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Top Trip Memories

  • Hiking one or more of New Zealand’s world-famous “tracks” -- Milford, Routeburn or others -- to challenge yourself on mountain terrain while enjoying panoramic views.
  • Making your way through a dark glow-worm cave on New Zealand’s South Island, with the worms glowing like stars on a cave-roof “sky.”
  • Sailing Milford Sound in New Zealand’s southern Fjordland, one of the world’s most spectacular boat trips.
  • Walking through the Whirinaki rainforest on New Zealand’s North Island in the company of a Maori guide while learning about the flora and fauna and tribal history.
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Tour Tips

  • Even though many tours combine visits to New Zealand with Australia, consider making two separate trips since each is so rich in activities by itself.
  • Similarly, if your tour covers “only” either the South or North Island of New Zealand, you’ll have more time to get to know those areas better.
  • With the great distances traveled just to arrive in New Zealand, allow at least 10 days to two weeks for a tour – which won’t seem nearly enough.
  • If you’re flying across the Pacific to New Zealand for your tour, check into stopovers in Hawaii, Fiji or Tahiti – it will break up the long flight, sometimes at no extra charge.
  • Remember that the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, so if you’d like warm weather, head down in the North American winter.
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New Zealand Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

836 Reviews

  • Excellent 637
  • Great 198
  • Average 1
  • Disappointing 0
  • Terrible 0

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.8
  • Guide
    4.8
  • Activities
    4.8
  • Lodging
    4.8
  • Transportation
    4.8
  • Meals
    4.8

Tour Reviews

Trails of New Zealand

Trails of New Zealand

5.0
April 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A perfectly balanced blend of touristy sightseeing activities, incredibly beautiful, varied walks and exciting, unforgettable experiences. We were blessed with fantastic weather, too!
Standing under the 80m high Fairy Falls on the bow of the Milford Wanderer, water pummelling down on our heads, totally surprised, completely exhilarated and utterly happy.
I have to add first seeing Red Crater on the Tongariro Crossing, jetboating, catamaran sailing on the Tasman Sea, walking through Tiritiri Matangi Island’s gorgeous native woodland ringing with exotic bird calls and cicadas, the joy of seeing the glorious colour of Huka Falls. The trouble is that every day had moments like these, so how do you choose!?

Hayley and Josh are an extraordinary young couple, calm, cheerful, incredibly hard working and competent. If everyone drove like Josh, the roads would be safer places. Every suggestion regarding where to eat or shop or what to do in our free time turned out to be good. In his review, Martin mentioned the lady stranger who had a fall, but not that Hayley actually carried her most of the way down a steep mountain after giving first aid! There were, inevitably, some long drives, but Hayley and Josh arranged an enjoyable short walk or other activity at least every two hours. I think I’d trust these two in almost any situation.

Don’t scratch your Blackfly bites! They really are the scourge of South Island, but DEET does deter them so use it. I kept leaving it too late. Bites I managed to resist scratching settled down quickly, those I took the tops off had scabs for weeks and have left scars.
Be prepared for the jet lag - it took us a week to get over it after coming home.
Take lots of notes as well as taking photos -see below!

It has been five weeks since the end of our holiday. It has taken this long to go through all my photos and notes, remembering more and more things that we did, to do research on the internet and to write a journal. Only now do I feel able to take an overall view and write this review. This holiday is a full-on three weeks of new experiences and it is almost impossible to take it all in at the time. For us and, I imagine most people, this was a holiday of a lifetime and I really do recommend making a photographic journal to fix those memories. It is a lot of work, but rather like having the holiday again!

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Trekking in New Zealand

Trekking in New Zealand

5.0
April 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A truly brilliant 3 week trip highlighting the best of North and South Island
Too many to choose one. Highlights for me included the beautiful coast paths and beaches of Abel Tasman, helicopter to Siberia hut. The challenge of hiking to lake Crucible. Fantastic cruise on Milford Sound seeing dolphins swimming around the boat. The amazing Mount Cook National Park and everything in between

Kath on North Island is an experienced, professional guide with an easygoing style. She was ably assisted by Anne who was an intern.
Chai on South Island is younger with a very different leadership style. To begin with felt he was at a slight disadvantage as we had all bonded well as a group and he had to get to know us. I definitely warmed to Chai as time went by. He is extremely passionate about New Zealand, its history and flora and fauna. Especially enjoyed his stories and his legendary "Hakka"

As previously documented this is a full on trip and you have to be organised with packing. Using several sizes of dry bags within your luggage helps. Get yourself fit as possible, preferably with plenty of hill climbing and descending practice. Breaking the outward journey in Dubai and extra night in Auckland helped with jet lag.

