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This 14 day itinerary ensures you get to experience the ‘essence’ of each island, from the City of Sails, to the golden sand beaches of the Coromandel and the adventure and culture of Rotorua. Then fly South to experience the Southern Alps, its mountains, lakes, fiords and unrivaled hospitality.
Personal, meet, greet and private transfer to your accommodation
A private transfer will meet you from your flight and drive you to your Auckland accommodation.
Your tour documentation pack and support
On arrival into New Zealand your tour pack is hand delivered to you by our representatives. The pack contains all the documentation you will need for your tour including a printed and bound detailed version of your itinerary with driving instructions and maps for each leg and all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities. You’ll also receive a wonderful New Zealand picture atlas and lots of relevant brochures and information on the destinations you’ll be visiting. While travelling throughout New Zealand we offer 24 hour support and help should you need it.
Welcome to Auckland City
Auckland City is New Zealand’s largest. Known as the ‘city of sails’ it is situated on a narrow neck of land between two harbours, Manukau Harbour and the beautiful Waitemata Harbour which flanks the city centre. There is somewhere for every visitor to feel right at home as each suburb has its own unique style and atmosphere, from the vibrant and trendy fashion and cuisine found along Ponsonby Road to the breath-taking native bush and beaches of the West Coast. Spend the day exploring the city or relaxing before your adventure begins.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Harbour Dinner Cruise Sailing Experience
An on water dining experience is not to be missed in any harbour city especially in Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’ Enjoy great sailing and as the sun sets watch the night lights of this photogenic city come alive. Your experienced crew talk about Auckland’s unique features and there is plenty of opportunity to participate in the sailing or sit back and enjoy the sights.
At our sheltered mooring you will be served delicious New Zealand fare, you can choose from the sumptuous 3 course menu catered for by Snapdragon Restaurant, a top Viaduct Restaurant.
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest full day tour
Your full day excursion goes first to the Arataki Visitor Centre – gateway to the rainforest– just a short drive from Downtown Auckland. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the sweeping decks extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Absorb the area’s history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings. Then walk in the regenerating rainforest where your experienced guide will explain about the local flora and fauna with giant tree ferns growing alongside picturesque streams. Unwind by a spectacular cascading waterfall or swim beneath it. Venture on to an awe-inspiring west coast beach where you can stroll along the soft black sand and feel the clear ocean breeze. A kiwi-style picnic lunch is provided at a scenic location. Your eco-tour ends in an area of untamed original rainforest where mature 1,000 year old kauri trees tower over the unique flora and fauna that has developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years. This part of the rainforest is particularly rich in bird life thanks to a successful programme to eradicate pests. A reasonable level of fitness is required as the total distance walked on the day is approximately 10km (6 miles), this is split up into several walks of up to 1 hour duration each.
Collect your rental car
This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUV’s.
GPS navigation system
Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface, with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions, which announces street names. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.
Auckland to Tairua via Coromandel Township
Cross the fertile plains of Hauraki Plains towards the Thames Estuary, a haven for wildlife in particular the shore birds at Miranda. Arriving into the historic gold town of Thames follow the very scenic route along the Pohutukawa Coast (part of the Pacific Coast Highway). This is one of the most spectacular drives in the region and not to be missed. Plan to arrive into Coromandel Township by lunch time before heading down the east coast towards the popular holiday town of Whitianga and onto Tairua.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Driving Creek Railway & Potteries
Driving Creek Railway and Potteries has become a Coromandel icon. The dream of Barry Brickell was to establish a pottery workshop on his land. Using a railway he would have access to the clay on the land and the pine kiln fuel.Over the next 15 years the railway developed until in 1990 it was finally licensed to carry fare paying passengers and ever since thousands of visitors have made the trip to Coromandel to experience this unique attraction.The 1 hour return train trip on the innovatively designed trains takes you through replanted native kauri forest and includes 2 spirals, 3 short tunnels, 5 reversing points and several large viaducts as it climbs up to the mountain-top terminus. The pottery is still producing and you can watch the artists at work as well as purchase items.
