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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer 

16 days from Queenstown to Auckland

This 16 day itinerary follows a route through some of New Zealand's fantastic wine regions including the Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago, also included is an amazing scenic flight over the Queenstown with a private picnic lunch. Tour each region with local experts and also enjoy some of the must do activities. In the evenings retire to relaxing boutique lodges and hotels.

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 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 16 days/15 nights from Queenstown to Auckland
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Boutique lodges & hotels (Can be customised? YES )
 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible
 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers
 Tour pack: Includes detailed driving instructions, maps, guide books and much more
 This tour can be customised to suit you precisely - just request here

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Milky Way, Wanaka, New Zealand
New Zealand wineries and vineyards
 

Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Welcome to Queenstown
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Day 2: Explore Queenstown by air with the ultimate scenic flight and private picnic in Paradise
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Day 3: Your rental car is delivered this morning, then cross the Crown Range to Wanaka
Accommodation: Wanaka Haven
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

Day 4: Full day exploring the Central Otago Wineries renowned for their Pinot Noir
Accommodation: Wanaka Haven

Day 5: Travel the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast and if you arrive early maybe take a Heli-hike tour of the glacier
Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

Day 6: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 7: Discover the hidden gem that is the Waipara Valley or maybe explore the charming village of Akaroa
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Day 8: Head north onto the port town of Picton
Accommodation: McCormick House
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 351 kms / 218 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 9: A full day tour exploring the Marlborough Vineyards
Accommodation: McCormick House

Day 10: Departing Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds, then cross the Cook Strait to Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Day 11: Journey to New Zealand's largest wine region - the Hawkes Bay
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 12: Enjoy a day exploring the Hawkes Bay and this evening a travelling gourmet experience
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Day 13: Take the short trip to Lake Taupo
Accommodation: Acacia Cliffs Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 130 kms / 81 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 14: Travel north to Auckland, the City of Sails
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 274 kms / 170 miles : 3.2 hours

Day 15: Explore the boutique vineyards on the island retreat of Waiheke
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Day 16: Depart Auckland today

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

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 1

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 - 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: The Dairy Private Hotel

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

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 2

Day 2 - Explore Queenstown by air with the ultimate scenic flight and private picnic in Paradise

Ultimate Paradise Picnic Scenic Helicopter Flight with Heliworks

Relax and enjoy the beauty of Queenstown, as you are flown to a beautiful location on Cecil Peak for a gourmet picnic accompanied by wine or bubbles. The perfect opportunity to indulge!

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.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

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

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

The Dairy Private Hotel

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 3

Day 3 - Your rental car is delivered this morning, then cross 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.

Your accommodation: Wanaka Haven

Wanaka Haven is located a short drive from Wanaka township and offers commanding views of the Southern Alps. This purpose built property offers luxurious bed and breakfast accommodation in a relaxed alpine atmosphere.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Wanaka Haven

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

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 4

Day 4 - Full day exploring the Central Otago Wineries renowned for their Pinot Noir

Wanaka Wine Tours Classic Wine Tour

The Classic Full Day Wine Tour is a small group tour (maximum 8) that explores the scenery, history, food and wines of Central Otago.  Enjoy an unhurried amble through six of the region's finest wineries, pausing only to admire the ever-present views. Savour the unique atmosphere of the arts, crafts and history of Old Cromwell Town and share the unforgettable indulgence of a gourmet platter lunch.

Your accommodation: Wanaka Haven

Wanaka Haven is located a short drive from Wanaka township and offers commanding views of the Southern Alps. This purpose built property offers luxurious bed and breakfast accommodation in a relaxed alpine atmosphere.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Wanaka Haven

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 5

Day 5 - Travel the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast and if you arrive early maybe take a Heli-hike tour of the glacier

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 - Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

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. 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 operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest at Franz Josef is a very special five-star retreat. Designed with utmost care of its precious environment, guests at Te Waonui Forest Retreat will find themselves encircled by rainforest and accommodated in natural and sustainable luxury.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Te Waonui Forest Retreat

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

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 6

Day 6 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

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

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour

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

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

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

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

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

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

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

Your accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

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

Meals included: Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast

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

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 7

Day 7 - Discover the hidden gem that is the Waipara Valley or maybe explore the charming village of Akaroa

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.

Waipara region

The Waipara Valley is situated only 40 minutes drive north of Christchurch City. The fastest growing wine region in New Zealand, it is home to around 80 vineyards covering more than 1,200 hectares of plantings. Tucked at the base of the Teviotdale hill, it is sheltered from cool easterly winds but open to warming north west winds. The valley has three general sites, valley floor, hill slopes or river terraces. The soil types include; gravely deposits on flats and terraces in the central and west of the valley, limestone derived clays on hillsides and valley floor to the eastern side and gravely loams over alluvial subsoil in the southern part of the region. The north facing sloping terrain provides an ideal sun trap for fruiting vines.

