- 26 Days -

New Zealand Revealed

We're just assembling some amazing activities to choose from - wont be long!

After a couple of days in Auckland including perhaps a walking tour of Auckland’s coastal trails, drive to Tongariro and your opportunity to conquer the world-famous Tongariro Crossing. Continue your 26 day self-drive itinerary with a visit to trendy Wellington to the south. On Day 7 fly to Dunedin in the South Island to experience the wonderful wildlife of the Otago Peninsula. The Catlins is a new discovery for many visitors from North America and today you will quickly see the reason that many call it the highlight of their visit. Now Stewart Island off the southern coastline beckons before you drive north to Queenstown. After 3 days of fun and adventure, drive to Christchurch, following the eastern flanks of the mighty Southern Alps. Then visit the country’s highest mountain Aorakai Mt Cook and enjoy the many stopover opportunities along this scenic route. After a short stay in Christchurch you continue north along the coast to the Marlborough wine growing region with an option en-route to experience the thrills of whale watching at Kaikoura. Our last stop will be the Abel Tasman National Park, reached via the Queen Charlotte Sound Drive. From Nelson we return to Auckland and our connecting flight back to the USA.

Days 1 to 3

The City of Auckland

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand, in fact nearly two-thirds of the population live in the larger Auckland region. The city lies on a massive harbor, part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park, dotted with over 50 islands. Great restaurants, sailing, shopping, outstanding scenery and a thriving art and cultural life are the hallmarks of the city of Auckland. Start by selecting the activities that appeal to you in Auckland and adding them to your Wish List. And use the the maps to see your daily progress.

Also see our Great Barrier Island Blog

Day 3

Drive from Auckland to Tongariro National Park

  • 214 Miles
  • 4 Hours

This will be a long day with interesting optional excursions to enjoy along the way, so an early start is essential. After an hour and a half driving we get you off the main highway to an alternative route where you'll enjoy beautiful rural landscapes that many visitors never had the chance to experience. The activities you choose below will have an impact on your traveling times today.

Days 3 to 5

Tongariro National Park

This massive high country plateau, a World Heritage Park, is an incredibly diverse region of tussock grassland, wild rivers, forests and birdlife with the three volcanoes of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu dominating the landscape. There are great walking and biking trails, white water rafting, some of the best trout fishing in the world and the highlight of any visit, the Tongariro Crossing. The ultimate destination for any adventurer.

Day 5

Drive Tongariro National Park to Wellington

  • 195 Miles
  • 4 Hours

Instead of taking the the main road south, follow the beautiful Whanganui River Road for 80 miles, passing rural landscapes and enjoying forest and river views until you reach the town of Wanganui. From Wanganui, rejoin the main road south for an easy drive, following the coastline and reaching the capital city of Wellington two hours later.

Days 5 to 7

Trendy Wellington, Capital City

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and the country's most cosmopolitan city. Since the opening of the new National Museum "Te Papa" it has become an increasingly popular destination for international visitors and food lovers will appreciate the large number of excellent boutique cafes and ethnic restaurants that are a feature of the city.

Day 7

Fly from Wellington to Dunedin

  • Flight
  • 1 Hour 10 Minute Flight

Days 7 to 9

Dunedin, Wildlife Gateway

Dunedin is the student city of the south. The coldest of winters and the warmest of people all year round. Also the launching point for experiencing the amazing wildlife of the Otago Peninsula.

Day 9

Drive from Dunedin to Invercargill

  • 127 Miles
  • 3 Hours

Today we suggest you deviate from the main road south at Balclutha to visit the remote and beautiful Catlins where you can choose from the wonderful activities you see featured below.

Days 9 to 12

Stewart Island & The South Coast

Invercargill is one of the most southernmost cities in the world - head south from here and the next major land mass is the frozen white continent of Antarctica! For many, the option to visit the beautiful and remote Stewart Island island will be the highlight of their visit, while others will take this opportunity for some leisurely R&R at the nearby coastal town of Riverton.

Day 12

Drive from Invercargill to Te Anau

  • 99 Miles
  • 2 Hours

This is one of New Zealand's finest drives, The Southern Scenic Route, following the eastern boundaries of the massive Fiordland National Park as you travel northwards. Enjoy great scenery and some interesting side roads, including the tiny beach town of Colac Bay with its legendary surf break.

Days 12 to 14

Te Anau

The small town of Te Anau is located on the eastern shores of the biggest lake in the South Island, Lake Te Anau. It's the last inhabited town before traveling via the Otira Gorge to the world famous Milford Sound and also the setting off point for the overnight cruise of Doubtful Sound.

Day 14

Drive from Te Anau to Queenstown

  • 107 Miles
  • 2 Hours

After a cross-country drive the road then follows the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown. This is a part of New Zealand where farmers sometimes use the road to move their sheep flocks, and to be clear, the sheep have the right of way. Fortunately, few of them (the sheep) are camera shy! Make a stop at the sleepy town of Kingston.

Days 14 to 17

Queenstown

Queenstown lies at the heart of one of the world's most diverse and beautiful places, a gateway to the world famous rainforests and fiords of the south-west. This is a place of world class resorts, adrenelin pumping adventures and excellent restaurants and cafes. Some will prefer to base themselves at Wanaka over these days, which we offer as an alternative in the option below. We'll talk this through with you when we discuss your Wish List. We have two blogs involving Queenstown, one is a collection of photos of the vineyards of Queenstown and the other is a story about an interesting local vineyard owner that might surprise you.

Days 14 to 17

Wanaka (Option)

As Queenstown has grown in popularity and size over recent decades, Wanaka, an hours drive away, has become a favorite choice for those who prefer a quieter and more peaceful place to stay. It's location, on Lake Wanaka and close to some of the best hiking trails in the region, makes Wanaka an attractive option to the more frenetic pace of Queenstown. 

Day 17

Drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef Village

  • 218 Miles
  • 5 Hours

Today you will cross the forest clad Haast Pass, southern gateway to the rain forested beauty of New Zealand's wild West Coast.

Days 17 to 19

Franz Josef Village

A long days driving from Queenstown will see you arriving at Franz Josef in the late afternoon. Early this evening will be your opportunity to experience something very special, an excursion to see one of the world's rarest birds in the wild, the native Kiwi.

