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Grand New Zealand Explorer

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This 21 day journey is the ultimate, once-in-a-lifetime New Zealand experience, rarely seen by Australian travellers in such an all-inclusive fashion leaving you perfectly placed to discover the Land of the Long White Cloud in comfort and style.
New Zealand
Active
Nature
Self-Drive
Independent Holiday Packages

Highlights

Monarch Wildlife Cruise Otago Peninsula 

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Milford Nature Cruise

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Whale Watching Experience

This 21-day journey is a traveller’s ultimate fantasy! Explore the many exceptional parts of New Zealand’s realm whilst enjoying countless activities. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this unforgettable adventure!

After exploring Auckland “the city of sails”, begin your self-drive adventure with a visit to the famous Hobbiton Movie set where Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit Trilogies were filmed. Next, head to Rotorua to enjoy a wide range of activities and learn about the Māori culture, enjoying a traditional cooked Hangi (feast) at the Tamaki Māori Village. Discover the spectacular Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Reserve showcasing thousands of years of geothermal activity. As you travel towards Napier make a stop at the mighty Huka Falls and take a wander through the popular lakeside resort of Taupō. Hawke’s Bay is often referred to as the ‘Tuscany of the South Pacific’ and Napier is known for being one of the world’s finest Art Deco cities. Explore the city on a short, locally guided walk that will bring this fascinating architecture to life then take the rest of the day to discover the stunning region of Hawke’s Bay at your leisure. As you journey South, enjoy driving through the picturesque Wairarapa region on your way to Wellington, the nation’s capital.

Relax on a scenic cruise across the Cook Straight as you bid farewell to the North Island and head towards the magnificent Marlborough Sounds on the South Island. Take in the splendid views as you drive along the Coastal Pacific Highway towards the seaside town of Kaikōura. Marvel at amazing encounters on the Whale Watch adventure then head inland to the alpine village of Hanmer Springs and take a relaxing soak in the thermal mineral pools. Continue the journey south-east and travel over the Banks Peninsula to the quaint and historic coastal village of Akaroa which exudes French flavour through its street names and architecture. Follow the scenic coastal route to Oamaru which features some of the nation’s finest architecture and is also home to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. Stop to view the mystical and fascinating Moeraki Boulders as you continue your drive into Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the South. Cruise the length of the beautiful Otago Harbour with Monarch Cruises and enjoy unrivalled viewing of the exciting diversity of wildlife such as NZ fur seals, dolphins, Northern Royal Albatross and many other bird species. Travel through the powerful landscapes of Central Otago towards Te Anau then experience an extended nature cruise on the impressive Milford Sound. Take the time to discover the glorious alpine resort of Queenstown. Known as the adventure capital, Queenstown boasts an incredible array of adventure and leisure activities. As you head towards the peaceful and picturesque town of Lake Wanaka, take some time to stroll through the historic village of Arrowtown. Set beneath the rugged Crown Range, Arrowtown is a fascinating collection of mining cottages with an atmosphere straight out of last century.

Make your way past untouched forests and pristine lakes as you head to Fox Glacier.  Drive along the rugged west coast highway to Greymouth, then crossing the spectacular Southern Alps continue the journey to Christchurch where this incredible adventure comes to an end.

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Included

1 night at Ramada Suites Victoria Auckland
2 nights at Jet Park Hotel Rotorua
2 nights at Quest Napier
1 night at Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel
2 nights at Punga Cove Resort
1 night at Kaikoura Quality Suites
1 night at Hanmer Springs Retreat
1 night at Akaroa Village Inn
2 nights at Distinction Hotel Dunedin
1 night at Distinction Luxmore Hotel
3 nights at Millennium Hotel Queenstown
1 night at Edgewater Wanaka
1 night at Distinction Fox Glacier, Te Weheka
1 night at Breakfree on Cashel
20 Days Car Hire with Hertz
Interislander Ferry from Wellington to Picton
Return Cougarline Water Taxi Transfer
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Tamaki Evening Hangi & Concert
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Admission
Art Deco 1 ½ Hour Guided Walk
Whale Watching Experience
Monarch Wildlife Cruise Otago Peninsula
Milford Cruise Nature Cruise ex Milford Sound including Picnic Lunch
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa entry

Itinerary

Expand Collapse  all days
Day 1
Auckland Airport → Auckland

Welcome to Auckland. Please collect your car with Hertz at Auckland Airport and head to the hotel for check in. The rest of today is free to explore the ‘City of Sails’.

