13 Day - The Royal Tour of New Zealand

Alpine Heli Picnic Queenstown

The former Prime Minister of New Zealand and now the new head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Helen Clark , spent time in the company of Peter Greenberg, Chief Correspondent for the Travel Channel. She showed Peter her view of New Zealand, which at times had him slightly terrified. This itinerary follows a similar path to that taken by the pair, experiencing the same activities, and adding a few more in along the way. So Experience “The Royal Tour” of an extraordinary land — New Zealand, truly an unspoiled and totally surprising destination.

Enjoy exceptional food from fresh and local ingredients, unbelievable scenery and participate in a diverse range of activities. Stay at some of the country’s best small luxury Bed & Breakfasts with wonderful hosts offering genuine and friendly Kiwi hospitality. The beauty of this tour is just how much of New Zealand it manages to fit into just 2 weeks. 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 the itinerary to suit.

Day 1 - Auckland to Waitomo Caves

Welcome to Auckland “The City of Sails”. After clearing customs and immigration you can refresh, take a shower, have a meal before collecting your car. Let your Journey begin!

Today head south to the green rolling landscapes of the Waikato,  yet this is one region in particular holds more than just surface appeal… literally. For Waikato also boasts an extensive labyrinth of underground caverns that formed over millions of years.

The caves at Waitomo are one of New Zealand's most commanding wonders – a celebration of nature's work over the last one hundred thousand years. There are hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow-worms, under ground lakes, stalactites and stalagmites, and all manner of limestone crustaceans - a lost world waiting to be discovered.

Choose a caving experience that suites you:

One Nights Accommodation at Kamahi Lodge in Waitomo. This is a boutique country cottage located an easy 30 minute drive to the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It offers luxury country Bed & Breakfast accommodation in a tranquil setting.

Day 2 - From the Depth's of Waitomo, into the Cauldron of Rotorua

Your journey to Rotorua will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. You’ll know you’ve arrived in the city of Rotorua when you see (and smell!) the geothermal steam plumes.

Geysers, mud pools and thermal springs have been attracting visitors to Rotorua since the 1800s and the living, breathing landscape never fails to amaze. Perched on the edge of a large lake, in the crater of an ancient volcano, this picturesque city is also the heartland of New Zealand's Maori culture. With 16 sparkling lakes within 20 minutes drive of the city, as well as magnificent forests surrounding, Rotorua has earned the reputation as the North Islands outdoors adventure centre offering an exciting array of experiences.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

One Nights Accommodation at the Treetops Lodge & Estate in Rotorua. This Lodge with its’ elegant architectural style derived from this country's pioneering past; timber and stone finishes echo the beauty and simplicity of the great outdoors. A sanctuary and retreat of breathtaking terrain in 2,500 acres of secluded native forest and game reserve.

Day 3 - Lake Taupo - The Biggest Volcanic Crater in the World

Impressive is the word best used to describe Lake Taupo, after all, it is the Biggest Volcanic Crater in the World! Lake Taupo is set amidst clean, green countryside, spectacular mountain scenery, beautiful native bush and some of the largest pine forests in the Southern hemisphere. Thermal activity in this region includes natural hot pools and springs, steaming craters and boiling mud pools. Taupo is also the North Island adventure equivalent of Queenstown and has many exciting activities to keep one amused.

Some sightseeing and activity options available are:

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 4 - New Zealands Art's Capital - Wellington

The road to Wellington is a spectacular scenic drive through the centre of New Zealand's most volcanic region, with views of all the Tongariro National Park's  volcanoes.

The capital city of New Zealand, Wellington is set between a magnificent harbour and rolling green hills situated at the southern tip of the North Island. It is also a compact city where funky shops, exciting galleries and great restaurants are within easy walking distance. The city has long been recognised as the cultural and arts capital of New Zealand (with festivals almost every month), and is home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, opera companies, theatre and a large number of art galleries, including the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The cosmopolitan nature of Wellington is reflected in the 350 restaurants and cafes serving innovative New Zealand and ethnic cuisine.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

One Nights Accommodation at the Ohtel Wellington. Located in the Capital city's exclusive seaside neighbourhood of Oriental Bay, this boutique Hotel  is a stunning, contemporary 4 storey concrete structure, embedded into the base of a steep coastal cliff face. 'Mid-Century' furnishings adorn the interior spaces of Ohtel  provides true international class Urban Chic.

