16 Day Essence Of New Zealand

16 Day Essence Of New Zealand

Capturing the essence of New Zealand this lively tour shows off the best the country has to offer. You’ll be in the thick of things from the first day, inviting your senses to sample the joys of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Rotorua, Queenstown and Franz Josef.

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) $2550 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Duration: 16 Days
Tour Code: GNENZ

Inclusions

15 nights accommodation
Rental vehicle of your choice including airport and ferry port collection charges
Guided tour of Waitomo Caves
Maori Mitai Cultural Evening with traditional Feast
Admission to Te Puia's Geothermal Valley
Admission to Skyline Skyrides
Relax at the Polynesian Spa
Interislander Ferry Crossing
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.

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Auckland

Welcome to Auckland! Once you’ve moved through customs and collected your baggage, it’s time to sign for your rental car and check-in at your accommodation. You’ve landed on the doorstep of New Zealand’s largest city, an idyllic setting overlooking the forested Waitakere Ranges, the sheltered Manukau Harbour and the island-studded Hauraki Gulf to the north.

No wonder over a million people choose to live here! Beautiful beaches and dreamy offshore islands are just half an hour from the city. In fact, the sea is so much a part of the place that an unusually high number of people own their own boats, giving the city its moniker of the ‘City of Sails’.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 2
Auckland - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua

Head south through Hamilton today to Rotorua. On the way stop off at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves (included in the tour price). For over 100 years Waitomo Glowworm Caves have attracted millions of people from all over the world.

This evening you will be picked up and taken to the Mitai Village for a unique and unforgettable cultural experience. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream and see glow worms in their natural habitat.

See your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During the cultural performance, you’ll learn about our past, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). (D) (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 3
Rotorua

Rotorua has been known for its geothermal activity for over 150 years now and today you are able to see, feel, smell and hear some of this wonder of nature. At Te Puia, experience the raw power of 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.

Then take a ride on the 8 seater gondola which climbs up the side of Mt Ngongotaha and experience Rotorua’s most spectacular views with Skyline Skyrides. This is a fun, all age, all weather attraction with views of the City and Lake Rotorua. You can have lunch here at the café or restaurant, and enjoy the fresh air a little more if you decide to ride a cart down the Luge.

At the end of the day you can relax at the Polynesian Spa where you have the choice of 7 hot mineral spring pools – or upgrade to some wonderful treatments from the Spa such as the Aix Massage.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 4
Rotorua - Taupo

Depart the “thermal city” of Rotorua and continue south through the large man made forest Kaingaroa to reach the popular lake resort of Taupo. The area owes its landscapes to its dramatic volcanic origins. Lake Taupo fills two of these vast former volcanoes and is New Zealand’s largest lake.

Taupo is also home to the spectacular Huka Falls, Taupo Bungy, DeBrett’s Thermal Pools and fantastic fishing on the Lake. You may also like to take a drive through the Wairakei Geothermal area.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 5
Taupo - Wellington

This morning depart Taupo and travel along the shores of Lake Taupo to Turangi, before travelling over the Desert Road, dominated in the background by the three peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, to arrive at the small town of Taihape.

Continue south through lush farmland to reach the city of Palmerston North, famous for its agricultural University, before arriving in the “capital city” of Wellington.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 6
Wellington - Picton - Blenheim

Today you will travel across Cook Strait, the stretch of water that separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The journey across Cook Strait has a dramatic beauty all of its own. Both islands can be viewed, including the magnificent Kaikoura ranges and there is often the chance to see wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins, seals, whales and orca.

On arrival in Picton, collect your rental car and make your way past vineyards and wineries to Blenheim. (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 7
Marlborough

Today is at leisure to explore Blenheim and the wine area of Marlborough. There are more than 20 wineries within driving distance of the town – explore them with a guided tour or bike tour.

Visit the Marlborough Sounds, take a wine tour or a Greenshell Mussel cruise or experience all three with the Icons of Marlborough tour. A visit to Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is highly recommended. A magnificent collection of World War planes set in scenes put together by Weta Workshops with the assistance of Peter Jackson who owns a majority of what you see on exhibit.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 8
Blenheim - Christchurch

After breakfast travel south from Blenheim to Kaikoura, world renowned as the whale watching centre of New Zealand. Optional excursions include the opportunity to view giant sperm whales by boat or air, see dolphins, fur seals and Royal Albatross at close range in their natural habitat or swim with pools of Dusky Dolphins – wetsuits provided!

