Explore New Zealand by car, train & tour vacation package from $3,999 including International flights

14 Days/11 nights - Experience the best New Zealand has to offer! Start this New Zealand adventure in Queenstown, New Zealand’s premier visitor destination. After taking in the awe-inspiring glaciers and thrill-inducing jetboats, hit the road and self-drive to Franz Josef – New Zealand’s largest glacier. Relax on the scenic TranzAlpine scenic rail journey to Christchurch and allow yourself the freedom to watch the world go by. Venture to the Central North Island and experience bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers, and natural hot springs, as well as the fascinating Maori culture in Rotorua. Conclude your tour with two nights in the beautiful harbour city of Auckland.

Inclusions

  • Roundtrip International Economy Class flights from Los Angeles (domestic US flights can be added at an additional cost)
  • Domestic New Zealand flights
  • 3 nights Queenstown in 4* accommodation
  • 5 days medium automatic car rental Queenstown - Greymouth (coach transportation is available if a self-drive is not preferred)
  • 2 nights Franz Josef Glacier in 4* accommodation
  • Tranz Alpine Express rail journey Greymouth - Christchurch
  • 2 night Christchurch in 4* accommodation
  • 2 nights Rotorua in 4* accommodation
  • Full-day tour Rotorua - Waitomo Caves - Auckland
  • 2 nights Auckland in 4* accommodation
  • Car service transfer on arrival in Queenstown, Christchurch, Rotorua & Auckland
  • All taxes & fuel surcharges

Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart New York JFK, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, or Los Angeles with Air New Zealand non-stop to Auckland
Air New Zealand is the number one way to travel to New Zealand, and your vacation begins the second you step onboard your overnight flight. Air New Zealand offers direct service from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, and New York JFK, addon fares with United Airlines available from other cities.

The Air New Zealand onboard experience has a travel option for every passenger from Business Premier, Premium Economy, and Economy cabins, with the option to add the innovative Skycouch.

Day 2 - Cross International Date Line

Day 3 - Arrive Auckland & continue to Queenstown
Welcome to New Zealand! On arrival in Auckland, connect with your short flight to Queenstown to commence your journey to New Zealand in the South Island. On arrival in Queenstown, collect your compact SUV car rental and drive ten minutes to the Rees Hotel. Queenstown, surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu, offers diverse, world-class experiences, a warm welcome, and a cosmopolitan vibe. Queenstown has fueled imaginations and inspired many to explore. Queenstown sets the stage for adventure, whether you are chasing the snow, exploring the trails, indulging in food and wine, discovering stunning fairways, or seeking adrenaline thrills.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 3 nights at 4.5* The Rees Hotel Queenstown. Showcasing breathtaking panoramic lake and mountain views, this sophisticated property is conveniently located just a gentle lakeside walk from Queenstown’s town center. Boasting luxurious accommodation options including hotel rooms, apartments, and 5 Lake Front Residences, all offer full service, complimentary Wi-Fi, free movies, a fine dining onsite restaurant, an extensive wine cellar, purpose-built gymnasium, complimentary ski lockers, spa treatment services, library, and private jetty.

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Image: Tourism New Zealand

Days 4 & 5 - Queenstown
Explore Queenstown at your leisure. Queenstown and its surrounds are a true outdoor playground with much to offer for adrenaline-seekers, the active, wine lovers, and families alike.

Known as the adventure capital of the world, thrill-seekers have an abundance of options to choose from. Queenstown is ground zero for commercial bungy jumping anywhere in the world. Choose between Kawarau Bridge, where it all started, or head to the Nevis Bungy site for the most daring and highest bungy jump in the world (134m high!) – or go for a combination of the two and supplement it with a canyon swing or catapult experience. Experience the excitement of a high-speed jet boat ride: skim across the water, whizz around corners, and shoot through narrow rocky gorges!

A busy soft-adventure playground is located on top of Bob’s Peak, high above town. It can be reached by the iconic Skyline Gondola and offers activities like lugging (part go-kart, part toboggan), zip lining (flying fox), dining with a view, and stargazing.

