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Billy Connolly Drives New Zealand


Overview

Start Auckland / Finish Christchurch
Recommended Length: 18 Days
Distance: 4055 km (2534 miles)

Billy Connolly's Tours from North to South

During his tour of New Zealand in 2004, Billy Connolly traversed 8,500km - a lot of ground in a country that measures only 1600km in length.  Now you can follow in Billy's foot steps.  Take your own tour of the country and get to know it as well as the locals. 

Take your own 'World Tour'

This extensive itinerary provides a total view of New Zealand, and takes in all the most significant sights and attractions. In the North Island you’ll discover beautiful beaches, kauri forests, caves and phenomenal geothermal activity. In the South Island the emphasis is on grand mountain scenery, adventure activities, historic architecture and wildlife encounters.

Throughout the country there are vineyards and inspired restaurants to discover, while the cities present you with cultural entertainments and the chance to buy quality, locally-made clothing, art works and home wares. By the end of your holiday, you’ll know New Zealand from top to toe.


 

 

Route Summary

  Travel time:   Km/Miles
Day 1
Auckland to Paihia
3.25 hrs  233/146
Day 2
Paihia to Kaitaia
1.75 hrs  122/76
Day 3
Kaitaia to Auckland
5 hrs  396/248
Day 4
Auckland to Waitomo Caves
2.5 hrs  198/124
Day 5
Waitomo Caves to Taupo
2 hrs  163/102
Day 6
Taupo to Palmerston North
3.25 hrs  242/151
Day 7
Palmerston North to Wellington
1.75 hrs  139/87
Day 8
Wellington to Kaikoura
5.25 hrs  255/159
Day 9
Kaikoura to Christchurch
3.25 hrs  267/167
Day 10
Christchurch to Dunedin
4.75 hrs  365/228
Day 11
Dunedin to Invercargill
3.5 hrs  271/169
Day 12
Invercargill to Stewart Island
1 hr  72/45
Day 13
Stewart Island to Te Anau
3 hrs  229/143
Day 14
Te Anau to Milford Sound
1.5 hrs  117/73
Day 15
Te Anau to Queenstown
2.25 hrs  172/108
Day 16
Queenstown to Franz Josef
5 hrs  387/242
Day 17
Franz Josef to Greymouth
2.25 hrs  173/108
Day 18
Greymouth to Christchurch
3 hrs  254/159
Totals for Driving Route 54.25 hrs  4055/2534

Key Scenic highlights along the way




Day 1: Auckland to Paihia

Auckland - Orewa - Warkworth - Whangarei - Paihia

36 km (23 miles)
Approximately 0.5 hour
Road Conditions: Motorway/State Highway

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, 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.

At the beginning of your journey, you’ll drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge towards the bays and beaches of Auckland’s North Shore. The motorway will quickly sweep you northward, until the suburban scenery gives way to peaceful farmland.

Before you reach Orewa, you have the option of taking an exit that leads to Silverdale and Gulf Harbour. Silverdale is famous for its factory and outlet stores. Gulf Harbour, at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, has a breathtaking golf course. Beautiful beaches can be found up and down the peninsula.

The town of Orewa spreads along the edge of a large, white sand surf beach. You can explore bush trails at the northern end of the town, visit the friendly shopping centre or dive into the waves for a refreshing swim.

Scenic Highlights

Auckland's volcanic cones
Climb green volcanic cones in the heart of a large city to peer into deep craters and explore ancient Maori earthworks. Look out over the harbours, islands and beyond.

Devonport & North Head
Discover colonial cottages, stately waterfront homes and World War II defences that run deep into a volcanic cone.

Wenderholm Regional Park
Swim at the beach, kayak up a river, explore a native forest headland or camp overnight in a seaside regional park just north of Auckland.

Hunua Ranges
Enjoy nature walks, mountain biking, fishing and camping in the largest mainland forest within the Auckland region.

Auckland Botanic Gardens
Learn about plants from New Zealand and around the world. This beautiful garden offers 64 hectares of cleverly themed displays.

Tamaki Drive and beaches
Enjoy on-street cafes, park-like picnic areas and safe sandy beaches just minutes from Auckland's central business district.

Parnell Historic Walk
Explore the historic houses and buildings of Parnell, New Zealand's first suburb. Be tempted by great cafes and specialty shops along the way.

Shakespear Regional Park
Flop on the beach with a good book or walk across farmland and through native bush to panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf and islands.

Coast to Coast Walk
Walk across New Zealand in one day. This 16 kilometre walkway explores parks, volcanic cones and historic suburbs across the Auckland isthmus.

Long Bay Regional Park
Pack a picnic and head for a waterfront park just 20 kilometres from the city centre. Relax on the long sandy beach or hike along the headland.

Auckland Domain
Fly a kite, feed ducks, walk through native forest or follow a trail of outdoor sculptures in this magnificent inner city park.

Auckland's North Shore beaches
Dip your toes into the North Shore's beachy lifestyle. A series of sandy bays stretches from Cheltenham to Torbay.

Long Bay - Okura Marine Reserve, North Auckland
Less than half an hour from Auckland's CBD, this marine reserve runs along the edge of a beautiful sandy beach.

Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve, Waitemata Harbour
A haven for wading and sea birds, you can see this marine reserve from Auckland's northwestern motorway.

Motuihe Island
Visit a picturesque island that is becoming a new wildlife sanctuary. Enjoy walks, beautiful sandy beaches and glimpses of the island's intriguing history.

Rangitoto Island
Cross the harbour on a ferry to step onto an alien volcanic landscape. Explore native forests and lava caves on the way to panoramic views from the edge of the summit crater.

Tiri Tiri Matangi Island
Encounter the entertaining behaviour of rare native birds on this pest-free island sanctuary. These birds have no reason to fear humans, so they're extra friendly.

Waitakere Ranges
In half an hour you can leave the city behind to explore a vast forest park with waterfalls, rivers, giant kauri trees and wild ocean beaches.

Activities

Auckland
Golf (16) Walking/Trekking (27)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 


Auckland - Orewa - Warkworth - Whangarei - Paihia

27 km (17 miles)
Approximately 0.5 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

The town of Orewa spreads along the edge of a large, white sand surf beach. You can explore bush trails at the northern end of the town, visit the friendly shopping centre or dive into the waves for a refreshing swim.

Driving north, you’ll pass Hatfield’s Beach before coming across Waiwera, which means ‘hot water’ in Maori. The hot springs are the main attraction in this small, seaside village.

The next place of interest is Puhoi, a town originally settled in 1863 by immigrants from Bohemia. Cheese is the local claim to fame – buy some for your next picnic.

Enjoy native forest and farmland scenery all the way to Warkworth, a pretty town located on the banks of the Mahurangi River. From here it’s easy to explore the many attractions of the district – surf beaches, marine and wildlife sanctuaries, vineyards, golf courses, regional parks and islands.

Scenic Highlights

Wenderholm Regional Park
Swim at the beach, kayak up a river, explore a native forest headland or camp overnight in a seaside regional park just north of Auckland.

Shakespear Regional Park
Flop on the beach with a good book or walk across farmland and through native bush to panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf and islands.

Tawharanui Regional Park
This regional park is one of north Auckland's best-kept secrets. If a swell is running from the north or east, come ready to play in the surf.

Cape Rodney - Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island Marine Reserve)
So much more than a picnic at the beach, a day at Goat Island Marine Reserve is unforgettable.

Long Bay - Okura Marine Reserve, North Auckland
Less than half an hour from Auckland's CBD, this marine reserve runs along the edge of a beautiful sandy beach.

Tiri Tiri Matangi Island
Encounter the entertaining behaviour of rare native birds on this pest-free island sanctuary. These birds have no reason to fear humans, so they're extra friendly.

Activities

Auckland
Boat Cruises (24), Walking/Trekking (27),

Northland
Sailing (19)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 


Auckland - Orewa - Warkworth - Whangarei - Paihia

99 km (62 miles)
Approximately 1.25 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

Warkworth is a pretty town on the banks of the Mahurangi River. From here it's easy to explore the attractions of the district - surf beaches, marine and wildlife sanctuaries, vineyards, golf courses, regional parks and islands.

A drive through the Dome Forest will lead you into the rural service town of Wellsford. From here you can take a side trip to Pakiri - a great beach for surfing and horse treks. Kaiwaka is the next town on the map - pause here if you like Dutch cheese. At this point consider an eastern detour past the spectacular beaches of Mangawhai Heads, Langs Beach and Waipu Cove.

Just before Whangarei a right turn will take you to the Marsden Point oil refinery. The visitors' centre has an interesting display that explains the refining process.

Whangarei is a subtropical city on the edge of a beautiful harbour. At the Quayside Town Basin complex you'll find stylish cafes and restaurants, as well as museums, art galleries and shops. Be sure to visit Whangarei Falls.

Scenic Highlights

Tawharanui Regional Park
This regional park is one of north Auckland's best-kept secrets. If a swell is running from the north or east, come ready to play in the surf.

Whangarei - city by the sea
Various scenic options around Whangarei - a leisurely centre for exploring Northland and the Twin Coast Discovery Highway.

Poor Knights Islands
The Poor Knights Islands, Northland New Zealand, are often called one of the world’s top dive locations.

Cape Rodney - Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island Marine Reserve)
So much more than a picnic at the beach, a day at Goat Island Marine Reserve is unforgettable.

Activities

Northland
Arts & Crafts (16) Fishing – Salt Water (31) Museums (11)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 


Auckland - Orewa - Warkworth - Whangarei - Paihia

71 km (44 miles)
Approximately 1 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

Whangarei is a subtropical city on the edge of a beautiful harbour. At the Quayside Town Basin complex you’ll find stylish cafes and restaurants, as well as museums, art galleries and shops. Be sure to visit Whangarei Falls.

A series of small settlements will lead you north. Just before Kawakawa, a side road runs to the glow-worm cave at Waiomio. Take a rest stop in Kawakawa, because it has a remarkable public toilet designed by Austrian artist Frederick Hundertwasser.

From here the road to the Bay of Islands becomes quite twisty, but you’ll enjoy some delightful scenery along the way. A short detour takes you to the port of Opua, where cruise ships often call.

