Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour

Grand Traverse - Auckland to Queenstown tour

  • Auckland
  • Queenstown
  • 15 days
  • 4.8 / 5.0 (154 reviews)
  • from NZD$3,895.00

Main Highlights

  • Dolphin swimming
  • Visit Milford Sound
  • Cycle sections of the New Zealand Cycle trail
  • Camp out by beaches & lakes
  • Hike the amazing Routeburn Track and 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:

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, and our top rated activity on tour - the 3 day Routeburn Track.

- 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.

- Seafood Feast:  Surrounded by the sea, us Kiwi’s love our seafood and we want to treat you to a fresh seafood feast from one of our premium seafood locations.

- Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland: Labelled by Tripadvisor as “One of the 20 most surreal places in the world”, you be the judge!

- 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. We leave Auckland at 8am and drive south towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel 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!

    After a lunch stop in the seaside town of Tairua, we'll travel to Hahei Beach - the gateway to Cathedral Cove. You can either walk along the coastline or get stuck in to the first optional activity on your trip with one of the best sea kayak options in the country. Cathedral Cove has a stunning limestone archway that featured as the gateway to Narnia in the movie 'Prince Caspian' and is a great place take a dip in the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean before heading back to Hahei and on to camp at another iconic location, Hot Water Beach. Our campground is a short walk away from the beach where, at low tide, you can grab a shovel and head down to dig your very own hot pool in the sand! This is all thanks to a unique geothermal reservoir of hot water under the sand, what a way to round off your first day on tour!

     

    • Meals: Dinner
    • Bike Rides: 8km road cycling
    • Walks and Hikes: Stunning coastal walk with views over the Pacific – distances vary
    • Optional Activities: Sea Kayaking
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx 3 hours
  2. After breakfast we'll start our journey towards the central area of the North Island but before that, we'll explore a little more of the Coromandel Peninsula. We'll drive down to the historic gold mining town of Waihi and take a look at the huge 'Martha's Mine', a working gold mine! Afterwards, the cyclists among us will have the chance to ride a section of the Hauraki Rail Trail and the rest of us will head to the Karangahake Gorge for an historic walk. We'll look through the ‘windows of the past’ of mining history and see some pretty spectacular landscapes along the way. When everyone is back together we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the gorge before continuing on to Rotorua.

    There are heaps of optional activities in Rotorua including a zipline eco tour, zorbing, luging or relaxing in a thermal spa. If you'd prefer to explore the natural geothermal features of the area, there's plenty of world famous bike trails and walks in the area too. In the evening, we recommend immersing yourself in Maori culture at the Tamaki Village where you'll learn about Maori culture, experience an equally stunning and terrifying Haka and feast on a traditional Hangi meal.

    There’s a lot to pack into one day but we promise it’ll leave you wanting more!

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
    • Bike Rides: Peddle through subtropical forest, mining heritage and don’t forget your headlamp for the tunnels and bridges (trail ride)! In the afternoon, ride through Rotorua to a world class Mountain Bike Forest
    • Walks and Hikes: Enjoy an awesome little walk through Coromandel lush forest and explore early mining history through caves, tunnels and a pretty beautiful waterfall to complete a great walk!
    • Optional Activities: Hobbiton, Tamaki Maori Village, OGO, Luge, hot pools, Zipline Canopy Tour
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 3-4 hours
  3. We begin the day with a short drive to visit some of the North Island's most impressive geothermal sites. We'll see bubbling mud pools, a huge Geyser and then take some time to explore the Wai o Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, home to an impressive array of multi coloured rock formations and pools created by superheated water bringing minerals to the surface creating this otherworldly landscape.

    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 camp later that afternoon.

     

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Ride an awesome single track from Huka Falls stopping in for a quick soak in a natural hot stream on your way into Taupo or grab the bike in the city for a cruisey ride around the edge of the lake.
    • Walks and Hikes: Follow the trail from an iconic waterfall alongside the mighty Waikato River winding past a natural hot spring that you can soak in followed by walking past a bungy jump watching adrenaline junkies dive into the river!
    • Optional Activities: Skydiving, bungy, giant swing, Wai-O-Tapu (free - this one is on us!)
    • 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, there's cycle options or a walk along the Tongariro river where you'll have a beautiful mountainous backdrop. 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: If you’re not doing the Tongariro Crossing, leave camp on a bike and head towards to the Tongariro River Trail. Cycle this loop, over bridges and past huts or a trout centre, keep an eye out for trout fishermen as this is the capital for trout fishing!
    • Walks and Hikes: The best one day hike in New Zealand! Traverse the Tongariro, steam vents, crater lakes and more!
    • Optional Activities: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, white water rafting (grade 3 rapids)
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 4 hours
  5. This morning it's a short drive to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city! We'll arrive before 9am giving you most of the day to explore the Te Papa Museum, Zealandia and the Botanical Gardens. The capital is also home to the Beehive, our government building, as well as great shopping areas and a thriving café culture to explore - 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 ferry takes approximately 3 hours and is very scenic, particularly as the boat makes its way through the Marlborough sounds just before reaching Picton. The rolling green hills offer a stark contrast to the blue waters of the sound and make for a magical sight. If you can, make your way outside and try and spot dolphins playing in the sounds.

    Camping isn’t possible tonight so we'll stay at a great hostel with various room options, we’ve booked everyone's dorm beds so there’s no need to do anything.

