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Gannet seabird colony North Island New Zealand
Natural New Zealand
Auckland to Christchurch
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Natural New Zealand

Enjoy some of New Zealand's unique flora, fauna and scenery on this 25 day itinerary. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of a successful kiwi nursery and hatchery and further south, two amazing wilderness retreats await you. Doubtful Sound delivers an outstanding overnight cruise in one of the most beautiful corners of the world.

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Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland City, transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure
Natural New Zealand - Day 1
Private transfer Auckland airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The APP includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Your accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor M Gallery by Sofitel

Located right on Queen Street the Grand Windsor Hotel Auckland is boutique and stylish property with an ideal location to enjoy and explore the vibrant heart of the 'City of Sails'.
Day 2 - Explore West Auckland's beaches and ranges with Bush and Beach
Natural New Zealand - Day 2
Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour with Bush and Beach

Your full day excursion takes you first to the Arataki Visitor Centre - gateway to the Waitakere Ranges and a short drive from Auckland Central. Enjoy panoramic views - extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean - as you absorb the area's history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings. Walk the regenerating rainforest where your experienced guide will detail local flora and fauna. Take in the giant tree ferns, bubbling streams and cascading waterfalls before venturing onto a wild west coast beach. Enjoy a picnic lunch before your eco-tour ends in an area of untamed original rainforest. Here, mature 1,000 year old kauri trees have developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years and this part of the rainforest is particularly rich in bird life due to a successful programme to eradicate pests.

Your accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor M Gallery by Sofitel

Located right on Queen Street the Grand Windsor Hotel Auckland is boutique and stylish property with an ideal location to enjoy and explore the vibrant heart of the 'City of Sails'.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Collect your rental car this morning and head to Waitomo to visit the famous Glow Worm Caves
Natural New Zealand - Day 3
If you are self driving - collect your rental car

We have an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles from the top suppliers. See the range here or chat with your consultant about special needs or requests.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to the caves of Waitomo

The drive south from Auckland takes you into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato - before arriving in the limestone hills of the Waitomo countryside, home to a huge underground network of caves.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. You'll travel deep underground through the limestone caves viewing stalactites and stalagmites as well as hearing about the caves historical and geological significance. You'll then hop into a boat and glide silently through the glow worm grotto - a galaxy of tiny living lights.

Your accommodation: Kamahi Cottage

Kamahi Cottage is a luxury country cottage, farm stay and self-contained 5 Star Bed & Breakfast just 30 minutes from Waitomo Caves. Ideal as an intimate romantic retreat or weekend getaway, it’s peaceful and private with stunning views. The setting is a large and lovely country garden on a typical New Zealand sheep and cattle farm.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 4 - Drive Waitomo to Rotorua. This afternoon take a floatplane to Orakei Korako Hidden Valley thermal region
Natural New Zealand - Day 4
Waitomo to Rotorua

Today cross the lush farmland of the Waikato as you make your way inland to Rotorua. Pass through several small farming towns such as Otorohanga and Putaruru, before the region’s geothermal activity signals your arrival into the city of Rotorua.

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

On this spectacular scenic flight you'll take a floatplane over the Crater Lakes District and the volcanic rift of Mt Tarawera. You'll then continue south via the Waimangu and Waiotapu Thermal Park to land in the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako. Transfer by boat across the lake to explore the hot springs, gushing geysers and natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland before rejoining your aircraft for the return trip to Rotorua.

Your accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Peppers on the Point is a beautiful lodge accommodation in a stunning location and offering panoramic views. It also offers gourmet New Zealand food and wine, as well as a range of on site activities from pampering massage, fly fishing from the private beach, water sports, tennis, gym and boating and is only 10 minutes from the heart of Rotorua City.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 139 kms / 86 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 5 - Visit the Kiwi recovery programme at Rainbow Springs this morning, explore at leisure this afternoon
Natural New Zealand - Day 5
Rainbow Springs and National Kiwi Hatchery Combo

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. Come face to face with, and learn more about, New Zealand’s precious wildlife. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.
Go behind the scenes with New Zealand's national animal at the purpose built Kiwi Conservation Centre - created solely to try and stop the extinction of this unique species. Here you will gain first hand insight into the conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of kiwi eggs being hatched and returned to the wild.

Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

Your accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Peppers on the Point is a beautiful lodge accommodation in a stunning location and offering panoramic views. It also offers gourmet New Zealand food and wine, as well as a range of on site activities from pampering massage, fly fishing from the private beach, water sports, tennis, gym and boating and is only 10 minutes from the heart of Rotorua City.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6 - Drive through heartland New Zealand to the 'coolest little capital in the world', Wellington
Natural New Zealand - Day 6
Rotorua to Wellington

The drive from Rotorua to Wellington takes you via the township of Taupo home to New Zealand’s largest lake. Following the lakeshore South you’ll pass Turani and then ascend the central plateau onto the high country Rangipo Desert. Skirting the edge of Tongariro National Park, you’ll reach the military town of Waiouru before descending through rich farmland and the rural towns of Taihape And Mangaweka. Follow the coast through Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton to arrive at your destination, Wellington.

Your accommodation: Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel

Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel is located in the heart of Wellington's CBD, close to shopping, restaurants and key attractions such as Te Papa Museum.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 441 kms / 273 miles : 5.3 hours

Day 7 - Explore Wellington city at leisure and this evening visit a wildlife sanctuary
Natural New Zealand - Day 7
Wellington

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) 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.

Take a turn on the boardwalk en-route to Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum or catch a historic cable car from Lambton Quay and soak up the city sights. Wander the boutiques on Cuba St and check out the aptly named ‘Beehive’ off Parliament House.

Play hobbit for day and book a tour through Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award winning design studio for Lord Of The Rings. If eating is your thing, drive an hour out of town to Martinborough and experience some of the region's best food and wine. For those interested in New Zealand's native species, a trip to Zealandia is a must - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary. Then kick off your evening in style - search ‘Metro Eats’ to choose from a plethora of the city’s best restaurants to dine.
 

Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.
Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.
Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is high!

Your accommodation: Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel

Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel is located in the heart of Wellington's CBD, close to shopping, restaurants and key attractions such as Te Papa Museum.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8 - Take the interislander ferry to Picton through the stunning Marlborough Sounds
Natural New Zealand - Day 8
Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton with exclusive access to the Premium Plus Lounge

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph). From the Cook Strait, spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen.
Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds - and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays is a remarkable photographic opportunity. At the end of Queen Charlotte Sound the cruise comes to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.
When you're not out on the deck enjoying the amazing views, you can retreat to the exclusive Premium Plus lounge which is the most comfortable and relaxing way to travel across the Cook Strait. You'll enjoy complimentary beverages, light snacks, lunch or breakfast, internet access, magazines and newspapers and the most comfortable seating, so you can sit back and enjoy the journey.

If you are self driving - collect your rental car

We have an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles from the top suppliers. See the range here or chat with your consultant about special needs or requests.

Your accommodation: Picton Yacht Club Hotel

Located in the heart of Picton, only a short walk to the marina, shopping & dining precinct and the ferry terminal. Being in the Marlborough region, it is the gateway to the top of the picturesque South Island and Queen Charlotte Sound.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9 - A day to explore the wildlife of Kaikoura. First view whales from the air and then take to the ocean to see the Albatross and other birdlife
Natural New Zealand - Day 9
Picton to Kaikoura

From Picton head south on State Highway One towards Blenheim, and the wine producing region of Marlborough. Ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce, stop for a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the west you'll follow alongside the Kaikoura Ranges before arriving into the bustling Kaikoura Township.

