On this tour, you will stay in the city centres of all the main tourist destinations and you will also experience some beautiful remote stays and lodges.
Relax in the Viaduct (Americas Cup Village) in the City of Sails, see the world famous glow-worms and get educated in our Maori history. Hike through the hot steam of our geothermal areas. Walk through pristine rainforest and close to crystal clear waterfalls and see the stunning alpine country. Fly in a helicopter and land on the unique West Coast glaciers and experience an exhilarating jet boat ride on the Shotover River. Cruise through the magnificent world of our Fiordland National Park.Plan Your Tour
Private guided tour itinerary - 14 nights
Day 1: Auckland arrival (airport transfer, day at your own leisure)
Day 2: Auckland – Waitomo Caves (Glow-worm caves, Farm-stay)
Day 3: Waitomo - Rotorua (Agrodome Sheep-show, Maori show and Hangi)
Day 4: Rotorua – Taupo (Te Puia Art Center and Pohuto geyser, geothermal areas, dinner/cruise on the lake)
Day 5: Taupo - Napier/Hawkes Bay (Huka Falls, art deco city and winery tour)
Day 6: Hawkes Bay – Wairarapa - Wellington (Capital, Te Papa museum)
Day 7: Wellington - Marlborough Sounds - Kaikoura (Ferry through the Sounds, Seal colonies, Whale-watch or Dolphin cruise)
Day 8: Kaikoura – Arthur Pass (Castle Rock, Wilderness Lodge and high country sheep station)
Day 9: Arthur Pass - Punakaiki – Hokitika - Franz Josef Glacier (Pancake rocks, Treetops walk, Hokitika Gorge, glacier area)
Day 10: Franz Josef Glacier – Haast - Mt Aspiring National Park - Queenstown (Rainforest walks, wetlands and remote water-falls)
Day 11: Queenstown (Day for your own leisure)
Day 12: Queenstown - Te Anau/Fiordland National Park (Scenic drive/cruise in Milford Sound)
Day 13: Te Anau – Dunedin (Larnach Castle, Royal Albatross Colony and Penguin Colonies, Sea lions)
Day 14: Dunedin - Lake Tekapo (Moeraki Boulders, Mt Cook area and Glacier Lake Explorer cruise)
Day 15: Tekapo - Christchurch afternoon departure
Prices: We recommend the following guidelines for customized tour packages, excluding international flights:
4* (3* internationally) to 5*: From around NZ$ $400 - $1150+ 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 enquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.
You will be met on arrival at Auckland International Airport by your Aroha NZ Tours Representative, and transferred to your accommodation in our luxurious vehicle. Here you can spend the day in the Inner City and near the America’s Cup Village and visit the nearby Viaduct Basin and its many lively bars and restaurants. Walk onto Queen Street and explore the new Britomart. Britomart is a vibrant shopping, entertainment and business precinct in the heart of downtown Auckland. Surrounded by beautiful heritage buildings, it’s a neighbourhood of buzzing restaurants and bars, world-class fashion boutiques and interesting art spaces. Worth a visit is also the new Auckland Art Gallery with a collection numbering 15000 works. The Gallery's collection includes major holdings of New Zealand historic, modern and contemporary art, and outstanding works by Maori and Pacific Island artists, as well as international painting, sculpture and print collections ranging in date from 1376 to today. Visit the nearby harbour, its location makes the Auckland Fish Market an easily accessible and captivating destination for locals and tourists alike. The Fish Market building hosts a variety of fresh seafood retailers, a boutique food market, restaurants, licensed cafes, an extraordinary wine encounter and the ever popular Auckland Seafood School. At lunchtime, the open-air courtyard and cafes bustle with a steady stream of diners. By night it's the aromas of Asia that permeate the air as the standalone Hong Kong style and Korean eateries, come into their own. Or simply take a ferry to Waiheke Island, renowned for its beautiful landscapes, excellent vineyards and fine restaurants. Relax in the inner city.
