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21 Days NZ In-Depth

New Zealand

21 Days NZ In-Depth

21 Days | All of New Zealand

Visit New Zealand's most popular resort destinations as well as some more remote areas with this popular & comprehensive New Zealand itinerary.

High Season

Sample Price

(01 Oct 2017 - 30 Apr 2018)

NZ$2535 per person

Low Season

Sample Price

(01 May - 30 Sep 2017)

NZ$2220 per person

Price Includes:

  • 14 nights gold & 6 nights blue motel accommodation
  • 20 days small car rental car
  • 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

From the beautiful beaches of Paihia, the mystical Maori culture of Rotorua, spectacular lake and mountain region around Taupo, south to the Capital City of Wellington and the highlights of the South Island. Visit the spectacular West Coast glacier region, the wonderful wineries of Wanaka, adventure of Queenstown and awe-inspiring Milford Sound and Mount Cook.

Your Itinerary:

Day 1 - Arrive Auckland, pick up rental car on arrival. Kia ora, welcome to Auckland, the "City of Sails', New Zealand's largest and very multi-cultural city. Stroll  the waterfront at Viaduct Harbour, famous for America's Cup sailing, savour the dining scene at adjacent Wynyard Quarter, enjoy beautiful beaches as well as boutique shopping at the Britomart, High Street and along Queen Street.  The iconic SkyTower offers splendid views of the Harbour Bridge.

Day 2 - Drive Auckland - Paihia (approx 3 hours/10 mins) in the Bay of Islands. Crossing the grand harbour bridge, quickly leave Auckland behind and then its beaches galore as you travel north. First is Orewa en route to historic Warkworth town and from there either follow the main road to Whangarei or divert along the coast road via Mangawhai Heads.  From Whangarei its rolling farmland to Kawakawa and then on to Paihia the main township in the beautiful Bay of Islands. 

Day 3 - In Paihia at leisure.The main township located of the beautiful Bay of Islands offers superb sweeping beaches and a wide range of recreational activities. Your choice to relax on one of the golden sand beaches or take a dolphin watch nature cruise, a scenic boat trip to Cape Brett and the 'Hole in the Rock' or short ferry to historic Russell. Swimming with the dolphins, kayaking and sailing are also right here!  Or you might choose to do a day trip to New Zealand's northern most tip at Cape Reinga.

Day 4 - Drive Paihia - Hamilton (approx 4 hours/30 mins) Forests, farmland and ocean vistas decorate the route south to Auckland. Perhaps travel back to Auckland via Northland’s west coast taking in the gorgeous Hokianga Harbour and Waipoua Forest, home to the giant Kauri trees.  Cross the Harbour Bridge and leave Auckland behind. The mighty Waikato River, New Zealand's longest, will accompany you for much of your journey through lush green countryside to Hamilton City. Hamilton is located on the banks of the Waikato River, which is best appreciated from one of the scenic riverside walks or a boat cruise. Other city highlights include Hamilton Botanic Gardens, the Waikato Museum and the Hamilton zoo, which provides native birds with enormous freedom in a walk-through free flight aviary.

Day 5 - Drive Hamilton - Rotorua (approx 1 hour, 30 mins) - or take a detour either via Matamata to visit LOTR Hobbiton, or Waitomo to view glow worm caves. With spectacular scenery and exciting things to see and do that engage all your senses, there is plenty to do in Rotorua.  With its spectacular geothermal landscape, cultural experiences and historical sites to explore, it's consistently one of the most popular visitor destinations in New Zealand.

Day 6 - 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 7 - Drive Rotorua - Napier (approx 3 hours) Geothermal reserves, vast forests and lush native bush feature en route to Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. Worthwhile stopovers en route include Waimangu and Waiotapu geothermal reserves, Aratiatia Rapids and the thundering Huka Falls. The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake and is known as a trout fishing paradise and for its adventure activities. The major entertainment on the road from Taupo to Napier is the fantastic scenery. There’s a bit of everything - rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. You might want to stop at the Waiarua Falls lookout, to view the twin waterfalls. At Tarawera you can walk to the hot springs, which are above the Waipunga River. Napier's trademark is its art deco and spanish mission architecture, Norfolk Pine tree-lined waterfront, rich arts culture and vast surrounding vineyards boasting world-renowned wine labels.

Day 8 - In Napier at leisure Embrace Napier's art deco heritage with a selection of guided walks and tours or pick up a local walking map to take in some of Napier's superb architecture, parks and gardens. A drive up to Bluff Hill  allows for truly commanding views, the local art guide map takes you around city galleries to home studios to get a taste of the thriving artistic community or to relax and unwind, try the open air hot pools.

Day 9 - Drive Napier - Wellington (approx 4 hours/30 mins) Travel through the green farmland of the Hawke's Bay region, the rural towns of Norsewood and Dannevirk with their Danish heritage, the region's farming hub of Masterton and charming, colonial Greytown (famous for its great chocolate shop!), perhaps a side trip to Martinborough wine village en route. Wind your way through the Upper Hutt region as you approach the central Wellington region. Wellington, New Zealand's Capital City, is home to a powerful mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine.  Highlight features include its stunning harbour location, Te Papa National Museum, theatres and galleries, high street stores and culinary havens.

