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12 Days in New Zealand

There's nowhere in the world that screams adventure quite like the small-but-mighty undeniably diverse New Zealand!  It's not just paddocks full of sheep (okay, there are a lot of sheep but...), it's jagged mountain peaks rising up over vast landscapes of bubbling earth, white sand beaches, sprawling lush fields, and waters so clear you'll be left in awe.  However, in a country that's often regarded as the "adventure capital of the world" we won't be simply staring at its beauty, we'll be getting out there to experience it all.  From the "big city" of Auckland and the beaches of the northern region, down through the hot springs and naturally active region of Rotorua, followed by the country's beautiful capital city of Wellington before capping things off in the heart of the mountainous South Island, Queenstown.  Through it all, we'll hike to beautiful vistas, soak in natural hot pools, hit the beach, sip world-class wine, while the more adventurous of us will have plenty of opportunities to kick things up a notch with bungee jumping, jet-boating, hang-gliding and zip-lining, to name a few.

New Zealand can actually be credited as the foundation of Detours itself, having been Miles' first overseas experience as a year-long working holiday adventure many moons ago.  We're excited to be returning to this beautiful destination to show off why we've always loved it so much!

LOOKING FOR OUR NEW ZEALAND TRIPS BEYOND MARCH 2024?  THEY'RE HERE.

Days 1, 2, and 3 - AUCKLAND and WAIHEKE ISLAND

Small by international standards, but the largest city in the country, we'll be kicking things off together in this seaside city of Auckland.  It's large enough to have all the world-class restaurants, shops, and even gay nightlife on K-road, yet small enough to retain a community feeling in its many quaint suburbs (Parnell is our favorite!).  Our first night together will be spent getting to know each other while enjoying some great food and getting acquainted with our home for the next 12 days - New Zealand!

On day 3 we'll all head over to the nearby Waiheke Island.  Just 40 minutes ferry from Auckland, past the volcanic islands of the Hauraki Gulf, to the picturesque and quiet getaway most well-known for its white sand beaches and wineries.  We'll treat ourselves to some good food and scenery on this day trip to explore one of our personal favorite spots in the country before heading back to Auckland in the afternoon for one last night in the city together before continuing on.

Included Activities: Waiheke Island trip including boat and bus transport

Optional Activities: Hike to Mt Eden, jump from the Skytower (or just enjoy the viewing deck), sail an America's Cup yacht, visit the Auckland Museum, explore the Hobbiton movie set tour...

Days 4, 5, and 6 - ROTORUA

It's only a 3 hour drive to Rotorua but we can't possibly miss one of the sites that put New Zealand on the cinematic map!  We'll detour off the highway to the amazing Waitomo Caves before continuing on to Rotorua.  Well known for its unique geothermal activity, geysers and hot mud pools that surround the town (and its distinct smell of course), this stop on our itinerary offers us many opportunities to soak up the warmth of natural hot springs, experience traditional Maori culture, and options to visit local kiwi birds or the underground glow-worm caves of Waitomo among many others.

Rotorua is home to a large percentage of Māori people and makes for a great place to experience the rich culture of the indigenous people of the region.  Combine this with a dip in the natural hot springs, a ride in a locally-invented Zorb (for those with a strong stomach), or a "black water rafting" adventure to make the most of your Rotorua experience!

Included Activities: Visit and full tour of the famous "Hobbiton" movie set, including lunch

Optional Activities: Underground river tubing, experience local culture at a Māori village visit, check out the geothermal wonders at Wai-O-Tapu, roll down a hill inside a "Zorb", white-water rafting on the Kaituna River...

Days 7 and 8 - WELLINGTON

Day 7 is our road trip day with a stop along the way at the powerful Huka Falls, then a scenic drive through New Zealand's inland desert, past the towering Tongariro National Park, and lots of sheep-filled fields before reaching the nation's capital city of Wellington.  It's a creative, scenic, and cultural sea-side city with lots of museums, endless views, and even gay nightlife here - perfect for our weekend stops!

On the way down to Wellington we'll detour off the highway for a real Kiwi farm experience.  Kylie and Andrew welcome us onto their working farm for a homecooked meal before giving us a taste of what local New Zealand farm life is all about.  We'll even meet a few of the over 30 million sheep in New Zealand before continuing down to Wellington for the next two nights.

