Intrepid travellers explore the world's most amazing places - discovering real people, real cultures and having incredible life experiences along the way.
This tour takes you to the hidden treasures and allows you to spend time with the local people of this country. We experience the human side of New Zealand. We meet sheep and dairy farmers, learn about Maori culture, and find a bit of Scottish heritage in the South Pacific. Three weeks in New Zealand offers more excitement and diversity than two years in most other parts of the world!Plan Your Tour
Private guided tour 20 nights
Category: Culture, Active
Location: North Island
Departing/Finishing: Auckland (Itinerary can be reversed)
4* or 5* quality Hotels, boutique B&Bs, Luxury Serviced Apartments
Next Departure: Departs Daily
LOCATION AND HIGHLIGHTS:
Day 1: Auckland - Waipoua Forest-Hokianga Harbour
(Evening tour to giant Kauri Trees Or: Late night Kiwi encounter)
Day 2: Hokianga Harbour - Bay of Islands
(Hokianga shuttle to Sand dunes Or: Quad bike rides on Greta Exhibition Bay)
Day 3: Bay of Islands
Boat trip to Hole in the Rock Or: swim with Dolphins Or: sailing charter)
Day 4: Bay of Islands – Matakana - Cambridge
(Matakana for winery lunch, charming farming countryside)
Day 5: Waitomo – Rotorua or Taupo
(Glow-worm caves walk Or: Glowing adventure)
Day 6: Rotorua or Taupo
(Mokoia Island visit and Maori greeting, Hidden Valley and Huka Falls)
Day 7: Rotorua or Taupo - Volcanic National Park - Rangitikei Valley
(Soft rafting trip through LOTR scenery, BBQ lunch in a remote canyon Or: Heli flight)
Day 8: Rangitikei Valley - Wellington
(Capital city tour, Te Papa Museum Or: Zealandia)
Day 9: Wellington – Picton/South Island
(Flight or Ferry to Picton, Mussel farm tour)
Day 10: Marlborough Sounds – Nelson – Golden Bay
(Wineries, Abel Tasman National Park, Pupu Springs walk)
Day 11: Golden Bay - Abel Tasman
Kayaking Or: horse trek at Wharariki Beach, Or: Eco-tour Farewell Spit
Day 12: Golden Bay – West Coast - Punakaiki
(Pancake Rocks and Hiking at Pororari River Treck
Day 13: Punakaiki - Franz Josef Glacier - Bruce Bay
(Glacier walk valley, Mahitahi Wildlife Protection Or: helicopter landing on ice)
Day 14: Bruce Bay - Mt Aspiring National Park - Wanaka or Hawea
(Rainforest walks, wetlands, and remote water-falls Or: Siberia Valley adventure)
Day 15: Lake Wanaka or Lake Hawea
(Half day hike to Rob Roy Glacier Or: Eco tour on Lake Wanaka
Day 16: Hawea or Wanaka - Queenstown - Te Anau
(Kawarau Gorge, Wineries, Arrowtown, Fiordland)
Day 17: Te Anau – Day trip to Milford Sound
(Encounter Cruise Or: Kayaking Or: Heli- Hiking in Hollyford
Day 18: Te Anau - Catlin’s
(Wilderness Jet boat experience at Wairaurahiri River)
Day 19: Catlins – Dunedin – Oamaru
(Lighthouse, Seal colonies Or: heritage trail in the city)
Day 20: Oamaru - Mt Cook or Lake Tekapo
Scenic flight onto Able Tasman Glacier Or: Heli Hike
Day 21: Mr Cook or Lake Tekapo – Christchurch departure
PRICE: We recommend the following guidelines for customized tour packages, excluding international flights: 4* to 5*: From around NZ$ $500 - $1250+ per person per day. The customized package will include accommodation, airport transfers and other transportation within New Zealand, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other customer preferences.
In Waipoua Forest and a local guide will take you on a memorable journey through nature's stages of evolution, whilst providing a mythological and interactive interpretation of life in the forest. Meet our ancestors; the mighty Te Matua Ngahere ('The Father of the Forest') estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 years old, his mighty girth is over 5 metres (15ft) in diameter. 'The Four Sisters' are a graceful collection of kauri trees that have grown close together in sibling harmony and finally, Tane Mahuta ('The Lord of the Forest') who stands an impressive 51 metres (150ft) tall.
