The epic zigzag Adventure
(February - may)

Comprising of more than 8,300 kms (that’s over 5000 miles) of iconic New Zealand landscapes and beauty spots and travelling to over 100 renowned tourism locations via 19 individually ‘named’ scenic routes and highways, our magnificent 90-day tour may just be the bestest, most epicest darn road trip journey in the world!!

At a glance
Christchurch to Auckland (8390km)
10 travellers
Feb 22nd – May 21st
90 days, 89 nights
OVERVIEW

In-depth and detailed, but with an emphasis on taking our time and relaxing (it is your late southern summer and early autumn holiday, after all!). ‘The Epic’ meanders (south for a wee bit, and then) north through our most well-known tourism hotspots (and some other hidden gems we think are even better), giving each of our ‘ZigZaggers’ ample opportunities to experience all the additional Kiwi culture, activities and attractions that this ‘big’ little country is famous for.        

Along the way, we’ll visit (and in many cases, spend the night/s very near to) New Zealand’s highest snow-capped mountains, the turquoise waters of our many alpine-fed lakes and rivers, volcanoes, geysers and colourful steaming mud pools, deserted golden beaches and towering sand dunes, emerald bays, harbours, islands and lagoons, misty primeval rainforests and Hobbit holes, picturesque lighthouses and rugged coastlines, cascading waterfalls and underground streams lit by twinkling glow-worms, awe-inspiring fiords, sounds, caves, cliffs, glaciers and gorges, native reserves teeming with exotic tuatara, birdlife, whales, dolphins and seals, the isolated cape that experiences the planet’s first sunrise each day, our world-famous wine-making regions and hiking tracks, our largest and most cosmopolitan cities, our most important sites of early Maori and European history, and the very best coffee shops and carts that we can find.

All here. Everything. Chocka-block full of epicness. The very, very, very bestest of New Zealand. Nuff said.


highlights
  • Northland & Cape Reinga (Northernmost point)
  • The Bay of Islands
  • The Coromandel
  • Hobbiton
  • Rotorua
  • Taupo
  • The East Cape (Easternmost point)
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • The Forgotten World Highway
  • The Central Plateau (the Tongariro Crossing)
  • The Cook Strait Ferry
  • The Marlborough Sounds
  • The Abel Tasman National Park
  • Arthurs Pass
  • Akaroa
  • The Mackenzie Country (Lake Tekapo)
  • Mount Cook
  • Dunedin
  • The Maniototo
  • The Catlins
  • Slope Point & Bluff (Southernmost point)
  • Te Anau & Fiordland (Westernmost point)
  • Queenstown
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Hanmer Springs
  • Kaikōura

Bridal Veil Falls, Raglan

what's included?
WELCOME

We'll kick-start the tour with a welcome meeting in Christchurch – a chance for everyone to say ‘Kia Ora’ (hello in Māori) and introduce ourselves

Community

Guides x 2
Maximum group size x 10

All Accommodation

Equipment: Your own 3-man canvas tent.
Single stretcher bed x 1
(double for couples on request)
Camp chair x 1
Accommodation: Mostly camping, some shared dorms, lodges and cabins

Meals

Breakfasts x 86
Lunches x 4
Dinners x 63 (incl. tea, coffee and hot chocolate)

All transport

In our customised ZigZag Mercedes Sprinter van (incl. your own seat with USB charger)

Connections

All road tolls and ferry crossings

Activities & Attractions included
  • Welcome dinner in Kaikoura
  • Hokitika Gorge
  • Okarito
  • Lake Matheson
  • Haast Pass - Blue Pools
  • Fiordland – westernmost point
  • Bluff and Slope Point - southernmost point
  • Cathedral Cave
  • Naseby Curling
  • Tuapeka Mouth Punt
  • Nugget Point
  • Curio Bay
  • Macraes Goldmine
  • Mount Cook & The Hermitage
  • Moeraki Boulders
  • Omarama Clay Cliffs
  • Arthurs Pass
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
  • Cape Foulwind
  • Oparara Arches
  • Buller Gorge
  • Takaka Hill
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Golden Bay
  • Pupu Springs
  • Ngarua Caves
  • French Pass Day Trip
  • Marlborough Sounds boat trip
  • Queen Charlotte Sound Drive
  • Group dinner in Picton
  • Cook Strait ferry
  • Cape Palliser
  • Martinborough vineyard dinner with wine tasting
  • Wellington
  • Te Mata Peak
  • Manawatu Scenic Route
  • Central Plateau
  • Whakapapa Village
  • Whangamomona Republic
  • Forgotten World Highway
  • Forgotten World Adventures - rail and boat
  • Mangapohue Natural Bridge
  • Marakopa Falls
  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Hamilton Gardens
  • Huka Falls
  • Orakei Korako Geothermal Park
  • Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • Tolega Bay
  • East Cape - easternmost point
  • Maori cultural dinner and show
  • Hāngī dinner
  • Kerosene Creek
  • Wai O Tapu Geothermal Wonderland  / Waimangu Volcanic Valley *depending on operating days
  • Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
  • Whangerei Falls
  • Bay of Islands
  • Kerikeri Stone Store and Kemp House
  • Cape Reinga – northernmost point
  • Waipoua Kauri Forest - Tane Mahuta
  • Night Kiwi hunt in Trounsen Forest
  • Kai Iwi Lakes
  • Kauri Museum guided tour
  • Kawau Island boat trip – BBQ farewell lunch included

