Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy
Thrifty Tours

Auckland to Christchurch 14 day Ultimate Explorer

This 14 day tour has it all. Explore Waitomo Caves, Tamaki Maori Village, Hobbiton Movie Set, explore glacier lakes, Milford Sound, Dart River Safari jet boat tour, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner, a boutique wine tour and the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train plus much more.

This Independent daily departures features

Independent daily departures

This suggested tour costs from NZD$5,886 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

14 days/13 nights

Motels

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Tour map
TSS Earnlsaw, Queenstown, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand
Detailed itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland City

Private transfer Auckland airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Auckland City Sights Afternoon Tour with GreatSights

Discover first-hand why Auckland is regarded as one of the best places in the world to live, with a half-day tour of its scenic highlights. Travel through the city centre, cross over the Auckland Harbour Bridge and visit the Viaduct Harbour and the revitalised Silo Park waterfront precinct. See historic buildings around the University of Auckland before continuing over to the Auckland Domain, developed around an extinct volcano, it is also home to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The tour then continues through the boutique shopping area of Parnell Village, where you'll stop for a short afternoon tea break and along the scenic waterfront route of Tamaki Drive.
Your Auckland city tour ends with a trip back along the waterfront, finishing in downtown Auckland.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Enjoy your meal as you sail around the beautiful Auckland Harbour taking in the view as the sun slowly sets. You'll be treated to canapés and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between dining in the downstairs cabin or on deck to take in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour. To finish the evening off, savour your dessert course as you leisurely sail back to Auckland’s vibrant Viaduct Harbour.

Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.

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Day 2 - Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua

Auckland to Rotorua including Waitomo and Rotorua Experience with GreatSights

Departing early, this full-day tour has it all! From the magical glowworms and world-famous limestone formations of Waitomo to the rich cultural heritage and geothermal bounty of Rotorua. Includes a visit to the glowworm caves, a Māori cultural performance, a visit to the Agrodome and bubbling mud pools and geysers.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Polynesian Spa Deluxe Lake Spa

Rotorua's Polynesian Spa offers a unique thermal spa experience on the shore of Lake Rotorua. You'll enjoy tranquil bathing and lake views in four shallow alkaline rock pools, each with different temperatures (36˚C to 42˚C). Here you are surrounded by revitalising native New Zealand flora, natural rocks, the sound of two waterfalls and a grotto. The pools are filled with soothing alkaline mineral water leaving your skin soft and supple. Relax in the outdoor relaxation area overlooking the four hot mineral pools and Lake Rotorua, here you can further unwind on the five geothermally heated recliners set in the stunning backdrop of New Zealand's lush and natural greenery. A large indoor relaxation lounge also overlooks Lake Rotorua, whereas a Lake Spa guest, you are welcome to move from the pools to the lounge once dried off and return to bathe in the Lake Spa pools as you wish. The Lake Spa is a unique thermal pool environment, where the atmosphere changes from day to night, and from winter steam to summer sparkle.

Your accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Tuscany Villas Rotorua offers modern, well-kept suites and a heated outdoor swimming pool close to all city attractions. The hotel is minutes to the centre of town, where a range of cafés, restaurants and attractions, including geothermal hot pools and spa, can be enjoyed.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 3 - Hobbiton day tour and an evening at the Tamaki Maori Village

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua

Discover the real Middle-earth when you take this two hour guided tour of Hobbiton. Beginning with a drive through a picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm, you'll experience stunning views over the Kaimai Ranges. You'll then be escorted through the 12 acre movie set learning memorable anecdotes about the shooting of the films. Visit Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree, as well as learning how this piece of Waikato farmland was turned into the Shire.

Tamaki Maori Village Cultural Tour and Hangi Dinner

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.

Your accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Tuscany Villas Rotorua offers modern, well-kept suites and a heated outdoor swimming pool close to all city attractions. The hotel is minutes to the centre of town, where a range of cafés, restaurants and attractions, including geothermal hot pools and spa, can be enjoyed.

Meals included: Speciality Dinner

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Day 4 - Fly to Wellington this morning, Explore the capital this afternoon with a LOTR tour

Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Airport.

Air New Zealand flight Rotorua to Wellington

Fly from Rotorua airport to Wellington airport.

Private transfer Wellington airport to hotel

You will be met on arrival into Wellington airport and transferred to your hotel.

Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour

In a small group, you will head out to the Valley to explore the very best filming locations Wellington has to offer. See Rivendell where Frodo recovered from his knife attack, the River Anduin where the Fellowship voyaged to Amon Hen, the Gardens of Isengard where Gandalf rode to see Saruman and the site of the orcs felling the trees, the quarry used for the filming of Helms Deep in Rohan and Minas Tirith in Gondor. Then back to the city to visit the Mount Victoria lookout and Buckland Forest where you can find the "shortcut to mushrooms" then "get off the road" and hide where the Hobbits hid from the Black Riders before taking a run to the Buckleberry Ferry and discovering Dunharrow Rohirrim encampment along the way.

