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|
|Full 24 Hour Support||50 Page Essential New Zealand Guide|
WELCOME TO NEW ZEALAND!
‘Haere Mai’ and welcome to Queenstown.
Relax: you're now on vacation and we have taken care of everything for you. After meeting you at the airport we will help you to transfer to your waterfront hotel to settle in.
Sophisticated Queenstown offers bespoke and authentic luxury experiences in a beautiful snowy mountain setting, hosted by the naturally warm and welcoming Kiwi people. While the town is known for its wide variety of adventure activities, you needn't be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy Queenstown: the tranquil lake and mountain setting is a major part of its appeal. From relaxing vineyard tours or boat cruises to extreme adventures, Queenstown has it all.
For the next two nights in Queenstown you will stay at the exclusive Eichardt's Private Hotel in a luxury suite overlooking the shimmering waters of Lake Wakatipu - there's no better view to wake up to.
Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights
MILFORD SOUND SCENIC FLIGHT
See Fiordland National Park in style on a scenic helicopter flight over the lakes, rivers, mountains, and forests of this unique World Heritage Area.
As your helicopter takes off, keep your camera close by there are scenic wonders everywhere, crying out to be captured from above. You'll discover isolated valleys of ancient forests and pristine trout-fishing rivers, as well as mountains carved by the ice over thousands of years. The stunning Mirror Lakes, glacier-formed Eglinton Valley, and iconic Mitre Peak are among the show-stopping highlights of this vast and remote wilderness.
Landing in Milford, you'll enjoy a short nature walk and find the perfect spot for that iconic Mitre Peak photo. After your stroll, an exhilarating flight past spectacular mountains and blue-green ice falls transports you to Mt Tutoko glacier in the heart of Fiordland National Park.
Return to Queenstown tonight, wondering if it was all a beautiful dream.
QUEENSTOWN TO MINARET STATION BY HELICOPTER
Accessible only by helicopter, your next destination is a luxury alpine lodge in a picturesque glacial valley, far away from the cares of everyday life.
At the heart of the Southern Alps, Minaret Station will treat you to a level of comfort and style never before available so deep in the New Zealand's mountain areas. Settle down in your luxuriously appointed chalet suite amid alpine meadows as pretty as a picture.
Nestled along the shores of Lake Wanaka, the 50,000-acre property also functions as a working high country farm with 10,000 deer, 7,000 sheep, and 1,000 cattle. For a genuine New Zealand backcountry experience, Minaret Station is unbeatable.
Accommodation: Remote Mt Aspiring National Park - 2 nights
MINARET HIGH COUNTRY STATION ADVENTURE
Minaret Station’s many Heli-Adventure experiences allow guests to discover otherwise inaccessible wilderness areas of the Southern Alps and Mt Aspiring National Park.
Backcountry Adventures at Minaret Station
The wide range of adventures on offer from Minaret Station ensures that there is something special for everyone from families to honeymooners. Discerning hunters and anglers are spoiled for trophy opportunities — though you may struggle to keep your eyes on the target instead of the dramatic mountain scenery.
The Station's pilots can take you heli-hiking, heli-skiing, heli-picnics, heli mountain-biking... you name it, they can probably helicopter you to it!
Some suggested activities and outings.
Guided Heli Skiing Guided Mountain Biking
Guided Heli Hiking Guided Hunting
Guided Farm Tour
GLACIER COUNTRY AND THE WILD WEST COAST
Be transported to the South Island's wild West Coast today on one of New Zealand's most breathtaking scenic drives.
The scenery is impressive all the way, and once over the Haast Pass, it changes dramatically. There's beauty around every bend, with woodland walks and dramatic waterfalls along the way — perfect for picnic stops. After the ancient forests and mountain passes give way to coastal views, you'll soon be nearing glacier country.
Franz Josef: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Nestled in a rainforest clearing, Franz Josef Glacier Village lies at the heart of the Westland National Park. Welcome to one of the most diverse and beautiful areas of New Zealand. Te Waonui Forest Retreat will be your home for the next two nights. Encircled by lush bush and rainforest, it's a perfect introduction to the untamed West Coast region.
Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools
This evening soak your cares away in the bubbling thermal Glacier Hot Pools. Surrounded by beautiful New Zealand native bush and bird life, there's no finer way to relax and rejuvenate after your drive.
Approximate Distance: 284 km | 176 miles Total Driving Time: 3 hours 28 mins
Accommodation: Franz Josef - 2 nights
GLACIER COUNTRY - SCENIC HELICOPTER FLIGHT
Experience some of the most stunning ‘ice architecture’ of any Glacier in the world with a helicopter tour over Franz Josef.
Scenic Glacier Helicopter Flight
Franz Josef Glacier is a mighty river of solid white, a unique relic of the last ice age. Following a spectacular collapse of the terminal face in 2012, the Glacier is now only accessible by helicopter.
Your flight today covers it all: Glacial icefalls, crevasses and neves, and views from ocean to the Alps. Crossing the rugged spine of the Southern Alps, you'll circle the magnificent peak of our tallest mountain, Aoraki / Mt Cook, as well as the very beautiful Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Get your camera ready for a spectacular snow landing — with the rotors off, the silence is all-encompassing.
FRANZ JOSEF TO ARTHUR'S PASS NATIONAL PARK
Driving up the West Coast with ocean views to your left and mountains to your right, you are in for a treat as you wind your way to Arthur's Pass National Park.
Arthur's Pass National Park
If you look up the word serenity in the dictionary, by rights Arthur's Pass should be the definition. This major national park in the centre of the South Island straddles the backbone of the Southern Alps. Famous for its rugged high mountains, steep gorges and wide braided rivers, the park boasts a variety of walking tracks leading to mountain peaks and beautiful waterfalls. Filled with native birds such as the Kiwi, Morepork, Kea and New Zealand Falcon, the park comes alive with the sound of birdcall.
Arthur's Pass Wilderness Lodge
Thanks to its award-winning design, Arthur's Pass Wilderness Lodge blends seamlessly into the mountain landscape around it. This luxurious retreat is a paradise for nature lovers: it's situated on a wildlife reserve and owned by a family who have been at the forefront of nature protection for over twenty years. Expect spectacular mountain views from every window, stylish accommodation, delicious food, and Kiwi hospitality that will warm your heart.
Approximate Distance: 233 km | 144 miles Total Driving Time: 2 hours 48 mins
Accommodation: Arthur's Pass National Park - 2 nights
ARTHUR'S PASS: A WORLD OF PEACE AND SERENITY
Maximise your wilderness lodge experience today with one of the guided nature adventures offered by the knowledgeable naturalists and farmers on staff.
Wilderness Lodge Guided Nature Adventures
The Wilderness Lodge's exciting programme of guided adventure offers something for everyone, young and old.
- High Country Sheep Farm Discovery: Watch sheepdogs work, hand-feed tame sheep and learn about shearing and merino wool with a real sheep farmer.
- McKay Moa Forest Adventure: A relaxed walk to explore the Wilderness Lodge reserves. Learn about bizarre 'moa shrubs' and enjoy panoramic mountain views.
- Birds & Special Plants of the Beech Forest: Explore the mossy beech forest surrounding the lodge. Search for orchids, watch birdlife and see manuka (tea tree) recolonise the grasslands.
- Stars of the Southern Sky: The lack of light pollution here makes for brilliantly clear skies. Discover the Southern Hemisphere's constellations, satellites, and planets with an experienced guide.
CONTRASTING SCENERY ON THE ROAD TO KAIKOURA
Today you'll traverse Arthur's Pass and journey through North Canterbury's beautiful rural scenery to the town of Kaikoura, a marine wonderland where towering mountains meet the sea.
The road up to the Kaikoura Coast is another classic New Zealand scenic drive. The route hugs the shoreline with the ocean on one side and the Kaikoura ranges on the other. You can look forward to impressive coastal views, roaring surf, and rocky bays dotted with New Zealand Fur Seals sunbathing on rocks.
