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16 Days New Zealand Scenic Contrasts

New Zealand

16 Days New Zealand Scenic Contrasts

16 Days | All of New Zealand

Dramatic landscapes unfold at every turn providing amazing contrasts from grassy plains to turquoise blue lakes, piercing mountains to hot springs and wide Pacific seascapes.

Indicative Price

01 October 2019 -
30 September 2020

NZ$2,266 per person

Price Includes: 

  • 15 nights accommodation
  • 15 days small rental car hire
  • InterIslander ferry crossing Picton to Wellington for 2 adult passengers
  • welcome voucher wallet & driving maps
  • expert itinerary planning & booking service
  • 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Prices are per person, share twin/double room and in NZ$

Trip Details

Circle the spectacular South Island, featuring eco sightseeing areas near Dunedin and remote Milford Sound, resort adventure at Queenstown. Perhaps sample some world-class wines in Blenheim and soak in hot thermal pools at Hanmer Springs. The North Island's volcanic plateau, geothermal regions and Coromandel beaches provide amazing photo opportunities.

Every Day is an Adventure!

Day 1 - Arrive Christchurch, pick up rental car on arrival. 

Kia ora, welcome to Christchurch, the largest city of the South Island.  Christchurch offers pockets of perfect as the central city rebuilds after the 2011 earthquakes. Located on the vast Canterbury Plains, with the sweeping coastal curve of Pegasus Bay and the volcanic hills of Banks Peninsula, Christchurch offers surprisingly diverse landscapes. Stroll the graceful Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park, relax beside the gently flowing Avon River or take in the expansive city and mountain views from the Christchurch Gondola.

Day 2 - Drive Christchurch - Queenstown (approx 6 hour 40 min) 

Traverse the green farmland of the Canterbury Plains today as you head south en route to Queenstown. Pass through charming Geraldine with its chocolate shop and reknowned Barker's Jam Store before continuing through the foothills of the Southern Alps to Fairlie. Carry on through Burkes Pass rugged alpine landscape before the turquoise blue waters of both Lake Tekapo and Pukaki come into view as you continue through quaint small towns. Enjoy fresh, local fruit in historic Cromwell before your final leg takes you over the magnificent Kawarau Gorge into wine country before reaching the buzzing resort town of central Queenstown, today's destination.

Day 3 - In Queenstown at leisure 

Queenstown's vast array of outstanding activities includes thrilling river jet boating, out back 4WD trips, white water rafting, bungy jumping, tandem skydiving, hot air ballooning, mountain bike and hiking trails.  For a more relaxing day perhaps choose a scenic lake cruise in the historic TSS Earnslaw, visit a high country farm, play a round of golf at one of the many world class courses, ride on the Skyline Gondola for breathtaking views, take a guided Lord of the Rings film site tour or a guided winery tour. Visit historic Arrowtown for insights into the early gold mining days.  Queenstown's enticing cafes, restaurants and nightlife will complete the day.

Day 4 - Drive Queenstown - Te Anau (approx 2 hour 25 min) 

Leave Queenstown and follow the road to Te Anau as it winds around the gentle curves of Lake Wakatipu. The scenery here is stunning - lakeside vistas are framed by the rugged face of the magnificent Remarkables mountain range. Easy rolling countryside soon leads you to the shores of Lake Te Anau, the biggest of the South Island’s many lakes. Nestled on the shores of the lake is the township of Te Anau which offers a picturesque landscape with its blue lakes, spectacular mountains and lush forests as well as being the gateway Milford's spectacular walking tracks and famous fiords. Perhaps take an optional side trip to Milford Sound this day.

Day 5 - Drive Te Anau - Dunedin (approx 4 hour 10 min)

Depart Te Anau and travel across the Southland Plains through the small townships of Mossburn, Lumsden and rural hub of Gore, sheep farms dominate the landscape. Continue to the Clutha River at Balclutha before heading north crossing the Taieri Plains, pass Lake Waihola to Dunedin. Note you can travel to Dunedin via the rugged Catlins coast, part of the Southern Scenic route, known for its wildlife and fossalised forest. You would need to allow extra time for this drive. Dunedin is said to be the Edinburgh of New Zealand with its well preserved Victorian and Edwardian heritage present throughout the city. Surrounded by hills and featuring a wide harbour, Dunedin's Taieri Gorge, Railway, chocolate factory and Speights Brewery are rewarding visits. A scenic drive along the Peninsula with its rugged beaches and local wildlife is recommended. 

Day 6 - Drive Dunedin - Christchurch (approx 4 hour 45 min) 

The sweeping Pacific Ocean coastline features during the drive north.  The unique Moeraki Boulders are definitely a worthwhile stop.  Enjoy the white sandstone architecture of Oamaru, recently awarded the title "Sharpest Town in New Zealand" with its pretty Victorian precinct featuring restored warehouses, hotels and commercial offices of the 1870's which are now workplaces for retailers, artists and artisans.  Further north, there are ocean views from Caroline Bay at Timaru before reaching Christchurch city.