Wings over Whales

In a typical 30 minute flight you will see the majestic Sperm Whale preparing for his next dive and up to 500 Dusky Dolphins cavorting with each other. On occasion sightings include Southern Right, Humpback, Fin, Sei, Brydes, Pilot, Southern Bottlenose and the mighty Blue Whales, and also Common, Hectors, Risso's and Southern Right Whale Dolphins and of course, Orca, although these are all less frequent visitors to the area. You may also fly over the Kaikoura Peninsula and see evidence of Maori fortifications (Pa sites), New Zealand Fur Seals resting and the Kaikoura township itself.

Albatross Encounter Tours

A world renowned marine reserve, Kaikoura is brimming with marine life and ocean-going birds. It is the Albatross capital of the world and has up to 14 different species visiting the area throughout the year. You’ll be taken by boat, 15 minutes off the coast where a huge range of elusive and usually inaccessible albatross can be sighted. You’ll also see penguins, gannets, skuas, shearwaters petrels and terns. Travel in a dedicated albatross encounter vessel, adapted specifically for maximum wildlife viewing opportunities.

Your accommodation: Kaikoura Boutique Hotel

Kaikoura Boutique Hotel sits on the Esplanade overlooking Kaikoura’s waterfront, just a short walk from tourist attractions, shops and cafes. The hotel has been lovingly refurbished with modern décor and a uniquely New Zealand design.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 157 kms / 98 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 10 - A short drive to Christchurch City. Spend some time at the fascinating International Antarctic Centre
Natural New Zealand - Day 10
Kaikoura to Christchurch

Today you travel down the coast before heading inland through the North Canterbury wine region - the Waipara Valley. As you drive through this area you’ll be greeted by one of New Zealand's most notorious animals, the sheep. If you’ve time on your hands we recommend taking a detour to Hanmer Springs for relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you'll see a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

International Antarctic Centre General Admission

The International Antarctic Centre aims to recreate the atmosphere and environment of Antarctica, providing visitors with an interactive, fun and educational experience. Feel the full Four Seasons of Antarctica, where you'll experience a custom-built snow and ice experience, then warm up in the Scott Base interior exhibit, a replica Antarctic field camp or other informative displays in the gallery. You'll also learn about life in modern day Antarctica, view real little blue penguins and experience a thrilling ride in a Hagglund all terrain vehicle.

Your accommodation: The George Hotel

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. 2 superb award winning on site restaurants also feature.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 11 - Travel over the Port Hills the French settlement of Akaroa. A cruise will take you to see the worlds smallest dolphins
Natural New Zealand - Day 11
Christchurch to Akaroa

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife daily on a Black Cat Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. You’ll see the rare, native dolphin – the Hector’s or New Zealand Dolphin. There’s also the chance to spot the world’s smallest penguin, the White Flippered Little Blue Penguin, Fur Seals and other sea birds.
Other cruise highlights are some majestic volcanic cliffs (including the impressive Cathedral Cave) and signs of Akaroa’s fascinating past including early Maori, French and British settlements.

Your accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa

This beautiful historic home and garden has been lovingly restored with old world charm and modern conveniences offering quality accommodation. Relax on the verandahs or wander around the gracious traditional garden containing protected trees, rare camellias, roses and a small private vineyard. Secluded and private it is just a short stroll to the village and harbour.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 12 - Cross Mackenzie country Mt Cook National Park, a World Heritage Area. Take a glacier explorers tour and visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
Natural New Zealand - Day 12
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.

Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt 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.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers - the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

The Hermitage Hotel ringed by magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, is a world-renowned tourist destination and has been an icon of superior accommodation and dining since 1884.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 13 - Travel to Twizel and visit the very rare Black Stilt visitor hide. Continue to Dunedin, the 'Edinburgh' of the South
Natural New Zealand - Day 13
Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel

A short drive south along the spectacular Mt Cook Highway to join the main road south and onto Twizel. Twizel occupies a central location in the Mt. Cook/ Mackenzie region, with the Southern Alps as a backdrop, the town is close to five picturesque lakes, including a world-standard rowing course and Formula One class boating area at Lake Ruataniwha. It’s a fishing mecca so if catching salmon, brown or rainbow trout is what you dream of then don’t go past any of Twizel's rivers, lakes or canals. For the adventurous Twizel's terrain is ideal for skydiving, rock and mountain climbing and close by is Ohau ski field and in Tekapo Round Hill ski field is ideal for families. Twizel has a rich but brief history linked to the development of the massive Waitaki Valley hydroelectric scheme. The town started life as a temporary place for the workers on the scheme and when completed the land and buildings were sold off in government lotteries. Now it’s a holiday home paradise.

