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Journey by coach, ferry and railway from the North Island to the South Island of New Zealand during this 5-day trip from Auckland to Christchurch, or vice versa. Ride a boat into the Waitomo Glowworm Caves; see the geothermal wonderland at Te Pua and the Agrodome Sheep Show in Rotorua; take the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait from Wellington; and hop on a Coastal Pacific train from Picton to Kaikoura, where you’ll watch giant sperm whales at play. Enjoy overnight accommodation in Rotorua, Wellington and Kaikoura. 


  • Explore the best of New Zealand's natural beauty in five-days
  • Boat ride through the glow worm grotto at Waitomo Caves
  • Relax at Rotorua's geothermal parks
  • Cross Cook Straight by ferry between Wellington and Picton
  • Take in the spectacular coastal scenery on the train journey between Picton and Kaikoura (only from 01 October, to 30 April)
  • Spot giant sperm whales in Kaikoura

What You Can Expect

5-Day New Zealand North and South Island Highlights Trip

5-Day New Zealand North and South Island Highlights Trip

You’ll be mesmerized by the natural beauty of New Zealand on this 5-day tour. Travel from Auckland to Christchurch, or take the tour in reverse, with four nights’ accommodation and all transportation included. Guided tours include Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Rotorua’s thermal pools and Kaikoura whale watching, and you have plenty of time at leisure to relax between sightseeing.


Day 1: Auckland – Waitomo – Rotorua
Today you will depart from Auckland and drive to the magical Waitomo Caves. Here you will have a guided tour of the caves, before taking a short boat ride along the river to the Glowworm Grotto. Be enchanted by thousands of glow worms emitting tiny lights that twinkle in the darkness. Later, you drive to Rotorua, passing through Fitzgerald Glade, a section of highway where native bush forms a canopy overhead. 

Overnight: Sudima Rotorua or similar in Rotorua 

Day 2: Rotorua
This morning explore Rotorua's geothermal wonderland and discover the unique culture of New Zealand's Maori people. Enjoy a guided tour of Te Puia, see Rainbow Springs and watch the Agrodome Sheep Show. The rest of the day is at leisure and in the evening you might like to experience a Maori hangi (a traditional barbecue) and concert (own expense). 

Overnight: Sudima Rotorua or similar in Rotorua 

Day 3: Rotorua – Wellington
There is more stunning scenery on offer today as you travel by coach to Wellington, passing Lake Taupo, Palmerston North and the Kapiti Coast. 

Overnight: James Cook Grand Chancellor or similar in Wellington 

Day 4: Wellington – Picton – Kaikoura
This morning, travel by InterIslander ferry, via Cook Strait to Picton. Then it’s all aboard the Coastal Pacific train to Kaikoura. This is a spectacular railway journey that passes through stunning coastal scenery and rugged mountain ranges. 

Overnight: White Morph or similar in Kaikoura 

Day 5: Kaikoura – Christchurch
The highlight this morning is a whale-watching tour by boat or light aircraft. See the gentle giants of the sea and be thrilled as the giant sperm whales breach, and watch the dolphins and seals at play. Later in the afternoon you will drive to Christchurch where your tour concludes.

Please note: This tour itinerary can also be operated in reverse, from Christchurch to Auckland

Customer Reviews


5 star rating: Highly Recommended January 2016

Wish that the transit in Taupo Lake was longer...10 minutes was like touch and go...and should not be listed as highlight of the tour...

Uolevi K

4 star rating: Recommended January 2014

The tour was ok, but why 5 days' tour is only 4 days tour with one free day? Heidi and Uolevi

Caroline D

4 star rating: Recommended February 2013

Great tour with a well timed itinerary and wonderful local staff. Would have been useful to know of the names of the local places of accommodation or at least what type of rooms we were booked into as we could have made better use of the kitchenettes if we had known. It would also be helpful to have it stated clearly and upfront, that this is a self-guided tour with the occasional input from local operators. It was not a draw back for us, but certainly not expected when booking a "tour".

Joel F

4 star rating: Recommended December 2011

very nice trip
would book again!

Filomena P

3 star rating: Worth doing October 2010

Make sure you travel light when you take this tour. You will be at the bus station, waiting for your particular bus to get you to your tour. One of the hotel ( Mercure)we stayed as not nice and no elevator, so we have to carry our large heavy luggage naad there was no porter to help us.

Natalie R I

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better April 2016

I don't know if I booked something wrong or misread but I did not expect to be completely by myself for the tour, I thought that I would be part of a tour group. Other than that the places and the sights and activities were great! I would love the same tour but with more people to meet!

Sheila D

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better March 2012

The details of this trip read that it was a tour. I signed up alone for my first trip to New Zealand. I expected a tour where the same people would be with me for the duration. This was very different. One day, I was transported to a public bus, which I rode for the day to Wellington. The hotel was in an area too far for any real sight seeing. You are left on your own quite a bit. That was OK in a couple of stops since there were things you could do and see on your own. I did enjoy NZ quite a bit and was able to see a bit of both islands. The tour ends in Christchurch. I was moved by what the people of Christchurch have been through. I think you should reconsider the end city of the tour. Access to the city, where most tourist attractions were, is closed. Based on the other Viator tours I've taken, this rated very low.

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