23 Day New Zealand Essence

Auckland Auckland
Duration: 23 Days
Scale: 1 - 10 people
From: Auckland
To: Auckland
Categories: Self Drive Tours
Transportations: Car


23 Day New Zealand Essence 

Capture the essence of New Zealand as you self drive around both North and South Islands and visit all the iconic places such as the Bay of Islands, Tongariro National Park, Waitomo, Franz Josef, Queenstown, Mt Cook, Milford Sound and many more. A tour for those wanting to deep dive into New Zealand, with plenty of activities along the way.


Hole in the rock cruise Bay of Islands

  Waitomo Caves

 Milford Sound Cruise

 Franz Josef Heli Flight with ice landing

Queenstown Heli Wine Tour

 Whale watching Kaikoura

New Zealand's tallest mountain, Mt Cook

Regions Visited

Itinerary Map

This epic 3 week journey starting in Auckland and finishing in Christchurch is one not to be missed. Discover the variety of astonishing and dramatic landscapes across the entire country.

Terms and Conditions

Prices are per person based on twin share occupancy in a double room, and are subject to availability. If anything comes back unavailable, we will endeavor to find you a suitable alternative. 

Click here for the full


  • Day 1 : Auckland

    Welcome to Auckland and New Zealand.

    A shuttle driver will meet you at the airport and drive you to your accommodation. Your detailed tour information pack will be given to you once you arrive at your accommodation.

    Take the rest of the day to relax and explore the inner city. The city centre of Auckland is not too difficult to navigate on foot, so you can easily walk around. Visit the Skytower to take in great views of the city, and stroll around the waterfront with its many nice bars and restaurants. Auckland is also New Zealand's largest city with plenty of shopping, even for the most seasoned of travelers


    Hotel : Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland

  • Day 2 : Auckland - Bay of Islands

    Today you'll hit the road for your New Zealand self drive tour, as you will pick up your vehicle.

    You'll cross the harbour bridge going north towards the Northland and the Bay of Islands,  a region with a abundance of marine life, subtropical climate and pristine beaches, but also a region with historical significance. 

    Once you pass Whangarei, we recommend you drive the final stretch to the Bay of Islands along the marvelous Tutukaka Coast with its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and marvelous beaches along the way.  The Tutukaka Coast is home to the Poor Knights Islands, world renowned for it's world class diving and marine life. Just north of Matapouri, a beautiful walk brings you to Whale Bay.  Sandy bay is another beautiful spot and has great surfing. 

    Paihia will be your base to explore the Bay of Islands. Enjoy the afternoon off at your leisure. Visit the historical sites at the Waitang Treaty Grounds, relax in the picturesque seaside town of Russell, or have a go at sea kayaking.


    Hotel  : Copthorne Hotel and Resort Paihia

    Driving distance : 251 km   - Driving time : approximately 4 hours 20 mins

    Click map to enlarge 

  • Day 3 : Bay of Islands

    In the morning you'll join a cruise in the marine playground of the Bay of Islands.

    The Hole in the Rock cruise is the most popular dolphin watching cruise in the Bay of Islands, and for good reason! Board your cruise in Paihia or Russell and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’.

    You'll have the afternoon free to explore the region a little more at your leisure.


    Hotel  : Copthorne Hotel and Resort Paihia

  • Day 4 : Bay of Islands - Auckland

    On your way back to Auckland,  stop for a coffee at the famous Hunterwasser toilets in Kawakawa, before taking another detour, this time via the western side of Northland. Visit the beautiful Hokianga harbour and stop at the Waipoua Forest, known for its groves of giant Kauri trees and one of New Zealand's largest tract of remaining native forest.

    As you approach Auckland, it is also well worth visiting the wild and surf pounded West Coast beaches of Muriwai and Piha.

    Hotel : Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland

    Driving distance : 346 km   - Driving time : approximately 4 hours 50 mins

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  • Day 5 : Auckland- Waitomo - Taupo

    Heading South through the lush farmlands of the Waikato region, your destination for today is Taupo. 

    Along the way you'll pay a visit to the world famous Waitomo glowworm caves, where you will marvel at thousands of magical glowworms and become part of over 130 years of cultural and natural history.

