The splendour of New Zealand's green pastures, steep cliffs and authentic Maori culture makes the destination an unparalleled beauty and an unmissable travel destination. Take a trip through the exhilarating rainforests and geothermal vents to experience for yourself just how special this country is on this 22 day tour

The majesty and spectacle of New Zealand received a fitting cinematic due with Peter Jackson’s astonishing Lord of the Rings trilogy. The diversity and beauty of NZ was a character all itself as it helped bring Middle Earth to life, with more than 150 locations standing in for JRR Tolkien’s fantastical landscapes. Whether it was the lush idyllic green of the Shire (the Waikato town of Matamata), the becalmed Elf haven of Rivendell (Wellington’s Kaitoke Regional Park), the fairest of forests, Lothlorien (Lake Wakatipu), the sumptuous peaks and flats of Isengard (Paradise, near Glenorchy) or the dramatic splendour of Mt Doom (Mt Ngauruhoe) that inspired him, the Land of the Long White Cloud had Tolkien spoilt for choice.

“To stick in one spot here would be akin to staying in the Shire when the call for action came knocking”

It’s an impressive chronicle of the country’s many sights and is a rousing reminder that so much of exploring New Zealand is about the journeys that unravel between destinations. To stick in one spot here would be akin to staying in the Shire when the call for action came knocking.






  • Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world in terms of population
  • There are around 50 volcanoes in the Auckland region
  • The nickname of Auckland is the “City of Sails” which refers to the unbeatable waters which surround it.

Even among the key areas it’s an impossible task to settle on one given their differences; in fact, you’ve gone all that way, it’d be foolish not to see them all.

Auckland is the country’s largest city and an impressive urban hub. The feel is cosmopolitan and lively – there’s always a gig or a show to be seen, while the food scene has seen a boom in invention and excellence. Head to its wild west, just an hour away, and a world of sea views, rugged clifftops, rainforest, lagoons and breathtaking beaches awaits.

Wellington’s architecture and eclectic vibe give the capital a winning personality. There’s a great nightlife, a concentrated centre and beautiful harbour.

Christchurch, the gateway to the South Island, boasts a winning mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. Its 21-hectare Botanic Gardens are elegantly cultivated and more importantly, free to enter. The extensive array of flora is truly heartening. Also on the South Island, Queenstown is framed by the dramatic indigo peaks of the Remarkables mountain range and enclosed by the coves of the striking Lake Wakatipu. Buzzing with life, charming little pedestrian streets, cosmopolitan restaurants, excellent vineyards and a healthy arts scene, Queenstown is a small town with big impact.

Napier, meanwhile, is a rare gem, with street after street of unforgettable art deco architecture. Built up from the rubble of one of New Zealand’s deadliest earthquakes in 1931, the town is an exemplar of the typically hopeful and colourful response from New Zealanders to disaster.

“expect top tastes in laidback surroundings. Great Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian, and comforting mainstays like pizza and burgers getting their due”

Of course, on any journey sustenance and spirits are all important. Thankfully New Zealand’s buzzing food culture won’t just keep the energy up, it’ll inspire along the way. Enveloped by the ocean, it’s little wonder that seafood is a must, but, as you’d expect by now, the choice on offer is far more eclectic. Culinary influences from Asia, the Pacific and beyond merge with more established food traditions from earlier European settlement and Maori cuisine. There is little pomp in New Zealand’s food scene; expect top tastes in laidback surroundings. Great Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian, and comforting mainstays like pizza and burgers getting their due. Hawkes Bay is New Zealand’s oldest wine region–and second largest–with a climate similar to Bordeaux. Expect full-bodied reds that use Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes, and rich, complex Chardonnays. There are plenty of food markets too, providing a great showcase of traditional local and family farmer produce alongside up-and-coming experimentalists.

The stunning vistas have become so synonymous with Hobbits, Orcs, Dwarves and Wizards, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a country of pure adventure alone. But just as the country is made up of an estimated 600 outlying islands, on top of the two main North and South islands, there is more bubbling under the surface than meets the eye. It’s inventive arts scene, booming craft beer scene, welcoming locals–who happily chat to strangers–and celebration of the historic Maori culture shows there’s a whole world to explore. As for the people, the locals inspire intrepid travellers because they are so intrepid themselves. The coffee’s pretty top notch as well.


