Where the Mountains Meet the Sea
Highlights: Queenstown | Swimming with Dolphins or Whale Watching Cruise | Marlborough Private Wine Tour and Cruise | White Island Heli Tour | Auckland
See New Zealand’s dramatic scenery from every angle on this 12-day tour from Queenstown to Auckland.
Covering ground on both the North and South Islands, you’ll have your choice of one of four excursions in Queenstown, swim with dolphins or watch whales in Kaikoura, sample wines within the lush vineyards of the Marlborough region, and land by helicopter onto New Zealand’s only permanently active volcano, White Island.
Ending with your choice between five more tours in Auckland, this tour holds surprises around every corner and experiences on every stretch..
Itinerary at a Glance
The below itinerary is only a suggestion, we offer tailor-made personal service and solutions to help you plan your perfect vacation. This itinerary is also available in the reverse direction.
Day 1 Arrive Queenstown Welcome to New Zealand! Upon arrival into Queenstown, enjoy a private transfer to Eichardt’s Private Hotel, which will serve as your luxurious accommodation for the next 3 nights. With a fantastic location in the heart of Queenstown, Eichardt’s has Lake Wakatipu on its doorstep.
Day 2 Queenstown – Today you have the choice of one of four Excursions Today you can personalize your Queenstown experience by choosing one of these four tours, all sure to leave you with lifelong memories: 1. Milford Sound Fly/Nature Cruise/Fly Explore Milford Sound from the air with a 40-minute scenic flight over the Southern Alps. Upon landing enjoy a Milford Sound cruise, where you’ll journey the full length of the fiord to see seals, dolphins and penguins. An informative commentary is provided by the crew and the wheelhouse is open to join and speak with the skipper. Complimentary lunch (buffet lunch Oct-Apr, picnic lunch May-Sep), tea and coffee is provided. The return flight to Queenstown takes a different path, and a return transfer to your accommodation is included. 2. Full Day Private Gourmet Food & Wine Tour On this private tour of Central Otago’s vineyards, enjoy tastings at four wineries in the Gibbston Valley/Queenstown and Bannockburn/Cromwell regions. See New Zealand’s largest underground wine cave, stop for a cheese tasting and enjoy a delightful platter-style lunch with a glass of premium wine (varietal or vineyard preferences can be included to suit your interests if advised in advance). Stroll through historic Old Cromwell Town (time and weather permitting) then take a drive through the Kawarau Gorge to see the historic Kawarau Bridge and the original AJ Hackett Bungy. 3. Full Day Private Famous Routeburn Track Hike Follow your private guide through Mount Aspiring National Park to experience one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Journey for approximately 2.5 hours through a 130 million-year old world of ferns, mosses, lichens and beech forest, then watch as the woodland parts to reveal the rich grassland of Routeburn Flats. Stop here for a delicious Kiwi style picnic lunch, then head back to explore forgotten paths of the Maori as you travel along their old greenstone trails. 4. Half Day Wilderness Safari - Jetboat & Forest Walk / Evening Gondola, Dinner & Stargazing Surrounded by breathtaking snow-covered peaks, hidden valleys, waterfalls and glacial valleys, take a thrilling jet boat through the ever-changing shallow channels of the Dart River’s braided system. Enjoy a guided walk through ancient native Beech forest, then journey back by bus with stops to view some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. This evening you’ll be whisked up to Bob’s Peak for dinner with panoramic views, then taken stargazing with a guide to view constellations through telescopes.
Day 3 Queenstown at Leisure With today entirely free to explore Queenstown at your leisure, you can visit historic Arrowtown and learn the mining history of the region or perhaps take a wine tasting tour through Otago to sample excellent pinot noirs. If you’re looking for more of an adrenaline rush, Queenstown is the perfect base for bungee jumping, sky diving, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, zip-lining, canyon swinging, luging, and more!
Day 4 Queenstown to Christchurch (Flight) drive to Kaikoura (181km / 112mi) After a short flight (not included) to Christchurch, take a drive to the beautiful coastal town of Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea. Your accommodation is at Hapuku Lodge + Treehouses, a luxurious treehouse 10 meters above the ground with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and the pacific coast. Each room has a luxurious spa bath, wood-burning fireplace, and custom-designed furnishings, and you can enjoy delicious gourmet meals at Hapuku’s restaurant, take a swim in the heated lap pool, indulge in spa treatments or get out and about with complimentary use of mountain bikes.
