North to South Island Discovery: New Zealand

Milford Sound

Departures: New Zealand

New Zealand North to South Island Discovery

New Zealand is a land of discovery – a paradise for outdoors enthusiasts – with so much to see and do in two diverse islands. Discover the subtropical forests, golden beaches, and thermal geysers of the North Island, and mountainous peaks, ancient glaciers, majestic fjords, and tranquil countrysides of the South Island. Because New Zealand has existed for millions of years separate from the rest of the world, it has evolved its own unique flora and fauna. Seventy percent of the country’s native plants are found nowhere else in the world. Experience the hospitality, kindness and rich cultural history of the Maori peoples, fly over and cruise through Milford Sound, see the beautiful eco thermal volcanic activity in Rotorua, and more on this 12-day adventure.


We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit communities where it’s most needed. For this trip, we will donate to DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, a humanitarian-aid organization that provides ongoing emergency medical aid around the world.


*$5,790 per person

For more information and to get started, contact us at How to Book.


12 Days, 11 Nights


Day 1-2

Arrive Auckland

On arrival in Auckland, you will be met and transferred to your accommodations in Auckland (the “City of Sails”) to check in. Lose one day due to travel.

A 30-minute drive from downtown Auckland brings you to the Arataki Centre – perched high in the Waitakere Ranges, a fringe of hills separates Auckland from its surf-fringed west coast where you will embark on an eco tour. Panoramic views from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean, local Maori history and traditional carvings, and more of the lush rainforest along this rugged coast await. Because New Zealand has existed for millions of years separate from the rest of the world, it has evolved its own unique flora and fauna. Seventy percent of the country’s native plants are found nowhere else in the world.


Day 3

Waiheke Island

Today, cruise to Waiheke Island through the beautiful Hauraki Gulf to spend the day exploring this stunning island just off the Auckland coast. The island boasts 92 square km of beautiful beaches, vineyards, olive groves, native bush and laid back seaside villages. Experience succulent fresh New Zealand oysters, award-winning olive oil and other locally-produced specialty foods, accompanied by wines from some of the island’s top boutique vineyards.

New Zealand Drive

Day 4

Rotorua’s Waitamo Caves

Rotorua is the centre of an extensive thermal region. Geysers, bubbling mud pools, and steaming sulphureous lakes scrap the surface of the extensive geothermal activity and ther natural attractions this destination is known for.

Spend the day exploring glowworms and cave formations up close, taking in the beauty of Footwhistle Cave (also known to local maori as Te Anaroa Cave). Around a corner lie the bones of one of New Zealand’s lost treasures, the ancient Moa. Formation lights cast a warm glow over the stunning cave formations as the guide tells of the insect life that lives here – titiwai, the glow worm, and tuna, the eel. After enjoying a relaxed stroll through the cave, take a seat in Footwhistle’s Cathedral to see it lit up by a dazzling magnesium torch.


Day 5


Choose to bike half the day away on a self-guided tour through the Redwoods or visit Rotorua’s most natural and popular geothermal parks; Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. The geothermal heritage parks offer a variety of thermal activity including the famous Lady Know geyser at Wai-O-Tapu. At Waimangu Volcanic valley, learn about the Mt. Tarawera eruption, native flora and fauna, and the geothermal features which were blown open in 1886.

This afternoon, visit the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve with a Maori guide. Stop at bubbling mud pools, mineral springs, silica formations and shooting geysers. Visit the Kiwi House with the opportunity to see the nocturnal Kiwi, New Zealand’s national bird. See the model village and explore the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute before the Te Po – Maori concert and Hangi dinner.


Day 6


Explore Wellington’s valley by torchlight as your guide leads you in search of some of the more distinctive sights and sounds of New Zealand’s native forest. Experience many of the rare and endangered species and see those which only come out at night such as the 130 little spotted kiwi who call ZEALANDIA home. Gain insights into New Zealand’s natural history and the significance of the unique species within the Maori culture.


Day 7

Wellington & Te Papa Museum

Visit the Te Papa Museum for an overview of what makes New Zealand unique. Explore its diverse natural environment, Mäori culture and treasures, and art and colonial history, and discover this vibrant land, its dynamic culture, and the spirit of its people. At conclusion of your Highlights tour, enjoy the exhibitions of Te Papa Museum at your own pace.

Interisland Ferry

Day 8

Ferry to Nelson

Board the Interislander Ferry and travel to New Zealand’s South Island. Arrive in sunny Nelson; with 2,400 hours of annual sun, it lives up to its nickname. The province has interesting topographical contrasts, from rugged mountains to extensive alluvial flats, rough grazing land to intensive close backed farming, and desolation to virgin forest. Nelson is the commercial center and seaport for a fertile, highly productive and extremely beautiful district noted for growing fruit and hops as well as general agricultural and vineyards. With three National Parks on its outer fringes, Nelson is a great base for those who enjoy the outdoors. The region is also home to around 350 artists; enjoy an enviable reputation for a vibrant arts scene.

Abel Tasman National Park

Day 9

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is world famous for its golden sand beaches, turquoise waters, completely unmodified estuaries, lush bush to the high tide mark and the excellent walking tracks. Today’s fully guided journey interprets the less obvious features such as the early settler activity as well as Maori history and the endless stories that abound here, especially from the rich variety of vegetation, birds and aquatic life.


Day 10


Fly to Queenstown located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a year-round alpine resort nestled in a magnificent setting amid steep mountain ranges and pockets of native bush with the jagged peaks of the Remarkables Range rising from the lake. The town is compact enough to travel around on foot and features a great range of restaurants, bars and boutique stores. The lake was created by glacial action thousands of years ago and a mysterious phenomenon causes the lake to vary several inches in depth every few minutes, giving credence to a Maori legend of an ancient Taniwha (demon) still breathing beneath the surface.


Day 11

Milford Sound

Your scenic helicopter ride descends through carved glacial valleys to Milford Sound. Join an informative cruise on the fjord accompanied by your pilot. Experience an alpine landing on the way home.

Dart River

Day 12

Dart River

Begin with a jet boat trip up the Dart River with all the thrills of a classic braided shallow river excursion. Discover why this area is so rare and special with its 80 million year-old ecology. You’ll then disembark and continue your journey in an inflatable canoe, paddling and drifting downstream with your guide providing insight to the awe-inspiring sights and stories found amidst the Dart River’s sparkling channels. Stop amongst the ancient Beech Forest and take the opportunity to explore the hidden side streams, rock pools and dramatic chasms such as the beautiful Rockburn. Afterwards, continue downstream to ‘Paradise,’ from where you’ll return to Glenorchy by coach via a back-country route through stunning scenery and locations that have inspired movies world-wide.

White Island

Day 13

Depart Home

Wave goodbye to New Zealand! Hotel pick up and private car transfer to the Queenstown Airport for your flight home.

For pricing and hotel information, contact us at How to Book. The specifics of this itinerary are subject to change based on local conditions at the discretion of Ponte Travels.

• Rates shown are per person, double occupancy. Airfare not included.