Auckland - Queenstown

Fly total time: 23
This three-week Tiki Tour from Auckland to Queenstown hits all the highlights and will give you a quick overview of everything New Zealand has to offer in one fantastic road-trip.

< Download a pdf of this itinerary.

At a glance

  • 22 Nights / 23 Days
  • Tick off the main highlights of both North & South Island
  • Geothermal wonders & cultural immersion
  • Stunning Coastlines
  • Breath-taking Alpine experiences
  • Unique wildlife encounters
  • Days 1 - 3 - Auckland - Rotorua

    Drive Fly 2 hours and 50 minutes 228 KMS 141 MI
    Surrounded by two sparkling harbours, vibrant and multicultural Auckland is the country’s largest city and commercial hub. Spend a day experiencing everything the city has to offer, from the adrenaline inducing Sky Tower jump to a peaceful wine tasting experience on Waiheke Island, just 40 minutes by ferry, but a whole world away from the bustling CBD.

    A quick one-hour flight from Auckland delivers you straight into the Geothermal wonders of Rotorua.  The city sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so there’s evidence of volcanic activity everywhere you look. Take a dip in hot pools and feast on Kai (food) cooked in the hot spring lakes at Te Puia or a traditional Hangi dinner with cultural show. 

    Crank up the energy and take a jet boat up to the mighty Huka Falls or enjoy a leisurely cruise on the lake.
     

    Recommended activities:

    AUCKLAND:

    ROTORUA

    • Enjoy a night time cultural experience and enjoy delicious Māori food (hangi), singing, dancing and haka 
    • Experience Maori arts and craft at Te Puia, sample Steambox Maori cooking
    • Visit a geothermal park to see bubbling mud, steaming cliffs and impressive geysers
    • Visit the Polynesian Spa for a relaxing soak in heated mineral water
    • Spend the morning or afternoon at Skyline Rotorua. Activities include scenic gondola, thrilling downhill luge trips, Skyswing, Zoom Ziplines, and a downhill mountain bike park.
    • Go on a scenic flight to White Island or Mt Tarawera with Volcanic Air.
    • Get adventurous and experience white water rafting, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and rock climbing
    www.aucklandnz.com 
    www.rotoruanz.com 
  • Days 4 - 6 - Taupo - Wellington

    Drive Fly 4 hours 40 minutes 338 KMS 210 MI
    Continue south about one hour towards Taupo, a relaxing lake front town, stopping in at Wai-O-Tapu on the way for more spectacular Geothermal scenery.  

    From Taupo, kayak or cruise out into the lake to see ancient Maori rock carvings in the shadow of Ruapehu and Tongariro mountains.

    Tackle the famous one-day 19.4km Tongariro Crossing hike in National Park, it’s about one and a half hours south of Taupo.  Traverse volcanic craters and lava flows to reach stunning emerald lakes or just explore the shorter walks to beautiful waterfalls, afterwards retire to the Chateau Tongariro.

    Keep heading south to the Coolest little Capital, Wellington.  It’s about a five hour drive, or, leave the car in Taupo and catch the Northern Explorer Scenic Train. 

    The thriving coffee and craft beer culture means you will never go thirsty. Enjoy a food tour of the city or nature lovers should visit Zealandia, combined with a trip on the Cable Car to get great scenic views of the city and harbour. 
     

    Top Tips

     
    • If your clients are hiking the Tongariro Crossing independently, ensure transport is pre-arranged to the beginning of the track and from the end of the track.
    • There are also a number of reputable tour companies offering guided trips of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing for the less experienced or those worried about the weather.

    Recommended activities:

    TAUPO:

    RUAPEHU:

    WELLINGTON:


    www.GreatLakeTaupo.com 
    www.visitruapehu.com
    www.wellingtonnz.com
     
  • Day 7 - 11 - Nelson - Christchurch

    Drive Fly 5 hours 20 minutes 415 KMS 257 MI
    The three-hour ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton includes a scenic cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds.  

    A short two hour but worthwhile detour west to Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest region, promises amazing markets, food and local artists.  

    Keep going another hour and you’ll reach Abel Tasman National Park, a haven for hiking, kayaking and marine wildlife.  Try a traditional Waka Canoe or a guided kayak and walk to hear about the history of the area.

    Head back East about two hours to taste some of New Zealand’s famous Marlborough Region wines and follow the coastline south to Kaikoura, the renowned whale watching mecca where you can see Giant Sperm Whales, Humpbacks, Pilot Whales and Orcas.  Make sure you get out on the water with Whale Watch Kaikoura and in the water with Dolphin Encounter or Seal Swim.

