14 Day East Meets West
14 Day East Meets West
Currently our only self-drive itinerary that travels down the East of the North Island and back up the West side.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Auckland to Auckland|
|Departures:||Jan 2020 - March 2021|
|Price:||From (NZD) $2586 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|13 nights accommodation|
|The Driving Creek Railway|
|Admission to the Te Puia geothermal region|
|Te Po - Maori cultural experience with traditional hangi|
|Guided Art Deco Walk in Napier|
|Guided tour of Waitomo Glowworm Caves|
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 2020 – March 2021. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $250 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
Arrive Auckland and collect your rental car before making your way to your accommodation. Auckland, New Zealand’s largest population centre, is poised between two enormous harbours and dotted with extinct volcanic cones.
The region is a fusion of four cities – Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere – with cultural elements that span from Polynesia and Asia to the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe. While Auckland acts as a gateway to New Zealand, it’s also a destination in its own right.
Visitors can explore the islands of the Hauraki Gulf by ferry or charter boat, walk the forest tracks of the Waitakere Ranges, follow wine trails and enjoy the relaxing pleasures of urban life by the sea.
Make your way south of Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula. Separated from Auckland by the broad Firth of the Thames, The Coromandel comprises a forested backbone of mountains separating the precipitous west coast from the coves and white sand beaches of the east.
One of the highlights of the Pacific Coast Highway, this is a very scenic area that deserves exploration. The Driving Creek Railway is included today.
Today make your way to Rotorua. The city sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic activity is part of the city’s past and present. The city is also the tribal home of the Te Arawa people, who settled in lakeside geothermal areas more than 600 years ago.
Entertaining in any weather, and at any time of the year, Rotorua promises to keep you captivated with geothermal phenomena and special cultural experiences. Geysers, boiling mud pools, marae stays, hangi feasts, an authentic pre-European Maori village and indulgent spa therapies will provide plenty of content for your emails home.
Rotorua also has a well-developed adventure culture – everything from skydiving to zorbing. (2 nights)
Entrance is included to Te Puia where visitors can learn about the local Maori culture and experience regions unique geothermal wonders. 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)
Napier’s misfortune in 1931, when it was almost levelled by an earthquake, has led to the city’s world famous point of difference. Today Napier has one of the most outstanding collections of 1930s architecture in the world.
Walking around the city, you’ll see wonderful examples of Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical design. Napier’s other special attractions include the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers and the many vineyards that make good use of the region’s alluvial soils.
On Saturday morning, the Napier farmers’ market is a chance to shop for artisan foods and fresh produce. (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. The afternoon is at leisure.
On your way south you’ll drive through Waipukurau and Waipawa as well as Dannevirke, a town originally settled by Scandinavians. Spend the day enjoying the clean, green Wairarapa scenery as you drive south.
Carterton is a good place to shop for paua shell souvenirs, while Greytown has many beautiful examples of Victorian architecture and a quaint museum – take yourself on a self-guided walk. At Featherston, which has an interesting locomotive museum, you’ll turn left towards Martinborough – a region famous for it’s wineries and vineyards.
Less than 2 hours drive away, Wellington, New Zealand’s Capital beckons. Climb up and over the Rimutaka Range – great views in every direction. Once the mountains are behind you, it’s easy driving for the rest of your journey. You’ll wind through the picturesque Hutt Valley then a fast moving motorway will whisk you towards the city. (2 nights)
Today is at your leisure to explore the city, the best way to do this is by foot as it is quite compact and the one-way streets can make driving difficult. Wellington’s visitors come to browse museums, historic places and galleries, including the highly acclaimed National Museum Te Papa.
From a food and wine point of view, the city is truly delectable. Night time entertainment includes professional theatre, live concerts, comedy shows and dance performances.
Starting your journey back north today your destination is Whanganui, the picturesque river city with a long history. During the early days of European settlement, it was an important trading centre. The river served as a main highway for the transport of goods and people.
Prominent heritage buildings in the city include the Royal Whanganui Opera House and the Sarjeant Art Gallery. Take time to explore the restored heritage areas, then board the paddle steamer for a memorable river cruise. One of Whanganui’s more unusual visitor attractions is the earthbound elevator that rises to the top of Durie Hill.
