The Classic New Zealand Discovery Tour

A 11 day trip to New Zealand 
4.7 out of 5 stars
126 reviews

The best of New Zealand is hidden within the island nation’s landscapes, within its people, and within its diversity. Venture through the North and South Islands to experience the highlights of a different world. The geysers erupt, sending mist into the air. Maori warriors chant beneath the night sky. The Waitomo Caves glow natural light in their deepest depths. Find the sensational wonders before you, where the sights and sounds you’ve always thought of shine bright on this adventure through New Zealand’s highlights. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Maori cultural performance, Rotorua.
Beautiful Milford Sound on New Zealand's South Island.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown, Christchurch, Kaikora, Milford Sound 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: A Highlighted Arrival

Arrive in Christchurch and experience the majesty of the Garden City. The sweet scent of blossomed tulips perfumes the streets. Victorian architecture decorates the city. The hum of trolley cars passes along the city center. You can hear the gentle trickle of the Avon River as it meanders through the parks and around the streets. Whether its venturing through the various gardens on foot or drifting along the Avon River with the soft scent of spring always in the air, Christchurch is the perfect city to welcome you to New Zealand and the South Island.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation  

Day 2: Exploring the Gardens

Wander down the cobblestone streets of the city center and take in the exceptional wonders of the city, partly still suffering from crippling earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. The vibrant life of the city can be felt in the hum of the trolley cars and the perseverance of its locals. The Christchurch Cathedral stands tall in the city center with a stone façade and towering spire. The rose window adorns the front giving bright light to the cathedral’s interior, and sparkling décor to the exterior. Wander along the aisles as the church is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. The arched ceiling gives the interior an expansive feeling that stretches from the doors to the dais. Whether a walking tour of the city’s architecture or a visit to the Antarctic Centre, there are always countless opportunities to explore, and numerous sights to see.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 3: Alpine Charm

Today you will depart from the charm of the Garden City and experience the undulating diversity of the New Zealand landscape. As you travel south towards Queenstown you will come across the shores of Lake Tekapo. The peak of Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, hovers over the plateau. The lake glows a crystal-clear blue, reflecting Mount Cook and the surrounding ranges off of its water. The Church of the Good Shepherd sits along the shores of the lake and frames the water, the prairie, and the distant mountains within the panorama of the dais. The sweet scent of lupines flows along the water. The crisp air brushes against your cheeks.

Continue to Queenstown and arrive in the charming luxuries of the alpine city. The streets are quaint and inviting as the gentle water of Lake Wakatipu laps at the edges of the city. The minty scent of juniper blows in with the breeze off the foothills of Bob’s Peak. Queenstown is best known for its adventurous activities but offers so much more than just adventure; the city offers luxury, beauty, relaxation, and access to the splendor of its surroundings. 

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Queenstown Safari

Today you will venture through the diverse landscape of Otago on a jet boat safari through the Dart River. Depart from Glenorchy where the history of gold prospectors and explorers still decorate the surrounding hills and riverbanks, along with shining in the elements of the hamlet’s pioneering past. As the boat begins to speed through the river you can feel it dance effortlessly on the ripples of the crystal-clear water. Snow-capped mountains stretch along the river, giving way to cascading waterfalls that melt into lush valleys. The sweet scent of the mountains fills the wind. The crisp mist brushes your cheeks. The stunning landscape stretches and winds around you, highlighting the unquestionable majesty of New Zealand.

Tonight the Skyline Gondola will carry you up the steepest gondola ride in the Sothern Hemisphere and up to Bob's Peak. Queenstown drops away below you as the forests that decorate the mountain come closer and Lake Wakatipu glistens in the sunset. Enjoy breathtaking views that extend from Coronet Peak around to the Remarkables Mountain Range. The scent of juniper forests gives way to the succulent perfume of a buffet dinner. Relax in the comforts of the night as the lights of the city below mimic the stars above.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation, dinner

Day 5: Majestic Milford Sound

Today you will venture into the depths of Fiordland National Park to experience the wonders of Milford Sound. Board the boat and begin your journey through the scenery where the silent beauty of the sound gives way to the thunderous crash of cascading waterfalls. Float past lush forests that fill the foothills that drop beneath the water’s surface. Mitre Peak rises one full mile into the sky, dwarfing the boat and piercing the sky. Watch along the boat’s edges, as dolphins are known to play in the wake of the boat, speed along with the ship, and jump into the air showing off for the passengers on board. No matter the season, Milford Sound is nothing less than breathtaking, always impressive, always sensational, and always a highlight.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation, lunch

Day 6: Alpine Leisure

The day is yours to venture in and around Queenstown’s alpine scenery. Queenstown is much more than the adrenaline rush many know it as. Whether exploring the hiking paths around Bob’s Peak or relaxing in luxurious heated pools beneath the stars, Queenstown is filled with stunning wonders and sensational activities. For a delicious taste of New Zealand you can wander outside of Queenstown and through the Otago wine trail. The lush green of the vines wrap around bark like bushels and stretch over foothills, which gives the wines and vineyards unique and diverse flavors. The rolling hills spread into surrounding mountains. Sit on the veranda and feel the gentle valley breeze rush along the vines. The scent of earth and grapes rises from the grass. Sip the luscious Amisfield Pinot Noir 2011, and let the baking spices and fine oak perfume the air. The silky spice coats your tongue as the sun glistens on the dew of the vineyard, giving you another highlight of your trip, and another sweet moment to remember.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 7: Alpine Living to Cultural Capital

