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21 Day Queenstown to Auckland Adventure Tour 

21 days from Queenstown to Auckland

A 21 day tour visiting the major attractions of both the North and South Islands, with a whole range of exciting activities included.  In the south, you’ll jet boat on the Dart River, helihike on the glaciers and take the marvellous TranzAlpine scenic train from the West Coast to Christchurch.  In the North Island there’s culture to be experienced at Te Puia and fun to be found at Hobbiton Village.  With great self-contained accommodation included you can bring the whole family on this adventure.

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 21 days/20 nights from Queenstown to Auckland
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Motels (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
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Crown Range road, Wanaka, Queenstown, New Zealand
Interislander Ferry, New Zealand
 

21 Day Queenstown to Auckland Adventure Tour - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Welcome to Queenstown
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 2: Venture into Mt Aspiring National Park on a spectacular jet boat safari
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 3: Your rental car is delivered, then its a short drive over the Crown Range to Wanaka
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

Day 4: Your guided walk and cruise takes you on a journey of discovery on Mou Waho Island
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Day 5: Travel the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

Day 6: Begin with a stunning helicopter flight followed by an ice world adventure
Accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Day 7: Drive north along the rugged coastline and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 8: A short drive north to the wildlife mecca of Kaikoura
Accommodation: Anchor Inn Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 166 kms / 103 miles : 2.0 hours

Day 9: Travel on the inland route via Murchison to the vineyards of Marlborough
Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 444 kms / 276 miles : 5.9 hours

Day 10: Skirt the Marlborough Sounds, then through the Rai Valley to Tasman Bay and Abel Tasman National Park
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 184 kms / 114 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 11: Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

Day 12: Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. As you depart Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds
Accommodation: City Life Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 162 kms / 100 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 13: Explore Wellington City, then tonight meet our unique birdlife at Zealandia
Accommodation: City Life Wellington

Day 14: Today is filled with fantastic scenery including the Kapiti Coastline as you depart Wellington, the Desert Road and Lake Taupo
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 441 kms / 274 miles : 5.3 hours

Day 15: Experience the unique Maori culture, then take to the air with a Forest Canopy Tour
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Day 16: Drive north through the rich fertile farmland of the Waikato and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Auckland
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 241 kms / 149 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 17: Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 226 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 18: Cruise the island studded bay, then have the rest of the day free to relax or explore
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Day 19: You'll journey by 4WD past sweeping dunes to Cape Reinga and Spirits Bay at the tip of the North Island
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Day 20: Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
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: 20 kms / 13 miles : 0.5 hours

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Day 1 - Welcome to Queenstown

Transfer from Queenstown Airport to your accommodation

Welcome to the Adventure Capital of Queenstown.  You will be met at the airport and driven to your 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 Queenstown

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities 'Queenstown' is synonymous with adventure. Nestled below soaring vistas of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this small alpine town is parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. Spend time on the Gibbston valley wine trail and end with a meal at Michelin star chef Josh Emett’s restaurant, Rata. Take a trip down memory lane on a 100 year old steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Soak in the scenery on your walk around the lake, or venture further afield into Fiordland National Park. Head over the hill to resort town Wanaka, or re-live scenes from Lord Of The Rings by four wheel drive. But - if you really do want that rush - head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis Bungy, freefall on the Canyon swing or Zip line the Gondola. Just be sure it's done on an empty stomach  – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boat the Shotover River

Take a ride on ‘Big Red’ through the spectacular canyon walls of the upper Shotover River.  Shotover Jet Boat is the only company allowed to operate in this remarkable location and their skilled drivers will take you on a wet and wild ride you’ll never forget.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.
Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Day 2 - Venture into Mt Aspiring National Park on a spectacular jet boat safari

Dart River Wilderness Safari

Take a one and a half hour jet boat safari through the remote wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. Home to towering mountains, alpine bush, glacial lakes and icy rivers, this spectacular trip is considered one of the most scenic in the world. Following your boat journey, take a 40 minute walk through ancient beech forests over 80 million years old. Learn about the area and its history before taking a  four wheel drive coach on a 50 minute journey to the isolated hamlet of Paradise - home to many Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.
Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Day 3 - Your rental car is delivered, then its a short drive over the Crown Range to Wanaka

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.

