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24 Day Grand Explorer

23 nights, Auckland to Christchurch

24 Day Grand Explorer

This explorer tour takes in major attractions of both the North and South Island, while also guiding you to some favourite holiday destinations of the locals, like the Coromandel Peninsula.  Along the way you’ll enjoy two night stays to ensure you really experience New Zealand and have time to enjoy the many activities on offer.  We’ve also included four very different scenic cruises, beginning with a cruise in the sub-tropical Bay of Islands and finishing with a nature cruise in the pristine Milford Sound.  At the right time of year you might spot dolphins, penguins, seals and royal albatross. 

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Auckland Ferry Building
Lake Matheson reflections Westland New Zealand
Sunset in Coromandel North Island of New Zealand
Tranz Alpine Scenic Train
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland City

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland 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 Auckland City

Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise - suggested

Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

Head out on the sparkling Waitemata Harbour and gain an insight into the city surrounds. This Cruise includes a complimentary return ticket to Devonport and a you'll also stop over at dormant volcano Rangitoto. Highlights of this tour include the iconic Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and Devonport’s historic naval base. You'll also see Bean Rock Lighthouse while enjoying morning or afternoon tea (a hot drink and a muffin). The harbour cruise lasts one and half hours and departs daily from the Downtown Ferry Terminal at 10:30am and 1:30pm.

Your free return ticket to Devonport can be used whenever you like - it doesn't have to be the same day.  Hop across the harbour to Auckland's ‘marine suburb' and spend some time exploring its delightful shops, cafes and galleries.

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$30-NZ$35 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer

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Day 2 - Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to Waipoua Forest and the Hokianga

Driving distance and time: 254 kms / 158 miles : 3.1 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.

Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest

Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest

The drive north to Waipoua Forest and the Kauri Coast takes you along the remote West Coast of the North Island and around one of the world's largest natural harbours, the Kaipara Harbour. The region was worked by immigrant Dalmatians who toiled to make a living from the gum fields. A visit to the Kauri Museum at Matakohe tells the story of their hardships and pioneering spirit and of the remarkable impact this tree had on the region and the wider world - and is must do. You'll have plenty of opportunity to stop along this spectacular route, so be sure to leave time for sightseeing.

Twilight encounter - suggested

Twilight encounter
Twilight encounter
Twilight encounter
Twilight encounter

Experience the Waipoua Forest at night on this spectacular 4 hour tour. Learn about the rich birdlife and fauna that inhabit the forest, including the carnivorous kauri snail. You'll also get to experience the deep spiritual respect the Maori people have for this place. Your Maori guide will brief you on the protocols for your visit and you once formal greetings have been made you will be allowed to meet the giant Tane Mahuta, or Lord of the Forest - the oldest Kauri tree in the world.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga

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
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 3 - Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga to the tropical Bay of Islands where you'll take to the water for a cruise

Driving distance and time: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.1 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.

Hokianga to Paihia, Bay of Islands

Hokianga to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Hokianga to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Hokianga to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Hokianga to Paihia, Bay of Islands

Heading east from the Hokianga, a detour to Rawene is recommended (signposted) to view the historic wooden buildings on the harbour and stop for a break at the Boatshed Cafe, sitting on the water with fantastic views. Crossing from the West Coast to the east you soon arrive at the subtropical Bay of Islands.  A slight detour north will take you to Kerikeri, famous for its crafts and fruit orchards, it’s also the largest township in the region.  Kerikeri is home to New Zealand's oldest standing European buildings, the Stone Store and Kemp House, both are open to visitors. Continue on to Paihia, an excellent base to explore the Bay of Islands.  Nearby is a wealth of early New Zealand history, learn about the signing of the Treaty at Waitangi and Maori culture.  Across the harbour is the cute village of Russell, with many historic buildings, a lovely place to explore.  Paihia is also the launching point for many marine encounters, swim with the dolphins, kayak or cruise the beautiful Bay of Islands - there are many ways to experience this paradise.

