New Zealand Birthday Vacation: Penguins, Fiordlands, and Wilderness

This New Zealand Birthday Vacation package was planned for a young couple from Milwaukee. They were fascinated with wildlife and beautiful scenery, so we created this New Zealand Adventure package to take them to some of New Zealand’s most scenic areas.

They started their adventure in pristine Arthur’s Pass for a private nature hike and beautiful mountain views. From there, the couple traveled to the quaint Scottish town of Dunedin. While there, they enjoyed a wildlife tour of the Otago Peninsula and a wildlife cruise to see rare yellow-eyed penguins, royal albatross, and fur seals.

Next on their New Zealand Birthday Vacation, they drove the scenic route to Te Anau with an overnight at Kaka Point. On the drive, they were treated to stunning views of the ocean, forests, cliffs, and unique rock formations. In Te Anua, they were able to explore one of the most remote and scenic locations in New Zealand, the Fiordlands. They kayaked through the serene waters of Doubtful Sound with Real Journeys surrounded by dramatic mountains.

Continuing their New Zealand Birthday Vacation, they drove to the charming city of Queenstown, where they took a funyak safari on Dart River and explored the ancient beechwood forest. Next, they flew to Rotorua, which boasts unique geothermal landscapes and the most accessible Maori cultural experiences. In Rotorua, they took a walking tour of volcanic White Island. White Island is home to hot streams, steaming volcanic vents, and colorful sulphur formations that make it seem like something out of this world.

Last on their New Zealand Birthday Vacation, they drove to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. They had a relaxing overnight, then took a tour of the beautiful rainforest and black sand coast a short way from the city. Then, their New Zealand Birthday Vacation came to an end, and they were transferred to the airport to begin the journey home.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1
Welcome to New Zealand! After arriving in Christchurch, start your trip with a gorgeous drive into the Southern Alps to Arthur’s Pass. Your home for the next 2 nights will be a terrific lodge, a 2,400 hectare nature reserve and high country merino sheep station. You can walk from your room into a spectacular mountain setting of beech forest and moss-lined streams and lakes.
Wildnerness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

Day 2
This morning is yours to spend with your personal guide exploring the Arthur’s Pass region in a guided nature walk tailored to your interests. Traverse a moss forest and alpine wetlands to a historic high country musterer’s hut or climb into the glacier basin to view alpine flowers, cascades, and ice caves.
Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

Day 3
Today, you will be transferred to the airport and fly to Dunedin. Pick up your rental car and drive to your luxurious accommodations at Wains Hotel. After checking in, explore the attractions of Dunedin, including museums, galleries, gardens, and New Zealand’s only castle.
Wains Hotel

Day 4
Today, you will be collected from your hotel and take a wildlife tour of the Otago Peninsula. See the royal albatross and rare yellow-eyed penguins that call this beautiful coastal area home. In the afternoon, enjoy a wildlife viewing cruise to see more penguins as well as fur seals and other diverse flora and fauna.
Wains Hotel

Day 5
After breakfast, take the scenic drive from Dunedin to Kaka Point along New Zealand’s southern coast. Keep your camera on hand to capture the picturesque ocean, cliffs, and rock formations. Upon arrival at Kaka Point, settle into your lodgings at a bed and breakfast.
Catlins Mohua Park

Day 6
Continue on the scenic route to reach Te Anau and the gateway to Fiordland National Park, one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It is an area where snow-capped mountains meet freshwater lakes and expanses of forests. It is also home to Milford and Doubtful Sounds, narrow inlets surrounded by dramatic peaks and waterfalls. Your accommodation for the next 2 nights will be a lovely wilderness lodge set on the shores of Lake Te Anau.
Fiordland Lodge

Day 7
Today is a special day, as you will venture to one of the most remote and scenic locations in New Zealand, the Fiordlands, with Real Journeys. Travel through the rolling countryside to Manapouri. Cruise across the crystal waters of Lake Manapouri and then board a catamaran to explore the waterways of one of the most serene and isolated fjords, Doubtful Sound. Explore points of interest and view the spectacular alpine scenery, including waterfalls, rainforest, and mountains all the way out to the Tasman Sea. Try to spot bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and the rare Fiordland crested penguin.
Fiordland Lodge

Day 8
Today, enjoy a scenic drive from Te Anau to Queenstown. Along the way, see stunning mountain ranges, lakes, and forest, then check into your accommodations at Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel.
Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel

Day 9
Today, enjoy a funyak safari down Dart River. Paddle through magnificent mountain scenery, then stop in the ancient beech forest for a wilderness buffet lunch. Explore hidden side streams, rock pools, and dramatic chasms before continuing downstream to Paradise. Enjoy a scenic drive to Glenorchy, stopping to view beautiful scenery that has inspired films the world over.
Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel

Day 10
Make your way to the airport and fly to Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island. After checking into your hotel, spend the afternoon exploring the gorgeous natural playground that is Rotorua.
Pullman Rotorua

Day 11
Fly to the site of the largest eruption in New Zealand’s living memory. Landing on Mount Tarawera offers a privileged view of spectacular craters and domes formed by the 1886 eruption. Here you will enjoy an interesting commentary based on the region’s history, culture and geology. Scenic flights to and from the volcano take in expansive views of our stunning Lakes District and National Parks, not to mention a beautiful view of Mount Tarawera from above!
Pullman Rotorua

Day 12
Today, enjoy a scenic drive from Rotorua to Auckland, where you’ll drop off your rental car. Explore Auckland’s museums, nightlife, and native bush island destinations.
Hotel de Brett

Day 13
This morning, you’ll be picked up from your hotel for a special “Coast and Rainforest” tour of Auckland’s surrounds. Stop first at the Arataki Visitor Center to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Absorb the area’s history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings. Then walk through the rainforest, where your experienced guide will provide insight into the local flora and fauna. Unwind by a spectacular cascading waterfall, and venture on to an awe-inspiring west coast beach where you can stroll along the soft black sand. Enjoy a kiwi-style picnic lunch at a scenic location. Your eco-tour ends in an area of untamed original rainforest where mature 1,000 year old kauri trees tower over the unique flora and fauna that has developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years.
Hotel de Brett

Day 14
Today marks the end of your fantastic New Zealand adventure. You will be transferred to the airport to begin your journey home.

About this vacation
Cost Per Person

Does not include the cost of airfare

Based on
15 day stay
2 travelers

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