Arrive in Auckland. The “City of Sails” and New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is bordered by two stunning harbours. Collect your rental car from the airport, explore the city, then make your way to your accommodation.
Relax in Auckland. Your options include visiting the Sky Tower, the Auckland Zoo, or Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World; venturing to one of Auckland’s stunning beaches or West Auckland wineries, or doing a spot of shopping.
Stay 1 night in Auckland City.
Driving time Auckland to Matamata 159 km / 98 miles, 2.5 hours
Experience the real Middle-Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton™ Movie Set, the bucolic setting for The Shire™ that featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies directed by Peter Jackson.
Your tour starts with a drive through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm, with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon™ Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit can be viewed, and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-Earth.
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.
The Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park is Rotorua’s most active geothermal area featuring a walkway lined with unique geothermal wonders and interactive opportunities. Experience the geothermal features with a self-guided map to show you around or join a guided tour of the reserve to learn more about the history, features and uniqueness of the geothermal area.
See bubbling mud pools, steaming craters, mineral pools, learn about New Zealand’s history and culture, and even try Maori weaving and wood carving! After this, the geothermal waters of the Hell’s Gate Sulphur Spa will rejuvenate and refresh you, as you relax and take in the surreal surroundings of the wondrous geothermal landscape.
In the evening, enjoy a traditional Maori Cultural Experience including a Hangi Dinner. Hear stories and learn how Maori traditions live on today. Experience an authentic Maori welcome. Watch a challenge by the Maori warriors, a karanga (call) from the Maori women welcoming you onto the marae, and a whaikorero (welcome speech). Relax and enjoy the beautiful waiata (songs), the world renowned haka (challenge), and the elegant poi dance. Learn Maori customs including Maori musical instruments, haka and poi. The dining experience is a culinary opportunity like no other. Following dessert, you will be transported down into the valley to conclude your evening beside the awe-inspiring Pohutu geyser.
Driving time Rotorua to Napier 218 km / 135 miles, 3 hours
Head to the East Coast and discover Napier, the Art Deco capital of New Zealand. Set within the country’s oldest and second
Stay 1 night in Napier.
Driving time Napier to Wellington 319 km / 198 miles, 4.5 hours
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, has so much to offer. Set on the edge of a stunning harbour, surrounded by rolling hills, it’s a city rich in culture waiting to be explored. From shopping and picturesque walks to live theatre, exhibitions, Te Papa Tongarewa: the Museum of New Zealand, and more – Wellington has something for everyone.
Wellington’s top attractions include Te Papa, Weta Workshop, Wellington Cable Car, Mt Victoria Lookout and Wellington Zoo.
Stay 1 night in Wellington.
Sailing time Wellington to Picton 70 km / 43 miles, 3 hours
Driving time Picton to Nelson 134 km / 83 miles, 2 hours
It’s all about the journey today as you board the Interislander Cook Strait Ferry, which will transport you on a scenic cruise to Picton. Back on dry land, drive through Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine region, to reach your destination – Nelson.
Enjoying New Zealand’s highest sunshine hours, Nelson is a creative paradise, with artists, galleries, local markets and gourmet cafés.
Stay 2 nights in Nelson.
Driving time Nelson to Kaiteriteri 60 km / 37 miles, 1 hour (each way)
Driving time Nelson to Hokitika 325 km / 201 miles, 4.5 hours
Discover the rugged West Coast as you travel to Hokitika, famous for its arts and crafts. Watch a masterpiece being crafted from gold, silver, molten glass, bone, silk or greywacke 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 Franz Josef 136 km / 85 miles, 2.5 hours
Continue south through dense rainforest towards New Zealand’s most famous glaciers.
In the afternoon, take a scenic helicopter flight sweeping above Westland National Park as you explore Franz Josef Glacier before landing in the snow to enjoy amazing views of the majestic Southern Alps.
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.
Driving time Franz Josef to Wanaka 285 km / 177 miles, 4 hours
The change in landscape will amaze you as you travel down the West Coast, with glimpses of the Tasman Sea showing beneath rugged cliffs. Take the Haast Pass Highway and admire the waterfalls, mountains, and rivers lining the road. There are many viewing points and short walks to help break up the journey to Wanaka, an alpine paradise with views so good it’s hard to put down your camera.
Stay 2 nights in Wanaka.
Relax and explore Wanaka today. You may want to visit Puzzling World, Wanaka’s illusional attraction, or the National Toy and Transport Museum. Other options include strolling along one of Wanaka’s stunning walking tracks, relaxing on the lake’s edge or browsing through Wanaka’s boutique shops.
You could also visit Rippon Vineyard and Tasting Room to sample local wines, or catch a film at Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka’s quirky local theatre.
Driving time Wanaka to Queenstown 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 Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Embark on a scenic coach journey through heartland New Zealand to reach Milford Sound, where you will enjoy a 2.5 hour Milford Sound Nature Cruise. Milford Sound is sure to impress! Sheer cliffs, towering snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, hanging valleys, sub-tropical rainforest, marine life… words just don’t do it justice, you have to see it for yourself! After your cruise, relax while your coach delivers you back to your Queenstown accommodation.
Make the most of your last night in Queenstown and add on an enjoyable cruise on Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu to reach Walter Peak High Country Station for a Gourmet Dinner. Make a toast to a fantastic holiday as you cruise back to Queenstown.
Drop off your rental car at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown.
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