15 days, Auckland - Queenstown through East Coast of South Island

Updated: May 6

Itinerary: Auckland - Waitomo - Hobbiton - Rotorua - Wai-O-Tapu - Huka Falls - Taupo - Wellington - Marlborough region - Kaikoura - Christchurch - Tekapo lake - Mount Cook and Pukaki lake - Dunedin - Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau - Queenstown - Arrowtown - Wanaka - Queenstown

Gardens of Larnach castle, Dunedin

Day 1

Place: Auckland

Itinerary:

Arrival in New Zealand. Pick-up a vehicle and make your way to a hotel. Today it's better to have a rest after a long flight.


Day 2

Place: Auckland

Itinerary:

10:00 – 16:00 Auckland city tour by Hop On Hop Off Bus OR Auckland City Sights Group Tour OR Private Guided Auckland City Tour

19:00 Three Course Dinner at the Revolving Orbit Restaurant.


Day 3

Place: Auckland - Waitomo - Hobbiton - Rotorua

Itinerary:

08:00 – 11:00 Driving from Auckland to Waitomo (196 km).

11:00 – 12:00 Waitomo Glowworm cave tour. You'll see the unique New Zealand glowworms, Arachnocampa Luminosa, the world-renowned and attracting visitors from home and overseas.

12:00 – 13:30 Driving to Hobbiton (88 km)

13:30 – 14:30 Lunch at Shire Rest Cafe. The tour check-in.

14:30 – 16:30 Tour to Hobbiton ex Shire's Rest Cafe. Explore Bag End, where Bilbo & Frodo’s adventures began, get lost amongst all the Hobbit holes and visit the Mill and the fabulous Party Tree. End your tour at the world-famous Green Dragon Inn where you will be presented with a complimentary, exclusively Hobbit, Southfarthing beverage.

16:30 – 17:30 Driving to Rotorua.

17:30 - 18:00 Check-in the tour to Tamaki Maori Village in the centre of Rotorua. Driving by bus to the village.

18:00 – 21:00 Maori Culture Experience at Tamaki Maori Village. A fully immersive experience, witness the hangi meal being lifted from its earth oven & feast on traditional Hani buffet & dessert. Sit back & enjoy the cultural performance of song and dance, or participate in warrior training, the poi dance or learning the hake.

21:00 – 21:30 Return to Rotorua. Hotel check-in.

Tamaki Maori village, Rotorua

Day 4

Place: Rotorua

Itinerary:

09:00 - 10:00 Redwoods Treewalk Rotorua Day Experience. The Redwoods Treewalk consists of a series of 21 suspension bridges traversing the gaps between 22 majestic 100-year old Redwood trees.

10:00 - 11:30 Visit Blue and Green lakes which are separated by a narrow isthmus where the lookout is located. The Blue Lake (Tikitapu - Maori name) is open to the public for all sorts of recreational activities. The Green Lake (Rotokākahi - Maori name) is privately owned by a local Maori tribe, therefore, no public activities can take place on this lake.

Also, you may be interested in visiting the Buried Village and Lake Tarawera which are located on the same road as Blue and Green lakes.

Alternative activities for this morning are:

Mount Tarawera/ Volcanic Landing by Helicopter.

Kaituna River Rafting

Canopy tour

11:30 - 12:00 Driving to SkyLine Rotorua, the tour check-in.

12:00 – 14:00 Skyline Gondola & Buffet Lunch. Don't miss an opportunity to try luge rides.

14:00 – 14:30 Driving to Agrodome. The tour check-in.

14:30 – 15:30 World famous Farm Show with sheep shearing at Agrodome.

15:30 – 17:00 Kiwi encounter at Rainbow Springs Park.

Visit Polynesian SPA in the evening.

Government gardens in Rotorua

Day 5

Place: Rotorua - Wai-O-Tapu - Huka Falls - Taupo

Itinerary:

08:00 – 08:30 Driving from Rotorua to Wai-O-Tapu.

08:30 – 10:00 Self-guided tour at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland which has been named "One of the 20 Most Surreal Places on the Earth".

10:00 - 10:15 Driving to the Lady Knox geyser which is located outside the park.

