- From Auckland to the Southern Alps, from Wellington to the Fiords: explore New Zealand off the beaten track
- Feel the thrill of the open road and experience the charm of hotels stamped with the New Zealand way of life
- The itinerary includes geothermal sites, the Coastal Pacific train, kayaking, the Doubtful Sound, and the little spotted kiwi
- All our additional services are included, from fast-track airport assistance to airport lounge access and our local Concierges.
Contact one of our New Zealand specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
New Zealand Off the Beaten Track
Your TripAn adventure like this requires quite a bit of planning. As you'll be travelling a fair few miles, we have divided up the trip, set the pace and used different modes of transport to ensure - as far as possible - that it won't be an exhausting journey. The country itself, with its spectacular scenery, comes to the rescue. On the ground, you'll drive, or take ferries, trains and boats. Sometimes you'll drive, and other times we'll drive you. The parts that you are required to drive will never be unmanageable. Your hotels will provide all the comfort you need to recover. On top of that, they are all excellently located. They also have plenty of the quintessential New Zealand hospitality. Your stopovers, even if they are for just one night, will leave a lasting, positive impression. Whether you're in Auckland's CBD, Kapiti Forest or Fiordland National Park, there's always something going on during the evening. During your three weeks of travel, we have booked a few trips, which have been carefully selected and added to your itinerary. Included is the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave, the Pohatu Marine Reserve, Doubtful Sound and Mou Waho Island. There are additional options that we will gladly add at your request. You'll also be free to explore on your own. If, along the way, you have a last-minute request or a slight setback, you can use our local Concierge service.
Flight to Auckland
Transfer. Two-night stay in Mount Eden Village, just south of Auckland's city centre. As you walk around, you'll easily be able to spot the precise era in which the area was built: 1870-1920. Your hotel dates back to this era, so you can immerse yourself in the charm of the southern Belle Epoque. The garden is a natural extension of the house, and the floral prints in the bedrooms and living room echo the flowers of the garden.
The CBD is full of fashionable restaurants and bars, and the stylish Viaduct Basin. It's all going on in the City of Sails. The New Zealand Maritime Museum is within walking distance: it exhibits everything from explorations to Maori sailors to triumphs at the America's Cup. Also nearby is New Zealand's oldest park, the Auckland Domain, and the beautiful tropical glasshouses of the Wintergardens, dating back to the 1920s. The shabby-chic Karangahape Road and the artsy suburb of Ponsonby are great places to visit, while Rugby lovers must head to Eden Park, south-west of the CBD. A climb to the top of Mount Victoria will give you a full, immersive view of the city. The sun sends Aucklanders running to the beaches of Waitemata Harbour. In fact, you'll soon find out why Auckland is regularly voted as one of the best cities to live in.
Option - A private tour of Auckland and the West Coast
Auckland - Taupo
Pick up the hire car and drive to Taupo. Spend three nights above Whakaipo Bay, north of Lake Taupo. Among a circle of trees and a garden where New Zealand plants blossom into bushes, lies a contemporary home with clean lines. The grey wooden walls and green roofs blend seamlessly into the natural setting. The interior boats a flawless classic style, pleasant bedrooms and a library lounge, which adds to the comfort of the house. A glass of wine and canapes precede delicious meals, which showcase produce from the Central Volcanic Plateau.
The Taupo volcanic zone extends from Ruapehu volcano to White Island on the Bay of Plenty, and it is still intermittently active. In fact, a colossal eruption created the conditions that allowed the lake to form 26,000 years ago. In the 1970s, Maori artists carved a monumental figure of the legendary priest Ngatoro-i-rangi on a cliff in Mine Bay to ward off what geophysics might hold in store below. You'll reach this impressive landmark by boat. The lake's surroundings are ideal for all types of hiking. In the water, the lake and rainbow trout, which were introduced in the late 19th century, are enemies of the endemic Kokopu, but the latter has the fly fishermen on their side.
Optional - Flight over the Tongariro National Park volcanoes.
Included in the itinerary - Orakei Korako Thermal Park and Cave. To the north of Taupo, the Hidden Valley is kaleidoscope of colours. Jade green, mustard, lemon, black, salmon pink, royal blue, earth and water vigorously swirl. Here, swathes of steam rise from waterfalls and geysers. The Diamond Geyser, the most famous of the site's 35 geysers, explodes intermittently up to 30ft high. Geothermal fields almost never include caves, yet there is one here called Ruatapu Cave, which makes it a rare site. Your ticket gives access to the park's developed areas, including trails, stairs and walkways, where you can enjoy walking around in freedom.
Taupo - New Plymouth
Drive to New Plymouth. Two-night stay in the city centre, at the foot of Marsland Hill. The property, built in 1894 by architect P.G. Smith, is on the New Zealand Heritage List. With its fabulous garden, it offers travellers a relaxing, pleasurable stay. There is plenty of character within the white walls, which open up to the light that shines through the windows. The room is cosy, complete with a stylish bathroom and beautiful parquet flooring. The hotel is full of serenity. And breakfast, which can be either a traditional New Zealand or continental breakfast, sets you up for the day.
