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Itineraries

We’ve assembled some ideas to help you plan your New Zealand holiday.  You can follow the established touring routes or base your New Zealand holiday on our suggested itineraries.  We’ve even added some links to blogs written by past Wilderness hirers so you can learn from their experiences.

We've enlisted New Zealand's best travel guide writer Scott Cook to prepare some recommended routes based on his experiences and the "must see" spots in his NZ FreNZy guidebooks.  Watch this space.

New Zealand's 12 major touring routes

New Zealand's 12 major touring routes cover the length and breadth of the country. These multi-day routes are supported by road signage and touring maps. Attractions, activities, and points of interest regarding New Zealand's history and heritage are highlighted on each route. From the Twin Coast Discovery Highway in the far north to the Southern Scenic Route in the far south, you've got the main tourist routes covered. Maps for all of these regions can be ordered in advance through the websites listed. Remember, these touring routes are intended as a guide and can be adapted to suit your holiday.  

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway heads north from Auckland on a round trip through magical Northland taking in east and west coasts, the Bay of Islands and incredible Kauri forests. 

The Pacific Coast Highway is quite simply stunning and takes in some of the most spectacular coastline New Zealand has to offer. It links Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, the East Cape and the Hawke's Bay wine country. 

The Thermal Explorer will take you on a journey through the North Island's tourist hotspots, Lake Taupo, Ruapehu, Rotorua and Waikato. 

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is just that. From Hawkes Bay, through the Wairarapa and Marlborough, this touring route will take you through New Zealand's most prestigious wine country. 

The Treasured Pathway is a stunning touring route that will remain with you forever. The journey takes you through the Marlborough Sounds, into Nelson through Kahurangi National Park and on to Farewell Spit, the northern tip of the South Island.

The Alpine Pacific Triangle is a striking touring route linking three of the South Island's recreational locations, Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura and the Waipara Valley. 

If empty highways are your thing, then the Inland Scenic Route 72 is a perfect choice. The journey will take you from Amberley in North Canterbury, along State Highway 72, inland past the Mt Hutt ski fields and through rural New Zealand to Geraldine and Winchester where it links back up with State Highway 1.

The Southern Scenic Route will take you through some of New Zealand's most rugged yet beautiful coastline and country. From Te Anau, nestled in the grandeur of the Southern Alps, along the wild south coast, finishing up in Dunedin. 

The Wilderness team have put together some great itineraries over the years we've been in the business. These link together the main areas that our hirers usually want to cover over manageable periods of time. They cover the popular spots that showcase New Zealand geography, culture, and wildlife.

The Coromandel Escape

The Coromandel Escape

Auckland - Auckland

5 days
380 kms

Head south east towards The Coromandel; Aucklanders’ favourite weekend retreat. Highlights include digging your own pool at Hot Water Beach, sea kayaking at Cathedral Cove, the coastal walk along the northern tip, the steam railway trip at The Coromandel followed by a stop at one of the great local cafes, Waiau Waterworks - the quirky but cool theme park with a difference, and a hike to the Pinnacles.

Hot Water Explorer

Hot Water Explorer

Auckland – Auckland

8 days
850 km

Head south to highway 2 toward The Coromandel - where the locals go for their holidays. Check out the bush camping in the Kauaeranga Valley and the beaches on the northern coast around Kuaotuna. If the tide is low, you can make your own pool on hot water beach. Follow the coast south to the fruit growing region of Tauranga before hitting Rotorua, the North Island’s most popular tourist destination. Just south of Rotorua is the waikite-valley-thermal-pools - your camp fee gives you free entry to the wonderful pools. Last stop is Waitomo, one of New Zealand’s most inspiring natural wonders - a unique network of glowworm caves.

To the top and Back

To the top and Back

Auckland – Auckland

8 days
950 km

Head north from Auckland following the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. Highlights include walking at Shakespeare Regional Park, snorkelling at Goat Island, swimming with the dolphins in the Bay of Islands, a visit to Waitangi National Historic Centre, dune buggy driving in the Hokianga sand hills, and the night walk in the ancient Waipoua Forest.

Central North Cruise

Central North Cruise

Auckland – Auckland

14 days
1426km

Head south from Auckland then east to The Coromandel. Follow the east coast to Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. Return through the central North Island taking in Taupo and Rotorua then the caves at Waitomo.

AUCKLAND - THAMES (104 km, 1hour 20mins)

Follow the Pacific Coast Highway to the Coromandel. With rolling hills on one side and rugged coastline on the other, driving up the Peninsula is a spectacular journey. On the west coast there is a never-ending parade of beaches, coves and inlets lined with pohutukawa trees - a red-flowering native of New Zealand. Stop in Thames for a mid-morning break before driving up the western side of the Peninsula, through secluded bays and coastal settlements to Coromandel Township.

THAMES - WHITIANGA (95km, 1hour 45mins)

Stop in Coromandel town for some small-town atmosphere. The Coromandel was visited in 1820 by the HMS Coromandel ship, which called into the harbour for kauri spars. Coming from the Madras coast of India, the HMS Coromandel became the driving force behind the Coromandel Peninsula and township's name. The discovery of gold at Driving Creek in 1852 sparked an economic boom during that period and as you wander the streets you will notice that a lot of history dating from that time is still evident in the Town today; old buildings, artifacts and atmosphere. Some activities and attractions in the area are: Driving Creek Railway: take a ride on New Zealand's only narrow-gauge mountain railway. This attraction is the most popular in Coromandel town and it is recommended that you book a few days in advance. www.drivingcreekrailways.co.nz Coromandel School of Mines Museum: learn about the gold mining history of the area and enjoy mineralogical displays. Craft trail: pick up a guide from the Coromandel Information Centre - it includes a 'how to find' list of workshops, shops and galleries where you can enjoy the company of over 24 craftspeople working in their studios Waiau Falls (11 km east of Coromandel): enjoy a five-minute walk from 309 Road, which ends at the foot of the Falls. The 309 kauri trees (one kilometer further east) make up the finest easily accessible stand of kauri on the Peninsula Waiau Waterworks (also on 309 Road): this whimsical garden features playthings all worked by water Take State Highway 25 to Whitianga. Whitianga is a great beach holiday spot and the relatively sheltered waters of the bay are great for all water sports. In the evening you could either indulge in a feast of seafood at one of Whitianga's restaurants or, stop by the local mussel farms and turn up your BBQ. For more information on The Coromandel visit www.thecoromandel.com Spend the day in the Whitianga area enjoying good coffee and beautiful surroundings. Activities and attractions include: Whitianga Wharf, the centre of the town's boating and fishing activity. From there, take the passenger ferry to Ferry Landing and Flaxmill Bay. There are several short walks in the area, all of which lead to somewhere special Another option from Ferry Landing is to take a shuttle bus to Cooks Beach, Hahei Beach, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach is one of the region's most fascinating places. For two hours either side of low tide, you can take your shovel and dig in the sand for hot spring water. Or, join someone else's spa pool... At Cathedral Cove, activity options include sea kayaking and snorkeling - both of which are recommended. We love Cathedral Cove Sea Kayaking. Other options in this area include: Spend a few hours making a Maori bone carving under expert tutelage, Visit working artists and their studios. Scenic boat cruises: take a trip from Whitianga and venture around Mercury Bay's surrounding coastline. Check The Coromandel for operator details Cathedral Cove snorkel trail: located within a marine reserve. A glass bottom boat experience is available from Whitianga and which has snorkelling gear onboard if that's your thing. Fishing: anywhere with anyone. Charters are available but can be costly. Beaches: good swimming beaches can be found all along the east coast of the Coromandel. For more information on Whitianga and surrounding areas visit www.whitianga.co.nz.

WHITIANGA – TAURANGA (166 km, 2hour 20mins) 

Depart Whitianga for Tauranga along the Pacific Coast Highway, passing through the coastal townships of Tairua and Whangamata. Be sure to take in Whangamata's 'Ocean Beach' - mile after mile of white sandy beach, complemented by the azure blue waters of the Pacific. Further south is Waihi, a historic goldmining town and one in which there is still a working mine sourcing both gold and silver. Stop in Katikati to view the view the unique wall murals for which Katikati is renowned. Arrive in Bay of Plenty early afternoon and spend the rest of the day exploring the growing city of Tauranga. This region seems to have it all - a mild, sunny climate, some of the country's most popular beaches and an abundance of orchards - especially kiwifruit, avocado and citrus. The uniqueness of Bay of Plenty centers around a relaxed holiday atmosphere. The clear pristine waters of Bay of Plenty offer the ultimate marine encounter, the opportunity to swim with, or just observe, dolphins in their natural environment. Other oceanic based activities include diving, game fishing, underwater photography and surfing to name a few. In the evening, venture down to the waterfront to enjoy the sunset over the boat harbour and relax at one of the many restaurants in this friendly city. In the afternoon visitors can choose from the following activities: Enjoy some beach activities at Mt Maunganui Indulge in a soak at Mt Maunganui hot salt water pools Take a commentated tour through an orchard at Kiwi 360 Experience a range of adventure activities at Longridge Park (near Te Puke): jet boating, and 4WD touring People with extra days to spare can choose from the following attractions and activities: Hikes and walking: experience bush hikes in the Kaimai Ranges, walk around the base of Mt Maunganui or hike 1.5 km to its volcanic cone summit Fishing charters: a variety of operators cater for fishing, scuba diving, crayfishing and spear fishing, while the marlin waters of Mayor Island await game-fishing enthusiasts Dolphin encounters: experience the thrill of observing or swimming with playful dolphins Island cruise: take a tour to Matakana Island White Island: from Whakatane visit this active marine volcano either by boat or by helicopter Overnight in Tauranga. For more information on the Bay of Plenty region visit www.bayofplentynz.com 

TAURANGA - GISBORNE VIA SH2 (298km, 4 hours 15mins) 

The most popular route from Tauranga to Gisborne is via the inland road (SH2). Take State Highway 2 to Whakatane and continue on to Opotiki. Turn inland on to the Waioeka Scenic Highway, a magnificent drive that winds through native forest. The Waioeka Scenic Reserve is a great environment for fishing, river swimming and rafting. Blue waters, white sands, lush forested hills, big surf and sheltered coves, sun, wine, seafood and a blend of history and culture aptly describes the Eastland region. Mt Hikurangi, which is the first mainland place in the world to see the sun, is steeped in Maori history. As Captain Cook sailed around the point of land now named Young Nicks Head in 1769, he landed at Kaiti Beach, Gisborne, where he was the first European to set foot on New Zealand. Today, this region attracts holidaymakers and surfers from all over the world. The alternative route from Opotiki to Gisborne follows State Highway 35 along the coast to East Cape then turns south. This route is nearly 200km longer which may not sound like much but as the roads are narrow and winding you should add an extra one to two days to get the most out of your detour. The journey takes in azure-coloured bays and beaches and New Zealand's native pohutukawa trees abound. Break the journey at Whanarua Bay, one of the prettiest bays on the coast, for a swim, a picnic or a bush walk. Find accommodation in the area. Suggestions include Hicks Bay or Lottin Point - camping and motorhome facilities are available. Activities and attractions in the area include: Hicks Bay: this remote bay offers superb scenery, bush walks and views of giant puriri trees (natives of New Zealand). While here visit the old wharf and the magnificent Waihirere Falls (access is available through a farmer's paddock). Hicks Bay is a great spot for camping with a wide open beach and beautiful scenery East Cape Lighthouse: gaze out from the most easterly point of mainland New Zealand. Detour from Te Araroa and allow one hour driving time plus 40 minutes to get to the lighthouse New Zealand's most Easterly point: to get there visitors must take an unsealed road from the tiny town of Te Araroa. At the point a historic East Cape lighthouse stands 154 metres above sea level and is accessed by a walking track of some 700 steps - worth it for the views at the top. Tikitiki Church: visit one of the most ornate Maori churches (St Mary's) in New Zealand Overnight between Waihau Bay and Te Araroa. 

HICKS BAY - GISBORNE (180km, 2hour 35mins) 

Journey to Gisborne, stopping at numerous points of interest on the way including: Young Nicks Head: picturesque white cliffs named after Nicholas Young, Captain Cook's cabin boy who made the first sighting of New Zealand aboard the Endeavor. Mount Hikurangi: first to greet each new day. At 1,754 metres high, Mount Hikurangi is the first point on mainland New Zealand to see the sunrise each day. Climbing treks are by permission only from the tribal authority. There is an excellent alpine hut on the higher reaches of the mountain, allowing climbers stay the night and wake early to see the sunrise. Overnight in Gisborne. This is the main centre of the East Coast region and there is a range of accommodation to choose from. Dine at a local restaurant and sample the locally produced Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. On arrival into Gisborne, activities and attractions include: Local history Captain Cook's Landing Site National Reserve, Kaiti Beach Tairawhiti Museum and Arts Centre: see a fine collection of European and Maori artifacts and an extensive photographic collection Heritage Trails: enjoy a city or district trail to key places of historical significance East Coast Museum of Technology: wander through a fine collection of lovingly restored machinery Sightseeing Te Poho O Rawiri Marae: visitors can be guided through the marae by appointment only and at the discretion of the local iwi. Koha (a gift) is appropriate Titirangi Domain, Kaiti Hill: take in views over the Gisborne area with the picturesque white cliffs of Young Nicks Head in the background Eastwoodhill Arboretum in Ngatapa: view the largest collection of Northern Hemisphere trees and shrubs in the Southern Hemisphere Hackfall's Arboretum: enjoy one of the largest private collections of oak, maple and poplar trees in New Zealand Gisborne is well known for its Chardonnay wines, so spend time in the afternoon tasting some award-winning wines from the region. Visitors able to stay additional days in the Gisborne region can choose from the following attractions and activities: Charter fishing: experience the great sea fishing of which the East Coast boasts Trout fishing: qualified trout guides are available to take visitors to magical spots in outlying rivers Horse trekking: spend the day on farmland trails and along beaches Surfing: visitors can ask a local surf guide to take them to where the waves are Hunting: deer and pig hunting is available on private stations For more information on the Gisborne region visit www.gisbornenz.com.

GISBORNE - NAPIER (215km, 3hour 5mins) 

Continue the journey on the Pacific Coast Highway touring route (State Highway 2) to Napier. Stop en-route at Mahia Peninsula scenic reserve and beach - a great spot for fishing, surfing, swimming and diving. The Hawke's Bay region is known for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Many of the vineyards offer visitors a wine tasting and indoor/outdoor dining experience. Napier and Hastings, the two main towns in the region, have a high concentration of Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture. Following a major earthquake in 1931, the towns were rebuilt in these unique styles. Afternoon activities and attractions include: Art Deco tours: enjoy a tour of this unique city with a trained guide from the Art Deco Trust Art Deco shopping: visit the Art Deco Shop for gifts related to the Art Deco style, a treasure trove of books about early 20th century design, and everything that a visitor could want to know about Art Deco Napier Hawke's Bay Museum: see the 1931 Earthquake Exhibition and Nga Tukemata, an exhibition that celebrates the history and ancestral treasures of the Ngati Kahungunu people of the East Coast Self-guided or guided wine touring: check www.hawkesbaynz.com for guided tour operator details. Pernel Fruitworld: see over 12,000 fruit trees in the heart of an extensive orchard district surrounding Hastings Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony: take a tour to this accessible mainland gannet colony Overnight in Napier. Dining options could include visiting one of the many vineyards offering evening meals. Visitors able to stay additional days in Hawke's Bay can choose from the following attractions and activities: Wine Country Food Trail: For food lovers wanting to taste all things fresh follow the popular Wine Country Food Trail which takes in many gourmet delights. Each food trail destination is well marked at the gate or entranceway, with a corresponding number on the food trail map. Maori cultural tours: join Long Island Tours for a few hours, a whole day or longer, for a trip into the countryside and the culture of the area. Overnight marae stays are an option Cycle tour: take a leisurely ride through the vineyard area with a company catering specifically for wine enthusiasts Waimarama or Ocean Beach: enjoy a day out at the beach with a picnic or portable BBQ For more information on the Hawke's Bay area visit www.hawkesbaynz.com 

NAPIER - TAUPO (143km, 2hour 5mins) 

Taupo is the main centre of the region and Lake Taupo is one of the North Island's most popular holiday destinations, both in summer and in winter. Getting out on Lake Taupo and the surrounding rivers could include: Hire a boat or take a scheduled cruise on Lake Taupo. Bungy jump over the Waikato River. www.taupobungy.co.nz Get a bird's eye view over the area, including Mt Ruapehu, on a scenic flight Charter a boat to catch the elusive rainbow or brown trout on Lake Taupo, or go fly fishing with a local guide up one of the many rivers in the area Watch as over 200,000 litres/44,000 gallons of water fall over the cliff face of Huka Falls every second, or take a jet boat ride to the base of the Falls. www.hukajet.com Visiting areas of geothermal interest Craters of the Moon: walk around an active thermal area with mud pools, craters and steam in the Wairakei Tourist Park Wairakei Geothermal Visitor Centre: see displays and audio-visuals of the Wairakei and Ohaaki geothermal power schemes, and visit the Volcanic Activity Centre for displays and audio-visual presentations of the Taupo volcanic zone Thermal baths: a number of hot pool complexes have been developed for visitors, to take advantage of the natural hot water Taupo Hot Springs Spa: Private mineral pools, larger public pools and spa treatments. The evenings are a particularly good time to visit as the complex is located in a grotto and the steam from the pools creates a special ambiance. www.taupohotsprings.com A.C Baths at Taupo Event Centre: A.C. stands for "Armed Constabulary" who used the mineral springs back in the 18th century. Since then they have undergone many alterations and improvements and are a historical feature of Taupo Prawn Park hatchery: tour the geothermal hatchery then head to the restaurant for a meal of prawns Overnight in Taupo or, Turangi if you decide to do the Tongariro Crossing (http://www.tongarirocrossing.org.nz/) For more information the Taupo region visit www.laketauponz.com 

TAUPO - ROTORUA (80km, 1hour 10mins) 

There is a wide range of activities and attractions in the Rotorua region for the visitor. These include: Geothermal attractions: Waimangu Volcanic Valley: Created on June 10, 1886 following the eruption of Mt Tarawera, Waimangu is the only hydrothermal system formed within historic times as the result of a volcanic eruption. View the amazing geothermal activity and ecologically important botany as you wander through the park www.waimangu.co.nz Te Puia: A guided tour of Te Puia complex includes a visit to the geothermal park. Here you can view the famous Pohutu geyser. www.nzmaori.co.nz Hell's Gate Thermal Reserve: Located on the Rotorua-Whakatane Highway, it is well-known for its violent geothermal activity and is Rotorua's most active geothermal reserve. www.hellsgate.co.nz Whakarewarewa: Amidst hot thermal springs, bubbling mud and steaming vents lies a living Maori village where meals are cooked in steaming hot pools. www.whakarewarewa.com Wai-O-tapu Thermal Wonderland: The brilliant colours of the ‘Champagne Pool' are a feature of this thermal park. Located half-way between Taupo and Rotorua. www.geyserland.co.nz Mt Tarawera: Now a dormant volcano, visitors can experience this once active mountain either on foot, by four-wheel drive, scenic flight or a combination of all. www.mt-tarawera.co.nz Flight seeing Flight seeing: gain a different perspective of Rotorua - from the air. Choose an excursion to White Island, an active volcano or, over the majestic crater of Mt Tarawera, Waimangu Thermal Valley and the beautiful lakes of Rotorua Parks/walking Tracks Whakarewarewa Forest: visit the giant Californian redwood trees. With Rotorua becoming well known as a mountain bike mecca, one of the main activities in the Forest is mountain biking through a network of trails. Mountain bikes can be hired and guided trips are available. Other activities in the Forest include running, walking and horse riding On the water Trout fishing: visitors are spoilt for choice, with 11 main lakes, a myriad of crystal-clear streams and four different species of trout to fish for. Charter a boat, skippered or self-drive or take on a fly-fishing guide Boat cruise: Select craft ranging from self-drive pontoons to a luxurious 15-metre/50-foot catamaran that cruises Lake Tarawera with Clearwater Charters Jet boating: try an adrenaline-injecting excursion on a local river White water kayaking New Zealand Culture Farm show: a classic New Zealand experience to help understand a little of life on a New Zealand farm. www.agrodome.co.nz Zorbing: a cushioned giant inflated ball that is rolled 150 metres/ 492 feet down the side of a hill. A bucket of water is thrown in for a hydro zorbing experience www.zorb.co.nz Maori culture The people of Rotorua are famous for offering Māori interpretation of their exciting environment that has surrounded their homes since the nineteenth century. Opportunities to come face to face with Maori culture are numerous in Rotorua - in performances and in expertly conceived displays. Whakarewarewa Thermal Village: a pre-European settlement that continues to be a centre of attraction for visitors. Here they can join a tour and experience Māori culture and traditions in an authentic geothermal living village. www.whakarewarewa.co.nz Tamaki Village: experience a reconstructed Pre-European Māori village - many traditions are still a significant part of the Māori world today. Entertainment starts right from the hotel pickup until visitors are dropped back again at the end of the evening. www.maoriculture.co.nz Te Puia: situated near the Whakarewarewa Village, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute offers tours of their Marae. On the tour a visit is made to Māori artists carving and weaving as they hand their knowledge down to younger generations. www.nzmaori.co.nz If you can stay additional days in the Rotorua area, the following activities and attractions are suggested: Volcano tours: join a 4WD tour to the dormant volcano of Mt Tarawera. Take a guided walk in and around craters, and see spectacular views of surrounding lakes and mountains White water rafting: experience the most exciting river locations, including thrilling rapids on the Rangitaiki River and New Zealand's highest commercially rafted waterfall on the Kaituna River Mt Tarawera: hike to the top of this majestic volcano (a day trip). For the more adventurous, enjoy scree running down to the crater! For more information on Rotorua visit www.rotoruanz.com 

ROTORUA - WAITOMO (166km, 2hour 20 mins)

In the morning travel across to Waitomo. This area is where the renowned limestone caves, glowworms and underground adventure activities can be found. Visitors can experience the caves either by way of a sedate walk and boat ride or by joining an adventurous caving trip. Start at the Museum of Caves and view excellent exhibits on how caves are formed, the flora and fauna that live in them, the history of the caves and cave exploration www.waitomo-museum.co.nz. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Waitomo area. Activities in the Waitomo area include: The Waitomo region is home to three caves that are open to the public: The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave. www.waitomocaves.co.nz Billy Black's Kiwi Culture Show: visitors gain an insight into New Zealand's pioneer farming heritage. www.woodlynpark.co.nz Cave tubing or blackwater rafting: www.blackwaterrafting.co.nz, www.waitomo.co.nz The Lost World Cave: Abseil 100 metres/ 328 feet down into the cave (accompanied by a guide). Time: 4 to 7 hours depending on tour option taken www.waitomo.co.nz Haggis Honking Holes: this four-hour cave trip includes professional abseiling instruction followed by a caving trip with four abseils, rock climbing, and traversing an underground river. www.waitomo.co.nz For more information on Waitomo visit www.waitomo.org.nz 

WAITOMO - AUCKLAND (200km, 2hour 50 mins) 

Either travel straight back to Auckland or detour to the beautiful surf village of Raglan. If you go to Raglan, stop off at Bridal Veil Falls and the naturally made bridge en-route..

Southbound Rover

Southbound Rover

Auckland – Christchurch 

21 days
3250 km

Head south from Auckland to Waitomo caves then the thermal wonderland of Rotorua and Taupo. Turn east to Hawke’s Bay and follow the wine trail down the east coast to Wellington and the Cook Strait ferry. From Picton, head west to Nelson then turn south and follow the West Coast to the glaciers then Wanaka, Queenstown, and Milford Sound. Return to Christchurch via Mt Cook.