This gives each vineyard unique characters that contribute to a range of wine styles. The “Terroir” combined with the long hot autumn period helps produce unique richer, spicier Pinot Noirs and Rieslings – regional specialties. Other varieties of note include Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Vineyards of note include Pegasus Bay with its award winning restaurant and Mud House which also has a cafe linked to the cellar door.  For information on all the Waipara vineyards visit Waipara Wineries.

Another great local attraction is The Weka Pass Railway. This historic rural railway uses both vintage steam and diesel-electric locomotives on 12.8 km of scenic line through the unique limestone beauty of the Weka Pass out of Waipara, where superior weather patterns provide crystal clear air and high sunshine hours. Open most Sundays and public holidays during the summer months.

Akaroa

The Banks Peninsula lies just around 1 hour from Christchurch City centre. Formed by ancient volcanic eruptions the regions first settlers were Maori who recognised its potential for shelter and food. The sealers and whalers followed them and European colonists founded and settled Akaroa, Little River and Lyttelton and many of the Peninsula's other bays. Abounding with wildlife and history it's a great place to spend the day exploring.

The jewel is Akaroa which lies just over 70 kilometres from central Christchurch and the drive to this picturesque harbour town is a wonderful experience in itself as it can either take you via the port of Lyttelton and along the bays or over the Summit Road of the Port Hills.

The well signposted tourist routes will guide you on a loop around the peninsula and through some spectacular and rugged farmland scenery. As you approach the small settlement of Duvauchelle you are greeted by New Zealand's oldest hotel.

The town of Akaroa has rather a French feel with many flags flying and cottages and streets with distinctly non-kiwi names. The reason being that 63 Frenchmen arrived here to settle the Banks Peninsular under the French Flag only to find the British had beaten them by 5 days. Their influence on architecture combined with a Victorian sea side feel make the town a delightful place to spend an afternoon. There are many activities such as nature cruises and swimming with dolphins.


Your accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

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

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Orari Bed and Breakfast

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 8

Day 8 - Head north onto the port town of Picton

Christchurch to Picton

The drive north from Christchurch to Picton takes you through some fine rolling farmland and North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. A great detour to take is to head inland and visit Hanmer Springs for a dip in the natural hot pools. Crossing the Hawkswood Range you descend towards the spectacular Kaikoura coastline and the road hugs the ocean as it winds its way the remaining 15 kilometres to the township.
Kaikoura is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife. Whale Watch Kaikoura is New Zealand's only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale at all times of the year. Heading north from Kaikoura, the road hugs the shore for approximately 50 kilometres and offers many opportunities to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals.  One of the best seal watching locations is Ohau Point (25km north of Kaikoura), where you can observe the adults on the shoreline and the pups frolicking in the waterfall, just a short walk from the road (signposted).   As you drive you will have turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean to your east and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Crossing the ‘dry hills’ of the Marlborough ranges you head towards New Zealand’s largest wine producing region.  The vineyards surrounding Blenheim are a great place to stop for a wine tasting or lunch at one of the many fine restaurants, including the award winning Herzog Winery and Restaurant. A short drive from Blenheim you'll reach the busy port town of Picton, and it’s here from that the Interislander ferries arrive and depart. The town centre is quite small with plenty of shops and cafes and the waterfront area is a very pleasant place to spend time 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. It’s also the starting point for the famous Queen Charlotte Walk. From Picton a beautiful scenic drive takes you along the  Queen Charlotte Drive and the Marlborough Sounds coastline between Picton and Havelock. Magnificent views of the sounds can be had from many vantage points so allow plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

Your accommodation: McCormick House

McCormick House was architecturally designed in 1914 for one of Picton's earliest Colonial settlers. This gracious, welcoming home has been extensively restored retaining its original native timber features. Only minutes walk from the town centre, McCormick House is set amidst half an acre of private, established, native gardens and mature trees.

Meals included: Breakfast

McCormick House

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 351 kms / 218 miles : 5.0 hours

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 9

Day 9 - A full day tour exploring the Marlborough Vineyards

Sounds Connection Gourmet Wine Tour

The ultimate food and wine experience, the Sounds Connection Gourmet Wine Tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at several renowned Marlborough wineries including Hans Herzog Estate, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay and Johanneshof Cellars, as well as a stop at the Makana Chocolate Factory (Wineries visited on this tour can vary due to availability). Meet the makers behind these world-renowned wines and gain a fascinating insight into the wine-making process.

