The Ultimate New Zealand Family Holiday Itinerary


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Welcome to Auckland!

As your plane lands in Auckland, you'll notice dozens of big green hills - they're actually sleeping volcanoes! We'll transfer you from the airport to your inner city accommodation.  When you've settled into your hotel and chosen the bounciest bed, why not grab a picnic and head up our best-known volcano, Mount Eden? From the top, you can see for miles and miles.

As well as volcanoes, Auckland is famous for its waterfront - there's lots to see at the harbour. Grab dinner at one of the fantastic eateries at the nearby Viaduct, where you can see giant super-yachts come and go.

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 - 2 Nights

Offering spacious accommodation in the heart of Auckland CBD (CentralBusiness District), CityLife Auckland features a fitness centre, an indoor heated pool, a restaurant and a bar. Guests enjoy 2GB of free WiFi. All accommodation includes a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a minibar and an en suite bathroom with bathrobes and luxury toiletries. Some rooms have an iPod docking station and cooking and laundry facilities
City Life Auckland


Whale and Dolphin Safari Auckland

We get lots of visitors in Auckland, and not all of them are human. Did you know that ONE THIRD of all the types of marine animals found ON EARTH come to our Hauraki Gulf Marine Park? It's time to meet them on a Whale and Dolphin Safari.

Today you board a boat that's been specially built for viewing wildlife. Sail out to the Hauraki Gulf and see what you can spot. You might see bottlenose dolphins, orca (killer whales), blue penguins, turtles and even SHARKS.

There will be real wildlife researchers on the boat to tell you all about these amazing creatures before you return to shore in time for dinner.


Harry Hobbits Home

Jump in the car and leave Auckland behind - today you're driving to Matamata to hunt for Hobbits. Watch out for Orcs!

Specially created for the Lord of the Rings movies, Hobbiton is a magical world of smoking chimneys, bluebells, and the Green Dragon Inn (where you can enjoy a hobbity ginger beer). It's great fun to roam around and peek in all the houses.

On a guided tour, you'll learn all about the production of the movies – how did they make Gandalf appear so tall? Why was this exact site chosen to build Hobbiton?

Afterwards your journey continues to Rotorua, where you will stay the next two nights.

Approximate Distance: 229 kms | 142 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 55 mins

Accommodation: Rotorua - 2 Nights


Situated in the heart of Rotorua is the 5 Star Regal Palms, their modern and contemporary apartments are suitable for couples and families offering a great range of features, including a spa pool. Relax in the Guest Lounge or get active on the Tennis Court, book a complimentary bicycle to explore the city or take a swim in the heated pool onsite.

Regal Palms Rotorua


Bubbling Volcanic Mud & Stinky Gas - Rotorua

What's that STINKY smell? Did somebody eat eggs for breakfast?

Actually it's sulphur. There are natural gases and minerals under the ground here. They can cover parts of Rotorua in clouds of hot steam. Muddy pools hiss and bubble. They can even make jets of water shoot high in the air. Visit one of our geothermal parks to see for yourself!

There are so many ways to spend the day, from watching a Sheep Show, seeing endangered Kiwi Birds at a Nature Park, or relaxing in the volcanic waters of the Polynesian Spa.

For dinner with amazing views, take the Gondola to the Skyline Restaurant at the top of the mountain. To work up an appetite, race your family around the mountain on the AWESOME LUGE TRACK!

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


Lake Taupo

Today, continue your journey to Lake Taupo - a huge, flooded volcanic crater which is as big as Singapore. Be sure to stop the thundering Huka Falls on your way. It would take just sixty seconds to fill five Olympic swimming pools from here - that's how powerful they are!

Why don't you take to the skies this afternoon to see Lake Taupo and the surrounding mountains. The 20 minute long flight will take you over Lake Taupo, the Waikato River, the Craters of the Moon, many more impressive landscapes.

You'll even get to LAND IN THE LAKE - you'll be flying on an awesome floatplane.

Approximate Distance: 82 kms | 51 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour

Accommodation: Taupo - 1 Night

Located on the lakefront at Lake Taupo, Waimahana Lakeside Accommodations features a thermally heated swimming pool, a hot tub and a fitness center. It offers self-contained apartments with a private balcony. The air-conditioned apartments have a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, an oven and a microwave. Each apartment has under-floor heating, a washing machine and a living room with a flat-screen TV and free satellite channels.
Waimahana Lakeside Accommodation


Taupo - Wellington

Did you know that New Zealand has a desert? You'll drive through it this morning on your way to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington.

Enjoy the views of our Volcanic Mountains along the way. If you have seen the Lord of the Rings movies you'll recognise one of them - Mount Ngauruhoe - as Mount Doom.