Once in Wellington we'll ensure there's plenty of time to check out the world renowned Te Papa museum, head up the cable car to the hilltop suburb of Kelburn, or enjoy the local cafes - and there are plenty!

Included Activities: Local farm experience including sheep shearing and mustering demonstration, including lunch

Optional Activities: Te Papa Museum, gay nightlife, underground market, cable car to Kelburn lookout, parliament buildings...

Days 9, 10, 11, and 12 - QUEENSTOWN

On day 9 we board the plane together for a 90 minute flight from the North Island all the way down to the heart of the mountainous region of the South Island.  Situated at the edge of Lake Wakitipu, in a crevice between hundreds of impressive mountain peaks, this town is commonly regarded the "Adventure Capital of the World" due to the sheer number of adventurous options that exist in the region!  Whether you want to conquer the first commercial bungee jump in the world (or one of the highest), jetboat down the Kawarau River, hike the Ben Lomond trail, or take it easier and check out the stunning Milford Sound or iconic LOTR filming locations in nearby Glenorchy, the Queenstown region has it all.

If you've saved some time between your other activities, join your trip leader on a hike up the scenic Tiki Trail, a relatively steep slope but with a stunning view as your reward at the top (with a cable car option for those hike-averse).  From the top, enjoy what will become one of the best lunch views you've ever had, right on the edge of the mountain overlooking the Remarkables mountain range and the lake and town below.

Queenstown is the last stop on our New Zealand itinerary (you're welcome to depart any time on the 12th day) and makes for a fitting final send off from this uniquely diverse and adventurous country.

Included Activities: Guided hike from Lake Wakitipu to Skyline peak, overlooking the Remarkables mountain range

Optional Activities: Jetboat the Kawarau River, Milford Sound cruise, bungee jump, paragliding, ziplining, white water rafting...

GOT MORE TIME?

If you're lucky enough to have more time to extend your trip there are plenty of beautiful places to continue on to.  While we're happy to provide advice to help you plan your extension, New Zealand is not a destination that we can make bookings in or provide extension packages for.  Here are some of our favorite ideas to help get you started:

  • Overnight Milford Sound (or Doubtful Sound) cruise departing from and returning to Queenstown
  • 3-day trip up the rugged West Coast, stopping at Franz Josef Glacier, through Arthurs Pass, ending in Christchurch
  • Add on another country - Fiji and Australia are both less than 4 hours from New Zealand

We don't like staying in smelly shacks on our vacations and we're pretty sure you don't either! You work hard to go on vacation and we believe you deserve an enjoyable, comfortable place to wind down at the end of each day. We put a LOT of time into finding the perfect accommodation for your trip. After rigorous wifi signal testing, fluffing pillows, and taking a shower or two, we've narrowed down our favorite properties. Check out our approved accommodation to see where we've stayed in the past and where we'll likely be staying on your trip.

AUCKLAND: Adina Britomart Auckland

Located just a stone’s throw away from the serene waterfront in the Quay Park precinct, this property is in prime position to enjoy the city. Situated in Auckland’s city centre, it's easy to dine at one of the many surrounding eateries, explore designer boutiques, browse High Street’s quaint cobbled alley ways, or be entertained by the activities at Queen’s Wharf.

ROTORUA: Pullman Rotorua

Located very close to Rotorua Lake and some nearby hotsprings and geysers to enjoy, this property hosts a gym, restaurant, and chic bar.  Each room offers  free wifi, air conditioning, rainfall shower, and 50" flatscreen TVs.

 

WELLINGTON: Movenpick Hotel Wellington

Mövenpick Hotel Wellington is situated in the lively Cuba Quarter, within walking distance to Te papa, local art galleries, museums, and offers easy access to some of the city's best restaurants, bars and shopping areas.  Each room features complimentary wifi, air conditioning, satillite TV, and en-suite bathroom.

QUEENSTOWN: Crowne Plaza Queenstown

Perfectly placed to explore the "Adventure Capital" of New Zealand, right off the waters of Lake Wakatipu.  Great views, modern rooms, and friendly staff too.  Access all the best activities of the region from here or relax and later explore the nightlife in town. Each room features air conditioning, complimentary wifi, en suite bathroom, flatscreen TV, and a balcony.

