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Adventure & Activities


ADVENTURE and ACTIVITIES


New Zealand is the ultimate holiday destination for interactive travellers. The country is full of adventure companies vying for your attention - so they continue to come up with more absurd ideas all the time. Bungee jumping and jet-boating are Kiwi inventions, as are zorbing, tubing, fly-by-wire, dam-dropping to name just a few. For the really adventurous we have white-water rafting, kayaking, horse riding, tandem paragliding, down-hill mountain biking and glacier skiing. You name it, we have it - Queenstown even claims to be the 'Adventure Capital of the World'

However my favourite of all is walking, whether it is a two hour easy walk to a remote waterfall or a multi-day tramp staying in mountain huts. The walks are guaranteed to offer some mind-blowing scenery....and best of all walking is FREE. Be sure to also visit the Great Walks and Great Excursions pages under the Practical Info tab for more information.

                                                                 
                                       


Self-Drive Holiday

Duration : 23 nights / 24 days.
Activities include : Beaches, Outdoors Adventures, Water Sports, Awesome Walks.
Notes : Length of New Zealand. See below for 30 days version.

A twenty four day self-drive tour of New Zealand created specially for people who prefer an active holiday away from the masses found elsewhere lying on pool-side sunbathing chairs. Be sure to let me know your preferred activity level, so that I can adjust the itinerary accordingly. There are several locations where we can add on multi-day tramps in this sample itinerary. The suggestions below are just some of my favourites, let me know if you would like a unique itinerary drafted to suit your individual interests - I will gladly assist you in planning that perfect vacation.

Day 1 Auckland - Auckland

All travellers using Amazing New Zealand services are personally met at the airport by our friendly professional representative. You will receive at the airport a comprehensive Deluxe Travel Pack. The pack contains the prepaid service vouchers, maps, discount vouchers and brochures to local attractions, plus a detailed daily explanation of driving routes, including suggested stops en route.

The representative will then take you to your accommodation in Auckland, stopping en route on the extinct volcano of Mount Eden for a panoramic view of the city and to point out the city's many geographical features and attractions around the harbours. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, straddling two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. We recommend at least one day here to recover from your jet-lag. We recommend that you stay here at least 24 hours to enjoy this beautiful city and to recover from your jet-lag. We recommend that you use the services of an Amazing New Zealand chauffeur to guide you on your first day here for several reasons :- they are keen to show their favourite locations around Auckland, their local knowledge is invaluable, you can relax knowing that someone else is driving you in this unfamiliar location giving you driving tips along the way, plus it will give you some time to recover from the jet-lag.

Suggested activities :-  

Head north over the Harbour Bridge to pretty Orewa Beach and Wenderholm Regional Park on the tranquil east coast, followed by morning tea in the original Bohemian settlement of Puhoi. We then drive inland past wineries and orchards to the wild beaches of the West Coast. The gannet colony at Muriwai is a must see as not only will the cute chicks and the flying skills of the adults keep you mesmerized, but the sweeping views along the surfing beaches north will certainly blow any jet-lag away. Heading south again lunch can be enjoyed at the Bees Online cafe where several honey orientated products are on sale, or wine lovers should take advantage of having a chauffeur and dine in a restaurant under the vines of a world class winery.

After lunch I recommend a walk in the lush bush of the Waitakere Ranges to a secluded waterfall or along a deserted beach, such as the one made famous in Jane Campion's movie The Piano. Return to Auckland along the Scenic Drive and take a ferry ride to the old suburb of Devonport - Auckland is known as the City of Sails, so a venture out onto the water is an essential part of visiting Auckland. Take the tour or wander up under your own steam to North Head for awesome views of the city and our youngest dormant volcano Rangitoto Island. For a late afternoon swim in our clean, clear and safe harbour you can wander down the steps to beautiful Cheltenham Beach. On your return to the Ferry Building enjoy the sunset and dinner in the revolving restaurant of the Sky Tower.

Day 2 Auckland - Hahei 270kms

Head south (direction Hamilton) on SH1.

56kms - After the Bombay Hills, turn left onto SH2 direction Coromandel and at 88kms change again to SH25 at the new roundabout.

110kms – Just after the long Kopu Bridge, turn left towards Thames – the gateway to Coromandel Peninsula. In the late 1880s this was a thriving gold mining and kauri logging centre. (NB if you prefer a shorter drive today then turn right at the roundabout after the bridge and follow SH25A up and over the Coromandel Ranges instead of going left to Thames). This is also where you should stop and buy groceries if you intend preparing your own meals for the next 2 nights as there is not a lot of choice at Hahei!

Continue north direction Coromandel Town. You are now skirting the Firth of Thames, the road follows the dramatic and winding coast, so please take it easy. But most importantly, please remember that the locals are not on vacation and are quite often in a hurry to get somewhere. So if someone is pressuring you from behind, just pull over and allow them to pass. You will enjoy the driving much much more and the locals will in turn be much much more friendlier when you do eventually cruise to your destination at your own pace! There are places to pull over and take photos all along of this dramatic coastline.

165kms – Here you could turn right onto the 309 Road.

  • 4.8kms up this road is the Waiau Waterways Garden and café, where whimsical wonders are worked by water - there are plenty of whacky contraptions to entertain the young and young at heart.
  • 7.9kms - Continue inland to the Kauri Grove parking. This stop is excellent, giving you a real taste for the New Zealand bush without much effort. The bush walk is an easy 10 minute stroll on a level path to 600 year old kauri trees. These trees are magnificent, with native bush wonderfully lush and cool and peaceful. Continue past the first lookout for a lovely circuit past the Siamese Kauri and to the Kauri Grove. The Kauris are endemic to the northern part of New Zealand’s North Island and can live for 4000 years and grow to twice the height of these ones! They are the largest trees in the world if calculating volume of usable timber. No wonder they call them the giants of the forest and were almost wiped out by the colonials for their timber. The cutting down of a Kauri is now banned as they are protected, so thankfully now we are seeing a comeback of these giants to our forests.

Return to SH25 and turn right to visit Coromandel Town, another 5kms north.

188kms - The main street in Coromandel Town is an old world delight, full of cafés and craft shops. After your visit, drive south (go back) 400m and turn left towards Whitianga – at the top of the hill there is a lookout point with views all the way back to Auckland.

224kms – Wharekaho Beach has a fine stand of Pohutukawa trees. One of these is a gnarled old specimen that exactly fits a description in the journal of explorer Captain Cook written in 1769.

228kms – You are now arriving in Whitianga, a safe harbour full of holiday homes favoured by Aucklanders. Continue south, following signs for Tairua and SH25.