Day 10 - Wellington - Picton (by InterIslander ferry approx 3 hours) Pick up replacement rental car in Picton  Drive to Nelson (approx 1 hour/45 mins) Cruise from the inner harbour of Wellington, across Cook Strait and through the Tory Channel to the sheltered waters of the magical Queen Charlotte Sound. There's extraordinary scenery all the way before you reach the picturesque seaside town of Picton.Enjoy stunning scenery as you leave the Marlborough Sounds along serene Queen Charlotte Drive to the marina town of Havelock.  Mussels are on the menu in Havelock, the town is best known as the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World.   Continue alongside the Pelorus River into the dense pine tree lined Rai Valley to the vibrant beach side city of Nelson.  Relaxation and rejuvenation are priorities here. As well as high sunshine hours, the white curve of Tahunanui Beach and street side cafes, Nelson is full of fantastic original arts.  Visit the workshop of a local painter, sculptor, fashion designer, glass blower or jeweller for wonderful displays.

Day 11 - In Nelson at leisure The sunniest region in New Zealand with a geography that captures everything from long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains. Perhaps a day trip to the gorgeous Abel Tasman National Park for beach swimming, a boat cruise or beach & bush walk or visit the World of Wearable Arts Museum.  Local wine tours and cellar doors promote outstanding local wines.  Bike the cycle trails through vineyards and orchards, along stretches of white sand coastline, beaches and bays.

Day 12 - Drive Nelson - Hokitika (approx 4 hours/10 mins)  Admire the charming and quaint small towns of this region as you depart Nelson, south bound for West Coast's Hokitika. Descend through the scenic Spooners Range with its shades of green bush and forest to Murchison, skirting the Kahurangi National Park. The spectacular Buller Gorge swing bridge (New Zealand's longest) takes you to a number of bush walks ranging from 15 minutes to an hour.  A short detour to visit Westport, the West Coast's oldest town is worthwhile.  The road trip south via Punakaiki to Greymouth is considered one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet.  Pause to view the spectacular pancake rock formations at Punakaiki.  Hokitika is a "cool little town" with a multitude of great shops, galleries and cafes right on the beach where brilliant sunsets are the order of the day.

Day 13 - Drive Hokitika - Franz Josef (approx 1 hour/45 mins) The small township of Franz Josef is home to the Franz Josef Glacier - a huge river of ice that has squeezed down the valleys to just 250m above sea level. Enjoy a scenic flight, glacier walk, one of the many short walks around the village or relax in the hot pools complex set within the rain forest. 

Day 14 - Drive Franz Josef - Wanaka (approx 3 hours/40 mins)  Pass through the alpine village of Fox Glacier, perhaps take to visit the glacier or nearby Lake Mathieson, famous for reflecting a near-perfect image of Aoraki Mount Cook. Continue your drive south past Lake Paringa and Lake Moeraki to the rugged Tasman Sea coastline.  A stop at Knights Point offers dramatic views.  Through the Gates of Haast, follow the Haast River into the extraordinary, remote beauty of the Mount Aspiring National Park.  Skirt the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea to the resort town of Wanaka with its mirror lake shores and rugged mountainous backdrop. The perfect destination for outdoor adventure - from jet boating up the Matukituki River, outback 4WD safaris, mountain biking and tandem paragliding for those who want a bit of adventure, to more leisurely attractions such as Puzzling World, a round of golf with stunning lake views, a scenic lake cruise or a guided tour of local vineyards.  A lakeside stroll offers impressive views up the lake towards the remote Mt Aspiring National Park.

Day 15 - Drive Wanaka - Queenstown (approx 1 hour) Meander through the fruit growing district surrounding Cromwell, perhaps call into historic Old Cromwell Town for a browse of local art galleries and cafes. The dramatic Kawarau Gorge opens to the wide Gibbston Valley with its hillsides of ruler straight grape vines. Arrive in the resort town of Queenstown, hugging the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by spectacular mountain peaks.

Day 16 - 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 remote high country farm at Mt Nicholas, 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 17 - Drive Queenstown - Milford Sound - Te Anau (approx 5 hours, 45 mins) Skirt Lake Wakatipu's stunning shores as you transcend through small towns and local farmland into the grand Fiordland region. The road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The first part is relatively mild farmland, then you’ll ease into beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. Look for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes. The rough hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into Milford Sound, an amazing 22km-long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak. An optional cruise on Milford Sound will be an essential component of your time in Fiordland. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces and seals are some of the things you’ll remember, while the underwater observatory is an option with most cruises. Enjoy the mirror lakes, towering mountains and lush bush of the Fiordland National Park as you return to Te Anau township on the shores of beautiful Lake Te Anau.

Day 18 - Drive Te Anau to Dunedin (approx 4 hours/10 mins) 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 19 - Drive Dunedin to Twizel (approx 3 hours/45 mins) A pause at Moeraki to see the mysterious boulders on the beach is worthwhile before continuing north to historic Oamaru with its distinctive white sandstone public buildings and wide main street. Follow the mighty Waitaki River inland, skirting the shores of Lake Waitaki and Lake Aviemore to reach the junction at Omarama.  Perhaps take time to enjoy a luxurious soak in the hot tubs before continuing to Twizel. Twizel is a small township located near Aoraki Mount Cook, which was originally created to provide a home for workers involved with the Upper Waitaki Power Scheme. Today it is a well-positioned base for exploring the Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. 

Day 20 - Drive Twizel - Mt Cook - Christchurch (approx 5 hours/40 mins) Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo create outstanding photo opportunities of the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, dominated by New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook.  Cross Burkes Pass to the peaceful rural towns of Fairlie and Geraldine, before traversing the vast Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. Its location between the Pacific Ocean, snow capped Southern Alps and volcanic hills of the Banks Peninsula gives Christchurch stunning landscapes and an enticing range of attractions.  Ride the historic tramway, punt on the River Avon, stroll the Botanic Gardens and enjoy vibrant restaurants and cafes.

Day 21 - Depart Christchurch, drop off rental car at airport. You have the day at leisure until you make your way to Christchurch 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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