FeatureImage.AdventureToursNewZealand

New Zealand tours and companies for your big Kiwi adventure 2018

Explore the Land of the Long White Cloud led by the best guides in the country.

Adventurous activities such as bungee jumping and canyoning blend with a landscape of mountains, volcanoes, rivers and glaciers in the captivating country that is New Zealand.

Ideal for relaxation, road trips and adrenaline fixes, whatever your flavour, New Zealand has something for everyone.

Not sure where to start? We've rounded up the top tour companies and tours that can help you savour the experience.

Our top 3 sites to book New Zealand tours

1. Contiki

Explore the nation from top to bottom with an array of in-depth tours each armed with free time add-ons such as canyon swinging and ice climbing so you leave with no regrets.

  • Best for: Youths aged 18–35 years old
  • Cost: Mid-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: The 'Sweet As' South tour is a traveller's favourite that focuses on the South Island and its iconic sites, such as Milford Sound and optional adrenaline-pumping activities, such as the canyon swing in Queenstown.

Book your tour with Contiki


2. Haka Tours

With New Zealand tour names such as "Adrenalin Junkie Tour" and "Dirt Seeker MTB Tour", these experiences are for those seeking all the best thrills and spills.

  • Best for: Adventure and thrill seekers aged 18+
  • Cost: Budget to mid-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: The Legendary NZ Tour is a crowd pleaser that blitzes across the North and South Islands over 21 days. Sandy beaches, calm lakes and Lord of the Rings movie set backdrops pepper the itinerary, which isn't without it's heart-pumping activities including the chance to abseil, jump off the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world and hike mountains for views over the Southern Alps.

Book your tour with Haka Tours


3. Scenic

All-inclusive luxury comes standard with your Scenic tour. That's stylish accommodation, a wide range of dining options and exclusive activities such as America's Cup Sailing experiences. Tours of New Zealand feature a combination of land, boat and air transportation to whisk you away in the most memorable way.

  • Best for: Luxury tourists and families
  • Cost: High-end
  • Our favourite itinerary: Scenic Splendour carries you across the landscape with little physical activity, making it ideal for all ages. In it, you'll dine on an authentic hangi dinner, stay overnight in award-winning wineries, marvel over Franz Josef Glacier and be enchanted by glow worms. Optional extras are available for more exceptional experiences such as flying over volcanoes and glaciers.

Book your Scenic tour



Best for Lord of the Rings tours:

  • Hobbiton Tours: For the full movie set experience, you can't go past Hobbiton tours. Its located in Hobbiton on the North Island and includes the iconic "Movie Set" tour. Stick around for an Evening Banquet tour or make yours a special one with a private tour.
  • Discover New Zealand: For a more in-depth lay of the land, Discover New Zealand offers tours across the country and highlights the landscape locations from the films.
  • Viator: For tours as short at 70 minutes to as long as 2 days, Viator houses a range of tours throughout the country so you can pick and choose your favourites while exploring the nation your own way.

Best for glacier tours:

  • Stray Tours: Hit up Stray Tours' winter expeditions for gnarly treks on New Zealand's most famous glaciers.
  • G Adventures: Adventure is G Adventures' last name… literally! Hone in on its active offerings for thrills like hiking, biking, horseback riding and glacier trekking all in one tour package.
  • Viator: For day trips up to specific glaciers, Viator collects the best and lets you book up-to-the-wire. Tours include helicopter rides, heli hikes and kayak adventures near the glaciers.

Best for singles:

  • Contiki: Travel with like-minded souls aged 18 to 35 years old on adventure-filled itineraries.
  • G Adventures: With tour groups no larger than 16 people, expect tight friendships to be made on G Adventures tours.
  • Intrepid: People of all ages book Intrepid for its welcome atmosphere and adventurous mentality. Solo travellers are offered single supplements for a fee.

Best for winter and snow trips:

  • Haka Tours: Spend seven days on a snow safari, hopping between resorts. There's even a heli tour for those keen to explore backcountry.
  • Contiki: Plant yourself in Queenstown for a week to hone your skills on New Zealand's most renowned slopes.
  • Flying Kiwi: With a snow tour that's been top rated by National Geographic, expect unique accommodation, most meals and board and the chance to push the powder of four ski fields.

