Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand
30 day North & South Island Self Drive, from Auckland to Christchurch
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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand

From Cape Reinga, the tip of New Zealand all the way south to Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound, this tour has something for everyone.  You’ll begin your adventure in Auckland, where you travel north to the beautiful Bay of Islands.  From there you will gradually journey south, enjoying an amazing range of included activities all the way. Highlights of the North Island include snorkelling in the Coromandel Peninsula, a scenic flight in the Bay of Islands and a wine tour in the Hawkes Bay.  In the south, there is plenty of adventure and multiple wildlife encounters, including penguins, whales and seals to name a few of the unique creatures you’ll meet.

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Itinerary details at a glance

North & South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$9,510 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

30 days/29 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 29 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland City
Accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Day 2: Explore Auckland the 'City of Sails'
Accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Day 3: Cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge, then venture north to the balmy Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 226 kms / 140 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 4: Take a spectacular scenic flight to the top of New Zealand
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Day 5: Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast
Accommodation: Snells Beach Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 295 kms / 183 miles : 3.8 hours

Day 6: Pass through Auckland and the Hauraki Plains before the coastal climb to Coromandel
Accommodation: Aotearoa Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 270 kms / 168 miles : 3.8 hours

Day 7: Explore the Coromandel Peninsula and the marine sanctuary at cathedral cove
Accommodation: Aotearoa Lodge

Day 8: Travel along the Bay of Plenty before turning inland towards the lakes of Rotorua
Accommodation: Silver Fern Suites & Spa
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 137 miles : 3.4 hours

Day 9: Experience the Maori culture at Te Puia and in the afternoon take a thrilling zipline forest tour
Accommodation: Silver Fern Suites & Spa

Day 10: First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay
Accommodation: Bella Vista Napier
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 11: Discover the wineries of the Hawkes Bay, home of New Zealand's oldest vineyards
Accommodation: Bella Vista Napier

Day 12: Journey from one wine region to another
Accommodation: The Claremont, Martinborough
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 13: Travel over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington
Accommodation: Bella Vista Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 14: Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 162 kms / 101 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 15: Explore Abel Tasman National Park with a magical cruise on the aqua waters
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

Day 16: Pass through the Nelson Lakes region and onto the seaside town of Kaikoura
Accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 336 kms / 209 miles : 4.4 hours

Day 17: Explore Kaikoura home to an abundance of marine wildlife
Accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura

Day 18: It's a short drive south to the ever-changing city of Christchurch
Accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 19: Explore Christchurch City and take a gondola ride to the Port Hills Crater Rim for amazing views
Accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Day 20: Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country to Mt Cook National Park
Accommodation: Mt Cook Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 21: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Motel on York
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 22: Explore Dunedin and meet the wonderful wildlife of the Otago Peninsula
Accommodation: Motel on York

Day 23: Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 24: Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound for your cruise
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 25: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 26: The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 27: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 28: Explore Franz Josef Glacier with a scenic flight and glacier walk
Accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Day 29: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 30: Depart Christchurch today

Detailed itinerary - day by day
Tour full itinerary
Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 1
Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Welcome to Auckland

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 28 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Sailing Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water sailing and 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. 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 canapes and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between dining in the downstairs cabin or on deck to take in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour. To finish the evening off, savour your dessert course as you leisurely sail back to Auckland's vibrant Viaduct Harbour.

Your accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 2
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.

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. 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 - Full Day Taste of Auckland Tour + Lunch with Bush and Beach

Start your day in central Auckland, passing through The Domain and the heritage suburb of Ponsonby before heading over the Harbour Bridge to the North Shore. You'll stroll on Narrow Neck Beach in historic Devonport before summiting Mt Victoria, Auckland's highest volcano. Conclude the morning part of your tour with a visit to the fish market and yachting precinct - the Viaduct Harbour.
Leave behind the bustle of the city and head northwest to taste the flavours of Auckland's Heritage Wine Region, Kumeu. Enjoy lunch at a contemporary vineyard restaurant, sample world-renowned wines, and marvel at the rugged surf-fringed coastline nearby. Your journey will also take you to Muriwai beach one of the few mainland sites in the world where you can observe gannets. One of the largest seabirds in the world, you will get to observe the gannets flying in their natural environment set against the beautiful Tasman sea.