    About 2kms north of Taupo as you approach the town, a must see are the impressive Huka Falls. This is where the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, enters a shallow ravine of hard volcanic rock. The resulting sight is nothing but spectacular. More than 220,000 liters of water per second rushes by.


    B&B : Number Ten B&B Taupo

    Driving distance : 347 km   - Driving time : approximately 4 hours 30 mins

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  • Day 6: Taupo - Wellington via National Park

    Today you make your way down to Wellington, the coolest little capital in the world. Find out yourself why Wellington was named the best liveable city in the world in 2016!

    The drive to the capital will take you right through the Dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park with the mighty Mt Tongariro and Mt Ruapehu dominating the moon like landscapes and further along the Desert Road.

    In Wellington,  visit to the national museum Te Papa is a must-do. A trip on the iconic cable car gives you great views across the city and bay at the top.

    Stroll around in Cuba street, with its many funky bars known for their craft beers, cafes, and excellent restaurants.


    Hotel : City Life Wellington

    Driving distance : 420 km - Driving time approximately 5 hour 10 mins

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  • Day 7 : Wellington - Picton - Nelson

    Today you will say goodbye to the North Island and cruise across the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry, with great views of the Marlborough Sounds.

    Upon your arrival in the small but picturesque fishing town of Picton, you will carry on your journey to creative Nelson, the sunniest place in New Zealand.


    Hotel: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

    Traveling distance : 235 km - Traveling time approximately 5 hours

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  • Day 8 : Nelson - Punakaiki

    The scenery changes dramatically driving through the Buller Gorge on the way to the wild West Coast Once past the gorge a recommended side trip and stop is Lake Rotoroa in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

    Punakaiki on the West Coast lies in the smallest national park of New Zealand, Paparoa National Park, known for its famous pancake rocks, and where columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of hotcakes. 


    Hotel : Punakaiki Resort

    Driving distance : 265 km - Driving time approximately 3 hours 35mins

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  • Day 9 : Punakaiki - Franz Josef

    It's a relatively short drive to Franz Josef in Westland National Park today, an area of magnificent primeval vistas – snow-capped mountains, glaciers, forests, tussock grasslands, lakes, rivers, wetlands and beaches.

    The seaside town of Hokitika is well worth a stop along the route, a place to appreciate the fascinating history of the west coast. The Arahura River, which enters the sea just north of Hokitika, is a traditional source of pounamu (greenstone). There are a number of jewelry stores selling greenstone in town, and are well worth a look.

    When you arrive in Franz Josef, you'll experience the Glaciers at their best, up close and personal! Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are two of New Zealand largest glaciers. From above you’ll view and appreciate the incredible natural phenomenon, towering ice formations and vastness the glaciers. Top it off with a snow landing. Stand on the ancient ice of the glaciers. You’ll also fly over the Tasman Glacier on the eastern side of the Southern Alps and close to Mount Cook/Aoraki, New Zealand’s highest peak.


    Hotel : Scenic Hotel Franz Josef

    Driving distance 217 km - driving time approximately : 2 hrs 52 mins

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  • Day 10 : Franz Josef - Wanaka

    The road between Frans Josef and Haast winds its way along the rugged West Coast with lush native bush and rainforest. Haast is located in the heart of Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area, with national parks to the north, south and east. You'll head inland and into the Mt Aspiring National Park with its towering mountains and glaciel fed rivers with crystal clear waters. The road then takes you along Lake Hawea before arriving into Wanaka.

    In winters skiers from all over the world flock to Wanaka for its great skiing, and in summer the impressive mountains provide for a range of adventure activities. 

    We recommend a one of the many short day walks in the Matukituki Valley about 40km west of Wanaka.


    Hotel : Wanaka Alpine Lodge

    Driving distance 286 km - driving time approximately : 3 hrs 35 mins

    Click map to enlarge 


  • Day 11 : Wanaka - Queenstown

    The drive across the Crown Range to Wanaka is short but sweet. 

    Upon arrival in Queenstown, you will be picked up from accommodation and taken to the airport for a scenic heli flight, with an alpine landing for a perfect photo opportunity. You will be dropped at the Gibbston Valley after the helicopter flight where Queenstown Wine Trail will pick you up to continue on with the wine tour. This tour offers a unique food and wine experience at a relaxed pace in picturesque surroundings. You will visit three wineries for hosted tastings. Lunch consists of several dishes each perfectly matched with estate wines.


