As the planet heats up environmentally and politically, it’s good to know that New Zealand exists. This uncrowded, green, peaceful and accepting country is the ultimate escape.

The Real ‘Big Easy’

Forget New Orleans… NZ can rightly claim the ‘Big Easy’ crown for the sheer ease of travel here. This isn’t a place where you encounter many on-the-road frustrations: buses and trains run on time; roads are in good nick; ATMs proliferate; pickpockets, scam merchants and bedbug-ridden hostels are few and far between; and the food is unlikely to send you running for the nearest public toilets (usually clean and stocked with the requisite paper). And there are no snakes, and only one poisonous spider – the rare katipo, sightings of which are considered lucky. This decent nation is a place where you can relax and enjoy (rather than endure) your holiday.

Māori Culture

If you’re even remotely interested in rugby, you’ll have heard of NZ’s all-conquering All Blacks, who would never have become back-to-back world champions without their unstoppable Māori players. But this is just one example of how Māori culture impresses itself on contemporary Kiwi life: across NZ you can hear Māori language, watch Māori TV, see main-street marae (meeting houses), join in a hangi (Māori feast) or catch a cultural performance with traditional Māori song, dance and usually a blood-curdling haka (war dance). You might draw the line at contemplating ta moko, traditional Māori tattooing (often applied to the face).

Food, Wine & Beer

Kiwi food was once a bland echo of a boiled British Sunday roast – but these days NZ chefs find inspiration in new-world culinary oceans, especially the South Pacific with its abundant seafood and encircling cuisines. And don’t go home without seeking out some local faves: paua (abalone), kina (sea urchin) and kumara (sweet potato). For picnic fodder, head to NZ’s fab farmers markets. Thirsty? NZ’s cool-climate wineries have been filling trophy cabinets for decades (sublime pinot noir and sauvignon blanc), and the country’s craft-beer scene is exploding. Contemporary coffee culture is also firmly entrenched.

Walk on the Wild Side

There are just 4.6 million New Zealanders, scattered across 268,021 sq km: bigger than the UK with one-fourteenth the population. Filling in the gaps are the sublime forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and fiords that have made NZ one of the best hiking (locals call it ‘tramping’) destinations on earth. Tackle one of nine epic ‘Great Walks’ – you’ve probably heard of the Heaphy and Milford Tracks – or just spend a few hours wandering along a beach, paddling a canoe or mountain biking through some easily accessible wilderness.

Why I Love New Zealand

By Charles Rawlings-Way, Writer
As an English-born Australian, every trip to New Zealand presents a mix of landscapes and cultures that’s at once familiar to me, and yet quirkily different. The rolling hills and hedgerows collude with the irreverent, easygoing locals to disarm, distract and delight. Māori culture is potent, the surf is world class, and the craft beer is awesome. NZ presents the best of old and new worlds with social and environmental sensibility: a template for a new world order, perhaps? I love NZ!
Read More: Lonely Planet

Itinerary Details

Day 1 - Arrive Auckland

Auckland is a vibrant and densely-populated urban area in New Zealand. Lying between mountain ranges and a vast sea, this place has remarkable geographical diversity, which lends it abundant natural beauty. The stunning beaches and trek-worthy mountains attract a large chunk of tourists coming to the city. Even the modern aspect of the city is attractive as it houses several museums, galleries and other notable edifices. In the evening, visit the 328 metres high Sky Tower, which earns fame as the tallest man-made structure in the entire Southern Hemisphere. This observation and telecommunications tower is a major landmark and integral part of the Auckland's impressive skyline. Afterwards, go for a walk on the upscale Viaduct Harbor, which lies on the city's stunning waterfront. Later, return to the hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 2 - Auckland - Waitomo - Rotorua

Travel south through the fertile Waikato region to arrive at Waitomo. Enjoy a guided tour of the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves including an underground boat ride viewing the millions of glow worms on the cavern roof. On completion continue over the forested Mamaku Ranges to reach the 'Thermal City' of Rotorua. This evening enjoy an authentic Maori Hangi (feast) and Concert. Overnight at hotel.

