15 Day Aotearoa
15 Day Aotearoa
Experience the essence of New Zealand as you wind your way through the North and South Islands. On the way enjoy different cultures, majestic scenery and the best our country has to offer.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Auckland to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2019 - March 2020|
|Price:||From (NZD) $3500 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|14 nights accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice including airport and ferry port collection charges|
|Entry to Waitomo Glowworm Caves|
|Admission to the Te Puia geothermal region|
|Te Po - Maori cultural experience with traditional hangi|
|Guided Art Deco Walk in Napier|
|Scenic Interislander Ferry Cruise|
|One hour Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock|
|Milford Sound Scenic Cruise|
|Tasman Glacier Explorer Boat Excursion|
Prices are per person based on twin-share, and are subject to availability. Prices are correct at the time of submission but are subject to change without notice. Valid for travel January 2019 – March 2020. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person is required at time of booking.
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Click on the prices below to enquire.
* Prices shown are per person (based on two people travelling).
* 2 Bedroom Motel pricing also available with Exclusive Specials. Please request a quote for prices.
Day by Day Tour Itinerary
Welcome to Auckland! Pass through customs, collect any baggage as well as your rental car before making your way to your 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.
Head south along the Southern Motorway to reach the market garden area of Pukekohe. Continue through Hamilton – New Zealand’s fourth largest city and the fertile Waikato region to arrive at Waitomo.
For over 100 years, Waitomo Glowworm Caves have attracted millions of people from all over the world. The moment you enter this subterranean wonderland, you’ll discover an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos. You’ll experience a boat trip like no other, journeying through the starry expanse of the Glowworm cave while your way is lit by a multitude of tiny glow worm lights.
On completion of this tour, continue over the forested Mamaku Ranges to reach the “thermal city” of Rotorua (2 nights).
Rotorua has been known for its geothermal activity for over 150 years. At Te Puia, experience the raw power of the Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley with bubbling mud pools, steaming vents and the world famous Pohutu Geyser.
Take a journey into the heart of Maori culture, arts and crafts, developing an authentic understanding of the original peoples. After you’ve finished here, scale the side of Mt Ngongotaha via a new 8-seat gondola, and give yourself a moment with Rotorua’s most spectacular views.
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. (D)
Journey south to the Hawke’s Bay region and Napier, undoubtedly New Zealand’s most unusual city, completely rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 1931, it features one of the densest concentrations of art deco buildings in the world.
It is a fascinating city, benefiting from a good coastal location and a Mediterranean-like climate. This is no doubt key to the status of the surrounding area of Hawke’s Bay being one of New Zealand’s top wine producers. (2 nights)
This morning enjoy a guided walk where your guide will bring Napier’s fascinating architecture to life for you as you take an easy stroll through the compact Art Deco Quarter in the vibrant city centre. Afternoon at your leisure.
Today make your way to Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant capital city is nestled between a stunning natural harbour on the southern coast of the North Island and the forested hills of the Rimutaka and Tararua Ranges the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafés, restaurants, museums and all kinds of shops. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty.
You’ll have very little time behind the wheel this morning, as you drop the car at the Interislander Ferry Terminal, ready to cross the Cook Strait to the South Island. Where will you sit? Inside or outside? Try to vary your experience if you can, as some of the sights are better seen without the barrier of a window – watch as boats bob on Wellington harbour, disappearing in the distance as you head into the majestic Marlborough Sounds, chugging away to Picton.
On arrival collect your new rental car and make your way to Blenheim. The largest town in the Marlborough region, Blenheim’s location in the heart of this premier wine making district makes it a very popular destination.
Today travel south along the east coast of the South Island to Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city. Christchurch is an entertaining mixture of refined lifestyle and cultural excitement. Following the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch has re-emerged as a vibrant, ever-changing city, and there is plenty to experience and see.
Today continue south to Dunedin, boosted by riches from the 1861 gold rush, Dunedin grew from an isolated outpost to a bastion of European culture, retaining close links to it’s Scottish heritage. The Victorian and Edwardian architecture would be equally at home in Edinburgh, the city from which Dunedin draws its name. This afternoon enjoy a one hour Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock.