Your accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 3
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.

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.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 226 kms / 140 miles : 3.0 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 4
Cape Reinga Scenic Aeroplane Flight and Guided Tour

Today experience the beauty of the North from both air and land. Take a spectacular scenic flight to Cape Reinga over Whangaroa Harbour and the Rangaunu Harbour as well as Coopers Beach, Doubtless Bay and Ninety Mile Beach. The tour also includes a visit to the Cape Reinga lighthouse.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 5
Bay of Islands to Snells Beach via Waipoua Forest

From the Bay of Islands you will head west, leaving the Pacific Ocean for the wilder shores of Hokianga and the Tasman Sea. Small towns Omapere and Opononi are reminiscent of days gone by with a vintage seaside feel and are the perfect place to stop for an ice cream in a hot day. To the south is the Kauri coast, which you're about to explore. Head south into the Waipoua Forest, home to giant Kauri trees. Allow time for one of a number of short walks available in the area. Not to be missed is the five minute loop to view the largest Kauri in New Zealand, Tane Mahuta.
Backtrack cross-country to the Matakohe Kauri Museum an award winning museum with extensive historical displays. Continue on the road to Snells Beach, a lovely little township close to Warkworth. If you arrive in plenty of time, head into Matakana Wine Country for some great dining options. Another must do while you’re here is a day excursion to one of many deserted beaches in the Tawharanui Marine Reserve.

Your accommodation: Snells Beach Motel

Snells Beach Motel is perfectly situated, on the Mahurangi East Peninsula, overlooking the beautiful Kawau Bay and in the heart of the wonderful Matakana Coast Wine Country area.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 295 kms / 183 miles : 3.8 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 6
Snells Beach to Coromandel Township

Today you will leave Snells beach, driving from Warkworth and passing through Auckland. As you leave the city boundaries you'll note a change in landscape to lush rolling farmland. Cross the Hauraki Plains, one of the largest dairy producing regions in New Zealand, and take in the abundance of black and white friesian cows. You'll go through the Thames Estuary, a haven for wildlife - in particular shore birds. If you're keen on birds, a detour to Miranda is worthwhile to spot the many godwits and oystercatchers. Arriving in the old gold town of Thames you have the option of two routes to the Coromandel. Take the road over the ranges and highway 25A will deliver you to the coast in 45 minutes. If you're up for a little longer, more scenic drive, take the route via the Pohutukawa Coast, north to the Coromandel Township. Known as one of the most spectacular drives in the region, it is well worth your time if you can spare the extra minutes.
 

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.

Coromandel Township to Whitianga

The short drive from Coromandel Township to Whitianga takes you via the scenic coastline of Whangapoua Harbour and the Kuaotuna beach. For beach lovers there are plenty of side roads to often deserted golden sand beaches and bays. Whitianga sits on Mercury Bay on the eastern coast of the Coromandel peninsular, Captain Cook arrived there in 1769 to observe the transit of Mercury and hence the bay was named. This small bustling town once played a major part in the kauri logging industry with over 150 million metres of timber being exported between 1830 and the end of the century. The Whitianga museum, housed in the old dairy factory displays an interesting collection designed to relay engrossing tales of the time. Today the town has a many cafes and craft shops with its income derived mainly from tourists. The summer months bring visitors to enjoy fishing, surfcasting and swimming along the palm fringed beaches. But the largest attraction is probably the big game marlin fishing with many charters available to hunt in the rich waters of the Pacific Ocean. On the other side of the harbour is Australasia's oldest stone wharf from where a passenger ferry takes visitors to the delightful Cooks Beach just a 5 minute walk along the road. Nearby is Buffalo Beach, named after H.M.S. Buffalo, a ship taking convicts and settlers to South Australia that blew aground in 1840.

Your accommodation: Aotearoa Lodge

Situated on two and a half acres of tranquil gardens and within a five minute stroll to beautiful Buffalo Beach. A perfect base to explore the whole of the Coromandel Peninsula being close to Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, New Chums Beach and the magnificent Coromandel bush.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 270 kms / 168 miles : 3.8 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 7
Coves, Caves and Coastline Cruise from Whitianga

Explore the volcanic coastline with its many caves, blowholes and golden beaches all from the comfort and safety of an ex coastguard 28 ft cruiser. Departing from Whitianga Wharf journey past the towering Shakespeare's Cliffs and historic Cooks Beach. Visit Cathedral Cove and the islands in the marine reserve. There is also a chance to swim with the abundant fish in the reserve (on board snorkel gear provided - don't forget your swimsuit and towel). For those who prefer to stay dry an underwater camera relays images to an onboard TV.

