This is a 13 day self-drive itinerary that travels both islands of New Zealand, starting in Auckland and finishing in Christchurch.
Welcome to Auckland! After clearing customs and immigration you will collect your rental car and travel onto your centrally located accommodation. After checking in and getting yourself settled, turn your roving eye outside and enjoy a free afternoon in the City of Sails.
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, with plenty of sights, shopping and street appeal for even the pickiest of travellers.
Today make your way south through the lush Waikato farmlands south of Auckland to Waitomo, where entrance to the caves is included. Continue on to Rotorua, set in a tranquil lake studded basin among forested hills, the town is centre for a region where one surprise follows another.
Geysers spout 15 metres into the air, bubbling cauldrons spit out mud and steam vents hiss to an all-prevailing odour of sulphur.
Free time to explore Rotorua this today. You may like to visit the Agrodome or take a gondola ride to the top of Mt Ngongotaha for spectacular views of Rotorua. Later this afternoon visit Te Puia geothermal area to view the boiling mudpools and cascading Pohutu geyser that make Rotorua famous as New Zealand’s thermal city.
This evening experience Te Po, Te Puia’s cultural experience. It is a feast of cultural storytelling, entertainment and Maori kai (indigenous food). After a formal Maori welcome, relax and enjoy a performance including the beautiful songs, haka and poi dance. After dinner you will be transported by people movers to enjoy the spectacular lighting of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley and hot chocolate.
Today make your way south to New Zealand’s capital city Wellington. Nestled between a stunning natural harbour on the southern coast of the North Island and the forested hills of the Rimutaka and Tararua Ranges, Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city and proud of it. The population is considerably smaller than that of Auckland, but it certainly matches the larger city for amenities.
The city’s cheerful wooden homes are spread over its hilly surrounds, providing some of its residents with superb views over the sheltered harbour and an easily accessible venue for a whole host of outdoor leisure activities.
Good views of the city and harbour are available from the lookout at the top of Mt Victoria, or from the top cable car terminal. Very much part of the character of the city, the cable car is a must do attraction and links nicely with the Botanic Gardens and the Carter Observatory.
The interactive museum, Te Papa is a major feature of the city and is located on the waterfront – itself pleasant to stroll along whilst pondering any number of dining experiences. The museum is a testament to the country’s very proud heritage, both Maori and European.
Please return your rental car to the depot at the Wellington ferry terminal prior to boarding the Interislander ferry and crossing the Cook Strait to Picton. On arrival in Picton collect a new rental car and journey south along the east coast to Christchurch. With its international airport, Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island and the country’s second largest city.
It is the hub of the Canterbury region and offers an environment that is both laid-back and action-packed. Possessing a stable sunny climate, the city’s parks and gardens are a key attraction year round and are renowned for their beauty, especially in spring.
Today journey to Mt Cook, known to the Maori as Aoraki. Mt Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand and standing at an imposing 3754m dominates the Southern Alps that separate Christchurch from Queenstown. Certainly an icon of New Zealand, Mt Cook has long attracted climbers and mountaineers, wishing to scale its heights.
However, many of the people visiting Mt Cook have less lofty ambitions, choosing simply to enjoy the impressive views on clear days or on scenic flights, which are a great way to appreciate the grandeur of the place.
This morning enjoy a glacier tour from the terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier, afterwards journey onwards to Queenstown. Some might say the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is the place where just about everything is possible and anything is likely.
Boasting an incredible location on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, in front of the impressive Remarkables mountain range, nature has purpose built this area for adventure.
Today is at leisure to explore Queenstown and the surrounding areas. Although there is a wide variety of adrenaline fuelled activities that will not disappoint even the most fearless visitor, such as bungy jumping, white water surfing, jet-boating, canyoning, luging and parapenting there is also plenty for those wanting indulgence and relaxation, from the fine wines of the region to the many shops.
The best mountain views are to be had from the Skyline Gondola, which has a panoramic restaurant, overlooking the town and Lake Wakatipu, where scenic cruises on a historic steamboat are on offer.
Today make your way through Wanaka and up the West Coast to the Glaciers, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are without doubt the greatest lure of this region. Nestled on the edge of the rainforest and descending 2500m over 13kms, these great cascading frozen rivers are only 6kms from the Tasman Sea and in this respect are unique.
They are also amongst the fastest moving glaciers in the world with Franz Josef known to move up to 5m per day on occasions.
Day at leisure to explore the surrounding areas. Time permitting, both glaciers are worth seeing, but understandably with only two nights time is a bit limited. Both are remarkably accessible and can be explored on guided walks, heli-hikes and scenic flights. One of the ‘must do’s’ of the area is a visit to the iconic Lake Matheson.
Lying just west of the Fox Glacier township, this lake is famous for offering idyllic views of the surrounding mountains, almost perfectly reflected in the mirror-smooth waters.
Depart the Glaciers region and travel further north along the rugged West Coast to Greymouth. Journey through the Southern Alps to Christchurch. On arrival in Christchurch, check into your accommodation for your final night in New Zealand.
Today is at your leisure until you are ready for checkout. Please make your way to the airport where you will return your car in time for your onward flight.