Christchurch to Kaikoura
Kaikoura is known as one of the best coastal wildlife regions in the world - whales, dolphins and seals!
Departing Christchurch bright and early, we arrive at Kaikoura in time for you to check out what Kaikoura is most famous for – its whale watching, or swimming with the dolphins or the seals. Spend the evening chilling on the beach or sampling some of the best seafood New Zealand has to offer for your dinner. In fact, the name Kaikoura means to eat Crayfish (“kai” meaning to eat, “koura” meaning crayfish).
Kaikoura to Picton & Nelson
Travel though New Zealand’s most renowned winery region.
We head north and take in the last of the dramatic Kaikoura coastline. It’s a spectacular drive, and we may take the opportunity to stop for a close look at the seals that lay about on the rocks all day long. We make our way to Picton and then to Kaiteriteri at the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. You can simply wile away the evening on the golden sand beach just metres from your accommodation. Kaiteriteri is a great spot to begin an adventure (on foot, by kayak or by water taxi) into Abel Tasman National Park.
Kaiteriteri to Westport
Snow-capped mountains and adventure activities on the Buller River
Spend the morning kayaking out to Split Apple Rock and along the golden bays nearby Kaiteriteri, looking out for the local marine wildlife; or catch a water taxi to a one of the bays in the Abel Tasman National Park to go for a morning stroll in the native New Zealand forest. A late departure from Kaiteriteri will take us to Westport, so you can meet the team from Buller Adventure Tours where you can experience the best value for money jet boating, horse trekking and quad biking in New Zealand.
Westport to Lake Mahinapua
Continue down the West Coast via the world famous ‘Highway 6’ and be treated to some amazing sights.
Today we cruise down the spectacular Highway 6 that stretches along the rugged Tasman shoreline. The road winds along diverse landscapes, which never cease to amaze both locals and visitors alike. Highlights include the Cape Foulwind seal colony, rugged beach walks and the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Tonight your Driver Guide will arrange a group meal for you at the Mahinapua Hotel, known as the legendary “Poo Pub”. It’s an awesome evening of fancy dress and a good way to get to know your fellow travellers.
Lake Mahinapua to Franz Josef
Incredible views of glaciers towering over subtropical rainforests.
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 helicopter deer recovery, old timber-milling techniques and possum trapping. We then head through to the Franz Josef Glacier Village, nestled in the Westland National Park.
Franz Josef (Extra Day)
We recommend staying an extra night in Franz Josef because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Today is your chance to hike on the Franz Josef Glacier, rated as one of the top three activities to do in New Zealand, by Kiwi Experience passengers. You could also take the option of a heli-hike, and be flown up the glacier, or take a more sedate approach and explore the various walks in the area.
Franz Josef to Wanaka
Take the time to chill out by Lake Wanaka.
We start out early in order to catch the perfect mirror reflection of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps on Lake Matheson. We then cruise down the last stretch of Highway 6, stopping at popular scenic spots along the way. Then it’s into Mount Aspiring National Park, arriving in the awe-inspiring destination of Wanaka in the afternoon.
Wanaka to Queenstown
Adventure capital of New Zealand…and the world!
It’s only a short drive today through to New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown. Highlights include Puzzling World, skydiving over Lake Wanaka and stopping at the world’s first commercial bungy site - the Kawarau Bridge. On arrival in Queenstown you can book all activities and confirm onward bus travel at Base, as well as get a group photo with all your new West Coast mates. Then it’s out on the town exploring Queenstown’s infamous nightlife with all the crew!
Queenstown (Extra Day)
We recommend staying an extra night in Queenstown because there’s so much to do there. If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner.
Queenstown is rated as one of our passenger’s favourite spots to hang out in New Zealand. Take the time to spend a few days here as it is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Make the most of the beautiful lake and surrounding walks, or get into a whole range of adrenalin pumping activities. If there was one activity that you couldn’t miss it would be the day trip to Milford Sound, commonly referred to as New Zealand’s most beautiful spot!
