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A Classic New Zealand self drive itinerary covering both the South & North Islands commencing in the activity center of New Zealand, Queenstown and ending in the 'city of sails' Auckland. From Queenstown travel through ancient beech-tree forests to the isolated rainforest and limestone formations of the West Coast, with snow-capped ridges and low-lying glaciers of the South Alps running alongside you. Enjoy the sunniest part of New Zealand and the stunning coastal beauty of Abel Tasman National Park before boarding the ferry to the capital city of Wellington sailing through the scenic Marlborough Sounds. Continue your path north towards the center of the North Island and Tongariro National Park and the geothermal wonderland of Lake Taupo and Rotorua. The final leg takes you via the subterranean wonder of Waitomo Caves and onwards to New Zealand's largest city, Auckland where your self-drive adventure comes to an end.

Inclusions:

  • Roundtrip International Economy Class with Air New Zealand from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Auckland (Internal US flights can be added at an additional cost)
  • Internal New Zealand flight Auckland to Queenstown
  • 3 nights Queenstown at the 4.5* The Rees Hotel Queenstown - Superior Hotel Room
  • 11 days medium size automatic transmission car rental Queenstown – Auckland
  • 1 night Franz Josef at the 3* Punga Grove - One bedroom Unit
  • 1 night Punakaiki at the 3.5* Punakaiki Resort – Sea View Room
  • 3 nights Nelson at the 4* Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco Apartments - Standard Room
  • Interislander Ferry Crossing from Picton to Wellington
  • 2 nights Wellington at the 4.5* The Bolton Wellington – Classic Suite
  • 1 night Tongariro National Park at the 3.5* The Chateau Tongariro Hotel – Run of House Room
  • 2 nights Rotorua at the 4* Novotel Rotorua Lakeside – Superior Room Lake View
  • 2 nights Auckland at the 4* The Grand Millennium – Superior Room
  • SuperShuttle transfers, arrival Queenstown to accommodation and departure from Auckland hotel to International airport
  • All hotel & airport taxes
  • 24-hour local support whilst traveling from our affiliate office in Auckland

Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart US
Depart Los Angeles or San Francisco for your overnight flight to Auckland. Consider upgrading to Skycouch, Premium Economy or Business Class, great value available until 31 October 2017
Skycouch - from $549 one way (based on 2 persons sharing)
Premium Economy - from $950 per person round trip
Business Class (Lie-flat bed) from $4000 round trip

More Upgrade Details

Day 2 - Cross International Date Line

Day 3 - Arrive New Zealand
Upon arrival in Auckland, connect to your flight to Queenstown. On arrival into Queenstown you will be transferred by Supershuttle to your accommodation. Queenstown, New Zealand, sits on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps. Renowned for adventure sports, it’s also a base for exploring the region’s vineyards and historic mining towns.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy 3 nights at the sophisticated 4.5* The Rees Hotel Queenstown situated right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, just a gentle walk to Queenstown’s town center. The Rees Hotel offers a variety of spacious and luxurious accommodation options including 60 hotel rooms and 90 apartments all with private balconies taking advantage of the spectacular views across Lake Wakatipu to the Remarkable Mountain range.

*Upgrade to a guaranteed Lakeview Room for an additional $50 per person*

Days 4 & 5 - Queenstown
Explore Queenstown at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost applies):