There is no better way to appreciate Queenstown's location amid the Southern Alps than from a bird's eye perspective. Take a scenic helicopter flight, paraglide flight or take to the skies with a tandem skydive.

If you feel more comfortable on the ground, activities are plentiful, too. Cycling tours and mountain biking trails in Queenstown are a great way to explore and discover remote parts of this beautiful region! Or take to one of the many walking and hiking trails along the lakeshore or up the many hills and mountains.

For heritage-lovers, a cruise on Lake Wakatipu on board the iconic vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw is a must as is a visit of the historic town of Arrowtown, a gold-rush village.

A little further afield lies scenic Glenorchy, which is a 45-minute drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The views are spectacular, and Glenorchy offers various activities, including walks, scenic jetboating, horse-riding, and film locations from Lord of the Rings and Narnia. These are best visited by 4x4 tour.

Wine devotees should not miss a trip out to nearby Gibbston Valley, home to some of the world’s best Pinot Noir, to explore cellar doors and restaurants to find your favorite vintage. This can be done independently by car or bicycle or as part of a guided tour.

Day 6 - Queenstown to Franz Josef
This morning collect your rental vehicle and commence your self drive north along the scenic West Coast towards Franz Josef Glacier

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Queenstown to Wanaka 
103 km (64 miles) Approximately 1.25 hours

The shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan and the Shotover River. 

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Wanaka to Haast
139 km (87 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you leave the coast and climb up the Haast river valley to Haast Pass. The road snakes through the Aspiring National Park, and the vegetation becomes more sparse as you travel inland. Lakes Wanaka and Hawea make the last part of your trip beautifully scenic.

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Haast to Fox Glacier 
122 km (76 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

Not far from Fox Glacier is the western end of the Copland track. Lake Moeraki is another peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. The long one-lane bridge over the Haast River leads you into the settlement of Haast, once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works. It’s a town with a touch of the wild west.

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Fox Glacier to Franz Josef
23 km (14 miles) Approximately 0.25 hour

After a short drive south, you’ll arrive at Franz Josef. The glacier’s terminal face is just 5 kilometers from the township, and the road to the walking track crosses ancient moraine from earlier advances and retreats. First explored in 1865, the Franz Josef Glacier has been moving forward at a rate of about 1 metre a day since 1985.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy a 2-night stay in a one-bedroom villa at Glenfern Villas. This property features spacious, stylish, and contemporary apartment-style accommodations, all with fully equipped kitchens, air-conditioning, and a large deck area with seating. Situated just outside Franz Josef Glacier Village, this property makes an ideal base to enjoy everything the Glacier Region and the glorious West Coast offer.

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Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 7 - Franz Josef
Franz Josef township is located amid rainforests, waterfalls, and lakes. While the glacier cannot be seen from the town, the glacier valley is only a short drive away and can be explored on foot. The ice can be accessed by helicopter. Consider adding one of our tour options (additional cost applies):

  • Heli Hike
    Combine an extraordinary scenic helicopter flight over the glacier with a unique guided walk amongst this pristine, alpine environment's ice caves, pinnacles, and seracs. You'll see the striking colors of the ice flow from above and then up close on an unforgettable guided walk.
  • Franz Josef Nature Tour
    Explore the majestic West Coast temperate rainforest as you approach the towering Franz Josef Glacier - one of the world's lowest-lying and most unusual glaciers. At your own pace, wander past gorgeous glacial rivers, streams, and beautiful podocarp forests; discover hidden natural treasures such as native snails, wild mushrooms, and dozens of species of orchids. Relish the sound of the native bird songs and waterfalls

Day 8 - Franz Josef - Christchurch
This morning drive to Greymouth and return rental vehicle to Greymouth Railway station.

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Franz Josef to Hokitika
133 km (83 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

The road to Hokitika is rural, but with a wild streak. The farmland is trying to turn back into forest, and the beauty of the rivers is raw and primeval. Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. Greenstone (NZ jade) is the town’s treasure these days – you can see it being polished and sculpted. You might also want to pan for gold, investigate the museum and do the historical walk.

