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Auckland to Christchurch 14 day Ultimate Explorer

This 14 day tour has it all. Explore Waitomo Caves, Mitai 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.

 New Zealand independent tour
 Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch
 14 days/ 13 nights
 Motels
  Customisable? YES Enquire Enquire
 Viewed 15 times in the last 7 days

Included in this tour package

TSS Earnlsaw, Queenstown, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

At a glance - Auckland to Christchurch 14 day Ultimate Explorer

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland City. Accommodation: Quest Auckland Serviced Apartments

Day 2: Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua. Accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Day 3: Hobbiton day tour from Rotorua. Accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Day 4: Fly to Wellington this morning, Explore the capital this afternoon with a LOTR tour. Accommodation: Quest Wellington

Day 5: Wellington to Christchurch via Air New Zealand flight. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 6: Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park, Glacier explorers tour this afternoon. Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Day 7: Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 8: Free day to explore Queenstown. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 9: Enjoy an afternoon exploring the Central Otago wineries. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 10: Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 11: Dart River Safari tour this morning, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner this evening. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 12: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Newmans coach. Accommodation: Punga Grove motel & suites

Day 13: Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 14: Depart Christchurch today.

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Auckland to Christchurch 14 day Ultimate Explorer - Detailed Itinerary  

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland City

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Auckland Afternoon City Highlights tour

Discover Auckland's history, culture and scenery with this half-day afternoon highlights tour. Travel through the city centre and heritage suburb of Ponsonby before crossing the harbour bridge for spectacular views of the Hauraki Gulf and city skyline. Visit New Zealand’s Americas Cup racing precinct - the Viaduct Harbour - as well as Queen Street, a central shopping district. Visit The Domain - 75 hectares of gardens, duck ponds, public art spaces and is home to the majestic Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Continue through historic Parnell Village, where you’ll have an opportunity to explore during an afternoon tea stop (own expense). Next traverse the bays to Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park. Named after one of New Zealand's Prime Ministers, the park has formal gardens and tranquil atmosphere with a panoramic outlook over the picturesque Eastern Bays. The tour will then take you back along the waterfront to finish in downtown Auckland.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Dinner Cruise Sailing Experience

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. Your experienced crew will talk about Auckland’s highlights and there will opportunity try your hand at steering.

At our sheltered mooring you'll be served delicious New Zealand fare - choose from a delectable three course menu catered for by Snapdragon, a renowned Viaduct Restaurant.

Your Accommodation: Quest Auckland Serviced Apartments

Quest Auckland is situated in the heart of Auckland's CBD and within walking distance to all the city centre has to offer. The serviced apartments have kitchenettes or fully equipped kitchens plus laundry facilities, private balcony and room control air conditioning.

Quest Auckland Serviced Apartments

Day 2: Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorua

Auckland to Waitomo and Rotorua full day Experience with Great Sights including lunch

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 glow worm caves, a maori cultural performance, a visit to the Agrodome and bubbling mud pools and geysers.

Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. See warriors in traditional dress and glowworms in their natural habitat. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance.

Your Accommodation: Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Tuscany Villas offers guests luxurious accommodation in the heart of the city, with new modern designs and comfortable furnishings and a personal and friendly service.

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner

Tuscany Villas Rotorua

Day 3: Hobbiton day tour from Rotorua

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. You’ll see 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Polynesian 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, where as 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 offers guests luxurious accommodation in the heart of the city, with new modern designs and comfortable furnishings and a personal and friendly service.

Tuscany Villas Rotorua

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

On this half-day tour explore key Lord of the Rings filming locations all within an hour of central Wellington. Highlights include the outskirts of the Shire, the Gardens of Isengard, the River Anduin and the sites of Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith. Stroll where the hobbits raced to the Buckleberry Ferry and see where the infamous 'get off the road' scene was shot. You'll also stop and overlook the site of the Dunharrow Rohirrim encampment.

Your Accommodation: Quest Wellington

Quest Wellington offers great value serviced apartment accommodation within a stroll of Wellingtons attractions, cafes, restaurants and shops

Quest Wellington

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 delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

The Bella Vista Motel and Apartments, Christchurch, offer accommodation in a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities.

Bella Vista Christchurch

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

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park with Great Sights

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains you head into Mackenzie country. Ascending Burkes Pass, you'll enter New Zealand's high country. The picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, is the first of the large Southern Lakes on your journey and enjoy a short stop here to enjoy the picturesque lake and one of the most photographed buildings in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd. Continue onto Lake Pukaki and on clear days you will be rewarded with a spectacular views of Mt Cook, towering over the lake. The spectacular scenic drive along the lake delivers you into the heart of the national park and Mt. Cook Village.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Enjoy a glacier experience that is unique in New Zealand and one of only three in the world. Get up and close and personal with icebergs, on a glacial terminal lake.

It is extremely rare for a glacier to terminate into a lake and rarer still to find one that is accessible to visitors. Join your group on our boat for an intimate encounter with a glacier -- see massive icebergs and soaring ice cliffs. You'll experience seldom seen and inaccessible parts of New Zealand's largest glacier in a safe way aboard your boat. Few people can say they have seen, touched and tasted 500 year old ice. Now you will be one of them!

