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New Zealand: An Epic Journey

Swim with dolphins in Kaikoura, vineyard hop in Marlborough & cruise through Milford Sound

What's Included

  • Accommodation in twin rooms
  • Max 14 travellers per group
  • Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
  • Arrival transfer included
  • Private minibus
  • All activities mentioned on the itinerary
  • Stay in hand-picked 3-4 star hotels
  • Experienced Pack Leader with you throughout the trip
  • 14 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners

Flashpackers must provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.

About your trip

Solo travellers, this is a big one: 15 days of awe-inducing scenery and adventure through New Zealand’s North and South islands. 

But what to expect from such an epic journey? Deep breath…travelling from Auckland to Queenstown, you’ll swim with dusky dolphins in Kaikoura, tramp the Tongariro Crossing and vineyard hop through the world-famous Marlborough winelands. You’ll take a nature cruise through Milford Sound and marvel at Rotorua’s bubbling mud pools – not to mention sailing on Lake Taupo and traditional Maori hangis…

If you’re looking to really make the most of your two weeks off, you can’t do much better than this.

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A Kiwi welcome
  • Touch down in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, where a private Flash Pack transfer will be waiting to whisk you to your first hotel
  • Get to know your group over drinks and dinner at a top-class local restaurant, raising a toast to an exciting fortnight to come
Waiheke Island adventure (& wine)
  • Jump on a 40 minute ferry ride over to Waiheke Island, a haven of stunning wine vineyards, olive groves and beaches
  • Get your adrenaline pumping with a thrilling zipline ride over the forest canopy
  • Vineyard hop your way across this beautiful island, stopping for wine tastings and lunch
Glow worms & geysers
  • Travel south to Rotorua and take a boat ride into the Waitomo Caves to a cavern lit by thousands of luminescent glow worms – a mesmerising sight
  • Explore the dramatic geothermal valley of Te Puia, a wonderland of geysers, fumaroles and bubbling mud pools
Lake Taupo sailing
  • Explore the extraordinary orange-rimmed Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu and watch the Lady Knox Geyser erupt, shooting boiling water 20 metres into the air
  • Witness the thundering water of Huka Falls, before an afternoon sailing on Lake Taupo in search of ancient Maori rock carvings
  • Feast on a traditional dinner in the home of New Zealand locals, immersing yourself in authentic Maori culture and flavours
Wilderness Hiking
  • Hike the 12-mile Tongariro Crossing – one of the best one-day wilderness hikes in the world – across an awe-inspiring landscape of alpine desert and smouldering volcanoes
Across the Cook Strait
  • Cross the spectacular Cook Strait to New Zealand’s south island on what’s sure to be the most picturesque ferry ride of your life, sailing through the intricate inlets of the Marlborough Sounds
  • Arrive in the sunny town of Blenheim, a haven for foodies and wine lovers at the very heart of the Marlborough wine region
Marlborough wine touring
  • Vineyard-hop through the world-famous Marlborough region, visiting three boutique wineries for exclusive tastings
  • Feast on a delicious lunch at a vineyard restaurant and sample regional specialities, from local cheese platters to king salmon
Swim with dolphins
  • Take to the seas in search of dusky dolphins – often found in pods of more than 100 – donning a mask to jump into the water with them for a life-changing swim
Hill station living
  • Strike out into the Hurunui Hills to visit a working rural farm. Meet woolly Merino sheep and learn from the farmers about what it’s like living off the land
  • Soak up the kaleidoscope of landscapes, from alpine hills to wide open valleys, riding south to the friendly seaside town of Punakaiki
Treetop wanderings
  • Hike the 20-metre high treetop walk through Hokitika Gorge, surrounded on all sides by turquoise water set against blindingly white limestone cliffs
  • Settle in a your boutique base in the small but lively mountain town of Franz Josef, with a free evening to explore the restaurants, pubs and cafes
Glaciers & alpine lakes
  • Catch your first glimpse of the famed Franz Josef Glacier at a viewpoint just outside town
  • Take an optional scenic helicopter flight over the vast glacier: an ever-changing icy world of blue-tinged caves, deep crevasses and toothy pinnacles
  • Travel to the lakeside town of Wanaka, framed by snowy peaks, and spend a relaxed afternoon browsing the cool cafes, artisan restaurants and craft breweries
Arrival in Queenstown
  • Leave civilisation behind on a 4×4 adventure and journey into the wilderness of the jagged Southern Alps, stopping for a gourmet picnic at the exclusive Branches Station
  • Settle in at your final destination, Queenstown: the adrenaline rush capital of New Zealand
Fly & cruise Milford Sound
  • Take a spectacular scenic flight to Milford Sound, a photogenic fjord bounded by sheer rainforest-clad cliffs, misty waterfalls and glacier-carved peaks
  • Board your boat for a nature cruise through Fiordland National Park, keeping your eyes peeled for dolphins, fur seals and crested penguins
  • Finally, climb into your small plane for the return flight to Queenstown to celebrate another awe-inspiring day
A final dinner
  • A free day in Queenstown is a must, so make the most of the endless opportunities for skydiving, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and more
  • Gather with your group for a farewell dinner: a chance to reflect on all the amazing experiences you’ve had and the good friends you’ve made
Farewell, New Zealand
  • Say a sad but enamoured goodbye to New Zealand as you make your own way to the airport for your onward flight; your Pack Leader will, of course, be on hand to help you arrange a transfer
  • Arrive home feeling completely awe-struck. Were those landscapes real? The adventures are thrilling as you remember? Yes and yes. So is the power of New Zealand

Our Favourite Hotels

Here's a taste of the hotels we sometimes use on this adventure. The hotels you'll stay in for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.

