Journeys South - Bay of Islands to Queenstown by Coach & Rail
Highlights: Bay of Islands | Cape Reinga Cruise | Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock | Auckland | Waitomo Glowworm Caves | Hobbiton | Te Puia | Rainbow Springs | Blenheim | Marlborough Tour and Cruise | Coastal Pacific Train | Christchurch | Queenstown
Travel nearly the entire length of New Zealand without a worry in the world – this rail and coach tour out of Auckland has all the details covered.
Beginning in the Bay of Islands, take a tour to Cape Reinga.
Standing at the very tip of the country, you can try your hand at sand surfing, dig for shellfish, or simply stand and watch where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collide.
Then, it’s on to Auckland before beginning the rail portion in Marlborough.
Ride the Coastal Pacific Train along the coast of Kaikoura to Christchurch, then continue to Queenstown for your choice of one of five excursions..
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 Kerikeri, Bay of Islands Welcome to New Zealand! Upon arrival into Kerikeri in the Bay of Island transfer (included) to your hotel for a superb waterfront location in the heart of the Bay of Islands. As part of the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, spend the day enjoying uninterrupted bay views and exploring 60 acres of subtropical gardens.
Day 2 Full Day Cape Reinga & 90 Mile Beach with Fish & Chip lunch Travel along the shores of Ninety Mile Beach as the waves crash beside the custom-built coach. Disembarking the bus to feel the sand between your toes, help dig for shellfish (conditions permitting) before continuing to Te Paki Stream for the thrills and spills of sand surfing. Visit the Puketi Kauri Forest and get up close to giant kauri trees, learning about conservation efforts of the area as you stroll along an elevated walkway. Visit Cape Reinga and hear the stories of this significant site where, according to Māori legend, spirits depart on their journey home to Hawaiki. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views, visit the iconic lighthouse, and see the point where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collide. During your Cape Reinga tour, you'll also experience another Kiwi icon: a lunch of delicious fish and chips at the historic Wagener Museum at Houhora. Your journey home will be equally enjoyable, as your tour guide's combination of local insight, extensive historical knowledge and fantastic sense of humour all add to the unforgettable adventure.
Day 3 Morning Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock - Shared Cruise afternoon transfer to Auckland Take a half-day Bay of Islands cruise today and visit the famous Hole in the Rock on Motukokako Island. According to local legend, Maori warriors used to paddle through the opening before departing for battle, and if they were dripped on from above it was considered a good omen. If conditions permit, your expert skipper will do the same, and if you feel a drop or two consider yourself lucky! Along the way, keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine life – your purpose-built catamaran is made for dolphin viewing and your crew have years of experience locating them in these waters. After the cruise, use your free ferry ticket to continue exploring Paihia or Russell at your leisure, then by mid afternoon depart the Bay of Islands for Auckland. A local driver guide will point out scenic highlights as you travel through farmland and past native forests, highlighting the Auckland Harbour Bridge as you arrive in Auckland city by night.
Day 4 Auckland at Leisure With an entire day at your leisure, this is your chance to explore what New Zealand’s biggest city has to offer. Check into your waterfront hotel and walk along the promenade for a multitude of dining options. Wander the streets of the city popping into shops on a whim or take it upon yourself to go sailing aboard one of the America’s Cup yachts.
Day 5 Auckland to Rotorua Departing Auckland this morning, journey by luxury coach through the lush farmland of the Waikato and King Country regions. Learn about the area’s history from your local driver guide, then arrive to your first stop – the Waitomo Glowworm Caves – for a 45-minute tour. Illuminated by thousands of tiny glowworms, you’ll encounter formations and creatures that are simply out of this world and enjoy a magical boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto. After lunch, continue to Matamata for a chance to explore the movie set of Hobbiton and The Shire. Duck into hobbit holes and grab a drink at the Green Dragon Inn while learning the fascinating process of constructing the set. After your tour, continue to Rotorua and check into the Millennium Rotorua Hotel.
Day 6 Rotorua Sightseeing Gain insight to New Zealand's Māori culture at Te Puia, a geothermal valley known for its bubbling mud pools and geysers that shoot steam high into the air. Take a walk through the grounds and visit the woodcarving and weaving schools on site, then continue to Rainbow Springs for more of New Zealand’s native flora and fauna. Discover different birds, fish, lizards and exotic animals from around the world, plus have a chance to see the famous flightless Kiwi bird. Lastly, witness New Zealand’s agricultural history in action at the Agrodome, a working organic farm with a sheep shearing display and sheep dog trials.