A fantastic trip with so much packed into 3 weeks. Go for it, you won't regret it

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Trails of New Zealand

Trails of New Zealand

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
We had promised ourselves this trip for some time and had high expectations. We were looking for a good mix of activities to see and experience the country.
Trails of New Zealand went way beyond our expectations. We thoroughly enjoyed the amazing places, the range of walks in different landscapes, the fun of jet-boating, sailing and cruising, and luging, and the unique birds and wildlife.
We had so many experiences which will stay with us: walking the stark volcanic landscape of the Tongariro Crossing; walking to and flying over Mount Cook and landing on pristine Fox glassier; sailing a catamaran; or travelling at 80mph up a braided river; the magnificent kauri and redwoods, and not forgetting the kiwis.
On our way to Milford Sound on the South Island it poured with rain and we were not expecting to see much. However, soon after we boarded the boat the skies cleared and the fiord was filled with magnificent waterfalls. It was magical as we explored Milford Sound in boats and kayaks, and our ship nosed its way past and into the silver cascading water against a backdrop of majestic snow covered peaks.

Josh and Haley were superb leaders. They were very organised and ensured that we knew all we needed to know. They provided supplements to our meals and provided a super spread when they catered for us. They were great at sharing additional information and encouragement to the slower and faster members of the group.
When they found that an unknown walker had had a serious fall they ensured that she returned down the mountain safely while continuing to look after our group. When the bus developed a technical fault it was dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Go!!!
It is a long way so pace and prepare yourself, but it will repay you many times over.
The country is very varied and so is the weather, so go prepared for everything - it was coldest and wettest at sea level and hottest in the mountains.

This trip is a good balance of activities. You should be reasonably fit and prepared for the unexpected. We were delayed for two hours when a giant kauri fell across the road, and there are no alternatives. So we had a great time chatting with everyone including the fire brigade and police. It is that sort of country.

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Trails of New Zealand

Trails of New Zealand

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
This was a wonderful walking holiday. We were fortunately blessed with extremely good weather, so the views were unforgettable.
Helicopter flight to the Fox glacier

The group leader was excellent - always keen to please, make excellent meal suggestions and slightly adjust the program to fit the group.

Make the most of this wonderful trip!

If there was one small suggestion I could make (and believe me, it is small and nit-picky), I would recommend cleaning the bus windows if it has become dusty; this could prevent a photoshoot stop on a few occasions. This idea came from a previous tour I made with a different company.

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Highlights of New Zealand

Trails of New Zealand

5.0
March 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
An excellent and varied itinerary through stunning scenery. Much travelling thoughtfully balanced by good walks. A good mix of group activities and free time.
Definitely the Tongariro Alpine Crossing - hard work and a long day but worth it.
The views round Lake Matheson.
The waterfalls in Milford Sound.
We clocked up a few first experiences: first time in a jet boat (great fun and something we would not have done otherwise), first helicopter flight, first time sailing a catamaran (yes, I took the helm), first time on the Luge ...

Hayley and Josh were calm, efficient, funny, informed, caring and very committed. They were great. They prepared us well for each day's activities.

Take a daysac as well as your 40 litre rucksack, if you can. Pack layers - it can be very hot and very cold. Don't forget sunhat, suncream and insect repellant. Poles can be hired for the Tongariro crossing.

This trip doesn't cover Auckland and Northland up to Cape Reinga, the Coromandel peninsula, the deep south or Kaikoura so you might want to try to fit them in before and/or after the trip. After all, it is a long way to go back again!

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Classic Itineraries

New Zealand in 1 Week

New Zealand may be small but it packs an adventurous punch. In one week, you can see a lot, but be prepared for a little bit of driving. Another option is to stay in Queenstown or Christchurch and take day trips. 

Days 1-3, Queenstown: Take an all day Lord of the Rings tour, experience the thrill of Jet boating, Bungee Jumping, Skyline Luge, and Paragliding. Enjoy a demonstration of the native dance, the Haka, and learn about the native culture.

Day 4, Milford Sound: Take a half day cruise around beautiful Milford Sound, see waterfalls, hike, and catch a glimpse of a seal. Return to Queenstown for dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants along the lake.

Day 5, Mount Cook & Fox Glacier: Walk on a real glacier, hike the Mount Cook trail and enjoy a meal at the lodge before hitting the road.

Day 6-7, Nelson & Wellington: Visit and spend the night in the small seaside town of Nelson before making your way across the water to Wellington.

See All New Zealand in One Week Itineraries

New Zealand in 2 Weeks

North Island

Day 1, Wellington: Visit the Wellington Museum and Weta Workshop - where the famous prosthetics from Lord of the Rings were created.

