14 Great Days – Self Drive New Zealand Auckland-Queenstown

Two weeks in "God's own country" 4.5/5

Travel south from the vibrant city of Auckland to the spectacular mountains and thrilling adventures of Queenstown.

Along the way you’ll experience heartland New Zealand, including the cultural mecca of Rotorua and quirky Wellington City in the North Island. Then it’s across to the South Island where you will enjoy opportunities for wildlife encounters in Kaikoura, plenty of time to explore the inspiring city of Christchurch, and plenty of chances to take in awe-inspiring alpine scenery and iconic adventure activities in Queenstown.

New Zealand Tours Sepcialist Tour Operator DMC
'New Zealand Tourism Board' certified specialist

Price per Person in Double Room/Twin Share from:

NZD 4,730.00

(conversion into EUR * | USD *)

  • This tour package can be customized to suit your requirements precisely (e.g. Duration, Start/End Point of your Tour, etc)! Please let us know your special requests.

Please note: All of our self drive tours can be booked with a chauffeur/tour guide as a private tour option! Enquire now!

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Cathedral Cove New Zealand
  • Overview
  • Map & Driving Info
  • Pricing
  • Good to know

Included within this package:


  • Accommodation: for 13 nights staying in Hotel 3 star, all breakfasts included

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  • Rental car hire:
    • included as specified for the duration of the tour package
    • Rental car insurance: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible
    • GPS navigation
    • unlimited kms
    • airport/ferry terminal fees
    • additional drivers
  •  Tour pack: (can be customized to suit you precisely - request here)
    • detailed driving instructions, maps, guide books and much more
    • Private airport transfers
    • Interislander ferry crossing
  • While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.
  • The approximate total driving distance and time for this itinerary is: 1597 kms / 990 miles, 19,5 hours.
  • You can expect to spend around NZ$280 in fuel costs on this itinerary.
  • While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.map

The details below are for each of the days where there is a major driving leg.

Times are based on a reasonable average of between 70 and 80 kph (45-55 mph approx).

  • Day 3 - Driving distance and time: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours
  • Day 5 - Driving distance and time: 452 kms / 280 miles : 5.6 hours
  • Day 7 - Driving distance and time: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.3 hours
  • Day 8 - Driving distance and time: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 hours
  • Day 9 - Driving distance and time: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours
  • Day 11 - Driving distance and time: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours
  • Day 12 - Driving distance and time: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours
  • Day 14 - Driving distance and time: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

We all know Terms and Conditions are really boring.

These are no exception. We fell asleep two times while we wrote them!

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BUT - we need them so that there is no misunderstanding if you decide to change or cancel anything. If you transact through this website then we will give you every chance to read these. Any quotes and bookings undertaken are done so on the understanding that you have read and agree to these terms. Please read here  our Terms & Conditions for payment options and cancellation policy.
We play fair and we know we play with people who play fair!

  • Our tours incl. all tax, fees and admissions
  • All prices are displayed/charged in NZ$ and may vary in your home currency depending on currency conversion rates.
  • This tour price is based on 2 people sharing one room and may vary depending on type of accommodation (Motel, Boutique Lodges, 3-5 Star Hotels). Of course, we can provide more options in type of car, accommodation, also in route and duration of your tour.

Additional Information:

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  • Before you travel to New Zealand - Important to know (Click here)!
  • This tour package can be customized to suit your requirements precisely! All we need to know is your day and the time your flight will arrive in New Zealand.
  • Please let us know your special request or if you want to stay more or less days by clicking here. We will tailor your holiday.
  • Please note: All of our self-drive tours can be booked with a chauffeur/tour guide as a private tour option!
  • While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.
  • Bookings are essential even if the tours are operating daily. Please send us your dates for reservations.

How it works:

  • You send us the date you will arrive in New Zealand
  • If you have special interests, please let us know
  • We send you a detailed quote plus options
  • When you are happy to accept the quote we will send you the invoice
  • You go on with the payment to secure all bookings
  • We are looking forward to your stay in this amazing country and your once in a lifetime holiday!

Tour Details:

The following summary lists driving information for each major driving day of your itinerary. Times and distances are based on ideal conditions  without stops. Plan to take longer than the times listed below to allow time to explore and enjoy some stops.

