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21 Day Northbound Encounter

20 nights, Christchurch to Auckland

21 Day Northbound Encounter

Visiting the highlights of New Zealand as well as a few hidden gems, this tour includes a great range of activities.  You’ll enjoy wildlife tours, scenic flights, glacier adventures, overnight cruises and so much more.  In the evenings you’ll relax at our favourite boutique lodges where your hosts will make you feel right at home.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Auckland harbour bridge
Christchurch city centre
Doubtful Sound cruise
Wellington cable car
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive into Christchurch City

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Christchurch City

Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch, New Zealand's self proclaimed garden city is a bright and vibrant destination. Known for its large green belt, the wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens make for a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights, or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket - suggested

Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket
Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket
Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket
Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site

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Day 2 - Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country

Driving distance and time: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park
Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park
Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park
Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you’ll cross the vast Canterbury plains into the heart of the South Island. Stretch your legs in Geraldine before continuing into Mackenzie Country. Climbing Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.

Follow the road and see the spectacular Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.

Choose to view the Mt Cook National Park by a ski plane, or land on one of the glaciers in a helicopter. Find your sense of adventure and Kayak on a glacial lake or test your legs on one of the many walking tracks in and around the village. Before leaving, a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre is a must do.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 3 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin

Driving distance and time: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin
Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin
Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin
Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Today you'll leave Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama - gliding capital of New Zealand - but be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a great local cafe also offering sheep shearing demonstrations. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. If you were a little late off the mark this morning you may get the chance to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.

Continue south down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature well worth a look. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre - The Octagon.

Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2:30 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Join Monarch Wildlife Cruises for an amazing encounter with the marine wildlife of the Otago Peninsula

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour and the wading bird wetlands.

Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

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Day 5 - Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland

Driving distance and time: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf.  Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves - suggested

Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.
You'll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge
Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge
Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge
Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Laundry facilities: On site

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Day 6 - Its a short drive to Manapouri where you'll depart for your Doubtful Sound overnight cruise

Driving distance and time: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Te Anau to Manapouri

Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri

This short drive takes you along the lake edge of Te Anau and across lush southern farmlands to the small township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Take in the tranquility of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise. Beginning in Manapouri with a short boat ride across the lake, you'll be taken by coach over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. Board the Fiordland Navigator, a purpose-built vessel designed like a traditional coastal trading scow. Be accommodated in a private cabin with an ensuite bathroom or a quad-share bunk room with shared bathroom facilities. The Navigator has a large spacious deck for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as a dining saloon, bar and observation lounge. As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you'll be provided a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you're lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you're really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck. Following hearty cooked breakfast the next morning you will spend your remaining time exploring other parts of the fiord before returning to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri.

Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Accommodation features

  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Bar on site

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Day 7 - Return to land, then travel to Queenstown and tonight cruise to Walter Peak High Country Station for dinner

Driving distance and time: 166 kms / 103 miles : 2.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Manapouri to Queenstown

Manapouri to Queenstown
Manapouri to Queenstown
Manapouri to Queenstown
Manapouri to Queenstown

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussocklands, pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through lush Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over your approach to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a scenic cruise from central Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm on board the historic steamship, TSS Earnslaw. On disembarking, you'll be welcomed and escorted through the beautiful lakeside gardens to the Colonel's Homestead for dinner. Here, you’ll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare as you watch. Choose from the  seasonal menu which includes an expansive array of New Zealand meats and produce, followed by a delicious array of desserts, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea & coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration offers you a glimpse of life in the high country. On the magical night-time cruise home, you can enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship’s pianist or breathe in the fresh night air on the moonlit decks as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 8 - Journey into the remarkable Mt Aspiring National Park on board the Dart River Jetboat

Dart River Wilderness Jet

Dart River Wilderness Jet
Dart River Wilderness Jet
Dart River Wilderness Jet
Dart River Wilderness Jet

An hour and a half of thrilling high-speed wilderness jet boating skimming across the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Hear about flora, fauna and history on a 30-minute rolling forest walk with your friendly guide. On a backroad tour of Paradise immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Learn about the Pounamu (Greenstone) that made the Dart River a key trading route for early Māori. Tales of early settlers who carved rich farms from the rugged landscape.

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

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Day 9 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Driving distance and time: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Start your journey crossing the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - to Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring national park. Passing through both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Visit the Blue Pools only a short walk through native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.

Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 10 - Experience the Glacier up close and personal during your amazing helihike

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

See all three of the Franz Josef glacier icefalls when you take this awe-inspiring helicopter tour. After landing high on top you'll take a two hour guided walk through towering pinnacles and brilliant blue ice. See panoramic views of the surrounding mountains as you learn more about how this huge river of ice was formed. Relax and enjoy the moment as your guide leads you into spectacular terrain usually only seen by experienced mountaineers.

