32 Day Month in Paradise
32 Day Month in Paradise
Need we say more? The tour name says it all. Reclaim your sense of adventure and discover the Kiwi spirit on this relaxing self-drive tour of New Zealand. You won’t skip over a single corner, stopping in Bay of Islands, The Coromandel, Rotorua, Hawk's Bay, Wellington, Kaikoura, Queenstown, Mt Cook, Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier and finishing in Christchurch.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Auckland to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2019 - March 2020|
|Price:||From (NZD) $5455 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|31 nights accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice|
|Twilight Encounter, an evening tour of the Waipoua Forest guided by local Maori guides|
|Cape Reinga & 90 Mile Beach Trip|
|Hole in the Rock & Cape Brett cruise|
|Maori Mitai Cultural Evening with traditional Feast|
|Admission to Te Puia's Geothermal Valley|
|Admission to Skyline Skyrides|
|Relax at the Polynesian Spa|
|Grape Escape Wine Tour in Napier|
|Pukaha Mount Bruce Nature and Wildlife Reserve|
|Scenic Interislander Ferry Cruise|
|Milford Sound Day Tour - Coach & Nature Cruise|
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 2019 – March 2020. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $500 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’.
This morning head north out of Auckland for an hour and a half before turning west and taking a step back in time. You’ll find a stop at the Matakohe Kauri Museum gives you some great insight to the area you are traveling through.
Continue north through Dargaville and the Waipoua Forest before arriving at Hokianga Harbour. As dusk falls into night, you’ll be treated to a magical evening in the Waipoua Forest, accompanied by a local Maori guide and many spoken legends. It’s a Twilight Encounter you don’t want to miss.
A relaxing day today. Sleep in and take your time heading east over to the Bay of Islands. Take some time to visit Kerikeri on the way for arts, crafts, antiques and see one of the oldest buildings in the country – the Stone Store.
Then you can make your way to Paihia, holiday resort of the North and gateway to the beautiful Bay of Islands. (3 nights)
We’ve arranged a coach tour for you today to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand. There are numerous stops for you to take in the scenic highlights and activities.
Start with the easy twenty minute boardwalk through the Puketi Kauri Forest. Then thunder along Ninety Mile Beach and sledge down the sand dunes there. Take a swim and dig for shellfish. See the picturesque village of Mangonui.
Your Coach Captain’s local knowledge and informative commentary will make this trip one to remember. (L)
You can relax today and enjoy the Bay of Islands in a number of ways. We’ve included a cruise to the famous Hole in the Rock and Cape Brett for you this morning.
Board the luxury catamaran which will whisk you on a comfortable journey out through game fishing waters to the Cape Brett Lighthouse. Next is Motukokako Island and the famous “Hole in the Rock” where we make a passage through the Hole and on to the Grand Cathedral Cave.
On the return journey the cruise takes its time and meanders through the inner islands. View sandy beaches, beautiful bays and marine wildlife as your skipper gives an informative commentary. Included is an island stopover on beautiful Urupukapuka Island.
As your catamaran docks at the Historic Otehei Bay, enjoy the white sandy beach, picturesque views and its rich archaeological landscape. On the way back you might like to stop off at the quaint seaside village of Russell (New Zealand’s first capital) where you can take some time to wander around and enjoy.
It’s a good day for exploring today as there are many possibilities for stops on the way down south. At Waipu turn left to Waipu Cove and follow that road down through Langs Bach and Mangawhai. Waipu Cove is the local surf beach in the area.
Further on, at the old Bohemian settlement of Puhoi have a drink and sample some local cheese. A little further south is Waiwera where there are mineral hot pools to bathe and have fun in. Stay in Auckland tonight.
Head south out of Auckland, then take the turnoff to the east to the Coromandel Peninsula. There were a number of gold rushes in this fairly remote area in the 1800’s but now it is well known for its light sandy beaches, great fishing and surfing Stop at Tairua tonight.
This centrally located seaside town is a great place from which to explore the Peninsula. (2 nights)
With sparkling azure waters, white sandy beaches, tree lined coastal roads and secluded bays just waiting to be explored, The Coromandel, is one of those special places – breathtaking and unforgettable. The protected forest and marine parks are easily accessed so you can go and discover their delights.
Dramatic landmarks and a unique thermal beach with hot water bubbling up from deep in the earth are just some of the many surprises that await on this coastline of contrasts. Enjoy the day.
Head south today along the East Coast of the North Island. You can stop at the less populous beach of Whiritoa before visiting the gold mining town of Waihi. Continue past Tauranga through some great gorges and old native forests before arriving in the tourist city of Rotorua.
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). (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.
It’s only a short drive inland today to Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, so you can stop and explore along the way. Start at the Aratiatia Rapids – a unique feature of the power generation system on the Waikato River.
Continue onwards and you can stop to visit the mighty Huka Falls on the Waikato River before reaching Taupo on the shores of Lake Taupo. Here you can relax in a thermal hot pool, take a cruise on the lake or simply explore the area further. This is a trout fishing area.
You can visit the Taupo Hot Springs Spa if you’d like another hot swim on the way to Napier. From here you have quite a variety of scenery as you ascend to the volcanic plateau then across mountains and valleys to Hawke’s Bay. Make your way to Napier city which was destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 1931.
