Backyard Beauties Tour
- Duration: 13 Days (approx.)
- Location: Auckland, New Zealand
- Product code: backyard-beauties
Join us on this New Zealand adventure tour for thirteen unforgettable days exploring Wellington, Kaikōura, Christchurch, Wanaka, Lake Tekapo, Abel Tasman National Park, Franz Josef Glacier, Punakaiki and Queenstown – with the option to visit Milford Sound along the way.
We have some amazing included sights and activities over your 13 day action-packed adventure holiday in New Zealand. You’ll be strolling secluded beaches, whale watching in Kaikōura, traversing jaw-dropping mountain ranges, paddling a Māori waka, staying in a lush rainforest, being wowed by the stars at an International Dark Sky Reserve, admiring turquoise lakes, intriguing rock formations, blue glaciers, picturesque cities, quaint gold-rush towns and carving your own greenstone pendant – phew! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get this adventure started!
Plus feel free to add on your choice of activities along the way to maximise your New Zealand holiday. Perhaps you yearn to take on New Zealand’s highest bungy? Step right up! Want to experience a high-speed jet-boat ride through a canyon close to where jetboating was invented? You got it! Want to hike the blue ice of a glacier after a breathtaking helicopter ride? We know the place to go! Fancy a scenic flight over two World Heritage Parks? We’ve got it covered. If paragliding has been your dream, we know where to get the best air – and dream views!
ALL HAKA ADVENTURE TOURS INCLUDE
ORIENTATION TOURS - we give you the low-down on every location.
COMFORTABLE TRANSPORT - with plenty of room to spread out.
CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST EVERY DAY - heaps of options for everyone (you too, vegans!)
HIGH-END HOSTEL ACCOMMODATION - dorm share, upgrades available.
CULTURAL EXPERIENCES - to teach you about our unique Māori culture.
EXPERIENCED LOCAL GUIDE - friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about NZ
SMALL GROUPS – MAXIMUM 16 - because you’re more than just a number!
BACKYARD BEAUTIES TOUR INCLUSIONS
Explore downtown Christchurch and see its inspiring regeneration since the 2011 quake
Visit the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, nestled by the shores of Lake Tekapo
Visit the charming, historic gold rush village of Arrowtown
Carve your own pounamu (jade) pendant in Franz Josef
Visit the Mountain Jade Factory in Hokitika
Visit the famous Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki
Two nights and a full day to play in the coastal paradise of Abel Tasman National Park
Learn to paddle a waka (Māori war canoe) along the Abel Tasman coastline
Iconic ferry ride between the North and South Islands across the Cook Strait
Fall in love with Wellington’s cafe and craft beer culture
DAY 1 – WELLINGTON TO KAIKŌURA
Packed with quirky cafes and beautiful street art, and famous for its wind, Wellington will blow you away in more ways than one! Your guide will introduce you to some of our favourite spots this morning. If there wasn’t a chance yesterday we’ll take a trip up Mount Victoria for the best views in town. Later on we say farewell to the North Island with a scenic ferry journey across the Cook Strait. The South Island has a stunning welcome in store for us – gliding through the Marlborough Sounds as we approach Picton Harbour, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. Our next destination, Kaikōura literally means “to eat crayfish”, and the area is teeming with them. The nutrient-rich waters of this area attract a wide variety of marine wildlife including the stars of the show – the whales and dolphins.
DAY 2 – KAIKŌURA TO CHRISTCHURCH
The chance to encounter dolphins in the wild is a massive New Zealand highlight for many travellers, and Kaikōura is one of the best places to find them, with pods of up to 300 of these playful creatures hanging out here at any one time. If you want to get up close to the giants of the ocean, a whale watching tour here is the way to do it. Humpbacks, sperm whales and orca all stop by at various times of year, so this is a great chance to meet some of them. After visiting the local seals on our way out of town, our road trip continues to our home for the night – Christchurch, known as the “Garden City” for its peaceful parklands and lazy rivers.
DAY 3 – CHRISTCHURCH TO TEKAPO
This morning we’ll explore iconic downtown Christchurch and your guide will show you the cool and creative ways the city is being rebuilt after the life-changing 2011 earthquake here. Christchurch folk are an innovative and creative bunch – the Transitional Cathedral, created from cardboard, is totally inspirational. After lunch we leave the city behind and head for Lake Tekapo. The lake’s breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop is a photographer’s dream come true. The tiny Church of the Good Shepherd stands right at the water’s edge, proving that small is definitely beautiful. Grab some confetti and congratulate any passing brides – couples travel from all over the world for wedding shots in front of the chapel! Tekapo has been declared an International Dark Sky Reserve and the super clear skies make it the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies on a clear night. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
DAY 4 – TEKAPO TO QUEENSTOWN
This morning if you’re feeling energetic, hike up to the summit of Mt John. With awesome views of the Southern Alps, you’ll feel on top of the world. Speaking of views, today’s scenic drive to Queenstown is a show-stopper. From the golden tussocklands of Mackenzie country – where epic battles of Return of the King were filmed – to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, it’s like you’re driving into a postcard. We’ll pause for lots of photo stops en route to give your camera a workout, including a stop at the spectacular Kawarau Gorge. This also happens to be the World Home of Bungy, give it a go or enjoy watching the jumpers scream their way through the gorge! Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. With two nights and plenty of daylight hours here, get ready – this town certainly knows how to live life to the max!