Wellington will blow you away - it's famously windy! Take a walk to the top of Mount Victoria for great views across the city and the harbour. It's a great place to start exploring.

Approximate Distance: 372 kms | 231 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 44 mins

Accommodation: Wellington - 2 Nights

Citylife Wellington offers modern 4-star accommodation in the heart of Wellington’s trendy shopping area of Lambton Quay. It features a fully equipped fitness centre and guests enjoy 2GB of free WiFi. Guests can choose between studios with open-plan sleeping and living areas, or larger 1 and 2-bedroom apartments with separate living rooms and kitchens. All accommodation includes a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a DVD player, refrigerator and microwave. Each bathroom features a hairdryer and Manuka Spa toiletries.
Citylife Wellington


Wellington at Leisure

Famous for its arty, creative residents, Wellington is filled with character and colourful streets. Packed with quirky shops and great galleries, it's lots of fun to wander around.

Head to the waterfront and explore the amazing Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand). Gasp at our CREEPY CRITTERS and find out why many of our birds can't fly. Follow the incredible ocean journey of our Maori ancestors as they discover New Zealand and build a life here. Learn about what makes the earth shake, and why our mud bubbles and boils. You'll be a New Zealand expert before you know it!

Some suggestions to enhance your stay in Wellington:

National Museum - Te Papa    

   Visit Cuba Street

   Weta Workshop Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Reserve 

   Wellington Cable Car   

   Carter Observatory 


Wellington - Kaikoura

This morning you will take the ferry from Wellington to Picton in the South Island.

There are five kinds of dolphins who visit this stretch of water (the Cook Strait), and the captain will tell you if he sees any nearby, so sit near the windows if you can!
After your ferry arrives in Picton Harbour, you'll drive through the Marlborough Region.

The grown-ups might want to sample some award-winning wines here. Then you'll drive along the coast to Kaikoura, your next destination.

When you get close to Kaikoura, pull over and look closely at the rocks by the ocean. Are any of them moving? If so, they are probably seals! Kaikoura has many amazing animals, as you will soon see...

Approximate Distance: 156 kms | 97 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 14 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


Hanmer Springs

Kaikoura is one of the best places on earth to see marine wildlife. The ocean waters here are full of nutrients. Fish come to feast on them, and it's an all-you-can-eat buffet for dolphins and whales, seals and seabirds.

Dolphin viewing cruises are amazing here. If you are a good swimmer (age 8+) it's your chance to SWIM WITH DOLPHINS in the wild! You can stay on the boat instead of swimming - the Dusky Dolphins are very playful and great fun to watch.

There are whale watching cruises too - see giant whales spurting seawater from their blowholes before diving down in search of a tasty squid for dinner.

Suggested Wildlife Encounters in Kaikoura

Whale Watching Cruise Swim with the Seals in Kaikoura
Whale Watching Flight Kaikoura   Dusky Dolphin Viewing or Swimming
Kayaking with Fur Seals Albatross & Pelagic Bird Watching Kaikoura

This afternoon, you will travel to Hanmer Springs, a charming mountain village where you can soak in the natural hot springs until your fingers and toes wrinkle up.

Approximate Distance: 131 kms | 81 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 5 mins

Accommodation: Hanmer Springs - 2 Nights

Modern, Spacious & Secure Luxury Apartments...Clear Ridge was designed with comfort, style and security in mind, the modern decor and spacious luxury apartments that Clear Ridge has to offer complement the spectacular alpine surroundings The Clearridge Apartments feature self-contained accommodation with spectacular views of the alpine surroundings. The property is a 2-minute walk from the main village and the thermal pools. Free WiFi and parking is provided. All apartments have a full kitchen with a dishwasher, an oven, a fridge and a microwave.
Clear Ridge Hanmer Springs


Hanmer Springs Jet Boat Adventure!

It's time to get your heart beating faster on a thrilling JET BOAT RIDE!

Your expert jet boat driver on the Hanmer Springs Jet will speed you through the narrow Waiau Gorge, with huge cliffs towering above. You will dodge around rocks and perform hair-raising spins while whizzing through gorgeous forest scenery at up to 80 kilometres (50 Miles) per hour!

In the afternoon, keep it calm and explore Hanmer Springs and its great cafes.



Head down to the South Island's biggest city - Christchurch.

Check out the sights on a punt ride down the River Avon, hop on a historic tram, or explore on foot and enjoy the brightly coloured street art this town is famous for.

A few years ago Christchurch survived two major earthquakes. You can visit Quake City to learn how the proud local people are rebuilding the town. Visit the damaged Christchurch Cathedral, and the amazing temporary cathedral built from cardboard.

