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.
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 Matamata 159 km / 98 miles, 2.5 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 Café.
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.
Embark on a wholly unique NZ adventure today—“The Squeeze.” First, take a scenic jet boat ride through the stunning Tutukau Gorge. Disembark in warm, knee-deep water and wade through a narrow gap in the cliff face. You’ll manoeuvre your way through narrow crevasses, over boulders, and through warm water until you emerge in stunning native bush. There, you’ll soak in the atmosphere while relaxing in the thermal waters of a naturally heated pool. On the return journey, zip down the canyon on a thrilling jet boat ride!
Driving time Rotorua to Waitomo Caves 139 km / 86 miles, 2 hours
Make your way to Waitomo Caves, where you will venture underground on a thrilling Lost World Tour. Abseil down into one of the most spectacular abysses in the world before exploring the otherworldly reaches of the Lost World caves. See glowworms, fantastic limestone formations, and massive caverns as you make your way through the underground world.
* Ages 10 and up only. An alternative option will be provided for younger children.
Driving time Waitomo Caves to Hamilton 71 km / 44 miles, 1 hour
After your Waitomo Caves adventures
Stay 1 night in Hamilton.
Driving time Hamilton to Auckland 125 km / 78 miles, 2 hours
Drive back to Auckland at your leisure. Relax in Auckland for the afternoon or join the crew and enjoy an America’s Cup sailing trip, a must-do experience where you get a chance to spend 2 hours out on the harbour on an actual America’s Cup yacht!
Stay 1 night in Auckland.
Today, depart Auckland airport for Queenstown on a domestic flight (cost of flight not included in holiday package). Please enquire for flight options and approximate costs.
Arrive in Queenstown, collect your new rental car and make your way to your Queenstown accommodation.
Relax and explore downtown Queenstown in the afternoon and evening. You have the option to visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park, the Underwater Observatory, ride the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic views over the Wakatipu Basin; or simply enjoy a lakefront stroll or a bit of boutique shopping.
Stay 4 nights in Queenstown.
Today you can increase your activity level and conquer one of Queenstown’s rivers today with a thrilling whitewater rafting trip! Choose from the Kawarau River (grade 2-3, beginner) or the Shotover River (grade 3-5, advanced).
* Note: Ages 13 and up only. An alternative option will be provided for younger children.
If you are searching for information regarding the best New Zealand hikes to add to your holiday, check out our Comprehensive List of New Zealand’s Greatest Hikes.
Enjoy a scenic coach journey through heartland New Zealand to reach Milford Sound. The Milford Road (between Te Anau and Milford) is one of the finest alpine drives in the world. The scenery is exceptional, ranging from broad grassy flats, dense rainforest, and towering mountains through to glacial lakes and alpine herb fields. No other road in Fiordland offers such a diverse glimpse into New Zealand’s alpine zone. Your luxury coach has been purpose-built for travelling the Milford Road, incorporating the latest technology for comfort and safety. The seats are tiered and angled towards the windows to maximise your views, and the expansive glass roof provides breathtaking sights of the snow-capped peaks. The schedule includes plenty of time for short nature walks and photo opportunities along the way.
Upon reaching Milford Sound, you will enjoy a 2.5 hour Milford Sound Nature Cruise. With specialist nature guides on board, Real Journeys Nature Cruises offer a close-up experience of Milford Sound’s rainforest, soaring rock walls, towering snow capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, hanging valleys and wildlife… words just don’t do it justice, you have to see it for yourself! Throughout the cruise, the guides share stories of the fiord’s history and are happy to answer your questions. After your cruise, relax while your coach delivers 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
Enjoy the journey up the West Coast to reach Franz Josef. There are many short walks and viewing points to take in along the Haast Pass Highway, which will help break up the journey—a scenic walk to the Blue Pools is highly recommended. Other points of interest along the way are Ship Cove and Bruce Bay. Continuing along the West Coast, you may like to visit Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier, where you can take a 20 minute walk (one-way) to the jetty, to admire the reflected views of the Southern Alps on the surface of the lake.
Stay 2 nights in Franz Josef.
Take a short helicopter flight onto Franz Josef Glacier today, where you will explore the spectacular ice formations on a heli hike!
Afterwards, soak in the Glacier Hot Pools to warm up after an exciting day on the ice.
* Note: Ages 8 and up only. An alternative option will be provided for younger children.
Driving time Franz Josef to Hokitika 136 km / 85 miles, 1.5 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 Christchurch 240 km / 152 miles, 3.5 hours
Make your way through the Southern Alps on your way to Christchurch. The trip through Arthur’s Pass will take you past towering mountains, snaking rivers, and rolling farmland. Along the way, be sure to stop at Cave Stream, where you can walk through a cave gouged into the hillside by the road, and Castle Hill, where you can scramble on a number of fascinating rock formations.
In the evening, you have the
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Drop your rental car off at Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch at your leisure.
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