Auckland - Christchurch

Fly total time: 22 days

Please note: this itinerary has been affected by the recent Kaikoura earthquake. For information on an alternative route, please click here.

Your clients will begin their journey in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. Travelling south your clients will pass through Waitomo and Hobbiton to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, is the next stop and after crossing the Cook Strait, your clients will explore the Nelson Tasman region of the South Island. Your clients will enjoy getting up close and personal with sea life in Kaikoura, before travelling to Greymouth and Franz Josef on the West Coast. Adventure abounds in the alpine resort town of Queenstown, the next stop on your client’s itinerary. Finally visitors will travel to the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.

For a similar 3 week itinerary (all product featured are commissionable) but with slightly different options please go to newzealand.com.

To ensure your clients are well rested after their flight, we recommend they stay a night or two in their arrival city before collecting a rental vehicle. Driving in a new country can be challenging and will be even worse if the driver is tired. The driver should always be well rested, take regular breaks during the journey and plan to drive for only 1-2 hours at a time.

New Zealand has unique road rules and driving conditions that your clients may not be used to. For a safe and enjoyable journey make sure your clients know where to find information on New Zealand’s road rules before they depart for their holiday.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Day 1 - Auckland

    Drive Fly 0
    Arrive into New Zealand. Spend the next two days exploring Auckland and the surrounding regions.
     
    Surrounded by two sparkling harbours, vibrant and multicultural Auckland is the country’s largest city and commercial hub. Home to 1.5 million people, it offers world class accommodation; outstanding food and wine; great shopping; and many attractions and sightseeing options.

    Recommended activities:

    • Experience the thrill of the Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb
    • Half day Auckland city sights tour with one of the many fantastic tour operator
    • Go shopping in the many local boutiques and internationally known stores
    • Dine at The Viaduct, Auckland’s buzzing harbourside precinct.
     
  • Day 2 - Auckland

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend another day exploring Auckland or take a day trip to nearby Waiheke Island.

    Recommended activities:

  • Day 3 - Auckland - Waitomo

    Drive Fly 2 hours and 36 minutes 219 KMS 136 MI
    Hire a rental vehicle and drive from Auckland to Waitomo, approximately 2 hours 36 minutes.
     
    Subterranean waterfalls, spectacular glowworm light displays, swirling lost rivers and awe-inspiring rock formations created millions of years ago make Waitomo a destination like no other. With its name coming from 'wai' which translates as water and 'tomo' which means entrance or hole in Maori, Waitomo is the perfect setting for some of New Zealand’s most natural wonders and life-changing adventures.
     
    One of the reasons Peter was attracted to Waitomo was we didn’t ever see limestone in The Lord of the Rings, it was never shown - so this gave it a fresh feel." Jared Connon - Supervising Location Manager The Hobbit.
     
    Filming for The Hobbit Trilogy took place on private farmland near the famous Waitomo Caves and locals moved out of their homes to allow the film crew to stay in the area.
     

    Recommended activities:

     
  • Day 4 - Waitomo - Hobbiton - Rotorua

    Drive Fly 2 hours and 26 minutes 187 KMS 116 MI
    Drive from Waitomo to Hobbiton (Matamata), approximately 1 hour 20 minutes.

    In the lush countryside of Waikato, New Zealand’s most productive dairy farming region, there’s a slice of land that has become world-famous for something that the owners have taken for granted for generations. 
     
     "I’ll never forget that feeling of coming to Hobbiton the first time…there’s so many feelings of nostalgia and history." - Elijah Wood (Frodo) 
     
    Visit the HobbitonTM Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies in a fascinating two-hour guided tour. There are spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills of the movie set. 
     
    Enjoy lunch at The Green Dragon before heading south to Rotorua. The drive from Matamata to Rotorua will take approximately 50 minutes.
     
    Spend the next three days exploring the geothermal region of Rotorua.
     