The resort town of Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands. Catch a cruise to the outer islands or a ferry to the charming township of Russell. The historic Treaty House at Waitangi marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation.

Scenic Highlights

Whangarei - city by the sea
Various scenic options around Whangarei - a leisurely centre for exploring Northland and the Twin Coast Discovery Highway.

Kawiti Caves (Waiomio Caves)
Just before you reach Kawakawa, detour to Kawiti Caves. Discover stalactites, glow worms and Maori history.

The Bay of Islands
When you arrive in Paihia, find yourself a cruise or a charter boat and embark on a voyage of discovery around the islands.

Ruapekapeka Pa
The struggle between British troops and Maori in Northland led to the creation of this ingenious pa (fort).

Poor Knights Islands
The Poor Knights Islands, Northland New Zealand, are often called one of the world’s top dive locations.

Urupukapuka Island
Urupukapuka Island is a place you must see while visiting the Bay of Islands. It is a beautiful island with fascinating nature and history.

Activities

Northland
Boat Cruises (20) Cultural Attractions (12) Diving (16)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 



Day 2: Paihia to Kaitaia

Paihia - Kerikeri - Kaitaia

23 km (14 miles)
Approximately 0.5 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway/Arterial

Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands. Catch a cruise to the outer islands or a ferry to the charming township of Russell. The historic Treaty House at Waitangi marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation.

Just beyond Paihia you’ll have to chance to visit Haruru Falls. These falls tumble down in a perfect horseshoe. A walking track runs from the falls all the way to Waitangi and includes a board walk through mangrove forest.

The road leading into Kerikeri is bordered by orchards. Roadside stalls offer the chance to buy seasonal fruit. Look also for signs showing the way to artists’ studios – resident potters and painters have given this district a creative personality.

Kerikeri is a town of things to do. You’ll find galleries, cafes and vineyards, gourmet food shops, several golf courses and historic sites such as the Stone Store and the Mission House. There are superb bush walks in the area – Rainbow Falls is a perfect picnic spot.

Scenic Highlights

Kawiti Caves (Waiomio Caves)
Just before you reach Kawakawa, detour to Kawiti Caves. Discover stalactites, glow worms and Maori history.

The Bay of Islands
When you arrive in Paihia, find yourself a cruise or a charter boat and embark on a voyage of discovery around the islands.

Ruapekapeka Pa
The struggle between British troops and Maori in Northland led to the creation of this ingenious pa (fort).

Historic sites in Kerikeri
Kerikeri isn’t all cafés and galleries; there are many significant historic sites in the area, including New Zealand's oldest standing European building.

Cavalli Islands and Matauri Bay
The Cavilli Islands, one of the top dive sights in Northland.

Urupukapuka Island
Urupukapuka Island is a place you must see while visiting the Bay of Islands. It is a beautiful island with fascinating nature and history.

Activities

Northland
Arts & Crafts (16) Boat Cruises (20) Fishing – Salt Water (31)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 


Paihia - Kerikeri - Kaitaia

99 km (62 miles)
Approximately 1.25 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway/Arterial

Kerikeri is a town of things to do. You'll find galleries, cafes and vineyards, gourmet food shops, golf courses and historic sites such as the Stone Store and the Mission House. There are superb bush walks in the area - Rainbow Falls is a perfect picnic spot.

Scenic side trips on the road to Kaitaia include Matauri Bay (the resting place of the Rainbow Warrior) and Tauranga Bay. Nearby Whangaroa Harbour is a game fishing mecca. Further north, the beautiful beaches of Doubtless Bay will tempt you with white sand and crystal clear water. Sailing, sea kayaking, horse treks and golf are some of the other activities available in this district. If you have time, make the trip to the Cape Reinga lighthouse - then you can say you've been to the very top of New Zealand.

Kaitaia is the main centre for the 'subtropical' north. From here you can catch a bus trip along Ninety Mile Beach. Other local attractions include the Far North Regional Museum and the nocturnal park.

Scenic Highlights

Ninety Mile Beach
A world of forest, sand and ocean waves, 90 Mile Beach is an almost neverending paradise.

Arai Te Uru Reserve and Signal Hill
According to local legend, the north and south heads of the Hokianga Harbour were once giant taniwha (sea monsters).

Historic sites in Kerikeri
Kerikeri isn’t all cafés and galleries; there are many significant historic sites in the area, including New Zealand's oldest standing European building.

Cavalli Islands and Matauri Bay
The Cavilli Islands, one of the top dive sights in Northland.

Activities

Northland
Diving (16) Sailing (19) Wineries (9)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 



Day 3: Kaitaia to Auckland

Kaitaia - Dargaville - Auckland

211 km (132 miles)
Approximately 2.75 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

From Kaitaia you can catch a tour to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach. Find time to investigate the Far North Regional Museum and the local nocturnal park.

The backcountry route to Dargaville takes you past the Herekino Forest, where you can stretch your legs on the Kaitaia Walkway. In Kohukohu you'll find some charming historic buildings. A vehicular ferry will carry you over the harbour to Rawene, a great stop for coffee and crafts. Further on is Opononi, where you can arrange to go sand dune surfing.

Your next adventure is the awesome Waipoua Forest, home of New Zealand's largest kauri trees. The Trounson Kauri Park is another opportunity for tree gazing. Not far from Dargaville are the Kai Iwi lakes. These beautiful sand dune lakes are popular for camping, swimming, fishing and kayaking.

Dargaville is a perfect base for exploring the Kaipara Harbour, which offers fishing, quad biking, schooner trips and bird watching. The west coast beaches in this area form part of the longest driveable beach in New Zealand.

Scenic Highlights

Ninety Mile Beach
A world of forest, sand and ocean waves, 90 Mile Beach is an almost neverending paradise.

Arai Te Uru Reserve and Signal Hill
According to local legend, the north and south heads of the Hokianga Harbour were once giant taniwha (sea monsters).

Pouto Peninsula and Ripiro Beach
A remote wilderness of sand, sea and sky, the Pouto Peninsula and Ripiro Beach make an excellent day trip from Dargaville.

Waipoua Kauri Forest
A five minute walk from the roadside will bring you to the foot of Tane Mahuta, probably the largest tree you'll ever lay eyes upon.

Kai Iwi Sand Lakes
Camping, swimming, fishing, hiking and relaxing are all great reasons to visit Kai Iwi Lakes in Northland.

Trounson Kauri Park
A night walk through Trounson Kauri Park is an unforgettable experience. The owls call 'morepork' and kiwi roam the forest floor.

Tokatoka Peak
Tokatoka Peak is an extraordinary mountain near the edge of the Wairoa River in Northland. It only takes 20 minutes to walk to the summit.

Activities

Northland
Fishing – Salt Water (31) Off Road Driving Adventure (7)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 


Kaitaia - Dargaville - Auckland

185 km (116 miles)
Approximately 2.25 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway/Motorway

Dargaville is a perfect base for exploring the Kaipara Harbour, which offers fishing, quad biking, schooner trips and bird watching. The west coast beaches in this area form part of the longest driveable beach in New Zealand.

Travel across the river plain to Matakohe’s kauri museum, where you’ll discover the district’s fascinating history. In the village of Maungaturoto you can explore antique and craft shops.

At Brynderwyn you’ll turn towards Kaiwaka, a village known for its Dutch cheese. Further south is Wellsford, where you’ll take a right towards Helensville. The hilly rural road provides amazing views of the Kaipara Harbour and surrounding farmland. There are hot springs at Parakai if you have time to spare. At Kumeu you’ll turn towards Waitakere, where you’ll embark on a beatiful scenic drive through the Waitakere Ranges.

Auckland will reveal itself as you drive down from Titirangi village. With two huge harbours, this city is an ideal base for marine adventures. Other attractions include wine trails, forest walks and highly acclaimed restaurant zones.

Scenic Highlights

Auckland's volcanic cones
Climb green volcanic cones in the heart of a large city to peer into deep craters and explore ancient Maori earthworks. Look out over the harbours, islands and beyond.

Devonport & North Head
Discover colonial cottages, stately waterfront homes and World War II defences that run deep into a volcanic cone.

Hunua Ranges
Enjoy nature walks, mountain biking, fishing and camping in the largest mainland forest within the Auckland region.

Auckland Botanic Gardens
Learn about plants from New Zealand and around the world. This beautiful garden offers 64 hectares of cleverly themed displays.

Tamaki Drive and beaches
Enjoy on-street cafes, park-like picnic areas and safe sandy beaches just minutes from Auckland's central business district.

Parnell Historic Walk
Explore the historic houses and buildings of Parnell, New Zealand's first suburb. Be tempted by great cafes and specialty shops along the way.

Coast to Coast Walk
Walk across New Zealand in one day. This 16 kilometre walkway explores parks, volcanic cones and historic suburbs across the Auckland isthmus.

Long Bay Regional Park
Pack a picnic and head for a waterfront park just 20 kilometres from the city centre. Relax on the long sandy beach or hike along the headland.

Auckland Domain
Fly a kite, feed ducks, walk through native forest or follow a trail of outdoor sculptures in this magnificent inner city park.

Auckland's North Shore beaches
Dip your toes into the North Shore's beachy lifestyle. A series of sandy bays stretches from Cheltenham to Torbay.

Pouto Peninsula and Ripiro Beach
A remote wilderness of sand, sea and sky, the Pouto Peninsula and Ripiro Beach make an excellent day trip from Dargaville.

Waipoua Kauri Forest
A five minute walk from the roadside will bring you to the foot of Tane Mahuta, probably the largest tree you'll ever lay eyes upon.

Kai Iwi Sand Lakes
Camping, swimming, fishing, hiking and relaxing are all great reasons to visit Kai Iwi Lakes in Northland.

Trounson Kauri Park
A night walk through Trounson Kauri Park is an unforgettable experience. The owls call 'morepork' and kiwi roam the forest floor.

Tokatoka Peak
Tokatoka Peak is an extraordinary mountain near the edge of the Wairoa River in Northland. It only takes 20 minutes to walk to the summit.

Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve, Waitemata Harbour
A haven for wading and sea birds, you can see this marine reserve from Auckland's northwestern motorway.

Motuihe Island
Visit a picturesque island that is becoming a new wildlife sanctuary. Enjoy walks, beautiful sandy beaches and glimpses of the island's intriguing history.

Rangitoto Island
Cross the harbour on a ferry to step onto an alien volcanic landscape. Explore native forests and lava caves on the way to panoramic views from the edge of the summit crater.

Waitakere Ranges
In half an hour you can leave the city behind to explore a vast forest park with waterfalls, rivers, giant kauri trees and wild ocean beaches.

Activities

Auckland
Off Road Driving Adventure (6), Walking/Trekking (27),

Northland
Cultural Attractions (12) Off Road Driving Adventure (7)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 



Day 4: Auckland to Waitomo Caves

Auckland - Hamilton - Waitomo Caves

127 km (79 miles)
Approximately 1.5 hours
Road Conditions: Motorway/State Highway

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, 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.

As you cruise down the southern motorway, suburban scenery gradually gives way to the farmland of South Auckland, an area favoured by bloodstock breeders. You’ll enjoy motorway speeds all the way to Bombay, a major market gardening area.

The Waikato River will accompany you for much of your journey through the green countryside. Places of interest along the way include the wine growing area of Te Kauwhata and the coal mining town of Huntly. Before you get to Hamilton, you’ll notice side roads leading to Waingaro Hot Springs and Raglan, a surf resort on the west coast.

The city of Hamilton is carved in two by the mighty Waikato River. Attractions include gardens, riverboat cruising and a giant free flight aviary. Excellent restaurants and cafes can be found at the southern end of the city’s main street.

Scenic Highlights

Auckland's volcanic cones
Climb green volcanic cones in the heart of a large city to peer into deep craters and explore ancient Maori earthworks. Look out over the harbours, islands and beyond.

Waikato walks
Bring your favourite walking shoes to the Waikato region for a gentle stroll along the riverbank or a challenging mountain summit expedition.

Waikato water features
Green and serene, the Waikato region relies on water for its verdant beauty. Wherever you go, there's a natural water feature to admire.

Devonport & North Head
Discover colonial cottages, stately waterfront homes and World War II defences that run deep into a volcanic cone.

Hunua Ranges
Enjoy nature walks, mountain biking, fishing and camping in the largest mainland forest within the Auckland region.

Auckland Botanic Gardens
Learn about plants from New Zealand and around the world. This beautiful garden offers 64 hectares of cleverly themed displays.

Tamaki Drive and beaches
Enjoy on-street cafes, park-like picnic areas and safe sandy beaches just minutes from Auckland's central business district.

Parnell Historic Walk
Explore the historic houses and buildings of Parnell, New Zealand's first suburb. Be tempted by great cafes and specialty shops along the way.

Coast to Coast Walk
Walk across New Zealand in one day. This 16 kilometre walkway explores parks, volcanic cones and historic suburbs across the Auckland isthmus.

Long Bay Regional Park
Pack a picnic and head for a waterfront park just 20 kilometres from the city centre. Relax on the long sandy beach or hike along the headland.

Auckland Domain
Fly a kite, feed ducks, walk through native forest or follow a trail of outdoor sculptures in this magnificent inner city park.

Auckland's North Shore beaches
Dip your toes into the North Shore's beachy lifestyle. A series of sandy bays stretches from Cheltenham to Torbay.

Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve, Waitemata Harbour
A haven for wading and sea birds, you can see this marine reserve from Auckland's northwestern motorway.

Motuihe Island
Visit a picturesque island that is becoming a new wildlife sanctuary. Enjoy walks, beautiful sandy beaches and glimpses of the island's intriguing history.

Hamilton Gardens
A botanic garden like no other, Hamilton Gardens is a 58 hectare world of horticultural skill and imagination.

Rangitoto Island
Cross the harbour on a ferry to step onto an alien volcanic landscape. Explore native forests and lava caves on the way to panoramic views from the edge of the summit crater.

Waitakere Ranges
In half an hour you can leave the city behind to explore a vast forest park with waterfalls, rivers, giant kauri trees and wild ocean beaches.

Activities

Hamilton - Waikato
Gardens (6) Horse Treks (4) Rafting (3)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 


Auckland - Hamilton - Waitomo Caves

71 km (44 miles)
Approximately 1 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

The mighty Waikato River brings a unique beauty to Hamilton city. As well as river boat cruising, local attractions include gardens, museums and a giant free flight aviary. At the southern end of the city’s main street you’ll discover a wide variety of excellent restaurants and cafes.

The trip south takes you through prime Waikato farmland. In summer, you can pause in the town of Te Awamutu to admire the roses. A detour towards the coast will take you to Kawhia, where hot water bubbles up through the sand - you can dig a pool between low and mid tide. Just before the turn off to Waitomo, you’ll come to Otorohanga. The kiwi house in this town is a chance to meet New Zealand’s national symbol.

The Waitomo Caves region is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Some caves open to the public, and are easy to walk through, others require specialised caving equipment.

Scenic Highlights

Waikato walks
Bring your favourite walking shoes to the Waikato region for a gentle stroll along the riverbank or a challenging mountain summit expedition.

Waikato water features
Green and serene, the Waikato region relies on water for its verdant beauty. Wherever you go, there's a natural water feature to admire.

Waitomo Caves
Wai means water, tomo means hole. Put them together and you have the perfect name for a region that's packed with limestone caves.

Hamilton Gardens
A botanic garden like no other, Hamilton Gardens is a 58 hectare world of horticultural skill and imagination.

Activities

Hamilton - Waikato
Abseiling/Rappelling (9) Caving (10) Kayaking – Fresh Water (3)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 



Day 5: Waitomo Caves to Taupo

Waitomo Caves - Taupo

163 km (102 miles)
Approximately 2 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway/Arterial

The Waitomo Caves district is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Some caves open to the public, and are easy to walk through, others require specialised caving equipment.

The cross-country route to Taupo passes through farmland, lakeland and forest. Te Kuiti is the only major town on the way, so stock up on picnic supplies in preparation for the drive. Keen walkers can explore the beautiful Pureora Forest Park, while Trout fanciers can try their luck at Lake Whakamaru. The hydro power station at Atiamuri is an interesting stop. Just before Taupo you’ll encounter the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station and Huka Falls.

The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, which is well stocked with sizeable trout. You’ll find everything a traveller could wish for, including an excellent choice of restaurants. Most accommodation establishments make good use of the underground thermal activity to provide hot spas for relaxation.

Scenic Highlights

Waipahihi Botanical Reserve
Pack a picnic and wander through the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve, a vast garden of rare alpine plants, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.

Taupo Lakeside walks
Explore the scenic beauty of Lake Taupo by stretching your legs along one of many lakeside walking trails.

Mine Bay Rock Carving
Take a kayak or boat tour around the scenic Western Bays of Lake Taupo to see the huge Maori rock carving at Mine Bay.

Aratiatia Rapids
Witness an unusual display of raw river power at the Aratiatia rapids, just off State Highway 1 north of Taupo.

Waitomo Caves
Wai means water, tomo means hole. Put them together and you have the perfect name for a region that's packed with limestone caves.

Craters of the Moon
Explore a cratered valley that's hissing with clouds of steam. Feel the heat of the earth at the edge of the track, and peer from viewing platforms into cauldrons of boiling mud.

Lake Taupo
Discover the amazing scenery around Lake Taupo. This area of New Zealand blends forests, geothermal activity and fascinating volcanic landscapes.

Huka Falls
At Huka Falls you can witness the phenomenon of natural hydro power - more than 220, 000 litres of water per second.

Activities

Lake Taupo
Boat Cruises (7), Fishing – Fresh Water (19),

Hamilton - Waikato
Caving (10) Rafting (3)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 6: Taupo to Palmerston North

Taupo - Turangi - Palmerston North

47 km (29 miles)
Approximately 0.75 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, which is well stocked with sizeable trout. You’ll find everything a traveller could wish for, including an excellent choice of restaurants. Most accommodation establishments make good use of the underground thermal activity to provide hot spas for relaxation.

You’ll follow the eastern edge of Lake Taupo to reach Turangi. The drive is very scenic and there are many picnic opportunities along the way. Where streams run into the lake, you’ll often see trout fisherman trying their luck.

The town of Turangi is the trout fishing capital of New Zealand. There are famous fishing spots in almost every direction, including ‘The Delta’, ‘The Hole’, ‘Little Big O’ and ‘Tailrace’ (believed to contain the world’s fattest trout). The nearby hot springs of Tokaanu are another attraction, or you can try rafting the Tongariro River. The walks and skifields of the Tongariro National Park are also close by.

Scenic Highlights

Waipahihi Botanical Reserve
Pack a picnic and wander through the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve, a vast garden of rare alpine plants, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.

Kaimanawa Forest Park
Explore native forests and rivers in a large forest park. Short walks pass through a variety of native trees and experienced hikers will enjoy the challenging overnight tracks.

Taupo Lakeside walks
Explore the scenic beauty of Lake Taupo by stretching your legs along one of many lakeside walking trails.

Mine Bay Rock Carving
Take a kayak or boat tour around the scenic Western Bays of Lake Taupo to see the huge Maori rock carving at Mine Bay.

Aratiatia Rapids
Witness an unusual display of raw river power at the Aratiatia rapids, just off State Highway 1 north of Taupo.

Craters of the Moon
Explore a cratered valley that's hissing with clouds of steam. Feel the heat of the earth at the edge of the track, and peer from viewing platforms into cauldrons of boiling mud.

Lake Taupo
Discover the amazing scenery around Lake Taupo. This area of New Zealand blends forests, geothermal activity and fascinating volcanic landscapes.

Huka Falls
At Huka Falls you can witness the phenomenon of natural hydro power - more than 220, 000 litres of water per second.

Activities

Lake Taupo
Boat Cruises (7) Fishing – Fresh Water (19) Rafting (4)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Taupo - Turangi - Palmerston North

195 km (122 miles)
Approximately 2.5 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

The town of Turangi is the trout fishing capital of New Zealand. There are famous fishing spots in almost every direction. Rafting on the Tongariro River is another way to enjoy the region.