Accommodation: Auckland City
Driving distances 3h
Start off your private guided tour. In the morning we travel further south 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, and host to incalculable stands of exotic timber. 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'). Enjoy a short shuttle ride to the cave while your experienced guide reveals the rich history of Waitomo. Then, take a short walk through breathtaking New Zealand native bush to the cave entrance. There, your guide lights the candles setting the scene for an intimate cave experience, where you will see glow-worms and cave formations up close and appreciate the beauty of Footwhistle Cave (also known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave). The solar-powered lights are kept low so you can appreciate the magnificent glow worm displays at their best, only inches away. Around a corner lie the bones of one of New Zealand's lost treasures, the ancient Moa. The soothing sound of Footwhistle cave stream flows in the darkness below. Formation lights are especially turned on to cast a warm glow over stunning cave formations. The guide tells the stories of the insect life that live here - titiwai, the glow-worm, and tuna, the eel. After enjoying a relaxed stroll through the cave, you'll be seated in Footwhistle's Cathedral to see it lit up by a dazzling magnesium torch. Although the display only lasts a few seconds, your memories of the Footwhistle Cave will last a lifetime. Optional - Cave tubing experience: Drift through our beautiful cave on an inner tyre tube and float under the most amazing displays of glowworms! Jump off a waterfall, ZOOM down the hydro slide and for those of you who are keen to get their 'cave crawl on' - crawl up to the hidden waterfall which for many of our customers is the highlight of their trip.
Accommodation: Waitomo, including dinner
Driving distance 2h
As you depart Waitomo your tour will take you through the Central North Island region of the Bay of Plenty. You will visit the world famous Agrodome Sheep show. During the show, the audience will see nineteen sheep breeds introduced onto the stage, the art of sheep shearing, sheepdog demonstrations, cow milking, bottle feed lambs and an exciting sheep auction. In the evening experience an authentic introduction to the Maori culture when you visit “Mitai”leaving you amazed and in awe. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress, paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don’t miss your only opportunity in the Rotorua area to see glow worms in their natural habitat. Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, flowing directly from the earth at the sacred Fairy Spring. See your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During the cultural performance, you’ll learn about the past, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance. You’ll be amazed by the spine-tingling haka finale. The Mitai family is proud to have created a sacred and spiritual place that offers you an indigenous cultural experience like no other. Optional: In the afternoon we can arrange a helicopter flight and landing on an active volcano “White Island”! Situated 50 kilometres offshore, this active island volcano constantly emits a cloud of steam and periodically erupts to a greater extent expelling volcanic ash several thousand metres into the atmosphere. (This is the most active volcano in New Zealand) The main vent is below sea level and protected by crater walls. You can walk right inside its main crater just above sea level with a minimum of physical effort and without undue risk. This allows you to experience at first-hand nature's immense power as gas and steam burst up from far below the Earth's crust. An adventure tour you will not forget for a long time. Or - Hobbiton Film and farm Tour: In the morning experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, featured in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Your guided tour starts with a drive through the picturesque 1,250-acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Take a look at Bag End, where Frodo and Bilbo’s adventures began. Get lost among the hobbit holes and visit the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree. Listen to spell-binding tales of how Hobbiton came to be.
Driving distance 1h
In the morning visit Te Puia, the premier Māori cultural centre in New Zealand - a place of gushing waters, steaming vents, boiling mud pools and spectacular geysers. The Māori tradition lives on at Te Whakarewarewa, the Māori culture, National Carving and Weaving Schools of New Zealand. The environment alone is of enormous geological significance, with thermal activity ranging from boiling mud to the world famous 30-metre (100-foot) Pohutu geyser, erupting up to 20 times each day. The Kiwi Conservation Centre is a valuable part of a national Kiwi breeding program. Here you can see our New Zealand native flightless bird and national icon in a specially lit purpose-built nocturnal house, with expert guides and information at hand. Learn about the past of our native people, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). Following on from this you take another journey through a world of unique thermal formations at Waitapu 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. We continue through the Waikato region, one of New Zealand's greenest places, and richest agricultural regions. You will pass land with lush grass for raising cattle, thoroughbred horses and vast stands of exotic timber. Today we stay at Lake Taupo, the largest Lake in this country on the way we stop at the Huka Falls - this spectacular falls roar through a 15-metre wide chasm before plunging a further 11-metre. Lake Taupo is 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. You can gather your own free volcanic souvenir from the shoreline in the form of very light pumice stones (great for cleaning off rough skin) which were spewed out in that eruption. Just about everywhere you look in the Lake Taupo region, you'll see a volcano. For dinner, we have organised a boat cruise on Lake Taupo, where you can just relax or catch one of the many rainbow trout for your evening meal. Optional - Waimangu and lake cruise at Lake Rotomahana: In the morning visit the Waimangu's volcanic area with the steaming landscape and other fascinating geothermal features as you follow our crater walkways. A protected scenic reserve and wildlife refuge, Waimangu Volcanic Valley geothermal park encompasses beautiful Lake Rotomahana and is set in pristine New Zealand bush. Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana. This beautiful lake has its own separate geothermal system, with the amazing thermal activity that can only be seen from our vessel during your boat cruise. One of New Zealand’s most beautiful, unspoilt, natural wilderness areas, the lake and surrounding land are protected from development. The 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption changed Lake Rotomahana dramatically, exploding it to 20 times its size. The lake now covers approximately 15 coalescing craters formed during the eruption. 15 years after that massive eruption, the lake reached its current height and is now the deepest in New Zealand's North Island. Lake Rotomahana is the newest of all New Zealand’s larger, naturally formed lakes – protected as a wildlife refuge, it’s home to large numbers of birds all year round.
