Fans of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon can imaigne themselves as Elliot the dragon on their own adventure in New Zealand.
On arrival in Christchurch, if it’s a nice day, put together a quick gourmet picnic and head to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens for some fresh air. Formed more than 150 years ago, meander through more than 10 different gardens framed by mature trees and expansive lawns. Or enjoy a relaxed punt on the river Avon.
Arriving in Kaikoura late morning, dine on a lunch of fresh seafood – the town’s delicacy – before taking a whale watching boat cruise in the afternoon. Kaikoura is a marinelife mecca, and whales, dolphins, seals and penguins call these waters home. It’s one of the few places in the world where you can see sperm whales up close. Don’t forget the camera!
More than 140 years ago, early pioneers recognised something special in the earth surrounding Blenheim and Marlborough, choosing to plant the region’s very first vineyards. Today, Marlborough is a winemaking mecca, world-famous for its sauvignon blanc. From Blenheim, spend a day visiting a selection of the region’s most impressive vineyards. Choose to self-drive, take a guided tour by car or mix in your daily exercise with a winery cycle tour.
Just north of Blenheim, near Picton, spend a day hiking or biking the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track through Marlborough Sounds. Taking a cruise is another fabulous way to enjoy the beauty of this region - the Greenshell Mussel cruise is highly recommended.
The short drive to Picton takes you across the Wairau Plains past vineyards and wineries. Diversions along the way include a golf course and farm parks. Once in Picton, there are museums and interesting walks will keep you entertained until your ferry ride to Wellington.
Wellington City is compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafes, restaurants and all kinds of shops. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty. As New Zealand’s capital, this city is rich in political history.
A must-do for Wellington is Weta Digital. The tours have been named one of the top 10 studio tours in the world. Film fans can meet members of the creative team and see first-hand how they create jaw-dropping special effects.
Explore the best of the Maori world in Rotorua. Places such as Te Puia offer cultural experiences that combine dramatic Maori performances – singing, dancing and haka (war dances) with delicious Maori food and arts. Te Puia is also a thermal reserve featuring more than 500 springs and the famous Pohutu Geyser which erupts up to 20 times a day, spurting hot water up to 30m skyward.
Rotorua has long been famous for its naturally heated waters, which make it a haven for relaxation. Here you can soak in a steaming mineral pool while taking in glorious views or enjoy a wide range of treatments at one of the city’s many health spas. Treatments are influenced by Rotorua’s natural geothermal phenomenon and strong Maori influence.
Depart Rotorua for Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Auckland is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. It’s a place to enjoy marine adventures, wine trails, forest walks and urban sophistication.
Begin your holiday by travelling north from Auckland to the beautiful Tutukaka coast. Gateway to the renowned Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka is a haven for lovers of the sea. Since it was founded as a Marine Reserve in 1981, this living treasure has attracted divers and snorkelers from around the world. Take a guided snorkeling or diving tour out to the islands to discover coral gardens, kelp forests, rare fish and huge underwater cliffs.
Learn how Waitangi - a short drive from Paihia - set the stage for a defining moment in New Zealand’s history. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, making New Zealand a British colony. Admire the intricately carved marae (meeting house) as well as the mighty waka ( Maori canoe). Before leaving, stroll the manicured lawns that overlook the Bay of Islands.