Tailor-Made Holiday

New Zealand - North and South Island adventure

Explore the North and South Island by Scenic Flights, Glacier Adventure and Overnight Cruise

23 days

from £4,995pp (excluding flights)

This 23-day self-drive itinerary offers a fantastic introduction to the great outdoors of New Zealand and covers highlights of both the North and the South Island, along with a few of our favourite hidden gems. Wildlife tours, scenic flights, glacier adventures, overnight cruises and more. Relax at boutique lodges, where charming hosts will make you feel at home.

  • Journey from Greymouth to Christchurch onboard the Tranz Alpine train
  • Cruise the remote Doubtful Sound onboard the Fiordland Navigator
  • Experience an exhilarating landing on the face of Franz Josef glacier by helicopter
  • Witness the geothermal wonderland around Rotorua from a float plane
  • A close encounter with the giant sperm whales off the coast of Kaikoura

South Island

The South Island has an abundance of great walks and outdoor pursuits on the doorstep. Arriving in Christchurch, spend the first day acclimatising before embarking on your self-drive holiday. Passing through the heartland of the South Island marvel at the scale of Mount Cook before heading to the west coast for lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers with magical views around every corner.

Cruise onboard the Fiordland Navigator on the stunning Doubtful Sound discovering hidden tributaries where fur seals and bottlenose dolphins are often seen. Take time to kayak around the shoreline or go exploring in the tender craft with a nature guide. Spend a few days amidst the buzz of Queenstown before following the west coast northwards to Franz Josef Glacier. Fly over all three of its icefalls by helicopter, landing high on the high face where the brilliant blue ice is magical. Cross the South Island to Christchurch on board the Tranz Alpine scenic train, considered one of the world's most scenic train journeys. 

Drive north from Christchurch to Kaikoura through rolling farmland and the wine region of Waipara Valley. Sperm whales can be seen in Kaikoura year-round while depending on the season you may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales as well as dolphin and orca.

The top of the South Island is renowned for its wine growing regions, centred in Blenheim and the dry hills of Marlborough producing some of the finest wine in the world. Stop in Blenheim for wine tasting and lunch before reaching Picton and a cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds to New Zealand's North Island.

North Island

New Zealand's capital city Wellington signals the southern end of the North Island with some wonderful wine regions and the art deco city of Napier within easy reach. Take a winery tour or explore the architecture of Napier by 1930's vintage vehicle.

Rotorua in the centre of the North Island is full of volcanic landscapes and Maori history. Head to the air by floatplane for an aerial view of this bubbling thermal area before a lake crossing by boat to view hot springs and gushing geysers. 

Travel north from the cosmopolitan city of Auckland to the Bay of Islands on the northern tip of the North Island. Here, some 150 islands and hidden sandy coves offer a place to relax and enjoy some water-based activities. Stay in the picturesque township of Russell, take to the seas by catamaran visiting the most beautiful bays in the island.

Returning to Auckland, there is time to explore this vibrant harbour city, and the shopping area of Ponsonby before bidding farewell to New Zealand.

Tailor Made New Zealand

This holiday idea can be completely personalised to suit you perfectly. We can add more days, remove days, change accommodations and add specific activities to suit your interests or simply design something completely from scratch. Call our New Zealand Travel Experts to start planning your trip of a lifetime.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 4995 £ 1000

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

On Arrival in Christchurch
Once you touch down in New Zealand you will be met by a Steppes Travel representative. If you are self driving from the airport you will receive everything you need including driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. Reservation details for your accommodation and activities. Whilst in New Zealand you will receive round the clock support and contact deatails for our dedicated New Zealand team.


Choice of activities and excursions
Time to yourself in Christchurch to enjoy:
- The botanic gardens of Hagley Park, rated among the top ten botanic gardens in the world.

- The city’s stunning art gallery features international and New Zealand artwork dating back centuries.

- Overlooking the city are the old volcanic hills of Banks Peninsula, and close by is the quaint, French- influenced town of Akaroa, where you can join a wildlife cruise and discover penguins, seals, seabirds and the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins.

