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.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Auckland to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2020 - March 2021|
|Price:||From (NZD) $2050 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|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|
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! 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’.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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.
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).
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.
After breakfast this morning, please make your way to the airport where you will return your car in time for your onward flight.
There are 11 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.5 out of 5.
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.
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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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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