    The city of Rotorua is surrounded by a fascinating landscape of geothermal activity, freshwater lakes and majestic native forests. Home to the Te Arawa tribe, it’s a region steeped in Māori legend. Explore amazing boiling mud pools and steam vents, relax in a natural hot pool or try trout fishing.
     

    Recommended activities:

  • Day 5 - Rotorua

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend the day exploring Rotorua.

    Recommended activities:

     
  • Day 6 - Rotorua

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend another day enjoying Rotorua's exciting attractions and activities.

    Recommended activities:

  • Day 7 - Rotorua - Wellington

    Drive Fly 0
    Depart Rotorua in the morning and drive south to Wellington.  Stop en route in Ruapehu and explore Turoa which was a filming location in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

    In winter, Turoa is a popular ski field, but the area is also well-known for its beautiful cycling and hiking trails including The Tongariro Crossing. 
     
    There is an option to spend the night in Ruapehu and hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, known as one of the best day walks in the world. 
     
    The drive from Rotorua to Wellington, via Ruapehu takes approximately 6 hours 30 minutes. Alternatively fly from Rotorua to Wellington, approximately 1 hour 10 minutes.
     
    Wellington is home to an ever expanding film industry with many Middle-earth experiences on offer. Spend the afternoon exploring this compact, yet exciting city. Recharge at one of Wellington’s hip cafés, restaurants and bars.

    Recommended activities:

    • Visit Wellington i-SITE Visitors Centre to pick up a Middle of Middle-earth film map
    • Ride the Wellington Cable Car and enjoy magical city views
    • Visit the Weta Cave, a mini museum featuring movie props, collectables from Weta Workshop
    • Go on a film tour of Wellington
    • Visit the Carter Observatory and learn about the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere
    www.wellingtonnz.com/
  • Day 8 - Wellington

    Drive Fly 4 hours 305 KMS 189 MI
    Spend the day exploring Wellington.

    Recommended activities:

     
  • Day 9 - Wellington - Nelson

    Drive Fly 5 hours and 40 minutes (including ferry) 206 KMS 128 MI
    Head out of Wellington by ferry and enjoy a scenic cruise across the Cook Strait through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds to Picton. The journey takes approximately 3 to 3.5 hours and seals and dolphins can often be spotted in the Marlborough Sounds.
     
    Arrive in the seaside town to Picton bustling with cafes, museums and seaside walks. Nelson is 1 hour 40 minutes’ drive from Picton.
     
    Alternatively fly from Wellington to Nelson, approximately 40 minutes.
     
    Nelson is surrounded by three national parks each with their own distinct landscapes, there are many outdoor activities on offer including hiking, fly fishing, biking and kayaking. Unwind with a glass of craft beer, from one of the many craft beer breweries, in New Zealand’s sunniest region.
     
    Nelson was the backdrop for several locations in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The exact locations were filmed on private property, but visitors can get a good feel for these locations with a horse trek through Golden Bay.
     

    Recommended activities:

    www.nelsonnz.com/
  • Day 10 - Nelson

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend the day exploring Nelson or the surrounding areas.

    Recommended activities:

    • Explore Chetswood Forest at Canaan Downs
    • Relax with a glass or two of Middle-earth wines
    • Take a helicopter ride over Kahurangi National Park and take in the views of Mt Owen (Dimrill Dale) or Mt Olympus (South of Rivendell)
    • Take a day trip to Farewell Spit Visit one of Nelson’s weekend arts and craft markets
    • Enjoy a glass or two of craft beer at one of the region’s many craft beer breweries
     
  • Day 11 - Nelson - Kaikoura

    Drive Fly 3 hours 243 KMS 150 MI
    Drive from Nelson to Kaikoura, approximately 3 hours.
     
    There is an option to drive from Nelson to Blenheim, approximately 1 hour 25 minutes, then sit back and relax on the Coastal Pacific train from Blenheim to Kaikoura, approximately 2 hours departing early afternoon (this service is seasonal).
     
