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New Zealand Amplified (Southbound)

When it comes to inspiring scenery, fascinating culture and inviting locals, New Zealand is as good as it gets. From the volcanic landscapes of the North Island to the snow-dusted scenery of the South Island, there’s always something remarkable to look at. Set off on a 17-day adventure through the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, bubbling hot pools of Rotorua, endless waters of Lake Taupo and cityscapes of Wellington. Cross to the Cook Strait and encounter the glory of the South Island, from Kaikoura’s abundant wildlife to Queenstown’s high adrenaline activities and Franz Josef Glacier’s icy beauty.

Accommodation on this trip is in mixed-gender multi-share dormitory style hostels with shared facilities. We are aware of a system functionality limitation incorrectly indicating "twin-share" when you manage your booking on our website.

17 days, from


per person


16 people max


Trip code: PHRWC
Style: Basix
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  New Zealand
Accommodation: Multi-share hostel with shared facilities (16 nights)
Transportation: Private Vehicle , Train , Ferry
Included Meals:

  • 16 breakfasts
  • 1 dinners

Group size: Minimum 6, Max 16

  • Visit a Maori village where profits from your visit are fed back into the community, learn the haka and Maori weaving before tucking into a traditional hangi dinner.

  • Experience the geothermal delights of Rotorua, watch New Zealand’s largest geyser erupt and observe adorable kiwis in a nocturnal house at a conservation centre.

  • A little piece of paradise awaits on the Coromandel Peninsula – dig your own natural hot tub on Hot Water Beach and check out the much-photographed Cathedral Cove.

  • Calling all adventure seekers! Queenstown is overflowing with adrenaline-pumping activities, so dive straight in or sit back with a glass of world-class local wine.

  • All aboard for one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys – take the famous TranzAlpine through the Southern Alps from the West Coast to Christchurch.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Auckland / Coromandel Peninsula

Welcome to the North Island! Your adventure begins in Auckland where you’ll meet up with your local leader and new travel buddies for an 8am welcome meeting and included breakfast. You won’t hang around in the city for long – after your meeting, get on the road and travel towards the Coromandel Peninsula. This super scenic drive sets the tone for the rest of your journey, as you cruise down the coastline past views of glittering water and white sands. The Coromandel Peninsula is known for its lush rainforests and gorgeous beaches, but there’s one that tops them all! Hot Water Beach is made famous by the warm waters that run beneath its sand, meaning all you need to do to make your own hot tub is dig a hole. If the tide times line up with your visit, take advantage of this unusual phenomenon and relax in a natural hot tub. The rest of the day is yours to chill out on the beach or enjoy the cool little town.

Day 2: Coromandel Peninsula / Rotorua

Take a deeper dive into the inspiring landscapes of the Coromandel Peninsula with a walk along the clifftops and down to Cathedral Cove, one of the region’s most beautiful and photogenic spots – the rock arches, columns and pristine beaches are a truly impressive sight. While here you may like to take the chance to explore the coastline on a guided kayaking tour – if you do, be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins swimming alongside the boat! In the afternoon, pay a visit to Matamata, where Lord of the Rings fans will have the opportunity to take a tour of Hobbiton. If you’re not keen on the movie set tour, there are heaps of beautiful walks in the area. Continue to the special town of Rotorua, known for its incredible geothermal activity and Maori culture.

Day 3: Rotorua

There’s so much to see and do in Rotorua, so today is free to discover it all. Have a chat to your local leader for tips on how to get the most out of your day here. You may like to take an unforgettable stroll through Kuirau Park, surrounded by bubbling and boiling mud pools. If you feel like getting your heart racing, the Kaituna River is one of the world’s top white water rafting destinations. A day trip to the Waitomo Caves is a must for anyone interested in seeing glow worms – this illuminated underground world really has to be seen to be believed!

Day 4: Rotorua / Murupara

Start the day with a visit to the Te Puia Maori Village, where you’ll get firsthand insight into Maori culture. You’ll also have the chance to see Pohutu, New Zealand’s largest geyser, in action – this is a sight that will blow you away! A visit to the kiwi conservation centre will allow you to observe this endearing nocturnal bird as it behaves at night. This afternoon, travel to the Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara – the majority of proceeds from the activities you take part in here are fed back into the local community. You’ll be greeted by a Maori elder who will show you around the Ngati Manawa Tribal Lands while sharing the history and culture of this tribe. Meet with other members of the village and learn a famous haka war dance, then weave a plate for tonight’s dinner out of flax plants. Dinner tonight is one for the books – tuck into a traditional hangi meal, cooked underground to create a delicious, earthy flavour.