The Desert Road is the first lap of your journey – it’s long and straight, with amazing views of Tongariro National Park’s volcanoes. In Waiouru, an army town, you should check out the QE2 Memorial Museum. As you drive south towards the town of Taihape (the Gumboot Throwing capital of the world), the landscape becomes dominated by rivers and valleys. The Mangaweka Gorge is a scenic masterpiece. By the time you get to Bulls, where you can browse antique shops, you’re surrounded by tranquil farmland.

One of New Zealand’s largest provincial cities, Palmerston North has an attractive historic heart. Many of the original stores built in the 1920s and 1930s have been restored and now function as boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Rose gardens and museums should also be on your agenda of things to see.

Scenic Highlights

Manawatu gardens
While in Manawatu, make time to stop and smell the roses. In terms of popularity, gardening is up there with rugby in this part of New Zealand.

Kaimanawa Forest Park
Explore native forests and rivers in a large forest park. Short walks pass through a variety of native trees and experienced hikers will enjoy the challenging overnight tracks.

Activities

Manawatu
Gardens (5), Heritage Attractions (5), Museums (5),

Ruapehu
Cycling/Mountain Biking (1) Kayaking – Fresh Water (5)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 7: Palmerston North to Wellington

Palmerston North - Wellington

139 km (87 miles)
Approximately 1.75 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

One of New Zealand’s largest provincial cities, Palmerston North has an attractive historic heart. Many of the original stores built in the 1920s and 1930s have been restored and now function as boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Rose gardens and museums should also be on your agenda of things to see.

Your journey south first takes you to Shannon – pause here to enjoy the owl sanctuary. The town of Levin is next – it has a thriving clothing industry and many factory shops. Two beautiful dune lakes are an easy detour from here. Offshore from Waikanae is Kapiti Island, a nature reserve for close encounters with rare birds. A car museum and gourmet cheese factory are other attractions in this area.

Wellington 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, museums and all kinds of shops. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty.

Scenic Highlights

Archives New Zealand
At Archives New Zealand, you can view fascinating displays based on historic documents, maps, paintings, photos and films.

Battle Hill Farm Forest Park
Enjoy sweeping views from hiking and riding trails in this historic forest park. Learn about Maori history while you relish the farm-fresh air.

Wellington Walkways
Views, forests, parks and gardens keep things interesting along these signposted Wellington walkways.

Wrights Hill Fortress and Recreation Reserve
Wrights Hill offers 360 degree views of Wellington and the surrounding area, as well as walking tracks and picnic areas.

Manawatu gardens
While in Manawatu, make time to stop and smell the roses. In terms of popularity, gardening is up there with rugby in this part of New Zealand.

Zealandia - The Karori Sanctuary Experience
This significant conservation attraction is located in a secluded suburban valley - just 2.5 kilometres from Wellington's central business district.

Makara Track
Makara Walking Track combines spectacular long-range views with a walk along a wild, west coast beach.

Matiu/Somes Island
Maori history, early European history, war stories and wildlife - this island, in the middle of Wellington Harbour, has it all.

National War Memorial and Carillon
In a beautiful art deco setting, learn about defining times in New Zealand's history and discover a huge musical bell instrument.

Mount Victoria
Breathtaking views and great walking tracks reward those who venture to the top of Mount Victoria.

Wellington Central Waterfront
Explore Wellington's waterfront on foot and visit Queens Wharf, Te Papa, Chaffers Marina and Oriental Bay.

Old Government Buildings
Feel the grace and elegance of the 1800s at Government Buildings, the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere.

Wellington Botanic Garden
From ancient forests to colourful flower beds, the Wellington Botanic Garden is a delightful experience, completed by great views of the city and harbour.

Red Rocks Reserve
Put half a day aside for this easy coastal walk to Red Rocks and a fur seal colony on the south side of Wellington.

Activities

Manawatu
Heritage Attractions (5), Museums (5),

Wellington
Performing Arts (1)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 8: Wellington to Kaikoura

Wellington - Picton - Blenheim - Kaikoura

98 km (61 miles)
Approximately 3 hours
Road Conditions: By Sea

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, museums 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.

The passage across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. The fast ferry makes the trip in just over 2 hours, the cruise-style ferry takes 3 hours. Both types of vessel can transport vehicles. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the sounds.

The picturesque seaside town of Picton is the South Island base for the ferry service that links the North and South islands of New Zealand. It’s also the gateway to the marine, forest and island attractions of the Marlborough Sounds. Museums and interesting walks will keep you entertained while you’re here.

Scenic Highlights

Archives New Zealand
At Archives New Zealand, you can view fascinating displays based on historic documents, maps, paintings, photos and films.

Battle Hill Farm Forest Park
Enjoy sweeping views from hiking and riding trails in this historic forest park. Learn about Maori history while you relish the farm-fresh air.

Wellington Walkways
Views, forests, parks and gardens keep things interesting along these signposted Wellington walkways.

Wrights Hill Fortress and Recreation Reserve
Wrights Hill offers 360 degree views of Wellington and the surrounding area, as well as walking tracks and picnic areas.

Marlborough Sounds
Enjoy long sheltered inlets, clear waters and sandy bays. Hike through the forest or kayak around the headlands to discover a fresh location each day.

Zealandia - The Karori Sanctuary Experience
This significant conservation attraction is located in a secluded suburban valley - just 2.5 kilometres from Wellington's central business district.

Long Island-Kokomohua Marine Reserve
A boat trip to the Long Island-Kokomohua Marine Reserve is an inspired way to enjoy the extraordinary scenery of the Marlborough Sounds.

Makara Track
Makara Walking Track combines spectacular long-range views with a walk along a wild, west coast beach.

Matiu/Somes Island
Maori history, early European history, war stories and wildlife - this island, in the middle of Wellington Harbour, has it all.

National War Memorial and Carillon
In a beautiful art deco setting, learn about defining times in New Zealand's history and discover a huge musical bell instrument.

Mount Victoria
Breathtaking views and great walking tracks reward those who venture to the top of Mount Victoria.

Wellington Central Waterfront
Explore Wellington's waterfront on foot and visit Queens Wharf, Te Papa, Chaffers Marina and Oriental Bay.

Old Government Buildings
Feel the grace and elegance of the 1800s at Government Buildings, the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere.

Wellington Botanic Garden
From ancient forests to colourful flower beds, the Wellington Botanic Garden is a delightful experience, completed by great views of the city and harbour.

Red Rocks Reserve
Put half a day aside for this easy coastal walk to Red Rocks and a fur seal colony on the south side of Wellington.

Activities

Marlborough
Boat Cruises (14), Kayaking – Salt Water (6), Sailing (3),

Wellington
Arts & Crafts (4) Galleries (4)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Wellington - Picton - Blenheim - Kaikoura

28 km (18 miles)
Approximately 0.5 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

The picturesque seaside town of Picton is the South Island base for the Interislander ferry service, which links the North and South islands of New Zealand. It’s also the gateway to the marine, forest and island attractions of the Marlborough Sounds. Museums and interesting walks will keep you entertained while you’re here.

The short drive to Blenheim takes you across the Wairau Plains past vineyards and wineries. Diversions along the way include a golf course and farm parks.

Blenheim is the heart of wine-growing Marlborough. You’ll find a pleasing selection of cafes, restaurants, pubs, shops and golf courses. Character accommodation is another Blenheim delight – everything from homestays to boutique hotels. There are more than 20 wineries within driving distance of the town, and nearly all of them welcome visitors.

Scenic Highlights

d'Urville Island
Catch a water taxi and escape to a large tranquil island to swim, fish, kayak and explore native forests trails.

Marlborough Sounds
Enjoy long sheltered inlets, clear waters and sandy bays. Hike through the forest or kayak around the headlands to discover a fresh location each day.

Queen Charlotte Track
Walk or bike for days through native forests with views across the Marlborough Sounds. Lighten your load by ha your pack transferred between your overnight stays.

Queen Charlotte Drive
Navigate the spectacular winding road that links Havelock to Picton. This is like cruising the Marlborough Sounds without a boat.

Lake Grassmere Saltworks
Discover a seaside lake with large pink ponds and mounds that sparkle white against summer?s light-brown, hillside pastures.

Long Island-Kokomohua Marine Reserve
A boat trip to the Long Island-Kokomohua Marine Reserve is an inspired way to enjoy the extraordinary scenery of the Marlborough Sounds.

Activities

Marlborough
Boat Cruises (14) Walking/Trekking (11) Wineries (31)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Wellington - Picton - Blenheim - Kaikoura

129 km (81 miles)
Approximately 1.75 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

Blenheim is the heart of wine-growing Marlborough. You’ll find a pleasing selection of cafes, restaurants, pubs, shops and golf courses. Character accommodation is another Blenheim delight – everything from homestays to boutique hotels.

State Highway 1 takes you through the coastal foothills, and then out into the picturesque Awatere Valley. In the township of Seddon you’ll find authentic New Zealand crafts. The Lake Grassmere saltworks is an interesting stop - the ponds turn coral pink in late summer. After the small town of Ward, the road turns toward the awesome beauty of the Pacific Coast. Just north of the Ure River is a road that leads to the walking trails of the Sawcut Gorge.

Kaikoura is a base for wildlife experiences of all kinds – it’s also a great place to eat crayfish. A whale watch tour can take you to see Minke, Humpback and Southern Right whales mixing it with dolphins and orcas. You can also walk to see fur seal colonies and spy on big seabirds such as mollymawks, albatross and petrels.

Scenic Highlights

d'Urville Island
Catch a water taxi and escape to a large tranquil island to swim, fish, kayak and explore native forests trails.

Queen Charlotte Track
Walk or bike for days through native forests with views across the Marlborough Sounds. Lighten your load by ha your pack transferred between your overnight stays.

Queen Charlotte Drive
Navigate the spectacular winding road that links Havelock to Picton. This is like cruising the Marlborough Sounds without a boat.