10:15 – 10:30 Witness the Lady Knox geyser eruption.

10:30 – 11:30 Driving to the base of HukaFalls Jet. The tour check-in.

11:30 – 12:00 Huka Falls Jet Ride. Travelling an incredible 80Km/ph low on the water, skimming past cliffs and trees, powering along a beautiful river environment before gripping on during the trademark 360-degree spin is an adrenaline-pumping experience you’ll never forget!

12:00 – 13:30 Try delicious fresh prawns at the restaurant of Huka Prawn Park. You'll enjoy not only the taste but great views of Waikato river as well. When you are waiting for the meal don't miss a chance to take the foot SPA bath which is outside the restaurant.

13:30 – 14:00 Driving to Taupo marina with a short stop-over in the lookout with fantastic views of the largest NZ lake.

14:00 – 16:00 Cruise to Maori Rock Carvings. Take in the stunning surrounds of beautiful Lake Taupo, listen to a very informative commentary and enjoy a free coffee/tea and homemade muffin.

16:00 – 16:15 Driving to Wairakei Terraces

16:15 – 17:00 Enjoy Mineral and Silica Enriched Thermal Pools at Wairakei Terraces.

Hotel check-in. Dinner.

Restaurant at Huka Prawn Park, Taupo

Day 6

Place: Taupo - Tongariro NP - Wellington

Itinerary:

09:00 – 11:00 Driving from Taupo to Tongariro national park.

11:00 – 13:00 Taranaki Falls loop track. It starts near Skotel hotel. Alternatively you may take Volcanic Explorer Flight.

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch at a local cafe.

14:30 – 19:30 Driving to Wellington.


You can choose to hike Tongariro Crossing in this day but in this case, you'd better to stay for a night in Whakapapa or Ohakune and the tour will become one day longer.

Taranaki falls in Tongariro national park

Day 7

Place: Wellington - Picton - Blenheim

Itinerary:

09:00 – 13:00 Self-guided city tour. We recommend to visit The Parliament (Beehive), Cable car, Botanic gardens, Te Papa Tongarewa museum, Mount Victoria lookout.

13:00 – 13:30 Driving to the ferry terminal. Drop-off a vehicle.

13:30 – 14:45 Ferry check-in and boarding.

14:45 – 17:55 Journey from North to South Island by ferry. It's a good idea to have a lunch on board.

18:00 – 18:30 A new vehicle pick-up. Thrifty's office is located just in front of the terminal.

18:30 – 19:00 Driving to Hans Herzog Estate which is located not far from Blenheim in the heart of Marlborough region. You'd better book a table in advance.

19:00 – 20:30 Dinner and wine tasting.

20:30 – 21:00 Driving to Blenheim. Hotel check-in.

Ferry in Cook Strait

Day 8

Place: Blenheim - Kaikoura - Christchurch

Itinerary:

09:00 – 11:30 Driving to Kaikoura. There is a fur seal colony on your way. Park a car and enjoy these cut creatures.

11:30– 13:00 Lunch with crayfish at Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk or The Pier restaurant.

13:00 – 13:15 Driving to Whale Watch Kaikoura.

13:15 – 16:45 Whale Watch Boat Tour. All aboard for the experience the made Kaikoura famous - an incredible up-close encounter with the Sperm Whale, Earth's largest toothed predator and king of the Kaikoura waters.

Alternatively you can take 30-minutes heli whale watch tour.

17:00 – 20:00 Driving to Christchurch. Hotel check-in.

Whale watch tours in Kaikoura

Day 9

Place: Christchurch - Tekapo - Mount Cook

Itinerary:

08:00 – 12:00 Driving to Tekapo lake.

12:00 - 12:30 Photo shooting near The Church of Good Shepherd and The Sheepdog Memorial.

12:30 - 14:00 Lunch at a local cafe.

14:00 - 15:30 Driving to Hooker valley located near the Mount Cook village. You definitely should stop on the shore of Pukaki lake. It's magical! Also there is a lavender farm on the way. Feel free to immerse yourself in its beauty if lavender is in blossom.

