Milford Sound Wellington New Zealand
New Zealand top tour attraction Hobbiton North Island
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New Zealand - Best Tours & Trips 2019

New Zealand is one of the world's great adventure destinations, though it is also known for its stunning fjords, glow-worm caves, and native Maori culture. Each of the major islands offer mountains and incredible vistas to enjoy; especially if you take one of the world-famous "tracks", or long distance hiking trails.
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Travel Style

Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 76 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

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Top New Zealand Experiences and Attractions

Top New Zealand Experiences

Exploring the quaint shores, coffee shops, and restaurants as well as an adventure activity or two in beautiful Queenstown.

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.

Going on a thrilling white water rafting adventure tour down Buller Gorge.

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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New Zealand Trip Reviews

108 New Zealand Tour Reviews - Summary 91% Recommend

4.6 out of 5
Excellent 79
Great 18
Average 8
Disappointing 3
Terrible 0
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Tour Reviews Write a Review

G adventure does great on multi sport for multi ages

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

We have done 2 previous G Adventure trips that went really well. This one did not let us down. G Adventure does a great job to get your ready with your To GO packet. Coordinator/CEO did an excellent job throughout! Meet and great hotel was upgraded and having stayed at both their change was a good choice. Day 2 Bike ride through Karangahake Gorge was lovely and mostly down hill, and easily manged by most anyone and followed by night at Maori lodge ,culture experience and cookout - a highlight! Our group was diversified in ages from late 20's to active 70's with activity options and pace to meet every age or risk factor. Itinerary of activities as described and delivered was very good to excellent; and well enjoyed. For my husband and myself Day 5 - the time at Duck Station/ Whanganui River Station and canoeing on the Whanganui River was the highlight. Our excellent CEO at times needed to multi task too much as both bus driver, tour guide and guide/ booker for off days i.e. as in Rotorua - ideally G Adventures should have both a bus driver and tour guide. She did an exceptional job but having seen how it works when both guide and bus tour driver are supplied - feel G Adventure should supply both. Tongariro National Park hike Day 4 was cancelled due to weather but again our CEO came up with exceptional and meaningful tour option of supplemental Maori village tour. Jet boating on Whangagui River at end of Duck Station stay as part of return trip from river canoe and kayaking was fun but not quite life memory or overly physically stressful. Transition day 6 - drive on way to Wellington with night at Snowy Lodge was fun evening following an ad hock tour arranged by CEO on way. Day 7 - off day in Wellington was very much on our own time and a bit of a filler as CEO having to focus on next group welcome and start up and we shared our good bye dinner with their meet and great - my opinion not ideal? Overall events were graded at an 8. People on the tour and our Ceo made it an 9! No trip is perfect but this one was very good and we will be back for more of G Adventure.

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Operator G Adventures

Very nice

5.0
Special needs at Sea Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Very nice equipment & was delivered in room & picked up as told when it was ordered.

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Operator Special needs at Sea

TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

5.0
Zegrahms Expeditions Company Reviews
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Sunday, 22 July... SVALBARD, Norway. Halfway between the top of continental Norway & the North Pole!

We disembarked & are now back to civilization! WOW!
What a FANTASTIC adventure on the ship Ocean Adventurer!

Once again, Zegrahm delivered! Cruise Director & Expedition Leader executed an unforgettable adventure! SUPERB lectures on ship & field trips from the guest experts in their fields... history of polar explorations... geology... birds... polar bears & other animals!

We saw several polar bears, groups of walrus, one very photogenic seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, a BLUE WHALE (largest of ALL whales!)... & a gazillion birds!

Our small ship was indeed able to circumnavigate the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago... 3 cheers to our Russian captain! The staff on board were FANTASTIC! And the best food I've had on any ship!

Mostly great weather... quite fortunate! Out on the Zodiacs (rubber rafts), I wore almost everything in my suitcase, in layers all at once, hoping to stay warm & dry... followed by VERY LONG hot showers once back on the ship, while I thawed out!

If you have an interest in polar adventure, TAKE THIS TRIP!!! Unbelievable!

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Operator Zegrahms Expeditions

Wonderful Tour With Heart

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

This was my best trip to date. Jeremy Elsasser was the most Professional, patient, informative and kind Tour Guide that I have ever traveled with. I would gladly recommend Smartours because of the excellent guide and the wonderful tour. It was everything I had hoped for. Thanks to all.

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Operator SmarTours

Contrasts Of New Zealand

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Mark made sure that we had a great time and when we arrived without our luggage he did everything he could to locate it and have it delivered to us. Mark is a great guide and educator, he knew so much about each area we were at and made it very interesting.