Kaikoura: Hapuku Tree Houses
Your Kaikoura accommodation is simply unique: you'll be nesting in the treetops 10 metres above the canopy of a native Kanuka grove. Your luxury treehouse "bedroom in the sky" features giant windows boasting views of Kaikoura's dramatic mountains and the Pacific Ocean beyond.
Approximate Distance: 305 km | 189 miles Total Driving Time: 3 hours 48 mins
Accommodation: Kaikoura - 2 nights
KAIKOURA ‘SERENGETI OF THE SEA’ - WHALE WATCHING FLIGHT
Kaikoura's most famous residents are the many whales and dolphins who feast on the abundant seafood in its waters. Sperm whales visit year-round, while the mighty humpback is a regular visitor in June and July.
Kaikoura Whale Watching Scenic Flight
Today you'll soar above the ocean for a birds-eye view of Kaikoura's whales from the air. Enjoy spotting them as they breach the surface, spouting seawater from their blowholes before diving in search of tasty squid.
MARLBOROUGH - WINE COUNTRY
Follow the grapevines to reach Blenheim right in the heart of the world-renowned Marlborough wine growing district.
Not surprisingly, it’s a great base from which to tour the local vineyards and enjoy the artisanal food offerings. Don’t miss tasting a glass of the local Sauvignon Blanc – the vineyards surrounding Blenheim produce some of the world’s best. If you grab a bottle for later, the designated driver won't have to miss out!
One of Blenheim's popular attractions is the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. There are some very rare planes on display and even some genuine personal memorabilia from the famous Red Baron - the top scoring fighter pilot from World War One.
Approximate Distance: 127 km | 78 miles Total Driving Time: 1 hour 35 min
Accommodation: Blenheim - 2 nights
MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS FOOD AND WINE CRUISE
A day trip to the pretty seaport township of Havelock puts you at the gateway to the Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds - the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World.
Marlborough Mussel and Wine Cruise
Enjoy a waterfront lunch before departing on your fantastic Mussel and Wine Cruise heading into the tranquil Marlborough Sounds. Your Skipper will tell fascinating stories of the ancient Maori tribes of the region and the history of the pioneering families who settled over 6 generations ago.
Green-lipped mussels (known to Māori as kutai) are indigenous to New Zealand, and cannot be found anywhere else. Their flesh is distinctive from other mussel species, and sampling them is a real New Zealand must-do. You'll visit a Greenshell Mussel farm to taste this local treat — delicious freshly steamed mussels, matched perfectly to a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Approximate Distance: 85 km | 53 miles Total Driving Time: 1 hour 10 mins
MARLBOROUGH TO PALLISER BAY
Farewelling the South Island you'll take a short drive to the harbour town of Picton, where the Interislander ferry will whisk you away to Wellington in the North Island.
Welcome to New Zealand's "coolest little capital"!
Wellington is compact, cultured and oozing with charm, so explore at your leisure before setting off to your first North Island luxury lodge in the Wairapapa wine region.
With boutique shopping galore, and gorgeous parks and gardens on your doorstep, you will find much to inspire and entertain you in Wellington.
Wharekauhau Country Estate
A scenic 1.5-hour drive takes you to beautiful Palliser Bay in the Wairapapa wine region. Perched high on a hilltop, the Grand Lodge at Wharekauhau Country Estate will be your luxury base for the next two nights. Settle down for the night in your exquisite cottage suite amid 3000 acres of private forests, pastures, and lakes overlooking the rugged Rimutaka ranges and the endless blue of the Pacific Ocean. Welcome to paradise.
Suggested outings before heading to your lodge.
|National Museum - Te Papa||Visit Cuba Street||Weta Workshop Tour|
|Zealandia Wildlife Reserve||Carter Observatory|
Approximate Distance: 101 km | 63 miles Total Driving Time: 1 hour 20 mins
Accommodation: Featherston - 2 Nights
WHAREKAUHAU COUNTRY ESTATE: LEISURE AND PLEASURE
When you can bear to leave your luxurious cottage this morning, Wharekauhau Country Estate will spoil you for choice.
Explore a working sheep station
This working farm estate, dotted with sheep and cattle, is a delight to roam. See sheep shearers in action, watch the working dogs rounding up their flocks, and embrace farm life to the fullest.
Hike and bike to your heart's content
Hiking, Mountain Biking, and Horse Riding are all on offer, and with so many ancient forests and rugged coastlines to discover, you could pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
Sample the region's finest Pinot Noirs
If you'd prefer to explore the wider area, a trip into the Burgundy-esque Martinborough wine region is a must. Home to 35 boutique wineries and a plethora of artisan produce, this is a foodie's dream come true.
Visit a seal colony
For wildlife lovers, a day trip to Cape Palliser rewards you with the largest Brown Fur Seal colony in the Southern Hemisphere. There are magnificent views of the unspoiled landscape from the lighthouse built into the cliff face.
Head home to a sumptuous meal at the Grand Lodge, where chefs take advantage of the farm's own orchards, herbs and vegetable gardens to create culinary delights that are guaranteed to please.
Some suggested activities and outings available on request.
|Clay Target Shooting||Cooking Classes||Martinborough Wine Tour|
|ATV Quad Bikes||Horse Riding||Cellar Masters Wine Tour|
|Archery||Relax in our Day Spa||Wine Tasting (in House)|
|Fishing Sea/River||Mountain Biking||Golf Wellington|
PALLISER BAY TO HAWKE'S BAY
Heading north, today you'll discover the delights of the Hawkes Bay region, famed for its sensational coastal scenery, fine wines and the beautifully preserved Art Deco city of Napier.
Boasting a relaxed country lifestyle, Hawke's Bay is the perfect setting to unwind and forget any everyday cares. You'll be staying in the Hastings District, a sensational place to enjoy the Great New Zealand Outdoors with outstanding beaches, cycling trails, and walking tracks, as well as iconic natural landmarks such as Cape Kidnappers and Te Mata Peak.
Expect a warm welcome when you arrive at the elegant, gracious Greenhill Lodge historic mansion today. This gorgeous Victorian country estate has played host to English royalty, and with only five rooms, this Hawkes Bay hilltop country retreat offers an intimate experience with guaranteed tranquility.
Approximate Distance: 265 km | 164 miles Total Driving Time: 3 hours 15 mins
Accommodation: Hawkes Bay - 2 nights
THE BEST OF THE BAY
The most authentic way to experience Hawke's Bay is to get to know the colourful characters who live here. Today's tour introduces you people and places that are unforgettable.
Hawke's Bay Day Tour
This customised Hawke's Bay tour allows you to discover the Bay your way. Here are some of the highlights you may wish to experience:
- Stroll amongst the celebrated art deco buildings of Napier.
- Gain a spiritual insight into Maori culture at a beautiful rural coastal settlement, where you'll meet and talk with a Maori elder.
- Visit creative food producers on their land: taste, touch and smell the tantalising products they make from the deep soils.
- Taste beautifully crafted local wines at prestigious Hawke's Bay wineries, meeting the personalities involved in making the wines.
- Be welcomed by fascinating local artists in their studios and view their paintings, sculptures or ceramics.
The tour will be customised to your tastes and will take you on a special journey to find the true essence of this beautiful region.
HAWKE'S BAY TO ROTORUA VIA NEW ZEALAND'S LARGEST LAKE
Rotorua and Great Lake Taupo
The heartland of New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is host to some of the world’s most incredible geothermal forces as it is situated right on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Volcanic activity is a key part of the city’s past and present.
On your journey today, take time for a picnic lunch on the shores of Great Lake Taupo or explore a geothermal park between Taupo and Rotorua.
Treetops Estate Rotorua
Hidden away in 2,500 acres of private native forest and pristine wilderness you'll discover an elegant, rustic lodge waiting to welcome you.
