These 11 days exploring New Zealand’s North and South islands are the ideal introduction to this small country that feels huge. Utilizing a diverse range of transport – train, gondola, boat, plane – you’ll connect with locals in artsy beach towns, roam through an ancient rainforest, learn about local legend and cuisine from the Maori, and breathe in all the clean air you possibly can. Travelling as a small group of like minded people you get to share new experiences on the trip and maybe even make new friends!

This NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEY provides greater exploration, insider access, and the freedom to roam – all without sacrificing comfort.

Expect quality accommodations with upgraded amenities; private transport (including flights); more included meals and activities than you might normally expect on a tour of New Zealand.

Light walking and hiking suitable for most fitness levels is a characteristic of this small group tour with a maximum of 16 travellers and average of 12. All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult, age 12+ only.

Trip Code: ONING

Image: © G Adventures/ Oana Dragan

What’s Included

  • Hauraki Gulf Marine Park whale and dolphin experience.
  • Visit scenic Bridal Veil Falls.
  • Farm visit with local lunch.
  • Raglan harbour cruise.
  • Visit a geothermal Maori village with a local guide.
  • Meet a Maori elder.
  • Enjoy traditional Maori hangi feast and entertainment.
  • Orientation walk in Christchurch.
  • Scenic TranzAlpine train.
  • Queenstown Gondola ride.
  • Wilderness day cruise (winter) or overnight cruise (summer) on Doubtful Sound.
  • Interesting articles, helpful tips, and photography advice from National Geographic before you depart.
  • Internal flights.
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

Please note that due to seasonal weather the itinerary in Doubtful Sound varies from winter to summer months. The winter itinerary runs for all departures between June 4 – September 20. The remaining departures will follow the summer itinerary.



Arrive at any time.
Please make your own way to the joining hotel. Our CEO will have a welcome meeting this evening.
Auckland is a fantastic city with so much to see and do. Should you want more time to explore on your own, we recommend booking pre-nights.

Accommodation: Pullman Hotel (or similar) Hotel



Meals included: Breakfast

Enjoy a short orientation walk and some free time to explore the city. After, cruise Hauraki Gulf Marine Park on a research boat in search of whales, dolphins and sea birds. After our cruise spend one-on-one time with one of the expert crew to allow a deeper discussion on marine wildlife and conservation.

Orientation Walk 30m-1h

Enjoy a brief walk with your CEO. He/she will give you some tips on finding things like supermarkets, main squares, and ATMs. For more specific or in-depth information, an official guided tour is recommended.

Free Time Auckland. Enjoy the city or choose from the many day excursions available.

Dolphin and Whale Experience Auckland – 4h30m

Cruise Hauraki Gulf Marine Park on a research-based marine mammal experience. Working closely with the Department of Conservation and local universities, the crew of biologists and conservationists combine up-close viewing of whales, dolphins, and sea birds with important marine science research conducted aboard, allowing us the chance to encounter, learn and help protect this incredible resource of marine life. After our cruise spend one-on-one time with one of the expert crew to allow a deeper discussion on marine wildlife and conservation.

Accommodation: Pullman Hotel (or similar) Hotel



Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch

Drive a scenic route, visiting an eel farm which focuses on developing sustainable aquaculture. Enjoy lunch, featuring food which has been sustainably produced on the farm. Continue to the artsy town of Raglan and enjoy a cruise on the stunning harbour.

Eel Farm Visit, Raglan 1h-1h30m

Visit a local sustainable eel farm which focuses on developing sustainable aquaculture and biological solutions for dairy farms in an effort to restore lowland wetland eco-systems. Enjoy lunch, featuring food which has been sustainably produced on the farm. Be inspired by their green initiatives – they practice the art of giving more back to the environment than they take out.

Private Vehicle Auckland – Raglan 3h/180km

With lots of things to do in Raglan, get out and explore!

Raglan Harbour boat Cruise, Raglan 1h30m-2h

Enjoy a cruise on the Raglan Harbour with stunning views of ancient limestone rock formations and local wildlife. Keep an eye out for dolphins and (fingers crossed!) whales.

Optional Activities available, take a look at our separate tab.

Accommodation: Raglan Sunset Motel (or similar) Motel



Meals included: Breakfast | Dinner

Drive to Rotorua, stopping at Bridal Veil Falls en route, and opt to enjoy a dip in the geothermal hot pools at the hotel. This evening visit Tamaki Maori Village and enjoy a private welcome and talk from a “Kaumātua” (an elder in Māori society). After, enjoy an extravagant performance about local myths, and legends while dinning on traditional Hangi cuisine.

