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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour 

14 days from Auckland to Queenstown

From the vibrant city of Auckland you’ll travel south to the spectacular mountains and thrilling adventures of Wanaka and Queenstown.  You'll pass through changing natural landscapes of New Zealand including Tongariro National Park. Marlborough Sounds and the Southern Lakes region.  Along the way you have opportunities for wildlife encounters in Wellington, Kaikoura and Akaroa and adventures galore.

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 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 14 days/13 nights from Auckland to Queenstown
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Hotel 4 star (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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Queenstown, New Zealand
New Zealand fur seal, Kaikoura, New Zealand
 

Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland the 'City of Sails'. If time allows a harbour cruise is a great introduction to the city
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Day 2: Explore Auckland and surrounds
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Day 3: Drive south through the Waikato to Whakapapa Village
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 337 kms / 209 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 4: Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Day 5: Today is filled with fantastic scenery including Lake Taupo, the Desert Road and the Kapiti Coastline as you approach Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 3.9 hours

Day 6: Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds
Accommodation: Chateau Marlborough
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.3 hours

Day 7: Drive to the seaside town of Kaikoura today
Accommodation: Manakau Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 hours

Day 8: Continue south through Canterbury countryside to Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 9: Take a day trip to the charming village of Akaroa for a harbour cruise and dolphin swim
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 153 kms / 95 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 10: Today 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 11: Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago and the alpine village of Wanaka
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 204 kms / 127 miles : 2.3 hours

Day 12: The day is yours to explore Wanaka
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Day 13: Take the short drive to Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

Day 14: Depart Queenstown today

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 1

Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland the 'City of Sails'. If time allows a harbour cruise is a great introduction to the city

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland 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 Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

Today Cruise the sparkling waters of Aucklands Waitemata Harbour. You'll learn about the most well-known city landmarks, including a stopover on dormant volcano Rangitoto. You'll see spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and Devonport's historic naval base as well as enjoying the Bean Rock Lighthouse with a complimentary hot drink and sandwich.

Your accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

This modern and spacious hotel allows you to relax in style while enjoying the world-class casino, more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right on your doorstep!
SkyCity Hotel Auckland

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 2

Day 2 - Explore Auckland and surrounds

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.

Explore Auckland City

Surrounding a natural harbour, New Zealand's largest metro area offers the best of both worlds. Sandy beaches, native bush and lush rainforests meld with a lively urban culture. Grab a coffee downtown and watch the sailboats glide from the Viaduct or head harbourside and take the helm of an America's Cup Yacht.

Catch the Quickcat to nearby Waiheke Island for a gourmet food and wine experience. Clear the cobwebs with a little exercise and hike the summit of Mt Eden -  Auckland's highest volcano. Pack a picnic and choose one of 800 regional national parks to explore. Hunua Falls - located within the Hunua Ranges - is one not to be missed. If relaxing is more your style, find a good book and head out to a deserted beach. Try Orewa - located an hour north of the city - or stay a little closer and head to Cheltenham Beach in Devonport.

Make time to ascend the Sky Tower or The Harbour Bridge and spike your adrenaline by bungy jumping off either (or both!). Finish on a high with dinner at one of the many trendy eateries to be found on Ponsonby Road.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb

This spectacular AJ Hackett walking tour is the only bridge climb in New Zealand - and the ultimate way to experience the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge. All walkways are custom engineered and gentle sloping archways mean this activity is suitable for all ages. As you're guided to the top you'll be greeted with a 360 degree, panoramic view of the sparkling Waitemata harbour. See the best of the city from above and learn all about the secrets of the bridge!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Rangitoto Volcanic Explorer

A short 25 minute cruise through the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf delivers you to Rangitoto Island, the largest and youngest of Auckland's volcanic field. It last erupted around 600 years ago but is considered extinct and safe to explore. During your trip to and from the island you'll enjoy fantastic views of the volcano and the urban backdrop of Auckland.

