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31 Day Northbound Experience

30 nights, Christchurch to Auckland

31 Day Northbound Experience

This extensive month long tour visits a diverse mix of destinations in both the North and South Islands. With multiple night stays, you’ll have time to discover the hidden gems. The tour includes a great range of activities such as wildlife tours, kayaking Abel Tasman, Scenic Flights, Glacier adventures, overnight cruises and so much more.  In the evenings you’ll relax at our favourite boutique lodges where your hosts will make you feel right at home.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Clock tower of the University of Otago Dunedin
Dart River Wilderness Safari
Doubtful Sound Cruise
Glacier Explorers Mount Cook
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

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

Your tour documentation pack and support

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

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

Welcome to Christchurch City

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

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

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

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

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

Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

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

Accommodation features

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

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

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

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

Collect your rental car

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

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

GPS navigation system

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

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

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

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

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

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

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

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

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

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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

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

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

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

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

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

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

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

Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 4 - Take to the water with Monarch Wildlife Cruises, then on land you'll encounter our rare penguins

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

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

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

Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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

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

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

Dunedin to Te Anau

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

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

Te Anau Glowworm Caves - suggested

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

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

Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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

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

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

Te Anau to Manapouri

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

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

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

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

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

Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

Accommodation features

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

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

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

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

Manapouri to Queenstown

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

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

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

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

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

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

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 8 - Journey into the spectacular Mt Aspiring National Park on a Dart River Wilderness Safari

Dart River Wilderness Jet

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

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

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 9 - 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.

Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride - suggested

Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride
Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride
Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride
Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride

450 metres above the heart of Queenstown in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. Hop aboard the gondola for awe-inspiring views of the city surrounds and award winning cuisine with view. Ride the 800 metre luge track, then for added thrill, tandem paraglide back to base.

Appellation Boutique Wine Tour - suggested

Appellation Boutique Wine Tour
Appellation Boutique Wine Tour
Appellation Boutique Wine Tour
Appellation Boutique Wine Tour

Go off-the-beaten-track with this unique Central Otago wine tour. Taste wines at four of the best vineyards in the Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell regions. The wineries you'll visit are selected from the following: Peregrine, Chard Farm, Carrick, Mt Difficulty, Felton Road, Akarua and Olssens vineyards. This tour also includes a delightful gourmet platter lunch at the award-winning Carrick Winery Restaurant.
Departing Queenstown, you'll go through picturesque valleys, dramatic gorges and rolling vine-covered hills. See the Otago Goldfields, Historic Old Cromwell Town and Lake Dunstan and the Kawarau Gorge.

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 10 - Over the Crown Range to Wanaka for your Lake Wanaka cruise and Mou Waho Island adventure

Driving distance and time: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 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.

Queenstown to Wanaka

Queenstown to Wanaka
Queenstown to Wanaka
Queenstown to Wanaka
Queenstown to Wanaka

Leaving Queenstown you'll drive over New Zealand's highest sealed road, the Crown Range before arriving into the resort town of Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lying close to the centre of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut. A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee. Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions. Depending on the planting season, you can help The Reforestation of Mou Waho by planting a tree.

Accommodation: Wanaka Haven

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Wanaka Haven
Accommodation: Wanaka Haven
Accommodation: Wanaka Haven
Accommodation: Wanaka Haven

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 11 - Travel the breath-taking Haast Pass to the West Coast, allowing plenty of time for photo stops

Driving distance and time: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 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.

Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier

Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier
Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier
Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier
Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the village of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park.  The Blue Pools, just outside Makarora, are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes. A great way to experience the glaciers is with a scenic flight or glacier hike.

Siberia Experience - suggested

Siberia Experience
Siberia Experience
Siberia Experience
Siberia Experience

The Siberia Experience is a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mt. Aspiring National Park. Leaving from Makarora at the head of Lake Wanaka you will enjoy some of New Zealand's untouched scenery from the air, on land and from the water. Mountains, rivers, glaciers, alpine lakes, rain forest, waterfalls and more - this is your chance to see it all. This unique adventure incorporates a 25 minute unforgettable scenic flight with Southern Alps Air, a 2 1/2 hour walk beginning in the remote Siberia Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park and a 30 minute exciting Jet Boat ride with Wilkin River Jets.

Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 12 - Experience the Glacier up close and personal during your amazing helihike

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

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

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

 

Glacier Hot Pools - suggested

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

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

Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 13 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

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

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

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

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

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

Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour - suggested

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

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

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

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

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

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

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

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

Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 14 - Its a short drive north to Kaikoura for your Whale Watching cruise

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

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

Collect your rental car

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

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

Christchurch to Kaikoura

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

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

Whale Watch Kaikoura

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

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

Accommodation: Manakau Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Manakau Lodge
Accommodation: Manakau Lodge
Accommodation: Manakau Lodge
Accommodation: Manakau Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Breakfast service available
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 15 - Travel via the coastal road to the vineyards of Marlborough

Driving distance and time: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 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.

Kaikoura to Blenheim

Kaikoura to Blenheim
Kaikoura to Blenheim
Kaikoura to Blenheim
Kaikoura to Blenheim

Heading north from Kaikoura, the road hugs the shore for approximately 50 kilometres and offers many opportunities to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. One of the best seal watching locations is Ohau Point (25km north of Kaikoura), where you can observe the adults on the shoreline and the pups frolicking in the waterfall, just a short walk from the road (signposted). As you drive you will have turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean to your east and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Blenheim sits right at the heart of Marlborough and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce. A great way to do this is to take a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour

Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour
Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour
Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour
Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour

An afternoon among the vines! Be immersed in the Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through three or four hand-picked wineries to taste the award-winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through. A lunch stop is not included in this tour so we do advise you have something to eat prior to this activity. 

Accommodation: Marlborough Bed & Breakfast

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Marlborough Bed & Breakfast
Accommodation: Marlborough Bed & Breakfast
Accommodation: Marlborough Bed & Breakfast
Accommodation: Marlborough Bed & Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 16 - Skirt the Marlborough Sounds, the its through the Rai Valley to Tasman Bay

Driving distance and time: 184 kms / 114 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.

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Take a short drive to the small port of Picton where the interislander ferry connects with Wellington. A bustling seaside destination, Picton is well equipped with shops, cafes - and is also the starting point for the famous Queen Charlotte Walk. You’ll travel along Queen Charlotte Drive, traversing the length of the Marlborough Sounds coastline. Magnificent views are abundant - so be sure to make time to stop and enjoy the scenery as you go.

Continue through the small port town of Havelock, home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. The highway between Nelson and Picton crosses the pelorus river, and at this junction you’ll find the famous pelorus bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks - the most popular - a 30 minute loop through beech, rimu, and totara forest. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.

Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge
Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge
Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge
Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 17 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals

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.
 

Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch

Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch
Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch
Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch
Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch

This relaxing paddle explores the spectacular Kaiteriteri coastline with its golden beaches, and sculpted granite cliffs. Stop for lunch at a secluded cove before heading back to Kaiteriteri for your picnic lunch. Swap your kayak booties for walking shoes and join the Vista Cruise to Onetahuti where you'll have the chance to view the seal colony at Tonga Island on the way.
After arriving at the at the Tonga Island Quarry, disembark and walk the coastal track to Medlands Beach where you region the Vista Cruise back to Kaiteriteri. Time spent kayaking is 2.5 hours including breaks. The unguided walk is 7km and the minimum age is 10 years old.

Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge

Accommodation type: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge
Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge
Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge
Accommodation: Split Apple Lodge

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Day 18 - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry - with the highlight being the spectacular Marlborough Sounds

Driving distance and time: 162 kms / 100 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.

