Beaches, Maori culture, volcanic geysers and wine-tasting on the North Island followed by mountains, fjords, lakes and quaint towns on the South Island
Day 1 & 2: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Auckland, North Island
Upon arrival at Auckland Airport you will be met by one of our representatives and transferred to your accommodation, Crowne Plaza Hotel.
In the afternoon you will be picked up from your accommodation and taken on a sightseeing tour of Auckland, visiting the enormous Auckland Harbour Bridge, Parnell Village, which contains a fascinating selection of colonial-style shops, boutiques, craft shops and arcades, before returning to the hotel. In the evening you can choose from Auckland’s wide and diverse range of restaurants for dinner. Whilst in Auckland you will also enjoy a trip to the Waitakere Ranges, going on a short hike into the lush rain forest. Afterwards you’ll continue on to the wide, black sand beaches of the West Coast, with dramatic coastal views en-route. Depending on the time of year, a trip to watch one of the Auckland rugby teams can be organised.
Info: Hotel Rendezvous & Auckland
The hotel combines smart design, elegant décor and modern technology to suit your needs, with lots of natural light, comfortable and luxury to ensure a comfortable stay. An indoor swimming pool, gym, rooftop pool terrace and a large outdoor sun terrace, as well as a choice of excellent restaurants in the hotel and in the local area.
Auckland’s location is almost idyllic, being surrounded by the sea, lakes, wonderful beaches, volcanoes, rainforest and pristine national parks. Being the largest metropolitan area in the country means that Auckland is modern, vibrant and is full of things to do and see. Head down to Queen Street for shopping and fine-dining, visit the iconic Sky Tower or stop for a drink in one of Viaduct Harbour’s chic bars. The nearest beach, Mission Bay, is only 15 minutes from the centre and has a lovely beach-side promenade.
Day 3 & 4: Seaspray Apartments, Paihia, North Island
Whenever you are ready, you will collect your rental car and drive north to Paihia in the Bay of Islands, stopping at Puhoi for lunch. You will stay in Seaspray Apartments in town for 2 nights and will be able to pass the two days in Paihia at leisure.
The Bay of Islands is where the Colonial history of New Zealand began with the Treaty of Waitangi, which is seen as the founding document of New Zealand. The area is extremely beautiful and is excellent for fishing, as well as for seeing dolphins. The ancient village of Russell, reached by a short ferry ride, is also worth a visit. Because of how far north it is, it also has the best climate in New Zealand! A trip to 35 Degrees South for dinner is also recommended.
Day 5: Le Grand Hotel, Hamilton, North Island
After breakfast, you will leave Paihia and drive to Hamilton, where you will stay in the palatial, Victorian inspired Le Grand Hotel for 1 night.
Hamilton is a lovely, cosmopolitan city set on the banks of the Waikato River, the longest in New Zealand. You can wander along the riverbank, have dinner at one of the city’s excellent restaurants, visit Waikato Museum, Hamilton Gardens or just relax at the hotel after a long day.
Day 6 & 7: Hotel Rydges, Rotorua, North Island
After breakfast you can pick up your rental car and drive to Rotorua via the Waitomo Caves, which consist of a series of elaborate cave formations and underground rivers, also being a sacred Maori site. On arrival in Rotorua, you will check into your accommodation, Novotel Lakeside.
Over the next few days you will experience a traditional Māori dinner and dance show, a tour of the city including a visit to the Te Puia complex for a guided tour of the Maori Arts and Crafts Centre and a trip to the Thermal Valley, an area of high volcanic activity, where you will see pools of bubbling mud, spouting geysers, silica terraces and steam pouring out of vents at your feet. You can also visit Rainbow Springs for a guided tour of the native flora and fauna on display, including 135 different native trees, the Tuatara reptile and a wide variety of New Zealand’s native birds, such as the kiwi and harrier hawk.
Info: Hotel Rydges & Rotorua
Rydges Rotorua boasts panoramic views over Arawa Racecourse and the city, being superbly located close to Rotorua’s famous attractions and activities. Also the award-winning Atrium Restaurant has a choice of excellent modern and traditional dishes, with the Mezz Bar next door ideal for a quiet drink. A thermally-heated roof top swimming, plunge pool and gym are also available at the hotel.
Rotorua is a beautiful city set on the edge of an ancient, water-filled caldera. The city advertises itsels an adventure playground with a plethora of activities to enjoy, such as mountain-biking, fishing, golf, hiking trails and some fascinating galleries and museums. It is also surrounded by some very unique natural areas, such as the volcanic Thermal Valley and acres or cloud forest. There is also an agricultural theme park, called Agrodome, and an excellent wildlife park at Valley Springs.
Day 8 & 9: Navigate Hotel, Napier, North Island
In the morning you will drive on to Taupo, with a stop for coffee by Lake Taupo, which is famous for its sky-diving and adventure sports. Continue after lunch towards Napier, where you will check-in to your accommodation for 2 nights, Navigate Hotel.
The next day you can enjoy a wine-tasting tour by bicycle, visiting up to nine vineyards in the area, all with outdoor terraces to relax on with your choice of wine. The rest of the day can be spent at leisure, returning to the hotel to relax or visiting on of the nearby beaches or golf courses.
Day 10 & 11: Holiday Inn, Wellington, North Island
After breakfast, you will depart for Wellington, where you will check-in to your accommodation, Holiday Inn.
