Holidays & Tours...
can tailor make your holiday or match you to the perfect group departure.
Contact us to discuss your requirements. Scroll down for our example
3 week self-drive itinerary...
New Zealand is often described as the world in miniature -
snow-capped mountains, magnificent coastal scenery, rainforest's, geothermal
activity and the rich Maori culture all help make it a wonderful place to visit.
We are able to tailor make your holiday to this fantastic destination so call
our New Zealand feature from our Travel Explorer newsletter
Although New Zealand looks tiny on the world map, especially compared to the
hulking torso of its next door neighbour, it's as big as the UK and really needs
at least two or three weeks to fully explore. But for those who want to combine
it with a visit to Australia, or perhaps add a leisurely stopover or two in Asia
or a South Pacific Island, there is a way to distil the ‘Enzed’ experience into
days rather than weeks.
Our compact nest of
pleasures starts in the capital Wellington. With its lively harbour, its
horseshoe of green hills polished by scurrying clouds and steep streets tumbling
with wooden Victorian houses, Wellington is the most handsome of cities. It’s
also home to the superb Te Papa museum, a repository of national treasures and
the single best introduction to all aspects of New Zealand life, from visiting
or sacred meeting place, to doing a virtual reality bungy jump.
The ferry to the
South island, following in the wake of Captain Cook across the Cook Strait and
into the calm, pale blue waters of Queen Charlotte Sound with its jigsaw of
islands. Once ashore you would collect your hired car and explore the globally
acclaimed Marlborough vineyards, including Cloudy Bay, the winery that ‘lifted
New Zealand’s wines from obscurity to respectability’ according to James
Halliday, author of the Pocket Guide to the wines of Australia and New Zealand.
The nearby fishing
town of Nelson, which faces the wide panorama of Tasman Bay, is the St Ives of
New Zealand, a magnet for artists and craftsmen. The local tourist office has a
number of different craft trails, linking wood turners with weavers, ceramicists
with glass blowers, jewellers with makers of ‘wearable art’, such as a dress I
saw with a breast plate made of strips of bacon in perspex and a skirt of wet
kelp. I decided against bringing one home as a present for my wife.
Nearly a third of
New Zealand is national park. Even our little polly pocket of the country has
three, including the Kahurangi, the country’s second largest, Nelson Lakes and
Abel Tasman, named after the Dutch explorer who sailed its coast in 1642, more
than a century before Captain Cook.
Imagine the perfect
beach where a dense natural garden meets the most golden
sands and the calmest, most opal of seas, protected from the prevailing west
winds by granite highlands and headlands, and you are looking at the Abel
Tasman. You can walk the coast path, explore by sea kayak or hop along by water
taxis that operate a scheduled service right along the coast. You may well spot
seals and maybe dolphins, but we’re saving the great marine show for the last
The old whaling
town of Kaikoura, our most southerly point on this condensed version of New
Zealand, is now most famous for whale sightings rather than shootings. In the
smorgasbord of food found in the rich mingling currents off the peninsula,
there’s a 95 percent chance of a sighting, as well as seeing - and swimming with
- dolphins. But Kaikoura would be worth it just for the drive from Nelson. To
port, the pale Pacific rollers and beaches littered with kelp and giant
arthritic claws of bone coloured driftwood. To starboard, the immensity of 6000
foot mountains, the first appearance of the Southern Alps. Few places in the
world celebrate such an intimate marriage of mountain and sea.
3 week self-drive example itinerary
Days 1 and 2 AucklandAuckland
Check into the Hilton, maritime hip in style with eyes-wide-open views of
Waitemata harbour, and you’ll have an instant idea of what the ‘City of Sails’
is all about. Then drag yourself away from the window and explore the lively
waterfront. You might also want to consider a day tour of WaihekeIsland, an
island of unique art galleries, vineyards and stylish cafés. Other options
include a sail around the harbour.
Days 3 and 4 The Coromandel
Travel along the scenic and well signposted Pacific Coast Highway to the
Coromandel. The area is a perfect marriage of coast and native bush. We suggest
you spend a day on a ‘Kiwi Dundee’ Adventure, which combines kauri forest walks
with a visit to an 1890s gold mining town. You’ll see glow worms, and learn
about the flora and fauna of this magical area and the contrasting coastline of
beaches (including the famous thermal sand pools at Hot Water), cliffs and
offshore islands. You’ll be staying at Brenton Lodge which offers three Ps of
pleasure: peace, privacy and pampering. Accommodation is in individual cottages
with sea views and there’s a gorgeous pool in its landscaped garden, as well as
Days 5 and 6 Lake Taupo
Don’t linger too long over breakfast because the plan for the day is to break
your journey at Rotorua to visit the bubbling thermal springs and Maori cultural
centre. From there travel along the Thermal Explorer Highway to Taupo. Here
you’ll be staying at the boutique Tauhara Sunrise Lodge with sweeping views over
the lake.Among the easily arranged Taupo experiences are helicopter flights to
the steaming volcanic crater of MountRuapehu in the TongariroWorldHeritagePark;
a lake cruise; or the ‘Triple Whammy’ combo of floatplane into a thermal park
with an exhilarating jet boat ride.
Days 7 and 8 Hawke’s Bay
Further along the Thermal Explorer Highway is Hawke's Bay. Your base for
exploring the Hawke’s Bay vineyards is the boutique Breckenridge Lodge, nestled
in the picturesque valley of Omarunui , with views of the vines and just a few
minutes’ drive from Napier and Hastings. For a birds’ eye perspective on the
vineyards you could drift with the early morning breeze in a hot air balloon.