Accommodation: Lake Taupo
Driving distance 3h
Continue along the coastal East Cape to the city of Napier. We take you from there on a scenic drive to the East Coast of the North Island and an area known as Hawke’s Bay. Beautifully preserved 1930’s architecture is Napier's special point of difference. A national disaster resulted in Napier becoming one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world. On the morning of February 3rd, 1931 a massive earthquake - 7.9 on the Richter scale - rocked Hawke's Bay for more than three minutes. Nearly 260 lives were lost and the vast majority of buildings in the commercial centre of Napier were destroyed, either by the quake itself or the fires that followed. Rebuilding began almost immediately, and much of it was completed in two years. New buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. Napier's city centre has the feeling of a time capsule - the seamless line of 1930’s architecture is quite extraordinary. Hawke’s Bay’s warm, maritime climate and varying landscapes also produce some of New Zealand’s richest and most complex Chardonnays. Visit with us some of the region’s oldest wineries, Mission Estate (est. 1851), Te Mata Estate, Vidal Estate, Church Road and Esk Valley Winery. Today Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s second largest wine producing region with over 100 vineyards and more than 80 wineries producing both innovative and classic wine styles. Most of Hawke’s Bay’s wineries produce less than 200,000 litres per annum and are family owned, providing a true boutique experience to complement award-winning wines. Or try with us the local fresh produce and organic foods, sample local honey, cheese or chocolate. Optional - 4WD Safari to Gannet Colonies: Cape Kidnappers, a half hour drive from the cities of Hastings and Napier, is a craggy peninsula named to commemorate an incident during Captain Cook’s 1769 voyage. Maori traders seized Cook’s Tahitian cabin boy who they thought was being held against his will. When Cook’s men fired on the Maori canoe, the cabin boy escaped and returned to the ship. Visitors can get within a few feet of the world’s largest, most accessible mainland gannet colony which is at the top of the Cape’s sheer and barren cliffs.
Accommodation: Hawkes Bay
Driving distance 4h
Departing Hawke’s Bay, your tour takes you through the Norwegian and Danish settlements of Norsewood and Dannevirke into the rural regions of the Manawatu. Drive to Martinborough and the winery region of Wairarapa. Wairarapa is a region of big skies, wide valleys and small towns, full of character. Home of Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and also making headlines at the moment as James Cameron (Titanic and Avatar) is making his new home there. Visit Greytown, a Victorian country village with metropolitan panache plus great food and coffee, before encroaching on New Zealand’s capital city, 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, with panoramic sights of the city, watch the Cook Strait ferries sail into the harbour and the planes go in and out of the airport. Lonely Planet named Wellington ‘the coolest little capital in the world’ (2011), and the city is renowned for its arts, culture and native beauty. Wellington buzzes with delicatessens, cafes and restaurants – it’s a city that enjoys gourmet food and fine wine. Known as the culinary capital of New Zealand, Wellington is famous for its tucked-away bars, quirky cafes, award-winning restaurants and great coffee. Head to Courtenay Place or Cuba Street to get amongst the good stuff. Lambton Quay is thoroughly upmarket, with designer fashions and food to match. And the Wellington Waterfront is for daytime exploration with parks, museums and landmarks to discover. Te Papa is New Zealand's innovative and interactive national museum. Explore the great treasures and stories of this country – its unique natural environment, Maori culture, art heritage, and fascinating history. With a combination of the latest technology and classic story-telling, Te Papa educates, entertains, and inspires. Experience an exquisitely carved Marae, walk through lush native bush, and be shaken in the Earthquake House. One of Wellington's most popular tourist attractions, the cable car runs from Lambton Quay, tunnels under the corporate towers of The Terrace and emerges in Kelburn. The ride continues past Kelburn Park and the Victoria University to the top of Upland Road, where the Lookout, Carter Observatory, Planetarium and Cable Car Museum are located all within the Botanical Gardens. The Thorndon area is New Zealand’s oldest suburb and remains the centre of New Zealand Government. Here visit the Capital Precinct. The Parliament buildings incorporate the early Parliament House, Library and the modern ‘Beehive’.