*Please note that due to availability, these exact hotels may not all be available during all Detours trips. However, we will always replace these with similar hotels, and will never downgrade.

The Climate

We've scheduled our trips within New Zealand's spring, summer and fall seasons.  As the Southern Hemisphere experiences opposite seasons to those in the Northern Hemisphere, February tends to be New Zealand's hottest and driest month, while temperatures get cooler the farther from February you go.  New Zealand is known for having a mild climate so even in the middle of summer expect daytime highs of around low 70's F (low 20's C) in most places along the trip.  All through the October to April months expect temperatures to vary only slightly from this.  It's temperatures like this from October to April that make for the perfect weather to get outside without freezing or sweating, but make sure to bring some "just in case" outfits for varying weather conditions along the way.

The People and LGBTQ+ friendliness

New Zealanders, or more commonly known as "Kiwis", have a reputation of being some of the most friendly, welcoming, and mild-mannered people in the world.  We expect you'll find it easy to meet talkative and genuine locals who will enhance your total Kiwi experience.  With several out LGBT politicians and same-sex marriage legalized back in 2013 they are also a very progressive country, known for their liberal attitudes and acceptance of different people and cultures.  This also shows in their strong and visible diverse cultures within the country itself, with around 70% of European decent, 15% indigenous Māori, and 10% Asian.  This melting pot of cultures and progressive society results in a uniquely united New Zealand and a welcoming destination for our groups.

New Zealand is very open-minded and the vast majority of people will be welcoming of homosexuality.  We have never encountered (and in the future don't expect to encounter) any negative reception from Kiwis regarding our sexuality.  That said, it's good to mention that we're public displays of "excitement and passion" you have for your partner or new local “friend” are best kept to private areas.

The Cuisine

In most cities and towns you'll find that the cuisine of New Zealand tends to be similar to the international cuisine found in North America and Europe (especially UK), with influences from around the world.  However, as agriculture is the primary industry in New Zealand, expect incredibly fresh local ingredients grown and raised locally - you'll taste the difference!  While you're here try some traditional Māori cuisine too, like a hāngi (a traditional cooking method which uses heated rocks buried in a pit oven, also called an umu).  Travelers with varying dietary restrictions will have an easier time finding suitable options in New Zealand compared to many other destinations around the world.

What to Bring

Our advice is simple. Pack your bag, then take half of those things out and leave them back home. It’s common to hear people wishing they’d packed less stuff, but we’ve never heard anyone complain that they didn’t bring enough. Even if you realize you forget to pack some crucial item you can always pick up a replacement once you arrive in New Zealand. Just make sure to review the climate section above and remember that our trips are run in a casual style so you can leave your tuxedos at home. We'll include some trip-specific packing advice based on expected weather as part of our update email to you, sent 10 days prior to your trip.

Money

New Zealand uses their own "New Zealand Dollar" (NZD) as their only official currency.  We suggest arriving to New Zealand with around $300 NZD to start you off, along with your regular bank card from home which you can use to access cash at the many ATMs available along the way.  In our experience you'll save on some fees if you grab some local cash prior to leaving home.  Credit cards are widely accepted in New Zealand so it’s good to bring at least one on your trip too. Travelers checks are a thing of the past so we don’t recommend bringing them on any of our trips.

It can sometimes be challenging to use large-denomination bills at shops and restaurants, so we encourage you to request small denomination bills when getting cash prior to your trip.

If possible, it's always a good idea to travel internationally with a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.  The savings will add up over the course of your trip and may end up being worth the work of getting a new card prior to your trip.  Once you're overseas, if presented with the option to pay in the local currency or your home currency, we suggest always choosing the local currency to further avoid fees.

Tipping

While tipping isn't a native custom in this destination, those working in the tourism industry all over the world have come to expect gratuities when providing good service.  This extends to local guides, restaurant wait staff, bus drivers, and your Detours trip leader.  Of course the actual amount is left up to your discretion, if you've been provided excellent service we suggest leaving around 15% for restaurant/wait staff as well as the local equivalent of a few dollars to bus drivers and luggage porters, as well as around $10-15 USD per day for local guides and your Detours trip leader.