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.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Head south to the 'City of Sails'

Driving distance and time: 220 kms / 137 miles : 2.8 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 to Auckland

Bay of Islands to Auckland
Bay of Islands to Auckland
Bay of Islands to Auckland
Bay of Islands to Auckland

Today leave the Bay of Islands behind as you head south towards Auckland, City of Sails. You'll go through Kawakawa, famous for its unique Hundertwasser toilets, before passing the port-side town of Whangarei. Continue on through Warkworth and take a side trip to Matakana, renowned for its beaches and boutique vineyards. As you near the outskirts of Auckland, stop for a breather in Puhoi, New Zealand's only Bohemian settlement, before passing through the North Shore and into the heart of Auckland City.

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

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Day 5 - Pass through the Hauraki Plains before the coastal climb to Coromandel

Driving distance and time: 246 kms / 153 miles : 3.6 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.

Auckland to Tairua via Coromandel Township

Auckland to Tairua via Coromandel Township
Auckland to Tairua via Coromandel Township
Auckland to Tairua via Coromandel Township
Auckland to Tairua via Coromandel Township

Cross the fertile plains of the Hauraki - toward the Thames Estuary, a haven for wildlife and shore birds. Arriving into the historic gold mining town of Thames, choose to follow the scenic route along the Pohutukawa Coast (part of the Pacific Coast Highway). This is one of the most spectacular drives in the region and not to be missed. Plan to arrive into Coromandel Township for lunch before heading down the east coast towards popular seaside destinations Whitianga and then Tairua.

Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour - suggested

Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour
Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour
Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour
Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour

Driving Creek Railway and Potteries has become a Coromandel icon. The dream of Barry Brickell was to establish a pottery workshop on his land. Using a railway he would have access to the clay on the land and the pine kiln fuel. Over the next 15 years the railway developed until in 1990 it was finally licensed to carry fare paying passengers and ever since thousands of visitors have made the trip to Coromandel to experience this unique attraction. The 1 hour return train trip on the innovatively designed trains takes you through replanted native kauri forest and includes 2 spirals, 3 short tunnels, 5 reversing points and several large viaducts as it climbs up to the mountain-top terminus. The pottery is still producing and you can watch the artists at work as well as purchase items.

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 6 - Free day to explore the Coromandel Peninsula

Tairua

Tairua
Tairua
Tairua
Tairua

Tairua is a small seaside town and fishing village sitting on a natural harbour. The dominant feature is Paku Hill and extinct volcanic cone that stands at the harbour entrance. Great views of the town ship and the Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed from the look out at the top. With numerous white sandy beaches, cafes and restaurants this is a great place to spend some relaxing time. Dive trips to the Alderman Islands depart from here.

Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour - suggested

Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour
Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour
Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour
Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour

A photographer's dream! A delightful sample of Coromandel Peninsula's natural heritage and scenic beauty. Enjoy the flora and fauna of the semi-tropical rainforest with giant ferns, kauri trees and crystal clear streams. Visit the old historic gold caves sparkling with glowworms and hear the fascinating history of this magic area. Visit stunning coastal scenery with white sand beaches, magnificent cliffs decorated with ancient Pohutukawa trees, old Maori pa sites and offshore islands. A visit to Hot Water Beach [tide permitting]. Lunch is included and will be a delightful picnic or a visit to our favourite cafe. The Nature and Coast day walk is their most popular walk and is a gentle walk suitable for everyone including children.

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

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Day 7 - Travel along the Bay of Plenty before turning inland towards the lakes of Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 180 kms / 112 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.

Tairua to Rotorua via Tauranga

Tairua to Rotorua via Tauranga
Tairua to Rotorua via Tauranga
Tairua to Rotorua via Tauranga
Tairua to Rotorua via Tauranga

Today you'll be leaving the Coromandel Peninsula and passing through the town of Whangamata, a popular tourist destination for Kiwi holidaymakers and home to one of the best beaches in the region. Stop in Wahi to view its operational open cast gold mine - just follow the signs to a unique vantage point overlooking the Martha Mine. For rail enthusiasts, be sure to take a trip on the Goldfields Railway along its historic and scenic track. Continue on through the Bay of Plenty and the portside city of Tauranga. Your driving route now takes you along the Pyes Pa Road to Rotorua. If Lord of the Rings is your thing take a detour along State Highway 29 to Matamata, home to the fictional Tolkien village, Hobbiton. As you arrive into Rotorua take in the spectacular lake views along with clouds of steam rising from multiple geysers across the region.