  • Wilderness Jet Safari
    A scenic drive takes you along the edge of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy where you will board a Dart River jet boat for a 1 and a 1/2 hour journey through the Dart River's ever-changing braided river system. You will be thrilled by the jet boat's capabilities and awed by your surroundings of breathtaking snow-capped mountains, ancient native forest, waterfalls, and glacier valleys frozen in time. The jet boat ride is followed by an easy 30-40 minute guided walk through ancient native Beech forest. The tour finishes with a journey by 4WD safari vehicle along a back-road route while hearing stories about the surrounding countryside and stopping to view scenery that has formed the epic backdrop for many international films, including 'The Lord of the Rings'. Tour concludes approximately 6 hours after commencement
  • Discover Milford Sound Nature Cruise
    Depart Queenstown and travel alongside Lake Wakatipu and then through farming countryside to Te Anau where there will be a short rest stop. From Te Anau, the overland journey to Milford Sound is a showcase of sheer mountains and towering cliffs, rugged valleys and native rain forest surrounded by teeming waterfalls and glacial lakes. The glass-roof coach offers reclining seats, multi-lingual commentary, additional legroom and are fitted with WIFI and USB ports. Experienced coach drivers tailor each journey to ensure the best photo stops are included for short walks and photo opportunities along the way. On arrival, board a vessel for an extended and leisurely cruise on board a small catamaran with a two hour duration and English only commentary. Cruise the full length of the fiord in comfort on a modern, spacious vessel with comfortable indoor seating and large, tall windows for panoramic viewing of spectacular Milford Sound. With a flexible and relaxed itinerary, enjoy a large and wide open outdoor, upper level deck for excellent wildlife viewing including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season. Tour concludes approximately 12 hours after commencement.
  • Appellation Central Wine Tours
    Appellation Central offers guided tours showcasing Central Otago's fine wine and cuisine. These tours venture into the heartland of Central Otago visiting vineyards in Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell. Small groups and custom fit minibuses ensure a relaxed and interactive day out from Queenstown and a great way to experience Central Otago.
  • Nomad Safari - Skippers Canyon
    A half-day heritage tour that follows the rugged and once treacherous Skippers Road. Hacked by hand into the sheer cliff sides of the Shotover River Valley. Navigate this awe-inspiring canyon and visit many historic sites such as the Skippers Suspension Bridge, township of Skippers, and the restored school house - gain a real insight into the local heritage through photos and histories of life in this tough environment.
  • Queenstown Rafting Triple Challenge - Shotover Jet,Helicopter & WhiteWater Rafting
    The Ultimate Adventure. Begin with the shotover jet, speed through rocky canyons and experience the Hamilton 360 spins. Climb aboard a helicopter for a spectacular flight into Skippers Canyon. Land at Deep Creek and meet your rafting guide, peaceful waters at first before hearing the roar of the"mother" section.
  • Zipline Ecotour
    Commence an ecotour on Queenstown's original zipline course and the perfect starter to your adventure experience. Comprised of four ziplines, starting and finishing at the top of the Skyline gondola, the tour is designed to start low and slow and gradually build your confidence as it gets progressively longer, higher and faster. All ages love the interaction this guided aerial tour has to offer.
  • Station 2 Station Cycle Trail
    The perfect half day, independent cycling trip experiencing the best that Queenstown has to offer. Enjoy a Spirit of Queenstown cruise to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm, stopping at Bob’s Cove to view flora and fauna up close and spectacular views towards Glenorchy, Mt Earnslaw, the Southern Alps and The Remarkables mountain range. Disembark the vessel and journey between Mt Nicholas and Walter Peak (high country farms) located on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu as you cycle along a quiet country road through open farm land. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, watch the landscape unfold and take in the panoramic alpine views while cycling 12 kilometres (about one hour) along a remote but public, shingle road to Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak. There’s an option to add on a BBQ lunch at Walter Peak before boarding the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw for the return cruise to Queenstown.
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Day 6 - Queenstown to Franz Josef
This morning collect your rental vehicle and commence your self drive north along the scenic West Coast towards Franz Josef Glacier

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Queenstown to Wanaka 
103 km (64 miles) Approximately 1.25 hours

The shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan and the Shotover River. 

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Wanaka to Haast
139 km (87 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you leave the coast and climb up the Haast river valley to Haast Pass. The road snakes through the Aspiring National Park, and the vegetation becomes more sparse as you travel inland. Lakes Wanaka and Hawea make the last part of your trip beautifully scenic.

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Haast to Fox Glacier 
122 km (76 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

Not far from Fox Glacier is the western end of the Copland track. Lake Moeraki is another peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. The long one-lane bridge over the Haast River leads you into the settlement of Haast, once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works. It’s a town with a touch of the wild west.

