Pack your bags and get ready for the journey of a lifetime through New Zealand's North and South Islands! Learn about the history and culture of this one of a kind destination, delve into the cuisine and arts of the cities, and marvel at the diverse landscapes, participating in tours and activities catered to your specific tastes. Adventuring through geothermal wonders, pristine coastlines, majestic fjords, and mountain vistas, you will be in awe of the stunning natural beauty. This trip will reward you with the memories of a lifetime!
Welcome to New Zealand! Upon your arrival into Auckland please transfer over to the rental car place to pick up your rental car. You will have a Toyota Highlander 4WD (or similar). This a 4WD SUV with GPS included. After collecting your vehicle you will make your way to your hotel In the city. After check-in, you'll have the remainder of the day free to explore the city on your own.
Auckland, also known as the city of sails, is situated between two enormous harbors and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. New Zealand’s largest city with a population of over 1.3 million people – is home to one third of New Zealanders. The city’s mix of urban sophistication and coastal setting has inspired a lifestyle that regularly ranks in the world’s top 10. Asian communities meld here with a distinctly different Polynesian heritage, and the result is a culture unavailable anywhere else in the world.
Auckland is home to the Sky Tower which at 328m is the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere. The Sky Tower's three observation levels offer 360-degree views of Auckland. The iconic harbor bridge, opened in 1959, provides other adventures. Visitors can climb over, under and jump from the spectacular bridge that dominates Auckland’s inner harbor.
Today, you'll enjoy a food and wine tour of beautiful Waiheke Island! Tickets for the Fullers Ferry are included.
You will have a chance to enjoy succulent fresh oysters, award-winning olive oil, and other locally-produced specialty foods, accompanied by wines from some of the Island’s top boutique vineyards. Your guide will provide an entertaining and informative commentary along the way.
You will visit an award-winning olive oil mill, followed by two vineyards, each offering a range of gourmet tastes to accompany their wines. Treats may include oysters straight from Te Matuku Bay, wild honey, the famous local green herb spread, and artisan cheeses. You will also enjoy a platter lunch at one of our top vineyard restaurants. After lunch you will be returned to the ferry back to Auckland. (This service is on a group basis.)
Today you will make your way from Auckland to the stunning Coromandel Peninsula.
You'll be staying on the east coast of the Peninsula, so can opt to follow the Pacific Coast Highway up the west coast and around the tip of the Peninsula today or perhaps tomorrow on your free day.
(Total driving distance is 151km - approx. 2 hrs)
Renowned worldwide for its natural beauty - misty rainforests and pristine golden beaches, the Coromandel Peninsula is blessed with hundreds of natural hideaways, making it an ideal place to slow down, relax and unwind. Dig your own hot spa pool in the sand at Hot Water Beach, explore the Coromandel Forest Park, or cruise the islands by boat.
You have a full day to explore the beauty of Coromandel!
Hot Water Beach is about a 45 minute drive north from you hotel. Be sure to dig your own spot in the sand to enjoy a hot spring soak while gazing at the Pacific Ocean.
You'll depart Coromandel today to head towards Rotorua with a stop en route to Matamata where you will enjoy a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour.
Your tour starts with a drive through the picturesque 1,250 acre working sheep farm with spectacular views across the Kaimai Ranges towards the Hobbiton Movie Set. Your experienced and knowledgeable tour guide will escort you through the twelve-acre site recounting fascinating details on how Hobbiton was created. After your tour of the film set, your host will return you to The Shire’s Rest Cafe with the opportunity to visit the Shire Store. Transfers are provided back to Matamata for those who departed from Matamata Information Centre.
After your visit to Middle Earth, continue to Rotorua and your overnight accommodations.
(Total driving distance is 189km - approx. 2.5 hrs)
Redwoods Treewalk and David Trubridge Design have partnered to create an iconic nocturnal tourism experience: the Redwoods Nightlights. Incorporating unique creations from New Zealand world-acclaimed design and sustainability champion David Trubridge; the Nightlights is one of New Zealand’s few design-led tourism experiences.
This night-time experience offer visitors and locals the opportunity to explore Rotorua’s majestic Redwood forest under the shroud of darkness; illuminated by Trubridges’ bespoke creations to create an immersive and captivating environment. In addition to the lighting, which encompasses 30 lanterns, over 40 infinite color spots and feature lights will illuminate the 116-year-old redwood trees, forest ferns, and pungas.
The lights are up to 2.5 meters tall and were made at theworkshop in Hastings and assembled by a team in the forest. Creating outdoor lighting was challenging especially for the forest environment, however, all lights were assembled and installed by hand in the forest with the team taking care not to damage the forest environment.
