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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour 

23 days from Auckland to Christchurch

Travel the length of New Zealand taking in the highlights and iconic landscapes you’ve heard so much about.  With many 2 night stays along the way, the relaxed pace of this tour allows you the time to really experience each destination.  The scenery and geography will change dramatically as you travel from the balmy Bay of Islands in the north, to the mountains and alpine lakes of the south.  We’ve included a nature cruise in Milford Sound and the world renowned TranzAlpine Scenic Train journey, two of the must-do activities in the South Island.  Take a look at our suggested activities to see what other experiences await you on this New Zealand tour. 

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 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 23 days/22 nights from Auckland to Christchurch
 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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Wellington city, New Zealand
Milford Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand
 

New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Arrive Auckland City
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

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

Day 3: Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 226 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 4: Discover the history of Waitangi or take a cruise through the island studded bay
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

Day 5: Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 343 kms / 213 miles : 4.4 hours

Day 6: Drive south through the rich farmland of the Waikato and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 7: Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 8: Today is filled with fantastic scenery including Lake Taupo, the Desert Road and the Kapiti Coastline as you approach Wellington
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 452 kms / 280 miles : 5.6 hours

Day 9: 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 10: Travel the Coastal Pacific Highway to Kaikoura
Accommodation: Manakau Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 hours

Day 11: Travel through North Canterbury countryside to Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 12: Explore Christchurch City
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

Day 13: 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 14: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 15: Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

Day 16: Travel through the rolling farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 17: Today you'll drive the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound for your nature cruise on the fiord
Accommodation: Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 18: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 19: Today is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 20: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 21: Explore Franz Josef and the glaciers of Westland National Park
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 22: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 23: Depart Christchurch today

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 1

Day 1 - Arrive Auckland 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 - Harbour Sailing Cruise including Lunch with Explore

With a fleet of large purpose-built sailboats, the Pride of Auckland Company operates on the sheltered waters of the Waitemata Harbour. As you relax on the deck of a 50ft sailing monohull yacht, take in the spectacular Auckland landscape while you enjoy your picnic lunch. See the harbour bridge from below as you try your hand steering the helm. Relax and settle in for unforgettable 90 minute experience.

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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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive 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 - Waiheke Island Explorer Hop On Hop Off Tour

It's the most flexible and cost effective tour option on the island. Introducing you to the island's top spots; hop on and off as much as you like at any of its 15 convenient stops which include vineyards, beaches and restaurants. If you prefer, stay on board and enjoy a 1 1/2 hour scenic tour of the island.
The buses stop at some of the island's iconic spots including Oneroa Village, Onetangi Beach, Batch Winery, the new Tantalus winery/brewery, Mudbrick Vineyard, Cable Bay Vineyard and more.
Knowledgeable tour drivers, and the addition of an on-board host, ensure you'll receive the most informative commentary as you travel around and you can get all the local tips and tricks for how best to enjoy Waiheke!
The Explorer Hop on Hop off departs from each hop on hop off location approximately every 60 minutes throughout the day.

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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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 3

Day 3 - 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: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands is located within the Waitangi Treaty grounds, surrounded by native bush and the beautiful Bay of Islands Harbour.

Meals included: Breakfast

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

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

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 4

Day 4 - Discover the history of Waitangi or take a cruise through the island studded bay

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 - 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.

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: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands is located within the Waitangi Treaty grounds, surrounded by native bush and the beautiful Bay of Islands Harbour.

Meals included: Breakfast

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 5

Day 5 - 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: 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

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

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 6

Day 6 - Drive south through the rich farmland of the Waikato and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Rotorua

Auckland to Rotorua

The drive south from Auckland takes you past the Bombay Hills and into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of greater Auckland area and it's here you turn inland to central Waikato. You’ll soon go through the town of Matamata where you can visit the fully intact Hobbiton film set used in the shooting of the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Continuing on, you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Rotorua's largest 4 star deluxe hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 7

Day 7 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides

Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. But geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to the Mitai Maori Village should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Live on the edge when you hop aboard a helicopter bound for White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano. Spike your adrenaline at Agroventures on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Go up the Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

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 - White Island Helicopter tour with Volcanic Air Safaris

