Jump aboard and take off with us as we take you to the must-see highlights of South Island on this epic snow adventure. We offer the best of both worlds giving you the opportunity to ski or snowboard at up to 4 different fields while showing you the best winter locations in New Zealand.
All about the 28 Day Ultimate Explorer Christchurch to Christchurch Tour
You will visit so many places on this tour the list is rather long...so here we go:
Stunning Bay of Islands
Golden beaches of Coromandel
Thermal mud pools of Rotorua
Cruise the Marlborough Sounds
Character cities of Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland
Infamous Mount Cook
Adrenalin rush of Queenstown
Picturesque Abel Tasman National Park
The natural beauty of Kaikoura
The spectacular Milford Sound
Real Lord of the Rings country
The lush vineyards and hilly pastures of Picton and Marlborough
Cultural and historical treasures
New Zealand’s World Heritage Sites
The nation's capital - Wellington
The wild west coast of the South Island
The wildlife spotting paradise of Otago Peninsula
Numerous remote locations that other tours and tourists don't reach
Wow! So many awesome places to see in New Zealand over 28 days on tour.
There are also so many free activities on this tour. Kiwis are such a generous bunch all those listed below are free for everyone on the Ultimate Explorer tour Christchurch to Christchurch! Tongariro Crossing (bus transfer not included), glow worm walks, Te Papa museum, Wellington Botanical Gardens, heaps of free hikes, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks walk, seal gumboot, gumboot throwing, Abel Tasman National Park walk, Lake Matheson mirror lake, Tekapo Church of Good Shepherd, Kauri forest walks, Huka Falls, Waitomo museum, Hokitika greenstone factory, dig your own thermal pool on Hot Water beach (we provide the spades!), explore the Bay of Islands region and more.
With bikes on board, you have the chance to cycle as much, or as little, as you want. We cover a huge range of rides along the coast, by lakes, through mountain landscapes, downhill, uphill and even across hill - there is something for everyone and every fitness level.
There are a number of World famous highlights on this New Zealand trip- Milford Sound, Queenstown, Rotorua to name a few and we make sure to experience the best these spots have to offer. However, what makes this trip totally unique is exploring the lesser known spots that other tour groups don't visit. Whether it's a secret glow-worm walk at night, a lush rainforest-fringed pool for a dip, a bike ride along deserted roads hugging the coast or a local cafe that serves quite possibly the best muffins in New Zealand we have found the best secret spots - we know you will love them just try not to tell too many others!
28 Day Ultimate Explorer Christchurch to Christchurch Tour Itinerary - 28 days
Christchurch to Rangitata
Leaving Christchurch at 2:30pm we travel towards the Southern Alps with fantastic views across the Canterbury Plains – real Lord of the Rings country! Tonight’s unique camp is at the Shearer’s Headquarters (an actual operating farm) located at the foot of the Southern Alps. Meal(s) included : Dinner
Rangitata to Lake Pukaki
Wake up to mountain views and refresh yourself even more with the chance to try white water rafting on the mighty Rangitata River! If rafting isn’t for you then no problem - soak it all in with a morning cycle or walk through the Peel forest. We then head through more jaw-dropping landscapes (they don’t stop in the South Island) to the picture postcard, Lake Tekapo. Here you will view the most spectacular turquoise waters which get their colour from the glacial flour brought down from the rivers flowing from glaciers high up in the mountains. From there we head to one of our best wilderness camps – sitting on the shores of Lake Pukaki you can set up your tent and take in the views of the lake with New Zealand’s highest peak Aoraki/Mt Cook visible in the distance. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook and Moeraki
Immerse yourself in the snow-capped mountain scenery that New Zealand is famous for and explore Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Hike to the base of NZ’s highest mountain following a trail up the Hooker valley where you’ll cross swing bridges and get stunning views of the mountains before finishing up at a glacial lake with views of the Hooker Valley glacier. We then travel back towards the Pacific coast for a quick stop in the historic town of Oamaru before continuing onwards to the small village of Moeraki. Walk to a great viewpoint offering expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and try to spot a little Blue Penguin along the shore. If you have a bike it’s possible to visit a colony of extremely rare Yellow-eyed Penguins near to camp. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Moeraki to Dunedin
