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The Essence of New Zealand 

14 days from Auckland to Christchurch

This 14 day itinerary ensures you get to experience the 'essence' of each island, from the City of Sails, to the golden sand beaches of the Coromandel and the adventure and culture of Rotorua. Then fly South to experience the Southern Alps, its mountains, lakes, fiords and unrivaled hospitality.

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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 Christchurch
 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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Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand
Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
 

The Essence of New Zealand - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland, transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Day 2: Enjoy a full day exploring Auckland's wild side
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Day 3: Collect your rental car then head south to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 246 kms / 153 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 4: Explore the idyllic beaches and forests of the Coromandel
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Day 5: Travel to the Maori cultural capital of Rotorua
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 180 kms / 112 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 6: Enjoy the geothermal parks and lakes of Rotorua, this evening visit Mitai Maori Village
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Day 7: Today you'll fly from Rotorua to the adventure capital of Queenstown
Accommodation: Sofitel Queenstown
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 3 kms / 2 miles : 0.1 hours

Day 8: Take the day to explore Queenstown and this evening enjoy a high country station dinner at Walter Peak
Accommodation: Sofitel Queenstown

Day 9: Explore the breath-taking Dart River in Mt Aspiring National Park
Accommodation: Sofitel Queenstown

Day 10: Continue your journey north to Mt Cook National Park
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 256 kms / 159 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 11: Visit the amazing Tasman Glacier and see the massive icebergs
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Day 12: Explore the Canterbury Plains as you journey north to Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 327 kms / 203 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 13: The day is yours to explore the evolving city of Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch

Day 14: Drop your rental car at the airport before continuing your onward journey

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 1

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland, transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure

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 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.
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 2

Day 2 - Enjoy a full day exploring Auckland's wild side

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour

This full day eco-tour takes you first to the Arataki Visitor Centre, only a short drive from Auckland Central and the gateway to the Waitakere Ranges. Enjoy views from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean as you absorb the area’s history. Admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings and walk through the regenerating rainforest where your experienced guide will local flora and fauna including giant tree ferns, bubbling streams and cascading waterfalls. Venture onto a wild west-coast beach and enjoy a picnic lunch. Before your visit ends, see original untamed rainforest where mature 1,000 year old kauri trees have developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years. Part of the rainforest is particularly rich in bird life due to a successful programme to eradicate pests.

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, Lunch

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 3

Day 3 - Collect your rental car then head south to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula

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.

Auckland to Tairua via Coromandel Township

As you leave Auckland you'll cross the fertile plains of the Hauraki before passing the Thames Estuary - a haven for wildlife and shore birds. After arriving into the historic gold mining town of Thames, choose to follow the scenic route along the Pohutukawa Coast (part of the Pacific Coast Highway). As one of the most spectacular drives in the region leave yourself plenty of time for photos and sightseeing. Plan to arrive into Coromandel Township for lunch before heading down the east coast towards popular seaside destinations Whitianga and then Tairua.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour

Driving Creek Railway and Potteries has become a Coromandel icon. The dream of Barry Brickell was to establish a pottery workshop on his land. Using a railway he would have access to the clay on the land and the pine kiln fuel. Over the next 15 years the railway developed until in 1990 it was finally licensed to carry fare paying passengers and ever since thousands of visitors have made the trip to Coromandel to experience this unique attraction. The 1 hour return train trip on the innovatively designed trains takes you through replanted native kauri forest and includes 2 spirals, 3 short tunnels, 5 reversing points and several large viaducts as it climbs up to the mountain-top terminus. The pottery is still producing and you can watch the artists at work as well as purchase items.

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.

Meals included: Breakfast

Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 246 kms / 153 miles : 3.6 hours

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 4

Day 4 - Explore the idyllic beaches and forests of the Coromandel

Tairua

Tairua is a small seaside town and fishing village sitting on a natural harbour. The dominant feature is Paku Hill and extinct volcanic cone that stands at the harbour entrance. Great views of the town ship and the Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed from the look out at the top. With numerous white sandy beaches, cafes and restaurants this is a great place to spend some relaxing time. Dive trips to the Alderman Islands depart from here.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach derives its name from the geothermally heated water that continually seeps in through the sands. At low tide you can dig a hole and create your own mineral pool. The beach itself is golden, fine sand and is an ideal place to relax.  A few cafes and art stores are also worth a look - in particular Moko which has a great range of local indigenous arts and crafts for sale.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour

A photographer's dream! A delightful sample of Coromandel Peninsula's natural heritage and scenic beauty. Enjoy the flora and fauna of the semi-tropical rainforest with giant ferns, kauri trees and crystal clear streams. Visit the old historic gold caves sparkling with glowworms and hear the fascinating history of this magic area. Visit stunning coastal scenery with white sand beaches, magnificent cliffs decorated with ancient Pohutukawa trees, old Maori pa sites and offshore islands. A visit to Hot Water Beach [tide permitting]. Lunch is included and will be a delightful picnic or a visit to our favourite cafe. The Nature and Coast day walk is their most popular walk and is a gentle walk suitable for everyone including children.

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.

Meals included: Breakfast

Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 5

Day 5 - Travel to the Maori cultural capital of Rotorua

Tairua to Rotorua via Tauranga

Today you'll be leaving the Coromandel Peninsula and passing through the town of Whangamata, a popular tourist destination for Kiwi holidaymakers and home to one of the best beaches in the region. Stop in Wahi to view its operational open cast gold mine - just follow the signs to a unique vantage point overlooking the Martha Mine. For rail enthusiasts, be sure to take a trip on the Goldfields Railway along its historic and scenic track. Continue on through the Bay of Plenty and the portside city of Tauranga. Your driving route now takes you along the Pyes Pa Road to Rotorua. If Lord of the Rings is your thing take a detour along State Highway 29 to Matamata, home to the fictional Tolkien village, Hobbiton. As you arrive into Rotorua take in the spectacular lake views along with clouds of steam rising from multiple geysers across the region.

Your accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Peppers on the Point is a beautiful lodge accommodation in a stunning location and offering panoramic views. It also offers gourmet New Zealand food and wine, as well as a range of on site activities from pampering massage, fly fishing from the private beach, water sports, tennis, gym and boating and is only 10 minutes from the heart of Rotorua City.

Meals included: Breakfast

Peppers on the Point

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 180 kms / 112 miles : 2.6 hours

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 6

Day 6 - Enjoy the geothermal parks and lakes of Rotorua, this evening visit Mitai Maori Village

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 - Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

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

Mitai Maori Village

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

Your accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Peppers on the Point is a beautiful lodge accommodation in a stunning location and offering panoramic views. It also offers gourmet New Zealand food and wine, as well as a range of on site activities from pampering massage, fly fishing from the private beach, water sports, tennis, gym and boating and is only 10 minutes from the heart of Rotorua City.

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

Peppers on the Point

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 7

Day 7 - Today you'll fly from Rotorua to the adventure capital of Queenstown

Drop your rental car at Rotorua Airport

Drop your rental car at Rotorua airport before continuing your onward journey.

Air New Zealand flight Rotorua to Queenstown
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: Sofitel Queenstown

The stunning five-star Sofitel Queenstown is located in the heart of New Zealand's premier four season lake and alpine resort. New Zealand's very first Sofitel, this luxury boutique hotel occupies one of the best locations to get the most from the vibrant town.

Meals included: Breakfast

Sofitel Queenstown

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 3 kms / 2 miles : 0.1 hours

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 8

Day 8 - Take the day to explore Queenstown and this evening enjoy a high country station dinner at Walter Peak

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 - Routeburn Track Encounter Guided Day Walk

The Routeburn Track traverses wild and scenic mountain country between the Hollyford and Dart Valleys at the base of New Zealand's Southern Alps. Since the 1880's the Routeburn Track has proved to be one of the most accessible and popular journeys into New Zealand's forests and mountains.
The Routeburn Encounter is a fully catered, guided one-day walk up the spectacular Routeburn Valley departing from and returning to Queenstown. It is an ideal trip for people who have limited time or are uncertain of their ability to do a longer hike.
Although there is some altitude gain (400m) to Routeburn Flats, the track is very well formed and of a good gradient. Average fitness is all that is required to complete the walk to Routeburn Flats and return. The 300m (1000 feet) climb to Routeburn Falls is somewhat tougher, but well within the abilities of the majority of our walkers. The return distance to Routeburn Flats is 13km (8 miles), adding the optional but recommended climb to Routeburn Falls makes a total return distance of 19km (11 miles).