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 8 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides

Explore Rotorua

Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. But geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to the Mitai Maori Village should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Live on the edge when you hop aboard a helicopter bound for White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano. Spike your adrenaline at Agroventures on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Go up the Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

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.

Rotorua Canopy Tours - The Original Canopy Tour - suggested

Rotorua Canopy Tours - The Original Canopy Tour
Rotorua Canopy Tours - The Original Canopy Tour
Rotorua Canopy Tours - The Original Canopy Tour
Rotorua Canopy Tours - The Original Canopy Tour

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees.
In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

Mitai Maori Village

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: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

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Day 9 - First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay

Driving distance and time: 210 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.

Rotorua to Napier

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

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. Home to a plethora of unique geothermal attractions including boiling mud pits, natural hot springs and steaming geysers, this area is a must do before you move on to Napier. Notable attractions are Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of hundreds of cubic metres of water spilling every second down the narrow 11 metre drop.
For an extra thrill take a jet-boat ride to the base of the falls. Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$10-NZ$15 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 10 - Discover the Art Deco architecture, vineyards and gannets of the Hawkes 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
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.

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.

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures - suggested

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures

On this unique four hour eco-adventure you will get to experience one of the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colonies in the world. You'll be pulled on a trailer from the back of a vintage tractor along the beach to the Black Reef Colony - where you'll have the chance to see the birds in their natural habitat. Depending on the season, visitors can witness new-born chicks through to four month old gannets preparing for their first ever flight, which will take them all the way to Australia. Continuing on to the Cape, you'll break for 90 minutes which enables visitors the chance to picnic, swim or enjoy a scenic walk to the Plateau Colony.

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.

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

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Day 11 - Drive south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa region, then over the Rimutaka Ranges to the capital

Driving distance and time: 322 kms / 200 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.

Napier to Wellington City via Masterton

Napier to Wellington City via Masterton
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton

The rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay leads you into some of New Zealand’s richest farmland, located around the Manawatu region. Passing along the Manawatu Gorge the Wairarapa welcomes you. Masterton is home to the golden shears sheep shearing competition while just further south Greytown boasts the largest concentration of historic wooden buildings in the country.

Nearby Martinborough is home to dozens of boutique wineries. The route takes you over the Rimutaka Range and along the magnificent natural harbour that the capital city of Wellington sits upon.

Wellington's museums - suggested activity

Wellington's museums - suggested activity
Wellington's museums - suggested activity
Wellington's museums - suggested activity
Wellington's museums - suggested activity

Te Papa

Te Papa means 'our place' and is considered to be the 'museum of New Zealand'. The building opened in 1998 and since then has shown millions of visitors it's fascinating and unique collection of New Zealand's art, history, memorabilia, natural wonders, treasures and stories as well as hosting many international displays.
One of the finest collections of Maori artefacts can be found here as well as displays dedicated to the many different cultures that make up New Zealand's current population. Make sure you allow enough time to explore museums many floors. The museum is open 10am to 6pm and is free to visit. A small fee may be applicable to some short term visiting displays.

Museum of Wellington City & Sea

Housed in the iconic Bond Store on Wellington’s waterfront, the Museum of Wellington is dedicated to the preservation and study of Wellington’s rich social and cultural history. It provides a backdrop for the permanent display of the people and events that have made Wellington what it is today. The Museum’s atmosphere is thick with history. The Bond Store dates back to 1892, when it was a cargo warehouse and head office of the Harbour Board. Careful restoration has preserved the building’s striking facade, as well as solid timber beams and the original flooring inside. The latest technology is used to further stimulate your senses. Traditional displays sit alongside interactive exhibits, holographs and a giant cinema screen that stretches the length and breadth of an entire wall, a feature unique in Australasia. The collection includes over 95,000 items. Open 10am to 5pm entry is free. 

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour - suggested

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.

Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.

Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is very good.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 12 - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds

Driving distance and time: 104 kms / 65 miles : 1.6 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.

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

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

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

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.

Picton to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive

Picton to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive
Picton to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive
Picton to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive
Picton to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive

Queen Charlotte Drive travels the Marlborough Sounds coastline between Picton and Havelock. Magnificent views of the sounds can be had from many vantage points so allow plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. If you can spare the time take the narrow windy road to Portage along Mahau Sound and Kenepuru Sound with their bush clad hillsides and secluded sandy coves.