Tours depart from Mount Cook Village outside The Hermitage Hotel, where you'll board a small bus for an enjoyable trip to the Tasman Valley. This is followed by a relaxing 30 minute stroll through the National Park to your waiting MAC boat. Now it’s time to witness the changing ice face of the Tasman Glacier and the icebergs it spawns on the Tasman Glacier Lake. Throughout your 2.5 hour trip (45 min to 1 hour on the lake) your experienced guide offers an informative and entertaining commentary that ensures you don't miss a thing.

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.

Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

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.

Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown with Great Sights

Twizel, just south of Mt. Cook was the location of many Lord of the Rings movie scenes and a little further on is Omarama and a short afternoon tea stop is available here (own expense). Crossing the Lindis Pass this is one of New Zealand’s highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres, you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago. The next major town is  Cromwell, a major fruit growing region, which sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. Follow the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards Queenstown and the Gibbston Valley,  one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range come into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head towards the adventure and activity capital of New Zealand.

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.

Blue Peaks Lodge

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 - Skyline Gondola

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere - and 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 and Coronet Peak - one of Queenstown’s Ski field.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boat the Shotover Canyon

Jet boating on the Shotover River is one of the must do Queenstown activities, even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge climbed aboard ‘Big Red’.  During this unforgettable ride you’ll skim across shallow water, past rocky outcrops as you hurtle through the narrow chasm of the Shotover Canyon before your skilled driver takes you into a scream worth 360 degree spin.

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.

Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 9: Enjoy an afternoon exploring the Central Otago wineries

Appellation Central Boutique Wine Tour

Go off-the-beaten-track with this unique Central Otago wine tour. Taste wines at four of the best vineyards in the Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell regions. The wineries you’ll visit  are selected from the following: Peregrine, Chard Farm, Carrick, Mt Difficulty, Felton Road, Akarua and Olssens vineyards. This tour also includes a delightful gourmet platter lunch at the award winning Carrick Winery Restaurant.

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

Blue Peaks Lodge

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 2½ 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. 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

Blue Peaks Lodge

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

Dart River Wilderness Safari

Take a one and a half hour jet boat safari through the remote wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. Home to towering mountains, alpine bush, glacial lakes and icy rivers, this spectacular trip is considered one of the most scenic in the world. Following your boat journey, take a 40 minute walk through ancient beech forests over 80 million years old. Learn about the area and its history before taking a  four wheel drive coach on a 50 minute journey to the isolated hamlet of Paradise - home to many Lord of the Rings filming locations.

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

Enjoy a dinner cruise from downtown Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw – an iconic Queenstown experience. Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and surrounds as you cruise across the lake to historic Walter Peak high country farm. You’ll be greeted of the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead. Enjoy the ambience of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses and tea & coffee. After dinner, you’ll enjoy a short demonstration of life in the high country. Now it’s time to cruise home under the southern stars. Join a sing-a-long with the on board pianist or simply enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

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

Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 12: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Newmans coach

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

Depart Queenstown by coach passing through Cromwell, Wanaka and Hawea before travelling over the magnificent Haast Pass into Westland. On arrival transfer to your accommodation. A local shuttle is available to take you to the glacier base where you can enjoy some short walks and magnificent views. Perhaps take a scenic helicopter flight for the ultimate view. Spectacular photo opportunities abound of these huge ice masses. Watch out for keas (native parrots) and their inquisitive cheeky play.

Glacier Valley shuttle

You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Valley Eco Tours 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 Eco Tours shuttle.

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.

Punga Grove motel & suites

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

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station by Intercity Coach

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. In 1903 the largest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand was discovered at Jones Creek, not far from the town centre. It weighed 2807 grams. The New Zealand Government later purchased the nugget and presented it as a coronation gift to King George V.  On arrival into Hokitika there is time to purchase lunch, walk around the town centre, to view the greenstone factories, visit the woodworking studio, or just relax and enjoy the windswept coast. Hokitika is the administrative and commercial centre for this part of Westland. The major primary industry is timber milling. Dairy and sheep farming, commercial fishing, white baiting and eel processing being the other major industries. Continue onto Greymouth Railway Station from where you catch the world famous Tranz Alpine train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch.

Tranz Alpine Scenic train Greymouth to Christchurch

Your transport from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine scenic train, offers a chance to take in one of the world's great train journeys. The train -- with carriages specially designed to allow you to take in all the amazing views on offer -- will carry you from the Tasman Sea up into the Southern Alps and through Arthur's Pass National Park to the Pacific Ocean.

The train offers a comfortable and relaxing way to cross Arthurs Pass from the South Island's wild West Coast to the more tamed east coast and its biggest city. Leaving Greymouth Station, you will travel through lush West Coast rain forest before climbing into to the spectacular mountains of the Southern Alps. And, after a stop in Arthur's Pass for a breath of mountain air, you'll travel dramatic gorges and the beautiful Waimakariri river valley to emerge on the farmland of the Canterbury Plains. From here the train crosses the plains for an early evening arrival in Christchurch city.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

You will be met by a private transfer driver at Christchurch train station who will take you to your Christchurch accommodation. (Look for a driver holding a board displaying your name after arriving into the station.)

Your Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

The Bella Vista Motel and Apartments, Christchurch, offer accommodation in a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities.

Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 14: Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

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