Abel Tasman National Park to Picton

Abel Tasman National Park to Picton
Abel Tasman National Park to Picton
Abel Tasman National Park to Picton
Abel Tasman National Park to Picton

The drive takes you through the city of Nelson and along the coast of Tasman Bay towards the Bryant Range. 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.
Starting in the town of Havelock the Queen Charlotte Drive travels the Marlborough Sounds coastline towards the port town of Picton. 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.
Picton the busy port town of Picton, and its here from that the Interislander ferries arrive and depart. The small town centre has plenty of shops and cafes and the waterfront area is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours watching the activity of the ships. The Edwin Fox Maritime Centre on the wharf is worth a visit with the star attraction being the vessel the Edwin Fox, reputably the 9th oldest ship in the world.

Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington

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

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

Collect your rental car

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

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

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 19 - Explore Wellington and this evening visit Zealandia the city's wildlife sanctuary

Wellington City

Wellington City
Wellington City
Wellington City
Wellington City

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.

Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you're a foodie at heart, a two hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For a educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

Walking Gourmet Food Tour - suggested

Walking Gourmet Food Tour
Walking Gourmet Food Tour
Walking Gourmet Food Tour
Walking Gourmet Food Tour

With your knowledgeable and entertaining Zest Guide, explore Wellington's foodie quarters and some of their favourite food places on this delicious introduction to the culinary capital. Visit a boutique coffee roastery or specialty cafe. Enjoy tastings at Wellington's best specialist food places including trying regional cheeses, honey, chocolates and much more, tasting at every stop. Savour a delicious, light tasting lunch with matched New Zealand wines at a top Wellington restaurant. During the tour, your guide can also introduce you to many other aspects of the Capital, ranging from iconic city architecture, sculptures and fantastic places to shop and eat. Walking time is approximately 90 minutes, all weather, over 5 hours.

City Highlights Inspiration Half Day Tour - suggested

City Highlights Inspiration Half Day Tour
City Highlights Inspiration Half Day Tour
City Highlights Inspiration Half Day Tour
City Highlights Inspiration Half Day Tour

Enjoy an intimate small group tour looking at the unique aspects of the World's Coolest Little Capital. Drive through Courtenay Place and Oriental Parade and head up Mt Victoria for spectacular views of the City and Harbour. Then travel the stunning rugged coastline, now a marine reserve, stopping along the way to taste some famous Wellington coffee. Return to the central city for a drive through the quirky Cuba Street district and along Lambton Quay, the main shopping street for a chance to ride the famous Wellington Cable Car.

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

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: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 20 - Cross the Rimutaka Ranges to the Wairarapa then head north to the Hawkes Bay

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

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

Wellington to Napier

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

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

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 21 - Explore Napier and Hawkes Bay, this evening sample the food and wine of top winery restaurants

Napier City

Napier City
Napier City
Napier City
Napier City

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

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

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

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

Gannet Safaris - suggested

Gannet Safaris
Gannet Safaris
Gannet Safaris
Gannet Safaris

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

Napier Whirlwind Tour - suggested

Napier Whirlwind Tour
Napier Whirlwind Tour
Napier Whirlwind Tour
Napier Whirlwind Tour

This 2 1/2 hour tour takes in all the history, from early settlement, through to the huge 1931 earthquake and the rebuilding of the City to the Art Deco Capital of the World to what it is today. You also visit the historic area of Ahuriri, National Tobacco Building and the famous Mission Estate Winery. As you return to Napier City, you will also tour an Art Deco Housing Estate. Experience many stops for photos from lookouts to famous landmarks etc. This is a compact tour, it is really for those that are spending the one night here in Napier and still wish to see the City highlights.

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

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

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

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 22 - First head to Lake Taupo before travelling the Geothermal Highway to Rotorua

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

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

Napier to Rotorua

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

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

Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience - suggested

Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience
Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience
Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience
Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience

Enjoy an in depth experience of the customs and traditions of Māori, with a traditional pōwhiri (Māori welcoming ceremony), a warrior's challenge and a full kapa haka (Māori performing arts) concert. Feeding guests is regarded by Māori as an honour and a sign of a tribe's mana (standing), so a sumptuous banquet is provided during the evening. This banquet combines contemporary cuisine with a traditional hangi (earth-cooked oven meal). Following dessert, you will be transported to enjoy the spectacular lighting of the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. Guests can wander around the illuminated natural attractions, including our world famous Pohutu geyser, while enjoying more Māori-inspired delicacies and a hot drink.

Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 23 - View the remarkable features of Rotorua Lakes by air, before landing in Orakei Korako Hidden Valley

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

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

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

Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 24 - Follow the coastline past white sandy beaches and bays to Kuaotunu Bay in the Coromandel

Driving distance and time: 238 kms / 148 miles : 3.2 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.

Rotorua to Kuaotunu (Coromandel)

Rotorua to Kuaotunu (Coromandel)
Rotorua to Kuaotunu (Coromandel)
Rotorua to Kuaotunu (Coromandel)
Rotorua to Kuaotunu (Coromandel)

Pyes Pa Road is the scenic route towards the Bay of Plenty and the town of Tauranga before heading north along the coast towards the first of the Coromandel towns, Waihi. This old mining town still has an operating open cast gold mine and you can view the workings of the Martha Mine from a vantage point signposted from the town centre. For rail enthusiasts the Goldfields Railway operates passenger trains along a scenic and historic section of track towards Waikino. Next the popular locals holiday destination of Whangamata with its golden beaches and surf. Tairua is also a great location and Paku Hill offers spectacular views over the natural harbour and the Pacific Ocean Close by is the famous Hot Water Beach and the holiday town of Hahei. Cathedral Cove is a popular walk and is well worth the effort to view the massive limestone formation aptly named on the golden sand beach. Cross the Coromandel Countryside towards the township of Whitianga. The summer months bring visitors to enjoy fishing, surfcasting and swimming along the palm fringed beaches. But the largest attraction is probably the big game marlin fishing with many charters available to hunt in the rich waters of the Pacific Ocean. On the other side of the harbour is Australasia's oldest stone wharf from where a passenger ferry takes visitors to the delightful Cooks Beach just a 5 minute walk along the road. Continue to follow the coast north for a short way before you head inland passing alongside Coromandel Forest Park before arriving at the seaside community of Kuaotunu.

Accommodation: Kuaotunu Bay Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Kuaotunu Bay Lodge
Accommodation: Kuaotunu Bay Lodge
Accommodation: Kuaotunu Bay Lodge
Accommodation: Kuaotunu Bay Lodge

Accommodation features

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

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Day 25 - Cross the peninsula to the township of Coromandel, then follow the Firth of Thames back towards Auckland

Driving distance and time: 193 kms / 120 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.

Kuaotunu to Auckland via Coromandel township

Kuaotunu to Auckland via Coromandel township
Kuaotunu to Auckland via Coromandel township
Kuaotunu to Auckland via Coromandel township
Kuaotunu to Auckland via Coromandel township

Head West from Kuaotunu to Coromandel Township, whose history is richly entwined with the gold rush of the late 1800's, and the pioneers and settlers of the day. Today there are still known deposits of gold, silver, lead and zinc throughout the ranges but residents and conservationists are unlikely to allow any form of exploitation of the region. Remote towns, isolated bays and a rich history of pioneers and fortune hunters make this one of the more diverse regions to explore.
The west coast of the peninsular drops to the Firth of Thames with steep pohutukawa clad cliffs. On the other side of the Firth of Thames is Miranda and this out of the way spot is a haven for shorebirds. R.B. Simpson discovered in 1940 that Miranda was a feeding ground for large numbers of wading birds. Since then ornithological societies have censured the numbers and found that 5-6,000 lesser knots and 7-10,000 bar tailed godwits travel here during the summer months before departing to the Siberian and Alaskan feeding grounds.  Many more birds can also be found here and the Miranda Shorebirds Centre has lectures and displays. The shoreline of Miranda itself is also very unique and is considered the finest example in the world of an active sand and chenier plain. The Hunua ranges to the east mark the original shoreline about 4000 years ago and since then continuous tidal and wind action has deposited shell ridges to form the land or coastal plain you see today. The drive to Auckland now takes you through the Hauraki Plains, a very fertile dairy farming region and then State Highway 1 delivers you to Auckland City.

