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25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand

25 days 24 nights
Auckland to Christchurch
from NZD$3,816pp
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Explore the length of New Zealand on this comprehensive tour of both the North and South Islands.  In the north you’ll explore the tropical Bay of Islands and the Kauri Coast as well as the cultural hotspot of Rotorua. After cruising across the Cook Strait to the South Island discover the wildlife mecca of Kaikoura, before continuing south to the snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes and glaciers of the lower South Island.  Highlights of the south include the world renowned TranzAlpine scenic train journey and a voyage of discovery in Milford Sound.

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Itinerary
Day One - Arrive Auckland City
Tour day 1
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 1
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

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

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

Accommodation: CityLife Auckland
Accommodation type: Apartments
Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.

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Day Two - Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to Waipoua Forest and the Hokianga
Tour day 2
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 2
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. We have a fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige sedans and SUVs. Insurance can often be included with a small excess or deductible.

GPS navigation system

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

Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest

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

Twilight Waipoua Encounter

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

Accommodation: Opononi Hotel
Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star
With magnificent harbour views, situated near the mouth of the Hokianga Harbour and 15 minutes drive from Kauri giant of the forest, Tane Mahuta, the Opononi Resort Hotel is ideally placed for those travellers wishing to explore this beautiful and historic area of Northland.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 254 kms / 158 miles : 3.1 hours

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Day Three - Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga to the tropical Bay of Islands where you'll take to the water for a cruise
Tour day 3
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 3
Hokianga to Paihia, Bay of Islands

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

Hole in the Rock Cruise with Fullers GreatSights

Board your cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action. The purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and the crew have years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. Dolphin Seeker has indoor and outdoor seating available, and the largest outdoor viewing decks in the Bay of Islands.

Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.1 hours

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Day Four - You have the day free to explore the Bay of Islands and Northland
Tour day 4
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 4
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Cape Reinga & Ninety Mile Beach plus lunch with Fullers GreatSights

Journey to the very tip of the North Island and uncover a region of rich Māori tradition along the way on an unforgettable full-day tour. Travel along the sand-swept shore of Ninety Mile Beach in our purpose-built coach. Climb the massive sand dunes at Te Paki Stream and experience the thrill of sand-boarding. In Māori tradition, Cape Reinga or Te Rerenga Wairua is the place where spirits depart on their long journey back to the homeland. Stand at the northernmost point of New Zealand and drink in the panoramic views. As you stand beneath the iconic lighthouse, and watch the Tasman Sea and the mighty Pacific Ocean collide far below, you'll feel the power of this special place. Throughout the day your local driver guide will provide an entertaining and thought-provoking insight into the culture, history and natural wonders of the Far North. Your tour also includes a delicious locally prepared lunch to keep you fuelled throughout the day.

Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

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Day Five - Head south through the vineyards of Matakana to the seaside village of Snells Beach
Tour day 5
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 5
Bay of Islands (Paihia) to Snells Beach

A short distance from Paihia is the small township of Kawakawa, which is worth a detour to see the very decorative public toilets designed by the famous Austrian artist Hundertwasser.  For train buffs a ride on Gabriel the restored steam locomotive might also be a possibility.  Continue south through Whangarei which could coincide with a lunch stop and visit to the basin and marina areas.  Continuing south there is the option to leave State Highway 1 at Waipu and follow the coastal road via Mangawhai all the way to Wellsford back on State Highway 1.  Further south you will leave State Highway 1 at the small township of Warkworth, a lovely place to stroll along the tidal river and see the historic ship Jane Gifford.  Continue through the rolling countryside to your destination of Snells Beach.  In the area you can visit Brick Bay vineyard, the charming village of Matakana or a little further you will find the often deserted beaches of the Tawharanui  Marine Reserve.

Accommodation: Snells Beach Motel
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Snells Beach Motel is perfectly situated, on the Mahurangi East Peninsula, overlooking the beautiful Kawau Bay and in the heart of the wonderful Matakana Coast Wine Country area.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 174 kms / 108 miles : 2.3 hours

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Day Six - After passing through Auckland you'll reach the rich green Waikato countryside then the Rotorua lakes
Tour day 6
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 6
Snells Beach to Rotorua

Heading South, you’ll pass Auckland on State Highway 1 before heading through the rolling green farmland and rich dairy pasture of the Waikato. This is hobbit country and the route takes you through the town of Matamata where you can still visit the film locations made famous in the Lord of the Rings trilogy at Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours. Continuing on you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tamaki Maori Village Cultural Tour and Hangi Dinner

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: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation type: Motels - economy
Bella Vista Rotorua offers motel accommodation just 10 minutes walk from the city centre and close to the lake front. Modern well-equipped units provide a comfortable stay.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 287 kms / 178 miles : 3.4 hours

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Day Seven - A short trip along the Geothermal Highway to Lake Taupo
Tour day 7
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 7
Rotorua to Taupo

Today drive through the heart of the Central North Island volcanic plateau. Visit the geothermal regions Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley, before arriving into the town of Taupo, which sits on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo. Just north of the town are the Huka Falls and a short detour to view is highly recommended, as is a visit to the nearby Craters of the Moon geothermal reserve.

Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride

The Huka Jet is 30 minutes of pure fun and exhilaration, skimming close to cliffs, sliding past trees, feeling the adrenalin of full 360 degree spins. The excitement continues right up to the base of the foaming Huka Falls, where you get a spectacular water level view to New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Nothing compares to watching 220,000 litres per second tumbling over the cliff face towards you.
The water from the mighty Huka Falls runs down the Waikato River through a series of Hydro Power Stations. You'll get a view of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the comfort of a powerful Chevrolet V8 jet boat. This unique Geothermal Power Station uses underground geothermal activity to produce hot steamy water. The Waikato Rivers beautiful environment is varied and unique and is New Zealand's longest river flowing north from our largest lake - Lake Taupō.

Accommodation: Beechtree Motel
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Beechtree Motel offers luxury, modern apartment and motel style accommodation. Just a five minutes stroll to cafes, restaurants and the Taupo lakefront.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 75 kms / 47 miles : 0.8 hours

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Day Eight - Today is filled with fantastic scenery including Lake Taupo, the Desert Road and the Kapiti Coastline as you approach Wellington
Tour day 8
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 8
Taupo to Wellington

The drive around the edge of New Zealand largest lake leads you to Turangi, the self proclaimed Trout Fishing Capital. You can view the Department of Conservations' National Trout Centre and Hatchery here. You then climb up onto the central plateau and the high country Rangipo Desert. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. A little further the military town of Waiouru also hosts the Army Museum, an incredible collection of New Zealand’s military history and a memorial to its servicemen. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast. The coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton are worth a short detour before arriving into the capital city of Wellington. Plan to take most of the day for this drive.


Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand;s national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary 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 high!

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation type: Apartments
City Life Wellington is a suite style hotel with every amenity required for a comfortable stay, as well as being in a superb location to explore the compact city centre. Situated on Lambton Quay, you’ll find the best shopping, tourist attractions and cultural landmarks all within easy walking distance.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 363 kms / 225 miles : 4.5 hours

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Day Nine - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds
Tour day 9
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 9
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. We have a fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige sedans and SUVs. Insurance can often be included with a small excess or deductible.

Picton to Blenheim

Only short 30 minute drive, you’ll follow the valley south to arrive in Blenheim, located in the heart of Marlborough - New Zealand’s largest wine producing region. Go through acres of leafy green vines and marvel at the magnificent ‘dry hills’ of Marlborough in the distance.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Lugano Motor Lodge
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Located right across the road from picturesque Seymour Square, the Lugano Motor Lodge welcomes you to their outstanding motel located in the heart of Blenheim within walking distance of many great cafés and restaurants. Enjoy the use of golf club sets, mountain bikes, daily newspaper and the DVD library.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.3 hours

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Day Ten - Drive to the seaside town of Kaikoura today
Tour day 10
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 10
Blenheim to Kaikoura

Cross the 'dry hills' of Marlborough and 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 native wildlife. To the east is the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife - and it's one of the only places in New Zealand you can see whales year round.

Accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Set on the Esplanade in Kaikōura, The White Morph enjoys commanding views of the ocean and mountains. Just a 10-minute walk into town, The White Morph has been beautifully placed so that you can take in the spectacular scenery of Kaikoura while enjoying the variety of attractions on offer.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 hours

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Day Eleven - Continue south through the Canterbury countryside to Christchurch
Tour day 11
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 11
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura

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.

Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation type: Motels - economy
Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

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Day Twelve - Explore the city or venture further afield to Akaroa
Tour day 12
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 12
Explore Christchurch City

Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover.  In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South.

Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts - wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens, or head to Oxford Terrace in the city to find a great spot to eat or drink.

Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Visit the International Antarctic Centre or take a day to go on safari at Orana Wildlife Park. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for an authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.  