The small port town of Havelock has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to choose from so plan your journey to arrive in time for lunch. The highway between Nelson and Picton also crosses the Pelorus River and just at this junction is the famous and historic Pelorus Bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks with the most popular the 30 minute loop through beech, rimu and totara forest to the swing-bridge.

Crossing the Bryant Range you arrive onto Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson.

Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$10-NZ$15 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 13 - Explore Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park

Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region

Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region
Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region
Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region
Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region

Nelson is a great city to explore on foot. Visit the historic areas, the famous Cathedral or relax and enjoy the atmosphere at one of the many cafes on Trafalgar Street. Nelson is also noted for its many artists, and galleries displaying their work can be enjoyed by following one of the Art trails listed locally. Around 45 minutes drive away is Abel Tasman National Park. The region offers countless opportunities to explore for visitors of every age and capability, from enjoying the golden sand beaches and clear warm waters to guided kayaking trips viewing seals and dolphins, to exploring some of New Zealand's finest walking tracks.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a scenic cruise through the sounds or take a kayaking tour around it’s many sheltered bays. Enjoy the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals  - fur seals and dolphins.
 

Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch - suggested

Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch
Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch
Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch
Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch

Experience the best of Abel Tasman on this combined beach cruise and walk tour. You will first take a cruise into the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, where you will pause to watch the antics of the Resident Fur Seal Colony. After landing at the historic Tonga Quarry Beach, take a two hour, fifteen minute walk over forested land and around the spectacular Bark Bay Estuary - renowned for its cascading waterfalls. You will then region the cruise at the sheltered golden cove on Medlands Beach.

Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

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Day 14 - Head through the Lewis Pass to Christchurch

Driving distance and time: 465 kms / 289 miles : 6.5 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.

Nelson to Christchurch (via Nelson Lakes National Park)

Nelson to Christchurch (via Nelson Lakes National Park)
Nelson to Christchurch (via Nelson Lakes National Park)
Nelson to Christchurch (via Nelson Lakes National Park)
Nelson to Christchurch (via Nelson Lakes National Park)

Leaving Nelson City you will pass through the suburb of Richmond. Moving on you will travel through the Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Park region, trees, rivers and valleys accompany you now as you head towards the town of Murchison. Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers paradise with white water rafting, jet boating, gold panning, kayaking, 4WD trips and excellent trout fishing.

From Murchison you will head south towards Maruia Springs, which has been attracting travellers for years and the natural hot springs are now located within an authentic japanese themed resort, a great place to stop for a soak if time allows. Head inland over the Lewis Pass where the landscape changes to a sub alpine zone with large forests of red and silver beech. Near the summit a short walking track, the Tarn Nature Walk, is an ideal place to break your journey.

The drive south to Christchurch takes you through some fine rolling farmland and North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley.

Accommodation: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square
Accommodation: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square
Accommodation: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square
Accommodation: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$30-NZ$40 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 15 - Overthe hills to discover the charms of Akaroa, take a in the harbour

Driving distance and time: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 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.

Christchurch to Akaroa

Christchurch to Akaroa
Christchurch to Akaroa
Christchurch to Akaroa
Christchurch to Akaroa

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There's lots of space on the 2 decks for unimpeded viewing and inside you will find a bar and toilets. The vessel offers comfortable, safe and stable comfort. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March. Also on the trip you will catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant species and the chance of sighting the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You'll also see the New Zealand Fur Seal sunning themselves on the harbours rocks near the entrance at Seal Bay and you also get to stop at Lucas Bay to see at a salmon farm where thousands of salmon from fingerlings to adult fish are farmed in a series of cages. This is where the world-famous 'Akaroa Salmon' are raised. 

Accommodation: Criterion Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Accommodation: Criterion Motel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Breakfast service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Laundry facilities: On site

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Day 16 - Travel south through the Canterbury Plains where you'll join the coastline which takes you to Dunedin

Driving distance and time: 410 kms / 255 miles : 5.2 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.