There are also half or full day wine tours, plus one that visits - by 4WD - Cape
Kidnappers and the largest and most accessible gannet colony in the world.
Day 9 Wellington
There’s just a night in New Zealand’s capital city, but time enough to visit the
waterfront and the superb Te Papa museum. You’ll stay at the boutique Museum
Days 10 and 11 Marlborough Sound
You’ll drop your car at the ferry port, sail across Cook Strait and be met on
arrival and transferred by boat to your accommodation at the Bay of Many Coves.
If, however, you’d prefer to save time and savour the Sound scenery from the
air, you could fly by helicopter from Wellington straight to the property.
Sitting right on the Sound, the experience of the Bay of Many Coves is bound to
be a highlight of your holiday because of its tranquil setting, the sea views
from your own apartment, terrific food (with lots of ingredients straight from
the sea) and the option of sailing, fishing, walking or kayaking in such an
unspoilt natural environment. The hotel can arrange for you to walk part of the
famous Queen Charlotte Track, with water taxi transfers and a picnic lunch. The
owners also have a luxury cruise boat (the Lady Karen) which can be chartered,
with skipper. Or, of course, you can simply kick back and relax.
Days 12 and 13 Kaikoura
The folks from the Bay of Many Coves will take you back by boat to Picton where
you’ll collect a car and drive through the wineries of the Marlborough Sounds en
route to Kaikoura. You’ll spend the next two nights in Hapuku Lodge, either in
the Lodge itself or one of the stunning Treehouses, each with a spa bath,
fireplace and balcony. During the day you’ll have time to enjoy whale watching,
swimming with dolphins, a Maori cultural tour or quad biking.
Day 14 Canterbury High Country
Today’s destination is Terrace Downs, a resort about 40mins south of
Christchurch, although on your way south you might want to stop off at Amberley
for lunch at one of the wineries, such as Pegasus Bay. Situated on the edge of
Rakaia Gorge with its own riding stables, an 18-hole championship golf course -
one of the top three in NZ - and a spa, plus lots of delightful walks, Terrace
Downs makes an ideal place to break your journey.
Days 15 and 16 Queenstown & Arrowtown
There’s a fairly full first day of driving but with so many changes in scenery –
rich farmlands, the almost desert-like central Otago and awesome mountains -
time will easily pass in a series of scenic distractions. LakeTekapo, with views
of Mount Cook, makes a useful half-way stop for lunch. In Queenstown the menu of
activities would almost fill this entire brochure. One of the many options we
recommend is a trip that includes a thrilling, knuckleblanching jetboat scenic
ride on the DartRiver, lunch at a historic Glenorchy pub, CoronetPeak, historic
Arrowtown and KawarauBridge to watch the bungee jumpers, with a final stop at
Amisfield Winery for tastings. Accommodation is at Arrowtown House in nearby
Arrowtown, away from the crowds of Queenstown. The award-winning b&b has five
guest rooms, spread over a collection of buildings, each equipped with its own
washing machine and dryer (ideal for those who’ve been on the road for the last
Day 17 Afloat on Doubtful Sound
A mini cruise on the Fiordland Navigator, with the prospect of Bottlenose
dolphins for company, fur seals on the shores, occasional penguins and
jaw-dropping fiord scenery. You’ll spend the night riding at anchor in this
maritime wilderness, with use of kayaks and inflatables for more intimate
encounters. NB This cruise does not operate between May and September - please
ask us about alternative options.
Days 18 and 19 Wanaka
This lakeside town is like a cameo version of Queenstown, but more chilled out
and arguably even more scenic. The local activities have more of a natural
emphasis and feature a wide choice of walking trails. Your guest-house, Riverrun,
sits on the side of a mountain with views of the lake and surrounding peaks. For
a more intimate encounter with the nearby MountAspiring scenery, book a ‘Siberia
Experience’, which includes a scenic flight over the mountains, a walk and a
jetboat ride back to base.
Day 20 Fox Glacier
Head north, with a long day’s drive over the HaastPass and along the west coast,
but a spectacular one with a Kodak moment at every bend. The final stretch of
serpentine road will lead you to the small isolated town of Fox Glacier where
you'll check in to Distinction Fox Glacier . You should have time to take a
scenic flight over the glaciers and a walk - 2hrs or so – through native forest
around Lake Matheson, known as Mirror Lake for its perfect upside-down
perspective on Mount Cook.
Day 21 Christchurch
Drive to Greymouth, arriving in time to drop off the car and catch the lunchtime
departure of the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch. Your last night will be
spent at The George.
You could turn the trip into a full ‘head to toe’ journey through New Zealand by
starting in the Bay of Islands, which epitomises the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ as
seen on the posters. The best approach would be to fly straight from Auckland’s
airport to Kerikeri (see our coast section). If you want to see more of the
South Island, particularly the wildlife at the southern tip, see page our
2 nights in Auckland at the Hilton
2 nights in The Coromandel at Brenton Lodge including breakfast
2 nights at Lake Taupo at Tauhara Sunrise Lodge including breakfast
2 nights in Hawke’s Bay at Breckenridge Lodge including breakfast
1 night in Wellington at the Museum Hotel
2 nights in Marlborough Sound at the Bay of Many Coves
2 nights in Kaikoura at Hapuku Lodge including breakfast & dinner
1 night in Canterbury High County at Terrace Downs including breakfast
2 nights near Queenstown at Arrowtown House including breakfast
1 night at Doubtful Sound aboard the Fiordland Navigator with breakfast & dinner
2 nights in Wanaka at Riverrun including breakfast
1 night in Fox Glacier at Distinction Fox Glacier including breakfast
1 night in Christchurch at The George including breakfast