Day 3 - Rotorua

Post a delicious breakfast in the hotel, leave for Agrodome, which lies in the heart of a verdant farmland in the outskirts of Rotorua. Here you will get a chance to be a spectator of the famous and iconic Agrodome Agricultural Show (farm show), during which various impressive and entertaining performances by farm animals are presented. Later during the day, visit the thermal village of Te Puia, which is known for its natural geysers, springs and pools. The water here is said to have medicinal properties and is considered of a healing nature by the locals. From here, proceed towards Rainbow Springs – a state park where the flora and fauna of the region is preserved. Here you can spot a variety of colourful birds and endemic plants found nowhere else. Spend the remaining evening at leisurely activities of your choice. After a fun-filled day, retire to the hotel for a relaxing overnight stay.

Day 4 - Rotorua - Wellington

After Breakfast, Travel south to reach the popular lake resort of Taupo and along the shores of Lake Taupo to Turangi, before continuing on the Desert Road, dominated in the background by the three peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. Continue south through lush farmland before arriving in the 'Capital City' of Wellington.

Day 5 - Wellington

After breakfast, Enjoy Wellington Guided City Tour with Te Papa Museum. Overnight stay in Wellington.

Day 6 - Wellington - Picton - Kaikoura

After Breakfast, Travel across Cook Strait, this separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and into the Marlborough Sounds with its sparkling clear waters and lush forests, before arriving in Picton. Travel south through the town of Blenheim, before reaching Kaikoura, here you might like to take an optional Whale watch cruise or scenic flight. Overnight stay at Kaikoura

Day 7 - Kaikoura - Christchurch

Leave Kaikoura behind as you turn inland and travel through North Canterbury to reach the 'Garden City' of Christchurch. Officially, it is the oldest established city in the country; as designated by a Royal Charter from 1856. The natural bounties and rich fauna of this place attract hordes of travelers throughout the year. Christchurch was under the influence and rule of the Europeans for several years and has its colonial history preserved in the magnificent edifices and informative museums. After completing the check-in formalities at the hotel, spend the remaining day at leisure.

Day 8 - Christchurch - Mt Cook

Travel across the fertile Canterbury Plains before arriving at Lake Tekapo. Visit the 'Church of the Good Shepherd' before continuing onto Mt Cook National Park.

Day 9 - Mt Cook - Queenstown

Travel across the fertile Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo and the 'Church of the Good Shepherd' before continuing on to New Zealand's highest mountain - Mt Cook. Depart Mt Cook and follow the shores of Lake Pukaki south through the historic Central Otago region to the 'Alpine Resort' of Queenstown. Spend the night in your hotel room.

Day 10 - Queenstown

The Day at Leisure to explore the optional attractions in Queenstown like bungee jumping, jet boating, white water rafting, gondola rides and much more. Overnight in Hotel.

Day 11 - Queenstown - Milford Sound - Te Anau

After Breakfast, follow the southern arm of Lake Wakatipu to Lumsden, and onward to Lake Te Anau. Enter the Eglinton Valley and travel through the breath taking man made Homer Tunnel to reach Milford Sound. Enjoy a cruise on this world famous fiord, dominated by Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls. Return to Te Anau. Overnight stay in Te Anau

Day 12 - Te Anau - Dunedin

Cross the fertile Southland Plains through Gore and Balclutha to South Otago. Then travel north to the 'Edinburgh of the South', Dunedin. Rest of the day at Leisure. Overnight stay in Dunedin.

Day 13 - Dunedin - Christchurch

Travel north through lush farmland and a series of small farming communities to Christchurch. Overnight stay in Christchurch.

Day 14 - Departure Day

After breakfast, transfer to Auckland Airport for your flight back to India.