Travel inland to Te Anau, you may like to detour slightly to travel through the stunning Catlins region which is just south of Dunedin. The small town of Te Anau is best known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
A very pretty lakeside community, it is the nearest town to Milford and Doubtful Sounds as well as many of the great walks of this area. In response to an ever expanding tourist trade it has developed into a lively little town of waterfront cafes and restaurants and offers all manner of activities.
Today make your way to Milford Sound one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed areas of natural beauty. Drive through the beech forests of the Hollyford and Eglinton Valleys and Homer Tunnel, to reach Milford Sound.
On arrival, board the launch for a cruise through the sound to enjoy its magnificent mountains, waterfalls and wildlife. Milford Sound is nothing short of heart-stopping, inducing subconscious smiles in the hard to please and easily bored almost instantly; it’s simply magnificent. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins!
After your cruise please make your way onwards to Queenstown. The alpine resort town of Queenstown is sophisticated and fantastically scenic. Its lake and mountain landscape is suited to almost any kind of adventure; but Queenstown is just as well known for indulgence. (2 nights)
It’s time to make memories in Queenstown. Pick and choose from a long list of adventures – from thrilling funyak tours along the Dart River and horse-riding in Glenorchy, to panning for gold in Arrowtown or taking a tour of Lake Wakatipu via the TSS Earnslaw, there is certainly something for every speed. Or, if you’re not ready to break the spell of the last few days a scenic walk may do the trick, exploring the diverse range of stunning trails the region delivers in troves.
Today, travel through the rugged and beautiful landscape of Otago. Cross the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country to arrive at Mt Cook National Park a World Heritage listed site.
Mt Cook is Australasia’s highest mountain at 3764 metres. The park covers over 70,000 hectares of breathtaking alpine scenery and is also home to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in the Southern hemisphere.
Before leaving Mt Cook National Park, be sure to stop and view the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo, built on the lake’s edge of local stone and oak in 1935. Leaving the High Country, cross the vast Canterbury Plains to the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.
Centred around the willow-lined River Avon, Christchurch is compact and easy to explore, with a refreshingly friendly buzz. But far from being a quiet backwater, this is a vibrant city where there is seldom a dull moment. There are numerous street performers, lively markets, music venues and theatres, as well as more cafés, bars and restaurants than any other New Zealand town, not to mention at least a dozen annual festivals.
Today your holiday comes to an end, you will be returning your car to the airport today for your onward flight. Here, we bid you a fond farewell and hope you leave with many happy memories of your stay in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
There are 12 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.7 out of 5.
John from Bush & Beach was fantastic...just a kind and funny person to share time and the experience of the tour. I learned a lot and had a great time. He even gave me some driving tips while we were passing the time to take me back to the Oak Tree.
The drive to Matamata was very pleasant. I wanted to stop at the new mall in Hamilton to get a few clothes while I waited on my luggage. The TomTom didn't know the address, but I got a nice little tour of the area while I sought out the entrance. The TomTom took me on many back roads to get to Matamata and I really enjoyed the farmland with no traffic. The Hobbiton tour was very cool. Everyone was very nice. I stopped in Matamata town to check out the iSite and investigate the town and they took me on the coach from the iSite to the farm. Very convenient.
Next I made my way to Rotorua. The people at the 6 on Union motel were very kind. The woman was concerned about my voice and gave me honey for my tea. I rested up in Rotorua and got most of my voice back by the second day. The town was ok and the Te Po - Te Puia combo was interesting. I'm glad I made myself get up and go.
I had a wonderful drive down to Wellington. The scenery was so relaxing and beautiful! Everyone I spoke to where I stopped along the way were incredibly kind and interested in sharing what they know. I especially enjoyed the NZ road signs for driving safely. The signs for the Army Museum made me giggle, so I stopped in and had a look around. A pleasant stopping point to break up the long drive. The weather in Wellington was cloudy with a little rain. I made it on a quick tour around the city and up to the cable car to the garden, then back to bed for an early ride across to Picton. The rental car drop off and pick up were so streamlined and easy. Thanks for taking care.
The Interislander Ferry ride was so beautiful through Marlborough sound. I covered my head and ears and braved the winds on the observation decks to get the full effect. Of course, this stirred up my cold, but was absolutely worth it! The drive from Picton to Kaikoura was so relaxing and pleasant. I really enjoyed having the TomTom so that I could venture off the main roads and explore the views and still have the navigator to get me where I was going.
