You will be welcomed to NZ by one of our friendly guides (or company representative if you’re on a self-driven tour) and ‘The Road Trip’ begins. Sights on your private city tour today could include a visit to one of Auckland’s inner city beaches, Mission Bay where it is possible to see stunning Pohutukawa trees. The trip could also take in sights such as Mt Eden, a stunning viewpoint and one of Auckland’s most famous volcanic craters, and perhaps a gander at one of The Road Trip’s favourite look out spots that boasts great views of both Rangitoto Island and Waiheke Island. This afternoon you can take a trip to the top of the Auckland Skytower and view the City of Sails from above (optional – extra cost). Tonight serves you up the possibility to eat in one of Auckland’s many waterfront restaurants as you watch the world ‘sailing’ by (optional – extra cost).
South you go. Leaving New Zealand’s largest city you 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. You follow the coast road to the town of Coromandel, where you will take a trip on ‘The Driving Creek Railway’- New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway, with a working pottery and wild life sanctuary (included activity). From there you will take the stunning inland route to the coastal town of Whitianga, known for the famous Buffalo Beach and its palm trees that line the shore.
This morning you will visit the world famous Hot Water Beach. This is one of the only places in the world where one can discover thermal water underneath a beach! Water in places can be as hot as 70 degrees Celsius though, so approach with caution. Bring your swimming gear, as you will have the opportunity to dig your very own thermal pool and bathe in its waters (35-40 degrees Celsius in the right areas). You can also take a walk to one of New Zealand’s most stunning beaches; Cathedral Cove. This afternoon upon return to Whitianga, the evening is free for leisure activities. Options include; a boat trip to a marine reserve, walking along Buffalo Beach and Horse-riding at a local farm (optional – extra cost).
Late morning you farewell the Coromandel and head south to Rotorua; a hot spot for Maori culture and thermal activity. En route you will visit Hobbiton and The Shire’s Rest, the only remaining film set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies (included activity). Perhaps even enjoy lunch at the Green Dragon Inn (not included). Arrive in Rotorua in the afternoon and you have the opportunity to take a city tour featuring Kuirau Park mud pool reserve and view the stunning government gardens and lakefront. This afternoon you could experience a relaxing soak in the thermal waters of the famous Polynesian Spa (optional – extra cost).
This morning you will take a guided walk around Te Puia and experience mud pools and geysers and visit the Maori Weaving School and Kiwi House (included activity). This is a chance to see our national bird up close. This afternoon is free for leisure activities. Options include: Rotorua Gondola and Luge, a trip to Rotorua Agrodome to experience zorbing, a self-guided walk through the stunning Waimangu Volcanic Valley + boat ride on Lake Rotomahana, a visit to a kiwifruit farm, a trip to The Buried Village of Te Wairoa, or a visit to the spectacular Redwoods Treewalk! (all activities listed are optional – extra cost). Tonight you will enjoy a Hangi and cultural performance with our native Maori people (included activity).
You leave Rotorua today and head south towards one of New Zealand’s three Unesco World Heritage sites; Tongariro National Park. Your first stop for the day is Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – a Wonderland of Stunning Geothermal Activity. You will see New Zealand’s largest thermal mud pool, sinter terraces and stunning hot and cold pools of many different colours (included activity). Heading south and stopping at the mind-blowingly powerful Huka Falls en route, you will reach Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. Arriving in Tongariro National Park, you are surrounded not only by active volcanoes and the beautiful Mangawhero Falls but several LOTR filming locations, including areas used to portray Mordor, the rocky wasteland of Emyn Muil and the stunning volcano of Mount Ngaurauhoe, known by LOTR fans as the one and only Mount Doom!
If you are feeling active this morning there is a possibility of doing 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 you arrive in Wellington in the afternoon to discover New Zealand’s capital city. You can 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, Te Papa – our national museum, or Zealandia – A huge wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of the city. In the evening perhaps have a wander through the bustling streets of Wellington where you can enjoy a meal on the waterfront (optional – extra cost).
This morning you will catch a domestic flight to Christchurch. In the afternoon you could take a Christchurch city tour. Christchurch is known throughout New Zealand as ‘The Garden City”. This city tour could include a stroll in the botanic gardens and drive around the bays of Christchurch taking in Lyttelton which was the gateway for many of Christchurch and the Canterbury region’s first settlers. Perhaps go for a punt on the Avon River or visit the International Antarctic Centre. Tonight serves up the opportunity to enjoy dinner in one of the city’s many fantastic restaurants (all activities optional – extra cost).
