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28 Day Glaciers, Mountains, Reef and Rainforests

26 nights, Auckland to Cairns

28 Day Glaciers, Mountains, Reef and Rainforests

Beginning by travelling through the heart of New Zealand, you’ll journey past an incredible diversity of landscapes and scenery.  From the North Island’s rich Maori culture and modern cosmopolitan cities, you’ll venture south crossing the Cook Strait to the mountains, alpine lakes, and glaciers of the South Island.
Crossing the Tasman, you will then explore Australia, visiting Sydney, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Daintree Rainforest.
Have some extra time? Talk to us about customising this tour to add extra nights or more incredible locations.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 27 days / 26 nights from Auckland to Cairns
  • Accommodation is Hotel 3 star (can be customised)
  • A superb range of rental cars to choose from
  • Rental car insurance with full coverage (variable excess/deductible)
  • Unlimited kilometres, GPS navigation, airport and ferry fees
  • Can be fully customised to suit you
  • 11 breakfasts
  • Private train station transfers
  • Private airport transfers
  • TranzAlpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch
  • Interislander ferry crossing
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive Auckland City

Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive Touring App. The App includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts, and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Auckland

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.

Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore - suggested

See Auckland after dark with this amazing on-water dining experience, not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Take in the sights of the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Your experienced crew will talk about Auckland’s highlights and there will opportunity try your hand at steering.

At our sheltered mooring you'll be served delicious New Zealand fare - choose from a delectable three course menu catered for by a renowned Viaduct Restaurant.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Auckland City

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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 paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Room service available
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 2 - Collect car then drive south through Waikato farmland and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 220 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.

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 Rotorua

The drive south from Auckland takes you past the Bombay Hills and into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of greater Auckland area and it's here you turn inland to central Waikato. You’ll soon go through the town of Matamata where you can visit the fully intact Hobbiton film set used in the shooting of the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Continuing on, you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest - suggested

Become immersed in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. Located just outside of Matamata - in the heart the lush Waikato farming region, your tour will begin with a drive through a picturesque sheep farm. You'll then be taken through Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and insight into the making of the films.

Accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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

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Day 3 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides

Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua 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.

National Kiwi Hatchery Tour - suggested

The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person!

Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour - suggested

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. 

Tamaki Maori Village Cultural Tour and Hangi Dinner - suggested

Journey back in time to a Pre-European lifestyle experience of customs and traditions. Enjoy the night's festivities with the people of Tamaki Maori Village as you are treated to a banquet of succulent foods cooked the traditional Maori way. Rediscover the Maori village as it comes alive to the sound and activities of tribal songs, dances, myths, and legends and browse throughout the largest after hours tribal marketplace in Rotorua. Includes a hangi buffet feast that has cooked slowly underground.

Accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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Day 4 - Today is filled with fantastic scenery including Lake Taupo, the Desert Road and the Kapiti Coastline as you approach Wellington

Driving distance and time: 441 kms / 273 miles : 5.3 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.

Rotorua to Wellington

Today make your way South to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Pass through Taupo, before ascending the Central Plateau to the Rangipo Desert. Skirt the Tongariro National Park to pass through the military town of Waiouru. Descend the plateau to the Kapiti Coast and bypass seaside towns of Paraparaumu and Paekakariki to reach Wellington, your destination for the night.

Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary Tour - suggested

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 high!

Accommodation: Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 5 - 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: 157 kms / 98 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.

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

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 Kaikoura

From Picton head south on State Highway One towards Blenheim, and the wine producing region of Marlborough. Ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce, stop for a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the west you'll follow alongside the Kaikoura Ranges before arriving into the bustling Kaikoura Township.

Accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

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: In room free access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 6 - Drive on the Pacific Coast Highway to Christchurch today

Driving distance and time: 178 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.

