11 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!
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 (Ponsonby is our favorite!). Our first night together will be spent getting to know each other while enjoying some great food high atop the tallest tower in the country with its stunning views and getting acquainted with our home for the next 11 days - New Zealand!
On day 2, your full day in Auckland, you've got plenty of options and your Detours trip leader will be there to get you educated and coordinated. If you like wine, maybe take the ferry over to Waiheke Island for some wine tasting. If you love being out on the water you can jump on an America's Cup sailing yacht for an exhilarating experience at sea. Or if you're more into museums you could check out the beautiful Auckland museum. There are plenty of options to keep yourself entertained in the city and, if the group has split into different activities through the day, you'll all gather back together in the evening for dinner together before continuing on the following day to Rotorua.
Included Activities: Sky Tower observation access with welcome dinner and drinks
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...
It's only a 3 hour drive to Rotorua but we'll take a detour along the way to visit the famous glowworm caves on a short underground boat trip together before hopping back on the bus and 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: Glowworm cave boat tour
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...
Day 6 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...
On day 8 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 11th 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...
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: Quest Rotorua Central
Right in the middle of town, this property is a short walk to all the shops and restaurants around the town center. Each room offers plenty of space with air conditioning, kitchenette, free wifi, flatscreen TVs and lounge spaces.
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: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Perfectly placed to explore the "Adventure Capital" of New Zealand, right in the heart of the beautiful town center. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 11-day Detours experience • Domestic flight from North Island to South Island • Welcome dinner at the Sky Tower with observation deck access • Underground glowworm boat tour • Tiki Trail hike • All full breakfasts • Farmstay detour with lunch • 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.
Jim & Larry - USA
April 2, 2023
Miles - our New Zealand trip was amazing! Every adventure exceeded our expectations and we will definitely do it again. The trip was made extra special by the life-long friends we made and especially by getting to know Casey, who proved to be a fantastic group leader and just an all-around terrific person. Would not hesitate to signup again if Casey was in charge! (I'm sure all your leaders are great). Thanks again for a good time down under!
Ludovic C. - France
March 31, 2023
New-Zealand trip has just ended. It was Such an incredible trip with great guys. We got on so well and, for sure, we will stay in touch. Great harmony in this 17 ("sivitin" with the new-zealand accent lol) people group.
The landscapes were breathtaking, the tours were gorgeous. My favorite was Milford Sound with the cruise and the flight back. Stunning. I felt myself so small and humble in front of these great mountains.
The Hobbiton set tour was really fun. The hikes were great moments to discover, feel Nature. And the geysers... !
As Frenchman, I loved Wine tour ! Waiheke Island is a paradise.
I appreciated the choice of whether or not to do the optional activities. on the one hand, it was an opportunity to be in a smaller committee and discuss better. on the other hand, it allowed to spend time to walk around or make other visits alone.
We were happy to meet in the evenings to tell about our days.
A great applause to Casey, our trip leader.
It was my second trip with Casey, and I really appreciate his way to manage groups. Always listening and caring for others.
Casey encourages others to surpass themselves. Always with kindness and support. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for spending time with every people and listen to them. Listen to us. Listen to our doubts and desires.
Casey, with your support and your encouragement, I found a strength in me I did not know I had.