- Beside Christchurch International Airport, a major departure point for Antarctica, is the International Antarctic Centre, which has been judged New Zealand’s top visitor attraction.

- The city caters well for golfers, with three of the country’s top courses Russley, Terrace Downs and Clearwater all nearby.
- If you are seeking more serious adventure, balloon flights, tandem skydiving and jet boat tours provide the added bonus of views of the Southern Alps.

- For wining, dining and entertainment there are boutique breweries, themed pubs, award winning restaurants, a casino, and New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region in the immediate vicinity.

-Punting on the Avon. Sink back into the velvet cushions of the boat as the Edwardian punter gently glides you down the Avon River, through the beautiful historic inner city of Christchurch and the trailing willows and leafy banks of the stunning Christchurch Botanic Gardens.


You will be staying at The George Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Self Drive from Christchurch to Mt Cook
Today you will drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you reach the picturesque lake side setting of Tekapo. The road opens up to take in the view of Aoraki - Mt Cook, the tallest montain in New Zealand, enroute to Mt Cook Village.


Glacier Explorers Mount Cook
Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mount Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world. Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.

These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Departing from Mount Cook Village outside The Hermitage Hotel travel to the Tasman Valley, then embark on an easy 30 minute stroll through the National Park before heading out on to the lake.

The 2.5 hour trip (up to one hour on the lake) includes a commentary throughout by an experienced guide.


You will be staying at The Hermitage, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Self Drive Mt Cook National Park to Dunedin
Leaving Mt Cook, drive past Twizel, one of the locations of Lord of the Rings film. Go through Omarama, make sure you stop at The Wrinkly Ram to watch the sheep shearing demonstrations. The drive takes you through the Waitaki Valley as you continue south towards the coast. Stop at Moeraki Boulders - a unique geological feature. Dunedin is a great base to explore the Southlands of New Zealand.


You will be staying at Fletcher Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. Visit Penguin Place to view the rare yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour and the wading bird wetlands.


You will be staying at Fletcher Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Choice of activities and excursions
Time to yourself to explore the city and surrounding area:
- Visit one of the cities breweries or distilleries.
- Take a stroll up Baldwin Street, listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the steepest street in the world.
- Take a trip on the Taieri Gorge Railway.
- Visit the Otago peninsula and see the northern royal albatross colony or look out for the little yellow-eyed penguins, one of the rarest penguin species.


You will be staying at Fletcher Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Self Drive Dunedin to Te Anau
Today the drive takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off the beaten track and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Pass through The Catlins and detour to Kaka Point for its majestic cliffs. Continue through Invercargill before reaching Manapouri. This is the jumping off point for an overnight cruise to the spectacular Doubtful Sound, renowned for its natural beauty. A short drive further brings you to the lake resort of Te Anau. Known as the gateway to the Fiordland National Park.


Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
Begin the Te Anau caves glow-worm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western

side of the lake. On arrival enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old

underground network.

Explore by limestone pathway while the guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glow-worms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.


You will be staying at Te Anau Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Overnight in Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound adventure begins with a cruise across Lake Manapouri. Regarded by many as the most beautiful of NZ's lakes, Maori legend says the lake was formed by the tears of two daughters of a local chief, and its name means Lake of the Sorrowing Heart.

Disembark at West Arm, and coach over Wilmot Pass, stopping along the way to experience some of Fiordland's most dens rainforest and to view the colourful alpine moss gardens.

On reaching Deep Cove, discover the unspoilt and remote wilderness of Doubtful Sound during this unique overnight cruise aboard the 70-passenger purpose-built Fiordland Navigator. The vessel offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining saloon and observation lounge. Cruise throughout the fiord with plenty of time to explore at your own pace. Kayak around the shoreline or go for a swim - the choice is yours. Don't forget to keep a look out for wildlife: sightings of dolphins, seals and penguins, are common. As the shadows lengthen anchor at a favourite mooring and share stories of the days adventure.

