- 18 Days -

A Self Drive Adventure

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 (remember the movie “The Piano”) continue your self drive itinerary with a visit to Tongariro National Park and your opportunity to conquer the world-famous Tongairo Crossing. Continue your vacation with a visit to trendy Wellington to the south, not forgetting our free Wellington day tour. Then fly to Queenstown the adventure capital of the South Island where a visit to Milford Sound will be a must-do for many. After 3 days of fun and adventure, drive north to Christchurch, following the eastern flanks of the mighty Southern Alps. Visit the country’s highest mountain Aoraki Mt Cook and enjoy the many stopover opportunities along this scenic route. After a short stay in Christchurch fly to Auckland to connect with your homeward flight.

Days 1 to 3

Auckland

Auckland is not only the biggest city in New Zealand, it's also the gateway to some amazing scenery and experiences. From its location on Auckland Harbor it's easy to reach some of the 50 islands contained in the adjacent Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park. Auckland is the ideal starting point for any New Zealand trip, be it scenic, cultural, fine food and wines or adventure based. 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.

Day 3

Drive from Auckland to Rotorua

  • 140 miles
  • 3 Hours

After leaving Auckland you will soon be enjoying the landscapes that lie at the heart of New Zealand’s economy, the farming region called The Waikato. An easy drive of around 3 hours, passing small towns and farms along the way.  For the more adventurous we have suggested some  interesting activities and diversions that will add to your driving time and of course the big attraction for many will be the Lord of The Rings settlement of Hobbiton.

Days 3 to 5

The Geothermal Wonders of Rotorua

Rotorua is your opportunity to experience the fascinating culture and history of the Maori people. It's also known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot spring spas.

Also see our Whirinaki Forest Blog

Day 5

Drive from Rotorua to Tongariro National Park

  • 105 Miles
  • 2 Hours

A relaxing drive through large tracts of plantation pine forest with some interesting stop-off options to enjoy en-route.  Why not stop on the shores of Lake Taupo for lunch!

Days 5 to 7

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 7

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 7 to 9

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 9

Fly from Wellington to Dunedin

  • Flight
  • 1 Hour 10 Minute Flight

Days 9 to 12

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 12

Drive From Dunedin to Queenstown

  • 175 Miles
  • 3 1/2 Hours

A highlight of today's drive through this important fruit and wine producing region will be the wonderful scenery as you head west, following New Zealand's second biggest river, the mighty Clutha.

Days 12 to 15

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 12 to 15

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 15

Drive From Queenstown to Twizel

  • 123 Miles
  • 2 1/2 Hours

For the most part, this is an easy days drive, traveling through the Kawarau Gorge and the restored town of Cromwell before crossing the Lindis Pass. From here, as you follow the eastern flanks of the majestic Southern Alps, you can enjoy the most open roads in New Zealand, long, flat and easy. 

Days 15 to 16

Twizel

Twizel is the adventure capital of the South Island, offering access to some of New Zealand's finest mountain climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, alpine walking trails, cycling, skiing, horse trekking and trout fishing. The area around Twizel and Tekapo played host to the filming of the epic battle at Pelennor Field, as well as the scenes in An Unexpected Journey where Bilbo and the dwarves escape orcs and warns. For those who noticed the June 2016 headline "The night sky is vanishing: 80 percent of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way" this is the region where you still see the stars in all of their stunning beauty, making a visit to the Mt John Observatory tonight, a special opportunity, never to be forgotten.

Day 16

Drive from Twizel to Christchurch

  • 190 Miles
  • 4 Hours

Days 16 to 18

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 18

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:

Please contact us for a personalised itinerary price that will match your budget, time and interests.

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

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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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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Tiritiri Matangi

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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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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Hobbiton

Visit the Hobbiton movie set where scenes from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmedIn a fascinating two-hour guided tour you will be taken through the twelve acre site recounting fascinating details of how the movie set was created. The Hobbit Holes, Green Dragon™ Inn, Mill and other structures created for these films can be viewed. For something really special ask us about the Wednesday evening Dinner Tour. 