260kms - Turn left and drive 10 kilometres to Hahei Beach

If you feel like a walk, then the Coastal Track starts at the northern end of Hahei Beach….enjoy commanding views over Hahei and to the islands beyond and north along the dramatic coast. You can walk as far as you like before turning back, or you can even walk all the way to Cathedral Cove.

Day 3 Hahei

This morning you could visit Hot Water Beach. It is a lovely beach, but more importantly hot water rises to the surface here from a geothermal reservoir under the seabed. Check the tides, as you need to dig a hole below the high water mark, 2 hours either side of the low tide is your time limit. I recommend it after low tide, so you may then get to use an abandoned hole instead of having to dig one for yourself! You can dig a hole on the northern end of the beach, then sit back and soak in your very own private spa. Look for the sulphur bubbling to the surface of the sand.

Hahei's main attraction is Cathedral Cove, a gorgeous beach nearby hidden within a dramatic coastline. There are 4 ways of reaching it :-

  • Walk the coastal track which starts on the northern end of Hahei Beach. The views are excellent and it will take you about 1 hour to reach the cove itself.
  • Drive up to the car-park via Grange Road, then walk 45 minutes to the cove.
  • Take the Hahei sight seeing boat, departing 10am (no time at the beach).
  • Or my recommendation is to join the sea kayaking tour departing at 9am. A 3 hour truly kiwi experience, includes top quality kayaks and gear, tuition and even a coffee brewed for you on the beach while you take a swim. You can order which ever style – Cappuccino, Mochachino, even an L Baccino (long black). Sea kayaking is a "must do" in New Zealand, and this is one of the most beautiful places to try it. 

Day 4  Hahei - Whakatane 265kms

Today there is a long drive to Whakatane. Actual driving time is 4 hours without suggested stops. One mistake visitors to New Zealand make is under estimating how long it takes to drive – 300kms in New Zealand is not the same as driving 300kms on motorways in Europe! Our roads are not straight, as you have probably already noticed. It is OK to do the excellent 9am kayak tour before hitting the road.

Depart from Hahei Beach car-park, return to the SH25 intersection and go left towards Tairua. Immediately on your left you will notice some vines, they are kiwifruit. You will see many orchards and vineyards today as you travel through what is known as the fruit-bowl of New Zealand.

21.8kms – Great lookout spot for a photo of the Alderman Islands. An even better photo op is from the Paku Hill. Turn left as you enter Tairua towards Ocean Beach. Keep following the road to the marina, go up Paku Drive then follow signs to Paku Summit. A short walk will take you the rest of the way, for awesome views over Tairua Harbour and Pauanui Beach. Return to Tairua and continue south, direction Waihi.

100kms – Waihi once had 1200 mines producing half of the country’s gold. There is only one mine left now, the massive Martha’s Mine – a huge open cut mine right in the middle of town. On the SH2 intersection, turn right to Town Centre, then at the roundabout go straight onto Moresby Ave, the Waihi Gold Mine lookout is on the right 300m along. The lookout is truly impressive and the Golden Legacy Centre is worth a visit to learn more about the mine. Return to town and follow signs to Tauranga.

159kms – Bethlehem is home to the Mills Reef Winery and up-market restaurant, the turnoff is to the right just as you come into town. This option is for those that left Hahei early this morning. Otherwise continue straight at the roundabout, direction Mount Maunganui.

165kms - On the expressway, keep following SH2 and the signs for Mt Maunganui. `The Mount`was once an island with a Maori pa (fortified village), but it is now joined to the mainland and marks the entrance to the Tauranga Harbour. In Maori Tauranga means `sheltered anchorage`, the harbour has become a huge port catering for massive cruise liners and container ships filled with lamb, kiwifruit and timber heading for Japan and Europe. The Mount is now a congested suburb of Tauranga, with the beach becoming a popular holiday destination for the wealthy and the not so wealthy surfing crowd alike with plenty of cafes to choose from. You can also hike around the base or to the summit of the hill. Leaving the Mount, follow the signs for SH2 and Te Puke.

176kms - Te Puke is the original kiwifruit growing region, watch out for the giant kiwifruit in Maketu, another 17 kilometres from here. If you’d like to know more about the fruit (and have time) stop for a tour, or just visit their café and souvenir shop.

195kms – SH2 goes left, direction Whakatane. The SH2 turns right 34kms later but you need to continue straight towards Whakatane, your destination for this evening.

For the best view of Whakatane head to the top of the hill and turn left onto Otarewairere Road – the first lookout on the right has wonderful views east along Ohope Beach and out to White Island. Continue on this road and take the first left. Follow the road right to the end at Kohi Point (2.3kms) where you will find the remnants of Toi’s Pa and a lookout west down to Whakatane and the river from the point. Toi was one of the original Maori immigrants making this one of the oldest pa sites in New Zealand. Return to the main road and turn left to beautiful Ohope Beach – the Café Surfside does excellent takeaway coffees to be enjoyed on the beach, they also have a great selection of food.

Day 5 Whakatane - Rotorua 90kms  

The highlight in Whakatane is without doubt a visit to White Island, an active volcano 50kms offshore. For me the tour scored a 10 out of 10 for awesomeness. Staring down into the crater’s mouth, stepping around steaming sulphur pools and bubbling mud will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my life. However the island doesn’t have a wharf, so persons with low mobility are discouraged from taking the trip, also preferably no children under the age of 8 – and only then if they are well behaved and can be trusted not to wander from the path, it is a dangerous environment out there. Covered shoes are also a requirement. Alternatively, there are helicopter tours, with one hour on the island, or fixed wing flight-seeing over the island. You can combine these flights with a trip over Mt Tarawera, an impressive volcano which blew in 1886. The explosion not only split the mountain rather dramatically, but also buried the famous Pink and White terraces, together with three villages and the loss of 153 lives.

While in town take a short drive west to the harbour entrance to see the beautiful statue of Wairaka, a Maori heroin who went against Maori laws to save the drifting waka (canoe). If you’ve seen "Whale Rider", you’ll understand how strongly the Maoris feel about what is "tapu" or out of bounds. She proclaimed "Ka Whakatane au I amu" which means "to act like a man", so the city was named after her heroic acts.

Departing from the waterfront return to the shops and continue along The Strand, go left at the second roundabout (Commerce Street) then right onto Domain Road following the signs to Rotorua and Tauranga. Continue straight for 3kms, you then need to go right at the third roundabout.

7kms – Continue straight, you are now on the SH30 to Rotorua. The road skirts Lake Rotoma, Lake Rotoehu, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotorua which are all flooded volcanic craters. The latter you will probably smell before you see, as the area is still active with sulphur escaping from the earth’s crust (think rotten eggs). Don’t worry, you will get used to the smell.

