Passage through New Zealand

Tour highlights

  • Explore the cities of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch
  • Take the Northern Explorer Train from Auckland to Wellington including Tongariro National Park
  • Visit the harbour town of Picton
  • Take the Coastal Pacific Train from Picton to Christchurch
  • Experience Mount Cook and the Southern Alps
  • Venture to the lakeside town of Wanaka
  • Enjoy Abel Tasman National Park
  • Explore Martinborough in the heart of New Zealand’s Wine Trail
  • Take a trip to Napier, Art Deco capital of the world
  • Experience the stunning Lake Taupo

Day 1 - 8: Auckland to Picton

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Days 1 – 4: UK – Auckland

Fly from the UK, arriving in Auckland on day three due to the difference in time zones. Unwind after the flight and enjoy this harbour side city. Explore at your leisure, perhaps taking in the views from the top of the Sky Tower or enjoying a boat trip across the harbour to one of the neighbouring islands.

Days 5 – 6: Wellington

The Northern Explorer is a long-distance scenic train service that runs between Auckland and Wellington. The highlight is the journey through Tongariro National Park, with its three spectacular volcanic mountains – Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu which is a highlight. This is a place of extremes and surprises, where snow-blanketed ancient lava flows, and dense beech forests compliment the diverse scenery of the central North Island.

Wellington is the nation’s capital and options here include a visit to the Te Papa Museum to learn about the history of New Zealand and its Maori heritage or take a ride on the famous Wellington Cable Car to the top of Mt Victoria for spectacular panoramic views over the city and harbour.

Days 7 - 8: Picton

Enjoy the scenic Interislander ferry that takes you from Wellington across the Cook Strait to Picton at the northern tip of the South Island. As the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds this is a great spot to take a boat cruise though the sounds or perhaps enjoy a day walk on the Queen Charlotte Walkway or to enjoy a picnic by one of the bays.

Day 9- 16: Christchurch to Franz Josef Glacier

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Days 9 - 10: Christchurch

Climb aboard the Coastal Pacific Train for one New Zealand’s most picturesque rail journeys. You’ll travel along the Pacific coast meandering breathtakingly close to the sea, where the mighty Pacific Ocean meets the rising Kaikoura Mountains.

Taking just over five hours, the train passes everything from craggy coastal cliffs and rocky outcrops to modern vineyards and rustic farmsteads. Throw in a healthy dose of seals, seagulls, dolphins and the occasional whale, the Coastal Pacific train delivers something for everyone.

Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city, known for its beautiful public gardens, old world charm and architecture, and its quaint and a very walkable city centre. Much of this changed in the 2011 earthquakes when so much of the city was lost. However, the city is rising to the challenge, quite literally, and it is now home to funky and unique pop-up malls, dozens of new buildings, high street, designer and boutique shops, a world class art gallery and museum, and restaurants galore.

Don’t miss a visit to the Riverside market, a vibrant indoor farmers market with a wonderful range of restaurants to tempt your taste buds with a focus on sustainable local produce.

Days 11 - 12: Lake Tekapo

Distance: 226 km / 141 miles

Collect your motorhome and continue to Mt. Cook (Aoraki), the highest peak in Australasia. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo and take in the wonders of the Mt. John observatory for your own views of this International Dark Sky Reserve. Then stop for a photo opportunity at Lake Pukaki, whose waters are an otherworldly icy blue, caused by the fine particles that float in its cool glacier runoff. There are hiking and walking trails for all abilities on the slopes of Aoraki and plenty to do in Mt. Cook village. The surrounding countryside provided some of the locations for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, including the Pellenor Fields, near Twizel. Grab a tour book from a local bookstore to seek out the highlights.

Days 13 - 14: Wanaka

Distance: 199 km / 124 miles

Located in the spectacular Alps of New Zealand’s South Island, Wanaka draws visitors from around the world with its outstanding natural beauty, its stunning mountain and lakeside setting and its proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Area.

Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is only 68km from Wanaka. As well as being the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown also offers boat trips across the lake and excursions to the Milford Sound.