Upon arrival you'll be greeted by your guide and taken to waiting four wheel drive vehicles nearby. Once on board - journey through rugged lava crops and native bush while you learn about the fiery history and geology of the island. You'll then be dropped of at the base of the summit, only a short climb along a wooden boardwalk to the top. After taking in the 360 degree panoramic views, rejoin the tour vehicle for the return trip to the wharf.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Your experienced crew will talk about Auckland's highlights and there will opportunity try your hand at steering. Enjoy your meal as you sail around the beautiful Auckland Harbour taking in the view as the sun slowly sets. You'll be treated to canapés and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between a formal dinner in the downstairs cabin or take in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour while you eat on deck. A decadent dessert will then be yours to savour as you set sail. You can choose from a delectable three course menu catered for by Degree Gastrobar, a renowned Viaduct Restaurant.

Your accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

This modern and spacious hotel allows you to relax in style while enjoying the world-class casino, more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right on your doorstep!

Meals included: Breakfast

SkyCity Hotel Auckland

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 3

Day 3 - Drive south through the Waikato to Whakapapa Village

Auckland to Tongariro

Leaving Auckland and travelling south you'll go through the lush farmlands of the Waikato region. Make time to detour to Waitomo for a unique underground caving experience before heading inland to the Central Plateau and arriving at Tongariro National Park. A world heritage site, Tongariro is home to three active volcanoes - Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe - as well as a host of activities including hiking, fishing, climbing, mountain biking and skiing. A scenic flight is also a great way to view this spectacular landscape.

Your accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Bayview Chateau Tongariro, nestled at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, was completed in 1929 and still retains many of its original features. It is one of New Zealand's few hotels located in a World Heritage Park and offers the most prestigious accommodation in the region.

Meals included: Breakfast

Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 337 kms / 209 miles : 4.0 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 4

Day 4 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park, established in 1887 after the Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the sacred peaks to the nation. It was also only the fourth place on earth to be given recognition as a World Heritage area. At the heart of the park are three volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe. Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu are considered the two most active composite volcanoes in the world with the latter erupting in 1995 and 1996 sending ash up to 30, 000 feet into the air.  In 2012 Mt Tongariro also erupted, but these volcanoes are constantly monitored to ensure visitor safety. Despite the barren and sometimes inhospitable environment, the region abounds with flora and fauna. Alpine herbs and flaxes thrive on the upper slopes while dense beech forests cover the lower regions. New Zealand's only native mammals, the short and long tailed bat also make their homes here. The 1 day Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand's Great Walks, taking around 6 to 8 hours to complete.  This magnificent walk will take you past the remarkable Emerald and Blue Lakes and through volcanic terrain you won’t see anywhere else in New Zealand. There are many other tracks and trails in the park to suit all abilities, including shorter walks and a guided Tongariro 3.5 day walk. Also lying within the park is New Zealand's largest ski area, Mt Ruapehu Ski Field, encompassing Whakapapa and Turoa.

Walking tracks in and around Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park

There are a plethora of walks in and around Whakapapa Village and Tongariro National Park. From short 15 minute hikes to longer 5 hour treks, there is something for every level of fitness. All established tracks are maintained by the Department of Conservation and before heading out on a walk, it is best to check the track conditions and suitability at the local DOC information office in the centre of the village. Below are a selection of the best walks to do:

  1. Whakapapa Nature Walk,15 min loop track
  2. Mounds Walk, 20 min one way
  3. Tawhai Falls, 20 min one way
  4. Ridge Track, 340 min return
  5. Taranaki Falls, 2 hour return
  6. Whakapapanui Walk, 2 hour return
  7. Tupapakurua Falls Track, 5 hour return
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Volcanic Explorer Scenic Flight by Aeroplane

Take a scenic flight over New Zealand's oldest National Park and world heritage site for a spectacular view of this unique volcanic landscape. See all three volcanoes - Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu as well as the iconic Emerald Lakes, the Blue Lake and the Tama lake. Climbing to 10,000 ft, you'll also view the active Mount Ruapehu crater lake, and spot some of the landscapes used in the making of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Your accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Bayview Chateau Tongariro, nestled at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, was completed in 1929 and still retains many of its original features. It is one of New Zealand's few hotels located in a World Heritage Park and offers the most prestigious accommodation in the region.