Or: Discover the secrets of the Great Kauri Forests on Guided Night Walkthrough Trounson Kauri Park. Marvel at the magnificent Kauri Trees and explore the sights and sounds of the forest at night. From your knowledgeable guide, you will learn about the Kauri Tree and the native wildlife species, which include Morepork, Brown Kiwi, Kauri Snails, Glow Worms, Long Finned Eels, Weta, Koura and Banded Kokopu.
Accommodation: Hokianga Harbour
The beach, like so much of this coastline, can be walked uninterrupted for kilometres. A water taxi to the Opounui sand dunes including the unique ‘Sand sculptures’, and ‘Sand canyon’. Enjoy the panoramic views of the harbour and its entrance from this unique location. Ride along the stunning West Coast and hear local stories and legends of this area. Return along the beach and buggy over the dunes.
Dotted with 144 islands and a myriad of secluded beaches, the entire region offers a fantastic opportunity to fish in waters that are rich with an abundance of sea-life! We take you on a walk along the spectacular Paihia waterfront and Waitangi beach to the historic Waitangi Treaty grounds, the location of the signing of the peace treaty between the Maori and the British Crown in 1840.
In Russell, you will experience New Zealand’s volatile colonial history. Take time out to have lunch in one of the historic buildings, enjoying glorious views out over the idyllic wharf. Settle into your accommodation for the evening, and enjoy a leisurely dinner in the Russell township.
Or: Take a tailor-made Quad bike tour time up in the Far North. Explore the vast white sands of Great Exhibition Bay, zoom along the incredibly long and wild 90 Mile Beach or the coral sands of Henderson Bay.
Accommodation: Bay of Islands
Go on a boat cruise around the many islands that make up the Bay of Islands, passing through the famous “Hole in the Rock” at Cape Brett, a fascinating natural geological attraction. Dolphin watching tours can also be arranged.
If you just want to relax you can spend the afternoon strolling the beach, and the shops for local arts and crafts, enjoy a game of golf or maybe take to the waters of one of the world's most renowned game fishing regains and lunch at one of the areas wonderful vineyards... there are many excursions available.
Or: Enjoy the private use of a sailing charter for a day sailing adventure you will never forget. A two-hour stopover allows plenty of time to enjoy a delicious lunch and to participate in your preferred activities such as kayaking, swimming or exploring our local islands and beaches. The Stand Up Paddleboard (or SUP) is very popular too! Be sure to bring sunblock, swimming gear, a towel and perhaps a light jacket for cooler days.
Accommodation: Bay of Islands
Only an hour north of Auckland city and close to a myriad of stunning east coast beaches, Matakana is a popular getaway spot for locals and visitors alike. Matakana is foodie heaven - if you enjoy home-grown delicacies and award-winning wine then look no further.
Travel through the lush green rural farmland of the Waikato region, the rich and fertile pastoral land of the Waikato is one of New Zealand’s major dairy producing and horse breeding areas.
Cambridge is in the heart of rural Waikato, a picture-perfect town characterised by quaint charm and tree-lined streets. With a long-standing history of thoroughbred horse racing and high-performance sport, Cambridge boasts champion racehorses and many rowing, cycling and equestrian Olympic medallists, earning the town the unofficial title of ‘Home of Champions’.
Close by, Lake Karapiro, provides great kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, fishing and boating options, while those seeking adventure can experience the thrill of jet-boating further downstream.
Under the green hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole). One of the major attractions of the Waikato/King Country region is the famous Waitomo Caves (translation: 'where the water disappears into a hole in the ground').
There are over 300 caves in Waitomo, but there is one of only two cave systems classified as ‘of international significance’ by NZ’s Department of Conservation. Guided tours are for small groups, so you can enjoy an up close and personal experience at your own pace. This is an authentic, real deal caving adventure with untouched glow worm caves and stunning limestone formations in their purest form.
Enjoy walks as well as natural wonders including the beautiful Marokopa Falls and limestone Mangapohue bridge.
Sitting within the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland with bubbling mud pools, clouds of steam, and natural hot springs perfect for bathing and relaxing in. After marvelling at the distinctive landscapes and volcanic activity within a geothermal park, enjoy a simple soak in a natural hot stream or indulge in a wellness getaway at a luxurious spa.
