“Back to Life” New Zealand Vacation

A 10 day trip to New Zealand 
4.85 out of 5 stars
236 reviews

New Zealand is a spectacular country from the northern beaches of the North Island to the southern fiords of the South Island. This 10-day trip will show you the lush land, opulent waters, and friendly people that give vitality to Kiwi life and make the country shine with excitement. Whether summer, spring, winter, or autumn, the thrill of New Zealand is not just from its extreme sports but comes from its core, its indelible and ineffable beauty. Exploring New Zealand allows you to not just see what makes the country stunning, but allows you to experience what makes its world effervescent. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Northland and the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Dunedin, Central Otago, Queenstown, Milford Sound

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures. 

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: The Journey Begins

Your New Zealand vacation begins as you arrive in Auckland and take a brief and scenic flight to the Northland Region of New Zealand to visit the Bay of Islands. From the air, enjoy the incredible waterways of the North Island as they sparkle in the sunshine below. The lush green gives way to beautiful beaches as the water laps along the sand. The light blue of shallow water merges with the dark blue of deeper water as sailboats are interspersed through the bay. This is the land known to be the “Birthplace” of New Zealand life, where the first Maori sailed to in traditional migratory canoes from Hawaiki, the mythological origin of the Maori people. The beauty of the boats wading in the sea shows how much a part of the culture sailing remains to be. Arrive at your accommodation and settle into the luxurious comfort of the Bay of Islands.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Let Your Life Begin

The waters are scattered with more than 150 small islands that are alive with lush green foliage. The Bay of Islands is a result of rising sea levels after the last ice age. Travel by boat to reach the islands and then wander through their networks of trails. The Bay of Islands is an exceptional visit full of adventures to remind you that experience is the ultimate reward. Walk along the lush forest where branches hang over the path and the smell of cedar is strong along the walkway, until you reach Haruru Falls. If you are lucky enough to visit after a heavy rain, Haruru resembles a miniature Niagara Falls spread over the rock face and tumbling into the water below. The cool mist rises from the falls and sprays the air. However, these falls are easily scaled and enjoyable whether lounging in the river on top or the calm pool below.

Venture onto Urupukapuka Island and Otehei Bay, on the outer reaches of the Bay of Islands, to explore the colorful world that lives beneath the sapphire water. The water is warm and clear adding its soft hue to the world below. Blue dolphins flip around the sea. Stingrays glide through and along the water’s soft sub-surface current. The quiet sound that fills your ears is the crashing waves and motor boats giving you the swift realization of where you are and the world that you’re experiencing. Schools of fish swim in the distance and cast shadows in the ocean. This is the New Zealand most people never experience. This is the world where life thrives.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 3: Vibrant Urban Life

Today you will make your way south along a gorgeous scenic route that will take you to Auckland. Wind through forest green often filled with the scent of freshly wet bark. Move along the coast with the water crashing along the rocks below, before reaching the city.  Sky Tower stretches above the Auckland skyline, the tallest free-standing building in the Southern Hemisphere. The city is a virtual melting pot of European, South Pacific, and Asian cultures giving the city an abundance of unique dining and shopping options. For a local taste of Auckland try the always-popular One Tree Grill, located just outside the city. The seared Atlantic scallops are cooked to perfection, accompanied by tender smoked eel, cool gazpacho, and delectable cauliflower turmeric puree. Every bite is a reminder of how good a meal could and should be. Every bite is a reminder of how the lovely little details of life can make such a charming impact.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Seaside Living

Auckland’s seaside location has fostered a boating lifestyle for many of its locals. The boats decorate the harbors and, when the weather is right, the ships drift out of the harbor; sails lift into the air, catch the wind and glide along the water giving the city the name “City of Sails.” Dormant volcanoes peak along the horizon. A collection of islands is strewn throughout the Hauraki Gulf like seeds scattered across a field.

Take a ferry through the Hauraki Gulf and visit Rangitoto Island Scenic Reserve. A short ferry ride across the water will bring you to the area’s youngest volcano. The fresh seawater crashes along the rocky shore. The lava flow over the years has created rugged fields that contrast with the dense forest making for an intense landscape. Whether with a subterranean exploration or a hike to the volcano’s peak, the island will have your adventurous spirit soaring. A visit to the volcano’s summit brings a 360-degree view of the island and it’s surroundings. Auckland’s skyline sits on the horizon, the Sky Tower standing tall over the city. The trees sway in the breeze. The water’s crush can be heard from the peak. The craggy lava field stretches downward. The bushes and trees reach upward, and you are standing atop them all.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 5: South Island Lifestyle

Today you will fly from Auckland in the North Island to Dunedin on the South Island. Dunedin is a city known for its incredible conservation of its Victorian and Edwardian architecture. It is also known for having New Zealand’s only castle. The rugged coastal shores of Dunedin are just as beautiful as the city’s architecture. The water is a bright blue in the sunlight and crashes along the rocky cliffs. Mist climbs into the air. The salty sea mixes with the scent of limestone below. Visit the “most romantic spot in Dunedin” by making your way to Tunnel Beach. The water laps around the sand at low tide where you can wander through a sandstone sea arch, bright in the afternoon sun, surrounded by steep cliffs on ether side.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 6 – Enjoying the Wild(life)

The sun rises over the shimmering water and warms the city streets. Wander around the beautiful architecture and lovely gardens of the city. A part of the city is known as the Octagon for how the neighborhood was built and divided. The neighborhood’s center boasts beautiful fountains that spring water from the ground, shooting into the air and cooling a hot day. The city’s university is an impressive display of Edwardian architecture, made of stone and spires, stretching along the grass and looming over the beautifully blossomed garden in New Zealand’s warm months. In the colder months the building is blanketed with snow as if the gray striped building had been painted white for the winter.