Overnight stay in Auckland at Ramada Suites Victoria Auckland in a Hotel Room

Auckland Airport → Auckland
View of Auckland
Day 2
Auckland → Matamata → Rotorua

Head south of Auckland to the Waikato town of Matamata, home to Hobbiton. The region has attracted Lord of the Rings enthusiasts from all over the world since a local farm became the setting for “the Shire” in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.

Here you will enjoy a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, including the hobbit holes, and discover middle-earth movie magic. Continue on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua.

Overnight stay in Rotorua at Jet Park Hotel Rotorua in a Standard King.

Auckland → Matamata → Rotorua
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Day 3
Rotorua

Discover the region of Rotorua. Here are many activities available including visits to thermal reserves, rafting, kayaking, cruising, spa treatments and general sightseeing activities. This evening enjoy a traditional hangi (feast) and cultural evening with local Māori. You will be welcomed onto the sacred grounds in traditional Māori ceremony, come to a better understanding of the world of Māori, and in the process takeaway a genuine sense of belonging here.

Some of the highlights: courtesy pick up and drop off from central Rotorua, 3 1/2 hour Māori cultural experience, traditional Māori welcome ceremony, interactive tour of pre-European village, participate in hands-on cultural activities, viewing of geothermal hangi meal prep, traditional dinner and dessert buffet feast.  

Overnight stay in Rotorua at Jet Park Hotel Rotorua in a Standard King.

Dinner
Rotorua
Lake Rotorua
Day 4
Rotorua → Napier

This morning, make your way to Napier. At Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, walk at your own pace and marvel at the reserve’s unique features including the world famous Champagne Pool, geysers, bubbling mud, steaming ground, expansive vistas, huge volcanic craters and sinter terrace formations. Stop at the mighty Huka Falls, then wander around the popular lakeside resort of Taupō. Continue on to Napier, one of the world’s finest Art Deco cities.

Overnight stay in Napier at Quest Napier in a Studio Apartment.

Rotorua → Napier
Wai-O-Tapu Champagne Pool
Day 5
Napier

This morning enjoy a short, locally guided walk that will bring this fascinating architecture alive. The rest of the day is at leisure to discover Hawke’s Bay, often referred to as the ‘Tuscany of the South Pacific’. Explore the countryside and city pathways on your late model mountain bike enjoy a game of golf, visit the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, tour local wineries, ride a hot air balloon or simply take in the local city sights.

Overnight stay in Napier at Quest Napier in a Studio Apartment.

Napier
Hawke's Bay
Day 6
Napier → Wairarapa → Wellington

Drive south today into Wairarapa, a rural retreat in the very heart of New Zealand. We suggest stopping at Martinborough, a boutique wine village before continuing onto Wellington, the nation’s capital. A visit to Te Papa, the national museum, is highly recommended.

Overnight stay in Wellington at Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel in a Standard One Bedroom Courtyard View Apartment

Napier → Wairarapa → Wellington
Martinborough Wine Village
Day 7
Wellington → Picton → Marlborough Sounds

It’s time to leave the North Island and head over to the South Island. Drop the rental car off and then check in at the ferry terminal. Enjoy a scenic cruise across Cook Strait on the Interislander to the picturesque fishing village of Picton. On arrival into Picton take the water taxi to Punga Cove resort located in the stunning Marlborough Sounds.

Overnight stay in Marlborough Sounds at Punga Cove Resort in the Frond Suite

Wellington → Picton → Marlborough Sounds
View of Picton village
Day 8
Marlborough Sounds

After breakfast, enajoy a day at leisure to relax and marvel at the magic that is the Marlborough Sounds. The lodge staff will share their love of the area through the wide range of water and nature based experiences at your fingertips. Complimentary fishing tackle, kayaks and mountain bikes are provided at the lodge and there are a number of bush walks to enjoy.