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Fox Glacier to Franz Josef
23 km (14 miles) Approximately 0.25 hour

After a short drive south, you’ll arrive at Franz Josef. The glacier’s terminal face is just 5 kilometers from the township, and the road to the walking track crosses ancient moraine from earlier advances and retreats. First explored in 1865, the Franz Josef Glacier has been moving forward at a rate of about 1 metre a day since 1985.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy an overnight stay at Punga Grove, a centrally located 3* hotel located in Franz Josef Glacier Village in a one bedroom Unit.

Day 7 - Franz Josef - Punakaiki
This morning explore the Glaciers, consider adding one of our tour options (additional cost applies):

  • Heli Hike
    Combine an awesome scenic helicopter flight over the glacier with a unique guided walk amongst the ice caves, pinnacles and seracs of this pristine, alpine environment. You'll see the extraordinary colours of the ice-flow from above and then up close, on an unforgettable guided walk.
  • Glacier Valley Walk
    At the terminal face of Fox Glacier is a cave where the Fox River emerges from the ice and where ice collapses are often heard and seen. Although you will not walk on the glacier, your guide will show you ice that has travelled 13 kilometers from the base of the Southern Alps all the way to the river valley floor and may take you closer to the ice than the unguided public.
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Franz Josef to Hokitika
133 km (83 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

The road to Hokitika is rural, but with a wild streak. The farmland is trying to turn back into forest, and the beauty of the rivers is raw and primeval. Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. Greenstone (NZ jade) is the town’s treasure these days – you can see it being polished and sculpted. You might also want to pan for gold, investigate the museum and do the historical walk.

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Hokitika to Punakaiki
83 km (51 miles) Approximately 1.5 hour

The road between Hokitika to Punakaiki via Greymouth provides great views of the wild west coast. Detour to the beach and breathe the salt spray air. Driftwood is the ornamentation of choice for west coast beaches – every shape, size and colour.  Punakaiki is famous for its ancient pancake rocks and booming blowholes. It is the centrepiece of the Paparoa National Park, which is packed with a variety of stunning landscapes.

This afternoon continue your drive North towards Punakaiki and stop for an overnight stay at the Punakaiki Resort.

ACCOMMODATION - Punakaiki Resort, just 300m south of the famous Pancakes Rocks and Blowholes, the Resort is surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and is only a stone's throw from the beach.

Day 8 - Punakaiki to Nelson
This morning depart Punakaiki early for your drive to Nelson - consider breaking your journey enroute in Charleston and joining an optional guided Glowworm cave tour (additional cost applies):

  • Charleston Glowworm Cave tour
    Visitors take the 'Nile Rainforest Train' in to the Nile River Canyon rainforest and explore the enormous Nile River Cave System. View an ancient 'wonderland' of stalactites and stalagmites and simply 'galaxies' of Glowworms. Tour concludes approximately 3.5 hours after commencement, at Underworld Adventure Centre.
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Punakaiki to Westport 57 km (36 miles) Approximately 0.75 hour

The road to Westport hugs the coast, providing spectacular views of wild beaches and the tempestuous Tasman Sea. Westport is known as a coal mining town, but it's also a base for outdoor adventures. 

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Westport to Nelson 226 km (141 miles) Approximately 3 hours

The road to Nelson is scenic and interesting, beginning with the dark, forbidding Buller Gorge. At Hawks Crag you'll drive under a dramatic rock overhang. When you reach Lyell you can pan for gold or walk to a pioneer cemetery. The museum at Murchison will tell you all about the massive earthquake that shook the region in 1929. The city of Nelson is home to a fascinating community of beach, bush and art lovers. From here you can organise yourself an eco-adventure or become immersed in the local creative culture. Every year the city hosts the Montana New Zealand Wearable Art Awards.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy three nights at the Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco, the perfect place to base yourselves to explore the nearby Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson region whilst relaxing in the old world charm of a village atmosphere. With views stretching across the Waimea Inlet to the mountains of Kahurangi National Park, the resort is conveniently located just 10 minutes drive from the heart of Nelson and the city's airport. What's more, once you arrive you won't need to go far, as the resort provides all the comforts and conveniences you could wish for, from an award winning restaurant The Monaco Kitchen to the health and beauty spa, pool and gym facilities.

