This 17 day ultimate Aotearoa tour is the ultimate multi activity New Zealand holiday
This 17 day ultimate Aotearoa tour is the ultimate multi activity New Zealand holiday.
Our off the beaten path itineraries are perfect for those who’ve dreamed of exploring all the best bits of Aotearoa New Zealand. All the nooks and crannies of this beautiful country and want to share all the special hidden gems with you!
This off the beaten path itinerary includes a jet boat tour and overnight stay in a remote National Park, a farm stay including a home cooked meal and private farm tour, boutique wineries, the mighty Putangirua Pinnacles, dense native rainforest, rugged coastline, NZ’s most impressive glow worm cave and rainforest train, Central Otago wineries, Gorgeous Lake Wanaka and the famous Franz Josef Glacier!
Day 1 – Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel (206 km – 3 hours 20 minutes driving)
South you go. This is the start of your 17 day ultimate Aotearoa tour and multi activity New Zealand holiday. Leaving New Zealand’s largest city you head for the Coromandel, one of the key locations for the New Zealand gold rush in the 1800s. You follow the coast road to the town of Coromandel, where you will take a trip on ‘The Driving Creek Railway’- New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway, with a working pottery and wild life sanctuary (included activity). From there you will take the stunning 309 Road to the coastal town of Whitianga, stopping at stunning Waiau Falls and the Waiau Kauri Grove – to see ginormous anicent kauri trees up close. Arrive in Whitianga in the afternoon/evening and enjoy the beautiful Buffalo Beach.
Day 2 – Whitianga and Surrounds
Today is free to explore the beauty of The Coromandel Peninsula. Perhaps take a walk to one of New Zealand’s most stunning beaches; Cathedral Cove where you wander through ancient native forest to the pristine beach that houses this striking rock formation. Other options for the day include a glass-bottom boat trip to a marine reserve, bathing at The Lost Spring, a visit to New Chum’s Beach, horse-riding at a local farm or kayaking to the idyllic other worldly paradise of Whenuakura/Donut Island (self-drive only) – (all optional – extra cost).
Day 3 – Whitianga to Rotorua (281 km – 4 hours driving)
This morning you will visit the world famous Hot Water Beach. This is one of the only places in the world where one can discover thermal water underneath a beach! Bring your swimming gear, as you will have the opportunity to dig your very own thermal pool and bathe in its waters (35-40 degrees Celsius in the right areas). Following this you farewell the Coromandel and head south to Rotorua; a hot spot for Maori culture and thermal activity. Arrive in Rotorua in the afternoon to enjoy a self-guided walk at the stunning Waimangu Volcanic Valley, which features the world’s largest hot spring and a boat trip above the site of the famous Pink and White Terraces!
Day 4 – Rotorua to Pipiriki (242 km – 3 hours 20 minutes driving)
This morning you will drive a short distance to reach the base of New Zealand Riverjet who will take you on a jet boating adventure to experience “The Squeeze” – a walk through rock passages to a hot waterfall! Next you’ll pass by New Zealand’s largest lake – Lake Taupō and the active volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park to reach Pipiriki, where you will meet your guide for your mystical Bridge to Nowhere jet boat ride, walk and canoeing trip through the stunning Whanganui National Park. Tonight you will stay overnight in a beautiful remote location in the park, at Bridge to Nowhere Lodge.
Day 5 – Pipiriki to Mairenui Rural Retreat (123 km – 2 hours driving time)
Leave the Whanganui National Park today and venture towards a family farm in the nearby Manawatu Region. First, pass by the ski town of Ohakune and perhaps drive up to the top of the road on the North Island’s tallest mountain and most active volcano – Mt. Ruapehu. On a clear day it is possible to see all the way to the Tasman Sea! Pass by New Zealand’s premier carrot growing region (and take a photo with their giant carrot statue of course), then continue on to Taihape – “Gumboot Capital of the World.” where you can try your hand at throwing a gumboot in their purpose built gumboot throwing lane. Following this, drive across the Rangitikei River and marvel at the steep sandstone cliffs of this river, which was used to portray River Anduin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tonight you will arrive at the beautiful Mairenui Rural Retreat where you will stay overnight with a kiwi family on a working farm, enjoy a home cooked dinner and breakfast and private farm tour.
