15 Day - Naturally New Zealand

New Zealand is a hauntingly beautiful country, whose natural history is understated and often undiscovered by the majority of visitors. This New Zealand self drive tour is designed for those that want to visit those special places.

Dozens of national parks and special reserves protect our remarkable landforms, rare birds and ancient forests. The comprehensive itinerary for the Naturally New Zealand self drive tour has been specially designed for those with a keen interest in the wild side of New Zealand. By following the detailed trip notes in the Tour Manual you receive, you will be able to discover other secrets. Among them are pristine rainforest trails, secluded beaches, gorges and waterfalls, bizarre geological features and hidden alpine valleys.

Like all self drive tours, it is fully customisable to your specific requirements, so if you’ve got less (or more) time we can tailor your itinerary to suit.

Day 1 & 2 - Auckland 'City of Sails'

Day 1 - Auckland's Tiritiri Island Bird Sanctuary

Visit the nature reserve of Tiritiri Matangi Island, in the Hauraki Gulf. Situated 1 1/4 hours by ferry from Auckland City is the world renowned island sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi. This relatively isolated island in the Hauraki Gulf is home to many of New Zealand’s most endangered plant and bird species. Managed by the Department of Conservation the island has the status of an open sanctuary. This allows the public to visit and enjoy the natural splendor of rapidly regenerating native forest and ever increasing birdsong.

Day 2 - Some sightseeing and activity options available:

Two Nights Accommodation at Mollies in Auckland. Overlooking Auckland Harbour Bridge, Mollies boutique hotel offers spacious accommodation, a stroll from fashionable Ponsonby Road and 5 minutes to Auckland City CBD.

Day 3 - The Secluded Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula lies east of Auckland, on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf. An impressive, heavily forested mountain range runs right up the middle of this peninsula - it’s bordered on each side by kilometres of spectacular coastline. On the west coast, there’s a never-ending parade of beaches, coves and harbours lined with pohutukawa trees. The eastern side is furnished with an amazing collection of white sand and surf beaches. The coastal nature of the Coromandel makes it a brilliant choice if you like to fish, surf, dive, snorkelling, swim or wander along beaches. For contrast you can head for the hills and hike the trails in the-forest.

Afternoon Soak at Hot Water Beach The natural upwelling of geothermal hot water rising from deep below the sand makes Hot Water Beach famous. Dig a hole in the sand when the tide is low, then allow the hot springs to work their limb-soothing magic while the cool waves of the Pacific Ocean invigorate you. A quick shovel in the sand provides you with your own geothermal heated spa pool. Why not enjoy it with a glass of wine as the sunsets on the horizon!

One Nights Accommodation at Colleith Lodge in the Coromandel. Colleith Lodge is boutique luxury five star property in a unique breathtaking location situated on the east Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Day 4 - Geothermal Wonder in Rotorua

Morning Guided Rainforest Walk: Let us take you to one of the most special places in the Coromandel. A place where our mighty Kauri tree is still the king. This magnificent stand of Kauri is located on the side of an ancient volcano some of them being up to 2000 years old. Just being in their presence will leave you feeling humbled. This hike wil take you through primeval rainforest, which at times will be on 100yr old logging roads which are now reclaimed by the bush – A wonderful start to the day!

Rotorua: the heartland of New Zealand is the host to some of the world’s most incredible earth forces. Surrounded by the unmistakable smell of bubbling sulphuric geysers, clouds of steam magically appear around the city giving it an incredible 'other worldly' feel. Here lives wonders like the Pohutu geyser, which erupts 20 times a day and can spout up to 100 feet. All around this geothermal hotspot there are spouting geysers, acrid-smelling mud pools that bubble and belch, and warm geothermal pools and ponds and hot spring bath’s that create a kaleidoscope of colour.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

One Nights Accommodation at Koura Lodge in Rotorua. The unique lakefront retreat nestles in an established garden setting with panoramic views over Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island, Mt Tarawera and beyond. Sheltered from the prevailing winds, and away from traffic noise and sulphur fumes, makes for a stress free, relaxing holiday.

