The ultimate 3-week family-friendly adventure through New Zealand
New Zealand is a magical destination rich in awe-inspiring scenery, fascinating culture and fabulous food and wine, fused with exhilarating adventure opportunities, such as hiking, kayaking, rafting and helicopter rides.
Our experts have scouted the very best of what New Zealand has to offer to bring you this ultra-premium three-week itinerary designed especially with active families in mind.
A journey that takes in luxurious lodges, exclusive use retreats, speedboat excursions, trekking, expert wildlife encounters, Maori cultural activities, riding, water sports and a wine tour (one for the adults only), it is truly the ultimate expression of a family holiday in New Zealand. As always, however, our itineraries are bespoke and can be adapted to your specific requirements, so think of this as a delicious launch point for your personalised trip.
DAY 1 – Bay of Islands
Haere Mai – Welcome to New Zealand. On arrival in Auckland, you will transfer to the helipad for a flight to The Landing in the Bay of Islands, a stunning subtropical micro-region encompassing 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula.
You’ll spend 4 nights at The Landing in the Cooper Residence, a unique heritage and conservation property set on a thousand acres of beaches, rolling hills, wildlife sanctuaries and historic sites, that offers superb hospitality and a range of exceptional activities and experiences.
DAY 2 – MV Ata Rangi Charter
Enjoy a day out on the water on a private charter. During the day we hope to introduce you to Dr Ingrid Visser, the only researcher specializing in orca in New Zealand waters. With sophisticated electronics, modern luxury amenities, exceptional fishing credentials and expert crew, MV Ata Rangi offers a cruising or fishing experience that can include local islands from Cape Brett to the stunning Whangaroa Harbour and the Cavalli Islands.
DAY 3 – Bay of Islands – Free Day
A day to explore the property at The Landing – alone or with a guide – or head out on a small boat charter. This is a chance to engage with The Landing’s extraordinary pre-European and colonial heritage and its cultural and environmental legacy – explore archaeological sites, artefacts and rare book collections and learn about contemporary Maori culture, art and food. Visit restored wetlands, regenerated native bush and bird sanctuaries, then get set for kiwi-spotting at night.
DAY 4 – Bay of Islands – Free Day
Another day to relax and recharge at The Landing. Keen divers have the option to head out to The Poor Knights, a volcanic marine and nature reserve filled with spectacular walls, caves, arches, and tunnels, just a 10-minute helicopter flight away.
Spend 3 nights in the Owner’s Cottage at Cape Kidnappers, a 5-star luxury lodge with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. Cape Kidnappers has a golf course ranked #16 in the world by Golf Digest, plus further leisure opportunities including a spa, horseback riding, nature walks and more.
DAY 6 – Can Am Tour
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is an enormous property that stretches along the Hawke’s Bay coastline, affording spectacular views of the Ocean Beach. Much of the property is inaccessible to regular four-wheel drive vehicles, but a guided Can-Am expedition takes intrepid guests to the furthermost reaches of the property. In the afternoon, enjoy a Kiwi Discovery walk on the Cape Kidnappers wildlife preserve, where guests have the chance to get up-close with and learn more about one of New Zealand’s most endangered and iconic birds.
DAY 7 – Biking the Puketapu Loop
Ride the stop-banks of the Tutaekuri River on this round-trip route from Taradale to the rural settlement of Puketapu. We suggest a visit to Moana Park Winery and lunch at the iconic Puketapu Pub before returning on the opposite side of the river. After an easy climb, enjoy views of the surrounding region from the historic Otatara Maori Pa Site then treat yourself to a chocolate delight at the Silky Oaks Chocolate Factory and Cafe before ending your ride back in Taradale.
DAY 8 – Taupo
Your private driver will collect you this morning as you depart Cape Kidnappers and head to Huka Lodge in Taupo for a 3-night stay. (Drive time: 2.5 hours). The Great Lake Taupo region is an adventure mecca and a nature-lover’s paradise, centrally located in the middle of the North Island. The region is one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations with beautiful forests, volcanic mountains and the stunning Lake Taupo.
Long regarded as one of the country’s top lodges, Huka Lodge is a lovely place of style and character evolved from a fishing lodge. A combination of superb design, smooth service, and the all-important human touch make this lodge extra-special.
DAY 9 – Mount Titiraupenga
Your private driver will meet you this morning and drive you to Mt Titiraupenga. (Drive time: 1 hour). Long known by Maori to be the centre of the North Island, this mountain is home to a sacred area of mature native bush and 600-year-old Totara trees. In this mystical setting, we like to arrange a formal welcome or powhiri, followed by a ‘sharing session’ and an introduction to Maori weavers, warriors, and carvers.
DAY 10 – ‘Ko tahi Te ra’ Exclusive Day
You will be collected by for a day out near Orakei Korako by Tom Loughlin, a legendary tangata whenua (person of the land) and an experienced Maori chef, outdoorsman and search and rescue specialist (tracker). Passionate about sharing the magic of New Zealand with his guests, you can participate in traditional food preparation and cooking of the hangi (feast) or just sit back, relax with a drink and leave the work to Tom, before a walk through the Orakei Korako Thermal Reserve, boasting the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand.
