Welcome to New Zealand’s South Island, dubbed by many as a ‘Paradise on Earth’. On this amazing 25 Day self drive New Zealand and Australia combined tour you can expect to see mountains, glaciers, turquoise coloured lakes, waterfalls, beaches and stunning native rain forests in New Zealand’s South Island. Highlights on the New Zealand part of your adventure include, beautiful Lakes Tekapo, Wanaka and Queenstown; ‘The Adventure Capital of the World. In Australia your tour includes highlights of both Victoria and Tropical Queensland. Discover both Victoria one of Australia’s most vibrant and historic states and Queensland with its golden sandy beaches. This tour encompasses rainforests, beaches and rolling hill country that contribute to its myriad of outdoor activities, superb architecture in both the big cities and quaint villages, fantastic wineries in the Yarra Valley as well as ample opportunities to view some of Australia’s majestic wildlife. Highlights on this journey include, Melbourne Australia’s second largest city with ample opportunity to enjoy its architecture, culinary delights, cafes and galleries, the Yarra Valley known for a multitude of wineries , cheese makers and chocolatiers and the contrast of tropical Queensland with its spectacular beaches, rainforests and world renowned Great Barrier Reef.
The best part is that you won’t miss a beat with all the not to miss hidden photo spots, scenic walks, sightseeing and restaurant suggestions in each town marked down on easy to follow day by day route notes. Welcome to The Road Trip ‘Where your journey begins’.
You will be welcomed to NZ by one of our friendly company representatives who will show you to your rental car and explain your detailed personalised travel guide, 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).
This morning you will venture south to Waitomo, New Zealand’s most extensive underground caving network. You will enjoy a 1 hour guided tour through the spectacular caves, including a 10 minute silent boat ride where you will be amazed by the impressive glow-worms that light up the cave roof (included activity). From here you will head to Hobbiton and take a 2 hour guided tour of the property featuring Shire’s rest and the beautiful farmland that was the backdrop for the Hobbit village in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies (included activity). Arrive in Rotorua in the afternoon and perhaps take a city tour featuring Kuirau Park mud pool reserve and view the stunning government gardens and lakefront. This afternoon/evening 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 visit to a kiwifruit farm, a trip to The Buried Village of Te Wairoa, a walk through the redwood forest or the ultimate experience of a helicopter flight and guided walk around White Island; NZ’s most active volcano! (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. Keep a look out for the Bealey River and Lakes Pearson and Lyndon with the towering Alps above. You can stop in Arthurs Pass where 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 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 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 our favourites feature spectacular waterfalls and deep blue coloured pools where it is possible to see trout swimming. These will all be marked out for you. 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 you will stay in Wanaka, one of the most popular kiwi vacation hot spots situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
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).
Today take the 20 minute drive to Manapouri Harbour for your day cruise through Doubtful Sound (or we can arrange bus transfers). This spectacular journey starts with a cruise to the other side 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 4:45pm. In the afternoon, take the 20 minute drive back to Te Anau (or bus) and perhaps enjoy dinner in the Town Centre and a walk alongside the Lake.
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 will drive through to Christchurch where the rest of the afternoon can be spent exploring. Options include: The Tannery with its boutique shops, the Canterbury Museum, the Christchurch Art Gallery, a drive around Banks Peninsula or perhaps a visit to Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre (all activities optional – some with an extra cost). Tonight you can enjoy a meal in the central city at one of the many new and exciting restaurants in Christchurch (optional – extra cost).
Today after dropping your rental car back you will transfer to your Melbourne Bound Flight. From here it is a short drive to the well renowned Yarra Valley, known for its cool climate wines, boutique cheese and chocolate shops and stunning natural surrounds. This afternoon upon arrival is free to explore the area’s natural surrounds at leisure, visit one of the many cellar doors in the region or simply relax and unwind. Perhaps enjoy a spectacular hot air balloon ride taking in the area’s sweeping vistas. Tonight enjoy a meal in one of the area’s fantastic restaurants. (We will have plenty of great suggestions in your route notes).
Day 16 Yarra Valley Winery and Food Tour
Today is a full day to explore the Yarra Valley with your own exclusive private tour guide and indulge in some of the area’s fantastic wineries, breweries, chocolate and cheese shops, gin distilleries or all of the above. Enjoy a gourmet lunch on site at one the stops accompanied by a glass of Yarra valley Wine. For those that want an extra touch of luxury today, there is the option to travel by classic Chevrolet. Upon return, enjoy another night in the region.