72kms - Hells Gate. This is one of your options for this afternoon, if you’d like a mud spa treatment that will leave you glowing. As you arrive in Rotorua, keep following the City Centre signs, this will bring you to the lakefront, your destination for this evening.

Rotorua lies on a beautiful lake, actually a flooded volcanic crater - the surrounding hills are the remains of the rim of the giant volcano. 

 

Day 6 Rotorua

Rotorua has become New Zealand’s second largest tourist centre – so if you’d like to make the most of what Rotorua has to offer and all that is thermal, here are some of my suggestions:

  • Soak in the reputedly therapeutic thermal pools at the Polynesian Spa, a delightful but busy public pool. In the morning the spa is less crowded and it is a wonderful way to start the day - relaxing with serene views across the lake.
  • The tranquil Hamurana Springs are well worth a visit! A short peaceful 1 hour loop track will take you via a beautiful clear fresh water spring that attracts abundant birdlife. The spring is 15 metres deep and produces 4 million litres of fresh water per hour! And the Redwood Trees here are worth the visit on their own!
  • Kuirau Park has the largest display of steam and mud pools….and it’s free! An eruption took place here as recently as 2001 when mud, steam and debris were thrown 200m into the air. Springs regularly just appear, resulting in families being forced to move and the land having to be given back to nature.
  • Visit the beautiful (and steaming) Edwardian styled Government Gardens and the Rotorua Museum of Arts & History.
  •  Wander around the original Maori settlement at Ohinemutu. The church is worth a look at, as is the Marae (Maori meeting house) across the courtyard. Wander the tiny streets where everyone has their own private hot-water bore to fill their bath in the out-shed….just follow the steam and stay on the paths!
  • This evening you could visit Hells Gate - the ‘Twilight Spa’ is open until 10pm for evening bathing under the stars! Here you can enjoy a unique New Zealand experience by taking a Mud Bath, they say its like playing in silk! You can then soak in the sulphur pools NB remove all jewelry, or the sulphur will turn it green!
  • Walk from the Polynesian Spa to the town on the Lakeside Walk via the bird sanctuary at Sulphur Bay. You will also see the remains of the first ever public bath – here Hydrogen Sulphide mixes with Carbon Dioxide to create a mixture similar to the dentist’s laughing gas! 
  • Hire a mountain bike at the top of the Skyline Gondola…the Gravity Park gives riders easy access to a 10.5 kilometre trail network with varying terrain, the Skyline Gondola will then return you to the top!
  • Check out the Redwoods Treewalk – the half kilometer long walkway consists of 21 suspension bridges traversing the gaps between the majestic 110 year old Redwood trees. 
  • Visit Rainbow Springs and try out the Big Splash ride…..in keeping with the park's conservation theme, the nine-minute long journey through time that features an informative narrative, state-of-the-art animation bringing to life Dinosaurs, Moa and the Haast Eagle and an adrenalin boosting plunge at the end.
  • Visit the Kiwi Hatchery at Rainbow Springs for an informative behind-the-scenes tour about saving our endangered birds.
  • Next door is the OGO where you get to roll down a hill in a giant plastic balls called Zorbs (dry or wet options available).
  • The Orbserver is a tethered balloon offering 10-20 minute balloon flights for only $49pp….they are easy to find just north of the Gondola, Rainbow Springs & OGO.
  • The Agrodomes principle attraction is the Sheep Show, a highly entertaining explanation of sheep, and the caring of said sheep – the mainstay of New Zealand’s exports. There is also a farm visit (with lots of animals that love to be petted) & orchard tour (including Kiwifruit) that you can add-on to your visit.
  • The adventurous should try the 3 hour Canopy Tour through the native New Zealand forest while suspended up to 22 metres high amongst ancient trees as you travel between the 10 platforms on 6 Ziplines and 2 swing bridges. 
  • Enjoy a Maori Cultural Performance at Te Puia. The 45 minute show allows you to experience the sense of inclusion and warmth offered by Maori to their guests, starting with the Powhiri (ceremonial welcome), action songs, stick games and the famous Haka. You will then be taken on a guided walk of the reserve which includes a Kiwi House and the famous 30 metre Pohutu Geyser.
  • Head to the Velocity Valley near the Agrodome - attractions onsite invented by enterprising New Zealanders include Swooping (a glorified swing), Bungy (jump from a massive height with an elastic cord tied to your ankles), the pedal-powered Shweeb Racers, plus the Agrojet (a zippy little jet-boat that can reach massive speeds). 

Day 7 Rotorua - Turangi 230kms

From Rotorua continue south along Fenton Street on SH5 to Taupo. There are many more thermal attractions to visit today between Rotorua and Taupo.

29kms - Turn left at the Wai-o-tapu Tavern and 400m further left again onto the Loop Road and take a look at the thermal Mud Pools. Don’t forget to lock your car - the bubbling mud can keep you mesmerized for hours!

Follow the Loop Road to the main attraction Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland, the best thermal reserve in the area. It really is a wonderland of orange, green, yellow, blue, white and black pools, the highlights being the exquisitely coloured Champagne Pool, Oyster Pool and the Devil’s Bath - you’ll be amazed how nature can conjure up such colours. There are 3 self guided walks, the short, the medium and the long – the latter takes about 2 hours which I recommend as it takes you all the way to the green lake of Ngakoro, with great views en route of the blue lake Whangi-o-terangi, meaning `colour of the sky’. The track is uneven at times so you need walking shoes.

Afterwards, take a dip where the hot and cold rivers merge, 300 meters further along the Loop Road, by the bridge. Great in hot or cold weather. Follow the shingle path down to enter on the right, the left side can be a bit hot at times. Continue on this road back to SH5 and turn left.

78kms – Turn left for the mighty Huka Falls, Volcanic Activity Centre and Prawn Park. 

