The Best of New Zealand with small group touring from $4,699 per person including international flights

Experience the best New Zealand has to offer! After flying non-stop to Auckland, connect by short flight and start your adventure in Queenstown. After taking in the awe-inspiring fiords, lakes, and thrill-inducing jetboats, travel by small group tour to Mount Cook – New Zealand’s highest Mountain and base for glacier experiences and breathtaking walking trails. Next, continue through the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, the capital of the South Island, before venturing to the Central North Island, experiencing bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers, natural hot springs, and the fascinating Maori culture in Rotorua. Finally, travel north to Hobbiton & the Waitomo Caves before concluding your trip with two nights in the beautiful harbour city of Auckland.

Inclusions

  • Roundtrip International Economy Class flights from Los Angeles, New York JFK, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco with Air New Zealand (add on flights available)
  • Internal New Zealand flights
  • 4 nights Queenstown in 4* accommodation
  • Small group Wilderness Jetboat tour
  • Small group Milford Sound tour & cruise
  • Small group tour from Queenstown – Mt Cook
  • 1 Night Mt Cook in 4* accommodation
  • Glacier Boat Cruise
  • Small group tour from Mt Cook - Christchurch
  • 2-nights Christchurch in 4* accommodation
  • 2 nights Rotorua in 4* accommodation
  • Evening tour & Maori culture dinner experience
  • Small group tour of Rotorua Geothermal parks & valleys
  • Polynesian thermal Spa experience
  • Small group tour from Rotorua to Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves to Auckland
  • 2 nights Auckland in 4* accommodation
  • Small group full day tour of Auckland city & stunning West Coast
  • Airport shuttle transfers
  • 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 

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 of New Zealand in the South Island.

On arrival into Queenstown, you will be transferred to your accommodation. Queenstown, surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal-clear Lake Whakatipu, offers diverse, world-class experiences, a warm welcome and a cosmopolitan vibe. Queenstown has fueled imaginations and inspired many to explore. Whether you are chasing the snow, exploring the trails, indulging in food and wine, discovering stunning fairways or seeking adrenaline thrills, Queenstown sets the stage for adventure.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 4 nights at 4.5* The Rees Hotel Queenstown. Showcasing breath taking 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

Day 4 - Queenstown
Today enjoy a half Day Wilderness Jetboat Safari. Discover and explore every aspect of this magnificent area through a combination of exciting wilderness jet boating, an informative guided walk and picturesque back-country drive. Surrounded by breathtaking snow-covered peaks, hidden valleys, waterfalls and glacial valleys frozen in time, you’ll be thrilled by an exciting jet boat journey navigating the ever-changing shallow channels of the Dart Rivers braided river system. Your jet boat driver will stop along the way to highlight points of interest and discuss the natural and cultural significance of this exceptional area. Walk amongst the ancient beech tree forests – an atmosphere you may recognize from The Lord of the Rings films.

Day 5 - Queenstown
An early morning starts today to experience a full day small group tour to Milford Sound (approx. 12 hours duration).

Set off from Queenstown and travel along Lake Wakatipu towards Te Anau – enjoying many scenic stops enroute. Continue to Milford Sound, with several stops for short walks and photo opportunities. At Milford Sound, board a Boutique Small Boat cruise. Enjoy your packed lunch box and complimentary coffee on board while cruising past sheer cliff faces and cascading waterfalls. The smaller size of the vessel enables you to get you up close and personal with the local wildlife, like New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, and the rare Fiordland crested penguin. A “Glacial Facial” under the Stirling Falls is an experience not to be missed. After the cruise returns, travel back to Queenstown after an amazing day in Fiordland. Optional upgrade to scenic flights back to Queenstown available for an additional cost (weather permitting)

Day 6 - Queenstown
Explore Queenstown at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost applies):

  • Appellation Central Wine Tours
    Appellation Central offers guided tours showcasing Central Otago's fine wine and cuisine. These tours venture into the heartland of Central Otago visiting vineyards in Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell. Small groups and custom fit minibuses ensure a relaxed and interactive day out from Queenstown and a great way to experience Central Otago.
  • Nomad Safari - Skippers Canyon
    A half-day heritage tour that follows the rugged and once treacherous Skippers Road. Hacked by hand into the sheer cliff sides of the Shotover River Valley. Navigate this awe-inspiring canyon and visit many historic sites such as the Skippers Suspension Bridge, township of Skippers, and the restored schoolhouse - gain a real insight into the local heritage through photos and histories of life in this tough environment.
  • Skyline Gondola & Zipline Ecotour
    Commence an ecotour on Queenstown's original zipline course and the perfect starter to your adventure experience. Comprised of four ziplines, starting and finishing at the top of the Skyline gondola, the tour is designed to start low and slow and gradually build your confidence as it gets progressively longer, higher and faster. All ages love the interaction this guided aerial tour has to offer.