Lake Grassmere Saltworks
Discover a seaside lake with large pink ponds and mounds that sparkle white against summer?s light-brown, hillside pastures.

The wildlife of Kaikoura
The Shoreline Walk from Point Kean leads you to colonies of fur seals and sea birds. Pack a picnic and a camera.

Activities

Christchurch - Canterbury
Bird Watching (9), Dolphins (5),

Marlborough
Arts & Crafts (8) Diving (3) Galleries (1)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 9: Kaikoura to Christchurch

Kaikoura - Hanmer Springs - Christchurch

132 km (83 miles)
Approximately 1.5 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway/Arterial

Kaikoura is a base for wildlife experiences of all kinds – it’s also a great place to eat crayfish. A whale watch tour can take you to see Minke, Humpback and Southern Right whales mixing it with dolphins and orcas. You can also walk to see fur seal colonies and spy on big seabirds such as mollymawks, albatross and petrels.

There are a number of ways to get to Hanmer Springs from Kaikoura.  The most scenic route is via the Inland Road which takes you past the entrance to the ski village of Mount Lyford, or you can travel a bit further south and take the Leader Road.  The Leader Road incorporates coastal and rural farming views and finishes at the Waiau Township.  On both routes there are plenty of photo opportunities for the avid photographer.

Hanmer Springs is a destination for relaxation and indulgence. You can soak in the hot springs or treat yourself to a range of spa therapies. Outdoor activities are also a Hanmer specialty. Forest walks, horse trekking, trout fishing, jet boating, bungy jumping and golf are some of the options.

Scenic Highlights

Hanmer Forest
Hire a mountain bike and explore the trails in Hanmer Forest, a botanic paradise where exotic and native trees live in harmony.

Lake Sumner Hikes
Dust off your hiking boots and discover remote high country lakes, beech-clad mountains, wide rivers and hot springs.

The wildlife of Kaikoura
The Shoreline Walk from Point Kean leads you to colonies of fur seals and sea birds. Pack a picnic and a camera.

Activities

Christchurch - Canterbury
Fishing – Fresh Water (11) Fishing – Salt Water (4) Golf (11) Spas/Health Resorts and Thermal Bathing Pools (10)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Kaikoura - Hanmer Springs - Christchurch

135 km (84 miles)
Approximately 1.75 hours
Road Conditions: Motorway/State Highway

Hanmer Springs is a destination for relaxation and indulgence. You can soak in the hot springs or treat yourself to a range of spa therapies. Outdoor activities are also a Hanmer specialty. Forest walks, horse trekking, trout fishing, jet boating, bungy jumping and golf are some of the options.

The route to Christchurch initially follows the beautiful Waiau River. Then it leads you through the Balmoral Forest and across the Hurunui River. Farmland, vineyards and olive groves characterise the Waipara region, which is known for its wine and food – an excellent place to pause for refreshment. The last leg of your journey takes you past the surf beaches of Amberley, Leithfield, Waikuku and Woodend.

The South Island’s largest city, Christchurch is an entertaining mixture of refined lifestyle and cultural excitement. The tranquil Avon River meanders through the city, historic buildings house a lively arts community and restored trams make it easy to get around. Visit heritage sites, museums and art galleries, and enjoy the highly developed restaurant scene.

Scenic Highlights

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Founded more than 140 years ago, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens has many special areas to explore.

Hanmer Forest
Hire a mountain bike and explore the trails in Hanmer Forest, a botanic paradise where exotic and native trees live in harmony.

Lake Sumner Hikes
Dust off your hiking boots and discover remote high country lakes, beech-clad mountains, wide rivers and hot springs.

Christchurch Cathedral
Following a large earthquake in February 2011, a large portion of the Cathedral was damaged including the west end and tower.

Activities

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 10: Christchurch to Dunedin

Christchurch - Ashburton - Timaru - Oamaru - Dunedin

89 km (56 miles)
Approximately 1.25 hours
Road Conditions: Motorway/State Highway

The South Island’s largest city, Christchurch is an entertaining mixture of refined lifestyle and cultural excitement. The tranquil Avon River meanders through the city and adjacent Hagley Park, historic buildings house a lively arts community and restored trams make it easy for visitors to get around. Visit heritage sites, museums and art galleries, and enjoy the highly developed restaurant scene.

The route to Christchurch is about as straight and flat as roads get in New Zealand. On a clear day, the Southern Alps provide outstanding scenery. The town of Rakaia sits on the southern side of the Rakaia River, and it’s ‘the salmon capital of New Zealand’. The Rakaia bridge spans 1.8 kilometres of one of the world's best examples of a 'braided' river system.

Ashburton, which sits between the Rakaia and Rangitata rivers, is a large town that serves the local rural community. It has about six museums and some excellent craft galleries. Trout fishing is the local obsession, and the skifields of Mt Hutt are an easy drive away.

Scenic Highlights

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Founded more than 140 years ago, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens has many special areas to explore.

Mount Somers Conservation Area
What's an old volcano doing at the edge of the Southern Alps? Around Mount Somers, the usual greywacke rock is upstaged by lava formations.

Christchurch Cathedral
Following a large earthquake in February 2011, a large portion of the Cathedral was damaged including the west end and tower.

Canterbury Plains
Like a patchwork quilt made with every shade of green, the Canterbury Plains lie serenely between the mountains and the sea.

Activities

Christchurch - Canterbury
Bird Watching (9) Climbing (5) Gardens (18) Weddings (11)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

• 
• 


Christchurch - Ashburton - Timaru - Oamaru - Dunedin

77 km (48 miles)
Approximately 1 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

Ashburton is a large town that serves the local rural community. It sits between the Rakaia and Rangitata rivers, so fly fishing is the local obsession. Ashburton also has about six museums and some excellent craft galleries. The skifields of Mt Hutt are an easy drive from here.

Your trip south is straight and flat. It’s worth taking the loop road to Geraldine to visit the gourmet cheese factory and vintage car museum. Rafting in the Rangitata Gorge is another possibility. Just before Timaru you’ll drive into Temuka, a town that produces high quality pottery – look for the factory shop if you’d like a useful souvenir.

Timaru is a small but beautifully formed city. The historic walk will introduce you to many of the heritage buildings. Enjoy the boutique brewery, botanic gardens and the park at Caroline Bay, which has an aviary and a maze. Timaru also has the third largest public art gallery in the South Island and an excellent museum – the Richard Pearse (kiwi pioneer aviator) exhibit is particularly good.

Scenic Highlights

Mount Somers Conservation Area
What's an old volcano doing at the edge of the Southern Alps? Around Mount Somers, the usual greywacke rock is upstaged by lava formations.

Canterbury Plains
Like a patchwork quilt made with every shade of green, the Canterbury Plains lie serenely between the mountains and the sea.

Activities

Christchurch - Canterbury
Heritage Attractions (9) Off Road Driving Adventure (14) Wineries (15)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Christchurch - Ashburton - Timaru - Oamaru - Dunedin

80 km (50 miles)
Approximately 1 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

Timaru is a small but beautifully formed city. The historic walk will introduce you to many of the old buildings. Enjoy the boutique brewery, botanic gardens and the park at Caroline Bay, which has an aviary and a maze. Timaru also has the third largest public art gallery in the South Island and an excellent museum.

River crossings are a feature of the journey south. If you enjoy fly fishing, you could make this trip last a long time. Just beyond the town of Hook, take a detour to Waimate to see the museum and an original thatched cottage – it was made from a single tree. In summer the Waimate District is overflowing with delicious berry fruits.

The town of Oamaru has a population of around 12,000 and an impressive heritage. Many of the elegant historic buildings were made from the local sandstone. Visit the Harbour-Tyne area - the best-preserved collection of historic commercial buildings in New Zealand. You should also check out the penguin colony, the museum and the pretty public gardens.

Scenic Highlights

South Hill and Skyline Walks
Work up an appetite with one of Oamaru's scenic walks. Choose the challenging Skyline Walk or the relatively easy South Hill Walkway.

Totara Estate
Explore four carefully restored stone farm buildings and find out about farming life in the 1800s.

Spying on the Little Blue Penguins
The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony offers a unique opportunity to observe the world's smallest penguin.

Harbour & Tyne Historic Precinct
Steam train rides and a lively market make Sundays fun in Oamaru's Harbour & Tyne Historic Precinct.

Moeraki Boulders
You simply can't drive along the North Otago coast without stopping to stare at the Moeraki Boulders - they're amazing!

Oamaru Public Gardens
A botanical wonderland from Victorian days, the Oamaru Public Gardens are a beautiful place to stroll and dream.

Activities

Christchurch - Canterbury
Heritage Attractions (9), Museums (11),

Dunedin - Coastal Otago
Heritage Attractions (12) Horse Treks (1) Museums (4)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Christchurch - Ashburton - Timaru - Oamaru - Dunedin

119 km (74 miles)
Approximately 1.5 hours
Road Conditions: Motorway/State Highway

Oamaru has a population of around 12,000 and an impressive heritage. Many of the elegant historic buildings were made from the local sandstone. Visit the Harbour-Tyne area - the best-preserved collection of historic commercial buildings in New Zealand. You should also check out the penguin colony, the museum and the pretty public gardens.

Your journey south is flavoured with history. First up is Totara Estate Centennial Park, where you can see restored 1860s farm buildings. Clark’s Mill is next - a limestone flourmill built in 1866. You could pick up some interesting, ancient stones on the beach at Hampden before visiting the mysterious spherical boulders at Moeraki. The town of Palmerston has a museum devoted to the region’s Scottish past.

In the late 19th century, Dunedin acquired an impressive amount of ostentatious Victorian architecture. No expense was spared. Today you can enjoy the historic public buildings, imposing churches, palatial homes and ornate hotels. There’s even a castle. Eco-tourism is the other face of Dunedin – visit penguin, albatross and seal colonies.

Scenic Highlights

South Hill and Skyline Walks
Work up an appetite with one of Oamaru's scenic walks. Choose the challenging Skyline Walk or the relatively easy South Hill Walkway.

Karitane
Walk, swim, surf, fish or simply relax in this picturesque village on the coast north of Dunedin.