Day 5: Taupo

Hit the road this morning and head to Taupo, but not before making some interesting stops along the way. Check out simmering mud pools, the rushing waters of the Huka Falls and the impressive Aratiatia Dam and rapids. Arrive in Taupo, nestled into the shores of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. With calm waters fringed by mountains, this is one of the prettiest spots in the country. If you’re after an adrenaline rush, you’re in the right place! The afternoon is yours to try out bungy jumping or skydiving, or you may prefer to take it easy with a peaceful sunset lake cruise.

Day 6: Taupo

The day is yours to enjoy all Taupo has to offer. Chill out lakeside to soak in the inspiring views, or get active and take on one of the awesome hiking trails in the area. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, the Tongariro Crossing in the nearby Tongariro National Park is considered one of the best one-day walks in the world (but it’s not for the faint hearted!). Carved into the cliff faces surrounding Lake Taupo you’ll find 14-metre-tall Maori artwork that can only be accessed on a boat trip. Want to relax and unwind? A visit to the natural hot pools at Otumuheke Stream is a must! However you decide to spend the day, it’s sure to be one to remember.

Day 7: Tongariro National Park / Wellington

Get ready for a long drive from Taupo to Wellington with views so incredible you’ll wish the drive was longer! Weave through the barren landscapes of the Rangipo Desert and pass through Tongariro National Park. Look out for the volcanic peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe, the latter of which was used as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Your local leader will ensure your journey is broken up with plenty of interesting and photo-worthy stops. Arrive into Wellington, New Zealand’s cool and creative capital city. There should be time for a visit to Weta Workshop, the special effects studio famous for its work on Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Avatar. Celebrated for its amazing food and craft beer scene, Welly is the perfect place to grab dinner and a drink with your group.

Day 8: Wellington / Kaikoura

Fall under the spell of the world’s windiest city as you explore Wellington with your local leader today. Stop by local hotspots and hangouts, and if there wasn’t time to visit Mt Victoria yesterday, head up there today for amazing views over the city. Say goodbye to the North Island and jump on a ferry across the Cook Strait. Your introduction to the South Island is certainly a beautiful one as you cruise through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds and into Picton Harbour. Next up, travel down to Kaikoura, famous for its abundance of marine wildlife. If you’re heading out for dinner in town tonight, then the local crayfish should be at the top of your must-try list!

Day 9: Kaikoura / Christchurch

Experiencing Kaikoura’s wildlife while you’re in this corner of the country is a must, so take the chance this morning to get to know the town’s most famous creatures. You may like to set out on a trip to encounter dolphins in their natural habitat – dusky dolphins, hectors dolphins and common dolphins are all common around these parts. Kaikoura is one of the best spots in the world for whale watching, with humpbacks, orcas and sperm whales often sighted on whale watching cruises. On your way out of town, stop by a seal colony to watch endearing fur seals go about their business. Travel down to Christchurch, arriving in time to head out for dinner at one of the city’s many top-notch eateries.

Day 10: Christchurch / Lake Tekapo

A meeting will take place at 8am this morning to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next leg of your journey before heading out to get to know Christchurch. After being rocked by an earthquake in 2011, much of Christchurch’s downtown was destroyed, but the locals are a resilient bunch and examples of the cool and creative ways they’ve rebuilt can be seen across the city. Perhaps the best example of this is the Christchurch Cathedral – rebuilt out of cardboard, this is now one of the city’s most interesting architectural features. Then it’s time to get on the road and drive to Lake Tekapo, a truly stunning sight with its bright blue waters and surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for newlyweds snapping pictures in front of the Church of the Good Shepherd, boasting one of the world’s most inspiring backdrops! Just when you thought things couldn’t get better here, nighttime reveals a whole new side of Tekapo. A designated Dark Sky Reserve, this is one of the top spots in the country for stargazing.

