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Full 24 Hour Support 50 Page Essential New Zealand Guide  

1

Akaroa - Little France

Welcome to New Zealand!

After landing in Christchurch and collecting your rental car, a scenic drive over the Banks Peninsula transports you to Akaroa: a harbour-side village which counts the world's rarest dolphin among its neighbours.

You'll love pottering around French-settled Akaroa, with its quaint 19th-century cottages housing an array of artisan galleries & boutiques. Most streets have French names, and many descendants of the original French families continue to live here. It's a charming setting, right by the shimmering waters of the Akaroa Harbour.

Akaroa Harbour Cruise
Cruise the stunning harbour this afternoon, marvelling at the giant sea cliffs all around you. The star of the show is the tiny Hector's Dolphin, which you won't find anywhere else in the world. They are a joy to watch, darting and diving around your boat, as playful as puppies!

Indulge in a hearty meal tonight at one of Akaroa's harbourside eateries: tomorrow the mountains are calling.

Approximate Distance: 82 km | 50 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 22 mins

Accommodation: Akaroa - 1 Night

Oinako Bed and Breakfast has been a prominent landmark since 1896, Oinako holds a cherished place in the heart of Akaroa’s French heritage. Now yours to enjoy, our gorgeous historic home, elegant rooms, harbour views and peaceful surroundings await. Perfectly located to discover the charms of Akaroa, the main pier, restaurants, shops and excursions are a two-minute stroll away. Escape the demands of everyday life, embrace simple pleasures and truly relax.
Oinako Bed and Breakfast Akaroa

2

Lake Tekapo - Stargazing at Mt John Observatory

Driving south amid the high-country splendour of the Mackenzie Basin, you'll reach the majestic and peaceful setting of Lake Tekapo.

Tiny Tekapo boasts amazing views of the mighty Southern Alps - including Aoraki / Mount Cook, our tallest peak. Visit the little church sitting right at the edge of Lake Tekapo - couples arrive from all over the world to take their wedding photos here, with the turquoise lake and snowy mountains in the background.

Mount John Night Observatory Tour
Tekapo lies in a Dark Sky Reserve, offering unrivaled opportunities for stargazing. On clear nights, there is no better light show. Tonight you'll see the jewel-like constellations up close from the dome of Mount John Observatory. With enlightening commentary from the observatory's astronomy guides, you will discover distant galaxies and star clusters beyond anything you can imagine.

Approximate Distance: 280 km | 173 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 36 mins

Accommodation: Tekapo - 1 Night

Peppers Bluewater Lake Tekapo is the perfect place to explore the Lake, Mount Cook and the Mackenzie District. Surrounded by the breath-taking beauty of the Southern Alps, you’ll have access to numerous activities in the area such as kayaking, horse riding, trout fishing and enjoying the clear night skies. Peppers Bluewater hotel rooms are beautifully appointed with a range of options for couples and groups. 


3

Tekapo to Mt Cook – walk the Hooker valley Track

After a short journey through the Southern Alps, you'll arrive in Mt Cook Village at the heart of Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park.

Named for our country's highest mountain, Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park is exquisitely beautiful. The Maori name for Mt Cook is Aoraki, meaning ‘Cloud Piercer’: at 3,755m tall (12,016ft) this lofty peak deserves its name!

Hooker Valley Guided Hike: 5 Hours Walking
An ice-capped world of giant glaciers awaits as you embark on one of New Zealand's finest short walks: the Hooker Valley Track.

This stunning 11 km (6.8 miles) trek leads you to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier. The trail winds through the Hooker Valley in the shadow of Aoraki /Mount Cook, crossing the mighty Hooker River on old-fashioned swing bridges. Reaching the lake, you are rewarded by unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki / Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers.

Your knowledgeable guide brings the unique history, flora, and fauna to life as you wander.

Approximate Distance: 82 km | 50 miles  Total Driving Time: 55 mins

Accommodation: Mount Cook Village - 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

4

Mount Cook to Lake Wanaka: Mountain Majesty

On the shores of New Zealand's second largest lake, the town of Wanaka is often described as Queenstown's quieter little sister: the lake and mountain views are equally incredible, and many visitors count it as a favourite location on their New Zealand tour.