Before travelling south, we make a stop at the nearby Moeraki Boulders and then it’s onto the historic Scottish city of Dunedin, the South Island's second-largest city. This southern city is home to the world’s steepest residential street and the coastline is home to some fantastic and rare wildlife. It’s possible to take a tour onto the Otago Peninsula to view some of this diverse wildlife which includes Albatross and Fur Seals. For the adventurous why not try surfing at one of Dunedin’s best breaks! Our camp is a short distance from the beach with a variety of restaurants close by to choose from. Meal(s) included : Breakfast
Dunedin to Fiordland National Park
Today is one of our longer travel days as we drive through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic natural scenery on our way to Fiordland. Large parts of the landscape have been carved out over thousands of years to leave stunning paths that weave through snow-capped mountains. We stop briefly in Te Anau, the hub and gateway town for Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound and your last chance to get supplies for those doing the Routeburn Track tomorrow. From Te Anau we make our way into the gigantic Fiordland National Park, encompassing some 12,500km2 it is New Zealand’s largest National Park. Tonight’s camp is a pretty special place in the heart of the Hollyford Valley, established in the 1930s. You can learn more about the history of the camp at the onsite museum. Cyclists have the chance to cycle to camp through some great native bush and walkers can do some nice short walks from camp (ask your guide about the secret glow worm trails). Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Dinner
Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound and Te Anau
Travel one of the world’s most scenic routes into Milford Sound! Described as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. We highly recommend taking in the boat trip on Milford Sound with dramatic waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and possible wildlife spotting of dolphins, penguins and seals! As it’s just the one road in and out, we head back along the same breath-taking route to our lakeside camp in Te Anau. Along the way, we drop off those doing the 3-day Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. This 3-day hike passes through two National Parks and is a haven for native bird life. Charge up your camera as this hike offers everything from mountainous peaks and sheer rock faces to pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls and dense, luxuriant forest. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Lunch
Te Anau to Queenstown
Today we journey to Queenstown along the shores of the photogenic Lake Wakatipu. Once we arrive at the adventure capital of New Zealand you can enjoy spectacular views, a free Gondola ride and a huge selection of activities to choose from. There is everything here, from adrenalin pumping bungy, canyon swing and skydiving to a relaxing horse trek or boat cruise – this place has it all. There are great tracks around the lake ideal for bikers and hikers and all with wonderful views of this alpine region. Meal(s) included : Breakfast
With so much to do we spend the full day in fantastic Queenstown with the opportunity to enjoy those once in a lifetime experiences (don’t forget to try the legendary and very tasty Fergburger!). Routeburn Track walkers re-join the group here at midday with time to try some of the many exciting activities this vibrant city has to offer. Tonight, we dine out at one of Queenstown’s many delicious eateries - a great chance for your group to enjoy a true kiwi feast (own cost). Meal(s) included : Breakfast
Queenstown to Makarora
Our final morning in Queenstown and your last chance to indulge in the Queenstown’s action before we farewell those finishing their tour and welcome new travellers joining us here. Leaving at 2:30pm, after the thrills and spills of Queenstown we travel through more mountains and on towards more stunning glacial lakes. On the final stretch to camp we start getting views of Mt Aspiring National Park in the distance. Lake Wanaka is just over the next ridge and it’s on the edge of this glacial lake that we find our next wilderness camp. Enjoy great views of Lake Wanaka and the mountains beyond as we absorb the beauty of the area. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Dinner
Makaroa to Fox Glacier