Accommodation: Hotel in Wellington City
Ferry crossing 3h, Driving distance 2h
We board a ferry to cross the Cook Strait and encounter a glorious world as the ferry enters the Marlborough Sounds, from the Tory Channel into the Queen Charlotte Sound. You will discover a region with a myriad of inlets and bays with dramatic hills that plunge steeply into the sea. You disembark the ferry from Picton and you enter the sun-drenched wine region, New Zealand’s pre-eminent grape-growing area. Leaving the wine area you travel along the East Coast of New Zealand. We pass over the arid rolling foothills of South Marlborough, we drop down to the dramatic Pacific coastline. By midday, we reach the small seaside town of Kaikoura which is nestled on a rugged peninsula on the East Coast and is backed by the breathtaking Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. Join a whale watch tour and encounter the “giant sperm whale” in their natural environment. Giant sperm whales are the biggest of the toothed whales and the world's largest predator. They are equivalent in size to four elephants. This deep-diving whale (up to 3 km) may stay submerged for over two hours while hunting prey such as the giant squid. Many of Kaikoura's sperm whales wear battle scars from close encounters with this monster of the deep. Sperm whales have the largest head, proportionally, of any animal. This giant head contains a fibrous tank full of white waxy oil early whalers thought was sperm. It is believed the oil tank amplifies the whale's powerful acoustic clicks used for echolocation and hunting. Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where sperm whales can be seen year-round and close to shore. They congregate here because the 3km deep Kaikoura Canyon runs right up against the coast creating a rare system of sea currents that sustain an incredibly rich marine food chain. Sperm whales are at the top of this food chain and the abundance of fish ensures they make the waters of Kaikoura their home. Optional - Join a dolphin watching cruise and if preferred swimming cruise at the beautiful coastline of the South Island Dolphin Encounter, which takes you to swim with the dusky dolphins in their natural environment, or watch their acrobatic displays from the comfort of a boat. The pod sizes of the resident dusky dolphins range in the hundreds along the Kaikoura coastline and there is an impressive success rate in locating these marine mammals. Fur seals, once almost hunted to extinction are now plentiful here, resting on warm rocks after a nights fishing. Walk among these creatures at this unique beach and watch the native Seabirds (Albatross and shags), also enjoying the rich sea harvest.
Driving distance 4h
From Kaikoura, we take you through the scenic alpine landscape of North Canterbury. From your window, you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Stop for a walk at Castle Hill Basin, characterised by its distinctive limestone rock formations. These limestone rock formations are the water eroded remnants of limestone formed during the Oligocene age 30-40 million years ago when much of present-day New Zealand was covered by the sea. Pass Lake Pearson and relax during your stay near Arthur's Pass Village, the South Islands highest Settlement, surrounded by mountain peaks rising more than 2,000 meters. Today you will discover wild nature in a spectacular mountain setting and experience life on a 2,400-hectare nature reserve and high country merino sheep station. Walk from your room into a natural paradise of beech forest, tussock clearings, moss-lined streams and lakes. A naturalist guide will help you learn about high country life and explore nature in this special place the first Maori visitors called "Te Ko Awa a Aniwaniwa - Valley of the Mother of the Rainbows.” Since the Wilderness Lodge opened its doors in 1996 half of the property has been protected as a nature reserve with sheep excluded to allow forest and scrublands to regenerate and pest control undertaken to protect rare plants and animals such as red mistletoe and New Zealand falcon. Optional: Tranz Alpine Train from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass (you will have to stay in Christchurch the night before): This is truly one of the world’s great scenic train trips through the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps and lush green landscapes on the other. From Christchurch, cross the patchwork farmland of the Canterbury Plains, follow the Waimakariri River, climbing into alpine scenery on a series of spectacular viaducts.