Accommodation

We have pretty high standards when it comes to choosing our accommodations, and trust us, we’ve done plenty of room-sniffing, pillow-patting, bed-jumping and bathroom inspections to make sure we stay at quality spots. To be approved as a Detours accommodations provider, a hotel/guesthouse should: be locally owned (to support the local community), be in an amazing location (close to the hot spots), and be gay-friendly. We won't be staying in 5-star Ritz-Carltons but we also won't subject you to anything we wouldn't want to stay in ourselves. Clean and comfortable and approximately 4 stars, you can count on that!

Trip Leaders

All Detours trips are led by one of our own Detours trip leaders.  They're there with you every day and their job is to help ensure that this is your trip of a lifetime by taking the hassle out of your trip and enabling you to experience everything you came to New Zealand for.  Consider them like a friendly concierge that's traveling along with you.  All of our trip leaders are gay and all are well-traveled and experienced in the destination they're leading in, so they'll be a great part of your experience!

Alarm Clocks

We do absolutely everything possible to avoid needing such a mundane awakening. A world without alarm clocks is one we want to be part of, and your “rise and shine” while in New Zealand should come from the excitement of what the coming day holds. However, sometimes due to current train or flight schedules we are required to make early departures, but we do everything we can to minimize this.

Your Group

Our Detours groups are run with maximum of 16 travelers. Ages of group members vary but almost all our travelers are in their 30's, 40’s and 50’s. Whatever the age of the guys on our trips everyone's already got something in common, an exciting new experience in a new country! Each group is led by a Detours trip leader who is there to ensure everything goes off without a hitch, allowing you to focus on having the time of your life! We welcome both men and women onto our trips although it’s important to know that most groups are 100% gay men.

Solo Travelers

No problem! Don’t worry, at least half our travelers come solo and our trip will provide plenty of chances to meet great people both inside and outside of our group, including other solo travelers. As far as your accommodations go, you’ve got two choices. We can either pair you up with another solo group member in a two-bed room for no extra charge, or you can have your own room for a very reasonable surcharge. 

Electrical Outlets

New Zealand uses only one plug shape so it's important to bring a "Type I" plug shape on your trip here. The voltage is 230V with 50 Hz frequency. These days, the majority of items that are plugged into an outlet are built to handle varying voltage and frequency levels, but just to be sure, we suggest checking your item for its accetable range.

Staying Connected

To ensure you don't lose connection along the way, your cell phone provider likely has several roaming options available.  We suggest reaching out to them prior to the trip to find out which package is right for you as it will depend on how much you intend to use your phone while traveling.  Keep in mind that all accommodation and most restaurants have free WiFi available as well.

What's included? • All taxes • All group transport between itinerary destinations • Accommodations for your 12-day Detours experience • Domestic flight from North Island to South Island • Tiki Trail hike • Waiheke Island day trip, including ferry and road transport • All full breakfasts • Farmstay detour with lunch • Welcome dinner and drinks • Knowledgeable and fun Detours leader • 

What isn't included? • Meals and drinks outside of those listed above • Activities outside of the those listed above • International Airfare • Arrival/Departure airport transfers • Optional gratuities •

Additional spending budget?  Your big-ticket items are included through the trip, but you'll want to budget for additional spending such as additional meals, drinks, shopping, activities, etc. These costs can vary dramatically with differing personal habits but we suggest expecting to spend an additional $800 USD at the lower end for the more budget-conscious and $1300 USD at the higher end for the splurgers.  We suggest arriving to New Zealand with approximately 300 New Zealand Dollars in cash.



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A group of people posing for a photo in front of a lake.
Two men standing in front of an inflatable ball.
Paragliding in new zealand.
A group of men standing next to a sheep in a field.
A group of people on a boat.
A man in a wetsuit standing in a cave.
A group of people posing in front of a hobbit house.
A waterfall in a lush green forest.
A group of people rafting down a river.


