Call us FREE on 1855 979 6662
Login
|

Customise this tour suggestion today

Enquire now

21 Day Northbound Encounter 

21 days from Christchurch to Auckland

Visiting the highlights of New Zealand as well as a few hidden gems, this tour includes a great range of activities.  You’ll enjoy wildlife tours, scenic flights, glacier adventures, overnight cruises and so much more.  In the evenings you’ll relax at our favourite boutique lodges where your hosts will make you feel right at home.

Tour map
from pp
Change currency
Get Prices Enquire Now
 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 21 days/20 nights from Christchurch to Auckland
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Boutique lodges & hotels (Can be customised? YES )
 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible
 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers
 Tour pack: Includes detailed driving instructions, maps, guide books and much more
 This tour can be customised to suit you precisely - just request here
from pp
(twin share, low season)
Change currency
View Full Itinerary Get Prices Shortlist Tour Enquire Now
Tour map
Wanaka, New Zealand
Haast Pass, New Zealand
 

21 Day Northbound Encounter - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch City
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Day 2: Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 3: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 4: Join Monarch Wildlife Cruises for an amazing encounter with the marine wildlife of the Otago Peninsula
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Day 5: Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 6: Its a short drive to Manapouri where you'll depart for your Doubtful Sound overnight cruise
Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

Day 7: Return to land, then travel to Queenstown and tonight cruise to Walter Peak High Country Station for dinner
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 166 kms / 103 miles : 2.0 hours

Day 8: Journey into the remarkable Mt Aspiring National Park on board the Dart River Jetboat
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Day 9: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 10: Experience the Glacier up close and personal during your amazing helihike
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Day 11: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 12: Drive to Kaikoura via coastal road to stay overnight in this seaside town
Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 13: Drive to Picton. Departing the South Island you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds before crossing the Cook Strait to Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 137 kms / 85 miles : 2.0 hours

Day 14: Journey over the Rimutaka Ranges, then up through the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay wine regions
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 15: Explore Napier and Hawkes Bay, this evening sample the food and wine of top winery restaurants
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Day 16: Leave the coast behind and head inland to Lake Taupo and then onto the cultural heartland of Rotorua
Accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 211 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 17: View the remarkable features of Rotorua Lakes by air, before landing in Orakei Korako Hidden Valley. This afternoon drive to Auckland the 'City of Sails'
Accommodation: Eden Villa
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 18: Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 226 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 19: Cruise the Bay of Islands, then you have the rest of the day to relax or explore
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Day 20: Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast
Accommodation: Eden Villa
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 343 kms / 213 miles : 4.4 hours

Day 21: Depart Auckland today

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

 xxx
21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 1

Day 1 - Arrive into Christchurch City

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Christchurch City

Known as New Zealand's garden city, Christchurch is a vibrant metro area. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. Take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights, or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

Your accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.
Orari Bed and Breakfast

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 2

Day 2 - Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country

Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick.  To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Drive through the heart of the South Island today, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Stop for a breather in Geraldine before continuing into Mackenzie Country. As you head over Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.

Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, renowned for its incredible turquoise hue. Skirt the lake edge to arrive at your final destination Mt Cook Village.

 

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

The Hermitage Hotel ringed by magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, is a world-renowned tourist destination and has been an icon of superior accommodation and dining since 1884.

Meals included: Breakfast

Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 3

Day 3 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Today you'll leave Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama - gliding capital of New Zealand - but be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a great local cafe also offering sheep shearing demonstrations. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. If you were a little late off the mark this morning you may get the chance to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.

Continue south down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature well worth a look. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre - The Octagon.

Your accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Located just a few minutes walk from the hub of the city, Fletcher Lodge offers the charm and personal attention of a bed and breakfast whilst extending the amenities associated with full service luxury Hotels. Nestled in a secluded, established garden the lodge is conveniently located within minutes of many of the city's finest and most popular cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast

Fletcher Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 4

Day 4 - Join Monarch Wildlife Cruises for an amazing encounter with the marine wildlife of the Otago Peninsula

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour and the wading bird wetlands.

Your accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Located just a few minutes walk from the hub of the city, Fletcher Lodge offers the charm and personal attention of a bed and breakfast whilst extending the amenities associated with full service luxury Hotels. Nestled in a secluded, established garden the lodge is conveniently located within minutes of many of the city's finest and most popular cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast

Fletcher Lodge

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 5

Day 5 - Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland

Dunedin to Te Anau

Go through classic Southland farming scenery as you make your way to Te-Anau. Follow the coastline instead of the inland route for a more scenic drive. Pass the The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point for a spectacular view of majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Bypass Invercargill en-route to Riverton and Colac Bay, then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.
You'll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

Your accommodation: Te Anau Lodge

Te Anau Lodge began its existence as a Catholic convent in 1936 before being converted into a wonderful lodge. A beautiful Rimu wood interior awaits you and each of the 7 rooms house furniture made from stunning native woods.