A delicious 3 course dinner is provided on board. Cruise staff are on hand to point out the highlights: Bottlenose Dolphins which often cavort alongside, Fur Seals basking on the rocks at the mouth of the fiord, and rare penguins.

Day 2: After breakfast, retrace your steps to Te Anau


You will be staying at Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound, full board

Day 8

Following a hearty breakfast return to Manapouri at midday.


Self Drive Manapouri to Queenstown
Drive through the deer capital of New Zealand as you drive north through the Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. Stunning views of the Remarkables mountain range now come into view as you approach Queenstown.


Evening Cruise to Walter Peak
In the evening, take a scenic cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. Disembark at Walter Peak and walk through the lakeside gardens to the Colonel's Homestead. After dinner at the homestead, which is renowned for its fresh seasonal produce and locally hunted game, have the option to watch a brief farm show.

Afterwards, return aboard the TSS Earnshaw and have the opportunity to take part in the traditional sing-along that takes place around the piano.


You will be staying at The Dairy Private Luxury Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Dart River Wilderness Safaris
Considered some of the most scenic jet boating in New Zealand, this one and half hour safari is set among the towering mountains and remote wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. You'll follow your boat journey with a short a 40 minute walk through ancient forests, left unchanged for 80 million years. Hear an informative and entertaining commentary on the area and its history - including the quest by early Maori for highly prized pounamu (greenstone). You'll then board a 4WD coach for a journey to the small hamlet of Paradise and beyond. This 40-50 minute journey allows the opportunity to explore a region that's not just spectacular in itself - but home to many inconic scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogies. Total trip time is around 6 hours from Queenstown or 4 hours from Glenorchy.


You will be staying at The Dairy Private Luxury Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Explore Queenstown at leisure, this evening visit Skyline Gondola
Today is at leisure for you to enjoy the many scenic delights of Queenstown. Perhaps take an optional jet boat ride or try white water rafting. For the less adventurous there are garden and wine tours. This evening you have the opportunity to ride the Skyline Gondola to Bob's Peak for a delicious buffet dinner and stunning views of Queenstown.


Queenstown to Arrowtown, Wanaka and onto Franz Josef
The first stop is historic gold-mining Arrowtown on the Arrow River, previously one of the world’s richest rivers. Next is Cromwell and its sensational stone fruit. Then it’s a trio of lakes – Lake Dunstan, Hawea, Wanaka. Travel through Haast Pass, view Thunder Creek Falls, take a rainforest walk. Your final stop is Franz Josef Glacier, one of the few locations on earth where a glacier can be seen amongst rain forest. You have the option to see it from the air on a scenic flight (weather permitting).


You will be staying at Westwood Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Franz Josef Heli Hike
Take an exciting scenic flight over all three icefalls of the Franz Josef Glacier. Landing high up on the glacier, take a two hour guided trip amongst some of the most beautiful terrain available. The experienced guide chooses the route, with an eye for the most spectacular ice formations to walk through. The panoramic views of the glacier and surrounding mountains are breathtaking. There will be plenty of opportunities to take the perfect photograph and the chance to learn more about glaciers. For many this is one of the most memorable experiences in New Zealand.


Glacier Hot Pools
Nestled in lush rainforest, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of natural tranquility and the perfect way to unwind and experience a blissful state of pure relaxation. Situated in a heavily wooded rainforest, beneath mature 30 metre tall trees. The temperatures of the three main pools and three secluded private pools range from 36 to 40 degrees. Amid this tranquil and enticing setting, the natural water features and call of native birds calm the mind and nourish the spirit.


You will be staying at Westwood Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Self Drive Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station
Head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika, a seaside town rich in history. Continue to Greymouth, the starting point for the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train. Dropping the car at the train station in order to board your train back to Christchurch.


If time allows, visit the Monteiths Brewery for a tasting session.


Tranz Alpine Scenic train Greymouth to Christchurch
Considered one of the worlds great train journeys, the Tranz Alpine scenic train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel from the Tasman Sea through Arthurs Pass National Park to the Pacific Ocean.