Queenstown to Wanaka

Leaving Queenstown you'll drive over New Zealand's highest sealed road, the Crown Range before arriving into the resort town of Wanaka.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Vintage Tiger Moth flight - Freedom of Romance with Classic Flights

Step back in time where to when pilots were larger than life, and heroes to all those who lifted their eyes skyward to the sound of an old tiger moth flying overhead. Take a scenic flight around Wanaka in a Vintage Aircraft and experience the excitement of the early flyers and their flying machines; the smell of oil and aviation fuel, combined with the aroma of fresh leather. As you don the old-style leather flying helmet, complete with flying goggles and silk scarf, experience the anticipation of being taken back in time to the nostalgia of this by-gone era. The exhilaration of the open cockpit and the wind in your face – discover the freedom and romance of a vintage scenic flight from Wanaka, one of the most spectacular scenic locations in New Zealand. Not for the faint-hearted! The flight will include a landing at a remote location at one of the high country stations overlooking Lake Wanaka or Lake Hawea. Enjoy a lunch or dinner with a bottle of our favourite Central Otago wine, followed by a return flight back to Wanaka Airport. Experience the thrill of a formation flight with another tiger moth, taking in some of the most majestic scenery in the south.

Your accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Lakeshore Spings offers exclusive luxury apartment accommodation on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Superbly appointed with lake and mountain views this is the ideal base for your Wanaka escape.
Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

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Day 4 - Your guided walk and cruise takes you on a journey of discovery on Mou Waho Island

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lying close to the centre of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut.
A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee.
Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions.

Your accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Lakeshore Spings offers exclusive luxury apartment accommodation on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Superbly appointed with lake and mountain views this is the ideal base for your Wanaka escape.
Lakeshore Springs Apartments

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Day 5 - Travel the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the village of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park.  The Blue Pools, just outside Makarora, are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes. A great way to experience the glaciers is with a scenic flight or glacier hike.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Blue Pools Nature Experience

Begin with a 30 minute scenic flight encompassing views of glaciers, Mt Aspiring, remote waterfalls, river valleys and mountain ranges that few people get to experience.  With a window seat for every passenger the views are spectacular. From your landing point at Makarora, you are driven a short distance to the beginning of your 2 hour wilderness walk. The walk is on a well formed track through native beech forest which leads you to cross the first of 4 swing bridges and the clear and pure waters of the 'Blue Pools' - pristine, beautiful pools in the Blue River to linger at and enjoy while spotting fish. From here the track winds through native forest amongst the mountains of the Southern Alps near the banks of the Makarora River. Interesting and picturesque this is a very ancient setting only recently made easily accessible.  The natural surroundings and tranquility are most noticeable during your relaxing walk in this special part of the Mt Aspiring World Heritage National Park. The track leads you to the meeting point at the mouth of the Young River where the jet boat will be waiting to whisk you off on a 1 hour scenic and spectacular journey through the Makarora Valley on the glacially fed waters of the pristine Makarora River. Feel the wind in your hair during your jet boat safari and be intrigued by the changing landscape as you journey to the mouth of the Makarora River and the head waters of Lake Wanaka before returning to Makarora Village.

Your accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Aspen Court Franz Josef is set amongst native bush providing a very peaceful ambience. Internally the motel units are large, practical and modern with all containing quality furnishings and fittings.
Aspen Court Franz Josef

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

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Day 6 - Begin with a stunning helicopter flight followed by an ice world adventure

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You’ll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand.
 

Your accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Aspen Court Franz Josef is set amongst native bush providing a very peaceful ambience. Internally the motel units are large, practical and modern with all containing quality furnishings and fittings.
Aspen Court Franz Josef

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Day 7 - Drive north along the rugged coastline 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

Tranz Alpine 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: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive offers luxury apartment accommodation complex in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated in a prominent central city location on the grand Bealey Avenue it is within walking distance of the Christchurch city centre, casino and vibrant cafes and shops of trendy Victoria Street.
Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

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

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Day 8 - A short drive north to the wildlife mecca of Kaikoura

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.