New Zealand is one of the world's best reminders, alongside perhaps Iceland, of the scope of our planet's mighty power. And Rotorua's sulphur-laced air, exploding vents of mud and steam, and natural hot springs are the embodiment of that power. Its towering geysers make Rotorua one of New Zealand's most visited locales. The local Maori have held Rotorua in reverence for hundreds of years, and still make their culture known here today. Native cultural performances are as big a reason to travel here as the churning landscape.
This morning, you will have a chance to experience New Zealand’s iconic living Maori village. Our Village guides are direct descendants of the early Maori guides who’s legacy shaped tourism in New Zealand for generations. Their insights, knowledge and legendary hospitality manaakitanga adds depth and richness to the experience you’ll have at Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village.
On the Whakarewarewa Guided Tour, you will:
-Explore an authentic living Maori village where people live on a daily basis, using natural geothermal resources to cook, bathe, and heat their homes as they have for centuries.
-View the geothermal wonders of Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley including the world famous Pohutu geyser, boiling mud-pools, steam vents and bubbling pools.
-Take in our various historical landmarks and buildings, including an active Marae (meeting grounds and focal point of Maori communities), our WWII Memorial Archway, historic churches, and tapu (sacred) burial grounds.
After some time exploring Rotorua, you will make your way to Lake Taupo for the next two nights.
About 30mins south of Rotorua, you may wish to stop by Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and its famed Lady Knox Geyser. The geyser is triggered each morning at 10:15am and shoots up to 20 meters into the air. The Champagne Pool is also well worth a look!
Closer to Taupo, you can also visit Huka Falls, which feed into Lake Taupo. You can walk a trail to reach the falls (about 1 hour each way) or use an upper lot for a shorter options (15mins each way).
(Total driving distance is 82km - approx. 1 hr)
Lake Taupo was formed after a giant explosion (believed in 186 AD). The lake is nowadays the world’s largest volcanic crater. Taupo township has become a major vacation destination for locals - and foreign tourists alike. It has been dubbed “Adventure Capital of New Zealand”, mainly for its offerings to those wanting to try bungee - jumping, jet - boating or Skydiving. The mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, enters a shallow ravine of hard volcanic rock just before Huka Falls. The effect is nature’s large - scale equivalent of a fire hose feeding into a very fine nozzle.
Today is a free day to explore the Taupo region.
You may wish to trek the Maunga K?karamea Summit Track (previously known as Rainbow Mountain). It is approximately 3 hours roundtrip from the crater lakes viewing point (about 15mins from the carpark).
From the summit, you can enjoy views of Mt. Tarawera and its lakes, Rotomahana and Rerewhakaaitu, the Paeroa Range, the Urewera Ranges, Kaimana Forest, Mt. Tauhara, Lake Taupo, and Tongariro's volcanic peaks!
This morning you will leave the North Island to begin your adventures in the South of New Zealand!
You will drive to Rotorua Airport in ample time for your domestic flight to Christchurch. Upon arrival in Christchurch, you will pick-up your vehicle rental for the South Island and drive to your accommodation in the city for an evening at your leisure.
Upon arrival, we recommend a visit to Canterbury Museum which is open until 5pm or the Christchurch Gondola, which has it's last ride up at 4pm. They will both be closed tomorrow for the holiday. Please let us know which you would prefer to include and we will get these tickets arranged for you!
While most of New Zealand is characterized by Asian, Polynesian, Maori or other blends of culture, Christchurch remains distinctly English in attitude. Quaintness defines its gardens, parks and streets. Christchurch is also a city in recovery. Since the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, new business and development has slowly been coming back to town. For the outside observer, it's interesting to see some 21st century ideas for artful development rise alongside established 20th century buildings.
Merry Christmas! Due to the holiday, most of Christchurch's attractions will be closed today, so you may wish to enjoy a walk or trek.
Arthur's Pass National Park is about 2 hours drive from Christchurch, so a manageable day trip if you feel up for a drive. The drive itself is an adventure through viaducts, bridges, rock shelters, and past waterfalls.
The Devil's Punchbowl Lookout Trail is a short walk of about 1.75km (1.1miles) with an amazing view as reward.
There are a number of slightly more challenging treks available if you feel like delving further into the park.
You will head into the mountains today, passing over rivers and admiring the breathtaking views of the Southern Alps en route.
An hour outside of Christchurch is Rakaia Gorge, a worthwhile stop for stunning views and an optional 2-3hr 10km (6.2 mile) walking track, the Rakaia Gorge Walkway.