  • Allow: 2 hours
  • Cost: From $55.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Miranda Shorebird Centre

The Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre is a great opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s amazing birdlife including the endemic Wrybill bird with it's unique sideways facing beak. With the numbers of shorebirds often exceeding 10,000 the coastline is almost a mandatory stop for anyone who enjoys seeing birds in their natural habitat. The friendly staff at the Centre will advise the best places to view the birds. Read more about the Miranda Shorebird Centre at our blog - North Island Highlights - Miranda Shorebird Centre

  • Allow: An extra 20 minutes driving time.
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: October to March
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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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Mount Maunganui Beach

After visiting Hobbiton, instead of driving directly to Rotorua, you have the option of driving for 45 minutes, across the Kaimai Hills to enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches of Mount Maunganui. After a swim in the warm Pacific waters or a pleasant stroll to the summit of Mount Maunganui, it's a just an hours further drive, via a lovely scenic route to Rotorua.

  • Allow: Adds 3 hours to the days driving
  • Cost:
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Polynesian Spa

This is a historic natural hot mineral springs spa that for 3 years in a row was selected by the prestigious magazine Conde Nast Traveler as one of the world's top ten Medical & Thermal Spas. There are twenty-seven hot mineral pools in the Lake Spa offering a complete range of body & skin therapies. Visitor options range from family pools to private luxury seclusion. Lie back, relax, enjoy!

  • Allow: Varies
  • Cost: From $30.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Whakarewarewa

This site is a replica of a pre-European fortified Maori village, completely surrounded by a natural thermal area that includes silica terraces, mud pools and the famous geyser Pohutu shooting boiling water nearly 70 feet in the air. End your visit at the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute where you can watch Maori wood carvers at work.

  • Allow: Minimum 1 hour
  • Cost: From $35.00 for a fully guided one hour tour through the Village and a Maori Cultural Performance Show.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Rail Cruising Rotorua

Rail Cruising is a new activity that allows you to experience travel along railway lines in your own self-drive, 4-seat railway vehicle while admiring the scenery of the passing countryside. Cruising along at 12 mph, you can listen to the commentary and discover a unique piece of New Zealand railway history. Great fun!

  • Allow: 2 hours
  • Cost: From $55.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Te Urewera Treks

This full day tour of the magnificent Whirinaki Forest Park brings this world to life as you walk the forest tracks, your Maori guides sharing stories about their tribal history and the amazing birdlife, flora and fauna of the region. A relaxing luncheon on the banks of the picturesque Whirinaki river provides an opportunity to experience the solitude, the beauty and tranquility of this wilderness areas. Rated 5 star by the New Zealand Vacations team.

Also read our Whirinaki Forest Blog

  • Allow: One Day (The Two Day experience is also strongly recommended)
  • Cost: From $150.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November to April
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Waimangu Valley

The strange geological formations, the forest and the lakes of Waimangu always create a sense of wonder for visitors. This is a place of constant geothermal activity and tremendous heat, creating steam, geysers and streams bubbling away at 125 degrees! We recommend a cruise on the incredible cobalt blue lake, where stories will be told of the violent eruptions of 1886 that formed Waimangu and the natural beauty that it created. Read more about Waimangu on our blog - North Island Highlights - Waimangu Volcanic Valley

  • Allow: A minimum of 1-2 hours
  • Cost: From $25.00 (With lake Cruise $30.00)
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Huka Falls

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake and it empties into the country's longest river, the Waikato River and at this point of its journey, the Huka Falls, between banks just 300ft part. The result is truly spectacular. Don't miss it, just off the main road before arriving at the town of Taupo.

  • Allow: 30 minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Kayak on Lake Taupo

This kayak lake tour includes a visit to a series of huge stone carvings on the lake, created by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell. No experience is necessary - the double kayaks are safe and easy to use and all trips are guided and full instruction is given. . A truly a unique trip and one you will remember.

