16 Day Discovery Trail
16 Day Discovery Trail
A complete New Zealand tour including 5 days in the North Island and 11 days in the South Island. Visits all the top tourist sites. Features almost a complete circuit of the Southern Alps.
Book your self drive tour this month and receive an earlybird discount of 10%. Pay your deposit this month to qualify. Must pay in full by 31 July 2018.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Auckland to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Feb 2018 to May 2019|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|15 nights self-catering and/or motel accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice including airport and ferry port collection charges|
|Te Po - Maori cultural experience with traditional hangi|
|Milford Sound Nature Cruise|
|Travel wallet, comprehensive customised itinerary, bound map book, accommodation & activity vouchers and local travel guides|
Prices are per adult (we'll adjust your quote for any children)
Day by Day Tour Itinerary
“Haere Mai” Welcome to Auckland. On your arrival in Auckland pick up your chosen car and tour documentation, guides, maps and travel vouchers. You then travel onto your centrally located accommodation. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore what Auckland has to offer.
Travel south through lush Waikato farmland, perhaps via Waitomo Caves, on your way to Rotorua, a region steeped in Maori culture and history. 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. (2 nights) (D)
You have a day free to explore this exciting thermal region – there are many activities to enjoy. Perhaps visit the Agrodome to see a display featuring New Zealand’s various sheep breeds and sheep shearing. Other options include the Buried Village, Polynesian Spa or the Skyline Gondola which offers superb views over city, lake and mountains and for a little excitement why not try a Luge ride while you are there?
Drive south through to Hawkes Bay which is one of New Zealand’s largest and longest established wine growing regions to Napier. In 1931 a devastating earthquake nearly levelled this city. It was rebuilt in the style of the times, and is now considered the Art Deco Capital of the world. It is also a region where local produce reigns supreme, from its award-winning wines to the freshest range of quality primary produce you will find anywhere. Overnight in Napier.
Pass the many vineyards and orchards of the Hawkes Bay, as you make your way south to our capital city, sprawled over the hills surrounding Wellington Harbour. Overnight in Wellington.
Cross the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand on the Interislander Ferry, to the Marlborough Sounds and Picton. The 92 km journey takes 3 hours & is one of New Zealand’s most iconic tourist experiences. Once on terra firma, continue past vineyards built on rich alluvial plains, which produce world class wines, to Nelson. (2 nights)
A full day to explore the Nelson area. The nearby Abel Tasman National Park offers opportunities to walk or cruise its beautiful coastline. Water taxi companies can provide a personalised mix of sightseeing by boat and track walking. A number of kayaking companies run guided tours from Marahau and Kaiteriteri.
Travel through the Buller Gorge to Westport, and down the coast to the famous Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Continue past Greymouth to the glaciers. We recommend a guided walk to the terminal face of a glacier. Overnight at either Fox Glacier or Franz Joesf township. You may wish to add an extra day here if you wish to hike on the glacier.
Continue south into dense rain forest broken by rugged coastal vistas. Reach Lake Wanaka in the early afternoon. Pass through the rugged Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown. (2 nights)
A day free for you to enjoy this fabulous Alpine resort. There are dozens of optional activities as well, from thrilling jet boat rides to leisurely lake cruises, 4WD safaris, bungy jumping. We recommend the world famous Shotover Jet boat ride, take a Gondola to the Skyline high above, a tour to the gold mining area of Skippers Canyon or for the adventurous – white water rafting. Alternatively browse in the many shops and galleries.
Drive south following the dramatic southern shores of Lake Wakatipu to reach Te Anau, then travel through pristine beech forests and the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. We have included a cruise to enable you to appreciate the majesty of Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls. Return to Te Anau.
Drive across the Waimea plains towards the farming community of Gore, then travel through the rolling hill country of South Otago to Dunedin. (2 nights)
Known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’, take time to enjoy the rich historical architecture and abundance of wildlife to be found in this fascinating area. Perhaps you’d like to join a cruise of the beautiful Otago Harbour and Taiaroa Head, along with a scenic bus tour of the Otago Peninsula with Monarch Harbour Cruises. You can also include a guided tour of the award-winning Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve or Royal Albatross Centre. Enjoy the historic and scenic Taieri Gorge Train excursion or explore the city only a few minutes walk away. Let us know if you’d like any of these activites included in your quote.
Drive north to historic Oamaru and turn inland. Cross the barren MacKenzie Country to reach the glacial lakes at the foot of the Southern Alps. Visit Mt Cook National Park, with time to enjoy the scenic majesty of New Zealand’s highest snow capped peaks before travelling around Lake Pukaki to Twizel.
Travel north across through Fairlie and Geraldine, and on to view the Church of the Good Shepherd dedicated to the early pioneers of the region. Then across the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch. Overnight in Christchurch.
Return your car at the airport in time to catch your onward flight.
There are 29 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.7 out of 5.
Finding public toilets was not a problem, in fact they were always plentiful, clean and fully stocked. There are endless places to stop for a picnic from your chilly bin or go to a cafe that will have plenty of options. Driving was a fantastic way to see New Zealand! All of our accommodations were easy to find, clean and well kept. We had a full kitchenette in each place and most had laundry (usually NZ$2 per load). The water pressure is great everywhere you go! Many places had nice animals to greet you as you came and went, that helped us be less homesick for our own. Using vouchers was not a problem at all, not one place questioned them. It actually made things very easy. We added a few tours along the way. I advise taking the 1/2 day Lord of the Rings tour in Wellington because it is a great way to visit the Wetta Cave and see the city. You start at an incredible lookout that would be hard to venture to on your own. Our tour guide was hilarious and full of information! From the food to the great sense of humor, the Kiwis have figured out how to make tourists feel great and welcome. Take this tour, you will be happy you did!! Worth the cost. Thanks Relaxing Journeys!