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Hilton Lake Taupo

Mere steps from Taupo Hot Springs, the Hilton Lake Taupo has a charming, old-world facade that hides an outdoor pool and sauna, air-conditioned rooms and a friendly concierge service.

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Scenic Hotel, Punakaiki

Sat directly on the beach, this is a tropical sanctuary framed by lush greenery. Rooms are modern and comfortable, while Punakaiki Beach and Pancake Rocks are within easy reach.

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Sudima Kaikoura

The brand new Sudima Kaikōura is located on the shoreline with stunning sea and mountain views of New Zealand’s marine wildlife capital.

Important Notes

Which airport do I need to fly in and out of? Plus airport code

Fly into Auckland Airport (AKL) and out of Queenstown Airport (ZQN). 

What time should my flight arrive (in time for the welcome meeting)?

Before 2 pm ideally. The welcome meeting and dinner will be from 5 pm onwards starting at the hotel.

What time should my flight depart on the last day?

There are no activities planned for Day 15, so you can leave any time that suits you. 

Are airport transfers included?

If you arrive on Day 1 of your adventure, or you book pre-tour accommodation with us, your airport arrival transfer will be included. If you book alternative pre-tour accommodation or are arriving by another mode of transport you must arrange your own arrival transfer.

Arrival transfers are private to Flash Pack and will be in groups depending on flight times. Sometimes this means waiting in the airport for a short while until other flights have arrived.

We don’t include departure transfers because Flashpackers leave at different times.

Are tips included?

Please note that tips are not included in the cost of this adventure. Suggested amounts per person are:

  • Pack Leader: 17-20 NZD per day
  • Drivers: 17-20 NZD per day
  • Local tips: your Pack Leader will be able to advise on how much to tip local guides, restaurants, etc. Some Pack Leaders will collect a tipping kitty at the welcome meeting to take care of local tips.

However, all tips are at your discretion depending on what you feel comfortable with.

Do I need a visa?

Up-to-date visa and entry information can be found using our official partner, Sherpa, who can help you arrange a visa if needed.

You can also find essential travel advice – including security and local laws, as well as passport and visa information – on the government website of your home country:

Please be aware that passport and visa requirements can change before departure, so it’s important to stay updated with the latest information.

What vaccinations and medication will I need?

While we are not medical professionals and cannot offer personalised medical advice, we want to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable adventure. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

1. Consult with a healthcare professional

We recommend scheduling an appointment with your travel nurse or doctor at least eight weeks before your adventure. This will give you ample time to receive any necessary vaccines or medications.

2. Up-to-date medical advice

3. Government travel advice

4. Medication tips

If you take prescription medication, ensure you bring enough to last the entire adventure, plus a few extra days in case of travel delays. Carry a copy of your prescription with you in case you need to visit a clinic while abroad.

We hope this information will help you prepare for a safe and healthy adventure.

What are the drive times like?

New Zealand is a big country and this is a trip for travellers who enjoy a road trip – we don’t advise joining if you suffer badly from motion sickness or any other ailment that extensive travel can make worse. 

We use a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle but there are some long drives.

We do break up the drives with local and authentic experiences. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow Flashpackers. 

What fitness levels do I need for this trip?

It’s an adventure packed with experiences to make the most of your time on this side of the world, and it does have moments of more strenuous activity like the 12-mile hike across an active volcano. If you’re looking for something slower paced and mindful, this might not be the right trip for you.

We recommend having a read through of the itinerary above, and getting in touch if you have specific questions on fitness.

Will this itinerary change?

Please be aware that the itinerary, activities, and hotels are subject to change. These changes are rare but can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control – but we’ll always do our best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. From time to time, we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting which we will always try to communicate to you.

Why aren't we visiting Hobbiton? Is it something can be organised?

We don’t include it as it might not appeal to every traveler, so we decided to prioritise other elements of the trip e.g. the Tongariro Crossing hike.

If you’d still like to visit Hobbiton, please speak to a member of our sales team and we can arrange this for you. You will need to arrive in Auckland the day before the start of your tour due to the fact that our Hobbiton extra will include a pre-night.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Meet at City Sky Bus Terminal from Sudima Auckland City at 7am (Flashpackers stay 280 metres walking distance from this terminal)
  • Two-hour scenic drive south of Auckland into Waikato
  • 30-45 minutes shopping in the official Hobbiton gift shop with food and drink available from Shire’s Rest Cafe
  • Two-hour guided tour through the Hobbiton Holes, The Mill, The Double Arched Bridge and a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn.
  • The tour lasts for 8.5 hours and is in a group of up to 40 people (not private to Flash Pack).

Please check with our sales team for the latest prices.

Is it guaranteed that we will see dolphins in Kaikoura?

Dolphins are wild creatures so you can never be absolutely sure of their presence. However, Kaikoura is renowned for its dependable and plentiful wildlife and once you’re out on the water, the likelihood of spotting them is high. The ideal time for swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura is during the summer months (November to March). During this period, dolphins gather in substantial ‘super-pods,’ resulting in a 90% success rate for dolphin encounters. In the winter months, there is still a very favorable chance of encountering dolphins but they tend to be more dispersed and do not travel in large groups.

Are any of the activities weather dependent?

For safety reasons, the optional scenic helicopter ride over Franz Josef Glacier may not be available in poor weather conditions. Other activities, such as hiking and quad biking, will still be available.

Likewise, the short flight to Milford Sound will not be possible during periods of dense fog or heavy rainfall. If this is the case, you will travel to Milford Sound by coach and continue with the cruise.

 

How much should I budget for the optional activities in Franz Josef?

On Day 11, you will have the option of doing a helicopter flight over the Franz Josef Glacier. The costs are as follows:

35-minute Pilots Choice helicopter flight – 425 NZD
45-minute Ultimate Discovery helicopter flight – 575 NZD (recommended)

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