Day 6 – Mairenui Rural Retreat to Martinborough (211km, 3 hours driving time)
You’ll leave Mairenui Rural Retreat via the gorgeous Manawatu Scenic Route after breakfast this morning and head through rolling green hills and alongside the dramatic Rangitikei River, to pass by Ashhurst and admire the wind farm en route. Following this you’ll head South on State Highway 2 and have the opportunity to visit Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre – home to a very rare white kiwi and other very special native birds. Passing through some very pleasant small towns (including Greytown which is known as the prettiest town in New Zealand), you can browse the delightful stores and cafes before arriving in Martinborough – the heart of the Wairarapa wine growing region. Here you can visit several beautiful boutique wineries and enjoy a delicious meal overlooking a vineyard. You have the option of renting bikes to ride between vineyards as most in the area are all quite close to each other. You’ll stay overnight in the lovely little town of Martinborough.
Day 7 – Martinborough to Wellington via Putangirua Pinnacles (156 km – 2 hours 15 minutes driving)
This morning you will take the beautiful drive out to the Putangirua Pinnacles where scenes for The Dimholt Road in Lord of the Rings were filmed. The Putangirua Pinnacles are a stunning yet unusual canyon like landscape surrounded by tall, thin pinnacle rock formations. The impressive scenery here meant that no CGI was needed to create the Dimholt Road nature did it all! Go in search of the Army of the Dead by walking straight through the Pinnacles or take the walk up to the lookout and view this bizarre but beautiful landscape from above. Next up you will leave picturesque Martinborough and take the drive over the Remutaka Ranges to arrive in Wellington to discover New Zealand’s capital city. Spots on your city tour could take in sights such as Mt Victoria – Wellington’s most spectacular viewpoint with 360 degree views of the city, harbour and mountain ranges in the background, parliament, New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa and Weta Cave where the magic of The Lord of the Rings was created.
Day 8 – Wellington
Today is your day to explore the Coolest Little Capital in the World! This morning you could take the Cable Car from the city up to Kelburn, where you will be able to wander the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Late morning, perhaps hop on the free shuttle to Zealandia, the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The 225 hectare ecosanctuary is a ground+breaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, 6 of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years.
Please note that if you choose a guided tour, your tour guide will have a full day off work today as per legal requirements and any transport will be provided by a third party.
Day 9 – Wellington to Abel Tasman National Park (3 hour and 30 minute ferry ride + 180 km – 2 hours and 30 minutes driving)
It’s time to journey over the Cook Strait and wave goodbye to the North Island today, as you sail toward the mainland of New Zealand; the South Island. The Northern coast of the South Island is simply beautiful and you will be able to take it all in as you sit back and relax on the ferry through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. There is a possibility today of having lunch at a vineyard in the wine growing region of Marlborough (optional – extra cost), before you make your way to the beautiful beachfront holiday town of Kaiteriteri.
Day 10 – Abel Tasman National Park
Today you’ll explore the best of Abel Tasman National Park by enjoying a stunning half day kayaking trip that covers part of a marine reserve. Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest National Park and is famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush and spectacular scenery. Enjoy a guided paddle between Marahau and Observation Beach where you will be provided with an early lunch. Observe the marine reserve’s playful inhabitants – dolphins, fur seals, penguins and sea birds, then return by Water Taxi for a scenic cruise back to Marahau. The rest of the afternoon is free to spend at leisure.
Day 11 – Abel Tasman National Park to Punakaiki via Nile River Glowworm Caves (278 km – 4 hours driving)
This morning you farewell the sunny North Coast and head southwest, to the lush rainforest of the West Coast. En route you will stop in at Underworld Adventures in Charleston. Here they will kit you up for the trip of a lifetime through their glowworm caves. The journey starts with a trip on their rainforest train, a walk through the rainforest and a journey into their large limestone cave. Following this you will lie on a tube and drift under the light of thousands upon thousands of glow worms on the cave ceiling. This particular cave has more glowworms than any other cave in NZ and the experience is truly cathartic. Upon arrival in Punakaiki you have the option of enjoying a true blue New Zealand pub meal this evening before calling it a night (optional – extra cost).
