14
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The Royal Tour - A Prime Minister's Choice.

Our former Prime Minister, Helen Clark (Aunty Helen as she was known) and now head of the United Nations Development Programe, spent time in the company of Peter Greenberg, chief correspondent for the Travel Channel. Helens mission was to show Peter the best of New Zealand, this tour follows the path taken by the pair, experiencing the great activities, and adding a few more along the way.

Waitomo Caves, Geothermal Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Interisland Ferry, Abel Tasman, Punakaiki Rocks, Franz Joseph Glacier, Cruise Milford.

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Itinerary

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Welcome to AUCKLAND

New Zealand’s largest city is located between two large harbours and 48 extinct volcanic cones scattered over the city are evidence of it's volancic past. They also provide a perfect location for viewing the city! A diversely cultural place, Auckland is a great location for marine adventures, wine tasting, forest walks and urban sophistication.

After checking into your hotel,relax, take a stroll around our beautiful city, explore the highly acclaimed Waterfront Restaurant Quarter or choose one of the many activities available to give a more in depth understanding of Auckland and the surrounding area.

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

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

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WAITOMO CAVES

The Waitomo region is most famous for its subterranean splendour - the Waitomo Caves. The rolling Waikato hills hide the ancient limestone cave systems, heavily decorated with stalagmites, stalactites, and of course glow-worms. Many caves are open to the public and there is a caving experience for everyone. Some are easy, while others require specialized caving guides and equipment. For the adventure seekers, you just can't beat the Lost World, or perhaps if you are interested in seeing galaxies of beautiful glowworms with a small group then perhaps you would enjoy the magic and splendor of the Spellbound Glowworm Caves, for it is here where Sir David Attenborough on the BBC series 'Life in the Undergrowth' described it as an “Astonishing Cave” And “one of natures most Magical Illuminations!” - This is an easy adventure everyone will enjoy.

Approximate Distance: 191 kms | 118 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 26 min

Accommodation Waitomo - 1 night

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GEOTHERMAL Rotorua | Great Lake Taupo

Rotorua is situated right on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic activity is part of the city’s past and present. Before heading to Taupo, explore the geothermal areas and experience the unique and welcoming culture of New Zealand’s Maori people. Rotorua is entertaining in any weather, at any time of the year. The road to Taupo will keep you entertained with its unusual, volcanic geography. You’ll also drive through large tracts of plantation pine forest. Take a side road to a Geothermal Park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud. Towards the end of your journey you’ll encounter the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. Other diversions include Huka Falls and a world-acclaimed golf course.

Approximate Distance: 130 kms | 81 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 35 mins

Accommodation Taupo - 1 night

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GREAT LAKE TAUPO | WELLINGTON

The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, which is well stocked with sizeable trout. You’ll find everything a traveller could wish for, including an excellent choice of restaurants. Most accommodation establishments make good use of the underground thermal activity to provide hot spas for relaxation. You’ll follow the western edge of Lake Taupo to reach Turangi. The drive is very scenic and there are many picnic opportunities along the way. Where streams run into the lake, you’ll often see trout fisherman trying their luck. The town of Turangi is the trout fishing capital of New Zealand. There are famous fishing spots in almost every direction, including ‘The Delta’, ‘The Hole’, ‘Little Big O’ and ‘Tailrace’ (believed to contain the world’s fattest trout). The walks and ski fields of the Tongariro National Park are also close by.  

On the long, straight Desert Road you’ll enjoy amazing views of Tongariro National Park’s Volcanoes. In Waiouru, the QE2 Memorial Museum is worth a look. As you drive south towards Taihape (the Gumboot Throwing capital of the world), the landscape becomes dominated by rivers and valleys. The Mangaweka Gorge is a scenic masterpiece. Find time to browse the antique shops of Bulls, or spy on wading birds in the estuary near Foxton. Two beautiful dune lakes are an easy detour from Levin. Offshore from Waikanae Beach is Kapiti Island Nature Reserve. A car museum and gourmet cheese factory are other attractions in this area. Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafes, restaurants, museums, theatre and all kinds of shops. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty. As New Zealand’s capital, this city is rich in political history.

Approximate Distance: 375 kms | 233 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Wellington - 1 night

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Interisland Cruise | NELSON

The passage across Cook Strait on the InterIsland Ferry goes 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, the cruise-style ferry takes 3 hours. Both types of vessel can transport vehicles. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the sounds. The picturesque seaside town of Picton is the South Island base for the ferry service that links the North and South islands of New Zealand. It’s also the gateway to the marine, forest and island attractions of the Marlborough Sounds. Museums and interesting walks will keep you entertained while you’re here.

The drive to Nelson first takes you to the town of Havelock, which is known as the Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World. Nearby Canvastown is a place to explore old gold mining fields – thousands tried to get rich here in the 1860s. At Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve you can enjoy a bush walk or a swim, depending on the time of the year. And if you’d like a glimpse of local life in 1890, Rai Valley has a beautifully preserved cottage museum. The city of Nelson is home to a fascinating community of beach, bush and art lovers. From here you can organise yourself an eco-adventure or become immersed in the local creative culture.

Approximate Distance: 109 kms | 68 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 45 mins

Accommodation Nelson - 2 nights

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Abel Tasman National Park

The road to Motueka hugs the coast, which makes it easy to browse beaches as you go. The Waimea Inlet and the villages of Mapua and Ruby Bay are particularly irresistible. Art and pottery studios, vineyards and excellent cafes are other local distractions. In the horticultural town of Motueka you can indulge your love of fresh fruit and vegetables, and feed your imagination with local arts and crafts. Because it’s so close to the Abel Tasman National Park and the Kahurangi National Park, Motueka is an ideal place to plan and prepare for hiking adventures. In the horticultural town of Motueka you can indulge your love of fresh fruit and vegetables, and feed your imagination with local arts and crafts.

