23 Day Scenic New Zealand
23 Day Scenic New Zealand
What would you do if you had 23 days dedicated to pursuing the wonderful, beautiful and unmissable? The Land of the Long White Cloud is a spectacular destination, from coast to coast and island to island, prepare your senses and camera memory for an unforgettable getaway.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Auckland to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2020 - March 2021|
|Price:||From (NZD) $4262 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|22 nights accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice including airport and ferry port collection charges|
|Scenic Interislander Ferry|
|Milford Sound Nature Cruise|
|Coast to coast TranzAlpine Train journey through the Southern Alps|
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.
Click here for our full terms and conditions.
Day by Day Tour Itinerary
Welcome to Auckland! Pass through customs, collect any baggage and join your shuttle transfer to your inner city 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. (2 nights)
Take delivery of your rental car this morning. The day is free to relax and explore what Auckland has to offer. Perhaps visit Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter, take a cruise on Auckland Harbour or make your way to the top of the Sky Tower for spectacular views of Auckland city.
After a day of exploration in Auckland, it’s time to depart the city and head north to the Bay of Islands. If you’re something of an arts, crafts or history buff, a visit to Kerikeri is certainly worth it, as one of the oldest buildings in the country still stands solid – aptly named the stone store. (2 nights)
Today is at leisure to enjoy the many activities the Bay of Islands has to offer. With the most scenic coastal scenery in New Zealand, the Bay of Islands provides the setting for activities including sailing, big game fishing and swimming with wild dolphins.
It is also one of New Zealand’s most historically significant areas, most notably for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 between the Maori chiefs and the British. The reserve also houses the Whare Runanga, a Maori meeting house and the 100ft long war canoe or waka.
You may like to take a trip to Cape Reinga – the northernmost point of New Zealand, where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet; take a cruise to Cape Brett and the famous “Hole in the Rock” or explore the historic areas of Russell.
Today head south where you’ll be staying in Snells Beach near Matakana. You will be close to many stunning surf beaches and fabulous regional parks, secluded bays, vineyards, the Matakana Farmers’ Markets, the famous Kawau Island ferry and Goat Island Marine Reserve. New Zealand’s first with prolific fish life – so close you can reach out and touch them… almost!
Today make your way south through the lush Waikato farmlands to Rotorua. On the way you may wish to stop at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. For over 100 years, Waitomo Glowworm Caves have attracted millions of people from all over the world.
We recommend that you include a stop here. The moment you enter this subterranean wonderland, you’ll discover an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos. 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.
Continue over the forested Mamaku Ranges to reach the “thermal city” of Rotorua. (2 nights)
Enjoy a full day exploring some of Rotorua’s natural wonders and scenic highlights on a day trek through the internationally renowned Whirinaki Forest, fringing the Te Urewera National Park. Or you may like to visit Te Puia, where you can experience the raw power of Rotorua’s main geothermal valley including bubbling mud pools, steaming vents and the world famous Pohutu Geyser.
Perhaps visit the Agrodome to see a display featuring New Zealand’s various sheep breeds and sheep shearing. Or Rainbow Springs to see rainbow and brown trout as well as native birds including the Kiwi. Another option is the spectacular Skyline Gondola offering superb views over the city, Lake Rotorua and the surrounding mountains.
Drive south through steam clad Wairakei, to Taupo. Skirt Lake Taupo, across the volcanic plateau past the cones of Tongariro, Ngaruahoe and Ruapehu. Cross the Manawatu plains then along the rugged Kapiti coastline to New Zealand’s capital city, sprawled over the hills surrounding Wellington Harbour. Overnight in Wellington.
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. Blenheim is the main town in the Marlborough region. Its lovely sunny climate makes Blenheim an ideal wine growing region.
Today you travel from Blenheim to Kaikoura. The road is dominated by the awesome beauty of the Pacific Coast. In the township of Seddon you’ll find authentic New Zealand crafts. Before the small town of Ward you’ll come to the Lake Grassmere saltworks – an interesting stop, particularly in late summer when the ponds turn coral pink.
Quinnat salmon are known to run in the Clarence River and just north of the Ure River is a road that leads to the walking trails of the Sawcut Gorge. Kaikoura, located in a narrow strip of stunning coastline between mountain peaks and the Pacific Ocean, is a place of unparalleled wildlife experiences.
This morning is your chance to go on a Whale Watch Cruise to see the giant sperm whales, dolphins, fur seals and depending on the season, you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.
