- 18 Days -

A Self Drive Adventure

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

Highlights

Auckland ◦ Walking tour Auckland’s coastal trails ◦ Waitomo Caves ◦ Tongariro National Park and Tongariro Crossing ◦ Wellington ◦ Queenstown ◦ Milford Sound Cruise ◦ Aoraki Mt Cook ◦ Christchurch.


Price

From

$2349.00

per person.

Includes

Price is based on two persons sharing a room, traveling in October. It includes 3-star accommodation and the use of a rental car. The price is subject to future changes in US$ and NZ$ currency exchange rates. For travel other than October, or if you don't have the time to create a Wish List, click for a free personal quote based on your planned departure date.

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 visit most of the 50 islands 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.

Create your own Wish List by opening the activities boxes and adding the ones that appeal to you. 

Day 3

Drive from Auckland to Rotorua

  • 140 miles
  • 3 Hours

After leaving Auckland you will soon be enjoying the rural landscapes that lie at the heart of New Zealand’s economy, the farming region called The Waikato. It's an easy drive, passing small towns and dairy farms along the way. There are some interesting activities that you can choose to enjoy as you make your way to Rotorua of which Hobbiton and The Waitomo Caves are the most famous.

Days 3 to 5

The Geothermal Wonders of Rotorua

Rotorua is one of the most important cultural centers for the Māori people of New Zealand. It's also internationally known for its 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 along the way. If you never had the chance to visit the Volcanic Valley at Waimangu in Rotorua or the thermal wonderland at Wai-O-Tapu, both are located on today's route. We also have a third and fascinating option on today's drive,The Hidden Valley at Orakei Korako, but it will take a sense of adventure to get there. Then a stop at Lake Taupo before finishing your day in the Tongariro National Park.

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. On June 18, 2018 CNN published an article titled Dunedin: New Zealand's Most Underrated City? that is well worth reading. 

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.

Yes, I'd like more details

We'll get back to you within 1 business day, usually faster!

Rangitoto Island Hike

Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto is a large uninhabited 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 from where you will enjoy 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. 

Because it flowers between December and January, the pōhutukawa is now widely regarded as New Zealand's Christmas tree and the brilliant crimson flowers that envelop the tree over these months make for a beautiful sight. 

In 2011, after years of intensive eradication programs, the island was declared predator-free. This has seen New Zealand native birds return to the island in large numbers, including Kākāriki and Bellbird as well as the cheeky Kākā. Tui numbers have also soared as have Fantail, Grey Warbler, Silvereye, Saddleback, Whitehead and Morepork (New Zealand’s only surviving native owl).

A tip for visitors. Birds are very shy, so you'll not see many as you walk the main trail to the summit. Take a side track on the trail, find a quiet spot and wait for 5-minutes. You'll be amazed at what you'll see if you remain patient. On no account should you try and feed the birds. 

We often suggest that our customers enjoy this hike on the morning of their arrival in Auckland. After a long flight from the US, it's a great start to shaking off any feelings of jetlag. 

Views of Auckland city from the volcanic rock island.

The walk to the summit through the magnificent forest of native trees and ferns.

A pair of beautiful pōhutukawa trees on a beach north of Auckland.

Quite by chance, on the day we wrote about the pōhutukawa trees on Rangitoto Island, we came across this story about a New Zealand couple who had just built themselves a home they've called a pōhutukawa house

Here's how you say the word pōhutukawa.

  • Allow: Half Day
  • Cost: Ferry $21.00 Return
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

Auckland's Best Market Day

Matakana Markets, Artist's Studios and Beaches

Matakana is a great place to visit on any day of the week. Nestled on the banks of the picturesque Matakana River, it's just a 40 minute drive from Auckland.

The Saturday morning Matakana Farmers' Market is a showcase for local artisans, growers and farmers. What better start to your New Zealand vacation than a delicious breakfast with freshly brewed coffee and homemade baking before browsing through the offerings at the farmers market across the road! 