(Total driving distance is 225km - approx. 3 hrs via the most direct route) If you prefer the scenic route via Rakaia Gorge, the journey is about 30km longer.
Lake Tekapo is your playground today!
You may wish to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd, or the riverbanks and lakeshores bursting with pink and purple lupins throughout the summer season.
If you want to get moving, the Mt. John Summit Circuit offers a 3 hour walk with lovely scenery, and you can stop at Tekapo Springs to soothe sore muscles post-hike!
At 1,029m high, Mt John offers unrivalled 360-degree views across the largest accredited International Dark Sky Reserve in the world.
Our expert astronomy guides bring the night sky to life, sharing the science and the stories of our Southern skies. Stargaze using the naked eye guided by lasers and then proceed to explore deeper through up to 16" optical telescopes, including in our private observatory dome. Take in the incredible Milky Way, far off planets, star clusters, solar systems, and even distant galaxies; every night sky beholds something different.
Our exclusive Summit Experience runs for 1 hour 45 minutes, includes transport to and from Mt John, use of our ECW (extreme cold weather jackets) to keep you warm at the summit (Please note: ECW Jackets are unable to be provided during Covid-19 Framework Red and Orange levels), and the full use of our telescopes.
The nature of the terrain on Mount John requires a certain level of fitness, you need to be confident walking 100 meters on a gravel incline and be able to climb a couple of steps in the dark. Guests looking for a more accessible tour should check out our Crater Experience at Cowan’s Private Observatory, which is an ideal accessible alternative.
*The Summit Experience is a weather dependent activity. If it is not possible to observe due to weather, then an alternative indoor experience may be offered in our purpose built technological and interactive venue, with guests entitled to a partial refund.
You have a slightly longer drive ahead of you today, but one with excellent stops en route!
Wanaka’s lakes and mountains and proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park makes it the ultimate base for outdoor activities. But it’s not just the outdoor enthusiasts who have plenty to do, stroll the streets and be inspired by galleries, stylish shops, and be spoilt for choice with a great selection of cool cafes. Perfect for a brief stop and a drink at a local cafe!
Queenstown is at about the 3 hour mark of your drive, so a great option for lunch and a stroll.
We recommend aiming to arrive to Te Anau by no later than 3:30pm to allow you to drop of your luggage at your accommodation before heading to the Glowworm Caves (4:30pm entrance).
(Total driving distance is 415km - approx. 5 hrs)
Experience a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in silent darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of hundreds of glowworms. Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau on a purpose-built scenic cruise vessel. At the entry to the caves at Cavern House, view the informative displays and learn about this geological wonder before you join your guide underground. On the tour of the caves, your guide will point out the highlights and share their knowledge of the caves and its history.
This underground world is astonishingly beautiful. By geological standards, the caves are very young (12,000 years) and are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools, and a roaring underground waterfall. You will be taken Deep inside the caves by a small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms. the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary. (This service is on a group basis.)
What to bring
Non-slip shoes/boots, waterproof jacket, warm sweater/fleece jacket (It’s always cold in the cave 8 - 12C), sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent and camera.
Note: photography and video filming are NOT permitted inside the cave.
The picturesque township of Te Anau is the main visitor base for the glacier-carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park. Home to a wide range of accommodation including lodges, hotels and campgrounds, Te Anau is the perfect place to stay when visiting Milford Sound.
After a relaxing morning in the pretty lakeside town of Te Anau, you'll making your way toward Milford Sound and head into Fiordland National Park. (Total Driving Distance is 120km - approx. 1.5 hrs) The road to Milford Sound passes through stunning landscapes including mountain ranges, valleys carved by ancient glaciers, crystal blue lakes, and native rainforest. You will be following a path originally travelled by the Maori people, who journeyed by foot over the mountains to Milford Sound as early as 1,000 years ago to hunt, fish, and search for pounamu (greenstone).
This overnight cruise through the heart of Fiordland provides astonishing views and the ultimate Milford Sound adventure. You’ll start by departing from the Milford Sound wharf in the late afternoon before cruising through Milford Sound accompanied by our specialist nature guide. They’ll explain the history and geology of the area and be on hand to answer your questions.
This cruise style is relaxed, allowing plenty of time to view the fiord’s spectacular waterfalls, rainforest, mountains, and wildlife – you’re bound to encounter seals and, if you’re lucky, maybe dolphins and penguins too.
The Milford Mariner then anchors in a sheltered cove. From here you can join the guide and explore in the vessel’s tender craft (small boat) or kayaks. If you prefer, you can simply relax on deck and soak in the beauty of this amazing place. If you’re feeling brave there’s always the option of a refreshing swim, too.