Day 1

    Welcome to Auckland City
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    Auckland the ‚City Of Sails‘
    • Private transfer from Auckland airport to your accommodation
    • Your tour documentation pack and support
    • Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise – suggested activity

    Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities – along with relevant brochures and information.

    Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central city museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

    Accommodation – Hotel Grand Chancellor Auckland City

    Day 2

    • Collecting your rental car
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      New Zealand Self Drive Tour Kit
    • Explore Auckland City
    • Fullers Rangitoto Volcanic Explorer – suggested activity
    • Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb – suggested activity
    • Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore – suggested activity

    On either collection or delivery of your rental car you will be required to sign a rental agreement with the car rental company. A credit card is also required at this time and an authorisation will be obtained by the rental car company to cover excess (deductible amount) as specified in the car rental insurance section at the end of your itinerary. Note that the excess or deductible is not ‚charged‘ to your card, just an authorisation is obtained at this stage. Each person who wishes to drive must present their driving licence at this point. There is no charge for additional drivers. Note drivers under 21 are not permitted.

    Explore Auckland City

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    Auckland Mt Eden

    Perched on the edge of a large natural harbour, New Zealand’s ‘City of Sails’ offers the best of both worlds. Sandy beaches, native bush and lush rainforests give way to a vibrant urban culture, humming with life. Spend time in the Viaduct Harbour – try your hand at sailing an America’s Cup yacht – or take the ferry to nearby Waiheke Island for a gourmet food and wine experience.

    Walk (if you’re that way inclined) to the top of Auckland’s highest volcano, Mt Eden, and take in soaring views of the gulf. Pack a picnic lunch and lose yourself in one of the 800 regional national parks on offer or grab a book and relax on a deserted beach. Head up the Sky Tower, standing at just over 300m tall (about 1,000 feet) and have a meal in the 360 degree revolving restaurant. Scale the outermost perimeter of the Harbour Bridge – or test your stomach and bungy off both. To end your day, catch a cab to Ponsonby Road and sample some upmarket culinary delights.

    Accommodation – Hotel Grand Chancellor Auckland City

    Day 3

    • Auckland to Rotorua
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      Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
    • Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest – suggested activity

    Auckland to Rotorua

    The drive south from Auckland takes you past the Bombay Hills and into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of greater Auckland area and it’s here you turn inland to central Waikato. You’ll soon go through the town of Matamata where you can visit the fully intact Hobbiton film set used in the shooting of the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Continuing on, you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

    Accommodation – Sudima Lake Rotorua

    Day 4

    • Explore Rotorua
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    • Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo – suggested activity
    • Mitai Maori Village – suggested activity
    • Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter – suggested activity

    Explore Rotorua

    Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. But geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, Rotorua is the perfect place to immerse yourself in our local culture. Spend an evening at Mitai Maori Village for a hangi dinner and Maori performance. Book in for some relaxation at the Polynesian Spa and choose between a mud wrap, coconut oil massage or private mineral pool soak – or perhaps just get them all!

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    Geysers and Hot Pools

    Land in a helicopter on White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano and traverse the crater for a once-in-a-lifetime hike. Those in need of an adrenaline rush, should spend time at Agroventures Adventure Park static skydiving, bungy jumping, and ‘swooping’ on the giant swing. For a calmer day out, head up the Skyline Gondola for awe-inspiring views of the lake. While you’re there, grab a night luge pass for an extra thrill.

    A fifty minute drive to nearby Matamata will land you directly in ‘middle earth’ Hobbiton, and it’s a must see for even the most half hearted Lord Of The Rings fans. Round off your Rotorua stay at the Wia-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and see the multicolored hot springs, geysers and boiling, mud pools.

    Accommodation – Sudima Lake Rotorua

    Day 5

    • Rotorua to Welligton

    Rotorua to Wellington

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    Geothermal Wonderland

    The drive from Rotorua to Wellington takes you via the township of Taupo and New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo. Just north of the town are the Huka Falls and a short detour to view is advised. An easy walking track from the car park will lead you to a viewing platform, but if you want to get even closer, the thrilling Huka Jet boat ride will do just that. Craters of the moon is a nearby geothermal reserve with well-formed walking tracks around its many boiling pools and steaming vents. Heading into town the lake comes into view. Lake Taupo is a gigantic volcanic caldera (collapsed crater) formed during one of the world’s largest eruptions – estimated to have taken place 1800 year ago.  Follow the lakeshore south and you pass Turangi, a mecca for fly fishing. You then ascend onto the central plateau into the high country Rangipo Desert.

    Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites you may be lucky enough to see the peaks of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu and Mt. Tongariro. The third visible peak is Mt Ngauruhoe and it may look familiar to you, as it was used to depict Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. A little further along this vast landscape you’ll reach the military town of Waiouru, the Army Museum here holds an incredible collection of New Zealand military memorabilia and history on its servicemen. Descending from the mountain region you pass through rich farmland and the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast.

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    Wellington Mt Victoria Lookout

    The coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton are worth a short detour before arriving into the capital city of Wellington. Plan to take most of the day for this drive. Wellington City is New Zealand’s capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (approx. 2 square kilometres) so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

    Accommodation – Hotel Ibis Wellington

    Day 6

    • Explore Wellington
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      Wellington Cable Car
    • Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour – suggested activity
    • Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour – suggested activity

    Explore Wellington City

    Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

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    Wellington Te Papa Museum

    Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay – the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city’s best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.

    Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you’re a foodie at heart, a two hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For a educational day out, learn about New Zealand’s native species at Zealandia – the world’s first fully fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

    Accommodation – Hotel Ibis Wellington

    Day 7

    • Wellington to Blenheim
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      Marlborough Sounds
    • INCLUDED – Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
    • Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour – suggested activity

    The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as ‚one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world‘. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand’s oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country’s highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

    From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

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    New Zealand Wine Tours

    Picton to Blenheim: Only short 30 minute drive, you’ll follow the valley south to arrive in Blenheim, located in the heart of Marlborough – New Zealand’s largest wine producing region. Go through acres of leafy green vines and marvel at the magnificent ‘dry hills’ of Marlborough in the distance.

    Accommodation – Chateau Marlborough

    Day 8

    • Blenheim to Kaikoura
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      Magic Kaikoura

    Blenheim to Kaikoura

    Cross the ‚dry hills‘ of Marlborough and head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view native wildlife. To the east is the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops – but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife – and it’s one of the only places in New Zealand you can see whales all year round.

    Whale Watch Kaikoura is New Zealand’s only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors up-close encounters the sperm whale. Sperm whales can be seen here year-round and depending on the season you may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales.

    Accommodation – The White Morph, Kaikoura

    Day 9

    • Kaikoura to Christchurch
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      Whale Watching Kaikoura
    • Whale Watch Kaikoura – suggested activity

    Kaikoura to Christchurch

    Today you continue down the coast before heading inland through the North Canterbury wine region – the Waipara Valley. As you drive through this area you’ll be greeted by one of New Zealand’s most notorious animals, the sheep. If you’ve time on your hands we recommend taking a detour to Hanmer Springs for a relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you’ll see a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

    Accommodation – Heartland Hotel Cotswold

    Day 10

    • Explore Christchurch City
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      Christchurch Historic Tram
    • Christchurch Gondola – suggested activity
    • Christchurch Grand Tour – suggested activity

    Explore Christchurch City

    Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains bordering the edge of the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to explore the middle of the South. For those keen to see everything this Garden City has to offer we recommend the Christchurch Pass – a one stop shop to three main attractions. Pay once and catch the Gondola to the ring of an extinct volcano Mt Cavendish, tour the Botanic Gardens and hop aboard a historic tramcar.

    A visit to the world’s only Cardboard Cathedral is a must, as is a day’s outing to the French settlement of Akaroa. While you’re there jump aboard a harbour cruise for the chance to catch a glimpse of the rare hector’s dolphin.

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    Christchurch Port Hiills

    Play explorer and head to the International Antarctic Centre for an indoor blizzard like no other. Save on flights to Africa and head out on Safari at the Orana Wildlife Park. Be sure to book the ‘Lion Encounter’ for a thrilling experience inside a lion enclosure. go wine tasting in the Waipara Valley and end your visit with a stop at Quake City, an informative, multi-sensory attraction detailing the devastating Canterbury earthquakes.