Today you will fly from the alpine luxury of Queenstown to Rotorua, the cultural capital of New Zealand. Within the city center the disparity between the European resort history and the Maori cultural history is apparent. The streets are lined with balconies adorning Victorian architecture, as geometric railings stretch the lengths of the terrace. The city is rich with both Maori and European history, culture, and significance as you can practically hear geysers erupt in the distance. The cool breeze drifts through the streets. Steam rises from the geothermal lakes. The evidence of the earth’s spectacular beauty and power are present and prevalent in Rotorua, and ready for you to explore.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation, tour, dinner

Day 8: The Landscape of Culture

Parts of the city of Rotorua sizzle and steam from the immense geothermal activity that bubbles beneath the surface. Today you will enjoy a visit to the Government Gardens where the manicured grounds secure a peaceful and elegant portion of the landscape within the steam and undulating world that surrounds the city. Roses and tulips blossom and shine like various shades of lipstick in the sunshine. Native trees shade you from the warm day, dangling their branches and spreading their leaves along the tranquil pathways. You can almost hear the geothermal fields that surround the gardens, sizzling, bubbling, and sprouting water.

The Rotorua Museum is located within the Edwardian elegance of Government Gardens. Situated within the antique beauty of the Bath House, the Rotorua Museum is filled with the essence of Rotorua, where the people, culture, and history come to vibrant life. Stories and legends that have shaped Rotorua open up the deeper connection between the land and its people, from the creation myth of the islands to the erupting nature of the geysers. The cultural history of the land and its people are yours to experience in the cultural capital.

Continue your exploration of the city with a visit to the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve with a knowledgeable Maori guide. The mud pools bubble from the subterranean heat; mineral springs shine a translucent blue against limestone rocks; geysers, like Pohutu erupt into the sky, spreading mist into the air like clouds before crashing down onto the weatherworn terrain. Visit the Kiwi House where the nocturnal kiwi, New Zealand's national and most famous bird, stretches its long legs and longer beak. Learn about the bird’s significance to the Maori people, along with the current efforts to conserve the kiwi for future generations as it struggles to grow its population in its current endangered plight. As the light of the day winds into the sparkling stars of the night you will make your way back to your accommodation and settle into the comforts of the evening.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation

Day 9: A Large Glow to New Zealand’s Largest City

Today you will depart from Rotorua and begin making your way to New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. As you pass the lush forests of the North Island the minty perfume of pine trees lingers in the air. The forests give way to flatlands filled with the fluff of grazing sheep and the rich farms. You will stop at the Waitomo Caves and follow your guide into the mouth of the cave, through the swarming darkness, and deep into the heart of New Zealand’s earth. The limestone is cool and glossy against your fingers. The sound of trickling water echoes off of the smooth cavernous walls. Follow your guide and climb aboard the boat, taking you deeper into the heart of the cave as the water pulses around you. The depths of the cavern give way to a bright glow in the distance. The walls open up and bring you into an open grotto where lights dangle from the ceiling, around stalactites and stalagmites, and cling to the walls. You have entered the Glowworm Grotto where the natural luminescence of the worms shines in the heart of the caves. Linger amongst the glow before exiting Waitomo and continuing onto Auckland.

As you arrive in Auckland you will see the sparkle of the city as the sun begins to set behind the horizon. The harbors are filled with boats wading in the calm sea, giving Auckland the title “City of Sails.” The city opens itself to you as the largest and most diverse city in New Zealand. The streets are perfumed with the sea breeze, fresh coffee, and rich restaurants that make your mouth water. Arrive at your luxurious accommodation and settle in for the evening with the sails of the city billowing along the water like kites.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation  

Day 10: Highlighting the Highlights

Today you will venture through Auckland to see its incredible wonders up close. Your guided tour begins with a visit to Sky Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The tower stretches into the sky giving depth and color to the Auckland skyline, almost piercing the sky with its space needle. Travel to the top of the building and watch as the city and the country expand before you. Whether looking down through the glass floor panels or out onto the observation deck, the boats drift along the horizon sailing around islands and beneath the Auckland Bridge; the largest city in New Zealand seems calm as the gentle wind brushes through your hair.

Your tour of Auckland continues with a visit to Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World. Visit the sensational life of the world beneath the waves without ever having to step into the water. Dip your fingers into the Stingray Pool and let the cool water wrap around your skin as the slick body of the stingray passes beneath your hand. Wander beneath the aquarium where you can watch colorful fish and large sharks swim over and around you. The world underwater gives you the chance to experience the beauty of New Zealand that would otherwise be unavailable, where the colors of fish twirl, sharks swim at a safe distance away, and the highlights of more than one world have been unveiled, and is nothing less than captivating.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour

Day 11: The Greatness of Highlights

Today you will make your way to the Auckland Airport for your flight home. Your journey through New Zealand brought with it the highlights of the North and South Islands, where the mountain peaks ran along the length of the sky, waters shined an indescribable blue, and the earth itself sizzled and smoked. Your experience in New Zealand has created the greatest of memories by showcasing the best of the North and South, but there will always be more to see, more to do, and more memories to create if you wanted to stay and explore a while longer. For ideas on how to extend your trip, be sure to read the travel reviews for New Zealand vacations.

What’s Included: transfer



Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized New Zealand tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $350 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $250 per person per day

The customized package will include accommodations, airport transfers and other transportation within New Zealand, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.