Day 5 - Wellington to Nelson

The passage across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. The fast ferry makes the trip in just over 2 hours and docks at  the picturesque seaside town of Picton only a short drive from New Zealands sunniest city of Nelson.

Nelson region is surrounded by sheltering mountain ranges, giving it a Mediterranean type climate and is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries and a large creative community of working artists where locals enjoy a relaxed & easy-going lifestyle.

From Nelson it’s easy to access any of three National Parks. Abel Tasman is a coastal wonderland, Nelson Lakes is set amidst the mountains and glaciated valleys to the south and Kahurangi is New Zealand’s second-largest national park, comprising of mostly upland wilderness, with magnificent hiking trails.

Two Nights Accommodation at  the Stonefly Lodge, near Nelson. Stonefly Lodge is a 5 star lodge situated on 150 acres of private forest only 50 minutes drive from the South Island city of Nelson, close to many fly fishing rivers in Nelson Lakes National Park, Motueka and Murchison.

Day 6 - Abel Tasman National Park

The Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest national park at 225sq km. Small in size but big on beauty! Golden beaches border the translucent turquoise sea, and sandy estuaries fringed by natural forests. The walking tracks here, both in land and coastal are world famous for there out standing beauty. You can walk the coastal track from top to bottom in 3 - 4 days total. Or enjoy one of the many shorter, day walk options using a cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak to enter into the Abel Tasman.

If that all sounds just a little energetic just kick back on one of the many unspoiled beaches you will discover along the way. Plus you have the added bonus of face-to-face encounters with marine wildlife and birds.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

Day 7 - The Wild West Coast to the River of Ice - Franz Joseph Glacier

Today is a day of contrasts as you drive from the tranquility of Abel Tasman 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 rain forests, the island's highest mountains and most accessible glaciers all feature.

Two Nights Accommodation at Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Joseph. You will enjoy exceptional quality and service, including: luxuriously appointed guest rooms and savouring quality local cuisine, including an indulgent five-course degustation dinner  ‘The Canopy’ restaurant.

Day 8 - Franz Joseph Glacier

The Franz Josef Glacier is a unique relic of the last ice age. A mighty river of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valley, it is classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world has a glacier advanced so close to the sea at this latitude. While in the area, you can choose from a wide range of adventure activities (mostly involving glaciers and mountains).

Sightseeing and activity options include:

Day 9 - Scenic Drive from the Glaciers to Wanaka

Lake Wanaka at sunset

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.

One Nights Accommodation at Aoturoa Lodge in Wanaka. Aoturoa Luxury Villa, a 5 star boutique lodge offering quiet seclusion and understated luxury accommodation. This exclusive Wanaka accommodation gives visitors to New Zealand a stunning high country experience.

Day 10 - Queenstown

In less than an hour, you will be in Queenstown, the Southern Hemisphere's premiere four seasons alpine and lake resort. Nestled in the corner of Lake Wakatipu and framed by 360 degree vistas of snow-capped mountains this place is known for year round action-packed thrills, such as jet boating, white water rafting, para-punting and bungy jumping. 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.

Here is a selection of the many options available:

One Nights Accommodation at Eichardt’s Private Hotel in Queenstown. Providing fine accommodation in five luxurious Hotel Suites and four Lakefront Cottage Suites located in the historic district on a premium lakefront position at the heart of Queenstown’s café and restaurant precinct.

Day 11 and 12 - Overnight Milford Sound Cruise

Moody Dramatic and Stunning - Milford Sound is simply breathtaking and offers what is probably the most spectacular fiord scenery in the southern hemisphere. The well-known and striking views of Mitre Peak from the head of the fiord form the subject of innumerable paintings, postcards, posters, and pictorial postage stamps.  Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound the "eight wonder of the world." In Maori legend, the fiords were created not by rivers of ice, but by Tu Te Raki Whanoa, a godly figure who came wielding a magical adze and uttering incantations.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 our tender or in one of the Kayaks. Then enjoy a delicious evening buffet meal in the spacious dining saloon, before retiring to your cabin.

One Nights Accommodation on the Milford Mariner. enjoy a lavish carvery buffet in the dining saloon. Then relax in the company of fellow travellers or indulge in some star-gazing before retiring to your private cabin.

Day 13 - Return to Queenstown - Fly Home or Onward……

'Haere koe ki raro, ka mihi ki Aotearoa. 'Return home and you will sigh for New Zealand.' - Maori proverb


Please take the time to view our “Virtual Tour” for the 13 Day Royal 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.

"Experience New Zealand's highlights with our luxury tours of NZ."

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