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Operator Trafalgar

A great trip

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

This was a great trip overall. You get to see a lot of NZ and can do some great walks and other activities. The range of places visited on both islands means that some days there is a lot of traveling but the guides work really hard to break the day up with short walks and stops.
Some of the more challenging walks rewarded you with great views and a real feeling of having achieved something. Jet boating and catamaran tip were both great experiences.

Both guides were knowledgeable and prepared you well for the next days activities.

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Operator Exodus Travels

New Zealand Tours and Travel Guide

New Zealand Attractions & Landmarks Guide

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.

Touring New Zealand’s North Island

If you are visiting the North Island of New Zealand, there are a couple of key spots that are sure to be included on your itinerary.

5 Top North Island Attractions

1. Hobbiton - This permanent installation of the Hobbiton movie set is an ever popular attraction on the North Island of New Zealand. While it is touristy, the delightful whimsy of seeing Hobbiton in real life is enough to thrill even the most fair weather fan.

2. Rotorua - A popular destination for learning about Maori culture, Rotorua is also known for its geothermal activity. Similar to what you can encounter in Yellowstone National Park. Be prepared - the air is quite smelly!

3. Auckland - New Zealand’s largest urban area, Auckland is a great place for cultural events, art, theater, and great food. Be sure to visit the top of the Sky Tower for a 360 degree view of the city. And thrill seekers can find a popular bungy jumping spot at Auckland’s Harbor Bridge.

4. Hawkes Bay - This region in the Northeast of New Zealand’s North Island is famous for wine tasting, and this is definitely a must do when you visit. But much like the rest of New Zealand this small region packs a lot of adventures together, including beautiful coastal hikes and botanical gardens.

5. Waitomo Glowworm Caves - An otherworldly experience, these glowworm caves can be visited via a thrilling rafting trip (not advised if you want time to slow down and look up at the incredible light display!), walking tours, or boat tours. Be sure to go with a guide who can highlight the science behind the glowworms.

Touring New Zealand’s South Island

New Zealand’s South Island is the larger of the two, and home to some of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see. Much of the South Island has been used in such films as Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, and it doesn’t take much to understand its cinematic potential as you drive through.

Speaking of driving, this is a highly recommended mode of transport for the views, though expect some long drives on the South Island. There are many stretches of pure countryside with very few amenities in the way of restaurants or hotels.

Plus you will want to pull over now and again for short walks or hikes to viewing areas. Trust us - even if it adds a half hour, in New Zealand the signs to scenic viewpoints or unique natural phenomena don’t lie!

5 Top Attractions on New Zealand’s South Island

1. Queenstown - Without a doubt, one of the major hubs for adventure in New Zealand is Queenstown. The culture in Queenstown is a little touristy, it’s true - with seasonality affecting the tourist : local ratio fairly heavily.

However New Zealanders are welcoming and friendly so you’ll still get a great vibe from funky cafes and restaurants as you explore. Queenstown is the perfect base for day trips, as well as adventure activities including jet boating, bungy jumping, and paragliding.

2. Aoraki / Mount Cook - For an adventurous (but very manageable for kids and older travelers!) half day, consider a spectacular hike that takes you through a rugged glacial landscape to the base of Mount Cook. New Zealand’s highest peak, Mount Cook is also a popular destination for advanced climbers - it was here that Sir Edmund Hillary trained for Everest.

3. Milford Sound - Pictures or videos simply cannot do the stunning experience of Milford Sound justice. Mountains seemingly burst through the water, with no banks, covered with lush foliage. Waterfalls show themselves as you snake through the sound in your ferry, hearing various oohs and ahhs from around the boat as a certain vantage point reveals a new waterfall or wildlife sighting.

4. Fox Glacier - If glacier walking is on your bucket list, look no further than Fox Glacier. Here you can do everything from glacier walking to ice climbing, while taking in unbelievable views and learning from guides about the glacier’s natural history and movement.

5. Abel Tasman National Park - In the northern region of the South Island, near the delightful town of Nelson, the Abel Tasman park is the perfect stop for all ages looking for an outdoorsy travel time. You can hike the coastal track or take the the calm and protected ocean waters for a kayaking trip - keep an eye out for dolphins!

Touring New Zealand’s Stewart Island

Often thought of as part of the South Island, Stewart Island is the third largest island of New Zealand. 85 percent national parkland and another center of outdoor activities, it is rarely visited, comparitively - a great destination for travelers who truly want to get away from it all.

Top Activities on Stewart Island

1. Bird Watching - Because Stewart Island is almost entirely national park, the wildlife viewing opportunities are second to none. Birders especially will be astounded by the diversity in bird species - the most diverse in all of New Zealand.

