New Zealand: Queenstown to Auckland | EF Ultimate Break

New Zealand: Queenstown to Auckland

15 Days  •  7 Cities

Why Go?

Picture a playground. Now multiply its size by 500 million and take away those metal slides that give your skin the feeling of being burned by 1,000 fiery suns. What you hold in your imagination is New Zealand, a country that offers more adventure than watching all eight Harry Potter movies in a row. Like no place you’ve ever seen before, New Zealand has every type of landscape imaginable, from the fiords and mountains of the South Island, to the beaches, volcanoes, and lakes in the north. And no, we didn’t forget about the oh-so preeeecious Lord of the Rings sites throughout the country. So start growing your best Gandalf beard (yes, all of you), grab your sense of wonder, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

What are the top highlights?

  • Cruise through the fiords of New Zealand and cry if you need to (they’re that beautiful)
  • Catch glimpses of all kinds of wildlife, including sheep, fish, and a bird that might try and steal your camera
  • Feel the adrenaline rush as you push your limits, hopping from one adventure to the next—you’re in the thrill seeking capital of the world, after all
  • Perfect your “my precious” impression in the land where Peter Jackson brought Lord of the Rings to life
  • Learn a thing or two from the OG locals—the Maori people have been in New Zealand for 700 years
  • Hang on tight as you walk through the windiest city in the world: Wellington, New Zealand (Nice try, Chicago)
  • See glowworms light up a cave—and your day

Your trip includes

  • Round-trip flights & airport transfers
  • Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
  • Private deluxe motorcoach
  • Internal flights & trains
  • 13 nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • Welcome Mixer with appetizers & drinks
  • Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
  • Entrance to Te Papa Museum, Wai-o-Tapu Geothermal Park & other select attractions

Accommodations

You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.


Click **here **for examples of where you'll stay.

Flights

Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:


  • Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
  • Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
  • Flights are booked with major airlines
  • 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
  • One checked bag included on most flights
  • Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure

Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.

Itinerary

Day 1-2: Overnight Flight

Board your overnight flight, bound for New Zealand. It’s pretty far away, if you hadn’t noticed, hence the two days of travel. Patience is the name of the game. That, and solitaire.


This tour requires a visa for U.S. citizens. Check entry requirements or call us with questions at 800-766-2645.

Day 3: Arrive in Queenstown

Welcome to New Zealand, where there are six sheep for every human, three kinds of kiwis (the fruit, the people, the bird), and everyone wears UGGS. Kidding about the last one. Life is good on this island floating in the southwestern Pacific. For starters, this country is home to the Southern Alps, a mountain range that epitomizes the pristine beauty that New Zealand has to offer. Buckle your seatbelts, you’re just getting started.


Today's Highlights:


  • Meet an EF representative at the airport.
  • Check in at your accommodations.
  • Receive the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
  • Take a walk around Queenstown with your Tour Director.
  • Ride a gondola up, up, and away to get incredible views of the skyline and surrounding area.

In the evening, it's time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with your new friends and travelers. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!

Day 4: Explore Milford Sound

You’re in the South Island of New Zealand, where one of the country’s most popular sights can be found: the fiords. Don’t know what that word means? Never fear, definitions are here! A fiord is a narrow waterway surrounded by commanding, sometimes snowcapped, cliffs AKA a breathtaking part of Mother Nature. New Zealand’s got lots of them, and today, you get to explore one by boat.


Today's Highlights:


  • Say “I’m on a boat” as you float away on a ferry into the Milford Sound.
  • Snap pics from every angle—the fjords don’t have a “bad side.”
  • Enjoy an included lunch, with included spectacular views.
  • Warm up your dominant pointing finger—seals, penguins, dolphins, and whales can be seen swimming in these waters, and people need to know.

Day 5: Free Day in Queenstown + Optional Ziplining Adventure

Queenstown is a city many call the ‘adventure capital of the world,’ due to the popularity of high-adrenaline activities. So if you’re into the whole heart beating faster than normal thing, you’re in the right place. And if you want something a little more mellow, this city’s got that, too.


Today's Highlights:


  • Wander the streets of Queenstown and follow the locals into cafes and stores—just not in a creepy way.
  • Get your adrenaline pumping with any of the heart-pounding activities offered in the city.
  • Spin around and point to any mountain—then go there. (Your Instagram will thank you.)

