AUCKLAND TO MERCURY BAY (WHITIANGA)
After visiting Mt Eden (one of many dormant volcanoes in Auckland) we head towards the Coromandel Peninsula and spend the afternoon at Cathedral Cove accessible only on foot or by kayak - a beautiful coastal spot great for swimming, sea kayaking and spotting dolphins if you’re lucky. Provided the tides are right we may also check out Hot water beach and dig our own hot pools.
MERCURY BAY (WHITIANGA) TO ROTORUA
We depart Whitianga early in order to make the most of our time in the geothermal and cultural centre of New Zealand, Rotorua.
Our first stop en route this morning is a visit to the Karangahake Scenic Reserve to explore a native bush clad gorge, swing bridges and a one kilometre long tunnel. On arriving into Rotorua you will have the chance to go luging, zorbing or for a dip in a natural hot spring before experiencing the traditional Maori Hangi and Concert in the evening with Tamaki Tours - a night not to be missed!
ROTORUA TO WAITOMO
Today we start with a visit to Te Puia - a large geothermal reserve and Maori Arts and Crafts Centre. Te Puia is also your first chance to spot the elusive Kiwi bird!!
We depart Rotorua to drive on through the Waikato and King Country to the Waitomo caves. (Wai meaning water, tomo meaning cave) The local caves, hiding under the green Waitomo countryside, are made out of limestone, which is basically very old dead fish (in this case about 40 million years old). We spend the afternoon checking out Marokopa Falls (3rd largest falls in NZ), the 'Natural Bridge' and Ruakuri reserve. Apart from glow-worms in caves you may see stalactites, stalagmites, cave coral, rock sculptures, fossil oysters and fossil whalebones.
WAITOMO TO TAUPO
We leave at lunchtime today so that you have time to experience the legendary Black Water Rafting in the morning with either the Labrinth or Abyss trips! Alternatively, check out the brand new Ruakuri cave which is an engineering master piece.
We leave the Waitomo region behind us heading in the direction of the Tongariro National Park and Lake Taupo. Apart from the natural geothermal features of the surrounding area, Taupo is fast becoming known as the action adventure capital of the north. Activities include skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating, walking the Tongariro Crossing (said to be the best one day walk in the world!), trout fishing and more…
DAY OFF TAUPO
Enjoy a sleep in (for those not doing the Tongariro Crossing) and experience one of the many activities on offer. A walk down to Spa Park to relax in the natural hot springs by the river is also a great way to spend the day (or night).
Alternatively If you have time head off on our 'East As' - 4 day, 3 night unique add on trip around the East Cape which takes you to places few tourists get to see, stay in small communities and experience Maori culture as a living reality.
TAUPO TO RIVER VALLEY
We head south around the “great lake” to Turangi then head into Tongariro National Park for a picnic lunch and a two hour walk through native bush, waterfalls and braving the cool mountain streams of this alpine volcanic region. In the afternoon we travel through to our ultimate adventure lodge - River Valley, situated amongst towering cliffs and bush-clad hills. River Valley offers some great activities including a very scenic horse ride and grade five rafting on the Rangitikei River which runs straight past the front of the lodge. Spend the evening enjoying the delicious roast dinner & relaxing by the open fire.
RIVER VALLEY TO WELLINGTON
A late start after a morning white water rafting on the Rangitikei river or horse riding up in the hills full of deer, cattle and sheep. We arrive in Wellington late in the afternoon. This city is the undisputed capital of culture, the arts, restaurants, fashion and nightlife. Its home to the largest cultural attraction in New Zealand, Te Papa Museum which is well worth a look (and it’s free).
WELLINGTON TO PICTON TO NELSON
We take the Interislander ferry across to the South Island (awesome scenery) and travel via Havelock and Pelorous Bridge over to Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest city. A great place to jump off the bus and explore the Abel Tasman National Park on either foot or kayak. If you hop off in Nelson there is an option to head to Kaiteriteri for kayaking and other optional activities.
NELSON TO WESTPORT
We visit the Nelson Lakes National Park for a walk in the forest and a visit to one of the more spectacular lakes in the area, surrounded by beautiful snowcapped mountains. En route to Westport we meet the team (and Rata the dog) from Buller Adventure Tours where you can experience the best value for money jet boat, horse trek and quad bike in NZ.
WESTPORT TO LAKE MAHINAPUA
Today we head down the spectacular West Coast Road that stretches along the rugged Tasman shoreline. The road winds through diverse landscapes, which never cease to amaze both locals and visitors alike. Highlights include Cape Foulwind seal colony, rugged beach walks & Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes. Tonight your driver will arrange a group meal for you at the legendary Mahinapua Hotel known as the “Poo Pub” (a traditional West Coast Pub). It’s an awesome evening to get to know your fellow travellers.
LAKE MAHINAPUA TO FRANZ JOSEF
Our first stop this morning is the Bushman’s Centre where you will get an insight into how people make a living on the coast with sphagnum moss growing, old timber-milling techniques, possum trapping and helicopter deer recovery ��" known as New Zealand’s last great adventure. We then head through to Franz Josef Glacier Village, nestled in the Westland National Park.
FREE DAY FRANZ JOSEF
Today is your chance to hike on Franz Josef Glacier, rated in the top three NZ activities by Kiwi Experience passengers.
FRANZ JOSEF TO WANAKA
We start out early in order to catch the perfect mirror reflection of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps on Lake Matheson, near the village of Fox Glacier. We then cruise down the last stretch of the West Coast Road stopping at popular scenic spots along the way. Then we head into Mount Aspiring National Park and arrive in the awe-inspiring destination of Wanaka in the afternoon.
WANAKA TO QUEENSTOWN
A short but action packed drive today through to the NZ's adventure capital, Queenstown. Highlights include Puzzling World (check out the toilets - highly entertaining), skydive over Lake Wanaka & the Southern Alps and stop in at the world’s first commercial bungy site - the Kawarau Bridge. On arrival in Queenstown you will get a chance to book all activities and re-confirm coaches at Base Travel Desk as well as get a group photo with all your new West Coast friends. Then out on the town -what better way to enjoy a memorable trip down the coast with a night out exploring Queenstown nightlife with all the crew to finish things off!
FREE DAY QUEENSTOWN
Queenstown is rated up there as being one of our passengers favorite spots to hang out in NZ so take the time to spend at least 3 days here apart from being one of the most beautiful places in the world, Queenstown is New Zealand’s, if not the world’s, adventure capital. You can take advantage of the beautiful lake and surrounding walks, or get into a whole range of adrenalin pumping activities. We do recommend one activity however, the overland day trip to Milford Sound, commonly referred to as New Zealand’s most beautiful spot, and that’s saying something!