From multiple penguin species to dozens of petrels, the bird life on Stewart Island is incredible. There are 150 miles of hiking trails throughout the island, offering plenty of viewing opportunities.

2. Fishing - There are many unique opportunities for fishing on Stewart Island, namely hopping aboard a commercial fishing boat and assisting with bringing in the catch of the day. Don’t worry, you won’t have to contribute everything you catch - but you will learn the entire process from catch to cleaning. Private fishing outings are also an option, just make sure you follow all rules and regulations carefully.

3. Sea Kayaking - See Stewart Island from the water as you take to the ocean in a sea kayak. These excursions are not for the faint of heart - requiring at least some upper body strength to navigate the waves. This is a great way to observe marine life and enjoy an invigorating active day before a well deserved beer and meal after you head back to shore.

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.

Top Adventure Activities in New Zealand

New Zealand and Australia are both known as some of the best places on earth to get your adrenaline fix on a tourFrom bungy jumping, to zip lining, to surfing, there is a wide range of high intensity activities to get involved in. 

If you love adventure, here are the 8 best and most thrilling excursions to take on while in New Zealand.

  1. Whitewater Rafting -- If you combine New Zealand’s many mountains with a bit of rain, the result is some of the best white water you could hope for. You can raft in New Zealand year round, so you can work rafting into any vacation you go on.

  2. Jet Boating -- Jet boating was invented by a farmer who was trying to find a way to travel as quickly as possible in a shallow body of water. The result is a jet engine strapped to a boat, and the most thrilling river ride you will ever take.

  3. Skydiving -- New Zealand is the capital of skydiving, and you can do it all over. Although this may seem extremely dangerous, New Zealand has some of the most rigorous skydiving safety rules, so don’t be afraid, and take a (literal) leap of faith!

  4. Ziplining -- There are a wide variety of zip line courses in New Zealand, from those with ocean views to those high up in the mountains.

  5. Spelunking -- Believe it or not, caving in New Zealand can also be a verifiable adventure. Whether you decide to raft on the “black rapids” of an underground river, or walk over dark, gaping chasms.

  6. Bungy Jumping -- The world’s first commercial bungy jump was built in New Zealand, so if you had to pick one adventure activity, this would be it.

  7. Paragliding -- Paragliding was also invented in New Zealand, and is a great combination of a quick thrill (jumping off a cliff and getting caught in the wind is sure to get your heart racing, but you will soon be able to relax and enjoy the views while gently coasting in the sky.

  8. Canyoning -- going canyoning doesn’t mean just hiking up canyons. If your tour includes canyoning, expect to be jumping off cliffs into deepwater pools and rappelling down waterfalls, amongst other things.

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 & Wildlife Viewing 

Similar Destination:                    

Australia

Top New Zealand Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Lord of the Rings Tours in New Zealand

New Zealand is famous for its beautiful scenery, and one well known fact is that it was the location for many of the scenes in the original Lord of the Rings films. Over 150 locations in New Zealand were used in the filming of Lord of the Rings, from the north to the south island.

In a very unusual case, the set for Hobbiton, located in bucolic Waikato on the North Island was reinstalled as a permanent exhibit for fans to visit and enjoy. Normally sets like Hobbiton are unceremoniously torn down after filming ends, but fans kept visiting the area in droves and in an effort to protect the landscape, Hobbiton was reborn. This location is often featured on group tours of New Zealand. 

On the South Island, several sites within a day trip from Queenstown were utilized for Lord of the Rings. Your tour may include some or all of these in various ways. For example taking a jet boat excursion might reveal the mountains of Mordor, and a visit to the famous AJ Hackett bungy bridge is not far from the Kawarau Gorge where the fellowship rows between two towering statues as their quest begins. 

Hiking, Walking, and Relaxation Tours in New Zealand

If you want to experience New Zealand at a slower pace, try going on a perhaps you would be interested in an extended hiking or walking tour. By being out in the wilderness for more than just a few hours on a day hike, you will gain appreciation for New Zealand’s world-renowned geography.

You will also be able to experience a wider range of landscapes, depending on how long you plan to travel for and which National Parks you enter.

There are 13 main National Parks in New Zealand, each with its own unique attributes. To see glaciers, try visiting Mount Cook National Park. To immerse yourself in a tropical rainforest, visit Westland Tai Poutini. If altitude is something you seek, you’re best off visiting Mount Aspiring, Kahurangi, or New Zealand’s oldest National Park, Tongariro.

All New Zealand tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.6 for all New Zealand trips.

306 trips from 73 tour companies with 108 reviews

More New Zealand Guided Tours

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