Tairua is a small seaside town and fishing village sitting on a natural harbour. The dominant feature is Paku Hill and extinct volcanic cone that stands at the harbour entrance. Great views of the town ship and the Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed from the look out at the top. With numerous white sandy beaches, cafes and restaurants this is a great place to spend some relaxing time. Dive trips to the Alderman Islands depart from here.
Hot Water Beach
Hot Water Beach derives its name from the geothermal heated water that seeps through the sands. At low tide you can dig a hole and create your own mineral hot pool. The beach itself is golden sand and is an ideal place to spend an afternoon at the seaside. A few cafes and art stores are also here, in particular Moko which has a great range of local and Polynesian arts and crafts for sale.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour
A photographer’s dream! A delightful sample of Coromandel Peninsula’s natural heritage and scenic beauty. Enjoy the flora & fauna of the semi-tropical rainforest with giant ferns, kauri trees and crystal clear streams. Visit the old historic gold caves sparkling with glowworms and hear the fascinating history of this magic area. Visit stunning coastal scenery with white sand beaches, magnificent cliffs decorated with ancient Pohutukawa trees, old Maori pa sites and offshore islands. A visit to Hot Water Beach [tide permitting]. Lunch is included and will be a delightful picnic or a visit to our favourite café. The Nature and Coast day walk is their most popular walk and is a gentle walk suitable for everyone including children.
Tairua to Rotorua
Heading south from the Coromandel Peninsula you pass through the seaside town of Whangamata, a popular location for Kiwi holidaymakers which boasts one of the best beaches in the region. The old mining town of Waihi still has an operating open cast gold mine and you can view the workings of the Martha Mine from a vantage point that is well signposted from the town centre. For rail enthusiasts the Goldfields Railway operates passenger trains along a scenic and historic section of track towards Waikino. Your driving route now takes you into the Bay of Plenty and the port city of Tauranga before you head along the scenic Pyes Pa Road to Rotorua. For Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans a detour along State Highway 29 to Matamata is definitely recommended as this is the home of Hobbiton Village. Arriving into Rotorua from the north you are welcomed with fantastic views of the lake that dominates this city.
Rotorua sits right in the centre of the world’s most volcanically active region and this is highly evident through the smell of sulphur. No visit to Rotorua would be complete without visiting one of the many geothermal parks. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is around 30 minutes from Rotorua and here a network of paths will take you past bubbling pools, sulphur ponds, geysers and waterfalls. For a more relaxing thermal experience, you can’t go past the Polynesian Spa, either soak in their mineral pools or experience a unique ‘mud massage’. White Island sits around 40 kilometres off the Bay of Plenty coast and is still one the most active volcanoes in the world. Volcanic Air Safaris offer scenic flights to the island and the opportunity to land and explore the original sulphur mines. They also offer scenic flights over Mt. Tarawera and float plane flights to Orakei Korako Hidden Valley. Rotorua is also the heartland of Maori culture in New Zealand and Mitai Maori Village lets you experience the stories, singing and traditional Maori kai (food) cooked in a hangi. For a deeper understanding of Maori arts and crafts, visit Te Puia the premier Maori Arts and Cultural centre. As well as the lake which is teeming with trout for the anglers amongst you, there are opportunities to get up close to our national animal the sheep at Agrodome and the kiwi at Rainbow Springs. For those looking to enjoy some of the adrenalin packed adventures New Zealand is renowned for you’ll be pleased to know Rotorua rivals Queenstown for adventure, so whether you are zorbing, rafting or flying through the forest canopy you’ll have a blast.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Fly by floatplane over the Crater Lakes District and the volcanic rift of Mt. Tarawera. Continue south via Waimangu and Waiotapu Thermal Areas to land at the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako. Transfer by boat across the lake to explore the bubbling hot springs, gushing geysers and natural beauty of this hidden geothermal wonderland. Rejoin your aircraft for the return trip to Rotorua.