    Kaikoura – where the mountains meet the sea – is known as New Zealand’s whale-watching mecca, visitors can get up close with Giant Sperm Whales, Humbacks, Pilot Whales and Orcas. Fresh seafood is in abundance in Kaikoura, sample delicious crayfish from a roadside stall.

    Recommended activities:

    • Go on a whale-watching cruise or get a bird’s eye view of these gentle giants with a scenic flight
    • Hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway – three hours return to visit a seal colony, limestone formations and a seabird colony
     
  • Day 12 - Kaikoura

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend the day exploring Kaikoura.

    Recommended activities:

    • Experience a dolphin encounter cruise
    • Go swimming with playful New Zealand fur seals
     
  • Day 13 - Kaikoura - Greymouth

    Drive Fly 4 hours 326 KMS 202 MI
    Depart Kaikoura and drive over the Lewis Pass to Greymouth, approximately 4 hours. 
     
    Stop for lunch in Hanmer Springs and have a relaxing soak in the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools.
     
    Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast and has an interesting history involving gold, coal, jade and beer.
     
    There are plenty of activities and natural sights to explore on the West Coast including Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, hiking, quad biking and scenic flights.
     
    The beautiful reflection of Aoraki/Mount Cook can be seen at Lake Matheson, near Fox Glacier. Aoraki/Mount Cook was used in the backdrop of some of the aerial filming in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
     

    Recommended activities:

    • Visit Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes, where columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of hotcakes.
    • Take a walk or hike on one of the many nature trails in the region.
    • Experience Shantytown, a faithfully created 1900’s pioneer town, born out of the West Coast gold rushes of the 1860s.
    • Visit the Denniston Coal Mine.
     
  • Day 14 - Greymouth - Franz Josef

    Drive Fly 2 hours 173 KMS 107 MI
    In the morning drive from Greymouth to Franz Josef, approximately 2 hours 8 minutes. Your clients may wish to take a break in Hokitika and buy some local West Coast pounamu (jade) jewellery.
     
    Glacier country encompasses Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers which are some of the most accessible glaciers in the world. There are a wealth of attractions and activities in this region including hiking, quad biking, scenic flights and sky diving. It is possible to view wildlife at the kiwi breeding programme in Franz Josef, Whataroa’s White Heron Sanctuary and kiwi in the wild at Okarito. At the end of a busy day relax in the hot pools.

    Recommended activities:

     
  • Day 15 - Franz Josef

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend the day exploring Glacier Country.

    Recommended activities:

    • Enjoy a heli-hike on Franz Josef or Fox Glacier
    • Take a scenic flight over the glaciers
    • Experience a unique heli hike adventure
    • Visit picturesque Lake Matheson
     
  • Day 16 - Franz Josef - Queenstown

    Drive Fly 4.5 hours 352 KMS 218 MI
    Depart Franz Josef and drive south to Queenstown, approximately 4 hours 24 minutes.
     
    This scenic drive heads south along Westland National Park; take in the view of Aoraki/Mount Cook along the way. Then continue to Mouth Aspiring National Park and Lakes Wanaka & Hawea. Have a break in the quaint town of Arrowtown and then continue to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
     
    The alpine resort of Queenstown offers visitors an array of activities from cruising Lake Wakatipu to teeing off on championship golf courses. Queenstown rewards visitors with world-class dining and a vibrant nightlife scene.
     
    …I went down to Queenstown, and had a fantastic time. And I went sky diving, I went paragliding, I went down a luge and the Shotover Jet around the rapids… - Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug)
     
    Queenstown it is another filming location in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; it is also a great base for your clients to experience the region’s spectacular scenery and multitude of attractions and activities.
     

    Recommended activities:

    • Ride the gondola and enjoy spectacular views from the Skyline complex on Bob’s Peak
    www.queenstownnz.com.nz/
  • Day 17 - Queenstown

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend the day exploring Queenstown.
     

