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Self-Drive Suggested Itinerary
Auckland → Matamata → Rotorua → Lake Taupo → Napier → Wellington → Picton → Nelson → Punakaiki → West Coast Glacier → Queenstown → Milford Sound → Te Anau → Mt. Cook
Welcome to Auckland! Pick-up your car at the airport and enjoy a pleasant drive around the city. Travel up to Sky Tower or Skywalk at 192 metres up.
Take on the mythical world of Middle Earth - Golden plains, towering mountains and enchanting valleys form the lands of Lothlorien, Hobbiton, Rivendell and more. Continue to Rotorua and enjoy a tour at Te Puia. Visit the New Zealand national carving and weaving schools before your Te Pô evening experience begins.
In Rotorua, visit bubbling orange hot pools, marvel at geysers erupting 30 metres into the air, and take a scenic flight to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, White Island. Soak tired bodies in geothermal mud baths and natural hot springs.
Visit Lake Taupo, where swimmers can enjoy warm, geothermal water currents at some of the beaches. Just north, you’ll find the magnificent Huka Falls. The Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay make for a great boat trip or kayaking excursion. Continue to Napier, which has the most comprehensive collection of inner-city art deco buildings in the world.
The best way to truly discover the essence of Wellington is on foot. Wellington has a renowned nightlife and is also the storehouse for the nation’s historic, cultural and artistic treasures, and the locale for the country’s halls of power.
Return your car before hopping onto the ferry across the Cook Straits to Picton. Pick-up a new car and continue to Nelson. Enjoy a truly spectacular journey from the city of Nelson to the region of the Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park, which can be explored by guided walks, sea kayak, cruise boat, water taxi or freedom walking - experience penguins, seals, dolphins and native birds all set in lush native forest and beautiful beaches.
Travel to Punakaiki, best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Travel to West Coast Glacier Region for the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.
Overnight: West Coast Glacier Region
Visit the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, followed by the dramatic twists and turns of the Haast Pass. Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you arrive in Rainforest County. Lake Hawea will be your gateway to Queenstown. Check out the penguin colony at Monro Beach (40 minutes’ walk). End your day in Queenstown and enjoy your night with more than 150 restaurants, bars and cafés to choose from.
Milford Sound is around 5-6 hours (one-way) from Queenstown; look out for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes along the way. Hop on a scenic Milford Sound Cruise and travel along the amazing 22 kilometre long fiord, dominated by Mitre Peak. Spend your night at Te Anau, a township that sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau.
Overnight: Te Anau
Travel back to Queenstown and let the drama of the Central Otago landscape unfold around you. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you’ll recognise many of the locations of Middle Earth here. There’s skiing in the winter and activities such as bungy jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting all year round.
The road to Mt. Cook takes you through beautiful Lake Pukaki. Try heli skiing, heli hiking and aerial sightseeing. A variety of walking trails begin in or near Mt. Cook Village and most take only a couple of hours.
Overnight: Mt. Cook
A drive along the scenic route to Lake Tekapo begins at Canterbury Plains through fields and farms. At Lake Tekapo, you can find the famous sheep dog statue and The Church of the Good Shepherd, which offers awe inspiring views of the lake and mountains through the altar window.
If time permits, visit the Antarctic Centre, which is only 5mins away from the airport.
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