Enjoy a relaxed morning at our lakeside camp then it's northward bound through Mt Aspiring National Park. Just before we reach the West Coast we stop for a walk to the amazing Blue Pools, and then head over the dramatic Haast Pass. As we travel towards the wild West Coast, the road follows braided rivers and huge glacier carved valleys. There are two more great walk options along the way, one through lush and ancient forests and the other through swampy vegetation, ending on the beach where it is possible to spot Hector dolphins. Tonight, we will be staying in glacier country at the picturesque village of Fox Glacier. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Fox Glacier to Okarito
Today is your chance to explore one of NZ’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders - Fox Glacier. This staggering beautiful work of nature is over 13 kilometres in length and plummets 2,600 metres from its peak in the Southern Alps. To get on the ice you must go up by helicopter but it’s possible to view the glacier with a stunning walk through the main valley up to the terminal face. A walk around Lake Matheson is highly recommended where crystal clear reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman make the perfect photo opportunity. In the afternoon, we have a short drive up the coast to our beautiful beachside campsite next to the Okarito lagoon – one of the very few places where there are still rare sightings of our native kiwi bird and the home to NZ’s only colony of the White Heron (kotuku). Enjoy a fire down on the beach taking in the rugged coast and epic mountain views. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Okarito to Punakaiki
Enjoy an early morning walk, with a view of the sunrise over the Southern Alps as a reward. We then continue up this spectacular coastal road to the quirky town of Hokitika, home to the Greenstone factories and a great place to pick up a traditional souvenir of your visit. Passing through Greymouth we keep following the coast to Punakaiki where you’ll notice a change in the landscape and vegetation with huge limestone cliffs appearing and Nikau Palm trees become abundant. Our beach camp has great sunsets, a beautiful river and incredible views of Paparoa National Park. The pancake rocks and blowholes are the main attraction in Punakaiki where limestones rocks are stacked on top of each other and ocean swells are forced through gaps in the rock creating a whale’s blowhole effect. In the evening, explore a cavern with some glow worms hanging out in the dark then relax at the local tavern. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Dinner
Punakaiki to Abel Tasman National Park
Before leaving Punakaiki we take time to explore part of the Paparoa National Park with a walk along the Porarari river or cycle up Bullock creek road to visit a cave resurgence. Leaving mid-morning we travel inland through the majestic Buller gorge and onto our favourite National Park, Abel Tasman. In one of the sunniest areas of the country you will discover beautiful secluded bays and stunning golden sand beaches. On arrival, you have the option to skydive or hang glide and then we look forward to spending 3 nights at our perfectly located campground, close to the park entrance which makes it the idea place to explore all corners of the park. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Dinner
Abel Tasman National Park
Taking time to explore arguably the best beaches and clearest waters in New Zealand - there are excellent options for everyone here.You can walk, sail or kayak around the numerous golden bays and dive into the crystal-clear waters along the way. There will be plenty of chances for wildlife spotting (dolphins, seals and even Orcas!) Explore the heart of the park on one of our most highly rated optional activities - canyoning high flow waterfalls and rapids! Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Lunch
Abel Tasman National Park
We spend another full day at the doorstep to New Zealand’s smallest but most visited national park and our personal favourite, the Abel Tasman. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Dinner
Abel Tasman National Park to Wellington
Leaving early, we make our way towards Wellington stopping for a brief visit in sunny Nelson, the home of Flying Kiwi. Before leaving Nelson be sure to farewell your Tour Assistant as a new Tour Assistant will join you here for the remainder of your tour. Your Tour Leader will say farewell in Picton. On route to Picton we’ll make a stop at Pelorus bridge, a Hobbit film location and great place for a quick dip on a warm day. Finish this fantastic day with a scenic ferry (cost included) through the picturesque Marlborough sounds to Wellington - our base for the evening. Camping isn’t feasible in the heart of the nation’s capital, so we will be staying at a great hostel giving you the best access to explore the city. We have dorm beds reserved for everyone on board (payable locally). Meal(s) included : Breakfast