    Recommended activities:

    • Take a tour and check out some of the stunning locations featured in The Hobbit Trilogy Director Sir Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies
    • Adventure activities include bungy jumping, jet boating, white water rafting and ziplining
    • Enjoy the pristine waters of Lake Wakatipu on a boat cruise and visit a high country station
    • Enjoy world class golf courses including Jack’s Point, Millbrook and The Hills.
     
  • Day 18 - Queenstown - Fiordland - Queenstown

    Drive Fly 9 hours 471 KMS 292 MI
    Take a day trip to nearby Fiordland for a cruise through stunning Milford or Doubtful Sound.
     
    There is an option to drive or bus to Te Anau, approximately 2 hours and spend the night in Te Anau, Fiordland.
     
    Fiordland National Park was used as a backdrop for scenes from The Hobbit Trilogy. The scene where The Company flees the mountains on the backs of eagles in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was also filmed here.

    Recommended activities:

    • Experience a step back in time with a scenic daytrip to the waterfalls cascading down bush clad cliffs to the deep waters of Milford Sound.  Cruise on the Sound and hear the native birdsong.   For a once in a lifetime experience your clients can choose to fly back from Milford to Queenstown, subject to weather conditions 
    • Journey to Doubtful Sound. Start with a boat trip across Lake Manapouri, followed by a bus journey over the rugged Wilmot Pass. This 22km road connects West Arm in Lake Manpouri to Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound
    • Both Milford and Doubtful Sound are easily accessible from Queenstown by a scenic daytrip by coach through the beautiful native bush in Fiordland National Park
    • Get a bird’s eye view of the giant fiords and spectacular waterfalls with a helicopter or fixed wing flight

    www.fiordland.org.nz

  • Day 19 - Queenstown

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend another day exploring the alpine resort town of Queenstown or take a day trip to Central Otago.

    Recommended activities:

    • Take a wine tour to get a taste of the region’s 75 wineries
    • Grab a bike and go cycling – options are available to suit everyone, including cycling on the Queenstown Trail, mountain biking and heli biking
    • Visit Arrowtown a quaint historic gold mining village approximately 20 minutes drive from Queenstown
     
  • Day 20 - Queenstown - Christchurch

    Drive Fly 5 hours and 40 minutes 483 KMS 300 MI
    Drive from Queenstown to Christchurch, approximately 5 hours 40 minutes. Your clients will enjoy spectacular scenery while travelling up the centre of the South Island.
     
    Your clients may wish to stop for a photo opportunity at Lake Pukaki, the location for Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Your clients may also wish to take a rest stop at Lake Tekapo, home of the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd.
     

    I shot at Pukaki, you know Lake Pukaki…we were staying on the lake so when I wasn’t working I just got to walk around and see the beautiful sights... - Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel)

     
    Alternatively fly from Queenstown to Christchurch, approximately 1 hour.
     
    Christchurch is framed by the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Southern Alps, there is plenty to see and explore in and around the city including cultural, historical and wildlife experiences.

    Recommended activities:

    • Stretch your legs with a leisurely walk through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Or punt through the gardens by boat on the beautiful Avon River with Welcome Aboard
    • Take a trip on the historic Christchurch Tram
    www.christchurchnz.com/
  • Day 21 - Christchurch

    Drive Fly 0
    Spend the day exploring Christchurch.

    Recommended activities:

    • Visit the International Antarctic Centre or the Willowbank Wildlife Centre for a memorable wildlife experience.
    • Head into central Christchurch for some local history at the beautiful heritage building of the Canterbury Museum
    • Take an inner city bus tour from the museum to look at the rebuild after the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2010-11
    • Ride the Christchurch Gondola for a view of the city
    • Visit the Airforce Museum at Wigram
    • Take a Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour with Hassle-free Tours
    www.christchurchnz.com/
  • Day 22 - Christchurch

    Drive Fly 0
    Today your clients will fly home. Depart from Christchurch or fly to Auckland.
     
    …New Zealand has played its role in the mythology of Middle-earth, and it will always be there. – Sir Peter Jackson (director The Hobbit Trilogy)
     
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