Day 19

Drive Franz Josef Village to Punakaiki

  • 135 Miles
  • 3 Hours

Today's drive was described by Lonely Planet Travel Magazine as "one of the Top 10 coastal drives in the world" - and you're about to discover why. 

Days 19 to 21

Punakaiki

An idyllic and peacful place with many optional activities, including hiking and spectacular beach walks. This is where you'll enjoy a visit to the famous Pancake Rocks. We'll arrange accommodation for you at one of our favorite New Zealand lodges, set in forest surroundings with spectacular sea views.

Day 21

Drive or Train, Punakaiki to Christchurch

  • 179 Miles
  • 4-5 Hours

We have three equally attractive options for your travel today. Nominate the one that interests you most and add it to your Wish List. We'll discuss these options in more detail with you when we talk so you can be confident that you've made the right choice.

Days 21 to 22

The New Christchurch

Without doubt the most fascinating and inspirational city in New Zealand, achieving second place in The New York Times '52 Places to Go in 2014' - a city in the process of rebuilding as it recovers from the devastating earthquake of February 2011. A wander around the downtown area to admire some of the innovative buildings that have been completed or to see the progress of new ones taking shape will particularly appeal to those with an interest in architecture. Read our informative Christchurch Blogs here and here for a story about nearby Akaroa.

Day 22

Drive from Christchurch to Blenheim

  • 192 Miles
  • 2 Hours to Kaikoura then 1 1/2 hours to Blenheim

If you wish to enjoy the Whale Watch experience, we suggest you allow 2 1/2 hours to get to Kaikoura in time to check-in (Check-in times over summer are 7.15am, 10.00am, 12.45pm or 3:00pm) Enjoy the other experiences you have selected on your Wish List before ending your day with the easy and beautiful drive along the coast to Blenheim.

Days 22 to 24

Blenheim

Blenheim lies at the heart of Marlborough, the wine-growing region that first brought New Zealand wines to the attention of serious wine lovers from around the world. There are more than 20 wineries within driving distance of the town, and most of them welcome visitors for sampling sessions and cellar door sales.

Day 24

Drive from Blenheim to Motueka

  • 115 Miles
  • 3 hours

Today will be a highlight of your New Zealand vacation as you drive north to Picton where you join the wonderful Queen Charlotte Sound Drive, one of the most scenic drives in the country.  

Days 24 to 26

Motueka

The rural town of Motueka is ideally located as a setting off point for the many attractions of the Nelson and Golden Bay regions. The most well known attraction is the nearby Abel Tasman National Park, just a 15 minute drive away. See also - We've Just Purchased a Beach!

Day 26

Homeward Bound

Today you take an afternoon flight back to Auckland in time to connect with your homeward flight to the USA. Kia Ora New Zealand and please return one day soon.

Prices start at

We will respond with a personal quotation when we receive your Wish List.

per person

This will include your accommodation, car hire, ferries and any local tours we recommend you pre-book before you arrive in New Zealand.

Tiritiri Matangi Bird Reserve

Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf is one of New Zealand's most important bird conservation projects and one of the few places where you can see and walk amongst rare native birds in their natural habitat. Over the years more than 300,000 native trees have been planted by volunteers and a number of threatened bird species and small animals re-introduced. These include the flightless takahe, one of the world’s rarest species, and the fascinating and ancient lizard like tuatara. 

  • Allow: Full day
  • Cost: $60 including Guided Tour and Ferry from Downtown Auckland (75 minutes each way)
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - March
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Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island is a large extinct island volcano just a 25 minute ferry ride from the city. On arrival make your way to the summit, an easy walk of about one hour with spectacular views of nearby islands, the harbor and city. On the way pass through black volcanic lava fields covered by fern glens and the largest forest of native pōhutukawa trees in the world. An exciting new development was the announcement in 2011 that the island was now predator-free and this has seen native birds return to the island in large numbers.

  • Allow: Half Day
  • Cost: Ferry $21.00 Return
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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The Auckland Art Gallery

Closed in 2007 for 4 years of extensive renovations, this wonderful gallery has now re-opened as one of the country's most iconic buildings.  Experience world-class touring exhibitions, immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and atmosphere of traditional and contemporary international works of art and discover the largest permanent collection of New Zealand art right in the heart of Auckland City.

  • Allow: Half Day
  • Cost: Free. Charges may apply to special exhibitions
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
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Auckland Coastal Trails

This is a terrific opportunity to experience some of New Zealand’s best walking tracks along the trails of the wild West Coast, just 40 minutes from Auckland. Your guide for the day will also take you to waterfalls and rainforest scenery that will take your breath away! A basic level of fitness is required as are good walking shoes

  • Allow: Full Day
  • Cost: $209.00 per person includes transport, snacks, hot/cold drinks and a delicious picnic lunch, taxes and park fees.
  • Age: 18+
  • Best time: November - April
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Waiheke Island Vineyards

Beautiful white sand beaches, vineyards and outstanding scenery are just some of the attractions of Waiheke Island. After a 45 ferry ride from downtown Auckland, you'll be greeted by your local guide, followed by a scenic tour of the island and tastings at three local boutique vineyards. A two-hour lunch stop at a village café or one of the vineyard restaurants completes an interesting and relaxing day. 

  • Allow: Full Day 10:00 am to 4:45 pm
  • Cost: $80.00 + Ferry $24.00 + Lunch
  • Age: 18 +
  • Best time: November - April
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Matakana & Beaches

The Saturday morning Matakana Farmers' Market is a showcase for local artisans, growers and farmers. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee, artisan baking, organic chocolates and fine wines. Nestled on the banks of the picturesque Matakana River, the village is a great place to visit on any day of the week, just a 40 minute drive from Auckland; be there in time for a delicious cafe breakfast and afterwards visit this nearby "secret spot", one of our favorite beaches in all of New Zealand


  • Allow: Half to a full day
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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America's Cup Sailing

Auckland, also known as 'The City of Sails' is the city that provided the core of the team that first won the America’s Cup in 1995 in San Diego. Here's your opportunity to feel the thrill of sailing an authentic America’s Cup yacht. Take the helm to help steer, work hard on the grinders to hoist the mainsail or simply sit back and enjoy the scenery.