From your carriage you will rise up from the lush rain forest of the West coast to the spectacular mountains of the Southern Alps. Traveling through gorges and the river valley of the Waimakariri River you'll descend onto the farmland of the Canterbury plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.


You will be staying at The George Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Choice of activities and excursions
Time to yourself in Christchurch to enjoy:
- The botanic gardens of Hagley Park, rated among the top ten botanic gardens in the world.

- The city’s stunning art gallery features international and New Zealand artwork dating back centuries.

- Overlooking the city are the old volcanic hills of Banks Peninsula, and close by is the quaint, French- influenced town of Akaroa, where you can join a wildlife cruise and discover penguins, seals, seabirds and the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins.

- Beside Christchurch International Airport, a major departure point for Antarctica, is the International Antarctic Centre, which has been judged New Zealand’s top visitor attraction.

- The city caters well for golfers, with three of the country’s top courses Russley, Terrace Downs and Clearwater all nearby.
- If you are seeking more serious adventure, balloon flights, tandem skydiving and jet boat tours provide the added bonus of views of the Southern Alps.

- For wining, dining and entertainment there are boutique breweries, themed pubs, award winning restaurants, a casino, and New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region in the immediate vicinity.

-Punting on the Avon. Sink back into the velvet cushions of the boat as the Edwardian punter gently glides you down the Avon River, through the beautiful historic inner city of Christchurch and the trailing willows and leafy banks of the stunning Christchurch Botanic Gardens.


Self Drive Christchurch to Kaikoura
The drive north to Kaikoura takes you through the rolling hills of North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. Take a dip in the Hanmer Springs before crossing the Hawkswood Range before descending to the spectacular Kaikoura coastline.


Whale Watching Trip
Kaikoura is New Zealand's world famous whale watching destination. Sperm Whales can be seen here year-round while 7 other whale species visit regularly. Encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. See migrating Humpback, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales, although this will depend on the time of year. Whale Watch is New Zealand's only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale at all times of the year.

You should reconfirm your Whale Watch tour the day prior or in the morning if you are taking an afternoon tour. Sailings can be cancelled or postponed if sea conditions are not suitable. Call Whale Watch on 0800 655 121 and quote you.

A full safety briefing is given first and you will spend approximately 2 1/2 hours at sea. If you suffer from motion sickness then please take precautions and please make sure you are dressed for the conditions.


You will be staying at Hapuku Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 14

Self Drive Kaikoura to Picton
Follow the reopened coastline to Picton, located at the top of the North Island. Stop to view adult fur seals at Ohau Point. The pups can often be found playing in the waterfall upstream. Climbing into the dry hills of the Marlborough region, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Why not visit one of the vineyards around Blenheim for wine tasting and a gourmet lunch before beginning the final leg of your journey to Picton.


Picton to Wellington
Travel between the South and North Island as a foot passenger with the hire car being left at the Picton depot. The ferry journey between Picton and Wellington takes around three hours and is one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. The first hour travels through the Marlborough Sounds. Crossing the Cook Strait you approach Wellington Harbour. An alternative to the ferry is a private plane transfer from Blenheim airport to Wellington.


Interislander Ferry
A foot passenger ferry, the Interislander take you on a beautiful three hour journey to Picton through the Marlborough Sounds. The Interislander links North and South Islands. The 92 kilometre journey between Picton and Wellinton has been described as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world.

The Premium Plus service provides access to a premium passenger lounge onboard the Kaitaki and Aratere ferries - adult only and complimentary refreshments are available.

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.


Your hire car will be collected at the Ferry Terminal for the North Island


Explore Wellington City at your leisure
You have free time to see the sights of your choice. Perhaps take a tour of Parliament or one of the Lord of the Rings movie tours, or even a cruise to Somes Island in Wellington Harbour.


Choice of activities and excursions
Today is at leisure. If you are keen to start exploring ideas are listed below:

Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions.

Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar-winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar.