Wind Wand, Len Lye's kinetic sculpture installed in 1999 by the Tasman Sea, looks as if it is flagging down visitors and inviting them to enter the museum dedicated to the artist, which adjoins the famous Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. New Plymouth is a very eco-friendly city, with pedestrians and cyclists the norm rather than cars. Pukekura Par is a versatile green space, used as a conservation space for New Zealand flora, a cricket ground and a romantic garden. Further south, the uniform peak of Mount Taranaki is sheltered by Egmont National Park. Rhododendron lovers should not miss out on a trip to the Pukeiti Garden, which is recognised as a national interest. In the evening, community life continues on nicely in downtown restaurants and cafes.
New Plymouth - Kapiti Island
Crossing to Kapiti Island. Here you can really get close to the wildlife including the stunning kea, the South Island kokako, the paradise shelduck and the royal spoonbill, but as soon as you find out that more than a thousand little spotted kiwis live here, you won't stop seeing this funny bird. Due to the kiwi's nocturnal habits, you'll spend the night on the island. Your accommodation (cabin or tent) is simple, which is appropriate for such a natural setting. As your Maori hosts know their area like the back of their hand, there's a really high chance that you'll see kiwis. New Zealand's native flora and fauna have suffered from the introduction of external species, with many endemic species surviving only in protected areas such as Kapiti Island.
Kapiti Island - Wellington
Head back to the mainland and drive to Wellington. Spend the night in the CBD. The building has an understated and functional appearance, which is softened by a welcoming interior decor. The comfortable and well-furnished rooms are modern. You can really feel the city and its aesthetic here. The spa, sauna, indoor swimming pool and gym are just some of the relaxing facilities to enjoy here. Wellington boats a very strong coffee culture. Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Museum of New Zealand, exhibits splendid ethnographic collections, and the largest colossal squid ever caught. Old St. Paul's, the former Anglican cathedral, is a true example of Gothic Revival architecture of the Antipodes (1865-1924).
Option - Full tour of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Wellington - Picton - Christchurch
Return the car to the port and take a ferry across to Picton, South Island. Transfer to the train station and take the Coastal Pacific train to Christchurch. The line runs between the Pacific waters and the hilly terrain of the Kaikoura Ranges. As with most cross-country train journeys, there will be spectacular scenery to admire along the way. Spend the night in Fendalton, north-west of Christchurch's Botanical Garden. The hotel's decor exudes a controlled eclecticism, while the amenities provide guests with superior comfort. From the property to the garden, there's an overarching sophisticated simplicity. The many earthquakes that struck the city over the past decade may have damaged Christchurch's heritage, but have not robbed the city of its green charm: the Garden City is making a comeback.
Christchurch - Akaroa
Pick up the hire car and drive to Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula. Overnight stay in the northern part of the village, in a cottage that dates back to 1878. Its English patron built it in the middle of a beautiful acclimatisation garden; its most recent renovation took this into account and replanted the rose bushes and a vineyard on a hillside south of the property. Breakfast, which includes fresh produce from the garden and the surroundings, is served in the dining room, and fine china and silverware are used.
Included in the itinerary - Kayaking in Pohatu Marine Reserve. With an instructor, you'll learn how to use a kayak before paddling in the protected waters of the bay. On your trip you'll get close to large colonies of white-flippered and yellow-eyed penguins. Fur seals also use the reserve as a feeding ground, and the Hector's dolphins here look like mint Humbugs. When the inhabitants of the bay are out and about, you won't know where to look first.
Akaroa - Twizel
Drive to Twizel. Spend two nights a few miles north-west in a lodge overlooking the Southern Alps. A pond stretches in front of the house and adds to the serenity of the place. The rooms are bright, practical and comfortable. The easy elegance allows guests to immerse themselves in a dreamlike state of relaxation. Breakfast lives up to national standards of excellence: lavish, fresh and home-made.
As in many parts of the south, you can walk, hike or ride here and take advantage of the water, such as Lake Ruataniwha, to sail, water ski or canoe. However, the sparsely populated Mackenzie Basin has a particular point of interest with its clear sky. The area is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. It's a good idea to take full advantage of the evenings here, and it would be a shame not to indulge in a bit of stargazing. since opportunities for a haze-free observation of the night sky are dwindling. The scope, harmony and surprisingly colourful landscapes of Pukaki Lake, with Mount Cook as its focal point, will astound you.
Option - Helicopter flight over the Tasman Glacier.
Twizel - Oamaru
Drive to Oamaru. Overnight stay on South Hill in a beautiful 1889 estate. When it was converted into a hotel, its original features were retained and its Victorian feel remains intact. From fireplaces and stained-glass transom windows to all manner of stylish cosiness, every detail of this place is immaculate. Oamaru's local limestone is seen in the architecture throughout the town, including a beautiful Victorian urban complex where you'll find the Steampunk HQ, an art collaboration and gallery dedicated to the steampunk genre. You may even spot some white-flippered penguins in town, which nest on the Banks Peninsula.