Days 15 - 16: Franz Josef 

Distance: 287 km / 179 miles

Enjoy the views along the shores of Lake Hawea as you head north and stop for lunch at Makarora before hitting the Haast Pass. The scenery here changes dramatically as you enter the rainforest. The settlement of Haast is a town with a touch of the Wild West, and another good place to stretch the legs and have a look around. Just north of Haast is Lake Moeraki, a peaceful forest lake with good fishing. From here, a 40-minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. Then continue to Franz Josef for a two-night stay.

Day 17 - 24: Carters Beach to Napier

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Days 17 – 18: Carters Beach

Distance: 279 km / 174 miles

With the Tasman Sea on one side and the Southern Alps rising on the other, take it slowly and enjoy this scenic drive. Be sure to stop at Punakaiki and marvel at the bizarre limestone landscapes and powerful vents of ‘Pancake Rocks’, formed millions of years ago. Then make your way to Carters Beach for a two-night stay.

Days 19 – 20: Nelson

Distance: 218 km / 136 miles

Your next destination is Abel Tasman National Park, named after the first European to sight and name New Zealand, though he never came ashore. There are easy day hikes, boat trips and some of the loveliest beaches in the South Island to walk and explore.

Nearby Nelson prides itself on having the most sunshine hours in New Zealand and with a vibrant artistic community there are plenty of galleries to explore along with many beaches, rivers, lakes, and mountains. With a subtropical feel the streets are full of cafes, interesting galleries, restaurants, and historic attractions. It is also home to many fine breweries & wineries to while away an afternoon in. Beyond the town are beautiful forests and beaches to explore and get a taste of the beauty of this corner of the country.

Days 21 – 22: Martinborough

Distance: 219 km / 137 miles + Ferry

Take the scenic drive to Picton, board the Interislander ferry for your return trip across the Cook Strait to Wellington and then continue to Martinborough.

Packed with colonial charm, Martinborough features over 20 wineries, most within cycling and walking distance of the quaint village square. Some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir comes from the town’s predominately family-owned vineyards, so it’s not surprising it is a key stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.

Days 23 – 24: Napier

Distance: 267 km / 167 miles

Often referred to as the Art Deco capital of the world, Napier is in the Hawke’s Bay region which is famous for its vineyards. Many of these serve gourmet food to accompany their award-winning wines, giving you the opportunity to enjoy some mouth-watering cuisine.

Day 25 - 32: Lake Taupo to UK

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Days 25 – 26: Lake Taupo

Distance: 142 km / 89 miles

Lake Taupo is a vast volcanic crater that is now the largest lake in the country. If you have time head out to see the spectacular Māori rock carvings at Mine Bay, only accessible from the water. Beyond Taupo is the volcanic Tongariro National Park and the unmistakable sight of its three active volcanic mountains.

Near Lake Taupo you'll find the Huka Falls, one of New Zealand’s most visited natural sights. Marvel at the power of nature as the mighty Waikato River is forced through a gorge just 15 metres wide. Nearby at the Craters of the Moon, a meandering trail leads you through a slightly surreal and steaming heathland of bubbling pools and crevices.

Days 27 – 28: Coromandel Peninsula

Distance: 256 km / 160 miles

The Coromandel Peninsula is a beautiful, rugged area with plenty of beaches to explore. Many Kiwis choose to escape the hustle and bustle of city life here, and it's easy to see why. You can dig out your very own hot pool metres from the Pacific Ocean at world-famous Hot Water Beach, or head for Cathedral Cove where a huge arched cavern passes through the headland, joining up two secluded coves. Relax in the cafes and enjoy the art galleries or just taking in the wonderful scenery.

Days 29 – 30: Auckland

Distance: 168km / 105 miles)

Return to Auckland, drop off your motorhome before returning to your Auckland hotel for a two night stay.

Days 31 - 32: Auckland – UK

Time to bid farewell to New Zealand as you are transferred to the airport for your overnight flight back to the UK.

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Tips and advice for touring all year

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