    • 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 museum (free), WLG city tour, Zealandia, cable car
    • Drive Distance: approx 1 hour + ferry crossing 3 hours
  6. We'll depart Picton and travel through the Marlborough region towards the coast where the views of the Pacific Ocean are complemented by the mountains in the distance. Along this stretch of coastline, we’ll make a stop for lunch and try to spot the native Fur Seals that often relax on the rocks in front of the ocean.

    Kaikoura is all about the ocean and offers options to go whale watching, sea kayaking and fishing. If you’d prefer to explore the area on foot, 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 to complement the area's abundant sea life (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: Kowhai bike track and a short road ride to camp
    • 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 (boat or flight), sea kayaking, deep sea fishing
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  7. Today we'll depart Christchurch and start heading towards the mountains and across the Canterbury plains, a flat open area of farmland. Tonight we'll stay in Peel Forest, close to the Rangitata river.

    • 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: Highly recommended dolphin swim, dolphin viewing
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 3.5 hours
  8. Wake up to mountain views and try white water rafting on the mighty Rangitata River! If rafting isn’t for you, soak it all in with a morning cycle or walk through Peel forest. We then head through more jaw dropping landscapes (they don’t stop in the South Island) to the picture postcard, Lake Tekapo.  Here you will view 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.

    Relax in the nearby hot pools or enjoy star gazing at the Mt John Observatory and make the most of staying in an International Dark Sky Reserve, plus there are plenty of hike and cycle options to choose from. 

    • 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: White water rafting (grade 5 rapids!), horse-riding, Mt John Observatory tour
    • Available Upgrades: Yes - limited options
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2 hours
  9. Immerse yourself in the snow-capped mountain scenery that New Zealand is famous for and explore Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Hike to the base of NZ’s highest mountain following a trail up the Hooker valley where you’ll cross swing bridges and get stunning views of the mountains before finishing up at a glacial lake with views of the Hooker Valley glacier. We then travel back towards the Pacific coast for a quick stop in the historic town of Oamaru before continuing onwards to the small village of Moeraki. Walk to a great view point offering expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and try to spot a little Blue Penguin along the shore. If you have a bike it’s possible to visit a colony of extremely rare Yellow-eyed Penguins near to camp. 

     

    • 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: Surfing, Otago Peninsula wildlife tour
    • 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. Large parts of the landscape have been carved out over thousands of years to leave stunning paths that weave through snow-capped mountains. We stop briefly in Te Anau, the hub and gateway town for Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound and your last chance to get supplies for those doing the Routeburn Track tomorrow. Tonight’s camp is on the lakeside in Te Anau.

    • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
    • Bike Rides: Enjoy riding through the isolated and moody Fiordland National Park into Hollyford Valley where you’ll finish at our camp (literally away from all civilisation, it’s great!)
    • 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. Travel one of the world’s most scenic routes into Milford Sound! Described as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. We highly recommend taking a cruise on Milford Sound where you'll see dramatic waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and have the chance to spot wildlife such as dolphins, penguins and seals! 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 3-day Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. This 3-day hike passes through two National Parks and 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
    • Bike Rides: Leisurely ride along the lakefront of Lake Te Anau and up alongside a river before looping back to camp. Go as little or as far as you please.
    • Walks and Hikes: For those who have pre-booked, the absolutely unforgettable Routeburn Track! Explore the lakefront of Te Anau in the afternoon once we are out of Fiordland National Park.
    • Optional Activities: Highly recommended Milford Sound boat cruise, Routeburn Track (3 day/2 night alpine hike), Te Anau glowworm caves & boat ride
    • Available Upgrades: Yes
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  13. Today we journey to Queenstown along the shores of the photogenic Lake Wakatipu. Once we arrive at the adventure capital of New Zealand you have a huge selection of activities to choose from. There is everything here, from adrenalin pumping bungy, canyon swing and skydiving to a relaxing horse trek or boat cruise – 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 (cost included) 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, canyon swing, skydiving, horse riding, boat cruise plus much more! There really is something for everyone in Queenstown!
    • Available Upgrades: Yes to a private room
    • Drive Distance: Approx. 2.5 hours
  14. With so much to do we spend the full day in fantastic Queenstown with the opportunity to enjoy those once in a lifetime experiences (don’t forget to try the legendary and very tasty Fergburger!). Routeburn Track walkers rejoin the group here at midday with time to try some of the many exciting activities this vibrant city has to offer. Tonight, we dine out at one of Queenstown’s many delicious eateries - a great chance for your group to enjoy a true kiwi feast (own cost).  

    • Meals: Breakfast
    • Bike Rides: Awesome bike options if you have a free day you can choose short or longer cycling experiences that will take you 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, canyon swing, skydiving, horse riding, boat cruise plus much more! There really is something for everyone in Queenstown!
    • Available Upgrades: Yes to a private room
    • 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 by 2:00pm.

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

2023 SEASON TOUR PRICES:

Tour price

$3895

Bike hire

$320

Single tent upgrade

$165

Bring your own bike

$145

Sleeping bag hire

$80


2023 DEPARTURES FROM AUCKLAND 

MONTH

DEPARTURE DATE

JANUARY 2023

24TH

FEBRUARY 2023

9TH & 25TH

MARCH 2023

13TH & 29TH

Show nearby:

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

MORE REVIEWS