Based on our experience of travelling around New Zealand, we have put together several suggested itineraries, aimed at covering as much of the country as is reasonable in a certain length of time. We recommend that you take these and adapt them with our guidance based on the available time and your own interests. Prices are on request and will depend on the accommodation you choose in each location. The New Zealand Explorer – 21 nightsA comprehensive introduction to both the North and South Islands, easily extended to give more time for local exploration. Auckland – Bay of Islands – Rotorua – Hawke’s Bay – Waipara – Nelson – Blenheim – Christchurch – Arthur’s Pass – Franz Josef – Lake Wanaka – Queenstown
Day One: Auckland Arrive in Auckland for one night’s acclimatisation. Day Two: Auckland to Bay of IslandsTake delivery of your hire-car and drive northwards passing coastline, huge ferns and green gulleys, orchards of citrus trees and roadside fruit stalls, pastures of sheep and bumpy volcanic peaks in the distance to reach your accommodation in the Bay of Islands area. Day Three: Bay of IslandsEnjoy a day at leisure to explore the historic early settlements of both Europeans and Maoris in New Zealand, to swim with dolphins or to tramp in native kauri forests. Day Four: Bay of Islands to RotoruaFly today from Kerikeri to Rotorua (changing planes in Auckland). Collect your hire-car and spend the rest of the day at leisure in Rotorua, perhaps enjoying the mineral waters of the Polynesian spa. Day Five: RotoruaSpend today exploring the geothermal wonders of the region at the Wharekarewera Thermal area with its mud pools and geysers and Maori cultural centre or take a scenic flight to the active volcano of White Island. Day Six: Rotorua to Napier, Hawke’s BayA day’s drive will take you past more steaming geothermal sites to Taupo and on through forested hills towards the Pacific coast and the Art Deco city of Napier in the fertile and sunny Hawke’s Bay region. Day Seven: Napier, Hawke’s Bay Spend a relaxing today investigating the architectural treasures of Napier together with its Aquarium and dolphin displays and then explore some of the famous vineyards of the region, perhaps having lunch at Sileni or Black Barn, potter in the pretty village of Havelock North and take a scenic drive along the Tukituki River. Day Eight: Napier to WairarapaAllow a full day to drive through the rural scenery southwards towards the Wairarapa, stopping for lunch at Mount Bruce wildlife centre to see the rare birds. Make a tea stop in Greymouth and browse in the antique shops and admire the graceful architecture of this historic town. Day Nine: WairarapaDepending on where you stay, take time today to explore a working sheep farm and then to visit Martinborough, famous for its pinot noir vineyards. If you stay in Martinborough make the most of the accessibility of the vineyards, many by foot from the town centre. Day Ten: Wairarapa to NelsonAn easy drive into Wellington, taking time to stop in the city centre to visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and then make the short flight of about 20 minutes over to Nelson in the South Island. Day Eleven: Nelson Area Enjoy a day in the Abel Tasman National Park, ideally having your own private charter so that you get to see the major sights along the coast and have time for a swim and sunbathe and a picnic lunch on a pretty-much deserted beach. Ideally stay a day longer here so that you have time to visit Nelson and its surrounding vineyards and arts and crafts studios and galleries. Day Twelve: Nelson Area to BlenheimToday’s drive is particularly pretty as you head along the coast passing Nelson and then through wooded hills skirting the edge of the Marlborough Sounds near Havelock (stop here for a lunch of local mussels) and then you reach the more expansive, drier country of the Wairau valley around Blenheim. Vineyards stretch for miles with easily recognisable names such as Montana, Cloudy Bay and Stoneleigh. Stop for wine-tasting. Day Thirteen: Blenheim to ChristchurchA full day’s drive today, allowing time for a lunch stop in Kaikoura. The scenery is breathtaking here as snow-clad mountains seem to rise straight up from the sea across the bay. This is quite a spectacle as you see seals basking in front of you on the beach, the waters of the Pacific gleaming in the sun and the snowy mountain peaks forming a backdrop to the vista. If you have more time, stay a night in Kaikoura and include a whale-watching boat trip. Continue south, skirting the Waipara wine country and enter the flat farmland of the fertile Canterbury Plains before reaching Christchurch. Day Fourteen: Christchurch Christchurch is a charming, welcoming city and one that is very easy to explore on foot. Don’t miss the Botanic Gardens in Hagley Park, take a punt on the River Avon, view the exhibitions in the Art Galley and browse the local craft shops in the Arts Centre. Day Fifteen: Christchurch to Arthur’s PassAn easy drive today of a couple of hours from Christchurch across the Plains to the Southern Alps. There is one road for you to take up into the mountains and the scenery is stunning. A mixture of tussock, pasture for grazing sheep, craggy cliffs and distant snow-clad mountain peaks as you reach closer to Arthur’s Pass. Day Sixteen: Arthur’s Pass Today is a day for the walking boots and setting out from your hotel along one of the numerous walking itineraries in this area. The sense of space is exhilarating as are the colours of the sun on the mountains and fields throughout the day. An alternative option is a scenic flight over Mount Cook. Day Seventeen: Arthur’s Pass to Franz Josef Continue westwards along the Pass and down to the coast to stop at the glacier town of Franz Josef. Day Eighteen: Franz Josef Time to relax and walk to the glacier or to do something more adventurous, in true New Zealand style: take a flight by helicopter or plane and land on the glacier or hire a local guide who will accompany you on a hike across it. Day Nineteen: Franz Josef to Lake WanakaContinue your journey southwards passing through the dense rainforested areas this side of the Alps near Lake Moeraki before heading inland to Lake Wanaka for the night. Day Twenty: Lake Wanaka to QueenstownLake Wanaka to Queenstown is a drive of no more than a couple of hours and you can go over the ‘hill’ of the Cardrona or follow the valley passing through the Otago wine region. Day Twenty One: QueenstownToday can be as leisurely or as active as you want. Queenstown offers a whole range of adventure activities and you can take your pick from jet boating to parapenting as well of course as the original bungy-jumping here. The shops in Queenstown are good or you can spend the day tramping through the gorgeous scenery near Glenorchy the start of the Hollyford track. Day Twenty Two: Queenstown to Christchurch or AucklandLeave by plane back to Christchurch or Auckland. Price from £4265 per person
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