Popular New Zealand tour routes

New Zealand is broken up into two islands, the North Island and the South Island. In the North you'll find Auckland, WETA Studios/Hobbiton, Rotorua and Wellington. In the South is Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Lake Tekapo and Milford Sound.

Most people choose to focus their holiday on one or the other, although it's possible to see and do it all with enough time as the islands are connected by ferry.

North Island

New Zealand's North Island is the choice for Lord of the Rings fanatics, volcanic encounters such as mud pools and crater hikes and uniquely Kiwi sports like Zorbing which can only be done in the North.

Although glow worms can be seen in the South Island, they're more famous in the North in Waitomo due to its extensive cave network.

Northern Choice: Wellington to Auckland

Northern Choice: Wellington to Auckland from Contiki

Spend 10 days as a culture vulture, indulging in traditional dance and meals, biking picturesque tracks, climbing volcanic peaks and gazing upon imposing Kauri trees which stand 50 metres tall.

  • Tour company: Contiki
  • Best for: Youths, first-timers, those who love the great outdoors
  • Length of tour: 10 days

View details

South Island

When people say New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world, they're really talking about the South Island. It's where Queenstown and its bevy of activities like canyon swinging, white water rafting, skiing and glacier hiking are.

South Island Lick Tour

South Island Lick Tour from TourRadar

Lick the tip of the South Island's iceberg which hits Christchurch, MacKenzie Country, Queenstown, Wanaka and Franz Josef armed with a knowledgeable guide and enjoyable activities.

  • Tour company: Haka Tours
  • Best for: Adventure seekers, families
  • Length of tour: 7 days

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North to South (or vice versa)

Is FOMO getting the better of you? An all-encompassing North and South Island tour lets you see and do it all (or at least the important highlights) so you can leave feeling confident you can tick New Zealand off your bucket list. That, or use it as a taster for a more in-depth trip next time round!

Ultimate Explorer from Auckland

Ultimate Explorer from Auckland from TourRadar

Highly rated by National Geographic, the Ultimate Explorer doesn't miss a beat capturing the landscape in all its glory from Fox Glacier and Abel Tasman National Park to Rotorua and Mount Cook.

  • Tour company: Flying Kiwi
  • Best for: In-depth discovery
  • Length of tour: 28 days

View details

How long do I need in New Zealand?

Depending on your agenda, you could spend 3 to 7 days exploring a section of New Zealand, 10 days dedicated to one island or 14+ days taking in all the country has to offer.

Our pick: Best 5 day tour:

Queenstown Otago Rail Trail

Queenstown Otago Rail Trail from TourRadar

When in Queenstown, the thing to do is be active and this 5-day cycling tour does just that, letting you explore the lay of the land on two wheels. It travels from Queenstown to Christchurch via Dunedin.

  • Tour company: Adventure South
  • Best for: Active adventures
  • Places visited: Queenstown, Clyde, Ranfurly, Dunedin, Christchurch

View details

Our pick: Best 7 day tour

Ultimate NZ Ski

Ultimate NZ Ski from Contiki

Tired of the Aussie ski fields? Searching for a fresh run? New Zealand is home to some of the Southern Hemisphere's best ski resorts and with Contiki you can hit the slopes with like-minded travellers, accommodation and meals all in tow.

  • Tour company: Contiki
  • Best for: Snow trips
  • Places visited: Queenstown

View details

Our pick: Best 10 day tour

North Island encompassed

North Island encompassed from G Adventures

Forest walks, snorkelling, glow worm hunting, white water rafting and spa relaxing await you on the country's North Island.

  • Tour company: G Adventures
  • Best for: Small groups and in-depth tours
  • Places visited: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Raglan, Rotorua, Lake Taupo and Wellington.

View details

Our pick: Best 14+ day tour

Amplified New Zealand tour

Amplified New Zealand tour from TourRadar

Blaze across the country, starting in Auckland and ending in Christchurch, ticking off all the bucket-list items from the geysers and mud pools in Rotorua and the Church of the Good Shepherd to the waterfalls of Milford Sound and the glaciers of Franz Josef.

  • Tour company: Haka Tours
  • Best for: In-depth discovery
  • Places visited: Auckland, Coromandel, Waitomo, Rotorua, Murupara, Taupo, Wellington, Kaikoura, Christchurch, MacKenzie Country, Queenstown, Wanaka, Franz Josef.

View details

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Feature image: Contiki

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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