Accommodation: Rotorua or Lake Taupo
Experience beauty and history like no other on Mokoia Island. Located in the middle of Lake Rotorua, Mokoia Island is the site of one of our country's most famous love stories and the home of some of our most notorious Maori warriors and tribes. All tours to the Island are accompanied by experienced tour guides that walk you through the birdlife, wildlife, cultural events, history and geography of the island. This is one of the area’s most unique experiences, made even more exciting with the addition of the jet boat ride (or boat) to and from the Island. Experience a traditional Maori greeting and dance!
Take another journey through a world of unique thermal formations at Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland. View the fascinating 'Champagne Pool' and experience the panorama of vividly colourful hot and cold pools, steaming fumaroles and hot boiling mud pools.
Lake Taupo, the largest Lake in this country and also the world’s largest volcanic crater, created in one giant explosion. The ash cloud floated all over the world - ice samples from as far apart as Antarctica and Alaska have determined the explosion to have occurred in 186AD. The effects of the ash were even recorded in China and Rome. Just about everywhere you look in the Lake Taupo region, you'll see a volcano.
Stop at the Huka Falls - this spectacular falls roar through a 15-m wide chasm before plunging a further 11-m.
Accommodation: Rotorua or Lake Taupo
Stop at the remote Lake Rotoaira to get our first spectacular view of the Volcanic Plateau and Mount Tongariro. We pass the park ranges, which include wildly differing landscape and scenery: from deserts to vast areas of tussock land, mountain beech forests and wetlands, all with a mix of native flora and fauna. You will see active volcanic craters, natural springs, and valleys filled with jagged lava flows. Driving through the National Park area, which is a World Heritage Site, you will get superb views of the volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.
Remote Mokai Valley, where the picturesque Rangitikei River meets the rugged Ruahine Ranges. The location is set at the edges of the crystal clear waters of the Rangitikei River amongst the beautiful native flora and fauna, which provides a stunning and picturesque backdrop.
Drive deeper into farming country to the remote Mokai Valley, where the picturesque Rangitikei River meets the rugged Ruahine Ranges. The location is set at the edges of the crystal clear waters of the Rangitikei River amongst the beautiful native flora and fauna, which provides a stunning and picturesque backdrop. Help is always needed to collect the eggs, feed the chickens, pigs, deer, goats, dogs & puppies, rabbit, possums, sheep, llama, and turtles. Plus any extras especially in spring when we are bottle feeding the orphan lambs.
Or: Enjoy a real old fashing river BBQ before taking a helicopter through the Canyon back to your lodge.
Accommodation: Mokai Valley
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city is nestled between rolling hills and a stunning harbour and has a vibrant and compact downtown area that's best explored on foot. Get your city bearings and some of Wellington’s best views at the Mount Victoria Lookout.
The city is home to Te Papa, the national museum, which tells the story of New Zealand’s history through bold and interactive exhibits. In Wellington, you’ll discover an amazing range of cafes, art galleries, theatres, attractions and a humming nightlife. You can ride the historic Wellington Cable Car to the Botanic Gardens. Or head to Cuba Street for a slice of bohemia, boutique shopping and some of the best coffee in town. Your B&B is located in the heart of the City, and this evening you can walk to some of the best restaurants in Wellington.
Or: ZEALANDIA is the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The 225 hectare ecosanctuary is a groundbreaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, 6 of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years.
Accommodation: Wellington City
Ferry across the Cook Strait and encounter a glorious world as the ferry enters the Marlborough Sounds, from the Tory Channel into the Queen Charlotte Sound. The Marlborough Sounds encompass 1,500 km of coastline, bays, beaches and native forest. It is a place of incredible natural beauty, a place that needs to be seen to be believed. The area is abundant with wildlife, from penguins and rare King Shags to dolphins and fur seals, and offers some of the world's best boating, diving, fishing and hiking.
Picton sits snuggled between the mountains and the sea, at the head of the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound. Stunning coastal views and native bush make the Queen Charlotte Track a uniquely Marlborough walking and biking experience.
Enjoy the natural beauty of the Marlborough Sounds with the indulgent Greenshell Mussel Cruise, featuring freshly steamed mussels paired with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for the ultimate wine/food match. Relax and unwind while you cruise the tranquil Pelorus Sound and Kenepuru Sound aboard our luxury launch MV Spirit on this half-day exclusive tour, departing Havelock. Learn about local history, visit a mussel farm and take in the stunning scenery.
