New Zealand is a country of hidden treasures, vast unspoiled beauty, friendly people and two of the most renowned rail journeys in the world. Customize your itinerary by adding fewer or more days in any location, pre-booking optional tours or choosing a self-drive option. From a cruise on Milford Sound to a traditional Maori feast, discover the best of this unique island nation!
• Select a Seat-in-Coach or Self-Drive tour style.
• Enjoy a traditional Maori Hangi dinner and concert.
• Add days, destinations and activities to our suggested itinerary based on your interests.
Our suggested itinerary begins on the South Island in Christchurch, known as the "Garden City." From here, travel through scenic countryside to Queenstown. Your route passes through the huge and fertile patchwork farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, over Burkes Pass and into Mount Cook National Park. Arrive in the lakeside town of Queenstown where you’ll enjoy three nights in the “adventure capital.” An included skyline gondola ride allows for captivating views of the surrounding area. You'll also enjoy a full-day tour and cruise of Milford Sound, a dramatic fjord lined with sheer cliffs and majestic waterfalls.
Depart Queenstown to visit the glaciers of the Southern Alps, the nation’s greatest mountain range. Once you arrive, a shuttle will take you to the view the glaciers up close. Then get ready for a spectacular rail journey aboard the TranzAlpine, renowned as “The Great New Zealand Rail Adventure.” Travel under the Southern Alps, through mountain passes, river valleys, steep mountains and lush rainforests.
The following day, get ready for your second rail adventure. The Coastal Pacific train travels between Christchurch and the delightful port of Picton. This journey is a scenic feast of New Zealand, with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of your train and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline on the other. You’ll see some of New Zealand’s finest horticultural and farmland areas, and amazing wildlife such as dolphins, seals and penguins from the comfort of your train carriage. Transfer by ferry to the North Island and the capital city of Wellington.
Continue to the famous Rotorua thermal region, the spiritual home of the Maori culture and renowned for its towering geysers, boiling mud and hot springs. Here you’ll experience an authentic introduction to Maori culture at a traditional feast and dinner show. Conclude your stay with a guided boat tour of Waitomo Caves with its fascinating Glowworm Grotto. Marvel at how the network of caves is softly lit by the luminescence of thousands of glowworms. End your New Zealand adventure in the North Island city of Auckland.
• 9 nights hotel accommodations: 2 nights in Christchurch, 3 nights in Queenstown, 1 night in Fox or Franz Josef Township, 1 night in Wellington and 2 nights in Rotorua
• Rail journeys aboard TranzAlpine train and Coastal Pacific train
• Non-rail transportation by coach and inter-island ferry (a self-drive option is also available)
• Milford Sound cruise with lunch
• Skyline Gondola in Queenstown
• Maori Hangi dinner and performance
• Half-day Rotorua sightseeing tour
• Waitomo Gloworm Caves tour with lunch
• All hotel and rail transfers
Create Your Own New Zealand Itinerary
AAA Sojourns offers three exciting ways to plan your adventures Down Under: You can embark on the itinerary we designed for our Members; add or substitute the customizable options below to personalize the tour to include your special interests; or ask your AAA Travel Counselor to create a unique itinerary just for you.
• Food and wine activities such as winery tours of top vineyards on both islands
• High-energy adventures such as diving, snorkeling, diving, cave tubing and swimming with dolphins
• Urban explorations such as yachting around Auckland or an artist tour in Wellington
• Nature experiences that include that include lake or whale watching cruises, fishing, hiking and mountain biking
• Rail journeys – traverse the islands along some of the most scenic rail lines in the world
Note: A self-drive option is available along with upgraded hotels. Inquire at time of booking.
Day 1 - Arrive in Christchurch
Welcome to Christchurch where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The day is yours to spend as you please in the “Garden City.”
Accommodation: Christchurch hotel - 1 night
Day 2 - Christchurch / Queenstown
Today depart for Queenstown. Wind your way over massive viaducts, through spectacular gorges and river valleys before crossing the huge and fertile patchwork farmlands of the Canterbury Plains. Continue over Burkes Pass and into Mount Cook National Park. Cross the Lindis Pass through the Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown.