    Hotel: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

    Driving distance 70 km - driving time approximately : 1 hour


    Click map to enlarge 


  • Day 12 : Queenstown

    This day in and around Queenstown takes you deep into "Paradise", near Glenorchy in Mt Aspiring National Park.

    An unmissable experience with the exhilaration of a wilderness jet boat ride combined with a leisurely downstream float on easy to use Funyaks (inflatable kayaks) awaits you. This trip is a must-do to explore the truly unique Dart River. Your amazing journey begins with an exhilarating jet boat ride up the Dart River deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park. From here you’ll then travel back down river at your own pace in our unique Funyaks exploring pristine waters as they flow from the Southern Alps to Lake Wakatipu, hidden side streams with amazing rock pools and dramatic chasms. Just when you think your Funyaks adventure is over, you will enjoy a gourmet buffet lunch before heading via 4 wheel drive coach to locations used in the movies to illustrate Middle Earth from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’.


    Hotel : Heritage Hotel Queenstown

  • Day 13 : Queenstown - Milford Sound - Te Anau

    Visit Milford Sound today and experience a world of cascading waterfalls, sheer rock faces and dense rainforest. Your journey along the shores of Lake Wakatipu takes you further south to Te Anau first, gateway to the Fiordland National Park.

    You will travel along the Milford Road – one of the world's most scenic roads – and through the Homer Tunnel, before arriving for your Milford Sound Cruise. Enjoy striking views of iconic Mitre Peak from the head of the Sound – it rises 1,692 metres from the south shore and is named for its resemblance to a bishop’s mitre.

    The pristine Milford Sound is part of the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, in the south west of the South Island, and is famed for its pristine natural beauty and remote atmosphere. It is New Zealand’s best known fiord and the only one that can be reached by road. The fiord extends 15km inland from the wild Tasman Sea and is regularly visited by wildlife including penguins, seals and dolphins.

    You will return to Te Anau where you will spend the night.


    Hotel : Distinction Hotel Te Anau

    Driving distance : 380 km - Driving time  :  approximately 4 hrs 50 mins 

    Click map to enlarge 


  • Day 14 : Te Anau - Dunedin

    Crossing back from west to east today, your journey will take you off the beaten track to the Catlins in the southwest of the South Island. This regions is blessed with some spectacular waterfalls as well as the abundance of marine wildlife. New Zealand fur seals, hooker sea lions, yellow-eyed penguins and seabirds all live here. The Curio Bay area is also a protected nesting ground for yellow-eyed penguins. You'll need to arrive at low tide and the best viewing position is from the purpose-built platform.

    Make sure you also visit Nugget Point, one of the most distinctive landforms along the Otago coast. A five minute walk takes you to the lighthouse, where you'll enjoy amazing views along the coastline in both directions. 

    You will spend your night in Dunedin. Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, Dunedin is the country's city of the south, wearing its Scottish heritage with pride. Surrounded by dramatic hills and at the foot of a long, picturesque harbour, Dunedin is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.


    B&B : The Birches B&B Dunedin

    Travelling distance : 289 km - Travelling time :  approximately  3 hrs 23 mins

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  • Day 15 : Dunedin - Lake Tekapo via Queenstown

    This morning travel through the towns of Omarama and Twizel before driving up the western side of Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo, that is very close to Mt Cook that  is Australasia’s highest mountain at 3724 metres. The park covers over 70,000 hectares of breathtaking alpine scenery and is also home to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in the Southern hemisphere.

    Enjoy the afternoon off to explore at your leisure. The Hooker Valley walk starting at the DOC campground is an unmissable walk, getting you up close with New Zealand's most impressive mountain.


    Hotel : Peppers Bluewater Resort Lake Tekapo

    Driving distance : 423 km - Driving time :  approximately  5 hrs 9 mins

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  • Day 16 : Lake Tekapo - Christchurch

    Drive through the MacKenzie Country to Lake Tekapo, where you can stop to view the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, built of local stone and oak in 1935.

    You will be leaving the Southern Alps behind you as you approach Christchurch across the vast Canterbury plains.