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 & 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: Eden Villa

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 26 - Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands

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

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

Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

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

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

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Accommodation features

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

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Day 27 - Bay of Islands cruise then time to explore

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights

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

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

Explore the Bay of Islands

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

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

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 28 - Cape Reinga and scenic flight with Salt Air

Cape Reinga Scenic Aeroplane Flight and Guided Tour

Cape Reinga Scenic Aeroplane Flight and Guided Tour
Cape Reinga Scenic Aeroplane Flight and Guided Tour
Cape Reinga Scenic Aeroplane Flight and Guided Tour
Cape Reinga Scenic Aeroplane Flight and Guided Tour

Today experience the beauty of the North from both air and land. Take a spectacular scenic flight to Cape Reinga over Whangaroa Harbour and the Rangaunu Harbour as well as Coopers Beach, Doubtless Bay and Ninety Mile Beach. The tour also includes a visit to the Cape Reinga lighthouse, and the option to slide down giant sand dunes on sleds.

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 29 - Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast

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

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

Bay of Islands via Waipoua Forest to Auckland

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

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

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

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

Accommodation: Eden Villa

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 30 - Explore Auckland the 'City of Sails'

Explore Auckland City

Explore Auckland City
Explore Auckland City
Explore Auckland City
Explore Auckland City

On the edge of a natural harbour, 'City of Sails' offers the best of both worlds. Behind a vibrant urban culture are sandy beaches, native bush and lush rainforests. Start your day with a coffee in town and watch the sailboats from the Viaduct Harbour. Wander the docks and take the helm of an America's Cup Yacht for a trip across the Waitemata. If food and wine is more your thing relax on the Quickcat to nearby Waiheke Island for a five star food and wine experience. Hike the summit of Mt Eden -  Auckland's highest volcano. Choose one of 800 regional national parks to explore -  Hunua Falls - located within the Hunua Ranges - is one not to be missed. If relaxing is more your style, find a good book and head out to a deserted beach. Try Orewa - located an hour north of the city - or stay a little closer and head to Cheltenham Beach in Devonport. Make time to ascend the Sky Tower or The Harbour Bridge and spike your adrenaline by bungy jumping off either (or both!). Finish on a high with dinner at one of the many trendy eateries to be found on Ponsonby Road.

Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch - suggested

Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch
Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch
Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch
Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch

Today you'll be leaving the city and heading northwest to Kumeu Wine Country, Auckland's Heritage Wine Region. Enjoy lunch at a contemporary vineyard, sample world-renowned wines and marvel at the rugged surf-fringed coastline nearby. Your first stop is award-winning Soljans Estate Winery. Utilising both traditional and modern techniques, Soljans produce varied and richly flavoured wines. Built with sunshine in mind and a distinct Mediterranean-style, the onsite restaurant showcases fresh seasonal produce from around the region.
Continuing on, you'll visit the Muriwai Gannet Colony - one of the few mainland nesting sites in the world. Situated on the cliffs overlooking the Tasman sea you'll have breathtaking views of the beach and ocean beyond. Your final tasting is at West Brook Winery, one of New Zealand's oldest. These wines reflect true varietal character and their unique regional origins.

America's Cup Sailing Experience with Explore - suggested

America's Cup Sailing Experience with Explore
America's Cup Sailing Experience with Explore
America's Cup Sailing Experience with Explore
America's Cup Sailing Experience with Explore

The America's Cup - considered the pinnacle of yachting - is the world's oldest and most prestigious sporting trophy A sport usually reserved for billionaires and professional yachties, you now have the opportunity to partake in this elite sport. During your two hour sailing adventure you’ll become part of the crew. Either take the helm, try your arm strength on grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action as you tack and gybe your way across the harbour. No experience is required for this trip, however children under 10 years are not recommended.

Accommodation: Eden Villa

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

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

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Day 31 - Depart Auckland today

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

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

Depart Auckland today

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

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