Meals included: Breakfast

Te Anau Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 6

Day 6 - Its a short drive to Manapouri where you'll depart for your Doubtful Sound overnight cruise

Te Anau to Manapouri

Head along lake Te Anau through lush southern farmlands to the township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Take in the tranquility of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise. Beginning in Manapouri with a short boat ride across the lake, you'll be taken by coach over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. Board the Fiordland Navigator, a purpose-built vessel designed like a traditional coastal trading scow. Be accommodated in a private cabin with an ensuite bathroom or a quad-share bunk room with shared bathroom facilities. The Navigator has a large spacious deck for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as a dining saloon, bar and observation lounge. As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you'll be provided a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you're lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you're really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck. Following hearty cooked breakfast the next morning you will spend your remaining time exploring other parts of the fiord before returning to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

The Fiordland Navigator is purpose built for cruising in the fiords. The vessel offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining saloon and observation lounge.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 7

Day 7 - Return to land, then travel to Queenstown and tonight cruise to Walter Peak High Country Station for dinner

Manapouri to Queenstown

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussocklands, pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through lush Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over your approach to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Hop aboard the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw for an iconic Queenstown experience. Take in the local scenery as you cruise Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station, a working sheep farm. On your arrival at Walter Peak you'll stroll through its stunning lakeside gardens to the homestead for a gourmet barbeque dinner. Watch your chef prepare your meal from a delicious seasonal menu and choose from a tempting selection of New Zealand meat and local produce. Complete your meal with an indulgent dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea & coffee. Following dinner enjoy an entertaining demonstration of life on a high country farm. The return cruise offers a chance to enjoy a singalong with the ship’s pianist or simply breathe in the crisp night air on the moonlit decks as the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

The Dairy is a small private luxury hotel providing exquisite bed and breakfast accommodation. Just 1 minutes walk from Queenstown Centre it also features a large lounge and open fire, outdoor spa and a bar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

The Dairy Private Hotel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 166 kms / 103 miles : 2.0 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 8

Day 8 - Journey into the remarkable Mt Aspiring National Park on board the Dart River Jetboat

Dart River Wilderness Jet

An hour and a half of thrilling high-speed wilderness jet boating skimming across the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Hear about flora, fauna and history on a 30-minute rolling forest walk with your friendly guide. On a backroad tour of Paradise immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Learn about the Pounamu (Greenstone) that made the Dart River a key trading route for early Māori. Tales of early settlers who carved rich farms from the rugged landscape.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

The Dairy is a small private luxury hotel providing exquisite bed and breakfast accommodation. Just 1 minutes walk from Queenstown Centre it also features a large lounge and open fire, outdoor spa and a bar.

Meals included: Breakfast

The Dairy Private Hotel

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 9

Day 9 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Leaving Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - and pass through Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring national park. Following the shoreline of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you'll come to the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools, a ten minute walk through native beech forest to an icy glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Westwood Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 10

Day 10 - Experience the Glacier up close and personal during your amazing helihike

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Fly over the Franz Josef glacier and see all three of its icefalls with the Helicopter Line and Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Landing high up on its face, take a two hour guided walk through towering pinnacles, and brilliant blue ice formations. See panoramic views of the glacier and surrounding mountains as you learn more about how this huge river of ice was formed. Relax and enjoy the moment as your guide leads you into spectacular terrain usually only seen by experienced mountaineers.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquility. Unwind in one of the three main pools. Temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees and the water comes directly from a glacial stream. Wash off the day and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Westwood Lodge

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 11

Day 11 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Your drive today takes you north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. This seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s and is known for its Greenstone (Pounamu). Take in the endless sea-views from the coast and pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops before moving on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour

From humble origins in 1868, the Monteith's family-owned Phoenix Brewery became the West Coast's most popular brewery for its strong tasting, full-bodied ale. The Phoenix Brewery later merged with a group of small breweries to form Westland Brewing Company, predecessor to today's Monteith's Brewing Company. In this informative brewery experience, you will learn about the heritage and traditions of the brewing business. Witness the making of a fine beer in open fermenters by coal-fired boilers, using only the finest ingredients. Watch the brewers carefully hand craft the beer in small batches to develop the full natural flavours. When each batch is ready, the brewers employ a brilliant time honoured tradition for quality control - they taste it.

