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.

Book your self drive tour this month and receive a discount of 7.5%. If you pay by 30 September 2018.

Tour Info

Tour Type: Self Drive Tours
From: Auckland to Christchurch
Departures: May 2018 to March 2019
Price:
From (NZD) $3029 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Duration: 15 Days
Tour Code: GNA

Inclusions

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
Travel wallet, comprehensive customised itinerary, bound map book, accommodation & activity vouchers and local travel guides

Book your self drive tour this month and receive a discount of 7.5%. If you pay by 30 September 2018.

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.

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Auckland

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 2
Auckland - Waitomo - Rotorua

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).

Your choice of accommodation

Day 3
Rotorua

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)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 4
Rotorua - Napier

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)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 5
Napier

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 6
Napier - Wellington

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 7
Wellington - Picton - Blenheim

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 8
Blenheim - Christchurch

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 9
Christchurch - Dunedin

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 10
Dunedin - Te Anau

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 11
Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown

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)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 12
Queenstown

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 13
Queenstown - Mt Cook

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 14
Mt Cook - Christchurch

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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 15
Depart Christchurch

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.

Your choice of accommodation

4.7/5.0

There are 12 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.7 out of 5.

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Tour Reviews

5
07/04/2018
We did a lot of travel, met really nice people, saw lots of beautiful scenery and sampled some fantastic NZ wines (and food). The 40th wedding anniversary surprise was also very nice. There were only two minor set backs. 1) We couldn't get to Milford Sound because the road was closed due to snow. 2) The Monarch Wildlife cruise was difficult to find using Google and also with the GPS that I had brought, so we went to the address on the coupon where we found the office was open but unattended. We called them on their contact number and the boat was a further 20 minutes up the road. At this stage a huge storm had moved in. It was very windy and the sea was becoming extremely choppy. The weather looked like it was getting worse so, because of my wife's lack of sea legs, we called Monarch again and cancelled the cruise. They were very nice about it and offered a cruise for next day but we couldn't accept as we had to leave next morning. Other than these two hiccups, you have provided us with a wonderful experience. One that we shall always treasure and certainly recommend to others. Thank you Relaxing Journeys.
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5
03/01/2018
Our trip was so well organised, everything went smoothly and was easy. Thrifty car rentals were excellent. All accommodation was excellently located but standard mixed. Would not stay at Kapiti court motel, Parapaumu (very little space and facilities lacking) or Edgewater, Te Anau (uncomfortably outdated) again if had a choice. Blue Peaks apartments Queenstown was the best and very informative hosts at Colonial Motel, Blenheim. Overall we had the best holiday. Will be happy to recommend Relaxing Journeys anytime. Thanks for your great service.
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4
18/06/2017
Everything went like clockwork, accommodations, car rental, tours and ferry ride. Want to acknowledge Marie Sarmon for her patience and assistance in helping to set up the tour! Couldn't have done it without her!!
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5
24/10/2016
The entire trips agenda was excellent. Lots of time to do whatever you wanted during your days journey. The only hotel I was not impressed with was the one in Rotorua, all the rest were of great quality. Thanks to Toni, you did an excellent job setting it all up.
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4
02/03/2016
The tour gave us a great overview of NZ and a desire to come back again. It is a beautiful country and people were unfailingly friendly and helpful. We had some great experiences and developed an idea of where we would spend more time next time. The 15 day package was a bit hectic for us to do both North & South Islands especially since I was the only one driving. We would have enjoyed it more if we had a few more 1 or 2 more days in the North Island and 3 or 4 more days in the South Island as it was a huge area to cover. Overall still an unforgettable trip.
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5
13/09/2015
We are very glad we chose Relaxing Journeys for our self drive tour of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Our tour consultant, Marie, was patient and helped us with planning the itinerary and all our queries. Our trip was wonderful, all the arrangements were very good and we had a completely hassle free trip. I would strongly recommend Relaxing Journeys to other visitors to New Zealand.
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4
08/03/2015
We had a great tour, exactly what we wanted. Mani was very helpful and patiently worked through the itinerary with us until it was perfect. Motels were all great, only one was a bit below our expectation but was still fine. Quest serviced apartments were great, wish we had them in North America. Car rental was without a hitch, documents and map book (very helpful) were given to us on arrival. Internet access (with limits) was provided free at all but two hotels, which has become a must when travelling. No complaints, I would recommend your company with no hesitation.
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5
28/01/2015
The tour was extremely well organised and ran like clockwork.There were no problems at all. The pace was within reason but the timings for the Milford Sound cruise we found optimistic as it took us over two hours to reach the ferry terminal, however it was well worth the trip! The Kruse GPS and commentary was brilliant, like having your own personal tour guide in the car, and made the journeys so interesting. Thoroughly recommended. Overall it was an excellent holiday and a great way to see your beautiful Country. Once again, many thanks.
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5
25/02/2013
Excellent tour but two weeks is really not long enough for both islands, there's so much to see and do and a lot of distance to cover that it can seem a little relentless, but would we do it all again?... in a heartbeat :)
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5
06/02/2013
Did I enjoy my trip to New Zealand? Well, I'll need to take a moment to collect my thoughts before I exclaim, YES! I had a fantastic time! I can't recall a time or place in my life before arriving in NZ when I felt more content and satisfied. I had a few hiccups in the beginning...lost luggage, blown out tire and little difficulty navigating and driving safely, but those experiences were merely opportunities to prepare myself for the bigger road trip. Sally was very helpful in finding a place to get a new tyre for the rental car near the hotel and sending on the spare TomTom (navigation unit) so that it arrived in time for me to make my next destination. Christine was awesome in rescheduling my Hobbiton tour to allow time for the TomTom to arrive and still drive safely and leisurely to Matamata from Auckland. After the tyre and lost luggage trauma, I fell a little ill with sore throat and lost my voice. Christine and Sally were patient while I tried to express my needs with limited vocal ability. I felt as if I was not alone in a strange land.

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!
Please give my thanks to Sally and Christine for their help and support while I was in NZ. I so appreciated your prompt responses to my inquiries! I had a fantastic time and will definitely recommend Relaxing Journeys to anyone going to NZ.
Overall Tour Rating

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Optionals

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).

Enquire about our 15 Day Aotearoa

15 Day Aotearoa
Self Drive Tours
Tour Code: GNA
From (NZD) $3029 per person
Save (NZD) $303 per person
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Departures: May 2018 to March 2019
Rating:
12 reviews (4.7/5)

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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15 Day Aotearoa
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