Arrive in Auckland – the “City of Sails” is New Zealand’s largest city and is bordered by two stunning harbours. Collect your rental car from the airport, explore the city, then make your way to your accommodation.
This evening, if you would like to dine with a spectacular view, you might like to visit the Sky Tower. You are spoilt for choice with three restaurants and cafés up the Sky Tower, including the Orbit 360 degree dining revolving restaurant; The Sugar Club, which is superbly chic and elegant; or the Sky Café, where you can relax with a coffee, cheese board or ice cream. You will have the opportunity to view the city from 328 metres high above street level and take in the beautiful views, up to 80 kilometres in every direction. Spot the key landmarks, including a number of volcanoes and historical locations within the greater Auckland area.
Stay 1 night in Auckland City.
Driving time Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula 169 km / 105 miles, 2.5 hours
Renowned worldwide as a holiday destination, with warm white-sand beaches, misty rainforests and wilderness aplenty, the Coromandel is the ideal place to relax and unwind.
Whitianga is the main settlement of Mercury Bay, an attractive township with a deep-water harbour. Now a vibrant coastal town, Whitianga is evolving into a delightful place to visit. Whitianga has an excellent selection of restaurants and cafés, and the thriving retail community provides an interesting collection of outlets.
Stay 2 nights in Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula.
Today, join the Glass Bottom Boat for a unique boat cruise. Depart from the Whitianga Wharf to explore the breathtaking volcanic coastline, including the famous Cathedral Cove. See the stunning Champagne Bay, plus a range of blow holes and sea caves, including Orua’s Sea Cave, the second largest sea cave in New Zealand! See what lies above and below the surface in the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and be amazed by all the marine life to be seen. You can choose your own level of fun. Either sit back and enjoy the amazing marine life through the glass boat, or take the plunge and snorkel amongst the fish. All equipment supplied and no experience necessary. Blue penguins are a common sight year-round.
In the afternoon, you may wish to visit Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own hot pool, or relax in naturally heated mineral waters at The Lost Spring Geothermal Spa in Whitianga. Surrounded by tropical plants and soothing waterfalls, the thermal waters flow from a spring deep within the earth’s surface.
Driving time Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua 252 km / 157 miles, 3.5 hours
Enjoy the scenic drive 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.
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.
Stay 2 nights in Rotorua.
Today, visit Rotorua’s Skyline Gondola. The Skyline Rotorua complex is situated just minutes from central Rotorua, high up Mt Ngongotaha. To begin your Skyline adventure, take a leisurely uphill gondola ride and enjoy the extensive views of Rotorua, the surrounding lakes and geothermal areas. At the top, enjoy the famous Skyline Buffet and feast on delicious New Zealand fare for lunch, served up with the best views in town! At the top of the gondola you also have the option to add on a thrilling Luge Ride, enjoy nature walks, and visit the Jelly Belly Shop and Volcanic Hills winery and tasting room.
Driving time Rotorua to Taupo 76 km / 47 miles, 1 hour
Enjoy the short drive south to Taupo, rich in natural beauty and filled with attractions such as the Huka Falls and bungy jumping. Taupo is a great lake for trout fishing, boat cruises, water-skiing, sailing and kayaking. The Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, which can only be seen from the water, make for a great boat trip or kayaking excursion. The forests surrounding the lake offer hiking and mountain biking to suit all levels of experience.
Stay 1 night in Taupo.
Driving time Taupo to Napier 141 km / 87 miles, 2 hours
Head to the East Coast and discover Napier, the Art Deco capital of New Zealand. Set within the country’s oldest and second-largest wine-growing region, Hawkes Bay, Napier is surrounded by picturesque vineyards and wineries.
Today you might like to join a scenic wine tour in Napier this afternoon and enjoy some of the fantastic wine available in the region.
Stay 2 nights in Napier.
Relax and explore Napier today. If nature is of interest, add on the Safari Overland to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony – the world’s largest, most accessible Gannet nesting place.
You also have the option to visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand, home to the country’s most diverse range of sea life. You might also like to visit Otatara Pa (Maori Fortified Village) which was the largest Pa in the Hawkes Bay region, now a historical reserve showcasing many of the foundations of terraced dwelling sites and food pits.
Driving time Napier to Wellington 375 km / 233 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 concerts, live theatre, exhibitions, festivals, 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 2 nights in Wellington.
Relax and enjoy Wellington City for the day. You may like to visit Zealandia, located a 10- minute drive from downtown Wellington. Hidden in a suburban valley, this project aims to return a 225-hectare section of bush to its pre-human state. Take a walk and hear the songs of the flourishing native bird population.
This afternoon you may like to try the visually stunning Makara Peak track, as well as the City to Sea walk where you can experience the best of Wellington’s waterfront. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city and enjoy an ice cream at the top.
Sailing time Wellington to Picton 70 km / 43 miles, 3
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. Enjoy the coastal drive along the South Island’s east coast to Kaikoura.
Kaikoura is a stunning coastal township offering a backdrop of majestic mountains. As an important fishing port, Kaikoura is a mecca for seafood lovers. Local specialties include blue cod, paua (abalone) and of course crayfish (lobster).
Stay 1 night in Kaikoura.
Driving time Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs 134 km / 83 miles, 1.5 hours
Travel on to Hanmer Springs, a year round holiday destination offering a variety of outdoor activities and of course the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. Visitors have been travelling to bathe in the rejuvenating mineral pools for over 120 years! Relax in open-air thermal pools and de-stress with spa therapies.
If you would like to enjoy some more adrenaline-filled activities, Hanmer Springs Attractions provides a range of activities including Jet Boating, Bungy Jumping, Quad Biking, Paintball and Clay Bird Shooting.
Stay 1 night in Hanmer Springs.
Driving time Hanmer Springs to Christchurch 134 km / 83 miles, 2 hours
Today, experience two of the four Christchurch must-do activities! Christchurch Tramway and the Botanical Gardens Tour.
Tramway – Enjoy a journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre on board the beautifully restored heritage Trams. Your day-long ticket allows you to hop on and off the Tram as much as you please.
Botanical Gardens Tour – A visit to Christchurch is not complete until you visit the historic Botanical Gardens. Climb aboard an all-weather electric vehicle and tour in comfort.
Stay 2 nights in Christchurch.
Today, experience Punting on the Avon and the Christchurch Gondola.
Punting on the Avon River – Relax among the velvet cushions as your punter takes you down the river for 30 minutes on one of two routes – City or Park.
Gondola – Soar suspended above the suburbs as birds fly beneath your cabin. The Christchurch Gondola whisks you nearly a kilometre to the Crater Rim. Revive your spirits with a snack at the Red Rock Café, and browse what is on offer in the shop.
Enjoy your last evening in Christchurch and raise a glass to a fantastic New Zealand holiday!
Drop your rental car off at Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch.
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