The International Antarctic Centre is a cool place (literally) to spend the afternoon - you can hang out with Little Blue Penguins and even hug some huskies!

Some Suggested Activities in Christchurch:

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


Approximate Distance: 134 kms | 83 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 51 mins

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night

Ramada Suites Christchurch City offers modern self-contained accommodation located in central Christchurch. All rooms have washing machines and clothes drying facilities. The air-conditioned apartments feature kitchenettes, laundry facilities and an en suite bathroom offering luxury amenities and a hairdryer. The lounge area offers a flat-screen LCD TV.
Ramada Christchurch


South to Dunedin - City of Grace & Grandeur.

On today's road trip to Dunedin there is plenty to see and do.

Stop in at Oamaru, the world capital of Steampunk. The crazy creations and impossible inventions at the Steampunk Museum will bend your brain!

Further South, there's a beach that looks like a bowling alley for GIANTS. The huge round Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach are up to 2 metres tall, and the views here are amazing too.

Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest city, and it's also home to the steepest residential street in the world. Once a year, New Zealanders roll thousands of round chocolate candies called Jaffas all the way down - a great day to be standing at the bottom!

Approximate Distance: 362 kms | 224 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 48 mins

Accommodation: Dunedin - 2 Nights

858 George Street is an architecturally designed Award Winning motel complex capturing the essence of the George Street character. 13 luxury studio, family and executive units located on George Street, Dunedin. Just minutes walk to city shops, university, hospital,restaurants and the Forsyth Barr Stadium. All units serviced daily. In-room spa baths (2 rooms), Sky select 50+ channels, Continental breakfast available.


Argo Wildlife Tour - Visit Larnach Castle

See the wild side of the spectacular Otago Peninsula with a thrilling cross-country adventure in the ultimate all terrain vehicle, an 8-wheel-drive ARGO. You'll see stunning coastal scenery and an extraordinary range of wildlife, including the world's rarest penguin, the Yellow Eyed, in its natural habitat. You'll get close to breeding colonies of New Zealand Fur Seals and Cormorants, and see Oyster Catchers, Gulls, Paradise Ducks, Hawks, and Swallows.

Later tour New Zealand's one and only castle. It took two hundred men three years to build, and twelve more years to decorate. Watch out for ghosts - some say it's haunted!

There are 35 acres of gardens, full of weird and wonderful plants, including an Alice in Wonderland garden complete with a stone Cheshire Cat. Grab a garden map and create your own treasure hunt.

Climb up to the turret where you can see for miles, then reward yourselves with a fancy High Tea in the ballroom after all the exercise.



Fabulous Fiordland & Scenic Flight

Travel to Te Anau, a peaceful township on the shores of Lake Te Anau. Here at the gateway to Fiordland National Park you'll find fabulous forests covered in fluffy moss, towering mountains and glorious glacier-carved fiords.

You might even meet New Zealand's VERY CHEEKY parrot - The Kea. Clever and curious, it's fun to watch them clowning around, but don't let them steal your snacks!

You'll see it all this afternoon on a THRILLING HELICOPTER TOUR. Soar high above the rivers, lakes and rainforests, then land on a mountain and enjoy the epic scenery around you.

Approximate Distance: 291 kms | 181 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 35 mins

Accommodation: Te Anau - 2 Nights

Offering lake and mountain views from every room, Radfords on the Lake is located across the road from Lake Te Anau. Free car parking is provided outside each apartment.All accommodation at Radfords Te Anau is fully self-contained and includes a 32-inch flat-screen TV with over 50 satellite channels and a DVD player. Some rooms also include a private spa bath.
Radfords on the Lake


Majestic Milford Sound Cruise

Colossal cliffs, thundering waterfalls, misty mountains, and wonderful wildlife... all of these await you at the "Eighth Natural Wonder Of The World": Milford Sound.

Hop on board a nature cruise and sail the full length of the Sound, with a specialist nature guide to tell you all about the local wildlife. Say Kia Ora (hello) to the Fur Seals sunbathing on the rocks, and perhaps the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin will decide to make an appearance!

After your cruise, you'll drive back to Te anau.

Approximate Distance each way: 118 kms | 73 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hours 40 mins



After leaving Te Anau, travel to Queenstown, overlooking the magical Lake Wakatipu. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon. 

The surrounding area is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards and the natural landscape with wild rivers, high peaks and deep canyons has allowed Queenstown to developed an exciting array of outdoor adventure activities - and there's plenty to choose from. But if you are just want to chill out then Queenstown's compact downtown area is relaxed during the day and huge fun at night.

