Auckland to Queenstown (14 Days)

New Zealand

2019/20/06

 

Highlights

  • Geothermal Rotorua
  • Alpine Queenstown
  • Funky Christchurch

 

 

Tour Itinerary


Geothermal wonders, vibrant cities, soaring mountains and majestic fiords are just some of the highlights of this two-week journey from Auckland to Queenstown. Enjoy world-class food, adventure and culture surrounded by landscapes that promise to take your breath away. Along the way, friendly locals and easy transport options make this a holiday you'll remember for life.

 

Day 1: Spend the day in Auckland

Vibrant city style and thrilling adventure.
Highlights

  • Try a Skyjump or Skywalk
  • Visit the volcanic island of Rangitoto
  • Museums and art galleries

 

Must-do Experiences in Auckland

  • Discover a combination of metropolitan delights and natural landscapes.

Auckland is an energetic and colourful city surrounded by two harbours, plenty of beaches, and dotted with 48 volcanic cones. The inner city is easy to discover on foot. Stroll the Viaduct Harbour, enjoy a café lunch in the hip Britomart precinct or choose to take an organised tour. If adventure is what you're looking for try jet boating on the harbour or venture up Auckland's iconic Skytower for a SkyWalk. Further afield, a short 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland takes you to Waiheke Island, a relaxing haven of wineries, white sand beaches and art galleries. Explore the island with one of the many tours available, from sightseeing or wine tasting to Maori culture.

  

Day 2 - 4: Rotorua
Mud pools, adventure and unique Maori culture.
Highlights

  • Maori cultural experiences
  • Stunning lakes & geothermal spectacles
  • Thrilling adventure

 
Proximity

  • 3 h ‌ 228 km via SH1, SH27 & SH5 
  • 3 h 45 min ‌ by Intercity

Known for its bubbling mud pools and shooting geysers, Rotorua offers a multitude of experiences set amongst beautiful lakes, native forests and pristine rivers. Start with a trip to one of the region's geothermal areas, and enjoy a Maori cultural experience with delicious food (hāngi), singing, dancing and haka.

The following day, head out to Whakarewarewa Forest, where a network of mountain bike trails winds through towering Californian Redwoods. A canopy tree-walk allows you to explore the forest above. For more thrills, visit one of Rotorua's theme parks such as Velocity Valley or Skyline Rotorua for a whole slew of bizarre adventure activities.

 

Day 5 - 6: Wellington
A mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine.

Highlights

  • Fascinating museums and galleries
  • Lively cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Weta Workshop

 
Proximity

  • 1 h 20 min ‌ by Air New Zealand
  • 5 h 45 min ‌ 453 km via SH1
  • 7 hr 40 min ‌ by Intercity 

A short flight from Rotorua, you'll find New Zealand's cool little capital Wellington, a funky, compact city packed with cultural activities and stellar eating-places. Spend the morning visiting the array of museums and galleries that have made Wellington, New Zealand's cultural centre. Film fans will love the Weta Workshop Tour, where you can discover special effects and props that bring imaginary worlds to life.

Wellington is also a great place for gardens and wildlife. The iconic red cable car will take you to the botanical gardens and Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, where you can meet some of New Zealand's most unique creatures. Visit the seal colony at Red Rock Reserve via a lovely coastal walk.

 

Day 7 - 8: Marlborough
From valleys of vines to sheltered waterways.

Highlights

  • Walking and cycling trails
  • Home of Sauvignon Blanc
  • Marlborough Sounds waterways

Proximity

  • 3 h 30 min ‌ to Picton by Cook StraitFerry
  • 25 min ‌ 28 km to Blenheim via SH1
  • 30 min ‌ by Intercity

The journey across the Cook Strait takes you through beautiful Marlborough Sounds – a network of sunken, emerald-green river valleys. Dolphin, whale and fur seal sightings along the way are common.

Take some time to explore Picton before travelling on to Blenheim – a town known for delicious wine, food and high sunshine hours. The Marlborough region is the home of Sauvignon Blanc, and the perfect way to experience it is with a wine tour. Nature lovers can explore the region's tranquil bays and inlets by foot, bike, kayak, boat cruise or scenic flight.

Aviation enthusiasts will love Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, which houses a fascinating collection of Great War aircraft and artefacts.
 
Day 9 - 10: Christchurch
From the ocean to the Alps.

Highlights

  • Swim with dolphins in Akaroa
  • Funky cafes and restaurants
  • Punting and heritage tram rides

 

Proximity

  • 4 h 50 min ‌ 331 km via SH1 - This route has intermittent opening time
  • 5 h 30 min ‌ by Intercity

The South Island’s largest city, Christchurch is packed with charming heritage, innovation and outdoor activities. Punting on the Avon River, heritage tram rides, street art trails and botanical gardens are just some of the things to do here.

Next day offers the opportunity to travel further afield. The TranzAlpine is a world-famous train journey that showcases Arthur’s Pass and the Southern Alps. The return journey makes for an unforgettable experience.

Akaroa was New Zealand's only French settlement, the remnants of which are visible in the town's lovely heritage buildings and delicious French food. This is also a great place for wildlife encounters with penguins, dolphins and fur seals.
 
Day 11 - 12: Queenstown
Home of the ultimate adventure bucket list.

Highlights

  • Stunning walking and hiking trails
  • Adventure activities of all kinds
  • Delicious food and winery tours

 
Proximity

  • 55 min ‌ by Air New Zealand
  • 6 h 10 min ‌ 484 km via SH1, SH8 & SH6
  • 8 h 10 min ‌ by Intercity

Take a flight to Queenstown today, the alpine town with something for everyone. Those after an adrenalin rush will enjoy the copious adventure activities on offer – bungy jumping, rafting, jet boating and skydiving remain firm favourites. If you’re looking for something mellower, consider a day walk, wine tour or a round of golf at one of Queenstown's marquee courses.

The surrounding towns of Glenorchy and Arrowtown are also well worth a visit. Discover the region's gold-mining history in Arrowtown or search Glenorchy for The Lord of the Rings filming locations.

End the day with a gondola ride to Bob’s Peak for panoramic views, followed by a meal at one of Queenstown's many restaurants.

 

Day 13: Milford Sound day trip
Milford Sound, Fiordland

Highlights

  • Boat cruises day and night
  • Kayaking, diving, or scenic flights
  • Walking and hiking trails

 

  • Proximity
  • 3 h 45 min ‌ 287 km (one way) via SH6 & SH94
  • Driving times may vary during winter 

Decorated with waterfalls and alive with unique wildlife. Once described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth natural wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is a relaxing contrast to Queenstown. It takes a fair amount of time to get there but it's worth it once you're out on the water of the Sounds. Take a boat cruise or hire a kayak and soak in the magical blue skies, green mountains, crystal-clear water and tumbling waterfalls.

Alternatively, take a flightseeing tour of the Sounds, departing from Queenstown airport. To break up the trip, spend a night in Te Anau and explore the local glowworm caves.

Caution: If you choose to self-drive, be sure to give yourself plenty of time as conditions varying greatly on this route, particularly in winter.

 
Day 14: Depart Queenstown
Spend your last morning in Queenstown, checking out the shops and sampling some of the town's charming cafes, before catching your flight home.

 

Proximity

  • Starting in Christchurch to Queenstown via Wellington
  • Total travel time: 21.5 Hours (with flights)

 


Car-free Travel Options

  • Includes two domestic flights & one ferry journey across Cook Strait.
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