Day 7 Rotorua to Blenheim Today begins with a flight (not included) from Rotorua to Blenheim, otherwise known as one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand, with an estimated average of 2,438 hours of sunshine a year. Mountains frame the area and trap the summer heat and is surrounded by over 100 wineries and over 30 cellar doors famous for is sauvignon blanc. The afternoon is yours to explore the wineries by bike, foot or tour.
Day 8 Full Day Marlborough Tour & Cruise Marlborough has become world famous for two iconic areas: the Marlborough wine region and the Marlborough Sounds. Enjoy them both on the Marlborough Icons Tour, which combines two fine wine experiences with lunch (own cost) on the waterfront of the Sounds. Come afternoon, board a unique Seafood Cruise to learn about seafood farming, take in some stunning scenery and enjoy fresh local seafood with a glass of award-winning wine.
Day 9 Coastal Pacific Train Blenheim to Christchurch This journey by rail is a scenic feast of New Zealand! From Marlborough, travel along the east coast with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Pass though the seaside village of Kaikoura – where you can often see amazing wildlife such as dolphins, seals and penguins from the comfort of your train carriage – then turn inland to travel through some of New Zealand’s finest horticultural and farmland areas. The Coastal Pacific features an open-air viewing carriage where all your senses are awakened with clean, fresh air, so by the time you arrive in Christchurch you’ll feel ultimately refreshed.
Day 10 Christchurch to Queenstown Departing the city of Christchurch this morning, travel through the fertile farmland of the Canterbury Plains to the shores of the stunning, glacier-fed Lake Tekapo. Here you’ll find the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd and take in sights of the spectacular Southern Alps. Continue to the location of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook, which at 3,754 meters high accurately translates to ‘cloud piercer’ in Maori. Enjoy lunch at the famous Hermitage Hotel, then explore the area and soak up the views. Alternatively, you can take a scenic helicopter or ski plane flight for incredibly views of the mountain peaks and glaciers (additional cost and weather permitting, this flight can be arranged with your driver guide on the day). Continue South past Lake Pukaki and through the tawny tussock of Mackenzie Country until you arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Here you’ll check into Scenic Suites, your home for the next three nights.
Day 11 Queenstown – Today you have the choice of one of five Excursions
Today you can personalize your Queenstown experience by choosing one of these five tours, all sure to leave you with lifelong memories:
1. Full Day Milford Sound Coach/Nature Cruise/Coach
Travel by coach from Queenstown to Milford Sound through sheer mountains, towering cliffs, rugged valleys and native rain forest. Once at Milford Sound board a catamaran for a leisurely cruise along the fiord, learning from the onboard Nature Guide, visiting the skipper in the wheelhouse or viewing wildlife like dolphins, seals and penguins. Lunch options are available for purchase (must be preordered) and complimentary tea and coffee is provided. After the cruise, return to Queenstown by coach.
Milford Sound Return Flight Upgrade (Approx $395 PP)
Upgrade your itinerary to include a return scenic flight to Queenstown. See magnificent views of the alps, glaciers, lakes and forests of Fiordland National Park from the air – it’s a quick and convenient way to return to Queenstown.