Or: Take a short domestic flight from Wellington to Picton.
Accommodation: Marlborough Sounds or Blenheim
Sunny days and cool nights caress river plains that run to the sea. Discover wine, fruit and seafood that is as unforgettable as the landscapes. At the top of the South Island, there's an unmistakable freshness to the land and the ocean. Here a friendly artisan culture creates confident and uncluttered cuisine, matched with wines that leap from the glass.
The Nelson district is known for its irresistible blend of lifestyle and stunning landscape at the top northwest corner of the South Island. Apples, cherries and classic wine varietal grapes are well suited to the mild climate around the area.
At Mapua there’s a smokehouse with an adjacent cafe - the menu includes fish, mussels and vegetables delicately hot smoked on site. In Motueka you’ll find great organic cafe food.
Drive over Takaka Hill and to the “Golden Bay” New Zealand's best-kept secret because there is only one road in. On the drive over the Takaka Hill, you catch your first sight of Golden Bay and it takes your breath away. The idyllic charm and lifestyle of Golden Bay attract an interesting variety of artists and crafts-folk.
The "Pupu" springs, as they are affectionately known to the locals are home to the clearest spring water in the world (the only place with clearer water is the salt water Weddell Sea in Antarctica). Underwater clarity tests have shown the water from the springs to have underwater visibility of 63 metres!
Accommodation: Golden Bay - Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park- but it's perfectly formed for relaxation and adventure. Here, inviting sandy beaches fill the spaces between trees and tide line. Crystal clear streams tumble down mossy valleys to join the ocean. Granite and marble formations fringe the headlands, which are cloaked in regenerating native forest.
A coastal paradise that you can walk through or explore by cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak, visitors love the way the Abel Tasman National Park mixes physical exertion with beach life. Bursts of hiking or paddling are punctuated by sunbathing, swimming and sedate snorkelling.
The Tata Islands provide a breathtaking backdrop as you launch your kayak from the golden sands of Tata Beach, straight into the Abel Tasman National Park. Motu and Ngawhiti Islands (Tata Islands) are home to New Zealand's largest and busiest shag colony, seals lazily watching you paddle by.
Accommodation: Golden Bay - Abe Tasman
Driving distance 4.5h
The West Coast – New Zealand’s longest region – is a narrow 600km stretch of wild coastline, mountain peaks, glaciers, clear lakes and sparsely populated towns. This immense untamed natural environment is New Zealand’s most protected region. The West Coast, or 'the Coast' as locals call it, is an untamed natural wilderness of rivers and rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures. In fact, the Great Coast Road stretching from Westport to Greymouth was recently voted one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet.
Gaze in wonder at the Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes, where columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of hotcakes. Cliffs and ravines with hundreds of horizontal slices along their vertical faces, like huge stacks of pancakes. Around high tide, the ocean swells rush headlong through ever-narrowing tunnels and force large amounts of water and compressed air to race upward through the vertical shafts
Accommodation: West Coast
The rugged West Coast is hemmed between the Tasman Sea and the imposing Southern Alps, making for spectacular contrasts in the surrounding scenery. Two glaciers are located only 25 km from each other and are unique in the world as they seem to nearly reach the ocean.
Named after Sir William Fox, New Zealand’s Prime Minister from 1869 to 1872, Fox Glacier describes both the glacier and the nearby village. Like its twin, Franz Josef, the glacier descends from the Southern Alps down into temperate rainforest just 300 metres above sea level.
Bruce Bay is a small settlement of only 6 residents as well as several holiday houses. Bruce Bay beach recently (2014) voted one of NZ's top beaches.
Hear local interpretation tour of the environment, culture and history of Bruce Bay. Learn about the native birds inhabiting the area and the Mahitahi Wildlife Protection community volunteer programme which was set up to protect them. The area holds a historical significance especially for the local Maori (Runanga) who have since built a marae opposite the beach..
Or: Helicopter flight and landing on ice. Discover the gigantic expanse of the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier snowfields with a landing at high altitude. Step out of your helicopter and experience how it feels to stand in snow. The flight includes fantastic views of the Tasman Glacier and Mount Cook.