  • Allow: 4 Hours
  • Cost: $75.00 including full instruction, top quality kayaks and gourmet refreshments.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Craters of the Moon

Although not as well known as nearby Rotorua, the Taupo region has some special geothermal activities of their own. The Craters of the Moon is a typical example, named for its other-worldly atmosphere. The 30 minute track walk passes bubbling craters, mud pools and steam vents. You can also see many interesting plants that have adapted to thrive in the hot, steamy conditions. Enjoy this fantastic geothermal area free of charge along well-formed pathways with elevated viewing platforms.

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: From $8
  • Age: All
  • Best time: Year round
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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, 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 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 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 - FREE 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

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 Otago Rail Trail

When the 93 mile Otago rail line was closed in 1990 and the steel tracks removed it was decided to convert it into a path for walkers and cyclists. The resulting Rail Trail has proven to be hugely popular with overseas visitors. There are no steep hills to conquer, and for the complete experience allow 3-5 days to complete the trail. It  passes through  with small towns offering good food and accommodation, gentle hills, tussock grasslands, gorges and wonderful mountain scenery. 

  • Allow: 1, 3 or 5 Days
  • Cost: Varies with duration selected
  • Age: 12+
  • Best time: November - April
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Mt Difficulty Vineyard

A short distance from the Kawerau Gorge is Mt Difficulty Vineyards, one of the oldest vineyards in this  Central Otago wine growing region. This area is internationally recognised as one of the few places in the world outside Burgundy where the pernickety Pinot Noir variety has found a home. Their restaurant has great views over the surrounding countryside.

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: Adult
  • Best time: All Year
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The Kawerau Gorge

The last part of today's journey, before reaching Queenstown, takes you through the Kawerau Gorge and the Roaring Meg Recreation Reserve where lookout locations allow you to view and sense the power of the spectacular Kawarau River. Did someone mention Bungee Jumping? Yes this is the place where Bungee was born and still operates - strictly optional!

  • Allow: 1/2 to 1 hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
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Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a historic former gold mining town and rich in heritage. The spectacular scenery, distinct four seasons and tranquil atmosphere make Arrowtown a must do for visitors from all over the world.  This town has maintained its historic buildings and is now a vibrant town with world class food and beverage, shopping and attractions. Arrowtown also provided some famous locations in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The Ford of Bruinen was located just upstream of the town and it was here that Arwen Evenstar, daughter of Elrond, carried the injured and dying Frodo across the river on horseback with the Black Riders close behind

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • 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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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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Mt Difficulty Vineyard

A short distance from the Kawerau Gorge is Mt Difficulty Vineyards, one of the oldest vineyards in this  Central Otago wine growing region. This area is internationally recognised as one of the few places in the world outside Burgundy where the pernickety Pinot Noir variety has found a home. Their restaurant has great views over the surrounding countryside.

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: Adult
  • Best time: All Year
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Cromwell Town

The town of Cromwell is a favorite stopping off point for visitors before they cross the Lindis Pass. The construction of the Clyde Dam in the early 1990s saw the old town centre drowned and today there's a replica of the old town while the adjacent 'new' Cromwell has become a thriving centre for the local wine and fruit industries.

  • Allow: 30 minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Lindis Pass

The scenic drive through Lindis Pass is approximately 45 miles in length and takes less than an hour to traverse. The road is hilly and winding, reaching a height of over 3,000 feet. The landscape is empty, just tussock grasslands as far as the eye can see and this gives it a unique and rugged beauty all of its own. 