Rotorua sits over an active volcano with bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools in different areas around the town. This is a fascinating region with Maori history and cultured tied directly to the geothermal aspects of the land. Relax in one of the hot pools at the hotel fed by water coming directly from the natural springs.

Bridal Veil Falls Walk, Bridal Veil Falls /30m

Enjoy a scenic trek to Bridal Veil Falls, a plunge waterfall located along the Pakoka River in the Waikato area of New Zealand. Relax on arrival and enjoy the waterfall’s breathtaking natural beauty. The waterfall is 55m (180 ft) high, and, over time, has caused the formation of a large pool at its base.

Private Vehicle Raglan – Rotorua 3h

Free Time Rotorua. Enjoy the afternoon in Rotorua. Why not take a dip in one of the thermal pools?

Tamaki Maori Village Rotorua 3h-3h30m

Visit the Tamaki Maori Village. Receive the traditional Powhiri welcome ceremony followed by a captivating stage performance explaining Maori history, myths and culture. For dinner, enjoy a traditional Hangi meal, similar to the Hawaiian Luau, with dishes cooked in the ground. Savour the taste of chicken, sweet potatoes, port and pudding wrapped in cabbage or banana leaves and steamed underground with the heat from lava rocks and wood. Yum!

Meet a Maori Elder Rotorua

Enjoy a “mihi” (private welcome) in Tamaki Village from a “Kaumātua” (an elder in Māori society). Sit down to an exclusive talk with the elder and learn about the community’s traditions, myths, and legends, including the Sky Father and Earth Mother. You’ll also learn about the history of the Maori people and their deep connection to Rotorua landscape and its geothermal aspects.



Meals included: Breakfast | Lunch

This morning visit Whakarewarewa, a Maori village with a local guide who explains the geothermal aspects of the region. Enjoy a light lunch of corn cooked in a natural hot pool and a traditional hangi pie. Fly to Christchurch and take an orientation walk with the CEO.

Private Vehicle Rotorua Morning

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Whakarewarewa Geothermal Village Visit, Rotorua 1h30m-2h Morning

Visit an authentic Maori Geothermal Village. With a local guide, follow the path past bubbling mud pits and mineral pools with different fluorescent coloured water. Learn how geothermal energy is used around the village and hear the history of the area. Just try to ignore the sulfurous smell; that’s just Mother Earth making magma magic.

Flight Rotorua – Christchurch 1h-1h30m

Orientation Walk 30m-1h

Enjoy a brief walk with your CEO. He/she will give you some tips on finding things like supermarkets, main squares, and ATMs. For more specific or in-depth information, an official guided tour is recommended.

Accommodation: Chateau on the Park Hotel (or similar) Hotel



Meals included: Breakfast

Enjoy one of the world’s great scenic train trips on the TranzAlpine train, crossing the scenic Southern Alps to New Zealand’s glacier region. Disembark and transfer to a beautiful rainforest lodge, our home for two nights.

Train Christchurch – Greymouth /4h

Climb aboard, take your seat, and enjoy the ride.

Private Vehicle Greymouth – Franz Josef /2h30m

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat (or similar) Resort



Meals included: Breakfast

Options are plentiful. Choose from a helicopter hike, ice walking on the glacier, or soaking in the hot pools amongst the stunning scenery.

Free Time Franz Josef. Opt for various hiking adventures in the area, the most popular being a glacier trek. If relaxing is more your style, there are shorter day hikes and bush walks or local hot pools to take a dip.

Take a look at our optional activities tab for ideas.

Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat (or similar) Resort



Meals included: Breakfast

Travel through the rugged rainforest along the west coast to Queenstown. Enjoy an evening gondola ride with spectacular views of the city and option to eat dinner at a skyline restaurant.
Early start to travel to the picturesque Lake Matheson. When the weather is right, you can get a great photo of the Southern Alps reflected in the lake. Follow the wild West Coast Road, through the rainforest before stopping for some short walks and waterfall visits.

Private Vehicle Franz Josef – Queenstown 6h/365km

Stretch out and scan the scenery from the comfort of a private vehicle.

Gondola Ride Queenstown 1h-2h30m

Take a ride up to the top of the mountain by cable car gondola. Get a spectacular 220º view of Coronet Peak, the Remarkables mountain range, and Lake Wakatipu below.