Kaikoura to Christchurch

Today you travel down the coast before heading inland through the North Canterbury wine region - the Waipara Valley. As you drive through this area you’ll be greeted by one of New Zealand's most notorious animals, the sheep. If you’ve time on your hands we recommend taking a detour to Hanmer Springs for relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you'll see a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

Whale Watch Kaikoura - suggested

Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer 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, occasionally make an appearance.
Cruise in style on 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.

International Antarctic Centre General Admission - suggested

The International Antarctic Centre aims to recreate the atmosphere and environment of Antarctica, providing visitors with an interactive, fun and educational experience. Feel the full Four Seasons of Antarctica, where you'll experience a custom-built snow and ice experience, then warm up in the Scott Base interior exhibit, a replica Antarctic field camp or other informative displays in the gallery. You'll also learn about life in modern day Antarctica, view real little blue penguins and experience a thrilling ride in a Hagglund all terrain vehicle.

Christchurch Gondola - suggested

In the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch City, ride the Christchurch Gondola for nearly a kilometre to the collapsed rim of an extinct volcano - which exploded six million years ago.  Take in the panoramic 360-degree views of the central city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps.  Wander the summit complex and choose one of many nature walks or visit the Time Tunnel - a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 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
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 7 - Today 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.

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.
Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook - suggested

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 Room Mount Cook View

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

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
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 8 - Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown

Driving distance and time: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 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.

Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown

Leaving the alpine region of Mount Cook, you'll travel through the lakeside town of Twizel, then a little further to Omarama - the gliding capital of New Zealand. Continue on over the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand's highest roads with a summit of 971 metres. Arrive in the quaint village of Tarras, then continue on a short way to the historic Bendigo Reserve, one of Otago's original gold mining settlements.

Follow the road to Cromwell, and keep going through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards Gibbston, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation features

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

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Day 9 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
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. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.

Shotover Jet Canyon Jet Boat Ride - suggested

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

Nevis Bungy Jump - suggested

Welcome to the best thing you’ve ever done. Go full throttle with the 134m Bungy (the highest in New Zealand). Freefall for 8.5 seconds in a blitz of pure fear and adrenaline. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, because this will definitely put the cement in your coffee.

Skyline Gondola Queenstown and 3 Luge Rides - suggested

In the heart of Queenstown, located 450 metres above town in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. A gondola ride to the summit makes for awe-inspiring views of the city surround. Arrive at the complex and wander the outside viewing decks for a picture perfect outlook. Then onto the Luge! The 800 metre luge track offers an exhilarating journey through banked corners, tunnels and dippers.

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

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: Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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Day 10 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Driving distance and time: 321 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.

Queenstown to Fox Glacier

Crossing the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in the country - you'll pass through the alpine town of Wanaka. Following the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you'll enter the township of Makarora, gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park.  Stretch your legs on a walk to Blue Pools - a ten minute stroll through lush rainforest. Marvel at the native beech and countless waterfalls as you continue toward the West Coast.

Crossing the Haast River you are now truly in the wild west - a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. Continue on to arrive in Fox Glacier, your destination for the night. Home to the largest glacier on the west coast, Fox is 13 kilometres long and ends in rainforest only 250 metres above sea level.

Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line - suggested

Explore the glacial icefalls of not one but two glaciers - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Discover up close their neve and unusual ice formations - landing on the snowfields is a highlight and will make for superb photos, snowballs and memories. A 30 minute flight with snow landing. 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: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site

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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: 197 kms / 122 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.

Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station

The drive north from Fox and Franz Josef takes you through the historic gold mining region of Ross and the town of Hokitika, a great place to explore the craft stores, in particular the jade or greenstone. The largest town on the West Coast, Greymouth is also the starting point for the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train.  Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building.

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 at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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Day 12 - Depart New Zealand and cross 'the ditch' to Australia

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.

Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

International Flight - Christchurch to Sydney

This cost for this flight is additional to your tour, we can book this flight for you.

Private Transfer from Sydney Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, a private transfer will collect you from Sydney Airport and transfer you to your accommodation.