  • Allow: 2 hours
  • Cost: From $120.00
  • Age: All (no children under 10 years permitted)
  • Best time: November to April
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City Walking Tours

We can help you arrange a free self-guided walk around the city or for a more in-depth experience, you can walk with an expert guide to discover some of the hidden treasures of Auckland City. From the must-see highlights and picturesque views, to the trendy backstreets and cultural offerings, there will be a range of experiences on offer and stories about how this young city emerged from a narrow volcanic isthmus to become a bustling, cosmopolitan city on the edge of the world.

  • Allow: 90 minutes
  • Cost: Guided from $28.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Waitomo Caves

This is one New Zealand's iconic visitor attractions. The glow worm, Arachnocampa luminosa is unique to New Zealand and thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as your expert guides explains the Caves' historical and geological significance. A highlight of a visit to Waitomo Caves is the river boat ride under the thousands of magical glowworms.

  • Allow: Adds 2 hours to todays driving time - Guided Cave tour takes 45 minutes
  • Cost: From $35.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Surf Town Raglan

If you depart from Auckland nice and early you'll have time to include a drive of one hour round-trip to the colorful seaside town of Raglan, the place made famous by film-maker Bruce Brown in his legendary surfing documentary 'The Endless Summer' A must-do for anyone with even the vaguest connection with surfing. We have a blog about our visit to Raglan here.

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: No Charge
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
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The Tree Church

In 2011, local resident Barry Cox decided to construct a unique Church of his own using living trees. He never imagined it ever becoming a tourist attraction but there's been so much interest in his project over the years that his Tree Church Gardens is now available for public viewing. Enjoy first-hand the living Church, the labyrinth walk and the extensive gardens.Read more about Tree Church in our blog - North Island Highlights - The Tree Church & The Warden

  • Allow: An hour
  • Cost: $8.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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The Glow Worms at Kakahi

Towards the end of todays drive, take this excursion, away from the main route south, into one of the most remote parts of the North Island to the tiny settlement of Kakahi. Here you are able to visit beautiful Glow Worm Caves, much less known or sophisticated than their famous cousins at Waitomo but offering the advantage of free visits. Keep an eye out for local delicacy, freshwater mussels.

  • Allow: 2 hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Tongariro Crossing

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is widely regarded as the best one-day trek available in New Zealand and is ranked among the top ten single-day treks in the world. This will be a long day and a challenging one, traversing a remarkable volcanic landscape. Ever present as you walk is the brooding Mount Ngauruhoe, used by filmmaker Peter Jackson as Mt Doom in his Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies.

  • Allow: Full day including an early start
  • Cost: Park Entry Free - Return transport to start point and from end point $45.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Tongariro River Rafting

The is one of New Zealand's best river rafting experiences. After an on-shore safety briefing and paddle instructions with an experienced guide you begin your white water rafting journey on grade 3 rapids – an ideal grade for experienced paddlers or first-time rafters. In 2.5 hours you navigate over 60 roller coaster rapids with your expert guide at the helm and treated to sights only accessed by raft.

  • Allow: Half Day
  • Cost: From $125.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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The Taranaki Falls Walk

Taranaki Falls is a 20-minutes drive away from National Park Village where most of our New Zealand Vacations customers will stay. An easy 2 hours loop, the Taranaki Falls Walk leads to the waterfalls lookout, and then to the waterfall's base. The track is awesome! The first part of the track goes through the alpine grassland with amazing views of the volcanoes. The second part of the loop goes through the beech forest with some river crossings (all bridged) and small waterfalls.

  • Allow: Trail Time 2 Hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Lake Rotopounamu Trail

This beautiful lake is a 25 minute drive from the town of National Park where most of our New Zealand Vacations customers will stay. From the Rotopounamu car park it's just a 20 minute walk to the lake or 2 hours if you choose to walk around the 3 mile loop trail. Beautiful Rotopounamu (the greenstone lake) is nestled into the side of Mt Pihanga and is a favorite place for birdwatchers, walkers and swimmers. 

  • Allow: 2 Hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November to April
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Pipiriki & The Whanganui River

Just 25 minutes south of Tongariro is a side road to Pipiriki, the access point one of the most remote and beautiful rivers in New Zealand, The Whanganui River. You'll travel by jet boat exploring magnificent forest scenery, deep ravines covered in mosses and an array of native ferns.

  • Allow: One hour drive return. 45 minutes on the river
  • Cost: From $80.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: September - April
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The Bridge to Nowhere

This option will require an extra day to be added to your vacation, but it's a choice you will never regret. Stay overnight at The Bridge to Nowhere Lodge deep in the Whanganui National Park wilderness, perched high above the river and accessible only by jet boat, canoe, by foot or helicopter. The canoe journey downstream, back to Pipiriki is simply breathtaking

  • Allow: Overnight
  • Cost: From $255.00 - includes; dinner, accommodation, breakfast, tour and jet boat transfer between the Lodge and Pipiriki.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: September - April
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Hemi Matenga Scenic Reserve

At the town of Waikenae, an hour and a half south of Wanganui is a pleasant forest walk, situated at the nearby Hemi Matenga Scenic Reserve. The shortest forest trail takes just 30 minutes, but if you have time there's also an easy, well signposted walk to the summit at 1300 feet that will take you an extra hour. From here there are excellent views of the surrounding countryside and out to nearby Kapiti Island.

  • Allow: 1-2 hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Kapiti Island Nature Reserve

Kapiti Island is our favorite nature reserve, a place where you will encounter many of New Zealand's most beautiful and endangered species in the wild, including the elusive Kiwi. You can visit Kapiti Island for a day or to truly experience all the island has to offer, make an overnight stay at the lodge. Whichever of these options you choose, it will add a day to the duration of your vacation.

  • Allow: One or Two days
  • Cost: One Day from $100, Overnight $300
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Wellington - EXCLUSIVE OFFER

New Zealand Vacations director Jerry Bridge also owns the company "What To Do in Wellington" To support us in our launch year Jerry says that as long as he's in town (which he usually is) he will personally provide New Zealand Vacations customers with an exclusive and free personalized tour of Wellington visiting the main points of interest, some "off the beaten path" places and maybe some places of your own choosing. All you'll be responsible for are entry fees at the places you choose to visit. Thank's Jerry and the "What To Do in Wellington" team.

  • Allow: A half day, tailored to your needs
  • Cost: $90.00 but complimentary to New Zealand Vacations customers
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Te Papa National Museum

Te Papa is a state of the art museum bringing together under one roof the Maori & European history of New Zealand. It is New Zealand's national museum, the largest cultural project in New Zealand's history, completed in 1998 at a cost of $317 million. You will encounter Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people, through authentic portrayals of their traditions and living culture including an opportunity to visit a unique Marae (communal meeting place) The best introduction to Te Papa is this 90 minute guided tour that explains Maori culture and treasures, art and New Zealand's colonial history.