Trip Reviews

Joseph G. - USA

May 20, 2020

I've been on several Detours Trips - Greece, Spain, Central Europe and New Zealand. We've been on cruises and several group trips over the years. The Detours concept is really my favorite - I think it offers a great value and experience. Tour leaders are excellent, and I enjoy that the itineraries aren't super-structured. I think the vacations are equally comfortable for couples and singles. Size of the groups is kept relatively small, which is more manageable than a huge tour that would require a bus. I'm looking forward to traveling with them again in the near future.

Don S. - USA

January 6, 2020

First, my short version: I just completed my fourth trip with Detours and once again, it exceeded my very high expectations. It was a wonderfully organized trip with beautiful scenery, great hikes, and fascinating experiences. Miles runs a highly professional organization. From his nearly instantaneous responses to emails, preemptive information, and attention to detail; his consideration for his clients is superb.

PROS: Excellent value! Easy to book the trip online. Great communication. You will never be disappointed with their service and quality of the tours.
CONS: Time flew by too quickly.

Now for my long and detailed version: (be forewarned, I am a writer so I do my best to paint the most accurate picture I can.)
I feel it is only fitting that I begin my review of Detours Gay Adventure Travel with the Cambridge Dictionary definition of a detour. “An occasion when someone does something that is different from what is usual or expected.”

Booking my first tour with Detours and Miles in 2013 was EXACTLY that! While still a young company then, I happened across their website and what I saw struck a chord within my soul. Detours’ (and the owner, Miles Mitchinson’s) goal is to help travelers get to know a destination, appreciate the culture, and do things they may have never imagined. My previous travel preference leaned towards highly structured tours where I knew in advance each day’s timetable, etc.… To say I was making a complete 180 from my usual and comfortable travel planning is an understatement.

After a multitude of emails back and forth with Miles, I decided to not just swerve but rather jump onto the road less traveled and that single decision made all the difference. That initial trip ended up being the holiday of a lifetime – my Thailand adventure was without a doubt my favorite trip. Well, at least up until my next trip with Detours.

Before I get into my most recent adventure in New Zealand, here is something I want to point out. When you sign up for a Detours Trip, you must understand that just by the very nature of the company, you will not be traveling on a “highly structured” or 'luxurious' and “pampering” trip by the usual behemoth tour and travel company standards. I can best describe Detours as a Boutique travel agency. On second thought, “agency” is a must to cold a word; rather, a Boutique Travel Family that provides a personalized, professional, and fun approach to travel for discerning gay travelers.

In my humble opinion, the Detour’s approach offers many advantages, including the ability to travel with like-minded companions for an intimate experience with the local territory. The opportunity to enjoy meals at a communal table or at a family winery. The chance to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and landscape. The discovering of small, locally-owned hotels and operators which ensures that your travel dollars benefit the community you’re visiting. A wide range of daily options from doing nothing but relaxing by the pool to adrenaline-pumping activities to a local cooking class or wine tasting. No matter which itinerary you choose, each one is centered around fun and unique experiences.

As for my latest trip, 12 days in New Zealand, it was a dream come true. Not only did I see sights about which I had dreamed my whole life, but I also got to experience everything close-up and personal.

In planning the trip, both the owner (Miles) and Shane, emailed me clear explanations of the itinerary, answered all of my questions and made revisions, especially to accommodate my ever-changing schedule.

This was an amazing trip! Throughout our travels through New Zealand, we passed llamas, sheep, deer, villagers, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, gorgeous forests, rolling hills, old farmhouses, Maori (indigenous Polynesian people), and so much more. We even visited Hobbiton Village made famous in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

There were so many highlights... our outstanding, kind, patient, amazing leader Shane!! What an absolute saint. He was so organized, insightful, and always attentive to the group. He had us laughing always. The other travelers from all over the world (who I must say did a great job of putting up with my send of humor throughout the trip). The amazing people (Kiwi’s) of New Zealand who are so generous with their history and culture. While there were a couple times the hiking was challenging but the views made it totally worth the effort. The Milford Sound area was rugged and open with varied terrain and breathtaking views for as far as the eye could see.

Honestly, the only way this trip could have been better was if I was being trained by Shane to become a new Trip Leader! All in all, this trip was a MUST DO. I’m already thinking of my next Detours journey.

Without hesitation, I can say the Road Less Traveled is life-changing.

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