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: Anchor Inn Motel

The Anchor Inn is a luxury motel superbly located on the Kaikoura waterfront with most rooms enjoying magnificent sea and mountain views.
Anchor Inn Motel

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

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Day 9 - Travel on the inland route via Murchison to the vineyards of Marlborough

Kaikoura to Blenheim via Murchison

The drive from Kaikoura follows the spectacular coast before heading inland through North Canterbury’s major wine region, The Waipara Valley. You’ll see many sheep as you wind your way through the vineyards and small towns of Rotherham and Waiau before you head over the Lewis Pass where the landscape changes to a sub alpine zone with large forests of red and silver beech. Near the summit a short walking track, the Tarn Nature Walk, is an ideal place to break your journey. Maruia Springs has been attracting travellers for years and the natural hot springs are now located within an authentic Japanese themed resort, a great place to stop for a soak if time allows. Further along this route you follow the Buller River and reach the town of Murchison. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers paradise with white water rafting, kayaking, 4WD trips and some great trout fishing. Shortly after Murchison you will take State Highway 63, through the picturesque Wairau Valley. Enjoy the mountain views and endless grapevines as you weave your way alongside the Wairau river. Stop at Clos Henri Vineyard for some wine-tasting inside the historic St Solange Chapel. Enter the town of Blenheim known for some of Marlboroughs finest wines.

Your accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge

Located right across the road from picturesque Seymour Square, the Lugano Motor Lodge welcomes you to their outstanding motel located in the heart of Blenheim within walking distance of many great cafés and restaurants. Enjoy the use of golf club sets, mountain bikes, daily newspaper and the DVD library.
Lugano Motor Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 444 kms / 276 miles : 5.9 hours

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Day 10 - Skirt the Marlborough Sounds, then through the Rai Valley to Tasman Bay and Abel Tasman National Park

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Take a short drive to the small port of Picton where the interislander ferry connects with Wellington. A bustling seaside destination, Picton is well equipped with shops, cafes - and is also the starting point for the famous Queen Charlotte Walk. You’ll travel along Queen Charlotte Drive, traversing the length of the Marlborough Sounds coastline. Magnificent views are abundant - so be sure to make time to stop and enjoy the scenery as you go.

Continue through the small port town of Havelock, home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. The highway between Nelson and Picton crosses the pelorus river, and at this junction you’ll find the famous pelorus bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks - the most popular - a 30 minute loop through beech, rimu, and totara forest. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.

Your accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

The Ocean View Chalets are situated on a 50-acre farmlet, slightly elevated and nestled along the bush line with panoramic sea views. Great access the National Park and close to the friendly Marahau village.
Ocean View Chalets

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 184 kms / 114 miles : 2.8 hours

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Day 11 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a scenic cruise through the sounds or take a kayaking tour around it’s many sheltered bays. Enjoy the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals  - fur seals and dolphins.
 

Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip including picnic lunch

Combining the best of the Abel Tasman, this trip showcases incredible beaches, coastal walks and native wildlife. First you’ll meet your guide and join the 9.30am Vista Cruise along the magnificent coastline to Torrent Bay. You’ll then arrive at Torrent Bay Lodge and complete a full training session and safety briefing before moving on to the water in kayaks to discover beautiful beaches, tidal estuaries and rivers.

Stop for a picnic lunch in a sheltered cove and take some time to swim, explore or sunbathe on the sand. On your return trip, if the winds are favourable, sails will be hoisted and you’ll sail back via Pinnacle Island to view the seal colony there - if you’re lucky, you may even see some resident blue penguins at the same time. Arriving back at Torrent Bay Lodge, freshen up with a hot shower and re-join the vista cruise back to Kaiteriteri, arriving at 4.10 pm.

During the summer there is the option to enjoy an unguided two hour coastal bush walk after the kayaking trip. Walk around the picturesque Torrent Bay Lagoon - via Cleopatra's Pool - to anchorage where you will re-join the boat back to Kaiteriteri. Minimum age 12 years.

Your accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

The Ocean View Chalets are situated on a 50-acre farmlet, slightly elevated and nestled along the bush line with panoramic sea views. Great access the National Park and close to the friendly Marahau village.

