New Zealand - Best of Both Islands Tour - via West Coast

A perfect mix of day excursions focusing on New Zealands iconic scenic highlights in both the North and South Islands. Keeping the amount of driving to a minimum we have also included four 2 night stays giving you the opportunity to relax and get a real sense of place.

Franz Josef Scenic Flight, Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise, Wilderness Jet boating Adventure Queenstown, Natural Hot Mineral Springs and Spa Rotorua, Waimangu Thermal Valley Boat & Walk, Easy Glowworm Caving and Tranz-Alpine Train Journey.

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Welcome to Christchurch - New Zealand!

New Zealand’s second-largest city and the gateway to the South Island, Christchurch sits on the very edge of the Canterbury Plains and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. Five Years on from the devastating earthquake that raised the city’s centre to the ground, a new city built for the future is rising from the ashes. It’s an exciting time to visit Christchurch, the blank canvas that was the CBD is starting to fill and inspiring architects from all over the world.

21st Century Architecture
Explore a western city in transition from a former Victorian beauty to a cutting edge 21st Century City. Visit the ‘Cardboard Transitional Cathedral’ in Latimer Square, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Built in August 2013, it seats 700 people and is primarily made from futuristic cardboard combined with wood and steel or visit the ‘Restart Mall’ eloquently made from shipping containers. There are many examples of ingenuity popping up all over the city – after all, necessity is the mother of all invention and these Cantabrians are a resourceful bunch.

Some suggested cctivities if you have time:

Easygoing Cycling Tour Punting the Avon River Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise
Māori Cultural Evening French Akaroa Tour Southern Alps Ballooning
Christchurch Gondola Clearwater Golf Arthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

Accommodation Christchurch - 1 night

World Class Tranz-Alpine Train Journey to Glacier Country

Rated as one of the top six scenic train journeys in the world, the famous TranzAlpine Train will take you deep into the heartland of the South Island… a coast to coast journey through some of the world’s most extreme and beautiful scenery. The Tranz Alpine winds its way over massive viaducts and through spectacular gorges and river valleys, tracking slowly across the country's greatest mountain range, the Southern Alps. It stops in the heart of the Southern Alps at Arthur’s Pass before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth. From Greymouth collect your rental car and travel to Franz Josef - this is Glacier Country.

Approximate Distance: 381 kms | 237 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 45 mins

Accommodation Franz Josef - 1 night

scenic flight with glacier landing - on to Lake Wanaka

Together with the Fox Glacier 20 kilometres (12 Miles) away, Franz Josef Glacier is unique in the fact that it is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world. These huge valleys of ice tumble down from the Southern Alps into green, lush rainforest – only 200m (656 ft) from sea level.  The view from the air is a spectacular vision of subtropical forests sandwiched between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps. The seclusion of an alpine landing in this inaccessible landscape is priceless. 

This is the ultimate glacial and mountain experience, this Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight covers it all; Glacial icefalls, crevasses and neves, and views from ocean to Alps. Get your camera ready for the spectacular snow landing – with rotors off, the silence is deafening.

After your scenic flight your driving days do not get much better than this. As you farewell the beech forests of the Mt Aspiring National Park and traverse the Haast Pass - be prepared to view lakes and rivers coloured like rare jewels - emerald and sapphire hued, intensified by the contrast of the surrounding mountain and tussock clad hillsides. Wanaka is a stunning lakeside town - situated perfectly in the north basking sunshine.

Approximate Distance: 284 kms | 176 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 25 mins

Accommodation Wanaka - 1 night

Te Anau - Gateway to Fiordland National Park

The drive from Wanaka to Te Anau will take three and half hours, but there is plenty to enjoy along the way. We highly recommend staging your Fiordland National Park activities from Te Anau as a base (Queenstown to Milford becomes a 12hr return highway trip that needs to be to avoided!) Some of the sightseeing along the way are beautiful - Lakes Wakatipu and Manapouri and the Manapouri Dam. The Te Anau Wildlife Centre (take the opportunity to identify some of the numerous native birds visitors may only see on your walks and hikes)

This afternoon there is plenty of time to check out one of Te Anau's top attractions - The recently discovered and wonderful Te Anau Glowworm Caves. It starts with an informative trip by boat across Lake Te Anau to the western side of the lake. Upon arrival you will be met by friendly guides who will accompany you underground. As the darkness and silence descends - your senses will be overwhelmed by a glowworm galaxy as stunning as any Southern night sky.