Day 12 – Punakaiki to Franz Josef Glacier (217 km – 3 hours driving)
In Punakaiki this morning you can explore the pancake rocks and blowholes situated right next to the village; a bizarre, rugged, rocky landscape which impresses thousands of visitors each year with its powerful forces of nature. Next up, check out the beautiful Truman Track down to the beach, or a section of the Pororari River Track. Driving South down the coast from Punakaiki, check out the stunning Hokitika Gorge with its beautiful bright blue waters and surrounding native forest. Arrive in Franz Josef Glacier early afternoon, where you will spend the next night in the beautiful town surrounded by rainforest. Tonight you will have the chance to relax and unwind with a soak in the Glacier Hot Pools, each filled with pure water from the Glaciers (optional – extra cost).
Day 13 – Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka (250 km – 4 hours driving)
This morning you will have the opportunity to enjoy a short scenic helicopter flight with snow landing on Franz Josef Glacier, or a 3 hour guided heli-hike on the ice of glacier itself! (Optional – Not Included in Quote). One of the prettiest and most dramatic journeys in the country is what you can experience on this tour over the Haast Pass through to Wanaka. En route you will visit Lake Matheson, otherwise known as ‘Mirror Lakes’ where on a clear day it is possible to see the reflection of New Zealand’s highest mountain Mt Cook (3754m/12,316ft). The walking possibilities are endless today around Haast and Haast Pass and you can do one of or several walks, some of which feature spectacular waterfalls and deep blue coloured pools where it is possible to see trout swimming. One of our favourite spots at The Road Trip is Ship Creek, an isolated beach featuring native totara trees hugging rugged coastline. Tonight you stay in beautiful Wanaka.
Day 14 – Wanaka + Rob Roy Glacier Walk (103km – 2 hours 20 minutes driving time)
Today you will enjoy all that the incredible Wanaka area has to offer with a hike up to the base of the Rob Roy Glacier in the Matukituki Valley (3 hours walking return). You’ll tramp past bright blue rivers, through gorgeous native forest and come out at the end of the track to view the stunning glacier up on the cliff. Upon return to Wanaka this afternoon you can enjoy the relaxed environment of this beautiful lakeside town.
Day 15 – Wanaka to Clyde via Central Otago Wineries and Orchards (77km – 1 hour driving time)
This morning you can take a walk up one of our favourite look out spots featuring 360 degree views of Lake Wanaka, Aspiring National Park and the Clutha River. After further exploring Wanaka, your South Island tour takes you along Lake Dunstan towards Cromwell where you will enjoy lunch at Mt Difficulty Winery in Bannockburn, overlooking Central Otago vineyards. Following this you have the option to enjoy a guided tour through a stone fruit orchard, check out Cromwell’s historic precinct or do some hot laps around the world class tracks of Highlands Motorsport Park! Following this you will make your way to the historic town of Clyde, where you will spend the evening.
Day 16 – Clyde to Oamaru via St Bathans (236km – 3 hours driving)
From one historic town to the next! This morning you will have time to enjoy Clyde and surrounding areas. Enjoy breakfast at Olivers and next perhaps enjoy a dip in the Clutha River, a hike up to Alexandra’s Clock on the Hill or a wander through the Orchard Garden Maze. Perhaps rent a bike and cycle some of the Central Otago Rail Trail! Following this you will get on the road and head to the old gold mining town of St Bathans. Here you can enjoy a dip in Blue Lake – a manmade lake carved out for gold extraction and later filled in as a recreation reserve. Enjoy a drink at the historic Vulcan Hotel in the village centre. Next up, drive through the delightful small town of Naseby – “2000ft above worry level!,” before ending up on the Pacific Coast and stopping in at the Moeraki Boulders. These boulders are concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs that back the beach, some of which weigh several tonnes and are up to 3 metres in diameter. Next along the route is the town of Oamaru, famous for its Victorian heritage precinct and steampunk artefacts. This evening you will watch little blue penguins come ashore from a hard day of fishing, before calling it a night!
Day 17 – Oamaru to Christchurch (249 km – 3 hours and 15 minutes driving)
This morning you will check out the beautiful historic precinct of Oamaru. Here you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the early 1900s, surrounded by gorgeous limestone buildings and a main street with a very Victorian feel. Pop in for a coffee at a local cafe, take a ride on the steam train or sift through secondhand stores for treasures. Following this, head North on State Highway 1 through Timaru and continue to Christchurch where you will finish your NZ adventure!