Tāne Mahuta, Waipoua Kauri Forest

what's Not included?
Flights
Visas/Passport costs
Airport transfers
Additional Activities
Alternative Accommodation
Drinks not specified
Meals not specified
Phone & Internet
Basic Itinerary
  • Departing Christchurch
  • 01Kaikoura
  • 02Kaikoura
  • 03Hanmer Springs
  • 04Hanmer Springs
  • 05Hokitika
  • 06Franz Josef
  • 07Franz Josef
  • 08Franz Josef
  • 09Hawea
  • 10 Hawea
  • 11 Queenstown
  • 12Queenstown
  • 13Queenstown
  • 14Te Anau
  • 15Te Anau
  • 16Te Anau
  • 17Curio Bay
  • 18Curio Bay
  • 19Pounawea
  • 20Naseby
  • 21 Naseby
  • 22Dunedin
  • 23Dunedin
  • 24Dunedin
  • 25Oamaru
  • 26Mount Cook
  • 27Mount Cook
  • 28Tekapo
  • 29Akaroa
  • 30Akaroa
  • 31 Moana
  • 32Punakaiki
  • 33Mokihinui
  • 34Mokihinui
  • 35Murchison
  • 36Collingwood
  • 37Collingwood
  • 38Marahau
  • 39Marahau
  • 40Marahau
  • 41 Nelson Lakes
  • 42Picton
  • 43Picton
  • 44Picton
  • 45Wellington
  • 46Wellington
  • 47Wellington
  • 48Martinborough
  • 49Whakapapa
  • 50Whakapapa
  • 51Whakapapa
  • 52Taumarunui
  • 53New Plymouth
  • 54New Plymouth
  • 55New Plymouth
  • 56Waitomo
  • 57Waitomo
  • 58Raglan
  • 59Raglan
  • 60Taupo
  • 61Taupo
  • 62Napier
  • 63Napier
  • 64Napier
  • 65Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • 66Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • 67East Cape
  • 68Whakatane
  • 69Whakatane
  • 70Rotorua
  • 71 Rotorua
  • 72Rotorua
  • 73Rotorua
  • 74Mt Maunganui
  • 75Mt Maunganui
  • 76Hahei
  • 77Hahei
  • 78Coromandel Town
  • 79Coromandel Town
  • 80Mangawhai
  • 81Mangawhai
  • 82Russell
  • 83Russell
  • 84Russell
  • 85Russell
  • 86Matauri Bay
  • 87Matauri Bay
  • 88Kauri Coast
  • 89Sandspit
  • Drop off in Auckland
Route Map:
DETAILED Itinerary

Click the + to expand

Day 1 – 3 That Bit With The Whales At The Start - Christchurch to Hanmer Springs

Day 1 – We start off today with a very informal welcome meeting in Christchurch. A chance for everyone to say ‘Kia Ora’ (hello in Māori), for us to introduce ourselves, tell you a little bit more about the coming days, and answer any questions you may have. We’ll pack up our trailer, introduce you to the van and hit the road.

We begin our journey by crossing the mighty Waimakariri River and driving out of the South Island’s largest city. We drive north through the wineries and sheep farms of the northern Canterbury plains and on to the craggy Kaikōura coastline.

Kaikōura is a picturesque fishing village situated between the rugged Seaward Kaikōura mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. It is world famous as a hub for whale watching and wild dolphin swimming, both of which operate all year round. 

We will stop at the very end of the peninsula where the Point Kean viewpoint offers superb views of the Kaikōura coastline and mountains. 

