Book Tour

Southbound Tour

Starting with an overnight cruise in the Bay of Islands you're about to experience 20 days of awe inspiring activities, sights and adventures. You'll traverse both islands, from the top of the north to the deep south with plenty in between. Explore the detailed itinerary below.



20 days


14 Different Locations

Group size

Maximum 18 guests


Breakfast, 2 lunches & 4 dinners included


Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
Cave rafting on West Coast
Tamaki Maori Village Cultural Experience and dinner
Overnight Cruise, kayaking and dinner
Interislander Ferry
Continental breakfast every day
Top Quality YHA hostels
Sky Tower Entry
Rainbow Springs and Kiwi Encounter
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland


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YHA Bay of Islands the Rock youth travelers catching fish

Your 20-day New Zealand adventure begins here. You’ll meet up with your fellow friendly voyagers, and together, venture into the gorgeous Northland region. We’ll journey through a kauri forest to meet Tāne Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest, a giant kauri tree. It's age is unknown but estimated to be over 1250 years old! The best way to explore the Bay of Islands is from the water… so that’s what we’ll do, cruising the night away aboard YHA The Rock Overnight Cruise. It's more than a cruise, you get to snorkel, kayak, visit a local island and for those less active you can simply enjoy the onboard bar.

Day Inclusions: Welcome dinner, cruise activities

Accommodation: YHA The Rock Overnight Cruise

Auckland City at nighttime with lights on

Not many people start the day on the water in a subtropical paradise. But you will! Following a morning exploring all the must-see sights of the Bay of Islands, we’ll travel back to Auckland for a little more big city time. There we’ll head to the top of the tallest freestanding structure in the southern hemisphere, the Sky Tower, to admire the most stunning views in the city.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast, lunch and Sky Tower entry

Accommodation: YHA Auckland International

waka boat floating through tamaki village

You’ve seen the north. Now you’ll go south. We’ll head through the mighty Waikato region, home to some of New Zealand’s greenest and most fertile farmland. Then it’s Rotorua. It’s an absolute must-visit, full of geothermal wonders and Māori cultural experiences. You’ll get up close and personal with the local native flora, fauna and wildlife, including the world’s only living dinosaur (Tuatara) and the famous kiwi bird. That evening, you’ll get a full Māori cultural experience. You’ll be welcomed on to tribal lands by warriors, witness a Haka (war dance) and sample Hāngi, a traditional Māori method of food cooked in an underground oven.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast, Rainbow Springs and Kiwi Encounter, Tamaki Maori Cultural Experience and Dinner

Accommodation: YHA Rotorua

YHA team member at Canopy Tours Rotorua

People flock from all over the world to explore Rotorua, so that’s what we’ll give you the chance to do. The day is yours to explore, relax, or get the adrenalin pumping! Just make sure to save some energy (and sights) for tomorrow…

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Rotorua

Optional Activities: OGO, Rafting, Polynesian Spa, Canopy Tours, Skyline Luge

travellers at frying pan lake with geyser
The central North Island region is known for its geothermal landscape. We’ll start the day seeing this up close at the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland. You’ll be amazed by bubbling mud pools, the Lady Knox Geyser, silica formations and vibrant multi-coloured lakes. The journey to Taupo is relatively short giving you plenty of time to enjoy the sights. We'll stop at the famous Huka Falls. Marvel at 220,000 litres of water thundering over the falls every second, where New Zealand’s longest river narrows to a mere 15 metres across. We’ll end the day in Taupo, nestled on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland entry

Accommodation: YHA Taupo

YHA Gisborne travelling hiker looking over mountain top lake
The day is yours! Head off on a solo adventure, relax and unwind in a local café, or get a group together for a mission. It might be your first opportunity to sky dive or bungy jump - and if the weather to play ball here, there are plenty more opportunities for that adrenaline rush later in the trip.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Taupo

Optional Activities: Tongariro Crossing, Sky Diving, Bungy Jumping, Lake Cruise

yha new plymouth scenic mountain shot
We say goodbye to the Central Plateau and head towards the west coast of the North Island, travelling through the Pureora Forest Park, lush farmlands and out onto the coastline. We will arrive into New Plymouth which is overlooked by the iconically-shaped Mount Taranaki.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast, evening barbeque

Accommodation: YHA New Plymouth

YHA wellington view of the city from mount victoria
Today you travel to the capital city of New Zealand, Wellington. You’ll traverse the rich dairy farming region of South Taranaki and down through the shoreline of the Kapiti Coast before reaching the city at lunch time. A city tour takes us up Mount Victoria where you can enjoy 360 degree views of the city and bays.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Wellington

YHA wellington travellers checking out grey gandalf at weta artworks
It’s a day to yourself - and believe us, there’ll be no shortage of things to see and do! Wellington is famous for its cafes, restaurants, museums, galleries and eclectic array of shops and sights, and you’ll be staying right in the heart of it all.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Wellington

Optional Activities: Lord of the Rings Tour, Te Papa Museum, Botanic Gardens, Cable Car

Interislander ferry - Kaitaki
It is time to farewell the North Island and board the ferry from Wellington to Picton, located at the top of the South Island. This scenic voyage takes us through the Cook Straight and into the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Once we regroup in Picton we'll make the short drive over to Nelson.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast, Interislander Ferry crossing

Accommodation: YHA Nelson

Yellow able tasman kayak on beachfront
Explore Nelson and its surroundings at your leisure. We recommend a day tour over to Abel Tasman National Park, famous for its golden beaches; or a wine or craft beer tour—Nelson is renowned for both.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Nelson

Optional Activities: Abel Tasman day tour, kayaking, paddle boarding, wine tours.

