Natural New Zealand Tour
25 Day Self Drive Touring Itinerary Starting in Auckland
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

Natural New Zealand Tour

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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Brief Overview & Inclusions

Self Drive Touring Itinerary

This suggested tour costs from NZD$16,470 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

25 days/24 nights

Boutique Lodges & Hotels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 222 times in the last 7 days

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Day by Day Itinerary
Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 1
Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Welcome to Auckland

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 28 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wētā Workshop Unleashed

Explore worlds of horror, sci-fi and fantasy in the making. An exciting, realistic, and authentic experience, with three fully developed and original film concepts: A nail-biting horror Fauna, a fantasy epic Age of the Ever-Clan, and the mind-bending sci-fi Origins.
A 90-minute guided experience through fully themed environments, including immersive horror, fantasy, and sci-fi story worlds. Be immersed by a specially-created unique sweeping cinematic soundtrack, animatronic creatures, physical and digital interactives, hyper-realistic sculpted giants and characters, a horror house experience, and much more.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - All Blacks Experience

See what it takes to make, shape and be an All Black. Experience first-hand the excitement and emotion of game day. Discover the stories behind some of world rugby’s most famous players, moments and matches.
This guided experience introduces you to the game of rugby before being lead through state-of-the-art displays combining sound, images, interactive technology and hands-on activities. Discover New Zealand’s deep passion for our national sport, experience the full force of the All Blacks haka, tackle interactive zones where you can try out your kicking, catching, line-out and accuracy skills against legendary All Blacks.

Your accommodation: Fable Auckland

Located right on Queen Street the Fable Auckland is boutique and stylish property with an ideal location to enjoy and explore the vibrant heart of the 'City of Sails'.
Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 2
Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour with Bush and Beach (includes lunch)

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, and bubbling streams 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 200-300 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: Fable Auckland

Located right on Queen Street the Fable 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
Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 3
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 requests such as vehicle type, size or features.

Auckland to 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, which is home to a huge underground network of caves.

Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour

Your tour begins as you are picked at the Waitomo iSite and enjoy a scenic shuttle to Caveworld's family owned cave, while your guide provides commentary bringing the rich history of Waitomo to life. Here you will take a short walk through the breathtaking New Zealand bush, keeping an eye out for the native birdlife. Heading down to the entrance of the cave you will discover the beauty of the glowworms, learn about the formation of Footwhistle Cave - known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave. You are encouraged to bring along your cameras a tripods to freeze the beautiful twinkling lights in time, with dim solar-powered lights through the cave that allow you to appreciate the magnificent displays and get the perfect shot. Complete your intimate tour with a Kawakawa tea as you relax in a ponga hut nestled into the native surrounds.

Your accommodation: Abseil Inn

Architecturally designed, the Abseil Inn is situated on a ridge overlooking both the Waitomo Caves Village and the beautiful Waitomo Valley. Sited to maximize both views and rural ambience it offers an authentic slice of rural NZ
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - 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

From above Mount Tarawera impressive views include vast volcanic rifts, distant national parks and our treasured lakes. Flying south on a floatplane, you will gain an appreciation of what local Maori refer to as the ‘Sisters of Fire’. Here, volcanic activity has pierced the earth surface across the fault-line forming the reserves of Waimangu and Wai-O-Tapu which, when viewed from above, dismay a spectacular palette of natures most vibrant colours. Landing at Orakei Korako, ‘the Hidden Valley’, is an amazing opportunity to experience hot springs, gushing geysers and the natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland.

Your accommodation: On the Point

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 5
National Kiwi Hatchery Tour

The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky see baby chicks in person!

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: On the Point

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
Natural New Zealand Tour - 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: Bolton Hotel Wellington

The Bolton Hotel offers contemporary apartment-style accommodation in the heart of Wellington. Just steps from the Parliament buildings and central business district, Bolton Hotel is conveniently close to the best of the city's shops, cafes and restaurants and is within walking distance of Wellington's vibrant waterfront.
Meals included: Breakfast

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - 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 are high!

Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

The Bolton Hotel offers contemporary apartment-style accommodation in the heart of Wellington. Just steps from the Parliament buildings and central business district, Bolton Hotel is conveniently close to the best of the city's shops, cafes and restaurants and is within walking distance of Wellington's vibrant waterfront.
Meals included: Breakfast
Natural New Zealand Tour - 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.

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 requests such as vehicle type, size or features.

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
Natural New Zealand Tour - 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 Full Day Marlborough Wine Tour.
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.

30 Minute Whale Watch Explorer with Wings over Whales Kaikoura

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. You may also spot Hectors, Risso's, Southern Right Whale Dolphins, and Orca, although these are all less frequent visitors to the area. Gain an aerial perspective of this fantastic marine environment in a high-winged aircraft with optimal, unobstructed viewing.

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: The Factory

Located on the beachfront at Hapuku, 10 minutes North of Kaikoura The Factory offers luxury accommodation in the 100-year-old Hapuku Dairy Factory with dramatic views of snow-covered mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.
Meals included: Breakfast

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zipline & Native Forest Tour with EcoZip Kaikoura

Be Collected from your accommodation for a 3-hour Kaikoura adventure. Enjoy a scenic journey in an air-conditioned van to the staging point, Kaikoura's beachfront airfield, you will be transferred into a comfortable 4WD where you will experience an iconic braided river crossing on the Kahutara river. Be greeted with gorgeous scenic views as you are surrounded by the green valleys of Rakanui station, passing livestock, and rolling farmlands. As you reach the base of the Zipline, you will be treated to a scenic lookout where you can see for miles the stunning hills and working station, the sweeping arc of the peninsula, and the snowcapped mountains. Here you will take on a thrilling adventure as you ride the 5 ziplines where you will get to zip along 2km of line, with the chance to ride alongside your mate on the twin lines. During the adventure, your experienced guide will tell you fun facts about the area and the history of Kaikoura. After riding the ziplines, you will get a chance to walk through the native forest, in winter there is the chance to get stuck in and plant a tree as part of the conservation program - Eco Zip is committed to planting a tree for every Zipline participant.

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. It also has an award-winning restaurant, 50 Bistro onsite.
Meals included: Breakfast

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - 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

Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 12
Akaroa to Aoraki 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 Aoraki 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 shops at Mt Cook, and dinner options are limited to one restaurant. If you wish to self-cater, you must stock up before arriving in Mt Cook, or make dinner reservations in advance.

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.

Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Museum and Theatre Explorer Pass

A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary, a humanitarian, ambassador, and one of the world's greatest explorers. The centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region, the history of climbing, and early transport used throughout the region. This comprehensive museum details the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, the Hermitage, and provides access to the 126-seat custom-designed theatre. Check out the daily film schedule which includes 3D Movies, documentaries, and 360-degree digital dome features.

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 13
Aoraki 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 Aoraki Mt Cook and 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.

Dinner at Camp Estate, Larnach Castle

Keeping with the historical setting of Larnach Castle, a four-course dinner is offered in a grand Castle Dining Room. This is a trust-the-chef experience where you may indulge in incredible meals and meet other guests. The menu reflects local meats and vegetables, served in a traditional New Zealand-style cuisine with the opportunity to pair with regional wines.

Your accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

A luxurious country house built from blue stone and features a spectacular marble staircase. The modern rooms are all double glazed and the reception rooms are all heated by open fires and underfloor heating. Staying at Camp Estate includes entry to Larnach Castle and the grounds.
Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 14
Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Tour Including Wildlife Cruise

A small-group bus tour from Dunedin. Join a local guide for a journey across the Otago Peninsula. Travel over the high road with postcard views of the harbour and coast. You'll travel past quaint communities and rural farms. Spot wading birds as your mini-bus explores around the inlets and the wetland eco-systems. Your tour will visit a remote Otago Peninsula beach. A short walk from the mini-bus will provide dramatic views of rugged coastal cliffs, offshore islands and perhaps some huge sea lions. The trip continues to Wellers Rock Wharf, for a Monarch Wildlife Cruise. You'll travel out of the harbour, around Taiaroa Head, and out to sea. Watch royal albatross glide across the water and return to their breeding colony. Beneath a historic lighthouse is a colony of playful fur seals. You'll spot other rare seabirds and maybe blue penguins or other marine mammals. You are also welcome to bring a pre-packed meal on tour with you. Snacks and drinks can be purchased whilst aboard the MV Monarch. We recommend having a good-sized lunch before the tour departs Dunedin. The final stop is at a Yellow-eyed Penguin conservation reserve. Visit the on-site rehab centre before a tour of the reserve. You'll take trails through native bushland, walking through tunnels and trenches to different viewing hides scattered around the reserve. Watch as the world's rarest penguin returns ashore and interacts around their nesting sites. The tour ends with a relaxed drive, following the harbour, back to Dunedin.