    In the afternoon/evening we've scheduled you in for a combined tramride/dinner across the garden City.


    Hotel : Heritage Hotel Christchurch

    Driving distance : 227 km   - Driving time : approximately 2 hours 55 mins 

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  • Day 17 : Christchurch - Kaikoura

    This morning head north out of Christchurch. It’s two hours direct to Kaikoura or you may like to take a more scenic inland route via Hanmer Springs to bathe in the mineral pools in their alpine setting. This afternoon we have included a Whale Watch Cruise. Board your boat and prepare your camera finger – you’re about to meet New Zealand’s resident sperm whales on a 3-hour whale watching excursion, sure to inspire awe, affection and a touch of giddiness. Spot cheeky fur seals, pods of Dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross among the waves, and if you’re lucky (and it’s the right season) migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales may appear!

    Kaikoura is also known for some of the best seafood of the country, escpecially crayfish, so we highly recommend you try to sample some while you are here.


    Hotel: White Morf Inn Kaikoura

    Driving distance : 182 km   - Driving time : approximately 2 hours 25 mins

    Click map to enlarge 

  • Day 18 : Kaikoura - Wellington


    As you travel to Picton to catch your ferry ride back to the North Island, the journey continues on Blenheim and wine country Marlborough, world famous for its Sauvignon Blanc wines.

    You will be returning to Wellington the same day to continue your journey on the North Island.


    Hotel : City Life Wellington

    Traveling distance : 258 km   - Traveling time : approximately 5 hours 31 mins

    Click map to enlarge 

  • Day 19 : Wellington - Napier

    Leaving Wellington, make your way through the farming towns of Masterton, Carterton and Greytown before arriving in the boutique wine-village of Martinborough.

    As you continue north, you'll be driving through some of New Zealand’s rural heartland with a mixture of sheep, dairy and crop farming. Stop at Pukaha Mount Bruce Nature and Wildlife Reserve where you’ll experience some of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife up close and in the wild

    Another famous wine region of New Zealand is the Hawke's Bay, and here we've organised a wine tour in the afternoon, where you'll sample some of New Zealand's best wine.

    You'll spend the night in the Art Deco town of Napier,widely regarded as one of the best Art Deco cities of the world, the result of a thorough rebuilding after a massive earthquake destroyed the town in 1931.


    Hotel : Art Deco Masonic Hotel

    Driving distance : 320 km   - Driving time : approximately 4 hours 12 mins

    Click map to enlarge 

  • Day 20 : Napier - Rotorua via Taupo


    Heading back inland today, make sure you stop at the Waipunga waterfall about halfway on the Napier-Taupo highway.

    You destination for the day will be Rotorua, but an incredible experience awaits you before continuing to Rotorua, the Taupo floatplane.

    After your flight, it's a short distance to Rotorua, and as you approach, you may marvel at the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland. The loop walk takes about 1 hour return,

    You destination, Rotorua, has been known for its geothermal activity for over 150 years and today you are able to see, feel, smell and hear some of this wonder of nature.


    Hotel :Millennium Hotel Rotorua

    Driving distance : 219 km - Driving time : approximately  : 2 hrs 39 mins   

    Click map to enlarge 


  • Day 21 : Rotorua

    A day to relax in Rotorua, so why don't you indulge in an authentic Polynesian spa or experience Maori culture at one of the cultural experiences, topping it off with a Hangi feast.

    Rotorua is New Zealand's main geothermal area and a centre where Maori culture thrives. It is situated on the shore of Lake Rotorua, and the whole region offers a mix of pristine lakes to enjoy. Explore the many geothermal wonderlands with boiling mud pools, geysers, steamy and colorful lakes, and unwind at a natural hot spring spa or choose from one of the therapeutic spa and massage therapies.

    Rorotua also boasts an incredible variety of adventure activities, with world class mountain biking trails, the quirky fun activity where you're tumbling town a hill in a Zorb, ziplining in native forest trees, Rotorua caters for every type of traveler.


  • Day 22 : Rotorua - Coromandel


    On the road to the Coromandel, you'll pass the small town of Matamata, also known as the home of Hobbiton. 