South Island

Days 2, Nelson: Enjoy this seaside town on the south island, just across the water from the north. Take half a day to explore Kahurangi National Park.

Day 3, Marlborough: Wine tasting premier Sauvignon Blanc and other wines from this new yet growing wine region.

Day 4-6, Mt. Cook & Fox GlacierWalk on a real glacier, hike the Mount Cook trail and enjoy a meal at the lodge before hitting the road.

Day 7, Milford Sound: Spend a full day cruising around beautiful Milford Sound, see waterfalls, hike, and catch a glimpse of a seal. Head on to Queenstown for dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants along the lake.

Day 8-9, Queenstown: Take an all Lord of the Rings tour, experience the thrill of Jet boating, Bungee Jumping, Skyline Luge, and Paragliding. Enjoy a demonstration of the native dance, the Haka, and learn about the native culture.

Day 10, Fiordland National Park: Take a full day to explore this beautiful national park before heading to Christchurch.

Day 11-13, Coastal Drive: Enjoy a long coastal drive up the South Island’s east coast on your way to Christchurch.

Day 14, Christchurch: End your journey in bustling Christchurch, do some shopping and sightseeing around the city.

See All New Zealand in Two Weeks Itineraries

Active Adventure Tour in New Zealand

Day 1, Wellington: Take the ferry across to the South Island - the thrills start here as waters can be choppy!

Day 2-3, Nelson: Abel Tasman National Park, sea kayaking along the Abel Tasman coastline, Tonga Arches, go whitewater rafting on Buller River

Day 4, Paparoa National Park: Pancake Rocks, go rafting through a black-water cave lit by glow-worms

Day 5-6, Franz Joseph: View Franz Josef glacier from a thrilling helicopter ride and walk on Fox Glacier.

Day 7-8, Wanaka: Hike Wilkin River, go mountain biking, and enjoy leisure time by Lake Wanaka. Hike to Rob Roy Glacier.

Day 9-11, Queenstown: Visit the original bungee jumping site at AJ Hackett, go jetboating, take in the views as you soar down in the Skyline Luge or enjoy a tandem paraglide.

See All New Zealand Adventure Trips

New Zealand Trips & Tour Advice

New Zealand is much more than Australia’s little brother -- it’s a star in its own right. The country is best known for its natural attractions, and the sheep famously outnumber the people (who are called Kiwis). But its major cities, Auckland and Wellington on the North Island, and Nelson, Queenstown and Christchurch on the South Island, make for nice stops.

New Zealand’s three islands are like three different worlds: the subtropical North Island, the generally much cooler South Island, and the even cooler Stewart Island to the far south, the smallest of the three.

Highlights of the Three Islands

North of Auckland on the North Island is the Bay of Islands, a subtropical paradise of green islands, turquoise waters, marine and bird life (including whales and penguins), and loads of water activities.

The South Island, which served as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, is just as breathtaking in person as on screen. Whether hiking the famous “tracks” – long hiking trails such as Milford, Routeburn or Abel Tasman – taking a boat ride on Fjordland’s Milford Sound, or exploring the Southern Alps mountain range (remindful of the mountains in northern Norway, Alaska and Patagonia), the South Island is an active traveler’s fantasy island.

New Zealand’s Stewart Island – its third largest island but tiny compared to the others  – is 85 percent national parkland and another center of outdoor activities, though comparatively rarely visited.

Diverse Cultures

While many Kiwis are descended from Britons, there is also a substantial indigenous population of Maoris, often easily recognizable by elaborate facial tattoos. Maori culture had suffered considerably until recent years, but its language and arts are now being revived. Some New Zealand tours place a priority on exploring Maori life.

You may be surprised to encounter a number of Turkish, Vietnamese and other ethnic restaurants in cities like Nelson and Wellington, but New Zealand has attracted a number of immigrants from around the world, adding to a growing cosmopolitan atmosphere. But you’ll still find plenty of lamb stew, fish and chips, and other British-style dishes.

Whether you’d like your New Zealand guided trip to be one of challenging mountainous tracks like Milford and Routeburn or rappelling deep into remote caverns and scaling volcanoes, or a more leisurely tour that takes you walking through glow worm caves and on Milford Sound cruise boats, you can weigh all your best options for a Kiwi vacation on Stride.

Related Guides

Continent:             

Australia & the Pacific

Local Attractions:  

Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier, Bay of Islands, Kaikoura, Sky Tower, Abel Tasman National Park and Many More

Top Activities:      

Nature Sightseeing & Wilderness Walk 

Similar Destination:                    

Australia

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Jared Alster
 
 

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