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: $10.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary

The Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary is an outstanding example of efforts to save New Zealand most endangered native birds and animals. Visit in late afternoon to hear the dusk chorus of the birds before the nocturnal animals come to life or consider a night tour for a special experience. This will be the best opportunity on your itinerary to see such a wide variety of beautiful native birds and other native wildlife.

  • Allow: Half day
  • Cost: From $18.50
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
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The Weta Workshops

Although famous for their award winning work on movies like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy, the Weta Workshop has a creative portfolio that spans a large number of other blockbuster movies and gaming properties. These include The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and DOTA2. Anyone with even the slightest interest in movies and gaming should visit this fantastic 65,000 square foot multi–disciplinary facility..

  • Allow: 45 Minutes
  • Cost: From $25
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
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The Yellow Eyed Penguins

This half-day wildlife tour to the beautiful Otago Peninsula coincides with the afternoon arrival home from the sea of the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguins. To watch these delightful little animals returning to their beach at the end of the day and then slowly making their way to their overnight nests is an incredibly moving experience. You will see the effects of penguin conservation and know that your visit contributes to the ongoing conservation effort. You will also see other marine life including Hooker's Sea lions, Blue Penguins and a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur Seals. 

  • Allow: Half A Day
  • Cost: From $180.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Royal Albatross Colony

An opportunity to visit the only mainland based albatross breeding colony in the world. The first locally reared albatross chick flew in 1938 and this nature reserve has now grown into a colony of around 150 birds. With their slim wings measuring up to 11 feet across and capable of swooping like a jet fighter at speeds of more than 70 mph, this is a sight never to be forgotten. 

  • Allow: 2 Hours
  • Cost: Donations Appreciated
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Larnach Castle & Gardens

This is New Zealand's only castle, fully furnished and lovingly restored, with beautiful gardens and offering wonderful panoramic views of the peninsula. In 2007, the Barker family celebrated 40 years of living at the Castle, longer than the original Larnach family and they will continue to lavish the care and attention that this wonderful complex deserves. As Margaret Barker says 'The Castle has a fate of its own and we are mere caretakers in the meantime'

  • Allow: 1 - 2 Hours
  • Cost: From $30 Castle, Garden and Grounds access
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Tunnel Beach Walkway

Just 5 miles from the city center, at Tunnel Beach you can explore sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves; look for fossils as you descend through the pioneers' hand-carved tunnel to the beautiful and secluded beach below. The endless cliff top views are breathtaking. It's an easy one hour walk with a bit of a climb on the return track and the walk is best enjoyed at low tide. 

  • Allow: 2 Hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year but closed during the lambing season from August to October.
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Dunedin Railway Station

There's an ongoing debate about the Dunedin Railway Station, based on the question "Is it really beautiful?" Opened in 1906, the overall effect is undeniably grandiose and the station is New Zealand’s most photographed building. The interior has been beautifully restored and you can join the debate by making a visit to see for yourself. A farmers market runs in Anzac Square just outside the station every Saturday morning.

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Taiere Gorge Rail

The Taieri Gorge train is Dunedin's historic tourist train beginning at the magnificently restored 1906 Central Railway Station. It takes you on a journey through the rugged and spectacular Taieri River Gorge, across wrought iron viaducts and through tunnels carved by hand more than 100 years ago. Enjoy full commentary and photographic stops for the stunning views.

  • Allow: Half Day
  • Cost: From $91
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Chocolate World

Discover the magic behind a New Zealand iconic chocolate brand - Cadbury Chocolate! Learn about the history of Cadbury and chocolate as you journey through time in the Visitor Centre. At the Cadbury World Sensory Lab discover and sample the different elements of the chocolate making process, from cocoa bean all the way through to the famous Cadbury Chocolate. You even get to make a little chocolate creation of your own!

  • Allow: One Hour
  • Cost: From $17
  • Age: All ages
  • Best time: All year
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Dunedin Botanic Garden

The Dunedin Botanic Garden is the oldest and one of the finest in the country. It has both a formal garden display on flat land and a more naturalistic plant display on a sun facing slope. Native birds can be seen in the aviary and the New Zealand Native Plant Collection shows what makes New Zealand native fauna so unique. There is a cafe and a winter garden glasshouse provides a tropical retreat.

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November to April
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The Nugget Point Lighthouse

Built in 1869, the lighthouse is a great place for enjoying the amazing views along the coastline and seeing local wildlife. Look carefully and you might see fur seals, sea lions, sooty shearwaters, shags, yellow-eyed penguins, spoonbills or a breeding colony of gannets that live in this area. Occasionally, elephant and leopard seals also visit. 

  • Allow: 30 minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Purakaunui Falls

Purakaunui Falls are probably the prettiest waterfalls in New Zealand. Located at the midway point of today's drive, in the heart of the Catlins Forest Park, it's an easy walk to the waterfall's lookout. Be aware that the last mile or so of the access road is not sealed.Read about our visit to Puraukanui Falls on our blog at - Day 5 - The Wild & Remote Catlins; Curio Bay, McLean Falls, Purakanui Falls

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Cathedral Caves

The Cathedral Caves are two huge natural caverns, 700 feet long and up to 100 feet high, carved out by the actions of the sea over thousands of years. A half mile walking track descends through lush coastal forest to the beach and care must be taken of local tidal conditions when visiting.

  • Allow: 45 Minutes
  • Cost: Small charge for use of the car park
  • Age: All
  • Best time: October - May
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The Petrified Forest

The petrified forest is found at beautiful Curio Bay, a place where tree fossils are found in the sea that are over 160 million years old. They looks very much like real wood yet feels just like stone, with the petrified stumps, fallen trees and fern imprints easily accessible at low tide, or viewed from the platform above. We have more about Curio Bay on our blog at - Day 5 - The Wild & Remote Catlins; Curio Bay, McLean Falls, Purakanui Falls

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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One Day Stewart Island

Your day starts with a scenic flight from Invercargill to Stewart Island, followed by a guided tour by small coach exploring local landmarks and the history behind Stewart Island. Lunch will be at the South Sea Hotel on the waterfront at Halfmoon Bay. Afterwards there is time to explore, buy a souvenir, or to just absorb the tranquillity of the island. At the end of the day your are returned to the airport for your flight back to Invercargill.