Totara Estate
Explore four carefully restored stone farm buildings and find out about farming life in the 1800s.

St Clair Beach
Only minutes from the city centre, this sweeping surf beach is a place to walk, swim, surf or dine out.

Mount Cargill
Walk to the top of Mount Cargill and enjoy spectacular views of Dunedin, the coast and the surrounding countryside.

Tunnel Beach Walkway
Explore the sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves at Tunnel Beach; look for fossils as you descend through the pioneers' hand-carved tunnel.

University of Otago
Of all New Zealand's cities, Dunedin has the largest concentration of grand Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The university's clock tower is a particularly handsome architectural landmark.

Spying on the Little Blue Penguins
The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony offers a unique opportunity to observe the world's smallest penguin.

Dunedin Railway Station
Marvel at the size, architecture and rich embellishments of Dunedin Railway Station - it's the grandest 'Gingerbread House' you'll ever see.

Dunedin's inner city heritage walks
Two inner city heritage walks make it easy to explore Dunedin's outstanding collection of Victorian and Edwardian buildings.

Middlemarch
Experience the Central Otago wilderness by making the charming town of Middlemarch your local base for hiking, biking and river fishing.

Dunedin Botanic Garden
Enjoy native birdsong and hillside views as you encounter more than 6,800 plant species in Dunedin's beautiful 28 hectare botanic garden.

Glenfalloch Woodland Garden
Follow the trails around beautiful Glenfalloch Woodland Garden, which has been has been named a "Garden of Regional Significance" by the New Zealand Garden Trust.

Harbour & Tyne Historic Precinct
Steam train rides and a lively market make Sundays fun in Oamaru's Harbour & Tyne Historic Precinct.

Moeraki Boulders
You simply can't drive along the North Otago coast without stopping to stare at the Moeraki Boulders - they're amazing!

Oamaru Public Gardens
A botanical wonderland from Victorian days, the Oamaru Public Gardens are a beautiful place to stroll and dream.

Otago Peninsula
Put a day aside to explore Otago Peninsula, where eco-experiences range from penguin and fur seal colonies to the toe-tingling cliffs of The Chasm and Lovers Leap.

Pineapple Track
Hike along the Pineapple Track high above Dunedin and enjoy magnificent views of the city and Taieri Plains.

Activities

Dunedin - Coastal Otago
Bird Watching (8) Heritage Attractions (12) Penguins (9)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 11: Dunedin to Invercargill

Dunedin - Balclutha - Invercargill

113 km (71 miles)
Approximately 1.5 hours
Road Conditions: Motorway/State Highway/Arterial

In the late 19th century, Dunedin acquired an impressive amount of ostentatious Victorian architecture. No expense was spared. Today you can enjoy the historic public buildings, imposing churches, palatial homes and ornate hotels. There’s even a castle. Eco-tourism is the other face of Dunedin – visit penguin, albatross and seal colonies.

Half an hour south you’ll come across tranquil Lake Waihola, a popular venue for picnics, yachting and waterskiing. The historic mill town of Milton is next – the slight kink in the main road is where two surveyors didn’t quite meet. Balclutha has a distinctive arched concrete bridge and a museum where you can see historic farming and household implements.

The area known as the Catlins begins just south of Balclutha. The winding road will take you to see seals and sealions, Hector’s dolphins, several species of penguin and the petrified forest in Curio Bay. Wilderness beaches, waterfalls, walkways, lakes and rivers provide non-stop scenery. Accommodation is sprinkled thorugh the area – farmstays, lodges and B & B establishments.

Scenic Highlights

Karitane
Walk, swim, surf, fish or simply relax in this picturesque village on the coast north of Dunedin.

St Clair Beach
Only minutes from the city centre, this sweeping surf beach is a place to walk, swim, surf or dine out.

Mount Cargill
Walk to the top of Mount Cargill and enjoy spectacular views of Dunedin, the coast and the surrounding countryside.

Tunnel Beach Walkway
Explore the sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves at Tunnel Beach; look for fossils as you descend through the pioneers' hand-carved tunnel.

University of Otago
Of all New Zealand's cities, Dunedin has the largest concentration of grand Victorian and Edwardian buildings. The university's clock tower is a particularly handsome architectural landmark.

Dunedin Railway Station
Marvel at the size, architecture and rich embellishments of Dunedin Railway Station - it's the grandest 'Gingerbread House' you'll ever see.

Dunedin's inner city heritage walks
Two inner city heritage walks make it easy to explore Dunedin's outstanding collection of Victorian and Edwardian buildings.

Middlemarch
Experience the Central Otago wilderness by making the charming town of Middlemarch your local base for hiking, biking and river fishing.

Dunedin Botanic Garden
Enjoy native birdsong and hillside views as you encounter more than 6,800 plant species in Dunedin's beautiful 28 hectare botanic garden.

Glenfalloch Woodland Garden
Follow the trails around beautiful Glenfalloch Woodland Garden, which has been has been named a "Garden of Regional Significance" by the New Zealand Garden Trust.

Otago Peninsula
Put a day aside to explore Otago Peninsula, where eco-experiences range from penguin and fur seal colonies to the toe-tingling cliffs of The Chasm and Lovers Leap.

Pineapple Track
Hike along the Pineapple Track high above Dunedin and enjoy magnificent views of the city and Taieri Plains.

Activities

Dunedin - Coastal Otago
Museums (4)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Dunedin - Balclutha - Invercargill

158 km (99 miles)
Approximately 2 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway/Arterial

The area known as the Catlins lies between Kaka Point and Fortrose, an early whaling station. The winding road will take you to see seals and sealions, Hector’s Dolphins, several species of penguin and the petrified forest in Curio Bay. Wilderness beaches, waterfalls, walkways, lakes and rivers provide non-stop scenery. Accommodaton is sprinkled thorugh the area – farmstays, lodges and B & B establishments.

Invercargill is Southland's principal centre and the country's southernmost city. It is known for its elegant old department stores and wide, easy-to-navigate streets. Local food specialties include Bluff Oysters and blue cod. The museum has a tuatara house and an excellent exhibition about New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. Take a stroll around the gardens, aviary and duck ponds of Queens Park. It’s a quick journey to Bluff to see the Stirling Point signpost, which indicates the distance to the South Pole and other parts of the world. The Paua Shell House and the maritime museum are other attractions in Bluff.

Scenic Highlights

Curio Bay and Slope Point
There are many things to capture your imagination at Curio Bay, including dolphins, penguins and fossilised trees.

Catlins River Walk, Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blowhole
Combine the Catlins River Walk with visits to Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blow Hole - it'll be an amazing day.

Queens Park
Queens Park is Invercargill's pride and joy - a paradise of cool climate gardens and walkways.

Oreti Beach and Sandy Point
Oreti Beach was Burt Munro's race track - a 26 kilometre stretch of perfectly smooth sand.

Activities

Southland
Bird Watching (3) Boat Cruises (1)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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Day 12: Invercargill to Stewart Island

Invercargill - Stewart Island

72 km (45 miles)
Approximately 1 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway/By Sea

Invercargill is Southland's principal centre and the country's southernmost city. It is known for its elegant old department stores and wide, easy-to-navigate streets. Local food specialties include Bluff Oysters and blue cod. The museum has a tuatara house and an excellent exhibition about New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. Take a stroll around the gardens, aviary and duck ponds of Queens Park.

Air and ferry services bridge the gap across Foveaux Strait. The flight to Stewart Island takes only 20 minutes. The ferry trip, which at times can be rough, takes about an hour.

Much of Stewart Island (in Maori, Rakiura) was recently declared New Zealand’s newest national park. Visitors come to the island to enjoy nature at its wildest. Highlights include spotting kiwis on Ocean Beach, walking amidst the birds on Ulva Island and hiking the tracks through the park. Oban, the only major town, offers a variety of accommodation from hotel rooms to lodge retreats. For a potted history of Stewart Island, visit the local museum.

Scenic Highlights

Curio Bay and Slope Point
There are many things to capture your imagination at Curio Bay, including dolphins, penguins and fossilised trees.

Catlins River Walk, Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blowhole
Combine the Catlins River Walk with visits to Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blow Hole - it'll be an amazing day.

Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park
Stewart island lies only 30 kilometres off the bottom of the South Island, but it's a world of its own.

Queens Park
Queens Park is Invercargill's pride and joy - a paradise of cool climate gardens and walkways.

Ulva Island / Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve
Prehistoric filter feeding shellfish called brachiopods thrive in Paterson Inlet. They are living fossils from the Palaeozioc period.

Rakiura Track
Hike around New Zealand's newest national park on Stewart Island. Native birds, pristine beaches and unbroken forest cover make this circuit walk a magnificent experience.

Oreti Beach and Sandy Point
Oreti Beach was Burt Munro's race track - a 26 kilometre stretch of perfectly smooth sand.

Activities

Southland
Boat Cruises (1) Walking/Trekking (5)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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Day 13: Stewart Island to Te Anau

Stewart Island - Invercargill - Te Anau

72 km (45 miles)
Approximately 1 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway/By Sea

Much of Stewart Island (in Maori, Rakiura) was recently declared New Zealand’s newest national park. Visitors come to the island to enjoy nature at its wildest. Highlights include spotting kiwis on Ocean Beach, walking amidst the birds on Ulva Island and hiking the tracks through the park. Oban, the only major town, offers a variety of accommodation from hotel rooms to lodge retreats. For a potted history of Stewart Island, visit the local museum.

Air and ferry services bridge the gap across Foveaux Strait. The flight to Invercargill airport takes only 20 minutes. The ferry trip, which at times can be rough, takes about an hour.

Invercargill is Southland's principal centre and the country's southernmost city. It is known for its elegant old department stores and wide, easy-to-navigate streets. Local food specialties include Bluff Oysters and blue cod. The museum has a tuatara house and an excellent exhibition about New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. Take a stroll around the gardens, aviary and duck ponds of Queens Park.

Scenic Highlights

Curio Bay and Slope Point
There are many things to capture your imagination at Curio Bay, including dolphins, penguins and fossilised trees.

Catlins River Walk, Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blowhole
Combine the Catlins River Walk with visits to Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blow Hole - it'll be an amazing day.

Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park
Stewart island lies only 30 kilometres off the bottom of the South Island, but it's a world of its own.

Queens Park
Queens Park is Invercargill's pride and joy - a paradise of cool climate gardens and walkways.

Ulva Island / Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve
Prehistoric filter feeding shellfish called brachiopods thrive in Paterson Inlet. They are living fossils from the Palaeozioc period.

Rakiura Track
Hike around New Zealand's newest national park on Stewart Island. Native birds, pristine beaches and unbroken forest cover make this circuit walk a magnificent experience.

Oreti Beach and Sandy Point
Oreti Beach was Burt Munro's race track - a 26 kilometre stretch of perfectly smooth sand.

Activities

Southland
Boat Cruises (1) Walking/Trekking (5)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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Stewart Island - Invercargill - Te Anau

157 km (98 miles)
Approximately 2 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

Invercargill is Southland's principal centre and the country's southernmost city. It is known for its elegant old department stores and wide, easy-to-navigate streets. Local food specialties include Bluff Oysters and blue cod.

Choose between two routes to reach Te Anau. The longer, wilder route takes you past Riverton, one of the oldest settlements in New Zealand, and then on to Tuatapere and Clifden, where you can investigate caves and discover the historic suspension bridge. Visit spectacular Lake Manapouri before you arrive in Te Anau.

The quicker route takes you north across farmland to Lumsden and then west through the township of Mossburn to Te Anau. At the Hokonui Moonshine Museum you can learn about the region’s illicit whisky-making past. Then you’ll travel across the river plain to Lumsden. Stop in Mandeville if you’d like to fly in a Tiger Moth.

Te Anau township sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau. From here, the delights of the Fiordland National Park are within easy reach, including the start of the world famous Milford Track. Cruise on the lakes, walk the tracks and explore the Te Ana-au Caves.

Scenic Highlights

Routeburn Track
In pre-European times, Maori frequently used this route during journeys to collect pounamu (jade) from west coast rivers.

Curio Bay and Slope Point
There are many things to capture your imagination at Curio Bay, including dolphins, penguins and fossilised trees.

Fiordland's Marine Reserves
In parts of Fiordland National Park, natural environments are protected from the peaks of mountains to the depths of the fiords.

Lake Te Anau
An early European explorer described Fiordland as ""utterly useless except for mountaineers"", and that's why it's still so pristine.

Catlins River Walk, Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blowhole
Combine the Catlins River Walk with visits to Purakaunui Falls and Jack's Blow Hole - it'll be an amazing day.

Queens Park
Queens Park is Invercargill's pride and joy - a paradise of cool climate gardens and walkways.

Oreti Beach and Sandy Point
Oreti Beach was Burt Munro's race track - a 26 kilometre stretch of perfectly smooth sand.

Activities

Fiordland
Boat Cruises (24), Diving (4), Fishing – Fresh Water (4), Fishing – Salt Water (2), Hunting (1), Kayaking – Salt Water (1), Scenic Flights (5), Walking/Trekking (11),

Southland
Boat Cruises (1)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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Day 14: Te Anau to Milford Sound

Te Anau - Milford Sound

117 km (73 miles)
Approximately 1.5 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

Te Anau township sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau. From here, the delights of the Fiordland National Park are within easy reach, including the start of the Milford Track. Cruise on the lakes, walk the tracks and visit the Department of Conservation wildlife centre. The Te Ana-au Caves are an excellent adventure.

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.

A cruise on Milford Sound will be an essential component of your time in Fiordland, or you can get up close and personal in a sea kayak. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces and seals are some of the things you’ll remember. The underwater observatory is an option with most cruises.

Scenic Highlights

Routeburn Track
In pre-European times, Maori frequently used this route during journeys to collect pounamu (jade) from west coast rivers.

The Milford Road
The road journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic experiences you can have on four wheels.

Milford Sound
When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, dozens of 'temporary waterfalls' cascade down the cliff faces, some as long as 1000 metres.

Hollyford Track
Step into the dramatic Hollyford Valley and enter a world that looks the same today as it did thousands of years ago.

Fiordland National Park
This remarkable natural environment features dramatic fiords, spectacular waterfalls and snow-capped peaks.

Fiordland's Marine Reserves
In parts of Fiordland National Park, natural environments are protected from the peaks of mountains to the depths of the fiords.

Lake Te Anau
An early European explorer described Fiordland as ""utterly useless except for mountaineers"", and that's why it's still so pristine.

Milford Track
Is Milford Track "the finest walk in the world" To know for sure, you'll have to pull on your hiking boots and find out for yourself.

Activities

Fiordland
Boat Cruises (24) Fishing – Fresh Water (4) Fishing – Salt Water (2) Walking/Trekking (11)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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Day 15: Te Anau to Queenstown

Te Anau - Queenstown

172 km (108 miles)
Approximately 2.25 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

Te Anau township sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau. From here, the delights of the Fiordland National Park are within easy reach, including the start of the Milford Track. Cruise on the lakes, walk the tracks and visit the Department of Conservation wildlife centre. The Te Ana-au Caves are an excellent adventure.

Trout fishing rivers and high country scenery are features of the drive to Queenstown. The small towns of Mossburn and Lumsden can be explored for unique shopping opportunities – a farm tour is another possibility. Leave time to take a break in Kingston, the home of a remarkable vintage steam train. From here, the rest of your journey clings scenically to the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting and fantastically attractive. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

Scenic Highlights

Routeburn Track
In pre-European times, Maori frequently used this route during journeys to collect pounamu (jade) from west coast rivers.

Sam Summers' Hut Track
Exercise your mind as well as your legs on this three hour loop track. There's a lot to be learned about gold mining here.

Skippers Road
High above the raging Shotover River, Skippers Road creeps along the face of Skippers Canyon. Don't look down!

Scenery of Glenorchy
The only thing better than the drive to Glenorchy is the road to Paradise. How much scenery can your camera cope with?

Gibbston Valley vineyards
Raising grapes this far south is hard work, but one sip of the local pinot noir will tell you the effort is totally worthwhile.

Fiordland's Marine Reserves
In parts of Fiordland National Park, natural environments are protected from the peaks of mountains to the depths of the fiords.

Lake Te Anau
An early European explorer described Fiordland as ""utterly useless except for mountaineers"", and that's why it's still so pristine.

Lake Wakatipu
Cruising across Lake Wakatipu on a restored paddlesteamer is a blissful way to appreciate the magnificent alpine scenery.

Moonlight Track
It's not a walk in the park, but this challenging day hike promises to lift your spirits as high as the Southern Alps.

Activities

Fiordland
Dolphins (5), Fishing – Fresh Water (4), Fishing – Salt Water (2), Walking/Trekking (11),

Queenstown
Climbing (4) Heliskiing (4) Walking/Trekking (20)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 16: Queenstown to Franz Josef

Queenstown - Wanaka - Haast - Fox Glacier - Franz Josef

103 km (64 miles)
Approximately 1.25 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

The shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Shotover River, Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River. The vineyards of the Gibbston area and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge are interesting distractions along the way.

The lakeside resort town of Wanaka can provide you with an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. It has a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. You’ll also find some unique attractions, like the 3D maze and the ‘warbird’ air show, which is held every two years.

Scenic Highlights

Sam Summers' Hut Track
Exercise your mind as well as your legs on this three hour loop track. There's a lot to be learned about gold mining here.

Kidds Bush
A splendid place for a picnic or a couple of days camping, Kidds Bush lets you enjoy the incredible beauty of Lake Hawea.

Skippers Road
High above the raging Shotover River, Skippers Road creeps along the face of Skippers Canyon. Don't look down!

Scenery of Glenorchy
The only thing better than the drive to Glenorchy is the road to Paradise. How much scenery can your camera cope with?

Gibbston Valley vineyards
Raising grapes this far south is hard work, but one sip of the local pinot noir will tell you the effort is totally worthwhile.

Lake Wakatipu
Cruising across Lake Wakatipu on a restored paddlesteamer is a blissful way to appreciate the magnificent alpine scenery.

Moonlight Track
It's not a walk in the park, but this challenging day hike promises to lift your spirits as high as the Southern Alps.

Lakes Wanaka and Hawea
Framed by mountains, these glacier-carved lakes can be enjoyed from the water or by hiking shoreline tracks.

The Crown Range
There are two ways to drive between Queenstown and Wanaka, and this one is the most memorable. It's the highest main road in New Zealand.

Rob Roy Glacier Track
Walk into the alpine zone beneath Mount Rob Roy. This half day on-foot adventure brings you face to face with active glaciers.

Clutha River walk
The immense Clutha River handles the outflow from Lake Wanaka. Walk the riverbank to Albert Town and enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Cardrona Valley
The road along Cardrona Valley can take you to all kinds of active adventures or a great meal at the historic hotel.

Mount Iron and Mount Roy
Mount Iron and Mount Roy are two hiking challenges that will reward you with astounding views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Lindis Pass
This alpine area of tall, tussock-covered mountains is beautiful in every season, but with a dusting of snow it's particularly enchanting.

Activities

Queenstown
Bungy (8), Horse Treks (4), Jet Boating (9), Off Road Driving Adventure (14), Scenic Flights (13),

Lake Wanaka
Heliskiing (3) Wineries (5)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Queenstown - Wanaka - Haast - Fox Glacier - Franz Josef

139 km (87 miles)
Approximately 1.75 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

The lakeside town of Wanaka can provide you with an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. It has a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. You’ll also find unique attractions, like the 3D maze and the ‘warbird’ air show, which is held every two years.

Lake Hawea is the first scenic highlight of your journey, followed closely by the northern end of Lake Wanaka. The famous ‘bra fence’ is impossible to miss – it started as a joke, but it’s become a local legend. At the wilderness town of Makarora you can fuel up and refresh before you take on the dramatic twists and turns of the Haast Pass. Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you arrive in rainforest country.

The settlement of Haast was once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works (the government department responsible for road and bridge building). It’s a town with a touch of the wild west – helicopters fly deer hunters into the rugged ranges and local pubs make a feature of stuffed animal trophies.