After a stop at the village you can also visit one of the artist studios found in this peaceful corner of the world or drive to one of our favorite nearby beaches, located within a nature reserve and offering some nice walking trails and beach walks. Visit a local vineyard for lunch before returning to the city.


This picturesque beach is the perfect spot for a walk after breakfast.

Recently retired New Zealand Prime Minister John Key enjoying a morning shop at Matakana Markets.

  • Allow: Half to a full day
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
Add to Wishlist

Island Conservation Visit

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf is one of New Zealand's most important bird conservation projects, a place where you can walk among rare native birds and animals in their natural habitat. Over the years more than 300,000 native trees have been planted on the predator free island by volunteers and a number of threatened bird species and small animals reintroduced. These include the flightless takahe, one of the world’s rarest species, and the fascinating and ancient lizard-like tuatara that pre-dates the dinosaurs. 

A volunteer guide welcomes arrivals and explains the island's history and forest restoration.  

Tuatara have grown in population since being introduced to the predator free island in 2003.


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

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.

Gorgeous views of Auckland's wild West Coast make the scenic walk up to the top well worth it.


The must see Karekare falls with its beautiful surrounding rainforest.

  • 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
Add to Wishlist

The Auckland Art Gallery

In 2007 the original Auckland Art Gallery was completely closed for 4 years while it underwent extensive renovations. Since reopening it has established itself as one of the country's most iconic buildings. This is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and atmosphere of traditional and contemporary international works of art. The gallery is located right in the heart of the city and also boasts the largest permanent collection of New Zealand art. Their popular cafe is a great place to enjoy a coffee or lunch and the back entrance looks out on Albert Park and the adjoining University of Auckland. A nice place for a stroll to admire the historic fountain, bandstand and flower gardens.


Auckland Art Gallery

The stunning entrance to the gallery.


AKL Art Gallery.

The beautifully restored Wellesley gallery in the Heritage Building. 


The Kauri wood canopy sits over the veranda of the gallery's cafe designed to emphasize the native tree in 

the parkland beyond.


  • Allow: 2-3 hours
  • Cost: Free. Charges may apply to special exhibitions
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
Add to Wishlist

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.

Join the crew and help steer the impressive yacht around Auckland harbor, a must do for yachting enthusiasts. 

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

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.

Britomarkt is Auckland's waterfront precinct and with heritage buildings,new architecture, eateries, health and beauty and designer boutiques it's a must see on any walking city tour.

  • Allow: 90 minutes
  • Cost: Guided from $28.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

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

The wetlands at the center provide a home to many bird species, a great vantage point to take some photos.

NZ shorebirds at risk of being endangered including the Wrybill that can be seen at the Miranda Centre.

  • Allow: An extra 20 minutes driving time.
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: October to March
Add to Wishlist

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. 

A tour through the Hobbiton movie set is a must for any Hobbit/Lord of the rings fan.

The hobbit houses and gardens are kept in beautiful condition.

Dining in hobbit style, part of the Wednesday evening dinner tour.

All lit up for the evening, there's much to see on the tour of the set part of Matamata's most famous farm.

  • Allow: 2 hours
  • Cost: From $55.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

The Waitomo Caves

This is one of the iconic visitor attractions on any New Zealand vacation itinerary. 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.

The boat tour takes you into the cave past the thousands of magical glowworms.

The guided tour continues inside the caves with information and history about the amazing rock formations.

  • Allow: Guided Cave tour takes 45 minutes
  • Cost: From $35.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

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.

Relaxing on the sandy beach after a swim in the surf.

The walk up to the top of the Mt Maunganui is well worth the views.

The stunning views from the top of the summit include the inner port and harbor.


  • Allow: Adds 3 hours to the days driving
  • Cost:
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

The Polynesian Spa

This is a historic natural hot mineral springs spa that for 3 years in a row was selected by 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!

Feeling that natural healing!

It doesn't get more relaxing than an invigorating mud bath.

  • Allow: Varies
  • Cost: From $30.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Traditional Maori Feast

Mitai Māori Village

There are many options available in Rotorua for enjoying a traditional Māori feast. We selected this particular one becasue, quite simply, it's the best.