  • Mount Cook, also Known as Aoraki Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain peak, with a height of 3,754 meters above the sea level
  • The first Europeans who may have seen Aoraki / Mount Cook were members of Abel Tasman’s crew, who saw a “large uplifted high land”
  • Mt Cook National Park is a site to behold with 19 peaks over 3000 metres and bursting with wildlife.

Not far north and the skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields of Mt Cook highlight the characteristic contrasts that are rooted across the land. Here, following in Sir Edmund Hillary’s cramponed footsteps might be something of a stretch, but the Franz Josef Glacier is a very achievable cliffhanger. Traipse along and up and across the blue-white ice or simply camp and glory at the stars come nightfall.

“The vibrant blue-turquoise waters are full of marine life and the islands that populate the bay punctuate the spectacular views”

Even arriving at a destination there is always more journey to take. At the Bay of Plenty flawless white-sand coastline meets rolling ocean waves and it could hardly be frowned upon to just sit in the sand and enjoy the serenity ­– Ohope Beach stretches for 11km, is clean and swimming safe, while the warmth and bird life give it a tropical feel. The vibrant blue-turquoise waters are full of marine life and the islands that populate the bay punctuate the spectacular views. But then a trek up Mount Maunganui beckons for truly invigorating views of the the Bay, watching the ships coming in and going out and the surrounding Kaimai mountain range. Tracks are well-kept and signposted, with rabbits and sheep grazing along the way. The view at sunset is one for the Bucket List.


  • Dunedin’s museums and culture are wonderfully diverse. Dive in at Otago or the Settlers museum for an interesting exhibition
  • The Live music in Dunedin never really stops—catch some Jazz down at The Dog with Two Tails, or one of the new regular pop ups
  • It’s the Southernmost City in the world!

“the pleasingly toy-like orange train rattles along the rails, the rolling panorama of rustic countryside and clifftop views provide the perfect space for contemplation”

Take South Island’s Dunedin and the Taieri Gorge Railway. The four-hour return to Pukerangi serves up a rolling panorama of natural wonders aboard a striking feat of late 19th-century engineering. As the pleasingly toy-like orange train rattles along the rails, the rolling panorama of rustic countryside and clifftop views provide the perfect space for contemplation. There are plenty of opportunities to disembark on the way and explore, but even if you never left your seat it would be a trip worth taking for the sights alone.



Your tour opens in Auckland, the “City of Sails,” consistently rated one of the best places in the world to live. Auckland’s Polynesian population instills into its chic atmosphere the vibrant feel of the Pacific Islands. This evening, join your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner.

Bay of Islands
DAY 2-3


Come to know the best of Auckland during a panoramic city tour featuring the America’s Cup Village, the War Memorial, bustling Queen Street, and the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Next, travel north to the sun-soaked Bay of Islands.


Start the day with a cruise around the Bay of Islands, which features the famous Hole in the Rock and a stop off at picturesque Urupukapuka Island. Relax on the beach or ascend the heights for panoramic views. 



Leave the sparkling waters of the Bay of Islands behind and head to Matakohe in the heartland of the North Island. Make a stop at the Kauri Museum where you will come to know the stories surrounding the giant kauri tree that can live for 2,000 years. Discover how the early settlers used this abundant tree to build a life for themselves. Later, make yourself right at home when a New Zealand family welcomes you for the night!* This is sure to be an unforgettable experience as you make new friends, learn about the customs of the “Kiwis” and enjoy a home-cooked meal.

DAY 5-6


Today, find yourself amid the dramatic geothermal landscape of Rotorua. With over one-third of its population boasting Maori roots, this city is known as the Maori capital of New Zealand. In the evening, experience an authentic Hangi dinner celebration where you learn about the warm-hearted Maoris and their lives before European colonists arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and since. An immersive and authentic experience of Maori culture. 


