This suggested itinerary covers the major attractions and highlights that New Zealand has to offer. In the North, you have the New Zealand largest city, Auckland. In the South, you have destinations in the central South Island such as Christchurch, Mount Cook, Destination in Southern South Island such as Queenstown and Dunedin.
Arrive Auckland: New Zealand welcomes you to the ‘City of Sails’. Generally Auckland is in fact four cities – Auckland City itself, North Shore City, Manukau City and Waitakere City. The centre of Auckland City is Queen St which is near the Viaduct Harbour renowned for its dance clubs and restaurants and elegant scenery with views of harbour bridge and beaches. Boat cruises depart and arrive daily from this point.
Take a trip up the Sky City, the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere. At 328 metres (over 1,000 feet) it is taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It’s a fantastic way to see the entire city, an experience you wont want to miss and if your feeling brave enough and enjoy a challenge, then you might want to try the sky jump at 192metres. It’s New Zealand’s highest jump and the ultimate adrenaline rush.
If you still have time then visit the Auckland Museum in the heart of Auckland Domain.
Day 2 and 3
Auckland – Hamilton Gardens – Waitomo – Rotorua: Start your journey driving South towards Rotorua, New Zealand’s largest Maori culture and geothermal visitor attraction. On the way you can stop by Hamilton City and discover the magic world of Hamilton Gardens. Back en-route, stop by Waitomo and visit the famous Glow worm caves, discover an underground warren of ancient limestone caverns and formations and glide peacefully through the quite glowworm caves surrounded by a galaxy of tiny living lights with only the sounds of tiny droplets of water to remind you that your deep underground.
Once in Rotorua, you have a variety of things to do. Visit the traditional Maori Village and Take the guided tour. Here you will Discover everything from the Maori Culture and its arts and crafts to the world famous Pohutu Geyser – exploding from the ground up to 30 meters high. That’s not all. See the bubbling mud pools, see other exploding geysers, stand on active volcanoes, massive craters and take the opportunity to see the exclusive kiwi birds and learn of it’s place in the New Zealand heritage.
For more thrilling action pack adventures, try the gondola cableway and the exciting Luge adventure rides. The luge is a a racing sled on 3 wheels for one or two people.
Roturua – Taupo – Wellington: Travel through reserved exotic parks and pine forests and bypass amazing thermal and outdoor activity before arriving at Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest fresh water lake in Australasia.
Enjoy the scenic views as you head to Napier.
Wellington is the Capital City of New Zealand. It’s a magnificent Harbour waterfront wharf encased by green hills. Visit Te Papa museum, located in the central city, see the Parliament House and Government Buildings, take the cable car ride, the views from the top are spectacular. You will find everything you need to enjoy your stay here from restaurants and shops to sights and entertainment.
Wellington – Picton – Nelson: Okay, today you will be crossing by ferry to the South Island for the start of a whole new venture. The ferry journey is around 3 hours to Picton and approx 2.5 hours driving time Picton – Nelson.
Once off the Ferry, take the Queen Charlotte Drive from Picton around the beautiful coastline of Marlborough’s and enjoy the wine country before driving to the Nelson region. The Nelson region is an area of elegant beauty conserved with a Mediterranean-type climate and sunny golden beaches and limestone caves and is in fact New Zealand’s biggest fishing port. You can stop by and stroll through the charming city centre and visit the art galleries and some of New Zealand’s finest craftwork.
Nelson – Hokitika: Approx 5 hours driving time. This is a nice drive through abundant farmland, forest and the jagged Buller Gorge. Visit Westport and the coast near Cape Foulwind, before heading to explore the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.
Hokitika is the doorway to the South Westland World Heritage National Park. The Arahura River, which enters the sea 8km north of Hokitika, is a pioneering source of greenstone for the Maori people and remains to yield a large proportion of the Coast’s long-term supply.
Hokitika – Glacier Country: Approx 3 hours driving time. The scenery is breathtaking and always changing as you travel through amazing green forests and pristine lakes and snow capped mountains. Between the sea and the high alps lie the huge ice-age glaciers Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. There are even places you can stop to take a guided walk or helicopter flights
close by at Lake Matheson, you may be able to see and experience the amazing reflections of New Zealand’s two highest peaks in the mirrored waters.
Glacier Country – Wanaka: Approx 6 hours driving time your journey continues through the South Westland World Heritage Area, a place of unbelievable splendor and preserved nature, over Haast Pass to Wanaka. There is a huge range of things to do in Wanaka, like golf, fishing, boating and snow sports in winter.
On the land you can explore Mount Aspiring National Park, visit the famous Wanaka Warbirds Museum or challenge yourself to fly-fishing, jet boating, white water rafting and lots more. Wanaka has something to offer everyone with its interesting mix of outdoor and indoor activities.
Wanaka – Te Anau: Te Anau is an attractive resort town providing 7 day a week services to visitors. Lake Te Anau is the largest lake in the South Island and second only within New Zealand to Lake Taupo. There is plenty to do here such as farm tours, boat trips and scenic flights.
Te Anau – Queenstown: Queenstown on the shore of Lake Wakatipu is a exciting ski town in winter with skiing and snowboarding activities to choose form. There is something for the whole family too, from jetboat safaris to sky line gondola and luge ride, kiwi and birdlife park, horse riding, superb golf courses, fine dining, as well as the quaint gold-mining town of Arrowtown.
Queenstown to Lake Tekapo: approx 7:15 hours driving time, through the centre of the South Island. and passing the Southern Alps.
At Lake Pukaki, providing the weather is good, you will see the most spectacular view of New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Lake Tekapo provides great photo opportunities with its Church of the Good Shepherd and sheepdog statue.
Day 12 and 13
Lake Tekapo to Christchurch: Christchurch is the largest city of the South Island with plenty to see and do. The Cathedral triumphs in the centre and the church spires spike the sky. Once in Christchurch take a walk around the old university buildings, now transformed into an Arts centre and enjoy walks around the city with a visit to all the different craft studios, galleries, ships , restaurants and bars.
The Kaikoura coast offers some of the best seafood in the world. Wildlife tours are a unique Christchurch feature including a cruise on Lyttleton Harbour to see the world?s smallest and rarest dolphin – the Hector?s dolphin. The other famous resident is the sperm whale. It is the largest toothed mammal on the planet weighing up to 57 tons and spanning nearly 60 feet.
Spend your last day shopping for those last minute gifts before returning your rental car and catching your departure flight.