Explore fascinating museums in New Zealand's capital before crossing the Cook Strait to sunny Nelson and the wild beaches, bizarre geological features and ancient glaciers of the South Island's West Coast. Complete your journey with world-class restaurants, boutique shopping and adventure in Wanaka and Queenstown.
As New Zealand’s capital, Wellington is rich in political history. Spend the morning enjoying the city's many museums and art galleries or trying out the local cafes before catching a ferry to the South Island.
The passage across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world, along the way you'll see the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the sounds.
From Picton travel on to Nelson, one of New Zealand's sunniest towns and home to a fascinating community of winemakers, craft breweries and art lovers. From here, you can organise yourself an eco-adventure or check out the local creative culture.
Continue towards the West Coast and Westport. Be sure to pause at Murchison, home to a fantastic array of whitewater activities. The town is surrounded by rivers, making it an excellent place for kayaking, rafting, canoeing or jet boating.
Westport is a coastal town located on the banks of the Buller River. It has a small town New Zealand flavour and parochial spirit that makes the locals immensely proud of their region. Gold mining was what originally gave Westport life, but now coal mining keeps the small settlement alive. The Coaltown Museum will captivate you with stories of the early settlers, gold prospectors and coal miners who built the town.
The road to Greymouth hugs the coast, providing spectacular views of wild beaches and the tempestuous Tasman Sea.
There a plenty of places to stop along the way, visit Paparoa National Park, explore stunning limestone caves in Charleston, or take a walk to Punakaiki's bizarre pancake rocks and booming blowholes. Dating back 30 million years, these rock formations are created by layers of limestone overlaid with rock and clay.
Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast and known for its awesome seascapes. Popular activities here include local brewery tours, gold rush history at Shantytown Heritage Park and the spectacular West Coast Wilderness cycle trail.
First settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast, Hokitika still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’ with some lovely old buildings to admire.
Hokitika is known for its pounamu (jade). Watch a carver work their magic at the Jade Factory or visit one of the many galleries to see examples of the carved stone. From here, it's an easy and scenic trip through to Westland Tai Poutini National Park, home to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. These two glaciers are some of the most accessible in the world and the only place outside of Argentina that ice meets rainforest. Explore this ancient phenomenon with an awe-inspiring hike or flightseeing experience.
Continue on to Wanaka, a charming lakeside town packed with things to do.
With year-round activities such as fishing, hiking, canyoning, climbing and skydiving, you won't be short of an adventure. Those interested in mountain biking will find a great variety of trails to explore or take a 4WD Safari through Wanaka's beautiful high country. Alternatively, you can spend your time relaxing with a visit to the region's abundant wineries, cafes, restaurants and boutique shops. You’ll also find unique attractions, like Puzzling World and the lovely Paradiso Cinema.
Today you'll journey to Queenstown, New Zealand's most popular tourist destination. Here you can choose from a huge range of adrenaline activities, from jet-boating and bungy jumping to white-water rafting and skydiving. Explore the stunning mountain scenery by bike, kayak, horse, 4WD Safari, or foot along one of the regions many hiking trails. Or visit nearby Arrowtown and learn about the town's fascinating gold-mining history. A highlight is the Chinese miners' village, with its restored shelters offering a glimpse into early development in this area.
Film lovers might like to check out Glenorchy, where Peter Jackson filmed some of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.