Day 7 - Queenstown – Mount Cook
Depart Queenstown on your small group tour and transfer to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's highest mountain. Travel through the stunning Kawarau Gorge, passing the Kawarau Suspension Bridge and the famous Roaring Meg Lookout. Exiting the Gorge we enter the fruit and wine growing region of Cromwell, we cross Lake Dunstan and follow this beautiful lake towards Lindis Pass. Climbing in altitude, Lindis Pass has fantastic views down through the valleys. Being one of only three alpine roads through the otherwise impassable Southern Alps. Enter the Aoraki National Park and Lake Pukaki, one of the bluest lakes you will ever see, stunningly framed by the backdrop of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. Continue through the rugged high country landscape of the Mackenzie Basin to arrive at Mount Cook Village, where you can gaze up at the 3,724m/12,218ft high mountain Aoraki/Mount Cook.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 1 night at 4* Hermitage Hotel. Located within Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, the property offers a range of accommodations. All guest rooms have an ensuite bathroom, tea and coffee-making facilities, a fridge, satellite television, and wireless internet.

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Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 8 - Mount Cook - Christchurch
This morning, enjoy an amazing encounter with New Zealand's largest glacier, the Tasman Glacier. On this 3-hour tour, explore and learn about the ever-changing glacial landscape as you journey across the terminal lake in a custom-built MAC Boat with your experienced guides. Icebergs of every shape and size periodically tear away from the face of the glacier into the rapidly growing lake. With the effects of global warming and other climatic processes taking their toll on New Zealand glaciers, their retreat is imminent. Now approximately 27km long and 600m deep, the Tasman Glacier is melting and calving exponentially. In recent years, the Tasman Glacier has changed from a 'melting' to a 'calving and melting' terminus, resulting in a terminal lake that is rapidly increasing in size.

This afternoon, board your small group transfer to Christchurch. Farewelling Mt Cook, head to Lake Tekapo. This turquoise-blue lake is famous the world over for its pristine beauty. Enjoy a quick visit to the Church of the Good Shepard and see the Mackenzie dog before heading towards Christchurch. Leaving Tekapo for Christchurch, pass through more amazing passes and high country towns before arriving in Christchurch.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 2 nights at 4.5* Distinction Hotel Christchurch. Centrally located in Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, the hotel is a short stroll from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, and City Mall. Offering 179 elegant, air-conditioned rooms, all are fitted out with the latest technology and free unlimited Wi-Fi. The hotel bar and restaurant are the perfect place to enjoy drinks and delicious cuisine.

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 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 – Hobbiton – Waitomo Caves – Auckland
This morning you are collected from your Rotorua accommodation by shuttle and are transferred to Hobbiton Movie Set. On arrival at Shire’s Rest, you embark on your Hobbiton movie set tour. This location is the largest “green set” in the world and the only part of the set remaining in New Zealand. You see 44 hobbit holes, the Mill, and the Party Tree. At this stunning location you can take a photo at the gate to Bilbo’s house, “Bag End”, looking out over the whole set to the hills in the distance. The tour ends with a visit to the Green Dragon Inn for a drink. Following your drink, you will be treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch in the marquee. There is time for shopping before your tour continues to Waitomo. On arrival in Waitomo, join a 45-minute guided tour of the incredible Waitomo Glow Worm caves. Discover an ancient world 30 million years in the making. Enjoy the delicate cave formations and be wowed in the Cathedral, before taking the iconic boat ride through the glow worm grotto. Marvel in silence at thousands of magical glow worms, which are unique to New Zealand before exiting the cave. After your tour at Waitomo travel north to Auckland and 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 Auckland City highlights on a small group tour with its stunning harbour and many volcanoes as well as Auckland’s famous West Coast. Combine the very best Auckland has to offer including the sights of the Auckland City Half Day Tour and a West Coast Half Day Tour into one full day luxury experience which includes lunch. Be amazed by spectacular views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea plus dramatic views of several volcanoes, city & regional parks. Explore untamed coastline, black as well as golden sand beaches, subtropical rainforest with the famous Kauri trees, plus unique indigenous flora, and fauna.

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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 $4,699
San Francisco $4,699
Houston $5,049
Chicago $5,099
New York $5,249

 

*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 $1,449

 

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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