|Days 1 - 2|
THE NORTH ISLAND: AUCKLAND / COROMANDEL PENINSULAUpon arrival in Auckland, proceed south to the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel Peninsula is a favorite holiday destination for New Zealanders and foreigners alike, with its fabulous golden and white sand beaches, magnificent coastal scenery, and a rugged, forest cloaked interior just waiting to be explored. Dramatic landmarks and a unique thermal beach with hot water bubbling up from deep within the earth are just some of the many surprises that await you on this coastline of contrasts and mesmerizing beauty.
COROMANDEL PENINSULA / ROTORUA / LAKE TAUPOAfter breakfast this morning, drive to Rotorua, located in the center of New Zealand's volcanic belt. Despite the strong smell of rotten eggs, Rotorua is probably the most popular tourist area on the North Island. Sometimes referred to as 'Sulphur City'. Rotorua is home to the most energetic thermal activity in the country. Visit Whakarewarewa, or Whaka for short, which is Rotorua's largest and most active thermal zone, as well as a center for Maori culture. There are bubbling pools of boiling mud, brightly colored sulphur springs and Pohutu, an active geyser which usually erupts at least once an hour. You can also visit the Orchid Gardens, which house an extensive collection of orchids that bloom throughout the year, or take a dip in the medicinal waters of the thermal springs at the Polynesian Pools.
After you've had enough of the bubbling pools of mud and fascinating geothermal activity, continue on southward to Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is one of New Zealand's finest recreational playgrounds and is reputed as being one of the best trout fishing areas in the world. The sweeping landscapes and exotic geothermal areas provide a wealth of unique activities that capture the imagination of all who come here.
|Days 4 - 5|
TAUPO / NAPIERDrive to Napier. Blessed with a Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches, interesting architecture and world renowned wines, Napier is a fascinating place. Destroyed in 1931 by a disastrous earthquake, Napier has been rebuilt and is now one of the world's best examples of an Art Deco city. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930's - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century. Napier's Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.
NAPIER / WELLINGTONDrive to Wellington, the cultural and political capital of New Zealand. Its compact city center supports an arts scene, café culture and nightlife much larger than most cities of a similar size. The Te Papa museum houses a fantastic display of the natural and cultural history of New Zealand, including some rare and intriguing Maori artifacts.
|Days 7 - 8|
SOUTH ISLAND: PICTON / MARAHAU / ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARKDepart Wellington on the ferry to Picton on the South Island. Upon arrival, drive to Marahau where you board your ferry to the Abel Tasman National Park. Explore the famous Abel Tasman Coastal Track - the most beautiful of all New Zealand's 'Great Walks'. Every journey is unique, from paddling the coastline by sea kayak to walking through native forests and across vast coastal inlets to secluded bays of golden sands and turquoise waters.
|Days 9 - 10|
ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK / BLENHEIMDepart Awaroa on the ferry to Marahau. Drive to Blenheim which is situated on the fertile Wairau Plains in the Marlborough district, at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. Marlborough's varied attractions include its wine industry, the waterways of the Marlborough Sounds, gourmet foods, adventure activities, relaxing recreation opportunities, and so much more. Blenheim is dubbed the sunniest town in New Zealand and regularly tops the sunshine stakes with an estimated average of 2,438 hours of sunshine every year.
BLENHEIM / CHRISTCHURCHDrive to Christchurch (Note: you will pass Kaikoura, a small seaside town with a seal colony and spectacular whale watching. It is worth the stop if you are interested). Located on the east coast of the South Island, Christchurch - just like the rest of New Zealand - is a city of contrasts. It is a place where its residents continue to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle amidst a natural environment world-renowned for its beauty. A growing cosmopolitan ambience also adds a touch of excitement without overt flashiness. Everywhere there is an understated elegance that speaks of times gone by and promises a future where anything is possible. Maori oral history suggests that people first inhabited the Canterbury area about a thousand years ago. The first inhabitants were moa-hunting tribes, who were followed by the Waitaha, a Maori tribe thought to have migrated from the east coast of the North Island in the 16th century. This migration was followed by other tribes, including the Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu, and continued until about 1830 when Europeans began arriving by the boat load. Christchurch and Canterbury are famous for natural beauty and a wealth of activities. Christchurch has a lively entertainment scene, strong cultural heritage, gorgeous parks and gardens, a lot of sports facilities and good shopping. Among the 'must sees' are the weekend Arts Centre market, Christchurch Cathedral, Botanic Gardens and International Antarctic Centre.