Day 5 - Tongariro National Park

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This status recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. It is a place of extremes and surprises, a place to explore and remember. From herb fields to forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateau and active volcanoes - Tongariro has them all.

The park also offers many hiking options from shorter walks to waterfalls and fascinating volcanic features - including the crater of Ruapehu or the eight hour Tongariro Crossing, features phenomenal volcanic scenery and fine views of LakeTaupo and Mt Taranaki.

One Nights Accommodation at Huka Lodge in Taupo. Enter into the world of seclusion and luxury. Situated on the banks of the Waikato River, it is surrounded by natural beauty and a feeling of tranquillity. Huka Lodge started out as four simple canvas-clad huts and has established itself as one of the world's most famous retreats. There is everything the discerning visitor could ever want.

Day 6 - Kaikoura - The Serengeti of the Sea

After a quick flight and drive you will be in Kaikoura, few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered by land and sea in this region. Situated midway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island, Kaikoura is overlooked by majestic mountains, which are snow-capped for many months of the year. This unique combination of ocean and mountains offers stunning coastal alpine scenery and a host of eco-tourism oriented activities, including Whale Watching, Dolphin and Seal swimming, walks, and much more!

Marine Mammal encounters available are:

One Nights Accommodation in the Hapuku Tree Houses in Kaikoura. Sleep in the canopy of Hapuku Lodge's native manuka grove. Rising over 9 metres above the ground, the Tree Houses enjoy views of the Pacific coastline, Kaikoura Seaward Mountain ranges, surrounding deer farm and olive orchard.

Day 7 - The Wild West Coast and Glacier Country

Today is a day of contrasts as you drive from the East to the South Islands West Coast. Wild and rugged, yet immensely beautiful, the South Island's West Coast region evokes a string of superlatives. Wave-pounded coastlines, lush temperate rainforests, the island's highest mountains and most accessible glaciers all feature. You will pass through Westland National Park, where fragile rainforests survive on a narrow strip of land between the Southern Alps and Tasman Sea.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

Nights Accommodation at Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Joseph. Discerning travellers will appreciate the hotel’s attention to detail, which starts with attentive personal service upon arrival, and continues throughout all the hotel facilities and every aspect of your stay.

Day 8 - Crested Penguins, Waterfalls and Lake Wanaka

Continue south along the West Coast, stopping off to explore Munro’s Beach, a breeding site for Fiordland Crested Penguins. Ship’s Creek and Thunder Creek Falls are among the many other secrets of this stunning region. The scenery is impressive all the way, and once over the Haast Pass it changes dramatically as you head into the mountains and bid farewell to the coastline. Continuing up the Haast River into Mount Aspiring National Park and Central Otago. This pass was used by the Maori to trade Poumanu (Greenstone) and food. You follow Lake Hawea nearly all the way through to Lake Wanaka.

This drive is world class, some of the vistas to watch out for are: Lake Matheson, Views of Mount Cook, Bruce Bay, Ship Cove, Haast River/Pass, Thunder Creek Falls, Blue Pools, Lakes Hawea & Wanaka. Wanaka is located on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka, embraced by the Southern Alps, Wanaka is Otago's second resort town after Queenstown. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand's fourth largest lake, reflect the snow-capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park. Here you can absorb the unstoppable beauty of pristine wilderness and know that it will be easy to find a great restaurant for dinner. The township of Wanaka is a magnet for visitors who want to find the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and indoor luxury. There are comfortable places to stay, great shops and eateries—and all the time there's the call of the wild. The lake, mountains and around-the-year events calendar will keep you looking forward to tomorrow. Wanaka is often likened to Queenstown but 20 years ago with only a 1.5 hour drive from Queenstown Airport.

One Nights Accommodation at Minaret Lodge in Lake Wanaka. With a backdrop of spectacular mountain scenery, this luxury 5 star Wanaka bed and breakfast lodge is a haven of tranquility.

