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New Zealand Small Group Tour

Odyssey offers easy, convenient, and relaxed escorted small group tours across New Zealand. We explore New Zealand's fairy-tale natural beauty, its ancient landscapes its World Heritage Sites, and famous cities, all with some truly spectacular scenery along the way. This and more is all waiting to be explored on one of Odyssey’s small group tours of New Zealand, designed for the senior traveller, and led by experienced, and enthusiastic like minded people.

NOTE; This program may be run in reverse, that is from the South island to the North island. Please contact Odyssey to confirm tour direction. 

This New Zealand small group tour for senior and mature travellers will guide travellers through the landscapes of both the North Island and the South island as well as having an opportunity to observe the native wildlife in the national park network and learn about the history of this incredible island country. Travellers on this tour of New Zealand observe the landscape of the North island shaped by Volcanism, from the basalt volcanic cones that dominate Auckland to the geothermal activity including boiling mud in Rotorua. Leaving Rotorua this guided tour travels through landscapes of sharp hills covered in native bush or pasture south to Wellington to take the interislander ferry to the South island. The hard spine of Southern Alps that dominate the South island soon appear after we leave Picton. The Southern alps dominate, hiding the travellers view through to the west coast, only a few passes such as Arthurs pass, Haast pass and Franz Josef allow you through to other side of the South island and the Tasman sea. For the traveller in the South island, the scenic sights are numerous and appear to be on a grander scale from the Abel Tasman National park or Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and Fjordland National park

The arrival of the Europeans dominated by British settlers in New Zealand set in motion a startling and ultimately largely successful co-existence with the Maori people that we will see and experience on this educational trip. The traditional owners of the land and immigrants had to come to terms with fiercely disparate environments and climates, from the subtropical north to the alpine south. This is the route we will follow on this tour, moving from the North Island to the South Island, as we track the Maori people from the dawn of history to the present time.

On this 17-day New Zealand tour, mature and senior travellers taking this trip will experience the best of both the North and the South Island. We will begin the tour of New Zealand in Auckland in the North Island, moving south to Rotorua and to the island’s southern tip Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. In South Island, we visit Christchurch, moving south to Dunedin and then Queenstown where the tour will conclude.

This small group tour will be accompanied by an Odyssey Program Leader and local guides who will impart their knowledge about the places we will visit on the trip. Odyssey conducts educational tours with small groups of mature and senior travellers, focusing on history, culture and architecture. Group size is typically between 6 to 12 people. The cost of the tour is inclusive of all entrances (unless otherwise indicated), tipping, and majority of the meals.

This particular tour of New Zealand has periods of free time built into the itinerary, allowing you to explore some destinations at your own pace, and choose from a variety of available activities. This way, we make sure that there is something to enjoy for every kind of traveller.

New Zealand Small Group Tour for seniors; Itinerary & Highlights

New Zealand (Maori name: Aotearoa) is an island country with a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq. mi) in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most southernmost countries in the world, about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific islands of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. The country has two main islands: The North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu), and about 600 smaller islands.

North Island

This Seniors small group tour of New Zealand starts in the North Island in Auckland where we start with a day tour of the city including "Tamaki Drive" out to Mission bay, and Mt Eden. We take a guided tour of the Auckland War memorial museum to gain an understanding of New Zealand culture and geographical presence in the South Pacific.

We then head south to Rotorua. The group has a guided tour of Te Puia Thermal Reserve, the centre of Maori culture and a site of incredible geological activity. We spend time exploring some of the many attractions of Rotorua, including the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and its many traditional villages, before enjoying a traditional Maori performance and getting to know the Maori culture.

Moving South, we stop at the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley an active geo-thermal park. The Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley was once known as Mount Tarawera. We continue onto Lake Taupo, a massive lake created by a volcanic eruption to arrive for a night in the Tongariro National park. In Wellington, we will enjoy a guided walking tour of New Zealand’s capital city, finishing at Te Papa Museum on the waterfront.

South Island

Taking the Cook Strait interislander ferry to the South Island, we travel from Wellington to Christchurch. This is a relaxing three-hour journey that will take you through New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery and landmarks, stopping en route at the beautiful coastal town of Kaikoura for lunch.

We spend two nights in Christchurch, with one day spent with a local tour guide and another day free. An interesting sight nearby is the rock formations of Castle Hill, described by the Dalai Lama as one of the 'spiritual centres of the universe'. We then head to Dunedin to explore and learn about a city designed in Edinburgh, Scotland.... On our way to Dunedin we pause in Oamaru to explore Oamaru’s quirky Victorian Precinct, famous for its Steampunk playground and restored buildings.