Overnight stay in Marlborough Sounds at Punga Cove Resort in the Frond Suite

Breakfast
Marlborough Sounds
Day 9
Marlborough Sounds → Picton → Kaikōura

After a leisurely start, return to Picton and take delivery of your next rental car and cruise along the Coastal Pacific highway on your way to Kaikōura, a coastal town located on a thin strip of coastal land between the Kaikōura mountain range and the Pacific Ocean.

Overnight stay in Kaikōura at Kaikoura Quality Suites in an Executive Studio

Breakfast
Marlborough Sounds → Picton → Kaikōura
Day 10
Kaikōura → Hanmer Springs

Enjoy a morning whale watching adventure. Every trip is a unique experience and sightings may vary from day to day. Giant sperm whales are the star of the show and are year-round residents. A typical whale watch tour may encounter fur seals, pods of Dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season, you may also see migrating Hump Back whales, Pilot whales, Blue whales and Southern Right whales. Later, head inland to the alpine village of Hanmer Springs nestled amongst the foothills of the Southern Alps. End your day with a relaxing soak in the thermal mineral pools.

Overnight stay in Hanmer Springs at Hanmer Springs Retreat in a Superior Room

Kaikōura → Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs
Day 11
Hanmer Springs → Christchurch → Akaroa

Continue your drive south towards Christchurch before turning east and travelling over the Banks Peninsula to the quaint and historic seaside village of Akaroa. Settled in the early 1860’s, it has retained its French flavour through its street names and architecture.

Overnight stay in Akaroa at Akaroa Village Inn a Two Bedroom Apartment

Hanmer Springs → Christchurch → Akaroa
Akaroa Banks Peninsula
Day 12
Akaroa → Oamaru → Dunedin

After checking out of your hotel in Akaroa, follow the coastal route to Oamaru, widely regarded as housing some of the nation’s finest architecture. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is New Zealand’s largest. Stop to view the mystical and fascinating Moeraki Boulders and continue the drive into Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the South. It is a city of rare charm set amidst a magical landscape edged by the sea and boasts many activities for lovers of nature and wildlife.

Overnight stay in Dunedin at Distinction Hotel Dunedin in a Studio Room

Akaroa → Oamaru → Dunedin
Moeraki Boulders
Day 13
Dunedin

This morning cruise the length of the beautiful Otago Harbour with Monarch Cruises and enjoy unrivalled viewing of the exciting diversity of wildlife which abounds on spectacular Taiaroa Head - the only mainland nesting place for Northern Royal Albatross in the world, home to NZ fur seals and eight other nesting bird species. You may also see dolphins, sea lions and a fascinating array of rarely seen ocean birds. This afternoon is at your leisure.

Overnight stay in Dunedin at Distinction Hotel Dunedin in a Studio Room

Dunedin
Otago Peninsula
Day 14
Dunedin → Oamaru → Balclutha → Gore → Lumsden → Te Anau

Travel through the Central Otago townships of Balclutha, Gore and Lumsden as you make your way to Te Anau, located on the shores of the largest of the southern glacial lakes and gateway to the spectacular Fiordland National Park, home to the spectacular fiords of Milford and Doubtful Sounds.

Overnight stay in Te Anau at Distinction Luxmore Hotel in a Superior Room

Dunedin → Oamaru → Balclutha → Gore → Lumsden → Te Anau
Fiordland National Park
Day 15
Te Anau → Queenstown

Today you experience an up to 2 hour nature cruise on Milford Sound. Travel by car along the spectacular Milford Road and through the handstrewn Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound where you board your vessel for a relaxing nature cruise. Get incredibly close to nature, including the famous Stirling Falls. From the large open-top deck or comfy interior cabins, enjoy our most popular Milford Sound cruise.