Arrive into Sydney

Sydney is Australia's most famous city and with almost 20% of the country's population, is also Australia's largest city. Situated on the east coast of Australia it has beautiful white sand beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach and Manly Beach as well as the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and of course the Sydney Opera House. It was home to about 29 different Aboriginal clan groups for 50,000 years before the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 brought the beginning of European settlement. Rich in modern history, art, and food Sydney has something for everyone.

Evening Dinner Cruise on Sydney Harbour - suggested

Sydney harbour is like a sunset painting in progress. The aquamarine colours of Summer give way to the warm orange hues of Autumn before deepening to a magical Winter twilight blue. Year-round, sun-up or sun-down and everything in between, the colours of Sydney Harbour will welcome you onboard the evening Dinner Cruise. This is the perfect start to an evening or stunning end to an amazing day in the greatest city in the world.

Accommodation: Mantra 2 Bond Street Sydney

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite paid parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Room service available
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: In room
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 13 - Free day to explore Sydney

Explore Sydney

Often mistaken as Australia's capital city, Sydney is a vibrant coastal city with plenty to see and do. Wander around Circular Quay for great views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge; explore the Royal Botanic Gardens, get your science and culture fix at the Powerhouse Museum, Maritime Museum or the Sydney Observatory; take a ferry and explore the Harbour, Luna Park or Taronga Zoo, or simply shop til you drop in the city centre. With plenty of great bars and restaurants, there is no shortage of things to see, do, eat and drink!

Sydney Opera House Tour - suggested

Step inside an iconic landmark. The Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most recognisable landmarks and this is your chance to truly get up-close. Run your hands over the world-famous shell tiles, take a seat in the elegant custom-made white birch timber chairs and marvel at the vaulted ceilings. Visit areas off-limits to the public and capture photographs from rare vantage points. Watch unforgettable moments from past Concert Hall performances, learning about the history and future of this world-famous hall in an immersive digital experience. Experience the future within a  purpose-built venue that boasts heritage-inspired interiors, and state-of-the-art technology, including 270-degree visuals and surround sound.
From the jaw-dropping sweep of the sails to our soaring cathedral interiors, it is impossible to complete a tour of the Sydney Opera House without being compelled to look up.

Sydney Sights, Opera House & Bondi Beach Tour with AAT Kings - suggested

Discover the best that Sydney has to offer on this half day morning tour. Discover the iconic Sydney Opera House on a guided behind the scenes walking tour and see, feel and touch the magic that happens from rare vantage points that are off limits to the general public. Travel past Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral, Parliament House and the Art Gallery. Enjoy magnificent views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and continue on through Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross, and Paddington as you make your way to the world famous Bondi Beach before returning to Sydney's CBD.

Accommodation: Mantra 2 Bond Street Sydney

Accommodation type: Apartments

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Day 14 - Star your journey up the Pacific Coast as you drive from Sydney to Newcastle

Driving distance and time: 147 kms / 91 miles : 2.2 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.

Collect your rental car

Your holiday can be customised and priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige sedans and SUVs.

Sydney to Newcastle via Central Coast

After departing Sydney through the leafy northern suburbs, take the scenic route to the Central Coast. A popular stop on the way is the Australian Reptile Park, where you can see an array of local animals and even feed a kangaroo or cuddle a koala.
Continuing along A49, you should take some time to explore the area with towns like Terrigal, Avoca Beach and The Entrance which are home to long sandy beaches, popular surf breaks, and great cafes and restaurants.
Continue north, skirting Lake Macquarie, Australia's largest coastal saltwater lake before arriving into Newcastle, the second biggest city in NSW.

Accommodation: Travelodge Hotel Newcastle

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 15 - Newcastle to Coffs Harbour

Driving distance and time: 377 kms / 234 miles : 3.9 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.