Guests are welcomed to Mitai Māori Village by the arrival of warriors in their war canoe. Within the village, guests are entertained with the performing dances of the Māori, including the poi, and of course the war cries of the haka. 

By the time they leave, guests will have an understanding of the Māori art of ta moko (tattoos) and they will remember their journey to the sacred pools and the glow worms - and of course, not forgetting the delicious food cooked in the earth oven - the Hangi as it is called by the Māori people.

A warrior announces the ceremonial arrival of the canoe.

Delicious food taken from the hot earth oven, the hangi.

  • Allow: 3-hours from late afternoon
  • Cost: $95.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Stargazing and Dinner

Skyline Rotorua Gondola, Stargazing and Stratosfare Dinner

Explore constellations, look for a shooting star and discover planets invisible to the naked eye with the Skyline Rotorua Stargazing experience. Ngongotaha is one of the top eight locations in New Zealand for stargazing where the dark clear skies blanketing Rotorua make for a breathtaking experience. Keen stargazers have the opportunity to access a 'hidden world' not seen by the naked eye, and impossible to see in many other locations around the world. 

Skyline Stargazing takes visitors to a specially-constructed area high above the Gondola, where there is no trespassing light, allowing for an unbelievably clear view of the night sky. Top-of-the line telescopes give stargazers the chance to view an amazing array of stunning sights, from the iconic Southern Cross, to nebulas, planets, the Milky Way and other galaxies. 

After taking-in the beauty of the night sky, settle down for dinner at Stratosfare Restaurant.

There's something out there ...

The world is turning.

  • Allow: All evening
  • Cost: $96.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

The Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is located 20 miles south of Rotorua, providing a chance to explore spectacular scenery in New Zealand’s most colourful volcanic zone. See unique volcanic features as you walk at your own pace along well defined tracks. At 10.15am each day there's the opportunity to learn the history and mechanics of the famous Lady Knox Geyser. A presentation by an expert guide in the natural amphitheatre, is an opportunity to see the geyser erupt by dropping a surfactant into the opening of the vent, followed by a jet of water spraying into the sky, reaching heights of up to 65 feet.

Lady Knox Geyser

A lunar landscape? No, it's Wai-O-Tapu.

The beauty of nature, in this case a hot one!

  • Allow: 3-4 hours
  • Cost: $25.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Volcanic Valley Visit

The Waimangu Valley

The strange geological formations, the forests and the lakes of Waimangu Valley always creates 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 Rotomahana, where stories will be told of the violent eruptions of 1886 that formed the Waimangu Valley and the natural beauty that it created. You can also read about our visit to Waimangu Valley in our blog - North Island Highlights - Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

The incredible geothermal waters.

Walks through the forests make for amazing views of the cobalt waters.

Cruising Lake Rotomahana brings you up close to the geothermal wonders.

  • Allow: A minimum of 1-2 hours
  • Cost: From $52.00, including optional cruise
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Māori Village Visit

Whakarewarewa - Guided Tour and Cultural Show

For over 200 years the local Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao tribe have welcomed visitors into their 'backyard' and allowed them to experience at first hand the culture of one of Rotorua's most enjoyable attractions. The village and geothermal delights of Whakarewarewa Village are where you'll relive the history of their village, with stories from experienced Māori tour guides who will share the stories from their pasts. After enjoying the geysers, mud pools and hot springs, be sure to call at Te Puia, New Zealand’s Māori Cultural Centre, located just 5 minutes away. This 150-acre site is also home to the official 'New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute' a great place to consider the purchase of quality Māori art effects.

The geysers at Whakarewaerewa village.

Te Puia showcases Moari arts, craft and culture.

Te Puia, NZ Moari Arts and Craft Institute.

Wood carving seen at the Institute.

