New Zealand off the beaten luxury Track
Highlights: Auckland | Huka Lodge | Footwhistle Glowworm Caves | Mt Tarawera | Orakei Korako | Sailing Lake Rotoiti | Cape Kidnappers | Hawke’s Bay | Wharekauhau Country Estate | Wellington | Swimming with Dolphins or Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise | Annandale | Milford Sound Heli Cruise | Queenstown
Get off the beaten track without compromising your comfort on this completely customizable 16-day tour.
Lay back at properties like Huka Lodge, Cape Kidnappers, Wharekauhau or Annandale or get off the grid with a heli tour to Mt Tarawera and Milford Sound.
Sip world-renowned wines in Central Otago and admire Art Deco architecture in Napier – you’ll have all the time you need to see and do whatever it is you want.
Of course, if you’d like to change part of the trip we can personalize it to you..
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 Auckland Welcome to New Zealand! Upon arrival into Auckland, enjoy a private transfer to your hotel in the in the heart of the city, between the vibrant Viaduct Harbour and the new Wynyard Quarter. A guaranteed early check-in time has been organized for this morning. Venture into town to explore designer shopping and fabulous restaurants or enjoy fine dining at the hotel’s sleek restaurant.
Day 2 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 3 Auckland to Lake Taupo with a stop at the Glowworn Caves (345km / 214mi) This morning collect your rental car and begin your journey south traveling through lush farmland of the Waikato to the King Country region. On arrival in Waitomo, meet your 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 (which is 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 King Country region to Lake Taupo and your accommodation for the next 3 nights, the acclaimed Huka Lodge.
Day 4 Private Helicopter to Mt Tarawera / Orakei Korako Dual Landing & Sailing Lake Rotoiti Combine the thrill of landing on Mount Tarawera with a flight that includes spectacular aerial views of our stunning crater lakes, the renowned Tarawera Falls and the vibrant Waimangu and Wai-O-Tapu geothermal reserves. Experience hot springs, spurting geysers and the natural beauty of a geothermal wonderland, then return by air to the Lakefront pier where you will embark on a private sailing charter across Lake Rotoiti. Fish for rainbow trout, swim in the warm waters, soak in thermal pools and hear the stories and legends of the local Maori. After the cruise, transfer back to Taupo.
Day 5 Taupo at Leisure Stay in at Huka Lodge today to enjoy a day of leisure. After yesterday’s excitement, relaxing in your luxurious suite with gourmet cuisine and a bottle of local wine will be just the ticket.
Day 6 Huka Lodge – Cape Kidnappers (163km / 101mi) This morning continue to the East Coast’s Hawke’s Bay region to explore local wineries and sample local foods. There are 72 wineries in the area, each touting an impressive range of red wines that the region has become so famous for. In Napier city, enjoy Art Deco architecture and learn a bit of the history, then take a walk along the waterfront or stop in a few delightful vintage shops. Your accommodation for next 2 nights is at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, a luxury lodge set atop 6,000 rolling acres of stunning pasture land in Napier. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers encompasses terrain which is reminiscent of Montana but plunges 800 feet into the sea. The cluster of lodge buildings are suggestive of a working farm. A combination of stone and weathered wood, the buildings combine rustic materials with comfortable up-to-date furniture. 180-degree panoramic views of the farm, golf course and Pacific Ocean are enjoyed from each suite’s private balcony. Your stay includes pre-dinner drinks, hors d’oeuvres, a la carte dinners, and a complimentary mini bar.
Day 7 Farm, at Cape Kidnappers Free Day Spend the day at leisure today, enjoying the facilities of the lodge or playing a round of golf at the course. Cape Kidnappers is home to plenty of outdoor pursuits, so you can go hiking across the farmland, view New Zealand’s only mainland Gannet colony amid spectacular coastal cliffs, enjoy a picnic at Black Reef or embark on a Can-Am Adventure tour. For families staying at the lodge, shepherding shows and Kiwi Discovery Walk are fantastic ways to while away the hours.
Day 8 Cape Kidnappers to Wharekauhau (307km / 190mi) Today’s scenic drive takes you through the southern end of Hawkes Bay’s small and friendly farming towns. Pass through Dannevirke, Norsewood and Woodville (each known for their Scandinavian history) then continue to the Martinborough region and Wharekauhau in the remote Palliser Bay. Be sure to stop at one of the many boutique Martinborough wineries for lunch and tasting before arriving at the lodge. Located between the two beautiful regions of Wellington and Wairarapa, Wharekauhau Country Estate is arguably the grandest 5,500-acre working sheep station of its kind in New Zealand. Designed and built to capture the elegance of a bygone era, a stay here allows guests to experience life on a working farm, but with all the comforts that come with an extraordinary lodge.
Day 9 Wharekauhau Enjoy the sights of Wharekauhau Country Estate on a working sheep station tour today. Loading into a comfortable 4-wheel drive vehicle, you’ll see all the activities that have created New Zealand’s legendary farming heritage including sheep shearing demonstrations, sheep dogs in action and daily farm events.