  • Allow: Full Day
  • Cost: $200.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Overnight on Stewart Island

An island where the statistics speak for themselves - total area 650 square miles, population just 400, 80% of the island consisting of the forested and protected Rakiura National Park. In other words one of the most beautiful, pristine, remote, peaceful and natural places in the world. For those lucky enough to visit, this is an experience never to be forgotten. Read about our adventures when we visit  Stewart Island - Day 4 - Nature at Its Best - Stewart Island & Ulva Island and also at Day 4 - Evening - Kiwi Spotting on Stewart Island

  • Allow: 2 Days
  • Cost: Varies
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - March
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Ulva Island

Ulva Island is a 600 acre forest covered island, a 15 minute boat ride from Stewart Island, a place where you can view rare birds and native plants at close quarters. Your guide will tell you about the inquisitive weka, the South Island Kaka (parrot), parakeets, woodpigeons, bellbirds, tomtits, fantails, and tui. Also found on this predator free oasis are the South Island Saddlebacks, Stewart Island Robins, yellowheads, fernbirds and rifleman. Read about our visit to UIva Island on our blog at - Day 4 - Nature at Its Best - Stewart Island & Ulva Island

  • Allow: 2 Hours
  • Cost: From $125.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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World's Fastest Indian

A tribute to legendary motorcycle racer Bert Munro who in 1967 travelled from his home in Invercargill to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats where he set an under-1,000 cc world speed record, a record that still stands (average speed 183.586 mph)

This heroic sportsman who was 68 and riding a 47-year-old machine when he set his last record, was to later have his story form the basis of the motion picture 'The World's Fastest Indian' starring Anthony Hopkins. Burt's original 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle forms the centerpiece of a display of over one hundred classic, vintage and modern motorcycles and other memorabilia.

  • Allow: Half hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
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Riverton

After a couple of weeks on the road and maybe as an alternative to visiting Stewart Island, here's an ideal opportunity at the halfway point in your vacation to take a break and refresh. Riverton has a scenic harbor and estuary with great swimming beaches and opportunities to enjoy locally produced cuisine, boating, surfing, fishing and some great coastal and forest walks. Read about our visit to Riverton on our blog at - Day 3 - Exploring The Southern Scenic Route, Humpridge Track, Riverton, Invercargill.

  • Allow: 1 - 2 days
  • Cost: None
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - March
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Mores Reserve, Riverton

This hidden gem, close to Riverton, is a 1 hour loop walk that includes panoramic views of the coastline and Foveaux Strait, forest tracks and abundant native birdlife. It also has areas of Wahi Tapu (treasured places for Maori) and visitors are asked to respect these. An extension of this walk includes walks along secluded beaches and bays (total 2 Hours) You can read about hour visit to Riverton here.

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November to April
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Night Cruise, Doubtful Sound

With its ancient rain forests and abundant wildlife Doubtful Sound is quite simply breathtaking. Practically untouched by humans the physical grandeur of towering peaks, outstanding waterfalls like The Browne Falls that cascade 2,000 feet into the fiord, and calm inland seas combine to create a powerful atmosphere of solitude and serenity. Crested penguins, bottlenose dolphins and New Zealand fur seals will among the wildlife that might be encountered. Our blog also explores the adjacent Dusky Sound tours, a very special experience.

  • Allow: If you choose the overnight cruise option it will add one day to your itinerary.
  • Cost: $333.00 including 3 course buffet dinner, cooked breakfast, kayaking. Private cabins with ensuite bathrooms. Picnic lunch.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: Operates September to mid-May
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Homer Tunnel & Milford Sound

This one of the world's finest alpine drives. From Te Anau the road winds through the Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys then through the Homer Tunnel and to the awesome sight of Mitre Peak towering above the glassy waters of Milford Sound. The road can be quite challenging at times so a coach tour is available if preferred. 

  • Allow: 2.5 Hours Drive Each Way
  • Cost:
  • Age: All
  • Best time: October to April
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Glow Worm Caves, Te Anau

While not as extensive as the more famous caves at Waitomo in the North Island, this is still a very enjoyable experience. It begins with an evening cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau and on arrival the guides for the tour will share their knowledge of the caves and its history. This underground world is astonishingly beautiful, a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall. You’ll be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms producing a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary

  • Allow: 3 Hours
  • Cost: From $79
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Night Cruise, Doubtful Sound

With its ancient rain forests and abundant wildlife Doubtful Sound is quite simply breathtaking. Practically untouched by humans the physical grandeur of towering peaks, outstanding waterfalls like The Browne Falls that cascade 2,000 feet into the fiord, and calm inland seas combine to create a powerful atmosphere of solitude and serenity. Crested penguins, bottlenose dolphins and New Zealand fur seals will among the wildlife that might be encountered. Our blog also explores the adjacent Dusky Sound tours, a very special experience.

  • Allow: If you choose the overnight cruise option it will add one day to your itinerary.
  • Cost: $333.00 including 3 course buffet dinner, cooked breakfast, kayaking. Private cabins with ensuite bathrooms. Picnic lunch.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: Operates September to mid-May
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The Shotover Jet

Since 1970 over 2 million adrenalin-rushed passengers have enjoyed the thrills of the world's most exciting Jetboat ride, The Shotover Jet. It's a thrilling ride - skimming past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breath taking speeds. And  hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 degree spins!

  • Allow: Half hour
  • Cost: From $135 Adult and $75 Child
  • Age: Minimum height 1 meter
  • Best time: All year
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Magnificent Milford Sound

Either drive from Te Anau or from Queenstown to Milford Sound or take a coach tour from Te Anau or Queenstown or fly to Milford Sound and return to Queenstown by coach. Your opportunity to enjoy the world famous Milford Sound Cruise. For more about Milford Sound read out Milford Sound blog here.

  • Allow: Full Day
  • Cost: Varies
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
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Whitewater Rafting

Begin with an unforgettable coach trip into Skippers Canyon where you meet your river guide and set out on your white water rafting journey through the spectacular Shotover Canyon. Rafting over peaceful waters at first, you'll head towards the exhilarating rapids of the lower canyon before shooting Cascade Rapid to complete your white-knuckle adventure. Before returning to Queenstown, enjoy a sauna and hot shower at Cavell's Rafting Lodge.