Wellington to New Plymouth
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast (own cost) before checking out the sights of New Zealand’s beautiful capital before we hit the road for our 11am departure. We travel up the scenic Kapiti Coast towards the Taranaki region – home to wonderful beaches, crashing waves and the spectacular Mount Taranaki, one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world. Our campsite is beside the Taranaki coastline offering a short scenic walk or cycle to camp at the end of the day. Meal(s) included : Dinner
New Plymouth to Auckland
We depart early towards the limestone wonderland of Waitomo Caves, home to an endemic species of glow-worms that inhabit the vast cave systems. Black water rafting is a unique way to experience the caves as you float through the underground maze with the radiant light of the glow-worms to lead the way. We take time to enjoy a picnic lunch before heading to “the city of sails”, New Zealand’s largest city for a taste of big city life “kiwi style” and a great chance to join your group for a taste of the harbour bars and restaurants. Camping isn’t feasible in the heart of the country’s largest city, so we will be staying in a great hostel giving you the best access to explore the city. This is payable locally and we have dorm beds reserved for everyone on board. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Lunch
Auckland to Bay of Islands
Leaving Auckland at 10am we head to the "winterless north" and the pristine beaches of the Bay of Islands. We stop at the incredible Uretiti beach for a swim and a walk along the sand. Grab a rugby ball and frisbee off the bus and brush up on your passing skills at this picturesque beach spot. On arrival into Paihia, the gateway town to the Bay of Islands, choose from the Mangrove walk or a beautiful cycle to the thundering Haruru waterfall. Meal(s) included : Dinner
Bay of Islands
Experience a full day exploring the Bay of Islands and its turquoise waters. This subtropical region is the perfect playground for water lovers and a great place to soak up the sunshine. With a staggering 144 islands, the Bay of Islands offers diving, sailing, swimming and fishing along with some excellent walks in the native forests leading to quiet beaches and special views. This region is also home to some of the oldest European settlement in New Zealand and many historic buildings. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Dinner
Bay of Islands to Orewa
There is a day full of adventure ahead as we travel to the rugged and soulful West Coast. Our first stop comes with a chance to try your skills sand boarding or if you don’t fancy heading down the sandy slopes there’s a nice coastal walk. Then it’s back on board as we head south towards the Waipoua Forest, travelling through the largest remaining tract of native kauri forests in northland. We leave the West Coast and cross back over to the East towards our final destination and camp for tonight, Orewa. Home to one of the Auckland regions longest and safest beaches it’s a great place for a stroll and a swim, or relax at the local hot pools. Meal(s) included : Breakfast, Dinner
Orewa to Auckland to How Water Beach
Orewa is often blessed with a beautiful sunrise over sea which is well worth an early start to check out. We make our way back through Auckland for a quick stop to drop off or pickup those leaving/starting their trip in Auckland before we travel to the Coromandel, renowned for its natural beauty, misty rain-forests and pristine white, sandy beaches. Marvel at the views on a beautiful coastal walk or take in the coastline from the water by kayak. Visit the unique and famous Hot Water Beach to dig, then relax, in your own thermal pool! Soak up the breath-taking scenery and cameras ready for spectacular sunrises at our beach-side camp. Meal(s) included: Breakfast, Dinner
Hot Water Beach to Rotorua
The morning is filled with activity as we make our way south into the thermal wonderland of Rotorua. On the way, those visiting Hobbiton leave us in Matamata as we continue to the cultural and geological heart of the North Island and the perfect place to experience and learn about Maori culture and the dramatic natural thermals, Rotorua. There is plenty of action to choose from such as Zip Lining, OGO and the Luge or go biking in the Whakarewarewa forest. We recommend finishing your day with a Maori cultural experience at the Tamaki Maori Village, there really is something for everyone! Meal(s) included: Breakfast, Lunch
Rotorua to Turangi