Free Time Suggestions
Burger Madness: Yes, you’re in New Zealand, so you should be trying local food. But Fergburger sells burgers that some people claim are the best in the world. So make an exception, and stop in for a life-changing culinary experience.
Secret Garden: Slow down your pace at Queenstown Gardens, where you’ll find plenty of green things to sit on and look at. And if you feel like being more active, try your hand at frisbee golf or tennis.

Queenstown Ziplining Adventure(extra cost)

If you’re in the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown, and you’re not shooting from tree to tree at skyscraper heights and rocket speeds, you’re doing Down Under seriously wrong. Do what kiwi birds can’t do—fly—as you blast between treehouses in exhilarating fashion, and take in unforgettable mountain views above the canopy.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 6: Travel to Franz Josef

The wheels on the bus go round and round, until you arrive in Franz Josef, a city that sounds much more like the name of a person than that of a city. But people don’t come to Franz Josef to talk about name origins. They (and now you) come for a huge chunk of ice, otherwise known as the Franz Josef Glacier.


Today's Highlights:


  • Hop on the bus in Queenstown—you’re going to another beautiful New Zealand city.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for massive lakes and waterfalls worth chasing.
  • Make a quick stop at Knight’s Point lookout and stare out into the ocean like you’re in your own music video.
  • Lace up your best hiking shoes and follow the leader AKA a local guide to a hike around the Franz Josef Glacier.

Day 7: Travel to Hokitika

Back to the bus for a quick drive up the coast. This time you’re going to Hokitika, a quaint town with all the mountains, rivers, and beaches you’d ever need. When you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve struck gold, just like people in the 1860’s did when they literally struck gold here.


Today's Highlights:


  • Go from one spectacular town to the next, saying things like “I could get used to this” and “aren’t these towns spectacular?”
  • Join your Tour Director for a tour of Hokitika’s surrounding area.
  • Catch your jaw before it hits the ground as you look out at the blue-green water of the Hokitika Gorge.
  • Visit Goldsborough, an old gold mining settlement, and look for any gold that someone dropped…you never know.

Day 8: Travel to Christchurch

It’s cross-country road trip time. Are you ready? Don’t worry—in New Zealand this only takes about three hours. But hey, you can cross it off your bucket list. You’re heading to Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island with about 400,000 residents. Wondering why this place is called Christchurch? You’re not alone. There are three possible origins stories, but nobody can seem to agree on one.


Today's Highlights:


  • Hop on the bus, sit back, and enjoy the amazing New Zealand landscape.
  • Stop in Arthur’s Pass National Park, home to sights with names more terrifying than they need to be such as Devil’s Punchbowl Falls and Avalanche Peak.
  • Watch for pickpocketers, and by pickpocketers we mean kea parrots. (Seriously, they’ll get ya.)
  • Arrive in Christchurch and start asking around for the origin story of the city’s name.
  • See some of Christchurch’s top sights and learn the history of this resilient city.

Day 9: Travel to Wellington

You believe you can fly. And for good reason. Planes exist. So today, you’re flying to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital and the world’ windiest city. A piece of advice: Make sure someone is ready to capture your ‘Marilyn Monroe over a subway grate’ moment. And if that’s not enough movie magic for you, keep an eye out for Lord of the Rings sites. A number of the movies’ scenes were filmed in Wellington.


Today's Highlights:


  • Fly from Christchurch to Wellington, and start dreaming about chocolate fish, the New Zealand version of Swedish Fish.
  • Get acquainted with the area around your accommodation.
  • Embrace your inner hobbit, and make sure you eat all your meals, including second breakfast.

Day 10: Explore Wellington + Optional Lord of the Rings Tour

Well well Wellington. Windy Wellington. Wendywood. Two actual nicknames, one unfortunate attempt at wordplay. Today is your day to explore what this New Zealand metropolis has to offer. Being the capital city, Wellington’s museum game is strong, as well as its artsy hipster vibe. You’re more than likely to stumble upon craft beer, eclectic coffee shops, and local Wellingtonians eager to show off their city.


Today's Highlights:


  • Walk along Wellington’s windy waterfront, and come up with your own city-specific alliteration.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for Solace in the Wind, the most unusual sculpture you’ve seen yet. (Hint: Think Titanic’s “I’m flying, Jack!”)
  • Visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, and learn everything you ever needed to know about New Zealand.
  • Do like the locals do—explore the shops, cafes, and restaurants of Cuba Street.
  • Ride the cable car 400 feet above the city for epic views of Wellington and a chance to re-enact your favorite Frodo and Sam moment.