Eventually the day will guide you away from Dunedin to visit the impressive natural wonders of Otago Peninsula. Your guides will take you through the history of the preserve pointing out the life that has inhabited the peninsula for as long as anyone can remember. Mixed with the lush green and gold straw of prairies, the pristine blue of uninhibited waters, and the cool packed sand, the peninsula boasts the beauties of life, of nature and the wild. Yellow-eyed penguins inhabit the shore. Known for the yellow stripe that circles their eyes, the penguins are only found in New Zealand and prefer to nest in forest or dense shrubbery. Blue Penguins, Fur seals, Royal albatross, and Hooker’s sea lions all call the peninsula home and live in the harmonious world of Otago.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 7: Royal (Life)Style

Depart Dunedin and begin making your way to Queenstown. Along the way, stop in Central Otago to experience the stunning beauty and rich history of the region. The Clutha River is the second longest river in New Zealand and cuts through the Roxburgh Gorge.  Take the river cruise to see as much of the sites as you can in the stunning green that surrounds the gorge. The water fluctuates between emerald green and opal blue as the light of the day shifts in the sky. The riverbanks are strewn with ruins of mining camps from New Zealand’s gold rush, from the stone remains of a dinning hall to the remnants of stone huts built from schist, a metamorphic rock that can be broken into thin pieces. The river cruise ends and you continue to make your way to Queenstown where you can nuzzle into the comforts of the city and your New Zealand lifestyle.

What’s Included: tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 8: A Life of Exploration

The beauty of Queenstown is not just the quaint city nestled between the pristine Lake Wakatipu and the looming Bob’s Peak, but is also held within the lake, the peak, and the city’s outskirts. Explore the wonders of the city and its surroundings, whether by taking the gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak or by drifting across the calm water of Wakatipu. The breeze sweeps down from the mountain bringing the smell of fresh brush to the water. For a unique and stunning experience, a hot air balloon will carry you over all of Queenstown, higher than Bob’s Peak, higher than the steepest gondola in the Southern Hemisphere, over the blue beauty of Wakatipu, and beyond. The trees morph into one single green mass. The mountains begin to shrink into hills. The lake contracts and the rolling vineyards of the surrounding valley begin to look like one single prairie. Just when you thought the New Zealand air couldn’t be fresher and the scenery couldn’t be better, the balloon brings your view of the South Island to new heights. Float atop the mountain peaks, the Southern Alps texturing the horizon, until the sun begins to fade behind the mountains, taking the bright blue day with it.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation

Day 9: Touch the Life of Milford Sound

Today you will venture away from Queenstown for the day and into the depths of Fiordland National Park to the unparalleled Milford Sound. Arriving at the sound brings the water before you, cupped by the steep mountains that roll into the sky. Mitre Peak sits at the far end of the sound and reflects off of calm and unspoiled water. Climb aboard the cruise ship and venture out onto the sound where the calm ocean waters aren’t the only wonder that you will see today. The boat feels small amongst the mountains. Let a cup of coffee warm your hands as the cold air bites at your cheeks. Stirling Falls speeds down the mountain and off the steep cliff falling into the sound, kicking up the mist and bringing with it a thunderous clap. Bottlenose dolphins are common in Milford Sound and are often seen taking flight, hopping out of the water, kicking their back fin into the air and diving back into the water, showing off to the people. Milford Sound is the show of a lifetime where the landscape takes your breath away, the wildlife gives your breath back, and the wonders of the sound never cease to amaze.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation

Day 10: Rejuvenation

Enjoy part of the day in Queenstown; roam the lakeside streets as the smell of fresh water in the breeze comes off the lake. The antiquated-style gas lamps line the streets and give a greater ambiance to the lovely alpine town. Eventually you will make your way to the Queenstown Airport to depart for home, but in the meantime are able to watch the locals walk along the road, lift up the gondola, cruise across the lake, and sit café-side sipping fresh coffee. New Zealand reminds people of the life that surrounds them, the stunning landscapes, the vibrant birds, the mischievous dolphins, and the joy you can get from the simple pleasures, like sitting down and watching the world pass by. New Zealand isn’t just full of life; it rejuvenates your whole soul.

What’s Included: transfer 

If you want more time in New Zealand, consider adding on to your trip. Browse the New Zealand travel reviews for ideas and traveler reviews.


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.