Explore Whitianga

Whitianga is located at Mercury Bay on the eastern coast of the Coromandel peninsular, a 3 hour drive from Auckland and 1 1/2 hours from Thames. Captain Cook arrived there in 1769 to observe the transit of Mercury and hence the bay was named. This small bustling town once played a major part in the kauri logging industry with over 150 million metres of timber being exported between 1830 and the end of the century. The Whitianga museum, housed in the old dairy factory displays an interesting collection designed to relay engrossing tales of the time.
Today the town has a many cafes and craft shops with its income derived mainly from tourists. The summer months bring visitors to enjoy fishing, surfcasting and swimming along the palm fringed beaches. But the largest attraction is probably the big game marlin fishing with many charters available to hunt in the rich waters of the Pacific Ocean.
On the other side of the harbour is Australasia's oldest stone wharf from where a passenger ferry takes visitors to the delightful Cooks Beach just a 5 minute walk along the road. Nearby is Buffalo Beach, named after H.M.S. Buffalo, a ship taking convicts and settlers to South Australia that blew aground in 1840. As well as Opito Bay, Flaxmill Bay and Kuaotuna Beach to name but a few of the many locations easily visited from Whitianga, the region is well worth a visit.

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. 

Your accommodation: Aotearoa Lodge

Situated on two and a half acres of tranquil gardens and within a five minute stroll to beautiful Buffalo Beach. A perfect base to explore the whole of the Coromandel Peninsula being close to Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, New Chums Beach and the magnificent Coromandel bush.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 8
Whitianga to Rotorua via Tauranga

Heading south from the Coromandel Peninsula you pass through the seaside town of Whangamata, a popular location for Kiwi holidaymakers and home to one of the best beaches in the region. Next, you come to the old mining town of Waihi which still has an operating open cast gold mine (Martha Mine) that can be viewed from a vantage point just above the town centre.
For rail enthusiasts, the Goldfields Railway operates passenger trains along a scenic and historic section of track towards Waikino. The route now takes you into the Bay of Plenty and the port town of Tauranga before you head along the scenic Pyes Pa Road to Rotorua. For Lord of the Rings fans, a detour to Matamata is recommended as this is the location of the Hobbiton film set. Arriving in Rotorua from the north you are welcomed by the spectacular view of the lake.

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Suites & Spa

Silver Fern Suites & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and is close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 137 miles : 3.4 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 9
Te Puia: Te Rā Daytime Experience

Te Puia welcomes you to explore the magic hidden within Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Become face-to-face with the majestic Pōhutu Geyser, the largest naturally active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere. Feel the thrill as it erupts, sending plumes of steam into the sky. Then, step into the Kiwi Conservation Centre, for a close-up encounter with this rare native species, a symbol of our nation's unique wildlife. Part of your ticket is donated to support the conservation of the Kiwi in this sanctuary. As you continue through the Te Puia Valley, look upon the dynamic landscape of bubbling mud pools, and steaming vents and feel the power that the land holds. Throughout this, everywhere you look you will see beautifully crafted Māori-made artwork and sculptures, each piece a story carved in wood and stone, adding a layer of cultural depth to the natural beauty. Step into the New Zealand Māori-made artwork and sculptures, each piece a story carved in wood and stone, adding a layer of cultural depth to the natural beauty. The guides are direct descendants of the original tour guides, and you can feel their excitement to show their culture and land. 

Original Ziplining Experience with Rotorua Canopy Tours

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees. In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - National Kiwi Hatchery Tour

The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky see baby chicks in person!

