Best of Both Islands - A Private Tour of NZ Itinerary

 

Your Private Driver/Guide

When you touch down in New Zealand you will be met at the airport by Your Private Driver/Guide. 

Our guides have been with us for a long time and are seasoned professionals. Our aim is to give ‘you’ our guests a memorable experience of New Zealand and its stunning scenery. With years of experience in tourism in New Zealand, we guarantee that you will receive a first-class service!

The best part about our guides is that they are local and chances are they have their go-to destinations that only locals know about. Whether it’s a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, a favourite local pub, or a fantastic attraction that most tourists overlook, our guides can help recommend authentic experiences that you may not discover on your own.


Documents and 24/7 Support: We've got you covered!

Your detailed documentation pack will be hand-delivered by your guide. You'll find everything you need in one handy place: your personalised itinerary, clear instructions and maps, and reservation details for your accommodation and activities.

24 Hour Assistance: We’re just a free phone call away if you encounter any issues while you're on the road - at any time of day or night. Don’t waste your precious vacation time stressing - First Light Travel are here to help you quickly when every second counts.

What's also included?

Dedicated Travel Consultant                  Detailed Daily Itinerary and Vouchers        

144 Page A4 NZ Touring Atlas  

Full 24 Hour Support 50 Page Essential New Zealand Guide  

1

Welcome to Auckland!

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand

Relax - you are on holiday and everything has been taken care of. We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your central city luxury accommodation. Make the most of some free leisure time in the 'City of Sails' - simply relax or take this opportunity to explore the many sights of Auckland. This evening we suggest you head down to the viaduct for dinner.

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


Accommodation: Auckland - 1 night

Accommodation:
Hotel de Brett is situated in downtown Auckland and is considered a very unique luxury boutique hotel. Set in Auckland’s hip High Street, the fashion district, the iconic building has been reinterpreted into a 25 room luxury boutique hotel with each room designed with eclectic furniture, New Zealand Art and photography. The décor is a celebration of contemporary New Zealand art and design, with hints of the hotel’s art deco past.
Hotel De Bretts Auckland City

2

Auckland to Rotorua

Sailing Lake Rotoiti, Natural Hot Pools & Rotorua

We head southeast through the lush dairy farmlands of the Waikato. Touring New Zealand’s dramatic Karangahake Gorge we take a stroll alongside the Ohinemuri River through native bush to the relics and ruins of this region's gold-mining past. We pass through Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, the landscape dotted with Kiwifruit orchards before continuing on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Along the way, at Okawa Bay, we board "Tiua", a 53ft catamaran for a relaxing sail on serene Lake Rotoiti to secluded coves and natural hot pools reached only by boat - a great way to finish your day.

Approximate Distance: 228 kms | 142 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 45 mins

Accommodation: Rotorua - 2 nights

Accommodation:

Rotorua’s designer 5 star Boutique Hotel and Spa offers stylish luxury accommodation, with accommodation to suit most groups of travellers from Hotel rooms to 2 bedroom family apartments situated amidst the exciting attractions and experiences Rotorua has to offer. With excellent facilities such as the restaurant, heated pool, gym and mineral bathing facilities. 

Regent of Rotorua

3

Rotorua zip-line through our native forest

Embark on a magical zip-line journey through untouched native New Zealand forest.

High above the forest floor, you'll zip between tree platforms in a stunning redwood forest on a 3 hour guided eco-tour. Suspended up to 22 metres (72 feet) high amongst ancient trees, this journey takes you through an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, zip-lines (flying fox) and swing bridges. Experience the thrill of flying through the changing landscapes with native birdsong ringing in your ears.


4

Geothermal Wonder / Tongariro National Park

Today we visit the surreal, geothermal reserve, Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable. 

On the road to Lake Taupo we view the turbulent Huka Falls where the Waikato River thunders through a narrow chasm. From Taupo there are magnificent views across the lake to the three active volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu (2,797 metres), the highest mountain in the North Island.These mountains of the volcanic plateau are our next destination, the World Heritage Tongariro National Park. Take a walk in the park this afternoon.

Approximate Distance: 178 kms | 111 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Accommodation: National Park - 1 Night

Accommodation:

Chateau Tongariro Hotel is nearly as iconic a landmark as the mountain itself, located in Whakapapa Village, at the heart of Tongariro Nation Park. The hotel embraces the history and tradition of the Dual World Heritage status National park, offering you timeless elegance in the accommodation. 