AUCKLAND - WAITOMO (200km, 2hour 50 mins)

Head south for Waitomo. This area is where you will find limestone caves, glowworms and underground adventure activities such as black water rafting. Visitors can experience the caves either by walking, boat ride or a wet black water caving trip. Browse the Museum of Caves and enjoy many exhibits on cave formations, flora and fauna, and learn about the history of caves in the area www.waitomo-museum.co.nz Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Waitomo area. Activities in the Waitomo area include: The Waitomo region is home to three caves that are open to the public: The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave. www.waitomocaves.co.nz. While these cost money to enjoy, you can also enjoy free caves in the area - Piripiri is one of them. Browsing rock formations at Mangapohue Natural Bridge Marokopa Falls Billy Black's Kiwi Culture Show: visitors gain an insight into New Zealand's pioneer farming heritage. www.woodlynpark.co.nz Cave tubing or blackwater rafting: www.blackwaterrafting.co.nz, www.waitomo.co.nz The Lost World Cave: Abseil 100 metres/ 328 feet down into the cave (accompanied by a guide). Time: 4 to 7 hours depending on tour option taken www.waitomo.co.nz Haggis Honking Holes: this four-hour cave trip includes professional abseiling instruction followed by a caving trip with four abseils, rock climbing, and traversing an underground river. www.waitomo.co.nz For more information on the Waitomo area visit www.waitomo.org.nz After looking around Waitomo and surrounding areas, take the road to Rotorua. WAITOMO - ROTORUA (166km, 2hour 20 mins) In Rotorua visitors have the opportunity to experience a number of Maori culture activities and attractions. There are about 35 marae (tribal meeting grounds) in the Rotorua district, most of which lie in rural areas. Visitors may be lucky enough to stay as a guest on a marae - an experience they will never forget. Spend the afternoon discovering the Maori history and culture of the area. Visit the village of Ohinemutu - the original village around which Rotorua Township was built. A feature of this area, aside from its significance to local history, is the active geothermal ground upon which it is built - and St Faith's Church and the many meeting houses dotted through the village. If you are thinking about going to a hot spring while you are in the area, we recommend Waikite Valley which is just out of Rotorua. Other activities in the Rotorua area include: Trout fishing: visitors are spoilt for choice, with 11 main lakes, a myriad of crystal-clear streams and four different species of trout to fish. Charter a boat, skippered or self-drive or take on a guide Boat cruise: craft range from self-drive pontoons to a luxurious 15 metre/50 foot catamaran that cruises Lake Tarawera with Clearwater Charters Jet boating: try an adrenaline-injecting excursion on a local river Areas of geothermal interest: at nearby geothermal hotspots there are geysers spouting, acrid-smelling mud pools bubbling and belching and warm geothermal springs and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour For those who choose to stay in the Rotorua area for a few days, activities include: Whakarewarewa Forest: visit the giant Californian redwood trees. With Rotorua becoming well known as a mountain bike adventure mecca, one of the main activities in the Forest is mountain biking through a network of trails. Mountain bikes can be hired and guided trips are available. Other activities in the Forest include running, walking and horse riding Volcano tours: join a 4WD tour to the dormant volcano of Mt Tarawera. Take a guided walk in and around craters, and see spectacular views of surrounding lakes and mountains White water rafting: experience the most exciting river locations, including thrilling rapids on the Rangitaiki River and New Zealand's highest commercially rafted waterfall on the Kaituna River. Fulljames is a good spot for kayaking if you are into play-boating. For more information on Rotorua visit www.rotoruanz.com

ROTORUA – TAUPO (80km, 1hour 10mins) 

After checking out Rotorua, head for Taupo and spend the night there. Lake Taupo is one of the North Island's most popular holiday destinations, both in summer and in winter. Taupo town centre is crammed with cafes and interesting shops and the Huka Falls area is great for picnics and nature walks. To get a feel for the Lake Taupo region, options for visitors include: Huka Falls: watch as over 200,000 litres/44,000 gallons of water fall over the cliff face every second, or take a jet boat ride to the base of the Falls Craters of the Moon: walk around an active thermal area with mud pools, craters and steam in the Wairakei Tourist Park. Visit Wairakei Geothermal Visitor Centre to view displays and audio-visuals of the Wairakei and Ohaaki geothermal power schemes Prawn Park hatchery: tour the geothermal hatchery then head to the restaurant for a meal of prawns For more information on the Taupo region visit www.laketauponz.com TAUPO – NAPIER (143km, 2hour 5mins) From Taupo, continue the journey on the scenic route (Highway 5) to Napier. The Hawke's Bay region is known for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Many of the vineyards offer visitors a wine tasting and indoor/outdoor dining experience. Napier and Hastings, the two main towns in the region, have a high concentration of Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture. Following a major earthquake in 1931, the towns were rebuilt in these unique styles. Afternoon activities and attractions include: Art Deco tours: enjoy a tour of this unique city with a trained guide from the Art Deco Trust Art Deco shopping: visit the Art Deco Shop for gifts related to the Art Deco style, a treasure trove of books about early 20th century design, and everything that a visitor could want to know about Art Deco Napier Hawke's Bay Museum: see the 1931 Earthquake Exhibition and Nga Tukemata, an exhibition that celebrates the history and ancestral treasures of the Ngati Kahungunu people of the East Coast Self-guided or guided wine touring: check www.hawkesbaynz.com for guided tour operator details. Pernel Fruitworld: see over 12,000 fruit trees in the heart of an extensive orchard district surrounding Hastings Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony: take a tour to this accessible mainland gannet colony Overnight in Napier. Dining options could include visiting one of the many vineyards offering evening meals. Visitors able to stay additional days in Hawke's Bay can choose from the following attractions and activities: Wine Country Food Trail: For food lovers wanting to taste all things fresh follow the popular Wine Country Food Trail which takes in many gourmet delights. Each food trail destination is well marked at the gate or entranceway, with a corresponding number on the food trail map. Maori cultural tours: join Long Island Tours for a few hours, a whole day or longer, for a trip into the countryside and the culture of the area. Overnight marae stays are an option Cycle tour: take a leisurely ride through the vineyard area with a company catering specifically for wine enthusiasts Waimarama or Ocean Beach: enjoy a day out at the beach with a picnic or portable BBQ For more information on the Hawke's Bay area visit www.hawkesbaynz.com 

NAPIER – WELLINGTON (323km, 4hour 35min) 

Head south on State Highway 2 through the Wairarapa and into Wellington over the Rimutaka Hill. Options include stopping at the small country towns of Carterton, Greytown, Featherston or Martinborough in the Wairarapa on the way through. If you do stop by the Wairarapa region a vineyard tour is strongly recommended. Carterton Carterton is the ideal base for outdoor activities and excursions to Waiohine Gorge and the Tararua Forest Park. If you wanted to spend an extra day in the area, you could: Go rafting, river-bugging, kayaking, abseiling, rap-jumping and bridge swinging: venture to the Waiohine Gorge, a beautiful grade 2 river or, just enjoy the Waiohine river gorge and native forest area. With the largest swing bridge of its type in New Zealand, Waiohine is a great place for picnics and bush walks Greytown Historic Greytown is New Zealand's first inland town, and has retained its delightful colonial village character with wooden Victorian buildings. A leisurely stroll reveals a superb range of specialty shopping, from antiques to crafts, gift shops and galleries. Take a break at one of Greytown's cafes and restaurants. Featherston The town is close to Lake Wairarapa, the biggest wetland area in the lower North Island and a significant area in New Zealand for native and migratory birds. Martinborough A detour off State Highway 2 to Martinborough is worth the effort for the range of vineyards in the area - there are approximately 30 vineyards in and around Martinborough village. www.martinborough.com For more information on the Wairarapa region visit www.wairarapanz.com Overnight in Wellington 

WELLINGTON Wellington is the nation's capital and the political headquarters for the country. It is also home to Te Papa - the interactive Museum of New Zealand. Te Papa showcases numerous art galleries and national treasures such as the original Treaty of Waitangi and Katherine Mansfield's birthplace. The NZ performing arts, ballet and symphony orchestra are also based here and a diverse range of cafes and restaurants supports the city's vibrant nightlife. This is a compact city nestled between an expansive harbour and bush-clad hills. The downtown area is ideal for walking around, with all shopping, cafes, transport, accommodation and the city's attractions within close proximity. If you decide to spend longer here, the easiest way to get around is by walking or catching the 'City Circular', a yellow bus that takes you to the key attractions and downtown shopping quarters of Wellington. The bus departs every 15 minutes from marked stops around the city. Morning options could include the following attractions: Te Papa: New Zealand's bold and innovative national museum, set on Wellington's waterfront, provides visitors with a unique insight into New Zealand and the captivating stories of the land and hits people. www.tepapa.govt.nz Parliament Buildings: regular tours provide an insight into New Zealand's political heritage. www.parliament.govt.nz Museum of Wellington City and Sea: visitors are told stories of Wellington in an interactive and entertaining way www.museumofwellington.co.nz Katherine Mansfield's birthplace: the childhood home of the famous writer has been intricately restored according to the descriptions of the house in her stories. www.katherinemansfield.com Old St Paul's Cathedral: this gothic-style church was built from New Zealand native timbers. www.historic.org.nz If you wanted a more comprehensive guide to Wellington, you could join a guided walking tour with Walk Wellington or, pick up a brochure available from a visitor information centre for self-guided walks, including a Maori heritage trail. You can also; Walk, pedal or rollerblade from the city around the waterfront to Oriental Bay. The energetic can continue up through the green belt to the summit of Mt Victoria for a 360-degree panorama of Wellington. Alternatively catch a bus from downtown Wellington up to the summit Take in the views of the city and surrounding region on a scenic helicopter flight Ride from downtown Wellington in the Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens for sweeping views of the city and harbour The Botanic Gardens: wander through 26 hectares/64 acres of specialist gardens, native bush and lawn areas, down to historic Thorndon, New Zealand's oldest suburb Catch a ferry from the city across to Days Bay, home to seaside cafes and quality craft shops or to Somes/Matiu Island Reserve, a former quarantine and prisoner-of-war island and now a nature reserve with walking tracks and historic sites. www.doc.govt.nz If you are just in Wellington for the evening you could; Dine out and enjoy a fine meal at one of Wellington's award-winning restaurants Go on an evening walking tour around the Wellington waterfront that highlights the people, places and events that have shaped the city Enjoy a night out at one of Wellington's many theatres - Bats theatre is a good one Watch people wander down Cuba Street Relax to some local music - Wellington has a very vibrant music scene For more information on Wellington visit www.wellingtonnz.com 

WELLINGTON - PICTON (3hrs on the ferry) 

Catch the morning ferry service across Cook Strait into the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. 

PICTON - NELSON (110km, 1hour 35mins) From Picton, drive west along the Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock, skirting the edges of Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds. Highlights include lookout points over the beautiful Sounds, easy walking tracks and safe swimming beaches. In Havelock stop and taste the locally grown mussels or browse the local art galleries. At Havelock stop at Pelorus Bridge to take a short, unguided bush walk through native forest in the Mt Richmond Forest Park. Arrive in Nelson late afternoon. Nelson is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, proximity to three National Parks, 300-plus working artists and craftspeople, boutique wineries, fresh local produce and seafood, historical streetscapes, waterfront cafes and restaurants and a relaxed lifestyle. Suggested afternoon activities could include: Harbour cruises: appreciate the city's seaside setting Walks: walk to the centre of New Zealand and view the city in its entirety, or try one of the many other short walks in and around Nelson city Yacht charter: hire a yacht for an afternoon or for several days Art and historic trails: pick up a map or brochure from the visitor information centre Adventure activities: choose an activity to suit, such as tandem skydiving, 4WD motorbike rides, horse treks, white water river sports, water skiing, sea kayaking and mountain biking Visiting local beaches: Tahunanui Beach, Rabbit Island and Cable Bay are all safe beaches within a short distance of Nelson city World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum: houses costumes from the World of Wearable Art show a phenomenon initiated in Nelson. The show now held in Wellington is a changing spectacle fully choreographed with models, dancers and performers, dramatic stage sets, scripted lighting and music. Winning entries from the shows live exclusively in Nelson at the World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum. www.wowcars.co.nz Other activities that require a few days in the Nelson region include: Guided tours to Farewell Spit: enjoy this nature reserve on a sand spit jutting into the Tasman Sea. There are excellent 4WD safaris along the spit to the lighthouse and bird habitats - these are based in Collingwood, and it is recommended you book in advance for the safari trip Wharariki Beach: experience a wild and beautiful coastal landscape, where the wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. Easy half-day or, full-day walks For those able to stay in the Nelson region longer, there are three National Parks close by with a range of activities: The smallest of New Zealand's national parks, Abel Tasman is a compact treasure house of nature with glittering beaches, turquoise water and spectacular ocean views. A range of wildlife inhabits the area, including penguins and a seal colony in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Visitors can experience the Park in the following ways: Sea kayaking (one-day to multi-day trips): explore the coast from the water, rest on beaches with no foot access and observe the marine wildlife. Kayak tour operators are mostly based at Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Moteuka. They offer guided trips or freedom rentals (providing equipment, instruction and full safety briefings) Day trips or overnight stays: water taxis can drop visitors into the Park to walk sections of the Track. Visitors also have the option of staying a night in a variety of accommodation styles. There are also day cruises and nature tours that include walking through the park For those with a bit of time up their sleeves - The Abel Tasman Coastal Track (three to five days): a 51km track that takes an average of three to five days to complete. There are tidal crossings, which can only be crossed within a few hours either side of low tide. Along the track there is a mixture of accommodation facilities ranging from basic Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and campsites to independently owned lodges with excellent facilities. The Department of Conservation require visitors to book campsites and huts in advance. Kahurangi National Park This Park of 451,000 hectares/1.1 million acres of glaciated mountain ranges and rich forest is home to an exceptional variety of native plants and wildlife. The best known hiking trail is the Heaphy Track, a walk that takes four or five days from the Aorere Valley across to the northern West Coast and Karamea. Have a look at the Walking and Hiking page on our website for more information. Activities around Kahurangi include: Walking and tramping: there are more than 570 km/354 miles of track in the Park. The more popular longer walks include the Heaphy Track (one of New Zealand's Great Walks) and the Wangapeka Track. Short walks are available at most road ends. Kayaking: remote, wild rivers are a feature of Kahurangi. Most are suitable for experienced kayakers only. Commercial rafting tours are available. Fishing: the Karamea River is prized internationally for its trout fishing. Nelson Lakes National Park. This park protects 102,000 hectares/251,851 acres of the northernmost Southern Alps, with tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes, both big and small. The gateway to the Park is St Arnaud, a picturesque village just 1.5 hours' drive from Nelson or Blenheim. St Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti are accessed by State Highway 63 from Blenheim. A side road, about halfway between St Arnaud and Murchison, leads to Lake Rotoroa. Water taxis operate on both Lakes. Attractions and activities include: Lake Rotoiti: walk beside this lake. Lake Angelus: follow an alpine trail to this lake. The heavily protected native bush allows visitors to see New Zealand as it would have been 500 years ago. Fishing: Lakes Rotoroa and Rotoiti are renowned as fly-fishing lakes. Fish for brown and rainbow trout. Mountaineering: there are a number of good winter climbing routes suitable for experienced trampers and climbers. Read more about the National Parks on the Department of Conservation website www.doc.govt.nz. It provides important information on booking requirements for huts and campsites. 

NELSON – GREYMOUTH (290km, 4hour 10mins) 

The road to Greymouth on State Highway 6 follows a series of narrow valleys and saddles, with the highlight being the scenic Buller Gorge. From Westport to Greymouth there is magnificent coastal scenery, including the well-known Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki - unusual limestone rock formations with seawater forced skyward through blowholes. The Blowholes operate at high tide and are best on a blustery day when there are big seas - tide times can be checked at visitor information centers. The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are a must see in New Zealand - they are magic. Stay overnight in the Greymouth area. Greymouth is the largest township and the commercial heart of the West Coast. Along with its surrounding rural townships, the town provides a selection of guided tours and walks, adventure, galleries, craft outlets and cafes. This is the home of Shantytown and the daily destination for the TranzAlpine train. There are a few things to do in and around Greymouth: Jade Boulder Gallery at Greymouth: the gallery allows visitors to see different types of jade in its natural state, jade carvers at work and the opportunity to purchase individually designed sculptures and jewellery The Left Bank Art Gallery: enjoy a showcase of talent from around the region in exhibition and retail areas Shantytown, 15 minutes south of Greymouth: visit this replica pioneering town with steam train rides, a working gold claim where visitors can successfully pan for gold, as well as 30 historic buildings including the local saloon, jail, church, hospital and school Blackball (30 minutes inland from Greymouth): Blackball is where the New Zealand Labour Party was founded. Visit the well known hotel 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton' Lake Brunner and the small township of Moana (20 minutes inland from Greymouth): take in sweeping views from lakeside tracks and enjoy renowned trout-fishing opportunities Visit www.west-coast.co.nz for more information on the area. 

GREYMOUTH - FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER (177km, 2hour 30min)

Depart Greymouth for Franz Josef or Fox Glacier. En-route, you could stop by Hokitika, the third largest town on the West Coast. Here visitors can: Visit Westland's WaterWorld to see the indigenous kokopu (a prehistoric fish), other local fish species and freshwater eels Wander around Hokitika Historical Museum, where displays include an audio-visual about the history of the area View kiwis in nocturnal display at the National Kiwi Centre Watch glass blowers in action at the Hokitika Glass Studio Shop at one of the many craft galleries for jade, hand-blown glass, gold nugget jewellery, woodcrafts, and wool products You can also stop in Ross, a goldmining town that still has working goldmines, including one of the deepest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can take a goldfields heritage tour from the Ross Goldfields information centre. Another option is to stop at Whataroa to visit the only nesting colony of the white heron (kotuku) in New Zealand. The bird's breeding season is between October and March. Visitors may visit the area year round on a rainforest nature tour, but are not likely to see birds nesting within the colony outside the breeding season. GLACIERS Glacier Country Westland National Park can be accessed from this area - the small villages of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef are right on the Park boundary and are located just 5 km/ 3 miles from their respective glaciers. Each of the glaciers descends 2,500 metres/ 8202 feet in a journey of over 13 km/ 8 miles. They are remarkably accessible and extend to the valley floors. There are more than 60 glaciers in the Westland/Tai Poutini National Park. Two of them - the Fox and the Franz Josef - are unique in that they flow down to temperate rainforest. The glaciers stem from snowfields high in the Southern Alps, but Maori legend explains their existence more poetically. It is said that a beautiful girl named Hinehukatere loved the mountains in this park and encouraged her lover, Tawe, to climb them with her. He slipped and fell to his death and Hinehukatere's tears formed the glaciers. The area is known as "Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere" - the tears of the avalanche girl. Attractions and activities Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers: a range of companies offer guided walking and heli-hiking excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area. Or, you could just go off on your own and explore the area - don't cross the barriers though! TIP: Scenic flights are not always guaranteed departures due to the weather conditions. If you clients are extremely keen on taking a flight then it is recommended you schedule several days in the West Coast region to increase the chances of a flight. A number of self-guided walks are available surrounding the glaciers providing excellent vantage points for viewing the glaciers as well as exploring the rainforest environments. Other attractions and activities in the Glacier area: Scenic flights over Westland National Park and the glaciers: these flights can include snow landings. Lake Matheson (10 mins from Fox Glacier): on a clear day visitors will see perfect reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks at Aoraki 

FOX GLACIER - WANAKA (264km, 3hour 45mins)

Depart the Glaciers and continue the journey through Haast to Wanaka. Visit the Haast Information Centre for excellent displays on the local environment and information on walks available within the area. Another option in Haast is to go on a jetboat ride on the Haast River - a journey into the heart of South West World Heritage area. www.haastriver.co.nz The drive from Haast Junction to Wanaka takes approximately two hours. The journey through Haast Pass is very rugged and scenic, so it is recommended you stop along the way. The journey winds around Lake Hawea and Wanaka before arriving in the Wanaka township mid-afternoon. The Department of Conservation set up various short walkways along this route that offer visitors an opportunity to get away from the road and visit the beautiful scenery of New Zealand's Southern Alps and river valleys. A wide range of attractions and adventure sports are within reach of Wanaka. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wanaka, sample some exquisite local wines or, fresh fish at one of the easily accessible spots. Alternatively, venture into the hills and mountains surrounding Wanaka. Skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, tramping and climbing are also available in this area. If action packed Wanaka isn't your thing, you could always stop off at Kai Whaka Pai café for a nice coffee or, a local brew on tap. Afternoon activities and attractions include: The New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum: see a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircraft Puzzling World: get lost in a world of jigsaw puzzles and an epic hour-long outdoor maze Wanaka Beerworks: take a tour of this boutique brewery, located next to Wanaka airport Cardrona Hotel: sit outside in the garden by day or the fire by night. Have a good ole kiwi pub meal or, one of the local brews on tap. Don't forget to have a Brewski! Wanaka Transport Museum: view a unique private collection of cars, fire engines, bicycles, army tanks, model cars or, aircraft Flightseeing: scenic flights operate throughout the South Island's alpine region: Milford Sound, Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring. Remote area landings are available in Mt Aspiring National Park for trampers, climbers and hunters Visitors who stay in Lake Wanaka for few days may be interested in: Trout fishing: guided fishing on the lakes, rivers and streams in the area. The region offers superb brown and rainbow trout fishing Guided photographic and nature tours Canyoning: join a guided descent of canyons in the Wanaka region Activities on Lake Wanaka: yachties, water skiers, kayakers and wind surfers can take to the waters of the Lake Horse trekking: venture into the wilderness of the region Walking: numerous walks are available in the area, from one hour to four days Mountaineering: go guided mountaineering and trekking in the National Park White water kayaking or eco-rafting: enjoy the rivers in the Wanaka region Alpine and heli mountain biking: take to the highest mountain bike tracks in New Zealand Rock climbing: join a rock climbing trip with instruction, courses and ascents White water sledging: sledge the rapids on a purpose-designed board Winter activities Harris Mountain Heli-skiing: experience heli-skiing and heli-boarding The skifields of Cardrona and Treble Cone, and the Waiorau Nordic ski area Cardrona Alpine Resort Accessible from Queenstown or Lake Wanaka, this international resort offers a glorious alpine atmosphere with extensive facilities. Renowned for its natural snow, long season and wide open basins, there's a wonderful mix of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. www.cardrona.com Treble Cone Ski Area Treble Cone is the New Zealand ski field that's bigger on terrain, higher in altitude, bigger in size, wider in scope and offers more vertical than any other ski area in the area. The terrain is slightly better than Cardrona and the slopes link to one another - no need to push! www.treblecone.co.nz Snow Farm Located 200 meters/ 656 feet south of Cardrona Alpine resort entrance. This is New Zealand's only commercial cross-country ski resort, with trails for all ages and all abilities. The resort can be enjoyed in both summer and winter - accommodation is available in huts on the mountain, and a restaurant offers a unique alpine atmosphere. www.snowfarmnz.com Snow Park www.snowparknz.com An all-mountain terrain park featuring half pipes, terrain and rail parks and a skier or, boarder cross course. Visit www.lakewanaka.co.nz for more information on activities and itineraries in the area. 

WANAKA – QUEENSTOWN (117km, 1hour 30mins) Drive the short distance on State Highway 6 detouring to the old gold mining village of Arrowtown. Stop for morning tea and have a look through the cobblestone shopping area. There is also a good fudge shop here if that's your thing! In autumn, Arrowtown throws its annual Autumn Festival which is worth a look if it fits in with your travel date. Spend the rest of the day and evening in Queenstown. There is always something to do in Queenstown, no matter what the season. In the summer as the temperatures rise, Queenstown's numerous waterways will make you smile and in the winter, snow-capped mountains and vibrant colours will do the same. In the winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turn into an alpine playground with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Winter Festival. In spring, skiers can enjoy spring snow conditions, the sailing is exciting and the Queenstown gardens are in full bloom. To fully appreciate the spring scenery, it may be a good idea to book a fixed wing or helicopter flight. Attractions and activities in Queenstown include: Skippers Canyon: enjoy a mix of history and high adventure including bungy jumping, rafting, a flying fox and jet boating. It is recommended that visitors take a guided excursion in Skippers Canyon as the road is extremely dangerous. Jet boating: experience the Shotover, Kawarau or Dart River Jets White water rafting: carve though the rapids on the Shotover or Kawarau River Gondola ride: rise 450 metres/1475 feet above Queenstown to Bob's Peak to enjoy views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, from every vantage point. Enjoy a luge ride (a luge is a short, raised toboggan for one person seated) down a slope from the top of the gondola ride TSS Earnslaw: cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard this vintage steamboat Arts and wine: follow a wine trail or the Wakatipu Arts Trail Trout and salmon fishing: test the waters all year round Country life experiences: try horse trekking or see sheep shearing and working sheepdogs Bungy jumping: New Zealand is the home of the first commercial Bungy, and in Queenstown there are lots of opportunities to try it. Winter activities include: Skiing: venture onto one of the four fields in close proximity to Queenstown - the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone Night skiing: twilight skiing takes place at Coronet Peak ski area Heli-skiing and heli-boarding Snowmobile: take an icy adventure aboard a snowmobile 

QUEENSTOWN - TE ANAU (170km, 2hours 45 mins) 

Leave Queenstown as early as possible - 7am is recommended as the day's journey, although scenic, is long. Travel to Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Area and the largest national park in New Zealand. The Park covers 1.2 million hectares (2.9 million acres) and has natural wilderness on a grand scale, where waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres into pristine, forested valleys, and glacier-carved fiords indent its coastal boundaries. 