This lovely little township is easily explored on foot, with fine food & wine and boutique stores aplenty. A stroll or bike ride around the peaceful shores of Lake Wanaka is a must.

Spectacular hikes, skiing, water sports, and boating options will delight outdoor-lovers. The dramatic mountain backdrop is perfect for a for a skydive or even a flight in a vintage Tiger Moth plane.

Charming in all seasons, we're pretty sure you'll fall in love with Wanaka.

Approximate Distance: 184 km | 114 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 5 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

5

Lake Wanaka to Arrowtown: Gold-Rush Glory

Sitting alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River, one of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand. Welcome to historic Arrowtown.

This lovely township was established in 1862 after a local sheep shearer struck gold. Within a year, over 1500 miners flooded here to try their luck, constructing wooden cottages, shops, and churches, many of which remain today. The result is a town overflowing with character, surrounded by shadowy forested mountains.

Come in autumn and you'll see the hillsides ablaze with a covering of crimson and golden leaves. It's a photographer's delight!

Try panning for gold yourself on the Arrow River's shores. Who knows, you might strike it rich! Either way, you can reward your efforts tonight with world-class dining: Arrowtown is a much-loved foodie haven with a wealth of exciting eateries to choose from.

Approximate Distance: 56 km | 34 miles  Total Driving Time: 54 mins

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 Nights

Your European styled boutique hotel is awaiting you in Queenstown, situated in a quiet yet central location with an easy 3 minute walk to local shops and restaurants. Take in the stunning views of the town, lakes and mountains as you enjoy a delicious cooked or continental breakfast on your private outdoor patio. In the winter months cuddle up with an open fire as you take in the gorgeous alpine backdrop. 

Browns Boutique Hotel - Queenstown

6

Milford Sound - 'the eighth wonder of the world.'

Milford Sound Nature Cruise and Scenic Flight 
No visit to New Zealand is complete without a pilgrimage to the "Eighth Natural Wonder of the World": Milford Sound.

The Milford Road takes you from Te Anau to Milford Sound on one of the most scenic drives on the planet. A glorious labyrinth of soaring peaks is punctuated by unspoiled rainforest, plunging valleys, azure lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers.

Keep a lookout for our cheeky alpine parrot, the Kea. These super-intelligent and mischievous birds are a delight to see in the wild.

Arriving in Milford, you will board your purpose-built cruise vessel and sail the length of the Sound, dwarfed by towering cliffs and waterfalls all around you. The onboard nature guide will tell you all about the seals, penguins, and dolphins who frequently visit this mesmerising location.

Wildlife to watch out for: Bottlenose, Dusky and Hector's Dolphins, Whio (blue duck), NZ Fur Seal, Little Blue Penguin, Fiordland Crested Penguin, Kea, Oystercatcher, Sooty Shearwater

Scenic flight to Queenstown over Milford Sound 
Fly to Queenstown via Fiordland National Park in style on a scenic flight over the lakes, rivers, mountains and forests of this breathtaking region.

Approximate Distance: 288 km | 178 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 42 mins


7

Queenstown at Leisure & Bon Voyage

Before you head home today, be sure to soak up Queenstown and its surrounds at your leisure.

Nestled by the shores of Lake Wakatipu, this breathtaking town is paradise for nature lovers. Take the gondola (cable car) to the top of Bob's Peak for glorious alpine views and excellent short mountain walks. Tick that bungy jump off your bucket list or simply relax by the waterfront with a glass of award-winning local Pinot Noir.

The options are endless: chat to our travel specialists for more great suggestions for your perfect Queenstown day.

Recommended excursions in and around 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


"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

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


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Profile picture for user Melissa
What Melissa says about this tour: Even reading through this itinerary makes me relax! It's packed with ridiculously gorgeous destinations, peaceful country townships and unforgettable views: the perfect recipe for recharging your batteries, restoring your energy and forgetting the cares of everyday life.
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