A short walk away is the famous Kaikōura Seafood BBQ* kiosk, which serves a variety of locally harvested ‘seafood goodness’ including crayfish, scallops, paua and whitebait fritters, mussels, grilled fish, prawns and their specialty seafood chowder. 

We will then head to our camp for the night, providing a tent demonstration and assisting you on your first night as a ‘Zigzagger’. A group welcome dinner is provided tonight at a local restaurant.
*at your own cost

Included B,D (Breakfast, Dinner)
Camping: Kaikōura 

Day 2 – Free Day. The fascinating Kaikōura Museum provides a superb introduction to the region’s natural, Māori and whaling histories, and its more recent surf culture. It also showcases the tremendously powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the area in 2016 and created huge rifts in the land – the Kaikōura Peninsula itself moved north-east by almost one metre and rose 70 centimetres at the same time.The town has an array of waterfront cafes and restaurants to enjoy and there are many beautiful walks around the peninsula. 

Along the peninsula, you will find Fyffe House, Kaikōura’s oldest surviving building and the last remnant of a pioneering whaling station from the 1840’s. The old whaler’s cottage contains bones, relics and artifacts and makes for an interesting visit.

Included B,D
Camping: Kaikōura 

Day 3 – Today we drive the beautiful inland route through to Hanmer Springs, via the historic settlements of Mt Lyford, Waiau and Rotherham.

Hanmer Springs is a small alpine resort located in the Northern Canterbury region of the South Island. It is best known for its Thermal Pools and Spa complex, which can be found right in the middle of the village. Offering a range of natural sulphur and mineral pool experiences, some with bubbles and water jets too, this open-air park is a very relaxing place to while away a few hours. 

You have the rest of the afternoon to spend in Hanmer Springs.

Included B,D
Camping:  Hanmer Springs

Day 4 - 9 That West Coast Bit With The Glaciers - Hanmer Springs to Hawea

Day 4 – Free Day. In addition to the Thermal Pools, there are also a range of walking and cycling tracks to explore around Hanmer, and the village itself is home to many restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. 

Those adventurers amongst you might choose to take a day trip into the neighbouring Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest farm at almost half a million acres. It is renowned for its stunning tundra-like scenery, scree-scarred mountains, lakes, tarns, wide valleys and braided alpine rivers. There are also a number of old, historical buildings scattered across the farm’s landscape. 

Included B
Camping:  Hanmer Springs 

Day 5 – This morning we cross the Lewis Pass, the northernmost of New Zealand’s three passes across the Southern Alps, and drive to Reefton, the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to install electric streetlights back in 1888. 

We then head southwest, passing through the coastal town of Greymouth, before heading down the coast, and then veering inland to Hokitika Gorge in the Hokitika Scenic Reserve.

Hokitika Gorge is spectacular - the water is an incredible blue-green colour, and the gorge walls are dramatic. A short walk along a track leads to a series of curved boardwalks and swing bridges which wind through the Beech and Rimu forest above the gorge. Throughout the walk there are a number of viewing platforms where you can admire the colourful waters. Near the end of the track, the 90m suspension bridge that crosses the main channel of the gorge provides more astonishing river views with a backdrop of the Southern Alps in the background. We spend tonight in Hokitika, a pleasant harbour town that sits on the mouth of the Hokitika River on the West Coast.

Included B,D
Camping:  Hokitika

Day 6 – Today, we head south to the small seaside settlement of Ōkārito. Surrounded by ocean, estuary, lagoons and the mountains, this beautiful coastal area offers short walks with unsurpassed views of the Southern Alps and the wetlands. There are also award-winning bird-watching tours and kayaks for hire on the lagoon. 

After spending some time in Ōkārito, we drive south to Franz Josef where we enter ‘Glacier Country’ – one of New Zealand’s most diverse landscapes and home to the highest mountains, longest glaciers, tallest forests, wildest rivers, and most rugged of its coastlines.  

There are around 3,100 glaciers scattered throughout the Southern Alps, but most are inaccessible due to the high altitude and harsh geography. So how lucky are we that the stunning Fox and Franz Josef glaciers happen to be the most accessible in the world.

Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier is 13km long and descends 2600m from the Southern Alps towards the coast. Franz Josef Glacier is 12km long and descends 3000m. Both are surrounded by truly spectacular scenery. 

We spend three nights in the town of Franz Josef.

Included B,D
Camping:  Franz Josef 

Day 7 - Free Day. Whether you want to ice-climb up them, take a thrilling helicopter ride over the top and land on the ice sheet above them, or just marvel at them from the various hiking trails that weave their way through the valleys below, there are a multitude of ways to see and experience these amazing glaciers. We have chosen the little town of Franz Josef as our base for all the activities that can be done here and hope you enjoy its mountain alpine/ski resort vibe. 