Dinner at Camp Estate, Larnach Castle

Keeping with the historical setting of Larnach Castle, a four-course dinner is offered in a grand Castle Dining Room. This is a trust-the-chef experience where you may indulge in incredible meals and meet other guests. The menu reflects local meats and vegetables, served in a traditional New Zealand-style cuisine with the opportunity to pair with regional wines.

Your accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

A luxurious country house built from blue stone and features a spectacular marble staircase. The modern rooms are all double glazed and the reception rooms are all heated by open fires and underfloor heating. Staying at Camp Estate includes entry to Larnach Castle and the grounds.
Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner
Natural New Zealand Tour - 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 with RealNZ

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - 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 Fiordland Navigator 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 Overnight Boat in 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

Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 17
Doubtful Overnight Cruise return and drive from Manapouri to Wanaka

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday today.

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 one of 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 a doubt New Zealand's premier ski destination with its very close location to Treble Cone and Cardrona. Mt Aspiring National Park sits on the 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: Tin Tub Luxury Lodge

Experience the Tin Tub Luxury Lodge in Wanaka, an alpine hideaway you won’t want to leave. Enjoy the magnificent views while you relax in the heated swimming pool or from your personal balcony.
Meals included: Breakfast

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - 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 you'll see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top you 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 you 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: Tin Tub Luxury Lodge

Experience the Tin Tub Luxury Lodge in Wanaka, an alpine hideaway you won’t want to leave. Enjoy the magnificent views while you relax in the heated swimming pool or from your personal balcony.
Meals included: Breakfast
Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 19
Guided Scenic Walk with Aspiring Guides - Lunch Included

Wander through Wanaka's breathtaking rugged landscapes and enjoy being surrounded by stunning scenery, mountain tops, and glaciers in Mount Aspiring National Park with an expert guide beside you. This day hike will be tailored to your abilities and will include a packed lunch to be consumed somewhere off the beaten track.

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 20
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Twice daily complimentary activities are led by expert naturalists and introduce guests to the area's remarkable natural history (approx. 1-hour duration each). If you'd prefer to a guide to explore further afield, there are other, charged experiences available. These trips are generally 3 to 4 hours in length and are a great way to learn about wild New Zealand.

There are also great self-guided options available, including a 10km network of walking trails, kayaking on the calm waters of Lake Moeraki, and of course, relaxing and soaking up the views.

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
Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 21
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier

Heading North along the mighty West Coast highway you pass through ancient temperate rainforests while getting sneak peeks of the wild coast beach occasionally. Paringa Salmon Farm is worth a stop to stretch your legs, feed the fish, and stop for a refreshment. Keep heading North and be sure to enjoy the view of the everchanging towering snowcapped Southern Alps Mountain Range.
If you are wanting to view Fox Glacier on foot, the start of the track is 2kms before Fox Glacier Township the walk is an easy grade and will take two hours to return. Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region, take a short 5-minute drive west to see the impressive Lake Matheson famous for its reflections of snow-capped mountains. From Fox, you have a 45-minute drive over the Fox Hills to Franz Josef Township.

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

Natural New Zealand Tour - 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
Natural New Zealand Tour - 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 a 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 their 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 TranzAlpine 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 world's only alpine parrot and can be extremely cheeky.
Arthur's Pass Township is a 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

Natural New Zealand Tour - Day 24
Explore 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.

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
Natural New Zealand Tour - 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.

Return your vehicle to Christchurch Airport

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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Fine Tours New Zealand was the first business in the NZFT group. We now operate a range of different businesses all dedicated to ensuring visitors to New Zealand and Australia get the experience they deserve.