Chateau Tongariro Hotel

5

National Park - Wellington

Our day starts in style, with breakfast at the historic Chateau Tongariro nestled at the base of the mountains. This is the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, from this volcanic plateau we make our way across the high country and down to our capital Wellington

We stay two nights in Wellington as we reckon you can’t miss "the coolest little capital in the world". We’ll check out the city's sights and head up Mt Victoria for the stunning views over the harbour before getting settled for the night. We’re right in the heart of Wellington's vibrant hub of museums, theatres, galleries, boutiques and cafes. Looking for some local flavour? Ask for one of Wellington’s trendy craft beers with your dinner (our pick – Tuatara).

Approximate Distance: 336 kms | 209 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 15 mins

Accommodation Wellington - 2 nights

he Bolton is an independent hotel that provides the discerning traveller with a high degree of comfort and privacy. Located at the junction of Wellingtons central business district and political heart, the 5 star Bolton Hotel is elegant, welcoming and well equipped to make the most of your time in the Capital city. Featuring an indoor lap pool, sauna and spa, gym and restaurants - your stay here will be met by a high level of comfort and privacy.
The Bolton Hotel - Wellington

6

Wellington - Free Day in the Coolest Little Capital

The day is yours to enjoy, you are at the heart of all the action at The Bolton Hotel, a short walk to the waterfront, Te Papa National Museum and all the eateries and boutique breweries that Wellington is famous for.

Wellington is also the spiritual home of "The Lord of Rings" where you can visit Weta Workshop and see how all the props are made or drop into the Embassy theatre which hosted the world premier back in 2003.

Here are some sight seeing and activity suggestions while in Wellington:

National Museum - Te Papa     Visit Cuba Street Weta Workshop Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Reserve 

Wellington Cable Car   

Carter Observatory 

 


7

Cook Strait Cruise / Marlborough Wine Country

 Loading up the car and heading across to ‘the mainland’ is what we all used to do on holiday as kids, it’s a Kiwi rite of passage!  We cruise on the Interislander ferry for three hours across Cook Strait and into beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton to plant our feet firmly on “Te Waka a Maui”, the South Island. Our first port of call is Forrest vineyard for wine tasting and lunch, right in the heart of the world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.

From wine country we head to through the heart of Marlborough toward Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way we cross the Pelorus River bridge, scene of the Barrel Run scene from the Hobbit movies. In Nelson relax and unpack, this is home for 2 nights.

Approximate Distance: 133 kms | 83 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hours 45 mins

Accommodation Nelson - 2 Nights

Accommodation:

The Rutherford Hotel  is an icon of the region standing next to the Cathedral steps and an easy stroll into the city of Nelson.  Nelson is a haven for art enthusiasts, and has a reputation for excellent produce, craft beer and fine wines. The Rutherford Hotel features restaurants and bars and caters for all room categories from studios, interconnecting rooms and suites.

Rutherford Hotel Nelson

8

Cruise & Walk Abel Tasman National Park

Today you have a choice of a full scenic cruise or a cruise and walk from Marahau along the stunning Abel Tasman coastline. Abel Tasman National Park is our country's smallest national park. It protects 23,000 hectares of the most natural stretch of easily accessible coastline in New Zealand. The coastline is characterised by islands just offshore, sheltered waters, estuaries and golden, sandy beaches. Lie on a beach, or even go for a swim if the weather is warm. The park is sheltered from ocean swells, and enjoys a mild climate. After your cruise or walk we return to Nelson.

 


9

Explore the Kaikoura Coast

We return to Blenheim past the famous Pelorus River (scene of the Barrel Run from the Hobbit) and Havelock before leaving the dry hills of Marlborough behind for the Kaikoura Peninsula. The road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges, the views are spectacular – rugged mountain tops to one side and the endless Pacific ocean to the other, New Zealand to a tee!

A spectacular marine playground exists off the coast of Kaikoura and living in this environment is the mighty Sperm Whale. It is here that resident bachelors dive to immense depths in search of Giant Squid, so accessible to Sperm whales but still elusive to mankind. Take a whale watch cruise this afternoon.  

Approximate Distance: 243 kms | 151 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 25 mins

Accommodation: Kaikoura - 1 night

The White Morph Motor Inn is situated on the waterfront with an easy stroll into the township for convenient dining, shops and bars (there is also a restaurant on site). Choose between the deluxe spa rooms with ocean view balcony, or the 4 star studio rooms & family apartments with garden views. 