    The Coromandel Peninsula is relatively small, but the roads are very windy, so traveling times are slow. The Coromandel offers some of the country's most exquisite beaches, and its well worth exploring the region at a relaxed pace.

    The drive to and in the Coromandel will take you through a number of relaxed beach towns such as Waihi, Whangamata and Tairua. 

    You will continue to head north until you reach Hahei, where you will find the famous Hot Water Beach and can dig your own spa at low tide. A little bit further up the road is the equally famous Cathedral Cove,

    Just past Whitianga,,your final destination for the day, make sure you stop at the lesser known New Chums Beach. This beach is regarded as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, so well worth the little side trip!


    B&B : Bayview B&B Whitianga

    Driving distance : 221 km - Driving time : approximately  : 3 hrs 20 mins

    Click map to enlarge 

  • Day 23 : Coromandel - Auckland


    Today your tour will conclude, and you will be returning to Auckland to drop off your rental vehicle. 

    You will pass through Coromandel town, a town full of history from New Zealand's early gold mining and logging days and return to Auckland via the Hauraki trail road before it connects to the main highway which takes you to the airport.


    Driving distance : 217 km - Driving time : approximately  : 2 hrs 55 mins   

    Click map to enlarge 



From / per person


Important information
  • Complimentary airport transfers
  • Detailed tour information pack upon arrival at first night's accommodation.
  • 23 day car rental with unlimited daily kilometers and zero excess liability reduction insurance
  • 22 Nights Accommodation in B&B, Lodges and 4 star hotels.
  • Hole in the Rock Cruise Bay of Islands
  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves
  • Franz Josef Heli Flight with ice landing
  • Queentown Heli Flight wine tour
  • Dart River Wilderness Jet
  • Milford Sound Cruise
  • Christchurch tramway restaurant dinner tour
  • Whale watching Kaikoura
  • Napier wine tour
  • Wai-o-Tapu geothermal wonderland
  • Interislander Ferry

  • Where the date of cancellation is a date 45 days or more before the start of the tour, the cancellation fee will be equivalent to the deposit paid
  • Where the date of cancellation is a date 30 to 45 days before the start of the tour the cancellation fee shall be 25% of the contract price
  • Where the date of cancellation is a date 7 to 30 days before the start of the tour the cancellation fee shall be 50% of the contract price
  • Where the date of cancellation is a date 7 days or less before the start of the tour the cancellation fee shall be 100% of the contract price

Start planning and create your own custom New Zealand itinerary here:



Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and will most likely be your entry point into New Zealand. Also known as the City of Sails, or as Kiwis themselves name it Little Big City, Auckland is certainly the most vibrant and most happening city in New Zealand. By international standards it's quite small, but it's also one of the world's most exciting waterside cities. Situated in the Hauraki Gulf the city is surrounded by water, and this is reflected in the number of leisure boats per capita, which is the highest in the world. To really appreciate it, you have to take to the waters, sailing on the harbour or taking a ferry to one of the numerous islands, including Waiheke and Rangitoto Islands, or a little bit more off the beaten track, Great Barrier Island.


Bay of Islands


Northland is a region in New Zealand rich with historic significance, and it is also the birthplace of New Zealand. It is one of the first regions settled from Polynesia, and also the place where the European settlers first made contact with the Maori. The main attraction in this region is the sublime maritime park of the Bay of Islands, with no less than 144 islands and secluded bays. Most visitors queue up for the Bay of Islands, but all along the East Coast you'll find scenic, sheltered bays and exquisite beaches.

Also called the "Winterless North", the subtropical climate is pleasant throughout the year, and an aquatic playground for a whole range of leisure and adventure activities such as diving, fishing, sailing, surfing, kayaking and dolphin swimming. The main gateway for these activities is Paihia.




Green rolling hills and lush farmlands are the main decor in Waitomo/Waikatoa, and it is home to some well known icons such as the world class surf breaks in the bohemian seaside town of Raglan, which also happens to be our home. The set for the Shire in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton movies in Matamata is a unique experience not to be missed, and the world famous Waitomo Caves are a magical place, with numerous options to explore the caves, whether participating in one of the many adventure activities or marvelling at the wonderful light display created by glowworms.