    Continue another three hours south to Christchurch, New Zealand’s vibrant and ever-changing second-largest city, affectionately known as ‘The Garden City’. For stunning views head up the Christchurch Gondola or explore the centre as you ride on the historic Christchurch Tram.

    Top Tips

    • An alternative to the ferry is to fly straight into Nelson with Air New Zealand or Sounds Air.  Golden Bay Air will also fly direct from Wellington to Motueka for a more direct route into Abel Tasman National Park.
    • If you don’t want to drive for a few days then fly to Motueka and use Intercity to get back to Nelson and Blenheim.  Once in Blenheim you can join the Coastal Pacific train to jump off at Kaikoura and Christchurch.  

    Recommended activities:

    NELSON TASMAN:

    • Visit the World of WearableArt & Classic Car Museum
    • Book a cycle tour on the Tasman's Great Taste Trail – a scenic ride past many local shops, cafés and restaurants.
    • Enjoy a glass of craft beer at one of the region’s many craft beer breweries
    • Walk part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Guided options are available
    • Enjoy a kayaking adventure around breath-taking coves and beaches
    • Relax on a cruise or sailing trip around the park's stunning coastline

    KAIKOURA:

    CHRISTCHURCH:

    www.nelsontasman.nz
    www.MarlboroughNZ.com
    www.kaikoura.co.nz
    www.christchurchnz.com

     
  • Day 12 - 15 - Greymouth - Wanaka

    Drive Fly 5 hours 50 minutes 485 KMS 301 MI
    Venture west three hours through Arthur’s Pass, a scenic route that intersects the TranzAlpine train as it slowly chugs from Coast to Coast.  

    Slightly north of Greymouth is the natural phenonemon of Punakaiki, Pancake Rocks and just south is Hokitika, famous for Pounamu - New Zealand Jade - and the crystal clear blue waters of Hokitika Gorge.

    Franz Josef and Fox Village, roughly two hours south, are best known for Heli hiking and Ice climbing on the glaciers, or keeping your feet on the ground, walk along the valley floor to the terminal face of the glaciers, relax in local hot pools and meet the native Kiwi’s at the West Coast sanctuary.  Lake Matheson, just 10 minutes outside of Fox Village, offers a perfect mirror image of the Mountains.

    Continue to the Haast Pass at the north end of Mt Aspiring National Park, known for it’s natural beauty. Allow plenty of time for stops as there are amazing waterfalls just metres from the roadside. 

    Drive between Lakes Wanaka and Hawea as you enter Wanaka, Queenstown’s laid back neighbour lakeside town, popular for mountain biking and hiking.
     

    Top Tips

    • The TranzAlpine traverses the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular views of the chiselled alpine landscape will take your breath away at every turn. It then continues through the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River, before reaching the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland. An outdoor viewing carriage will get your clients close to the fresh alpine air and spectacular scenery.
    • Allow plenty of time for stops on the West Coast, the clear aqua blue water coming from the glaciers is breath-taking and there are plenty of photo opportunities along this route.
    • If booking a heli-hike in Franz or Fox, book an afternoon flight on the day you arrive, if it gets cancelled for weather you will get a second chance the following day.
    • Franz has more of a village but Fox only has one helicopter company operating on it, so it is less crowded – this company also operate in Mount cook on the other side of the mountain.
    • The free terminal face walk to the glacier in Franz Josef is a short drive out of town and a great walk, but due to the glacier receeding you can no longer get that close, if your clients want to get up close to the glacier the best option is a heli-hike.

    Recommended activities:

    GREYMOUTH:

    GLACIER COUNTRY:

    • Take a guided trip onto the Glacier at Fox or Franz Josef.
    • View the glaciers from above with a scenic flight
    • Relax in the steaming Glacier Hot Pools at Franz Josef Glacier
    • Get to know New Zealand’s national bird, the Kiwi, up close at the West Coast Wildlife Centre in Franz Josef
    • Enjoy the spectacular mountain reflections in Lake Matheson – take a short walk through ancient native forest to a pontoon that extends out onto the lake, ideal for photo opportunities.
    • Stop in Haast and enjoy a scenic or wildlife tour by jetboat or helicopter

    WANAKA:

    • Experience high action on the water by jet boating, fishing or paragliding.  For the adventurous there’s canyoning or white water sledging.
    • Go on a hike, 4WD experience or mountain bike
    www.westcoastnz.com
    www.lakewanaka.co.nz
  • Day 16 - 19 - Aoraki /Mount Cook - Dunedin

    Drive Fly 3 hours and 50 minutres 316 KMS 196 MI
    Drive north to Aoraki Mount Cook Village through the scenic Lindis pass and alongside the aqua blue Lake Pukaki.  A glacier explorer cruise on the terminal lake gets up close to icebergs, or a heli-hike takes you right to the top of the glacier. 