  • If you first go left, you will come to the freshwater Prawn Park, apparently the world’s only geothermal prawn farm. Informative tours leaves every 30 minutes. Look out for Horse, he measures a whopping 70 centimetres, making him the largest prawn to be raised. After the tour you are encouraged to munch out in the Riverside Restaurant. The restaurant's lawn sweeps down to the river, from which the children can feed the ducks and watch the jet-boats doing their 360° spins.
  • The Activity Centre is well worth a stop. You are in the middle of one of the most active volcanic spots in the world, so it’s good to know what lies beneath your feet. There are hands on interpretive displays of local volcanoes, up to the second earthquake Richter scale readings, even a room where you can experience a simulated earthquake.
  • The Huka Falls are not very high, but are certainly spectacular. Here the sedate Waikato River is forced between a 15 metre gap before roaring over a 7 metre drop. There is a lookout just past the Helistar Helicopters, but the falls are much more impressive from below, where there is a walkway across the river.
  • There is another free attraction called the Craters of the Moon volcanic reserve, that is if you’re not all ‘thermalled out’ yet. To reach the reserve after visiting the falls, return up the hill to highway intersection and cross straight over. Follow the road for 1½ kilometres to the car-park. From here a 40 minute stroll along a boardwalk will take you through steamy billowing clouds and hissing escaping gases – you really do feel as if you’re walking on the moon.

Return to SH1/SH5, go right to Taupo. After 4 kilometres turn left for the lookout over the huge Lake Taupo. It was created in one giant explosion and is the world’s largest volcanic crater. The ash cloud floated all over the world - ice samples from as far apart as Antarctica and Alaska have determined the explosion to have occurred in 186AD. The effects of the ash were even recorded in China and Rome. You can gather your own free volcanic souvenir from the shoreline in the form of very light pumice stones (great for cleaning off rough skin) which were spewed out in that eruption. Just about everywhere you look in the Lake Taupo region, you'll see a volcano. The mountains to the south of the lake are popular for skiing in the winter and walking in the summer. Return to the highway and go left into Taupo where you will find most of the eating establishments – I suggest dinner here before continuing on to Turangi at the southern end of the lake.

There is also the possibility to try tandem skydiving this afternoon – Taupo is the best place in New Zealand to try this as the mountain air is so clear that you can see for miles!

There is another 15-minute walk I'd like to recommend if you have time, departing from the Tokaanu Mud Pools, 5 kilometres northwest of Turangi. The track wanders along spongy paths with plopping mud-pools and swirling steam to accompany you through this mysterious geological world. The Maori have used these springs for cooking and bathing in the curative warm waters for more than 500 years.

Day 8 Turangi - Tongariro National Park - Turangi

Today is dedicated to exploring a little more of the Tongariro National Park. 

This morning I reccomend heading to the Rafting New Zealand office in Turangi for the White Water Rafting on the legendary Tongariro River. In 2 hours you navigate over 60 roller coaster rapids interspersed with leisurely drifts of slower water so you can enjoy the beautiful wilderness scenery as well. Watch for Rainbow trout in the crystal clear pools and the rare “whio” blue duck (they don’t quack, they whistle) hiding out in the breathtaking gorges…this is a very special place! This trip is designed for the novice rafter who enjoys fun and excitement without the steep drops experienced on the Grade 5 rivers - a wonderful way to get “close to nature”. There is also a moderate 'Family Float' excrusion for those with younger children. 

This afternoon you have free – however I recommend a scenic drive to explore the Tongarioro National Park. Turn right after the Turangi Service Station then soon afterwards turn left onto SH47, direction National Park. The road crosses a high plateau which experiences mountainous weather conditions as it skirt the three volcanoes of Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu. The three make up the Tongariro National Park - Peter Jackson used the area extensively as Middle Earth scenery in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, with Mount Ngauruhoe as Mt Doom, surrounded by the rocky grounds of MordorTongariro National Park was gifted to the New Zealand people in 1887 by the Ngati Tuwaretoa tribe and is now a World Heritage area. Many visit the slopes of Mt Ruapehu in winter, a popular skiing location. It erupted as recently as 1998. And Tongariro had a little ‘hissy fit’ in 2012!

50kms – Turn left at the Whakapapa Ski-field sign. There is a lovely little 20 minute walk that I always do to the Tawhai Falls, where the tree-lined river tumbles over a ledge of lava into a rock pool below.

Another great walk is the 2 hour hike to the Taranaki Falls which starts and ends by the nearby Skotel. And/or drive to the top and take the Whakapapa ski field Chairlift to the top where you can eat at New Zealand’s highest café, Knoll Ridge Café!

Return to Turangi the way you came for about 20 kilometres, then turn right onto SH46 to return to Turangi a different way.

Day 9 Turangi - Wellington 322kms

Today there is a long drive (around 4.5 hours without stops, sorry) to Wellington. Continue south on SH1, on what we call the Desert Road.

62kms – Waiouru is home of the QEll Army Memorial Museum and our army, but not much else. Continue south on SH1 via Taihape and the stunning Mangaweka Gorge.

111kms – On the right of Mangaweka Village you could take a look at the original main street – the village seems caught in a time warp. Just past the village you have stunning views of the Mangaweka Gorge…….there is a lookout on top of the hill just after the village.

170kms - The next town is Bulls, named after one of the first settlers Mr. James Bull…. and nothing to do with the black four legged variety. That hasn’t stopped the town having a bit of fun though – I spotted the Bullocks Gravel Centre, Bulls Eye Café, Ye Auld Bull, the Forgive-a-bull church service, the Const-a-bull police station, the Extinguish-a-bull fire station, and so on. Continue south on SH1.

 

322kms - Wellington is not the largest city but it does lie central to the two islands and is therefore the capital. The wonderful attraction of this city is that it is so compact. In just 15 minutes you can go from the boutique shopping of Lambton Quay to the beach at Oriental Bay! An interesting fact is that Wellington has more cafes, bars & restaurants per capita than New York! 

Day 10 Wellington

There are several attractions you can enjoy here on foot:

 

  • The best place to start your visit to Wellington is Mount Victoria Lookout for awesome views of the city and harbour.
  • The main attraction here is the free National Museum of Te Papa. You can easily spend hours engrossed here - if only you visit the excellent Maori heritage section (closes 6pm).
  • The Parliamentary District is interesting to wander around - our Beehive houses various government offices and there is a free tour of Parliament House.
  • Be sure to take the Cable Car up the steep hill behind the city centre and wander back down through the magnificent Botanical Gardens.
  • Visit Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary in the suburb of Karori (take the road up past Parliament building) where you can tune in to the song of rare native birds in lush bush protected by the rodent-proof fence and all just a few kilometers from the centre of the city! The twilight tour to hear (and hopefully see) the kiwi is highly recommended!

  


Day 11 Wellington - Marlborough Sounds...internal flight

Today you cross to the South Island on the 8am flight. Although this is a commercial flight, it can easily be described as a scenic flight over the Marlborough Sounds! On arrival a free shuttle will whisk you to the Picton wharf to connect with the water-taxi to your accommodation on the stunning Queen Charlotte Sound.  Today I recommend you disembark at Ship Cove or Resolution Bay and walk the rest of the way - your luggage will be dropped at your lodge for you.
  • "One of the most precious places on earth, hosted by wonderful people, surrounded in peace and beauty. A haven to be revisited again and again...”
    Sinead, Ireland.
  • “Truly one of the only places left on earth that is paradise” John, Ireland.