Rotorua is New Zealand's main geothermal area and a centre where Maori culture thrives. It is situated on the shore of Lake Rotorua, and the whole region offers a mix of pristine lakes to enjoy. Explore the many geothermal wonderlands with boiling mud pools, geysers, steamy and colorful lakes, and unwind at a natural hot spring spa or choose from one of the therapeutic spa and massage therapies



The Coromandel Peninsula is a favourite among New Zealanders themselves, and it's not hard to understand why. Its only a 2 hour drive from the major cities Auckland and Hamilton, but yet it feels quite remote and isolated, so it's an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The fact that is also boasts some of New Zealand's finest and most pristine beaches may obviously play a big role as well!

Lifestyle in the Coromandel is very relaxed and there are many coastal towns each with their own distinct character scattered across the peninsula. It is a haven for those seeking an alternative lifestyle away from the city. 


Taupo - Central North Island


New Zealand's main volcanic area, the Taupo Volcanic Zone, stretches in a line from White Island, north of the Bay of Plenty, through Rotorua and down to Tongariro National Park, which proudly claims the title of dual UNESCO World Heritage Area. The Central Plateau, at the heart of the North Island, is the centre of New Zealand's volcanic activity, and the volcanoes put on a spectacular show from time to time, perhaps once  around every 7 years.

The Ruapehu/Tongariro National Park region is a mecca for outdoor lovers, year round! Summer is a great time to hit the hiking or biking trails, and in winter you can ski down an active volcano, and it is also the largest ski field in New Zealand! The world famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing is New Zealand's premier day hike, if not one of the world's! For an even greater appreciation of all the volcanoes, the Tongariro Circuit is a 3-4 day tramp around the volcanoes and is one of New Zealand's Great Walks. The fresh rivers near Turangi provide for world class trout fishing, which can also be found in Taupo.

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake. In fact, it is the largest fresh water lake in Australasia, and with the plethora of activities on offer (from fishing and boating on the lake or scenic flights over the voclanoes to the adrenaline pumping activities such as skydiving, bungy jumping, jetboating) it is on most traveller's itineraries. Taupo is also the source of New Zealand's longest river, the Waikato River, and the Huka Falls are a spectacular sight to behold.


Hawke's Bay - East Coast


The East Coast of New Zealand is a sun blessed region and receives most sunshine hours annually across the entire country. No surprise it is also one of the largest wine regions in the country, and there's no shortage of world class wine to sample on a variety of available wine tours. 

Beautiful beaches can be found all along the East Coast, and as the first place to see a new day in the world, the sunrises on show every morning are devastatingly spectacular. Inland you'll find towering forested hills in the Kaweka and Raukumara Forest parks, and a little more inland the majestic Te Urewera Park, taking you back in time with ancient and enchanting forests.

The East Cape is a scenic, isolated and little known region in the North Island where the pace of life is laid back and the settlements are predominantly Maori.  The drive around the Cape offers magnificent views of the wild coast dotted with little bays, inlets and coves that change their mood together with the weather. For a unique, remote experience off the main tourist trail, this is a must place region to visit in New Zealand.




Southland is most famous for Milford Sound, and while a visit to Milford Sound simply cannot be missed, it is well worth spending a little more time in this incredible frontier of rugged fiords, mountains, spectacular coastal scenery and an abundance of marine and bird wildlife.

The spectacular Fiordland National Park, part of Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, includes some of the best walks in New Zealand such as the world famous Milford and Routeburn Tracks. Along the Milford track you'll find a sign somewhere "the finest walk in the world", and we don't argue that. It is right up there and the scenery is jaw-dropping from start to finish. Three of the walks in Fiordland National Park also belong to the Great Walks of New Zealand, the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn. The gateway into Fiordland National Park is Te Anau, beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Te Anau.




Wellington is a destination with many superlatives. It is beautifully nestled between bush clad hills and one of the most picturesque harbours in the world, it was named the best city to live in the world in 2017, and it is also one of the windiest cities in the world. But as Wellingtonians say : You can't beat Wellington on a good day, and we certainly have a soft spot for this fantastic city.

Wellington is the nation's centre for arts and culture, with the National Museum Te Papa one of the main icons of the city.  The city also contains a plethora of restaurants, cafes, bars, nightlife and activities and is also home to New Zealand's parliament. Due to its compact size it is easy to explore the city on foot.




