Discover some of New Zealand’s most scenic spots with this 12-day highlights itinerary.
Discover some of New Zealand’s most scenic spots with this 12-day highlights itinerary. Gaze in awe at glowworm filled caves and geothermal wonders. Wander through world-class museums and galleries in Wellington.
Relax on sunny beaches in Nelson and explore glaciers and forests of the wild West Coast, before visiting New Zealand’s adventure capital Queenstown and the truly majestic Milford Sound.
Discover world-class food and wine in Auckland’s many eateries and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant nightlife.
If you have time visit one of the Hauraki Gulf's many glittering islands to walk through beautiful native bush or take a magical vineyard tour.
Travel south over rolling hills to the city of Hamilton, where you can wander tranquil botanic gardens or visit the Hamilton Zoo and see the giant free flight aviary. As you continue south you’ll come to Otorohanga Kiwi House, a chance to meet New Zealand’s national symbol.
The Waitomo Caves is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with glow-worms. Choose your level of adventure, from a gentle boat cruise to blackwater rafting or abseiling into the abyss.
Your journey to Rotorua will take you through a fascinating mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. Walkers can stop to explore the many trails of beautiful Pureora Forest Park, home to several rare bird species. Trout fanciers may like to try their luck at Lake Whakamaru.
Evidence of volcanic activity greet you at every turn in Rotorua, from bubbling mud pools, to giant geysers and relaxing hot pools. Explore the region's many geothermal wonders or discover unique Maori culture with a cultural performance and delicious hangi.
The geothermal sights continue as you travel towards the resort town of Lake Taupo. Take a side road to a Orakei Korako Cave and thermal park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud. At Huka Falls take a break and watch the raging water plumet over the falls at 220,000 litres of water per second.
Lake Taupo is well stocked with sizeable trout, a must for fly-fishers. Or take a boat cruise or kayak on the lake to visit the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, an excellent way to learn about the history of the area.
The drive from Taupo to Wellington is a stunning mixture of volcanoes, rivers valleys and wide open plains. Along the way take time to stop in Turangi, the trout fishing capital of New Zealand or the nearby hot springs of Tokaanu. If you have time you can try rafting the Tongariro River.
In Waiouru, the QE2 Memorial Museum is well worth a look and is the stunning Mangaweka Gorge. From here make your way through the Wairarapa and down the beautiful Kapiti Coast and in to Wellington, the world's coolest little capital.
Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot.
Spend the morning visiting the city's many art galleries and museums, including the stunning national Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. Discover the secrets behind The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies with a Weta Cave Workshop Tour.
In the afternoon walk to the summit of Mount Victoria for 360-degree city views and take the chance to soak up Wellington's lively cafe scene.
Travel across the Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds in one of the world's most scenic ferry trips. From the picturesque seaside town of Picton travel west to Nelson. Enjoy a bush walk or swim at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve or stop at one of the many vineyards that make this region so famous for wine.
Nelson is a great place to organise join an eco-adventure, become immersed in the local creative culture, or simply relax on one of the many stunning beaches.
From Nelson you will travel up the Motueka River Valley past magical scenery and tiny settlements. Pan for gold in Lyell Creek before you navigate the awesome Buller Gorge.
Continue on towards the coast where spectacular views of wild beaches and the tempestuous Tasman Sea follow you to Greymouth. Don't miss the spectacular pancake rocks and booming blowholes in Punakaiki, centrepiece of the Paparoa National Park.
In Greymouth, discover the region's long gold mining history with a trip to the local museum or nearby Shantytown.
As you make your way down the West Coast to Franz Josef Glacier, take time to visit the fascinating town of Hokitika, famous for its annual Wild Food Festival. Wander through the forest canopy at the nearby Treetops Walk.
A mere 10 minutes walk from Franz Josef town centre you will find the glacier terminal. To get up close join a guided walk or heli-flight and walk on the ice itself. A short drive south from Franz Josef, takes you to Fox Glacier. The road crosses ancient moraines from earlier advances and retreats. See more must do experiences in West Coast.
Waterfalls and river scenery greet you as you leave the coast journey into Haast Pass. The road snakes through the Aspiring National Park, and the vegetation becomes more sparse as you travel inland.
The lakeside town of Wanaka has a variety of unique attractions for you to discover. Puzzling World and the quirky Paradiso Cinema are worth a visit. Or take a walk along one of the region's many trails, make sure you check out the famous Wanaka tree growing from the lake.
The short one hour drive from Wanaka to Queenstown has plenty of break points along the way. Visit the vineyards of the Gibbston area or stop to watch bungy jumpers leap from the Kawarau River Bridge.
Queenstown itself is an exciting mix of sophistication, stunning scenery and adventure. It is the perfect place to try bungy jumping, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and skydiving. Or for something a little more relaxing, indulge in some luxury with gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.
The first part of the drive to Milford Sound clings scenically to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. On the shores of Lake Te Anau sits Te Anau township, where you can find an impressive array of eateries for lunch.
Continue along the Milford Road, through beech forest, the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes, until finally the rough hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into Milford Sound. The amazing 22km-long fiord is dominated by Mitre Peak and scattered with waterfalls, vertical rock faces and unique wildlife.
To fully immerse yourself in the experience of the sounds, take an overnight cruise.
Before heading back to Queenstown, take the time to explore Te Anau. Cruise on the lakes, walk the tracks and visit the Department of Conservation wildlife centre. The Te Ana-au Caves are also an excellent adventure.
Make your way through Kingston and alongside Lake Wakatipu back to Queenstown, where you can indulge in some shopping or end your journey with a sumptuous meal in one of Queenstown’s many quality-eating establishments.