Day 12 Marlborough Sounds

Today you can walk to your hearts content on the famous Queen Charlotte Track, fish, collect mussels, visit nesting penguins or wander golden beaches. This is a place where the passing traffic is likely to be a pod of orcas on their way south for their summer holiday, or dolphins leaping with joy. Noise here is not the sound of cars going past or the neighbours squabbling, but the sound of bellbirds and tuis singing and the smells are of fresh salt air mixed with the odour of the bush. This is New Zealand at her very best.

Day 13 Picton - Kaikoura 155kms

This morning the water-taxi will deposit you back to Picton around 11.30am. Pick up your new hire-car and drive south on SH1.

29kms - In Blenheim I recommend you stop and visit a world-renowned winery - the Riverlands Winery (formerly the Montana-Bancroft Estate) is 4 minutes drive south of Blenheim on SH1. Cloudy Bay on Jackson's Road is an internationally famous label, as is Hunters Wines on Rapaura Road. You can find more info on the website of Marlborough Wines.

Continue south on SH1 to Kaikoura, your destination for this evening. Just as the road hits the coast, the Store Cafe is worth a stop for refreshments on their terrace by the sea. They also own an excellent garden up on the ridge that can be visited.

The rugged coast is home to a diverse range of wildlife which gladly pose within camera range. Watch out for seals, dolphins and albatrosses amongst the rocks, freshly cooked crayfish is usually available from a roadside shop housed in a caravan. A deep-sea canyon system rich in plankton lies close to the coast, which then attract a variety of those very special creatures - the whales. However only male sperm whales are resident all year round as the females stay in the warmer tropical waters near the equator. Sperm whales can dive to a depth of 2 kms and stay submerged for up to 2 hrs and can swim at 40km/h. Also, did you know that dolphins do not breath automatically as humans do so when they sleep only half the brain sleeps at a time.

Your first stop in Kaikoura should be the Lookout just off Scarborough Terrace. From here you can view the azure-blue waters around Kaikoura Peninsula bordered by the mountain backdrop behind. The excellent Peninsula Walkway at the head of the peninsula takes you along the shoreline and back over the cliffs.

Optional Extra - If you have an extra 2 days you can enjoy the mountainous region on the Kaikoura Wilderness Walkway staying overnight at the Shearwater Lodge on New Zealand's highest farm. The 17 kilometre walk has abundant birdlife and plantlife as it meanders through stands of Manuka, Beech forests and ancient Totara, rising sometimes above the snowline. You can sit on the balcony in the evening and watch chamois, red deer and goats while inquisitive Kea (mountain parrots) hang about hoping for handouts. There is also a fabulous 3 day walk along the Kaikoura Coastal Walkway. Personal luggage is transported each day for you, where an evening meal and even pre-dinner wine can be provided!

Day 14 Kaikoura - Hanmer Springs  142kms

Kaikoura is not only one of the best places in the world to view the whales, but also the impressive albatrosses who feed close off-shore in-between taking turns to sit on their eggs. Kaikoura has a greater variety of seabird species within a small area than anywhere along the New Zealand coastline - rare and endangered species can be readily seen year round, including the Royal Albatross. Whales and dolphins are also often spotted while on the Albatross Encounter trip!

After your morning excursion (if any) to view the whales or albatrosses or swim with the dolphins, drive 6kms south and turn right onto SH70, direction Waiau. You are now on the scenic Alpine Pacific Triangle. At 62 kilometres Mt Lyford Lodge and cafe offer excellent horse trekking in the stunning high country plus skiing in the winter months. Ask me about the 3 day "luxury" trek that takes you all the way to Hanmer.

99kms - Just after Rotherham turn right to Hanmer Springs and right again on SH7.

133kms - Turn right to Hanmer Springs, your destination for this evening. This is a fast growing thermal region offering a wealth of activities including skiing, rafting, horse-trekking and mountain-biking in the forest - their specialty. After all this activity there are the award-winning hot springs to relax in.

Day 15 Hanmer Springs - Christchurch 134kms 

You have time this morning for some more activities before driving to Christchurch. Please note that a jet-boat tour has been scheduled on Day 21. Return to SH7 and turn left direction Culverden. The road takes you via the beautiful Weta Pass full of limestone formations and the Waipara Valley, a sunny and well drained valley fast becoming the new vine growing region.  

79kms – Turn right onto SH1. I can recommend a stop at the family-owned Pegasus Bay winery for lunch, turn left 4.5 kilometres later. Try their generous platter loaded with cheeses and locally caught salmon and duck accompanied with some excellent award-winning wines on the lawn.

Christchurch is New Zealand's second largest city which sprawls across the Canterbury Plains towards the Southern Alps. The main attractions here are the English style gardens and parks, the city even has its very own Avon Riveron which one can punt. It has an English colonial feel to the city with school children in formal blazers and straw hats, with fine architecture and heritage sites evident everywhere. ……however, on February 22nd 2011 the city suffered a devastating earthquake that has unfortunately destroyed many of those heritage buildings, including the iconic Christchurch Cathedral!

Attractions still worth considering are :-
  • Head to Antigua Boatshed where canoes are available for hire. Request a picnic basket hamper to be enjoyed on the banks of the Avon River along the way.
  • Or hire your very own gondolier to punt you through the Botanical Gardens.
  • The Grand Café at the Casino is a great option ….open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.
  • Visit the Canterbury Museum for their informative Earthquake exhibition as well as the Antarctic section and impressive Maori collection.
  • The new Christchurch Art Gallery is a must see.
  • The excellent International Antarctic Centre near the airport is where you can experience all there is to know about the icy continent.
  • Take to the Port Hills for stunning 360° views as you walk along the Crater Rim Track.
  • Mona Vale was a beautiful Edwardian-style homestead set amongst 5½ ha. of beautiful gardens…..the gardens are still worth the visit!
  • The nearby Dean’s Bush at Riccarton is home to the only surviving stand of wetlands podocarp forest.
  • Join the Christchurch Bike Tour…..they ride along the bike paths and through parks and there is not a hill in sight! Stops include both Mona Vale and Deans Bush, as well as Hagley Park and the attractions.
  • The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a zoo with a difference with plenty of opportunities to get up close and touch the animals.....be sure to check out the massive eels! And buy a bag of food to feed the various animals as you walk around the well marked bush lined paths. Time your visit to include the 4.30pm guided tour (no extra charge) through the Natural New Zealand section showcasing our rare native birds, including the kiwi of course. Other highlights here are close encounters of the wildlife kind with various and the farmyard animals that clamber for your attention to be fed and stroked! 
Day 16 Christchurch - Mount Somers 188kms

Drive west on SH73 for 52 kilometres to the foothills of the Southern Alps. In Darfield turn left onto SH77 direction Glentunnel and Mt Hutt and follow the Scenic Inland Route. The drive takes you along the foothills with the Southern Alps to your right and the sweeping farmland of the Canterbury Plains to your left.

