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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

2017 New Zealand: Natural Wonders North & South

New Zealand: Wellington, Nelson, Te Anau, Queenstown, Taupo, Auckland

91% Traveler Excellence Rating Read reviews

17 Days from only $6195 including international airfare

Courtesy of Christophe Hamon, Over The Moon Productions

Immerse yourself in a journey through New Zealand’s myriad breathtaking landscapes.

Courtesy Small World Productions
New Zealand’s South Island

Join Rudy Maxa as he reveals the scenic gems and deep-rooted Maori traditions of New Zealand's South Island.

Courtesy Small World Productions

Follow along with Rudy Maxa as he sails to scenic beaches, treks into the Blue Mountains, and samples the cuisine of Sydney.


Discover a woman’s passion for travel as she leads you through her new, but temporary, home—New Zealand.

Courtesy of Human Postcards
Ardouin “Everybody loves firefighters”

Discover what this firefighter from New Zealand loves the most about her job.

including international airfare
15 DAYS FROM $4895 Small Group Adventure Only
Extend Your Trip

Take in awe-inspiring scenery
as you hike in Abel Tasman
National Park. Learn More »


Best Value—Guaranteed
See how to maximize
your travel dollar,
including saving up to 10%.


Spend extra time in Auckland
after your adventure ends.
See More Options >>

Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

A country on nearly every traveler’s bucket list, New Zealand is a confluence of natural splendor and dynamic adventure that leaves lasting impressions long after you’ve crossed back over the International Date Line. During this trip, we'll explore both the  North and South islands, hiking through the untouched forests and cerulean bays of Abel Tasman National Park and experiencing the mud pools, hot springs, and geysers of a thermal reserve in Taupo. With Maori legend and Kiwi culture woven into this journey, you’ll discover a New Zealand that is nothing short of epic.

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • Did you know that you have control over the way you want to fly with us? O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other ways you can personalize your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Upgrade your seat: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. 
    • Fly the way you want to: When you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Stay for a day, a week, or even a month in a favorite locale. Or consider arriving in Wellington a few days early for a fresh start, or staying overnight in Los Angeles for a night to break up a lengthy flight. Our Adventure Specialists can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. One of the most common adventures combined with our New Zealand: Natural Wonders North & South adventure is Ultimate Australia. And now you’ll save an additional $250-$350 per person when you reserve two trips right after one another.

  • Many O.A.T. travelers simply don’t want their trips to end. With an array of pre- and post-trip extensions to choose from, you have the chance to experience more of the places you’ve traveled so far to see including New Zealand's Bay of Islandsand Australia's Great Barrier Reef & SydneyPlus, you lower your average per-day costs because you’re taking advantage of your already included international airfare.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 3 nights from only $1245

    Whet your appetite for New Zealand travel in the exotic Bay of Islands: the historical crossroads of European and Maori cultures. Explore one of New Zealand’s most unique ecosystems in this subtropical archipelago of nearly 150 islands. Revel in the pristine natural environment and stunning coastal scenery as we cruise along crystal-clear turquoise waters, keeping watch for whales, dolphins, marlins, and penguins.

    View Extension Itinerary
Wellington Auckland Expand All
  • You depart today on your flight to New Zealand.

  • You continue your flight from Los Angeles to New Zealand, losing one day en route as you cross the International Date Line. You regain this day when you fly back to the U.S. at the end of the trip.

  • Fly to Wellington via Auckland this morning. Wellington, New Zealand’s cosmopolitan capital, is located on the southwestern tip of the North Island. Your O.A.T. representative will greet you at the airport and accompany you on a short transfer to your hotel. Later, we meet our Trip Leader, who will brief us on our upcoming discoveries and we’ll be joined by fellow travelers who took our optional pre-trip extension, New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. Tonight we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • After breakfast, we set out through the vibrant, sloping streets of Wellington. Perched between Wellington Harbour and the Cook Strait, this compact city of hills and coastline offers natural beauty that people traverse the entire globe to witness. We’ll walk to the Lagoon on the edge of Wellington Harbour, where we’ll meet members of the local Maori community, who will welcome us with a traditional ceremony. We’ll spend some time learning more about this area. Then, we'll depart for a tour of Wellington's highlights, both by foot and by paddling the local waters if weather permits.

    Though Maori legend suggests Wellington was discovered by the Polynesian voyager, Kupe, in the tenth century, the first European settlement of the city was in 1839. British immigrants made the arduous 11,000 mile journey to New Zealand and shortly thereafter Wellington evolved into a thriving port city—well positioned for trade and commerce. Wellington replaced Auckland as the country’s capital in 1865, establishing it as the political and economic center.

    After an included lunch at a local restaurant this afternoon, we'll continue our walking tour of Wellington. Join your Trip Leader as we stroll through the city's vibrant streets and beautiful gardens, stopping to meet local residents before taking in views of the city and harbor from atop Mount Victoria. Dinner is on your own this evening. Please note: Due to prolonged periods of walking, you may opt out of the tour at certain locations.