Twizel to Dunedin

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its white stone buildings, constructed with the local 'Oamaru Stone'. From the harbour, you can see blue penguins come ashore at dusk as they return from their day at sea. Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

Your accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Fletcher Lodge offers elegant, luxury accommodation, complemented by the ultimate in comfort and modern facilities, located just a few minutes walk from the hub of the city. Nestled in a secluded, established garden the lodge is conveniently located within minutes of many of the city's finest and most popular cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 312 kms / 194 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 14 - Explore Dunedin Peninsula and visit one of the world's rarest birds, the Yellow Eyed Penguin
Natural New Zealand - Day 14
Monarch Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour & Penguin Place

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour of the high road on the Otago Peninsula.

Your accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Fletcher Lodge offers elegant, luxury accommodation, complemented by the ultimate in comfort and modern facilities, located just a few minutes walk from the hub of the city. Nestled in a secluded, established garden the lodge is conveniently located within minutes of many of the city's finest and most popular cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 15 - Drive through Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park. This evening visit the glow worm caves.
Natural New Zealand - Day 15
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival, you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.
You'll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Lodge

Set in a World Heritage area Fiordland Lodge offers the discerning traveller comfort and privacy. The elegance and splendour of the Lodge is mirrored in the breathtaking views of Lake Te Anau and Fiordland. Private and serene, the Lodge is perfect for relaxation, or as a base for your Fiordland experience.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 16 - Today embark on a 24 hour adventure to Doubtful Sound. Explore the area and spend the night in this pristine wilderness
Natural New Zealand - Day 16
Te Anau to Manapouri

This short drive takes you along the lake edge of Te Anau and across lush southern farmlands to the small township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Take in the tranquillity of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise. Beginning in Manapouri with a short boat ride across the lake, you'll be taken by coach over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. Board the Fiordland Navigator, a purpose-built vessel designed like a traditional coastal trading scow. Be accommodated in a private cabin with an ensuite bathroom or a quad-share bunk room with shared bathroom facilities. The Navigator has a large spacious deck for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as a dining saloon, bar and observation lounge. As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you'll be provided with a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you're lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you're really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three-course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck. Following hearty cooked breakfast the next morning you will spend your remaining time exploring other parts of the fiord before returning to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

The Fiordland Navigator is purpose built for cruising in the fiords. The vessel offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining saloon and observation lounge.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

Day 17 - You cruise returns to Manapouri at midday then head north to Wanaka
Natural New Zealand - Day 17
Manapouri to Wanaka

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. The old gold mining township of Arrowtown is worth a detour (well signposted) before you head over the Crown Range Road. At 1076 metres (3530 feet)  it is the highest sealed road in the country and offers spectacular views over the Wakatipu basin from the many vantage points. Approaching Wanaka the wonderful alpine lake welcomes you to the town. Despite its size Wanaka has a wide variety of activities available. In winter it is without doubt New Zealand's premier ski destination with its very close location to Treble Cone and Cardrona. Mt Aspiring National Park sits to western edge of the lake and offers some wonderful walking tracks for all abilities. Fishing, sailing and kitesurfing are popular pastimes on the lake and the many beach access points provide some great picnic and relaxing spots.

Your accommodation: Lime Tree Lodge

Set on a ten acre estate just outside Lake Wanaka, Lime Tree Lodge offers luxury boutique accommodation with stunning 360-degree uninterrupted mountain views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 225 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 18 - Explore beautiful Mou Waho nature reserve
Natural New Zealand - Day 18
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lying close to the center of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut.

A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee.

Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions.