    A night in the Mackenzie Region under the Dark Sky Reserve delivers amazing starscapes then continue one hour to Tekapo, famous for the iconic stone Church of Good Sheppard on the banks of another stunning blue lake.  Arrive early and enjoy the lakeside hot pools before they get busy.

    Back on the east coast continue to the historic Waitaki town of Oamaru, known as the White Stone City for it’s Victorian Heritage and witness the Little Blue Penguin Parade just before sunset.  

    In the morning self-drive from Oamaru to Moeraki, approximately 30 minutes, and marvel at the huge, spherical Moeraki Boulders. The drive from Moeraki to Dunedin will take approximately 1 hour.

    Historic Dunedin is renowned for its Victorian and Edwardian architecture, as well as its proximity to rare wildlife. The city is magnificently situated along Otago Harbour, sheltered by the Otago Peninsula; its rugged coastline is home to unique wildlife including the rare Yellow Eyed Penguin and the Royal Albatross. Dunedin is rich with preserved heritage; the Railway Station, Otago University and First Church are amongst the most iconic buildings. There are plenty of visitor activities available that showcase this city of rare and unique charm.

    Top Tips:

    • Make sure you pre-book activities in the MacKenzie region – options are limited and this is a major route through New Zealand so demand is high.
    • Get to Tekapo early for the best photo opportunities at Church of Good Shephard without crowds.
    • Book the premium viewing experience for he Little Blue Penguin Parade and the penguins will walk directly in front of you.  
    • Check tide times for Moeraki as the boulders are best seen at low-tide.

    Recommended activities:

    AORAKI/MOUNT COOK & TEKAPO:

    OAMARU:

    DUNEDIN:

    www.mtcooknz.com
    www.visitoamaru.co.nz
    www.dunedinnz.com
  • Days 20 -21 - Invercargill - Fiordland

    Drive Fly 2 hours 12 minutes 184 KMS 114 MI
    Continue on the Southern Scenic Route towards hidden gem Catlins National Park with it’s coastal cliffs and headlands, beaches, extensive temperate rainforests and waterfalls.  Guides can point out yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals or even the endangered Hectors dolphin at Curio Bay, known for its ancient fossil forest, one of the most extensive and least disturbed examples of a Jurassic fossil forest in the world.

    A small detour to Bluff puts you at the southernmost point of mainland New Zealand.  

    Invercargill is a automobile haven, from motorcycles and cars to heavy machinery.  Get behind the controls of a bulldozer at Dig This or crush a car in their “agression session”, it’s a type of fun you never knew you needed.

    Another scenic drive through Southland to Te Anau, the gateway to the Fiords.  Spend a night in Te Anau and catch the later Milford and Doubtful Sound cruises to avoid the crowds from day-trippers. 

    Top Tips

    • The visitors centre at the Petrified Forest is worth a visit
    • Plan to set off early on the day you drive to Invercargill as it’s great to be able to stop along the way

    Recommended activities:

    INVERCARGILL

    FIORDLAND

    • Both Milford and Doubtful Sound are beautiful and offer cruises or kayaking experiences.
    • Get a bird’s eye view of the giant fiords and spectacular waterfalls with a helicopter or fixed wing flight.
    www.cluthanz.com
    www.southlandnz.com
    www.fiordland.org.nz
     
  • Days 22 - 23 - Fiordland - Queenstown

    Drive Fly 3 hours 46 minutes 235 KMS 146 MI
    The views en route to Queenstown are magnificent so allow plenty of time for stops and keep a look out for native Kea’s, New Zealand’s clever alpine parrots. 

    Once downtown, grab yourself a famous Ferg Burger for dinner, or head up the Skyline Gondola for a bird’s eye view of the city and a satisfying buffet.  

    Queenstown is the adventurers playgournd, enjoy jet boats, bungy jumps, skydives, scenic flights so much more, it’s a great way to end your trip!

    There are international flights to Australia from Queenstown or your client will need to take a domestic flight to connect with their international flight.

    Top Tips

    • Visit Arrowtown a quaint historic gold mining village approximately 20 minutes drive from Queenstown    
    • During winter, snow enthusiasts shoul head up to Coronet Peak or The Remarkables skifields, just 30-40 minute by car or shuttle.  Further afield, Cardrona and Treble Cone ski fields near Wanaka are just an hour by car or shuttle.
    www.queenstownnz.co.nz 

    Recommended activities:

    • 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
    • Take a off-road tour and check out some of the stunning locations featured in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies
    • Take a wine tour to get a taste of the region’s 75 wineries
    • Ride the gondola and enjoy spectacular views from the Skyline complex on Bob’s Peak.  Options to Bungy and paraglide available from the top.