As evening falls, you’ll enjoy a delicious carvery buffet in the dining saloon – a feast prepared freshly by our on-site chef. Then it’s time to relax in the company of your fellow travelers, indulge in some star-gazing and story-sharing, or simply retire to your private cabin. The next day you’ll be able to dig into a hearty breakfast before heading back out to the Tasman Sea (weather permitting) and exploring more of the fiord. (This service is on a group basis.)
Parking in Milford Sound
Please park in the coach park after 3.30pm, or as directed by parking attendants. This will not be charged. Overnight parking in the main carparks will cost a flat rate of $20 between the hours of 8pm and 8am in addition to any daytime hours.
What to bring
Only one carry-on bag is recommended for passenger convenience and for safety reasons. Don't forget the following: Non-slip walking shoes/boots, waterproof jacket, warm sweater/fleece jacket, change of clothes, sunscreen/sunglasses, insect repellent, swimwear (optional), camera, cash for bar and snacks, small bag only, essential items if you are doing activities. Activities take place even if it is raining.
Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Breathtaking in any weather, the fiord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade downwards from as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect.
This morning at about 9:15am, you will disembark the Milford Mariner and continue your journey to Queenstown.
The road back to Te Anau is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. Hardly any other landscape represents more wilderness than Fiordland. The 14 fiords in the west of the National Park are reaching deep in the primeval forests of the scraggy mountain ranges. The Homer Tunnel leads you out of Milford Sound. The road to Te Anau eases first into beech forest and then leads through mild farmland. Look for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes. Perhaps have a break in Te Anau before continuing on to Queenstown.
High country landscapes and trout fishing rivers are features of the road to Queenstown. The last part of the drive clings scenically from the edge of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown. The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting and fantastically attractive. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungee, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf. (Total Driving Distance is 290km - approx. 3 hrs and 45 minutes)
Marvel at the stunning views as you ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the must-do activities in Queenstown! Sit back and relax as the best views in the region unfold before your eyes and the Gondola carries you 450 meters above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob's Peak.
En route you will enjoy a spectacular 220 degree panorama, with breath taking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and over Queenstown. On arrival our purpose built viewing platforms and outdoor terraces provide great photo opportunities.
You've heard about all the adventure opportunities in New Zealand from your friends (the crazy ones at least) and you'd like to catch the adrenaline wave yourself. You want to go to Queenstown. Apart from the bungee jumping, paragliding, biking, rafting and all the other things you never thought you'd do, Queenstown is also where the adrenaline industry lives. It doesn't take long after learning this to realize that Queenstown is also a party town. Whether you're adventuring in the day, or burning the midnight oil, you will never be bored in Queenstown, and this small city between lake shores and mountain peaks will likely be the highlight of your time in New Zealand.
Alas, your time exploring New Zealand has come to an end! After checkout today, you'll drive to Queenstown Airport to return your rental car and catch your international departure.
We hope you had an unforgettable time discovering the wonders of New Zealand and wish you a safe flight home!
Great Ponsonby Arthotel, a delightful small hotel providing bed & breakfast in Auckland. Just two minutes stroll to Ponsonby's vibrant cafés, restaurants, galleries or taxi five minutes to the harbor and city center. Eleven rooms of varying size and price. All have everything you could need and New Zealand and Pacific artworks. Courtyard studios are bigger than villas. Spacious suites and penthouse are over twice as large again. Ponsonby, an urban village, is one of the earliest areas of Auckland and luckily many of the historic buildings still remain. It is also the trendiest part of town, a place where Aucklanders come to eat, drink coffee and have fun. It is very close to the city centre. So, the Great Ponsonby, set in a large, beautiful garden is in the most perfect place from which to explore Auckland.
Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort is majestically situated amid 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful landscape, overlooking the spectacular Coromandel coast at Pauanui. Charming private chalets nestled amongst native trees at the Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort capture the beauty and spirit of this unique location. An inspired choice for anyone seeking privacy and seclusion for leisure or business, Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort is within easy walking distance of the glorious, golden 3 kilometer long Pauanui Beach. Other features guests will find include an airfield, tennis courts, two golf courses, and a small shopping center, all just moments away from some of New Zealand's most impressive coastline
Escape to The Regent of Rotorua, Rotorua’s newest designer 5 star Boutique Hotel & Spa offering stylish luxury accommodation, restaurant, wine & cocktail bar, all with a touch of glamour. An oasis of understated hip contemporary elegance and comfort amidst the exciting attractions and experiences Rotorua has to offer. Step out of the calm of your gorgeous room or suite and stroll to the vibrant restaurant zone or lakefront area….or simply stay in, relax and savor our luxury facilities. Each of the rooms and suites in our central city luxury boutique hotel is exquisitely designed featuring dramatic contemporary decor with a touch of glamour and comfort. An outdoor heated swimming pool, spa treatment area, thermal mineral pool and mini gym make the Regent of Rotorua the perfect Rotorua escape.