DAY 11 – Split Apple Retreat at Abel Tasman national park
You will be taken to Taupo Airport this morning for a private charter flight to Nelson Airport. On arrival in Nelson your driver will take you to Split Apple Retreat for a 3-night, exclusive use stay. (Drive time: 1 hour). A heli excursion to an alpine lake for lunch before continuing to Split Apple Retreat is also an option.
Split Apple Retreat is a lovely three-bedroom cliff-top lodge, overlooking the sea and Abel Tasman National Park that specialises in delightful cuisine.
DAY 12 – Abel Tasman Charter
You will meet your charter on the beach below Split Apple Retreat for some time on the Abel Tasman. You’ll have the freedom to create your own itinerary for the day and options include; kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, bush walks and hiking on golden sand beaches. Lunch, refreshments, towels and sunscreen are provided.
DAY 13 – Relax at Split Apple
Split Apple Retreat is the perfect place to enjoy a day at leisure, indulging in the spectacular setting, original décor and unparalleled service. Enjoy the salt-water, infinity swimming pool and Japanese spa overlooking the Abel Tasman National Park and Tasman Bay, with additional rejuvenation features including a FAR-infrared sauna, a large steam room, yoga pavilion, and a meditation theatre.
DAY 14 – Kaikoura Wildlife
Your hosts will take you to the heli pad this morning for a flight to Kaikoura. (Flight time: 1 hour). If you prefer a road transfer this will take 4.5 hours. Kaikoura township is located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from lush farmland beneath the mountains. In the waters off the peninsula, a complex marine system provides a rich habitat for marine mammals and seabirds, making it an ideal place to lose yourself in nature.
Spend 2 nights at Hapuku Lodge in a Family Tree House. Located in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Hapuku Lodge is a 5-star eco-retreat, near the town of Kaikoura. Nestled 30 feet in the air, the tree houses sit amongst a native Kanuka Grove underneath the majestic Kaikoura Mountains.
DAY 15 – Seal Kayaking
Your hosts from Hapuku Lodge will take you down to the coast to begin your privately guided seal kayaking trip. A fun way to be on the water and see the wildlife, experience the excitement of watching fur seals ducking, weaving, and diving around your kayak and paddle along with them as they swim around the Kaikoura Peninsula hunting for octopus. This adventure around the beautiful coastal waters takes in the breath-taking views of sheer cliff faces, craggy rocks, and mountain ranges while searching for chance encounters with Dusky dolphins and blue penguins.
DAY 16 – Wanaka
Depart Hapuku Lodge. Your driver will transfer you to Blenheim Airport where you will board your private charter flight to Wanaka. (Drive time: 1.75 hours). On arrival in Wanaka, a private driver will be waiting to take you to the lake in Wanaka where a gourmet picnic lunch will be waiting.
Spend 3 nights at Mahu Whenua, lodge and eco sanctuary boasting captivating views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains. Inside, you’ll find rustic design that incorporates locally sourced materials and contemporary features. Horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, yoga, spa services, cooking courses, conservation tours, and heli-skiing are all available on-site.
DAY 17 – Horse Riding
Exploring the property on horseback is an incredibly special experience at Mahu Whenua. Let your guide lead you through purpose-built trails, past rivers, beech forest and valleys, stopping halfway for morning or afternoon tea. If you’d prefer an introduction to the horses, wander down to the stables and have your guide lead you and your horse around the arena.
DAY 18 – Wild Food River Safari
A private driver will collect you this morning to drive you to Makarora for a jetboating experience. (Drive time 1 hour). The jetboat was invented in New Zealand as a clever way of navigating the very shallow waters of South Island’s braided rivers. The boat ride will showcase some of the best jetboating terrain in the country – gravel banks, fast flowing rivers, and gin-clear water, set against the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps. After a bit of a thrill, you will head ashore for a traditional “West Coast” barbecue, washed down with excellent local wines.
DAY 19 – West Coast Experience
Enjoy an exclusive heli excursion through the Siberia Valley, including a BBQ picnic in a remote location. Waterfalls, high alpine lakes, enormous and sharp drops, and range after range receding into the distance make this one of the finest helicopter flights in the world today.
Spend 3 nights in the Penthouse of Eichardt’s in the heart of Queenstown’s café and restaurant precinct on a premium lakefront setting.
DAY 20 – Wine Tour
A day for adults only, Central Otago is one of the leading wine regions of the world, established in Gibbston by Sir Alan Brady in 1981. Enjoy a tailor-made wine tour, including “by appointment only” boutique wineries, introductions to local winemakers, viticulturists and growers and exclusive barrel tastings.
DAY 21 – Rafting & Scenic Adventure + Gondola & Luge
Experience a family rafting expedition in the morning, followed by an energising lunch, before heading up the gondola for some luging fun. Your adventure begins with a unique sightseeing trip into the famous Skippers Canyon, before floating on the Upper Shotover River. You’ll finish on the luge track, hurtling down a selection of exhilarating tracks.
DAY 22 – Departure Day
Your private driver will take you back to Queenstown airport where your private charter aircraft will be waiting to take you to Auckland to connect with your flight home. We recommend at least 2.5 hours check in for international flights but please check the rules will your specific airline. Safe Travels!