Meals included: Lunch

Ocean View Chalets

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Day 12 - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. As you depart Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds

Abel Tasman National Park to Picton

The drive takes you through the city of Nelson and along the coast of Tasman Bay towards the Bryant Range. The highway between Nelson and Picton also crosses the Pelorus River and just at this junction is the famous and historic Pelorus Bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks with the most popular the 30 minute loop through beech, rimu and totara forest to the swing-bridge.
Starting in the town of Havelock the Queen Charlotte Drive travels the Marlborough Sounds coastline towards the port town of Picton. Magnificent views of the sounds can be had from many vantage points so allow plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. If you can spare the time take the narrow windy road to Portage along Mahau Sound and Kenepuru Sound with their bush clad hillsides and secluded sandy coves.
Picton the busy port town of Picton, and its here from that the Interislander ferries arrive and depart. The small town centre has plenty of shops and cafes and the waterfront area is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours watching the activity of the ships. The Edwin Fox Maritime Centre on the wharf is worth a visit with the star attraction being the vessel the Edwin Fox, reputably the 9th oldest ship in the world.

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: City Life Wellington

City Life Wellington is a suite style hotel. rooms have every amenity required for a comfortable stay and the location is superb to explore the compact city centre.
City Life Wellington

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 162 kms / 100 miles : 2.5 hours

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Day 13 - Explore Wellington City, then tonight meet our unique birdlife at Zealandia

Wellington City

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.

Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you're a foodie at heart, a two hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For a educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley – just 10 minutes from the central city.

Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.

Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley – so your chances of seeing one is very good.

Your accommodation: City Life Wellington

City Life Wellington is a suite style hotel. rooms have every amenity required for a comfortable stay and the location is superb to explore the compact city centre.
City Life Wellington

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Day 14 - Today is filled with fantastic scenery including the Kapiti Coastline as you depart Wellington, the Desert Road and Lake Taupo

Wellington to Rotorua

The drive from Wellington to Taupo takes you via the Kapiti Coast and the seaside towns of Plimmerton, Paekakariki and Paraparaumu are worth a short detour. Heading north you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving onto the central plateau. A little further the military town of Waiouru is home to the National Army Museum, an incredible collection of New Zealand’s military history and a memorial to its servicemen. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites, you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might also recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  The township of Taupo sits on the shores of New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo - a gigantic volcanic caldera formed during one of the world’s largest ever eruptions. Just north of the town are the Huka Falls and a short detour to view is advised. The Huka Jet can get you much closer with a thrilling jet boat ride. Nearby Craters of the Moon is a geothermal reserve with great walking tracks around its many boiling pools and steaming vents. Continuing on to Rotorua you pass the volcanic valley, visit either Wai O Tapu or the Waimangu Valley for a closer look. Arriving into Rotorua the city’s geothermal activity is evident with steam rising from the roadside and hills. Rotorua is considered the heart of New Zealand’s Maori cultural and it’s here you can learn of their history and traditions. The Rotorua Museum is outstanding and one of its main displays is about the devastating eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886. Nearby Ohinemutu Village is located on the site of the first Maori settlement in the area. One of the most popular introductions for many to the Maori culture is through an evening at Mitai Maori Village.  Here you will gain an insight into the traditional Maori way of life through song, dance and entertainment. A dinner prepared in the traditional manner is served to finish the evening off.

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. 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.
 

Your accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Located in the heart of Rotorua, just a stone’s throw from the restaurant and shopping precinct. Purpose built in 2012, all apartments are equipped with modern fixtures, full cooking and laundry facilities that make Quest Rotorua Central your perfect home away from home.
Quest Rotorua Central

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 441 kms / 274 miles : 5.3 hours

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Day 15 - Experience the unique Maori culture, then take to the air with a Forest Canopy Tour

Te Puia Daytime Experience

Only a short hop from the Rotorua township you’ll find Te Puia, known as New Zealand’s living Maori cultural experience. Sprawling across 60 hectares of volcanic land, it’s home to the world renowned Pohutu Geyser, a live kiwi enclosure and more than 500 geothermal wonders. Shrouded in a continuous haze of steam, Te Puia has a dramatic and ethereal air.

As you’re guided along the wooden walkways, thermal springs and boiling mud pools surround you on either side, while native ferns and flax can be seen in the forest ahead. Te Puia takes pride in keeping Maori traditions and craft alive and it is home to the New Zealand National Carving and Weaving Schools. You’ll have the chance to watch these unique craftspeople working as they share their skills with the next generation.