Day 5 Kaikoura – Today you have the choice of one of two Excursions
Today you can personalize your Kaikoura experience by choosing one of these two excursions, both sure to leave you with lifelong memories:
1. Swimming with the Dolphins
A chance to swim with adorable dusky dolphins! These playful dolphins reside in Kaikoura’s coastal waters year-round, and pods of 100 dolphins or more are common. Get into the water and watch with delight as the dolphins swim, leap and play around you.
2. Whale Watch Cruise Embark on a whale watching cruise to see giant sperm whales in action. While these year-round residents are always the star of the show, a typical tour can also include New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season, you may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales.
After your tour, the afternoon is free to do as little or as much as you like.
Day 6 Kaikoura to Blenheim (128km / 80mi) Departing from the marine playground of Kaikoura, take a jaw-dropping coastal drive north to wine country. Grab lunch at one of the roadside vans selling incredibly fresh and fantastic lobster, then continue to Blenheim, the capital of New Zealand wine country.
Day 7 Private Tour of the Marlborough Wine Region & Marlborough Sound Cruise Forget the driving today as we take you on a private tour of the Marlborough wine region. Enjoy a range of gourmet treats and wine tastings like the famous Cloudy Bay and lunch at Wither Hills Winery restaurant before embarking on a cruise through the Marlborough Sounds. Take in the natural beauty of the landscapes that lay before you, then visit marine farms along the way with delicious tasting of fresh seafood alongside a well-matched Marlborough sauvignon blanc.
Day 8 Blenheim to Rotorua (Flight) It’s time to say goodbye to the South Island as you drop your rental car off at the airport and take a short flight (not included) to Rotorua. Upon arrival, collect your new rental car and spend the day however you please.
Sitting squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Rotorua is a spectacular place to witness geothermal activity. The earth’s crust is at its most exciting and accessible in the downtown parks and lakefront, making it the ideal location to see giant geysers rocket into the air and colourful sulphur terraces hiss and boil. But Rotorua is also more than boiling mud, and you can just as easily stroll through ancient forests and alongside pristine lakes. Packed with history and tikanga (culture) of the Maori people, you’ll have endless ways in which to spend your time, all equally as interesting.
Day 9 White Island Heli-Tour with Island Landing Today you’ll be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Take a helicopter to White Island, New Zealand’s only permanently active volcano, and touch down for a tour on what feels like another planet. Donning a hardhat and embarking on a leisurely guided tour, you’ll see active steam vents, hot streams, colorful sulphur formations and the steaming crater. Then, fly over to Mt Tarawera – another volcanic island that last erupted in 1886 – and land on the summit for incredible views of dramatic craters. This afternoon is at leisure to explore the thermal wonderland on your own, and we highly recommend a visit to Wai-O-Tapu for a colourful and diverse geothermal experience.
Day 10 Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo Caves (334km / 207mi) This morning you’ll depart Rotorua through the forested Mamaku Ranges to reach the famous Waitomo Caves where you meet your private Guide and take a short walk through breath taking New Zealand native bush to the cave entrance. Your guide will light candles setting the scene for an intimate cave experience. See glowworms and cave formations up close and appreciate the beauty of Footwhistle Cave (also known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave). Around a corner lie the bones of one of New Zealand's lost treasures, the ancient Moa bird. As the lights cast a warm glow over the stunning cave formations, your guide will speak a bit on the insects that live here - titiwai, the glow worm and tuna, the eel. After enjoying a relaxed stroll through the cave, take a seat in Footwhistle's Cathedral to see it lit up by a dazzling magnesium torch. After the caves, continue through the beautiful Waikato region – the dairy farming capital of New Zealand – and northward to Auckland.