Included B
Camping: Franz Josef

Day 8 - Free Day. A second day to explore this incredible area. In addition to the more adventurous activities on offer, there are a range of short walks and full day hikes in and around this region. 

You might also want to experience the West Coast Wildlife Centre*, an indoor wildlife centre where you can view New Zealand’s ancient tuatara and Kiwi birds. 
*at your own cost 

Included B,D
Camping: Franz Josef

Day 9 - We leave Franz Josef on this, one of the most spectacular driving days of the entire 90-day trip. For much of today, we are surrounded by high mountains and glaciers, waterfalls and river valleys, alpine lakes and lush Beech forest, all of which is pristine, remote and untouched.

But first, we head south, through the village of Fox Glacier and past a number of desolate black sand beaches and alpine valleys before reaching the small town of Haast. We then continue our dramatic drive inland alongside the Haast River and through the aptly named Pleasant Valley before we start to make our way up and over the mighty Haast Pass, deep within Mount Aspiring National Park.

Nestled amongst the forest within the National Park are the Blue Pools, a series of deep, crystal-clear cascades that flow into the Makarora River. These natural pools are an almost luminous turquoise in colour, and are accessed by a short, pleasant walk through the forest and over swing bridges. Large trout can be seen swimming in the pools, and many visitors cannot resist taking a swim in this alpine paradise. 

We continue our stunning drive amongst the Southern Alps to where we briefly join the upper section of Lake Wanaka, before scaling another short pass and being greeted by astonishing views of neighbouring Lake Hawea. 

We continue along the shores of the lake until we reach the hamlet of Hawea itself, where we will spend two nights.

Included B,D
Camping: Hawea

Day 10 - 16 That Iconic Bit - Hawea to Te Anau

Day 10 – Free Day. Lake Hawea, only a 15-minute drive from Wanaka, is an outdoor paradise and a real beauty spot. Hawea offers a quiet and peaceful alternative to the hustle and bustle of the larger resort towns in the region, and is a hub for mountains trails, lakeside walks, swimming, and bike riding. 

If you would prefer to spend your time in Wanaka, consider climbing either Mount Iron or the incredibly popular, much higher, and physically exhausting Roy’s Peak for incredible 360-degree views of Lake Wanaka. 

If hiking isn’t your cup of tea, then there are numerous water-based activities to try out on the lake, bike hire options, a fabulous boutique movie cinema in the city centre, and a delightful little international food truck ‘square’ nestled above a babbling brook and an old waterwheel.   

Included B,D
Camping:  Hawea 

Day 11 –
Upon leaving Hawea today, we make our first stop in the resort town of Wanaka. Wanaka is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park and sits on the shores of beautiful Lake Wanaka. 

Full of beauty spots and photo opportunities, one of its most famous is the Instagram-friendly “#that Wanaka tree”, an iconic (but rather small in stature) willow tree that wallows in the lake’s shallows and has become a social media photographed phenomenon.

We stop and spend a relaxed morning in this vibrant little town, before travelling around Lake Dunstan and through the Kawarau Gorge to Arrowtown, a historic gold mining settlement. 

Nestled by the Arrow River, this picturesque and character-filled village has retained much of its original ‘gold rush’ architecture, and the pretty colonnade of old shops and buildings in its centre resemble those from an old ‘wild west’ film. Just off the main street are a series of quaint old miners' cottages that lead to the ‘Chinese village’ – a separate area that was allocated to the Chinese gold miners who came to Arrowtown to seek their fortunes. Steeped in history, this open-air museum provides a glimpse into the tough and often unrewarded lives that these courageous early miners led.

From Arrowtown, we head to the exciting city of Queenstown where we stay for three nights.

Included B,D
Camping: Queenstown


Day 12 – Free Day. Queenstown sits on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by a number of large alpine peaks, and the spectacular Remarkables mountain range. Often referred to as ‘the adventure capital’ of New Zealand, Queenstown has an abundance of things to see and do. 

For those of you with a quest for thrill-seeking, why not try the first and most famous bungy jump in the world, or one of the many exhilarating jet boat rides in the area, white water rafting or bodyboarding, a 4WD adventure, skydiving, ziplining, or even the bone-shaking ‘semi-submersible shark ride’! The list is exhaustive.  

If you prefer things a little slower paced, then check out the gondola and the astonishing views from the top of Bob’s Peak, a paraglide over the town, a lake cruise on the famous TSS Earnslaw (an iconic century-old coal-fired steamship), a stroll through the botanical gardens, or just time on the lakeshore and a wander through the shops in the pleasant town centre. 