  • Allow: 4.5 Hours
  • Cost: From $219
  • Age: Minimum age 13 years / 88Ib
  • Best time: November to April
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The Routeburn Track

This is an ideal way for visitors to enjoy one of New Zealand's famous walking trails, the Routeburn, in just one day. You'll be driven around the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the start of the trail in the Mount Aspiring National Park. As you make your way along the trail your guide will point out native plants and birdlife while providing a real insight into the history and geology of this fascinating region. After a picnic lunch you are returned to Queenstown.

  • Allow: Full day - 7.30am pick-up from Queenstown
  • Cost: From $179
  • Age: 10+
  • Best time: November - April
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Scenery and Vineyards

This guided tour is a great way to enjoy the best scenery in the wider Queenstown region combined with a wine tour that is tailored to suit the tastes of everyone on board. There will be many scenic stops to capture the exceptional scenery and 3 wineries will be visited with a platter lunch of local and seasonal delights included. A highlight will be a stunning drive over the Crown Range Alpine Pass. You can see some great shots of vineyards in this region on our blog. Just click here.

  • Allow: Full day
  • Cost: From $215.00. Maximum group size 7
  • Age: 18 Plus
  • Best time: All year excluding winter, May - September
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Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a historic former gold mining town and one of New Zealand’s iconic visitor destinations. The spectacular setting, the distinct four seasons and tranquil atmosphere, make Arrowtown a must do for visitors. The town has maintained its historic buildings and is now a vibrant meeting place with world class food and beverage, shopping and attractions. 

  • Allow: Queenstown to Arrowtown takes 20 minutes.
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Mountain Biking

Attach your rental mountain bike to your Gondola and enjoy the leisurely uphill Gondola ride. At the summit (1500 ft) detach your bike and take on the challenges of the Queenstown Bike Park. We like the idea that most of your ride will be downhill, just choose from more than 27 world class mountain biking trails of varying terrain suitable for all abilities and don't forget to enjoy the spectacular views. ,

  • Allow: Half day
  • Cost: From $60
  • Age: 5+
  • Best time: September - May
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The Rob Roy Glacier Hike

This is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in New Zealand and includes the alpine scenery, snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs, forests, wildflowers and waterfalls of the Mt Aspiring National Park. It starts in the Matukituki Valley, about an hour’s drive from Wanaka. The trail is well formed and requires a moderate level of fitness but the glorious views of the Rob Roy Glacier from the viewing platform at the turnaround point makes the effort of getting there totally worthwhile.


  • Allow: Full Day
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: 10 +
  • Best time: All Year - avalanches and extreme cold are possible in winter, June to November.
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Kayak Lake Wanaka

This is a fantastic introduction to kayaking, with an easy guided paddle that explores the beautiful Lake Wanaka coastline. The scenery you'll encounter as you paddle is outstanding. Light snacks and refreshments provided and no prior experience of kayaking is required

  • Allow: Half day
  • Cost: Adults US$68.00. Child under 13 US$55.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November to April
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The Cadrona Distillery

The Cardrona Distillery is a family-owned artisan single malt distillery nestled high in the Cardrona Valley between Wanaka and Queenstown. It uses time-honoured traditional methods, hand-crafting spirits from scratch, starting with just malted barley, water, and yeast. Luxuriously rich vodka, hand crafted New Zealand rose hip gin, and delectably zesty New Zealand orange liqueur are all on offer.  All from the world’s most southerly distillery.

  • Allow: 1 - 2 hours
  • Cost: US$20.00 - Includes a journey through the working distillery and barrelhouse and a tasting of Cardrona Distillery's offerings.
  • Age: Adults
  • Best time: All Year
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Biking Wanaka

The tracks around Lake Wanaka and in the surrounding hills are some of the most enjoyable and scenic in New Zealand. There are tracks suitable for every age group and level of fitness, ranging from high-speed mountain bike trails to the more gentle paced for those who prefer to travel at a more leisurely speed. You can venture out alone or we can organize a group excursion with fellow travelers. If you are going to cycle when in New Zealand, Wanaka is the place to do it!


  • Allow: Varies
  • Cost: Varies according to bicycle type and length of bike hire.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Blue Pools

An hour into today's drive you will reach the Blue Pools Walk, world-renowned as a must-see highlight in this wilderness region. A carefully maintained trail winds through native silver beech forest to a swing bridge strung high above the Makarora River from where the views back to the mountains of the Main Divide are absolutely breath-taking. Next are a series of deep crystal clear glacier-fed pools the color of deep azure blue, so clear that you can see right to the bottom. In summer take a swim!

  • Allow: One Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Ship Creek Walk

After leaving The Haast and making your way north, take a short break to enjoy a 30 minute walk into the wild and stunningly beautiful Ship Creek. The water color, the driftwood littered beach, the wild ocean and the unique tree cover create a wonderful experience for any visitor.

  • Allow: 45 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Jackson Bay

Jackson Bay is one of the most isolated and picturesque places on the planet. In places the approach road has fern grottos growing right down to the edges of the road with trees almost forming tunnels across the roadway. This is a one hour side trip so an especially early start will be needed if you want to include this wonderful experience in your day. Keep an eye out for the local pod of dolphins that make the bay their home.

  • Allow: 1 - 2 hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Lake Matheson Photo Shoot

At Lake Matheson, near Fox Glacier, nature has combined exactly the right ingredients to create truly stunning reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks - Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman.

  • Allow: 40 Minutes walk from car park
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: 8+
  • Best time: All year - weather dependant
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Okarito Kiwi Tour

The opportunity to see the notoriously shy nocturnal Kiwi in its own natural habitat is something extremely rare. Tonight you join a small group who under the care of an expert and experienced local guide will set off to tray and do just that!

  • Allow: 3 - 5 hours from dusk
  • Cost: From $75
  • Age: Adults only
  • Best time: All year
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White Heron Bird Colony

This is an organized boat trip from Franz Josef into the remote bird life sanctuary of the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve. From mid-September to March, the majestic migratory Kotuku (White Heron) can be seen in all it's pluming glory nesting in the trees on the banks of the river. There's a huge range of other birds to be seen, or heard, and along the way you will also enjoy beautiful New Zealand scenery.