Day 11 Auckland – Today you have the choice of one of five tours Today you can personalize your Auckland experience by choosing one of these five tours, all sure to leave you with lifelong memories: 1. Full Day Private Waiheke Island Gourmet Food & Wine Tour Travel by ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island, Auckland’s food and wine neighbor just 12 miles away. Sample succulent New Zealand oysters, award-winning olive oil and other locally produced foods, all accompanied by wines from some of Waiheke’s top vineyards. Your private guide will provide an entertaining and informative commentary as you go, and treats may include wild honey, the famous local green herb spread and artisan cheeses. A lunch platter at one of the area's top vineyard restaurants is included. 2. Half Day Private Art, Food & Fashion Downtown Walking Tour Discover the more cultured, creative and indulgent side of Auckland with a private walking tour of Auckland Art Gallery, leading dealer galleries, artisan food producers and top fashion labels. Cameras are welcome, but please respect the privacy of the property owners and the copyright of the artist. Food and wine tastings will be provided during the tour, but full meals are not included. You are welcome to purchase additional food and beverages at your own cost. 3. Half Day Private Gourmet Tasting Tour Discover some of Auckland’s best eateries and artisan food producers on this short – and very easy – downtown walking and tasting tour. The route takes in Britomart, one of the city’s coolest new entertainment precincts filled with bars, restaurants and boutiques that you can explore once the tour concludes. Tour highlights include a local artisan bakery, an award-winning cheese producer, a hand-crafted gelato factory, a chocolatier and desert restaurant, plus a leading New Zealand coffee house. 4. Full Day Private Tawharanui Nature and Kiwi Tour with Picnic Dinner Much of New Zealand's insect, marine and bird life is nocturnal, and this tour through native forest offers a great opportunity to experience what goes on in the dark. Tawharanui Regional Park is home to the New Zealand brown kiwi, the morepork (New Zealand owl) and Weta, all of which are nocturnal animals. Experience how the bush environment changes after sunset as your private guide takes you on a search for nocturnal wildlife. 5. Full Day Private Auckland’s City Sights & Maori Cultural Performance Tour Experience Auckland’s fascinating Maori culture on a very personal tour to important historic sites. Learn how this unique living culture is an integral part of what Auckland and New Zealand has to offer, from its well-known cityscapes to its numerous volcanoes and the amazing West Coast. Finish with a visit to the Auckland Museum with its Maori and Polynesian Gallery. You can enjoy the Museum's Maori Cultural Performance to see a postural war dance (the haka) first-hand.
Day 12 Auckland | Departure After a wonderful trip, it’s time to say goodbye to the food, wine, and wildlife of New Zealand. We have included a private transfer to the airport to begin your journey home.
- 3 night of accommodation at Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Queenstown – Mountain View Suite
(Includes: Pre-dinner cocktails and breakfast daily)
- 2 nights of accommodation at Hapuku Lodge + Treehouses, Kaikoura – Upper Branch Tree House
(Includes: Dinner and breakfast)
- 2 nights of accommodation at The Marlborough, Blenheim – Lodge Suite
(Includes: Pre-dinner drinks, canapes, dinner & breakfast)
- 2 nights of accommodation at Solitaire Lodge, Rotorua – Executive Suite
(Includes: Complimentary mini bar, pre-dinner drinks & canapes. dinner, breakfast & light lunch)
- 2 nights of accommodation at Sofitel Viaduct Harbour, Auckland – Luxury Room Marina View
- Private return airport transfers in Queenstown
In Queenstown, the freedom to choose 1 of 4 Excursions
- Milford Sound Fly/Nature Cruise/Fly
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, Flights, Milford Sound Nature Cruise)
- Full Day Private Gourmet Food & Wine Tour
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, wine tasting at 4 vineyards, a tasting of local cheeses and platter style lunch with a glass of premium wine)
- Full Day Private Famous Routeburn Track Hike (Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, walking poles, refreshments & lunch)
- Wilderness Safari - Jetboat & Forest Walk / Evening Gondola, Dinner & Stargazing
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, Gondola, Dinner & Stargazing)
- Milford Sound Fly/Nature Cruise/Fly
- 4 day rental car from Christchurch to Blenheim (mid-size SUV) including insurance & GPS
- In Kaikoura, a choice of either swimming with dolphins or a whale watching cruise
- Private tour of the Marlborough Wine Region by Land and Sea
- Heli-tour to White Island
- 3 day rental car from Rotorua to Auckland (mid-size SUV) including insurance & GPS
- Admission and private tour of the Waitomo Caves
In Auckland, the freedom to choose 1 of 5 Excursions
- Full Day Private Waiheke Island Gourmet Food & Wine Tour
(Includes: Return ferry to Waiheke Island, Waiheke ferry terminal pick up and drop off, platter lunch and tastings)
- Half Day Private Art, Food & Fashion Downtown Walking Tour
(Includes: Entry fees, donations to charitable arts trusts, morning or afternoon tea, refreshments)
- Half Day Private Gourmet Tasting Tour
(Includes: Food and beverage tastings)
- Full Day Private Tawharanui Nature and Kiwi Tour with Picnic Dinner
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, Picnic Dinner, Torch, Binocular)
- Full Day Private Auckland’s City Sights & Maori Cultural Performance Tour
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, snacks, refreshments and lunch, Auckland Museum and Maori Cultural Performance)
- Full Day Private Waiheke Island Gourmet Food & Wine Tour
- Private transfer from Auckland hotel to airport
- International or domestic airfares (unless specified above).
- Meals other than specified above.
- Travel insurance.
Where the Mountains Meet the Sea
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