If you're a foodie at heart, a two-hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do.

For an educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia.


You will be staying at Bolton Hotel Wellington, bed and breakfast

Day 15

Wellington to the art deco city of Napier
Travel through the dairy farming land of Manawatu to Napier. On this drive you will pass through the region of Hawkes Bay and Havelock North before arriving into Napier, the art deco capital of New Zealand. Enjoy a city walking tour with a local guide and learn how Napier was rebuilt after a devastating Earthquake in 1931.


You will be staying at McHardy Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 16

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
With a Mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday destination. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. Visitors interested in architecture can explore in a 1930's car and take in the city's prominent Art Deco landmarks. Hire a bicycle and travel the trails or grab the sunscreen and head down to one of the golden sandy beaches that form the larger Hawke's Bay. Try a diverse range of produce and visit an orchard, cheese, honey, or chocolate tour. End on a high with a tractor ride to view the largest mainland gannet colony in the world, located at Cape Kidnappers.

With is mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate, touted as the the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the Grape Escape to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. Climb on the apple wagon at Pernell Orchard for a hour long ride through its 33 hectares of fruit or Tempt your taste buds with a trip to the Silky Oak Chocolate Company. End on a high with another ride, this time in comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.


Twilight Odyssey Progressive Wine and Dinner Tour
You will be collected from your accommodation at 5:30pm

Your Twilight Odyssey experience continues to approximately 11:30pm when you are returned to your accommodation.

Take a scenic drive through the wine growing district, participate in an interactive wine tasting at Sileni Estate or Vidal Estate, indulge in gourmet platters with top local produce, champagne sunset on Te Mata Peak (sunset in summer & overlooking the glimmering lights of the twin cities in winter), main meal at Vidal Estate, Sileni Estate or Craggy Range wineries, visit New Zealand's oldest winery, the Mission Estate, for dessert and coffee, finish with being dropped off at a location of your choice - perhaps some of Napier's top waterfront nightspots. A night full of entertainment and fun.

The Twilight Odyssey Tour starts at approximately 5:30pm and continues to approximately 11:30pm and includes Sightseeing of the region with Fully Guided Commentary, Progressive Three Course Meal at NZs Top Winery Restaurant, Wine Tasting, Champagne, Wine with Dinner, Dessert Wine, Tea & Coffee.

Your Twilight Odyssey experience continues to approximately 23:30 when you are returned to McHardy Lodge.


You will be staying at McHardy Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 17

Napier to Taupo to Rotorua and a visit to Maori village this evening
Travel past Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand to visit the Huka Falls and onto Rotorua. On arrival an orientation tour takes in views of Lake Rotorua. This evening enjoy a Maori Hangi feast and concert at the Tamaki Family Marae.


You will be staying at Black Swan Boutique Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 18

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Fly by floatplane over the Crater Lakes District and the volcanic rift of Mt. Tarawera. Continue south via Waimangu and Waiotapu Thermal Areas to land at the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako. Transfer by boat across the lake to explore the bubbling hot springs, gushing geysers and natural beauty of this hidden geothermal wonderland. Re-join your aircraft for the return trip to Rotorua.

Rotorua sits right in the centre of the world's most volcanically active region and this is highly evident through the smell of sulphur. No visit to Rotorua would be complete without visiting one of the many geothermal parks. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is around 30 minutes from Rotorua and here a network of paths will take you past bubbling pools, sulphur ponds, geysers and waterfalls. For a more relaxing thermal experience, you can't go past the Polynesian Spa, either soak in their mineral pools or experience a unique 'mud massage'. White Island sits around 40 kilometres off the Bay of Plenty coast and is still one the most active volcanoes in the world. Volcanic Air Safaris offer scenic flights to the island and the opportunity to land and explore the original sulphur mines. They also offer scenic flights over Mt. Tarawera and float plane flights to Orakei Korako Hidden Valley. Rotorua is also the heartland of Maori culture in New Zealand and Mitai Maori Village lets you experience the stories, singing and traditional Maori kai (food) cooked in a hangi. For a deeper understanding of Maori arts and crafts, visit Te Puia the premier Maori Arts and Cultural centre. As well as the lake which is teeming with trout for the anglers amongst you, there are opportunities to get up close to our national animal the sheep at Agrodome and the kiwi at Rainbow Springs. For those looking to enjoy some of the adrenalin packed adventures New Zealand is renowned for you'll be pleased to know Rotorua rivals Queenstown for adventure, so whether you are zorbing, rafting or flying through the forest canopy you'll have a blast.