Overnight stay in Queenstown at Millennium Hotel Queenstown in a Superior Room

Te Anau → Queenstown
Mitre Peak
Day 16-17
Queenstown

Enjoy two days experiencing this magnificent alpine resort regarded as New Zealand’s premier holiday destination. Surrounded by majestic mountains, Queenstown boasts an incredible array of adventure and leisure activities in all forms, from extreme to relaxed exploration.

Two nights stay in Queenstown at Millennium Hotel Queenstown in a Superior Room

Queenstown
Stunning alpine views of Queenstown
Day 18
Queenstown → Arrowtown → Wanaka

Set beneath the rugged Crown Range is Arrowtown, a fascinating collection of mining cottages with an atmosphere straight out of last century. Take some time to stroll through this historic village, once a haven for the gold prospectors of the 1860’s heading to Wanaka. The shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive (in winter), but the views are simply stunning. Wander around this popular lakeside resort and enjoy the relaxed vibe of this peaceful and picturesque location.

Overnight stay in Wanaka at Edgewater Wanaka in a Lake View Room

Queenstown → Arrowtown → Wanaka
View of Arrowtown
Day 19
Wanaka→ Fox Glacier

This morning is an early start heading to Fox Glacier. View incredible scenery driving past the untouched native forests and pristine lakes of the Westland National Park and Haast Pass before arriving into Glacier country of Fox and Franz Josef. Here is the opportunity to experience an optional scenic flight over this remarkable region this afternoon, weather permitting (own expense).

Overnight stay in Fox Glacier at Distinction Fox Glacier, Te Weheka in a Double Room

Wanaka→ Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier
Day 20
Fox Glacier → Greymouth → Christchurch

Drive along the rugged west coast highway to Greymouth. Have a break for lunch before continuing the journey to Christchurch. Cross over the spectacular Southern Alps before winding down over massive viaducts, through scenic river gorges and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.

Overnight stay in Christchurch at Breakfree on Cashel in a City Urban King Room

Breakfast
Fox Glacier → Greymouth → Christchurch
Scenic views along the way to South Island
Day 21
Christchurch → Christchurch Airport

As your journey comes to an end today, after breakfast at your hotel head to the airport to return the rental car.

Breakfast

Additional information

Official language
English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language
Currency
New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
2021 Packages - Book Now
2021 Packages - Book Now
20 nights
from AUD5,655
per person, twin share
New Zealand
Auckland
Christchurch
Active, Nature, Self-Drive
Independent Holiday Packages
01 October 2020 - 31 March 2021

Hotel options

Ramada Suites Victoria Auckland
Ramada Suites Victoria Auckland

Auckland
World class luxury in the heart of Aucklands CBD. Ramada Suites Victoria is located 5-minutes walk from Auckland International Convention Centre, half a kilometer from Aotea Centre and a 10-minute walk from The Civic. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Sky Tower, Viaduct Harbor, Wynyard Quarter, Victoria Park and Aotea Square. 

Jet Park Hotel Rotorua
Jet Park Hotel Rotorua

Rotorua
Experience true New Zealand Hospitality! Only a short walk to Lake Rotorua and just down the road from Eat Street, Jet Park Rotorua is your ideal location for experiencing everything Rotorua has to offer. Whether you are here for adventure or to experience the local culture, Jet Park Rotorua is the ideal starting point for your journey. 

Quest Napier
Quest Napier

Napier
Quest Napier serviced apartment style hotel rooms offer guests a relaxed and comfortable Napier accommodation experience perfect for short or long stays. Quest Napier is conveniently located in the Napier town centre, and is a short walk to the beach, Coastal Walkway and Municipal Theatre and the Napier Conference Centre, and only a few minutes drive from Park Island Sports Ground, Pettigrew Green Area and Mission Estate Wineries.

Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel
Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel

Wellington
Located in the heart of Wellington city, on the doorstep of key Wellington attractions, Distinction Wellington Hotel is only a few minutes walk to the shopping and restaurants of Courtney Place and Cuba Street and only 10 mins walk to Te Papa Museum and the waterfront. Whether you're here on business or busy sightseeing you'll love the central Wellington location.