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakefront Queenstown (or similar) Hotel



Meals included: Breakfast | Dinner

Embark on an amazing wilderness cruise through scenic Doubtful Sound. Led by onboard naturalist guides we have the chance to see dolphins, fur seals, birds and penguins and an option to kayak. Spend the night onboard in comfortable cabins with time to relax on deck, stargazing and enjoying some New Zealand wine.

In the evening, enjoy a delicious three course buffet dinner prepared by our onboard chef and served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travellers, savour some of the fine wines at our licensed bar and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.

The Fiordland Navigator is a purpose built vessel designed to replicate a traditional trading scow and is perfectly suited to cruising the fiords.

**Boat is subject to change

*Please note that the itinerary for this day varies in the winter:

Winter Schedule 18 May – 20 Sept Doubtful Sound/Te Anau

Drive the scenic route around the lake to the town of Manapouri. Travel by boat and bus to arrive at an eco cruise boat. Spend the afternoon cruising the stunning Doubtful Sound, one of the most untouched, remote places in the world. Marvel at the steep cliff walls and cascading waterfalls. The boat offers excellent chances for wildlife viewing in the area. Dolphins, penguins, seals and a variety of birds are some examples of what you can hope to see. In the evening, head to Te Anau for the night. We take in a screening of the award winning ‘Ata Whenua – Shadowland‘ Fjordland on Film documentary at the local cinema before having a group meal.

Private Vehicle, Queenstown – Doubtful Sound 3h/250km

Doubtful Sound Overnight Wilderness Cruise 24h

Cruise through the stunning Doubtful Sound, one of the most untouched, remote places in the world. Marvel at the steep cliff walls and cascading waterfalls, and keep an eye out for area wildlife: dolphins, penguins, seals, and a variety of birds. Want to get closer to the water? Feel free to use one of the boats’ sea kayaks to explore the area more in-depth.

After the day, moor at a secluded bay for the night, and sit back and relax. Designed along the lines of a traditional scow, the Fiordland Navigator blends old-world charm with modern comforts that include spacious viewing decks, a dining saloon/fully licensed bar, an observation lounge, and nature guides.

Accommodation: Doubtful Sound Cruise (or similar) Houseboat



Meals included: Breakfast

Enjoy morning wildlife viewing as we cruise back to port, then return to Queenstown for the final night.

Kick off the day with a hearty cooked breakfast and spend the rest of the morning exploring other parts of the fiord. We then return to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri, returning to Queenstown late afternoon. Opt for a farewell dinner with your group.

Private Vehicle Doubtful Sound – Queenstown/ 3h/ 250km

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakefront Queenstown (or similar) Hotel



Meals included: Breakfast

Depart at any time.

For more time to explore Queenstown, we recommend booking post nights if you are interested in the countless adrenaline-packed activities in the town known as the “adventure capital of the world.” Jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking, and sky diving are some of the activities available.

Not ready to leave? We can help with travel arrangements to extend your adventure.


Day 4:

Hot Springs Rotorua

Soak tired muscles in the area’s natural hot springs and let the mineral water work its magic. Rotorua is home to a number of amazing geothermal parks – be sure you don’t miss the healing and relaxing benefits of the city’s naturally heated waters.


Day 7:

Franz Josef Quad Bike Franz Josef
65-160NZD per person

Hop aboard the 2-seater ATV quad and drive along ancient glacial pathways carved into the landscape by ice and water. Be amazed at what lies around every twist and turn as you are guided through rainforests, riverbeds, grasslands, sand and mud. Feel the thrill of fresh air in your face and the excitement of riding in the wild.

Helicopter HikeFranz Josef3h-4h
325-429NZD per person

Take a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride to the top of the Franz Josef Glacier. Hop out and trek on the white and blue ice.


Day 3:

Bone Carving Raglan3h-4h
89NZD per person

Make your very own pendant (and souvenir) at this bone carving class. Learn the cultural significance of this craft and follow expert instruction to make a traditional Maori carving using a grinder and template.

Surf Lessons Raglan
89NZD per person

Learn how to catch a wave in this three-hour surf lesson. Start with instruction on dry land before heading into the surf. Take advantage of the large soft boards used in class (they help everyone stand up).

Stand Up Paddle Lesson Raglan
79NZD per person

Enjoy fantastic scenery and a great workout while stand up paddle boarding in the Raglan harbour.

Dossier Disclaimer

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel; in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Group Leader Description

This group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager, leader and driver – this person is experienced in the routes travelled and will organize and lead the meal preparations and has experience in cooking a variety of local and international dishes for large groups.
As the group coordinator and manager, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.
We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.