Mitai Maori Village
An evening at Mitai will give you an authentic introduction to Maori culture leaving you amazed and in awe. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress, paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don’t miss your only opportunity in the Rotorua area to see glow worms in their natural habitat. Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, flowing directly from the earth at the sacred Fairy Spring. See your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During our cultural performance, you’ll learn about our past, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance. You’ll be amazed by the spine tingling haka finale. The Mitai family is proud to have created a sacred and spiritual place that offers you an indigenous cultural experience like no other.
Drop your rental car at Rotorua airport before continuing your onward journey.
Air New Zealand flight Rotorua to Queenstown
Collect your rental car
This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUV’s.
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Queenstown offers adventure for all tastes and abilities. From some of the more well know adrenalin sports such as bungy jumping and skydiving to the more sedate such as sampling the local wines or exploring the nearby historic gold mining regions, there is something for everyone. With the town’s prime location on the shores of Lake Wakatipu there are many water based activities to enjoy. The TSS Earnslaw is a vintage steamship that still plies the placid lake waters taking visitors to Walter Peak Station daily to enjoy a high country sheep farm experience, lunch or a farmhouse dinner. The Kawarau and Shotover Rivers offer speed and white water thrills, try the popular Shotover Jet Boat Ride or Kawarau white water rafting. The Gibbston Valley is a short drive from Queenstown and home to vineyards producing some of the finest wines in New Zealand, particularly the Pinot Noir. Award winning Appellation Wine Tours offer intimate and knowledgeable tours to Gibbston and Bannockburn vineyards. For adventures further afield Nomad Safaris offer 4WD excursions in and around Queenstown to otherwise difficult locations such as Skippers Canyon and Mace Town. Informative guides share local stories of the region, including the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. For more majestic Middle Earth scenery, the Dart River Wilderness Safari is by far the most scenic jet boat excursion in the country. A short walk amongst native beech forest plus a 4WD bus journey is capped off with over 1 1/2 hours and around 35 kilometres of exhilarating jet boat action as you head deep into Mt. Aspiring National Park.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Routeburn Track Encounter Guided Day Walk
The Routeburn Track traverses wild and scenic mountain country between the Hollyford and Dart Valleys at the base of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Since the 1880’s the Routeburn Track has proved to be one of the most accessible and popular journeys into New Zealand’s forests and mountains.
The Routeburn Encounter is a fully catered, guided one-day walk up the spectacular Routeburn Valley departing from and returning to Queenstown. It is an ideal trip for people who have limited time or are uncertain of their ability to do a longer hike.
Although there is some altitude gain (400m) to Routeburn Flats, the track is very well formed and of a good gradient. Average fitness is all that is required to complete the walk to Routeburn Flats and return. The 300m (1000 feet) climb to Routeburn Falls is somewhat tougher, but well within the abilities of the majority of our walkers. The return distance to Routeburn Flats is 13km (8 miles), adding the optional but recommended climb to Routeburn Falls makes a total return distance of 19km (11 miles).
TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
Enjoy a return scenic cruise from downtown Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm on board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. On disembarking at Walter Peak you are warmly welcomed and escorted through the beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming Colonel’s Homestead. Relax in the unique ambience of the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, the heart of the stately homestead at Walter Peak. Here, you’ll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The delicious seasonal menu includes an expansive array of New Zealand and local produce, from succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie or grill, a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Then finish your meal with our irresistible desserts, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea & coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country. On the magical night-time cruise home, you can enjoy the camaraderie of a sing-a-long with the ship’s pianist or breathe in the fresh night air on the moonlit decks as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.
Dart River Wilderness Safari
The most scenic Jet Boating in New Zealand. A 1½ hour ride along the Dart River amongst towering mountains and the refreshingly beautiful wilderness of the Mt Aspiring National Park. This is followed by a short and easy walk, of 20-40 minutes, through ancient forests, unchanged for 80 million years. Hear an informative and entertaining commentary on the area and its history – including the quest by early Maori for highly prized pounamu (greenstone). You’ll then board your back road 4WD coach for a journey to Paradise and beyond. This 40-50 minute journey allows the opportunity to explore a region filled with spectacular vistas which have inspired many talented film makers to bring their projects to this area, including Lord of the Rings. Total trip time is around 6 hours from Queenstown or 4 hours from Glenorchy.
Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park
Leaving Queenstown you drive over the historic Kawarau Bridge and if you haven’t already done so you can take a bungy jump from the bridge, or sit back and watch others throw themselves off. For a more sedate activity, the Gibbston Valley which borders the Kawarau River has many vineyards which are open for tastings. The Kawarau Gorge guides you towards Cromwell and for more wine tastings a side trip to Bannockburn is a must, with many award winning vineyards and winery restaurants to enjoy. Cromwell sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge and the historic old town is well worth the visit, the buildings are now home to quaint shops and cafes. The old town buildings were relocated from the valley that now sits deep under Lake Dunstan. Continue along Lake Dunstan until you reach the historic and scenic Bendigo Reserve, which was one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements. Well marked paths will guide you to the remains of stone cottages and other buildings from this bygone era. The Lindis Pass is one of New Zealand’s highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres. The tussock covered hills offer an unusual contrast as you pass from Central Otago into the Mackenzie Basin. The towns of Omarama and Twizel are the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mt. Cook Highway along the shores to the village. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available scenic ski plane or helicopter flights with glacier landings to kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
A tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world’s greatest explorers, the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region, its people and its place in the universe. The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre’s 126-seat custom-designed theatre is the world’s only theatre with 2D, 3D and world-class deﬁniti Digital Dome Planetarium, contained within the same space. In the foyer of the theatre you’ll find our museum showcasing the history of the Mount Cook region through transport, climbing, The Hermitage Hotel and pioneer extraordinaire, Sir Edmund Hillary himself.
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
An up close amazing encounter with icebergs, on a glacial terminal lake. Glacier Explorers is the only tour of its kind in New Zealand, and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of these are accessible to the average person. By using a boat you get close to towering icecliffs and huge floating icebergs. The boats provide a safe way to unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand’s largest glacier. Being able to view, touch and taste 500 year old ice is a new experience for most people! Departing from Mount Cook Village outside The Hermitage Hotel you board a small bus for a pleasant trip to the Tasman Valley, followed by an easy 30 minute stroll through the National Park. Then board your MAC boat, and enjoy the ever changing ice face of the Tasman Glacier icebergs on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake. The 2.5 hour trip (45 min to 1 hour on the lake) enjoys a commentary throughout provided by your experienced guide.
Short walks in and around Mt. Cook Village
There are many short walks starting in or close to Mt. Cook Village to suit all interests and abilities. The information below is provided by the Department of Conservation . Located in the village is a fantastic Department of Conservation information centre and you can get updates on track conditions and suitability plus you can learn about the area, its natural history and its people. Listed below are a selection of short walks but check with the information centre first.
Governors Bush Walk
This delightful bush walk begins at the public shelter and explores one of the last stands of silver beech forest in the Park. A gradual climb leads to a lookout point before the track descends and returns to the village. This popular walk offers birdlife, a good viewpoint of the mountains and shelter in poor weather.
Bowen Bush Walk
This easy forest walk begins across the road from Alpine Guides. The loop track wanders through totara and celery pine forest and has an alternative exit or entry towards Glencoe Lodge.
Start from behind the Hermitage. The walk zigzags through totara trees with a ferny understorey, emerging at a lookout near the prominent water tanks above the Hermitage. Walkers are rewarded with a birds-eye view of the village and beyond to the white ice of the Hooker Glacier and Aoraki/Mount Cook. Sunrise and sunset are good times to catch light-play on the mountains.
Red Tarns Track
Begin at the Public Shelter and follow the path to Black Birch Stream. Cross the bridge then climb steeply to the Red Tarns. A viewpoint offers a spectacular panorama of the valley and Aoraki/Mount Cook. The tarns were named from the red pond weed that grows in them.