Day 7 - Drive Christchurch - Hanmer Springs (approx 1 hour 55 min) 

The short drive north crosses the braided Waimakariri river and takes you past the beaches of Woodend, Waikuku, Leithfield and Amberley, which are wide open and foaming with surf to the Waipara region known for its vineyards and olive groves. The highway continues through farm land and the Weka Pass with its grand limestone rock formations and rolling tussock hills.  Drive through the quaint rural towns of Waikari and Culverden as you continue across the Amuri Plain before reaching, Hanmer Springs. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and towering forests this charismatic alpine town is bustling with outdoor activities, from forest hiking to mountain biking, to jet boating, and even bungy jumping for some high octane outdoor adventure.  Once you've caught your breath, a soak in the hot spring pools is highly recommended - and if you're looking to really relax, treat yourself at their spa.

Day 8 - Drive Hanmer Springs - Blenheim (approx 4 hour) 

Your drive today takes you through the Lewis Pass, the northernmost of the three main passes across the Southern Alps. Lush beech forests and snow-capped Alps feature during the drive across the Lewis Pass to Springs Junction, follow the Maruia River past the natural hot pools of Maruia Springs to the rural town of Murchison. Murchison looks after the farming community and also has a fantastic range of outdoor activities including rafting and kayaking. Further north is the tiny lakeside village of St Arnaud, perfectly positioned for travellers wanting to explore the Nelson Lakes National Park. Drive the length of the wide Wairau River Valley to Blenheim surrounded by vast tracts of vineyards and renowned as a leading wine growing region.

Day 9 - Drive Blenheim - Picton (approx 30 mins)

Pass sweeping lined vineyards of Blenheim and its Marlborough region, enjoy a short drive through its expansive rural plains with scattered trees and bush cladden rolling hills onto the pictuersque shores of Marlborough's seaside town of Picton. Drop off your rental car and cruise through the magical Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel as you cross the Cook Strait to cruise Picton - Wellington (by InterIslander ferry approx 3 hours). Pick up replacement rental car in Wellington. Wellington's hillside suburbs and vibrant waterfront retail and commercial hub welcome you to the "coolest little capital in the world". Home to New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, streets filled with art and world famous Lord of the Rings film locations, Wellington's special creative vibe is delightful.

Day 10 - Drive Wellington - Taupo (approx 5 hours 5 mins)

Journey & enjoy the Kapiti Coast with its seaside towns of Paekakariki and Waikanae to the inland city of Palmerston North.  From the army town of Waiouru, the vast tundra-like landscape of the volcanic plateau prevails, dominated by Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. The resort town of Taupo is a sporting mecca and nature-lover's paradise combining high adrenalin and relaxation with rich Maori heritage.

Day 11 - Drive Taupo - Rotorua (approx 1 hour 10 mins) 

See the rolling steam clouds of the geothermal power station at Wairakei, thundering Huka Falls and Aratiatia Rapids as you depart Taupo. Drive through vast pine forests to the geothermal reserves of Waiotapu and Waimangu which are worthwhile stopovers en route to Rotorua. Renowned for its rich Maori culture, adventure and outdoor activities and geothermal attractions, Rotorua's sparkling lakeside location easily combines relaxation with an abundant variety of attractions to enjoy.

Day 12 - In Rotorua at leisure 

Make the most of Rotorua's many activities and attractions.  Adventurous mountain bike trails and cycle ways, thrilling river jet boating, 4WD outback trips, take to the forest canopy by zip line, scenic helicopter flights over Mt Tarawera and neighbouring lakes.  The cultural side of Rotorua offers you traditional and modern Maori performances, hangi feasts and insights into genuine Maori maraes (meeting houses).  Self guided and guided tours of geothermal reserves including Te Puia, Waiotapu and Waimangu Valley.  The award winning Polynesian Spa is one of the many offerings of spa therapies, so make the most of Rotorua's geo thermal region. 

Day 13 - Drive Rotorua - Whangamata (approx 2 hours 30 mins)

Depart through the scenic surroundings of rich green landscape between the geothermal region of Rotorua on through the Athenree Gorge as you depart the Bay of Plenty area and its fertile forests into the local and rural countryside of the Waikato with its local farmlands and lines of trees before you wind your way through lush Coromandel forest and a few of its charming holiday towns and spots as you approach yours, the beachside town of Whangmata.

Day 14 - In Whangamata at leisure 

Whangamata is a true Kiwi summer holiday location and recognised as being one of the most popular beach resorts in New Zealand. It's location at the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula makes it well positioned to visit beautiful Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Kayaking at Hahei, local golf courses and the setting adjacent to the Coromandel Forest Park offers local hiking and cycling trails to enjoy.

Day 15 - Drive Whangamata - Auckland (approx 2 hours 15 mins)

Enjoy the outstanding sea views along the Coromandel coastline, skirt the Firth of Thames to the motorway leading you into the heart of Auckland city.  The remainder of the day is free to explore the beautiful Auckland waterfront, Viaduct Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, take an optional ride to the top of the SkyTower or browse the fashions at the Britomart precinct.

Day 16 - Depart Auckland 

You have the day at leisure until you make your way to Auckland International Airport for your departure flight.

This New Zealand KiwiCombo road trip itinerary can be travelled in reverse and can be modified to suit your individual requirements. Suggested activities are a guideline to some of the special and unique experiences offered in each region but are optional and not included in the KiwiCombo Pass. However we can make reservations for you, just ask!

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