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Akaroa Day Tour including Harbour Nature Cruise

Enjoy a full day tour to Akaroa with Canterbury Leisure Tours. You will travel the scenic route to Akaroa via Governors Bay, Gebbies Pass, Lake Forsyth and Little River. Stop for spectacular views over the Akaroa Harbour. You'll then take a two hour cruise through Akaroa Harbour for a chance to see this quaint french settlement from the sea as well as dolphins, penguins and seals. On the return journey to Christchurch you will visit the cheese factory at Barry's Bay and sample some of New Zealand's finest cheese.
Lunch at the popular waterfront restaurant 'Bully Hayes' is included - offering a wide choice of New Zealand cuisine.

Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation type: Motels - economy
Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Day Thirteen - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Tour day 13
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 13
Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.
Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dark Sky Project Summit Experience

Earth and Sky Stargazing tour departs nightly from the office in the Lake Tekapo township. Travel to the Mt John observatory high above the village where you will explore features of the majestic Southern Sky. Earth and Sky provide the equipment and the guidance, all you need to bring are keen eyes, warm clothes and a desire to see, learn, and experience.
Navigating your way through the Southern Sky using various telescopes and the naked eye, you will see amazing sights such as our own Milky Way Galaxy, the Southern Cross, Alpha-Centauri - our closest neighbouring star at only 4.3 light years away, and Sirius - the brightest star in our sky.
Behold and learn about our closest neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, which grace our night sky along with constellations such as Orion the Hunter and Scorpius.
You may also have the opportunity to see star clusters like the beautiful Jewel Box; awe inspiring planets; nebulae, immense clouds of gas and dust; and distant galaxies which test the limits of human imagination.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tekapo Springs Hot Pools

Tekapo Springs offers three adjoining main Hot Pools for you to sit back, relax and enjoy yourself while looking out to the beautiful Two Thumb range and stunning Lake Tekapo. Pool temperatures range from forty degrees celsius to thirty-six degrees celsius and each pool offers something different - massage jets to assist in taking away any aches and pains and fountains to splash under.

Accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
Accommodation type: Luxury apartments
Peppers Bluewater sits overlooking stunning Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps and is just a short walk to the small towns facilities. Also close by is the Tekapo Springs Day Spa, a great place to relax after a day exploring. Facilities include an on site restaurant and bar.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 247 kms / 153 miles : 2.9 hours

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Day Fourteen - A day of turquoise lakes and dry hills as you travel to Mt Cook National Park
Tour day 14
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 14
Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 103 kms / 64 miles : 1.1 hours

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Day Fifteen - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast
Tour day 15
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 15
Mt. Cook National Park to Oamaru

Twizel, just south of Mt. Cook National Park was the location of many Lord of the Rings movie scenes and a little further on is Omarama, the gliding capital of New Zealand. Wrinkly Rams is a local café and also offers an informative sheep shearing demonstration. Heading down the Waitaki valley you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Explore the buildings around the old quarter and after dusk take a tour to see the blue penguins come ashore.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony Premium Evening Viewing

Oamaru's Blue Penguins nest close to town under the cliffs along the Historic Harbour foreshore. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is just beyond the Victorian Heritage Precinct and you are within walking distance of the town centre, close to shops, restaurants and accommodation.
When penguins are on shore and have chosen to nest in the Blue Wing it is possible to see them within a couple of feet of you. At the appropriate times of the year you may see them incubating eggs or guarding the tiny chicks. You can watch the chicks as they wait for their daily meal to return with their parents.
You will be seated 2-3 metres from where the blue penguins arrive and cross into the colony. And be treated to an informative commentary by a trained guide. This Viewing is 1 and a half hours and includes the opportunity to enter the breeding colony on a boardwalk and walk among the blue penguin nesting burrows.

Accommodation: Highfield Mews
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Quiet and private in a village like setting, Highfield Mews places you in the heart of Oamaru. Within easy walking distance of the town's cafes, restaurants, shops and Historic Precinct. Highfield Mews offers many features and comfort in superb suites.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 203 kms / 126 miles : 2.2 hours

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Day Sixteen - Follow the coastline south towards Dunedin
Tour day 16
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 16
Oamaru to Dunedin

The drive from Oamaru to Dunedin takes you along the Otago Coastline and some of the earliest inhabited places in New Zealand. Just south of Oamaru is Totora Estate and its from here that the modern meat export industry was born. Sheep carcasses were processed here before being sent to England in 1882 by the first freezer ship, the clipper Dunedin.
One of the most intriguing places to explore is Moeraki and the Moeraki Boulders. These unique geological features are easily accessed and well signposted from the main highway. Some of the boulders actually contained dinosaur bones but according to Maori legend they were gourds washed overboard as a waka (canoe) was wrecked on a nearby reef.
Matanaka is a short detour off the main road and here you can take a short walk to see some of the oldest remaining buildings in the South Island.
Arriving into Dunedin you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon and city centre and parking your car close by and exploring on foot is highly recommended. A not to be missed building is the railway station, recently listed as one of the worlds top 100 building to see.