The luxurious Treetops Lodge lies within a secluded forest and game reserve boasting seven trout streams, four lakes and over 70 km of hiking, biking and riding trails. Why not cosy up in front of a warm fire in the Great Room this evening and plan your adventures?
Approximate Distance: 224 kms | 139 miles Total Driving Time: 2 hours 47 mins
Accommodation: Rotorua - 2 nights
EXCLUSIVE CRUISE ON LAKE ROTOITI
Today’s highlight is an exclusive cruise across the serene, clear waters of Lake Rotoiti. Explore native bays and coves of the lake under sail on our luxury catamaran and bathe in the thermal waters of the Manupirua hot springs, accessible only by boat. For dinner tonight we highly recommend checking out Eat Streat, a collection of top-notch restaurants and bars with an all-weather al fresco dining area.
ROTORUA TO THE BEAUTIFUL BAY OF ISLANDS
Swap the volcanic Central Plateau for the unspoiled beaches of the North as you travel to the spectacular Bay of Islands.
The Bay of Islands is a stunning 144-island Maritime Park, brimming with secluded bays and an abundance of marine life. Being somewhat sheltered, the area is ideal for yachting, fishing, kayaking, and diving. Rolling countryside, tidal estuaries, mangroves, and long silvery beaches abound.
Rich in beauty and natural history, it's also an area of considerable historical significance: Maori and European settlers signed the Treaty of Waitangi here, joining them together as one nation. It's often referred to as the birthplace of New Zealand.
The approach to Kauri Cliffs takes you through several kilometres of farmland before you arrive at the cliffs above Matauri Bay: it's like arriving at the edge of the world. At Kauri Cliffs Lodge, perched high above the ocean, you can expect knockout views of the Pacific Ocean, Cape Brett, and the offshore Cavalli Islands during your 3-night stay. Unpack, unwind, and pinch yourself if you need to: this dream location must be seen to be believed.
Approximate Distance: 498 kms | 309 miles Total Driving Time: 6 hours 30 mins
Accommodation: Bay of Islands - 3 nights.
CAPE REINGA FLIGHT AND TOUR TO 'LANDS END'
Fly over magnificent scenery to the very top of New Zealand today, experiencing the natural history of this very special region.
Bay of Islands Scenic Flight
Your 45-minute scenic flight to Cape Reinga showcases Northlands’ most spectacular harbours and bays, passing across stunning Coopers Beach, Doubtless Bay, and the famous Ninety Mile Beach. After you land, an air-conditioned minibus will spirit you away on a 2.5-hour tour of New Zealand's Far North.
You'll visit the Cape Reinga lighthouse and see where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, their waves crashing together. Stroll along the beach at Tapotupotu Bay before heading to the giant sand dunes of Te Paki quicksand stream: "sand surfing" down the dunes is exhilarating fun for all ages!
Your return flight allows a peek at some breathtaking coastal areas only visible from the air or by sea. The dazzling white silica sands of remote Parengarenga Harbour and Great Exhibition Bay are lapped by crystal clear water — you'll want to have your camera ready to capture every postcard-perfect moment.
bay of islands luxury sailing
Enjoy a luxurious day out today on board the Ataahua, a state of the art 42ft Bavarian Vision yacht. The Bay of Islands is said to be some of the most beautiful cruising water in the world. Enjoy a gourmet lunch, a quick swim or perhaps a snorkel while you take advantage of the crystal clear water and white, sandy beaches. Take a walk ashore, swim, snorkel - do as little or as much as you please, the day will be personalised to suit you. Your hosts will entertain you with stories of the early pioneers, mariners and settlers before returning you to Paihia.
AUCKLAND AND HOMEWARD BOUND
"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!
Whether you wish to drive to Auckland or return by flight to meet an international connection, we can arrange either. We know you will enjoy this Luxury Lodges Tour and our promise to you 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.
Approximate Distance: 237 km | 147 miles Total Driving Time: 3 hours 12 mins