92kms - The road crosses the alluvial Rakaia River next. For excellent views of the gorge you should park by the first bridge and cross over the road to the little walkway.

100kms – Mt Hutt Station on your right is one of the largest deer farms in the world. Turn left to Methven - a bustling ski resort by winter servicing Mount Hutt. Here you can buy groceries etc. Take the road next to the tourist office, direction Mt Somers and at 10.4kms turn left onto SH72.

After checking in to your accommodation for the night, return to the village and turn left towards the high country sheep stations of Mount Potts and Erewhon (an anagram of "nowhere"!) You really do feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere as you travel through the tussocked and exposed land. Be aware that you are now in the alpine region, where weather and temperatures can change dramatically within hours. The 50 kilometre unsealed road will take you deep into the mountains to the head of the Rangitata River.

178kms – Turn right onto Mt Pocession Street for an awesome view of the Alps across the trout infested Lake Clearwater – the holiday settlement is full of tiny basic holiday homes that we call a "bach". The lake is popular for bird watching, kayaking, wind-surfing and trout fishing. The scenery changes dramatically after this as the road meanders through the huge high country farms to reveal your first breath-taking view of the massive glacial valley with Mt Sunday lying straight ahead. It is not really a mountain but a small rocky knoll in the middle of the valley that escaped the destruction of the advancing glaciers. The elaborate set of the Golden Hall of Edoras was purposely built on Mt Sunday. One of my favorite scenes was of Éowyn gazing across the valley in deep thought and my absolute favorite scene was of Aragorn returning by horse to Helms Deep after his disappearance over the cliff during the attack of the Wargs, which was filmed further up the Rangitata Valley. My ultimate dream would be to ride myself up that grassy knoll, with awesome views of the valley below framed by the massive Southern Alps... I’ll keep you informed.

188kms - Follow the road past Mt Potts Station and park just after the cattle-stop – the road continues for another 4 kilometers to Erewhon Station. It is permissible to walk to Mt Sunday but it does involve getting your feet wet several times. We failed in our attempt on the fourth crossing of the glacial river, however it was an adventurous and humbling experience trekking as tiny insignificant specks through morass and icy cold streams surrounded in a theatre of massive snow-capped mountains. We retreated and found the most perfect picnic spot on a grassy bluff 200 meters up the hill from our car – in fact the best picnic spot I have ever found in the world, it even bet the picnic we had dangling our legs over the edge on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town! You may even feel spiritually uplifted (as I was) after your visit - it may have something to do with the source of the river being fed by the Garden of Allah Glacier and the Garden of Eden Ice Plateau! 

Day 17 Mount Somers - Mount Cook 258kms

Continue south on the Inland Scenic Route to Geraldine. At Arundel, you could turn right and drive a short distance to check out the Peel Forest. The forest is home to 1000’s of year old massive Rimu trees and Kahikatea trees.

50kms – The Geraldine Orchard Farm Shop & Café is a great option for a coffee stop, you will see it on the left about 1 kilometre before Geraldine.

In Geraldine there are a few attractions worth stopping for. You can choose from:-

·         Try the hot-chocolate and or handmade chocolates at Coco - the prices ensure they are sold fresh

·         The Giant Jersey has, you guessed it, the largest jersey in the world, plus lots of woolly stuff on sale. It is also home to the incredible Medieval Mosaic, a perfect recreation of the famous Bayeux Tapestry.

·         The Vintage Car Club and Machinery Museum has a sizable collection of cars, tractors and aircraft

·         Barkers Berry Barn is a specialty shop selling unique gift and gourmet items

Turn right after the Geraldine shops to stay on SH79.

96kms – In Fairlie, turn right onto SH8 to Lake Tekapo. Or you could first stop for a famous pie from the Fairlie Bakehouse – locals come from miles to buy these!

The scenery dramatically changes as you cross over Burke's Pass. You are now entering the Mackenzie Basin, a flat expanse of tussock grasslands and home to New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki (or Mt Cook as it is known in English) plus the longest glacier Tasman and sparkling turquoise glacial lakes below the Southern Alps - and it bears little resemblance to anywhere else in New Zealand.

138kms – The village at Lake Tekapo is small - their claim to fame being that it has the cleanest and clearest air in New Zealand….the skies above have just become the world’s first ever Night Sky Reserve. There is not much to hold you here beyond taking a snapshot of the much-photographed Church of the Good Shepherd and the Sheepdog. Buy groceries here for dinner if you intend cooking your own meals as there are no shops where you are staying tonight.

Just south of the village, turn right and drive up to the summit of Mount John by day to the Astro Café and enjoy spectacular 360° views.

200kms - Be sure to stop at the Lake Pukaki Lookout for photos of Mt Cook reflected in the water….the gorgeous turquoise-blue lake derives its colour from fine glacial particles suspended in the water.

Soon after, turn right onto SH80. The scenic drive to Mount Cook Village at the base of Aoraki / Mt Cook (our highest mountain) and the Tasman and Hooker Glaciers encompasses world-class scenery at its best where your excitement grows in parallel with the vista before you as you enter this world heritage site known as the Mount Cook National Park.

 

En route a stop at Peter’s Lookout is recommended - on the other side of the lake you are looking at Braemer Station where they filmed the escape from inside the Misty Mountains (1st Hobbit movie) and the Warg chase. The farm next door is called Tasman Downs Station – site of the Lake Town set! The whimsical lakeside village set sat over the water and incorporated clusters of two-storey wooden dwellings arranged around connecting walkways, waterways and wharves. Filming at this location was one of the largest operational periods in the shooting schedule with around 700 people on set.

