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 and make your way to your accommodation.
Relax in Auckland today. 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 Bay of Islands 219 km / 136 miles, 3 hours
Drive to the Bay of Islands, renowned for its 144 islands and surreal maritime park where you can see an abundance of marine life including whales, penguins and dolphins.
Paihia is the perfect base if you would like to discover the coves and beaches of the Bay of Islands! Paihia is also of historic importance to New Zealand, as this is where the historic Treaty House on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is located, which marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation. Just west of Paihia is Haruru, where you’ll find an impressive waterfall and a boardwalk.
Stay 2 nights in Paihia, Bay of Islands.
Today, board the premium Discover the Bay Cruise and see for yourself the best of what the Bay of Islands has to offer. Journey to the Hole in the Rock and if weather permits, sail through it. See marine wildlife including Dolphins and stop off at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island to have a swim, go for a walk and relax. This cruise includes a delicious BBQ lunch.
Relax in the Bay of Islands for the rest of the day.
Driving time Bay of Islands to Auckland 219 km / 136 miles, 3 hours
Journey back to Auckland and relax in the city for the afternoon. You might like to 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!
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 178 km / 110 miles, 2.5 hours
Renowned worldwide as a holiday destination, with white-sand beaches, misty rainforests and wilderness aplenty, the Coromandel is the ideal place to 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.
Relax in the Coromandel today. You may wish to visit Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own hot pool, add on a sea kayak tour to explore the world-famous Cathedral
You could also make a day trip to one of the nearby towns, such as Coromandel Town, known for its charming mix of Victorian architecture, beaches and forests. While in the area, you could ride the Driving Creek Railway, New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway journey, which climbs through regenerating native Kauri forest. Unique pottery sculptures and tile murals line the track, with spectacular views over the Hauraki Gulf from the ‘Eyefull Tower’.
Driving time Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua 252 km / 157 miles, 3.5 hours
Journey south and enjoy the diverse scenery before arriving in Rotorua, distinguished by Maori culture and geothermal activity.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at Rotorua’s most spectacular location – Skyline Restaurant. Sit back and relax as the views from the gondola unfold on your journey to the Skyline complex. The Skyline Restaurant will then serve you a mouthwatering taste of New Zealand, a buffet of legendary proportions. Feast on mouth-watering fresh soups, salads and seafood specialties such as mussels, queen scallops, sushi and sashimi. Enjoy carvery roasts of beef, lamb or pork with specialty sauces to match, with live cooking from your friendly chefs. The legendary Art of the Grill menu will tempt your taste buds even further. Add to that a range of sumptuous desserts, and you’ve got yourself a unique dining experience not to be missed. Tiered seating guarantees stunning views from every table! After dinner, enjoy the scenic ride back down on the gondola.
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.
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 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. The Huka Falls is New Zealand’s most visited attraction, where more than 220,000 litres of water thunder over the cliff face every second. Keeping with the water theme, 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.
In the afternoon, enjoy a Taste of Taupo Scenic Floatplane Flight, with highlights that include flying over the Craters of the Moon.
Stay 1 night in Taupo.
Driving time Taupo 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 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.
You also have the option to add on a Lord of the Rings Tour.
Sailing time Wellington to Picton 70 km / 43 miles, 3 hours
Driving time Picton to Blenheim 28 km / 17 miles, 30 minutes
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. Once in Picton take a look around this seaside village, then take the short drive through to Blenheim, Marlborough.
Recognised internationally for its distinctive, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest winemaking region, home to about 65 wineries, 290 grape growers, and over 4,000 hectares planted in grapes—mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. Visit cellar doors at your leisure to sample or buy the delicious local wines.
Stay 1 night in Blenheim.
Driving time Blenheim to Hanmer Springs 338 km / 210 miles, 5 hours
Travel on to Hanmer Springs, a
Stay 1 night in Hanmer Springs.
Driving time Hanmer Springs to Christchurch 134 km / 72 miles, 2.5 hours
Continue south to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Christchurch is a vibrant, energetic city where urban regeneration, creativity, and innovation thrive. Picture amazing street art, innovative projects, a booming hospitality scene and state-of-the-art architecture that is changing the way the city looks, feels and functions – all the while staying true to its heritage and traditional English feel.
