Start in Auckland on the north island with a world-class cup of coffee and pick up your vehicle, before taking the short ferry journey across to Waiheke Island for sea views and excellent wine. Drive to the vast Lake Taupo, created more than 2,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption, to experience the fury of the Huka Falls and to see the eerie glowworms at the Waitomo Caves, before stopping for a few days in wine country, beginning at Hawke’s Bay. Hire a bike, pedal to a few vineyards and sample some wines. Fly from Napier to Christchurch on the south island and hire another vehicle, before heading inland to Arthur’s Pass National Park for a stunning drive taking in winding roads, river gorges and rainforests. Drive to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park for a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride to the Tasman Glacier, before heading back to city life in adventure capital Queenstown for bungy jumping, ziplining or just relaxing on the beach.

Key information

Destinations New Zealand
Activity Luxury, Active, Nature & Wildlife, Culinary
Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Explore scenic Auckland

Explore scenic Auckland

Day 1–2 in Auckland

Forget the city’s high-rise centre; the beauty of Auckland is the scenery surrounding it. From surf beaches to the islands of Hauraki Gulf, volcanic peaks to fertile farmland, it’s no surprise that the greater Auckland region features high in lists of the world’s most liveable places. This is the perfect introduction to New Zealand.

Explore Lake Taupo and visit a thermal wonderland

Explore Lake Taupo and visit a thermal wonderland

Day 3–5 in Lake Taupo

Vast Lake Taupo is as big as Singapore and was created 2,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption so huge it would have been seen from China. Today, visitors come for the magnificent Huka Falls, Maori rock carvings and watersports. Lake Taupo is also an excellent base for exploring nearby Tongariro National Park, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing day hike and skiing at Whakapapa.

After Lake Taupo you can drive to Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal system created over thousands of years of volcanic activity. The brilliant green jewels of geothermal waters are an impressive sight and another example of the sheer number of natural wonders New Zealand has to offer.

Don't miss

Hike Spa Park to Huka Falls

Hike Spa Park to Huka Falls

Take the easy one-hour trail from Spa Park to Huka Falls to witness the roaring Waikato Ricer plunge 11 metres over volcanic rock. The trail passes through forest and offers several viewing points of the Falls.

Kayak around Lake Taupo

Kayak around Lake Taupo

Enjoy a relaxing paddle in the crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo and explore the mysterious Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, which can only be viewed from the water. The surrounding forests are also great for hiking and just north of Taupo you'll find the spectacular Huka Falls.

Combine wine-tasting with cycling in Hawke’s Bay

Combine wine-tasting with cycling in Hawke’s Bay

Day 6–7 in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay is the first stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail and is a great place to try cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay wines. From here, you can visit numerous wineries all connected by more than 200km of biking trails.

See regeneration in action in Christchurch

See regeneration in action in Christchurch

Day 8 in Christchurch

Most travellers use Christchurch as a base for exploring the south island, but there is plenty to see in this upwardly-mobile city. Hit by a series of earthquakes between 2010-13 that destroyed many of its buildings, Christchurch is now an intriguing mix of cutting-edge architecture and historic buildings.

Cross the Southern Alps highest pass

Cross the Southern Alps highest pass

Day 9 in Arthur’s Pass National Park

Head into Arthur’s Pass National Park by road and you’ll encounter some of New Zealand’s most spectacular engineering, including viaducts, precipitous bridges and redirected waterfalls. Crossing the Pass offers beautiful views of rainforest and deep gorges.

Go stargazing in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Go stargazing in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Day 10 in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park includes the majority of New Zealand’s only International Dark Sky Reserve, so head into the hills – or just Mount Cook Village near Lake Pukaki – and marvel at the light show in the sky.

New Zealand’s highest mountain — Aoraki Mt. Cook (3724m) — sits within the park and there are 19 more peaks over 3000m, and around 180 glaciers. As well as being a training ground for mountaineers, various treks can be enjoyed here, such as the three-hour Mueller Glacier walk in the Hooker Valley. Butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and moths are abundant here.

Don't miss

Take a helicopter ride to Tasman Glacier

Take a helicopter ride to Tasman Glacier

Take a scenic flight through the Tasman Valley to the Tasman Glacier, where you can hire a professional glacier guide to hike on the ice. Your crampons will bite into the ice as the Southern Alps and Mount Cook tower above you.a

Queenstown – the adventure capital of the world

Queenstown – the adventure capital of the world

Day 11–14 in Queenstown

New Zealand’s adventure sports capital is a surprisingly small town, famously the birthplace of bungy jumping, it’d be possible to spend days here hiking, biking, rafting, canyoning, zip lining or riding the luge.

However, if you’re after something less strenuous, it’s worth noting that Queenstown also has excellent vineyards and an exciting food scene. Tour nearby wineries, and enjoying the views of the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. It’s not a “typical” South Island town, but don’t let that get in the way of enjoying this pretty place.

Don't miss

Skydive high above the Glenorchy mountain range

Skydive high above the Glenorchy mountain range

The blue lakes and snow-capped mountains in and around Glenorchy are so stunning that they were used as locations for The Lord of the Rings films, and, for those who dare, skydiving is an incredible way to take in this amazing scenery.

Where to stay

Classic

Fletcher Lodge

Situated just minutes from the heart of Dunedin, this property is a registered Historic Places Trust building and has been beautifully refurbished with elegant styling and modern amenities, surrounded by beautiful manicured gardens.

The four luxury rooms in the original house are richly furnished with antique, hand-carved furniture, cast-iron claw foot baths, underfloor heating, and French doors leading out to sunny private balconies overlooking the gardens and valley below.

Superior

Lochmara Lodge

This unique hideaway in the Marlborough Sounds is the perfect place to disconnect and soak up the breathtaking natural beauty of the region.

Surrounded by pristine bushland, Lochmara Lodge has no road access, with guests arriving via the private Lochmara Bay on a 15 minute boat ride from Picton. You can also hike or cycle in through the Queen Charlotte Track.

It offers spacious, comfortable units that are perfect for families, while couples can retreat to the romantic chalets with balconies overlooking the bay.

Deluxe

Greenhill Lodge

Greenhill Lodge is a historic homestead located in the heart of Hawke’s Bay, a stretch of beautiful coastline on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

The region’s rolling hills and winding rivers are perfect for fishing, swimming, golfing and canoeing, among other outdoor activities. This is also an agricultural region and you’ll be treated to local produce and wines from the vineyards here during your stay.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from £9,350pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

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