Lord of the Rings(extra cost)

LOTR fans, your time is here. Weta Workshop is a design and special effects studio whose work can be seen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia, Avatar, and more. On this tour, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at props, costumes, creatures, and vehicles created for the big screen. Prepare your Gollum impression, and get ready to call everything you see your “precious.”


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 11: Travel to Rotorua

All aboard the private bus—next stop: Rotorua, where beautiful scenery mixes with Maori culture (indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand). It’s a six-hour journey north, with a few stops along the way. There’s Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand—about the size of Singapore— and Tongariro National Park. Leaving the national park, you’ll feel like you’ve hit your quota for beautiful destinations, but then BAM—you arrive in Rotorua, where a big lake, active geysers, and boiling mud pools welcome you with open arms. Basically, the city is one big splash zone.


Today's Highlights:


  • Wave goodbye to the capital and head due north toward your next destination: Rotorua.
  • Catch a glimpse of Lake Taupo along the way.
  • Stop at Tongariro National Park, where you’ll see (and try to pronounce) three amazing volcanoes—Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro.
  • Arrive in Rotorua and check in to your accommodation.
  • Immerse yourself in Maori culture with a performance and traditional feast.

Day 12: Explore Rotorua + Optional Riverjet Excursion

It’s time to explore Rotorua’s geothermal topography for yourself. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, AKA nature’s Disney World, offers all the lava-sculpted landscapes, hissing geysers, and sulfur lakes you need.


Today's Highlights:


  • Join your fellow travelers and a local guide on a tour of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
  • Follow your nose to the sulfur lakes…shouldn’t be hard.
  • Watch geysers explode and mud boil, two things you probably never thought you’d see on the same day.

Riverjet in Rotorua(extra cost)

Hang on tight! Jetboats were invented in New Zealand, and to show that off, you’re invited to blast through Tutukau Gorge River on one. Upon reaching land, you’ll have to take on The Squeeze: nature’s obstacle course. Scurry over boulders, pull yourself between narrow gaps, and wade through knee-deep water (yes, the water is very warm. No, not for that reason. It’s geothermally heated.) for the ultimate prize: a refreshing rendezvous with a 150-foot waterfall.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 13: Travel to Auckland

Next stop: Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city with 1.5 million residents. It’s as “big city” as you’ll get in this country. But never fear—beautiful countryside is near. Rainforests, thermal springs, and volcanoes are easily accessible from the city. But before you become a New Zealand city slicker, stop at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves for an extraordinary treat.


Today's Highlights:


  • Say “smell ya later” to the sulfer lakes; you’re going to Auckland.
  • Stop at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to see—you guessed it—glowworms…in a cave.
  • Enter the caves, and gawk at these luminescent fungus gnats that light up the space.
  • Continue on to Auckland, where you’ll be for the remainder of your trip.

Day 14: Explore Auckland + Optional Waiheke Island & Winetasting

A full day in Auckland, free to do as you please. What could be better than that? It’s the proverbial cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that is this trip through New Zealand. Take all the pictures, eat all the food, and try to wrap your mind around this final fun fact: Only 5% of New Zealand’s population is human. The rest are animals. Whoa.


Today's Highlights:


  • Wake up early, have a coffee, and make the most of your last full day in New Zealand.
  • Head to Cornwall Park, an abundantly green area with a lookout point called One Tree Hill (not to be confused with The CW show).
  • Grab a bite to eat with incredible 360-degree views from 600 feet up at the Sky Tower.

Free Time Suggestions
It's a zoo in here: Literally. If you haven’t filled your animal quota yet, The Auckland Zoo is the perfect place to catch some last-minute glimpses of giraffes, zebras, wallabies, penguins, and so much more.
Mount Eden: Also known as Maungawhau, Mount Eden is a volcano completely covered in grass. It’s less than three miles south of the city center, and offers some of the best panoramas of downtown Auckland. Climb, sit, and rest easy knowing this sleepy volcano has been dormant for 28,000 years.


Farewell Dinner
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.

Waiheke Island & Wine Tasting(extra cost)

See the most talked about island in New Zealand. Take a tour of the immaculate beaches and coastal villas, and check out the island’s big guns (leftover WWII fortifications intended to protect Auckland). New Zealand’s “wine island” is home to over 25 vineyards producing some of the best Bordeaux, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc this side of Sonoma. It’s wine o’clock, and your taste buds are invited to sample the goods.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 15: Fly Home

Goodbye, friends!
Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?


–OR–


EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS


1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.


2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.


Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.

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