Later, continue south to the “Garden City” of Christchurch, thought of as the most English of New Zealand cities.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 9
Christchurch - Mt Cook

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. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of the lake. 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 and turn towards the Southern Alps and Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Follow this glacier-fed lake and the Tasman River all the way up to the alpine village of Aoraki-Mt Cook.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 10
Mt Cook - Queenstown

Leave New Zealand’s highest mountain behind today as you drive through Twizel and Omarama before heading up over the Lindis Pass – this is the area where gold was first discovered in the Central Otago region in 1861.

Central Otago has a harsh but beautiful landscape due to its summer heat and winter cold. A lot of gold was discovered in the area in the late 1800’s. More recently in the late 1900’s it’s been discovered as a great place for growing grapes so there are some good reasons for exploring this area.

Continue on through the Kawarau gorge to get to the alpine town of Queenstown where you are staying for three nights. (3 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 11
Queenstown

A free day to experience this magnificent resort. Surrounded by majestic mountains, Queenstown boasts adventure and leisure activities in all forms, from extreme to relaxed exploration.

Here you can take a thrilling jet boat ride, pan for gold, raft the white water rapids, take a wine trail, fish for trout, play golf or 4WD sheer canyons. It is also a great base from which to explore the Fiordland National Park, gateway to the awesome Milford and Doubtful Sounds.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 12
Queenstown

Running along the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan and the Shotover River, the Central Otago Wine Trail region encompasses Wanaka, Cromwell, Bannockburn, Bendigo, Alexandra, and Gibbston, boasting an international reputation for Pinot Noir.

There are over 30 wineries and vineyards in this area offering tastings, tours, lunches and meals. Further along SH6, 15 minutes from central Queenstown, stands the Arrowtown Junction at Lake Hayes, home of the unmissable Amisfield Winery and Bistro – sink your teeth into a local meal and savour the notes of New Zealand before arriving in Queenstown.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 13
Queenstown - Franz Josef

This morning, journey up the West coast of the South Island to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Drive to Cromwell, Wanaka and on through the Southern Lakes district to the Haast Pass then north, through dense rain forest broken by rugged coastal vistas, towards the glaciers. (2 nights)

Your choice of accommodation

Day 14
Franz Josef

There’s lots to explore in this 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.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 15
Franz Josef - Christchurch

Continue north to Hokitika where you can see some great Pounamu (Jade) shops, before turning inland to travel over the beautiful Arthur’s Pass. Along the way you’ll see the awesome engineering feats of the Otira Viaduct and Tunnel.

You’ll have time to stop and look around before descending through some fantastic alpine scenery and on down to the Canterbury Plains and Christchurch. (If you have time you may wish to add a day here and stay at Punakaiki instead).

Your choice of accommodation

Day UP
TranzAlpine Train Upgrade Package

Upgrade your itinerary to include a trip on the Tranz Alpine train, so that you drop your vehicle off in Greymouth and then join the TranzAlpine Train for your journey across the Alps.

The TranzAlpine is described as “The Great New Zealand Rail Adventure” and is rated as one of the top six scenic train journeys in the world – with accolades like those, you know it will be good.

Ascend through lush beech forests past the beautiful Lake Brunner via the alpine village of Arthur’s Pass situated 737 metres above sea level, before crossing the spectacular Southern Alps. The TranzAlpine then winds its way over massive viaducts, through spectacular river gorges and the stunning Waimakariri River valley before arriving in Christchurch.

On arrival in Christchurch we’ll arrange transfers to your accommodation and transfers the next day to the airport for your onward flight.

Your choice of accommodation

Day 16
Depart Christchurch

After breakfast this morning, please make your way to the airport where you will return your car in time for your onward flight.

Your choice of accommodation

4.3/5.0

There are 6 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.3 out of 5.

Overall Tour Rating
Value For Money
Accommodation
Tour Pace
Relaxing Journeys Experience