DAY 5 – QUEENSTOWN
With a full day in Queenstown, let’s work on that bucket list! There are heaps of options to choose from: paragliding over the lake, hiking trails to die for, bungy jumping while your Haka friends cheer you on, horse riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, and swinging through a canyon are just a few of our favourites. For scenery lovers, Milford Sound is a must-see. Whether you fly or drive, the scenery en route is as awesome as the destination. Once on the Sound, sailing beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you’ll understand why some call it the “8th Wonder of the World”. Tonight you have around 40 bars to choose from – your guide will fill you in on their favourites – to share your adventures with your travel buddies, and party the night away. Alternatively you can opt for an early night ready for another day of adventure!
DAY 6 – QUEENSTOWN TO WANAKA
One last morning in Queenstown to work on that bucket list. What will it be today - a canyoning experience, Lord of the Rings 4x4 safari, or a jet boat ride along the Shotover River? There are so many options. You decide. After the excitement of Queenstown, the afternoon is a chance to chill. Wanaka is Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister, a mere one hour drive away. On the way we’ll stop at charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of old world character. Blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake, you’ll soon see why Wanaka’s considered to be one of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain towns. There are stunning hikes and bike rides all around for a welcome chance to relax.
DAY 7 – WANAKA TO FRANZ JOSEF
This morning is about exploring Wanaka. How, exactly, is up to you! Optional activities include a flying lesson, skydiving, or a lake cruise and nature walk on Mou Waho Island. If none of those appeal, there are lots of scenic short walks in the area – including a visit to #thatwanakatree. Talk to your guide for the best options. The journey to Franz is another stunner – many of our Haka Guides rate it as their favourite drive in New Zealand. As we hit the road, we’ll stop at one of our favourite lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option. From the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won’t want to nap on the bus in case you miss anything. Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way. We roll into Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5 kilometres from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
DAY 8 – FRANZ JOSEF
With Aoraki/Mount Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain) twinkling behind the glaciers, Franz Josef is about as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand. Te Wāhi Pounamu (which means ‘the place of greenstone’ in Māori) is the name given to this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of pounamu (greenstone/jade) to be found here. Included in your tour today is a special opportunity to carve your very own pounamu pendant at a local gallery. There are heaps of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier; weather permitting, to get up onto the bluest ice you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers. Or maybe you’d prefer to kayak on a glacial lake. As well as the awesome glacier activities you could also try out skydiving or even a bit of group karaoke tonight in Franz Josef!
DAY 9 – FRANZ JOSEF TO PUNAKAIKI
Driving along the incredible coastal road and exploring the lush forests around Punakaiki, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s a rare treat to experience such remote prehistoric landscapes, so make the most of this awesome opportunity to unplug from the outside world. Get excited; our trusty guides always have some surprises up their sleeves for this part of the trip, including a spot or two to get your feet wet. We’ll visit one of the famous artisan greenstone factories in Hokitika as we make our way north, as well as passing through some old gold mining towns before arriving in Punakaiki. One of Punakaiki’s many natural wonders is the subtropical rainforest – and we are staying in the heart of it for the next two nights! Cook up a group dinner (not included) in this rainforest paradise, and be sure to end the day watching the sun set over the ocean tonight.
DAY 10 – PUNAKAIKI
Whether you decide to soak up the sun on the unspoilt beaches or stroll through the rainforest to a chorus of birdsong, you’ll shed your cares in this magical place. A short walk to see a giant stack of pancakes is a must-do: Punakaiki’s limestone Pancake Rocks developed over 30 million years ago. You’ll see what water pressure can do when the waves power through some seriously impressive blowholes – watch out for that spray! Today you could try your hand at bone carving or exploring the region’s underground caves by tube. Or simply chill by the beach near your rainforest home. On a clear night, head to the beach with your buddies and watch the stars come out to play – seriously, is there a better way to end the day?
DAY 11 – PUNAKAIKI TO ABEL TASMAN
Cruising up north from Punakaiki, the scenery gets better and better. The powerful, untouched coastline gives way to rivers and gorges before we drive over the hills and down towards the bayside town of Nelson, to stock up on supplies before our next remote hideaway. Mārahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, boasts golden beaches, tranquil lagoons and crystal clear waters. Abel Tasman is the perfect contrast to the wildness of the rainforests and mountains. Why will you fall in love with Abel Tasman? Lush forests, sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views... not to mention the resident wildlife. Get ready to lose your heart to the most popular National Park in New Zealand.
DAY 12 – ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
Abel Tasman... you beauty. Lush forests, golden sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views... not to mention the local seals, dolphins and bird life. You might like to hike part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track – one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks – or paddle a kayak to Split Apple Rock. You could jump, slide, abseil, float and zipline your way through the park on an awesome canyoning adventure. Fancy a relaxing day instead? Choose yourself a golden beach and make yourself at home.
DAY 13 – ABEL TASMAN TO WELLINGTON
Today is the last day of your tour! You’ll start things off by learning to paddle a traditional waka (Māori war canoe). Experience a karakia (blessing for protection), and learn tikanga (waka etiquette) all while getting out on the water to enjoy this unique included activity. Our road trip continues along the northern edge of the South Island this afternoon. We’ll make a quick stop at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve (a film location for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) and make our way through Havelock as we wind our way towards Picton to catch the afternoon ferry to Wellington. As the lights of Picton Harbour fade into the night, relax on board together for a chilled evening. The tour officially finishes at 8pm today in Wellington, but your accommodation tonight is included.