TE ANAU - MILFORD SOUND (121km, 2hours 20 mins) Milford and Doubtful Sounds provide visitors with unequalled experiences of the natural beauty and wilderness of New Zealand. Milford Sound The road to Milford is a wonderful alpine drive. From Te Anau the road winds down the Eglington and Hollyford Valleys, then through the Homer Tunnel before being greeted by Mitre Peak towering from the glassy waters of Milford Sound (approximate driving time from Queenstown - five hours five minutes). Arrive around midday or early afternoon. One of the main activities at Milford Sound is a boat cruise which extends the full length of the Sound to the Tasman Sea, stopping at various points of interest along the way to view waterfalls and marine life. Cruises leave from the main wharf at Milford Sound. Other activities include: A visit to the Underwater Observatory, a facility designed to educate visitors about the recently discovered life under Milford Sound. Scenic flights over Fiordland National Park. Overnight in Te Anau - the drive from Milford Sound to Te Anau is approximately two to 2.5 hours long or, if you don't want to drive far, you can overnight at Milford Sound. For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Milford Sound area, activities could include: Guided nature hiking: venture into the wilderness Kayaking: paddle among towering cliffs and waterfalls and encounter seals and dolphins Guided diving trips: see black and red corals living at depths of less than 20 metres/65.6 feet Doubtful Sound Trips to Doubtful Sound start at the Manapouri Visitor Centre, where you transfer onto a launch or yacht to cruise across Lake Manapouri. You visit the underground hydroelectric generating station before taking a coach ride over Wilmot Pass, with its luxuriant vegetation and great views. On arrival at the Sound, enjoy a spectacular cruise to the Tasman Sea, encountering wildlife such as dusky dolphins, fur seals and crested penguins. After a scenic journey alongside proud mountains and lakes, you arrive back in Te Anau for an overnight stay. Te Anau is an attractive town nestled on the shores of the South Island's largest lake, Lake Te Anau. Activities in the Doubtful Sound area are: Diving/fishing charters Activity combinations: combine aerial sightseeing or a cruise trip into the Doubtful Sound region with activities such as bush walks, historic site visits and sea fishing Ecology tours: these multi-day tours include working alongside scientists Full- and half-day excursions: combine a coach journey, launch cruise and kayaking in the Manapouri/ Doubtful Sound area Kayaking: visitors can rent fully equipped kayaks by the day or overnight, or take a guided kayaking excursion on Lake Manapouri and/or Doubtful Sound. Te Ana-au Caves: join a 2.5-hour tour departing daily from Te Anau to visit the Caves, including a glowworm grotto For more information on Fiordland visit www.fiordland.org.nz 

MILFORD SOUND - QUEENSTOWN (291km, 4hour 10mins) 

Take a journey through mountains and alongside lakes on State Highways 94 and 6, arriving in Queenstown late morning. Spend a bit more time in Queenstown enjoying the many activities and attractions in the area. For more information visit www.queenstownnz.co.nz 

QUEENSTOWN - MT COOK (263km, 3hour 45mins) 

Leave Queenstown in the morning and head along State Highway 6, all the way to Cromwell in Central Otago. Based on the edge of Lake Dunstan, this area of Central Otago is known for its fruit orchards and a growing wine centre. The settlement of Clyde provides an insight into the gold mining heritage of this region. From Cromwell, join State Highway 8 for the journey through Lindis Pass to the Mt Cook area. Take time to enjoy the sheer beauty of the scenery and landscapes. Small rock sculptures line both sides of the roads and the opportunity to add to the long line of rock piles is all yours. At 3754 metres/12,308 feet, Aoraki (Mt Cook) is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up the Aoraki National Park. Nudging one side of Mt Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30 km/18 mile giant and one of the longest (and dirtiest) outside the Himalayas. Activities in the National Park include: Walking: there are short or day walks around Mt Cook village and into the main valleys. The most popular are to Kea Point and Hooker Valley. For more experienced trampers there are three alpine routes over the Mueller, Copland and Ball Passes Skiing: guided ski trips, suitable for intermediate skiers, can be taken down the Tasman Glacier. Helicopters can take experienced skiers to a number of locations in the Park for some wilderness experiences. Ski touring is possible around the Tasman and Kelman huts but alpine experience is required Glacier Explorer boat trip: a unique experience, this boat tour explores the melting ice face of Tasman Glacier and icebergs carved off into the lake Scenic flights and glacier landings, fixed wing airplane or helicopter flights: regular scenic flights leave from Mt Cook, and Lake Tekapo airports For more information on the Mt Cook area visit www.mtcook.org.nz 

MT COOK – CHRISTCHURCH (331km, 4hour 45mins) 

Make your way from Mt Cook to Christchurch while stopping for lunch in Geraldine, a farming township. You may wish to take a walk around town following the Historic Town Trail or, head to Verde for lunch. Continue to Christchurch via State Highway 1 through Ashburton, the commercial centre of one of New Zealand's richest agricultural and pastoral regions. If you are looking for an alternative route and you are in New Zealand during the winter months, you could drive back to Christchurch via Methven, a base for Mt Hutt's ski field and other ski areas (a short detour off the Inland Scenic Route 72). The Methven Visitor Centre makes bookings for accommodation, skiing packages, and transport to and from ski areas. There are also other outdoor adventure activities in this area including tandem skydiving, balloon flights and jet boating. CHRISTCHURCH If time permits before you leave Christchurch you could check out the following activities: Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens Mona Vale Homestead: wander through 5 hectares/12 acres of gardens and take in views of the Avon River Christchurch Tramway: take an historic tram ride around the city centre. Trundle through the tree-lined streets and wander past buzzing cafes. A great way to experience the inner city of Christchurch Christchurch Gondola: unique views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour unfold as passengers rise to the summit complex, located on the crater rim of an extinct volcano Punting on the Avon River: sit back and relax in a guided punt past the sights of the central city 'Up, Up and Away': take a dawn balloon flight over Christchurch city Guided walks: see Christchurch city and its heritage buildings Canterbury Museum, including the Hall of Antarctic Discovery: housed in one of Christchurch's finest historic buildings are stunning displays such as Nga Taonga Tukuiho O Nga Tupuna 'Treasures handed down by our ancestors', which features the classic Maori period The International Antarctic Centre: the Centre features a real 'Snow and Ice Experience' and a 45-minute 'Behind the Scenes' tour of the Antarctic Campus Arts Centre of Christchurch: situated in the historic buildings of the original University of Canterbury, the Arts Centre is one of New Zealand's most significant cultural attractions and is today a dynamic venue for arts, shopping and entertainment. www.artscentre.co.nz Christchurch Art Gallery: an eclectic mix of local and overseas artists exhibiting both traditional and contemporary work www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz Southern Encounter Aquarium: enjoy an interactive aquarium in the city centre Willowbank Wildlife Reserve: learn about a kiwi breeding programme and see native New Zealand bird life For more information visit www.christchurchnz.net

No Stone Unturned

Auckland – Christchurch

28 days
3500 km

Head south from Auckland then east to The Coromandel. Follow the east coast to Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay. Follow the wine trail down the east coast to Wellington and the Cook Strait ferry.  From Picton, follow the same route as the Southbound Express via Nelson, the West Coast, Wanaka, Queenstown, and Milford Sound before returning to Christchurch.

AUCKLAND - THAMES (104 km, 1hour 20mins) 

Follow the Pacific Coast Highway to the Coromandel. With rolling hills on one side and rugged coastline on the other, driving up the Peninsula is a spectacular journey. On the west coast there is a never-ending parade of beaches, coves and inlets lined with pohutukawa trees (a red-flowering native of New Zealand). Stop in Thames, known as the gateway to Coromandel, for a mid-morning break. Continue driving up the western side of the Peninsula, through secluded bays and coastal settlements to Coromandel Township. Stop in Coromandel town to soak up some of the small-town atmosphere. The Coromandel was visited in 1820 by the HMS Coromandel ship, which called into the harbour for kauri spars. Coming from the Madras coast of India, the HMS Coromandel became the driving force behind the peninsula, and township's name. The discovery of gold at Driving Creek in 1852 sparked an economic boom in Coromandel town. As you wander the streets you will notice that a lot of history dating from that time is still evident in the Town today; old buildings, artifacts and atmosphere. Some activities and attractions in the area are: Driving Creek Railway: take a ride on New Zealand's only narrow-gauge mountain railway. This attraction is the most popular in Coromandel town and it is recommended that you book a few days in advance. www.drivingcreekrailways.co.nz Coromandel School of Mines Museum: learn about the gold mining history of the area and enjoy mineralogical displays. Craft trail: pick up a guide from the Coromandel Information Centre - it includes a 'how to find' list of workshops, shops and galleries where you can enjoy the company of over 24 craftspeople working in their studios Waiau Falls (11 km east of Coromandel): enjoy a five-minute walk from 309 Road, which ends at the foot of the Falls. The 309 kauri trees (one kilometer further east) make up the finest easily accessible stand of kauri on the Peninsula Waiau Waterworks (also on 309 Road): this whimsical garden features playthings all worked by water Take State Highway 25 to Whitianga. Whitianga is a great beach holiday spot and the relatively sheltered waters of the bay are great for all water sports. In the evening you could either indulge in a feast of seafood at one of Whitianga's restaurants or, stop by the local mussel farms and turn up your BBQ. For more information on The Coromandel visit www.thecoromandel.com 

THAMES - WHITIANGA (95km, 1hour 45mins) 

Spend the day in the Whitianga area enjoying good coffee and beautiful surroundings. Activities and attractions include: Whitianga Wharf, the centre of the town's boating and fishing activity. From there, take the passenger ferry to Ferry Landing and Flaxmill Bay. There are several short walks in the area, all of which lead to somewhere special Another option from Ferry Landing is to take a shuttle bus to Cooks Beach, Hahei Beach, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach is one of the region's most fascinating places. For two hours either side of low tide, you can take your shovel and dig in the sand for hot spring water. Or, join someone else's spa pool... At Cathedral Cove, activity options include kayaking and snorkeling - both of which are recommended. We suggest Cathedral Cove Sea Kayaking (http://www.seakayaktours.co.nz/) Other options in this area include: Spend a few hours making a Maori bone carving under expert tutelage Visit working artists and their studios Scenic boat cruises: take a trip from Whitianga and venture around Mercury Bay's surrounding coastline. Check www.thecoromandel.com for operator details Cathedral Cove snorkel trail: located within a marine reserve. A glass bottom boat experience is available from Whitianga and which has snorkelling gear onboard if that's your thing. www.glassbottomboatwhitianga.co.nz Fishing: anywhere with anyone. Charters are available but can be costly Sea kayaking: from Hahei Beach and only boat operator allowed to land at Cathedral Cove www.seakayaktours.co.nz Beaches: good swimming beaches can be found all along the east coast of the Coromandel. For more information on Whitianga and surrounding areas visit www.whitianga.co.nz 

WHITIANGA – TAURANGA (189 km, 2hour 20mins) 

Depart Whitianga for Tauranga along the Pacific Coast Highway, passing through the coastal townships of Tairua and Whangamata. Be sure to take in Whangamata's 'Ocean Beach' - mile after mile of white sandy beach, complemented by the azure blue waters of the Pacific. Further south is Waihi, a historic goldmining town and one in which there is still a working mine sourcing both gold and silver. Stop in Katikati to view the view the unique wall murals for which Katikati is renowned. Arrive in Bay of Plenty early afternoon and spend the rest of the day exploring the growing city of Tauranga. This region seems to have it all - a mild, sunny climate, some of the country's most popular beaches and an abundance of orchards - especially kiwifruit, avocado and citrus. The uniqueness of Bay of Plenty centers around a relaxed holiday atmosphere. The clear pristine waters of Bay of Plenty offer the ultimate marine encounter, the opportunity to swim with, or just observe, dolphins in their natural environment. Other oceanic based activities include diving, game fishing, underwater photography and surfing to name a few. In the evening, venture down to the waterfront to enjoy the sunset over the boat harbour and relax at one of the many restaurants in this friendly city. In the afternoon visitors can choose from the following activities: Enjoy some beach activities at Mt Maunganui Indulge in a soak at Mt Maunganui hot salt water pools Take a commentated tour through an orchard at Kiwi 360 Experience a range of adventure activities at Longridge Park (near Te Puke): jet boating, and 4WD touring People with extra days to spare can choose from the following attractions and activities: Hikes and walking: experience bush hikes in the Kaimai Ranges, walk around the base of Mt Maunganui or hike 1.5 km to its volcanic cone summit Fishing charters: a variety of operators cater for fishing, scuba diving, crayfishing and spear fishing, while the marlin waters of Mayor Island await game-fishing enthusiasts Dolphin encounters: experience the thrill of observing or swimming with playful dolphins Island cruise: take a tour to Matakana Island White Island: from Whakatane visit this active marine volcano either by boat or by helicopter Overnight in Tauranga. For more information on the Bay of Plenty region visit www.bayofplentynz.com 

TAURANGA - GISBORNE (298km, 4hour 15mins or 482km, 6hour 55mins) 

TAURANGA - GISBORNE VIA SH2 (298km, 4 hours 15mins) 

The most popular route from Tauranga to Gisborne is via the inland road (SH2). Take State Highway 2 to Whakatane and continue on to Opotiki. Turn inland on to the Waioeka Scenic Highway, a magnificent drive that winds through native forest. The Waioeka Scenic Reserve is a great environment for fishing, river swimming and rafting. Blue waters, white sands, lush forested hills, big surf and sheltered coves, sun, wine, seafood and a blend of history and culture aptly describes the Eastland region. Mt Hikurangi, which is the first mainland place in the world to see the sun, is steeped in Maori history. As Captain Cook sailed around the point of land now named Young Nicks Head in 1769, he landed at Kaiti Beach, Gisborne, where he was the first European to set foot on New Zealand. Today, this region attracts holidaymakers and surfers from all over the world. The alternative route from Opotiki to Gisborne follows State Highway 35 along the coast to East Cape then turns south. This route is nearly 200km longer which may not sound like much but as the roads are narrow and winding you should add an extra one to two days to get the most out of your detour. The journey takes in azure-coloured bays and beaches and New Zealand's native pohutukawa trees abound. Break the journey at Whanarua Bay, one of the prettiest bays on the coast, for a swim, a picnic or a bush walk. Find accommodation in the area. Suggestions include Hicks Bay or Lottin Point - camping and motorhome facilities are available. Activities and attractions in the area include: Hicks Bay: this remote bay offers superb scenery, bush walks and views of giant puriri trees (natives of New Zealand). While here visit the old wharf and the magnificent Waihirere Falls (access is available through a farmer's paddock). Hicks Bay is a great spot for camping with a wide open beach and beautiful scenery East Cape Lighthouse: gaze out from the most easterly point of mainland New Zealand. Detour from Te Araroa and allow one hour driving time plus 40 minutes to get to the lighthouse New Zealand's most Easterly point: to get there visitors must take an unsealed road from the tiny town of Te Araroa. At the point a historic East Cape lighthouse stands 154 metres above sea level and is accessed by a walking track of some 700 steps - worth it for the views at the top. Tikitiki Church: visit one of the most ornate Maori churches (St Mary's) in New Zealand Overnight between Waihau Bay and Te Araroa. 

HICKS BAY - GISBORNE (180km, 2hour 35mins) 

Journey to Gisborne, stopping at numerous points of interest on the way including: Young Nicks Head: picturesque white cliffs named after Nicholas Young, Captain Cook's cabin boy who made the first sighting of New Zealand aboard the Endeavor. Mount Hikurangi: first to greet each new day. At 1,754 metres high, Mount Hikurangi is the first point on mainland New Zealand to see the sunrise each day. Climbing treks are by permission only from the tribal authority. There is an excellent alpine hut on the higher reaches of the mountain, allowing climbers stay the night and wake early to see the sunrise. Overnight in Gisborne. This is the main centre of the East Coast region and there is a range of accommodation to choose from. Dine at a local restaurant and sample the locally produced Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. On arrival into Gisborne, activities and attractions include: Local history Captain Cook's Landing Site National Reserve, Kaiti Beach Tairawhiti Museum and Arts Centre: see a fine collection of European and Maori artifacts and an extensive photographic collection Heritage Trails: enjoy a city or district trail to key places of historical significance East Coast Museum of Technology: wander through a fine collection of lovingly restored machinery Sightseeing Te Poho O Rawiri Marae: visitors can be guided through the marae by appointment only and at the discretion of the local iwi. Koha (a gift) is appropriate Titirangi Domain, Kaiti Hill: take in views over the Gisborne area with the picturesque white cliffs of Young Nicks Head in the background Eastwoodhill Arboretum in Ngatapa: view the largest collection of Northern Hemisphere trees and shrubs in the Southern Hemisphere Hackfall's Arboretum: enjoy one of the largest private collections of oak, maple and poplar trees in New Zealand Gisborne is well known for its Chardonnay wines, so spend time in the afternoon tasting some award-winning wines from the region. Visitors able to stay additional days in the Gisborne region can choose from the following attractions and activities: Charter fishing: experience the great sea fishing of which the East Coast boasts Trout fishing: qualified trout guides are available to take visitors to magical spots in outlying rivers Horse trekking: spend the day on farmland trails and along beaches Surfing: visitors can ask a local surf guide to take them to where the waves are Hunting: deer and pig hunting is available on private stations For more information on the Gisborne region visit www.gisbornenz.com 

GISBORNE – NAPIER (215km, 3hour 5mins) 

Continue the journey on the Pacific Coast Highway touring route (State Highway 2) to Napier. Stop en-route at Mahia Peninsula scenic reserve and beach - a great spot for fishing, surfing, swimming and diving. The Hawke's Bay region is known for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Many of the vineyards offer visitors a wine tasting and indoor/outdoor dining experience. Napier and Hastings, the two main towns in the region, have a high concentration of Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture. Following a major earthquake in 1931, the towns were rebuilt in these unique styles. Afternoon activities and attractions include: Art Deco tours: enjoy a tour of this unique city with a trained guide from the Art Deco Trust Art Deco shopping: visit the Art Deco Shop for gifts related to the Art Deco style, a treasure trove of books about early 20th century design, and everything that a visitor could want to know about Art Deco Napier Hawke's Bay Museum: see the 1931 Earthquake Exhibition and Nga Tukemata, an exhibition that celebrates the history and ancestral treasures of the Ngati Kahungunu people of the East Coast Self-guided or guided wine touring: check www.hawkesbaynz.com for guided tour operator details. Pernel Fruitworld: see over 12,000 fruit trees in the heart of an extensive orchard district surrounding Hastings Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony: take a tour to this accessible mainland gannet colony Overnight in Napier. Dining options could include visiting one of the many vineyards offering evening meals. Visitors able to stay additional days in Hawke's Bay can choose from the following attractions and activities: Wine Country Food Trail: For food lovers wanting to taste all things fresh follow the popular Wine Country Food Trail which takes in many gourmet delights. Each food trail destination is well marked at the gate or entranceway, with a corresponding number on the food trail map. Maori cultural tours: join Long Island Tours for a few hours, a whole day or longer, for a trip into the countryside and the culture of the area. Overnight marae stays are an option Cycle tour: take a leisurely ride through the vineyard area with a company catering specifically for wine enthusiasts Waimarama or Ocean Beach: enjoy a day out at the beach with a picnic or portable BBQ For more information on the Hawke's Bay area visit www.hawkesbaynz.com 

NAPIER – WELLINGTON (323km, 4hour 35min) 

Head south on State Highway 2 through the Wairarapa and into Wellington over the Rimutaka Hill. Options include stopping at the small country towns of Carterton, Greytown, Featherston or Martinborough in the Wairarapa on the way through. If you do stop by the Wairarapa region a vineyard tour is strongly recommended. Carterton Carterton is the ideal base for outdoor activities and excursions to Waiohine Gorge and the Tararua Forest Park. If you wanted to spend an extra day in the area, you could: Go rafting, river-bugging, kayaking, abseiling, rap-jumping and bridge swinging: venture to the Waiohine Gorge, a beautiful grade 2 river or, just enjoy the Waiohine river gorge and native forest area. With the largest swing bridge of its type in New Zealand, Waiohine is a great place for picnics and bush walks Greytown Historic Greytown is New Zealand's first inland town, and has retained its delightful colonial village character with wooden Victorian buildings. A leisurely stroll reveals a superb range of specialty shopping, from antiques to crafts, gift shops and galleries. Take a break at one of Greytown's cafes and restaurants. Featherston The town is close to Lake Wairarapa, the biggest wetland area in the lower North Island and a significant area in New Zealand for native and migratory birds. Martinborough A detour off State Highway 2 to Martinborough is worth the effort for the range of vineyards in the area - there are approximately 30 vineyards in and around Martinborough village. www.martinborough.com For more information on the Wairarapa region visit www.wairarapanz.com Overnight in Wellington 

WELLINGTON Wellington is the nation's capital and the political headquarters for the country. It is also home to Te Papa - the interactive Museum of New Zealand. Te Papa showcases numerous art galleries and national treasures such as the original Treaty of Waitangi and Katherine Mansfield's birthplace. The NZ performing arts, ballet and symphony orchestra are also based here and a diverse range of cafes and restaurants supports the city's vibrant nightlife. This is a compact city nestled between an expansive harbour and bush-clad hills. The downtown area is ideal for walking around, with all shopping, cafes, transport, accommodation and the city's attractions within close proximity. If you decide to spend longer here, the easiest way to get around is by walking or catching the 'City Circular', a yellow bus that takes you to the key attractions and downtown shopping quarters of Wellington. The bus departs every 15 minutes from marked stops around the city. Morning options include the following attractions: Te Papa: New Zealand's bold and innovative national museum, set on Wellington's waterfront, provides visitors with a unique insight into New Zealand and the captivating stories of the land and hits people. www.tepapa.govt.nz Parliament Buildings: regular tours provide an insight into New Zealand's political heritage. www.parliament.govt.nz Museum of Wellington City and Sea: visitors are told stories of Wellington in an interactive and entertaining way www.museumofwellington.co.nz Katherine Mansfield's birthplace: the childhood home of the famous writer has been intricately restored according to the descriptions of the house in her stories. www.katherinemansfield.com Old St Paul's Cathedral: this gothic-style church was built from New Zealand native timbers. www.historic.org.nz If you wanted a more comprehensive guide to Wellington, you could join a guided walking tour with Walk Wellington or, pick up a brochure available from a visitor information centre for self-guided walks, including a Maori heritage trail. You can also Walk, pedal or rollerblade from the city around the waterfront to Oriental Bay. The energetic can continue up through the green belt to the summit of Mt Victoria for a 360-degree panorama of Wellington. Alternatively catch a bus from downtown Wellington up to the summit Take in the views of the city and surrounding region on a scenic helicopter flight Ride from downtown Wellington in the Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens for sweeping views of the city and harbour The Botanic Gardens: wander through 26 hectares/64 acres of specialist gardens, native bush and lawn areas, down to historic Thorndon, New Zealand's oldest suburb Catch a ferry from the city across to Days Bay, home to seaside cafes and quality craft shops or to Somes/Matiu Island Reserve, a former quarantine and prisoner-of-war island and now a nature reserve with walking tracks and historic sites. www.doc.govt.nz If you are just in Wellington for the evening you could Dine out and enjoy a fine meal at one of Wellington's award-winning restaurants Go on an evening walking tour around the Wellington waterfront that highlights the people, places and events that have shaped the city Enjoy a night out at one of Wellington's many theatres - Bats theatre is a good one Watch people wander down Cuba Street Relax to some local music - Wellington has a very vibrant music scene For more information on Wellington visit www.wellingtonnz.com 

WELLINGTON - PICTON (3hrs on the ferry) 

Catch the morning ferry service across Cook Strait into the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. 

PICTON - NELSON (110km, 1hour 35mins) 

From Picton, drive west along the Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock, skirting the edges of Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds. Highlights include lookout points over the beautiful Sounds, easy walking tracks and safe swimming beaches. In Havelock stop and taste the locally grown mussels or browse the local art galleries. At Havelock stop at Pelorus Bridge to take a short, unguided bush walk through native forest in the Mt Richmond Forest Park. Arrive in Nelson late afternoon. Nelson is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, proximity to three National Parks, 300-plus working artists and craftspeople, boutique wineries, fresh local produce and seafood, historical streetscapes, waterfront cafes and restaurants and a relaxed lifestyle. Suggested afternoon activities include: Harbour cruises: appreciate the city's seaside setting Walks: walk to the centre of New Zealand and view the city in its entirety, or try one of the many other short walks in and around Nelson city Yacht charter: hire a yacht for an afternoon or for several days Art and historic trails: pick up a map or brochure from the visitor information centre Adventure activities: choose an activity to suit, such as tandem skydiving, 4WD motorbike rides, horse treks, white water river sports, water skiing, sea kayaking and mountain biking Visiting local beaches: Tahunanui Beach, Rabbit Island and Cable Bay are all safe beaches within a short distance of Nelson city World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum: houses costumes from the World of Wearable Art show a phenomenon initiated in Nelson. The show now held in Wellington is a changing spectacle fully choreographed with models, dancers and performers, dramatic stage sets, scripted lighting and music. Winning entries from the shows live exclusively in Nelson at the World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum. www.wowcars.co.nz Other activities that require a few days in the Nelson region include: Guided tours to Farewell Spit: enjoy this nature reserve on a sand spit jutting into the Tasman Sea. There are excellent 4WD safaris along the spit to the lighthouse and bird habitats - these are based in Collingwood, and it is recommended you book in advance for the safari trip Wharariki Beach: experience a wild and beautiful coastal landscape, where the wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. Easy half-day or, full-day walks For those able to stay in the Nelson region longer, there are three National Parks close by with a range of activities: The smallest of New Zealand's national parks, Abel Tasman is a compact treasure house of nature with glittering beaches, turquoise water and spectacular ocean views. A range of wildlife inhabits the area, including penguins and a seal colony in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Visitors can experience the Park in the following ways: Sea kayaking (one-day to multi-day trips): explore the coast from the water, rest on beaches with no foot access and observe the marine wildlife. Kayak tour operators are mostly based at Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Moteuka. They offer guided trips or freedom rentals (providing equipment, instruction and full safety briefings) Day trips or overnight stays: water taxis can drop visitors into the Park to walk sections of the Track. Visitors also have the option of staying a night in a variety of accommodation styles. There are also day cruises and nature tours that include walking through the park For those with a bit of time up their sleeves - The Abel Tasman Coastal Track (three to five days): a 51km track that takes an average of three to five days to complete. There are tidal crossings, which can only be crossed within a few hours either side of low tide. Along the track there is a mixture of accommodation facilities ranging from basic Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and campsites to independently owned lodges with excellent facilities. The Department of Conservation require visitors to book campsites and huts in advance. Kahurangi National Park This Park of 451,000 hectares/1.1 million acres of glaciated mountain ranges and rich forest is home to an exceptional variety of native plants and wildlife. The best known hiking trail is the Heaphy Track, a walk that takes four or five days from the Aorere Valley across to the northern West Coast and Karamea. Have a look at the Walking and Hiking page on our website for more information. Activities around Kahurangi include: Walking and tramping: there are more than 570 km/354 miles of track in the Park. The more popular longer walks include the Heaphy Track (one of New Zealand's Great Walks) and the Wangapeka Track. Short walks are available at most road ends. Kayaking: remote, wild rivers are a feature of Kahurangi. Most are suitable for experienced kayakers only. Commercial rafting tours are available. Fishing: the Karamea River is prized internationally for its trout fishing. Nelson Lakes National Park. This park protects 102,000 hectares/251,851 acres of the northernmost Southern Alps, with tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes, both big and small. The gateway to the Park is St Arnaud, a picturesque village just 1.5 hours' drive from Nelson or Blenheim. St Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti are accessed by State Highway 63 from Blenheim. A side road, about halfway between St Arnaud and Murchison, leads to Lake Rotoroa. Water taxis operate on both Lakes. Attractions and activities include: Lake Rotoiti: walk beside this lake. Lake Angelus: follow an alpine trail to this lake. The heavily protected native bush allows visitors to see New Zealand as it would have been 500 years ago. Fishing: Lakes Rotoroa and Rotoiti are renowned as fly-fishing lakes. Fish for brown and rainbow trout. Mountaineering: there are a number of good winter climbing routes suitable for experienced trampers and climbers. Read more about the National Parks on the Department of Conservation website www.doc.govt.nz. It provides important information on booking requirements for huts and campsites. 

