Days 27 - 28: Rotorua
Distance: 286 km / 177 miles
From Auckland head south again for a real Middle Earth experience. At the town of Matamata you can visit the village of Hobbiton, the Shire built for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, though we recommend pre-booking. They even have a pub with local craft beer, where you can sit and enjoy this other worldly environment after your optional guided tour of the town.
Continue to Rotorua and discover Wai-o-Tapu, a geothermal area with 'Champagne Pool' and Lady Knox geyser, plus Te Puia Thermal Reserve with its boiling mud pools, steaming vents and Pohutu geyser.
Days 29 - 30: Taupo
Distance: 150 km / 93 miles
On the way to Taupo, the scenery continues to be both other-worldly and volcanic and lush, with its pine plantations and signs of forestry all over. If you haven’t had enough of the geothermal wonders of the area, it’s worth stopping at less well-known attractions such as Orakei Korako and Wairakei Power Station. Further on is Huka Falls, New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction. Take a tour down the raging river, or walk in to see the falls on foot.
Lake Taupo is actually a massive volcanic crater which formed New Zealand’s largest lake. It also hosts one of the country’s longest and most popular bike races around its perimeter, and there is plenty to enjoy in the village. Head out to see the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, accessible only by water, for something really different.
Days 31 - 32: Wellington
Distance: 372 km / 231 miles
The long drive to Wellington takes visitors through Tongariro National Park, home to three impressive volcanoes (Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe), as well as the famed Desert Road, ski fields, nature walks galore and scenery that is some of the best, and most representative, in New Zealand. Even better, it is the backdrop for Lord of the Rings' Mordor.
New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, is a great walking city full of character, charm and history. It's home to Victoria University, and the presence of the students lends a young, artistic air to the place. Its hills are legendary and will keep you on your toes, but the relaxing and foot friendly harbour area is never far away. Wellington has shopping, restaurants, nightlife, street art and theatre, beautiful parks, and a gorgeous waterfront. Of particular note are Te Papa, the National Museum, and for fans of the Lord of the Rings movies, the Weta Cave Workshops, where visitors can experience the art and science behind the creation of these award-winning films.
Days 33 - 34: Kaikoura
Distance: 156 km / 97 miles
Catch the ferry from Wellington back to Picton and head south to Kaikoura. The towns name translates into English as a good place to eat kai (crayfish) koura, and indeed it is! Don’t miss the chance to sample some of the freshest shellfish and crustaceans around. Venture onto the Coastal Walkway and you could see sperm whales, dusky dolphins, fur seals, and albatross play in the waters off shore. Alternatively, join them in their own environment and take one of the many boat tours on offer.
Day 35 - 36: Kaikoura - Christchurch
Distance: 181 km / 112 miles
Continue south to Christchurch, drop off your caravan and car, and then transfer to your hotel for a two night stay.
Day 37 - 38: Christchurch to UK
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before your transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home.