Akaroa to Dunedin

Akaroa to Dunedin
Akaroa to Dunedin
Akaroa to Dunedin
Akaroa to Dunedin

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. The towns of Timaru followed by Oamaru are worth a short detour to the town centre.
The town of Oamaru is most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Explore the old quarter or if you don't mind a late arrival into Dunedin then stay around to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.
Just a little further south and you arrive at Moeraki and its famous Moeraki Boulders. Following a look at these incredible and unique geological features don't miss taking a late lunch or coffee and cake at Fleur's Cafe in Moeraki Township. The last stretch of road follows the coastline before crossing the hills and descending into the city of Dunedin.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$10-NZ$15 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 17 - Let Monarch introduce you to the history and wildlife of the Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle
Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle
Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle
Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle

This premier package gets you closer to our unique southern ocean wildlife. See the worlds= only mainland nesting place for the Northern Royal Albatross. NZ fur seals also breed here and the impressive NZ Sealions may be seen on sandy beaches. Often seen are other albatross species, petrels, penguins, dolphins and more. You will also take a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin's great landmarks where the expert guides take you on a journey back in time; into the rich, turbulent and scandalous lives of the Larnach family. Enjoy the history and superb craftsmanship of New Zealand's only castle. Climb to the parapets for 360 degree views of the Otago Peninsula and explore the stunning gardens of international significance.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

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Day 18 - Travel through the historic gold rush fields of Central Otago to reach the 'Adventure Capital' of Queenstown

Driving distance and time: 270 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 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 Queenstown

Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown

This drive takes you through the heart of the historical Otago Goldfields . The townships of Lawrence, Roxburgh and Alexandra - once booming mining towns in the late 1800's gold rush - now sleepy sun-traps bearing the little resemblance to their bustling past. However, some buildings do remain as do the original shafts and workings. In more recent times Alexandra has become the 'stone fruit capital' of New Zealand -  with the ideal climate for the trees. It is also a great place to buy some of the local produce. The road follows the South Island's longest river, the Clutha River, and at Clyde you will see one of the largest hydro power stations harnessing its energy before passing through the Gibbston Wine Valley to arrive at your destination today, Queenstown.  
 

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$10-NZ$15 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 19 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Queenstown may be New Zealand's ‘adventure capital,’ but it offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday.  On the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath the soaring Remarkables Mountain Range, this small town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Head through Gibbston Valley to sample some of the region’s best wine. We recommend stopping at the Chard Farm cellar door, visiting the architecturally award winning Peregrine vineyard or taking a cellar cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery. Cruise to Walter Peak station for dinner on board a 100 year old steamship -  the TSS Earnslaw. While you're there, a farm tour is a must do for those not familiar with rural living.

Take some time to wander the waterfront, and grab lunch at one of the many amazing cafes and restaurants on offer. Try Vudu’s Pantry and larder or for a holiday treat go to Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown - a disused gold mining settlement built in the 1800’s.Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. After all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water Rafting.

Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride - skimming past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breath taking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 degree spins!

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

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: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

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Day 20 - You'll journey by luxury coach along the magnificent Milford Road, then cruise the fiord taking in all its natural wonders

Driving distance and time: 0 kms / 0 miles : 0.0 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.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown
Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown
Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown
Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with an extended 2.5 hour Nature Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On board a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the Milford Mariner for a leisurely extended cruise of the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rain forest, mountains and wildlife with extensive commentary by the on board nature guide. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

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Day 21 - 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: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 22 - Enjoy a walk or scenic flight for up close views of the glaciers

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Known for its 12 km long glacier, Franz Josef is a lively town in the heart of the West Coast. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains its township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice up-close, walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself or get within 100m you must take a licensed tour. Strap on some crampons and give it a go with Franz Josef Glacier Guides or take the easier option and book in a helicopter landing instead. Whichever way you choose to ascend, once on top you’ll have the chance to explore the crevasses, caves and ice flows.

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk - suggested

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk
Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk
Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk
Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

The Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed, following the glacier’s path as it winds its way through the remarkable landscape. Here you will learn about the glacier’s history and learn the legend of Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere. After a brief climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the glacier’s rapidly changing terminal face. Accessing some exclusive trails and including great storytelling from your experienced and well-trained guide.
Following on from your scenic walk enjoy access to the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, the perfect end to an unforgettable day.

Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line - suggested

Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line
Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line
Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line
Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

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Day 23 - 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.
 

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: The George Hotel, Christchurch

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 24 - Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

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