On arrival in Auckland Meet & Greet by REST NEW ZEALAND TOURS and handover of travel documents. Pick up your rental car at the airport and make your way to your first accommodation. If you are not too tired, we recommend a leisurely stroll along Auckland’s waterfront.
You drive to Rotorua, a region rich in stunning landscapes. Discover 18 sparkling lakes, magnificent native and exotic forests, geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and the best of New Zealand's fascinating Maori culture.
Today you are crossing Te Urewera National Park and you will be happy to travel by 4WD. The partly gravel road takes you through dense rainforest to the secluded Lake Waikaremoana and later on to the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand, Napier at Hawkes Bay. A stroll through the city is a good contrast to the impressions of the day and will give you some insight in the interesting history of Napier. You can end the day at one of the many vineyards of this region.
You drive south today. Highlights along the way include: Tui Brewery Mangatainoka, a historical building of the Tui Brewery. Or how about a visit to Mt. Bruce National Wildlife Centre, located 30 km before Masterton? Greytown is a small rural town with well-preserved buildings from the Victorian era, nice restaurants and cafés. Martinborough is the center of the Wairarapa wine growing region amongst numerous vineyards. Your overnight is in Wellington the capital of New Zealand. We recommend a sightseeing tour and a walk along the waterfront to Te Papa the National Museum of New Zealand.
The tour with the ferry through picturesque Marlborough Sound is one of the highlights of your trip. From Picton travel to Blenheim and enjoy the drive through the famous Marlborough wine region. Then follow the spectacular coastal road to Kaikoura.
This morning you have the opportunity to swim with dolphins and seals or watch whales in their natural environment. Or drive direct to Garden City Christchurch; often referred to as the most English town outside England. Take a walk through Hagley Park and along the Avon River before you drive over the wide Canterbury Plains to the foot of the Southern Alps where you stay overnight.
The turquoise colour of Lake Tekapo will capture you. Take a scenic flight from Tekapo over Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. You then drive along a remote valley, covered by scarce vegetation and tussock grass. Climb across a long forgotten and rarely used mountain pass to reach your overnight destination amidst the Waitaki Valley.
You drive over another remote pass. During the New Zealand gold rush this area was one of the most populated in the country. One of the reminders of this glorious past is the tiny village of St Bathans. A handful of historic houses, a pub and a very nice man-made lake are the only witnesses of this era. Via the wine region of Central Otago you drive to the Wakatipu Basin and to Queenstown.
Over 2 million visitors are drawn to Queenstown each year to experience unique scenery, search for adventure, seek out relaxation and rejuvenation, or to just breathe pure mountain air. The region is home to plenty of hiking and biking trails, guided tours, family activities, boat cruises, and scenic flights to Milford and Doubtful Sound or spa and wellness centres. For adrenalin junkies, the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world offers plenty to get your blood pumping: Test your limits with white water rafting, ziplining, 4x4 off-roading, paragliding and skydiving.
If you travel on the 10 day itinerary, drop off your vehicle at the rental car office at Queenstown Airport.
For the 12 day itinerary, carry on as below:
You cross the Crown Range, New Zealand's highest official road, to Wanaka. Over the Haast Pass, a scenic drive with many opportunities to stop and explore, you reach the West Coast. Be impressed by the breath-taking beauty and the many different shades of green of the dense rainforest. Glaciers, rainforests and coast are close together in Westland National Park. We recommend a side trip to Monro Beach and a stop at Ship Creek Walk. During the months of October to December you might even be lucky and see penguins and hector dolphins playing in the sea.
Make one of the walks in the glacier area or book a helicopter flight with glacier landing from Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. Along the wild west coast, Hokitika and Greymouth are the jade centres of the country. Visit a workshop and watch the jade carvers doing their art work.
The route over the main divide to Christchurch climbs over Arthur’s Pass, the only real mountain pass in New Zealand. The famous TranzAlpine Express train crosses it, too. You arrive in Christchurch. Enjoy the many cafes and restaurants and take advantage of a last opportunity to purchase souvenirs from Aotearoa.
Drop off your vehicle at the rental car office at the airport.