Day 9 - Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park

Te Anau tours

On the way to Te Anau, we take the opportunity to stop of in Queenstown. This town is known as the Southern Hemisphere's premiere four seasons alpine and lake resort, nestled in the corner of Lake Wakatipu framed by 360 degree vistas of snow-capped mountains. This is ground zero for action sports.... You can feel the adrenaline rush just walking down the streets here.... Only in Queenstown can you bungy jump, white water raft, jet the rapids, tandem paraglide and tandem ski dive all in the same day. In winter, Queenstown turns into an alpine playground - skiers and snowboarders come from all over the world to join in the fun. Golfing, fishing and wine tasting offer other opportunities in this stunning region.

Te Anau: is a township of tranquil beauty nestled on the tranquil shores of Lake Te Anau. It is located close to the main southern walking tracks such as the Hollyford, Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks, Kepler, being a circular track, starts and finishes in Te Anau and is one of the newest tracks in Fiordland. At the head of Lake Te Anau is Glade House - the starting point of the Milford Track which traverses 34 miles (55 kilometres) of the Fiordland National Park. Other activities based at Te Anau include flightseeing, fishing, kayaking, sailing and horse riding as well as a variety of trips on the lake itself. You can also visit the underground waterfall and glowworm grotto of the Te Anau Caves. This mountainous region of unspoilt forests and lakes was the home of two of the more remote regions of the Lord of the Rings movies.

One Nights Accommodation at Fiordland Lodge, near Te Anau. On forty acres of land, Fiordland Lodge is set on a superb site with commanding views out across Lake Te Anau. This is a rural setting with rolling grass lands surrounding the Lodge, Lake Te Anau being a mere ten minute walk away.

Day 10 - Milford Sound Overnight Nature Cruise

Grand, Brooding, Serene and Wild - Milford Sound draws visitors from all over the globe to cruise its length. Luxuriant rain forest clings to sheer rock walls washed with waterfalls. In the foreground stands Mitre Peak, a majestic presence dominating the skyline. Hanging valleys, alpine lakes and cloud-piercing summits are just some of the reasons why Milford is a must when exploring New Zealand. When the day visitors depart a silence descends... An overnight cruise amidst spectacular Milford Sound is a "once in a lifetime" experience.

Cruise the full length of spectacular Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. Go exploring with our nature guide in the tender craft and kayaks.

One Nights Accommodation on the Milford Mariner.

Day 11 - Stewart Island

It is almost a cliché to call it one of New Zealand's best-kept secrets, but given that so few people are aware of its unspoiled tranquillity, it probably deserves this label more than any other place in the country. Roughly triangular in shape, it is 65km (40 miles) long and 40km (25 miles) wide. Only 1% of the island is inhabited -- the rest is given over to natural native bush, exquisite white-sand beaches, bird sanctuaries, and rugged mountains. All this makes it a naturalist's and tramper's paradise and the perfect place for a remote yet accessible holiday. You need to be here only a few hours before the rest of the world melts away and you find yourself adopting the unhurried, laid-back approach of the locals.

The wildlife and rare plant life is some of New Zealand's best, where you will see seals, penguins and dolphins all from the roads. Kiwi spotting is very popular here as they are common over much of the island. The forest is a haven for bird-life, as there are fewer predators than on the mainland. Kaka, parakeets, tui, and bellbird give a wonderful dawn chorus in spring. New Zealand's national bird, the kiwi is found all round the Island.

Two Nights Accommodation at Stewart Island Lodge. Nestled in native bush, this Lodge offers a peaceful sanctuary from the modern world. Located just five minutes walk from the Stewart Island’s small village, the lodge is private and secluded with commanding views of Halfmoon Bay and the surrounding ocean.

Day 12 - Ulva Island Nature Tour

Ulva Island, situated in Paterson Inlet just off the coast of Stewart Island, is a birdwatchers' paradise and one of the few open island sanctuaries in New Zealand. An abundance of native birds and plants thrive in its primeval forests of rimu, miro and totara. Combine this with white sand coves and pristine aqua-green water, and you've got a setting you will never forget. As soon as you step off the boat onto the island, the air is alive with the sound of tui and bellbirds. A symphony of song, the melodious tunes of the bellbird and tui are punctuated by the raucous call of the kaka (parrot), and the chattering kakariki.