*Upgrade to a one bedroom cottage with Spa for an additional $110 per person*

Days 9 & 10 - Nelson/Abel Tasman National Park
Explore the Abel Tasman National Park at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost applies):

  • Wilsons Abel Tasman - Kayak, Seals & Walk day tour
    Morning 'Split Apple Paddle' guided half day kayak trip, explore the spectacular Kaiteriteri coastline. Stop on a golden sand beach for a short break. In the afternoon swap the kayak for walking shoes, and cruise to the golden sands of Onetahuti, visiting the fascinating seal colony at Tonga Island on the way.
  • Wilsons Abel Tasman - Great Day Out Cruise & self-guided Walk
    Transfer from Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park. From Kaiteriteri, cruise past the golden coves, sculpted granite headlands and forested islands of the Astrolabe Roadstead. After a short stop at Anchorage Beach and Torrent Bay, pause to view the antics of the seal colony in Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Continue along the remote northern beaches where nikau palms and native Rata (the South Island Christmas Tree) feature in the rainforest fringing the long golden beaches. Turn around at Totaranui and return to historic Tonga Quarry cove for a self guided walk 2-2.5 hours (4.1km) over a forested saddle and around spectacular Bark Bay estuary with its cascading waterfalls. Rejoin the Vista Cruise at sheltered Medlands Beach for the return cruise to Kaiteriteri and coach transfer back to Nelson.
  • Wilsons Abel Tasman - multi day walking breaks or kayak & walk breaks
    Consider extending your stay in the Nelson region and join one of the multi day walking breaks or kayak & walk breaks within the National Park. Ask your Aspire expert for full details.
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Day 11 - Nelson to Wellington
Depart Nelson for your scenic drive to the port town of Picton to board your ferry to Wellington.

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Nelson to Picton
145 km (91 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

The drive to Picton first takes you to the town of Havelock, which is known as the Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World. Nearby Canvastown is a place to explore old gold mining fields – thousands tried to get rich here in the 1860s.

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Interislander Ferry - Nelson to Wellington
92 km (57 miles) Approximately 3 hours

The passage through the Marlborough Sounds and across the Cook Straits is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. The cruise style ferry makes the trip in just 3 hours and can transport vehicles. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the sounds. Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot.

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy two nights in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington at the stylish Bolton Hotel, located in the heart of the city with views of the city & adjacent park. The Bolton Hotel's 142 guest rooms and suites are furnished in a contemporary style and feature SkyDigital television, movies on demand, high-speed Internet, a personal bar, and air-conditioning.

Day 12 - Wellington
Explore Wellington at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - some of our favorites (additional cost applies):

  • Capital Tastes Tour
    Personal sightseeing with food. Discover fresh tastes in New Zealand's caf capital, as we introduce you to the city, its local tastes, products and people on this popular tour. Stroll behind the scenes at some of our favourite Wellington food places with a personal guide, to taste hidden culinary treasures and meet some of the people behind some of the city's best food.
  • WETA Workshop There and Back Again Half Day Tour
    Made famous by the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Weta Workshop is world renowned for creating incredible movie props and practical effects. Begin with a behind the scenes film showcasing the company's history before a workshop technician takes you on a tour filled with real films props and working artists. See and learn about the creative process from start to finish and relive the magic of countless movies. Tour concludes approximately 2.5 hours after commencement
  • Introducing Te Papa Museum
    Enjoy highlights of New Zealand's unique treasures at Te Papa, New Zealand's innovative and interactive national museum. Join a Host for an informative and inspiring tour of treasures and stories from the natural environment, Maori culture and history collections. It is ideal for visitors with limited time or wanting an introduction for an extended visit. Tour concludes approximately 1 hour after commencement
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Day 13 - Wellington to Tongariro
Depart Wellington for your drive towards Tongariro National Park in the heart of the North Island.