On completion, you will receive a tasting a 3 beers of your choice from the tap at the Brewery bar, plus your very own personalised Monteith's 500ml bottle with your name on it - a personalised endorsement from the head brewer himself.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Crossing the south from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine is considered one of the worlds greatest train journeys. You'll travel from east to the west of the south island through Arthur's Pass National Park.

From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

On arrival into the Christchurch train station you will be met by a private transfer driver and taken to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 12

Day 12 - Drive to Kaikoura via coastal road to stay overnight in this seaside town

Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick.  To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.

Christchurch to Kaikoura

The drive north from Christchurch to Kaikoura takes you through the rolling hills of North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. Allow time for a detour and visit Hanmer Springs for a dip in the mineral hot pools. Continue on and cross the Hawkswood Range before descending to the spectacular Kaikoura coastline - where the road hugs the ocean for the last leg of the drive.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura

New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company, Whale Watch Kaikoura offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime up close encounter with the giant sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, is sometimes seen.
You'll be taken out in modern catamarans specifically designed for whale watching - featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Your accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses

Hapuku Lodge was built to give guests a great night's sleep in one the most beautiful places in the world. The Lodge sits tight between the mountains and the ocean, on a deer stud and olive farm.

Meals included: Breakfast

Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 13

Day 13 - Drive to Picton. Departing the South Island you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds before crossing the Cook Strait to Wellington

Kaikoura to Picton

Leaving Kaikoura today you'll follow the coast to the top of the North Island. Take in the spectacular shoreline and make time to stop and view adult fur seals basking on the rocks at Ohau point. As you continue on you'll have the ocean on one side and the Kaikoura ranges on the other, before traversing the dry hillls of Marlborough, New Zealands largest wine producing region. Stop in at one of Blenheim's vineyards for a taste of the local produce before beggining the final leg of your journey to Picton.

Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington

Described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world,' the 92 km journey between Picton and Wellington takes around 3 hours. The first hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds before heading out into open waters. This region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. Once out on the Cook Strait, amazing views of the Kaikoura Ranges can be seen, often accompanied by dolphins and sea birds. After crossing the strait you approach the Wellington Harbour, passing many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head, location of New Zealand's oldest lighthouse, Red Rocks, home to a large seal colony and Oterangi Bay  - the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick.  To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.

Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

The Bolton Hotel is a contemporary apartment hotel in the heart of Wellington's CBD. This hotel has 142 guest rooms and suites are furnished in a contemporary style and feature Sky Digital television, movies on demand, high-speed Internet (including WiFi), a personal bar, and air-conditioning.

Meals included: Breakfast

Bolton Hotel Wellington

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 137 kms / 85 miles : 2.0 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 14

Day 14 - Journey over the Rimutaka Ranges, then up through the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay wine regions

Wellington to Napier

Today you'll leave the city lights behind as you continue north to Napier. Drive through the Wairarapa, home to the rich pastures and boutique vineyards of Martinborough, then pass through Greytown - a small victorian settlement with the largest number of wooden buildings in the country. Stop in Masterton, the service capital of the area, known for its Golden Shears competition. Continue on through the grape growing region of Hawkes Bay and Havelock North before arriving in Napier, the art deco capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

This beautifully restored, single storey 1890's residence is nestled in a quiet cul de sac on Napier Hill, a great location from which to explore the Art Deco city. A 5 star boutique Bed & Breakfast experience with unparalleled facilities and luxurious rooms.

Meals included: Breakfast

McHardy Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 15

Day 15 - Explore Napier and Hawkes Bay, this evening sample the food and wine of top winery restaurants

Napier City

Napier, the city by the sea, is renowned for its 1930s Art Deco architecture, events such as the Art Deco Weekend in February, stately Norfolk pines, surrounding wineries and local fresh produce. Supported by a Mediterranean climate and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year this popular year-round destination boasts a vibrant cafe culture amongst the splendour of the Art Deco buildings.
Around 30 cafes are within walking distance of the central city area, while Ahuriri, just over Bluff Hill, is home to a further cluster of up market establishments. Marine Parade overlooks the Pacific Ocean and out towards Cape Kidnappers, home to the world's largest mainland gannet colony. A full day can be taken visiting Ocean Spa hot pools and swimming complex, the Hawke's Bay Museum and the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
A landmark of Napier is Bluff Hill, which is home for many Napier residents and provides views of the town,  beaches of Perfume Point and Westshore and out towards Whirinaki. Bluff Hill also overlooks the Port of Napier, one of New Zealand's busiest ports, transporting timber, local fruit and meat products to worldwide destinations.
In 1931, New Zealand's greatest natural disaster struck Hawke's Bay. At 10.47am on Tuesday February 3rd, an earthquake of magnitude Richter 7.8 struck. In a minute and a half, in two separate shocks, the centre of Napier was almost totally destroyed. Fires quickly broke out and reduced to ashes or gutted what the tremors had left standing. Damage in Hastings was also devastating, although the fires were contained. Wairoa and the smaller towns to the south as far as Dannevirke were affected. There were 258 deaths - 162 in Napier, 93 in Hastings and 3 in Wairoa along with many injuries. The reconstruction of Napier and Hastings were costly but the benefit was two modern cities and the Ahuriri Lagoon, or Inner Harbour as it was usually known, was raised over 2 metres, creating the land, which Napier desperately needed to expand.