Accommodation: Lake Moeraki
A spectacular and scenic road links Haast and Wanaka. It reaches beyond wind-whipped Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, through golden tussock-covered hills, to wind among steep mountains cloaked in lush rainforest and across tumbling rivers.
Walk to the Roaring Billy Waterfall, an easy fern line walk take you to the shores of the Haast River. Later you make a short stop at the 28m drop Thunder Creek falls followed by another stop to take a 30-minute return walk to the Blue Pools. It features a carefully maintained gravel path and boardwalks that wind through a native silver beech forest and lead to a swing bridge strung high above the Makarora River. The views back to the mountains of the Main Divide are absolutely breath-taking. The glacier-fed water in these deep pools is the colour of deep azure blue, and so clear that you can see right to the bottom, making the resident brown trout look like they are suspended in the air.
As you exit Mt Aspiring National Park you will travel through what is known as “The Neck” a formation of land that separates two of our great South Island lakes, Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Wanaka is a new and modern Alpine resort and mostly visited by us New Zealanders. A year-round destination set against the pristine alpine backdrop of Mount Aspiring National Park, you can still discover that totally relaxed Kiwi way of life at Lake Wanaka.
Or: Experience a true New Zealand wilderness adventure. Fly, Walk, and Jet boat through New Zealand’s most spectacular Alpine environment on an adventure like no other.
Accommodation: Wanaka or Lake Hawea
As braided river valleys, native beech forests and lush alpine meadows give way to the dramatic glaciated Southern Alps, the pure beauty of the scenery pushes daily pressures a million miles away. Part of Te Wahipounamu - Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, Mt Aspiring National Park is an area of unrivalled natural beauty and host to hundreds of hiking tracks, rock climbing routes and trout fishing rivers, all within easy reach of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand. At its heart is Mt Aspiring, the park’s highest mountain at 3,027m and known to early Maori as ‘Tititea’ or ‘glistening peak’. Since the age of mountaineering began in New Zealand it’s been a drawcard for climbers the world over.
Hike to the majestic Rob Roy Glacier and picnic by a cascading waterfall with native alpine parrots for the company while listening to the cracks of the hanging glacier high overhead. The track is an ideal entry point to Mt Aspiring National Park - an area of spectacular alpine scenery, snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls.
Or: Boat cruise to the remote and magical Mou Waho Island nature reserve, which is predator-free and home to the rare flightless Buff Weka (extinct on the mainland since 1920).
Accommodation: Wanaka or Hawea
Central Otago is New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region and also it’s most scenic. As you leave Wanaka you travel to Queenstown via Cromwell and can take some time to explore these incredible vineyards set in small micro-climates in a landscape dominated by high snow-capped mountains, and tussock clad slopes.
Widely regarded as a safe spectator attraction the famous Kawarau Gorge Bungy Jumping exhilarating. Arrowtown, a historic colonial village that takes you back into the Gold Mining days of the Otago region.
Queenstown has transformed into a sophisticated cosmopolitan town, tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, beneath majestic mountains. There’s a permanent buzz and you will find a fantastic choice of restaurants, a lively bar scene and excellent shopping.
Te Anau is the perfect town to base yourself on to visit Milford Sound. Nestled on the edge of a lake, there are many options for accommodation. Here you will be visiting one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand. The extraordinary scenic beauty has earned this region a reputation as a significant sightseeing and walking destination, and a 'Must See' for anyone travelling to New Zealand.
The Kepler Track is located outside the town. The scenery is spectacular and the track passes through many landscapes of the Fiordland National Park ranging from rocky mountain ridges to tall mossy forests along the lake shores. The walking track is constructed to a very high standard, most streams are bridged, boardwalks cover boggy areas and the very steep sections have steps. It is a moderate walking track.
Accommodation: Te Anau
Fiordland is one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand. Absorb the breathtaking treasures of this region by water, air or hiking. Carved by glaciers over 100,000 years the landscape is one where waterfalls cascade hundreds of metres into deep black fiords; where ancient rainforest untouched by man clings to mountains and where shimmering lakes and granite peaks look as they did a thousand years ago.