Day 10 Wharekauhau / Wellington / Christchurch and Annandale (112km / 69mi) Take a short drive south today towards New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Along the way you may wish to stop in Miramar for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Weta Workshop, a special effects studio famous for its outstanding work on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, the acclaimed District 9, Avatar and more. Please note that this tour should be booked in advance.
If you prefer, allow time to visit Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, before heading to the airport for your early-afternoon flight (not included) to Christchurch. From Christchurch collect your car and drive to your luxury accommodations at Annandale, where rolling farmland, open skies, and the sparkling waters of the Pacific greet you. Stay in the unique and modern Seascape Villa, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of a picturesque private bay. For a farm-to-table experience that won’t compromise your privacy, an award-winning chef can create your breakfast and three-course dinner. All the meals at Annandale are based on our locavore philosophy, and cater to dietary restrictions or cravings communicated in advance. The meal will be delivered to your villa with easy to follow instructions, allowing you to simply complete the finishing touches before enjoying some of Annandale’s finest cuisine.
Day 11 Swimming with Dolphins or Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Today you have a choice of one of two sightseeing options, both sure to leave you with lifelong memories:
Option 1: Swim with the dolphins On this tour you’ll have a chance to swim with adorable Hector dolphins. These playful creatures reside in the Banks Peninsula coastal waters and never travel far from where they are born. Get into the water and watch with delight as the dolphins swim, leap and play around you.
Option 2: Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise Experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife on a cruise around Akaroa Harbour. See the rare, native dolphin known as Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. There's also the chance to spot the world's smallest penguin, the White Flippered Little Blue Penguin, Fur Seals and other sea birds. Other cruise highlights include a working salmon farm, Cathedral Cave and signs of Akaroa's fascinating past including early Maori, French and British settlement.
Before or after the cruise be sure to allow time to explore “the most French town” in New Zealand. Akaroa will have you entranced with its historic buildings, magnificent harbor and passion for fine food.
Day 12 Annandale Day at Leisure Today is yours to spend at your leisure. Annandale has several signature experiences on offer, including helicopter rides, farm activities, expertly-guided nature tours, hiking, sea kayaking, cooking classes, and more. Alternatively, you can simply relax in your luxurious villa, sipping local wine and taking in the beautiful scenery.
Day 13 Annandale and Christchurch – Queenstown (78km / 48mi) Today drive back to the airport and take a flight (not included) to Queenstown, your final destination. Enjoy a scenic transfer into the bustling alpine town and ready yourself for breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped Remarkables mountain range. Your home for the next 3 nights is an elegant boutique hotel with an enviable location with Lake Wakatipu on its doorstep.
Day 14 Milford Sound Scenic Helicopter Flight and Cruise Discover the Milford Sound from two very different perspectives: soaring high above waterfalls and rainforests by air, and then cruising through vast fjords and mountainous peaks by boat. Lift off from Queenstown and fly over the breath-taking snow-capped Southern Alps before landing at Milford Sound Airport. You will then be escorted to board a scheduled small cruise boat for an informative trip through the sound. On completion of the cruise, board the helicopter again for more amazing scenery from the air – this time taking a moment to land on top of an age-old glacier. We shut down the helicopter to enjoy the peace and quiet for a bit before continuing back to Queenstown.
Day 15 Queenstown – Today you have the choice of one of three excursions Today you can personalize your Queenstown experience by choosing one of these three tours, all sure to leave you with lifelong memories: 1. 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. 2. 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. 3. 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 16 Depart Queenstown Today marks the end of your journey as a private transfer takes you to Queenstown Airport.
- 2 night accommodation at Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, Auckland – Luxury Room Marina View
- 3 nights of accommodation at Huka Lodge, Taupo - Junior Lodge Suite
(Includes: Breakfast, pre-dinner drinks with canapes and five course dinner)
- 2 nights of accommodation at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Napier - Hilltop Suite
(Includes: Pre-dinner drinks, dinner and breakfast)
- 2 nights of accommodation at Wharekauhau Country Estate, Featherston - Cottage Suite
(Includes: Pre-dinner drinks, dinner and breakfast)
- 3 nights of accommodation at Annandale, Akaroa – Seascape Villa
(Includes: Dinner and breakfast provisions)
- 3 nights of accommodation at Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Queenstown - Mountain View Suite
(Includes: Pre-dinner drinks and breakfast)
- Private Auckland Airport meet & greet with transfer to your hotel
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
- 11 Day Rental Car (Mid Size SUV) including insurance & GPS
- Admission to Footwhistle Glowworm Caves for a shared tour.
- Mt Tarawera / Orakei Korako Dual Landing Helicopter tour & Sailing Lake Rotoiti
- Wharekauhau Country Estate Farm Tour
- In Akaroa, a choice of either swimming with dolphins or Akaroa Harbour cruise
- Airport transfers in Queenstown
- Milford Sound Heli Cruise and Glacier Landing
In Queenstown, the freedom to choose 1 of 3 Excursions
- 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)
- Full Day Private Gourmet Food & Wine Tour
- International or domestic airfares (unless specified above).
- Meals other than specified above.
- Travel insurance.