In any season, you can count on stylish designer shops and many trendy restaurants offering a kaleidoscope of dining experiences.

Approximate Distance: 173 kms | 107 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Accommodation: Queenstown - 3 Nights

Just 8 minutes walk into the heart of Queenstown you will find the Alexis Motel and Apartments, surrounded by majestic alpine scenery and spectacular views across Lake Wakatipu. Choose from a variety of self contained accommodation which include One Bedroom Apartment, Two Bedroom Apartment and Studio Suites

Alexis Motel and Apartments


Old Steamboat Cruise to a Farm

Travel back in time on an old-fashioned Queenstown steamboat cruise. The vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw has carried passengers across Lake Wakatipu for over 100 years. Watch the stokers working hard in the engine room, keeping the fireboxes glowing!

When you arrive at the western shores of the lake, it's time for some fun on the farm. At Walter Peak High Country Station, you'll meet hairy highland cattle, wobbly baby lambs and long-necked alpacas. See sheepdogs rounding up their herds, and watch the woolly sheep get a haircut before you sail back across to Queenstown.

You'll work up a healthy appetite, so the trip includes delicious morning or afternoon tea with fresh scones with jam.


Queenstown Adventures

Queenstown is all about fun with a capital F. With so many adventures on offer, how are you going to choose? Will you hire some bikes and take a trip around the lake? You can pause for a round of Frisbee Golf, but try not to hit any ducks!

You could take a gondola ride to the top of Bob's Peak for amazing scenic views and walking tracks high above the city. Or try to eat A BURGER BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD at the world-famous Fergburger restaurant.

You might prefer to explore Arrowtown, an old gold-mining village. You can even hire a gold pan and head down to the river to SEARCH FOR HIDDEN TREASURE!

Here are some of our favourite family adventures 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


Lake Wanaka

Leave Queenstown behind and drive to Wanaka. You'll travel along the highest main road in the country, twisting and turning through the mountains; there are lots of lookout points so you can take epic photos.

Wanaka is a quiet and charming lakeside town surrounded by the mighty mountains of the Southern Alps. It's small and easy to explore by foot, bike or boat. Be sure to visit the wharf at the lakefront and peer into the water below - there are huge WRIGGLY EELS living under there!

Approximate Distance: 69 kms | 42 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hours 14 mins

Accommodation: Wanaka - 2 Nights

Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort is nestled in a quiet Lake Wanaka location and enjoys wonderful mountain views from the serviced apartments. The resort offers stylish, self-contained, serviced apartments each providing you with a high level of personal comfort and convenience, perfect for all seasons. Distinction offer a range of large, stylish and spacious self-contained apartments that provide a high level of personal comfort and convenience. They offer great facilities including a fully equipped designer kitchen.
Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort


Explore Wanaka

Wanaka is on the doorstep of Mount Aspiring National Park, so you are surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most wild and beautiful places. There are spectacular walks & hikes, skiing, water sports and boating options galore. It's also a great place to relax by the lake - you might need to after all your adventures in Queenstown!

To experience Wanaka's weird and wacky side, visit the amazing Puzzling World. With mind-bending mazes, impossible illusions and treacherous brain-teasers, it's a one-of-a-kind experience and great fun on rainy days.


High Country Lake Tekapo

Head to the High Country today, driving through mountain passes and past bright blue lakes. Stop and feed the fish at a high country salmon farm, and maybe grab some fresh sashimi for lunch.

The tiny town of Tekapo boasts amazing mountain views - including Aoraki / Mount Cook, our highest peak. Visit the little church sitting right at the edge of Lake Tekapo - couples come from all over the world to take their wedding photos here, with the turquoise lake and snowy mountains in the background.

This beautiful town is one of the best places for stargazing in the world - on clear nights, there is no better light show than the twinkling stars up above.

Approximate Distance: 227 kms | 141 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 

Accommodation: Lake Tekapo - 1 Night

Mantra Lake Tekapo self-contained apartments feature a private balcony or patio and a lounge room with a fireplace. Guests enjoy an outdoor pool and a hot tub overlooking the Southern Alps. When the weather warms up, diving into the refreshing pool or just relaxing under the New Zealand summer sun seems pretty charming.
Mantra Tekapo


Return to Christchurch

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

Drive to Christchurch Airport and return your rental car. We are sure you will enjoy your New Zealand Family Adventure 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.

Travel Time 3 hours 15 minutes  Approximate Distance 222km | 138mi

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What Steve says about this tour: This could be the ultimate graduation gift that the whole family gets to enjoy. This is a comprehensive 3 weeks exploring New Zealand - we can completely customise this for your families interests - just get in touch and we can make this a reality.
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