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Hokitika to Greymouth
40 km (25 miles) Approximately 0.5 hour

Greymouth has a long gold mining history. It’s the largest town on the west coast and is known for its awesome seascapes. The local brewery runs tours or you can catch up with west coast history at the museum. The road between Greymouth and Hokitika provides great views of the wild west coast. Detour to the beach and breathe the salt spray air. Driftwood is the ornamentation of choice for west coast beaches – every shape, size and colour.

Board the Tranz Alpine Express journey to Christchurch

The Tranz Alpine is rated as one of the world's great scenic railway journeys. Today you will travel from Greymouth to Christchurch, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. Head east and push through the Otira Tunnel. The scenery changes from thick rainforest and native bush to high country grasses as you cross the main divide. River Valleys, deep gorges, and towering viaducts give way to the vast braided rivers fed by the many snowfields. Continue west, descending through the foothills of the Southern Alps and over the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. This rail trip is 223.8 kilometers long and takes just four and a half hours. There are 19 tunnels and 4 viaducts, the highest being the Staircase at 73 meters.

On arrival in Christchurch, you will be transferred to your hotel by car service

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 2 nights at 4* Crowne Plaza Christchurch. Located in Christchurch city center, the hotel overlooks historic Victoria Square and the iconic Avon River, with the Issac Theatre Royal and Christchurch’s coolest cafes, restaurants, shops, and street art only a stroll away.

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Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 9 - Christchurch
Otautahi Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city, its newest, and perhaps it's most exciting. This urban hub at the heart of the South Island is stacked with street art, long-standing visitor attractions, world-class hospitality, diverse accommodation, and state-of-the-art architecture alongside the country's best heritage gems. Wander the walkable central city to discover riverside markets, global cuisine, laneway shopping, and rooftop bars. Numerous beaches bordering the Pacific Ocean, the majestic Southern Alps, and an ancient volcanic peninsula are within easy reach.

Board the Christchurch Tram and enjoy a 50-minute journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch's city center on board a beautifully restored heritage Tram. Friendly and knowledgeable drivers will inform you about the city, its landmarks, and local sights.

Enjoy an authentic Punt ride along the Avon River. Punting on the Avon has been one of Christchurch's iconic attractions since 1986. An Edwardian-dressed Punter will guide you quietly past trailing willows, woodlands, and the leafy banks of the Botanic Gardens or through the rebuilding city center of Christchurch on board a classic Punt.

Day 10 - Fly Christchurch to Rotorua
This morning transfer to Chtristchurch Airport and depart on your nonstop flight to Rotorua. On arrival in Rotorua, you will be transferred to your hotel.

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is the place to enjoy some of the country’s most iconic natural attractions and geothermal landscapes, incredible experiences from adventure to enrichment and relaxation, and welcoming people who are proud of sharing their rich Maori culture with you.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 2 nights at 4* Regent of Rotorua. Born from a 1950's Motel built on the site, this boutique hotel has been transformed and renovated into a chic, central city hotel. All the guest accommodations combine their signature modern styling, unexpected touches with a hint of glamour, while still providing all the mod-conveniences. Step out of your gorgeous room or suite and stroll to the vibrant restaurant zone or lakefront area.

Late afternoon you will be picked up from your hotel for a tour and evening experience at Te Puia -Be guided through the greenstone, wood carving and flax weaving schools at the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute, Rotowhio Pa, Kiwi Conservation Centre and Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley including Pohutu geyser. Te Puia's world-famous hangi buffet dinner is served in Pataka Kai Restaurant, Bar & Café. Beverages are at own cost. The cultural performance will take place a beautifully carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua. It will include a pohiri (traditional welcome), waiata (song), moteatea (traditional chant) poi and haka. The evening culminates with hot chocolate and steamed pudding surrounded by steam and the geyser terrace bathed in colored light.

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Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 11 - Rotorua
This morning join your small group half day tour to visits Rotorua's most natural and popular geothermal parks, Wai O Tapu and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Your local naturalist guide will explain the volcanic processes of Rotorua and New Zealand. See volcanoes, geysers, New Zealand's largest boiling mud pool and hot springs on a scenic drive around volcanic landscapes, native and exotic forests. The two heritage parks offer a variety of thermal activity; at Wai-o-tapu the amazingly colorful hot springs and moon like landscapes are the key features along with the famous Lady Knox geyser. At Waimangu Volcanic valley, learn about the Mt Tarawera eruption, native flora and fauna and the geothermal features which were blown open in 1886.