  • Allow: 2-3 hours
  • Cost: Whakarewarewa - $25.00. Te Puia From $32.00.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Forest Canopy Tour

Over the past two years this new activity has taken Rotorua by storm and is now on the must-do list for most visitors. It takes customers on a journey that provides unprecedented views of a magnificent native New Zealand forest. From as high as 72 feet above the ground, safely secured in harnesses, clients travel along an exhilarating 1-mile course. This course is a network of ziplines, tree to tree swing bridges, treetop platforms and walking trails. The highlight for many is stepping out of the canopy from a magnificent 500 year old native Rimu tree and travelling 700 feet above a long forgotten forested valley to finish at the hidden landing platform. 

Jane from our office did the forest canopy tour last year and she thought it was great fun. The all Kiwi staff were friendly, knowledgeable and obviously serious about safety issues and this gave her the confidence to try the zipline experience, which she rated as a 5-star thrill.

The tour guides are a wealth of knowledge about the rain forest's history and future.

Swing bridges provide a view over the ferns and forest floor.

  • Allow: 3-hours
  • Cost: $90.00
  • Age: From teenage to adult
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Rainforest Eco Experience

Whirinaki Rainforest Walk

Previously the domain of only the most experienced hikers, the untouched wilderness of the magnificent Whirinaki Rainforest is now accessible on a full-day guided walk. Regarded by many as one of the finest one-day walks in the country. 

This is where towering rimu,totara, matai, miro and kahikatea trees, some of them 800 to 1000 years old are found. These ancient giants of New Zealand’s podocarp tree species reach for the sky, to heights of over 200 ft. Beneath the forest canopy wonder in awe at the rich diversity of native vegetation and birdlife amidst the spectacular scenery of rushing rivers and cascading waterfalls.

The team here at New Zealand Vacations recommend this tour as a highlight of any New Zealand vacation. The diversity and richness of the Whirinaki Forests is unequalled.

We have an interesting blog about Whirinaki that provides more background information.

The full day guided walk has tracks and bridges leading into the otherwise untouched forest.

Cascading waterfalls are a highlight for many on the guided walk.

  • Allow: Full day. Approximately 7- hours
  • Cost: $205.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Volcanic Valley Visit

The Waimangu Valley

The strange geological formations, the forests and the lakes of Waimangu Valley always creates 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 Rotomahana, where stories will be told of the violent eruptions of 1886 that formed the Waimangu Valley and the natural beauty that it created. You can also read about our visit to Waimangu Valley in our blog - North Island Highlights - Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

The incredible geothermal waters.

Walks through the forests make for amazing views of the cobalt waters.

Cruising Lake Rotomahana brings you up close to the geothermal wonders.

  • Allow: A minimum of 1-2 hours
  • Cost: From $52.00, including optional cruise
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Hidden Valley Adventure

Orakei Korako Thermal Park

This is something for those who enjoy getting right off the beaten track! 

Because of its remoteness, it's not as well known as the other geothermal attractions of this region, but for those willing to take the drive in, its definitely worth the effort.

The Lonely Planet Guide says "Orakei Korako is possibly the best thermal area left in New Zealand and one of the finest in the world". They are right. 

Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park are located at Hidden Valley. Travel down State Highway 5 in the direction of Taupo for 23-miles to Golden Springs. 2-miles south of Golden Springs, take the turnoff to Orakei Korako on the Tutukau Rd. Travel 10-miles then turn right onto Orakei Korako Rd, then travel the final 3-miles to the end of the road. Approximate driving time from Rotorua is 45 minutes. All of these roads are sealed. 

How magical is this experience? You arrive at the Hidden Valley, park your car beside Lake Ohakuri, head off and buy a ticket to the Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park, catch a ferry across the lake and start your adventures. It is a mythical start to a remarkable set of natural features.

As you cross the lake the Emerald Terrace tumbles down into the lake. Above it the steam from a thousand hot springs wafts around in the breeze.

The ferry moors at the jetty and you start the walk - a circle - around the Thermal Park. In about 2-miles you will see everything that thermal New Zealand can offer. What Rotorua offers in two days, Orakei Korako offers in two hours.

The wooden walkway crosses the Emerald Terrace where mineral-based golds and oranges mix with whites and browns in a rainbow of colors. You then reach the Diamond Geyser where every few minutes a fountain of water cascades down the mineral-encrusted rocks. 