Napier was rebuilt in the Art Deco style and is known as one of the best Art Deco cities of the world. Art Deco tours are available, and you can also take a walk along Marine Parade or up Bluff Hill to enjoy the fabulous vista from there. Alternatively you can leave Taupo early and get to Napier in time to go on one of the tours to the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony. (2 nights)
You have the morning to relax or explore Napier at your leisure. Hawke’s Bay has also become well known as a leading food and wine region in New Zealand, so we have booked you in for a wine tour this afternoon. Meet like- minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke’s Bay’s fantastic wines.
Today’s route has you driving through some of New Zealand’s rural heartland with a mixture of sheep, dairy and crop farming. Make your way south to Pukaha Mount Bruce Nature and Wildlife Reserve.
Experience some of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife up close and in the wild. Learn about what is being done to save kiwi, tuatara, kokako, kaka and return them to our forests. Make your way down the Wairarapa through the farming towns of Masterton, Carterton and Greytown before staying in Martinborough for the night.
You may like to have a wander around the village which has become well known for its wineries before heading over the Rimutaka Ranges in to New Zealand’s Capital – the harbour city of Wellington.
Take a drive up Mount Victoria or a ride up the Cable Car to get some magnificent views of this pretty city. You may also like to have a walk around Oriental Bay, visit Te Papa the Museum of New Zealand, or spend some time shopping or dining in one of the many fine restaurants down town.
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.
Today is another day of dramatic scenery as you drive through vineyards, rolling hillsides and along the Kaikoura Coast. Take some time to stop along the coast where you can see seals and other wildlife before heading in to the whale watching capital of New Zealand – Kaikoura.
This morning is your chance to go on a Whale Watch Cruise or a Wings Over Whales flight 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. Make your way south to Christchurch – the Garden City, and the largest in the South Island. (2 nights)
Today you can choose to relax and explore this most English of New Zealand cities. Take a punt on the Avon River, a ride on the tram, or drive up the Port Hills for a great vista over the Canterbury Plains.
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. 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. (2 nights)
There are many tracks for walking and tramping in this area – you can find the most suitable for you by going to the Visitor Centre. There are scenic flights available by helicopter or fixed wing aircraft, and if you wish to have a glacial adventure there is the Glacier Explorers excursion on Lake Tasman at the base of the Tasman Glacier.
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)
There are a huge number of activities to choose from here in Queenstown – for the adventurous there is bungy jumping, jet boating, skiing, 4WD Safaris snow boarding, rafting and skydiving to name a few.
There are also some less adrenaline producing activities such as a cruise on Lake Wakatipu, a ride up the Skyline Gondola, or even a great day out on the Dart River Wilderness Safari.
Today we’ve included the Milford Sound Nature Cruise. Travel by luxury coach on an unforgettable journey from Queenstown into Milford Sound.
Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board our vessels, the Milford Mariner or Milford Wanderer which are designed along the lines of traditional trading scows; purpose built to operate in the fiords and offering a laid back, extended, 2.5 hour cruise.
Explore dramatic, moody Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most famous waterway. Throughout your cruise, our nature guide provides an engaging commentary about the magnificent scenery and wildlife (English only). Keep a look out for dolphins, seals and penguins.
Return by coach to Queenstown. (L)
Upgrade your itinerary to include a return scenic flight to Queenstown. Take in magnificent views of the alps, glaciers, lakes and forests of Fiordland National Park – a quick and convenient way to return to Queenstown. (Duration 35mins)
The flight shaves off approximately 4 hours off a return by coach. It is however very weather dependent, so if the weather doesn’t play ball, then you will need to return by coach and we will refund the upgrade price.
Take the high road of the Crown Range to Wanaka today and you can make a stop at the famous Cardrona Hotel for a hot or cold drink along the way. Cruise down the Cardrona Valley and into the peaceful and picturesque lakeside town of Wanaka.
On the waterfront is the Log Cabin which is a great place for a light lunch. You can also get more information about the area here at the information centre. There are lakeside and mountain walks here, great drives into the mountains and around the lake. (2 nights)
There are many more things to do here in Wanaka as well as relaxing – get your mind working at Puzzling World, go for a scenic flight around Mount Aspiring, cruise on Lake Wanaka and the Clutha River with Clutha River Jet, take a fishing charter or visit the Fighter Pilots Museum at Wanaka Airport.
Another day of stunning scenery as you drive north now alongside lakes Hawea and Wanaka to reach Makarora – a little stop in the wilderness. It is here you may like to go on the Siberia Experience – a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mount Aspiring World Heritage National Park.
This allows you to enjoy some of New Zealand’s untouched scenery from the air, on land and from the water. From here you climb up over the Haast Pass and over to the West Coast – where ancient rainforests tower above you.
Continue north through the village of Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier. (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.
There are some fantastic old towns to visit on the way north today as well as some great places to photograph the scenery and take a look at the dramatic coastline. It really is worth the drive north of Greymouth to stay the night at Punakaiki, best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes – both of which are spectacular and a must-see when visiting the West Coast.
Other activities include canoe adventures, horse trekking, caving and guided tours to name just a few. Punakaiki has many colourful local crafts people – jewellers, carvers, painters and potters.
Once you’ve finished your morning exploration of this area make your way back to Greymouth then turn 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.
Upgrade your itinerary to include a trip on the TranzAlpine train back to Christchurch instead of driving.
You will 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.
Sadly your holiday is at an end. 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 25 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.6 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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Need we say more? The tour name says it all. Reclaim your sense of adventure and discover the Kiwi spirit on this relaxing self-drive tour of New Zeal... Read More
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