Your accommodation: McCormick House

McCormick House was architecturally designed in 1914 for one of Picton's earliest Colonial settlers. This gracious, welcoming home has been extensively restored retaining its original native timber features. Only minutes walk from the town centre, McCormick House is set amidst half an acre of private, established, native gardens and mature trees.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

McCormick House

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 10

Day 10 - Departing Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds, then cross the Cook Strait to Wellington

Interislander ferry Picton to Wellington

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

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

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

Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

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

Meals included: Breakfast

Bolton Hotel Wellington

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 11

Day 11 - Journey to New Zealand's largest wine region - the Hawkes Bay

Wellington to Napier

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

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

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

Meals included: Breakfast

McHardy Lodge

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

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 12

Day 12 - Enjoy a day exploring the Hawkes Bay and this evening a travelling gourmet experience

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

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

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

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

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

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

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

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

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

McHardy Lodge

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 13

Day 13 - Take the short trip to Lake Taupo

Napier to Taupo

Crossing the Ahimanawa Ranges you arrive into the town of Taupo sitting on 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 Taupo 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. Taupo is a lively place with many shops, bars and cafes all catering for the traveller and visitor. A whole host of activities can be undertaken here such as bungy jumping, sky diving, fishing for trout in the lake and rivers, kayaking, sailing, horse riding and walking and hiking to name but a few.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Maori Rock Carving Cruise

Sit back and relax in luxury bean bags on board the yacht Barbary as you enjoy a scenic sail across Lake Taupo to the 10-metre high Maori rock art, only accessible by boat. You're guaranteed amazing photo opportunities as you experience one of life's postcard moments on this Maori tour. Glide across a smooth lake as you soak up the warming sun or go for a swim before you enjoy free light refreshments at the rock carvings. If you're looking for a little more activity you can help hoist the sails or take a turn at the wheel. Taupo's Maori rock carvings may look like the remains of a 1,000-year-old Maori village, but these rock carvings were created in the late 70s by local artists lead by John Randall. Duration of cruise is 2 to 2.5 hours.

Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride

The Huka Jet is 30 minutes of pure fun and exhilaration, skimming close to cliffs, sliding past trees, feeling the adrenalin of full 360 degree spins. The excitement continues right up to the base of the foaming Huka Falls, where you get a spectacular water level view to New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Nothing compares to watching 220,000 litres per second tumbling over the cliff face towards you.
The water from the mighty Huka Falls runs down the Waikato River through a series of Hydro Power Stations. You'll get a view of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the comfort of a powerful Chevrolet V8 jet boat. This unique Geothermal Power Station uses underground geothermal activity to produce hot steamy water. The Waikato Rivers beautiful environment is varied and unique and is New Zealand's longest river flowing north from our largest lake - Lake Taupō.

Your accommodation: Acacia Cliffs Lodge

Acacia Cliffs Lodge occupies a simply stunning location with spectacular lake and mountain views along with superb cuisine and secluded luxury yet only minutes from the region's attractions.

Meals included: Breakfast

Acacia Cliffs Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 130 kms / 81 miles : 1.5 hours

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 14

Day 14 - Travel north to Auckland, the City of Sails

Taupo to Auckland

The drive from Taupo to Auckland takes you through the heart of the Waikato and its rich agricultural land. New Zealand's longest river, the Waikato River, guides you through the art and craft stores of Tirau and the township of Cambridge.
Auckland City is New Zealand's largest, with a population of around 1.5 million people (about one third of the national population), spread over approximately 60 square kilometres. There is somewhere for every visitor to feel comfortable and right at home as each suburb has its own unique style and atmosphere, from the vibrant and trendy fashion and cuisine found on Ponsonby and Parnell Roads to the breathtaking native bush and beaches of the West Coast. One of the world's great cities Auckland is full of life and opportunities to explore are endless.

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: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is located in the heart of Auckland on the unique and vibrant Viaduct Harbour and close to the new Wynyard Quarter.

Meals included: Breakfast

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 274 kms / 170 miles : 3.2 hours

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Queenstown to Auckland 16 day Wine Region Explorer - Day 15

Day 15 - Explore the boutique vineyards on the island retreat of Waiheke

Fullers Ferry Auckland to Waiheke Island

A scenic 40 minute (approximate depending on departure time/route) cruise through the Hauraki Gulf between the Auckland down town ferry terminal and Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke Island.

The Essence of Waiheke Wine Tour

Enjoy the stunning scenery of Waiheke Island as you are entertained by the commentary of your experienced local guide. Visit 3 of the islands top wineries for tastings and relax during a two-hour lunch stop before heading back to the ferry. Lunch is an additional cost, but your guides can reserve a table for you in advance at at a beachside cafe or, for a memorable gourmet experience at one of Waiheke's top vineyard restaurants.

Fullers Ferry Waiheke Island to Auckland

A scenic 40 minute (approximate depending on departure time/route) cruise through the Hauraki Gulf between Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke Island and the Auckland downtown ferry terminal.

Your accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is located in the heart of Auckland on the unique and vibrant Viaduct Harbour and close to the new Wynyard Quarter.

Meals included: Breakfast

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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Day 16 - Depart Auckland today

Depart Auckland today

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

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

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