Taranaki might be a slightly less known region in New Zealand, unless you're a keen surfer or windsurfer. The landscape is dominated by the perfectly shaped volcanic cone which is Mt Taranaki, or Mt Egmont. At 2500m not only does it entirely dominate the landscape, but it also creates its own climate. On any given day, the winds may be reaching gale force on one side of the mountain, while on the other side you may be relaxing on the beach without a sigh of wind, such is the impact of the mountain.

In winter you may ski down the mountain in the morning, and in summer there are a number of excellent hiking opportunities, including hikes to the summit or right around the mountain.

Surf Highway 45 offers word class surf and windsurfing conditions and the black iron sandy beaches are wild and beautiful and aplenty.




When travelling from the North Island to the South Island on the Interislander ferry, the sheltered waterways of the Marlborough Sounds are the first sight. Picton is the destination port, and a good base to go walking, fishing, sailing, kayaking and exploring the many secluded bays in the Sounds. 

The Marlborough region is internationally recognized for its world class wine, most notably its Sauvignon Blanc, and there are many different ways to sample these wines as their are many wineries offering excellent wine tours. By bike, or by luxury old timer cars, the creativity with which these tours are organized is brilliant. The seafood in this region is also sumptuous, great to combine with a glass of the local wines.

Those put off by the large crowds on the Abel Tasman Track will love the Queen Charlotte Track. The beaches are a little less exquisite, but the coastal scenery is still stunning and there are many accommodation options aolong the track.

Nelson - Tasman


The Nelson-Tasman region is blessed with an incredibly diverse natural beauty, offering no less than three of the finest National Parks in the country. From the golden beaches of Abel Tasman National Park, dramatic and lush rainforests in Kahurangi National Park, to the alpine environment of Nelson Lakes National Park, this region has it all. The area around Nelson is also one of the sunniest in the country, due to the protecting surrounding hills, so it's a popular region with travelers.

Nelson is the South Island's second largest city, noted for its fruit-growing industry in the Motueka Valley, wineries and micro-breweries. It also has an energetic local arts and crafts community with local artists exhibiting their products on the famed Nelson market every Saturday. Nearby Rabbit Island boasts great swimming beaches, boating fishing and forest walks. 

Further west, Motueka is the centre of a green tea, hops and fruit-growing area, and is a good base to explore the nearby parks. The drive over Takaka Hill takes you into Golden Bay, whre you may find the biggest cave in the Southern Hemisphere as well as New Zealand's largest freshwater spring, the Waikoropupu Springs, simply called "Pupu Springs", with reputedly the clearest water in the world.



Kaikoura is a unique place by the sea where marine wildlife lives in abundance, against the backdrop of the impressive Kaikoura mountain ranges. It is well known for its range of eco-tourism activities and getting up close with the main inhabitant along its shores, the giant Sperm Whale.

Whale watching in Kaikoura is simply a must-do as you're guaranteed to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, and along the way you're most likely to see a pod of bottlenose or duksy dolphins play in the water, be impressed by the take-off and water landing of the Royal Albatross, and see a bunch of sea lions lazing about on a rock, suc is the diversity.

The ocean here also provides some spectacular seafood, and a stay in Kaikoura may not go by without having tried the crayfish

Aoraki - Mt Cook


The approach to new Zealand's tallest mountain, Mt Cook, via the blue lake of Lake Pukaki is something you will remember for a lifetime. At 3754m Mt Cook entirely dominates the landscape and as you draw ever closer, its imperious glaze on you only gets more and more impressive.

Mt Cook National Park, along with Aspiring and Westland National Parks, have been incorporated into a World Heritage Area extending from the Cook River in Westland down to the base of Fiordland. Of the 27 mountains in New Zealand which are over 300om, 22 of them are in Mt Cook National Park. The park also boasts New Zealand's longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier.

The park offer numerous hikes to get up close with Mt Cook, but also offer many other exciting adventure activities, such as mountaineering, helicopter flights, heli-skiing and sea-kayaking on glacial waters.