Spend the next two days at leisure, visiting one of Wellington’s excellent wildlife reserves, the parliament buildings, numerous shopping centres and Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum.
Wellington is the southern-most capital city in the world and was recently rated by Lonely Planet as one of the top cities to visit in the world. As a capital, and a large, city, there are numerous world-class restaurants, theatres, shops, parks and other attractions to visit around the city. In particular the parliament buildings and Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, are worth a visit.The Karori Sanctuary, a unique, protected natural area that is home to some of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered wildlife, is a great day trip. A Seal Coast Safari to visit and walk around a colony of fur seals is another excellent tourist attraction. Kapiti Island is another internationally-famed nature reserve not far from the city which has some stunning views and diverse wildlife.
Day 12 & 13: Warwick House, Nelson, South Island
Today you will take the early ferry to Picton (3hrs), which gives you spectacular views of the South Island fjords, leaving your hire car at the harbour and collecting another on arrival in Picton. The crossing is 3 hours, very comfortable in a large ship. After lunch in this picturesque town you will drive on to Warwick House, in Nelson, a boutique hotel that dates back to the 1850s and which offers a very good breakfast.
The mountains around Nelson are famed for the adventure sports on offer there, such as caving, hiking, white-water rafting and kayaking. The city itself has some lovely arts and crafts shops and markets, as well as interesting micro-breweries and restaurants.
Day 14 & 15: Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef, South Island
After breakfast you will drive to Rainforest Retreat, near the Franz Josef Glacier, stopping at Greymouth for lunch. Stay two nights Rain Forest Lodge. Be sure to see the glaciers on the slopes of Mt Cook, NZ’s highest mountain
Over the next 2 days at the lodge you can take a guided tour of the immense glacier, which is on the slopes of Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. From the lodge you can immerse yourself in nature, enjoying a horse-riding, kayaking or even sky-diving.
Info: Rainforest Retreat & Franz Josef
The glacier is located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, which contains numerous fjords, an awe-inspiring mountain range and lovely alpine blue lakes. The area boasts some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, with nature at its most awe-inspiring and beautiful. Whilst in Fox Glacier, a trip to Lake Matheson is strongly recommended. The lake is about a 5-minute drive from Fox Glacier and the viewing platform is about an hours walk around the lake from the car park. If the weather is clear, the sunset views of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman reflected in the mirror-flat lake are incredible.
Day 16 & 17: Clarion Suites, Queenstown, South Island
This morning you will enjoy a scenic drive to Queenstown, stopping off at Lake Matheson en-route, a mirror lake with exceptional views of Mt Cook. Afterwards you will carry on to Clarion Suites, in Queenstown, where you will spend 2 nights.
On your second day you will be transferred to Milford Sound, with amazing views of the coast, lakes, mountains and forests en-route. On arrival at Milford Sound you will board a cruise boat to tour the sound, allowing you to admire one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The afternoon will be free to be spent at leisure.
Queenstown is a sophisticated cosmopolitan town tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, lying beneath snow-capped mountains. Its main attraction is the surrounding areas outstanding natural beauty and the activities that can be enjoyed there, from kayaking to paragliding. For those looking to relax, there are also some lovely wineries and spas around town. There is also the option of flying over the fjords, offering breath-taking views of the mountains. We can also organise a tour through the ancient forests of the Mount Aspiring National Park to Chinaman’s Bluff, with an exhilarating jet-boat ride up the Dart River.
18 & 19: Bella Vista, Te Anau, South Island
After breakfast, you will drive to Te Anau and stay two nights at Bella Vista, stopping off to view The Chasm, a waterfall reached by a short walk through virgin forest reminiscent of Cornwall.
Te Anau is a small town that is the gateway to the Fjordland National Park, which is full of magnificent fjords and crystal clear lakes. Also recommended is a trip to Milford Sound, with amazing views of the coast, lakes, mountains and forests along the route. We can also pre-arrange bookings on one of the sound’s cruise boats, which allows you to relax and enjoy one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Lunch is provided on the boat, with all the food locally produced.
Day 20: Lisburn House, Dunedin, South Island
Today you will drive across the Southland to Dunedin, where you will stay at Lisburn House for 1 night.
Dunedin is seen as a “Scottish city” and is reminiscent of Edinburgh. If you get there by the afternoon, the city centre is worth a wander around and the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum provides a detailed history of New Zealand and its settlers. We would recommend having dinner in the city centre by the Octagon.
Day 21 & 22: Heritage Christchurch, Christchurch, South Island
After breakfast you will drive to Christchurch, where you will check into your accommodation for 1 night, Heritage Christchurch, with an orientation tour of the city included in the afternoon. You will also stop at the International Antarctic Centre, effectively an interactive science park, where you can experience simulated Antarctic temperatures and see penguins up close in their enclosure within the centre.
On your second day in Christchurch you will have the day at leisure until it is time to drive to the airport, drop off your hire car and check-in for your return flight home.
After the devastating earthquake in 2011, Christchurch has mostly recovered, with tourism back in full-swing and most tourist attractions rebuilt or renovated. Whilst in the city you can visit Cathedral Square, the Town Hall, River Avon, Hagley Park and many landscaped parks and suburbs within the city. Also worth a visit is the ‘Sign of the Takahe’, an old stone roadhouse overlooking Christchurch with magnificent panoramic views of the Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains.