18 Day New Zealand Private Guided Tour
18 Day New Zealand Guided Tour
Auckland – Whitianga – Rotorua – Tongariro National Park – Wellington – Christchurch – Arthurs Pass – Franz Josef – Wanaka – Te Anau – Queenstown – Mt Cook – Tekapo – Christchurch
This tour takes in all the major sites New Zealand has to offer. You’ll see sandy beaches in New Zealand’s far North, geysers and hot pools in Rotorua as well as some of our beautiful national parks and rainforests.
In the South Island you’ll see some amazing alpine scenery including glaciers, mountains and lakes. You’ll be able to go on cruise on Lake Wakatipu and if you’re up to it enjoy some of the more adventurous activities Queenstown has to offer like Jet boating or Bungy Jumping.
Day 1 – Arrival Auckland
You will be welcomed to NZ and met by one of our friendly guides and ‘The Road Trip’ begins. Sights will include a visit to one of Auckland’s inner city beaches, Mission Bay where it is possible to see stunning Pohutakawa trees. The trip will also take in sights such as Mt Eden, a stunning viewpoint and one of Auckland’s most famous volcanic craters, a visit to the famous Auckland Harbour Bridge and gander at the exclusive Ponsonby Yacht Club, we will also visit one of The Road Trip’s favourite look out spots that boasts great views of both Rangitoto Island and Coromandel Peninsula. This afternoon we will take a trip to the top of the Auckland Skytower and view the City of Sails from 300 m above.Tonight serves us up the possibility to eat in one of Auckland’s many waterfront restaurants as we watch the world ‘sailing’ by.
Day 2 – Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel – 210km (4 hours drive)
South we go. Leaving New Zealand’s largest city we head for the Coromandel, one of the key locations for the New Zealand gold rush in the 1800s. En route depending how you feel there may be time for a walk through one the region’s many Kauri Tree forests, where you will encounter the flora and fauna of New Zealand’s North Island at its best. We follow the coast road to the town of Coromandel, where we take a trip on ‘ The Driving Creek Railway’- New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway along with a working pottery and wild life sanctuary. From there we take the stunningly scenic inland routeto the coastal town of Whitianga, known for the famous Buffalo Beach and its palm trees that line the shore.
Day 3 – Whitianga
This morning we will take a visit to the legendary Hot Water Beach. This is an area of thermal activity and one of very few places in the world where you can find natural hot springs on the coast. This afternoon upon return to Whitianga the afternoon is free for leisure activities. Some of the many things to see and do include: Kayaking, fishing, coastal walkways, and scenic boat cruises .Your guide will also show you scenic walks that may be of interest around the coastline.
Day 4 – Whitianga to Rotorua – 232km (4 hours drive)
Today we make our way south through the kiwifruit growing district of New Zealand, The Bay Of Plenty, known for its mild all year round climate. We will visit a kiwifruit farm en route and have a look up close at how they grow and the many products that can be made from them. We arrive in Rotorua late afternoon where we take a city tour featuring Kuirau Park mud pool reserve and view the stunning government gardens and lakefront Tonight we will attend a ‘Hangi’. A hangi is an important part of Maori Culture and we will be amazed by a greeting, cultural performance and scrumptious 3 course buffet meal.
Day 5 – Rotorua
This morning we will take a guide walk around Te Puia and experience mud pools, geysers and visit the Maori Weaving school and Kiwi House. This is a chance to see our national nocturnal bird up close. This afternoon is free for leisure activities and your guide will book and organise these for you. Options include: Rotorua Gondola and Luge, a trip to Rotorua Agrodome to experience zorbing or a walk through the redwood forest.
Day 6 – Rotorua to Tongariro National Park – 145km (2 hours drive)
Heading south through ‘ Thermal wonderland’ our first point of call for the day is Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland- A Wonderland of Stunning Geothermal Activity. We will visit New Zealand’s largest thermal mud pool, sinter terraces and stunning hot and cold pools of many different colours. Heading south stopping at the mind-blowingly powerful Huka Falls en route, we reach Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. Winding our way around Lake Taupo we reach our destination for the evening of Tongariro National Park, where we stay in the vicinity of New Zealand’s 3 most active volcanoes: Tongairiro, Ruapehu and Ngaurahoe.
Day 7 – Tongariro National Park to Wellington – 331km (5 hours drive)
If we are feeling active this morning there is a possibility of one of the many stunning short walks in the Tongariro National Park. One of The Road Trip’s favourites is 2 hours long featuring native bush , volcanic views and stunning waterfalls. Heading south we arrive in Wellington in the afternoon to discover New Zealand’s capital city. We take a city tour taking in sights such as Mt Victoria- Wellington’s most spectacular viewpoint with 360 degrees of the city, harbour and mountain ranges in the background. In the evening we take a wander through the bustling streets of Wellington where we can enjoy a meal on the waterfront.
Day 8 – Wellington to Christchurch – 3 hour ferry + 350km (4 hours drive)
Today we say farewell to the North Island and take a 3 hour ferry crossing through the Marlborough Sounds to the South Island of New Zealand, also known as New Zealand’s mainland. Upon arrival in the south island, the first place that we sight is Picton, known as the gateway to the Marlborough sounds and a great base for kiwi families that holiday there every summer . Driving south we head through the Marlborough wine growing region, the largest and premier wine growing region of New Zealand, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc among other varieties. We have the opportunity today to visit one of or several of these fantastic wineries. Further down the coast we will make a stop in Kaikoura to see some New Zealand fur seals in their natural environment. We take a short 10 minute walk into one of our favourite spots hidden in native bush, featuring baby seals playing in the river, we also head to our number one Kaikoura look out spot where you will experience the stunning beauty of the mountains meeting the Pacific Ocean. We arrive in Christchurch late afternoon.