Accommodation: Arthur's Pass, Wilderness Lodge, inclusive dinner
Driving distance 4h
Your day has an interesting flavour of mountains, and native flora and fauna, as you travel through the rugged terrain that divides the east from the west. Pass by Lake Brunner with its rolling foothills overlooking the largest lake in the northwestern South Island. On arriving in Greymouth, your driver/guide will take you to the upper West Coast. 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. In the morning you will stop at nearby Punakaiki, the Jewel of the West Coast. Punakaiki is world renowned for its pancake rock formation and blowholes. Walk along some of the stunning and remote beach treks, through a dense rainforest with Nikau Palms and large ferns. You will also enjoy an exhilarating treetop adventure on New Zealand’s first treetop walk among temperate rainforest giants as you experience life with the native birds, high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. There is easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 20 meters high and over 450 meters long. You will visit the historical gold mining town of Hokitika. Nearby take a walk over a swing bridge to the Hokitika Gorge, this is truly one of the beautiful places in New Zealand! The beautiful turquoise waters are quite breathtaking as is the gorge itself. We take a leisurely and scenic drive to the famous glacier region and your day’s itinerary will end in the tiny settlement of Franz Josef. 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. Recommended: (Optional) 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: Franz Josef
Driving distance 4.5h
Go as far South as the township of Haast. Nearby take a gentle walk following the slow flowing Ship Creek Tauparikaka. A creek-side viewpoint allows easy observation of the forest plants and wildlife. Deep in the swamp forest, are views of New Zealand's tallest tree, the Kahikatea. Explore a part of New Zealand that's splendidly isolated - there are more resident seals and penguins than people. South of Haast, the coastline turns westward along a 24 kilometre, gently curving bay to Jackson Head. This headland provides shelter from the prevailing wind direction, and here a fishing harbour has survived since the early pioneer days of seal hunting. Jackson Head also marks the southern end of the west coast's narrow river plains. Beyond this point, the steep mountain ranges plunge directly into the sea - the first of the deep glacial fiords is just 60 kilometres away. 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. Just 20 min from Haast take a 20 min walk to the Roaring Billy Waterfall, an easy fern line walk will take you to the shores of the Haast River. Later make a short stop at the 28m drop Thunder Creek falls. By midday, take a 30 min return walk to the Blue Pools. It features a carefully maintained gravel path and boardwalks that wind through a native silver beech forest and leads 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. We take you to the nearby town of Queenstown.
Day free for the guide. Queenstown, New Zealand, is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier four season lake and alpine resort. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown’s stunning scenery is inspiring and revitalising. The region is renowned for incredible adventure activities and spectacular outdoor terrain. You could try skiing, snowboarding, bungy jumping, paragliding, jet boating, skydiving and more! Or, if you want something a little more relaxed, you can choose from numerous family activities, nature experiences, tours and beauty spas. Please talk with us. Our team of experts is very happy to assist you with any further enquiries. 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 in downtown Queenstown, where you’ll find a fantastic choice of restaurants, a lively bar scene and excellent shopping. Recommended: (Optional) By 4WD and Jet boat: Take Queenstown’s greatest jet boat adventure. This is a Jet boat trip like no other! Recognized as one of Queenstown’s best value products for a good reason, this is an adrenaline rush from the moment you leave town. Tour into Skippers Canyon, along the sheer canyon walls, on the 'road to riches' carved from the rock walls and sheer cliffs by miners over 120 years ago. And that’s just getting to the boat! A Jet boat created to excite and thrill you as you race through the Shotover River Canyons at a speed of 80km/hr. Sit back, hold on, and try to relax as the experienced boat drivers navigate the sheer canyon walls along the Shotover River. With skill and speed you will negotiate the narrow river channel, skimming over shallow 6-inch deep river beds, when suddenly you are going sideways, backwards, sideways and back facing the way you were going, WOW, that’s a Hamilton spin! 360-degree spin, as the boat turns in its own length!
Driving distance 6h
In the morning the journey takes you past the Eastern shores of Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau. 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 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 township of Te Anau was originally established as a service community to the rural pasturelands on the eastern side of the lake. We are heading for the 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. If time allows we will stop at the” Mirror Lakes”, before entering the narrow and dark 1km long Homer Tunnel. You may encounter Kea’s, New Zealand’s cheeky alpine parrots and we stop and explore some of nature’s wonders on the way. At Milford, we board a vessel and cruise on the Fiord through sheer cliffs covered with vegetation that plunges into the sea. View the Bowen Falls, hurtling 165 meters into the sea, and the Stirling Falls further down the sound, set amidst the towering cliffs and dwarfed by Mitre Peak. After the cruise and on the way back to Te Anau we take a boardwalk into the “Chasm” to see surreal, water-hewn rock sculptures. Optional - Overnight Cruise Doubtful Sound: Escape to the peace and tranquillity of Doubtful Sound on a magical overnight cruise. Your getaway starts in Manapouri with a short cruise across Lake Manapouri. Then coach across Wilmot Pass on a sub-alpine road through dense rainforest to Deep Cove where your crew and the Fiordland Navigator await. As you cruise through some of the fiord’s most stunning scenery, the knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary ensuring you miss nothing, be it the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins you might encounter. After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, you can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat or to simply relax on board. For the more adventurous (or very brave), there’s even a chance to go swimming!