Your accommodation: Lime Tree Lodge

Set on a ten acre estate just outside Lake Wanaka, Lime Tree Lodge offers luxury boutique accommodation with stunning 360-degree uninterrupted mountain views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 19 - A drive through Mt. aspiring National Park to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge
Natural New Zealand - Day 19
Wanaka to Lake Moeraki

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the township of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Blue Pools here are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. The tranquil bush surroundings of Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki are just a further few extra kilometres.

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Few places on earth can match the unique natural setting of the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, in the heart of the 2.7 million hectares South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Spectacular beaches that are home to fur seals and crested penguins, untouched lowland rainforests spread between pristine lakes and rivers which drain the snow-capped Southern Alps.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 168 kms / 104 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 20 - A superb day enjoying the unique West Coast flora and fauna in and around the lodge
Natural New Zealand - Day 20
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

The Lodge is a paradise for nature lovers and for a relaxing retreat away from the pressures of the modern world. On arrival you are given maps and information on the walk network, forest and seacoast trails and canoeing.

Walks Network & Lake Canoeing

The Lodge walk's network covers 10km (6 miles) and enables you to explore the Lower Moeraki Valley and seacoast. Canoe the gentle lake waters or walk the network of Lodge and World Heritage rainforest and coastal tracks.

  • Lakeside Walk – an easy 20 minute return forest walk to the outlet of Lake Moeraki with great mountain views. Giant Rimu Walk winds down the Moeraki Valley above rapids to giant rimu trees and a lovely Lodge lookout and continues to the Moeraki lagoon.
  • Monro Beach Walk – an 80 minute return walk through ancient rainforest to the wild and beautiful Tasman sea where large penguins can be seen August to December.

Canoes (and lifejackets) are provided for guests – for use on the lake but not the river. Canoe right around scenic Lake Moeraki or fish for brown trout.

Daily Complimentary Guided Nature Trips

Every day, a naturalist guides offer two guided activities each about an hour long, included in the Lodge tariff. Learn about the rainforests, discover ferns, orchids, giant native pigeon, bellbird and tui. Take a night walk to see glowworms, the Southern Cross and freshwater crayfish. Walks include historical talks and you can learn easy canoeing … and if you fall out you can feed local giant tame eels! This programme changes every day.

Short trips include:

  • Ancient Rainforest Trees, Tree Ferns and Birds … a voyage of discovery.
  • Freshwater Life in the Wilderness Lodge Rainforests … and feeding time for our giant tame eels and trout
  • Easy Canoeing in the Sheltered Inlets of Lake Moeraki … in safe, stable minnow canoes
  • Living in the Wilderness … in harmony with the environment
  • Glowworms, Morepork Owls, Freshwater Crayfish and the Southern Cross … an after dinner night walk

Longer Optional Guided Adventure Trips

Guided wilderness adventure programmes are offered year-round. Join a small group and accompany skilled nature guides. On safe, well-planned adventures you will get close to wildlife, learn about the forest, experience amazing scenery and friendly company.

Wilderness Seacoast, Fiordland Crested Penguin and New Zealand Fur Seals Tramping Adventure – This is a dramatic and challenging wet footed walk. It involves wildlife viewing, scrambling over beach rocks and along beaches and, at the end, a 400 foot steep hill climb.

Wilderness Seacoast, Hector's Dolphin, Rainforest, Tree Fern and Goldminers Walk – There is a huge variety on this walk; a lovely seacoast rich in rock pools, greenstone, Hector's dolphins (the worlds smallest dolphin) and occasionally New Zealand Fur Seals. Magnificent rimu, beech and kahikatea rainforest and a historic goldminer's path that traverses fern filled river gorges.