  • This morning, we’ll take a guided tour through Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, which is renowned for innovative exhibitions on Maori culture, art, history, and the country’s diverse natural environment. With a focus on the bicultural influences of the Maori and Europeans, the museum plays an active role in educating people on New Zealand’s diverse society. Afterwards, the remainder of your day is free and lunch and dinner are on your own.

  • This morning we’ll transfer to the airport for a short flight into Nelson, located on the northern crest of the South Island along Tasman Bay.  Known for being the sunniest region in New Zealand, Nelson boasts a landscape of lush forests, rugged mountains, and sandy beaches.  A center for creativity, artists have flocked to the city of Nelson, where there are hundreds of studios and galleries featuring everything from handwoven wool sweaters to Lord of the Rings jewelry from the film’s official jeweler. Today, we’ll get to experience some of this artistry as we visit the World of WearableArt gallery and the adjacent Classic Cars Museum.  First conceived in 1987 as an off-beat fashion show featuring art that could be worn and modeled, the WearableArt gallery now features a rotation of 60 stunning—and often outrageous—garments created by artists from around the world. Under the same roof is the Classic Cars Museum, where we’ll check out a private collection of dozens of mint-condition cars from the past century.

    We’ll have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to make our own discoveries. Tonight, we have dinner at our hotel.

  • This morning we’ll set out for Abel Tasman National Park by way of the resort town, Kaiteriteri. A natural wonderland of golden beaches, lush forests, and granite rock formations, New Zealand’s smallest national park is home to world-famous coastal hiking trails. We’ll explore one (of nine) of New Zealand’s Great Walks, which the Department of Conservation has labeled as a premier walking track with awe-inspiring landscapes. Our 2-3 hour hike will take us through secluded turquoise bays, across mossy valleys, and up tree-lined ridges that give way to spectacular panoramic vistas. Depending on the season, we may be fortunate enough to discover some of the diverse wildlife that inhabit the park, such as dolphins, fur seals, geckos, tui, bellbirds, and the rare little blue penguin.

    We’ll arrive in Torrent Bay in time for a seafood barbecue lunch by the beach. After, there will be time to explore the bay on our own which can include taking a nature walk or going for a swim in the calm azure water. We’ll take a ferry back to Kaiteriteri and return to our hotel with the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner this evening is on your own.

  • Enjoy a free day to discover Nelson on your own. Perhaps you’ll rent a paddle board or sea kayak to take out on the calm clear waters of Tahunanui Beach. Maybe you'll drop by some of the many arts and crafts workshops that pepper the streets of Nelson. Or, you may join us on an optional Wine and Craft tour to sample some regional brews, wines, and cuisine. Nelson is an ideal area for cultivating hops and grapes. We’ll visit some of the many local craft breweries and wineries that are renowned in this region due to the mild climate and fertile countryside. 

    This evening, we’ll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

  • This morning we’ll depart our hotel for Nelson Airport, where we’ll board a plane to Queenstown, by way of Christchurch or Auckland. We’ll arrive in Queenstown this afternoon where we’ll transfer to our final destination, Te Anau. Located on the southwestern corner of the South Island, Te Anau is a small town nestled on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the South Island’s largest lake. A part of the Fiordland region, Te Anau boasts a majestic backdrop of Mount Luxmore and the Murchison mountains, and is the closest town to Milford Sound.

    We arrive at our hotel later this afternoon, where we’ll enjoy an included dinner this evening.

  • After breakfast this morning, we travel overland to Milford Sound, the crystalline fjord Rudyard Kipling called “the eighth wonder of the world.” Aboard a catamaran built for navigating the fjord, we’ll enjoy panoramic views from the observation lounge and outdoor decks. The waters of the sound plunge 1,600 feet while lush forest and sheer cliffs rise on either side. We’ll spend the morning soaking in sweeping vistas and enjoy a picnic lunch on board.

    This afternoon, we continue overland to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. In the mid-19th century, Queenstown was the city of choice for successful Gold Rush entrepreneurs. But the boom became a bust eventually, and the local economy floundered until the 1950’s, when outdoor enthusiasts began flocking to the region to take advantage of its diverse natural resources.  Today, Queenstown is the recreational hub of the nation with year-round activities from skiing to jet-boating.

    We arrive late this afternoon in time to settle into our hotel. Dinner is in a local restaurant this evening.

  • We begin our day with a walk to the marina for a cruise across tranquil Lake Wakatipu aboard the Spirit of Queenstown, with views up the lake to Glenorchy and beyond to the Southern Alps. We'll continue our morning of discoveries at Mt. Nicholas High Country Station, a family-run farm where some 29,000 sheep roam across 100,000 acres. There, we'll enjoy morning tea and learn about how merino wool is made, following the process from the mustering (rounding up the sheep) to how fabric is made for an outdoor clothing company.