Day 17 Yarra Valley- Phillip Island (195km- 2 hours 50 minutes drive time + 3 hour return Steam Train Journey)
This morning after departing your accommodation, take the drive through to Healesville Sanctuary and get up close and personal with Australian Wildlife in their natural habitat. See Platypus, Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils and Koalas among other species. You will also get the opportunity to visit the Sanctuary’s Health Centre which is responsible for treating over 1,500 injured or sick wild animals every year. From here your next stop is Australia’s favourite steam train ‘Puffing Billy Railway.’ Enjoy a splendid journey through the Dandenong Ranges on this turn of the century locomotive as you pass by lush fern gullies and admiring the tall mountain gums and rolling green hills of the Dandenong Ranges. There is also an option to enjoy lunch on the train’s first class dining carriage. Following this, for those who are feeling active, there is the possibility to enjoy a nature walk in the Dandenong National Park. We will have several great options in your route notes. Your destination for the evening is Phillip Island, one of the premier spots in Victoria for wildlife and coastal views.
Day 18 Phillip Island
Today is a full day to explore Phillip Island and immerse yourself in one of Victoria’s well known wildlife meccas. This morning, make a visit to the island’s Koala Wildlife Sanctuary and come face to face with Koalas in their natural habitat. The rest of the day is free to explore at leisure. Perhaps take a visit to Churchill Heritage Island Farm, take one of the area’s fantastic scenic walks on the peninsula, visit one of the sheep and beef farms in the area and take a guided tour, or join a seal watching cruise on board a wildlife coastal cruise. This evening enjoy one of the island’s fantastic highlights with a twilight tour to view little penguins on parade at sunset.
Day 19 Phillip Island- Melbourne (141km-2 hours driving time approx.)
This morning before departing Phillip Island, we will take a visit to the Nobbies Conservation Centre on the tip of the peninsula for a walk along the spectacular boardwalks and look out points. Keep a look out for the area’s Silver Gulls among other species. Following this head into Melbourne City, Australia’s second largest metropolitan centre and one of the cultural hubs of the country. This afternoon take a guided tour of the City’s MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) and learn all about some of Australia’s best sporting victories as well as viewing and learning all about the venue itself. This also includes a visit to the museum and hall of fame. From here drop off your rental car in the city. Tonight enjoy a meal in one of the city’s fantastic culinary hot spots.
Day 20 Melbourne
Today is a full day to explore Melbourne at leisure. You will be taken on a fantastic walking tour of the inner city and discover the area by foot. Sites include Federation Square, Melbourne’s Street Art, Chinatown and Princess Theatre as well as discovering some of the city’s best cafes and hidden bars. We also suggest a visit to Eureka Tower for fantastic panoramic views of the city centre and its surrounds. In addition we will recommend some fantastic areas in the city for shopping. Tonight serves up a further opportunity to dine in the city.
Day 21 Melbourne- Cairns ( 3 hours flying time)
This morning you will be transferred by shuttle to Melbourne Airport and catch a domestic flight to Cairns, a tropical city on the coast of Northern Queensland. Upon arrival and collection of a new rental vehicle, take the evening to stroll the palm tree-lined waterfront and marvel at the picturesque clear waters. Explore the city centre and perhaps dine at one of the city’s vibrant restaurants, peruse the night markets or stop for gelato on the Esplanade.
Day 22 Cairns- Port Douglas Via Palm Cove 68km (1 hour driving time)
Today you make the short drive north to the tropical haven of Port Douglas. This town is the gateway to Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. En route you will stop at the beautiful Palm Cove, where you can stroll along the beach which is lined with ancient paperbark Melaleuca trees. There will be the option to stop here for lunch and dine at one of the restaurants along the Esplanade. (We will have some great suggestions in your route notes). The Palm Cove Jetty is one of the area’s best fishing spots and there is the opportunity of enjoying some angling from here. Palm Cove also borders on the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site and the Macalister Range National Park. There is the chance of taking a number of walks through these spectacular areas where you will see plants and animals unique to this part of the world. Continue on to Port Douglas where you will spending the next three nights.
Day 23 Great Barrier Reef
Today you will be experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, cruising to the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage site is an important area for worldwide conservation and diversity. This morning you will board the luxury 30 metre catamaran, Wavedancer, where you will take an hour long cruise out on the ocean to the Low Isles, a coral cay island including a lagoon. Here you will be able to take a glass bottom boat tour, snorkel, take a beach walk or relax on the beach. This day trip includes a delicious buffet lunch. Return to Port Douglas in the evening and enjoy at leisure.
Day 24 Port Douglas
Today is free to relax in the paradise of Port Douglas. We suggest visiting Four Mile Beach, where pristine sand and sea stretch as far as the eye can see. Take a dip in the tropical waters and perhaps hire a sun lounger to laze on the sandy shores. If you are keen to check out the native animals, you could visit Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas where there are Koala, Kangaroos, numerous bird species and reptiles, and you can even enjoy a meal surrounded by birdlife . If you feel like exploring further afield, the Daintree Rainforest is the oldest rainforest in the world and a short drive north of Port Douglas. Here you can take a guided walk in this world heritage gem.
Day 25 Port Douglas to Cairns + Departure 68km (1 hour driving time)
Today, after further exploring Port Douglas you will return to Cairns Airport, where you will drop off your rental car and transfer to your onward travel arrangements. We trust that you have had a memorable exclusive Road Trip with us.
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