Enjoy a tour from Auckland to Rotorua including a guided tour of the fascinating Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Leaving Auckland in the morning you travel through the lush farmland of the Waikato and King Country regions. Your experienced local driver guide will provide a commentary as you travel to Waitomo and point out sites of interest including Rangiriri, the location of a historic Māori land wars battle between forces loyal to the Māori King and the Colonial Government in 1863. On arrival in the small town of Waitomo enjoy a guided tour through the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves with their amazing stalactites, stalagmites and other limestone formations. Finish the tour with a silent boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto - a subterranean cavern lit up by the lights of thousands of tiny glowworms. Continue your tour this afternoon by driving to Rotorua, passing through the beautiful Fitzgerald Glade where the roadside trees arch overhead to form a tunnel of natural greenery.
Journey back in time to a Pre-European lifestyle experience of customs and traditions. Enjoy the night's festivities with the people of Tamaki Maori Village as you are treated to a banquet of succulent foods cooked the traditional Maori way. Rediscover the Maori village as it comes alive to the sound and activities of tribal songs, dances, myths and legends and browse throughout the largest after hour's tribal marketplace in Rotorua. Includes dinner.
Discover three of Rotorua's best visitor attractions on this morning Rotorua sightseeing tour. Gain an insight into New Zealand's Māori culture at Te Puia. You'll see Te Puia's woodcarving and weaving schools and see how these ancient Māori art forms are being passed on to a new generation of master artists. Experience Rotorua's famous geothermal activity with a tour of the neighbouring Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Then onto the Agrodome, a working organic farm where you can find out all about farming life in New Zealand, watch a sheep shearing display and see sheep dog trials where the hard-working farm dogs show off their amazing skills. New Zealand wildlife and natural scenery is on display at Rainbow Springs Nature Park, where you can get up close to all kinds of native flora and fauna including the famous kiwi, a flightless native bird.
With so much to do in Rotorua, you really need this second day to fit in all the sights and activities on offer. If you missed out on an encounter with New Zealand’s unique Maori culture, be sure to add this into today’s itinerary. Staring down the challenge of a Maori warrior’s haka is spine tingling and the soulful melodies of ancient Maori waiata are mesmerising. If you’re after adrenalin rushes, then consider one of the many thrills on offer, from white water rafting to luging to zorbing, there’s something to exhilarate young and old alike. The Rotorua Lakes are worth exploring if you have the time and are a must if you want to try your hand at fly fishing. Rotorua is surrounded by sixteen lakes and eleven of these can be fished. The major fishing lakes are Rotorua, Rotoiti, Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoma. Lake Okataina also has the attraction of sandy shores and clear water making it a great picnic and swimming spot. If all of this just sounds like hard work you can always spend the day soaking in one of the many geothermal pools that are scattered across the city.
You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Intercity Coach Depot.
Your coach journey from Rotorua to Wellington takes you via the township of Taupō and New Zealand's largest lake. The lake itself is actually a gigantic volcanic caldera formed during one of the worlds largest ever eruptions. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand's three world heritage sites and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast, with its coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton. The Kapiti Coast leads into Wellington, New Zealand's capital. Wellington sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre), so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and explore New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, which is also close by.
You will be met on arrival into Wellington train station and transferred to your hotel.
Today you will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Hammonds Sightseeing Tours. See Wellington through the eyes of a local on this tour. Experience the best attractions and must see landmarks of this vibrant city, including the beautiful Paliament Buildings, the Old Saint Paul's Cathedral, and the Botanic Gardens, and get off the tourist trail. Gain a 360° view of the city from Mount Victoria, experience the rugged south coast seas and explore interesting quaint villages throughout the city. Take a ride on the famous cable car (optional at own cost) but most of all sit back and enjoy Wellington at its finest!
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.
Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.
Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you're a foodie at heart, a two hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For a educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.
You will be collected from your Wellington hotel and transferred to the airport.
Fly from Wellington Airport to Christchurch Airport.
On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.
Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you'll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the West Coast glaciers.
Your coach to Franz Josef Glacier departs from the Greymouth Railway Station. The journey to the Glaciers is southward through the lush bush covered landscape at the base of the Southern Alps. A refreshment stop in Hokitika allows you to stretch your legs around the town centre. Further south you pass through the township of Ross which was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields in the late 1800s. Further along, travelling down the West Coast enjoy the beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains before arriving in the small village of Fox Glacier.
The mighty Fox is the largest and longest of the magnificent West Coast glaciers. Remarkably, it ends in temperate rainforest, 250 metres above sea level only twelve kilometres from the sea.
There are more peaks at the head of the Fox Glacier than in any other valley in New Zealand.
The Fox Glacier, like all glaciers, advances and retreats. Evidence of the latest surge forward can be seen in the bulging lower ice fall. Alpine Guides has access onto the lower part of the glacier via a secret track that climbs through regenerating native forest. From the track, you will have stunning views into the upper parts of the glacier. Fox Glacier township is the more "laid back" of the twin Glacier Country townships of Fox and Franz Josef, and people often comment on having chosen Fox for its relaxed atmosphere.
An excellent selection of cafés and a wide range of accommodation complement are available. The township enjoys breathtaking views of New Zealand's highest peaks - Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Lake Matheson, the famous reflection lake, is a five minute drive west of Fox Township and historic Gillespie's Beach, known for its crashing surf and distant snow capped mountains, is only 25 minutes west by car.
Travel from the remote splendour of Fox Glacier to the exciting adventure playground that is Queenstown on this journey. Step on board a luxury coach in the small village of Fox Glacier on New Zealand's West Coast and travel through lush native rainforest and along the untamed rocky coastline. Journey through the Haast Pass, the southernmost pass between the South Island's two coasts, surrounded by native beech forest, waterfalls and crystal-clear rivers. On the other side of the Southern Alps, enjoy picture-postcard views of vibrant blue glacier-fed lakes like Lake Hawea, Lake Wanaka and Lake Dunstan. Your day tour concludes late afternoon in world famous Queenstown.
Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Head down the Gibbston valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw - to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown. Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water rafting.
With breathtaking views across Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, the Skyline Complex is a must-do. Catch the fully enclosed gondola to the summit for a remarkable panorama of the city surrounds. Wander the outdoor viewing decks then enjoy a gourmet buffet meal in the Stratosphere Restaurant.
Luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with an extended 2.5 hour Nature Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On boarding a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the Milford Mariner for a leisurely extended cruise of the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rain forest, mountains and wildlife with extensive commentary by the on board nature guide. Return to Te Anau.
This morning depart Te Anau on an Intercity Coach for Christchurch. The Hokonui Hills used to be the hiding place of whisky distillers. The countryside becomes greener and more productive as you near Gore, a centre of the Southland sheep farming industry and this environment continues right through to Milton and Lake Waihola before the "Edinburgh of the South" the city of Dunedin.
On arrival into Dunedin you will be met from your coach and transferred to your accommodation.
You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to the coach stop in time for your departure.
The drive follows the Otago Coastline as you head north from Dunedin. Pass through the unique town of Oamaru, famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. The port town of Timaru is next and then the vast Canterbury Plains. Crossing New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia you can view some great examples of the South Island's famous braided rivers.
You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.