    After lunch on your own back in Queenstown, enjoy a free afternoon to explore at your own pace, or join your Trip Leader for a walking tour. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • This morning, join our optional Queenstown Scenic Helicopter Flight for an aerial view of the area's dramatic mountain scenery. Or enjoy free time in Queenstown. Perhaps you'll take a gondola ride up to Bob's Peak for breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, and the Remarkables mountain range to the east. For adrenaline-seekers, Bob's Peak is also the place to bungy jump, ride a luge cart down a mountainside track, or take a hike or bike ride. Or, maybe you'll visit a local wine shop to sample one of the wines that the region has become increasingly well known for in recent years.

    Dinner is on your own this evening. Your Trip Leader can make recommendations for regional cuisines including restaurants that serve local specialties.

  • After breakfast at our hotel, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Rotorua via Christchurch, arriving late this morning. From Rotorua, we travel overland south to Taupo through a landscape lush with lakes and dramatic hills. As weather conditions allow, we might pause to witness one of the mighty waterfalls, forests, or countless hot springs. 

    Late this afternoon, we settle into our hotel in the city of Taupo, which overlooks Lake Taupo and lies within the shadow of volcanic Mount Tauhara. The region is alive with geothermal activity—which made it a hub for the first Maori settlers centuries ago—and has since attracted entrepreneurs who have capitalized on these resources to open mineral spas and harness nature's powers to generate energy.

    Tonight, we'll dine together at a local restaurant.

  • This morning, we witness the region’s legendary geothermal activity in a visit to Orakei Korako Thermal Reserve. Nicknamed “Hidden Valley,” the reserve sits on the Waikato River and boasts some of the most active geysers in all of New Zealand. A short cruise will bring us to the reserve, which we explore in a guided tour. Following wooden boardwalks, we’ll see mud pools, hot springs, and geysers.  

    The reserve contains some of the world's largest silica terraces, with sections that appear green, pink, yellow, blue, and white. The Maori called this the “Place of Adornment,” which seems a fitting title for a landscape with so much going on.

    After an included lunch at Orakei, we'll stop to view the majestic, clear blue waters of Huka Falls before returning to Taupo for the remainder of the day at leisure. Explore at your own pace this afternoon, perhaps visiting the Lake Taupo Museum and Art Gallery near the center of town. Its offerings include a recreated Maori meeting house, galleries of work by New Zealand artists, and a prize-winning garden that features native plants and geothermal features. Or you might choose to follow the Lions Walk, a promenade outlining Lake Taupo.

    You may spend the rest of the afternoon and evening making your own discoveries. Or, perhaps you'll join us on an optional guided jet boat ride down the Waikato River—New Zealand's longest river—where we'll see the local flora and fauna by jet boat and on foot.

  • We depart our hotel this morning for Auckland, stopping en route first at the Maungatautari (Sanctuary Mountain), an ancient forest which has been surrounded by the world’s longest predator-proof fence. We’ll explore the ecological sanctuary on a guided bush walk, keeping our eyes peeled for native species of birds, fish, insects, and reptiles (many endangered) that thrive in this lush forest.

    After an included lunch in a local café, we set off to visit a dairy farm in the Waikato region. Agriculture is New Zealand’s biggest industry and dairy farming is one of the primary components. We’ll learn how the farm is run and enjoy a snack with coffee and tea on the farm before continuing on.

    Completing our overland transfer to Auckland, we arrive late this afternoon in the city that a third of all Kiwis call home. It boasts the nation’s most multicultural community with its large European and Asian populations, and no other city on earth has a higher number of people of Polynesian descent. The diverse citizenry is united in their love of outdoor activities, giving the city a cosmopolitan-meets-casual flavor.

    Enjoy dinner on your own this evening.

  • Discover Auckland this morning as we enjoy a motorcoach tour of its highlights. The city is presided over by Maungawhau (Mt. Eden), the highest of the region’s 48 volcanoes (rising 648 feet), but a man-made wonder dominates the skyline: at 1,000 feet, the Sky Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Both are easily visible on morning drive.

    It wouldn’t be a visit to Auckland, the “City of Sails,” without time on the waterfront. One household out of every three owns a registered boat, and the city’s two harbors are full of commercial vessels, sleek yachts, and traditional Maori waka now used for cultural tours.

    You'll have this afternoon to make your own discoveries. You might use your free time to further explore the waterfront, including the America’s Cup Village, or visit one of the city’s green parks. Or perhaps you’ll ascend the Sky Tower for a stroll on a 4-foot perimeter walkway encircling the tower, roughly 640 feet up.

    This evening, we'll enjoy a scenic ferry ride across the Waitemata harbor before gathering for a festive Farewell Dinner. Here, we'll reminisce and toast the memories of our New Zealand adventure.

    • Meals included:

    After a morning at leisure, we transfer to the airport this afternoon for your flight home.

    Australia's Great Barrier Reef & Sydney

    6 nights from only $2345

    A visit “Down Under” isn’t complete without the natural splendors of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the gems of cosmopolitan Sydney. Revel in the myriad colors and vibrant life of the Great Barrier Reef ... Stroll along iconic Sydney Harbour and discover its fascinating history ... This trip combines the best of both worlds.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on New Zealand: Natural Wonders North & South

Read Travel Planning Guide

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