Kaikoura was jaw droppingly beautiful with the mountains flowing into the sea. As you know, my Whale Watching tour was cancelled due to rough seas and a storm coming up from the south. I decided that I really wanted to experience the Sperm Whale off the coast, so I went ahead and booked the first boat out in the morning. Then I noticed a helicopter sitting on a pad a little way down the beach and decided to check it out. There was a couple from Japan who were also curious and when the guy took a phone call, we commiserated to be a triad and rent the helicopter saving over $100 each! The ride was amazing. We landed on a hill overlooking the sea and watched the clouds roll in and the whale resurface. As we were returning to the landing site, the hill we had landed on was covered by cloud and the storm was upon us. That was amazing, too! The sounds of the wind on along the walls and the waves crashing into the beach. While in Kaikoura I also strolled along the peninsula and spied a few seals basking in the sun.
On to Christchurch from Kaikoura...I basically went to bed to sleep off my cold and start the drive to Dunedin fresh. What a drive! The river crossings were nice. I picnicked at one after getting cheese and crackers in Geraldine. The beaches and boulders at Hampdena and Moeraki were beautiful. I also took a side trip to see the Cathedral Cliffs near Hampden. Oamaru was beautiful! I took a little trek out to the Blue Penguin colony and got to spy a few molting penguins.
Dunedin was my favourite city that I visited. I enjoyed the people and the town. More than Dunedin, I really enjoyed the Otago Peninsula and Portobello! The Highcliff road provided awe inspiring views that inspired me to continue down the gravel roads and take a few walking tracks. I went out to the Taiaroa Head to spy Albatros and was able to hop on a Wildlife Tour that was about to depart. This was wonderful and I highly recommend it. I think combining one of the boat tours with the Wildlife Tour from Natures Wonders will be on my itinerary next time. I had tea in the cafe at Natures Wonders by the window overlooking the beauty of the peninsula and letting the experience sink in. Then down to Portobello to the Penguin Cafe for lunch. Next time I make it to NZ, I'll plan to spend a lot more time in Portobello! The Penguin Cafe Picnic Walk inspired me to take the track to the Chasm and Lover's Leap. It was a pleasant walk and the views were outstanding. I also drove the gravel roads around the inlets and to Allans Beach. This part of my trip was absolutely spectacular. I seriously considered adding more time to my stay in NZ so that I could get my fill of Otago.
The drive to Milford Sound was beautiful and relatively uneventful. The Milford Mariner overnight cruise was phenomenal. The staff were wonderful and the views again just jaw droppingly beautiful. I really enjoyed watching the sunset and then the stars and then the sunrise the next morning. I took a kayak out on the excursion and enjoyed just floating along and listening to the sounds and watching the birds and seals. What an experience!
I took the gondola up to the Skyline. I didn't venture on the luge, bungy jumping, or the paragliding, but was inspired to get a birds eye view of the area, so took off for a helicopter tour of the Remarkables before heading back to Auckland. I managed to jump into a short notice half price ride with the Helicopter Line. Beautiful!
My trip home to Seattle was uneventful, returning almost an hour early and clearing customs with my luggage. Back to work on Monday. I'm going to make a point to hang on to this fantastic feeling of pure contentment with self. Thanks for making that happen!
A couple suggestions for future solo drivers:
- Get a navigation system. Those roundabouts are confusing when you're concentrating on driving on the opposite side of the car and street. I'm not used to having so many exits on a roundabout.
- If people are going to Dunedin, please suggest a twilight tour of the penguins at Oamaru or the Otago Peninsula. I missed this and wish I'd known in advance. It was probably in the Dunedin guide, but I mostly read the itinerary you provided.
- While it wasn't necessary, it would have been interesting and helpful to have a brief guide to road rules in New Zealand. I was a little confused that all the road lines were white (i expected a yellow line in the middle), and it wasn't until the windy mountain road to Milford that I realized that the blue circle with a red X meant no stopping. I think I may have broken this rule a few times!
New Zealand has a great deal of things to see and do, why not add one of our optional sightseeing activities to your trip. Prices are per adult (we'll adjust your quote for any children).
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Experience the essence of New Zealand as you wind your way through the North and South Islands. On the way enjoy different cultures, majestic scenery ... Read More
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