You might only ever go to New Zealand once in your life. You will want to make the most of the opportunity.

Your precious time and money are worth considering before choosing the tour you wish to do in New Zealand. There are a number of considerations that will affect you maximising your time and money.

Take these factors into account with your tour decision.

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Style of Travel

If you are travelling in New Zealand on a tour, there are three main options.

  • Accommodated Tours - guided tour with guide and a group staying in backpacker hostel accommodation with included activities and opportunities to do optional activities
  • Overland Tours - guided tour with 2 guides and a group staying in more remote locations with camping and cabin options. Emphasis on activities with options to cycle, hike or try a range of adventure activities (with some included in price). Some flexibility with option to take extended breaks in your favourite spots.
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Tours - guided tour with a guide and a group which will continuously change with people getting on and off the bus. Accommodation is not included in the tour price. You can get off too to stay at destinations for longer and then get on the next bus in a few days. There are included activities each day as well as an emphasis on optional activities.

If you are the type of person who wants to see the highlights of New Zealand with comfortable nightly accommodation then the Accommodated tours will be best for you.

If you are the type of person who enjoys cycling, hiking, the outdoors and a little more off the beaten track itinerary staying in a combination of tents, cabins and hostels then Overland tours will be for you

If you are the type of person who enjoys more flexibility and has time on their hands, then the Hop On Hop Off tours will be best for you.


The Accommodated tours stay in backpacker hostel accommodation and selected unique accommodation places. You can see all the accommodation used on Accommodated tours here.

Hop On Hop Off tours allow you to choose where you wish to stay each night. The guide will book your first night if you don't know where you want to stay, that way everyone on the bus will stay together. 

Overland tours are ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in the beautiful outdoor landscapes of NZ. Camping is included in the price but you can upgrade to cabins most nights and hostels are used in the larger cities.


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Hop On Hop off Tours don't include any meals as part of the tour price.

Accommodated and Camping tours include most or many meals.

If you want more flexibility of eating what you want or like the idea of more being included then this will be important to you.

Included and Optional Activities

All the tour styles have included activities as well allowing for optional activities.

The included activities will vary depending on the specific tour and style.

You will see the included activities on Accommodated tours here.

You will see some overlap between all the tour styles. For example all the tours that go to the central North Island region will include the Tongariro Alpine Crossing walk.

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If you are not sure what to see in New Zealand, it might be worth having a read of this article that discusses what there is to see on the North and South Islands.

The North and South islands are quite different in their geography and also what you can experience. For example, if you want to go whale watching, Kaikoura in the South Island is the place to be. Glaciers are only easily accessible in the South Island at Franz Josef. 

Start and Finish locations

Most tours start in Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand. Most tour also finish in Auckland. Auckland is the main international airport into New Zealand. It is also the largest city in New Zealand. This is why most tours start here.

The other major starting point for tours is Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand.

It makes sense if you are doing a National Tour starting in Auckland to finish in Christchurch. This will save the backtracking to Auckland.

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Length of tour

Due to the geography of New Zealand, to see most of the highlights on both islands you will need at least 19 travelling days. If you only have 2 weeks to travel you will be better off just seeing one island well. 


Longer tours to see both islands necessarily increases the price of the tour. Your budget might only stretch so far.

Tours to get you there

Explore Abel Tasman National Park

14 Day Queenstown to Auckland Tour

Enjoy both islands from the bottom of the South to the tip of the North. If you're starting South and want to see it all from the wild West coast to the Bay of Islands then this is the one for you.

Explore more of NZ’s best National Parks

28 Day Ultimate Explorer Auckland to Auckland Tour

Quite possibly the best thing you can do in New Zealand. Grab life with both hands on this in depth, all-points covered action and adventure wilderness experience. This trip guarantees to show you the best of the North and South Island and the experience of a lifetime. .