15:30 - 18:30 Hooker valley track. It's easy and picturesque with dramatic views of Mount Cook. It's 10 km return with 3 suspended bridges.

18:30 Hotel check-in. Dinner. If everything is fully booked in Mount Cook village you'd better to stay in Twizel.

Hooker valley track, Mount Cook view

Day 10

Place: Mount Cook - Clay Cliffs - Oamaru - Moeraki boulders - Dunedin

Itinerary:

08:00 – 09:40 Driving to Clay Cliffs

09:40 – 10:30 Hiking in Clay Cliffs. The Clay Cliffs are a fragile masterpiece of New Zealand nature. Sharp but crumbling rock peaks were formed as a result of the glacier's movement several million years ago. They are very picturesque.

10:30 – 13:00 Driving to Oamaru town.

13:00 – 14:00 Steampunk HQ Oamaru Musem: you will acquire absolutely unforgettable museum experience!

14:00 – 15:30 Lunch at a local café.

15:30 - 16:00 Driving to Moeraki beach.

16:00 – 17:00 Making cool Insta photos with Moeraki boulders. These enormous round rocks were once bubbles of dirt in a hot mudflow that formed into large balls. Do not miss the opportunity to fit yourself into this unearthly landscape!

17:00 – 18:00 Driving to Dunedin.

Hotel check-in. We advise to have dinner at the restaurant of the Speights brewery, the oldest brewery in the country.

Moeraki boulders

Day 11

Place: Dunedin - Te Anau

Itinerary:

09:00 – 11:00 Dunedin city tour by segway: Get a sense of the history and stories of the colonial past, the relationships of Tangata Whenua with the Scottish settlers. Explore the Chinese influence on the city since the gold rushes of the 1860s. See the historic buildings, the original hub of the city at the ‘Exchange’ and the first churches. Take in the prominent city street art and get a photo at the most photographed building in the country. Finally the settlers’ museum ‘Toitu’ and the ‘Chinese gardens’.

11:00 – 11:45 Driving to Penguin Place, tour check-in.

11:45 – 13:15 Dunedin Penguin Tour. This 90-minute tour introduces you to the conservation efforts of Penguin Place, a private conversation reserve dedicated to the survival of the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin.

13:15 – 14:00 Driving to a Glenfalloch restaurant in Portobello.

14:00 – 15:30 Lunch.

15:30 – 20:30 Driving to Te Anau. Be prepared for the long way.

The First Church, Dunedin

Day 12

Place: Te AnauMilford Sound - Te Anau

Itinerary:

08:30 – 10:30 Driving to Milford Sound.

10:30 – 11:00 Cruise check-in.

11:00 – 12:40 Milford Sound Scenic Cruise.

12:40 – 15:00 Returning to Te Anau.

15:00 – 18:00 Walking along the lakeshore to the beginning of the Kepler Track. The route is flat and beautiful. You'll visit a bird reserve where the rare Takahe birds live.

Milford Sound

Day 13

Place: Te Anau - Queenstown

Itinerary:

09:00 – 12:00 Driving to Queenstown.

12:00 – 13:30 Skyline Gondola & Buffet Lunch.

13:30 – 14:00 Ziptrek tour check-in.

14:00 – 16:00 Ziptrek Ecotours: 4 lines Moa Tour. Zip along the treetops and take in the spectacular forest views as you tackle 4 brilliant zip lines, and stand atop of 8 treetop platforms.

16:00 – 18:00 Use the Skyline Gondola to descend from the Bob's Peak and walk along the shore of Lake Wakatipu, visit Queenstown botanic gardens.

18:00 Hotel check-in.

SkyLine Gondola, Queenstown

Day 14

Place: Queenstown - Arrowtown - Wanaka - Queenstown

Itinerary:

Self-guided tours to Arrowtown and Wanaka. You are welcome to visit local wineries and cheeseries. Alternatively, feel free to pick any tour on our website.

18:00 – 22:00 TSS Earnslaw Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Dinner. Visit Walter Peak High Country Farm on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw.

The vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw near Walter Peak High Country Farm

Day 15

Place: Queenstown

Itinerary:

Departure from Queenstown to Auckland or Australia.


The End

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