Ancient Rainforest Guided Walk and Canoe Safari to the Lower Moeraki River and the Tasman Seacoast:

  1. Option A: Easy - Canoe the Moeraki Lagoon – Nature guides take you on a 30 minute walk down the valley through giant rainforest trees, past some historic cottages and across freshwater springs and wetland moss forest. Canoes and life jackets are waiting at the Moeraki lagoon our. We paddle down river beneath the forest and out into the Moeraki lagoon.
  2. Option B: Moderate - Hard - Canoe the Moeraki Rapids– This trip is only suitable for people who are fit/experienced canoeists/good swimmers. Although the rapids are easy, trees in the river create some hazards. Nature guides instruct you in down river canoeing in front of the wilderness Lodge. You practice navigation and procedures for descent. Reach the Tasman beaches and walk to the Tasman seacoast where you enjoy refreshments and fossick for gemstones, shells and driftwood and look for Hector's dolphin, the world's smallest.

The Moeraki Mountains, Historic South Westland Pack Track, Moeraki Rapids and Blue Hut

The Moeraki valley was the last valley in South Westland to be accessed by road in 1965. Prior to this the only way south to Haast by land followed a historic pack track at the foot of the mountains. Drive 8 km up the valley to the start of this walk. The track crosses a series of small steams as the noise of the Moeraki rapids grows louder. When you reach these spectacular rapids, you cross on a high swing bridge then walk for 15 minutes to Blue Hut. Enjoy lunch either at the hut with a roaring fire and billy tea or beside a huge pool in the Moeraki River.

Trout Fishing

The lake and rivers have good numbers of Brown Trout and in March & April Quinnat Salmon. The lodge has basic rods with lures but NO fly-fishing equipment. Local guides can be arranged with notice but please check with us if fishing is to be the focus of your stay at the lodge. You cannot fish in front of the Lodge where we have giant tame brown trout.

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Few places on earth can match the unique natural setting of the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, in the heart of the 2.7 million hectares South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Spectacular beaches that are home to fur seals and crested penguins, untouched lowland rainforests spread between pristine lakes and rivers which drain the snow-capped Southern Alps.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 21 - Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef and the West Coast Glaciers
Natural New Zealand - Day 21
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier

Continuing along the wild west coast you pass through ancient podocarp forests. At Knights Point Lookout an interesting display tells of shipwrecks in the region and at the right time of year you can see elephant seals basking on the far beaches.
First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Lake Matheson, the famous reflection lake, is a five minute drive west of Fox Township. Historic Gillespie's Beach, a wilderness of crashing surf and distant snow capped mountains, known for its seal colony and colourful gold mining history, is 25 minutes west by car. Access to Fox Glacier is well signposted from the highway and a short walk will reward you with some great views of the largest of the West Coast glaciers.
Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes and a great way to experience the glaciers is with The Helicopter Line or Mt. Cook ski planes.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 111 kms / 69 miles : 1.4 hours

Day 22 - There is only one way to truly see the glaciers. Land by helicopter and take a guided walk!
Natural New Zealand - Day 22
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 23 - Continue north before heading into the Southern Alps and Arthurs Pass National Park
Natural New Zealand - Day 23
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

State Highway 73 is the main road between the West Coast and Christchurch and the scenery is spectacular - even in the rain - and there is pretty good chance of rain in the high alpine mountains. With hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the bush clad hillsides it's not a road to be rushed. Originally the road was a pass used by Maori as they made tier seasonal passage to look for the greenstone abundant in the West Coast mountains. When the gold rush hit the West Coast in the late 1800's then a road was quickly developed and not soon after the train. Today the main use for the track is transporting coal to Lyttelton Harbour but once a day the now world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train takes a few hundred tourists and visitors between the two oceans.

The Otira Gorge on the Western side of Arthur's Pass features a remarkable piece of engineering with the road passing high on a viaduct through this large valley. This is a recent addition to the route as the old road was washed away in a rock fall a few years ago. There are numerous lookout points giving great views of the valley and its engineering feat but watch out for the local residents, the kea. this bird is the worlds only alpine parrot and can be extremely cheeky.

Arthur's Pass Township is bustling place in the peak season with many walkers and adventurers using it as a base for the forays into the mountains of Arthur's pass National Park. The Department of Conservation centre here has an excellent display of the local history and is a great source of information for the many short walks in the area.