 

Glacier Hot Pools - suggested

Glacier Hot Pools
Glacier Hot Pools
Glacier Hot Pools
Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquility. Unwind in one of the three main pools. Temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees and the water comes directly from a glacial stream. Wash off the day and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.

Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

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Day 11 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

Driving distance and time: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.
 

Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour - suggested

Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour
Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour
Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour
Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour

From humble origins in 1868, the Monteith's family-owned Phoenix Brewery became the West Coast's most popular brewery for its strong tasting, full-bodied ale. The Phoenix Brewery later merged with a group of small breweries to form Westland Brewing Company, predecessor to today's Monteith's Brewing Company. In this informative brewery experience, you will learn about the heritage and traditions of the brewing business. Witness the making of a fine beer in open fermenters by coal-fired boilers, using only the finest ingredients. Watch the brewers carefully hand craft the beer in small batches to develop the full natural flavours. When each batch is ready, the brewers employ a brilliant time honoured tradition for quality control - they taste it.

On completion, you will receive a tasting a 3 beers of your choice from the tap at the Brewery bar, plus your very own personalised Monteith's 500ml bottle with your name on it - a personalised endorsement from the head brewer himself.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch
TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch
TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch
TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's greatest train journeys, the TranzAlpine scenic train travels both ways from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you'll see the vast windswept Canterbury Plains, spectacular gorges, river valleys and native beech rainforest. A highlight for many is the crossing of the Southern Alps, passing through Arthur's Pass National Park, before descending to the Canterbury Plains and arriving in Christchurch.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

On arrival into the Christchurch train station you will be met by a private transfer driver and taken to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

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Day 12 - Drive to Kaikoura via coastal road to stay overnight in this seaside town

Driving distance and time: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

Christchurch to Kaikoura

Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura

The drive north from Christchurch to Kaikoura takes you through the rolling hills of North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. Allow time for a detour and visit Hanmer Springs for a dip in the mineral hot pools. Continue on and cross the Hawkswood Range before descending to the spectacular Kaikoura coastline - where the road hugs the ocean for the last leg of the drive.

Whale Watch Kaikoura - suggested

Whale Watch Kaikoura
Whale Watch Kaikoura
Whale Watch Kaikoura
Whale Watch Kaikoura

New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company, Whale Watch Kaikoura offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime up close encounter with the giant sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, is sometimes seen.
You'll be taken out in modern catamarans specifically designed for whale watching - featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner

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Day 13 - Drive to Picton. Departing the South Island you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds before crossing the Cook Strait to Wellington

Driving distance and time: 137 kms / 85 miles : 2.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Kaikoura to Picton

Kaikoura to Picton
Kaikoura to Picton
Kaikoura to Picton
Kaikoura to Picton

Today follow the coast to Picton, located at the top of the North Island. As you leave Kaikoura take in the spectacular shoreline and keep a lookout for native wildlife as you go. Stop to view adult fur seals at Ohau point, and take a short stroll inland to view the pups frolicking in the waterfall upstream. Continuing on, you'll have the ocean on one side and the Kaikoura ranges on the other before traversing the dry hills of Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Visit one of the vineyards surrounding Blenheim for wine tasting or a gourmet lunch before beginning the final leg of your journey to Picton.

Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington

Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington
Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington
Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington
Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington

The ferry journey between Picton and Wellington has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world' and takes around three hours. One hour of the cruise goes through the Marlborough Sounds - a region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays - before entering the open water of the Cook Strait. Spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges can be seen and marine life is abundant around this area. After crossing the strait pass several interesting points such as Pencarrow Head, home to New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859), Red Rocks  - where a large seal colony resides and Oterangi Bay -  the site which recorded the country’s highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 14 - Journey over the Rimutaka Ranges, then up through the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay wine regions

Driving distance and time: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Wellington to Napier

Wellington to Napier
Wellington to Napier
Wellington to Napier
Wellington to Napier

Leaving Welllington today you will first pass the Wairarapa on the eastern side of the Rimutaka Ranges. A significant contrast to the hills of Wellington, it's rich pastures and boutique vineyards of Martinborough give way to grassy plains and rugged coastal shores. Go through Greytown, home to the largest number of wooden buildings in the country then stop in Masterton, a small farming town known for its Golden Shears competition - where shearers compete for the title of fastest shearer. Continue on to Hawkes Bay and Havelock North before arriving in Napier, the art deco capital of New Zealand.