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Wellington to Turangi (Tongariro)
322 km (201 miles) Approximately 4 hours

As you drive north towards Taihape, the landscape becomes dominated by rivers and valleys. The Mangaweka Gorge is a scenic masterpiece.  Enjoy cafes, restaurants, museums, theatre and all kinds of shops.On the long, straight Desert Road you’ll enjoy amazing views of Tongariro National Park’s volcanoes. The town of Turangi is the trout fishing capital of New Zealand. There are famous fishing spots in almost every direction, including ‘The Delta’, ‘The Hole’, ‘Little Big O’ and ‘Tailrace’. The nearby hot springs of Tokaanu are another attraction, or you can try rafting the Tongariro River. The walks and skifields of the Tongariro National Park are also close by

ACCOMMODATION - Enjoy an overnight stay at The elegant Chateau Tongariro in the heart of Tongariro National Park. The Chateau Tongariro Hotel is surrounded by a stunning natural playground bursting with diverse landscapes for visitors to the Tongariro National Park to discover.

Day 14 - Tongariro to Rotorua
Explore Tongariro national park. Established in 1887, Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's first National Park, and the fourth National Park to be created in the world. Tongariro National Park has gained international significance by being awarded UNESCO Dual World Heritage, a status which recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. Consider adding an optional tour (additional cost applies)

  • Volcanic Explorer
    Commence a half day Volcanic Explorer tour. This trek allows clients to experience the volcanic terrain of the Tongariro National Park and comprises a selection of tracks on Mt Ruapehu, such as the Taranaki Falls, Silica Rapids or Top of the Bruce Circuit. The guides enhance the walk with their extensive knowledge of geology, volcanology and NZ cultural history. Total walking time is 4 hours.
  • Totally Taupo Combo Tour
    Start the day with a 1.5 hour scenic cruise on Lake Taupo. Take in the fabulous views of secluded bays and spectacular mountain peaks of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park as you cruise out to view Maori Rock Carvings on board the cruise catamaran. On arrival back at the Taupo Marina your HeliPro helicopter awaits to give you an exciting 12 minute scenic flight over the geothermal areas of Craters of the Moon, the Maori Rock Carvings and the Huka Falls before landing at the Hukafalls Jet base. A 30 minute jet boat ride will excite and entertain you as you slide past cliffs and trees at an incredible 80km per hour before reaching the base of the spectacular Huka Falls - New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Tour concludes approximately 3 hours after commencement.
  • Lake Taupo Scenic Cruise
    Sit back and enjoy the picturesque northern bays of Lake Taupo and out to view the Maori Rock Carvings up close. A full commentary is given on the volcanic history and Maori mythology surrounding Lake Taupo. Take in the views of spectacular snow capped mountain peaks of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park. Tour concludes approximately 1.5 hours after commencement.
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Turangi (Tongariro) to Taupo
47 km (29 miles) Approximately 0.75 hour

You’ll follow the eastern edge of Lake Taupo to reach Taupo. . The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, which is well stocked with sizeable trout. You’ll find everything a traveller could wish for, including an excellent choice of restaurants. Most accommodation establishments make good use of the underground thermal activity to provide hot spas for relaxation.

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Taupo to Rotorua
81 km (51 miles) Approximately 1 hour

The road to Rotorua will keep you entertained with its unusual, volcanic geography. You’ll also drive through large tracts of plantation pine forest. Take a side road to a geothermal park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud and Huka Falls. Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so there’s evidence of volcanic activity everywhere you look. Explore the geothermal areas and discover the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people.

Accommodation - Enjoy two nights in the Geothermal Capital of New Zealand, Rotorua at Novotel Lakeside Rotorua, Situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Rotorua and located next to "Eat Street" providing a wide range of restaurants and bars within walking distance.

Day 15 - Rotorua
Explore Rotorua at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - some of our favorites (additional cost applies):