The next day we took the ferry to Picton and drove on the Nelson. Dropping the car off in Wellington at the ferry boat was easy (although we just left the car parked behind a bunch of other cars from the same rental company) but picking the car up in Picton took almost an hour waiting in line. We took back roads to Nelson and the scenery was magnificent. The Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco we quite lovely, very quaint, and a bit difficult to find. The next day we drove to Punakaiki. Do stop along the route to see Cape Foulwind. The hotel there (Punakaiki Resort) was wonderful, with great views of the Tasman Sea. Pancake Rocks were OK. We ate in a cute tavern like place just north of the rocks. The burgers were good, but very pricey. We then headed to Franz Josef. My wife toured the kiwi exhibit while I took the helicopter ride up to the glacier. She loved her time as did I. The flight was magnificent, and the short time we spent walking about was sufficient. Excellent picture opportunity. The Punga Grove was a cute little motel, tucked into the woods. We actually cooked dinner that night in the room and enjoyed some wonderful lamb.
We headed from there to Queenstown, past some of the most awesome lake scenery I\'ve ever seen. We stopped more times to take pictures than I thought I ever would. Queenstown was fun and quite lively. So many great restaurants that it was hard to choose where to eat! The Copthorne Hotel and Apartments Queenstown, Lakeview was very nice. We had a great view of the lake from our room.
From Queenstown we headed to Milford Sound. If you have only one place to go in New Zealand, make sure it\'s Milford Sound. The beauty of the mountains, waterfalls and the sound itself is beyond words. We were fortunate to have perfect weather, with lots of sunshine, which made for many, many pictures. We spent that night in Te Anau. I\'d recommend against staying in the Bella Vista. It was very small, and had a bad odour. The next day we took the long way from Te Anau to Dunedin, going through Invercargill. We had thought it might be a bit of a long drive, but it was well worth it. We finally got to see sheep in large numbers, as well as some stunning vistas of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
We spent two nights in the 858 George Street Motel. It was excellent. The suite was huge (we cooked dinner one night). The man who owns the place was one of the most helpful hoteliers I\'ve ever met, and provided us with lots of great information. There are lots of neat restaurants to choose from. We had a hard time deciding where to eat the one night we went out. The ride to see the Albatrosses (the low road out and the high road back) offered more wonderful scenery. But, alas, we didn\'t get to see a single albatross. The Cadbury factory tour was fun, but if you love factory tours, you may be disappointed by this one. It was pretty rushed, and there wasn\'t a lot of interest on the part of the tour guide in answering questions. The reason for the linkage to Scotland is quite apparent throughout the city. It\'s without a doubt the cutest and coziest of the cities we visited.
From there to Mount Cook. We stopped at Moreaki Rocks along the way (thanks to the owner of the 88 George Street Motel), and were glad we did. It\'s a pretty incredible site. Mount Cook was just fabulous, as was Lake Pukaki. If you\'ve been to the Alps, you\'ll quickly see why these are considered the Southern Alps. The whole place just defies description. We stayed in the Hermitage Chalets which were pretty quaint, though quite comfortable. But the dinner prices in the main lodge were outrageous and the wait time at the backpackers restaurant was forever and the food wasn\'t very good once we got it. Some great hiking in the area, but the definition of easy was somewhat different from ours. I\'d put Mount Cook as the second most important place to see. We headed from there to Christchurch, and wandered around downtown on foot, heart-broken by the devastation that occurred there and inspired by the work that has been done already and by the creative solutions to retain the facades of some of the buildings. Alas, this was the end of our sixteen days in New Zealand, and we headed from there to Fiji.
For those of you who drive normally on the right hand side of the road and the left hand side of the car, it\'s not really all that difficult to switch (though remembering that the blinkers and windshield wipers are also reversed is hard).
As for Relaxing Journeys, overall we were very happy. Toni was a great help in putting everything together. Some of the hotels that were originally recommended didn\'t get the greatest reviews in my online searches, and she was quite willing to accommodate us by finding different ones. She made some suggestions about a couple pieces of the itinerary that I had originally planned, and I\'m glad we took her up on her suggestions. When we were stuck in Wellington due to the bad weather, and weren\'t able to stay in the Novotel because they were booked up for that second night, Christine kept in very close contact with us and did a wonderful job of getting us re-booked into the great B&B. We did have a bit of a problem when we did our final payment about a month before our trip. There was some confusion about the wire transfer and the fees that were charged. The bank in the US that we used and the bank in New Zealand that Relaxing Journeys uses didn\'t provide the same story about the fees, and I was quite concerned about whether this was just the beginning of a series of problems. Campbell Harris, who is the Managing Director, did get in touch with me about the problem and assured me that this was not indicative of what our association would be. And, he was correct. I would highly recommend Relaxing Journeys. It was a great trip and they did an excellent job of putting it together. We didn\'t have a single problem with any of the places for which we had vouchers from them. Everything was in order when we picked up our package when we arrived in Auckland, and everything went smoothly after that.
A complete New Zealand tour including 5 days in the North Island and 11 days in the South Island. Visits all the top tourist sites. Features almost a ... Read More
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