Newcastle to Coffs Harbour

This full day journey follows the Pacific Highway north, through coastal national parks, across waterways and with plenty of detours available to small towns, all with their own charms. 
Stop into Port Macquarie to stretch your legs on the white sandy beaches and stop for lunch and pop into the Koala Hospital to learn about Australia's cutest inhabitants, the threats that they face, and the important conservation work done by the hospital's staff and volunteers.
If you're a country music fan, take a short detour into Kempsey, where a visit to the Slim Dusty Museum will give you an insight into the history of country music in Australia and local icon, Slim Dusty. Kempsey is also home to the Akubra hat factory, so for a truly authentic souvenir, a visit to the showroom is a must.
Continue another hour north to your destination, Coffs Harbour. Grab a photo with the famous Big Banana, symbolic of one of the regions largest economic drivers, the tropical fruit industry. With gorgeous beaches and spectacular lookouts, this is a great place to put your feet up and relax.

Accommodation: Quality Hotel City Centre Coffs Harbour

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: offsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 16 - Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay

Driving distance and time: 219 kms / 136 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.

Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay

Today's drive will cover about 240km up the Pacific Coast, leaving you plenty of opportunities to stop off and take in the sights. Before heading off from Coffs Harbour, head to the Solitary Islands Marine Park to explore the surrounding waters on a snorkelling tour. These waters are home to diverse coral, colourful fish, turtles, and dolphins.
From Coffs Harbour, snake along the coast for 120km until you reach signs for Yamba. This sleepy hamlet has beaches that rival those of Byron Bay but remains a little more low-profile. Take a stroll on one of the beautiful beaches, or head to the Pacific Hotel for some great views.
From Yamba, return to the Pacific Highway (A1) and continue to head north. If you want an opportunity to spot a second "big thing" today, take a short detour into Ballina to see the Big Prawn. Back on the highway, it's just 30km (18 miles) further to your final destination, Byron Bay.

Accommodation: Eco Beach Resort Byron Bay

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchenette Facilities in Apartments only
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking
  • Apartments serviced weekly

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Day 17 - Explore Byron Bay and surrounds

Explore Byron Bay

Byron Bay is Australia's easternmost town and is home to beautiful beaches, lush rainforest, luxury retreats and some fantastic restaurants. People have always been drawn to the region for its fantastic surf, but today it also caters to those looking for a slow-paced break.
Take advantage of some of the town's beautiful walks, such as the Cape Byron track - the perfect place to watch the sunrise. This 3.7km loop takes you through rainforest and shear cliffs with panoramic views of the region. If you're there between June and November keep your eyes peeled for whales migrating along the coast.

Accommodation: Eco Beach Resort Byron Bay

Accommodation type: Apartments

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Day 18 - Byron Bay to Gold Coast

Driving distance and time: 76 kms / 47 miles : 0.8 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.

Byron Bay to the Gold Coast

The drive from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast will see you crossing state lines from New South Wales to Queensland. This short drive will take little more than an hour, so have a leisurely start to your morning in Byron Bay before hitting the road.
Travel past Coolangatta, a surf and diving mecca revered for its unpretentious culture and bountiful array of aquatic life and continue onto the Gold Coast, famed for its white-sand beaches, theme parks, and shopping. Stop at the iconic Surfers Paradise, take a surf lesson, or, for a bird's eye view of the city and surrounding beaches, head up the 270m tall (886 foot) Q1 building.

Accommodation: Mantra Crown Towers, Surfers Paradise

Accommodation type: Apartments

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 paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: In room
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • Children's playground
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 19 - Visit iconic Surfers Paradise and explore the Gold Coast

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast's star attraction is its white sand beaches, including the world-famous stretch of sand at Surfers Paradise. Beyond the beaches, a the Gold Coast boasts Australia's tallest building - the Q1, a booming culinary scene, rainforest walks and the Gold Coast's famous theme parks.