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate, touted as the the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. End on a high with another ride, this time in comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Gannet Safaris

Drive along the scenic coast from Napier to Te Awanga and join Gannet Safaris Overland and the world's largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Gannet Safaris has been guiding visitors over Cape Kidnappers for over 35 years and their safaris are the only way to be driven right to within a few feet of these remarkable birds. You will travel in comfort in air conditioned 4 x 4 wheeled vehicles, through Cape Kidnappers Station - traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, through stands of native bush, steep gullies and breath-taking inclines. There is a stop on the way at a spectacular cliff top with panoramic views of Hawke Bay right across to Mahia peninsular. The 36km, three hour trip includes a commentary by your tour guide / driver on the farming operation on Cape Kidnappers Station and an introduction to the gannets. On arrival at the gannets you can stretch your legs and take in the scenery from your position at the brink of the cliffs edge - 100 metres above the ocean!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

The Grape Escape Half day wine tour visits some of the Hawke's Bay's famous wineries and is designed for casual imbibers and wine aficionados. Meet like - minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantastic wines. Taste great wines made with passion and learn of the areas unique growing conditions. Take home great tasting wines and memories. Visit 4 - 5 local wineries and taste Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and much more. Also try some of New Zealand's finest cheeses matched with wine. Walk amongst the vines and learn about Terroir.

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Take a scenic drive through the vineyards as you learn about the region and its wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at Vidal. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sea level (overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities in winter).

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

This beautifully restored, single storey 1890's residence is nestled in a quiet cul de sac on Napier Hill, a great location from which to explore the Art Deco city. A 5 star boutique Bed & Breakfast experience with unparalleled facilities and luxurious rooms.

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

McHardy Lodge

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 16

Day 16 - Leave the coast behind and head inland to Lake Taupo and then onto the cultural heartland of Rotorua

Napier to Rotorua

Today head inland to the geothermal region of Rotorua. Crossing the Ahiminawa Ranges you'll come to the town of Taupo, which sits on New Zealands largest lake - Lake Taupo. A little further north lies Huka Falls, an impressive body of water draining from the Waikato river. View this force of nature from the woden platform or get up close to the spray on the Huka Jet. Visit nearby volcanic reserve Craters of the Moon to see boiling pools and steaming vents then continue on through the Waimungu Valley to arrive in Rotorua, the heart of New Zealands Maori culture.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. Come face to face with, and learn more about, New Zealand’s precious wildlife. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.
Go behind the scenes with New Zealand's national animal at the purpose built Kiwi Conservation Centre - created solely to try and stop the extinction of this unique species. Here you will gain first hand insight into the conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of kiwi eggs being hatched and returned to the wild.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.

Your accommodation: Black Swan Boutique Lodge

Black Swan Boutique Lodge combines old world charm with a modern funky twist. Set in one acre of outstanding gardens on the edge of Lake Rotorua, the lodge is an intimate retreat just a short drive from the centre of Rotorua.

Meals included: Breakfast

Black Swan Boutique Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 211 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 17

Day 17 - View the remarkable features of Rotorua Lakes by air, before landing in Orakei Korako Hidden Valley. This afternoon drive to Auckland the 'City of Sails'

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

On this spectacular scenic flight you'll take a floatplane over the Crater Lakes District and the volcanic rift of Mt Tarawera. You'll then continue south via the Waimangu and Waiotapu Thermal Park to land in the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako. Transfer by boat across the lake to explore the hot springs, gushing geysers and natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland before rejoining your aircraft for the return trip to Rotorua.

Rotorua to Auckland

Today you will make your way to Auckland through the heart of the Waikato and its rich dairy pastures. Follow the Waikato river through the small artsy settlement of Tirau and the township of Cambridge. Continue on a little further to arrive into Auckland City, your destination for the night.