Oamaru - The Catlins
Drive to the Catlins. Two-night stay in Owaka's hinterland. You'll stay in a simple and practical chalet, which has a fully-equipped kitchen, dining area, living room and a well-appointed bathroom. The windows look out onto a flowery garden and the surrounding green hills.
The south-east corner of South Island has retained a wild element. Cliffs and long beaches alternate on the coastline. Inland, a dense, humid and temperate forest - much of which is primary forest - covers a hilly terrain. It's home to several species of orchid and the iridescent New Zealand pigeon, the only native pigeon. The ocean is a feeding ground for the yellow-eyed penguin and fur seal, which by now you will be familiar with. The New Zealand sea lion is less common and only the occasional elephant seal comes by, but you might get lucky. Gannets, albatrosses and New Zealand storm petrels glide above. There are two landmarks here that have acquired a certain fame for their remarkable size. These are the Cathedral Caves, which are dug into the limestone cliff of Waipati Beach and the Purakaunui Falls, a three-tier, beautifully bubbly waterfall.
The Catlins - Te Anau
Drive to Te Anau. Spend the night south of Dock Bay in South Fiordland. This hotel fits seamlessly into the landscape and the interior is sleek and comfortable. The spacious rooms provide absolutely everything you need. The common areas are perfect for some good old-fashioned socialising; and with a glass of whisky in hand, you can marvel at the sun glistening on the Gulf, which might get you in the mood for some fly fishing. The hotel also has a gym, sauna and Jacuzzi.
Te Anau - Doubtful Sound
Included in the itinerary - Doubtful Sound Cruise, Fiordland National Park. Doubtful Sound is not directly accessible like the Milford Sound. First you must cross Lake Manapouri by boat and then take a bus to the bottom of the fjord. This is where your cruise begins. The on-board facilities are fantastic. Towering rocks surround you as you cruise along. They are majestic, covered in lush vegetation and dotted with breathtaking waterfalls. The southern-most dolphin populations live in the fjord and never leave. Right whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, killer whales and Arnoux's beaked whales regularly visit these food-rich waters. You can't get much further south than this point in New Zealand... unless you're in the South Pole!
Doubtful Sound - Wanaka
Wake up in the fjord. Disembark the cruise, return to Te Anau, then drive to Wanaka. Stay two nights in a modern lodge overlooking the lake. Classic stone, wood, steel and glass have been skilfully used here. The accommodation is excellent, rooms are well-appointed and yours has a private balcony. Or maybe you'd prefer to challenge yourself with a game of tennis or a vigorous swim in the pool. Now that you're in Central Otago, it's customary to enjoy a nice glass of wine on the terrace.
Included in the itinerary - Mou Waho Island. You'll take a boat to the centre of Lake Wanaka with a guide. The remote location of Mou Waho has preserved New Zealand's flora and fauna. Things you'll see here include the weta, an ancient insect, and the weka, a flightless bird belonging to the rail family. They're considered thieves by the maori and this omnivorous bird is so cheeky it will fearlessly approach humans. You'll probably come across one as you walk to the island's highest point, Tyrwhitt Peak (1,552ft). It's about a one-hour hike, which requires a decent level of fitness. When you reach the top you'll have a 360° view of Arethusa Pool, Lake Wanaka and its surroundings.
Wanaka - Queenstown - return flight
Drive to Queenstown Airport and return the hire car. Return flight.
A la carte
Private tour of Auckland and the West Coast
Auckland is located at a point where a narrow strip, barely a mile wide at its narrowest part, separates the Northland Peninsula and the rest of North Island. There's beaches and hiking trails as soon as you leave the roads. First, you and your private guide will head to Devonport, a town with an old-time charm and lovely boutiques. Then it's off to Mount Eden, Auckland's 'mountain'. Its history is told through its architecture, from the Mount Eden Prisons (1882-1917) to teahouses stuck in the 1920s and prominent 70s buildings. And there are also waterfalls in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, west of Auckland, or black sand beaches.
Option - Full day
Flight over the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park - Taupo
Hop on a flight for a spectacular view of the Ruapehu (9,177ft), Ngauruhoe (7,516ft) and Tongariro (6,490ft) volcanoes. All three are active to varying degrees. The small plane is a great way to really appreciate the magnitude of these volcanoes, where the centre of the earth rises to the surface. In addition, the flight allows you to see some of the sublime natural scenery from 'The Lord of the Rings'.
Optional - Approximately 65-minute flight
Full access to Te Papa Tongarewa - Wellington
The permanent exhibitions of New Zealand's national museum make up just 20% of what the museum has to offer. It's a real privilege to be able to access the exhibitions and see the highly valuable historical and anthropological artefacts on display. Your tour will take place before the museum opens to the public; conservation staff will take you around, highlighting the most remarkable artefacts and telling you all about them. You'll be taken on a fascinating journey through the country's history.
Helicopter flight over the Tasman Glacier - Twizel
At almost 17 miles long and covering an area of 38 square miles, the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is the largest of New Zealand's glaciers. The helicopter gives you amazing views of the ice-capped summit and drops you off at the top. On your way back, the scenery of Mount Cook is the perfect end to your guided trip, and will evoke emotions of epic proportions.
Optional - Approximately 35-minute flight
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