Day 1 - Auckland to Marae Stay via Waitomo
You’ve got your home life, and home friends...and home routine. But this is your chance to leave it all behind. Ready? Meet us in Auckland and say kia ora to your fellow Topdeckers. First stop on our Kiwi adventure: Waitomo Caves. A glowworm-studded labyrinth of underground caves and rivers – this place is like something out of a sci-fi movie. Spend your free time exploring Ruakuri Cave on foot. Cruising through the magical grotto. Or strap in for a unique blackwater rafting experience (disclaimer: you’re gonna get wet). Later, we’ll receive a traditional welcome at the marae (Maori meeting ground) and will tuck into a hangi with the gang. Hear local Maori stories and learn the meaning of whanau as we bunk down in this sacred ancestral meeting place. This is as authentic as it gets.
Day 2 - Rotorua
To say Rotorua has it 'going on' would be the understatement of the century. We're talking: adrenalin-pumping activities, geothermal spas and nerd-central movie sets. And you've got 24hrs to embrace it all. For the LOTR fans (or closet fans), take a walk through Tolkien's dreams at the Hobbiton movie set. Adrenalin junkie? Get your hit on a rapid ride down the mighty Kaituna River. Play Tarzan on a sky-high canopy tour. Or race your trip mates inside a giant Zorb ball (when in NZ, right?). And for you thrill-dodgers, slap on a thermal mud mask and soak up allll the healing properties of Rotorua's sulphur spas. Locals have been using them for over 800 years, so it's gotta have some benefits. Tonight is up to you, so gather the gang and compare today's thrills and spills at one of the local haunts in town.
Day 3 - Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Lake Taupo
Before we make tracks today, there’s a steamy visit to the geothermal valley of Te Puia on the cards. We’ll check out Pohutu (think: poor-hoo-too) – the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and tuck into a traditional hangi lunch with the gang. Then: we’ll make a stop at roaring Huka Falls and play spot-the-extreme-kayaker as they tackle the immense 11-metre plunge down the canyon falls. Finally, we’ll take in the A-Mazing views over Lake Taupo before putting our feet up at our accommodation near Tongariro National Park. What. A. Day. Dinner tonight is on us, so pile up your plate – you’re gonna need it for what’s in store for tomorrow.
Day 4 - Tongariro National Park
Dramatic volcanic peaks dominating the horizon. Rugged terrain that looks like you landed on Mars. And intense turquoise lakes gathered in steep valleys. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best one-day hikes in the world – and it 100% deserves the rep. You’ve got a full day to find your Samwise up Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom), soak up all the I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E views and wish you’d broken in those new hiking boots. If four-wheeled adventuring is more your style – there’s a quad biking excursion on the cards too. Back at base camp, sit back and enjoy the serenity with a cold beverage. You’ve earnt it!
Day 5 - Tongariro National Park to Wellington
Next up: Wellington. Get your bearings around the capital on an orientation tour before we head to Mt Victoria for 360-degree views over the harbour. Then: the rest is up to you. Get your Middle Earth fix at the Weta Workshop. Head to the MAC's Brewbar on the waterfront. Or catch a free tour of parliament. Tonight, dinner is up to you - but with more bars and restaurants per capita than New York, you're not going to be stuck for options. Trust us.
Day 6 - Wellington
You wanted more free time to delve deeper – so this is your chance. Get lost amongst the incredible exhibitions at the Te Papa museum. Take the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens. Grab brunch along Cuba Street. Soak up some rays at Scorching Bay. Get your sugar fix with a Snickers milkshake at Fidel’s Cafe. And spot a kiwi bird (or two) at the Zealandia ecological sanctuary. Tonight: gather the gang, grab some fresh ‘fush and chups’ from The Chippery and head down to the harbour for dinner-with-a-view. This is livin’.
Day 7 - Wellington to Nelson
Wave goodbye to the North Island – we’re heading across the Cook Strait into the gob-smackingly beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Sounds familiar? Chances are you’ve picked up a bottle (or two) of Savvie B from this region. And after docking in picturesque Picton, we’ll get a chance to sample a drop of the good stuff at a local cellar door. Onwards to Nelson! Home of Pic’s Peanut Butter World and some of New Zealand’s most pristine beaches. Settle into our idyllic beach-side accommodation – then a delicious group dinner is on the menu tonight.
Day 8 - Nelson
Free day = your chance to do your own spontaneous this-is-what-I-came-here-for thing. Ever heard of the Abel Tasman National Park? Think: golden sandy beaches. Picturesque turquoise bays. Lush native forests. And cute locals (of the wildlife-kind). Hire a kayak and head out solo. Jump aboard a water taxi and go bay-hopping. Hit the trails and explore on foot. Or let the experts take the lead on a full-day guided tour. Feeling extra? Take in allll the views with a spine-tingling 16,500ft skydive. Tonight, get the gang together for a mean chicken parmi at Smugglers or take a stroll along Tahuna Beach at sunset. This is your moment.
Day 9 - Nelson to Kaikoura
From one stunning coastline to another – we’re making tracks to the East Coast today. Spot the wild fur seals getting their tan on as we roll into B-E-A-Utiful Kaikoura. Then? Channel your inner Little Mermaid on an optional swim with the local dusky dolphins. Or watch their acrobatics from above deck – they’re total show offs. Later: soak up the laid back atmosphere in town, take a hike around the peninsula for sunset or get your butt down to one of the seafood caravans on the foreshore for some fresher-than-fresh crayfish. Fact: Kaikoura literally translates to ‘eat crayfish’ – so you know it’s gonna be good.
