Trips of a lifetime: 7 New Zealand adventures that will change your life

Venture through New Zealand's mountains and fjords, connect with its people and cuisine, and dive into its oceans... These trips will make your NZ dream a reality

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1: Best trip for... road trippers

Southern Alps, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Southern Alps, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Hit the road for a breathtakingly beautiful 15-night self-drive adventure through both of NZ’s islands with New Zealand Sky. Beginning in Auckland and ending in Christchurch, you’ll be dazzled by the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, the awe-inspiring beauty of Mt Cook National Park, and the bounteous vineyards of the Marlborough region. There are plenty of activities to entice you out of your vehicle too, including whale watching in Kaikoura, adventure activities in Queenstown, and an unforgettable ride on the TranzAlpine train.

Trip: North to South Explorer Self-Drive

Who: New Zealand Sky

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 16 days

How much: From £1,689 (exc. flights)

2: Best trip for... climbers

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (Shutterstock)

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (Shutterstock)

The Southern Alps mountain range is the perfect place for climbers of all levels to sharpen up their skills. This 18-day Mount Cook Aoraki Ascent from World Expeditions summits the highest mountain in New Zealand – great for experienced climbers who want to tick it off their list, and for the less-experienced due to its manageable altitude (unlike the dizzying heights of the Himalayas or South America). That's not to say it's an easy-peasy feat – climbers still need to be physically fit, but with the help of mountain guides and the Alpine Climbing Course that this trip incorporates, this ascent is a challenging but rewarding experience. 

Trip: Mount Cook Aoraki Ascent

Who: World Expeditions

When: Departures Oct-Mar

How long: 18 days

How much: From £5,900 (exc. international flights)

3: Best trip for... luxury

A helicopter flies over Fiordland, southern New Zealand (Shutterstock)

A helicopter flies over Fiordland, southern New Zealand (Shutterstock)

If you really want to splurge on your New Zealand trip, Abercrombie and Kent's 16-day Luxury New Zealand tour goes all out... and then some. Perfect if money is no object! Some of the perks you can expect from this extravagant adventure include helicopter rides over both the North and South Islands, the finest hotels, exclusive access to a private wine estate for tastings, and Champagne served on top of a mountain.

Trip: Luxury New Zealand

Who: Abercrombie and Kent

When: Jan-Apr & Oct-Dec

How long: 15 days

How much: From £9,875 (inc. flights)

4: Best trip for... foodies

Dining in New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Dining in New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Food probably isn't the first thing you think of when picturing New Zealand, but Wexas Travel are out to change that with their New Zealand – A Culinary Journey tour. Travelling from north to south, this 22-day self-drive adventure takes you to the country's best food and drink hotspots: from outstanding restaurants to farmers' markets and wineries. You'll also have plenty of time to enjoy New Zealand's natural beauty, and the opportunity to get active with hiking, biking, or rafting (which might help burn some excess calories from all of that food and drink...)

Trip: New Zealand – A Culinary Journey

Who: Wexas Travel

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 25 days

How much: From £6,045 (inc. flights)

5: Best trip for... heritage

Maori man in Rotorua (Shutterstock)

Maori man in Rotorua (Shutterstock)

Experience New Zealand's fascinating indigenous culture on a Maori Heritage tour with Audley, which offers 14 days of adventure across the North Island. From wandering through ancient forests to discovering the historical side of Auckland and Wellington, this tour connects you with the heritage of New Zealand, through the people and places that keep it alive. You'll also have the opportunity to experience a hāngi, a Maori feast where you will sample some of the tribe's traditional food and drink. 

Trip: New Zealand's Maori Heritage

Who: Audley

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 14 days

How much: From £3,955 (exc. flights)

6: Best trip for... divers

Blue maomao fish in Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve (Shutterstock)

Blue maomao fish in Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve (Shutterstock)

Discover crumbling wrecks, technicolour reefs and dramatic drop-offs on this Technical Diving Tour with Dive Worldwide. Explore the underwater world of Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve (home to over 100 different species of pelagic and reef fish), dive on the area's most impressive shipwreck sites, and drive through some of New Zealand's loveliest landscapes. 

The itinerary includes dives in Tutukaka, Bay of Islands and Marlborough Sounds – and all equipment is provided. Travellers on this tour need to be certified technical divers, and all accompanying guides are fully trained for your safety and enjoyment. 

Trip: Technical Diving Tour

Who: Dive Worldwide

When: Departures Oct-May

How long: 14 days

How much: POA

7: Best trip for... hikers

Hiking in New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Hiking in New Zealand (Shutterstock)

New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world for outdoor adventure, so there's no shortage of hiking holidays. A 20-day Walking in New Zealand tour from Explore takes you to both the North and South Islands, through national parks, over glaciers, around Lake Wanaka, and to the mighty Milford Sound – a fiord with views to die for. It's an action-packed itinerary, but the walking level is easy – so it's not back-breaking stuff. Time to lace up those hiking boots!

Trip: Walking in New Zealand tour

Who: Explore

When: Departures Oct-Nov

How long: 19 days

How much: From £5,279 (exc. flights)

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