Situated at a picture perfect lake edge location, the welcoming Taupo Hotel and Resort presents you with uninterrupted views of the magnificent lake and mountains from guest rooms, restaurants and bar areas. The hotel is luxuriously furnished with an ambiance and art collection to delight all visitors. The Millennium Hotel and Resort Manuels Taupo is only minutes from the many Taupo attractions and activities, including Huka Falls, hot thermal pools and four wonderful golf courses, two of which are of international standard. Also on property are restaurants offering superb award-winning cuisine. So, come and relax, unwind or exhilarate - it is all on your doorstep.
The newly renovated Distinction Christchurch Hotel is an urban escape combining sophisticated smarts and familiar warmth whilst standing proud amongst the buzz of the rejuvenation of Cathedral Square. Ideally positioned in the heart of the city only a few minutes' walk from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall, and future Christchurch Convention Centre. The eleven story, 4.5 star Christchurch hotel offers 179 elegant, air-conditioned hotel rooms including 3 floors of brand new superior rooms and suites. Designed to suit everyone from business travelers requiring spacious, contemporary accommodation out-fitted with the latest technology including large, flat screen Smart TVs to those travelers seeking a place to relax and unwind after a day exploring Canterbury’s vibrant attractions.
Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo, is the latest glimmering spectacle on New Zealand's South Island. Surrounded by the spectacular landscapes of the Southern Alps, Lake Tekapo is the largest and highest glacial lake in New Zealand. Peppers Bluewater Resort is located on State Highway 8, a scenic two-and-a-half hour drive from both Christchurch and Queenstown. Inspired by the lake's characteristic turquoise-blue hue, 142 rooms offer a variety of accommodations, from standard hotel rooms to one, two and three bedroom villas, all with essential modern comforts. Timber and leather textures reflect the earthy tones of the Mackenzie Basin, while moods are reflected in the calming blue waters across the foothills of the Southern Alps.
Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas has recently been renovated, now offering chic, elegant accommodation for the perfect getaway. Surrounded by extensive, colorful gardens and overlooking spectacular Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges, this hotel and villa accommodation sets the tone for your stay in one of the world’s most breathtaking regions. Located on the Te Anau lake front, a short stroll from the Te Anau town center, Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas is perfectly situated for you to make the most of this beautiful area. Designed for your comfort, we offer 112 luxurious rooms, including standard hotel rooms, spacious villa suites, comfortable villa rooms, and deluxe suites, offering a breathtaking lake or garden view. On-site is the renowned MacKinnon Room Restaurant offering the very best of South Island cuisine, and the Explorer Bar and Lakefront Terrace where you can relax and enjoy the uninterrupted views of Lake Te Anau with the finest ales and wines. The hotel offers the largest hotel based conference center in the area, and its very own lakefront wedding chapel, plus extensive recreational facilities, including a spa, sauna, heated swimming pool and massage services.
The Milford Mariner offers a very special dinner, bed and breakfast experience. Designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow to reflect Fiordland’s heritage, the vessel has been purpose built to accommodate passengers in private cabins with en suite bathrooms. It has a spacious dining saloon, observation lounge and large open deck areas for viewing the scenery of Milford Sound. Departing from the Milford Wharf, the Milford Mariner cruises the full length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. An on board nature guide with specialist knowledge of the region’s history, flora and fauna provides detailed interpretation in English with a roving microphone. There is plenty of time available to explore points of interest and view the spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest and the towering peaks; and keep a lookout for wildlife including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season. The vessel then returns to the fiord and anchors overnight in sheltered Harrison Cove. Activities include kayaking and exploring the shoreline on the tender craft. The overnight cruise includes a four-course buffet evening meal and beverages are available for purchase at the licensed on board bar. The next morning following a cooked or continental breakfast, there is further cruising before returning to the Milford Wharf. Suitable for most ages, except infants. Not suitable for wheelchair passengers due to steep stairs.
Just a five minute drive from the center of Queenstown, Kamana Lakehouse offers stunning views over Lake Wakatipu and the iconic Remarkables mountain range. Each beautiful room features contemporary decor, premium beds, USB charging ports, free WiFi, a Blue-tooth speaker and an outdoor seating area. A selection of rooms include unobstructed lake and mountain views.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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