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 activities 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
TRANZ-ALPINE TRAIN JOURNEY / 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 / 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 Day Walk||Highest Bungey Jump||Explore Arrowtown|
|Biking Skippers Canyon||Round at Millbrook Golf Resort|
|Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise||Dart River Jetboat Safari|
Approximate Distance: 174 kms | 108 miles Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins
Accommodation: Queenstown - 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:
|See 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|
Accommodation: Rotorua - 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 if you have time:
|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 km | 140 miles Total Driving Time: 3 hours
Accommodation: Auckland - 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.
Depart From Auckland to Melbourne
Crowned "The World's Most Liveable City" for seven years in a row, friendly Melbourne is the perfect place to begin your Australian self-drive adventure.
This compact, diverse metropolis is begging to be explored after settling into your comfortable accommodation. There are hidden charms around every corner, beautiful Botanic Gardens and chic city squares where you can soak up the atmosphere to your heart's content.
Here are some of our favourite things to do in Melbourne:
- Lose yourself in cobbled laneways lined with tempting coffee shops, chic boutiques and cozy bars.
- Admire the always-evolving street art covering every inch of Hosier Lane
- Take a tram to St Kilda beach's historic esplanade and drop into Acland St's irresistible cake shops.
- Make a sporting pilgrimage to the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground
- Grab a bite to eat at Queen Victoria Market - it's the largest market in the Southern Hemisphere
- Choose from a dizzying array of restaurants & eateries — you're in Australia's foodie capital.
Accommodation: Melbourne - 2 Nights
Great Ocean Road Guided Day Tour
Discover amazing coastal scenery, adventure and wildlife on a full day coach tour along the famous Great Ocean Road.
Great Ocean Road - One of the World's Greatest Drives
Experience and enjoy the breathtaking Great Ocean Road: every twist and turn exposes you to stretches of broad, uninterrupted beaches, dramatic coastlines and the lush rainforest of the Otway Ranges. This remarkable scenery provides an amazing backdrop for a day that will be etched in your memory forever.
Visit Australia’s oldest surviving lighthouse at Apollo Bay, enjoy a typical Aussie BBQ lunch, take a rainforest walk in the Otway Ranges and see the world famous limestone rock stacks — the 12 Apostles – at the western end of the Great Ocean Road.
There are plenty of opportunities to see the native wildlife in its natural habitat including koalas and a variety of Australian birdlife.
Melbourne to Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Bid farewell to the city and fly to Australia's Red Centre for your first glimpse of magnificent Ayers Rock, or Uluru as it is also known.
Ayers Rock stands 348 metres above the ground and reaches over 700 metres underground. Uluru is also home to the World Heritage listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is of extreme importance to the local Aboriginal people.
Settle into your self-catering apartment at Ayers Rock Resort and prepare to witness the most epic sunset you can imagine over Uluru: it's a moment the whole family will remember forever.
Accommodation: Ayers Rock - 2 Nights
Field of Light: Star Pass by Camel
Cross the desert on a friendly camel and see the 50,000 glass spheres of Bruce Munro's amazing Field of Light installation.
Desert Camel Ride
Believe it or not, Australia is home to over a million camels! Today you will ride high above the red desert dunes on a camel of your very own with Uluru and Kata Tjuta as a stunning backdrop.
The Magical "Field of Light"
After your camel ride ends, you will be welcomed at a raised viewing area for canapés and chilled sparkling wine to the sounds of a didgeridoo.
As the sun slowly sets, the coloured lights of 50,000 glass spheres come to life before you. Created by internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro, this magical installation has to be seen to be believed.
Ayers Rock scenic flight - onto Cairns
Uluru (Ayers Rock) Scenic Flight
Experience the beauty of Uluru on a dramatic scenic flight. Soaring over Uluru and the incredible rock formations of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) gives you amazing views of the area from a whole new perspective.
Fly from Ayers Rock to Cairns
With its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, Cairns is a haven of scuba diving, snorkelling, reef cruises, fishing, rainforest walks, native bird and wildlife watching.
Sun-seekers and locals alike flock to Cairns Esplanade's swimming lagoon on the city’s foreshore. There are picnic areas, birdwatching viewpoints, free barbecues and fitness equipment along the boardwalk, perfect for unwinding after your flight.
Accommodation: Cairns - 3 Nights
Cruise the Great Barrier Reef
Enjoy a full day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the tropical island paradise of Green Island.
Great Barrier Reef: Full Day Cruise
Climb aboard the Ocean Free - a 16.5 metre sailing schooner - and set sail for Green Island in the Great Barrier Reef, where the beautiful coral gardens of Pinnacle Reef are begging to be explored.
A delicious smorgasbord lunch is served on board the boat to fuel you up for your adventures, and how you choose to spend your day is entirely up to you! Wander the rainforest tracks, snorkel or scuba the pristine waters, or relax on the beach and sip cocktails from the island bar. This is a fantastic day tour experience at the heart of one of the great natural wonders of the world.
Free day - rainforest
Today is free to enjoy the Cairns region at your leisure. With some of the planet's oldest rainforests just a short drive away, we strongly recommend paying them a visit!
Suggested Activity: Full Day Daintree Rainforest 4WD Safari
Cross the Daintree River on a Cable Ferry, eat lunch with local wallabies (you can even hand-feed them!), stroll along the elevated rainforest boardwalk and learn about Aboriginal culture from knowledgeable local guides.
Suggested Activity: Day Trip to Kuranda, The Village In The Rainforest
Surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest and perched at the top of a mountain, vibrant Kuranda is home to a kaleidoscope of colourful characters and natural beauty. You’ll learn about the ancient rainforest, the local Indigenous culture, and the native wildlife of Australia. Includes Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
Sydney - Evening Harbour Cruise
Fly onwards to Sydney, the oldest and grandest of Australia's big cities. Blessed with a glorious natural harbour, golden beaches and a blissful climate, this incredible metropolis makes a stunning final destination on your Contrasts of Australia Tour.
Sydney Harbour Dining Cruise
Tonight's Sunset Dinner Cruise on the Harbour shows off Sydney in style. Sparkling wine in hand, enjoy spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as you dine.
Accommodation: Sydney - 2 Nights
Explore Sydney At Your Leisure
Enjoy some free time to discover Sydney in depth, at your own pace.
Take a ferry to Manly for a laid-back beach day, or cruise to Taronga Zoo, where both animals and visitors alike can enjoy jaw-dropping harbour views.
Adventurers can climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge or tackle the Bondi to Bronte walking trail along the rugged sandstone cliffs.
Foodies will love visiting the Sydney Fish Market, where you can pile your plate high with freshly caught & cooked seafood and take your haul outside to eat on the pier.
However you choose to spend your day, Sydney is guaranteed to win your heart.
We are sure you will enjoy your 23 Day Pacific Explorer and our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand and Australia 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 and in Australia! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in the Pacific.