On arrival you can choose from:

  • Several scenic flights around Mount Cook, with a landing on the Tasman Glacier….late afternoon with the setting sun is the best time to do this!
  • Visit the newly opened Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre,
  • Or the DoC Visitor’s Centre is just as good.
  • Eat, drink and just relax in the Hermitage while enjoying the incredible views that lie before you.
  • This evening you could join the Star Gazing tour and gaze in awe at the galaxy of stars in the Milky Way – our skies are some of the clearest in the whole world! 
Day 18 Mount Cook - Wanaka 206kms 

Return along SH80 and turn right to Twizel, soon after you could stop at the Salmon Farm to feed the massive fish and to try the smoked salmon. Continue south on SH8, consider stopping in Omarama for petrol as there is not another fuel station for 80 kilometres! The highway will take you over the scenic Lindis Pass, the pass was first used by the Maori people walking to Lake Wanaka for summer fishing.


174kms - Just after Tarras, turn right onto SH8A to Wanaka. The tranquil lake has picture-perfect mountains as a backdrop and is one of my favourite places in New Zealand!

There are several options available here: 

  • Set against a backdrop of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps, they invite you to the Mills family farm to share in their history, community, story and wines. The tasting is relatively informal with 5-7 wines are available daily for tasting, mainly of their current vintages.
  • Cycle along the Outlet Track along the banks of the mighty Clutha River, a favourite spot for trout fishing.
  • Watch out for “The Leaning Tower of Wanaka”, the centerpiece of Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World. Only one of the world’s most interesting and eccentric visitor attractions!
  • Pop out to the end of the Wanaka Wharf to see the big fat trout (no fishing permitted from the wharf, sorry)
  • Visit Cinema Paradiso for an old-fashioned movie experience where you get to lounge around on huge sofas or enjoy a meal or drink before, during or after the movie!
  • For the best views in town wander along the lakes edge to the Edgewater Resort for freshly baked scones or pre-dinner drinks on the lawn on the lake’s edge.
Day 19 Wanaka

Today is dedicated to walking - the Rob Roy Glacier Walk is one of New Zealand’s best hikes with about 4 hours of walking.  Be sure to take a picnic lunch to enjoy at your leisure at the top!

From Wanaka drive via Glendhu Bay and Treble Cone Ski-field up the stunning Matukituki Valley (allow 1 hour) into the beautiful Mt Aspiring National Park, with plenty of photographic opportunities of our famous Mount Aspiring (the Matterhorn of the south) and Mount Glacier en route.

Please note that there are several fords to cross near the end, but they are all quite passable in an ordinary car….unless there has been heavy rain over night! If the water levels are high then you should consider taking the shuttle or the guided tour with Eco Wanaka instead. But if you self drive then you can stop as often as you like to take photos.

Within the National Park is the Rob Roy Glacier, a massive glacier beginning high above on Rob Roy Peak (2,606 metres), clinging to the ever-steepening mountainside as it descends into the Rob Roy Valley - enjoy one of the best views Mother Nature offers while eating your picnic lunch. Nearly always, large chunks of ice and snow (sometimes the size of a car) can be seen from a distance dropping 150-300 metres - an incredible sight and sound.

Ascending is at first easy along the river flats and across a hanging bridge…..yes it does swing but just hold your breath and go for it! The track then steadily climbs into the New Zealand rainforest - a variety of moss, ferns and shrubs. Often the glacier can be seen through the bush. After trekking for 2 hours, the forest drops away and you then enter open ground of alpine herbs and flowers. You eventually emerge above the beech forest to be confronted by the massive terminal face of the Rob Roy Glacier. A 261 metre waterfall falls cleanly down creating an amazing wind blast.

 Essentials to consider taking are :- strong walking boots, layers of non cotton clothing, including a warm Polar fleece, a wind/rain proof jacket, a picnic lunch, drinks and a day pack to put everything in.

 Alternativley, my favourite hike of all time is the Roy's Peak Track (hard). This will take you around 6 hours return….. 3.5 hours of steep climbing, but the views are SO worth the pain. Then an hour up there and about 2 hours back down….many rise early to catch the sunrise. Or, if you feel like a shorter walk then the 2 ½ hour Roaring Meg's is pretty cool.

Day 20 Wanaka – Te Anau 270kms 

Drive south on SH6 past Wanaka Airport. It is hard to believe that this sleepy region was the most populous in New Zealand during the chaotic gold boom years of the late 19th century. Cromwell is one of the sunniest, warmest places in the South Island (in the summer that is), making it ideal for growing fruit trees and the region is fast becoming renowned for fine Pinot Noir wines. Old Cromwell Town is worth exploring.

54kms - You then continue south on SH6 through the dramatic Kawarau Gorge.  Just before the gorge, look for the large fresh fruit shop on the left (Jones Fruit Stall), it is well worth a stop at as they have all sorts of seasonal fruit that you can try and their real fruit ice-creams are amazing!

Soon after leaving the Gorge there is the excellent Gibbston Valley Winery and café which is a good option for lunch. They also run the Gibbston Valley Cheesery next door!

90kms - The Kawarau River Bridge is home to A.J. Hackett's very first bungee jumping platform - this is where you get to tie a huge elastic band to your ankles and jump out into space over the river (if you dare?), or just have fun watching others.

106kms - At the Frankton roundabout (fill up with petrol here) turn left to stay on SH6, direction Lumsden and Te Anau.

194kms - At Five Rivers, turn right. The café on the corner is highly recommended – try their cheesy rolls, the specialty of the region!

270kms - Te Anau is the gateway to the Fiordland National Park – it is 1,250,000 uninhabited hectares of stunning wilderness. Fiordland has a primeval rugged landscape, largely untouched by humans apart from incursions by tourists at Milford and Doubtful Sounds and a few fishermen in other fiords. It was declared a World Heritage Area on account of the outstanding geological features and exceptional beauty, the jewel in the crown being Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.

You could check-out the Wildlife Centre (a 10 minute walk from the Visitor Centre/DoC) for a view of the near extinct pre-historic looking flightless Takahe as well as many other NZ native birds. It is run by DoC so donations are gladly accepted!

Another great option before an early dinner is to see the Ata Whenua – Shadowland movie at the Fiordland Cinema. It is a 30 minute film show cases the unique beauty and remote wilderness of Fiordland from the air to the screen for all to enjoy! No reservations are necessary, there is a screening every hour, on the hour between 3pm and 6pm


Day 21
Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau 

Please allow at least 2.5 hours for the drive to Milford as you will be stopping all the time to take photos. NB it is a good idea to take a picnic to enjoy on the cruise as there are no shops en route or at Milford and only a limited selection on board the boat. Also note that what you do not manage to see on the way there you can always stop at on the way back!

The drive towards Milford Sound is quite stunning to say the least. Possible stops en route or on the way back include Eglington River Valley, Mirror Lake and Knobs Flat before reaching the Divide – the lowest pass over these mountains. Continuing along the road you next have the Falls Creek Lookout down to the Hollyford Valley. Please note that there are traffic lights at the Homer Tunnel as it is only one way traffic…..you can be waiting for up to 10 minutes!