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: Sofitel Queenstown

The stunning five-star Sofitel Queenstown is located in the heart of New Zealand's premier four season lake and alpine resort. New Zealand's very first Sofitel, this luxury boutique hotel occupies one of the best locations to get the most from the vibrant town.

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

Sofitel Queenstown

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 9

Day 9 - Explore the breath-taking Dart River in Mt Aspiring National Park

Dart River Wilderness Jet

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

Your accommodation: Sofitel Queenstown

The stunning five-star Sofitel Queenstown is located in the heart of New Zealand's premier four season lake and alpine resort. New Zealand's very first Sofitel, this luxury boutique hotel occupies one of the best locations to get the most from the vibrant town.

Meals included: Breakfast

Sofitel Queenstown

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 10

Day 10 - Continue your journey north to Mt Cook National Park

Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you will head through the Kawarau Gorge and across the Kawarau Bridge - a popular bungy jumping location. Continue through the Gibbston Valley and leave time to stop at one of its many vineyards for a tasting. Once you exit the gorge you'll arrive in the orchard town of Cromwell, known for its abundance of fruit growers. If you're a foodie at heart, we recommend taking a side trip to Bannockburn for a complete food and wine experience at one its many award-winning wineries and restaurants.

Cromwell itself sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge and the old historic town is well worth the visit. Completely submerged when the Clyde Dam was built and Lake Dunstan established in 1992, the remnants of the old Cromwell town provides a unique snapshot into this areas history.

Head over through the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand’s highest roads, with the summit reaching 971 metres. It's tussock covered hills are a barren but beautiful sight as you descend into the Mackenzie Basin. You'll go through the towns of Omarama and Twizel - the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mount. Cook Highway to arrive in the small village.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

The Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre pays tribute to one of New Zealand's greatest characters - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers. Showcasing the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium. this informative experience is one to remember.

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: 256 kms / 159 miles : 2.9 hours

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 11

Day 11 - Visit the amazing Tasman Glacier and see the massive icebergs

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.

Short walks in and around Mt. Cook Village

There are many short scenic walks beginning in and around the Mt. Cook Village, suitable for all ages and abilities. Located within the Mount Cook Village is the Department of Conservation information centre, where updates on the track conditions and suitability is available as well as information on the history of the area and its wildlife.

Below is a snapshot of some of the walks available:

 - Bowen Bush Walk  - 10 minute return

 - Glencoe Walk - 10 minute return

 - Red Tarns Track - Two hour return

 - Kea Point Walk - Two hour return

 - Hooker Lake - Four hour return

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

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 12

Day 12 - Explore the Canterbury Plains as you journey north to Christchurch

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Leaving Mount Cook national park, travel a short distance before stopping at the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. Learn about the formation of the region and take in the spectacular views of Mt. Cook. Lake Tekapo also displays the same reflective qualities of Lake Pukaki - making the waters a bright turquoise. You’ll go through the small town of Tekapo, home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just marvel at the magnificent views. From here you travel through Burkes Pass and into the rich farming valley that surrounds Geraldine. Continue on across the vast Canterbury Plains to arrive in Christchurch City, your destination for the night.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola

In the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch city, ride the Christchurch Gondola for nearly a kilometre to the collapsed rim of an extinct volcano - which exploded six million years ago.  Take in the panoramic 360-degree views of the central city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps.  Wander the summit complex and choose one of many nature walks or visit the Time Tunnel - a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch.

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: 327 kms / 203 miles : 3.7 hours

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The Essence of New Zealand - Day 13

Day 13 - The day is yours to explore the evolving city of Christchurch

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 - Akaroa Day Tour including Harbour Nature Cruise

Enjoy a full day tour to Akaroa with Canterbury Leisure Tours. You will travel the scenic route to Akaroa via Governors Bay, Gebbies Pass, Lake Forsyth and Little River. Stop for spectacular views over the Akaroa Harbour. You'll then take a two hour cruise through Akaroa Harbour for a chance to see this quaint french settlement from the sea as well as dolphins, penguins and seals. On the return journey to Christchurch you will visit the cheese factory at Barry's Bay and sample some of New Zealand's finest cheese.
Lunch at the popular waterfront restaurant 'Bully Hayes' is included - offering a wide choice of New Zealand cuisine.

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

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Day 14 - Drop your rental car at the airport before continuing your onward journey

Depart Christchurch today

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

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

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