Scenic Highlights

Kidds Bush
A splendid place for a picnic or a couple of days camping, Kidds Bush lets you enjoy the incredible beauty of Lake Hawea.

Mount Aspiring National Park
Stretch your legs and feed your soul in this remote wilderness of native forests, towering mountains and long river valleys.

Lakes Wanaka and Hawea
Framed by mountains, these glacier-carved lakes can be enjoyed from the water or by hiking shoreline tracks.

The Crown Range
There are two ways to drive between Queenstown and Wanaka, and this one is the most memorable. It's the highest main road in New Zealand.

Haast Pass
Allow plenty of time for the journey over Haast Pass to the coast. Many short walks begin at the road's edge, leading you through rainforest to fabulous waterfalls.

Rob Roy Glacier Track
Walk into the alpine zone beneath Mount Rob Roy. This half day on-foot adventure brings you face to face with active glaciers.

Clutha River walk
The immense Clutha River handles the outflow from Lake Wanaka. Walk the riverbank to Albert Town and enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Cardrona Valley
The road along Cardrona Valley can take you to all kinds of active adventures or a great meal at the historic hotel.

Mount Iron and Mount Roy
Mount Iron and Mount Roy are two hiking challenges that will reward you with astounding views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Lindis Pass
This alpine area of tall, tussock-covered mountains is beautiful in every season, but with a dusting of snow it's particularly enchanting.

Jackson Bay fishing village
Explore a part of New Zealand that's splendidly isolated - there are more resident seals and penguins than people.

Activities

Lake Wanaka
Jet Boating (2) Skiing (14) Snowboarding (1)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Queenstown - Wanaka - Haast - Fox Glacier - Franz Josef

122 km (76 miles)
Approximately 1.75 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

The settlement of Haast was once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works (the government department responsible for road and bridge building). It’s a town with a touch of the wild west – helicopters fly deer hunters into the rugged ranges and local pubs make a feature of stuffed animal trophies.

Just north of Haast is Lake Moeraki, a peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. Next is pretty Lake Paringa, where you can enjoy a delicious meal of salmon at the salmon farm. Just before Fox Glacier is the western end of the Copland track. In half a day you can walk to the hot springs at Welcome Flat.

The terminal face of Fox Glacier is just 5 kilometres from the township that serves it. The road to the walking track crosses ancient moraine from earlier advances and retreats. Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister, William Fox.

Scenic Highlights

Mount Aspiring National Park
Stretch your legs and feed your soul in this remote wilderness of native forests, towering mountains and long river valleys.

Haast Pass
Allow plenty of time for the journey over Haast Pass to the coast. Many short walks begin at the road's edge, leading you through rainforest to fabulous waterfalls.

Lake Matheson
Take a short walk to Lake Matheson and capture the perfect photograph of snow-capped Mount Cook reflected in the dark waters.

Jackson Bay fishing village
Explore a part of New Zealand that's splendidly isolated - there are more resident seals and penguins than people.

West Coast glaciers
Witness the puzzle of huge valleys of ice that extend well below the snowline, almost to the sea. Here the ice age is still underway.

Activities

West Coast
Scenic Flights (9) Walking/Trekking (10)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Queenstown - Wanaka - Haast - Fox Glacier - Franz Josef

23 km (14 miles)
Approximately 0.25 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers advanced so close to the sea at this latitude. While in the area, you can choose from a wide range of adventure activities.

The terminal face of Fox Glacier is just 5 kilometres from the township that serves it. The road to the walking track crosses ancient moraine from earlier advances and retreats. Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister, William Fox.

After a short drive north, you’ll arrive at Franz Josef Glacier. First explored in 1865, the glacier has been moving forward at a rate of about 1 metre a day since 1985. Previously it was in retreat. You can walk to the terminal of the glacier in about 10 minutes. Franz Josef township has a good range of accommodation and eating establishments.

Scenic Highlights

Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Release your inner explorer in a pristine national park that offers a wide selection of tempting terrain.

Lake Matheson
Take a short walk to Lake Matheson and capture the perfect photograph of snow-capped Mount Cook reflected in the dark waters.

Okarito lagoon - wading bird paradise
Take a kayak or a guided tour to explore New Zealand's largest unmodified estuarine lagoon - home to more than 70 bird species, including the beautiful kotuku (white heron).

West Coast glaciers
Witness the puzzle of huge valleys of ice that extend well below the snowline, almost to the sea. Here the ice age is still underway.

Activities

West Coast
Caving (9)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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Day 17: Franz Josef to Greymouth

Franz Josef - Hokitika - Greymouth

133 km (83 miles)
Approximately 1.75 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. Greenstone (NZ jade) is the town’s treasure these days – watch it being carved. You might also want to investigate the museum and do the historical walk.

The road to the glaciers is rural, but with a wild streak. The farmland is trying to turn back into forest, and the beauty of the rivers is raw and primeval. At Ross there’s a goldfield walkway to explore, or enjoy a picnic by the shores of Lake Ianthe. A visit to the White Heron colony near Whataroa is a rare experience.

First explored in 1865, the Franz Josef Glacier has been moving forward at a rate of about 1 metre a day since 1985. Previously it was in retreat. You can walk to the terminal of the glacier in about 10 minutes. Franz Josef township has a good range of accommodation and eating establishments.

Scenic Highlights

Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Release your inner explorer in a pristine national park that offers a wide selection of tempting terrain.

Okarito lagoon - wading bird paradise
Take a kayak or a guided tour to explore New Zealand's largest unmodified estuarine lagoon - home to more than 70 bird species, including the beautiful kotuku (white heron).

Activities

West Coast
Arts & Crafts (3) Heritage Attractions (3) Walking/Trekking (10)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Franz Josef - Hokitika - Greymouth

40 km (25 miles)
Approximately 0.5 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. Greenstone (NZ jade) is the town’s treasure these days – you can see it being polished and sculpted. You might also want to pan for gold, investigate the museum and do the historical walk.

The road between Hokitika and Greymouth provides great views of the wild west coast. Detour to the beach and breathe the salt spray air. Driftwood is the ornamentation of choice for west coast beaches – every shape, size and colour. Shantytown, just south of Greymouth, is a reconstructed 1880s gold rush town – great family entertainment.

Greymouth has a long gold mining history. It’s the largest town on the west coast and is known for its awesome seascapes. The local brewery runs tours or you can catch up with west coast history at the museum. White water rafting, sea kayaking and gold panning are other things to do.

Scenic Highlights

Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes
Gaze in wonder at nature's artistry as columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of pancakes.

Activities

West Coast
Arts & Crafts (3) Caving (9) Museums (2)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 



Day 18: Greymouth to Christchurch

Greymouth - Arthur's Pass - Christchurch

84 km (53 miles)
Approximately 1 hour
Road Conditions: State Highway

Greymouth has a long gold mining history. It’s the largest town on the west coast and is known for its awesome seascapes. The local brewery runs tours or you can catch up with west coast history at the museum. White water rafting, sea kayaking and gold panning are other things to do.

Classic west coast river and forest scenery leads you east. Rushing water, impressive bridges and tiny towns gradually give way to the misty mountains of the Southern Alps.

The route known as Arthur’s Pass was first used by Maori tribes crossing to the west coast to find pounamu (jade). Today it’s a sophisticated mountain pass, memorable for its scenery as well as its breathtaking civil engineering.

The settlement of Arthur’s Pass is a base for climbing, hiking, hunting and skiing adventures in the adjacent national park. There’s a good choice of shorter walks. Native birds commonly seen include the kea, tui and bellbird.

Scenic Highlights

Arthur's Pass National Park
Snowy peaks, scree slopes, steep gorges and wide braided rivers are characteristics that make the Arthur's Pass National Park unforgettable.

Cave Stream Scenic Reserve
A limestone cave nearly 600 metres long provides a unique, and rather wet, adventure at Cave Stream Scenic Reserve.

Craigieburn Conservation Area
Enjoy the sheltered forest valleys and rocky tussock slopes of this alpine park. Follow a short nature trail or stretch out along a four-hour hike.

Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes
Gaze in wonder at nature's artistry as columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of pancakes.

Activities

Christchurch - Canterbury
Hunting (15), Skiing (25), Walking/Trekking (52),

West Coast
Kayaking – Fresh Water (4) Kayaking – Salt Water (2) Rafting (4)

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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• 


Greymouth - Arthur's Pass - Christchurch

170 km (106 miles)
Approximately 2 hours
Road Conditions: State Highway

The route known as Arthur’s Pass was first used by Maori tribes crossing to the west coast to find pounamu (jade). Today it’s a sophisticated mountain pass, memorable for its scenery as well as its breathtaking civil engineering.

The settlement of Arthur’s Pass is a base for climbing, hiking, hunting and skiing adventures in the adjacent national park. There’s a good choice of short walks.

The road follows the Waimakariri and Bealey Rivers down to the skiing areas of Porter Heights and Craigieburn. Lakes Pearson and Grasmere are photo opportunities along the way. Rural serenity and friendly towns lead you across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. You’ll pass Kirwee, Darfield, Sheffield and Springfield.

The South Island’s largest city, Christchurch is an entertaining mixture of refined lifestyle and cultural excitement. The tranquil Avon River meanders through the city, historic buildings house a lively arts community and restored trams make it easy to get around. Visit heritage sites, museums and art galleries, and enjoy the highly developed restaurant scene.

Scenic Highlights

Arthur's Pass National Park
Snowy peaks, scree slopes, steep gorges and wide braided rivers are characteristics that make the Arthur's Pass National Park unforgettable.

Cave Stream Scenic Reserve
A limestone cave nearly 600 metres long provides a unique, and rather wet, adventure at Cave Stream Scenic Reserve.

Craigieburn Conservation Area
Enjoy the sheltered forest valleys and rocky tussock slopes of this alpine park. Follow a short nature trail or stretch out along a four-hour hike.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Founded more than 140 years ago, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens has many special areas to explore.

Christchurch Cathedral
Following a large earthquake in February 2011, a large portion of the Cathedral was damaged including the west end and tower.

Activities

Tour and Sightseeing


 

Airports

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