A two-week taste of both the North and South islands, The New Zealand Sampler tour is a shorter version of The New Zealand Experience tour. Still packed with the features that make a Black Sheep guided Experience Tour so special, The New Zealand Sampler is a compact, two-week exploration of New Zealand's diverse beauty and culture. Here are some of the 15-day tour highlights:
Day 1: Welcome to New Zealand! - Auckland to Bay of Islands
- sail on emerald waters to a secluded island bay
- walk beneath forest giants
- peer into the belly of a volcano
- soak in thermal waters beneath mountain peaks
- wine and dine under sun-drenched vines
- sea kayak along stunning, bush-laden coastline
- float beneath cave constellations
- soar over awe-inspiring glaciers
- starts in Auckland, finishes in Queenstown
- 15 days / 14 nights
- See Dates & Rates for tour schedule and pricing
In Auckland, you're greeted by your Black Sheep guide who whisks you off to the stunning Bay of Islands for the start of your adventure.
Day 2: Set Sail on the Bay - Bay of Islands
Sail amongst the picturesque islands of the bay. Take the helm, climb the rigging, or just sit back and enjoy the sea breeze and a bit of penguin-spotting. Wash away the last remains of jetlag in the emerald waters of a secluded island bay.
Day 3: Coast & Kauris - Bay of Islands
Spend the morning walking beneath giant, ancient kauri trees and along magnificent coastline. This afternoon, a guided tour of the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds and cultural performance provide deeper insight into New Zealand’s Maori and colonial past.
Day 4: Birdlife to Nightlife - To Auckland
Return to Auckland, taking a detour to New Zealand's largest gannet colony, perched above black volcanic sands. Study these birds in their natural habitat before settling into your own nest in the heart of Auckland's vibrant waterfront district.
Day 5: Maori Culture - To Rotorua
Travel to Rotorua and visit Te Puia, New Zealand's Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, located in the steaming landscape of a geothermal valley. Test the healing theories of Rotorua's thermal waters in a nearby spa (test passed!). Emerge from the pools and venture to the restaurant of your choice in Rotorua's diverse dining district.
Day 6: Volcanic Wonders - Rotorua
Boat to White Island and peer into the belly of an active volcano. So this is what Dante was on about. If conditions preclude a White Island visit, take a scenic flight over the giant volcanic crater of Mt Tarawera and visit boiling lakes, turquoise pools, hot streams and other active geothermal features on land.
Day 7: Southern Exposure - To Christchurch
Fly to the South Island city of Christchurch, described as the most English of New Zealand's cities. Stroll through the Botanical Gardens, visit the galleries and museums, or enjoy a coffee in the square as you marvel at the post-quake ingenuity and artwork that has bloomed up in the central city.
Day 8: Alpine Relaxation - To Hanmer Springs
Travel north and inland to the picturesque alpine village of Hanmer Springs, the South Island's thermal spa resort. Enjoy an array of therapeutic pools interconnected with thermal streams set beneath towering pines and rolling peaks. Hanmer has a great variety of mountain bike and walking trails, a golf course, horse riding, shops, cafes and more--perfect for an afternoon of self-exploration.
Day 9: Mountains to Sea - To Nelson
From Hanmer, travel north through the beautiful ranges of the Lewis Pass to Nelson, a vibrant region renowned for its vineyards, artists and outdoor pursuits. Enjoy lunch amongst the vines in one of Nelson's premiere wineries, drinking in the South Island's relaxed atmosphere (both figuratively and literally) before continuing on to your hotel in the central city, adjacent to riverside parks, galleries, bookshops, and cafes.
Day 10: Abel Tasman Adventure - Nelson
Sea kayak, cruise or hike along the stunning shoreline of arguably one of the most beautiful parks in the country. Aquamarine waters, temperate forest, golden sand beaches--no arguments here. At the end of the day, note how the colloquialism 'Good day, mate' rolls off your tongue.
Day 11: West Coast Wonderland - To Punakaiki
Resume your journey, stopping for a hike in the spectacular Nelson Lakes region before emerging on the wild and woolly West Coast. Explore the limestone cave systems that honeycomb this region. View delicate, unspoiled formations on a Scenic Caving trip, or take a Cave Rafting adventure, featuring glow-worm constellations, an underground river, a whole lot of rubber, and plenty of laughs. Following our adventure we wind our way along stunning, bush-laden coast to your lodging at the renowned Pancake Rocks. Note that you are definitely not in Kansas.
Day 12: : Glacial Glory - To the Glaciers Region
Head south to New Zealand's spectacular glacier region. Thank yourself for choosing a guided trip, because you can't take your eyes off the scenery -- a serious no-no on these roads. In the village of Franz Josef, take a scenic helicopter flight, passing near Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest peak, and landing on the glacier's neve. Back on terra firma, hike to the glacier face and visit a stand of old-growth rainforest. Marvel at how ferns and ice can be within cooee of each other (that's Kiwi for 'really close').
Day 13: Scenic Journey - To Queenstown
Hike around the peaceful, reflective water of a glacial kettle lake, then head south to Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital. On the way, explore hidden trails and secluded waterfalls before desending into Queenstown. Resting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and flanked by The Remarkables, this is a stunning setting in which to base ourselves for our final two nights.
Day 14: Mother Nature on Steroids - Queenstown
Embrace the energy of this lively town with your choice of optional activities such as, hiking, jet boating, rafting, shopping, horse-trekking, bungy-jumping, reading, or whatever other optional activities you choose. Decide that Queenstown, backed by the aptly-named Remarkables mountain range, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We regather this evening for a farewell dinner to celebrate the friendships made and memories shared. While making a speech, accidentally call your guide 'Mommy'.
Day 15: Fond Farewells - Queenstown to Home
Depending on your flight schedule, take time to relax, make final purchases, or reconsider that bungy jump before traveling home or to your next destination. We’re confident you’ll leave New Zealand with memories and friendships that will enrich your life for years to come
For those with a bit more time...
Why not add on an excursion to Fiordland or a multi-day tramp (hike) on one of New Zealand's Great Walks? There are lots of options; contact us for details.