24 Days/21 nights - This package is sure to delight with a collection of unique and boutique accommodation, activities and tours. The properties you’ll spend your time at include country estates, lodges and boutique hotels – all known for the warm and friendly New Zealand hospitality they offer. Hit the road and embrace this self-drive itinerary crafted for the traveler looking for something special on their visit to New Zealand. In addition to both the North and South islands, this package will deliver you to the much smaller and charming third island of New Zealand – Stewart Island. Enjoy a series of wildlife encounters throughout your journey and more than one occasion to be up close and personal with New Zealand’s favorite bird – the Kiwi.
- International roundtrip Economy Class flights from Los Angeles (domestic US flights can be added at an additional cost)
- Domestic New Zealand flights
- 1 night Auckland in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Waipoua in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Whitford, Auckland in 4* accommodation
- 2 nights Rotorua in 4* accommodation
- 2 nights Kapiti Coastnights in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Wellington in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Kaikoura in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Hanmer Springs in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Oamaru in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Dunedin in 4* accommodation
- 1 night The Catlins in 4* accommodation
- 2 nights Stewart Island in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Te Anau in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Doubtful Sound overnight cruise in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Wanaka in 4* accommodation
- 1 night Lake Tekapo in 4* accommodation
- 2 nights Christchurch in 4* accommodation
- 22 days medium size automatic transmission car rental (coach transportation is available if a self drive is not preferred)
- Interislander Ferry Crossing from Wellington to Picton
- Bluff to Stewart Island ferry
- Footprints Waipoua Twilight Encounter
- Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park and Kiwi Encounter
- Overnight Kiwi Spotting Tour
- Zealandia, The Karori Sanctuary
- Encounter Kaikoura Albatross Encounter Watch
- Evening viewing of Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony
- Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour
- Ulva's Guided Walks Beautiful Birding and Botany
- All taxes & fuel surcharges
Day 1 - Depart US
Ask about our options with Premium Economy and Business class airfare.
Day 2 - Cross International Date
Day 3 - Arrive Auckland
Meet and greet service with rental car pick up at Auckland Airport. Time permitting, a visit to the Auckland Museum, Auckland Zoo or Ambury Park is recommended.
Day 4 - Waipoua
Depart Auckland and head north via the rugged West Coast. You may like to stop off at Muriwai Beach to marvel at the black sands and take time to visit the gannet colony. Muriwai is one of New Zealand's most spectacular black sand surf beaches. At its southern end, Otakamiro Point is the site of one of this country's few mainland Gannet breeding colonies. The Takapu Refuge is located at the southern end of Muriwai beach and is an established breeding area for gannets. About 1,200 pairs of adult gannets nest here each summer and can be seen between August and March each year. Fur seals feed and rest at Oaia Island, 1.6km off the coast and can sometimes be seen during spring.
This evening enjoy the Twilight Encounter Tour of Waipoua Forest. Your Maori guides will relate stories and legends of the forest and how Maori used plants for medicinal purposes. Learn of the rich bird life and other fauna that inhabits the forest. As night falls, the shyest creatures of the forest awaken and begin to go about their work. Deep in the forest among the towering trees and surrounded by the sounds of the nocturnal creatures awakening, you will meet the ancient kauri tree guardians of the forest.
Day 5 - Matakana
Travel on to the Matakana Coast a place of stunning countryside, coastal landscapes, vineyards, beaches, artisan food products, sculpture tails and characterful villages.
Day 6 - Whitford, Auckland
Recommended today is optional sightseeing to Tiritiri Matangi from Gulf Harbour (Wed-Sun only) Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf is an open sanctuary with over 283,000 trees planted over 10 years and many rare and endangered birds have been translocated to the predator free island. These include Takahe, Saddleback, Kakariki, Kokako, Whitehead, Little Spotted Kiwi, Stitchbird, Teal, NZ Robin and Fernbird.
Day 7 & 8 - Rotorua
Travel today via the Seabird Coast. The Miranda Shorebird Centre records 131 bird species including 43 waders. The extensive tidal flats and rare shell bank create a world renowned and accessible site for migratory and endemic waders. Continue through farmland, lake land and forest until the distinctive smell of sulphur and constant steam drifts lets you know you are in tempestuous, geothermal Rotorua. Visit Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park with its Kiwi Encounter, a breeding recovery programme for native New Zealand Kiwi. Enjoy a unique behind-the-scenes tour of a working Kiwi nursery and hatchery.
Day 9 & 10 - Kapiti Coast
Today's journey takes you to the west coast with its spectacular sea vistas, glorious sunsets, untouched native forest and dramatic hillscapes.
Take the ferry to Kapiti Island, home to the Little Spotted Kiwi (now extinct on the mainland). Your evening guided Kiwi spotting walk provides the opportunity to engage with endangered New Zealand birds like Takahe, KakaÂ, Weka, Tieke (Saddleback), Kereru, Kokako, Hihi, and Toutouwai (Robin). There is also the chance to get up close to some extraordinary New Zealand native flora and fauna. The lodge is remote with limited facilities but is welcoming with genuine Maori hospitality.
Day 11 - Wellington
A short journey to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Nestled between harbor and hills, the city is compact, cultured and full of character. Just minutes from the city is Zealandia, a living ecosystem, home to some of New Zealand's most rare and extraordinary wildlife. Forty different species of native birds have been recorded in the sanctuary valley, twenty four of them endemic (found in no other country). Dozens of reptile species, hundreds of plant species and thousands of kinds of invertebrates have made Zealandia their home.
Day 12 - Kaikoura
Drop your car off in Wellington and take the Interislander Ferry through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds to Picton. There will be plenty of seabirds to spot along the way. On arrival in Picton, collect another rental car and travel through Marlborough Wine Country before reaching Kaikoura.
