24 Day New Zealand Tourer
24 Day New Zealand Tourer
One of our most popular self-drive tours, there’s no better way to explore New Zealand. Covering both islands, you will visit the beautiful Bay of Islands, geothermal Rotorua and the wine region of Hawke's Bay in the North. Exploring the South, you will see the whale-watching capitol of Kaikoura, Mt Cook - New Zealand’s highest mountain as well as the spectacular Milford Sound.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Auckland to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2020 - March 2021|
|Price:||From (NZD) $3450 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|23 nights accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice|
|Hole in the Rock & Cape Brett cruise, in the Bay of Islands|
|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|
|Grape Escape Wine Tour in Napier|
|Pukaha Mount Bruce Nature and Wildlife Reserve|
|Interislander Ferry Crossing|
|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 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.
After 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.
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’.
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.
Strap back in for the easy drive to Paihia, the idyllic seaside gateway to the whole Bay of Islands region. (2 nights)
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 Russell (New Zealand’s first capital) which was also known as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific” It’s now a quaint seaside village 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.
Continue 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.
Today you head east 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 Rotorua early and get to Napier in time to go on one of the tours to the Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony.
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. Travel through New Zealand’s most prestigious wine growing district from which we taste award winning wines throughout the day. (2 nights)
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 New Zealand’s 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 into 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.
Your day tour coach follows the southern arm of Lake Wakitipu to Lumsden, and onward to Lake Te Anau. The scenery changes dramatically from tussock covered grasslands to glacier hewn valleys as you enter the Eglington Valley and travel through the breathtaking man made Homer Tunnel to reach Milford Sound.
Upon arrival, board either the Milford Mariner or Milford Wanderer – our specifically designed fiord explorers – and settle in for a 2.5-hour cruise. Milford Sound is nothing short of heart-stopping, dominated by Mitre Peak and the cascading Bowen Falls. This famous fiord will induce subconscious smiles in the hard to please and easily bored almost instantly; it’s simply magnificent. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins!
On completion you will return to Queenstown by coach. (L)
Upgrade your itinerary to include a return scenic flight to Queenstown. The flight takes in the 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 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.
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)
Witness the puzzle of huge valleys of ice that extend well below the snowline, almost to the sea. While glaciers around the world are retreating, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers still flow almost to sea level.
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.
Travel north along the bush clad, coastal plain past Hokitika to Greymouth. Turn inland towards the Southern Alps and stop at Arthur’s Pass, the waypoint for a short walk you shouldn’t miss, terminating at the Devil’s Punchbowl, a 100m high waterfall.
Along the way you’ll see the awesome engineering feats of the Otira Viaduct and Tunnel. When you’ve taken all of the pictures your camera can handle, continue across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
Upgrade your itinerary to include a trip on the world renowned TranzAlpine train.
On arrival in Greymouth, return your rental car to the Greymouth depot before checking in for your train journey to Christchurch. 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 33 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.8 out of 5.
Some tips for your travels, in Auckland, its $28 each to get up the Skytower but if you go for a cocktail in the Sugar Club its $20 for a bellini and then you get a free walk around the tower when you leave. We wish we had added extra nights in the Marlborough wine region to do a wine bike tour, we also wish we had seen Nelson as everyone said it was amazing. A small bit of advice when visiting Martinborough, although all the wineries are a walk from town they close at 4-5pm so that needs to factored on your trip, if you want to see visit them you need to get there early, we arrived at 4pm and there wasn't much else to do and we felt a bit let down but it was made up by the friendly locals in the pub. As we said we could have stayed in Queenstown forever but book trips early in busy periods. If you want to do a lot of the adventure activities its worth booking before you get there as we couldn't do all that we wanted as Christmas and New Year are very busy and the main attractions get booked in advance. (RJ. Good tip!) The accommodations were fine our favourite was the Hermitage at Mount Cook.
I would recommend Relaxing Journeys to anyone - the hassle free booking and support were fantastic. I also recommend booking all your trips with them if your sure what you want to do, they are the same price when you get there and the voucher book was the best, you know what you were doing next and just hand the voucher over and have no worries. Thank you Relaxing Journeys and New Zealand for such a wonderful time.
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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One of our most popular self-drive tours, there’s no better way to explore New Zealand. Covering both islands, you will visit the beautiful Bay of I... Read More
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