Day 10 - Kaikoura to Christchurch
Next stop: the South Island's largest city. After having most of the CBD demolished by a devastating earthquake in 2011, the city has rebuilt itself into a VIBING hub of quirky bars, restaurants and cafes. After getting the run-about-town with our Trip Leader, you’ll have the rest of the afternoon off to do whatever you want. Need some suggestions? Head to Little High Eatery: a hip marketplace full of locally run food trucks. After, gather the gang and head to Rockpool for pool tables and a pumping d-floor.
Day 11 - Christchurch to Franz Josef Glacier region via Hokitika
One minute you’re sipping lattes in the city, ‘nek minnit’ you’re off to one of New Zealand’s most famous glaciers. But first: a stop at historic Hokitika. Head to the beach and find the quirky sculpture made by the locals. Buy a pounamu (greenstone) for good luck. And give ‘mountain oysters’ a try (hint: Google it first). We’ll make a photo stop at Lake Matheson to make your friends back home jealous AF – before rolling into the jaw-dropping Franz Josef Glacier region. After grabbing dinner in town, you could seek out the resident glow worms on an after-dark adventure – just ask your in-the-know Trip Leader.
Day 12 - Franz Josef Glacier region to Queenstown
Rise and shine! If the weather is good, you'll have the chance to explore this chilly playground on an optional Heli-hike. Strap on your crampons and pile into the chopper - we'll head up to 800m above sea level to explore the maze of ice formations with an expert local guide. Or go all-out with a scenic flight that'll leave you with goosebumps and a full camera roll. Then: we'll turn our attention to the adventure capital of the world. Get the lay of the land with your Trip Leader, then spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the bay area or holed up in World Bar - with world-famous teapot cocktails, it's the perfect spot to make a plan for next three days.
Day 13 - Queenstown
f Queenstown had a Tinder profile it would read: fun-filled outdoor enthusiast – looking for a fellow adrenalin junkie to share adventures with. And be filled with pics of people throwing themselves off extreme heights. Swiping right? Hell yes! Skydiving. Bungy jumping. Jet boating. White water rafting. Canyon swinging. You want it, this place has it. And you’ve got 24hrs to embrace it all. DW if all the above makes you want to run and hide – there’s more here than death-defying antics. Take the skyline gondola for some incred views over Lake Wakatipu. Race your Topdeck buddies on the sky-high luge track. Jump aboard the TSS Earnslaw for a scenic cruise. Or strap on those Nikes and hike the Ben Lomond Saddle Loop – the views are worth the sore legs in the morning. Trust us. Tonight, head to Winnies and tuck into pizzas with toppings you can’t prepare for – they’re that good.
Day 14 - Queenstown including Milford Sound
Today, we’ll take a break from all the high-octane screaming with a day trip to the mesmerising Milford Sound. Plaster your face to the window as we take the scenic route through Fiordland National Park. Then, the main event: a cruise on the Milford fjord complete with thundering waterfalls, razor-edge cliffs and resident seals. This place is National Geographic on steroids (like Schwarzenegger steroids). Tuck into lunch on board surrounded by a view you’ll tell your children ( or 12 cats) about for years to come. Then, back in Queenstown – gather the gang and see if the nightlife here really lives up to the rep.
Day 15 - Queenstown
Didn’t tick everything off? We’ve got your back – here’s another free day we prepared earlier. Head into Mount Aspiring National Park on a Wilderness Jet adventure. Jump in a funyak down the Dart River (like a kayak, but better). Or conquer the wild Shotover River on an adrenalin-pumping whitewater rafting experience. If you’d rather cruise in the slow-lane, sip your way through the Otago region on a wine tour or get your Fergburger take-away and head up to Queenstown Gardens for stunning views over The Remarkables. Tonight, we’ll get the gang together for an included dinner. Then? Head to the Cookie Bar. We’re talking: warm cookies, freakshakes, s’more, ice-cream...*wipes drool from chin*.
Day 16 - Queenstown to Lake Ohau via Arrowtown
Ok, nobody panic – the adventure is coming to a close. But we’re sure as hell not done yet! Set the course for Arrowtown and stretch out those calves – there’s a cycle along the banks of the historic Arrow River in store for today. Venture through some ‘holy-sh*t’-worthy scenery, cross awe-inspiring suspension bridges and try not to stack it in front of your trip mates. Then: press your nose to the window and soak up all the stunning views racing past the coach window as we make our way to our lakeside-lodge for the night. Nestled between towering mountains and overlooking the sparkling lake, this is the perfect place to spend the last night of our Kiwi encounter. We’re gonna give this trip the send-off it deserves at tonight’s final group dinner.
Day 17 - Lake Ohau to Christchurch via Lake Tekapo
Squeeze in one last pano at Lake Tekapo before we make tracks for Christchurch. 17 days. 2 islands. 1 country. Countless thrills, spills and good times. One HUGE adventure. You embraced it all and shared the ride with a bunch of strangers who are now like family. But it’s time to say goodbye. Reunion trip next year? 100%.
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