Then it's on to the Rainbow and Cascade Terrace, a beautiful formation that looks as though it belongs in a cave rather than as a broad thermal terrace. At one point there is a huge white terrace which looks like a freshly shorn sheep's fleece.

Further up the hillside is Ruatapa Cave, a deep cave with warm water in the pool below. And beyond that, in a delightful walk through a rainforest, are mud pools which bubble away like a witch's cauldron. It is an unforgettable geothermal experience.


  • Allow: 3-4 hours
  • Cost: From $35.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

The Huka Falls

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake and it empties into the country's longest river, The Waikato, at the mighty Huka Falls. At this point the banks of the falls are just 300ft part, so the view and the sounds of the falls are truly spectacular. Don't miss it, just off the main road before arriving at the town of Taupo.

The magnificent Huka Falls - well worth the stop.

The viewing and information platform is a great standpoint for photos.

For the more adventurous an exciting jet boat ride is another way to view the falls up close.

  • Allow: 30 minutes
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Kayak on Lake Taupo

This kayak lake tour includes a visit to a series of huge stone carvings on the lake, created by master Maori carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell. No experience is necessary - the 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.

Kayak's get you up close what's been hailed as an extraordinary work of art, only visible from boat or kayak.

A Taniwha or water monster is beautifully carved into the rock.

  • Allow: 4 Hours
  • Cost: $75.00 including full instruction, top quality kayaks and gourmet refreshments.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
Add to Wishlist

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 tiring one, so you'll need to be moderately fit. Ever present as you walk is the brooding Mount Ngauruhoe, used by filmmaker Peter Jackson as the Land of Mordor and  'Mt Doom' in his Lord of The Rings movies.

A great look at the magnificent Mt Ngauruhoe, digitally enhanced by Peter Jackson to create 'Mt Doom'

Multi colored lakes are a highlight of the walk.

Walking on layers and layers of ancient lava flow, this is an unforgettable a one day trek.

Well maintained pathways make access to the summit accessible to all.

  • 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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

Hemi Matenga Reserve

At the town of Waikenae, an hour and a half south of Whanganui 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. To learn more, click here.

  • Allow: 1-2 hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
Add to Wishlist

Kapiti Island Nature Reserve

Forest covered Kapiti Island, 3 miles off the coast north of Wellington, is our favorite island nature reserve. It's one of the oldest and most secure publically accessible nature reserves in the world. Free of all introduced pests and predators, visitors can expect to see many endemic bird species, some of which are no longer found on the New Zealand mainland. You can visit Kapiti Island for just a day or to truly experience all the island has to offer, make an overnight stay. Some of the beautiful birds you will seee on Kapiti include -  

Kaka, Weka, Little Spotted Kiwi (if you stay overnight), Tieke (Saddleback), Kokako, Hihi (Stitchbird), Ruru (Morepork), Tui, Korimako (Bellbird), Kakariki, Kereru, Toutouwai (North Island Robin), Popokatea (Whitehead), Piwakawaka (Fantail)



  • Allow: One or Two days
  • Cost: One Day from $100, Overnight $300
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Wellington - FREE OFFER

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

Wellington's famous inner city slice of bohemia, Cuba Street.

Cuba Street - shopping, dining and street performers. And home to some quirky cafes serving excellent coffee.

The Wellington Cable Car runs from downtown and offers exceptional views of the city.

Wellington's "solace  of the wind' statue looks out over the harbor.

Easily accessible from the city, Mount Victoria lookout offers 360 degree scenic views.

A stunning view of Wellington city seen from Mount Victoria.

  • Allow: Tailored to your needs
  • Cost: Free, as long as Jerry is in town when you visit.
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Te Papa National Museum

Te Papa is a state of the art modern museum, bringing together under one roof both 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. At the museum, 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). Then there's the geology, the geography and other exhibitions that will give you interesting insights to New Zealand. The best introduction to Te Papa is to take a 90 minute guided tour that explains Maori culture and treasures, art and New Zealand's colonial history.