White Morph Motor Inn - Kaikoura

10

Akaunui Farm Homestead & Mt Cook National Park

This morning we continue south down the coast, driving inland over the Hunderlee Hills before heading down into the Canterbury Plains. Today’s lunch is very special – we enjoy the warm, kiwi hospitality of Di and Ian Mackenzie at Akaunui Farm Homestead, dining on fresh produce from their bountiful veggie garden and chatting about country life in New Zealand. After lunch we continue on our journey through Burke's Pass to New Zealand’s spectacular Mackenzie Country, for sweeping vistas of tussock lands and the backbone of the South Island, the Southern Alps. We’ll make plenty for stops en route, we can’t miss the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo and the unreal turquoise blue of Lake Pukaki.  No, we don’t put dye in the lake, it’s that blue! 

Approximate Distance: 506 kms | 314 miles  Total Driving Time: 6 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Mt. Cook - 1 night

A stunning destination surrounded by the silent splendor of the Southern Alps and with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the surrounding National Park World Heritage area. There is a selection of properties within the Terrace Road campus from Hotel to Chalet and Mountainview Motels - all budgets and standards can be catered for.

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook

11

Aoraki/Mt Cook - Queenstown

Always a memorable time on tour, your day in Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and ‘home ground’ of the most famous Kiwi of all, Sir Edmund Hillary. Take your pick from exploring the dramatic landscape on one of the many easy walking tracks around the village, or make it an experience you’ll never forget with a boat cruise on the glacial lake, a scenic flight or a heli hike high up on the Tasman Glacier! Then we hit the road to Queenstown!  

The road in this part of the country is spectacular – golden hills, bright blue lakes, towering mountains and a dramatic gorge make it one of our most scenic drives. When we arrive in the famous resort town of Queenstown we take the gondola up to Bob’s Peak for panoramic views of the surrounding alpine scenery.

Tonight’s accommodation is only a few minutes’ walk from the bustling restaurants and nightlife of central Queenstown.

Approximate Distance: 264 kms | 164 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 20 mins

Accommodation: Queenstown - 3 nights

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and a short walk in to the centre of Queenstown is the elegant Hotel St Moritz. The hotel is modern and stylish decorated in an alpine style fitting to the location. Boasting an excellent restaurant and bar on site, spacious comfortable rooms, and a professional level of service, your stay will be rewarding.


12

Milford Sound Cruise & Fiordland Scenic Flight

Today promises to be one of the most unforgettable of your entire New Zealand holiday. We begin with travelling along the Milford Road; a stunningly scenic drive full of dramatic mountains, deep valleys, still lakes and waterfalls. On our arrival into Milford Sound we board a boat and cruise the waters of the sound itself, spotting penguins, dolphins and seals with the help of our onboard nature guide. Rounding off an unforgettable day we return to Queenstown by Scenic Flight – soaring over the rugged mountains and fiords of this part of the country is unforgettable.


13

At Leisure in Queenstown

Today is yours to experience the beauty of Queenstown on your own terms. Here, you’ll find everything from extreme adventure activities to wine tasting tours and relaxed fly fishing – the choice is yours.

Recommended excursions in Queenstown:

Routeburn Day Walk Highest Bungey Jump Explore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

Biking Skippers Canyon       Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise   Dart River Jetboat Safari      

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail

 

Queenstown’s Botanic Gardens offer the perfect place for a relaxing walk, while the boutique shops offer the opportunity to pick up a few New Zealand souvenirs.
 


14

Historical Arrowtown, Cardrona Valley and Wanaka

Today we explore the beauty of the Central Otago region. Gold mining heritage comes alive in the pretty village of Arrowtown, where miner’s huts are still visible today. Heading over the Crown Range we enjoy panoramic views of the Gibbston Valley before calling into the historic Cardrona Hotel. Relax for the afternoon – soak up the scenery on one of the many walking or biking trails.

Approximate Distance: 75 kms | 47 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Accommodation Wanaka - 1 night

Accommodation:

Situated on the lake shores, a stroll across the lawn will have you gazing across Lake Wanaka to the spectacular Southern Alps. Choose between one bedroom suites, studios and two bedroom apartments. Savour the lakeside atmosphere while you are treated to a fresh and contemporary menu in Sargoods Restaurant and Wineglass Cafe.