Your accommodation: CityLife Wellington

City Life Wellington is a suite style hotel with every amenity required for a comfortable stay, as well as being in a superb location to explore the compact city centre. Situated on Lambton Quay, you’ll find the best shopping, tourist attractions and cultural landmarks all within easy walking distance.

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Day 5 - Wellington to Christchurch via Air New Zealand flight

Private transfer Wellington hotel to Airport

You will be collected from your Wellington hotel and transferred to the airport.

Air New Zealand flight Wellington to Christchurch

Fly from Wellington Airport to Christchurch Airport.

Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Day 6 - Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park, Glacier explorers tour this afternoon

Christchurch to Mount Cook with GreatSights

Depart Christchurch in the morning and travel through the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, where you can see the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd as it stands in solitude next to the vibrant blue waters. Leaving Tekapo, continue into the Southern Alps towards Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's tallest mountain.
The tour concludes on arrival at Mount Cook Village, where you can explore and soak up the views of Aoraki / Mount Cook.

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.

Your accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.

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Day 7 - Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers - the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium.

Mount Cook to Queenstown with GreatSights

Depart Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park in the afternoon and head south through the Mackenzie Country. You pass the Mackenzie Basin and head into Central Otago before approaching Queenstown, where the impressive Remarkables mountain range and beautiful Lake Wakatipu come into view.
Tour concludes this evening on arrival into Queenstown.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Day 8 - Free day to explore Queenstown

Free day in 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.
 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak and the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only way to experience the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. See their beauty and feel their power on the world’s most exciting jet boat ride. A unique combination of beauty and power, it’s an experience like no other. Blending pristine natural landscape with wall to wall canyon action from start to finish!
Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride! Skim past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breath taking speeds. And a major highlight - Hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 degree spins!

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Day 9 - Enjoy an afternoon exploring the Central Otago wineries

Appellation Boutique Wine Tour

Join a small group tour for an afternoon amongst the boutique vineyards and splendid alpine scenery of Central Otago. Enjoy visits to four premium wineries over 2 contrasting wine sub-regions, learn about the wine and pioneering history of the area, and visit the historic precinct of Old Cromwell (time and weather permitting).

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 10 - Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with an extended two hour Nature Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On board 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 onboard nature guide. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 11 - Dart River Safari tour this morning, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner this evening

Dart River Wilderness Jet

An hour and a half of thrilling high-speed wilderness jet boating skimming across the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Hear about flora, fauna and history on a 30-minute rolling forest walk with your friendly guide. On a backroad tour of Paradise immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Learn about the Pounamu (Greenstone) that made the Dart River a key trading route for early Māori. Tales of early settlers who carved rich farms from the rugged landscape.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Go back in time on this return trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw Steamship. You'll be greeted off the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead.
Here you'll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The seasonal menu includes an expansive array of local produce, including succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Finish your meal with an irresistible dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea and coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country.
On your cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship's pianist or breathe in the fresh night air as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Dinner

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Day 12 - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Newmans coach

Queenstown to Franz Josef with GreatSights

Leaving Queenstown, travel by luxury coach through the stunning scenery of the South Island. Your driver guide will provide entertaining commentary and point out sites of interest as you pass by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Dunstan, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. After a morning tea break in Makarora on the border of Mount Aspiring World Heritage Park, you'll travel through the Haast Pass, journeying through native beech forest and over the Southern Alps, before emerging on the West Coast, arriving in the afternoon at the small village of Franz Josef.
From here you can explore the world famous Franz Josef Glacier.

Glacier Valley Shuttle

You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and taken on a short tour to view the glacier. Your shuttle vehicle will transfer you up the Franz Josef valley to the road end. Here you will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier from a viewing platform. Or enjoy one of the short walks available in this area. You will be returned to your accommodation by the Glacier Valley Shuttles.

Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

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Day 13 - Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with GreatSights

This morning travel north through the small townships of Whataroa and Harihari. Stop at the Bushman's Centre for refreshments and a chance to experience a bit of West Coast humour. Continue through the township of Ross, which in the late 1800s was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields. On arrival in Hokitika there is time to purchase lunch and explore the town centre.
Continue onto Greymouth Railway Station from where you catch the world famous TranzAlpine train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

On arrival at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Day 14 - Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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INSTANT QUOTE or BOOK - Auckland to Christchurch 14 day Ultimate Explorer
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Jan 23, 2020
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