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Suites & Spa

Silver Fern Suites & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and is close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 10
Rotorua to Napier

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. Home to a plethora of unique geothermal attractions including boiling mud pits, natural hot springs and steaming geysers, this area is a must do before you move on to Napier. Notable attractions are Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake, a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of hundreds of cubic metres of water spilling every second down the narrow 11 metre drop.
For an extra thrill take a jet-boat ride to the base of the falls. Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Huka Falls 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a spectacular showcase of New Zealand’s most colourful and unique geothermal elements sculpted by thousands of years of volcanic activity. You are introduced to a uniquely different natural landscape – the key to what you see lies below the surface – one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand, extending over 18-sq. km. Enjoy viewing unique volcanic features as you walk at your own pace along well-defined tracks. Relax in the first-class Visitor Centre, home to the Gift Shop and Café facilities. Visit the Mud Pool, the largest in New Zealand, it was originally the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920s. See the history and beauty of the Lady Knox Geyser at 10:15 am every day. Lady Knox Geyser provides a unique opportunity to see an eruption to heights of 10 to 20 metres.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Napier

Bella Vista Motel Napier invites you to experience its friendly service and modern motel units. Located close to shops, restaurants and the renowned Marine Parade with its majestic Norfolk pines.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 11
Napier City

Napier, the city by the sea, is renowned for its 1930s Art Deco architecture, events such as the Art Deco Weekend in February, stately Norfolk pines, surrounding wineries and local fresh produce. Supported by a Mediterranean climate and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year this popular year-round destination boasts a vibrant cafe culture amongst the splendour of the Art Deco buildings.
Around 30 cafes are within walking distance of the central city area, while Ahuriri, just over Bluff Hill, is home to a further cluster of up market establishments. Marine Parade overlooks the Pacific Ocean and out towards Cape Kidnappers, home to the world's largest mainland gannet colony. A full day can be taken visiting Ocean Spa hot pools and swimming complex, the Hawke's Bay Museum and the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
A landmark of Napier is Bluff Hill, which is home to many Napier residents and provides views of the town,  beaches of Perfume Point and Westshore and out towards Whirinaki. Bluff Hill also overlooks the Port of Napier, one of New Zealand's busiest ports, transporting timber, local fruit and meat products to worldwide destinations.
In 1931, New Zealand's greatest natural disaster struck Hawke's Bay. At 10.47am on Tuesday February 3rd, an earthquake of magnitude Richter 7.8 struck. In a minute and a half, in two separate shocks, the centre of Napier was almost totally destroyed. Fires quickly broke out and reduced to ashes or gutted what the tremors had left standing. Damage in Hastings was also devastating, although the fires were contained. Wairoa and the smaller towns to the south as far as Dannevirke were affected. There were 258 deaths - 162 in Napier, 93 in Hastings and 3 in Wairoa along with many injuries. The reconstruction of Napier and Hastings was costly but the benefit was two modern cities and the Ahuriri Lagoon, or Inner Harbour as it was usually known, was raised over 2 metres, creating the land, which Napier desperately needed to expand.

Hawke's Bay Wine Experience half day tour

Discover the delights of Hawke's Bay on this 5 hour afternoon winery tour. You'll visit 4 local wineries including the oldest vineyard in New Zealand. You'll have the chance to taste award winning wines, learn about the winemaking process and the history of the region, as well as visit a barrel room and taste wine directly from the barrel.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Napier

Bella Vista Motel Napier invites you to experience its friendly service and modern motel units. Located close to shops, restaurants and the renowned Marine Parade with its majestic Norfolk pines.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 12
Napier to Martinborough

As you leave the rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay you'll be greeted with some of the country's richest dairy farmland in the Manawatu Gorge. Continue on through the Wairarapa region and stop in the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, where you can see some of New Zealand native animals. Take another break in Masterson, and visit the interactive Woolshed Museum to learn about sheep farming in New Zealand. As you drive south, a visit to historic Greytown is a must-do. Take in the restored Victorian buildings and make time for a cup of tea at one of its quaint cafes. Leaving state highway 2 you will cross over the Ruamahanga River into Martinborough wine country your destination for the day.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Martinborough Half Day Wine Tour with Martinborough Wine Tours

Visit wonderful vineyards such as Te Kairangi Wines, Tirohana Estate, Cabbage Tree Vineyard and Martinborough Vineyard on this half day tour of the premium wine region of Martinborough. Taste the wines, learn about the development of the region, its people and characters from knowledgeable guides.