From Dunedin this small group tour travels to Te Anau for a night. A small settlement next to the Fiordland National Park, (Fjordland National park) part of UNESCO World Heritage site, Te Wāhipounamu. After overnighting, we take a journey up to see Milford Sound, a drowned glacial valley created in the last ice age! The afternoon we drive around to Queenstown. We spend our last full day in Queenstown, with a local guides.

If you would like to learn more about New Zealand, check out our country profile. For more details about this tour, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

USA/Canada visitors; Please call the 1-877-770-0446 Toll Free number


Articles about New Zealand published by Odyssey Traveller

For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link. 

External articles to assist you on your visit to New Zealand

Articles about New Zealand

Castle Hill New Zealand's South Island

Castle Hill, New Zealand

5 mins read

Castle Hill, New Zealand In a country famous for beautiful landscapes, only Castle Hill has received one particular honour: being declared by the Dalai Lama as a ‘spiritual centre of the universe’. Castle Hill is…

Volcanic Cone - Mount Eden

Definitive Guide to Auckland, New Zealand

15 mins read

Definitive Guide to Auckland, New Zealand Few cities are as geographically blessed as Auckland. While New Zealand’s largest city might be home to almost a third of the country’s total population, nature is never far…

Hokitika gorge New Zealand

Hokitika, New Zealand

5 mins read

Hokitika, New Zealand The epitome of a Gold Rush ‘boomtown’, Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is now officially known as the ‘cool little town’, an ideal gateway for…

Fur seal

Kaikoura, New Zealand

5 mins read

Kaikoura, New Zealand Perched spectacularly between the mountains and the sea, the small town of Kaikoura, New Zealand offers incredible opportunities for marine wildlife spotting. Kaikoura is on the South Island of New Zealand, around…

Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

2 mins read New Zealand

Queenstown is a resort town on the South Island of New Zealand. Built on the lakeshore of Lake Wakatipu, the town provides amazing views having the Remarkables Mountain Range as its background.

Odyssey Traveller

Questions about New Zealand for senior travellers

2 mins read

Questions About New Zealand for senior travellers Odyssey Traveller specialises in crafting unforgettable experiences for senior and mature-aged travellers interested in learning as a couple or as a solo traveller when they travel. Providing adventure…

Aerial view of Wellington Cit

Wellington, New Zealand

3 mins read New Zealand

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, and the administrative centre of Wellington region, located on the south part of the North Island between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range.


While the South Island gets most of the attention thanks to Franz Josef Glacier, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Christchurch and more, the North Island has just as much to offer. You can learn about the volcanic and geothermal activity of the island and the Maori culture. Destinations worth a visit are the beautiful Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga up north with the Waitangi treaty grounds, Auckland and its volcanic islands, such as Waiheke Island and Rangitoto Island, Rotorua, Tongariro, the Waitomo glowworm caves, the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington.

Some of the main cities of the North Island are Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Rotorua, Hastings and Gisborne.

Maui is a very important demigod in the Maori mythology. One day he overheard his four brothers that they wanted to leave him behind while going fishing. Maui made a fishhook from a magical ancestral jawbone and hid in the brothers’ canoe. When they were far out on the sea, Maui revealed himself, and threw the magical fishhook in the sea while chanting powerful incantations. The hook caught fast, and with the help of his brothers Maui brought the fish to the surface. He then begged them to wait until he had appeased to Tangaroa, the god of the sea, but the brothers did not listen and started to carve out pieces for themselves, forming the many mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers and coastlines of the island.

If you want to cross from the North to the South Island, you either have to fly or take the ferry across the Cook Strait. The Interislander ferry operates between Wellington and Picton since 1962, and it takes about 3-3.5 hours to complete the crossing. The ferry route is one of the great journeys of New Zealand. On your journey, marvel at the beauty of Marlborough Sounds, the north coast of the South Island, which is made up of 1500 kilometres of sunken river valleys.

The North Island’s area is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi), making it the world’s 14th largest island. With 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), the South Island is the 12th largest, and thus the bigger of the main islands of New Zealand.

The population of New Zealand is around 4.9 million people, and according to the latest census, 76% lives on the North Island, equalling about 3.7 million people, while the South Island accounts for 23%, and the rest of the 600 islands for 1%. This means the North Island is the smaller but more populous island between the two main islands.

Initially Pakeha (European New Zealanders) settled on the South Island, and it wasn’t until 1911 that the population of the North Island overtook the South Island (56% vs 44%). The drift north still continues, with Auckland, the biggest economic hub of the country being the main driver of the change.

Essentials include hat, sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, warm clothing, a water bottle and a camera! For more suggestions, take a look at our list of things to bring on an Odyssey walking tour.