The Edgewater Resort Lake Wanaka

15

Franz Josef Glacier

The landscapes on show today are awe inspiring, diverse and dramatic. We follow the shore of Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka, heading into the stunning scenery of Haast Pass and Mount Aspiring National Park. A short stroll along a well-maintained track reveals native beech forests, waterfalls and clear blue pools. We then visit the local Department of Conservation Centre where we learn more about the region’s history, flora and fauna. North-bound, we drive through the lush rainforests of Westland World Heritage Park, enjoying a stroll on the beach and through swampland forests at Ship Creek. Lake Matheson is known for its mirror-like reflections of the surrounding mountains, and we view the ancient glacier tumbling down to rainforest at Franz Josef.

Approximate Distance: 286 kms | 178 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 55 mins

Accommodation: Franz Josef - 1 night

Te Waonui is the only luxury property of its kind in the area. The retreat is nestled in the lush bush with views of the natural environment at almost every turn. Located in Franz Josef, the retreat offers easy access to the many natural wonders of the South West World Heritage Area. Mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, coastline, and native flora and fauna all lie in wait at the doorstep for visitors to admire and explore.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat - Franz Josef

16

Okarito Lagoon Bird Sanctuary

We’ve got the whole day to enjoy the beauty of this remote corner of the country, a place many Kiwis don’t even get to visit. This is the best part of New Zealand to get to the glaciers, that’s why we’re here!  Your choice of a stunning walk to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier, or get right out on the ice on a heli hike or glacier landing.

Everyone loves Okarito, a tiny settlement nestled between the Tasman Sea and Okarito Lagoon, take your pick from guided kayaking or a wildlife cruise on the shallow waters of the lagoon, a feeding ground of the extremely rare white heron (kotuku) which breeds nearby in the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve. 

This afternoon we’re discover more of the ‘wild’ west coast of the South Island, we head north through countryside dotted with little lakes and boulder strewn rivers, all under the watchful eye of the mighty Southern Alps in the distance. We arrive at our home for two nights in Punakaiki, right on the beach in the perfect spot to enjoy your last few sunsets in New Zealand!

Approximate Distance: 217 kms | 135 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort - 2 nights

Accommodation:

Surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and with stunning views of the Tasman Sea, Punakaiki Resort is a great location. The resort is situated only 300m from the famous Punakaiki Blowholes and has been designed in harmony with the local environment.  Evenings are spent relaxing in a standard resort room with views of the sea or an Eco Suite with rainforest and distant seaviews.


 

Punakaiki Resort

17

Paparoa National Park and Beautiful Rock Formations

The beach at Punakaiki to end our tour in style. The surrounding Paparoa National Park is very different to any other area on the trip, towering limestone cliffs and karst rock formations with beautiful river valleys draped in sub tropical looking forest, if it looks like the Lost World there’s a good reason for that, you are!

You’ll have plenty of time to discover the Pancake Rocks and you can even hike a section of what is soon to be our newest “Great Walk”, the Pike 29 Memorial Track. There are also some great optional activities here, our favourite is the Glowworm Caves at Charleston, but you’ve also got horse riding or kayaking too if that’s your thing. 
 


18

TranzAlpine Train - Christchurch

This morning travel to Greymouth where you will board the Tranzalpine to Christchurch. The TranzAlpine Train,  is renowned as one of the great train journeys of the world. Descend through spectacular gorges, river valleys and over massive viaducts before completing your journey in Christchurch.

Approximate Distance: 45 kms | 28 miles  Total Driving Time: 40 mins

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

Accommodation:
Featuring an on-site restaurant and free high-speed WiFi, Sudima Christchurch City is situated in Christchurch, just 500 m from Hagley Park and less than 1 km from Victoria Street. At the hotel, every room is equipped with a fridge, wardrobe and a flat-screen TV. Complete with a private bathroom, all units at Sudima Christchurch City are fitted with air conditioning, and selected rooms will provide you with a seating area. You can also enjoy streaming movies.
Sudima Christchurch City

19

Transfer to Christchurch Airport

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

We take care of your transfer to Christchurch Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday.


Profile picture for user Natalie
What Natalie says about this tour: A privately guided luxury tour which is just perfect for people who want hand-picked quality accommodation and top class excursions. There are plenty of opportunities to relax mixed in with active days. The Premium tour expertly combines spectacular scenery, time in the wilderness, learning about kiwi culture and heritage, and enjoying an urban fix.
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