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Arthurs Pass

Wilderness Lodge sits on it's own 3,000-hectare nature reserve and merino sheep farm and is surrounded by the mountains of Arthur's Pass National Park. Join nature guides to walk, canoe and discover kea parrots, giant buttercups, pygmy forests, alpine flower gardens and waterfalls.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 24 - A full day to enjoy the magnificent Wilderness Lodge at Arthurs Pass
Natural New Zealand - Day 24
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Nestled in mountain beech forest, midway between Christchurch and the West Coast, Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass offers stylish accommodation, great food and warm hospitality in a spectacular mountain setting.

Set on a 4000 acre working sheep farm and nature reserve in the heart of the Southern Alps, a daily program of guided activities will be the highlight of your visit. Join naturalist and farmer guides to hike alpine trails, kayak wildlife refuge lakes and experience life on a working farm.

Complimentary Guided Activities

Twice daily complimentary guided trips provide a wonderful introduction to the wildlife, landscapes and history of the Southern Alps. Some of the trips include:

  • Sheep Farm Discovery: Join a guide to watch sheep dogs in action, handfeed lambs, see traditional blade shearing and learn about growing merino wool for the fashion industry. This trip happens every second afternoon and is a highlight for many guests
  • Birds and Special Plants of the Mountain Beech Forest: Explore with a naturalist guide and learn the secrets of these remarkable moss forests surrounding the lodge
  • McKay Moa Forest Hike: Visit a special nature reserve on the Wilderness Lodge farm. Take in spectacular mountain scenery, see bizarre ‘moa plants’ and learn their fascinating history.
  • Stars of the Southern Night Sky: A gentle stroll after dinner to see the starry night sky. Identify planets, satellites and constellations including the Southern Cross.

Longer Charged Guided Activities

  • Upper Otira Glacier Adventure: A superb challenging summer hike. Climb high into a glacial basin and enjoy mountain panoramas, alpine flowers, cascades culminating in a mountain picnic below Mt Rolleston.
  • Limestone Castles & Easy Kayaking:  A relaxed guided tour/walk to a landscape made famous by the Narnia film 'The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe'. Paddle a gentle mountain lake and enjoy lunch amongst natural limestone castles.
  • Southern Alps Mountain Hike: Traverse beech forest to open mountain tops high above the Waimakariri River. Learn about alpine plants and enjoy lunch at a historic hut which once sheltered shepherds when this area was part of the Wilderness Lodge farm, now Arthur's Pass National Park.
  • Wonderful Waterfalls of Arthur's Pass: A special trip for waterfall and photography enthusiasts. Visit waterfalls and cascades throughout Arthur's Pass National Park and explore 'bonsai' mountain beech forests. Picnic beside a mountain stream.

Self-Guided Activity Options

  • Explore a 30km network of forest, farm and mountain walking trails. You hosts can provide maps and suggestions and you may like to order a picnic lunch
  • Explore neighboring Arthur’s Pass National Park on your own.
  • Relax in peace and tranquillity and take in the spectacular mountain scenery

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Arthurs Pass

Wilderness Lodge sits on it's own 3,000-hectare nature reserve and merino sheep farm and is surrounded by the mountains of Arthur's Pass National Park. Join nature guides to walk, canoe and discover kea parrots, giant buttercups, pygmy forests, alpine flower gardens and waterfalls.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 25 - Today just a short drive to Christchurch where your journey concludes
Natural New Zealand - Day 25
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Descending into the valleys of the Waimakariri this drive offers some spectacular views of the braided river valleys. Castle Hill Scenic Reserve sits in limestone country and the area is dotted with remarkable rock outcrops. A popular place with climbers it was also an important place for Maori in past years as they provided shelter on their seasonal journeys between the coasts. There is a network of walking paths allowing you to explore.
Descending onto the Canterbury Plains the rich farmland that attracted and helped settlers prosper becomes apparent as you head into the city of Christchurch.

Depart Christchurch today

Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 128 kms / 80 miles : 1.6 hours

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