Today you will take a journey across the Canterbury Plains and through the Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass. 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 in Arthurs Pass where there is the opportunity of taking one of the many short nature walks in the national park. You will have the chance to look for the Kea (New Zealand’s native alpine parrot). Our favourite spot features a stunning 150 metre waterfall and spectacular views of the mountains as you peek through native beech forest. Driving further you can stop in Hokitika to have a look at the greenstone factory, where you can 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 or heli-hike on the majestic Franz Josef Glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world to be flanked by rainforest on both sides (optional – extra cost).
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 you will 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 you 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 spots at The Road Trip is Ship Creek, an isolated beach featuring native totara trees hugging rugged coastline. Tonight you will stay in Wanaka, one of the most popular kiwi vacation hot spots situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
Today is a chance to explore the beautiful lakeside town of Wanaka. Options include: a walk up one of our favourite look out spots featuring 360 degree views of Lake Wanaka, Aspiring National Park and the Clutha River, a visit to Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World, a kayak tour on the lake, a visit to a winery, a visit to the Warbirds and Classic cars Museum or even fishing on the lake to take a chance at catching fresh trout (all activities optional – extra cost for some).
This morning after further exploring Wanaka, your South Island tour takes you over The Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest highway to Arrowtown, an important location in the gold rush of Central Otago in the 1860s. Perhaps browse the preserved Chinese gold mining village or wander the boutique shops the town has on offer. Your next stop is Amisfield Winery where you will enjoy a 3 course ‘trust the chef’ lunch with 4 matching wines, including the trademark Pinot Noir which this region is famous for (lunch and wine tasting included). This afternoon you will drive a further 2.5 hours to Te Anau. This evening in Te Anau you will take a tour by boat across Lake Te Anau to the glow worm caves to view the shimmering light of thousands of luminous glow-worms in a 12,000 year old grotto (included).
Be prepared for one of the jewels of the New Zealand landscape. The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most spectacular in the world and certainly a highlight on any New Zealand tour. En route you will see spectacular valleys, breath taking mountains and hopefully spot the cheeky Kea (New Zealand’s mountain parrot). This morning you will experience all that the fjords have to offer with a 1.5 hour boat cruise featuring pristine waterfalls and towering mountains plunging into the Tasman Sea (included activity). Keep a look out for dolphins, seals and the Fiordland crested Penguin. On your trip back to Te Anau there is the opportunity to take some short walks in the Fiordland National Park. We will point out the must-sees for you.
This morning you will head to Queenstown, ‘New Zealand’s adventure capital of the world’. Skirting your 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. The afternoon is free to spend as you wish in Queenstown, and there is plenty to see and do!
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, Canyon Swings, White Water Rafting, Flyboarding 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. Perhaps drive out to the head of Lake Wakatipu and experience the breath-taking scenery of the Glenorchy area. A popular option with our clients is a helicopter flight to the top of Coronet Peak, where passengers are able to get out on the snow 365 days a year! (Weather permitting). In the evening, take a trip to the top of the Skyline Gondola to view Queenstown from a 360 degree panoramic viewpoint and enjoy a delicious buffet dinner at Stratosfare Restaurant (included).
You leave Central Otago today through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell where you can make a stop en route and visit a local fruit shop for a chance to try real fruit ice cream and perhaps sample New Zealand famous manuka honey products. From there, cross the Lindis Pass (965m) to the Mackenzie Country, known for its Merino Sheep and wool industry. Weather permitting you can take a short walk at the foot of Mt Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain. En route to Lake Tekapo, perhaps take a trip to the top of Mt John to experience the feeling of being on top of the world. This boasts stunning 360 degree views of the Mountains and turquoise coloured lakes (Road open until 5pm – $8 entry fee). Tonight you will stay in the town of Lake Tekapo and enjoy its turquoise coloured waters. On a clear night there will be the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour to Mt John Observatory and its spectacular night sky (optional – extra cost).
This morning you depart Lake Tekapo and continue on to Christchurch, following the scenic route to via the beautiful Rakaia Gorge. You will arrive in Christchurch in the afternoon where the rest of the day is free to spend at leisure.
Today you will be transferred to your onward travel connections. We trust that you have had a memorable Road Trip.
“What can we say? Our 20-day tour of both islands was almost overwhelming we saw so much. Everything was so well organised, the accommodation was great – even better than we needed in some situations!! The choice of restaurants/wineries/trips out was amazing – some were unique dining experiences for us all in beautiful surroundings. The vehicle was comfortable, always clean and tidy.”
“If you’re thinking of a privately guided tour around New Zealand but are unsure we can’t recommend The Road Trip highly enough. From start to finish they have been a totally professional company and we’d use them again in an instant.”
Sue Simes and Family – UK, April 2019