Day 9 – Christchurch to Arthurs Pass via Tranz Alpine Train + drive to Franz Josef Glacier – 450km
Today you will be taken to Christchurch train station for your journey through the Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass and Greymouth on the South Island’s west Coast. This was voted one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. Keep a look out for the Bealey River and lakes Pearson and Lyndon with the towering Alps above. You will disembark and be met by your guide in Arthurs Pass and there is the opportunity of taking one of the many short nature walks in the national park and looking overhead for the Kea (New Zealand’s native alpine parrot ). Our favourite secret spot features stunning 150 metre waterfalls and spectacular views of the mountains as we peek through native beech forest. Driving further we will stop in Hokitika to have a look at the greenstone factory, we will view up close how the local people carve necklaces and sculptures from the precious stone. This afternoon or early tomorrow morning you will have the option of a flight over the majestic Franz Josef Glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world to be flanked by rainforest on both sides.
Day 10 – Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka – 250km (4 hours drive)
One of the prettiest and most dramatic journeys in the country is what you can experience on this tour over the Haast Pass through to Wanaka. En route we visit Lake Matheson, otherwise known as ‘Mirror Lakes’ where on a clear day it is possible to see the reflection of New Zealand’s highest mountain Mt Cook (3754m/12,316ft). The walking possibilities are endless today around Haast and Haast Pass and we can do one of or several walks, some of which feature spectacular waterfalls and deep blue coloured pools where it is possible to see trout swimming. One of our favourite hidden spots at The Road Trip is an isolated beach featuring native totara trees hugging rugged coastline.Keep a look out for dolphins bobbing up and down on the shoreline. Tonight we stay in Wanaka, one of the most popular kiwi vacation hot spots situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
Day 11 – Wanaka to Te Anau – 260km (4 hours drive)
This morning in and around Wanaka there are many options. For those feeling adventurous we can take a walk up one of our favourite look out spots featuring 360 degree views of Lake Wanaka, Aspiring National Park and the Clutha River, the breath-taking views are well worth the walk!. Other options include a visit to Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World or a kayak tour on the lake. This afternoon our South Island tour takes us over The Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest highway to Arrowtown which was one of New Zealand’s most important towns in the gold rush to Central Otago in the 1860’s. This afternoon we drive a further 2 hours to Te Anau situated on the shores of New Zealand’s 2nd largest lake and the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Day 12 – Doubtful Sound Day Cruise plus return to Te Anau
Today we will take a 20 minute drive to Manapouri Harbour for our day cruise through Doubtful Sound. This spectacular journey starts with a cruise to the otherside of Lake Manapouri, followed by a bus trip over a pass to the fjords followed by a magical afternoon cruising through the towering peaks and stunning waterfalls of Doubtful Sound. The trip also passes by the famous Manapouri power station. The boat returns to Manapouri at 4:45 in the afternoon and we will take the 20 minute drive back to Te Anau and enjoy dinner with views of the second largest lake in New Zealand (Lake Te Anau).
Day 13 – Te Anau to Queenstown – 184 km (3 hours drive)
Skirting our way around Lake Wakatipu makes for some stunning photography and you will be amazed by the Remarkables Mountain Range, one of the most famous back drops for Lord Of the Rings. We arrive in Queenstown around midday and we will take a trip up the Queenstown Skyline Gondola for 360 degree views of the breath taking mountains and Lake Wakatipu. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy at leisure.
Day 14 – Queenstown Activities
Today is free to explore Queenstown at leisure and take part in some of the fantastic activities that this ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ has to offer. Options for the adventurous include: Skydiving, Bungy Jumping, Jet Boating, White Water Rafting and Paragliding. If you feel like taking a more relaxed approach to the day, a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw 100 year old steam ship or a walk through Queenstown’s Botanic Gardens are not to be missed.
Day 15 – Queenstown to Tekapo via Mt Cook – 280km (4 hours drive)
We leave Central Otago today through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell where we make a stop en route and visit a local fruit shop and a chance to try ‘Real Fruit Ice cream’ and sample a few of the New Zealand famous manuka honey products. From there we cross the Lindis Pass (965m) to the Mackenzie Country, known for its Merino Sheep and wool industry. Weather permitting we can take one of a short walk together at the foot of Mt Cook- New Zealand’s highest mountain and take in its blissful surrounds. We then head through to Lake Tekapo and our accommodation is situated on the waterfront.
Day 16 – Mt Cook to Christchurch plus city sightseeing – 270km (4 hours drive)
Today we will drive through to Lake Tekapo and take a drive up Mt John to view its turquoise blue colour and surrounding mountain from this spectacular look-out point. At 1000m above sea level one really does have a feeling of being at the top of the world here. Also en route will be a stop at the historic Church of the Good Shepherd, featured on all New Zealand postcards. We arrive in Christchurch late afternoon and take a city tour together. We visit the Port Hills. These hills are a part of Banks Peninsula and part of our excursion will feature a visit to the port of Lyttelton. This was the first place settled by the Europeans in the South Island. Later on this afternoon we will have a stroll around Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens and enjoy a meal together in the central city.
Day 17 – Christchurch Sightseeing
Today is a free day to enjoy Christchurch city at leisure. Options include: Canterbury Museum, Christchurch’s Re Start Mall, a visit to the International Antarctic Centre or a trip up the Christchurch Gondola. Your guide will drive you to your chosen optional activities.
Day 18 – Departure Day
Today you will be transferred to your onward travel connections. We trust that you have had a memorable Road Trip.
A. AucklandB. WhitiangaC. RotoruaD. Tongariro Ntional ParkE. Wellington
G. Arthur’s Pass
H. Franz Josef Glacier
J. Te Anau
K. Doubtful Sound
M. Lake Tekapo