Kea Point Walk
Start from the Hermitage lawn and cross the road to the track sign (or leave from the public shelter at the campground). This walk gently winds its way through sub-alpine grasslands and scrub to the Mueller Glacier moraine wall. The track passes through landscape that was formed in 1913 when a stream cut through from the glacier to the original Hermitage site, damaging the building. The walk ends at a viewing deck that gives stunning views of Mt Sefton and Footstool, the Hooker Valley, Mueller Glacier Lake and Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Hooker Valley Track
Begin at the Visitor Centre or White Horse Hill camping areas. Starting from the camping area reduces the times by 45 minutes. One of the most popular walks in the park, it leads up the Hooker Valley towards Aoraki/Mount Cook. The track passes close to the Alpine Memorial, which is a great viewpoint. Continue on to Hooker River and cross twice on swingbridges before reaching Stocking Stream Shelter. Continue beside the river to its source to reach the Hooker Glacier terminal lake.
Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch
Your first stop today should be the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. As well as a great presentation detailing the formation of the region over thousands of years, you are also often rewarded with uninterrupted views of the peak of Mt. Cook. Lake Tekapo, the northern most of the large Southern Lakes also displays the reflective quality that Pukaki has making the waters a bright turquoise on certain days. This busy little township is home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. It’s a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just marvel at the magnificent views. From here you descend from the high country through Burkes Pass and into rich farmland. Beautiful Valley guides you to the town of Geraldine before you cross the vast Canterbury Plains back towards Christchurch City.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Christchurch Gondola
The Christchurch Gondola is located in the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch city. The gondola whisks you nearly a kilometre to a collapsed crater rim of an extinct volcano which exploded six million years ago. Take in the spectacular panoramic 360-degree views, which include Christchurch city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps. There is plenty to do at the summit complex including the nature walkways and the Time Tunnel; a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch. Watch subterranean forces unleash molten magma to rip rocks apart. See life-size dioramas of the early voyagers, Polynesian and then European, making landfall after months of travel.
Explore Christchurch City
Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island, offers an eclectic mix of activities for you to best experience this regenerating city. For fantastic views of the city and the Canterbury region take the Christchurch Gondola ride to the crater rim of an extinct volcano. Alternatively there are a number of city tours to take in the sights and the amazing development that the city is undergoing, including the fun Double Decker tour or for a slightly more active exploration take a Christchurch Bike Tour. Christchurch is also known as ‘The Garden City’ and a relaxing way to enjoy the beautiful parks is punting along the River Avon – included as part of the Grand Tour. The historic Christchurch trams are another enjoyable way to explore the city, running between the Spanish influence Regent St and the Botanic Gardens. Family fun options include the International Antarctic Centre which gives a unique insight into the frozen continent of Antarctica. You can view little blue penguins as well as taking a ride in the impressive Haaglund tracked vehicle. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve lets you experience New Zealand’s native birds such as the kiwi and also our unique Maori Culture at the Ko Tane Maori Experience. A must-see for every visitor to Christchurch is Quake City, the Earthquake Experience; the informative and moving displays will help you understand the challenges the people of Christchurch have overcome.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY – Full day tour to Akaroa including a Harbour Nature cruise
Enjoy a full day tour to Akaroa with Canterbury Leisure Tours, Following a pick up from your accommodation travel to Akaroa via Sign of Takahe, Sign of Kiwi, Governers bay, Gebbies Pass, Lake Forsyth and Little River . Stop at the Hill Top to experience panoramic views of Akaroa Harbour. Then visit the cheese factory at Barry’s Bay and sample some fine New Zealand cheese. This afternoon you take a two hour cruise on the Canterbury Cat exploring the delights of Akaroa Harbour and sighting dolphins, penguins and seals. On the return journey to Christchurch a stop will be made at Birdling Flat on the Kaitorete Spit. This stony beach at the entrance to Lake Forsyth provides a commanding view of the southern facing cliffs of Banks Peninsula. An interesting selection of pebbles and semi-precious stones can be found on the beach. Return to Christchurch approximately 5pm.
Depart Christchurch today
Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.
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