The flight shaves approximately 4 hours off a return by coach, however it is very weather dependent so it’s possible you will need to return by coach and have the upgraded price refunded to you. 2. Half Day Boutique Wine Tour Spend an afternoon among the boutique vineyards and spectacular scenery of Central Otago. Enjoy tastings at four wineries in the Gibbston Valley, Cromwell and Bannockburn regions plus a delightful platter-style lunch at Carrick Winery Restaurant. Visit historic Old Cromwell Town (time and weather permitting) and take a stunning drive through the Kawarau Gorge to learn about the early pioneering history of the region and see the historic Kawarau Bridge and the original AJ Hackett Bungy jump. 3. Sheep Station to Sheep Station Cycle Tour & Walter Peak BBQ Lunch Experience Queenstown’s surrounds with a cycle tour. Boarding a Spirit of Queenstown cruise to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm, disembark on the other side of Lake Wakatipu to begin your cycling journey. Ride at your own pace along a quiet country road, taking in views of the Southern Alps, Glenorchy and The Remarkables on the way. After cycling 14 kilometers (1.5 hours) to Walter Peak you’ll enjoy a barbecue lunch, then board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw to return to Queenstown. 4. Walter Peak High Country Farm Excursion / Shotover Jetboat Ride Step aboard the TSS Earnslaw and enjoy a 40-minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. On arrival, wander through gardens or enjoy tea/coffee in the Colonel’s Homestead, then take a tour of the grounds to view sheep, red deer and Scottish Highland cattle. Highlights of the experience are watching the farm demonstrator shear a sheep, sheep dogs working stock and a wool spinning demonstration. Take the TSS Earnslaw back to Queenstown, then transfer by coach to the Shotover River for the jet boat ride of your life. 5. Half Day Wilderness Safari - Jetboat & Forest Walk Combine wilderness jet boating with a guided walk and back-country drive. Surrounded by breathtaking snow-covered peaks, hidden valleys, waterfalls and glacial valleys, you’ll 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 where you’ll be fascinated by the unique flora and fauna, then journey by bus along a back-country route. Your driver will stop to view some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery and will share stories of the land on the way.
Day 12 Queenstown at leisure Today is entirely at your leisure. Take a walk by the waterfront along Lake Wakatipu or ride the Skyline gondola to the top for incredible views over the city. Dinner can be enjoyed buffet-style from the restaurant here (reservations are highly recommended) or we suggest ordering from the famous Fergburger on Shotover Street.
Day 13 Depart Queenstown After a wonderful trip, it’s time to say goodbye to Queenstown, New Zealand. We have included a private transfer to the airport to begin your journey home.
- 2 nights of accommodation at Copthorne Hotel & Resort, Bay of Islands – Standard Room
- 2 nights of accommodation at M Social Hotel, Auckland – Social View Room
(Includes: Continental breakfast)
- 2 nights of accommodation at the Millenium Rotorua Hotel, Rotorua – Superior Lakeview Room
- 2 nights of accommodation at the Chateau Marlborough Hotel, Blenheim – Chateau Studio
- 1 night of accommodation at Distinction Christchurch Hotel – Classic Room
- 3 nights of accommodation at Scenic Suites Queenstown – Superior Room with View
- Private transfer from Bay of Island Airport to your hotel
- Full day Cape Reinga & 90 Mile Beach Tour with Fish & Chip lunch
- Morning Dolphin Cruise to hole in the Rock
- Afternoon Bay of Islands to Auckland Tour
- Auckland to Rotorua sightseeing tour
(Includes: Admission to the Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton movie set, lunch)
- Rotorua sightseeing tour
(Includes: admission to Te Puia, Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, Rainbow Springs and the Agrodome sheep show)
- Private airport transfer in Rotorua
- Private airport transfer in Blenheim
- Full Day Marlborough Tour & Seafood Cruise
- Private transfer to Blenheim Railway Station
- Coastal Pacific Train Blenheim to Christchurch
- Private transfer Christchurch Railway Station to Hotel
- Full Day Christchurch to Queenstown Mt Cook tour including lunch
In Queenstown, the freedom to choose 1 of 5 Excursions
- Full Day Milford Sound Coach/Nature Cruise/Coach
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, Milford Sound Nature Cruise)
- Half Day Boutique Wine Tour
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, wine tasting at 4 wineries and platter style lunch)
- Sheep Station to Sheep Station Cycle Tour & Walter Peak BBQ Lunch (Includes: One-way Spirit of Queenstown cruise and one-way TSS Earnslaw cruise, Walter Peak BBQ lunch, bicycle and bicycle helmet and cycle map)
- Shotover Jetboat Ride & Walter Peak High Country Farm Excursion
(Includes: Coach transfer to shotover Jet, Earnslaw cruise, high country life farm tour & tea/coffee and home baking)
- Half Day Wilderness Safari - Jetboat & Forest Walk
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off)
- Full Day Milford Sound Coach/Nature Cruise/Coach
- Private transfer from your Queenstown hotel to the airport
- International or domestic airfares (unless specified above).
- Meals other than specified above.
- Travel insurance.
Journeys South - Bay of Islands to Queenstown by Coach & Rail
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