Rotorua Forest Canopy Tours

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees.

In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

Your accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Located in the heart of Rotorua, just a stone’s throw from the restaurant and shopping precinct. Purpose built in 2012, all apartments are equipped with modern fixtures, full cooking and laundry facilities that make Quest Rotorua Central your perfect home away from home.
Quest Rotorua Central

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Day 16 - Drive north through the rich fertile farmland of the Waikato and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Auckland

Rotorua to Matamata

Leave the steaming vents and boiling pools of the geothermal region behind as you make your way through the lush dairy pastures of the Waikato. Take in the emerald green landscapes most famous for their role in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. Arrive into the small town of Matamata, for a visit to the fully intact set of Hobbiton.

 

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Visit the actual Hobbiton movie set and immerse yourself in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. Set in the heart the Waikato farming region your two hour tour will begin with a drive through a picturesque Matamata sheep farm. You'll then be guided into Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and the Party Tree while hearing behind-the-scenes tales insight into the making of the films.

Matamata to Auckland

Your drive continues north west crossing the dairy country of the Hauraki Plains before arriving at State Highway 1. The Bombay Hills guide you to Auckland City

Your accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Waldorf Stadium Apartment Hotel offers 4.5 star self-contained apartment accommodation in downtown Auckland City. Located a short walk from Britomart Transport and Entertainment Precinct, Auckland Waterfront and Ferries, Queen Street and Vector Arena, Waldorf Stadium is in a wonderful location to take all of Auckland Cities attractions in.
Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 241 kms / 149 miles : 2.9 hours

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Day 17 - 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: Sea Spray Suites

Occupying a superb location the Sea Spray Suites offer modern design combined with superb facilities.
Sea Spray Suites

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

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Day 18 - Cruise the island studded bay, then have the rest of the day free to relax or explore

Discover the Bay Hole in the Rock Cruise

Take in the bay’s serenity as you cruise the 144 islands dotting the natural harbour. See the world renowned Piercy Island ‘Hole in the Rock’ and marvel at the abundant marine life through the underwater cameras - custom built for dolphin and whale watching. Have lunch in Otehi Bay on Urupukapuka Island - with the option to explore - before catching your ride back to the mainland.

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 - Sail the R Tucker Thompson tall ship

Experience the unique opportunity of sailing on a working tall ship, in one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of New Zealand, the Bay of Islands.  You don’t often get the chance to sail on a working tall ship, help set the sails or take the helm, but on the Tucker, you are welcome! With harnesses provided if you want the challenge of climbing the rigging or out on the bowsprit to ride the waves. If you’d like to relax, that’s fine too – enjoy the delicious food and chat with our friendly crew.  Enjoy complimentary freshly baked scones from the galley, a lunchtime swim and island stopover in a sheltered bay and a delicious BBQ lunch served on board.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Occupying a superb location the Sea Spray Suites offer modern design combined with superb facilities.
Sea Spray Suites

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Day 19 - You'll journey by 4WD past sweeping dunes to Cape Reinga and Spirits Bay at the tip of the North Island

Dune Rider Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach Day Tour

An off road adventure through one of the most isolated and dramatic regions in New Zealand. You’ll see 90 mile beach with its wild waves and steep dunes - where you’ll have the opportunity to sandboard - see Gumdiggers park and visit and ancient Kauri workshop, as well as visit the Cape Reinga lighthouse, the northernmost point of New Zealand. On the way home you’ll stop in at the famous Mangonui Fish Shop for a taste of New Zealand’s favourite dish.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Occupying a superb location the Sea Spray Suites offer modern design combined with superb facilities.

Meals included: Lunch

Sea Spray Suites

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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: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Waldorf Stadium Apartment Hotel offers 4.5 star self-contained apartment accommodation in downtown Auckland City. Located a short walk from Britomart Transport and Entertainment Precinct, Auckland Waterfront and Ferries, Queen Street and Vector Arena, Waldorf Stadium is in a wonderful location to take all of Auckland Cities attractions in.
Waldorf Stadium Apartments

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

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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: 20 kms / 13 miles : 0.5 hours

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