Group Size Notes

Max 16, Avg 12.
Eating is a big part of travelling. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. The above information applies to group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.


Mini-bus, plane, train, boat, walking.

About Our Transportation

Our vans are mini-coaches. Occasionally with smaller group sizes we will use smaller, equally comfortable 13-seater vehicles. All mini-coaches tow a trailer for luggage and camping equipment (when needed). All groups have one CEO/Driver.

The vehicles are factory built with comfortable seats and air-conditioning. It is mandatory to wear a seatbelt while riding in our vehicles.

Local Flights

A local flight is included in this trip – Your CEO will give you your ticket on the day of flight.

Solo Travellers

We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.


Hotels (9 nts), cruise boat (seasonal) (1 nt).
Night 10: Doubtful Sound
Pullman Hotel
Cnr Waterloo Quandrant & Princes St
Auckland City, Auckland
TEL: +64 9 353 1000

Joining Instructions

There are three main ways for visitors to get from The Auckland Airport to the centre of town.
The ‘Airbus Express’ is the public bus and will take about 1 hour. Tickets are $16 and can be bought in the airport or for cash on the bus – look for the big blue bus. You will be dropped at the transit centre which is about 50 metres from the Hotel.
‘Super Shuttle is the main minivan service – you can book tickets online or pay the driver direct – the cost will vary between $30 and $80 depending on the group size – you will be dropped at the door of the hotel.
Taxis operate from right outside the door – the cost will be about $75 to be dropped right outside of your hotel.

Arrival Complications

We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have pre-booked an airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.

Emergency Contact

Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our local office in Melbourne. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so we may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

G Adventures Local Office (Melbourne)
During office hours, 9am-5pm Local Time
From outside Australia: +61 3 9413 5820
From within Australia: 03 9413 5820
After Hours Emergency Number (Australia) From outside Australia: +61 432 705 621
From within Australia: 0432 705 621
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local operations manager, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0844 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999

What to take

The max luggage allowance on domestic flights within New Zealand is 20 kgs, 1 checked bag and 1 carry on per person.
You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. We recommend the use of a well-labelled duffel bag, soft bag or backpack (whichever you find easiest to carry). Suitcases or heavy luggage are not recommended for the health of the CEO! A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential as you will have the chance to walk and hike in different national parks during these trips. This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, your lunch and a water bottle.
For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibres. Cotton is not recommended for days spent hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape and it will not dry easily once wet.


•Passport (with photocopies)
•Travel insurance (with photocopies)
•Airline tickets (with photocopies)
•NZD cash
•Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
•G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
•Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
-Weather-appropriate clothing
•Light fleece top
•Light windproof/waterproof jacket
•Sun hat
•Sturdy walking shoes
•Toiletries (biodegradable)
•Watch or alarm clock
•Water bottle
•Money belt
•Flashlight or headlamp
•Camera, memory card(s) and charger
•Electricity plug adapter
•First-aid kit
-Day pack
-Camera with extra memory cards and batteries
-Personal Entertainment
-Waterproof backpack cover
-Insect Repellent


Laundry can be done at least once a week while on tour – most cities have laundromats where you can buy soap and wash your laundry in coin-operated machines. Your CEO will advise you along the trip where you will be able to do your laundry.


All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation. Visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as far as possible, but rules do change and sometimes without warning. While we provide the following information in good faith, it is vital that you check the information yourself and understand that you are fully responsible for your own visa requirements.

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

The currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD).
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in New Zealand and can be used to purchase small and large items. When purchasing products or services with a foreign credit card you may be charged additional fees by your credit card company for foreign purchases.

Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Both Cirrus and Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. Both Visa and Master Cards are the most widely accepted credit cards. While ATMs are commonly available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work check with your bank before you travel. A visit to an ATM can be arranged on Day 1 and other days of the trip.

Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of local currency (preferably smaller bills, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s) and credit cards is best. Currency exchange is best obtained prior to travel or at the airport, currency exchange is easy to find in New Zealand in the gateway cities and most banks do accommodate.

Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.

As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates:

Emergency Fund

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ’emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!


It is not customary in New Zealand or Australia to tip service providers, but if you do experience outstanding service it is good to do so. Such service would only usually be in places like quality restaurants and it would be very rare that you would tip more than 10%. Unless specifically asked to do so at the time (by your CEO) – do not tip your local guides. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, you may consider a small tip – but it certainly isn’t expected.

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