We also have a number of packing guides:


Our walking tour of New Zealand is rated as Level 3 – Moderate to Challenging on our fitness scale. For more information on our fitness levels click here.

Our Level 3 guidelines suggest that:

Participants must be in excellent health, extremely mobile and live an active lifestyle. Program activities may include up to 6 hours of continuous strenuous, moderate-to-fast paced activities per day on varied terrain.

If you enjoy the many outdoor activities available, such as hiking and mountain biking, you should visit New Zealand during the summer months of December to March, which brings long, bright and sunny days and temperatures of 16°C to 24°C. If you are a winter sports fan, you should visit from June to the first week in October, Though temperatures in the mountains are cold; once you get away from there, the winters are relatively short and mild.

Auckland is a bustling urban city, that also offers beautiful lush native rainforests, golden sand beaches, rolling hills of wine country, hiking trails, picturesque country gardens, unspoilt forest and tranquil bays to explore. Auckland region is dotted with 48 volcanic cones which provide spectacular panoramic views of the city and harbour. Auckland is also famous for its shopping, nightlife and diverse range of cafes and restaurants. Don’t forget to go north to visit the amazing Bay of IslandsThe Bay of Islands consists of 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula.

Wellington is a small and creative city with a mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine and surrounded by nature.

There are many museums, art galleries and theatre shows that make up the city’s pulsing cultural scene. If you’re into the outdoors, you can relax at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand inner-city beach and delve into the Wellington has action-packed adventure activities like mountain biking and sea-water kayaking, as well as beautiful walks around the harbour and surrounding hills. Try the visually Ride the cable

New Zealand’s national museum, or Te Papa, as it’s colloquially known, means ‘our place’ and is one of the best interactive museums in the world.

Rotorua is renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. In Te Puia’s Whakarewarewa Valley, there are bubbling mud pools and the 30m-tall Pohutu Geyser, which erupts many times daily. It’s also home to a living Maori village and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Besides exploring the geothermal hot pools, you can:

  • Ride world-class mountain bike trails.
  • Swim in natural hot springs.
  • Walk among natural springs and river trails.

You should plan to spend around NZ$185 ($129) per day on your vacation in New Zealand, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travellers have spent, on average, NZ$41 ($29) on meals for one day and NZ$27 ($19) on local transportation.

In larger cities (Christchurch and Queenstown) Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 start hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. During our 17-day to of the South Island, we stay in Christchurch, Hokitika, Makarora, Queenstown, Clyde, Dunedin and Oamaru.

Odyssey specialises in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups sizes are between 6 to 12 people. Our tours are designed for active, inquisitive travellers in a small group environment.

Our escorted 17-day small group tour of New Zealand’s South Island, is off the beaten track and for like-minded people curious about history, culture, wine and landscapes. Your tour director and local guides share their knowledge with you on this tour for seniors.

Queenstown is famous for offering adventure and adrenaline. Surrounded by towering mountains, positioned on the edge of a lake,

Queenstown sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges.

There’s skiing from winter right through to spring, and activities such as bungy jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting all year round.

If hardcore adventure isn’t your thing, there are plenty of mellow options available. Experience one of the many walking and hiking trails, sightseeing tours or indulge yourself with spa treatments, boutique shopping and excellent food and wine.

Both Milford and Doubtful Sound are located in Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. Milford Sound sits to the north of Fiordland and is the last fiord in the national park. Doubtful Sound, on the other hand, is located much further south and is roughly in the middle of Fiordland National Park. Milford Sound is easily the most visited place in Fiordland National Park and arguably the most beautiful and offers the widest range of experiences out of the two fiords. This makes Milford an easy front runner for those who love to personalize their experience and make it one the whole family will love. Doubtful Sound is a rather untouched paradise that’s off the beaten path. It’s an adventurous journey and one you’ll share with fewer people.

There are many stunning glaciers in New Zealand. There are few places in the world you can easily access glaciers at low altitudes and New Zealand is one of them. There are over 3,000 glaciers in New Zealand. The South Island’s West Coast is home to New Zealand’s two most famous glaciersFox and Franz Josef. It’s an easy walk to the terminal faces of both glaciers. Or, if you’re adventurous, then a helicopter ride or a guided ice walk are simply unforgettable experiences.

On the other side of the Southern Alps, the Tasman Glacier is the largest in New Zealand. The Tasman Glacier has a beautiful terminal lake. It’s a short walk to view the glacier.

PDF of Tour

New Zealand world map
Hobbiton, New Zealand
Sheep in New Zealand
Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand
Outdoors hot pool in Rotorua, New Zealand.
Champagne pool, Rotorua, New Zealand
waitangi treaty grounds
war memorial