Queenstown to Christchurch
Head to the ‘garden city’, with optional drop off points for Mt Cook and rafting in Rangitata
We head out of Queenstown, through the Lindis Pass, so get your cameras ready because this is ‘Lord of the Rings’ territory. After dropping people in Twizel for the connection to Mt Cook, we travel through to the amazing aqua blue Lake Pukaki, with a stunning view of Mt Cook. We stop for lunch beside Lake Tekapo and the picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd. From there we have a straight run into Christchurch arriving late afternoon.
Christchurch to Kaikoura again!
Get up close and personal with some of New Zealand’s most unique wildlife
We start early today and head north from Christchurch across the northern Canterbury Plains. After a quick breakfast break in Cheviot, we continue into Kaikoura (kai – to eat, koura – crayfish). Talk to your driver about some of the amazing experiences you can do in this spectacular harbour including whale watching, fishing, or swim with the dolphins or seals. Alternatively, walk down to the local seal colony and get up close and personal with some fury locals.
Kaikoura to Wellington (via Picton)
Check out seal colonies and drive along the amazing Kaikoura coastline
We head north and take in the last of the dramatic Kaikoura coastline. It’s a spectacular drive – voted New Zealand’s best – and we stop for a close look at the seals that lay about on the rocks all day long. We make our way to the Picton ferry terminal in time to catch the afternoon sailing to the North Island. Say farewell to the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) and we’re on our way! The ferry ride takes a few hours so chill out and enjoy the view of the amazing Marlborough Sounds!
Wellington to Taupo
The Rangitikei region has beautiful rivers and lakes as well as Lord of the Rings landscapes!
We’ve got quite a distance to cover today, so we leave early from Wellington to beat the rush hour traffic. We pass through Taihape, where we drop off and pick up people for River Valley Adventure lodge. Departing Taihape we head to the Central Plateau, home of the Tongariro National Park, where we can drop you off in the township of Turangi if you wish to access it. Then it’s through to Taupo and if the weather suits, it’s time to skydive!
Taupo to Waitomo
An early start from Taupo this morning then a short trip to Waitomo Caves (Wai meaning water, tomo meaning caves). 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 Rotorua or Taupo
We leave at late today so that you have time to experience the legendary Black Water Rafting in the morning with either the Labyrinth or Abyss trips! Alternatively, check out the brand new Ruakuri cave which is an engineering masterpiece.
Heading to Rotorua? No worries. We get you there in time to take part in Tamaki Tours world class Maori concert and hangi (traditional Maori cooked food) experiences. Or, if you’d rather, soak up the atmosphere in one of the many hot springs in the area!!!
Heading to Taupo? No worries. 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 (one of the best one day walks in the world!), trout fishing and more…
Rotorua to Auckland
Head to the ‘City of Sails’
A short stop in Matamata to check out Hobbiton, taking in the rolling countryside along the way before heading to the ‘City of Sails’. We drop off passengers who are spending a few days in Rotorua to have a good look around then we make our way to Auckland.
Auckland to Paihia (Bay Of Islands)
Take a trip to the winterless north and pack as much as you can into a weekend!
We arrive in the Bay of Islands around midday and check out the sights surrounding Paihia, including the historical location of Waitangi. Northland is rich in history and Maori culture and with its clear water, huge kauri forests, and 144 islands to explore you will soon see why Kiwi Experience heads up north. Swim with the dolphins, experience the Excitor Fast Boat, ride out to the famous hole in the rock, or go kayaking, sailing, fishing, diving, snorkelling, or just relax on the beach!
Paihia to Auckland
Squeeze in those activities you haven’t completed yet before heading back to Auckland
Departing late afternoon, you have the best part of the day to experience one of the many activities on offer in the Bay, or simply chill on the beach with a good book. The drive back to the “big smoke”, which us Kiwis affectionately call Auckland, is relaxed and we have you back in the city in time to find some dinner and hit the town.