  • Discover Rotorua
    Experience Te Puia, a place of Maori culture and a thermal wonderland of impressive geysers and boiling mud pools. Explore Rainbow Springs Nature Park, which showcases native flora and fauna as well as the New Zealand Kiwi. Then see NZ's agricultural industry in action with a sheep shearing display and sheep dog trials at the Agrodome.
  • Te Puia
    Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley has inspired the local Maori people for centuries the guides will recount stories handed down from their ancestors as you explore this unique geothermal reserve with its boiling mud and sulphur pools and the 30 metre (100 ft) Pohutu Geyser, which erupts up to 20 times a day. Tour concludes approximately 90 minutes after commencement, at Te Puia.
  • White Island
    Fly to and land on New Zealand’s only permanently active volcano White Island. Leaving the Rotorua city lakefront fly north past the northern lakes district before crossing the coast on track to White Island. Arriving overhead the volcano enjoy aerial views of the active crater before landing on this lunar like surface. Here embark upon a leisurely guided tour of the island's crater floor to view active steam vents 'fumaroles', hot streams, vibrant sulphur formations and the steaming crater. This landscape is constantly changing as the activity forms new features and removes old ones. The Crater Lake changes in depth and temperature so that from one day to the next the landscape is different. Part of the tour includes a walk through crumbling mining ruins to view the weathered remains of what was a working factory built in 1923 and abandoned in 1933. Tours on this privately owned volcano are conducted by your pilot / guide whose wealth of knowledge about the island's history and geology enhances the experience.
  • Hobbiton
    Your guide will escort you through the ten acre site of where the Lord of the Rings movie set used to be. Your guide will explain all about what was needed to create the Hobbiton set and tell stories about what went on during filming. Check out the Hobbit holes from the film set. After viewing the Bag End, you can pet and feed the hand reared sheep and hand bottle feed lambs.
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Day 16 - Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo Caves
Depart Rotorua for your drive to Auckland via the Waitomo Caves

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Rotorua to Waitomo Caves
136 km (85 miles) Approximately 1.5 hours

Your journey to Waitomo will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. The Waitomo Caves region is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Some caves open to the public, and are easy to walk through, others require specialised caving equipment

Explore Waitomo at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - some of our favorites (additional cost applies):

  • Glowworm Caves
    Inside the ancient limestone caves live tiny insects whose iridescent light has amazed visitors of the Glowworm Grotto for over 100 years. Guided walks lead visitors through the amazing Cathedral, a high ceiling cave with acoustics to rival the most modern arena, to a small boat. From here the boat is towed across the water to where hundreds of tiny lights flicker on the cave roof above.
  • Black Water Rafting
    The Black Labyrinth is the original classic adventure. Tube down the 'hidden' waterfall, through rocky chutes and vaulted limestone galleries and emerge in the Waitomo forest.
  • Lost World - Abseiling
    Abseil 100m into this unique and spectacular chasm - the descent takes around 30 minutes and is followed by a dry caving trip exploring huge chambers en route to the surface. See giant speleotherms, including flowstone and spagatites, the famous glowworms and all manner of weird and wonderful rock sculptures. There's a 30m ladder climb and walking along narrow ledges, at all times protected by specialist safety equipment and systems. Unbelievable
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Waitomo Caves to Hamilton
71 km (44 miles) Approximately 1 hour

The trip south takes you through prime Waikato farmland. The city of Hamilton is carved in two by the mighty Waikato River. Excellent restaurants and cafes can be found at the southern end of the city’s main street.

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Hamilton to Auckland
127 km (79 miles) Approximately 1.5 hours

The Waikato River will accompany you for much of your journey through the green countryside. Don't think of Auckland as a city, even though it's New Zealand's largest. Think of it as half urban, half marine - a cosmopolitan experience wrapped up in a fascinating water world and surrounded by over 50 islands. Aucklanders enjoy a warm, humid climate and an outdoor lifestyle.


Accommodation - Enjoy two nights in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, at the Grand Millennium Hotel, located in the heart of cosmopolitan Auckland close to Queen Street and the Viaduct Harbour.

Day 17 - Auckland 
Return your rental car this morning to the city depot & Explore Auckland at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - some of our favorites (additional cost applies):