Opened in 1998 and designed by local architect Ivan Mercep of Jasmax Architects.

'The Great War' exhibition was created by Te Papa and Peter Jackson's Weta workshop.

Te Papa displays a large collection of native plants, sea creatures, birds and native animals.

An authentic and inclusive marae (Maori communal meeting place) is found on level 4. 

  • Allow: 1 Hour
  • Cost: $10.00
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All Year
Add to Wishlist

Zealandia Wildlife

The Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary is an outstanding example of efforts to save New Zealand most endangered native birds and animals. We suggest a visit in the late afternoon to hear the dusk chorus of the birds 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.

Pukeko, one of NZ's most interesting looking native birds, can be found roaming freely around the reserve. 

Explore the sanctuary by torchlight experiencing rare and endangered species that only appear at night.

On a night tour your group might see some of the 130 little spotted kiwi who call Zealandia their home.

Tuatara, the rare and unique NZ native, is one of Zealandia's most popular inhabitants.

Your guides use their knowledge of birdsong, habitats and flora to find track down the unique birds & animals.

Kakariki or New Zealand parakeets are easily found due to their vibrant colors.

  • Allow: Half day
  • Cost: From $18.50
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
Add to Wishlist

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..

Weta Workshop is a mini museum and small shop celebrating some very big movies.

Taking photos is prohibited within the workshop but the foyer has plenty of incredible sculptures on display.

Waiting to greet you outside, the amazing stone trolls will make the perfect selfie for any Hobbit fan.

  • Allow: 45 Minutes
  • Cost: From $25
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
Add to Wishlist

The Yellow Eyed Penguins

This half-day wildlife tour on the rugged and beautiful Otago Peninsula includes the afternoon arrival from the sea of the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguins. To watch these delightful little animals returning to their beach and then slowly making their way to their overnight nests is an incredibly moving experience. You will hear about the impact of penguin conservation and know that your visit contributes to the ongoing conservation effort. Other marine wildlife encountered on this tour include 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
Add to Wishlist

The Royal Albatross Colony

This is your 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, watching these magnificent birds something never to be forgotten. Update July 03, 2018. The New Zealand Herald reports on a recent new arrival at the colony that's been named after American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart

  • Allow: 2 Hours
  • Cost: Donations Appreciated
  • Age: All
  • Best time: November - April
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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.
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

Chocolate World

Stop Press: Sadly, Chocolate world recently closed. You can read the story behind its demise in local newspaper Stuff

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
Add to Wishlist

Best Botanic Garden in NZ

The Dunedin Botanic Gardens

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
Add to Wishlist

Otago Cycle 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, especially with overseas visitors. There are no steep hills to conquer, and for the complete experience we can pre-book everything and arrange for you to to complete the whole trail in 3-5 days depending on the pace you feel comfortable with. You'll pass through small country towns where you can make an overnight stop to enjoy good food, local wines and accommodation of every standard. But the real treat is the joy of cycling through gentle valleys and tussock grasslands with a backdrop of wild gorges and stunning mountain scenery. For a hands-on report of this experience, be sure to read this article on the US website 'Washington Bikes'


  • Allow: 1, 3 or 5 Days
  • Cost: Varies with duration selected
  • Age: 12+
  • Best time: November - April
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

Arrowtown

Arrowtown is a former gold mining town with a rich historical heritage. The spectacular scenery and tranquil atmosphere make Arrowtown a popular attraction for visitors from all over the world. The town has maintained its historic buildings and is now a great place to relax, eat and enjoy views of the surrounding forest covered hills. 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
Add to Wishlist

Overnight Doubtful Sound

With its ancient rainforests and abundant wildlife the overnight cruise in the fiords of the utterly remote Doubtful Sound is quite simply breathtaking and a highlight of any New Zealand vacation. Practically untouched by humans the physical grandeur of towering peaks and waterfalls like The Browne Falls that cascades 2,000 feet into this inland sea, create a powerful atmosphere of solitude and serenity. Crested penguins, bottlenose dolphins and New Zealand fur seals are among the wildlife that make their homes here. You can also read our blog about the adjacent Dusky Sound tour, an extremely rare opportunity to visit one of the most remote fiords on the planet.