Enjoy a relaxed start to the day before we check out the geysers & mud pools at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland (included free). First, we visit the Lady Knox Geyser before exploring one of New Zealand’s most extensive geothermal networks, a unique landscape with colourful sulphur lakes and diverse volcanic vistas. We then take time to explore the impressive Huka Falls before arriving into Taupo, considered the North Island's adrenalin capital. Test your fear of heights on the giant swing, bungy or go skydiving, the scenery is well worth it! We finish the day with a beautiful drive around the edge of Lake Taupo on our way into camp at Turangi. Meal(s) included: Breakfast, Dinner
Turangi to Paekakariki
Today you have the chance to experience the Tongariro Alpine Crossing - considered NZ's best day hike, offering a remarkable journey across volcanic landscapes. Lava flows, emerald-coloured lakes, magnificent views and steaming vents combine to make this an unforgettable hike. For those who aren't keen on hiking you can enjoy short local walks or cycle the Tongariro river track. After the hike, we make our way south and stay on the Kapiti coast in a quiet little place called Paekakariki. Meal(s) included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Paekakariki to Wellington to Picton
Heading south to "the coolest little capital in the World" (as recently named by Lonely Planet), our early arrival by 9am gives you time to experience some of Wellington’s attractions or simply soak up the culture and buzz of our capital city. There are plenty for all tastes including the highly recommend Te Papa Museum. Check out some of New Zealand’s rare birds at Zealandia or take a walk-up Mt Victoria for great views across the city and harbour. Later that day, it’s time to say goodbye to the North Island as the South Island welcomes us with the picturesque scenery of the Marlborough sounds as we cross the Cook Strait by ferry. Camping isn’t feasible tonight, so we stay at a great friendly hostel where we have dorm beds reserved for everyone on board (payable locally). Meal(s) included : Breakfast
Picton to Kaikoura
Today we travel the scenic Pacific coast to Kaikoura where close encounters with seals and seabirds are common. Kaikoura translates to 'meal of crayfish' (Kai - food, koura - crayfish) a reference to the abundance of seafood and sea life in the area. The town has transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a hot spot for whale watching, dolphin swimming and seal spotting. This picturesque town sits right on the ocean at the foot of the mountains – a spectacular spot. Stretch your legs with a recommended afternoon peninsula walk and build up an appetite for a tasty feast of locally caught fresh seafood. Meal(s) included: Breakfast, Dinner
Kaikoura to Christchurch
For those that are keen, there is the chance to rise early for a wonderful sunrise and then enjoy one of our most highly rated optional activities – dolphin swimming. The resident dusky dolphins are amongst the most interactive and entertaining in the World and it’s not unusual to swim with pods of 50 or more in their natural habitat, the ocean! For those not dolphin swimming you have the chance to explore this quaint seaside town before we travel south to Christchurch where we say our farewells at 12:30 pm. Meal(s) included : Breakfast
November 3, 12, 21, 30
December 9, 18, 27
January 5, 14, 23
February 1, 10, 19, 28
March 9, 18
Important NotesThings you need to know about this tour
Departs: Christchurch, 2:30 pm from outside the Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue, Central Christchurch city. How the Trip Works: Our tours are designed to immerse you in the most stunning areas of the country - part of this experience is participatory with regards to accommodation and mealtimes.
Accommodation Style: Shared tent accommodation, 2 people per tent. If travelling alone you will be sharing with someone of similar age and gender. Upgrade to your own tent for an additional cost. There are 3 nights where camping isn't feasible, and we stay in hostels, payable on arrival. Contact us prior to travel if you would like to pre-book a private room (subject to availability).
Optional Extras: If you are interested in the bike to hire a single tent upgrade or sleeping bag hire contact us prior to travel. Pre-booking Activities: Each day we offer optional activities that you are able to book with your guides once you join the tour. However, due to the popularity of Hobbiton, Tamaki Cultural Evening, The Routeburn Track, Kaikoura Dolphin Swim, Milford Sound Cruise, Fox Glacier Heli Hike, Abel Tasman Multi-Day Trips it is advisable to contact us in advance to pre-book your space.
Once you are booked you are going! ALL our summer tours (Oct-Apr) are guaranteed departures.
This tour is recommended for persons 18 years and older, however, requests for younger participants will be considered on a case by case basis.
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