Approximate Distance: 228 kms | 142 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation Te Anau - 2 nights

Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

Deep in the heart of Fiordland lies the vast and beautiful Doubtful Sound. The name came by way of the pioneer Captain James Cook who expressed his uncertainty as to whether the inlet was navigable under sail. This sound is home to a number of impressive waterfalls and small islands and is the second longest of the South Island’s fiords. Doubtful Sound is an untouched, serene and mysterious place that is often referred to as the ‘Sound of Silence’. Fur seals, bottle nose dolphins and penguins are likely to be seen on your cruise.

The Alpine Resort of Queenstown

You could wake every day in Queenstown for a year and not repeat the same activity. Queenstown is the centre of adventure in New Zealand, there truly is something here for everyone.

Recommended Excursions in Queenstown:

Routeburn Track Guided Day Walk Explore Historic Arrowtown Highest Bungy Jump
Wine Tasting Tour Central Otago Biking Skippers Canyon Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
TSS Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise Dart River Jetboat Safari Gibbston Valley Wine Trail

Approximate Distance: 174 kms | 108 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Queenstown Accommodation - 2 nights

Wilderness Safari - Deep into Mt Aspiring National Park

The inventor of the worlds first modern jet boat was a New Zealander with the Hamilton Jet. Today as you ride the jet on the Dart River Wilderness Safari, you will marvel at the skilled navigation of the ever changing shallows of the Dart River braids taking you for a one and a half hour ride deep into the remote Mt Aspiring National Park.

Then take a walk on the famous Heritage Trail (40 mins) of the aptly named Paradise Valley, framed by snowcapped mountains  and ancient forests, the commentary of your friendly guides will provide insight in to the  Maori and colonial history of the region. 

Fly to Rotorua - Sitting on The Pacific Ring of Fire

Sitting squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire - Rotorua is spectacular, the earths crust at its most exciting and accessible in the downtown parks and lake front, the smell of sulphur and sight of steaming vents invade the senses. Giant geysers rocket into the air and colourful sulphur terraces hiss and boil. But Rotorua is more than boiling mud, there are ancient forests set amongst pristine lakes, and the area is full of history and tikanga (culture) of Maori, the 1st People of New Zealand. Enjoy a day soaking up this magical place, at the Polynesian Spa. Voted as one of the top ten spas in the world.

Recommended excursions in and around Rotorua:

Geysers & Boiling Mud Polynesian Hot Springs Whirinaki Forest Walk
Thermally Active Golf Biking the Mighty Forests Flight to Volcanic Island
Museum of Art & History Evening Cultural Experience White Water Rafting


Rotorua Accommodation - 2 nights

Waimangu Geothermal Walk and Lake Rotomahana Cruise

This is a great half day geothermal and nature experience, beginning with a walking tour along the Waimangu Volanic Valley Crater walkway (this is mainly down hill and flat). There are shuttle buses to transfer from the valley to the Lake Rotomahana Boat Cruise. Enjoy the 45 minute cruise voyaging around the beautiful lake. This is a protected Wildife Refuge and scenic reserve. Allow 3 hours for the walk and boat cruise.

The City of Sails - Auckland

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, situated amongst a cluster of extinct volcanic cones, next to a large harbour that bustles with life, both on water and on land. The Auckland isthmus straddles a slim piece of land with coastline facing both the Pacific Ocean, and, on the wild West Coast, the Tasman Sea. Enjoy a stroll around the waterfront that is teeming with excellent cafes and restaurants from which to enjoy the sights of the The City of Sails. Drop off your rental car today. 

Some activities and sightseeing options available are:

Explore Waiheke Island Island Kayaking Adventure America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky Tower Relax on the Beach Rangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine Tour Whale and Dolphin Safari Muriwai Surf Beach

Approximate Distance: 225 kms | 140 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 

Auckland Accommodation - 2 nights

Auckland City Revealed - Half Day Tour

What better way to find out how and where Aucklanders live and play. This morning travel around the Auckland Isthmus, learn about the historic parts of the city before heading over the Harbour bridge to the North Shore. There is time for a coffee before heading back to take in the panoramic views of the city and Waitemata Harbour. This evening head to the entertainment precincts of the wonderful Viaduct Harbour and Britomart. Great food and wine is almost a national obsession - blessed with the best seafood, meat and produce there are excellent dining options and we are happy to share the latest dining hotspots.

Homeward Bound

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We are sure you will enjoy the Best of Both Islands New Zealand Tour and our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Ready to find out more?  Talk to us here in New Zealand about the Best of Both Islands New Zealand Tour - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!