The regional museum has a magnificent collection of Lindauer portaits and Maori treasures.
Heading north towards New Plymouth the skyline is dominated by the mountain from which the region takes it’s name, Mount Taranaki. The city of New Plymouth is known for its sunny climate, art galleries and beautiful parks. It is also New Zealand’s ‘oil town’, with offshore rigs extracting natural gas and oil.
Mount Taranaki provides a dramatic backdrop to the city, while reminding you that the hiking trails of the Egmont National Park are just a short drive away. Down at the New Plymouth waterfront you’ll find Puke Ariki, a wonderful museum and heritage centre that overlooks a six kilometre coastal walkway. At any time of the year, Pukekura Park is a place to relax and enjoy nature.
It has a children’s zoo and bush walks. Expect good shopping and an appetising selection of restaurants.
The Waitomo Caves district is famous for its subterranean phenomena. Beneath the surface of this limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with speleotherms (stalactites and stalagmites) and glow-worms. Some caves are open to the public, others are best left to the experts.
Black water rafting is an intriguing way to appreciate the underground splendours of Waitomo – you’ll drift along subterranean streams on your own personal raft. Guided abseiling experiences are also available. Other activities in the area include horse riding, quad biking and jet boating. Entrance to the caves is included today.
On the final leg of your holiday you’ll return through Hamilton and on to Auckland for your final night’s stay.
Please return your rental car to the depot at Auckland airport prior to your departure for your onward flight.
There are 11 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.5 out of 5.
First and foremost the Bellrock Lodge is the place to stay in New Zealand. No better accommodations. No better people. We spent hours one evening drinking wine, eating oysters and sharing stories with Peter and Lorrain. It's A+ nothing better in New Zealand - and top three of places we have stayed any where in the world. Also, dinner on the deck of the Duke of Marlborough is a must. The lamb was excellent, the wine selection outstanding, the view unmatched. Phantom Yacht is a requirement. Bag the other commercial adventures ... go sailing with Rick and Robin. Robin is a fantastic chef. Cook is way too simple of term for her. The plum chutney on the vintage cheese must not be missed. Ask for more, mail me some. Although the weather was a tad rainy that day it did not matter one bit. We swam, we ate, we drank - a lot - we sailed, Rick caught a king fish, we saw dolphins, we hiked to vista on top of an island. Everyone should go. Russell, fantastic way to start the vacation. Well done!
The Matakana Country Lodge is a definite A. Nice folks, nice accommodations, the spa was pleasant, the happy hour wine tasting and conversation all good. In a race between it an Bellrock, however, it finishes second. Again, very nice folks and rooms. The view is wonderful ... but unlike Bellrock where you can walk into town for a drink or dinner. At Matakana you can't. That's the downside.
Ok, best restaurant meals of the trip were at the Shack www.theshackraglan.com. We ate there multiple times and food and service were nothing short of stellar. The town of Raglan is also great for shopping and the fish and chips at the end of the wharf (Raglan Fish) is well worth the jaunt to that end of town. Now, the lodgings? Oceanview. The place is clean. The folks are pleasant. And well that is about it. Unlike every other place we stayed. I don't have to - I don't want to ever go back there. It's a C maybe a C+ at best. Maybe try the Bow Street Studios instead www.bowstreet.co.nz . I know I pushed to go to Raglan and I had a fantastic time surfing. Raglan Surf School gets a big thumbs up. If there was one 'you could have done better' on the trip it was the accommodations in Raglan.