NELSON – GREYMOUTH (290km, 4hour 10mins) 

The road to Greymouth on State Highway 6 follows a series of narrow valleys and saddles, with the highlight being the scenic Buller Gorge. From Westport to Greymouth there is magnificent coastal scenery, including the well known Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki - unusual limestone rock formations with seawater forced skyward through blowholes. The Blowholes operate at high tide and are best on a blustery day when there are big seas - tide times can be checked at visitor information centers. The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are a must see in New Zealand - they are magic. Stay overnight in the Greymouth area. Greymouth is the largest township and the commercial heart of the West Coast. Along with its surrounding rural townships, the town provides a selection of guided tours and walks, adventure, galleries, craft outlets and cafes. This is the home of Shantytown and the daily destination for the TranzAlpine train. There are a few things to do in and around Greymouth: Jade Boulder Gallery at Greymouth: the gallery allows visitors to see different types of jade in its natural state, jade carvers at work and the opportunity to purchase individually designed sculptures and jewellery The Left Bank Art Gallery: enjoy a showcase of talent from around the region in exhibition and retail areas Shantytown, 15 minutes south of Greymouth: visit this replica pioneering town with steam train rides, a working gold claim where visitors can successfully pan for gold, as well as 30 historic buildings including the local saloon, jail, church, hospital and school Blackball (30 minutes inland from Greymouth): Blackball is where the New Zealand Labour Party was founded. Visit the well known hotel 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton' Lake Brunner and the small township of Moana (20 minutes inland from Greymouth): take in sweeping views from lakeside tracks and enjoy renowned trout-fishing opportunities Visit www.west-coast.co.nz for more information on the area. 

GREYMOUTH - FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER (177km, 2hour 30min) 

Depart Greymouth for Franz Josef or Fox Glacier. En-route, you could stop by Hokitika, the third largest town on the West Coast. Here visitors can: Visit Westland's WaterWorld to see the indigenous kokopu (a prehistoric fish), other local fish species and freshwater eels Wander around Hokitika Historical Museum, where displays include an audio-visual about the history of the area View kiwis in nocturnal display at the National Kiwi Centre Watch glass blowers in action at the Hokitika Glass Studio Shop at one of the many craft galleries for jade, hand-blown glass, gold nugget jewellery, woodcrafts, and wool products You can also stop in Ross, a goldmining town that still has working goldmines, including one of the deepest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can take a goldfields heritage tour from the Ross Goldfields information centre. Another option is to stop at Whataroa to visit the only nesting colony of the white heron (kotuku) in New Zealand. The bird's breeding season is between October and March. Visitors may visit the area year round on a rainforest nature tour, but are not likely to see birds nesting within the colony outside the breeding season. 

GLACIERS 

Glacier Country Westland National Park can be accessed from this area - the small villages of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef are right on the Park boundary and are located just 5 km/ 3 miles from their respective glaciers. Each of the glaciers descends 2,500 metres/ 8202 feet in a journey of over 13 km/ 8 miles. They are remarkably accessible and extend to the valley floors. There are more than 60 glaciers in the Westland/Tai Poutini National Park. Two of them - the Fox and the Franz Josef - are unique in that they flow down to temperate rainforest. The glaciers stem from snowfields high in the Southern Alps, but Maori legend explains their existence more poetically. It is said that a beautiful girl named Hinehukatere loved the mountains in this park and encouraged her lover, Tawe, to climb them with her. He slipped and fell to his death and Hinehukatere's tears formed the glaciers. The area is known as "Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere" - the tears of the avalanche girl. Attractions and activities Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers: a range of companies offer guided walking and heli-hiking excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area. Or, you could just go off on your own and explore the area - don't cross the barriers though! TIP: Scenic flights are not always guaranteed departures due to the weather conditions. If you clients are extremely keen on taking a flight then it is recommended you schedule several days in the West Coast region to increase the chances of a flight. A number of self-guided walks are available surrounding the glaciers providing excellent vantage points for viewing the glaciers as well as exploring the rainforest environments. Other attractions and activities in the Glacier area: Scenic flights over Westland National Park and the glaciers: these flights can include snow landings. Lake Matheson (10 mins from Fox Glacier): on a clear day visitors will see perfect reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks at Aoraki 

FOX GLACIER - WANAKA (264km, 3hour 45mins) 

Depart the Glaciers and continue the journey through Haast to Wanaka. Visit the Haast Information Centre for excellent displays on the local environment and information on walks available within the area. Another option in Haast is to go on a jetboat ride on the Haast River - a journey into the heart of South West World Heritage area. www.haastriver.co.nz The drive from Haast Junction to Wanaka takes approximately two hours. The journey through Haast Pass is very rugged and scenic, so it is recommended you stop along the way. The journey winds around Lake Hawea and Wanaka before arriving in the Wanaka township mid-afternoon. The Department of Conservation set up various short walkways along this route that offer visitors an opportunity to get away from the road and visit the beautiful scenery of New Zealand's Southern Alps and river valleys. A wide range of attractions and adventure sports are within reach of Wanaka. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wanaka, sample some exquisite local wines or, fresh fish at one of the easily accessible spots. Alternatively, venture into the hills and mountains surrounding Wanaka. Skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, tramping and climbing are also available in this area. If action packed Wanaka isn't your thing, you could always stop off at Kai Whaka Pai café for a nice coffee or, a local brew on tap. Afternoon activities and attractions include: The New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum: see a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircraft Puzzling World: get lost in a world of jigsaw puzzles and an epic hour-long outdoor maze Wanaka Beerworks: take a tour of this boutique brewery, located next to Wanaka airport Cardrona Hotel: sit outside in the garden by day or the fire by night. Have a good ole kiwi pub meal or, one of the local brews on tap. Don't forget to have a Brewski! Wanaka Transport Museum: view a unique private collection of cars, fire engines, bicycles, army tanks, model cars or, aircraft Flightseeing: scenic flights operate throughout the South Island's alpine region: Milford Sound, Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring. Remote area landings are available in Mt Aspiring National Park for trampers, climbers and hunters Visitors who stay in Lake Wanaka for few days may be interested in: Trout fishing: guided fishing on the lakes, rivers and streams in the area. The region offers superb brown and rainbow trout fishing Guided photographic and nature tours Canyoning: join a guided descent of canyons in the Wanaka region Activities on Lake Wanaka: yachties, water skiers, kayakers and wind surfers can take to the waters of the Lake Horse trekking: venture into the wilderness of the region Walking: numerous walks are available in the area, from one hour to four days Mountaineering: go guided mountaineering and trekking in the National Park White water kayaking or eco-rafting: enjoy the rivers in the Wanaka region Alpine and heli mountain biking: take to the highest mountain bike tracks in New Zealand Rock climbing: join a rock climbing trip with instruction, courses and ascents White water sledging: sledge the rapids on a purpose-designed board Winter activities Harris Mountain Heli-skiing: experience heli-skiing and heli-boarding The skifields of Cardrona and Treble Cone, and the Waiorau Nordic ski area Cardrona Alpine Resort Accessible from Queenstown or Lake Wanaka, this international resort offers a glorious alpine atmosphere with extensive facilities. Renowned for its natural snow, long season and wide open basins, there's a wonderful mix of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. www.cardrona.com Treble Cone Ski Area Treble Cone is the New Zealand ski field that's bigger on terrain, higher in altitude, bigger in size, wider in scope and offers more vertical than any other ski area in the area. The terrain is slightly better than Cardrona and the slopes link to one another - no need to push! www.treblecone.co.nz Snow Farm Located 200 meters/ 656 feet south of Cardrona Alpine resort entrance. This is New Zealand's only commercial cross-country ski resort, with trails for all ages and all abilities. The resort can be enjoyed in both summer and winter - accommodation is available in huts on the mountain, and a restaurant offers a unique alpine atmosphere. www.snowfarmnz.com Snow Park www.snowparknz.com An all-mountain terrain park featuring half pipes, terrain and rail parks and a skier or, boarder cross course. Visit www.lakewanaka.co.nz for more information on activities and itineraries in the area. 

WANAKA – QUEENSTOWN (117km, 1hour 30mins) 

Drive the short distance on State Highway 6 detouring to the old gold mining village of Arrowtown. Stop for morning tea and have a look through the cobblestone shopping area. There is also a good fudge shop here if that's your thing! In autumn, Arrowtown throws its annual Autumn Festival which is worth a look if it fits in with your travel date. Spend the rest of the day and evening in Queenstown. There is always something to do in Queenstown, no matter what the season. In the summer as the temperatures rise, Queenstown's numerous waterways will make you smile and in the winter, snow-capped mountains and vibrant colours will do the same. In the winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turn into an alpine playground with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Winter Festival. In spring, skiers can enjoy spring snow conditions, the sailing is exciting and the Queenstown gardens are in full bloom. To fully appreciate the spring scenery, it may be a good idea to book a fixed wing or helicopter flight. Attractions and activities in Queenstown include: Skippers Canyon: enjoy a mix of history and high adventure including bungy jumping, rafting, a flying fox and jet boating. It is recommended that visitors take a guided excursion in Skippers Canyon as the road is extremely dangerous. Jet boating: experience the Shotover, Kawarau or Dart River Jets White water rafting: carve though the rapids on the Shotover or Kawarau River Gondola ride: rise 450 metres/1475 feet above Queenstown to Bob's Peak to enjoy views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, from every vantage point. Enjoy a luge ride (a luge is a short, raised toboggan for one person seated) down a slope from the top of the gondola ride TSS Earnslaw: cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard this vintage steamboat Arts and wine: follow a wine trail or the Wakatipu Arts Trail Trout and salmon fishing: test the waters all year round Country life experiences: try horse trekking or see sheep shearing and working sheepdogs Bungy jumping: New Zealand is the home of the first commercial Bungy, and in Queenstown there are lots of opportunities to try it. Winter activities include: Skiing: venture onto one of the four fields in close proximity to Queenstown - the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone Night skiing: twilight skiing takes place at Coronet Peak ski area Heli-skiing and heli-boarding Snowmobile: take an icy adventure aboard a snowmobile Visit www.queenstownnz.co.nz for more information on Queenstown. 

QUEENSTOWN - TE ANAU (170km, 2hours 45 mins) 

Leave Queenstown as early as possible - 7am is recommended as the day's journey, although scenic, is long. Travel to Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Area and the largest national park in New Zealand. The Park covers 1.2 million hectares (2.9 million acres) and has natural wilderness on a grand scale, where waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres into pristine, forested valleys, and glacier-carved fiords indent its coastal boundaries. 

TE ANAU - MILFORD SOUND (121km, 2hours 20 mins) 

Milford and Doubtful Sounds provide visitors with unequalled experiences of the natural beauty and wilderness of New Zealand. Milford Sound The road to Milford is a wonderful alpine drive. From Te Anau the road winds down the Eglington and Hollyford Valleys, then through the Homer Tunnel before being greeted by Mitre Peak towering from the glassy waters of Milford Sound (approximate driving time from Queenstown - five hours five minutes). Arrive around midday or early afternoon. One of the main activities at Milford Sound is a boat cruise which extends the full length of the Sound to the Tasman Sea, stopping at various points of interest along the way to view waterfalls and marine life. Cruises leave from the main wharf at Milford Sound. Other activities include: A visit to the Underwater Observatory, a facility designed to educate visitors about the recently discovered life under Milford Sound. Scenic flights over Fiordland National Park. Overnight in Te Anau - the drive from Milford Sound to Te Anau is approximately two to 2.5 hours long or, if you don't want to drive far, you can overnight at Milford Sound. For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Milford Sound area, activities could include: Guided nature hiking: venture into the wilderness Kayaking: paddle among towering cliffs and waterfalls and encounter seals and dolphins Guided diving trips: see black and red corals living at depths of less than 20 metres/65.6 feet Doubtful Sound Trips to Doubtful Sound start at the Manapouri Visitor Centre, where you transfer onto a launch or yacht to cruise across Lake Manapouri. You visit the underground hydroelectric generating station before taking a coach ride over Wilmot Pass, with its luxuriant vegetation and great views. On arrival at the Sound, enjoy a spectacular cruise to the Tasman Sea, encountering wildlife such as dusky dolphins, fur seals and crested penguins. After a scenic journey alongside proud mountains and lakes, you arrive back in Te Anau for an overnight stay. Te Anau is an attractive town nestled on the shores of the South Island's largest lake, Lake Te Anau. Activities in the Doubtful Sound area are: Diving/fishing charters Activity combinations: combine aerial sightseeing or a cruise trip into the Doubtful Sound region with activities such as bush walks, historic site visits and sea fishing Ecology tours: these multi-day tours include working alongside scientists Full- and half-day excursions: combine a coach journey, launch cruise and kayaking in the Manapouri/ Doubtful Sound area Kayaking: visitors can rent fully equipped kayaks by the day or overnight, or take a guided kayaking excursion on Lake Manapouri and/or Doubtful Sound. Te Ana-au Caves: join a 2.5-hour tour departing daily from Te Anau to visit the Caves, including a glowworm grotto For more information on Fiordland visit www.fiordland.org.nz 

MILFORD SOUND - QUEENSTOWN (291km, 4hour 10mins) 

Take a journey through mountains and alongside lakes on State Highways 94 and 6, arriving in Queenstown late morning. Spend a bit more time in Queenstown enjoying the many activities and attractions in the area. For more information visit www.queenstownnz.co.nz 

QUEENSTOWN - MT COOK (263km, 3hour 45mins) Leave Queenstown in the morning and head along State Highway 6, all the way to Cromwell in Central Otago. Based on the edge of Lake Dunstan, this area of Central Otago is known for its fruit orchards and a growing wine centre. The settlement of Clyde provides an insight into the gold mining heritage of this region. From Cromwell, join State Highway 8 for the journey through Lindis Pass to the Mt Cook area. Take time to enjoy the sheer beauty of the scenery and landscapes. Small rock sculptures line both sides of the roads and the opportunity to add to the long line of rock piles is all yours. At 3754 metres/12,308 feet, Aoraki (Mt Cook) is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up the Aoraki National Park. Nudging one side of Mt Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30 km/18 mile giant and one of the longest (and dirtiest) outside the Himalayas. Activities in the National Park include: Walking: there are short or day walks around Mt Cook village and into the main valleys. The most popular are to Kea Point and Hooker Valley. For more experienced trampers there are three alpine routes over the Mueller, Copland and Ball Passes Skiing: guided ski trips, suitable for intermediate skiers, can be taken down the Tasman Glacier. Helicopters can take experienced skiers to a number of locations in the Park for some wilderness experiences. Ski touring is possible around the Tasman and Kelman huts but alpine experience is required Glacier Explorer boat trip: a unique experience, this boat tour explores the melting ice face of Tasman Glacier and icebergs carved off into the lake Scenic flights and glacier landings, fixed wing airplane or helicopter flights: regular scenic flights leave from Mt Cook, and Lake Tekapo airports For more information on the Mt Cook area visit www.mtcook.org.nz 

MT COOK – CHRISTCHURCH (331km, 4hour 45mins) 

Make your way from Mt Cook to Christchurch while stopping for lunch in Geraldine, a farming township. You may wish to take a walk around town following the Historic Town Trail or, head to Verde for lunch. Continue to Christchurch via State Highway 1 through Ashburton, the commercial centre of one of New Zealand's richest agricultural and pastoral regions. If you are looking for an alternative route and you are in New Zealand during the winter months, you could drive back to Christchurch via Methven, a base for Mt Hutt's ski field and other ski areas (a short detour off the Inland Scenic Route 72). The Methven Visitor Centre makes bookings for accommodation, skiing packages, and transport to and from ski areas. There are also other outdoor adventure activities in this area including tandem skydiving, balloon flights and jet boating. CHRISTCHURCH If time permits before you leave Christchurch you could check out the following activities: Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens Mona Vale Homestead: wander through 5 hectares/12 acres of gardens and take in views of the Avon River Christchurch Tramway: take an historic tram ride around the city centre. Trundle through the tree-lined streets and wander past buzzing cafes. A great way to experience the inner city of Christchurch Christchurch Gondola: unique views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour unfold as passengers rise to the summit complex, located on the crater rim of an extinct volcano Punting on the Avon River: sit back and relax in a guided punt past the sights of the central city 'Up, Up and Away': take a dawn balloon flight over Christchurch city Guided walks: see Christchurch city and its heritage buildings Canterbury Museum, including the Hall of Antarctic Discovery: housed in one of Christchurch's finest historic buildings are stunning displays such as Nga Taonga Tukuiho O Nga Tupuna 'Treasures handed down by our ancestors', which features the classic Maori period The International Antarctic Centre: the Centre features a real 'Snow and Ice Experience' and a 45-minute 'Behind the Scenes' tour of the Antarctic Campus Arts Centre of Christchurch: situated in the historic buildings of the original University of Canterbury, the Arts Centre is one of New Zealand's most significant cultural attractions and is today a dynamic venue for arts, shopping and entertainment. www.artscentre.co.nz Christchurch Art Gallery: an eclectic mix of local and overseas artists exhibiting both traditional and contemporary work www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz Southern Encounter Aquarium: enjoy an interactive aquarium in the city centre Willowbank Wildlife Reserve: learn about a kiwi breeding programme and see native New Zealand bird life For more information visit www.christchurchnz.net.

Mountains to Sea

Mountains to Sea

Christchurch – Christchurch

10 days
1400 km

Head towards the west coast over the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass.  Go south down the coast taking in Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and back over the Haast Pass to Wanaka.  Next stop is Queenstown, the South Island’s tourist mecca.  Head north east through the wine growing region of Cromwell to Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo.  Highlights include hiking in Arthur’s Pass, a flight over the glaciers, a day trip to Milford Sound, a winery visit in Cromwell, and soaking in the hot pools at Lake Tekapo.

Great Southern Tiki Tour

Great Southern Tiki Tour

Christchurch – Christchurch

14 days
2500 km

Head north from Christchurch to Marlborough and Nelson. Turn south and follow the West Coast to the glaciers then Wanaka, Queenstown, and Milford Sound. Return to Christchurch via Mt Cook.

CHRISTCHURCH – BLENHEIM (308km, 4hours 30mins) 

***Please note that due to earthquake damage, part of this route may not be accessible. Please refer to the NZTA Journeys website for road closures***

Drive north on State Highway 1 to Kaikoura (approximately 2.5 hours) - a town renowned for whale watching and one of the few places in the world where these magnificent creatures can be seen all year round. Kaikoura is overlooked by mountains and the township is located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from lush farmland beneath the mountains. In the waters surrounding this peninsula, a complex marine system provides an abundantly rich habitat for marine mammals and seabirds, making it an ideal place for getting 'close to nature'. Whale watching, swimming with dolphins and seals, bird watching, fishing, diving and a large number of other land and water-based activities are available to visitors. Bookings for whale watching or other activities out at sea should be made prior to leaving Christchurch. For more information on Kaikoura visit www.kaikoura.co.nz or www.alpinepacifictourism.co.nz You may wish to overnight in Kaikoura or continue driving north to Blenheim - the main centre in the Marlborough region. BLENHEIM Savour the flavours of this region during a vineyard lunch. Touring the wineries and breweries, private gardens and craft studios is a great thing to do in Marlborough. The majority of the wineries are boutique operations with cellar doors, and many have restaurant/cafe facilities on site - an ideal opportunity to experience alfresco dining among the vines. With a patchwork of vineyards nestled between garlic and cherry orchards, the Marlborough region offers something quite special. Other activities and attractions in and around Marlborough include: Vineyard tours: take a guided or self-guided tour of the nearby vineyards, some of which have their own restaurants and fresh vegetables to match Tippling: visit a distillery or the local boutique breweries to taste locally produced fruit brandies, liqueurs and beers Private gardens: many are open for viewing Museums: learn about the settlement of the region Orchard visits: taste the seasonal fruit, in particular Marlborough cherries (December to January) Art galleries: enjoy ever-changing exhibitions of local and national artists Queen Charlotte Sound: cruise the waters of the Sound to view the marine and bird life of the area, and walk parts of the Queen Charlotte Track. Boats depart from Picton, with day trips through to week trips available. www.doc.govt.nz Sea kayaking: take a guided or independent trip from Picton Queen Charlotte Track (three to four days): follow this popular walkway (71 km/44 miles) with many entry and exit points and numerous accommodation providers along its length. Several companies offer water transport and pack transfer to and from several points or by mini-van to Anakiwa Molesworth Station: take a guided tour of this high country farm, hear about the history and old stories and view the grandeur and beauty of the mountainous high country Fly fishing and hunting tours High country horse trekking: enjoy trips in a back country setting For more information on the Marlborough region visit www.destinationmarlborough.com 

PICTON – NELSON (110km, 1hour 35mins) 

From Picton, drive west along the Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock while meandering around the edges of Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds. Highlights include lookout points over beautiful Sounds, easy walking tracks and safe swimming beaches. In Havelock, stop and taste the locally grown mussels or browse the art galleries. Another good spot to park up is Pelorus Bridge. Here, you can take a short, unguided bush walk through native forest in the Mt Richmond Forest Park. Arrive in Nelson late afternoon. Nelson is a compact city of 41,500 people which, is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, and accessibility to three national parks. Nelson boasts 300-plus working artists and craftspeople, boutique wineries, fresh local produce and seafood, historical streetscapes, waterfront cafes and restaurants, and a thoroughly relaxed lifestyle. Suggested afternoon activities include: Harbour cruises: appreciate the city's seaside setting Walks: to the centre of New Zealand and view the city in its entirety, or try one of the many other short walks in and around Nelson city Yacht charter: hire a yacht for an afternoon or for several days Art and historic trails: pick up a map or brochure from the visitor information centre Adventure activities: skydiving, 4WD motorbike rides, horse treks, white water river sports, water skiing, sea kayaking and mountain biking Visiting local beaches: Tahunanui Beach, Rabbit Island and Cable Bay are all safe beaches within a short distance of Nelson city World of Wearable art and Collectable Cars Museum: houses costumes from the World of Wearable art show - a phenomenon initiated in Nelson. The show now held in Wellington is a changing spectacle fully choreographed with models, dancers and performers, dramatic stage sets, scripted lighting and music. Winning entries from the shows live exclusively in Nelson at the World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum. www.wowcars.co.nz For those able to stay in the Nelson region longer, there are three National Parks: Abel Tasman National Park The smallest of New Zealand's National Parks, Abel Tasman is a compact treasure house of nature with glittering beaches, turquoise water and spectacular ocean views. A range of wildlife inhabits the area, including penguins and a seal colony in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Visitors can experience the Park in the following ways: The Abel Tasman Coastal Track: a 51km track that takes an average of three to five days to complete. There are tidal crossings which, can be crossed within a few hours either side of low tide. Along the track there is a mixture of accommodation facilities ranging from basic Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and campsites to independently owned lodges with excellent facilities. DOC requires visitors to book campsites and huts in advance. Read more about Abel National Park on the Department of Conservation website www.doc.govt.nz. Sea kayaking (one-day to multi-day trips): explore the coast from the water, rest on beaches with no foot access and observe the marine wildlife. Kayaking operators are mainly based at Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Moteuka. They offer guided trips or rental kayaks (providing equipment, instruction and full safety briefings). Day trips or overnight stays: water taxis can drop visitors into the Park to walk sections of the Track. Visitors also have the option of staying a night in accommodation if they wish. Kahurangi National Park This Park of 451,000 hectares/1.1 million acres of glaciated mountain ranges and rich forest is home to an exceptional variety of native plants and wildlife. The best known hiking trail is the Heaphy Track, a walk that takes four or five days from the Aorere Valley across to the northern West Coast and Karamea. Other activities in the area include: Walking and tramping: there are more than 570 km/354 miles of tracks in the Park. Longer walks include the Heaphy Track (one of New Zealand's Great Walks) and the Wangapeka Track. Short walks are available at most road ends Kayaking: remote, wild rivers are a feature of Kahurangi. Most are only suitable for experienced kayakers but, commercial rafting tours are available Fishing: the Karamea River is prized internationally for its trout fishing. You will need to get a license to fish for trout. Nelson Lakes National Park. This Park protects 102,000 hectares/251,851 acres of the northernmost Southern Alps, with tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and beautiful lakes. The gateway to the Park is St Arnaud, a picturesque village just 1.5 hours' drive from Nelson or Blenheim. St Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti are accessed by State Highway 63 from Blenheim. A side road, about halfway between St Arnaud and Murchison, leads to Lake Rotoroa. Water taxis operate on both lakes. Visit www.doc.govt.nz for more information on New Zealand National Parks. Other activities in the Nelson region include: Guided tours to Farewell Spit: enjoy this nature reserve on a sand spit jutting into the Tasman Sea. There are excellent 4WD safaris along the Spit to the lighthouse and bird habitats - these are based in Collingwood and should be pre-booked Rainbow ski area: in winter months spend a day at the Rainbow ski area, off State Highway 63, 24 km/15 miles from St Arnaud. Access on the last 8 km is only suitable for 4WD vehicles. A shuttle bus is available in season Wharariki Beach: experience a wild and beautiful coastal landscape, where the wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. Easy half-day or full-day walks. Visit www.nelsonnz.com for more information on Nelson. 

NELSON – GREYMOUTH (290km, 4hour 10mins) 

The road to Greymouth on State Highway 6 follows a series of narrow valleys and saddles, with the highlight being the scenic Buller Gorge. From Westport to Greymouth there is magnificent coastal scenery, including the well-known Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki. Here you will find unusual limestone rock formations with seawater forced skyward through blowholes. Stay overnight in the Greymouth area. Greymouth is the largest township and the commercial heart of the West Coast. Along with its surrounding rural townships, the town provides a selection of guided tours and walks, adventure, galleries, craft outlets and cafes. This is the home of Shantytown and the daily destination for the TranzAlpine train which, is an amazing journey if you have a spare day up your sleeve. Visit www.west-coast.co.nz for more information on the area. 