Meals included: Breakfast

Bayview Chateau Tongariro

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 5

Day 5 - Today is filled with fantastic scenery including Lake Taupo, the Desert Road and the Kapiti Coastline as you approach Wellington

Whakapapa Village to Wellington

Leave the North Island Volcanic Plateau today as you make your way south to New Zealand's capital, Wellington. Leave Whakapapa Village and head through the Rangipo Desert, skirting the edges of Tongariro National Park, a world heritage site.

Catch a glimpse of volcanically active Mt Ruapehu and the symmetrical cone of Mt. Ngauruhoe - better known as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A little further is  the military town of Waiouru, home to the New Zealand Army museum and a unique collection of military history.

Continue south to the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the spectacular Kapiti Coast. Take a short detour to the quaint seaside town of Paraparaumu before arriving into Wellington City.

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: 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: 320 kms / 199 miles : 3.9 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 6

Day 6 - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

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.

Picton to Blenheim

Only short 30 minute drive, you’ll follow the valley south to arrive in Blenheim, located in the heart of Marlborough - New Zealand’s largest wine producing region. Go through acres of leafy green vines and marvel at the magnificent ‘dry hills’ of Marlborough in the distance.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour

An afternoon among the vines! Be immersed in the Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through three or four hand-picked wineries to taste the award-winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through. A lunch stop is not included in this tour so we do advise you have something to eat prior to this activity. 

Your accommodation: Chateau Marlborough

Chateau Marlborough, Marlborough's premier boutique hotel overlooking Seymour Square Gardens, prides itself on offering guests luxury accommodation with an enviable attention to detail. All just a short walk from Blenheim's town centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

Chateau Marlborough

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.3 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 7

Day 7 - Drive to the seaside town of Kaikoura today

Blenheim to Kaikoura

Cross the 'dry hills' of Marlborough and head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view native wildlife. To the east is the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife - and it's one of the only places in New Zealand you can see whales year round.

Your accommodation: Manakau Lodge

This brand new purpose built lodge is located in the foothills of the Kaikoura ranges a few minutes drive from the township. All rooms have verandahs with either mountain or ocean views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Manakau Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 8

Day 8 - Continue south through Canterbury countryside to Christchurch

Kaikoura to Christchurch

Today you continue down the coast before heading inland through the North Canterbury wine region - the Waipara Valley. As you drive through this area you’ll be greeted by one of New Zealand's most notorious animals, the sheep. If you’ve time on your hands we recommend taking a detour to Hanmer Springs for relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you'll see a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

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: The George Hotel, Christchurch

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. 2 superb award winning on site restaurants also feature.

Meals included: Breakfast

The George Hotel, Christchurch

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 9

Day 9 - Take a day trip to the charming village of Akaroa for a harbour cruise and dolphin swim

Akaroa and The Banks Peninsula

Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. An easy 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development plus, wineries, great cafes and restaurants and abundant wildlife.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governors Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise

Akaroa Harbour formed as a result of an extinct volcanic crater being flooded by the Pacific Ocean. It's a beautiful place with sheer cliffs and the picturesque township of Akaroa at its heart. New Zealand's only native dolphin, Hectors dolphin, makes this sheltered harbour its home and its here you can take a 2 ½ tour to see and if you wish actually swim with these incredible creatures. Following a ½ hour briefing you depart on a 2 hour cruise of which around 1 hour is spent in the water with the dolphins. Black Cat Cruises has been operating since 1985 and their success rate at sighting dolphins is over 98%. Swimming with dolphins is not always possible either due to sea conditions, the dolphins' willingness to stay and play and other environmental reasons such as not swimming when there are babies around. You still manage to swim though on over 80% of their tours.

Your accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. 2 superb award winning on site restaurants also feature.

