Auckland to Queenstown via Tongariro & Mt Cook

11 days

Indulgence Tours

  • Full service, premium arrangements
  • Comprehensive daily route guides & recommendations
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Itinerary

Auckland

Auckland’s stunning harbour is the centerpiece of New Zealand’s largest and most international city. This is the ‘City of Sails,’ boasting more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world. Forty-eight dormant volcanoes are located around the city, including Mt Eden, from which you can enjoy superb views of the city. Alternatively, get a superb city from from the top of Sky Tower, in the city center. If you have time, jump on the ferry to Rangitoto Island, where you can climb to the summit of this extinct volcano in the middle of Auckland harbour. Great restaurants abound, including in swanky Viaduct Harbour, on the edge of the city centre.

Auckland to Rotorua

233 km, 3h

The route from Auckland to Rotorua leads through rolling green farm country, so picturesque that it was featured in Lord of the Rings as Hobbiton, which can be found along the route at the town of Matamata. Rotorua offers a multitude of attractions, from adventurous thrills – including rafting the world-famous Kaituna Rapids – to the quiet relaxation of the Redwood forest, and the many thermal areas within and around Rotorua. Farm tours, Maori cultural performances, kiwi viewing, world-class mountain biking and mud spas are all the many offerings available in Rotorua.

Rotorua to Taupo

82 km, 1h

The amount of time on the road today is relatively brief, leaving more time to explore some of the many attractions in the area. Between Rotorua and Taupo are the popular Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu thermal areas. At Wai-O-Tapu, the Lady Knox geyser is induced to erupt daily at 10:15am. Closer to Taupo is the unmissable Huka Falls, where in spectacular fashion over 200,000 litres of water squeezes through a narrow passage every second – the falls are New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction. On the shores of the deep blue of Lake Taupo, the township of Taupo can offer either relaxation or adrenalin. Taupo offers skydiving, jetboating, kayaking, bungy and many other adventurous activities.

Taupo to Wanganui

221 km, 2h 45min

Drive your way along the striking blue waters of Lake Taupo, arriving after about an hour at the amazing volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, one of only 29 sites in the world with dual World heritage status. Drive your way up to Whakapapaand enjoy some stunning walking in this alpine wilderness. From here, continue from those scenic heights toward the lowlands of the wonderful Whanganui National Park. Those preferring a particularly action-packed day can enjoy somecanoeing on the river, or even a wilderness jetboat ride to the so-called Bridge to Nowhere. Thereafter, continue toward the coast and the pleasant riverside city of Wanganui.

Wanganui to Wellington

193 km, 2h 40min

Start off early for the route from Wanganui to Wellington, giving yourself more time to explore the capital in the afternoon. The route starts out leading you through more rolling green dairy farm country, eventually rejoining the coast to pass through the wonderful seaside towns of the Kapiti Coast. Finally, arrive in Wellington, New Zealand’s indisputably fantastic capital city. Although small by population, Wellington is dense with wonderful attractions, from its stunning harbour, to Te Papa Museum, the famous red Cable Car, the Beehive, and Zealandia sanctuary. Definitely a great place to keep you busy – the fact it has the best restaurants in New Zealand is just a bonus!

Wellington to Kaikoura

157 km, 2h

The ferry ride from Wellington to Picton takes about 3.5 hours, and after crossing the Cook Strait, meanders past the scenic coves and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds. After arriving in Picton, pick up your rental car and make your way to the sunny city of Blenheim, located in one of New Zealand’s best known wine-growing regions. Consider a gourmet lunch at a winery, before continuing south on the brilliant coastal route to Kaikoura. Seafood lovers must be sure to stop by Nin’s Bin for a sampling of some of New Zealand’s most famous fresh lobster – before continuing on to the whale-watching mecca of New Zealand: Kaikoura.

Kaikoura to Christchurch

180 km, 2h 30min

Early risers can enjoy one of the most special experiences in New Zealand, swimming with dolphins. Kaikoura is also a major whale watching destination, and you can consider a scenic flight or ferry trip to view these wonderful creatures. Fill up on local seafood for lunch, and make the drive south to Christchurch. Christchurch continues to recover from significant earthquake damage and increasingly boasts new sights and attractions for visitors. At the edge of the city is the Canterbury Museum, the Botanic Gardens, and Hagley Park, where you can enjoy punting along the Avon river. The International Antarctic Centre, near the airport, is another major Christchurch attraction, interesting for adults and kids alike. The Port Hills – formed by the crater of an extinct volcano that exploded six million years ago – offer great views back over the city.

Christchurch to Mt Cook

309 km, 3h 40min

The route southwest from Christchurch heads first through the flat, agrarian landscape of the Canterbury Plains. Continue to Lake Tekapo, the most well-known and stunning of New Zealand’s glacial lakes. Visit the famous Church of the Good Shepherd on the lake shore, and consider taking part in some of the great activities available in town. From Tekapo, take the route up to Mt Cook township, and consider a walk to soak up the best views of Mt Cook itself – New Zealand’s highest peak.

Mt Cook to Queenstown

263 km, 3h

Heading south from Mt Cook, visit the alpine salmon farm near the town of Twizel (the highest-altitude Salmon on Earth!). Continue to the small township of Omarama, located in the dry, inland country of central Otago. Although small, Omarama is famous as one of the best sites in the world for glider flights, and once hosted the world championships. Make your way to the airfield if you’d like to go for a flight of your own. Otherwise, drive on to Cromwell, and find yourself in orchard country, with apples, peaches, pears, plums and cherries all grown in abundance. Stop by one of the local fruit stands for some of the local ice cream. Finally, continue alongside the Kawarau River to Queenstown – with possible diversions to Kawarau Bungy or a local winery en route.

Queenstown

Get caught up in the many things that Queenstown has to offer. From bungy to canyoning to jetboating to skydiving, there is plenty for the adventurer, as well as no shortage of things to do for the more easy-going traveller as well. Great all-day activities include a trip up to Glenorchy for the Fun Yak Safari. Milford Sound is just a short flight away.