GREYMOUTH - FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER (177km, 2hour 30min) 

Depart Greymouth for the incredible Franz Josef Glacier. While you are travelling, check out the rugged coast with Pounamu boulders nestled among seals and stop off at Hokitika, the third largest centre on the West Coast. Some activities in Hokitika are: Visit Westland's Water World to see the indigenous kokopu (a prehistoric fish), other local fish species and freshwater eels Wander around Hokitika Historical Museum, where displays include an audio-visual about the area's history Shop at one of the many craft galleries for jade, hand-blown glass, gold nugget jewellery, woodcrafts and wool products Continue south to Fox Glacier - New Zealand's largest commercially guided glacier. You can either walk it or, a number of companies offer a range of flight options, some with snow landings, all with spectacular aerial views of the Glaciers and the surrounding alpine scenery. On your way to Fox glacier, stop in Ross, a town that still has working goldmines, including one of the deepest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can take a tour from the Ross Goldfields information centre. Another option is to stop by Whataroa to visit the kotuku (white heron) sanctuary. Visit www.west-coast.co.nz for more information on the Glaciers. 

FOX GLACIER – WANAKA (264km, 3hour 45mins) 

Depart the Glaciers and continue the journey through Haast to Wanaka. Visit the Haast Information Centre for excellent displays on the local environment and for information on walks available within the area. Another option in Haast is to go on a jetboat ride on the Haast River - a journey into the heart of South West World Heritage area. www.haastriver.co.nz The drive from Haast Junction to Wanaka takes approximately two hours. The drive through Haast Pass is very rugged and scenic, so it is recommended visitors stop along the way. The journey winds around Lakes Hawea and Wanaka before arriving in the Wanaka township mid-afternoon. Department of Conservation have set up various short walkways along this route that offer visitors an opportunity to get away from the road and visit the beautiful scenery of New Zealand's Southern Alps and river valleys. A wide range of attractions and adventure sports are within reach of Wanaka. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wanaka, sample locally made, exquisite wines, or fish at one of the easily accessible spots. Alternatively, venture into the hills and mountains surrounding Wanaka. Skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, tramping and climbing are all available in this area. Activities and attractions include: The New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum: see a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircraft Puzzling World: get lost in a world of jigsaw puzzles and epic mazes Wanaka Beerworks: take a tour of this boutique brewery, located next to Wanaka airport - Brewski is a favourite Wanaka Transport Museum: view a unique private collection representing many facets of transport, from cars to fire engines, bicycles to army tanks, model cars to aircraft Flight seeing: scenic flights operate throughout the South Island's alpine region: Milford Sound, Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring. Remote area landings are available in Mt Aspiring National Park for trampers, climbers and hunters Skydiving: enjoy incredible views of the Southern Alps and Clutha River from 15, 000ft up Trout fishing: go guided fishing on the lakes, rivers and streams in the area. The region offers superb brown and rainbow trout fishing Guided photographic and nature tours Canyoning: join a guided descent of canyons in the Wanaka region Activities on Lake Wanaka: yachties, water skiers, kayakers and wind surfers can take to the waters of the Lake Horse trekking: venture into the wilderness of the region Walking: numerous walks are available in the area, from one hour to four days Mountaineering: go guided mountaineering and trekking in the National Park White water kayaking or eco-rafting: enjoy the rivers in the Wanaka region Alpine and heli mountain biking: take to the highest mountain bike tracks in New Zealand Rock climbing: join a rock climbing trip with instruction, courses and ascents White water sledging: sledge the rapids on a purpose-designed board Winter activities Harris Mountain Heli-skiing: experience heli-skiing and heli-boarding Enjoy the ski fields of Cardrona and Treble Cone, and the Waiorau Nordic ski area Cardrona Alpine Resort Accessible from Queenstown or Lake Wanaka, this international resort offers a glorious alpine atmosphere with extensive facilities. Renowned for its natural snow, long season and wide open basins, there's a wonderful mix of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. www.cardrona.com Treble Cone Ski Area Treble Cone is the New Zealand skifield that's bigger on terrain, higher in altitude, bigger in size, wider in scope and offers more vertical than any other ski area in the area. www.treblecone.co.nz Snow Farm Located 200 metres/ 656 feet south of Cardrona Alpine resort entrance. This is New Zealand's only commercial cross-country ski resort, with trails for all ages and all abilities. The resort can be enjoyed in both summer and winter - accommodation is available in huts on the mountain, and a restaurant offers a unique alpine atmosphere. www.snowfarmnz.com Snow Park An all-mountain terrain park featuring half pipes, terrain and rail parks and a skier/boarder cross course. www.snowparknz.com Visit www.lakewanaka.co.nz for more information on activities. 

WANAKA – QUEENSTOWN (117km, 1hour 40mins) 

Drive the short distance on State Highway 6 detouring to the old gold mining village of Arrowtown. Stop for morning tea and have a look through the cobblestone shopping area. There is also a good fudge shop here if that's your thing! In autumn, Arrowtown throws its annual Autumn Festival which is worth a look if it fits in with your travel date. Spend the rest of the day and evening in Queenstown. There is always something to do in Queenstown, no matter what the season. In the summer as the temperatures rise, Queenstown's numerous waterways will make you smile and in the winter, snow-capped mountains and vibrant colours will do the same. In the winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turn into an alpine playground with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Winter Festival. In spring, skiers can enjoy spring snow conditions, the sailing is exciting and the Queenstown gardens are in full bloom. To fully appreciate the spring scenery, it may be a good idea to book a fixed wing or helicopter flight. Attractions and activities in Queenstown include: Skippers Canyon: enjoy a mix of history and high adventure including bungy jumping, rafting, a flying fox and jet boating. It is recommended that visitors take a guided excursion in Skippers Canyon as the road is extremely dangerous Jet boating: experience the Shotover, Kawarau or Dart River Jets White water rafting: carve though the rapids on the Shotover or Kawarau River Gondola ride: rise 450 metres/1475 feet above Queenstown to Bob's Peak to enjoy views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, from every vantage point. Enjoy a luge ride (a luge is a short, raised toboggan for one person seated) down a slope from the top of the gondola ride TSS Earnslaw: cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard this vintage steamboat Arts and wine: follow a wine trail or the Wakatipu Arts Trail Trout and salmon fishing: test the waters all year round Country life experiences: try horse trekking or see sheep shearing and working sheepdogs Bungy jumping: New Zealand is the home of the first commercial Bungy, and in Queenstown there are lots of opportunities to try it. Winter activities include: Skiing: venture onto one of the four fields in close proximity to Queenstown - the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone Night skiing: twilight skiing takes place at Coronet Peak ski area Heli-skiing and heli-boarding Snowmobile: take an icy adventure aboard a snowmobile Visit www.queenstownnz.co.nz for more information on Queenstown. 

QUEENSTOWN - MILFORD SOUND (291km, 4hour 10mins) 

Leave Queenstown as early as possible - 7am is recommended as the day's journey, although scenic, is long. Travel to Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Area and the largest national park in New Zealand. The Park covers 1.2 million hectares (2.9 million acres) and has natural wilderness on a grand scale, where waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres into pristine, forested valleys, and glacier-carved fiords indent its coastal boundaries. Milford and Doubtful Sounds provide visitors with unequalled experiences of the natural beauty and wilderness of New Zealand. Milford Sound The road to Milford is a wonderful alpine drive. From Te Anau the road winds down the Eglington and Hollyford Valleys, then through the Homer Tunnel before being greeted by Mitre Peak towering from the glassy waters of Milford Sound (approximate driving time from Queenstown - five hours five minutes). Arrive around midday or early afternoon. One of the main activities at Milford Sound is a boat cruise which, extends the full length of the Sound to the Tasman Sea, stopping at various points of interest along the way to view waterfalls and marine life. Cruises leave from the main wharf at Milford Sound. Other activities include: A visit to the Underwater Observatory, a facility designed to educate visitors about the recently discovered life under Milford Sound. Scenic flights over Fiordland National Park. Overnight in Te Anau - the drive from Milford Sound to Te Anau is approximately two to 2.5 hours long or, if you don't want to drive far, you can overnight at Milford Sound. For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Milford Sound area, activities could include: Guided nature hiking: venture into the wilderness Kayaking: paddle among towering cliffs and waterfalls and encounter seals and dolphins Guided diving trips: see black and red corals living at depths of less than 20 metres/65.6 feet Doubtful Sound Trips to Doubtful Sound start at the Manapouri Visitor Centre, where you transfer onto a launch or yacht to cruise across Lake Manapouri. You visit the underground hydroelectric generating station before taking a coach ride over Wilmot Pass, with its luxuriant vegetation and great views. On arrival at the Sound, enjoy a spectacular cruise to the Tasman Sea, encountering wildlife such as dusky dolphins, fur seals and crested penguins. After a scenic journey alongside proud mountains and lakes, you arrive back in Te Anau for an overnight stay. Te Anau is an attractive town nestled on the shores of the South Island's largest lake, Lake Te Anau. Activities in the Doubtful Sound area are: Diving/fishing charters Activity combinations: combine aerial sightseeing or a cruise trip into the Doubtful Sound region with activities such as bush walks, historic site visits and sea fishing Ecology tours: these multi-day tours include working alongside scientists Full- and half-day excursions: combine a coach journey, launch cruise and kayaking in the Manapouri/ Doubtful Sound area Kayaking: visitors can rent fully equipped kayaks by the day or overnight, or take a guided kayaking excursion on Lake Manapouri and/or Doubtful Sound. Te Ana-au Caves: join a 2.5-hour tour departing daily from Te Anau to visit the Caves, including a glowworm grotto For more information on Fiordland visit www.fiordland.org.nz 

MILFORD SOUND - QUEENSTOWN (291km, 4hour 10mins) 

Take your time travelling through mountains and past the southern lakes on State Highways 94 and 6. You should aim to arrive in Queenstown late-morning so you can enjoy all the activities and attractions which you didn't experience last time. For more information visit www.queenstownnz.co.nz 

QUEENSTOWN - MT COOK (263km, 3hour 45mins) 

Leave Queenstown in the morning and head along State Highway 6, all the way to Cromwell in Central Otago. Based on the edge of Lake Dunstan, this area of Central Otago is known for its fruit orchards and a growing wine centre. The settlement of Clyde provides an insight into the gold mining heritage of this region. From Cromwell, join State Highway 8 for the journey through Lindis Pass to the Mt Cook area. Take time to enjoy the sheer beauty of the scenery and landscapes. Small rock sculptures line both sides of the roads and the opportunity to add to the long line of rock piles is all yours. At 3754 metres/12,308 feet, Aoraki (Mt Cook) is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up the Aoraki National Park. Nudging one side of Mt Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30 km/18 mile giant and one of the longest (and dirtiest) outside the Himalayas. Activities in the National Park include: Walking: there are short or day walks around Mt Cook village and into the main valleys. The most popular are to Kea Point and Hooker Valley. For more experienced trampers there are three alpine routes over the Mueller, Copland and Ball Passes Skiing: guided ski trips, suitable for intermediate skiers, can be taken down the Tasman Glacier. Helicopters can take experienced skiers to a number of locations in the Park for some wilderness experiences. Ski touring is possible around the Tasman and Kelman huts but alpine experience is required Glacier Explorer boat trip: a unique experience, this boat tour explores the melting ice face of Tasman Glacier and icebergs carved off into the lake Scenic flights and glacier landings, fixed wing airplane or helicopter flights: regular scenic flights leave from Mt Cook, and Lake Tekapo airports For more information on the Mt Cook area visit www.mtcook.org.nz 

MT COOK – CHRISTCHURCH (331km, 4hour 45mins) 

Make your way from Mt Cook to Christchurch while stopping for lunch in Geraldine, a farming township. You may wish to take a walk around town following the Historic Town Trail or, head to Verde for lunch. Continue to Christchurch via State Highway 1 through Ashburton, the commercial centre of one of New Zealand's richest agricultural and pastoral regions. If you are looking for an alternative route and you are in New Zealand during the winter months, you could drive back to Christchurch via Methven, a base for Mt Hutt's ski field and other ski areas (a short detour off the Inland Scenic Route 72). The Methven Visitor Centre makes bookings for accommodation, skiing packages, and transport to and from ski areas. There are also other outdoor adventure activities in this area including tandem skydiving, balloon flights and jet boating. 

CHRISTCHURCH 

If time permits before you leave Christchurch you could check out the following activities: Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens Mona Vale Homestead: wander through 5 hectares/12 acres of gardens and take in views of the Avon River Christchurch Tramway: take an historic tram ride around the city centre. Trundle through the tree-lined streets and wander past buzzing cafes. A great way to experience the inner city of Christchurch Christchurch Gondola: unique views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour unfold as passengers rise to the summit complex, located on the crater rim of an extinct volcano Punting on the Avon River: sit back and relax in a guided punt past the sights of the central city 'Up, Up and Away': take a dawn balloon flight over Christchurch city Guided walks: see Christchurch city and its heritage buildings Canterbury Museum, including the Hall of Antarctic Discovery: housed in one of Christchurch's finest historic buildings are stunning displays such as Nga Taonga Tukuiho O Nga Tupuna 'Treasures handed down by our ancestors', which features the classic Maori period The International Antarctic Centre: the Centre features a real 'Snow and Ice Experience' and a 45-minute 'Behind the Scenes' tour of the Antarctic Campus Arts Centre of Christchurch: situated in the historic buildings of the original University of Canterbury, the Arts Centre is one of New Zealand's most significant cultural attractions and is today a dynamic venue for arts, shopping and entertainment. www.artscentre.co.nz Christchurch Art Gallery: an eclectic mix of local and overseas artists exhibiting both traditional and contemporary work www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz Southern Encounter Aquarium: enjoy an interactive aquarium in the city centre Willowbank Wildlife Reserve: learn about a kiwi breeding programme and see native New Zealand bird life For more information visit www.christchurchnz.net

Northbound Rover

Northbound Rover

Christchurch - 
Auckland

24 days
3220 km

Head south to the high country lakes and Mt Cook then back to Dunedin on the east coast. Take the road west to Milford Sound then north to Queenstown and Wanaka. Follow the west coast north to the glaciers then Nelson and Marlborough. Take the ferry to Wellington before heading north by either west or east coast route to Napier.  Head through the central North Island taking in Taupo, Rotorua, and Waitomo en route to Auckland.

CHRISTCHURCH 

Christchurch activities and attractions include: Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens Mona Vale Homestead: wander through 5 hectares/12 acres of gardens and take in views of the Avon River Christchurch Art Gallery - Te Puna O Waiwhetu. Specialises in New Zealand Art especially from the Canterbury region. The building itself is a masterpiece and if you're there on the weekends - the markets bring some good vibes to the gallery. Christchurch Tramway: take a historic tram ride around the city centre. Trundle through the tree-lined streets, past buzzing street side cafes. A great way to experience the inner city of Christchurch Christchurch Gondola: unique views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour unfold as passengers rise to the summit complex, located on the crater rim of an extinct volcano Punting on the Avon River: sit back and relax in a guided punt past the sights of the central city Guided walks: enjoy Christchurch city and its heritage buildings Canterbury Museum, including the Hall of Antarctic Discovery: housed in one of Christchurch's finest historic buildings are stunning displays such as Nga Taonga Tukuiho O Nga Tupuna ‘Treasures handed down by our ancestors' The International Antarctic Centre: the Centre features a real ‘Snow and Ice Experience' and a 45-minute ‘Behind the Scenes' tour of the Antarctic Campus. www.iceberg.co.nz Arts Centre of Christchurch: situated in the historic buildings of the original University of Canterbury, the Arts Centre is one of New Zealand's most significant cultural attractions and is today a dynamic venue for arts, shopping and entertainment. www.artscentre.co.nz For more information on Christchurch visit www.christchurchnz.net 

CHRISTCHURCH - MT. COOK (331km, 4hour 45mins) 

Depart Christchurch for the drive to Mt Cook via Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. Stop on the shores of Lake Tekapo and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd - a historic church dedicated to the early pioneers of this area and the sheepdog statue - a tribute to the high country farmers' best friend. If you have some spare time, you could extend your visit and drive to Mt Cook via Methven on State Highway 72 - the Inland Scenic Route. This route is slightly longer but, it is an incredible mountain-side drive. If it is winter time and you are a bit of a snow junkie, Methven is a good place to rest your head. It is at the base of Mt Hutt's ski field and other ski areas (a short detour off the Inland Scenic Route 72). The Methven Travel and Visitor Centre take bookings for accommodation, skiing packages, and transport to and from ski areas. There are many outdoor adventure activities in this area including tandem skydiving, hot air balloon flights and jet boating. Alternatively, continue to Mt Cook via State Highway 1 through Ashburton, the commercial centre of one of New Zealand's richest agricultural and pastoral regions. While this route isn't as scenic as the other two - it will get you there the fastest. At 3754 metres or 12,308 feet, Mt Cook (Aoraki) is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park. Nudging one side of Mt Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30km or 18mile giant; one of the longest glaciers outside the Himalayas. Activities in the National Park include: Walking: there are short walks and plenty of day walks around Mt Cook village and the main valleys. The most popular walking spots are Kea Point and Hooker Valley, offering great views of mountain peaks, glacier lakes and alpine flora. The Department of Conservation Visitor Centre can provide information on walks in the area Skiing: guided ski trips, suitable for intermediate skiers, can be taken down the Tasman Glacier. Helicopters can take experienced skiers to a number of locations in the Park for some wilderness experiences. Ski touring is possible around the Tasman and Kelman huts. Alpine experience is required though Glacier Explorer boat trip: a unique experience; this boat tour explores the melting ice face of Tasman Glacier and icebergs carved off into the lake Scenic flights and glacier landings, fixed-wing airplane or helicopter flights: regular scenic flights leave from Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo airports. Activities around Twizel include: Kaki Black Stilt Recovery Program: the Department of Conservation runs guided tours to a visitor hide overlooking the kaki captive rearing aviaries near Twizel www.doc.govt.nz High Altitude Salmon Farm: enjoy a tour explaining aspects of salmon farming and have a go at catching dinner. Located between Tekapo and the Mt Cook turnoff, on the hydro canals Lake Ohau, Lake Benmore, and Lake Ruataniwha - and a five-minute drive to Lake Pukaki reveals Mt Cook and the Southern Alps framed between lake and sky. If you are a keen snowboarder or skier, Lake Ohau is worth your time. With ski fields overlooking the lake encased by mountains on either side, it truly is a magic spot for snow sports. Spend the night in Mt Cook village, Twizel, or, somewhere in between. For more information on the Mt Cook area visit www.mtcook.org.nz MT. COOK – DUNEDIN (331km, 4hour 45mins) Travel south to Oamaru - a town which prospered from gold discovered in Central Otago. Its restored Whitestone historic precinct with Victorian shops and eateries is a perfect place to stop. Once you have had some kai, head to Moeraki - situated 30 minutes south of Oamaru. This region is home to the Moeraki Boulders. Their history goes back as far as the legendary Arai-te-uru canoe, wrecked along the coast while searching for the precious stone of Te Wai Pounamu. The reef, which extends seaward near Shag Point, represents the hull of the canoe. The huge boulders strewn along Moeraki Beach represent the eel baskets and the strangely shaped irregular rocks represent New Zealand kumara (sweet potatoes). Some of the crew reached land safely, but were overtaken by dawn and turned into hills which bear their names. From Oamaru take highway 1 to Dunedin, passing through Palmerston. If you wanted to stop in Palmerston, head to the Palmerston Butterfly & Bird Haven. Gorgeous Monarch Butterflies fly around in a fairy land garden setting - if that's your thing. DUNEDIN Spend the day in and around Dunedin. The city is renowned for its proximity to incredible wildlife. The Otago Peninsula, a brief drive from the city centre, is home to a colony of the world's rarest penguins, the only mainland breeding colony of the royal albatross, rare New Zealand sea lions and the magnificent Larnach Castle. A world of recreational opportunities awaits the active at heart. In the morning visit the wildlife area on Otago Peninsula - the royal albatross colony or the yellow-eyed penguin colonies. Keep in mind that the wildlife area is a two-hour return journey. Penguin Place: the yellow-eyed penguin conservation reserve is a self-funding project, aiming to save the world's rarest penguin. You could do a 1.5 hour tour to see them if you would like to. Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head: a range of tours are on offer to visitors. www.albatross.org.nz There are also other companies that offer organised wildlife tours of the Otago Peninsula. Just drop into the information centre and they will give you some more details. Best times for wildlife viewing: Yellow-eyed penguins: the penguins are best seen either first thing in the morning or mid to late afternoon. The suggested best viewing/filming times are mid-October to late February and early May. Albatross: the suggested best times for viewing/filming are late November to April Afternoon activities include: Larnach Castle and its gardens, overlooking the spectacular Otago harbour: enjoy Larnach's history and grandeur, and the story of its scandalous past Olveston House: take a guided tour and experience the lifestyle of a wealthy Dunedin business family at the turn of the century Speights Brewery tour: Try a famous NZ brew - one of the farmers local drops Taieri Gorge Train: gain exclusive access to the Taieri River Gorge and view stunning examples of pioneering engineering with soaring viaducts, numerous tunnels and a rugged (yet beautiful) landscape. There are several sightseeing stops along the way and different carriage styles including modern air-conditioned cars and traditional wooden cars built in the 1920s. Not to mention Lemon and Paeroa ice-cream. This is a four-hour journey from the Dunedin Railway Station. For more information about Dunedin visit www.dunedinnz.com DUNEDIN - TE ANAU (290km, 4hour 10mins) Travel along State Highway 1 on the east coast until you reach State Highway 94. Then head towards Te Anau. As you head for Te Anau you could stop off at: The Hokonui Moonshine Museum, which reflects the social history of the time The Gore Historical Museum, sited in the Hokonui Heritage Centre The Croydon Aircraft Company at the old Mandeville airfield, which specialises in restoring and repairing vintage airplanes The Gore Airforce Museum and Hokonui Pioneer Park, which captures what life would have been like in earlier years 

TE ANAU - MILFORD SOUND (121km, 1hour 45mins) 

Leave Te Anau as early as possible - just after sunrise is recommended as the day's journey, although scenic, is long. Travel to Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Area and the largest national park in New Zealand. The Park covers 1.2 million hectares (2.9 million acres) and has natural wilderness on a grand scale. Waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres into pristine, forested valleys, and glacier-carved fiords indent its coastal boundaries. Milford and Doubtful Sounds provide visitors with unequalled experiences of the natural beauty and wilderness of New Zealand. If you are a walker, this is the places to be in both summer and winter. Milford Sound The road to Milford is a wonderful alpine drive. From Te Anau the road winds down the Eglington and Hollyford Valleys, then through the Homer Tunnel before being greeted by Mitre Peak towering from the glassy waters of Milford Sound (approximate driving time from Queenstown - five hours five minutes). Arrive around midday or early afternoon so you can see the sun go down and have a cold one at the Sounds. One of the main activities at Milford Sound is a boat cruise the full length of the Sound to the Tasman Sea, stopping at various points of interest along the way to view waterfalls and marine life. Cruises leave from the main wharf at Milford Sound and there are several companies to choose from. Other activities include: A visit to the Underwater Observatory, a facility designed to educate visitors about the recently discovered life under Milford Sound Walking! Scenic flights over Fiordland National Park Overnight in Te Anau - the drive from Milford Sound to Te Anau is approximately 2 - 2.5 hours long or, overnight at Milford Sound. At Milford Sound there is the option of accommodation on board one of the tourist vessels on Milford Sound. There is a site for vans to connect to electricity. For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Milford Sound area, activities could include: Guided or un-guided nature hiking: venture into the wilderness Kayaking: paddle among towering cliffs and waterfalls and encounter seals and dolphins Guided diving trips: see black and red corals living at depths of less than 20 metres/65.6 feet Doubtful Sound Trips to Doubtful Sound start at the Manapouri Visitor Centre, where visitors transfer onto a launch or yacht to cruise across Lake Manapouri. They visit the underground hydroelectric generating station before taking a coach ride over Wilmot Pass, with its luxuriant vegetation and great views. On arrival at the Sound, visitors enjoy a spectacular cruise to the Tasman Sea, encountering wildlife such as dusky dolphins, fur seals and crested penguins. After a scenic journey through mountains and alongside lakes, visitors arrive back in Te Anau for an overnight stay. Te Anau is an attractive holiday resort on the shores of the South Island's largest lake, Lake Te Anau. Visitors able to stay additional days in the Doubtful Sound area can choose from the following options: Diving/fishing charters Activity combinations: combine aerial sightseeing or a cruise trip into the Doubtful Sound region with activities such as bush walks, historic site visits and sea fishing Ecology tours: these multi-day tours include working alongside scientists Full- and half-day excursions: combine a coach journey, launch cruise and kayaking in the Manapouri/ Doubtful Sound area Kayaking: visitors can rent fully equipped kayaks by the day or overnight, or take a guided kayaking excursion on Lake Manapouri and/or Doubtful Sound. Te Ana-au Caves: join a 2.5-hour tour departing daily from Te Anau to visit the Caves, including a glowworm grotto For those able to stay additional days in Fiordland National Park, there are a number of walks: While many people know about the famous Milford Track, there are many other options for longer trips into the back country. Visitors can choose to walk independently (freedom walk) or join a guided excursion. Freedom walkers carry their own gear and need to purchase hut passes, and if walking the Milford and Routeburn Tracks need to book themselves onto the Tracks in advance. For those taking a guided walk the operator will make the required bookings. Milford Track www.milfordtrack.co.nz 54 km four-day walk Season: Nov - Apr Grade: Medium/Difficult It involves boat travel to and from the track. The track starts at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishes in Milford Sound Prior bookings are essential Bookings open in early July for the following season Guided and independent options are available Routeburn Track www.routeburn.co.nz 32 km two/three-day walk Season: All year for independent walkers and Oct - Apr for guided walkers. Best walked Nov - Apr. Grade: Medium/Difficult Guided and independent options are available Prior bookings for independent walkers are required for the use of huts or campsites Kepler Track 67 km three/four-day walk starts and finishes near Lake Te Anau Season: All year, but best walked Nov - Apr Grade: Medium/Difficult Independent option only available No prior bookings are required but walkers should notify the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre their expected time of return. Operates all year round Recommended bases for Great Walks: Te Anau is a starting point for all three walks. Transport can be arranged from Te Anau to the start of the tracks. The Routeburn can also be started from Glenorchy (accessed from Queenstown). Queenstown is often the departure point for guided trips on these tracks. Other notable tracks in Fiordland National Park: Hollyford Track 56 km four-day walk Season: All year, but best walked Nov - Apr Grade: Medium Guided and independent options are available Visitors will experience the relative isolation of the Fiordland bush, dramatic views of mountains, lakes and the beautiful Hollyford River, and then the sand and windswept beauty of Martins Bay Operates all year round Greenstone Track 37 km 2-3 day walk Grade: Easy Guided and independent options are available The Greenstone valley was an ancient Māori Trail. Tribes from Fiordland used the valley to reach the rich greenstone sources in Lake Wakatipu. They returned laden with stone to make tools and weapons. Today it is a common medium for sculpture and the fashioning of jewellery Combines with the Routeburn to create the Grand Traverse Dusky Track 90 km/56 mile walk is isolated and suitable for those with experience and seeking a challenge. Season: All year but not recommended over the winter months Grade: Difficult Various options allow the traveller to spend five/seven days following three major river valleys. Climb two passes culminating in the arrival at Fiordland's largest and most extensive fiord - Dusky Sound For more information on these walks visit www.doc.govt.nz Recommended bases: Te Anau is a recommended base for these tramps and transport can be arranged to the start of the tracks. Transport to and from tracks for Independent walkers Full transport services are available in the summer season to the start of all tracks in the Fiordland area, with a limited service available during the winter months. For transport operator details visit www.fiordland.org.nz Contact details for fully guided walks: Milford Track www.milfordtrack.co.nz TIP: The Milford and Routeburn tracks are accessible as one-day guided walks Hollyford Track www.hollyfordtrack.co.nz Routeburn Walk www.routeburn.co.nz For more information on the Fiordland area visit www.fiordland.org.nz 

