Arrive in Auckland – the “City of Sails” is New Zealand’s largest city, bordered by two stunning harbours. Collect your rental car from the airport, explore the city, then make your way to your accommodation.
Stay 1 night in Auckland City.
Driving time Auckland to Matamata 159 km / 98 miles, 2 hours
Make your way to Matamata to discover the real Middle-Earth on the most picturesque private farmland. Near Matamata, visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from the Lord of the Rings films in a fascinating two-hour guided tour. The set has been completely rebuilt and will remain as it was seen in the films. There are spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills of the movie set, which is still a working sheep and beef farm. You can relax and soak up the unique atmosphere with a great cup of coffee or a light meal in The Shire’s Rest Cafe.
Driving time Matamata to Rotorua 68 km / 42 miles, 1 hour
Enjoy the scenic journey to Rotorua, distinguished by Maori culture and geothermal activity. This diverse city will put on a display as you encounter geysers, mud pools, steaming craters and 16 beautiful lakes.
Stay 2 nights in Rotorua.
Stroll through Hell’s Gate in the morning and explore the steaming thermal reserve, which boasts mud pools, craters, and steam vents. You will get a chance to try Maori crafts while you are there, including weaving and woodcarving.
In the evening, ride the gondola up to the Skyline Complex, where you will enjoy a buffet of epic proportions. Tiered seating guarantees excellent views from every table!
Driving time Rotorua to Waitomo Caves 139 km / 86 miles, 2 hours
Venture to the Waitomo Caves, where you will enjoy the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and Ruakuri Caves Combo! Deep underground in the heart of the Waikato are a series of unique caves that will take your breath away. Ruakuri Cave is home to an innovative spiral entrance, echoing waterfalls, and limestone that flows into delicate shawl-like formations. Nearby, at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, thousands of tiny glow worms cling to the cave ceiling, creating a starry sky within the underground night. You’ll also see a deep limestone shaft and a soaring subterranean cathedral that will leave you speechless.
Driving time Waitomo Caves to Hamilton 71 km / 44 miles, 1 hour
After your adventure, continue to Hamilton, a vibrant town in the heart of the North Island.
Stay 1 night in Hamilton.
Driving time Hamilton to Auckland 125 km / 78 miles, 2 hours
Return to Auckland. In the afternoon, you have the option to discover Auckland and its surrounds with a cruise aboard an impressive purpose-built yacht.
Stay 1 night in Auckland.
Today, depart Auckland for Christchurch on a domestic flight (cost of flight not included in holiday package). Please enquire for flight options and approximate costs.
Arrive in Christchurch, collect your new rental car, and make your way to your accommodation. Spend the evening exploring the city.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Driving time Christchurch to Lake Tekapo 230 km / 143 miles, 3.5 hours
Depart Christchurch and travel south across the Canterbury Plains before making your way inland towards the Southern Alps to reach Lake Tekapo, an amazing turquoise lake. Tekapo presents many world class attractions, from the famous Church of the Good Shepherd to scenic flights exploring New Zealand’s highest mountains and largest glaciers (including Mount Cook, Tasman Glacier, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers).
Stay 1 night in Lake Tekapo.
Driving time Lake Tekapo to Queenstown 254 km / 158 miles, 3.5 hours
Travel through the dramatic Lindis Pass, which links the Mackenzie Basin to Central Otago. Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand’s vibrant adventure capital.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Relax and explore Queenstown today, with the option to add on an adventure activity of your choice. Options include a ride on the thrilling Shotover Jet, a Lord of the Rings tour, a cruise on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw, or a Central Otago wine tour.
Enjoy a scenic coach journey through heartland New Zealand to reach Milford Sound, where you will enjoy a 2.5 hour Milford Sound Nature Cruise. As you cruise through the spectacular fiord, you won’t be able to tear your eyes from the wonders of Milford Sound! Sheer cliffs, towering snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, hanging valleys, sub-tropical rainforests, marine life… words just don’t do it justice, you have to see it for yourself! After your cruise, relax while your coach returns through stunning scenery before delivering you back to your Queenstown accommodation.
Driving time Queenstown to Wanaka 70 km / 43 miles, 1 hour
Drive over the beautiful Crown Range, one of New Zealand’s highest alpine roads, and admire the fantastic views along the way. Be sure to stop at the historic Cardrona Hotel for a refreshment before your arrival into Wanaka, an alpine town boasting panoramic views, a relaxed atmosphere and myriad walking tracks.
Stay 1 night in Wanaka.
Driving time Wanaka to Franz Josef 285 km / 177 miles, 4 hours
Carry on, past Lake Hawea and the northern shores of Lake Wanaka, until you reach Haast Pass. There are many short walks and viewing points along the Haast Pass Highway, which will help break up the journey. Continue up the West Coast, with glimpses of the Tasman Sea showing beneath rugged cliffs, until you reach Franz Josef Glacier. You may also wish to visit Fox Glacier itself, which is signposted and located just south of Fox Glacier township. Franz Josef is a short thirty minute drive north of Fox Glacier.
In the afternoon, take a scenic flight which sweeps over Westland National Park before landing atop Franz Josef Glacier to enjoy spectacular views of the Southern Alps.
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.
Driving time Franz Josef to Hokitika 136 km / 85 miles, 2 hours
Enjoy your journey along the West Coast to Hokitika, famous for its arts and crafts. Watch a masterpiece being crafted from gold, molten glass, paua or bone, or carve your own creation from wood or jade (“pounamu”). Take in Hokitika’s natural beauty, enjoy its expansive beach, or venture down one of the many walking and mountain biking tracks.
Stay 1 night in Hokitika.
Driving time Hokitika to Greymouth 40 km / 25 miles, 45 minutes
Train travel Greymouth to Christchurch 223 km / 138 miles, 4.5 hours
Enjoy the short drive from Hokitika to Greymouth, where you will drop off your rental car and board the TranzAlpine train.
From your carriage you’ll see lush beech rainforest, the spectacular Southern Alps, and the gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Once you leave the mountains, you will pass through the fields of the Canterbury Plains, a landscape of picturesque farmland. All carriages include both one-way seating and tabled group seating, allowing you to experience the amazing views while enjoying the company of other passengers on-board. An open air viewing carriage allows you to get even closer to the stunning scenery. The trip is 223.8 kilometres long and takes just 4.5 hours. There are 16 tunnels and 5 viaducts, the highest being the ‘Staircase’ standing at 73 metres.
Arrive in the garden city of Christchurch and make your way to your accommodation.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Make your way to Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch at your leisure.
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