  • Allow: An hour
  • Cost:
  • Age: All
  • Best time: Road gets closed at times during winter.
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The Clay Cliffs at Paritea

At the junction town of Omarama, take a 10 minute diversions to see The Clay Cliffs at Paritea, a dramatic natural rock formation with huge pinnacles and ridges with deep, narrow ravines separating them. They are made of layers of gravel and silt, deposited by rivers flowing from glaciers 1-2 million years ago. We have more to say about the cliffs on our blog at - Day 2 - The Thrills of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park - The Hooker Valley, Abel Tasman Glacier & Lake, Clay Cliffs

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

An early start today as you drive along the edge of beautiful Lake Pukaki to reach the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and New Zealand's highest mountain Aoraki Mt Cook (12,319 ft). Heli-skiing, heli-hiking and aerial sightseeing provide visitors with amazing memories. A variety of walking trails begin in or near Mount Cook Village—most take only a couple of hours. To read about the Hooker Valley Walk at Aoraki Mt Cook, read our blog at - Day 2 - The Thrills of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park - The Hooker Valley, Abel Tasman Glacier & Lake, Clay Cliffs

  • Allow: 40 Minutes drive from the main highway - each way
  • Cost:
  • Age:
  • Best time:
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Tasman Glacier Lake

Visit New Zealand's Tasman Glacier terminal lake for a fascinating glacial encounter. Cruise the rapidly growing terminal lake taking in spectacular mountain views and scenery. Icebergs of every shape and size periodically tear away from the glacier allowing you to touch and taste the 300-500 year old glacial crystals.

  • Allow: 2.5 Hours
  • Cost: USD105.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: Septembern to May (Subject to winter ice thawing at end of August)
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Hooker Valley Walk

There are many interesting walks available from the village at Mt Cook but the Hooker Valley is the favorite of them all. This track leads up the Hooker valley towards Aoraki/Mount Cook. It passes close to the Alpine Memorial (a great viewpoint) and Freda’s Rock before coming to the viewing point of the Mueller Glacier and the first swing bridge. The mountain views encountered are incredible. Read about our adventures when we walked the Hooker Valley - Day 2 - The Thrills of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park - The Hooker Valley, Abel Tasman Glacier & Lake, Clay Cliffs 

  • Allow: 3-4 Hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: 10+
  • Best time: All Year but winter is subject to alpine weather conditions
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Mt John Observatory

After a day in the mountains, tonights drive to the Mount John Observatory, New Zealand's premier astronomical observatory, will take about 40 minutes each way, but the effort will be well worthwhile. Mt John is regarded internationally as one of the most beautiful and easily accessible observatories in the world. For those interested in discovering the wonders of the stunning southern night skies this will be an evening of discovery and wonder. Read more about Mt John on our blog at - Day 1 - We Discover The Rakaia Gorge, Mt John Observatory Lake Pukaki, Hobbit Sites, Aoraki/Mt Cook

  • Allow: 2 Hours
  • Cost: Expert Guided Tour from $145 for an adult
  • Age: 8+
  • Best time: October - April
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Church of The Good Shepherd

The Church of The Good Shepherd is located on the shores of Lake Tekapo, a favorite stop-off point for those driving to Christchurch. The golden brown hills and waving tussock grasses of the remote Mackenzie Country provide a superb backdrop to the miles of easy driving roads.

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Geraldine

Geraldine is an attractive country town with an artistic streak, a great place for a lunch break or to shop for arts and crafts.  The town also has a highly regarded vintage car and machinery museum. Just beyond the town, you can visit gardens and artists’ studios

  • Allow: 30 Minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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Big Tree Walk, Peel Forest

A short diversion, 15 minutes after leaving Geraldine, takes you to Peel Forest, over 1200 acres of pristine forest and over 20 walking trails.The suitably named Big Tree Walk of 30 minutes, begins at the Te Wanahu picnic shelter and leads into Mills Bush where fine specimens of huge 1000 years old native totara trees, one almost three metres across, are found.

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
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The Rakaia Gorge

This is an optional diversion that will add an hour to your day's∂riving, but a choice you'll be glad you made. The road gets a little winding and hilly in parts however you will be richly rewarded for making the effort by magnificent views and a drive through some of New Zealand's finest rural scenery. Read more about Rakai on our blog - Day 1 - We Discover The Rakaia Gorge, Mt John Observatory Lake Pukaki, Hobbit Sites, Aoraki/Mt Cook

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: Free
  • 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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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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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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