Day 13 - Hanmer Springs
The unique marine geography of Kaikoura provides the perfect environment for the local Sperm Whales which cohabitate close to land whilst hunting deep sea squid. At any time of the year you are almost guaranteed to see whales, Dusky and common dolphins, seabirds, seals and small marine creatures. Today's Albatross Encounter brings you up close to a diverse array of seabirds including albatross, petrels, shearwaters, shags, terns and gulls. These species all occur naturally within a close proximity of the Kaikoura Peninsula. Kaikoura's marine environment is home to more seabird species in a small area than anywhere else in the New Zealand. Later, continue on to Hanmer Springs, a beautiful and popular alpine resort, known for its thermal pools and spa.
Day 14 - Oamaru
Travel south to Oamaru and enjoy an Evening Viewing of the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. The best view is at nightfall when the penguins return from the day's fishing, make their way onto the beach and cross into the Colony.
Day 15 - Dunedin
Drive to Dunedin today. Enjoy a half day tour of the Otago Peninsula where you can see the Royal Albatross Colony, Hookers sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins and a pelagic tour of the harbour.
Day 16 - The Catlins
The Catlins region is rugged, remote and endowed with large tracts of native rainforest. It has abundant wildlife, is sparsely populated and is very scenic and unspoilt. Here, close to the rich Sub-Antarctic feeding grounds, can be found some of the world's rarest marine animals - three penguin species, Hooker's Sea Lions, Hector's Dolphins, Elephant Seals, as well as New Zealand Fur Seals. Notable seabirds include: Mollyhawks, Shags, Gannets and millions of Titi (Sooty Shearwaters). Rocky platforms carved by the sea, secret coves and sweeping beaches of gleaming, wave-combed sand are all part of the exhilarating variety of coastal scenery.
Day 17 & 18 - Stewart Island
On arrival in Bluff, catch the ferry to Stewart Island (small additional charge payable direct for car storage in Bluff). The ultimate bird watching destination - Stewart Island is largely untouched by humans, providing an excellent habitat for native and endangered birds. The Stewart Island Brown Kiwi - or Tokoeka - is active during the day and night, with numbers estimated at 20,000. Residents on the island share their gardens with native birds and summer evenings resound with the melody of KakaÂ and cheeky Weka strut around Oban Township.
Today's half day guided tour takes you to Ulva Island, an open bird sanctuary. Covered in unspoilt forest, the island is home to birds including the native Tui, Kaka, Rifleman and Fantail, as well as the endangered South Island Saddleback.
Day 19 - Te Anau
This morning catch the ferry back to the mainland. Travel to Te Anau is via the Southern Scenic Route, a drive featuring a myriad of landscapes shaped by natural processes in New Zealand's young but varied geological history.
Day 20 - Doubtful Sound Cruise
Today's Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise takes you into the wilderness of one of New Zealand's most spectacular and pristine fiords. With stunning views of waterfalls, rainforest and mountains it is home to bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins. Dedicated nature guides provide specialist knowledge of the region's history, flora and fauna and kayaking and exploring by tender craft is offered. Please note:
Day 21 - Wanaka
Travel today to scenic Lake Wanaka. A stop enroute in Queenstown is highly recommended. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has earned a reputation as the Southern Hemisphere's premier lake and alpine resort and is described as the adventure capital of New Zealand. From Queenstown travel through the Kawarau Gorge and via Cromwell and Lake Dunstan to Wanaka. An alternative route today is via the Crown Range Road which is New Zealand's highest sealed highway. This route is shorter than the one via Cromwell however travel time may take longer due to the winding nature of the road
Day 22 - Lake Tekapo
View braided river valleys, native beech forests and lush alpine meadows before reaching beautiful, turquoise Lake Tekapo
Day 23 - Christchurch
If time permits a detour to enjoy the views at Aoraki, Mt Cook is recommended before travelling across the patchwork farmlands that make up the Canterbury plains, to Christchurch.
Day 24 - Depart for US
Your journey of untouched beauty and wildlife of New Zealand ends with your rental car return to Christchurch Airport depot.
* Peak Season 1Dec17-28Feb18 pricing - Availability very restricted, package pricing may be higher Dec-Feb period, depending on availability
Daily departures, this package is an independent itinerary with flexible departures (not a group tour), the above costs apply for travel within each date band when you depart & return within these dates, ask an Aspire Down Under consultant for a quote when your travel dates cross over the date bands.
Additional departure gateways & pricing
- Add on airfare is available from most major airports - ask an Aspire consultant for a quote from your local airport.
- Houston - $220 additional
- Seattle - $300 additional
- Denver - $300 additional
- Portland, OR - $300 additionall
- Dallas - $350 additional
- Chicago - $400 additional
- New York - $450 additional
- Boston - $450 additional
- Washington, DC - $450 additional
Optional Activities, Extensions or Add-Ons & pricing:
- Upgrade to premium economy from $750 per person each way
- Upgrade to business class from $1,950 per person each way
- Can take the upgrade one way or round trip and combine premium/business classes on same ticket
All upgrades are subject to availability, upgrade cost may be higher depending on availability
Package from pricing is based on double occupancy (2 people sharing a room) from Los Angeles or San Francisco for purchase by 31 December, 2017. Ask an Aspire consultant for pricing for other travel dates. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Certain blackout dates apply on the accommodation and tour value add offers - check with your Aspire consultant. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. All prices reflect a discount for purchases made by cash/wire transfer/check, please see terms and conditions for credit card payments. There are no discounts for payment made by credit cards. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply. Free Fiji offer only applies when package is for 2 people, not valid for single travelers.