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool

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Day 15 - Explore Napier and Hawkes Bay, this evening sample the food and wine of top winery restaurants

Napier City

Napier City
Napier City
Napier City
Napier City

Napier, the city by the sea, is renowned for its 1930s Art Deco architecture, events such as the Art Deco Weekend in February, stately Norfolk pines, surrounding wineries and local fresh produce. Supported by a Mediterranean climate and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year this popular year-round destination boasts a vibrant cafe culture amongst the splendour of the Art Deco buildings.
Around 30 cafes are within walking distance of the central city area, while Ahuriri, just over Bluff Hill, is home to a further cluster of up market establishments. Marine Parade overlooks the Pacific Ocean and out towards Cape Kidnappers, home to the world's largest mainland gannet colony. A full day can be taken visiting Ocean Spa hot pools and swimming complex, the Hawke's Bay Museum and the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
A landmark of Napier is Bluff Hill, which is home for many Napier residents and provides views of the town,  beaches of Perfume Point and Westshore and out towards Whirinaki. Bluff Hill also overlooks the Port of Napier, one of New Zealand's busiest ports, transporting timber, local fruit and meat products to worldwide destinations.
In 1931, New Zealand's greatest natural disaster struck Hawke's Bay. At 10.47am on Tuesday February 3rd, an earthquake of magnitude Richter 7.8 struck. In a minute and a half, in two separate shocks, the centre of Napier was almost totally destroyed. Fires quickly broke out and reduced to ashes or gutted what the tremors had left standing. Damage in Hastings was also devastating, although the fires were contained. Wairoa and the smaller towns to the south as far as Dannevirke were affected. There were 258 deaths - 162 in Napier, 93 in Hastings and 3 in Wairoa along with many injuries. The reconstruction of Napier and Hastings were costly but the benefit was two modern cities and the Ahuriri Lagoon, or Inner Harbour as it was usually known, was raised over 2 metres, creating the land, which Napier desperately needed to expand.

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate, touted as the the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. End on a high with another ride, this time in comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

Gannet Safaris - suggested

Gannet Safaris
Gannet Safaris
Gannet Safaris
Gannet Safaris

Drive along the scenic coast from Napier to Te Awanga and join Gannet Safaris Overland and the world's largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Gannet Safaris has been guiding visitors over Cape Kidnappers for over 35 years and their safaris are the only way to be driven right to within a few feet of these remarkable birds. You will travel in comfort in air conditioned 4 x 4 wheeled vehicles, through Cape Kidnappers Station - traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, through stands of native bush, steep gullies and breath-taking inclines. There is a stop on the way at a spectacular cliff top with panoramic views of Hawke Bay right across to Mahia peninsular. The 36km, three hour trip includes a commentary by your tour guide / driver on the farming operation on Cape Kidnappers Station and an introduction to the gannets. On arrival at the gannets you can stretch your legs and take in the scenery from your position at the brink of the cliffs edge - 100 metres above the ocean!

Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour - suggested

Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour
Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour
Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour
Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

The Grape Escape Half day wine tour visits some of the Hawke's Bay's famous wineries and is designed for casual imbibers and wine aficionados. Meet like - minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantastic wines. Taste great wines made with passion and learn of the areas unique growing conditions. Take home great tasting wines and memories. Visit 4 - 5 local wineries and taste Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and much more. Also try some of New Zealand's finest cheeses matched with wine. Walk amongst the vines and learn about Terroir.

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Take a scenic drive through the vineyards as you learn about the region and its wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at Vidal. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sea level (overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities in winter).

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

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Day 16 - Leave the coast behind and head inland to Lake Taupo and then onto the cultural heartland of Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 211 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Napier to Rotorua

Napier to Rotorua
Napier to Rotorua
Napier to Rotorua
Napier to Rotorua

From Napier you will cross the Ahiminawa Ranges to arrive into the town of Taupo, sitting on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo - a gigantic volcanic caldera formed during one of the worlds largest eruptions. Take a slight detour north to view the Huka Falls, an impressive body of water draining from the Waikato river. See it from the wooden viewing platform or get up close to the spray with a ride on the Huka Jet. Visit nearby volcanic reserve Craters of the Moon to see boiling pools and steaming vents. Continue on through the Waimungu Valley before arriving into geothermal Rotorua, the heart of New Zealands Maori culture.

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter - suggested

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. Come face to face with, and learn more about, New Zealand’s precious wildlife. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.
Go behind the scenes with New Zealand's national animal at the purpose built Kiwi Conservation Centre - created solely to try and stop the extinction of this unique species. Here you will gain first hand insight into the conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of kiwi eggs being hatched and returned to the wild.

Mitai Maori Village - suggested

Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.

Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge
Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge
Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge
Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Dinner service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 17 - View the remarkable features of Rotorua Lakes by air, before landing in Orakei Korako Hidden Valley. This afternoon drive to Auckland the 'City of Sails'

Driving distance and time: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

On this spectacular scenic flight you'll take a floatplane over the Crater Lakes District and the volcanic rift of Mt Tarawera. You'll then continue south via the Waimangu and Waiotapu Thermal Park to land in the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako. Transfer by boat across the lake to explore the hot springs, gushing geysers and natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland before rejoining your aircraft for the return trip to Rotorua.

Rotorua to Auckland

Rotorua to Auckland
Rotorua to Auckland
Rotorua to Auckland
Rotorua to Auckland

Today you'll leave Rotorua for the bustling metropolis of Auckland. Head through the heart of Waikato king country and marvel at its lush dairy pastures. Follow the Waikato - New Zealand's longest river - through the small artsy settlement of  Tirau and the township of Cambridge. Continue on a little further to arrive into Auckland, your destination for the night.

Accommodation: Eden Villa

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Eden Villa
Accommodation: Eden Villa
Accommodation: Eden Villa
Accommodation: Eden Villa

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 18 - Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands

Driving distance and time: 226 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

The trip from Auckland to the Bay Of Islands takes around 3.5 hours but give yourself some leeway for stops and sightseeing. As you go through Puhoi, take in the bohemian atmosphere of this historical township. Stop for a breath of fresh salty air in Whangarei and take another break at Kawakawa - home to the world famous Hundertwasser toilets. Enjoy the native bush surrounds and marvel at the endless golden beaches as you arrive into central Bay Of The Islands, Paihia.

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 19 - Cruise the Bay of Islands, then you have the rest of the day to relax or explore

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights
Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights
Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights
Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights

Take a glimpse into New Zealand's earliest European history as your luxury catamaran passes by the township of Russell (Kororareka) and many of the historic and culturally significant islands in the Bay, before heading out into open sea. Enjoy the views as you cruise past the Cape Brett Lighthouse, before arriving at the stunning Motukokako Island, home of the majestic Hole in the Rock. As we venture into the dramatic Hole in the Rock (conditions permitting) hold your breath as the skipper navigates through the narrow space and admire the rock walls which soar above you. Watch out for water drops if you are seated on the top deck! Take in the Grand Cathedral Cave before heading back into the sheltered waters of the Bay. Keep an eye out for bottlenose and common dolphins along the way.

Explore the Bay of Islands

Explore the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands

Made up of over 140 subtropical atolls, New Zealand's Bay of Islands is commonly known as the ‘winterless north.’ Renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate this tropical paradise is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Spend some time on a remote stretch of beach, or cool off during a ‘swim with dolphins’ ocean safari. If diving is your thing, take the morning to descend the Rainbow Warrior - The Greenpeace flagship sunk by French saboteurs in 1985. Wander around Russell, a whaling port founded in 1843. Learn about our culture in historic Waitangi, the site where The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Maori and European settlers dictating the terms by which New Zealand would become a British colony. Before you leave take a travel day to Cape Reinga the very top of the North Island.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance - suggested

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance

Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most historic sites where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the local Maori and the British Government. This two day pass allows you access to the Treaty of Waitangi Grounds and includes admission to the Museum of Waitangi, a guided tour and a Maori Cultural performance. During your guided tour, you'll learn about the history of the treaty and discover the stories and events that shaped New Zealand. The cultural performance inside the carved meeting house includes waiata (singing), poi, a display of Maori weaponry and the haka - a war dance New Zealand is known for.

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

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Day 20 - Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast

Driving distance and time: 343 kms / 213 miles : 4.4 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Bay of Islands via Waipoua Forest to Auckland

Bay of Islands via Waipoua Forest to Auckland
Bay of Islands via Waipoua Forest to Auckland
Bay of Islands via Waipoua Forest to Auckland
Bay of Islands via Waipoua Forest to Auckland

Today you will leave the Bay of Islands for a scenic return trip to Auckland. Head west, leaving the Pacific Ocean for the wilder seas of the Tasman and Hokianga. Go through the small townships of Omapere and Opononi, each with a great seaside feel.

Your route now goes south through Waipoua Forest, home to the largest and oldest Kauri trees in the country. Make sure you allow time for several of the signposted short walks as you pass - not to be missed is the five minute loop to view the largest of all the trees -Tane Mahuta.

As you make your way back down the country you’ll pass the Matakohe Kauri Museum with extensive displays on the region’s logging, farming and social history. Continuing on, go through Warkworth and the bohemian settlement of Puhoi before crossing the harbour bridge to arrive in Auckland city.

Accommodation: Eden Villa

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Eden Villa
Accommodation: Eden Villa
Accommodation: Eden Villa
Accommodation: Eden Villa

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Day 21 - Depart Auckland today

Driving distance and time: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Depart Auckland today

Explore more of vibrant Auckland city before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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