Gold Coast City Tour & River Cruise with Aquaduck Gold Coast - suggested

The “World’s First” amphibious Aquaduck Safari, operating since 1996, is an established Gold Coast icon.
Departing from the heart of Surfers Paradise, tours aboard the amphibious ‘Duck’ combine informative city tours with a unique and exciting river cruise, travelling past the glitzy waterfront mansions of the rich and famous and taking in the spectacular views of the Gold Coast waterways and its famous landmarks.

Accommodation: Mantra Crown Towers, Surfers Paradise

Accommodation type: Apartments

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Day 20 - Make the most of today, taking the scenic route through the Scenic Rim

Driving distance and time: 174 kms / 108 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.

Gold Coast to Brisbane via the Scenic Rim

The Scenic Rim driving route between Gold Coast and Brisbane is one of spectacular beauty, bursting with stunning mountain ranges and unique topography. Nestled in an ancient volcanic caldera, its abundance of flora, fauna, scenery and local produce is not to be missed.
Begin your journey by making your way westbound out of the city towards Nerang, and from there carry on west to Canungra. Once you reach Canungra, you will head south on Lamington National Park Road.
This UNESCO World Heritage site will take your breath away with its exceptional beauty. Home to rainforest, ancient trees, deep valleys and streams, you can immerse yourself in its 160km of walking trails. If you are looking for an easy walk, head for the Centenary Track which should take roughly 30 minutes. If you're feeling a bit more invigorated, carry on to the Morans Falls Track from Centenary Track for a 2 hour return journey.
After you've had your fix of short walks, head back to Canungra before heading north towards Tamborine Mountain. Home to a Rainforest Skywalk, Treetop Challenge, and brewery, there is something for everyone in the family. The plateau is the product of lava flow from the Mount Warning volcanic eruption 22 million years ago and prior to European settlement, it was inhabited by Aboriginal People for tens of thousands of years. Today, it is celebrated for its natural beauty, exceptional fresh produce and abundance of outdoor activities.
Drive north towards Brisbane and if you're still hungry, Yatala Pies are a Queensland icon, making meat pies for over 130 years and definitely worth a quick stop. From here, get back on the motorway and follow it all the way into Brisbane.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Brisbane

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 21 - Free day to explore Brisbane

Brisbane

Brisbane is the third-largest city in Australia and is the capital of Queensland, the "Sunshine State". It is set along the Brisbane River and was the traditional home to the Jagera and Turrbal Aboriginal clans before Europeans founded a convict colony in what is now the central business district in 1824. Over the years it grew and by 1859 was formally established as a city. Today, Brisbane is one of the fastest-growing cities in Australia and has a rich, culturally diverse population.
Spend your day eating and shopping your way through the CBD and Fortitude Valley, or cross the bridge and visit picturesque Southbank, with beautiful parklands and the Cultural Precinct, home to some of the state's best museums and galleries.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Brisbane

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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Day 22 - Fly north to Cairns today

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.

Depart Brisbane today

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

Domestic Flight - Brisbane to Cairns

This cost for this flight is additional to your tour, we can book this flight for you.

Collect your rental car

Your holiday can be customised and priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige sedans and SUVs.

Arrive into Cairns

Cairns has been home to indigenous Australians for more than 40,000 years and was settled by Europeans in 1876 who arrived in search of gold. These days, Cairns is seen as the city "where the rainforest meets the reef" as it is the gateway to both the 100-million-year-old Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. The main tourist centre in town is along the Esplanade, which has a swimming lagoon, bustling weekend markets, and plenty of great food options.

Accommodation: Comfort Inn Cairns City

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hair Dryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 23 - Explore Cairns and Kuranda

Explore Cairns and surrounds

Cairns is a laid back city with plenty to do outdoors. You can take the Skyrail or Scenic Railway to Kuranda to explore the world's oldest continually surviving rainforest; journey by boat to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef to visit the largest coral reef system in the world or visit the nearby islands; or simply relax and enjoy the Cairns Esplanade.

Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Railway

Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, smells and tranquillity of one of the world’s most botanically fascinating areas that have remained relatively unchanged for 130 million years.
Enjoy a truly unique perspective of this ancient landscape with unsurpassed panoramic views of Barron Gorge and Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Glide metres above the pristine jungle canopy between Smithfield (Cairns) and Kuranda, en route descend to explore the rainforest close up at Red Peak and Barron Falls.
Journey back on the must-do Kuranda Scenic Railway. This famous railway winds its way on a journey from Kuranda to Cairns, the village in the rainforest, with Freshwater situated along the line with views of the surrounding mountains. Descending from 327 metres back to sea level, the journey to Kuranda passes spectacular waterfalls and into the stunning Barron Gorge.

Accommodation: Comfort Inn Cairns City

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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Day 24 - A day on the Great Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef Cruise with Quicksilver Cruises

For your experience of a lifetime, Quicksilver’s wave-piercing catamaran and friendly crew will take you to a reef at the very edge of Australia’s Continental Shelf, to an underwater world that is a dazzling kaleidoscope of colour and brilliance.
Choose to dive, snorkel, or stay dry and explore the stunning reef from the comfort of a Quicksilver semi-sub, just one meter underwater. Watch the fish feeding from Quicksilver’s unique underwater viewing platform and underwater observatory. Whichever way you choose, you’ll bring home a lifetime of memories from this living natural wonder.

Accommodation: Comfort Inn Cairns City

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 25 - Journey north to the Daintree Rainforest

Driving distance and time: 138 kms / 86 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.

Cairns to Cape Tribulation via Port Douglas

The best route north is the Captain Cook Highway (State Route 44). This drive offers countless opportunities to stop and admire the breathtaking views or walk along the beach. Just 20 minutes north of Cairns is Smithfield, home to the Skyrail Rainforest CablewaySkyrail Rainforest Cableway where you can take a bird's eye view of the world's oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest, or divert a little further to Kuranda for the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway.
Continue north through Palm Cove and onto Port Douglas, stopping on the way at Rex Lookout for a 180-degree view over the Coral Sea, with views to Double Island to the south. Port Douglas is a perfect town for a break. Stretch your legs on Four Mile Beach and grab some lunch or a coffee before continuing your drive. Back on the highway, you will pass through Mossman as you head north on your journey into the Daintree Rainforest.

Dreamtime Walk at the Mossman Gorge Centre - suggested

A visit to Mossman Gorge is a must-do for anyone travelling to the beautiful Far North Queensland region. The Mossman Gorge Centre is the gateway to the world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree Rainforest, as well as a unique link to the lives, cultures, and stories of Australia’s Indigenous people and their connection to the natural environment.

Accommodation: Daintree Wilderness Lodge

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Please note: Check in is ONLY until 8pm unless otherwise arranged
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Bar on site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 26 - Return to Cairns, taking time to explore Port Douglas

Driving distance and time: 138 kms / 86 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.

Cape Tribulation to Cairns via Palm Cove

The drive south from Cape Tribulation takes you out of the Daintree Rainforest, across the Daintree River on the ferry and down towards Kuranda State Forest. An hour and a half into your journey is Mossman Gorge, an interactive ecotourism experience that introduces visitors to the Daintree Rainforest and the Indigenous communities who have lived there for centuries.
Just 20 minutes further south is Port Douglas, a bustling tourist town with no shortage of cafes, bars and restaurants. Continue on the Captain Cook Highway as it follows the Coral Sea until you get to Palm Cove. Palm Cove Beach is a great spot for a swim if you’d like to have an afternoon dip to break up the road trip, or there is a beautiful jetty to stroll along to stretch your legs. If you're not short on time, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, and Clifton Beach are worth checking out as you continue to your destination, Cairns.

Accommodation: Comfort Inn Cairns City

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

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Day 27 - Depart Cairns today

Depart Cairns today

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

Farewell from Australia

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