Spectacular Milford Sound, described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world” which was carved out during successive ice ages and, at its deepest point off Mitre Peak, plunges to a depth of 265 meters. The awesome splendour of this region is unsurpassed anywhere else in the World, a daring claim in a country which offers extraordinary beauty around every corner. Getting there is half of the experience; we take you through the Fiordland National Park, pass staggeringly beautiful valleys, lakes and creeks.
Or: Doubtful Sound is the second largest of the 14 fiords in Fiordland National Park and it is three times longer and 10 times larger than Milford Sound. Following a short cruise across beautiful Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass, you will board the Fiordland Navigator at Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound.
Accommodation: Te Anau
Take part in the longest, most daring and exhilarating Jet Boat Trip In New Zealand.Hump Ridge Jet services the South Coast of Fiordland National Park including Lake Hauroko and the Wairaurahiri River. Lake Hauroko is the deepest lake in New Zealand and is drained by the Wairaurahiri River, which falls 200meters to sea level and is 27 kilometres of grade 3 white water rapids. The river is commonly described as New Zealand's longest waterfall. Take a short walk to explore the Wild South coast (lovely beach walk with views of Stewart Island and the Solander Islands) as well as a short Walk to Waitutu Virgin Podocarp Forest (Oldest Podocarp Forest in NZ). On this journey you experience wonders of the Wild South Coast and you can still hear the call of the Wild (Native Bird Song). For lunch enjoy a bush style Venison BBQ Lunch.
The Catlin’s is an area of untamed beauty, forests, farmland, remote beaches and splendid isolation. Only recently has it been discovered by national and international tourists. The “Southern Scenic Route” winds through the Catlins from Nugget Point to Curio Bay.
Natural curiosities and beauty combine to make this corner of the South Island a scenic treasure. Fossilized trees, beautiful waterfalls, golden beaches, high cliffs and secret caves are all part of a unique mix of attractions in this area (McLean Falls and Cathedral Caves).
Nugget Point is one of the most distinctive landforms along the Otago Coast. It's a steep headland with a lighthouse and a scattering of rocky islets (The Nuggets).
Dunedin, the smallest of the 4 major New Zealand cities and displays a wealth of pioneering history within the city. The splendour of many of its public buildings reflects Dunedin's economic and cultural pre-eminence in Victorian New Zealand. Today, Dunedin has a rightly deserved reputation as one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
Stop at Shag Point's Matakaea Reserve, home to fur seals. Two minutes walk from the first car park and you're at the edge of the land. This is the seals' place. They glide beneath the waves, sleek, smooth, beautiful as mermaids. They shuffle up the rocks, shaking themselves dry like puppies. They roll in the sun, flippers flopping, not a care in the world.
Moeraki is now most famous for its boulders; mysteriously spherical stones scattered across a beach. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two metres high. Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago.
The whitestone townscape of Oamaru contains some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand. In the late 19th century, the town prospered through gold mining, quarrying and timber milling. Some of the wealth was spent on elegant stone buildings made from local limestone. The Harbour-Tyne Street area is particularly special – and the shopping is great too. After exploring the Victorian precinct, swing by the steampunk playground and museum.
The Clay Cliffs a natural rock formation of sharp pinnacles and ridges with deep, narrow ravines separating them. They are made of layers of gravel and silt deposited by rivers flowing from glaciers existing 1-2 million years ago.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It is alpine in the purest sense - with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snowfields, all set under a star-studded sky. At 27 kilometres in length, the mighty Tasman Glacier is a powerful piece of landscaping equipment. While it slowly carves the valley sides, it provides a landing place for small ski planes and helicopters. Surreal, milky lakes are a feature of the park - suspended, glacier-ground rock sediment makes the water opaque.
Accommodation: Mt Cook or Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is about three hours drive south-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo gets its intense milky-turquoise colour from the fine rock-flour (ground by glaciers) which is suspended in the water.
Christchurch is a vibrant, energetic city where urban regeneration, creativity and innovation thrive. Picture amazing street art, innovative projects, a booming hospitality scene and state-of-the-art architecture that is changing the way the city looks, feels and functions – all the while staying true to its heritage and traditional English feel.
Take time to explore the city by double-decker bus, vintage bicycle, gondola, tram or classic Edwardian punt – or grab your walking shoes and discover bars, eateries and an eclectic mix of boutique shops by foot.
The city’s award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens offer a relaxing inner-city escape and are found near The Arts Centre, one of the most significant collections of heritage buildings in New Zealand.