Journey into the Hawke’s Bay region. After arriving in the city of Napier, which boasts some of the greatest Art Deco architecture in the world, enjoy a guided tour and learn why Napier took on such an eclectic design style. 



Travel through the rolling countryside of the North Island. The rural vistas and the rugged Rimutaka Range slowly give way to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.

DAY 8-9


A walking tour of Wellington will show off the Beehive, New Zealand’s Parliament; historic St Paul’s Church; and the Old Government Building – the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere.


A beautiful ferry ride from Wellington across Cook Strait takes you to Picton on the South Island. Then a coastal drive will bring you to the picturesque village of Havelock. On to Blenheim, where you can relax at your hotel before heading to a local winery where you will see the vineyard, enjoy a tasting and dine at the cellar door bistro.

DAY 10-11

DAY 10

A morning to enjoy Blenheim and then onto the world-famous wine region of Marlborough. 

DAY 11

Drive through the heart of the South Island and further along the rugged coast to Punakaiki, where columns of water shoot skyward from rocks. 

DAY 12

DAY 12

We continue our journey along the stunning coastline. Our destination is the glacially carved landscape of the Franz Josef Region. Along the way, make a stop in Hokitiki to meet the skilled carvers who work with the West Coast pounamu – New Zealand greenstone – at a local jade shop.

Franz Josef
DAY 13

DAY 13

Before departing Franz Josef – if the dynamic New Zealand weather cooperates – you may opt to see this beautiful glacier region from a bird’s-eye view during a flightseeing tour. En route to Queenstown, watch as the amazing landscape unfolds before your eyes as you pass through the rainforest, bordered by the Southern Alps and the twisting coastline.

DAY 14-16

DAY 14

Set off for the beautiful 19th-century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown. Take time to explore its historic streets. During a stop at a local winery, visit the underground storage cave for a tasting of their award-winning wine.

DAY 15

A full day of leisure in Queenstown offers several options to enhance your dream trip. Shop or people-watch in the village. Or, join the optional “Journey through Middle Earth” tour, which takes you through the majestic Remarkable Mountains and the breathtaking Queenstown countryside.

DAY 16

En route to Milford Sound, enjoy the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. During a cruise of the breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound you will see why this fjord is one of the most visited sights on the South Island. Following your cruise, enjoy an overnight stay on the southern shores of Lake Te Anau.

Te Anau
DAY 17

DAY 17

Travel to Dunedin, on the southeast coast of New Zealand. One of the earliest European settlements on the islands, Dunedin holds proudly to its Scottish heritage and traditions.

DAY 18-19

DAY 18

This morning’s panoramic drive reveals Larnach Castle as well as Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest public road. Later you can embark on an optional trip on the spectacular Taieri Gorge Railway.

DAY 19

Journey through New Zealand’s unspoiled wilderness and arrive at Mt Cook National Park, where permanent ice fields and glaciers blanket the ragged peaks. 

Mt Cook
DAY 20

DAY 20

The Maori word for Mt. Cook is Aoraki, which means “cloud piercer.” Journey through New Zealand’s unspoiled wilderness and arrive at Mt. Cook National Park, where permanent ice fields and glaciers blanket the ragged peaks. This is where famed New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary honed his skills before conquering Everest. You may choose to take a nature walk, enjoy an optional glacier flightseeing tour (weather permitting) or simply meditate on the beauty of the Southern Alps.

DAY 21-22

DAY 21

This morning enjoy a short tour of Christchurch. Afterwards, you have free time to enjoy the sights on your own or perhaps join in an optional excursion. Tonight, visit the region’s earliest home, Riccarton House, and enjoy a farewell dinner.

DAY 22

The tour concludes.


Reader’s Digest only recommends the very best tours, which is why we are working with Collette – boasting a century of travel experience and strong family ownership, Collette focusses on helping you get the very best curated experience when you travel.

If you want to find out more about the SPLENDOUR OF NEW ZEALAND TOUR then you can request a no-obligation quote below or call 0800 804 8373 to speak to a travel adviser.

If you can’t wait to get your tour booked then click on ‘buy now’ to go straight through to the Collette site and plan the adventure of a lifetime.