Tour Reviews

4
23/08/2016
My husband and I were very satisfied with our Relaxing Journeys tour. Mani worked with us to customize a tour that gave us the opportunity to not only see many of New Zealand's beautiful landscapes and attractions, but also included activities and locations we personally requested such as snowboarding and touring Hobbiton. Our tour was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and progressed smoothly, hitting only a few small snags (due to unforeseen circumstances) here and there. We did have some difficulties using the Kruse GPS at times and would suggest a few changes to the navigation system itself. Overall, we would definitely recommend Relaxing Journeys to others and will hopefully use them again for a future NZ trip!
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4
04/04/2016
We loved your country. So much natural beauty and unusual landscapes and friendly people . Suggestions on how to bring my review up to Excellent would be to provide a better GPS system; we experienced some extremely frustrating times as the system often led us astray and proved not to be always reliable. We are all used to using GPS systems and came to the conclusion this must have been the cheapest version available. All of the hotels were fantastic except for the ones in Queenstown (too remote from the Waterfront and was dark and dated) and Auckland (was clean but below the standard of the other hotels we visited). In spite of the GPS problem we were happy with the car...plenty of space and was comfortable. We had so many highlights that it would take too long to list them, but the ones we particularly enjoyed were: TSS Earnslaw trip to Walter Peak and demonstrations; Mt Cook overnight; Farmstay, Maori cultural center and dinner.
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Relaxing Journeys Experience
4
01/03/2016
The first part of our trip was very rushed as there was lots of driving to do to get to the next destination with only 5 minutes to spare at one location after arriving to be picked up by a coach. The activities booked were great though. Overall we enjoyed our tour of both Islands and believe New Zealand to be a beautiful country. All vouchers and transfers went smoothly and we met some lovely friendly people. We also met other tourists enjoying a Relaxing Journeys adventure and bumped in to them occasionally at different destinations along the way. All pick ups and drop offs were on time and very helpful. Would like to suggest that Te Anau be placed on your places of interest to stay as our 2 nights there were very enjoyable and it is a beautiful part of the country and so much closer to Milford Sound.
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5
26/02/2015
Without question, the three of us felt this was a fabulous tour. The offerings of your company allowed us to tailor the trip to our interests. Though we did not use Relaxing Journeys for accommodations in Auckland, Rotorua, or Wellington, we were immensely pleased with our personal selections (which had higher Trip Advisor ratings than those you had offered). I would particularly call your attention to the Emerald Spa Motor Inn in Rotorua. With a lovely, quiet location on a pretty street; wonderful options for breakfast which was delivered to our rooms; a large jacuzzi spa in each room - it was really excellent. It is because of accommodation issues with the Portage Resort and Punga Grove in Franz Joseph that the over-all accommodation rating is only 'pretty good'.

At the Portage, the inequity of accommodation between the two bedrooms in our unit was most unsatisfactory, and the failure of housekeeping to even set foot in our room for basic cleaning up during our full day there was not what was expected. The Punga Grove accommodation was very spacious and adequately fitted out. What tarnished our stay there was the failure of the front desk to deliver some of the items checked on the form for our Continental Breakfast our first morning, then to totally overlook delivery of the Continental Breakfast for our second morning. These are things that can be addressed, I am sure. I don't know if you arranged it or not, but it was wonderful to find the car we picked up in Picton to be an exact duplicate of the car we had left in Wellington. Because of that, when we left Picton in a serious wind/rain storm, I did not have to familiarize myself with a different car. In summary, this was a well organized trip with vouchers provided for all accommodations and activities requested and excellent assistance provided from the time of the initial inquiry by Leanne and later, Marie. We would not hesitate to recommend Relaxing Journeys to others considering a tour such as ours.
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4
25/08/2013
We had such a fantastic time on our driving tour! We covered both Islands in two weeks and we got to do everything that we both wanted to do in this time. Highlights for us were Roturua (loved the Maori village, the spas and Te Puia), Queenstown (we both did paragliding) and Franz Josef glacier where we did the heli-hike. A really well planned holiday with lots of fun!
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money

Accommodation

Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience
5
16/12/2011
We had a fantastic holiday and Toni was wonderful to work with. Most of the accommodations were great but some were a little less than expected - especially for the amount of money we paid for the trip. The biggest disappointment (which turned out to be fine, but was a shock at first) were our accommodations on the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise. We were separated from the other passengers via a curtain and had to share bathrooms and showers with 8 other 'cabins'. Not exactly what we're used to. Both of our hotels in Queenstown were fantastic. We loved the excursions and the travel arrangements (planes, trains and automobiles) were great.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money

Accommodation

Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience

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 16 Day Essence Of New Zealand

16 Day Essence Of New Zealand
Self Drive Tours
Tour Code: GNENZ
From (NZD) $2550 per person
Save (NZD) $255 per person
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Departures: May 2018 to March 2019
Rating:
6 reviews (4.3/5)

Capturing the essence of New Zealand this lively tour shows off the best the country has to offer. You’ll be in the thick of things from the first d... Read More

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16 Day Essence Of New Zealand
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