistently upbeat attitude while she helped with everyone's needs. A really spectacular trip - thanks Flying Kiwi.

    , travelled Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour on 30/12/2019

  • One of my best trips filled with lots of activities and beautiful hikes. So happy with the Flying Kiwi staff that provided useful information and made my holiday free of stress, and making sure I got to experience everything New Zealand has to offer without planning anything myself!

    , travelled Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour on 17/12/2019

  • Best outdoor trip you can do in New Zealand!

    , travelled Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour on 23/10/2019

  • Fascinating. It's a trip with incredible contrasts!!! and wonderful people

    , travelled Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour on 23/10/2019

  • I really enjoyed seeing so many stunning landscapes around New Zealand as well as the opportunity to try some adventurous pursuits I've not done before. NZ people were so friendly everywhere I went.

    , travelled Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour on 14/11/2019

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