|Days 12 - 13|
CHRISTCHURCH / FRANZ JOSEF GLACIERDepart Christchurch for the spectacular drive to the Franz Josef Glacier, the steepest and fastest moving glacier in all of New Zealand. While many glaciers world-wide have been retreating, the Franz Josef Glacier still flows almost to sea level, through a temperate rain forest of ancient podocarp trees and other evergreen species. This combination of ice and temperate rainforest is a unique feature of New Zealand's glacier country, and is an ecosystem found nowhere else in the world. From scenic flights to heli-hikes, eco-tours and a range of water sport activities, this area is buzzing with adventure activities throughout the year.
|Days 14 - 15|
FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER / WANAKA / QUEENSTOWNDrive to Wanaka, where you stop for lunch at one of the many charming restaurants in this quaint little lakeside town. You can rent a sea kayak and explore the lake for an hour or two before you continue on your way to Queenstown. Justifiably regarded as New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown's four distinctive seasons feature long summer twilights and brilliant autumn colors, and provide some of the world's best skiing and snowboarding conditions in winter and early spring. Queenstown also has many activities for visitors that are looking for a relaxing holiday in one of the world's most beautiful places. A sightseeing tour around scenic Queenstown, whether by coach, boat, plane or helicopter, is a must. Central Otago is New Zealand's fastest growing wine region, and many of the region's wineries are only a short drive from Queenstown. There are also a number of walking paths providing the opportunity for short to long hikes.
QUEENSTOWN / MANAPOURI / DOUBTFUL SOUND CRUISEDepart Queenstown for Manapouri, the launch point for your overnight cruise to the magnificent Doubtful Sound. You will have plenty of time to enjoy the stunning views and to discover the hidden arms of Doubtful Sound. Fur seals and bottle-nose dolphins are often seen and at times, rare penguins can be observed. There is also time for you to kayak around the shoreline or go exploring in the tender craft with an experienced and knowledgeable nature guide.
DOUBTFUL SOUND / MANAPOURI / TE ANAUWhen the cruise boat docks and you are returned to Manapouri, drive to your lodge on lake Te Anau. The waters of Lake Te Anau are filled with rainbow and brown trout, and the lodge has a resident fishing guide to take you to the best spots. Escorted golf tours, horse riding, sea or lake kayaking, hiking, nature walks, alpine flower tours, bird watching, and a visit to the nearby glow worm caves are only a few examples of what is available to you.
|Days 18 - 19|
TE ANAU / DUNEDINDepart for Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the South. Originally founded on the picks, harpoons and hard toil of gold miners, whalers and early Scottish settlers nearly 150 years ago, much of Dunedin's early wealth and enterprise have left a tangible mark on today's city. Today you will find New Zealand's first university, a European style city center, beautiful beaches with New Zealand's best surfing, and a scenic harbor surrounded by lush, green, rolling hills filled with the iconic New Zealand lamb. Be sure to visit the famous Octagon in the city's center and wander around the university to see some of the extraordinary architecture. Visit the Royal Albatross colony at the tip of the Otago peninsula to see these huge sea birds of mythology soar above the rugged cliffs. With a little luck, you may also spot the yellow-eyed penguin that frequents this area as well. On your way back from the tip of the peninsula, stop by the Larnach Castle, the grand home of an early politician. Construction of the castle began in 1871 and was completed 12 years later. Larnach Castle and its historic-style garden offer views out to sea and back towards the city that emphasize the singular beauty of Dunedin and its jewel-like harbor. You can also visit the Speights Brewery, which is a fascinating journey through the art of brewing from the Babylonians in 6000 BC to the modern day brewing that operates today. This great tour ends with a tasting session at the brewery bar.
DUNEDIN / RETURN HOMEDrive to the Dunedin airport, drop off your rental car, and begin your journey home.
NOTE:This is just one example of many custom itineraries we can do for you in this diverse country. For additional itinerary options, please contact us