MILFORD SOUND - QUEENSTOWN (291km, 4hour 10mins)

QUEENSTOWN Activities and attractions include: TSS Earnslaw: cruise Lake Wakatipu aboard this 90-year-old steamboat Jet boating: experience the Shotover, Kawarau or Dart River White water rafting: enjoy the rapids on the Shotover or Kawarau River In autumn when the colours are vivid, Arrowtown throws its annual Autumn Festival. Arrowtown is an old French settlement and gold mining town. In winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turn into an alpine playground with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Winter Festival. Activities include: Skiing: venture onto the fields of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak www.nzski.com Night skiing: New Zealand's only night skiing takes place at the Coronet Peak ski area Heli-skiing and heli-boarding Snowmobile: take an icy adventure aboard a snowmobile Admiring the snow-clad mountains by air is an option for taking in the scenery. Fixed wing and helicopter flight options are also available from Queenstown alongside, heli-skiing. In spring, skiers can enjoy spring snow conditions, the sailing is great and the Queenstown gardens are in full bloom. For more information visit www.queenstownNZ.co.nz 

QUEENSTOWN TO WANAKA VIA SH6 (117km, 1hour 40mins) 

Drive the short distance on State Highway 6 or over the sealed Crown Range road. Stop at the old goldmining village of Arrowtown for morning tea and a look through the shopping area. There are a couple of nice cafes down the main street and a good fudge shop too! A wide range of attractions and adventure sports are within reach of Wanaka. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wanaka, sample some exquisite local wines or, fresh fish at one of the easily accessible spots. Alternatively, venture into the hills and mountains surrounding Wanaka. Skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, tramping and climbing are also available in this area. If action packed Wanaka isn't your thing, you could always stop off at Kai Whaka Pai café for a nice coffee or, a local brew on tap. Afternoon activities and attractions include: The New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum: see a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircraft Puzzling World: get lost in a world of jigsaw puzzles and an epic hour-long outdoor maze Wanaka Beerworks: take a tour of this boutique brewery, located next to Wanaka airport Cardrona Hotel: sit outside in the garden by day or the fire by night. Have a good ole kiwi pub meal or, one of the local brews on tap. Don't forget to have a Brewski! Wanaka Transport Museum: view a unique private collection of cars, fire engines, bicycles, army tanks, model cars or, aircraft Flightseeing: scenic flights operate throughout the South Island's alpine region: Milford Sound, Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring. Remote area landings are available in Mt Aspiring National Park for trampers, climbers and hunters Visitors who stay in Lake Wanaka for few days may be interested in: Trout fishing: guided fishing on the lakes, rivers and streams in the area. The region offers superb brown and rainbow trout fishing Guided photographic and nature tours Canyoning: join a guided descent of canyons in the Wanaka region Activities on Lake Wanaka: yachties, water skiers, kayakers and wind surfers can take to the waters of the Lake Horse trekking: venture into the wilderness of the region Walking: numerous walks are available in the area, from one hour to four days Mountaineering: go guided mountaineering and trekking in the National Park White water kayaking or eco-rafting: enjoy the rivers in the Wanaka region Alpine and heli mountain biking: take to the highest mountain bike tracks in New Zealand Rock climbing: join a rock climbing trip with instruction, courses and ascents White water sledging: sledge the rapids on a purpose-designed board Winter activities Harris Mountain Heli-skiing: experience heli-skiing and heli-boarding The skifields of Cardrona and Treble Cone, and the Waiorau Nordic ski area Cardrona Alpine Resort Accessible from Queenstown or Lake Wanaka, this international resort offers a glorious alpine atmosphere with extensive facilities. Renowned for its natural snow, long season and wide open basins, there's a wonderful mix of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. www.cardrona.com Treble Cone Ski Area Treble Cone is the New Zealand ski field that's bigger on terrain, higher in altitude, bigger in size, wider in scope and offers more vertical than any other ski area in the area. The terrain is slightly better than Cardrona and the slopes link to one another - no need to push! www.treblecone.co.nz Snow Farm Located 200 metres/ 656 feet south of Cardrona Alpine resort entrance. This is New Zealand's only commercial cross-country ski resort, with trails for all ages and all abilities. The resort can be enjoyed in both summer and winter - accommodation is available in huts on the mountain, and a restaurant offers a unique alpine atmosphere. www.snowfarmnz.com Snow Park www.snowparknz.com An all-mountain terrain park featuring half pipes, terrain and rail parks and a skier or, boarder cross course. Visit www.lakewanaka.co.nz for more information on activities and itineraries in the area. 

WANAKA - FOX GLACIER (264km, 3hour 45mins) 

Depart Wanaka and continue on the journey from Haast to Fox Glacier. Visit the Haast Information Centre for excellent displays on the local environment and for information on walks available within the area. Another option in Haast is to go on a jetboat ride on the Haast River - a journey into the heart of South West World Heritage area. www.haastriver.co.nz The drive from Haast Junction to Fox Glacier takes approximately one hour 45 minutes. The journey through Haast Pass is very rugged and scenic, so it is recommended visitors stop along the way. The journey from Wanaka winds around Lakes Hawea and Wanaka. Lake Hawea is worth stopping for a coffee lakeside if you have a spare 30 minutes or so. The Department of Conservation has set up various short walkways along this route that offer visitors an opportunity to get away from the road and visit the beautiful scenery of New Zealand's Southern Alps and river valleys. We encourage you to get out and about and enjoy every minute of it. A wide range of attractions and adventure sports are within reach of Wanaka. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wanaka, sample locally made, exquisite wines, or fish at one of the easily accessible spots. Alternatively, venture into the hills and mountains surrounding Wanaka. Skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, tramping and climbing are all available in this area. GLACIERS Glacier Country Westland National Park can be accessed from this area - the small villages of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef are right on the Park boundary and are located just 5 km/ 3 miles from their respective glaciers. Each of the glaciers descends 2,500 metres/ 8202 feet in a journey of over 13 km/ 8 miles. They are remarkably accessible and extend to the valley floors. There are more than 60 glaciers in the Westland/Tai Poutini National Park. Two of them - the Fox and the Franz Josef - are unique in that they flow down to temperate rainforest. The glaciers stem from snowfields high in the Southern Alps, but Maori legend explains their existence more poetically. It is said that a beautiful girl named Hinehukatere loved the mountains in this park and encouraged her lover, Tawe, to climb them with her. He slipped and fell to his death and Hinehukatere's tears formed the glaciers. The area is known as "Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere" - the tears of the avalanche girl. Attractions and activities Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers: a range of companies offer guided walking and heli-hiking excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area. Or, you could just go off on your own and explore the area - don't cross the barriers though! TIP: Scenic flights are not always guaranteed departures due to the weather conditions. If you clients are extremely keen on taking a flight then it is recommended you schedule several days in the West Coast region to increase the chances of a flight. A number of self-guided walks are available surrounding the glaciers providing excellent vantage points for viewing the glaciers as well as exploring the rainforest environments. Other attractions and activities in the Glacier area: Scenic flights over Westland National Park and the glaciers: these flights can include snow landings. Lake Matheson (10 mins from Fox Glacier): on a clear day visitors will see perfect reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks 

FRANZ JOSEF - GREYMOUTH (177km, 2hour 30min) 

Depart Franz Josef or Fox Glacier for Greymouth. En-route, you could stop by Hokitika, the third largest town on the West Coast. Here visitors can: Visit Westland's WaterWorld to see the indigenous kokopu (a prehistoric fish), other local fish species and freshwater eels Wander around Hokitika Historical Museum, where displays include an audio-visual about the history of the area View kiwis in nocturnal display at the National Kiwi Centre Watch glass blowers in action at the Hokitika Glass Studio Shop at one of the many craft galleries for jade, hand-blown glass, gold nugget jewellery, woodcrafts, and wool products You can also stop in Ross, a goldmining town that still has working goldmines, including one of the deepest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can take a goldfields heritage tour from the Ross Goldfields information centre. Another option is to stop at Whataroa to visit the only nesting colony of the white heron (kotuku) in New Zealand. The bird's breeding season is between October and March. Visitors may visit the area year round on a rainforest nature tour, but are not likely to see birds nesting within the colony outside the breeding season. Once you have had a look in Hokitika, head up the coast to Greymouth. Jade Boulder Gallery at Greymouth: the gallery allows visitors to see different types of jade in its natural state, jade carvers at work and the opportunity to purchase individually designed sculptures and jewellery The Left Bank Art Gallery: enjoy a showcase of talent from around the region in exhibition and retail areas Shantytown, 15 minutes south of Greymouth: visit this replica pioneering town with steam train rides, a working gold claim where visitors can successfully pan for gold, as well as 30 historic buildings including the local saloon, jail, church, hospital and school Blackball (30 minutes inland from Greymouth): Blackball is where the New Zealand Labour Party was founded. Visit the well known hotel 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton' Lake Brunner and the small township of Moana (20 minutes inland from Greymouth): take in sweeping views from lakeside tracks and enjoy renowned trout-fishing opportunities. 

GREYMOUTH - ST ARNAUD (227km, 3hour 15min) 

Upon leaving Greymouth, take a journey through the scenic winding and narrow coast road Gorge to Westport. Explore Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes on the way. The Blowholes operate at high tide and are best on a blustery day when there are big seas - tide times can be checked at visitor information centers. The pancake rocks are a must see in New Zealand - they are magic. Stop in Westport to view coal-mining sites along the Coal Mining Heritage Trail - pick up a Trail map from the Westport Visitor Information Centre or, the Coal Town Museum to see historical exhibitions and photographic displays covering coal, gold, lumber, aviation, shipping, brewing, transport and minerals. Continue along the Buller river road from Westport to St Arnaud. Nelson Lakes National Park This Park protects 102,000 hectares or, 251,851 acres of the northernmost section of the Southern Alps, with tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes both big and small. The gateway to the Park is St Arnaud, a picturesque village just 1.5 hours' drive from Nelson or Blenheim. Take the opportunity to stop in the National Park. Take a walk beside Lake Rotoiti or stop at the Department of Conservation to learn more about the National Park's flora and fauna. Overnight in St Arnaud. For more information on Nelson Lakes National Park visit www.doc.govt.nz. 

ST ARNAUD – NELSON (87km, 1hour 15mins) 

NELSON REGION Nelson is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, proximity to three National Parks, 300-plus working artists and craftspeople, boutique wineries, fresh local produce and seafood, historical streetscapes, waterfront cafes and restaurants and a relaxed lifestyle. Suggested activities could include: Harbour cruises: appreciate the city's seaside setting Walks: walk to the centre of New Zealand and view the city in its entirety, or try one of the many other short walks in and around Nelson city Yacht charter: hire a yacht for an afternoon or for several days Art and historic trails: pick up a map or brochure from the visitor information centre Adventure activities: choose an activity to suit, such as tandem skydiving, 4WD motorbike rides, horse treks, white water river sports, water skiing, sea kayaking and mountain biking Visiting local beaches: Tahunanui Beach, Rabbit Island and Cable Bay are all safe beaches within a short distance of Nelson city World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum: houses costumes from the World of Wearable Art show a phenomenon initiated in Nelson. The show now held in Wellington is a changing spectacle fully choreographed with models, dancers and performers, dramatic stage sets, scripted lighting and music. Winning entries from the shows live exclusively in Nelson at the World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum. www.wowcars.co.nz Explore the following areas in the Nelson region: Nelson city - the urban centre of the Nelson region, a compact city of 41,500 people. From Nelson visitors can organise an adventure, begin an arty shopping spree or start a survey of the Nelson fresh food feast. You can pick up art and craft trail guides from the Visitor Information Centre for the journey. Motueka - this is the fruit belt of Nelson, a band of rich land across the middle of the region that supports apple and pear orchards, vineyards, berry fruit growers, hop gardens, and kiwifruit and stone fruit orchards. It has also proved fertile ground for artists and craftspeople, and the approaches to Motueka are perhaps the most intensely arty of all roads in the region. Golden Bay - the road trip to Golden Bay, only two hours from Nelson city, is an extraordinary experience in itself: a scenic drive over Takaka Hill, the marble mountain. There are well sign-posted lookouts, and the marvels of Harwoods Hole (176 metres/577 feet deep) and the Ngarua Caves are well worth visiting. Te Waikoropupu Springs: visit these large mineral springs set in native bush in Golden Bay - wahitapu (sacred place) to the local Maori iwi (tribe). These are New Zealand's largest freshwater springs, set in a reserve protecting old gold workings, regenerating forest and a fine patch of mature bush. The springs include easy walkways and they are located off State Highway 60, 7 km north of Takaka. Abel Tasman National Park The smallest of New Zealand's national parks, Abel Tasman is a compact treasure house of nature with glittering beaches, turquoise water and spectacular ocean views. A range of wildlife inhabits the area, including penguins and a seal colony in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Visitors can experience the Park in the following ways: o Sea kayaking (one-day to multi-day trips): explore the coast from the water, rest on beaches with no foot access and observe the marine wildlife. Kayak tour operators are mostly based at Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Moteuka. They offer guided trips or freedom rentals (providing equipment, instruction and full safety briefings) o Day trips or overnight stays: water taxis can drop visitors into the Park to walk sections of the Track. Visitors also have the option of staying a night in a variety of accommodation styles. There are also day cruises and nature tours that include walking through the park o For those with a bit of time up their sleeves - The Abel Tasman Coastal Track (three to five days): a 51km track that takes an average of three to five days to complete. There are tidal crossings, which can only be crossed within a few hours either side of low tide. Along the track there is a mixture of accommodation facilities ranging from basic Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and campsites to independently owned lodges with excellent facilities. The Department of Conservation require visitors to book campsites and huts in advance. Read more about Abel National Park on the Department of Conservation website www.doc.govt.nz. It provides important information on booking requirements for huts and campsites. For more information on National Parks visit www.doc.govt.nz Other activities that require a few days in the Nelson region include: Guided tours to Farewell Spit: enjoy this nature reserve on a sand spit jutting into the Tasman Sea. There are excellent 4WD safaris along the spit to the lighthouse and bird habitats - these are based in Collingwood, and it is recommended you book in advance for the safari trip Wharariki Beach: experience a wild and beautiful coastal landscape, where the wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. Easy half-day or, full-day walks 

NELSON – BLENHEIM (220km, 3 hours) 

Savour the flavours of this region during a vineyard lunch while on a tour of the wineries and breweries, private gardens and craft studios. The majority of the wineries are boutique operations with cellar doors, and many of them have restaurant or, cafe facilities on site - an ideal opportunity to experience alfresco dining among the vines. Activities and attractions in and around Blenheim include: Vineyard tours: take a guided or self-guided tour of the nearby vineyards Art and craft trail: see the region's thriving art and craft community Tippling: visit a distillery or the local boutique breweries to taste locally produced fruit brandies, liqueurs and beers Private gardens: many are open for viewing Museums: learn about the settlement of the region Orchard visits: taste the seasonal fruit, in particular Marlborough cherries (December to January) Art galleries: enjoy ever-changing exhibitions of local and national artists For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Marlborough region, activities include: Queen Charlotte Sound: cruise the waters of the Sound to view the marine and bird life of the area before getting off the boat to walk parts of the Queen Charlotte Track. Boats depart from Picton, with day trips through to week trips available. Sea kayaking: take a guided or independent trip from Picton Queen Charlotte Track (three to four days): follow this popular walkway (71 km/44 miles) with many entry and exit points and numerous accommodation providers along its length. Companies offer water transport and pack transfer to and from several points or by mini-van to Anakiwa. Travelers can walk the track independently or make the most of freedom and guided walk packages Molesworth Station: take a guided tour of this high country farm, hear about the history and old stories and view the grandeur and beauty of the mountainous high country. (Note: limited summer season) Fly fishing and hunting tours High country horse trekking: enjoy trips in a back country setting For more information on the Marlborough region visit www.destinationmarlborough.com 

BLENHEIM - PICTON (78km, 1hour 30mins) Catch the morning ferry service across Cook Strait from Picton into Wellington. 

FERRY (3hours) WELLINGTON 

 Arrive in Wellington around midday and overnight. Wellington is the nation's capital and the political headquarters for the country. It is also home to Te Papa - the interactive Museum of New Zealand. Te Papa showcases numerous art galleries and national treasures such as the original Treaty of Waitangi and Katherine Mansfield's birthplace. The NZ performing arts, ballet and symphony orchestra are also based here and a diverse range of cafes and restaurants supports the city's vibrant nightlife. This is a compact city nestled between an expansive harbour and bush-clad hills. The downtown area is ideal for walking around, with all shopping, cafes, transport, accommodation and the city's attractions within close proximity. Spend the rest of the day discovering the highlights of Wellington city. The easiest way to get around is by walking or by catching the 'City Circular', a yellow bus that takes in the key attractions and downtown shopping quarters of Wellington. The bus departs every 15 minutes from bus stops around the city. Morning options could include the following attractions: Te Papa: New Zealand's bold and innovative national museum, set on Wellington's waterfront, provides visitors with a unique insight into New Zealand and the captivating stories of the land and hits people. www.tepapa.govt.nz Parliament Buildings: regular tours provide an insight into New Zealand's political heritage. www.parliament.govt.nz Museum of Wellington City and Sea: visitors are told stories of Wellington in an interactive and entertaining way www.museumofwellington.co.nz Katherine Mansfield's birthplace: the childhood home of the famous writer has been intricately restored according to the descriptions of the house in her stories. www.katherinemansfield.com Old St Paul's Cathedral: this gothic-style church was built from New Zealand native timbers. www.historic.org.nz If you wanted a more comprehensive guide to Wellington, you could join a guided walking tour with Walk Wellington or, pick up a brochure available from a visitor information centre for self-guided walks, including a Maori heritage trail. In the afternoon, discover the scenery in and around Wellington city: Walk, pedal or rollerblade from the city around the waterfront to Oriental Bay. The energetic can continue up through the green belt to the summit of Mt Victoria for a 360-degree panorama of Wellington. Alternatively catch a bus from downtown Wellington up to the summit Take in the views of the city and surrounding region on a scenic helicopter flight Ride from downtown Wellington in the Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens for sweeping views of the city and harbour The Botanic Gardens: wander through 26 hectares/64 acres of specialist gardens, native bush and lawn areas, down to historic Thorndon, New Zealand's oldest suburb Catch a ferry from the city across to Days Bay, home to seaside cafes and quality craft shops or to Somes/Matiu Island Reserve, a former quarantine and prisoner-of-war island and now a nature reserve with walking tracks and historic sites. www.doc.govt.nz In the evening: Dine out and enjoy a fine meal at one of Wellington's award-winning restaurants Go on an evening walking tour around the Wellington waterfront that highlights the people, places and events that have shaped the city Enjoy a night out at one of Wellington's many theatres People watch For more information on Wellington visit www.wellingtonnz.com 

WELLINGTON – NAPIER (323km, 4hour 35mins) 

Depart Wellington for Napier. There are two alternative routes. 1. Via Wairarapa Region Follow State Highway 2 through the Hutt Valley, over the Rimutaka Hill, and into the Wairarapa region. Known for its warm summers and rural lifestyle, the region provides a relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of Wellington city. The small township of Martinborough has a growing world-wide reputation for its wine. The small town's enroute to Napier - Greytown and Carterton - have a wealth of old country villas, gardens and cafes at which to stop and enjoy the atmosphere of this region. For the adventurous, the Wairarapa has a range of outdoor pursuits such as climbing, treks and kayaking. The Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre offers an interesting look into some of New Zealand's wildlife conservation projects. The Centre breeds, holds and studies endangered species of native wildlife and is open to the public for guided and unguided tours. Activities and attractions in the Wairarapa region include: Wine trails and tastings: choose from numerous vineyards in the Wairarapa region. Look around the wine centre in Martinborough village. www.martinborough.com Garden visits and tours: Wairarapa is a garden lover's paradise, with many open to the public. These range from spacious grounds of grand historic homesteads to country cottage gardens, from sprawling expanse to tightly designed structure. The best times to visit are September to April, but some gardens are open all year The Featherston Heritage Museum: view a commemoration of the Featherston military camp from World War I and its role as a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in World War II For visitors able to stay additional days in the Wairarapa region, options include: Cape Palliser: visit the largest breeding colony of fur seals in the North Island, and climb 250 steps to the top of the Cape Palliser Lighthouse for spectacular views of the coast and South Island. (One hour from Martinborough village.) Putangirua Pinnacles: the Pinnacles were formed 120,000 years ago by heavy rain eroding an ancient gravel deposit Self-drive heritage trails: small country museums and heritage attractions are Wairarapa specialties. Retrace the region's history by following the Wairarapa Heritage Trail along State Highway 2. Wairarapa's small country towns retain their character from colonial times. Spend an hour or two walking one of the region's eight town Heritage Trails Castlepoint: take an hour's drive from Masterton through beautiful hill country to this popular beach resort, featuring a scenic reserve and awesome coastal panoramas. It has a shop, motor camp and self-contained accommodation Riversdale Beach: discover a great place for swimming and surfing. There is a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, and motor camp. (Forty-five minutes drive from Masterton.) For more information visit www.wairarapanz.com 2. Via Kapiti Coast Follow State Highways 1, 57 and 3 via Palmerston North, before linking up with State Highway 2 at Woodville. Options en route include: Queen Elizabeth Park (just south of Raumati Beach): enjoy a range of recreational activities, including swimming, windsurfing and walks Lindale Tourist and Agricultural Centre (just north of Paraparaumu): take a farm tour and taste some Kapiti Cheese Southwards Car Museum (just north of Paraparaumu): view a large collection of antique and unusual cars Arrive in Napier in the Hawke's Bay region late afternoon. Dining options include visiting one of the many vineyards or restaurants in the area. 