  • Auckland City Revealed (Half Day)
    NZ's largest and busiest city is set on 48 dormant volcanic cones and lies between two harbours: the sparkling Waitemata and the brooding Manukau. The tour begins with a drive up Queen Street, past Auckland University and through Auckland Domain to Ponsonby. Head over the harbour bridge to the North Shore and enjoy a stroll on Narrow Neck Beach in historic Devonport. Re-board the coach for a trip up to the summit of Mt Victoria for stunning panoramic views over Auckland City, then travel back over the harbour bridge to Westhaven Marina. Finish with a visit to Auckland Fish Market before continuing on to the Viaduct Harbour.
  • Bush and Beach - Coast and Rainforest Tour
    Visit Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, with panoramic views from the sweeping decks extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Next, your guides walk you through Auckland’s coastal rainforest to the West Coast Beach with soft black sand, enjoy a kiwi style picnic lunch before moving onto untouched original rainforest with mature 1000 year old Kauri trees, where 70 percent of the world’s native plants are found nowhere else in the world.
  • Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise
    Board your Explore Group vessel at Viaduct Harbour, Auckland to commence an Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise. Dine on the Waitemata Harbour, an experience not to be missed in Auckland. Enjoy great sailing and as the sun sets watch the night lights of the cityscape come alive. Sail where the wind takes while enjoying Auckland's city highlights; including sailing under the Harbour Bridge and other well-known landmarks along the harbours edge. The crew's local knowledge will give you the best harbour sailing experience Auckland has to offer. Cruise concludes at approximately 2.5 hours after commencement, back at Viaduct Harbour Auckland.
  • Waiheke Island Explorer Tour
    A 40 minute cruise takes you across the Hauraki Gulf to Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke Island where you will be met by a guide who will escort you on a 1.5 hour scenic highlights tour of Waiheke Island. Afterwards, take advantage of the complimentary All Day Bus Pass and either return to a location visited on the tour or discover the island further on scheduled public bus services
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Day 18 -  Depart for US (via Auckland)
Enjoy the day at leisure in Auckland. This afternoon you will be transferred from your hotel by SuperShuttle to Auckland international airport for your flight back to Los Angeles or San Francisco.

 

Request a Quote

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01 Oct – 30 Nov 2017 $3,299
01 Dec 2017 – 11 Dec 2017 $3,599
12 Dec 2017 – 5 Feb 2018 $3,999*
6 – 28 Feb 2018 $3,599*
01 – 31 Mar 2018 $3,299
01 Apr – 20 Jun 2018 $3,099
21 Jun – 31 Oct 2018 $3,399

* Peak Season pricing - Availability very restricted, package pricing may be higher Dec-Feb period, depending on availability.

Single Supplement
01 Oct - 30 Nov 17, $2,000
01 - 11 Dec 17, $2249
12 Dec 17 - 05 Feb 18, $2249
6-28 Feb 18, $2249
01 - 31 Mar 18, $2,000
01 Apr - 20 Jun 18, $1800
21 Jun - 31 Oct 18, $1800

Additional departure gateways & pricing:
- Depart on Air New Zealand’s non-stop Houston – Auckland flight for a supplement of $250 per person
- Add on airfares available from most major airports - Add $200 from Dallas, Add $320 from Denver, Seattle, Add $400 from Chicago, Minneapolis, Add $450 from NYC, Boston, Miami, Washington

Note: 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.

 

International Economy with Air New Zealand
State-of-the-art Economy seats have been designed to provide a really comfortable seat for everybody. The armrest disappears right into the back of the seat so you can be more comfortable during our longhaul trips.

As well as the delicious and fresh meals from the kitchen, you can order tasty snacks throughout the flight, at the touch of your screen. No waiting for hours between meals - eat when you want to. And, of course, there's always a superb selection of New Zealand wines from the onboard cellar.

The vast selection of activities on our inflight entertainment will keep even the most fidgety of flyers engaged for the whole flight. Enjoy over 1,700 hours of content - including latest movies, TV box sets, video games, and a dedicated kids section - all on a 10.6” personal touch screen in widescreen format. If you need more, there are always the USB and iPod connections to plug in to.

 

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Upgrade Options
Consider upgrading Skycouch, Premium Economy or Business Class.
Skycouch - from $549 one way (based on 2 persons sharing)
Premium Economy - from $950 per person round trip
Business Class (Lie-flat bed) from $4000 round trip

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Skycouch

Whether you’re a couple who’d like a bit of extra room, parents with a young child, or a parent with two restless kids, you’ll find our innovative Economy Skycouch the perfect solution.

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Premium Economy

Premium Economy is about creating ample space and privacy. The design of our revolutionary Spaceseat™ means that the person sitting in front of you can’t recline into your personal space.