West Coast - Glaciers


The West Coast or Westland is a rugged and wild land with rocky beaches, deep river gorges,  bush-clad hills and towering icy-peaks. Extending across a 600km long stretch on the western side of the Southern Alps, a visit here takes you through a myriad of five National Parks, yes five!!, including the World Heritage Area - Te Wahipounamu. Each of the national parks - Kahurangi, Paparoa, Arthur's Pass, Westland and Mt Aspiring National Parks - have their their own unique and distinct features. You'll find New Zealand's highest mountains, most dense and lush rainforests, natural rivers, glacial lakes, deepest gorges,  and of course the two phenomenal Glaciers themselves, Fox and Franz Josef.



Canterbury is the hub of the South Island and contains its largest city, Christchurch. It is also one of the driest and flattest areas of New Zealand. The moisture-laden westerlies from the Tasman Sea hit the Southern Alps and dump their rainfall on the West Coast before reaching Canterbury. The region is dominated by the expansive Canterbury Plains, dead-flat farming land backed by the Southern Alps.

Christchurch was hit by devastating earthquakes in 2011 which damaged a lot of the inner city's infrastructure, but the city is bouncing back remarkably and the creativity and community spirit has made the city a vibrant place once again. The city's botanic gardens receive international acclaim and a great place to relax before you start your journey or have concluded your journey, as you're most likely to start or end your tour in Christchurch. The nearby Banks Peninsula was formed by two giant volcanic eruptions and has a strong French influence. The picturesque harbour of Akaroa is well worth a visit.

In North Canterbury the thermal waters of Hanmer Springs have been attracting visitors for many years, but the region is also popular for outdoor activities including hiking, rafting, bungy jumping and skiiing in winter. All of this action means it is a favourite weekend spot for people from Christchurch.



Wanaka receives slightly less attention than it's more famous neighbour Queenstown, only about an hour away, but one may argue which of the two towns is nestled in the most impressive scenery. While that may be a very difficult question to answer, Wanaka boasts a similar range of adrenaline activities, but with some more serenity about it all.  The town offers fine dining and living and is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park and the Treble Cone, Cardrona, Harris Mountains and Pisa Range ski areas. Every second Easter, Wanaka hosts the incredibly popular Warbirds over Lake Wanaka, a huge international air show that sees the town swell with visitors.

The central feature of the region is Mt Aspiring, surrounded by the national park with the same name. The alpine scenery does not get any more dramatic than this in New Zealand, and offers some of the best hiking in the country. The park has wide valleys, secluded flats, more than 100 glaciers and towering mountains. The southern end of the park around Glenorchy receives most visitors and includes popular hikes such as the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's great walks, but there are also excellent shorter walks and more demanding hikes in the Matukituki Valley close to Wanaka. 



For a long time Queenstown in Central Otago has had an international reputation for its spectacular scenery and adventure activities, but the region is now also recognized for its award winning wines. 

Queenstown is the unofficial 'adventure capital of the world', but the entire Wakatipu region with its stunning lake and surrounding mountains alone are a real attraction. The aptly named Remarkable mountains provide the most breathtaking backdrop, whether snow capped in winter, or at sunrise or in the afterglow at dusk.

Facilities in Queenstown are excellent as well, from budget to boutique accommodation options, some of the best dining in New Zealand and a buzzing nightlife with numerous cafes and bars. 

There's also great skiing in winter on Coronet Peak and Cardrona and plenty of substitute adrenaline activities in summer. Bungy jumping was invented in New Zealand and Queenstown offers a plethora of jumping options. There's also skydiving, jetboating, mountainbiking, canyoning, white water rafting, hiking, sledging, parapenting, the list is simply endless.

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Scenic Franz Josef

 Image result for scenic hotel franz josef

In the heart of the village and edge of the Westland World Heritage Park, the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier is only a breath away from the spectacular Franz Josef Glacier. 

This hotel offers everything you need to be able to explore this dramatic region in style and comfort. With an exceptional restaurant, serving hearty, West Coast fare, and the Moa Bar with its open fireplace, you are never without choice. Plus, with the private hot pools and our Amaia Luxury Spa close by, you can enjoy time out to rejuvenate after a day taking in the many walking tracks and other outdoor pursuits. 

Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel, plus a guest information and booking service will ensure that you can make the most of every minute you spend in the Westland region.