NAPIER – TAUPO (143km, 2hour 5mins) 

Depart Napier on State Highway 5 for Lake Taupo and Rotorua. Lake Taupo is one of the North Island's most popular holiday destinations, both in summer and in winter. Taupo town centre is crammed with cafes and interesting shops and the Huka Falls area is great for picnics and nature walks. To get a feel for the Lake Taupo region, options for visitors include: Huka Falls: watch as over 200,000 litres/44,000 gallons of water fall over the cliff face every second, or take a jet boat ride to the base of the Falls Craters of the Moon: walk around an active thermal area with mud pools, craters and steam in the Wairakei Tourist Park. Visit Wairakei Geothermal Visitor Centre to view displays and audio-visuals of the Wairakei and Ohaaki geothermal power schemes Prawn Park hatchery: tour the geothermal hatchery then head to the restaurant for a meal of prawns For more information on the Taupo region visit www.laketauponz.com 

TAUPO – ROTORUA (80km, 1hour 10mins) 

In Rotorua visitors have the opportunity to experience a number of Maori culture activities and attractions. There are about 35 marae (tribal meeting grounds) in the Rotorua district, most of which lie in rural areas. Visitors may be lucky enough to stay as a guest on a marae - an experience they will never forget. Spend the afternoon discovering the Maori history and culture of the area. Visit the village of Ohinemutu - the original village around which Rotorua township was built. A feature of this area, aside from its significance to local history, is the active geothermal ground upon which it is built - and St Faith's Church and the many meeting houses dotted through the village. If you are thinking about going to a hot spring while you are in the area, we recommend Waikite Valley which is just out of Rotorua. Other activities in the Rotorua area include: Trout fishing: visitors are spoilt for choice, with 11 main lakes, a myriad of crystal-clear streams and four different species of trout to fish. Charter a boat, skippered or self-drive or take on a guide Boat cruise: craft range from self-drive pontoons to a luxurious 15 metre/50 foot catamaran that cruises Lake Tarawera with Clearwater Charters Jet boating: try an adrenaline-injecting excursion on a local river Areas of geothermal interest: at nearby geothermal hotspots there are geysers spouting, acrid-smelling mud pools bubbling and belching and warm geothermal springs and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour Overnight in Rotorua. For those who choose to stay in the Rotorua area for a few days, activities include: Whakarewarewa Forest: visit the giant Californian redwood trees. With Rotorua becoming well known as a mountain bike adventure mecca, one of the main activities in the Forest is mountain biking through a network of trails. Mountain bikes can be hired and guided trips are available. Other activities in the Forest include running, walking and horse riding Volcano tours: join a 4WD tour to the dormant volcano of Mt Tarawera. Take a guided walk in and around craters, and see spectacular views of surrounding lakes and mountains White water rafting: experience the most exciting river locations, including thrilling rapids on the Rangitaiki River and New Zealand's highest commercially rafted waterfall on the Kaituna River. Fulljames is a good spot for kayaking if you are into play-boating. For more information on Rotorua visit www.rotoruanz.com 

ROTORUA - WAITOMO (166km, 2hour 20 mins) 

In the morning, take the journey across to the Waitomo district. This area is where you will find limestone caves, glowworms and underground adventure activities such as black water rafting. Visitors can experience the caves either by walking, boat ride or a wet black water caving trip. Browse the Museum of Caves and enjoy many exhibits on cave formations, flora and fauna, and learn about the history of caves in the area www.waitomo-museum.co.nz. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Waitomo area. Activities in the Waitomo area could include: The Waitomo region is home to three caves that are open to the public: The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave. www.waitomocaves.co.nz. While these cost money to enjoy, you can also enjoy free caves in the area - Piripiri is one of them. Browsing rock formations at Mangapohue Natural Bridge Marokopa Falls Billy Black's Kiwi Culture Show: visitors gain an insight into New Zealand's pioneer farming heritage. www.woodlynpark.co.nz Cave tubing or blackwater rafting: www.blackwaterrafting.co.nz, www.waitomo.co.nz The Lost World Cave: Abseil 100 metres/ 328 feet down into the cave (accompanied by a guide). Time: 4 to 7 hours depending on tour option taken www.waitomo.co.nz Haggis Honking Holes: this four-hour cave trip includes professional abseiling instruction followed by a caving trip with four abseils, rock climbing, and traversing an underground river. www.waitomo.co.nz For more information on the Waitomo area visit www.waitomo.org.nz 

WAITOMO - AUCKLAND (200km, 2hour 50 mins) Continue to Auckland along State Highway 3.

Epic New Zealand

Epic New Zealand

Christchurch - Auckland

28 days
3500 km

This itinerary follows the same route as the Northbound Express but you take a detour from Rotorua to the east coast to take in Bay of Plenty and The Coromandel.

CHRISTCHURCH

For those who have some extra time in Christchurch, activities and attractions include: Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens Mona Vale Homestead: wander through 5 hectares/12 acres of gardens and take in views of the Avon River Christchurch Art Gallery - Te Puna O Waiwhetu. Specialises in New Zealand Art especially from the Canterbury region. The building itself is a masterpiece and if you're there on the weekends - the markets bring some good vibes to the gallery. Christchurch Tramway: take a historic tram ride around the city centre. Trundle through the tree-lined streets, past buzzing street side cafes. A great way to experience the inner city of Christchurch Christchurch Gondola: unique views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour unfold as passengers rise to the summit complex, located on the crater rim of an extinct volcano Punting on the Avon River: sit back and relax in a guided punt past the sights of the central city Guided walks: enjoy Christchurch city and its heritage buildings Canterbury Museum, including the Hall of Antarctic Discovery: housed in one of Christchurch's finest historic buildings are stunning displays such as Nga Taonga Tukuiho O Nga Tupuna ‘Treasures handed down by our ancestors' The International Antarctic Centre: the Centre features a real ‘Snow and Ice Experience' and a 45-minute ‘Behind the Scenes' tour of the Antarctic Campus. www.iceberg.co.nz Arts Centre of Christchurch: situated in the historic buildings of the original University of Canterbury, the Arts Centre is one of New Zealand's most significant cultural attractions and is today a dynamic venue for arts, shopping and entertainment. www.artscentre.co.nz For more information on Christchurch visit www.christchurchnz.net 

 CHRISTCHURCH - MT. COOK (331km, 4hour 45mins) 

Depart Christchurch for the drive to Mt Cook via Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. Stop on the shores of Lake Tekapo and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd - a historic church dedicated to the early pioneers of this area and the sheepdog statue - a tribute to the high country farmers' best friend. If you have some spare time, you could extend your visit and drive to Mt Cook via Methven on State Highway 72 - the Inland Scenic Route. This route is slightly longer but, it is an incredible mountain-side drive. If it is winter time and you are a bit of a snow junkie, Methven is a good place to rest your head. It is at the base of Mt Hutt's ski field and other ski areas (a short detour off the Inland Scenic Route 72). The Methven Travel and Visitor Centre take bookings for accommodation, skiing packages, and transport to and from ski areas. There are many outdoor adventure activities in this area including tandem skydiving, hot air balloon flights and jet boating. Alternatively, continue to Mt Cook via State Highway 1 through Ashburton, the commercial centre of one of New Zealand's richest agricultural and pastoral regions. While this route isn't as scenic as the other two - it will get you there the fastest. At 3754 metres or 12,308 feet, Mt Cook (Aoraki) is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park. Nudging one side of Mt Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30km or 18mile giant; one of the longest glaciers outside the Himalayas. Activities in the National Park include: Walking: there are short walks and plenty of day walks around Mt Cook village and the main valleys. The most popular walking spots are Kea Point and Hooker Valley, offering great views of mountain peaks, glacier lakes and alpine flora. The Department of Conservation Visitor Centre can provide information on walks in the area Skiing: guided ski trips, suitable for intermediate skiers, can be taken down the Tasman Glacier. Helicopters can take experienced skiers to a number of locations in the Park for some wilderness experiences. Ski touring is possible around the Tasman and Kelman huts. Alpine experience is required though Glacier Explorer boat trip: a unique experience; this boat tour explores the melting ice face of Tasman Glacier and icebergs carved off into the lake Scenic flights and glacier landings, fixed-wing airplane or helicopter flights: regular scenic flights leave from Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo airports. Activities around Twizel include: Kaki Black Stilt Recovery Program: the Department of Conservation runs guided tours to a visitor hide overlooking the kaki captive rearing aviaries near Twizel www.doc.govt.nz High Altitude Salmon Farm: enjoy a tour explaining aspects of salmon farming and have a go at catching dinner. Located between Tekapo and the Mt Cook turnoff, on the hydro canals Lake Ohau, Lake Benmore, and Lake Ruataniwha - and a five-minute drive to Lake Pukaki reveals Mt Cook and the Southern Alps framed between lake and sky. If you are a keen snowboarder or skier, Lake Ohau is worth your time. With ski fields overlooking the lake encased by mountains on either side, it truly is a magic spot for snow sports. Spend the night in Mt Cook village, Twizel, or, somewhere in between. For more information on the Mt Cook area visit www.mtcook.org.nz 

MT. COOK – DUNEDIN (331km, 4hour 45mins) 

Travel south to Oamaru - a town which prospered from gold discovered in Central Otago. Its restored Whitestone historic precinct with Victorian shops and eateries is a perfect place to stop. Once you have had some kai, head to Moeraki - situated 30 minutes south of Oamaru. This region is home to the Moeraki Boulders. Their history goes back as far as the legendary Arai-te-uru canoe, wrecked along the coast while searching for the precious stone of Te Wai Pounamu. The reef, which extends seaward near Shag Point, represents the hull of the canoe. The huge boulders strewn along Moeraki Beach represent the eel baskets and the strangely shaped irregular rocks represent New Zealand kumara (sweet potatoes). Some of the crew reached land safely, but were overtaken by dawn and turned into hills which bear their names. From Oamaru take highway 1 to Dunedin, passing through Palmerston. If you wanted to stop in Palmerston, head to the Palmerston Butterfly & Bird Haven. Gorgeous Monarch Butterflies fly around in a fairy land garden setting - if that's your thing. DUNEDIN Spend the day in and around Dunedin. The city is renowned for its proximity to incredible wildlife. The Otago Peninsula, a brief drive from the city centre, is home to a colony of the world's rarest penguins, the only mainland breeding colony of the royal albatross, rare New Zealand sea lions and the magnificent Larnach Castle. A world of recreational opportunities awaits the active at heart. In the morning visit the wildlife area on Otago Peninsula - the royal albatross colony or the yellow-eyed penguin colonies. Keep in mind that the wildlife area is a two-hour return journey. Penguin Place: the yellow-eyed penguin conservation reserve is a self-funding project, aiming to save the world's rarest penguin. You could do a 1.5 hour tour to see them if you would like to. Royal Albatross Centre at Taiaroa Head: a range of tours are on offer to visitors. www.albatross.org.nz There are also other companies that offer organised wildlife tours of the Otago Peninsula. Just drop into the information centre and they will give you some more details. Best times for wildlife viewing: Yellow-eyed penguins: the penguins are best seen either first thing in the morning or mid to late afternoon. The suggested best viewing/filming times are mid-October to late February and early May Albatrosses: the suggested best times for viewing/filming are late November to April Afternoon activities could include: Larnach Castle and its gardens, overlooking the spectacular Otago harbour: enjoy Larnach's history and grandeur, and the story of its scandalous past Olveston House: take a guided tour and experience the lifestyle of a wealthy Dunedin business family at the turn of the century Speights Brewery tour: Try a famous NZ brew - one of the farmers local drops Taieri Gorge Train: gain exclusive access to the Taieri River Gorge and view stunning examples of pioneering engineering with soaring viaducts, numerous tunnels and a rugged (yet beautiful) landscape. There are several sightseeing stops along the way and different carriage styles including modern air-conditioned cars and traditional wooden cars built in the 1920s. Not to mention Lemon and Paeroa ice-cream. This is a four-hour journey from the Dunedin Railway Station. For more information about Dunedin visit www.dunedinnz.com 

DUNEDIN - TE ANAU (290km, 4hour 10mins) 

Travel along State Highway 1 on the east coast until you reach State Highway 94. Then head towards Te Anau. As you head for Te Anau you could stop off at: The Hokonui Moonshine Museum, which reflects the social history of the time The Gore Historical Museum, sited in the Hokonui Heritage Centre The Croydon Aircraft Company at the old Mandeville airfield, which specialises in restoring and repairing vintage airplanes The Gore Airforce Museum and Hokonui Pioneer Park, which captures what life would have been like in earlier years TE ANAU - MILFORD SOUND (121km, 1hour 45mins) Leave Te Anau as early as possible - just after sunrise is recommended as the day's journey, although scenic, is long. Travel to Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Area and the largest national park in New Zealand. The Park covers 1.2 million hectares (2.9 million acres) and has natural wilderness on a grand scale. Waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres into pristine, forested valleys, and glacier-carved fiords indent its coastal boundaries. Milford and Doubtful Sounds provide visitors with unequalled experiences of the natural beauty and wilderness of New Zealand. If you are a walker, this is the places to be in both summer and winter. Milford Sound The road to Milford is a wonderful alpine drive. From Te Anau the road winds down the Eglington and Hollyford Valleys, then through the Homer Tunnel before being greeted by Mitre Peak towering from the glassy waters of Milford Sound (approximate driving time from Queenstown - five hours five minutes). Arrive around midday or early afternoon so you can see the sun go down and have a cold one at the Sounds. One of the main activities at Milford Sound is a boat cruise the full length of the Sound to the Tasman Sea, stopping at various points of interest along the way to view waterfalls and marine life. Cruises leave from the main wharf at Milford Sound and there are several companies to choose from. Other activities include: A visit to the Underwater Observatory, a facility designed to educate visitors about the recently discovered life under Milford Sound Walking! Scenic flights over Fiordland National Park Overnight in Te Anau - the drive from Milford Sound to Te Anau is approximately 2 - 2.5 hours long or, overnight at Milford Sound. At Milford Sound there is the option of accommodation on board one of the tourist vessels on Milford Sound. There is a site for vans to connect to electricity. For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Milford Sound area, activities could include: Guided or un-guided nature hiking: venture into the wilderness Kayaking: paddle among towering cliffs and waterfalls and encounter seals and dolphins Guided diving trips: see black and red corals living at depths of less than 20 metres/65.6 feet Doubtful Sound Trips to Doubtful Sound start at the Manapouri Visitor Centre, where visitors transfer onto a launch or yacht to cruise across Lake Manapouri. They visit the underground hydroelectric generating station before taking a coach ride over Wilmot Pass, with its luxuriant vegetation and great views. On arrival at the Sound, visitors enjoy a spectacular cruise to the Tasman Sea, encountering wildlife such as dusky dolphins, fur seals and crested penguins. After a scenic journey through mountains and alongside lakes, visitors arrive back in Te Anau for an overnight stay. Te Anau is an attractive holiday resort on the shores of the South Island's largest lake, Lake Te Anau. Visitors able to stay additional days in the Doubtful Sound area can choose from the following options: Diving/fishing charters Activity combinations: combine aerial sightseeing or a cruise trip into the Doubtful Sound region with activities such as bush walks, historic site visits and sea fishing Ecology tours: these multi-day tours include working alongside scientists Full- and half-day excursions: combine a coach journey, launch cruise and kayaking in the Manapouri/ Doubtful Sound area Kayaking: visitors can rent fully equipped kayaks by the day or overnight, or take a guided kayaking excursion on Lake Manapouri and/or Doubtful Sound. Te Ana-au Caves: join a 2.5-hour tour departing daily from Te Anau to visit the Caves, including a glowworm grotto For those able to stay additional days in Fiordland National Park, there are a number of walks: While many people know about the famous Milford Track, there are many other options for longer trips into the back country. Visitors can choose to walk independently (freedom walk) or join a guided excursion. Freedom walkers carry their own gear and need to purchase hut passes, and if walking the Milford and Routeburn Tracks need to book themselves onto the Tracks in advance. For those taking a guided walk the operator will make the required bookings. Milford Track www.milfordtrack.co.nz 54 km four-day walk Season: Nov - Apr Grade: Medium/Difficult It involves boat travel to and from the track. The track starts at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishes in Milford Sound Prior bookings are essential Bookings open in early July for the following season Guided and independent options are available Routeburn Track www.routeburn.co.nz 32 km two/three-day walk Season: All year for independent walkers and Oct - Apr for guided walkers. Best walked Nov - Apr. Grade: Medium/Difficult Guided and independent options are available Prior bookings for independent walkers are required for the use of huts or campsites Kepler Track 67 km three/four-day walk starts and finishes near Lake Te Anau Season: All year, but best walked Nov - Apr Grade: Medium/Difficult Independent option only available No prior bookings are required but walkers should notify the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre their expected time of return. Operates all year round Recommended bases for Great Walks: Te Anau is a starting point for all three walks. Transport can be arranged from Te Anau to the start of the tracks. The Routeburn can also be started from Glenorchy (accessed from Queenstown). Queenstown is often the departure point for guided trips on these tracks. Other notable tracks in Fiordland National Park: Hollyford Track 56 km four-day walk Season: All year, but best walked Nov - Apr Grade: Medium Guided and independent options are available Visitors will experience the relative isolation of the Fiordland bush, dramatic views of mountains, lakes and the beautiful Hollyford River, and then the sand and windswept beauty of Martins Bay Operates all year round Greenstone Track 37 km 2-3 day walk Grade: Easy Guided and independent options are available The Greenstone valley was an ancient Māori Trail. Tribes from Fiordland used the valley to reach the rich greenstone sources in Lake Wakatipu. They returned laden with stone to make tools and weapons. Today it is a common medium for sculpture and the fashioning of jewellery Combines with the Routeburn to create the Grand Traverse Dusky Track 90 km/56 mile walk is isolated and suitable for those with experience and seeking a challenge. Season: All year but not recommended over the winter months Grade: Difficult Various options allow the traveller to spend five/seven days following three major river valleys. Climb two passes culminating in the arrival at Fiordland's largest and most extensive fiord - Dusky Sound For more information on these walks visit www.doc.govt.nz Recommended bases: Te Anau is a recommended base for these tramps and transport can be arranged to the start of the tracks. Transport to and from tracks for Independent walkers Full transport services are available in the summer season to the start of all tracks in the Fiordland area, with a limited service available during the winter months. For transport operator details visit www.fiordland.org.nz Contact details for fully guided walks: Milford Track www.milfordtrack.co.nz TIP: The Milford and Routeburn tracks are accessible as one-day guided walks Hollyford Track www.hollyfordtrack.co.nz Routeburn Walk www.routeburn.co.nz For more information on the Fiordland area visit www.fiordland.org.nz 

MILFORD SOUND - QUEENSTOWN (291km, 4hour 10mins) 

QUEENSTOWN Activities and attractions include: TSS Earnslaw: cruise Lake Wakatipu aboard this 90-year-old steamboat Jet boating: experience the Shotover, Kawarau or Dart River White water rafting: enjoy the rapids on the Shotover or Kawarau River In autumn when the colours are vivid, Arrowtown throws its annual Autumn Festival. Arrowtown is an old French settlement and gold mining town. In winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turn into an alpine playground with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Winter Festival. Activities include: Skiing: venture onto the fields of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak www.nzski.com Night skiing: New Zealand's only night skiing takes place at the Coronet Peak ski area Heli-skiing and heli-boarding Snowmobile: take an icy adventure aboard a snowmobile Admiring the snow-clad mountains by air is an option for taking in the scenery. Fixed wing and helicopter flight options are also available from Queenstown alongside, heli-skiing. In spring, skiers can enjoy spring snow conditions, the sailing is great and the Queenstown gardens are in full bloom. For more information visit www.queenstownNZ.co.nz 

QUEENSTOWN TO WANAKA VIA SH6 (117km, 1hour 40mins) 

Drive the short distance on State Highway 6 or over the sealed Crown Range road. Stop at the old goldmining village of Arrowtown for morning tea and a look through the shopping area. There are a couple of nice cafes down the main street and a good fudge shop too! A wide range of attractions and adventure sports are within reach of Wanaka. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wanaka, sample some exquisite local wines or, fresh fish at one of the easily accessible spots. Alternatively, venture into the hills and mountains surrounding Wanaka. Skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, tramping and climbing are also available in this area. If action packed Wanaka isn't your thing, you could always stop off at Kai Whaka Pai café for a nice coffee or, a local brew on tap. Afternoon activities and attractions include: The New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum: see a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircraft Puzzling World: get lost in a world of jigsaw puzzles and an epic hour-long outdoor maze Wanaka Beerworks: take a tour of this boutique brewery, located next to Wanaka airport Cardrona Hotel: sit outside in the garden by day or the fire by night. Have a good ole kiwi pub meal or, one of the local brews on tap. Don't forget to have a Brewski! Wanaka Transport Museum: view a unique private collection of cars, fire engines, bicycles, army tanks, model cars or, aircraft Flightseeing: scenic flights operate throughout the South Island's alpine region: Milford Sound, Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring. Remote area landings are available in Mt Aspiring National Park for trampers, climbers and hunters Visitors who stay in Lake Wanaka for few days may be interested in: Trout fishing: guided fishing on the lakes, rivers and streams in the area. The region offers superb brown and rainbow trout fishing Guided photographic and nature tours Canyoning: join a guided descent of canyons in the Wanaka region Activities on Lake Wanaka: yachties, water skiers, kayakers and wind surfers can take to the waters of the Lake Horse trekking: venture into the wilderness of the region Walking: numerous walks are available in the area, from one hour to four days Mountaineering: go guided mountaineering and trekking in the National Park White water kayaking or eco-rafting: enjoy the rivers in the Wanaka region Alpine and heli mountain biking: take to the highest mountain bike tracks in New Zealand Rock climbing: join a rock climbing trip with instruction, courses and ascents White water sledging: sledge the rapids on a purpose-designed board Winter activities Harris Mountain Heli-skiing: experience heli-skiing and heli-boarding The skifields of Cardrona and Treble Cone, and the Waiorau Nordic ski area Cardrona Alpine Resort Accessible from Queenstown or Lake Wanaka, this international resort offers a glorious alpine atmosphere with extensive facilities. Renowned for its natural snow, long season and wide open basins, there's a wonderful mix of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. www.cardrona.com Treble Cone Ski Area Treble Cone is the New Zealand ski field that's bigger on terrain, higher in altitude, bigger in size, wider in scope and offers more vertical than any other ski area in the area. The terrain is slightly better than Cardrona and the slopes link to one another - no need to push! www.treblecone.co.nz Snow Farm Located 200 metres/ 656 feet south of Cardrona Alpine resort entrance. This is New Zealand's only commercial cross-country ski resort, with trails for all ages and all abilities. The resort can be enjoyed in both summer and winter - accommodation is available in huts on the mountain, and a restaurant offers a unique alpine atmosphere. www.snowfarmnz.com Snow Park www.snowparknz.com An all-mountain terrain park featuring half pipes, terrain and rail parks and a skier or, boarder cross course. Visit www.lakewanaka.co.nz for more information on activities and itineraries in the area. 

WANAKA - FOX GLACIER (264km, 3hour 45mins) 

Depart Wanaka and continue on the journey from Haast to Fox Glacier. Visit the Haast Information Centre for excellent displays on the local environment and for information on walks available within the area. Another option in Haast is to go on a jetboat ride on the Haast River - a journey into the heart of South West World Heritage area. www.haastriver.co.nz The drive from Haast Junction to Fox Glacier takes approximately one hour 45 minutes. The journey through Haast Pass is very rugged and scenic, so it is recommended visitors stop along the way. The journey from Wanaka winds around Lakes Hawea and Wanaka. Lake Hawea is worth stopping for a coffee lakeside if you have a spare 30 minutes or so. The Department of Conservation has set up various short walkways along this route that offer visitors an opportunity to get away from the road and visit the beautiful scenery of New Zealand's Southern Alps and river valleys. We encourage you to get out and about and enjoy every minute of it. A wide range of attractions and adventure sports are within reach of Wanaka. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wanaka, sample locally made, exquisite wines, or fish at one of the easily accessible spots. Alternatively, venture into the hills and mountains surrounding Wanaka. Skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, tramping and climbing are all available in this area. 

GLACIERS 

Glacier Country Westland National Park can be accessed from this area - the small villages of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef are right on the Park boundary and are located just 5 km/ 3 miles from their respective glaciers. Each of the glaciers descends 2,500 metres/ 8202 feet in a journey of over 13 km/ 8 miles. They are remarkably accessible and extend to the valley floors. There are more than 60 glaciers in the Westland/Tai Poutini National Park. Two of them - the Fox and the Franz Josef - are unique in that they flow down to temperate rainforest. The glaciers stem from snowfields high in the Southern Alps, but Maori legend explains their existence more poetically. It is said that a beautiful girl named Hinehukatere loved the mountains in this park and encouraged her lover, Tawe, to climb them with her. He slipped and fell to his death and Hinehukatere's tears formed the glaciers. The area is known as "Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere" - the tears of the avalanche girl. Attractions and activities Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers: a range of companies offer guided walking and heli-hiking excursions to explore the spectacular ice formations. All companies provide professional guides that give full explanations regarding the geological features, flora and fauna of the area. Or, you could just go off on your own and explore the area - don't cross the barriers though! TIP: Scenic flights are not always guaranteed departures due to the weather conditions. If you clients are extremely keen on taking a flight then it is recommended you schedule several days in the West Coast region to increase the chances of a flight. A number of self-guided walks are available surrounding the glaciers providing excellent vantage points for viewing the glaciers as well as exploring the rainforest environments. Other attractions and activities in the Glacier area: Scenic flights over Westland National Park and the glaciers: these flights can include snow landings. Lake Matheson (10 mins from Fox Glacier): on a clear day visitors will see perfect reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks 

FRANZ JOSEF - GREYMOUTH (177km, 2hour 30min) 

Depart Franz Josef or Fox Glacier for Greymouth. En-route, you could stop by Hokitika, the third largest town on the West Coast. Here visitors can: Visit Westland's WaterWorld to see the indigenous kokopu (a prehistoric fish), other local fish species and freshwater eels Wander around Hokitika Historical Museum, where displays include an audio-visual about the history of the area View kiwis in nocturnal display at the National Kiwi Centre Watch glass blowers in action at the Hokitika Glass Studio Shop at one of the many craft galleries for jade, hand-blown glass, gold nugget jewellery, woodcrafts, and wool products You can also stop in Ross, a goldmining town that still has working goldmines, including one of the deepest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can take a goldfields heritage tour from the Ross Goldfields information centre. Another option is to stop at Whataroa to visit the only nesting colony of the white heron (kotuku) in New Zealand. The bird's breeding season is between October and March. Visitors may visit the area year round on a rainforest nature tour, but are not likely to see birds nesting within the colony outside the breeding season. Once you have had a look in Hokitika, head up the coast to Greymouth. Jade Boulder Gallery at Greymouth: the gallery allows visitors to see different types of jade in its natural state, jade carvers at work and the opportunity to purchase individually designed sculptures and jewellery The Left Bank Art Gallery: enjoy a showcase of talent from around the region in exhibition and retail areas Shantytown, 15 minutes south of Greymouth: visit this replica pioneering town with steam train rides, a working gold claim where visitors can successfully pan for gold, as well as 30 historic buildings including the local saloon, jail, church, hospital and school Blackball (30 minutes inland from Greymouth): Blackball is where the New Zealand Labour Party was founded. Visit the well known hotel 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton' Lake Brunner and the small township of Moana (20 minutes inland from Greymouth): take in sweeping views from lakeside tracks and enjoy renowned trout-fishing opportunities. 