You will be staying at Black Swan Boutique Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 19

Travel from Rotorua to Auckland


The drive from Rotorua to Auckland takes you through the heart of the Waikato and its rich agricultural land. Continue on to Auckland City - New Zealand's largest city. A vibrant city with native bush and beaches, Auckland is full of life and endless opportunities to explore.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 219 km / 136 miles : Two and a half hours


You will be staying at Eden Villa, bed and breakfast

Day 20

Drive from Auckland to Bay of Islands (Road Journey)


Depart early this morning with a box breakfast for your drive to Golfito approximately 4 hours. Upon arrival to Golfito you will be transferred to the dock for the short boat ride to Playa Cativo in time for lunch.


A visit to the Bay of Islands wouldn't be complete without a cruise amongst the islands or even a trip to swim with the dolphins. Dolphin Discoveries operate daily Swimming with the Dolphins Tours and also Discover the Bays cruises. Waitangi, just a few kilometres north of Paihia is considered the most important historical site of modern New Zealand. It was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was prepared and signed between the Crown and Maori. The visitor centre tells its ongoing story and is set in beautiful gardens and grounds, where you can also experience a traditional Maori cultural performance. The peaceful village of Russell is located on the other side of the bay and is full of history and stories from its days as the 'hell hole of the Pacific'. If it weren't for the bullet holes in the historic buildings, it would be hard to imagine that this idyllic location was ever the site of battles. From the Bay of Islands you can also venture to the top of New Zealand on a day trip. The Dune Rider will take you along 90 Mile Beach to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. Spiritually significant to Maori who believe its the point where their dead enter the underworld.


Free time to explore and enjoy the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands. Dolphin watch, catch a ferry to Russell, drive along the Ninety Mile Beach, sail or sea-kayak


You will be staying at Arcadia Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 21

Discover the Bay Hole in the Rock Cruise
Discover the Bay as you cruise among the 144 islands, visit the world famous Hole in the Rock, see an abundance of marine mammals and wildlife and learn of the rich history and culture of the local Maori people during your visit to Urupukapuka Island. You’ll cruise aboard a modern high-speed catamaran equipped with underwater cameras for close up marine mammal viewing and is purpose built for dolphin and whale watching in the Bay. You’ll also travel through the iconic Hole in the Rock (weather permitting) before stopping at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island for lunch or afternoon tea and a unique cultural experience including a flax weaving and a Maori remedies workshop. You’ll also have the option of spending the remainder of the day on Urupukapuka Island before catching the Otehei Bay Ferry back to the mainland.


You will be staying at Arcadia Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 22

Travel south from Russell to Auckland


Leaving the Bay of Islands head west to the Tasman and Hokianga. Travelling south through Waipoua Forest, home to the largest and oldest Kauri tree in the country.


You will be staying at Eden Villa, bed and breakfast

Day 23

The hire car will be dropped off at the airport depot before boarding your onward flight.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

The George Hotel

The George Hotel

The George Hotel is a small, friendly hotel in the heart of Christchurch....

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Hapuku Lodge

Hapuku Lodge

In one of the South Island's most spectacular settings, Hapuku Lodge is a contemporary design of a luxury lodge with the unique offering of Tree Houses, set in the heart of rolling countryside....

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The Hermitage

The Hermitage

Ringed by the magnificent snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps, the Hermitage has been a world renowned tourist destination since 1884....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

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Amy Waters, Travel Expert

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Deborah Brock-Doyle, Travel Expert

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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