YHA Westport coastline cape foulwind
Continuing our journey south we travel through award winning wine country, Murchison, the Buller Gorge and onto the rugged West Coast. Here we'll travel out to Cape Foulwind and Tauranga Bay where you will be able to see New Zealand fur seals in their natural environment.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Westport

Underworld Rafting
Starting off with the awesome experience that is Underworld rafting. Experience the hidden world of these amazing (and easy to navigate) cave systems. An experience you'll treasure! Then it's a short drive south to Punakaiki, home to the famous Pancake Rocks. Naturally-formed limestone ravines that look like big stacks of pancakes. Our next stop is Hokitika, once a gold mining boomtown, but now known for its local Pounamu (greenstone/jade). Local artists carve the stone by hand into jewellery and much more. Continuing south and a little inland, we end the day at Franz Josef Village, close to the famous glacier.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast, Underworld Rafting

Accommodation: YHA Franz Josef

Bird view of Wanaka town
Today we’re off on a trip to Lake Matheson for a short walk to the world famous reflection lake. As the name suggests, on a still day these lakes show an enchanting reflection of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki, Mount Cook. After that, we’ll continue our travels, passing over the majestic Haast Pass and into the stunning Southern Lakes District. We’ll stop overnight in the popular lakeside township of Wanaka. Enjoy the views of the lake with a glass of wine, or to keep the mind a little more active, visit Puzzling World with its mind-bending attractions.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Wanaka

Optional Activities: Puzzling World

Arrowtown in autumn
Continuing in Central Otago, we stop in scenic Cromwell and Arrowtown. These historic villages retain their yesteryear charm, so you’ll get a taste of what the goldrush days were like. Late afternoon we’ll make our way into Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland, where we’ll settle in for the night.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Te Anau

YHA Te Anau traveller taking photo of sounds
Today we’ll take a full day tour and wilderness cruise of Doubtful Sound. This is an experience not to be missed. Enjoy a scenic cruise across Lake Manapouri and travel deep into Fiordland National Park, with the chance of catching glimpses of dolphins, fur seals and penguins along the way. Then it’s on to Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. We’ll arrive in the late evening - but don’t worry, there are more adventures to come…

Day Inclusions: Breakfast & lunch, Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

Accommodation: YHA Queenstown Lakefront

Shotover Jet view from boat
Queenstown is perfect for a free day of adventuring no matter what your budget or preference. Take a steam boat cruise across Lake Wakatipu, or enjoy high speed adrenalin jet boating on the Shotover River. Head to the world-famous Fergburger (worth the queue), or dive head-first into a gorge on a bungy jump.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Queenstown Lakefront

Optional Activities: Sky diving, jet boating, bungy jumping, lake cruise, wine tours, the options are endless!

Skydiving discounts at NZONE with YHA
Didn’t fit all your Queenstown adventures into one day? No problem - we’re staying an extra night. Compare notes with your fellow YHA voyagers and make sure you check off all the things you want to experience.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Queenstown Lakefront

Optional Activities: The choices continue, too many to list.

Milky way over Church of the Good Shepherd
We’ll head over the Lindis Pass into Mackenzie Country, home to few people, lots of sheep, and magnificent wide-open grasslands. With the Southern Alps watching over us we’ll make our way north alongside hydroelectric canals, stopping along the way to soak in all the scenery, including the otherworldly blue waters of Lake Pukaki. By nightfall we’ll be at Lake Tekapo, famous for its brilliantly vibrant mountain-fed lake and brilliantly starry night sky. It’s the perfect place to spend to enjoy a farewell dinner at Our Dog Friday, YHA’s home of damn good burgers and beers.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast, dinner

Accommodation: YHA Lake Tekapo

Optional Activities: Dark Sky Experience, Tekapo Springs.

A blue tram drives through Christchurch City
On our last day together we’ll travel through the vast Canterbury Plains into the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch. It’s a vibrant city forging a new identity in the wake of a major earthquake in 2011, full of striking new architecture, quirky street art and glimpses of an older city that’s now changed in many ways. We’ll go on one last tour together to showcase some of the best Christchurch has to offer, before going our separate ways, having experienced the best Aotearoa, New Zealand has to offer.

Day Inclusions: Breakfast

Accommodation: YHA Christchurch

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