This afternoon relax and unwind on the tranquil shores of Lake Rotorua at Polynesian Spa. Channeling geothermal marvels in its backyard, the 27 mineral pools at Polynesian Spa are fed from two natural springs for a combination that both nourishes the skin and relieves tired muscles, aches, and pains. The two types of mineral waters that feed the pools are called alkaline pool Whangapipiro and acidic pool Te Pupunitanga and have been used by Maori for generations. Deluxe Private Pools offer panoramic views over Lake Rotorua. The pools are filled with soothing alkaline mineral water leaving your skin soft and supple. Enjoy 30 minutes of private bathing.

Day 12 – Rotorua – Waitomo Caves – Auckland
This morning, you are collected from your Rotorua accommodation for your tour from Rotorua to the enchanting Waitomo Glowworm Caves for a guided 45-minute tour through this underground wonder, seeing stalactites, stalagmites, and sparkling glow-worms before continuing on to Auckland, where you will be dropped off at your hotel.

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Image: Tourism New Zealand

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 2 nights at 4.5* Voco Auckland. Located within one of Auckland’s tallest buildings in the heart of the city, this hotel embraces sustainability initiatives and all of the element’s characteristic of the Voco lifestyle. Guest rooms are designed around the brand’s Me Time concept incorporating premium beds, superior showers, user-friendly technology, and innovative lighting. These are joined by an all-day restaurant and bar, as well as a guest fitness center.

Day 13 - Auckland
Don't think of Auckland as a city, even though it's New Zealand's largest. Think of it as half urban, half marine - a cosmopolitan experience wrapped up in a fascinating water world and surrounded by over 50 islands.

Experience the best sights of Auckland City on your 3-hour morning tour. Auckland is set on 52 dormant volcanic cones between two harbours, the sparkling Waitemata and the brooding Manukau. Known as the City of Sails, it’s New Zealand’s largest and busiest city. The morning tour is a journey of discovery designed to explore the history and sights as well as see how Aucklanders live and play.

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Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 14 – Auckland at leisure followed by an evening flight back with Air NZ to New York JFK, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco or Los Angeles (addon flights available to your local city)
Enjoy your last morning in New Zealand at leisure or if time permits, consider taking the 35 minute ferry to Waiheke Island, “the Island of wine” and sample wines, olive oil tastings, visit quirky shops and enjoy taking in the Island’s numerous idyllic beaches.

Early evening you will be transferred to Auckland International airport for your flight back to the US or your next destination.

 

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Starting From Costing Per Person

Los Angeles $3,999
San Francisco $3,999
Houston $4,349
Chicago $4,399
New York $4,549

 

*Addons from other cities available with United Airlines

Note: Daily departures, this package is an independent itinerary with flexible departures (not a group tour)

Single Supplement: From $1,699

 

New Zealand Entry Requirements

Before committing to a trip, please ensure you have a valid passport. New Zealand welcomes US travelers with an approved Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).

Read More about NZETA & IVL

Additional departure gateways & pricing

Add on airfares are available from most major airports – please ask an Aspire consultant for a quote.

Upgrade Options

  • Upgrade to premium economy from $1,250 per person each way*
  • Upgrade to business class from $3,500 per person each way*

Can take the upgrade one way or round trip and combine premium/business classes on same ticket

* Upgrade from pricing based on Monday through Thursday departures from Los Angeles - ask an Aspire consultant for the upgrade fee from other departure points and travel Thursday through Saturday.

 

Terms & Conditions

The package from pricing is based on double occupancy (2 people sharing a room) for low-season stays for travel Mondays through Thursdays in both directions. A $60 air supplement applies each way for international travel from Friday to Sunday. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Specific blackout dates apply to the accommodation and tour value offers. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. All prices reflect a discount for purchases made by check/wire; please see terms and conditions for credit card payments. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply. The purchase of travel Insurance is highly recommended for travel to New Zealand. Aspire Down Under partners with CSA Travel Protection.

 

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