Your accommodation: Eden Villa

Eden Villa is an historic villa located in a quiet street in Mt Eden, just a short drive from downtown Auckland. Nearby Mt Eden Village, offers a great selection of cafes and restaurants. Guests at Eden Villa can feel at home whether relaxing in the spacious garden or sitting by the fire in winter. All rooms are beautifully appointed with modern en suite bathrooms.

Meals included: Breakfast

Eden Villa

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 18

Day 18 - Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands

Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

The trip from Auckland to the Bay Of Islands takes around 3.5 hours but give yourself some leeway for stops and sightseeing. As you go through Puhoi, take in the bohemian atmosphere of this historical township. Stop for a breath of fresh salty air in Whangarei and take another break at Kawakawa - home to the world famous Hundertwasser toilets. Enjoy the native bush surrounds and marvel at the endless golden beaches as you arrive into central Bay Of The Islands, Paihia.

Your accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Arcadia Lodge is a Russell landmark, a turn of the century home and luxury bed and breakfast overlooking Russell's tranquil Matauwhi Bay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 226 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 19

Day 19 - Cruise the Bay of Islands, then you have the rest of the day to relax or explore

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights

Take a glimpse into New Zealand's earliest European history as your luxury catamaran passes by the township of Russell (Kororareka) and many of the historic and culturally significant islands in the Bay, before heading out into open sea. Enjoy the views as you cruise past the Cape Brett Lighthouse, before arriving at the stunning Motukokako Island, home of the majestic Hole in the Rock. As we venture into the dramatic Hole in the Rock (conditions permitting) hold your breath as the skipper navigates through the narrow space and admire the rock walls which soar above you. Watch out for water drops if you are seated on the top deck! Take in the Grand Cathedral Cave before heading back into the sheltered waters of the Bay. Keep an eye out for bottlenose and common dolphins along the way.

Explore the Bay of Islands

Made up of over 140 subtropical atolls, New Zealand's Bay of Islands is renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate. Commonly known as the 'Winterless North' this tropical paradise is the ideal holiday destination. Spend some time on a remote stretch of beach, or cool off during a ‘swim with dolphins’ ocean safari. If diving is your thing, take the morning to descend the Rainbow Warrior - The Greenpeace flagship sunk by French saboteurs in 1985. Wander around Russell, a whaling port founded in 1843. Learn about our culture in historic Waitangi, the site where The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Maori and European settlers dictating the terms by which New Zealand would become a British colony. Finally, before you leave take a travel day to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance

Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most historic sites where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the local Maori and the British Government. This two day pass allows you access to the Treaty of Waitangi Grounds and includes admission to the Museum of Waitangi, a guided tour and a Maori Cultural performance. During your guided tour, you'll learn about the history of the treaty and discover the stories and events that shaped New Zealand. The cultural performance inside the carved meeting house includes waiata (singing), poi, a display of Maori weaponry and the haka - a war dance New Zealand is known for.

Your accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Arcadia Lodge is a Russell landmark, a turn of the century home and luxury bed and breakfast overlooking Russell's tranquil Matauwhi Bay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Back to top

21 Day Northbound Encounter - Day 20

Day 20 - Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast

Bay of Islands via Waipoua Forest to Auckland

Today you will leave the Bay of Islands for a scenic return trip to Auckland. Head west, leaving the Pacific Ocean for the wilder seas of the Tasman and Hokianga. Go through the small townships of Omapere and Opononi, each with a great seaside feel.

Your route now goes south through Waipoua Forest, home to the largest and oldest Kauri trees in the country. Make sure you allow time for several of the signposted short walks as you pass - not to be missed is the five minute loop to view the largest of all the trees -Tane Mahuta.

As you make your way back down the country you’ll pass the Matakohe Kauri Museum with extensive displays on the region’s logging, farming and social history. Continuing on, go through Warkworth and the bohemian settlement of Puhoi before crossing the harbour bridge to arrive in Auckland city.

Your accommodation: Eden Villa

Eden Villa is an historic villa located in a quiet street in Mt Eden, just a short drive from downtown Auckland. Nearby Mt Eden Village, offers a great selection of cafes and restaurants. Guests at Eden Villa can feel at home whether relaxing in the spacious garden or sitting by the fire in winter. All rooms are beautifully appointed with modern en suite bathrooms.

Meals included: Breakfast

Eden Villa

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 343 kms / 213 miles : 4.4 hours

Back to top

Day 21 - Depart Auckland today

Depart Auckland today

Explore more of vibrant Auckland city before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

Back to top

Suggested similar tours

- Northbound Explorer Christchurch to Auckland self drive tour, Staying in Motels

- 21 Day Queenstown to Auckland Adventure Tour, Staying in Motels

- 21 day Classic New Zealand Driving Tour, Staying in Hotel 3 star