GREYMOUTH - ST ARNAUD (227km, 3hour 15min) 

Upon leaving Greymouth, take a journey through the scenic winding and narrow coast road Gorge to Westport. Explore Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes on the way. The Blowholes operate at high tide and are best on a blustery day when there are big seas - tide times can be checked at visitor information centers. The pancake rocks are a must see in New Zealand - they are magic. Stop in Westport to view coal-mining sites along the Coal Mining Heritage Trail - pick up a Trail map from the Westport Visitor Information Centre or, the Coal Town Museum to see historical exhibitions and photographic displays covering coal, gold, lumber, aviation, shipping, brewing, transport and minerals. Continue along the Buller river road from Westport to St Arnaud. Nelson Lakes National Park This Park protects 102,000 hectares or, 251,851 acres of the northernmost section of the Southern Alps, with tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes both big and small. The gateway to the Park is St Arnaud, a picturesque village just 1.5 hours' drive from Nelson or Blenheim. Take the opportunity to stop in the National Park. Take a walk beside Lake Rotoiti or stop at the Department of Conservation to learn more about the National Park's flora and fauna. Overnight in St Arnaud. For more information on Nelson Lakes National Park visit www.doc.govt.nz. 

ST ARNAUD – NELSON (87km, 1hour 15mins) 

NELSON REGION Nelson is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, proximity to three National Parks, 300-plus working artists and craftspeople, boutique wineries, fresh local produce and seafood, historical streetscapes, waterfront cafes and restaurants and a relaxed lifestyle. Suggested activities could include: Harbour cruises: appreciate the city's seaside setting Walks: walk to the centre of New Zealand and view the city in its entirety, or try one of the many other short walks in and around Nelson city Yacht charter: hire a yacht for an afternoon or for several days Art and historic trails: pick up a map or brochure from the visitor information centre Adventure activities: choose an activity to suit, such as tandem skydiving, 4WD motorbike rides, horse treks, white water river sports, water skiing, sea kayaking and mountain biking Visiting local beaches: Tahunanui Beach, Rabbit Island and Cable Bay are all safe beaches within a short distance of Nelson city World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum: houses costumes from the World of Wearable Art show a phenomenon initiated in Nelson. The show now held in Wellington is a changing spectacle fully choreographed with models, dancers and performers, dramatic stage sets, scripted lighting and music. Winning entries from the shows live exclusively in Nelson at the World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars Museum. www.wowcars.co.nz Explore the following areas in the Nelson region: Nelson city - the urban centre of the Nelson region, a compact city of 41,500 people. From Nelson visitors can organise an adventure, begin an arty shopping spree or start a survey of the Nelson fresh food feast. You can pick up art and craft trail guides from the Visitor Information Centre for the journey. Motueka - this is the fruit belt of Nelson, a band of rich land across the middle of the region that supports apple and pear orchards, vineyards, berry fruit growers, hop gardens, and kiwifruit and stone fruit orchards. It has also proved fertile ground for artists and craftspeople, and the approaches to Motueka are perhaps the most intensely arty of all roads in the region. Golden Bay - the road trip to Golden Bay, only two hours from Nelson city, is an extraordinary experience in itself: a scenic drive over Takaka Hill, the marble mountain. There are well sign-posted lookouts, and the marvels of Harwoods Hole (176 metres/577 feet deep) and the Ngarua Caves are well worth visiting. Te Waikoropupu Springs: visit these large mineral springs set in native bush in Golden Bay - wahitapu (sacred place) to the local Maori iwi (tribe). These are New Zealand's largest freshwater springs, set in a reserve protecting old gold workings, regenerating forest and a fine patch of mature bush. The springs include easy walkways and they are located off State Highway 60, 7 km north of Takaka. Abel Tasman National Park The smallest of New Zealand's national parks, Abel Tasman is a compact treasure house of nature with glittering beaches, turquoise water and spectacular ocean views. A range of wildlife inhabits the area, including penguins and a seal colony in the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Visitors can experience the Park in the following ways: o Sea kayaking (one-day to multi-day trips): explore the coast from the water, rest on beaches with no foot access and observe the marine wildlife. Kayak tour operators are mostly based at Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Moteuka. They offer guided trips or freedom rentals (providing equipment, instruction and full safety briefings) o Day trips or overnight stays: water taxis can drop visitors into the Park to walk sections of the Track. Visitors also have the option of staying a night in a variety of accommodation styles. There are also day cruises and nature tours that include walking through the park o For those with a bit of time up their sleeves - The Abel Tasman Coastal Track (three to five days): a 51km track that takes an average of three to five days to complete. There are tidal crossings, which can only be crossed within a few hours either side of low tide. Along the track there is a mixture of accommodation facilities ranging from basic Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and campsites to independently owned lodges with excellent facilities. The Department of Conservation require visitors to book campsites and huts in advance. Read more about Abel National Park on the Department of Conservation website www.doc.govt.nz. It provides important information on booking requirements for huts and campsites. For more information on National Parks visit www.doc.govt.nz Other activities that require a few days in the Nelson region include: Guided tours to Farewell Spit: enjoy this nature reserve on a sand spit jutting into the Tasman Sea. There are excellent 4WD safaris along the spit to the lighthouse and bird habitats - these are based in Collingwood, and it is recommended you book in advance for the safari trip Wharariki Beach: experience a wild and beautiful coastal landscape, where the wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. Easy half-day or, full-day walks 

NELSON – BLENHEIM (220km, 3 hours) 

Savour the flavours of this region during a vineyard lunch while on a tour of the wineries and breweries, private gardens and craft studios. The majority of the wineries are boutique operations with cellar doors, and many of them have restaurant or, cafe facilities on site - an ideal opportunity to experience alfresco dining among the vines. Activities and attractions in and around Blenheim include: Vineyard tours: take a guided or self-guided tour of the nearby vineyards Art and craft trail: see the region's thriving art and craft community Tippling: visit a distillery or the local boutique breweries to taste locally produced fruit brandies, liqueurs and beers Private gardens: many are open for viewing Museums: learn about the settlement of the region Orchard visits: taste the seasonal fruit, in particular Marlborough cherries (December to January) Art galleries: enjoy ever-changing exhibitions of local and national artists For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Marlborough region, activities include: Queen Charlotte Sound: cruise the waters of the Sound to view the marine and bird life of the area before getting off the boat to walk parts of the Queen Charlotte Track. Boats depart from Picton, with day trips through to week trips available. Sea kayaking: take a guided or independent trip from Picton Queen Charlotte Track (three to four days): follow this popular walkway (71 km/44 miles) with many entry and exit points and numerous accommodation providers along its length. Companies offer water transport and pack transfer to and from several points or by mini-van to Anakiwa. Travelers can walk the track independently or make the most of freedom and guided walk packages Molesworth Station: take a guided tour of this high country farm, hear about the history and old stories and view the grandeur and beauty of the mountainous high country. (Note: limited summer season) Fly fishing and hunting tours High country horse trekking: enjoy trips in a back country setting For more information on the Marlborough region visit www.destinationmarlborough.com 

BLENHEIM - PICTON (78km, 1hour 30mins) 

FERRY (3hours) Catch the morning ferry service across Cook Strait from Picton into Wellington. WELLINGTON Arrive in Wellington around midday and overnight. Wellington is the nation's capital and the political headquarters for the country. It is also home to Te Papa - the interactive Museum of New Zealand. Te Papa showcases numerous art galleries and national treasures such as the original Treaty of Waitangi and Katherine Mansfield's birthplace. The NZ performing arts, ballet and symphony orchestra are also based here and a diverse range of cafes and restaurants supports the city's vibrant nightlife. This is a compact city nestled between an expansive harbour and bush-clad hills. The downtown area is ideal for walking around, with all shopping, cafes, transport, accommodation and the city's attractions within close proximity. Spend the rest of the day discovering the highlights of Wellington city. The easiest way to get around is by walking or by catching the 'City Circular', a yellow bus that takes in the key attractions and downtown shopping quarters of Wellington. The bus departs every 15 minutes from bus stops around the city. Morning options could include the following attractions: Te Papa: New Zealand's bold and innovative national museum, set on Wellington's waterfront, provides visitors with a unique insight into New Zealand and the captivating stories of the land and hits people. www.tepapa.govt.nz Parliament Buildings: regular tours provide an insight into New Zealand's political heritage. www.parliament.govt.nz Museum of Wellington City and Sea: visitors are told stories of Wellington in an interactive and entertaining way www.museumofwellington.co.nz Katherine Mansfield's birthplace: the childhood home of the famous writer has been intricately restored according to the descriptions of the house in her stories. www.katherinemansfield.com Old St Paul's Cathedral: this gothic-style church was built from New Zealand native timbers. www.historic.org.nz If you wanted a more comprehensive guide to Wellington, you could join a guided walking tour with Walk Wellington or, pick up a brochure available from a visitor information centre for self-guided walks, including a Maori heritage trail. In the afternoon, discover the scenery in and around Wellington city: Walk, pedal or rollerblade from the city around the waterfront to Oriental Bay. The energetic can continue up through the green belt to the summit of Mt Victoria for a 360-degree panorama of Wellington. Alternatively catch a bus from downtown Wellington up to the summit Take in the views of the city and surrounding region on a scenic helicopter flight Ride from downtown Wellington in the Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens for sweeping views of the city and harbour The Botanic Gardens: wander through 26 hectares/64 acres of specialist gardens, native bush and lawn areas, down to historic Thorndon, New Zealand's oldest suburb Catch a ferry from the city across to Days Bay, home to seaside cafes and quality craft shops or to Somes/Matiu Island Reserve, a former quarantine and prisoner-of-war island and now a nature reserve with walking tracks and historic sites. www.doc.govt.nz In the evening: Dine out and enjoy a fine meal at one of Wellington's award-winning restaurants Go on an evening walking tour around the Wellington waterfront that highlights the people, places and events that have shaped the city Enjoy a night out at one of Wellington's many theatres People watch For more information on Wellington visit www.wellingtonnz.com 

WELLINGTON – NAPIER (323km, 4hour 35mins) 

Depart Wellington for Napier. There are two alternative routes. 1. Via Wairarapa Region Follow State Highway 2 through the Hutt Valley, over the Rimutaka Hill, and into the Wairarapa region. Known for its warm summers and rural lifestyle, the region provides a relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of Wellington city. The small township of Martinborough has a growing world-wide reputation for its wine. The small town's enroute to Napier - Greytown and Carterton - have a wealth of old country villas, gardens and cafes at which to stop and enjoy the atmosphere of this region. For the adventurous, the Wairarapa has a range of outdoor pursuits such as climbing, treks and kayaking. The Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre offers an interesting look into some of New Zealand's wildlife conservation projects. The Centre breeds, holds and studies endangered species of native wildlife and is open to the public for guided and unguided tours. Activities and attractions in the Wairarapa region include: Wine trails and tastings: choose from numerous vineyards in the Wairarapa region. Look around the wine centre in Martinborough village. www.martinborough.com Garden visits and tours: Wairarapa is a garden lover's paradise, with many open to the public. These range from spacious grounds of grand historic homesteads to country cottage gardens, from sprawling expanse to tightly designed structure. The best times to visit are September to April, but some gardens are open all year The Featherston Heritage Museum: view a commemoration of the Featherston military camp from World War I and its role as a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in World War II For visitors able to stay additional days in the Wairarapa region, options include: Cape Palliser: visit the largest breeding colony of fur seals in the North Island, and climb 250 steps to the top of the Cape Palliser Lighthouse for spectacular views of the coast and South Island. (One hour from Martinborough village.) Putangirua Pinnacles: the Pinnacles were formed 120,000 years ago by heavy rain eroding an ancient gravel deposit Self-drive heritage trails: small country museums and heritage attractions are Wairarapa specialties. Retrace the region's history by following the Wairarapa Heritage Trail along State Highway 2. Wairarapa's small country towns retain their character from colonial times. Spend an hour or two walking one of the region's eight town Heritage Trails Castlepoint: take an hour's drive from Masterton through beautiful hill country to this popular beach resort, featuring a scenic reserve and awesome coastal panoramas. It has a shop, motor camp and self-contained accommodation Riversdale Beach: discover a great place for swimming and surfing. There is a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, and motor camp. (Forty-five minutes drive from Masterton.) For more information visit www.wairarapanz.com 2. Via Kapiti Coast Follow State Highways 1, 57 and 3 via Palmerston North, before linking up with State Highway 2 at Woodville. Options en route include: Queen Elizabeth Park (just south of Raumati Beach): enjoy a range of recreational activities, including swimming, windsurfing and walks Lindale Tourist and Agricultural Centre (just north of Paraparaumu): take a farm tour and taste some Kapiti Cheese Southwards Car Museum (just north of Paraparaumu): view a large collection of antique and unusual cars Arrive in Napier in the Hawke's Bay region late afternoon. Dining options include visiting one of the many vineyards or restaurants in the area. 

NAPIER – TAUPO (143km, 2hour 5mins) 

Depart Napier on State Highway 5 for Lake Taupo and Rotorua. Lake Taupo is one of the North Island's most popular holiday destinations, both in summer and in winter. Taupo town centre is crammed with cafes and interesting shops and the Huka Falls area is great for picnics and nature walks. To get a feel for the Lake Taupo region, options for visitors include: Huka Falls: watch as over 200,000 litres/44,000 gallons of water fall over the cliff face every second, or take a jet boat ride to the base of the Falls Craters of the Moon: walk around an active thermal area with mud pools, craters and steam in the Wairakei Tourist Park. Visit Wairakei Geothermal Visitor Centre to view displays and audio-visuals of the Wairakei and Ohaaki geothermal power schemes Prawn Park hatchery: tour the geothermal hatchery then head to the restaurant for a meal of prawns For more information on the Taupo region visit www.laketauponz.com TAUPO – ROTORUA (80km, 1hour 10mins) In Rotorua visitors have the opportunity to experience a number of Maori culture activities and attractions. There are about 35 marae (tribal meeting grounds) in the Rotorua district, most of which lie in rural areas. Visitors may be lucky enough to stay as a guest on a marae - an experience they will never forget. Spend the afternoon discovering the Maori history and culture of the area. Visit the village of Ohinemutu - the original village around which Rotorua township was built. A feature of this area, aside from its significance to local history, is the active geothermal ground upon which it is built - and St Faith's Church and the many meeting houses dotted through the village. If you are thinking about going to a hot spring while you are in the area, we recommend Waikite Valley which is just out of Rotorua. Other activities in the Rotorua area include: Trout fishing: visitors are spoilt for choice, with 11 main lakes, a myriad of crystal-clear streams and four different species of trout to fish. Charter a boat, skippered or self-drive or take on a guide Boat cruise: craft range from self-drive pontoons to a luxurious 15 metre/50 foot catamaran that cruises Lake Tarawera with Clearwater Charters Jet boating: try an adrenaline-injecting excursion on a local river Areas of geothermal interest: at nearby geothermal hotspots there are geysers spouting, acrid-smelling mud pools bubbling and belching and warm geothermal springs and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour Overnight in Rotorua. For those who choose to stay in the Rotorua area for a few days, activities include: Whakarewarewa Forest: visit the giant Californian redwood trees. With Rotorua becoming well known as a mountain bike adventure mecca, one of the main activities in the Forest is mountain biking through a network of trails. Mountain bikes can be hired and guided trips are available. Other activities in the Forest include running, walking and horse riding Volcano tours: join a 4WD tour to the dormant volcano of Mt Tarawera. Take a guided walk in and around craters, and see spectacular views of surrounding lakes and mountains White water rafting: experience the most exciting river locations, including thrilling rapids on the Rangitaiki River and New Zealand's highest commercially rafted waterfall on the Kaituna River. Fulljames is a good spot for kayaking if you are into play-boating. For more information on Rotorua visit www.rotoruanz.com ROTORUA – TAURANGA (86km, 1hour 15mins) In the morning take a gondola ride up Mt Ngongotaha for views of Lake Rotorua and the central city district. At the top take the opportunity to try the luge. The toboggan takes people hurtling down the mountain on a purpose-built track. There is a scenic track available to work up the skills required before letting loose on the fast track. Other options in the morning include a visit a farm show, which showcases many of the farming activities prevalent in New Zealand. Alternatively one of the trout farms where amidst a setting of native and introduced vegetation, visitors will find natural, crystal-clear pools teeming with trout. Early afternoon, depart Rotorua on State Highway 33 for Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty region. This region seems to have it all - a mild, sunny climate, some of the country's most popular beaches and an abundance of orchards, especially kiwifruit, avocado and citrus. The main centre, Tauranga, has all the amenities of a major city. Holiday accommodation ranges from high-class lodges to holiday parks and backpacker hostels, both in Tauranga and across the harbour bridge at the beach resort of Mt Maunganui. Activities and attractions in the Tauranga region include: Hikes and walking: experience bush hikes in the Kaimai Ranges, or walk around the base of Mt Maunganui or hike 1.5 km to its volcanic cone summit Beach activities at Mt Maunganui Mt Maunganui hot salt water pools OR take a trip to Te Puke or Katikati for the following activities: 360 Kiwi: take a commentated tour through a working orchard Te Puke Vintage Auto Barn: wander around a display of more than 90 vintage and classic cars 4WD U-Drive Hill Hoppers: drive a purpose-built Suzuki Vitara 4WD car around a 3 km track Longridge Park: a jet boating experience or tour through a working farm. Comvita Honey: buy a range of natural health products Katikati Heritage Museum: get a first-hand experience of the history of the area Murals: view the unique wall murals for which Katikati is renowned. For those visitors able to stay additional days in the Bay of Plenty region, options include: Fishing charters: a variety of operators cater for fishing, scuba diving, cray fishing and spear fishing, while the marlin waters of Mayor Island (Tuhua) await game-fishing enthusiasts Dolphin encounters: experience the thrill of observing or swimming with playful dolphins White Island: visit an active volcano For more information on the Bay of Plenty region visit www.bayofplentynz.com 

TAURANGA - WHANGAMATA (100km, 1hour 30mins) 

Travel up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway to the Coromandel. The eastern side of the Peninsula is sprinkled liberally with white sand and surf beaches. Choose from one of the following beach towns to stay the night: Whangamata Whangamata has a unique combination of beach and rainforest. Its spectacular ocean beach provides some of the best surfing breaks, yet very safe swimming. Attractions include: Wentworth Valley: walk to the old mines (30 minutes) or the waterfalls (two hours) or take the five-hour Maratoto-Wentworth walk 

WHANGAMATA - TAIRUA (35km, 30mins) 

Tairua and Pauanui Tairua and Pauanui are twin harbour towns situated on Coromandel Peninsula's east coast. Both have a superb setting beside the Pacific Ocean. Tairua is the older town, originally a milling and farming community. Across the water is the holiday home town of Pauanui, a purpose-built community. Attractions include: Pauanui mountain walking track: this walking track climbs steeply from the south end of Pauanui Beach to the top of Pauanui Mountain (400 metres/1200 feet) for panoramic views Tairua River: stop in the Puketui Valley or by the main Thames road for excellent picnicking and fresh water swimming - perfect for those taking a cool break from the beach 

TAIRUA - WHITIANGA (42km, 30mins) 

WHITIANGA www.whitianga.co.nz Whitianga is a wonderful spot to stop by for a coffee or spend the day tikli-touring in the Coromandel area. Activities and attractions include: Whitianga Wharf, the centre of the town's boating and fishing activity. From there, take the passenger ferry to Ferry Landing and Flaxmill Bay. From here short walks lead to interesting spots Another option from Ferry Landing is to take a shuttle bus to Cooks Beach, Hahei Beach, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach is one of the region's most fascinating places. For two hours either side of low tide, visitors can dig in the sand for hot spring water and make spa pools. (Observe the 'dangerous swimming' signs.) At Cathedral Cove activity options include kayaking, and snorkeling on a specially marked trail. It is also possible to drive to these sites of interest via Coroglen. Cathedral Cove Kayaks are a good company to use if you wanted to take a little kayaking tour up the coast which, we recommend you do. Other options in this area include: Spending a few hours making a Maori bone carving under expert tutelage Working artists and their studios Scenic boat cruises: mostly based from Whitianga boat cruises venture around Mercury Bay's surrounding coastline. Check www.thecoromandel.com for operator details Cathedral Cove snorkel trail: located within a marine reserve. A glass bottom boat experience is available from Whitianga that has snorkelling gear onboard and takes people to the trail. www.glassbottomboatwhitianga.co.nz Fishing: a good time to go on a fishing trip is March to May. Sea kayaking: from Hahei Beach and only boat operator allowed to land at Cathedral Cove. www.seakayaktours.co.nz Beaches: good swimming beaches can be found all along the east coast of the Coromandel. For more information on Whitianga visit www.whitianga.co.nz Whitianga is a great beach holiday spot, with fish to catch and shellfish to gather. The relatively sheltered waters of the bay are great for swimming or, taking up water sports. Attractions include: Hot Water Beach: relax at one of the region's most fascinating places. For two hours either side of low tide, visitors can dig in the sand for hot spring water and make their own spa pool. (Observe the 'dangerous swimming' signs). There is also an art gallery here located on the beach. It is home to local artists work and a lot of it is for sale Cathedral Cove: this magical beach is framed by a massive natural rock arch and pink sands. Explore the Cathedral Cove snorkel trail or, go for a kayak around the coastline Spending a few hours making a Maori bone carving under expert tutelage in Whitianga Scenic boat cruises: mostly based from Whitianga boat cruises venture around Mercury Bay's surrounding coastline. Check www.thecoromandel.com for operator details Cathedral Cove snorkel trail: located within a marine reserve. A glass bottom boat experience is available from Whitianga that has snorkelling gear onboard and takes people to the trail. www.glassbottomboatwhitianga.co.nz Fishing: a good time to go on a fishing trip is March to May. If you're lucky, the Kingfish will be lurking around... Sea kayaking: from Hahei Beach and the only boat operator allowed to land at Cathedral Cove. www.seakayaktours.co.nz Beaches: good swimming beaches can be found all along the east coast of the Coromandel. Waikawau Bay is a beautiful spot to set up camp for the night if you can battle with the twisting and windy gravel roads. For more information on The Coromandel visit www.thecoromandel.com 

WHITIANGA - THAMES (114 km, 1hour 40mins) 

In the morning drive north from Whitianga on State Highway 25. The road will take you across to the other side of the peninsula and down the west side through secluded bays and coastal villages. Stop in Coromandel town to soak up some of the small-town atmosphere and attractions it has to offer. The Coromandel was visited in 1820 by the HMS Coromandel, which called in to the harbour for kauri spars. The ship brought the town, and the Peninsula, its name from the Madras coast of India. In 1852 the discovery of gold at Driving Creek brought a boom to Coromandel Town. A lot of history dating from that time is still evident in the Town today: old buildings, artifacts and atmosphere. Activities and attractions include: Driving Creek Railway: take a ride on New Zealand's only narrow-gauge mountain railway. Home to Barry Brickel, a famous NZ potter, glass blower and craftsman. Coromandel School of Mines Museum: learn about the goldmining history of the area and see mineralogical displays 

THAMES - AUCKLAND (114 km, 1hour 40mins) Continue the journey back to Auckland through Thames. Traces of goldmining history, including abandoned shafts, can be found in and around the township of Thames. From Thames you can either drive up the East Coast to Auckland or head to Auckland on the motorway. The journey around from Kawakawa Bay is nice one so if you have a couple of hours up your sleeve and you're in no rush to make it back before base closes, we recommend you travel this way. If you plan to spend the night in Auckland, make sure you hit the town for a night and check out the Viaduct - the place home to America’s Cup shenanigans. Take a trip up the Sky Tower for stunning 360-degree views of Auckland and to get bearings on the city. The tower has four observation decks and a revolving restaurant. Allow at least an hour to enjoy the spectacular views. Parnell has several restaurants if you are looking to dine out or, you could stay in and cook up a feast... For more information on Auckland visit www.aucklandnz.com.

If you're still looking for ideas, the New Zealand Automobile Assocation (AA) has assembled a series of short itineraries for each region. These are widely used by locals planning a week getaway or a family vacation. They include areas that aren't on the tourist beat so you can use these itineraries to help you get off the beaten track in your rental motorhome. Phew!  I'm exhausted.

Many Wilderness explorers keep a blog or video log of their road trip to preserve their wonderful memories of New Zealand and share them with friends and family.  Here are some they have shared with us.  Oh, and if you'd like to share your Wilderness road trip blog or video, please let us know.

Tyler & Francesca (USA)

Tyler & Francesca (USA)

Auckland to Christchurch 8 days

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Tom & Fi (UK)

Tom & Fi (UK)

Auckland to Christchurch 27 days

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Liz & M (UK)

Liz & M (UK)

Auckland to Christchurch 25 days

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Clemens & Rebekka (DE)

Clemens & Rebekka (DE)

Christchurch to Christchurch 29 days

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Bobby & Silpa (Australia)

Bobby & Silpa (Australia)

Christchurch to Christchurch 13 days

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Lenora & Jesse (US)

Lenora & Jesse (US)

Auckland to Christchurch 61 days

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Selina & Christian (US)

Auckland to Auckland 18 days

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Bass Family (US)

Bass Family (US)

Auckland to Auckland 24 days

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Wouter & Sarah (Neth.)

Wouter & Sarah (Neth.)

Auckland to Auckland 19 days

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Pat & Paul (UK)

Pat & Paul (UK)

Auckland to Christchurch 55 days

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Barbara & Charlie (UK)

Barbara & Charlie (UK)

Christchurch to Auckland 28 days

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Ed & Francy (Indonesia)

Ed & Francy (Indonesia)

Christchurch to Christchurch 11 days

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Pradeep (India)

Pradeep (India)

Christchurch to Christchurch 7 days

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Amank & Friends (Indonesia)

Amank & Friends (Indonesia)

Christchurch to Christchurch 5 days

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Ute & Ronald (Germany)

Ute & Ronald (Germany)

Christchurch to Auckland 18 days

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