Today take an exhilarating helicopter flight north over Hell's Gate Thermal Valley to active volcano, White Island. Land inside the crater and enjoy an hour long guided tour. See the main erupting crater, active steam vents known as 'fumaroles', hot streams and vibrant sulphur formations. You'll also be able to view the remains of the old sulphur mine and see the deposits left behind.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Rotorua's largest 4 star deluxe hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Millennium Hotel Rotorua

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 8

Day 8 - Today is filled with fantastic scenery including Lake Taupo, the Desert Road and the Kapiti Coastline as you approach Wellington

Rotorua to Wellington

The drive from Rotorua to Wellington takes you via the township of Taupo home to New Zealand’s largest lake. Following the lakeshore South you’ll pass Turani and then ascend the central plateau onto the high country Rangipo Desert. Skirting the edge of Tongariro National Park, you’ll reach the military town of Waiouru before descending through rich farmland and the rural towns of Taihape And Mangaweka. Follow the coast through Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton to arrive at your destination, Wellington.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Located just 2 minutes walk to Te Papa Museum, the vibrant Courtney Place and local Theatres the Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay is in a superb location to enjoy Wellington.

Meals included: Breakfast

Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 452 kms / 280 miles : 5.6 hours

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 9

Day 9 - 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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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 10

Day 10 - Travel the Coastal Pacific Highway to Kaikoura

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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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 11

Day 11 - Travel through North 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.

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: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

This luxury hotel is centrally located in the revitalised Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, a short stroll from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and new Christchurch Convention Centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

Distinction Hotel Christchurch

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

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 12

Day 12 - Explore Christchurch City

Explore Christchurch City

Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South.

Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts - wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens. 

Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Visit the International Antarctic Centre or take a day to go on safari at Orana Wildlife Park. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for a authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Grand Tour

Hop aboard the Grand Tour luxury coach for an interactive guided journey around Christchurch. See the best of this port city including beautiful parks, gardens, seaside suburbs and hills. You will learn about its history and future plans for the well under way multi-billion dollar rebuild following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Included in the tour are four of Christchurch's premier attractions - punting on the Avon, the Caterpillar Botanic Gardens tour, the Christchurch Gondola and a hop-on hop-off ticket for the heritage Tram.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Bike Tour

Take a two hour cycle tour around the top Christchurch attractions.You'll be guided at a relaxed pace to the Arts Centre, Antigua Boatsheds, Christ's College, Hagley Park, Riccarton House and Deans Bush, Deans Cottage and Mona Vale Garden. You'll also visit the Re:Start project in the Cashel street Mall. A predominantly flat city with many purpose built cycle-ways, Christchurch is perfect for biking.

Your accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

This luxury hotel is centrally located in the revitalised Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, a short stroll from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and new Christchurch Convention Centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

Distinction Hotel Christchurch

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 13

Day 13 - 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.

 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tasman Valley 4WD Tour

A rugged back road 4WD adventure accessing awe inspiring views over the Tasman Glacier and its gigantic moraine wall. You will get to stop at several vantage points and have the opportunity to walk up to the top of the Tasman Glacier moraine wall to view some of the most spectacular photographic opportunities within the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Your professional guide has a wealth of knowledge of the Aoraki/Mt Cook area. Learn about the area, its unique geology, local flora and fauna and get an entertaining insight into the rich pioneering history and stories of the past 150 years.

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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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 14

Day 14 - 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: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

The Scenic Hotel Southern Cross provides stylish inner city accommodation and is the perfect location from which to explore Dunedin. Just a short walk to the Octagon, Railway Station, theatres, shops, and close to Otago University.

Meals included: Breakfast

Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

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

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 15

Day 15 - Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Speights Brewery Tour

Founded in 1876, the Speights Brewery still occupies its original Dunedin site - with several of its buildings dating back to the late 1800's. One of the only remaining 'gravity breweries' in the world, your 90-minute tour will take you through its inner workings. You'll also have a chance to taste six different beers as well as bottle, cap and brew your own personal Speights Gold Medal Ale - the brewery's flagship beer.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

The Scenic Hotel Southern Cross provides stylish inner city accommodation and is the perfect location from which to explore Dunedin. Just a short walk to the Octagon, Railway Station, theatres, shops, and close to Otago University.