Your accommodation: The Claremont, Martinborough

Set just outside the main village, The Claremont is the ideal base for you to enjoy everything the region has to offer. Well-appointed, self-contained apartments and units will make your stay very comfortable.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 13
Martinborough to Wellington City

Today you will cross the Rimutaka Ranges as you make your way to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Often compared to Melbourne, Wellington is vibrant cultural hub.Home to the nation’s centre of government. Legislation happens in the aptly named ‘Beehive,’ an executive wing attached to the Houses of Parliament. At one kilometre squared, the city centre (easily traversed on foot) has an international feel and is peppered with underground art shows, alleyway cafes and New York style delis. Take in the boardwalk view as you stroll to Te Papa Museum or indulge your cinematic side exploring Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award winning design studio for Lord Of The Rings. For a taste of vintage fashion, spend some time (and dollars!) on Cuba Street browsing the boutiques. Work off last night’s dinner with a cycling tour of Oriental Bay and undo your good work with a Hokey Pokey ice-cream in the sun. For those heading further down, the capital is where you board the ferry crossing the Cook Strait to the South Island.

Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary 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 are high!

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Wellington

Bella Vista Wellington is just 5 minutes walk from local beaches and the beautiful waters of Evans Bay. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Wellington CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 14
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.

Picton to Abel Tasman National Park

From Picton you’ll first travel the Marlborough sounds coastline between Picton and Havelock. This drive offers spectacular views of the sounds, so be sure to allow plenty of time for stops and sightseeing. Take moment to explore the secluded sandy coves along the narrow road to Portage. Aim to arrive in Havelock for lunch, as this portside town has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to eat at. Stop at the famous Pelorus bridge, just outside of Havelock. From here there are a number of forest walks to stretch your legs on with the most popular being a  30 minute loop through beech, rimu and totara forest. Continue on over the Bryant Range to arrive into Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson. Motueka is a further 45 minutes along the coast and from there it’s just a short drive to Kaiteriteri and Marahau, all ideal spots from which to explore the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park.

Your accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

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

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 162 kms / 101 miles : 2.5 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 15
Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk

Experience the best of Abel Tasman on this combined beach cruise and walk tour. Cruise into the Tonga Island Marine Reserve and pause to watch the antics of the Resident Fur Seal Colony. After landing at the historic Tonga Quarry Beach, take a two hour, fifteen minute walk over forested land and around the spectacular Bark Bay Estuary, renowned for its cascading waterfalls. Rejoin the cruise at the sheltered golden cove on Medlands Beach.

Your accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

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

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 16
Abel Tasman National Park to Kaikoura

Today you will take the scenic route, down towards the spectacular landscapes of Nelson Lakes National Park. After taking in the sights there, you will back up and pass through Marlborough and Blenheim, New Zealand's largest wine growing regions - and home to many award winning wines. We recommend timing your day to arrive for lunch with a view to sampling some of the local offerings at one of the 40 plus wineries surrounding the area. Continue over the dry hills of the Marlborough Ranges to one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, Kaikoura. For over 50 kilometers (30 miles) follow the shoreline. Keep an eye out for an abundance of seals, seabirds and other native wildlife. Kaikoura is also one of the only places in the world where whales can be seen all year round. To the east you'll see the Pacific Ocean while the West brings views of the towering Kaikoura ranges. Arriving in the Kaikoura township, you'll find it bustling with cafes and restaurants.

Your accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura

Set on the Esplanade in Kaikōura, The White Morph enjoys commanding views of the ocean and mountains. Just a 10-minute walk into town, The White Morph has been beautifully placed so that you can take in the spectacular scenery of Kaikoura while enjoying the variety of attractions on offer.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 336 kms / 209 miles : 4.4 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 17
Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a breathtaking seaside town teeming with marine life and natural beauty. As you wander through this coastal paradise, you'll be enveloped by the fresh sea breeze and the sounds of the ocean. Begin your adventure by observing the lively fur seal colony at the tip of the peninsula. For an unforgettable experience, board a boat to go whale watching and marvel at the majestic whales that call these waters home year-round. If you're feeling adventurous, take the plunge and swim with the playful dusky dolphins in their natural habitat. For bird enthusiasts, Kaikoura offers the chance to get up close with the native albatross, an awe-inspiring sight. The town is rich with attractions and activities for every visitor. A walk around the Kaikoura Peninsula is a must, where you can explore tide pools teeming with marine life, observe sea creatures basking on the rocks, and watch seabirds soaring above. Be sure to keep a respectful distance from the sleeping sea lions you might encounter along the way. Ohau Point is another highlight, where you can watch fur seals frolic in their natural environment. To delve into Kaikoura's fascinating history, visit Fyffe House. This historic whaler's cottage offers a glimpse into the town's whaling past and its evolution over the years. No trip to Kaikoura is complete without sampling the local seafood. Renowned for having some of the best fish and chips in the country, Kaikoura's eateries serve fresh catches straight from the morning's haul, ensuring a delicious and authentic dining experience. If you need a break from the action, unwind at Lavendyl Lavender Farm. Stroll through the fragrant lavender fields, relax in the serene atmosphere, and browse the gift shop for a variety of lavender products. Kaikoura seamlessly blends adventure, history, and relaxation, making it a perfect destination for travelers seeking a unique and enriching experience.