I have already patted you on the back for 'making' me go to the Waitamo glow worms cave. Here is the pat again. Tell everyone. Go. Its well well worth it. No, I do not intend to send more emails acknowledging my stupidity. This is the second. That's enough. Make some copies. I am moving on. Koura Lodge was another A in lodging. A very nice young couple acting as innkeepers. They upgraded us to the apartment and we had a huge deck, living room (with a billiards table) separate bedroom and full kitchen. Needless to say we spent much time on the deck lounging, having meals and enjoying some down time. As for the Polynesian Spa - make sure you make folks upgrade to the Lake Spa and buy some time in the private lakeside pools. Come on you made me see glow worms - make folks take some relaxing time in the Lake Spa (Only down side there is little kids running around - which doesn't happen in the adult side). Take time for the Aix Spa Therapy treatment - very relaxing! Now we did the Tamaki Maori dinner. It was OK at best. They actually ran out of lamb, and my wife never got a taste despite asking for some. Too bad all gone. Three 'shows', three 'dinners' a night. Its too much. Slow down. Quality not quality. Think Flames of the Forest outside of Port Douglas Australia. We will pay for and enjoy quality. This was McDonalds fast food Maori at best. They need some competition.
The Scenic had the second best breakfast of the vacation (behind the Sky City Hotel buffet). It's a B+. Nice location near town and across the street from the beach. The BRILLIANT votes for Napier and Hawkes Bay, however, go to the On Yer Bike winery tour. Its an easy easy 20 km ride with only about 400 m on the road. The rest on gravel roads through the vineyards or on separated limestone paths next to the road. At only one of the five cellar doors we visited were there even other guests there. Relaxing. We stopped. We chatted. We munched on our lunch. All quite nice. Don't miss the Dukkah butter at Salvare Estate. Wow. Wine is good. The Dukkah - never had that stuff before is GREAT. Ashridge had the best wine and folks for chatting. Compliment Phil on his bike maintenance, ice block making and his poster drawing (which compliments are by the way very much deserved) and ok, tell Lauren she doesn't make bad wine either. Well she makes GREAT wine - but she kept agreeing with my wife in an ongoing debate so I favored Phil who agreed with me.
Te Papa. A wonderful few hours spent exploring New Zealand's history, geography, people and native species. Can't recommend the place higher. The Museum Hotel was stellar - an A - location is right across the street from Te Papa. For dinner we'd recommend Chow: Asian influenced small plates a few blocks from the hotel. www.chow.co.nz
We were surprised at the remaining extent of damage in Christchurch. We had most of our drinks and meals on New Regent Street www.newregentstreet.co.nz and would highly recommend any of the places on the street. Now, yes, I was rooting for Sri Lanka. Andy Haden should never have dove out of the lineout in 1978 at Cardiff Arms Park. I was going to university in Cardiff then and saw it. Not forgotten or forgiven. Yes, its almost 40 years. Yes, I tend to hold a grudge. Yes, New Zealand won that day in Cardiff and at the cricket match in Christchurch. Good on ya. All in good fun.
Sky City gets an A-. The size is its downside. But the buffet breakfast was the best of the trip. Its also centrally located and fairly quiet for its size. The staff were pleasant as well. My recommendation is to tell everyone to take the ferry to Devonport for the afternoon. We did and had an enchanting afternoon and evening, including a good meal outside of Bette's. The next morning we went to the top of the Sky Tower (OK, touristy but fun to get a lay of the land - just as we were leaving - look - there's Devonport!) and then lunched at the Merchants of Venice on the North Wharf. All in all a great way to wrap up the vacation. Finally, a specific shout of thanks and compliments to the driver who picked us up at the airport and drove us back. On time. Clean. Friendly. Informative - but not intrusive. Keep using those folks. Well done!
Your background information on driving was accurate and some of the mountain roads make for somewhat challenging driving and can make distances seem longer than expected. An enhanced warning about the occasional lack of petrol stations (not just Taupo-Napier) would be worthwhile. I think we were driving on fumes a couple of times. As I said, all the accommodation was excellent - clean, very comfortable , well appointed - usually larger than we expected - and with excellent hosts. The suite we were given at Scenic Hotel in Auckland was outstanding and the hotel brilliantly located. It was here that the one minor issue arose, and that there was a parking charge of $20 a day (total $60). I was rather suprised when we were told about it at the hotel, and that it had not been included in the overall pre-payment, given that we were obviously coming with a car. I just raise the matter, obviously we would pay it one way or another. Thanks for offering and organising such a wonderful trip. Everything about it was very easy - a relaxing journey indeed - and a delight getting to know our neighbours a lot better.
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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Currently our only self-drive itinerary that travels down the East of the North Island and back up the West side. ... Read More
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