Meals included: Breakfast

Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 16

Day 16 - Travel through the rolling 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: Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas

The Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers a range of accommodation from hotel rooms and suites to villas. Ideally located on the lake front this hotel is just a few minutes stroll from the shops, cafes and many activities Te Anau has to offer.

Meals included: Breakfast

Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas

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

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 17

Day 17 - Today you'll drive the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound for your nature cruise on the fiord

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Today, see some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country when you take the road to Milford Sound. With crystal clear lakes, towering mountains and lush glacier formed meadows, this area is abundant with picture perfect scenes and countless photo opportunities. Take the Chasm Walk, a short stroll through native beech forest to see several powerful waterfalls. Continue on through the Homer Tunnel, an engineering marvel at 1219 metres long. Arriving into the village of Milford, you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

A two and a half hour nature cruise of spectacular Milford Sound. On board one of three purpose built vessels you'll experience tumbling waterfalls, towering peaks, lush rainforest and native wildlife. Learn about the region, its history and natural surroundings while enjoying a delicious picnic lunch. As you cruise, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins - frequent visitors to the fiord. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your accommodation: Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas

The Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers a range of accommodation from hotel rooms and suites to villas. Ideally located on the lake front this hotel is just a few minutes stroll from the shops, cafes and many activities Te Anau has to offer.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 18

Day 18 - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown

Te Anau to Queenstown

Today make your way to Queenstown across vast tussocklands. Head through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation then continue on through rolling southland countryside. Soon the road skirts the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range makes for an impressive welcome to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

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: 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: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 19

Day 19 - Today is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown

Experience the wonders of Queenstown

Renowned as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital,’ Queenstown is not just an action destination. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath the (truly remarkable) Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is a melting pot of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Follow the vines through Gibbston Valley as you sample the region’s best wine. Stop at the Chard Farm cellar door, visit the award-winning Peregrine vineyard or take a cellar cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery. Cruise to Walter Peak station for dinner on board a 100 year old steamship - the TSS Earnslaw. While you're there, a farm tour is a must do for those not familiar with rural living.

Take some time to wander the waterfront, and grab lunch at one of the many amazing cafes and restaurants on offer. Try Vudu’s Pantry and larder or for a holiday treat go to Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown - a disused gold mining settlement built in the 1800’s.Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. After all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water Rafting.

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 - Appellation Boutique Wine Tour

Go off-the-beaten-track with this unique Central Otago wine tour. Taste wines at four of the best vineyards in the Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell regions. The wineries you'll visit are selected from the following: Peregrine, Chard Farm, Carrick, Mt Difficulty, Felton Road, Akarua and Olssens vineyards. This tour also includes a delightful gourmet platter lunch at the award-winning Carrick Winery Restaurant.
Departing Queenstown, you'll go through picturesque valleys, dramatic gorges and rolling vine-covered hills. See the Otago Goldfields, Historic Old Cromwell Town and Lake Dunstan and the Kawarau Gorge.

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

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 20

Day 20 - 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: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Located in the heart of Franz Josef Village the hotel offers all the amenities you would expect and is close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer.

Meals included: Breakfast

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

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

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 21

Day 21 - Explore Franz Josef and the glaciers of Westland National Park

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Located in In the heart of the West Coast, Franz Josef is small but lively town. Known for its 12 km long glacier and surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains, the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To get close to the ice, walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself or get within 100m you must take a licensed tour. Strap on some crampons and give it a go with Franz Josef Glacier Guides or take the easier option and book in a helicopter landing instead. Whichever way you choose to ascend, once on top you’ll have the chance to explore the crevasses, caves and ice flows.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

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: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Located in the heart of Franz Josef Village the hotel offers all the amenities you would expect and is close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer.

Meals included: Breakfast

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

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New Zealand Discoverer North to South Self Drive Tour - Day 22

Day 22 - 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

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: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

This luxury hotel is centrally located in the revitalised Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, a short stroll from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and new Christchurch Convention Centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

Distinction Hotel Christchurch

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

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Day 23 - Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

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