Ocean's Cabin with Whale Watch Kaikoura

Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer 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, occasionally make an appearance.
Cruise in style on modern catamarans, specifically designed for whale watching, featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Your accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura

Set on the Esplanade in Kaikōura, The White Morph enjoys commanding views of the ocean and mountains. Just a 10-minute walk into town, The White Morph has been beautifully placed so that you can take in the spectacular scenery of Kaikoura while enjoying the variety of attractions on offer.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 18
Kaikoura to Christchurch

Today you travel 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.

Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

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

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 19
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, or head to Oxford Terrace in the city to find a great spot to eat or drink.
Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for an authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.  

Christchurch Gondola

In the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch City, ride the Christchurch Gondola for nearly a kilometer to the collapsed rim of an extinct volcano, which exploded six million years ago. Take in the spectacular panoramic views of the central city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains, and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps. Wander the summit complex, enjoy a coffee or lunch in the cafe, and choose one of many nature walks to explore or visit the Christchurch Discovery Rice, a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Discover Christchurch Afternoon Tour

A half day sightseeing tour of Christchurch highlighting both the damage to the city inflicted by several large earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and the rebuild which is currently in progress, together with the surviving beauty of the city and the historical landmarks. Experience the grand architecture, beautiful gardens and scenic viewpoints on a half-day city tour of Christchurch.
The tour commences in the central city of Christchurch and covers the area which was completely devastated by the Christchurch earthquakes in February 2011. The guide will explain both the history of the city and the effects of the earthquake. On leaving the inner city, the tour travels to Mona Vale a historic homestead and gardens. Then you will travel to the Sign of the Takahe, a historic building with a lookout providing spectacular views over the city, Canterbury Plains and to the Southern Alps. The tour then travels via the Port Hills and Lyttleton Harbour by way of the Sign of the Kiwi and Governors Bay to the Port of Lyttleton. The tour proceeds through the Lyttleton harbour tunnel to the seaside suburb of Sumner and cave rock before returning to the central city where the tour will conclude.

Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 20
Christchurch to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending 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, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue colour. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.
Please note: There are no food shops at Mt Cook, and dinner options are limited to one restaurant. If you wish to self-cater, you must stock up before arriving in Mt Cook, or make dinner reservations in advance.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat. These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier The Tasman.

Your accommodation: Mt Cook Motel

Mt Cook Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 21
Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Dunedin

Today you'll leave Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama, the gliding capital of New Zealand, be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a quirky local cafe and souvenir store. 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: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.

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

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 22
Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Tour Including Wildlife Cruise

A small-group bus tour from Dunedin. Join a local guide for a journey across the Otago Peninsula. Travel over the high road with postcard views of the harbour and coast. You'll travel past quaint communities and rural farms. Spot wading birds as your mini-bus explores around the inlets and the wetland eco-systems. Your tour will visit a remote Otago Peninsula beach. A short walk from the mini-bus will provide dramatic views of rugged coastal cliffs, offshore islands and perhaps some huge sea lions. The trip continues to Wellers Rock Wharf, for a Monarch Wildlife Cruise. You'll travel out of the harbour, around Taiaroa Head, and out to sea. Watch royal albatross glide across the water and return to their breeding colony. Beneath a historic lighthouse is a colony of playful fur seals. You'll spot other rare seabirds and maybe blue penguins or other marine mammals. You are also welcome to bring a pre-packed meal on tour with you. Snacks and drinks can be purchased whilst aboard the MV Monarch. We recommend having a good-sized lunch before the tour departs Dunedin. The final stop is at a Yellow-eyed Penguin conservation reserve. Visit the on-site rehab centre before a tour of the reserve. You'll take trails through native bushland, walking through tunnels and trenches to different viewing hides scattered around the reserve. Watch as the world's rarest penguin returns ashore and interacts around their nesting sites. The tour ends with a relaxed drive, following the harbour, back to Dunedin.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 23
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and 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 with RealNZ