Accommodation: Te Anau
Driving distance 4h
From the Fiordland National Park, the guide will take you back North to the East Coast and the town of Dunedin. 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. Walk on Baldwin Street, which is considered the world's steepest residential street. Visit Larnach Castle, which is set high above the harbour where William Larnach commissioned the construction of New Zealand’s only castle in 1871. The Victorian castle is also well known for its 14-hectare garden and grounds which has been recognised as a 'Garden of International Significance'. For more than one hundred years Dunedin has been aware of its special relationship with the Southern Ocean. From its inception, its university has had a deep commitment to the natural sciences. About the same time, the city's port became the final provisioning point for Antarctic exploration. The last coastline they saw before plotting their course to the unknown was, in itself, a link with the fauna of the White Continent. Seals and sea lions come ashore to lie on the rocks of the Otago Peninsula. At Taiaroa Head, the Royal Albatross has established its only land-based breeding colony in the world. The world’s rarest penguin, the yellow-eyed, makes its home among the sand dunes of the peninsula. Take a tour which combines tourism and conservation in a symbiotic relationship and provides absolutely unrivalled viewing of estuarine and marine wildlife. Your knowledgeable guides will inform you of activity being viewed and visit places where there is the best possible viewing of Hooker's Sea lions, Yellow-eyed Penguins, Blue Penguins and Royal Albatross can be had. A further 25-30 other estuarine and marine bird species are seen during the experience. Close up unobtrusive viewing from beach locations and strategically placed observation hides is guaranteed.
Accommodation: Dunedin or Otago Peninsula
Driving distance 4h
Upon leaving Dunedin you will stop at the fascinating Moeraki Boulders. The Moeraki Boulders are huge spherical stones that are scattered over the sandy beach, but they are not like ordinary round boulders that have been shaped by rivers and pounding seas. From there we take you further to the white sandstone town of Oamaru. The main town of North Otago is a pretty town and the best-preserved collection of historic and commercial buildings in New Zealand. We travel deep into the heart of the Southern Alps and to the southern slopes of Mt Cook National Park. In the afternoon we take you on a small boat trip to the bottom of Tasman Glacier. The only tour of its kind in New Zealand, and one of three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of these are accessible to the average person. We overnight in the small township of Lake Tekapo. You will encounter an array of spectacular mountain ranges including Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, which peaks at some 3,700 meters. Lake Tekapo shines all year round in a beautiful turquoise colour and reflects the surrounding mountains. Relax at this mystical, tranquil place and take a stroll along the lake’s shores. (Optional) Stargazing: In the evening we can arrange a tour to explore the wonders of the Southern Sky at the Mt John Observatory high above the breathtaking landscape of Lake Tekapo – where Earth meets Sky.
Driving distance 4h
Last day of your private guided tour! Our trip will take us through some of the most evocative hill country in New Zealand. Speckled with small agricultural outposts, the Canterbury Plains are an area of serene, rural beauty. We take you to your departing flight in Christchurch. Christchurch city promises an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. Described by Lonely Planet as a "vibrant city in transition, coping resiliently and creatively,” Christchurch's energy is evident wherever you go. The city has bounced back after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 with innovative new attractions, as well as some old favourites. Visit the Re:Start container mall, the transitional Cardboard Cathedral, and some of the many pop_up restaurants and bars. Contemporary art galleries, boutique shops and open-air markets add to Christchurch’s creative vibe. (Optional) Akaroa Peninsula: If time allows and you still want to explore the area you can visit Akaroa Peninsula. Just 75 kilometres from the city of Christchurch, Akaroa is a historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Akaroa, with its own beautiful bays, harbour and French and English history has a good range of activities to keep you busy. In Flea bay, you will find the largest little penguin colony on the mainland in New Zealand! Akaroa waters are home to the rarest and smallest marine dolphin, “the Hector's Dolphin”. Explore them and other special wildlife on a harbour cruise. (Optional) Akaroa is rich in Arts and Crafts which starts with a must-see visit to the 'Little River Art Gallery' as you drive through Little River. You will love the shopping in Akaroa where you can walk from one end to the other in 15 minutes, with some exquisite local boutiques. This is the perfect place to reflect on your holiday.