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Business Class

The luxurious 22" wide leather armchair converts to a fully lie flat 6'7.5" bed - one of the longest in the sky. Even more indulgent with a thicker mattress, fluffy duvet and full size pillows.

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Add this touring package - $479 per person
We have handpicked some of our favorite experiences - purchase this selection of tours and add to your Ultimate New Zealand Roadtrip itinerary:

  • Discover Milford Sound Nature Cruise
    Depart Queenstown and travel alongside Lake Wakatipu and then through farming countryside to Te Anau where there will be a short rest stop. From Te Anau, the overland journey to Milford Sound is a showcase of sheer mountains and towering cliffs, rugged valleys and native rain forest surrounded by teeming waterfalls and glacial lakes. The glass-roof coach offers reclining seats, multi-lingual commentary, additional legroom and are fitted with WIFI and USB ports. Experienced coach drivers tailor each journey to ensure the best photo stops are included for short walks and photo opportunities along the way. On arrival, board a vessel for an extended and leisurely cruise on board a small catamaran with a two hour duration and English only commentary. Cruise the full length of the fiord in comfort on a modern, spacious vessel with comfortable indoor seating and large, tall windows for panoramic viewing of spectacular Milford Sound. With a flexible and relaxed itinerary, enjoy a large and wide open outdoor, upper level deck for excellent wildlife viewing including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season. Tour concludes approximately 12 hours after commencement.
  • Glacier Valley Walk, Franz Josef
    At the terminal face of Fox Glacier is a cave where the Fox River emerges from the ice and where ice collapses are often heard and seen. Although you will not walk on the glacier, your guide will show you ice that has travelled 13 kilometers from the base of the Southern Alps all the way to the river valley floor and may take you closer to the ice than the unguided public.
  • Wilsons Abel Tasman - National Park Great Day Out Cruise & self-guided Walk
    Transfer from Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park. From Kaiteriteri, cruise past the golden coves, sculpted granite headlands and forested islands of the Astrolabe Roadstead. After a short stop at Anchorage Beach and Torrent Bay, pause to view the antics of the seal colony in Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Continue along the remote northern beaches where nikau palms and native Rata (the South Island Christmas Tree) feature in the rainforest fringing the long golden beaches. Turn around at Totaranui and return to historic Tonga Quarry cove for a self guided walk 2-2.5 hours (4.1km) over a forested saddle and around spectacular Bark Bay estuary with its cascading waterfalls. Rejoin the Vista Cruise at sheltered Medlands Beach for the return cruise to Kaiteriteri and coach transfer back to Nelson.
  • Introducing Te Papa Tour, Wellington
    Enjoy highlights of New Zealand's unique treasures at Te Papa, New Zealand's innovative and interactive national museum. Join a Host for an informative and inspiring tour of treasures and stories from the natural environment, Maori culture and history collections. It is ideal for visitors with limited time or wanting an introduction for an extended visit. Tour concludes approximately 1 hour after commencement.
  • Te Puia, Rotorua
    Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley has inspired the local Maori people for centuries the guides will recount stories handed down from their ancestors as you explore this unique geothermal reserve with its boiling mud and sulphur pools and the 30 metre (100 ft) Pohutu Geyser, which erupts up to 20 times a day. Tour concludes approximately 90 minutes after commencement, at Te Puia.
  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waitomo
    Inside the ancient limestone caves live tiny insects whose iridescent light has amazed visitors of the Glowworm Grotto for over 100 years. Guided walks lead visitors through the amazing Cathedral, a high ceiling cave with acoustics to rival the most modern arena, to a small boat. From here the boat is towed across the water to where hundreds of tiny lights flicker on the cave roof above
  • Waiheke Island Explorer Tour, Auckland
    A 40 minute cruise takes you across the Hauraki Gulf to Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke Island where you will be met by a guide who will escort you on a 1.5 hour scenic highlights tour of Waiheke Island. Afterwards, take advantage of the complimentary All Day Bus Pass and either return to a location visited on the tour or discover the island further on scheduled public bus services.
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Conditions

Package from pricing is based on double occupancy (2 people sharing a room) from Los Angeles or San Francisco for purchase by 31 October, 2017. 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.