    Accommodation – Heartland Hotel Cotswold

    Day 11

    • Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park
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      Church Of The Good Shepherd
    • Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook – suggested activity
    • Tasman Valley 4WD Tour – suggested activity

    Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park 

    Today you’ll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury Plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing into through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you’ll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.
    Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand’s tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue colour. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.

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    Mt Cook Lake Tekapo

    Choose to view the Mt Cook National Park by a ski plane, or land on one of the glaciers in a helicopter. Find your sense of adventure and Kayak on a glacial lake or test your legs on one of the many walking tracks in and around the village. Before leaving, a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre is a must do.
    Lake Tekapo is New Zealand’s highest lake and it’s turquoise colour astounds visitors. The unusual colour of the water comes from fine rock particles suspended in the glacier fed waters reflecting the light. One of the most popular – and most photographed – landmarks in the region is the Church of the Good Shepherd. This iconic stone building was dedicated in 1935 and utilises part of the wood from the demolished Tekapo bridge. Nearby a statue of a Bronze Sheepdog pays tribute to the strong contribution these animals have made to the farming community. West of Lake Tekapo is Mt John, and it’s here you will find the Canterbury University Observatory. Driving to the summit of this mountain is well worth the soaring views you’ll get from the top. Drive a little further towards Lake Alexandrina, a wildlife reserve home to many birds. No motorised craft are allowed on the water, making it a very peaceful visit. For a different view of this stunning landscape, catch a scenic flight over Mt Cook National Park and the West Coast Glaciers – Fox and Franz Josef.

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    Mt Cook Glacier Explorer

    Just a 1-1.5 hour drive from Tekapo, Mt. Cook National Park is a rugged and beautiful environment encompassing 19 peaks, the tallest of them being Aoraki Mt Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain. Standing 3754 metres tall the Mt Cook can be seen from the southern end of Lake Pukaki. For those wanting a unique experience, catch a ski plane over the park, and land on the 15 kilometre long Tasman glacier. Stretch your legs on one of the many short walks around the area, and relax over dinner in the Mt Cook Village. Be sure to stop at the new Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, showcasing the region’s contribution to pioneering the sport of mountain climbing. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

    Accommodation – Hermitage Hotel Room Mount Cook View

    Day 12

    • Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown
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      Mt Cook National Park
    • TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour – suggested activity

    Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown

    Leaving the alpine region of Mount Cook, you’ll travel through the lakeside town of Twizel, then a little further to Omarama – the gliding capital of New Zealand. Continue on over the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand’s highest roads with a summit of 971 metres. Arrive in the quaint village of Tarras, then continue on a short way to the historic Bendigo Reserve, one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements.

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    Historic Steamer ‚Earnslaw‘

    Follow the road to Cromwell, and keep going through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand’s premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

    Accommodation – Heartland Hotel Queenstown

    Day 13

    • Explore Queenstown and surrounds
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      Thrilling Queenstown
    • Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure – suggested activity Appellation Boutique Wine Tour – suggested activity

    Explore Queenstown and surrounds

    Although celebrated as New Zealand’s ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.

    Follow a trail of vines through Gibbston Valley as you sample the region’s best wine. We recommend stopping at the Chard Farm cellar door, visiting the architecturally award winning Peregrine vineyard or taking a cellar cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery. Cruise to Walter Peak station for dinner on board a 100 year old steamship –  the TSS Earnslaw. While you’re there, a farm tour is a must do for those not familiar with rural living.

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    Dart River Safari

    Take some time to wander the waterfront, and grab lunch at one of the many amazing cafes and restaurants on offer. Try Vudu’s Pantry and larder or for a holiday treat go to Michelin star chef Josh Emett’s ‘Rata. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown – a disused gold mining settlement built in the 1800’s. Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. After all of that – if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water Rafting.

    Accommodation – Heartland Hotel Queenstown

    Day 14

    • Depart Queenstown today
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      Farewell from New Zealand
    • Farewell from New Zealand

    Your final morning in Queenstown before driving to the airport and catching your next flight. Depending on when your flight departs you might have time for one last Queenstown adventure before dropping your car off at the airport and catching your flight. It’s a good idea to stop at a petrol station on the way to the airport to fill up your car’s fuel tank. The BP on the corner of Frankton Road and Kawarau Road is the last one before the airport.

    Farewell and thank you for visiting New Zealand

    Enquire now!

    Enjoy the Holiday of a lifetime

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