Accommodation: Queenstown hotel - 3 nights
Day 3 - Milford Sound Excursion
Get an early start along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Te Anau, then into Fiordland National Park. From the Homer Tunnel emerge into the Cleddau Valley. Join your Milford Sound Cruise for an unforgettable experience. As you enjoy an onboard lunch, enjoy excellent viewing opportunities of the sheer rock cliffs, waterfalls over 5,000 feet above sea level, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. Return to Queenstown, arriving early evening.
Day 4 - Queenstown
Today is free to explore this alpine resort city. We have included the Skyline Gondola in your tour. Known as the “adventure capital” of New Zealand and possibly the world, Queenstown has much to offer including jet boat rides, para-punting, lake cruises, hot air ballooning, river rafting, 4WD safaris, bungee jumping and more.
Day 5 - Queenstown / Franz Josef
Travel to Cromwell and on through the Southern Lakes district to the Haast Pass, where you may have views of Mt. Brewster Glacier. Travel north, through the dense rainforest broken by rugged coastal vistas, towards the glaciers of the Southern Alps, the country’s greatest mountain range. A shuttle will take you to view one of these massive rivers of ice.
Accommodation: Fox or Franz Josef Glacier township hotel - 1 night
Day 6 - Franz Josef / TranzAlpine / Christchurch
Travel up the coast to Greymouth and board the renowned TranzAlpine train. The TranzAlpine is world-renowned as “The Great New Zealand Rail Adventure.” Travel slowly under the Southern Alps through the Otira Tunnel and then over Arthur's Pass. The pass, built by pick and shovel and completed in 1866, is named after Arthur Dudley who discovered it in 1864. Then wind your way over massive viaducts, through spectacular gorges and river valleys before crossing the huge and fertile patchwork farmlands of the Canterbury Plains. Arrive in Christchurch early evening.
Accommodation: Christchurch hotel - 1 night
Day 7 - Christchurch / Coastal Pacific Rail / Picton / Wellington
Depart the Garden City of Christchurch aboard the Coastal Pacific train. One of the world's most scenic train journeys, the Coastal Pacific travels through 22 tunnels and crosses 175 bridges with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of the train and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline on the other. As on the TranzAlpine, the Coastal Pacific includes an open air viewing carriage where all your senses are awakened with the clean, fresh, sea air. Turn inland to Picton and cross Cook Strait by ferry to Wellington. Explore New Zealand’s capital city with its harbor, Parliament buildings and the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa.
Accommodation: Wellington hotel - 1 night
Day 8 - Wellington / Rotorua
Travel north along the rugged Kapiti coastline. Cross the Desert Road and pass the majestic peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Skirt Lake Taupo and continue on to Rotorua. In the evening, enjoy a Maori Hangi (feast) and Concert. Experience the traditional cooking method for this special meal which involves cooking in underground pits.
Accommodation: Rotorua hotel - 2 nights
Day 9 - Rotorua Sightseeing
Experience Rotorua's best attractions today. In addition to the thermal activity that is visible throughout the city, there are countless other attractions. This morning see roaring geysers and boiling mud pools at Te Puia thermal area, tame trout at Rainbow Springs Nature Park and see performing sheep and dogs at the Agrodome Farm Show. Your afternoon is free for optional activities.
Day 10 - Rotorua / Waitomo / Auckland
Travel south to the Waitomo Caves for a boat ride under a galaxy of glowworms, lunch included. An expert guide will lead your tour to Glowworm Grotto, where millions of glowworm residents create a luminescent effect within the network of caves. Continue on to Auckland where your New Zealand adventure ends. You arrive in the late afternoon.
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Price given based on suggested itinerary; final price will depend on itinerary and dates requested, and on hotel availability. Prices are subject to change based on currency fluctuation until paid in full. Single supplement may apply. Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.
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