Because Motueka is so close to the Abel Tasman National Park and the Kahurangi National Park, it is an ideal place to prepare for hiking adventures. The picnic area in the Riwaka Valley is another scenic detour – you can walk to the source of the Riwaka River. Marahau is often called ‘the Abel Tasman Village’, because it’s where many people begin their explorations of the Abel Tasman National Park. You can hire kayaks, swim with seals or catch a water taxi to one of the park’s amazing beaches. The Coast Track in the Abel Tasman National Park is the most popular ‘great walk’ in New Zealand. The track takes you past pristine golden sand beaches and calm turquoise waters. Travel on foot or in a sea kayak.

Approximate Distance: 64 kms | 40 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour

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Wild West Coast - PUNAKAIKI

Travel through Wakefield, before heading over the Spooners saddle in the Golden Downs forest. Follow SH6 to Murchison, although part of the Nelson Region, this will be your first introduction to the glory and green that is the scenic beauty of the West Coast and Buller Region.  Navigate the awesome Buller Gorge, where at Hawks Crag the road has been hacked out of solid rock – you’ll drive under a dramatic overhang. Continue on to Punakaiki, famous for its ancient Pancake Rocks and booming blowholes. It is the centrepiece of the Paparoa National Park, which is packed with a variety of stunning landscapes. 

Approximate Distance: 287 kms | 178 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Punakaiki  - 1 night

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GLACIER Country

The road between Hokitika and Greymouth provides great views of the wild west coast. Detour to the beach and breathe the salt spray air. Driftwood is the ornamentation of choice for west coast beaches – every shape, size and colour. Shantytown, just south of Greymouth, is a reconstructed 1880s gold rush town – great family entertainment. Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. Greenstone (NZ jade) is the town’s treasure these days – you can see it being polished and sculpted. You might also want to pan for gold, investigate the museum and do the historical walk. First explored in 1865, the Franz Josef Glacier has been moving forward at a rate of about 1 metre a day since 1985. Previously it was in retreat. Franz Josef township has a good range of accommodation and eating establishments.

The Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers 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). After a short drive south, you’ll arrive at Fox Glacier. The glacier’s terminal face is just 5 kilometres (3.1 Miles) from the township, and the road to the walking track crosses ancient moraine from earlier advances and retreats. Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister, William Fox. 

Approximate Distance: 241 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 

Accommodation Fox Glacier - 1 night

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FOX GLACIER TO Lake WANAKA

Not far from Fox Glacier is the western end of the Copland track. In half a day you can walk to the hot springs at Welcome Flat. Pretty Lake Paringa is full of trout, and you can enjoy a delicious meal of salmon at the salmon farm. Lake Moeraki is another peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. The long one-lane bridge over the Haast River leads you into the settlement of Haast, once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works (the government department responsible for road and bridge building). It’s a town with a touch of the wild west – helicopters fly deer hunters into the rugged ranges and local pubs make a feature of stuffed animal trophies. Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you leave the coast and climb up the Haast river valley to Haast Pass. The road snakes through the Aspiring National Park, and the vegetation becomes more sparse as you travel inland. The wilderness town of Makarora is a chance to refuel and refresh. Watch for the famous ‘bra fence’ – it’s become a local legend. Lakes Wanaka and Hawea make the last part of your trip beautifully scenic.

Approximate Distance: 262 kms | 163 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation Wanaka - 1 night

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QUEENSTOWN - Capital of the Great Outdoors

The lakeside resort town of Wanaka can provide you with an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. It has a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. You’ll also find some unique attractions, like the 3D maze and the ‘warbird’ air show, which is held every two years. The shortest route to Queenstown is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan and the Shotover River. The vineyards of the Gibbston area and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge are interesting distractions along the way. The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

Approximate Distance: 70 kms | 44 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 10 mins

Accommodation Queenstown - 1 night

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TE ANAU - Gateway to Fiordland National Park

High country landscapes and trout fishing rivers are features of the road to Te Anau. The first part of your drive clings scenically to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Take a break when you reach the small town of Kingston, the home of a remarkable vintage steam train. Further on, the settlements of Lumsden and Mossburn can be explored for unique shopping opportunities – a farm tour is another possibility. Te Anau township sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau. From here, the delights of the Fiordland National Park are within easy reach, including the start of the Milford Track. Cruise on the lakes, walk the tracks and visit the Department of Conservation wildlife centre. The Te Ana-au Caves are an excellent adventure.

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

Accommodation Te Anau - 2 nights

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Milford Sound Cruise

The Road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The first part is relatively mild farmland, then you’ll ease into beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. Look for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes. The rough hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into Milford Sound, an amazing 22km-long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak. A cruise on Milford Sound will be an essential component of your time in Fiordland, or you can get up close and personal in a sea kayak. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces and seals are some of the things you’ll remember. The underwater observatory is an option with most cruises. Milford Sound is a dramatic 22km-long fiord. It was carved by glaciers during the last ice age. A cruise will be an essential component of your time in Milford, or you can get up close and personal in a sea kayak. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces and seals are some of the things you’ll remember.

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TE ANAU TO QUEENSTOWN

Trout fishing rivers and high country scenery are features of the drive to Queenstown. The small towns of Mossburn and Lumsden can be explored for unique shopping opportunities – a farm tour is another possibility. Leave time to take a break in Kingston, the home of a remarkable vintage steam train. From here, the rest of your journey clings scenically to the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

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

Accommodation Queenstown - 1 night

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Homeward Bound

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We know you will enjoy The Royal Tour, A Premium New Zealand Self Drive Holiday 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. 

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