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock

An unforgettable experience viewing rare and fascinating wildlife. Board the Monarch Boat and take in the fascinating sight of the Northern Royal Albatross as it comes in to nest on spectacular cliffs of Taiaroa, Otago Peninsula. You'll also see eight other species of birds including sooty shearwaters and petrels as well as sea lions and fur seals - and if you're really lucky - dolphins and whales.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Larnach Castle and Gardens

Larnach is New Zealand's only Castle, built in 1871 by politician and merchant, William Larnach, a man of great vision who helped shape New Zealand's early history. It was built for William's beloved first wife Eliza; it took 200 workmen three years to build the shell and a further twelve years were spent by master craftsmen to embellish the interior. The Castle is located high up on the Otago Peninsula and looks down on Dunedin city giving beautiful views. The gardens have an International Garden of Significance status and have a unique collection of specialised areas for you to explore. The Ballroom cafe is a fantastic place to rest and reflect on all you have seen while enjoying a delicious range of refreshments. As with the entire castle, the ballroom had an interesting and varied history prior to its beautiful restoration, uses ranged from a lunatic asylum, antique sales room to the penning of sheep.

Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 108 kms / 67 miles : 1.3 hours

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Day Seventeen - Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Tour day 17
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 17
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.

Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

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Day Eighteen - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound where you'll cruise on the pristine fiord
Tour day 18
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 18
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. Stretch your legs on the Chasm Walk, a short stroll through native beech forest to see several powerful waterfalls .Continue on through the Homer Tunnel, an engineering marvel at 1219 metres long. Arriving into the village of Milford,you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord before back-tracking the way you came.

Milford Sound Cruise with Real Journeys

Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on a leisurely cruise of this spectacular fiord. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. Informative, participative and relaxed, this is the perfect way to experience Milford Sound to the fullest.

Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Meals included: Lunch
Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

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Day Nineteen - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Tour day 19
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 19
Te Anau to Queenstown

Your drive today takes you from Te Anau to Queenstown through vast alpine tussocklands. Pass Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation then continue on through the southland countryside where the road begins to hug the lake edge. Marvel at the Remarkables mountain range as you begin the final leg of your journey to the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation type: Apartments
The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

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Day Twenty - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
Tour day 20
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 20
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Jet Canyon Jet Boat Ride

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!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola Queenstown and 3 Luge Rides

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation type: Apartments
The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.

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Day Twenty one - It's a short trip over the Crown Range to Wanak this morning, leaving plenty of time to explore
Tour day 21
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 21
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wanaka Wine Tours Boutique Central Otago Wine Trail

This small group wine tour (maximum 8) offers a relaxed and personal introduction to the wines and scenery of the Central Otago region. This tour is a great way to explore award-winning vineyards hidden amongst the rugged landscape of Central Otago. Visit and enjoy tastings at 4 Central Otago vineyards including a delicious mid-afternoon platter to enjoy with your tastings.  You'll also discover the history of the region with a visit to Old Cromwell Town, a charming heritage precinct that has been revitalised into a boutique arts and crafts village.

Accommodation: Clearbrook Motel and Serviced Apartments
Accommodation type: Motels - premium
Clearbrook offers luxury apartment style and townhouse accommodation options and is located just metres from Wanaka's main street and its majestic lake front.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

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Day Twenty two - Travel the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Tour day 22
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 22
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.

Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites
Accommodation type: Motels - economy
Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

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Day Twenty three - Explore Franz Josef and the glaciers of Westland National Park
Tour day 23
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 23
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef is a small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice from a viewpoint you can walk along the valley floor to the viewpoint below the terminal face. However, to go on the glacier itself you must take a licensed helicopter tour.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

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

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquillity. 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: Punga Grove Motel & Suites
Accommodation type: Motels - economy
Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

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Day Twenty four - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Tour day 24
25 Day Ultimate Discover New Zealand - Day 24
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 TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

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: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation type: Motels - economy
Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

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Day Twenty five - Depart Christchurch today
Tour day 25
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.

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