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.
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 at your leisure. In the afternoon, visit city attractions such as the Sky Tower and Viaduct Harbour.
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.
Stay 2 nights in Whitianga, Coromandel.
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
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.
Stay 2 nights in Wellington.
Relax and enjoy Wellington City for the day. Options include visiting top Wellington attractions such as Te Papa, Weta Workshop, Wellington Cable Car, Mount Victoria Lookout and Wellington Zoo. You may also 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.
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 year round holiday destination offering a variety of outdoor activities, great cafes and of course the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. Visitors have been travelling to bathe in the rejuvenating hot mineral pools for over 120 years! Relax in open-air thermal public and private pools and de-stress with spa therapies.
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.
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. 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.
Stay 1 night in Wanaka.
Driving time Wanaka to Te Anau 230 km / 143 miles, 3 hours
Travel to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland.
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.
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.
Today, experience a full day Gourmet Wine Tour around Central Otago.
Enjoy a relaxed day of fine cuisine and good company, sampling local cheeses and tasting premium cool-climate wines in one of the world’s great Pinot Noir wine regions.
Drop off your rental car at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown.
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