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: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 24
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. Stretch your legs on 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 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 before back-tracking the way you came.
Please note: Make sure to allow 2.5hrs to Milford Sound, this takes into account the current road works on the Milford Road.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Milford Premium Cruise with RealNZ

Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on a leisurely cruise of this spectacular fiord abroad the M.V Sinbad, an exclusive vessel for a premium experience. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. With a glass of bubbles on arrival and canapes provided throughout the journey, this is the perfect way to explore Milford Sound. At a capped capacity of 40 people and a roaming nature guide providing informative commentary throughout the extended cruise, this experience allows guests to enjoy the Fiord at a relaxing pace.

Milford Sound Cruise with RealNZ

Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on a leisurely cruise of this spectacular fiord. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. Informative, participative and relaxed, this is the perfect way to experience Milford Sound to the fullest.

Your accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.
Meals included: Lunch

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

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 25
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.

Explore Queenstown

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast-paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. If you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.
Finally, if you're lucky enough to visit in winter (July-September) there are four ski resorts close by. You can head up to Coronet Peak and the Remarkables close to Queenstown, or head to Wanaka for Cardrona and Treble Cone.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola Queenstown and 3 Luge Rides

In the heart of Queenstown, located 450 metres above town in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. A gondola ride to the summit makes for awe-inspiring views of the city surround. Arrive at the complex and wander the outside viewing decks for a picture perfect outlook. Then onto the Luge! The 800 metre luge track offers an exhilarating journey through banked corners, tunnels and dippers.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience, a delicious gourmet BBQ buffet meal and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting. Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and its surroundings as you cruise across the lake to the historic Walter Peak high country farm aboard the TSS Earnslaw Steamship.
Enjoy the ambience of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses, tea and coffee.
After dinner, watch the farm dogs in action with a sheep-herding demonstration and say hello to the other farm animals. Finally, cruise home under the southern stars and enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 26
Dart River Wilderness Jet

Journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park, where myth, heritage and fantasy come to life. As one of Queenstown’s most exhilarating activities, the Wilderness Jet adventures on a spectacular journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 27
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier via Wanaka

From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range, the highest sealed road in New Zealand to arrive in the Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools for a 1-hour return walk through the native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast highway you pass through ancient temperate rainforests while getting sneak peeks of the wild coast beaches occasionally. Paringa Salmon Farm is worth a stop to stretch your legs, feed the fish, and stop for lunch and refreshments. Keep heading North and be sure to enjoy the view of the ever-changing towering snowcapped Southern Alps Mountain Range. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night Franz Josef township.

Your accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

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

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

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 28
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: Aspen Court Franz Josef

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

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 29
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today head north along the mighty West Coast highway you pass through ancient temperate rainforests while getting sneak peeks of the wild coast beach occasionally. Whataroa is the next town where you can see one of the world's rarest birds, the New Zealand white heron or Kotuku nest at the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve, and guided tours from October to March will take you there. 
Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings and workings remain. In fact, Ross is still home to one of the few working gold mines left in New Zealand and the local information center offers you the chance to pan for gold.
Hokitika is a great place to explore craft and gift stores and head to the coast and take in the endless sea views. The Jade or Greenstone on offer in Hokitika is probably some of the best you will see in the country. The Hokitika Gorge is located 45 minutes inland and offers turquoise waters flowing through a narrow gorge. A great short walk will deliver you to this piece of paradise.
Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located at the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

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.

Shared Transfer from the Railway Station to a City Hotel with Christchurch Touring

On arrival at the Christchurch railway station, you will be met by a driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

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

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Ultimate Explorer Tour of New Zealand - Day 30
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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