Dusk is an amazing time to view the spectacular cliffs surrounding the fiord.

Keep an eye out for crested penguins, one of the native animals that live in the fiord.

Take a kayak to get up close to one of the many magical waterfalls to be seen during the cruise.

  • 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
Add to Wishlist

The Shotover Jet

Since 1970 over 2 million adrenaline-rushed passengers have enjoyed the thrills of the world's most exciting jetboat ride, The Shotover Jet. It's unique jet propulsion that requires no propeller, allows the jetboat to skim past rocky outcrops at close range. Your 'Big Red' jetboat can twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breathtaking speeds and then hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 degree spin!

Skimming over the shallow water near the stony shore.

The narrow canyons make for a thrilling ride.

For the less adventurous, you can enjoy the scenery while waiting for the others to finish their ride.

  • Allow: Half hour
  • Cost: From $135 Adult and $75 Child
  • Age: Minimum height 1 meter
  • Best time: All year
Add to Wishlist

Milford Sound Cruise

The Milford Sound cruise is the most well known icon of New Zealand tourism. You can either drive yourself to the fjord before joining the cruise from Te Anau or Queenstown, or for a more relaxing experience take a coach tour from either Te Anau or Queenstown. The road through the Fiordland National Park to reach the fiord is one of the world's great drives, so allow plenty of time to stop and soak up the amazing vistas. For a special treat fly to Milford Sound and return to Queenstown by coach. For more about Milford Sound read our Milford Sound blog here.

The world famous scenery of Milford Sounds is simply breathtaking.

Capture the magnificent scale of the mountains and waterfalls by cruising the fiords.

Milford's awe-inspiring scenery has made it a must see when visiting the South Island.

  • Allow: Full Day
  • Cost: Varies
  • Age: All
  • Best time: All year
Add to Wishlist

Whitewater Rafting

The day begins with an unforgettable coach trip into your setting off point at Skippers Canyon. This is where you'll meet your expert guides for some basic training and safety instructions before setting out on your journey through the spectacular Shotover Canyon. At first the river is calm and peaceful allowing you lots of time to enjoy the passing scenery as you drift downstream. But as the song suggests "all good things need to come to an end" and when you reach the exhilarating rapids of the lower canyon the adrenalin starts to flow. Shooting the Cascade Rapids completes your unforgettable white-knuckle adventure. Before returning to Queenstown, enjoy a relaxing sauna and hot shower at Cavell's Rafting Lodge.

Water resistant jackets are provided and are most definitely needed for this adrenaline rush of a ride.

An experienced guide will help thrill seekers navigate the raft through the wild river. 

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

Routeburn Track Hike

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.

Alternatively, you can drive your car from Queenstown, around the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy and from there, find the start of the track and walk in. It's an in-and-out walk, so when you've seen enough, make your way back to the carpark. This is not such an in-depth look at the track, but if you just want to enjoy the stunning scenery, this option would be the right choice.

Or you can take the 3-day guided Routeburn hike and see scenery like this!

The Kea parrot. Inquisitive, cheeky and skilled thieves. Heavy fines apply if caught feeding them.

  • Allow: Full day - 7.30am pick-up from Queenstown
  • Cost: From $179
  • Age: 10+
  • Best time: November - April
Add to Wishlist

Scenery and Vineyards

This small group 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, New Zealand's highest road.

The beautiful Autumn hues of the grapevines at Mt Rosa vineyard, Gibbston Valley.

Views of some Gibbston Valley vineyards taken on the weekend of a local music festival. 

Grapevines at Gibbston Valley, a popular destination for cycling tours.

The Ribbon Vineyards situated by the majestic Lake Wanaka.

If you would like to enjoy a fun quiz, take a look at our blog about a well known local vineyard owner.

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

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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.
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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.
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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:
Add to Wishlist

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)
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist

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
Add to Wishlist