On the west coast you'll find pristine glaciers and magical rainforests. Stay at either Franz Josef or Fox Glacier before heading south to Queenstown. Lastly, visit Mt. Cook, New Zealand's highest peak, on your return to Christchurch.
Day 1: Depart USA for New Zealand
The great thing is that most flights depart the West Coast of America in the evening, meaning you can spend the day at home getting ready for your Kiwi adventure or still go to work and maximise your valuable time off by actually spending it in New Zealand.
Day 2: In flight
You cross the international date line on your flight to New Zealand so you skip a whole day on the journey down. For example, if you left Los Angeles on Sunday evening, you will arrive in Auckland on Tuesday morning, even though you have only been flying for 12 hours.
But don't worry - you get a day back when you return home, for example if you leave New Zealand on Sunday evening, you will arrive back in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.
Day 3: Auckland - Christchurch
Fly to Christchurch, known as the 'Garden City' and enjoy its English architecture. Here you can take a gondola ride down the Avon River, enjoy the trolleys that run around the city or just stroll around the beautiful gardens this city is so proud of.
Day 4: Christchurch - West Coast
Travel by the train on the TranzAlpine Express, rated as one of the top ten scenic railways in the world. It's a spectacular three and half hour journey from Christchurch through Arthur's Pass to Greymouth on the West Coast.
Day 5: Franz Josef and Fox Glacier
These West Coast towns are home to two glaciers that descend from the Southern Alps down into the temperate rainforest, just 300 meters above sea level. To see and experience the glaciers you can walk to the terminal face, arrange an ice-hiking adventure or book a sightseeing flight. Also nearby is beautiful Lake Matheson, one of the most photographed lakes in New Zealand. Its mirror-like reflections are truly spectacular.
Day 6: West Coast - Queenstown
Enjoy the stunning scenery on the drive through to Queenstown via the towns of Haast and Wanaka. There is something for everyone in Queenstown: bungy jumping, jetboat rides, and hangliding to name a few. Or if you're looking for relaxation, head to the surrounding wineries for a tasting and a delicious lunch.
Day 7: Queenstown - Mt Cook
Join a 'Lord of the Rings' tour this morning, you'll see firsthand the scenery that the award-winning movie made world famous. Then drive north along the Southern Alps to Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, also known as Aoraki. The lakes and scenery in this region are simply breathtaking.
Day 8: Mt Cook - Christchurch
At Mt Cook you can join a glacier tour or just enjoy many of the hiking trails that begin at the Hermitage Hotel, the accommodation located in this area. Tonight in Christchurch try joining a local family for a hosted dinner - a great way to get to know the locals and learn about New Zealanders.
Day 9: Christchurch - Auckland - USA
Before catching your flight, you can take a city tour or visit the Antarctic Center conveniently located by the airport.
Return home and because you will cross back over the International Time Zone you will 'gain' a day. For example, if you leave New Zealand on Sunday night, you will arrive in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.