Meals included: Breakfast

The George Hotel, Christchurch

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 153 kms / 95 miles : 2.4 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 10

Day 10 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country

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

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 11

Day 11 - Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago and the alpine village of Wanaka

Mt. Cook National Park to Wanaka

Twizel, just south of Mt. Cook was the location of many Lord of the Rings movie scenes and a little further on is Omarama, the gliding capital of New Zealand. Wrinkly Rams is a local café and also offers an informative sheep shearing demonstration. The Lindis Pass is one of New Zealand’s highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres. The tussock covered hills offer an unusual contrast as you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago. The first Central Otago settlement you reach is the quaint village of Tarras, which has a number of boutique stores and a lovely café.  Approaching Wanaka the wonderful alpine lake welcomes you to the town. Despite its size Wanaka has a wide variety of activities available. In winter it is without doubt New Zealand's premier ski destination with its very close proximity to Treble Cone and Cardrona ski fields. Mt Aspiring National Park sits to the western edge of the lake and offers wonderful walking tracks for all abilities; the Rob Roy Track is a great introduction to this spectacular park. Fishing, sailing and water skiing are popular pastimes on the lake and the many beach access points provide great spots for picnics and relaxing.

Wanaka

The alpine village of Wanaka sits on the shores of the third largest lake in the Queenstown Lakes District and is surrounded by the southern alps. Wanaka draws those seeking adventure, spectacular scenery and a relaxed atmosphere.

During winter the town's population more than triples as snow sports enthusiasts flock to the local ski fields of Treble Cone and Cardrona. Known as the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is a walker's paradise of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. For those seeking an adrenaline rush try skydiving, rock-climbing, jet boating or choose a scenic flight over Wanaka in a historic Tiger Moth aeroplane.

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. Check in and out is at The Moorings Motel reception, 17 Lakeside Drive.

Meals included: Breakfast

Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 204 kms / 127 miles : 2.3 hours

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 12

Day 12 - The day is yours to explore Wanaka

Matukituki Valley

The Matukutuki Valley sits to the west of Wanaka, just around a 1 hour drive that skirts the lake passing through Glendhu Bay. Following the Matukituki River the road travels through lush farmland crossing river fords before you arrive at Raspberry Creek Hut. From here walking tracks to suit every ability and time frame are available. The river walk follows the course of the Matukituki along gentle rolling farmland. One of the more popular walks is the Rob Roy Glacier hike - a medium difficulty walk of around 4 hours return, through beech forest and alpine vegetation and spectacular views of the Rob Roy Glacier.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wanaka Wine Tours Boutique Central Otago Wine Trail

This small group wine tour (maximum 8) offers a relaxed and personal introduction to the wines and scenery of the Central Otago region. This tour is a great way to explore award-winning vineyards hidden amongst the rugged landscape of Central Otago. Visit and enjoy tastings at 4 Central Otago vineyards including a gourmet canape matched tasting.  You'll also discover the history of the region with a visit to Old Cromwell Town, a charming heritage precinct that has been revitalised into a boutique arts and crafts village.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Vintage Tiger Moth Scenic Flight 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.
This 20 minute scenic flight takes you over the township of Wanaka, including Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and surrounding areas. This flight takes in some of the most stunning scenery in the South Island with the backdrop of Mt Aspiring National Park and the Southern Alps.

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. Check in and out is at The Moorings Motel reception, 17 Lakeside Drive.

Meals included: Breakfast

Lakeshore Springs Apartments

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Auckland to Queenstown 14 day Natural Discovery Tour - Day 13

Day 13 - Take the short drive to Queenstown

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. Depending on the planting season, you can help The Reforestation of Mou Waho by planting a tree.

Wanaka to Queenstown

Leaving Wanaka you head over New Zealand's highest sealed road, Crown Range Road before dropping into Queenstown. This drive should be planned as a whole day to really enjoy the scenery and to allow time to explore the walks, and many stops en route.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

The 4 star deluxe Millennium Hotel Queenstown is located in the heart of Queenstown within minutes of the central shopping and entertainment area.

Meals included: Breakfast

Millennium Hotel Queenstown

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

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Day 14 - Depart Queenstown today

A final morning in the Adventure Capital before dropping your car at the airport

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

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

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