Day 11: Queenstown

Rise and shine! If you’d like to really embrace the morning, a hike to the summit of Mt John rewards with showstopping views of the Southern Alps. If you skip out on the walk, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of incredible views to be seen today. Drive past the tussocklands of the Mackenzie Basin and snow-dusted peaks of the Southern Alps as you travel down to Queenstown, making plenty of photo-worthy stops along the way. Swing by the Kawarau Gorge, where you’ll have the chance to take the plunge with a bungy jump if you’re feeling brave! Arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world and your home for the next two nights. Whether you’re into high-adrenaline experiences or sitting back with a glass of wine, Queenstown is sure to tick all your boxes.

Day 12: Queenstown

The day is yours to experience all Queenstown has to offer. If you want to get your heart racing, look no further! Paragliding, jet boating, mountain biking, canyon swinging and bungy jumping could all be on the cards for you today – just speak to your leader about arranging these optional activities. For Lord of the Rings fans, a horseback ride through scenery where the film was shot is a real highlight. Wine lovers are in the right place – this is one of the top wine-producing regions in the world and there’s no shortage of fantastic wineries where you can sample some for yourself. Queenstown’s nightlife punches above its size, and with more than 40 bars to choose from, you’re guaranteed a good night ahead.

Day 13: Queenstown / Wanaka

Take the morning to tick off anything you didn’t get to see or do yesterday, then leave Queenstown in the rear-view mirror and begin the super scenic drive across the Crown Range to Wanaka. Along the way, stop off in the lovely little gold-rush town of Arrowtown, where the high street’s historic facades make it easy to imagine what life here once looked like. Arrive into Wanaka and enjoy a slower pace than high-octane Queenstown. With Lake Wanaka as the star of the show and surrounding mountains only complimenting its beauty, there’s no doubt this is one of the most attractive towns in New Zealand. Hit a hiking trail, explore on a bike or find a cosy cafe to admire the view.

Day 14: Wanaka / Franz Josef

Enjoy a morning at leisure for your own explorations of Wanaka. There’s no shortage of amazing things to see and do here, so be sure to chat to your leader for their top tips. You may like to take a pleasant bike ride along the shores of Lake Wanaka or get on the water and cruise to Mou Waho Island, where you’ll find an island in a lake on an island in a lake! There are heaps of beautiful short walks in the area, and a visit to the famous #thatwanakatree is a must. Depart Wanaka in the afternoon and venture further north, stopping off at a lookout point over either Lake Wanaka or Lake Hawea, depending on conditions. Your eyes will be glued to the window for this journey as you pass the impressive waterfalls of the Haast Pass and more spectacular coastline (your leader will make a few special stops along the way too!). Arrive to Franz Josef village, your base for the evening.

Day 15: Franz Josef

Franz Josef is the stuff of dreams, where glittering glaciers and soaring peaks provide a spectacular background to daily life. This part of the country is known as Te Wahi Pounamu, meaning ‘the place of greenstone’, due to the region’s abundance of this culturally and spiritually significant stone. Pay a visit to a local gallery and carve your own pendant while learning about pounamu’s importance to Maori culture. This afternoon, if you’d like to get closer to the Franz Josef Glacier, speak to your leader about the option of booking a helicopter ride to drop you on the snow, allowing you to then hike over the glacier’s surface. There’s also the chance to kayak over a glacial lake or chill out in natural hot springs. No matter how you choose to spend the day here, it’s set to be one to remember.

Day 16: Hokitika / Greymouth / Christchurch

Travel up the wild and wet West Coast, where the country’s highest annual rainfall means the landscapes are unbelievably green and lush, standing in striking contrast to the blue ocean. Stop off in the town of Hokitika and pop into a pounamu factory where you’ll have the chance to pick up any final souvenirs to remember your trip. If time allows, you may have the chance to visit a kiwi centre, where delightful kiwi birds can be observed in a nocturnal house. Your journey may be nearing its end, but the last leg may just top them all. Hop aboard the iconic TranzAlpine train as you cross the Southern Alps through Arthur’s pass on your way back to Christchurch – you’re going to want to have your camera ready for this one! Arrive to Christchurch in the evening and perhaps head out for dinner and drinks with your group.

Day 17: Christchurch

Your adventure comes to an end this morning, but if you’re not ready to go home yet, just get in touch ahead of time and we can arrange additional accommodation in Christchurch (subject to availability).