  • Allow: 3 Hours
  • Cost: From $120.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: September - March
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Franz Joseph Ice Exploration

Want to actually get on the ice and explore?  A short heli-hop from the township takes you into the remarkable Pinnacles area of the Franz Josef glacier. Here your guide will navigate you through a maze of ice and explain the dramatic environmental changes over the last few years. 

  • Allow: Up to 4 hours
  • Cost: From $340
  • Age: 12+
  • Best time: All year - weather dependant
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Land on The Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier provides some of the most stunning ‘ice architecture’ of any Glacier in the world, making it one of the must-do's for visitors to New Zealand. The Glacier was in a state of advance until 2008 when it started retreating and following a spectacular collapse of the terminal face in 2012, it is now only accessible by helicopter. Flights operate daily from 8am, depending on weather and seasonal conditions.

  • Allow: Flight Time 20 Minutes
  • Cost: From $235.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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West Coast Treetop Walk

Located just south of the town of Hokitika, this is an exhilarating treetop adventure among temperate rainforest giants. Experience life with the birds high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. Easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 65 feet high and nearly 1500 feet long. 

  • Allow: 45 Minutes
  • Cost: US$27.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Hokitika Gorge

We should state from the outset that the access road to the gorge, 20 miles in each direction  is quite winding. But those who make the effort will be well rewarded. A viewing platform overlooks a magnificent granite gorge with milky blue-green pools, backed by cliffs and fine rimu forests.  This is a hidden gem, off the beaten path that most visitors to New Zealand never get to see. Take your camera!

  • Allow: 45 minutes return from the main highway. Allow 30 minutes to view the gorge
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Bushman's Centre

This really is something quite different. You might meet Pete Pete – aka The Mayor, law enforcement officer, cook and cleaner, gardener and rubbish man! He's the owner of the Puke Pub and the bizarre Bushman Centre at Pukekura (population 2) A visitor in 2011 wrote "Possibly the worst cafe in New Zealand" So bring your sense of humor, watch out for the giant sandfly at the entrance, take a look at the "museum" and do not ask about the possum pie!


  • Allow: 20 Seconds to 20 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Shanty Town Heritage Park

Situated close to Greymouth this is a 30 building recreation of a 19th-century gold-mining town, celebrating a time of gold rush in New Zealand history. There's a Steam Train line through the rainforest, the sights and sounds of a working sawmill, a ChinaTown and a sluice gun blasting gold bearing rock. Pan for your own gold - you might have a strike!

  • Allow: One Hour
  • Cost: $33.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki

Your last thrill of today will be your visit to the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki. They were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants about a mile below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers and then gradual seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed.

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Punakaiki–Pororari River Trail

Within walking distance of the Punakaiki Visitor Centre, this loop trail follows a spectacular limestone gorge with dense native forest and a variety of native birds and wildlife; suitable for all ages and rated as one of the best trails in New Zealand. It starts with a crossing of the Punakaiki River via a footbridge, and then follows an easily graded climb to the ridge dividing the Punakaiki and Pororari rivers. When the Pororari River Track junction is reached, it's worth carrying on along the Inland Pack Track for a short distance to the Pororari River, a perfect place for a rest and something to eat. Return to the junction and then follow the Pororari River Track down river to the car park. From there it's less than a mile back to the Visitor Centre.

  • Allow: 3 Hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November to April
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The TranzAlpine Express

Your first option for today is to drive to Greymouth in time to return your car and then take the 1:45 pm departure to Christchurch on the TranzAlpine Express, one of the world's great train journeys. Highlights will include thrilling views of deep gorges as you traverse the Southern Alps, eventually following the spectacular ice-fed Waimakariri River and crossing the Canterbury Plains for a late afternoon arrival in Christchurch.

  • Allow: 4 1/2 Hours
  • Cost: From $99.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Drive via Arthur's Pass

Another option for today is to drive to Christchurch, following a similar route to the TranzAlpine Express via Arthurs Pass but with opportunities to make stops en-route at places that interest you. The road through the Otira Pass gets a little challenging at times, winding and steep, but for a confident driver, this is an experience that will live long in the memory.

  • Allow: 4 - 5 Hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year (road closures due snow in winter)
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Arthur's Pass Village

A great stop-off point on the Arthurs Pass drive is the small alpine village of Arthurs Pass, located high in the Southern Alps. From here you can access some of the best mountain walking trails, ranging from 30 minutes to 6 hours in duration. Between Arthurs Pass and Christchurch, alongside the main road, is Castle Hill. Take a break and walk up the track to see the interesting rock formations - yet another area that was used during the filming of the Lord of the Rings, and more recently the Chronicles of Narnia. Also a favorite hang-out place for rock climbers.


  • Allow: From 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year (subject to occasional closure during winter snow storms)
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Devils Punchbowl Falls

One of the most impressive waterfalls in New Zealand, Devils Punchbowl Falls is located in the heart of Arthur's Pass National Park. Although the waterfall can be seen from the highway, it's still better to walk up to the waterfall's base by way of a forest covered walkway. Moderate fitness level is required. 

  • Allow: 1 Hour return
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Drive via The Lewis Pass

This is a longer, gentler and less demanding drive than the Arthurs Pass option. It has as special beauty of its own, providing spectacular views of densely forested mountain slopes and following stunning winding rivers. This also option offers the opportunity to make a stop at the spa pools at Hanmer Springs. 

  • Allow: 5 - 6 Hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year (some road closures in winter due snow)
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Reefton Historic Walk

If you choose the Lewis Pass option, the small town of Reefton is an ideal place to take a break and stretch your legs. Starting from the Reefton Visitor Centre, this walk passes twenty four historic buildings, many dating from the 19th century. These include shops, churches, lodges, the courthouse and the Reefton School of Mines. There is a helpful brochure for this walk available at the Visitor Centre. Afterwards indulge in some cookies at the local bakery - legendary!

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year but can get very cold in winter
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The Maruia Falls

If you choose the Lewis Pass option between the West Coast and Christchurch, you can visit the Maruia Falls. This wide river waterfall is nestled amongst brilliant scenic landscapes and are easily accessible, just 5 minutes walk from the main roadway.

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Hanmer Springs Pools & Spa

For those who choose the Lewis Pass option, there's the opportunity to enjoy the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. This is an extensive thermal complex in an alpine environment surrounded by beautiful native gardens. The complex offers thermal mineral, sulphur and freshwater pools, with private thermal pools, sauna and steam rooms available.