You will also see the inquisitive Weka which will readily approach visitors, Parakeets, Woodpigeon, Brown Creeper, Tomtit and Fantail. Kiwi are also present but in low numbers. Recent releases to the Island are the South Island Saddleback, Stewart Island Robin, Yellowhead, Fernbird and Rifleman all flourishing in their natural environment and, what's more, the birds come so close, you won't need binoculars!

Day 13 - Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook

Mt Cook National Park is known for its exquisite alpine beauty and is home to the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook. Its Maori name, ‘Aoraki’ means ‘cloud piercer’ and at 12,016ft (3,755m) it towers above the surrounding snow-covered peaks in the park. A third of the park is covered in permanent ice and snow and the mighty Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier outside of the polar regions. Glacial melt gives the lakes their beautiful milky, turquoise colour and there are many walks in the area to take in the dramatic beauty. This is the very heart and soul of a World Heritage and National Park wilderness playground. Ice, snow, hidden valleys, lakes and glaciers offer golden opportunities for discovery, relaxation and adventure.

Some sightseeing and activity options available are:

One Nights Accommodation at Matuka Lodge, near Mt Cook. The incomparable location and personalised service ensure an exceptional experience. Decorated with antique and contemporary furniture, original artworks and unique artefacts, the atmosphere in the Lodge is elegant, yet casual.

Day 14 - Tasman Glacier, Lake Tekapo and Star Gazing

Lake Tekapo

Tasman Glacier: After a gentle half hour hike down the beautiful Tasman valley in Mount Cook National Park, board our MAC boat, and explore the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake, where you will discover the ever-changing ice face of the Glacier and icebergs, making each trip different from the last due to changing winds and currents. Knowledgeable guides, enhance your experience with their expertise and passion for this amazing alpine environment. Have you ever been alongside, discovered or touched an iceberg? – Well here’s your chance.

Lake Tekapo: A short drive away and In the heart of New Zealand's South Island lies Lake Tekapo, a beautiful turquoise highland lake surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock and the spectacular Southern Alps mountains. Finely ground rock in the glacial melted waters give Lake Tekapo a beautifully unique colour. This highland location enjoys some of New Zealand's highest sunshine hours.

Stargazing: Lake Tekapo is regarded as the most suitable place for astronomy research and stargazing in New Zealand. Mt. John was chosen because of its light pollution free environment, largest number of clear nights, elevation, accessibility and the most of all its latitude. Located at latitude 44 degrees south, it is the southern most observatory on the earth. You can observe the most of southern objects through out the year.

One Nights Accommodation at Alpine Vista B&B Lake Tekapo. With panoramic views of the Southern Alps, this modern Bed and Breakfast has a high standard of accommodation. The décor and colours used throughout the house reflect those that can be seen in the expansive landscape.

Day 15 - Christchurch

From the high-country splendour of the Lake Tekapo, it's an enjoyable drive through Burke Pass, Fairlie and Geraldine up the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. “The Garden City”, has many well-tended parks, reserves and squares but the civic love of beauty is often more apparent in the fresh lawns and burgeoning gardens of the suburban streets. Residents and visitors alike love the city's vibrant nightlife, award-winning restaurants and cafes, fashion precincts, heritage architecture and of course its gardens and wide open spaces for which the city is internationally renowned. This is a city of contrasts, a place where its residents continue to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle amidst a natural environment it is world-renowned for. It really is the 'city that shines'.

Some sightseeing and activity options available are:

One Nights Accommodation at The George in Christchurch. This Multi award winning Hotel is the essence of supreme comfort. Its spacious rooms are designed with a stylish eye for detail, complete with luxury amenities. And, with a one-to-one ratio of staff to guests, impeccable service is guaranteed.


Please take the time to view our “Virtual Tour” for the 15 Day Naturally New Zealand tour or download/print the detailed “Tour Dossier”. Both can be found on the right hand column of this page. Alternatively you can simply contact us. For a comprehensive list of all activities available in each location featured in this tour, please refer to the "Destination Guide" found at the top of this page.

"Discover New Zealand's natural wonders with our customisable self drive tours."

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