Once through the 1.2km long Homer Tunnel you will see the spectacular Cleddau Canyon and the incredibly precipitous walls on which the road slowly winds its way down.

There is parking available 10 minutes walk from the Visitor Terminal. Don't forget the insect repellent as the sand-flies are not only a menace, but practically man-eating! Plus a rain coat - the area receives 12,000mm of rain per year per square metre - so chances are high that you will see rain!

120kms - Milford Sound is quite simply unparalleled to anything in this world - wet or fine Milford is incredibly grand. The awesome Nature Cruise on the fiord includes countless waterfalls tumbling hundreds of metres down sheer cliffs, mountains rising straight out of the sea, fur seals and (usually) dolphins. Mitre Peak magnetises photographers, as does the cascading Bowen and Stirling Falls.  A 'Sound' is a flooded river valley, but these are flooded glacial valleys with sheer sided walls that plunge hundreds of metres under water as well as above - so they are misnamed. The Maori believe the fiords were created by the titanic mason Tute Rakiwhanoa, who used an adze to cut out the steep sided walls and gullies.

Afterwards, return to Te Anau the way you came. If you feel like a short walk, the Nature Walk at the southern end of Lake Gunn is highly recommended (it starts from the Cascade Creek parking)…..it is like walking through a fairy tale!  

Day 22 Te Anau - Queenstown 206kms

Return the way you came on SH94 and then SH6 towards Queenstown.

165kms - At the Frankton roundabout, turn right and drive north another 8 kilometres on SH6. 

173kms – Turn left to Arrowtown. On the corner of the highway and Lake Hayes you will find the multi award winning Amisfield Restaurant & Winery, where you can stop and try some wines and have some lunch.

180kms - The pretty tree-lined town of Arrowtown is another former gold mining settlement. Two years after the first European settlers established high country farms in the Wakatipu area, gold was discovered in the Arrow River and news soon spread. Within weeks 1500 people arrived as the news of gold spread and people in search of the alluvial treasure arrived in droves. At the height of the gold rush, Arrowtown's population grew to over 7000. In 1865 many of the miners started to leave for other gold-mining areas and the local government invited Chinese miners to the area. Most worked in the Shotover and Arrow Gorges, although wherever Chinese stores opened communities began to develop. Wander amongst the historic cottages, visit the reconstructed Chinese Settlement (the Chinese were subjected to many prejudices so had their own settlement. The main shopping street is a shopper’s particular delight!

Return south by taking the road along the base of the hill, via Coronet and Arthur’s Point. You could (should) drive up the Coronet Ski-field Access Road for fabulous views of the Wakatipu Basin and Shotover River! You don’t need to drive all the way up….turn left onto Skippers Canyon Road and there is a parking and a Lookout immediately on the left.

206kms - Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of the World! The beautiful resort was originally named as 'fit for a Queen'. It lies on Lake Wakatipu where you can observe the strange seiches phenomenon - this is an unusual rhythmic rise and fall of 12cm in its water level every five minutes due to variations in atmospheric pressure. A Maori myth says it is the beating of a monster's heart lying in the depths of Lake Wakatipu! The sheer breadth of tourist activities available here is impossible to list, however the ' in-thing' at the moment are tours that have anything to do with the numerous Lord of the Rings and Hobbit filming locations. 

Day 23 Queenstown 

Today you have a free day in Queenstown. Options today could include:

  • Start your day with a Sunrise Balloon flight.
  • Visit the Underwater World Observatory on the pier, where trout and eels are visible in the clear waters of the lake; they live freely in the lake however as they are fed they like to hang out here. The cutest part is seeing the ducks diving for the food. Beside the pier are marks showing the level to which the lake rose in the floods of 1878 and 1983.
  • Take the Skyline Gondola for awesome views! There are various activities you can do up here such as riding the down-hill Luge, descending to the bottom by Zip-linesmountain-biking or Bungy-jumping!
  • Have a leisurely lunch at one of the wineries – the Amisfield Bistro & Winery on the corner of the Lake Hayes-Arrowtown turnoff is highly recommended! As it is a favourite with Queenstown locals, call ahead on 03 442 0556 to book a table! If you are feeling guilty then why not go for a walk around Lake Hayes before your meal!
  • Take the plunge and try a bungee jump, or just have fun watching others do it
  • Learn to fly-fish in the trout infested lakes and rivers
  • Visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park near the gondola, the park spreads for over 2 acres and you need to allow about 2.5 hours to see everything!
  • Hire bikes from Around the Basin Cycle Adventures at 23 Brecon Street and follow the Queenstown Cycle Trail on purpose built cycle-ways through the Wakatipu Basin, past 2 lakes, three river gorges, historic Arrowtown and even the wine area of Gibbston Valley if you are feeling energetic. Choose either Guided or Supported (self-guided) tours, both offer a free shuttle back if you need it!
  • Or cycle along the lakefront track to Frankton, turn right and continue along the lakefront to the Hilton and then if you wish, you can even go as far as the Kelvin Heights Golf Club or Yacht Club or the Bay View Reserve and catch the water-taxi back across to Queenstown ($10pp) – call Queenstown Water-taxis on 03 441 1124 to request a pickup and to check on times.
  • Play golf on one of the most magically located courses in the world
  • Head to the Onsen Hot Pools at Arthurs Point. Each booking receives a private cedar-lined private pool, each with push-button retractable walls and ceiling so you can enjoy the dramatic scenery as you soak on the edge of the cliff overlooking the spectacular Shotover River – worth the 10 minute drive on its own! Call 0508 869463 to book.
  • For drinks, McNeill’s Cottage Brewery where there is a nice mix of heritage and atmosphere, plus fine home brewed ales; or The Sundeck Rooftop Lounge Bar on top of The Bunker at 14 Cow Lane is the newest bar in town and has incredible views!
  • For dining, the Madam Woo (Asian Restaurant) on Mall Street has funky décor and funky food; or Rata Restaurant is located in Te Nuku at 43 Ballarat Street and is Josh Emett’s (Michelin star chef and Masterchef judge) latest Queenstown venture; for a special dinner treat, try the Prime Restaurant & Bar on the waterfront of Queenstown Bay (the entrance is #2 Rees Street, above Sunglass Hut)…..if it is stunning weather then ask for a table on the upstairs balcony overlooking the lake.

Day 24 Queenstown ......internal or international flight

If your flight back to Auckland or Australia is late afternoon or this evening then you will have time to enjoy a bit more of Queenstown.

  

   

 
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