From Kaikoura it’s two hours direct to Christchurch or you may like to take a more scenic inland route via Hanmer Springs to bathe in the mineral pools in their alpine setting. (2 nights)
Following the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch has re-emerged as a vibrant, ever-changing city. Today, relax and explore this most English of New Zealand cities. We suggest punting down the River Avon through the stunning Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Alternatively you could take a day tour and visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa.
Lunch in the naturally picturesque setting of Akaroa Village at the popular Bully Hayes. The day’s activities can include your choice of the Akaroa Harbour Cruise, swimming with the dolphins, a game of golf on the picturesque Akaroa Golf Course with beautiful sea views, or simply explore and enjoy the charm and serenity of Akaroa.
Head south today across the Canterbury Plains, through the picturesque town of Geraldine. Be sure you make a photo stop at Lake Tekapo, a beautiful turquoise coloured lake and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores. This is one of the most photographed churches in the world made of stone and sand from around the lake.
You are now in Mackenzie Country and the scenery is fantastic as you drive to Lake Pukaki. Turn towards the Southern Alps and Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Follow the glacier-fed Lake Tekapo and the Tasman River all the way up to the alpine village of Aoraki-Mt Cook.
Time to enjoy some of the nearby bush walks in the park before heading west to the coastal town of Oamaru, famous for its white limestone buildings. Be sure to stop at Moeraki Beach with its mysterious, spherical, 60 million year old boulders. Continue on to Dunedin, the ‘Edinburgh of the South’. (2 nights)
Take the opportunity to enjoy the city’s cultural riches and its abundant nature and wildlife. If you wish, visit New Zealand’s oldest brewery for an entertaining and enlightening heritage tour. Enjoy guided tours of Larnach Castle and the stately home of Olveston House. Play a round of golf at Balmacewan, the oldest course in New Zealand and enjoyed by many of the sport’s greats, both past and present. You could also make the short journey to Portobello Peninsula to enjoy seals, the Albatross Colony and visit the Yellow-eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve.
Drive through the rolling hill country of South Otago and Southland. After the farming community of Gore, cross the Waimea plains towards Fiordland. Overnight in Te Anau. (2 nights)
The road from Te Anau to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives.
The first part is relatively mild farmland, then you’ll ease into beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. Look for the ‘Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain’ and the Mirror Lakes. Then the rough hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into Milford Sound, an amazing 22km-long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak.
Make sure you allow for plenty of time to stop at the numerous viewing points or short walking opportunities en route. At Milford Sound, board your boat for a spectacular cruise on New Zealand’s most famous waterway, carved by glaciers during the last ice age.
After your cruise make your way back to Te Anau.
Trout fishing rivers and high country scenery are features of the drive to Queenstown. The small towns of Mossburn and Lumsden can be explored for unique shopping opportunities – a farm tour is another possibility.
Leave time to take a break in Kingston, the home of a remarkable vintage steam train. From here, the rest of your journey clings scenically to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. (2 nights)
Today is at your leisure to explore Queenstown and the surrounding areas. It has a well earned reputation for offering adrenaline fuelled activities and will not disappoint even the most fearless visitor, from bungy jumping to white water surfing, jet-boating, canyoning and luging.
Added to that the more traditional pursuits of rafting, wind-surfing, horse riding, mountain biking and skiing in winter and the only problem is finding the time to fit it all in.
Put Queenstown in your rearview mirror and travel along the banks of the Hawea and Wanaka lakes, before stopping in Makarora for an essential, short walk along the Blue Pools Track nearby. Refreshed by the brisk mountain weather, continue your climb over the Haast Pass, reaching the West Coast – where ancient rainforests tower above you. Continue north to the village of Franz Josef Glacier. (2 nights)
A full day to explore this remote and beautiful area. You can take your own time walking up to the glacier, going to the Okarito Lagoon; or join a guided walk on the glacier, take a heli-hike adventure, or a scenic flight over both glaciers. We also recommend a visit to the colony of the beautiful white heron (Kotuku).
Make sue your last stop is at the Franz Josef Glacier hot pools where you will be able to enjoy a hot bathe amongst the rainforest.
Travel north along the narrow, bush clad, coastal plain past Hokitika, to Greymouth and return your rental car to the depot at the rail station. Join the famous TranzAlpine train to journey through the Southern Alps to Christchurch, where on arrival you will be transferred to your accommodation.
Today is at your leisure until your departure when you will be transferred from your accommodation to Christchurch airport for your onward flight.
There are 35 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.7 out of 5.
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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What would you do if you had 23 days dedicated to pursuing the wonderful, beautiful and unmissable? The Land of the Long White Cloud is a spectacular ... Read More
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