  • Allow: Minimum 30 minutes
  • Cost: From $22.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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International Antarctic Centre

Christchurch Airport is the base for Operation Deep Freeze with the US Military responsible for re-supplying those working on the frozen Antarctic bases at the bottom of the world. At the Airport is also the International Antarctic Centre bringing to life the story of Antarctic discovery and science. Visit the snow and ice experience, survive an Antarctic Storm, learn about life in modern day Antarctica and Scott Base, and hang out with Little Blue Penguins! 

  • Allow: 2 Hours
  • Cost: From $85.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Avon River Punting

An iconic Christchurch activity not to be missed. Admire the beautiful Christchurch Botanic Gardens or the changing face of the city centre as you are expertly guided gently along the Avon River on an authentic Edwardian designed punt. 

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: From $28.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Christchurch Historic Tram

Enjoy a journey through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre on board a beautifully restored heritage tram. Friendly and knowledgeable drivers will inform you about the city, its landmarks and local sights. Your day-long ticket allows you to get on and off the Tram as often as you please! A great introduction to Christchurch.

  • Allow: Varies
  • Cost: From $20.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Christchurch Art Gallery

The Christchurch Art Gallery, with the formal name of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, is the public art gallery of the city of Christchurch and houses one of the largest art collections in New Zealand. The magnificent new glass encased museum houses a regularly-changing program of national and international touring exhibitions.

  • Allow: Minimum One Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Whale Watch Kaikoura

This is a beautiful place where towering mountain chains meet an ocean rich in marine wildlife, the most famous being the worlds largest toothed predator the Sperm Whale. So incredibly deep are the coastal waters of Kaikoura that the whales are able to live here throughout the year and that means a 95% success rate in whale sightings by local whale watching operators.

  • Allow: 3.5 Hours
  • Cost: From $145
  • Age: 3+
  • Best time: All year
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Swim With Dolphins Kaikoura

Swim with, or watch the dolphins in their natural environment off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand. Whether you choose to view these delightful mammals from the boat or join them in the ocean, you will have a unique and enjoyable experience.

  • Allow: 3 1/2 Hours
  • Cost: From $170
  • Age: 8+
  • Best time: November - April
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Maori Tours Kaikoura

As you travel around New Zealand there are many opportunities to learn about Maori history and customs from a local perspective. This example is our favorite. It's operated by a local family, it communicates with visitors in a warm and welcoming way and it introduces them into the fascinating world of the Maori people of Kaikoura at a grass roots level. We strongly recommend this as one of the best.

  • Allow: 2 hour
  • Cost: $125.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time:
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The Kaikoura Seal Colony

Just 15 miles north of Kaikoura at Half Moon Bay you can view seals playing or sunning themselves on the boulders and beach below the road. Between May & October also walk up the adjacent Ohau Falls Track (10 min) to view dozens of baby seals playing in a large pool below the falls. Probably the "cutest" of the experiences you will enjoy in New Zealand, so don't forget your camera.

  • Allow: 10-20 minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Cloudy Bay Winery

No other New Zealand winery has played such an important role in establishing Marlborough and New Zealand's reputation for producing some of the world finest wines, especially Sauvignon Blanc. Now owned by the French company Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, this vineyard offers visitors a stylish and enjoyable tasting experience. 

  • Allow: 1 hour
  • Cost: Varies
  • Age: 18+
  • Best time: All Year
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Omaka Aviation Centre

Working quietly behind the scenes, movie director Sir Peter Jackson and a small group dedicated enthusiasts created the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre situated just a 10 minute drive from Blenheim. The Knights of the Sky exhibition, features Sir Peter Jackson’s own collection of World War 1 aircraft and rare artifacts. The story of aviation in the Great War of 1914-18 is brought to life in sensational sets, lovingly created by the combined talents of WingNut Films and the Weta Workshop. A 'must do' for anyone with an interest in history.

  • Allow: 1 hour +
  • Cost: From $22.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Queen Charlotte Drive

A nice and early start is recommended for todays spectacular drive, there's a lot to see and do, especially on the road between Picton and Havelock. Stop at the lookout near the Havelock end of the road for breathtaking views. Parts of todays drive encounters some sharp and twisting turns but proceed carefully and you will be well rewarded with a most enjoyable day.

  • Allow: 3 hours +
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - March
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Wearable Art Gallery Nelson

Only a minute off the road to Motueka this gallery displays 60 World of WearableArt award-winning creations submitted for competition by designers from all over the world. Anyone with even the slightest interest in fashion and design will be thrilled by what they experience here. The adjacent antique car collection will be enjoyed by motoring enthusiasts. 

  • Allow: 45 minutes
  • Cost: $18.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Abel Tasman National Park

This is not only the smallest national park in New Zealand, it is also the most popular. Golden sand beaches, crystal clear waters, superb forests, abundant bird and sea life draw visitors from all around the world. A favorite experience is to be dropped by water-taxi at a golden sand beach and to then walk along the beautiful coastline track to be picked up again at a pre-arranged pick-up point. 

  • Allow: Half day
  • Cost: Free entry to PARK
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell is the northernmost point of the South Island, located on the coast at the start of Farewell Spit. It  provides homes for sea mammals and over 90 species of birds including up to 20,000 godwits, 30,000 knots plus curlews, whimbrels and turnstones. To make the most of this experience, New Zealand Vacations can arrange a one day 4WD guided tour from Motueka, the best way to learn about the history, the wildlife and ecology of the region from a qualified guide. Bring cameras and binoculars to make the most of a visit to this nature-lover's paradise.



  • Allow: Full day
  • Cost: From $250.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Cape Farewell Horse Treks

If you love horse riding, getting off the beaten trail and experiencing one of New Zealand's finest treks, this is the one for you - it has it all. The departure point is a one hour drive from Motueka, some of it winding and the last mile before reaching the trek departure point at Puponga, a gravel road. You start the trek with a meander over private forest and farmland making your way across beautiful Puponga Beach. It then takes you through the Puponga Farm Park and climbs along the Old Man's Range where you have breathtaking views of your surroundings. This trek has some steeper terrain and is suited more for teenagers and adults. 

  • Allow: Drive to and from Puponga 2 hours. Trek is 3-3.5 hours
  • Cost: US$120 per person.
  • Age: Over 16 - basic horse riding skills a must
  • Best time: November to April
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