Punga Cove
Punga Cove

Endeavour Inlet
Set amongst stunning scenery in the magnificent Marlborough Sounds, Punga Cove is the perfect retreat, surrounded by nature. Choose from our stylish suites, spacious studios and retro chalets or our larger apartments for families and groups. 

Getting here is easy - by boat from Picton, by foot or bike on the Queen Charlotte Track, or by scenic drive. And, once you're here you can choose to relax and enjoy the many views, or enjoy the wide range of land and water-based activities on offer.

Kaikoura Quality Suites
Kaikoura Quality Suites

Kaikoura
Kaikōura Quality Suites is centrally located in Kaikōura on State Highway 1 between Blenheim and Christchurch. Bordered by mountains and lush farmland to the west, Kaikōura is on a stunning peninsula that’s surrounded by rich marine life. Kaikōura Quality Suites is close to many attractions, including Whale Watch Kaikōura, Dolphin Encounter and helicopter flights. Kaikōura Quality Suites is also conveniently close to the supermarket and some shopping. A comfortable walk or short drive takes you to Kaikōura West End shopping, restaurants and bars. Make the most of your time – embark on a walk to the beach where you can enjoy the views and watch the local wildlife.

Hanmer Springs Retreat
Hanmer Springs Retreat

Hanmer Springs
Uniquely located a 10 minute stroll from the village of Hanmer Springs and the famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve Pools and Spa, we’re also moments from beautiful forest walks, mountain bike tracks and a short drive to Hanmer Springs and Mt Lyford Ski Area.

Akaroa Village Inn
Akaroa Village Inn

Akaroa
Encourages the atmosphere of 'home away from home' and personalized service, centrally located featuring views across the beautiful Akaroa Harbour.

Distinction Dunedin Hotel
Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Dunedin
Stay at Dunedin's premier luxury hotel -100% NZ OWNED & OPERATED!
The 1937 former Chief Post Office in Dunedin has been transformed into an elegant 4 1/2 star luxury hotel, located in the rejuvenated and vibrant Warehouse Precinct in the heart of the city. Distinction Dunedin is a 2019 Travellers Choice Winner, ranked 3rd out of all hotels in NZ on TripAdvisor. The Dunedin hotel presents a variety of premier accommodation to suit everyone from the businesses traveller requiring spacious and modern facilities to those wanting a relaxing weekend away. 

Distinction Luxmore Hotel
Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Te Anau
Conveniently located in the heart of Te Anau's town shopping centre, a short stroll from Lake Te Anau, the South Island's largest lake and launching pad for many water based activities. Escape into the serene surroundings of our Te Anau hotel before heading out to explore the world-famous beauty of Fiordland including Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. With its range of hotel accommodation options, 2 on-site restaurants, complimentary car parking and excellent standard of service, the team at Distinction Luxmore will make your stay in Te Anau comfortable and enjoyable. 

Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Queenstown
This hotel features city-inspired, contemporary design bestowing scenic mountain views, providing the perfect scenery for your trip whilst located a short stroll from shopping, entertainment and outdoor activities.

Edgewater Hotel
Edgewater Hotel

Lake Wanaka
With four distinct seasons, Wanaka's weather is beautiful year round. Each of Wanaka's four seasons brings its own character and vibe. Based right on the lake in Wanaka, Edgewater's hotel rooms, one bedroom apartments, two bedroom apartments and deluxe one bedroom apartments are sure to meet all all your holiday accommodation needs. Edgewater's new deluxe one bedroom apartments are uniquely styled to the highest standard. Perfect for a special night away.

Distinction Fox Glacier Te Weheka Hotel
Distinction Fox Glacier Te Weheka Hotel

Fox Glacier
Distinction Fox Glacier Te Weheka Hotel is your ideal luxury hotel accommodation in Fox Glacier village, a charming township in the beautiful alpine West Coast region of New Zealand's South Island.
Distinction Fox Glacier's location provides a real sense of privacy and peaceful seclusion, while being only a short stroll to the Fox Glacier village.

BreakFree on Cashel
BreakFree on Cashel

Christchurch
Brilliant and trendy with lavish attitude. This hotel has a unique urban feel throughout.

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