In the afternoon, start your Christchurch experience and choose three of your Christchurch activities to do. These activities include the Christchurch Gondola, Tramway, Punting on the Avon River and the Botanical Gardens Tour.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Enjoy your last Christchurch activity today.
Driving time Christchurch to Mount Cook Village 332 km / 206 miles, 4.5 hours
Travel south across the Canterbury Plains and inland towards the majestic Southern Alps. Cross the barren Mackenzie Country to reach the glacial lakes at the foot of the Alps.
Mount Cook Village is nestled at the base of the Southern Alps, with stunning views of Mount Cook and the surrounding mountains. At 3,724 metres, New Zealand’s highest mountain (Aoraki / Mount Cook) is dazzling, yet there are 27 other mountains in this alpine backbone which peak at over 3,050 metres, and hundreds of others not far short of that, all making up the famous Southern Alps.
In the afternoon, you have the option to add on a Scenic Helicopter Flight with snow landing.
Stay 1 night in Mount Cook.
Driving time Mount Cook Village to Wanaka 206 km / 128 miles, 3 hours
Venture past Lake Pukaki, a picturesque turquoise glacial lake, before you travel through the dramatic Lindis Pass which links the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. Wanaka awaits you, boasting panoramic views, a relaxing atmosphere and myriad walking tracks.
Relax and explore Wanaka this afternoon – 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.
Stay 1 night in Wanaka.
Driving time Wanaka to Te Anau 230 km / 143 miles, 3 hours
This morning, travel to Te Anau. Nestled on the edge of a lake, the picturesque township of Te Anau is the main visitor base for the glacier-carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park.
In the afternoon, explore a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in silent darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of thousands of glowworms. Your Te Anau Glowworm Cave adventure begins with a cruise across beautiful Lake Te Anau on board the catamaran Luminosa to the western side of the lake. On arrival, there is time to view the interesting displays at Cavern House before your friendly guides accompany you underground in small groups. As you explore by path and small boat, your senses will be overwhelmed. In this mysterious underground world, discover fossils and rock formations, and view rushing waterfalls and whirlpools. Learn how the caves are still being carved out by the incredible and relentless power of nature before gliding through silent darkness to the glowworm grotto. The delicate incandescence of thousands of tiny glowworms is a magical sight!
Stay 2 nights in Te Anau.
Driving time Te Anau to Manapouri 21 km / 13 miles, 20 minutes
Sailing/Driving time Manapouri to Doubtful Sound (return trip) 8 hours
Located deep in the heart of a World Heritage area, Doubtful Sound is an overwhelming place. You can feel the power of nature here – the remoteness, the wilderness and the peace. Enjoy a full day Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise including a boat cruise on Lake Manapouri, a scenic coach over Wilmot Pass, and a full three hour Doubtful Sound Cruise. Keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins.
Driving time Te Anau to Queenstown 171 km / 106 miles, 2.5 hours
Drive past the stunning Lake Wakatipu to reach Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. Get settled into your accommodation and explore downtown Queenstown.
Relax and explore Queenstown, with the option to visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park, the Underwater Observatory, or the Ivan Clarke Gallery; 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 3 nights in Queenstown.
Today, enjoy the TSS Earnslaw Cruise and Gourmet Lunch. Your experience starts with a cruise across Lake Wakatipu in the 100 year old steamship, the TSS Earnslaw. Disembark at Walter Peak High Country Farm to enjoy a gourmet BBQ lunch. An entertaining after-lunch farm show provides a glimpse into high country farming life. On your return cruise to Queenstown, relax with a drink from the bar or join a fun sing-along with the ship’s pianist.
In the evening, enjoy a meal at one of the many prestigious restaurants that Queenstown has to offer, or relax in your accommodation.
Today, experience a full day Gourmet Wine Tour around Central Otago.
Enjoy an indulgent and diverse
Visit 4 premium vineyards extensively sampling the region’s renowned cool-climate wines. Indulge in a delicious gourmet lunch cooked in retired French Oak Pinot Noir wine barrels with matched wines, as well as savouring locally produced cheeses and artisan chocolates.
Enjoy your last evening in Queenstown and raise a glass to a fantastic New Zealand holiday!
Drop off your rental car at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown.
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