If you are a Lord Of The Rings fan, you might want to hire a car or join a tour to nearby Glenorchy. A number of the incredible locations surrounding this tiny township were prominent backdrops for the movie series. 

Included B
Camping: Queenstown

Day 13 – Free Day. Another day to explore and enjoy beautiful Queenstown. Options for today might include hiring a bike, a spot of fishing, or hiring a car and driving to the top of Walter Peak farm for the best views in town

Included B
Camping:  Queenstown 

Day 14 - Today we drive to Te Anau, the main base for Fiordland National Park and the closest town to Milford Sound. 

The drive itself is incredibly scenic, as we travel out of the city and on through Frankton, a fast-growing outer suburb of Queenstown. 

We then head south along the cliff edges that fringe Lake Wakatipu until we reach the Devil’s Staircase, a steep but particularly scenic section of the journey which zigzags up to a viewing platform overlooking the lake and surrounding mountains.   

Leaving the Southern shores of the lake, we then pass large commercial deer stations and weave our way between high mountains before entering Fiordland and the town of Te Anau, our base for three nights. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Te Anau 

Day 15 - Free Day. Fiordland is a scenic wonderland of steep mountains, deep sounds, tumbling waterfalls and dense rainforest. Fulfilling a once in a lifetime experience here is straightforward, with the glacier-carved fiords of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound within easy reach.

Widely regarded as the ‘8th wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions. Its waterfall-covered, mile-high mountain peaks rise almost vertically out of the dark waters of the fiord, with the imposing Mitre Peak at its centre one of the most photographed landmarks in the country.

Doubtful Sound, situated further south, and accessed via a boat ride across majestic Lake Manapouri, is considerably bigger than Milford Sound, and just as beautiful. We believe it is best seen as part of an overnight trip, which includes meals, your own cabin on board a cruise boat, and the opportunity to wake up and watch the sunrise over this silent, untouched paradise.

Te Anau is the main base for exploring the region and offers a variety of sightseeing options. These include cruises, helicopter rides, flightseeing, 4x4 journeys, guided hikes, kayaking, and sea plane experiences. Packages also exist that combine tours to both Milford and Doubtful Sounds too. Whichever you choose, this will quickly become one of your Kiwi highlights.

Included B
Camping:  Te Anau 

Day 16 - Free Day. Another day to experience Fiordland. Locally, Te Anau offers its own glow-worm cave experience, pleasant walks around the lakefront, and a busy town centre filled with shops, cafes and restaurants.

Included B
Camping:  Te Anau 

Day 17 - 20 That Southern Bit - Te Anau to Naseby

Day 17 – Today, we make our way down through the stunning rural scenery of Southland before passing through Invercargill and on to Bluff, the harbour town that most Kiwi’s erroneously believe is the most southerly point of mainland New Zealand.

It actually isn’t, but it is New Zealand’s southernmost town and is where the country’s State Highway 1 starts/ends (depending on your journey – Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island is at the other end).   We take you high up above the historic port to the top of Bluff Hill, from where on a clear day you can see all the way across to Stewart Island.

From here, we meander east through lush green farmland before stopping to visit the ‘real’ most southerly point on the island. Slope Point juts out on a small, windswept peninsula and is accessed via a short walk from the nearby car park. The sign post erected on top of the rugged cliffs confirms its most southerly location, and the views along the coastline in both directions are superb. 

We then continue on our journey, arriving a few minutes later in Curio Bay, one of the many jewels in The Catlins, a spectacularly scenic region of rugged, isolated coastline and forest in the south-eastern corner of the South Island. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Curio Bay 

Day 18 – Free Day. Time to explore Curio Bay, it's 180-million-year-old petrified forest and the surrounding area. 

The Curio Scape interactive centre located on site is excellent and provides an interesting overview of the area’s unique geology and diversity. Then take any of the numerous walks from the centre out to see the Jurassic fossil forest and the varying wildlife that inhabit the area. 

If the weather is good, enjoy a dip in stunning Porpoise Bay, or walk for kilometres along the empty white sand beach. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Curio Bay 

Day 19 – Today at some point, the tides will hopefully allow us to stop at the Cathedral Caves at Waipati Beach (tides permitting) – a real Catlin’s highlight. 

For the rest of our day, we zigzag though the rolling hills, native forests, cascading waterfalls, desolate sandy beaches, high cliffs, rugged bays and inlets, and large ocean swells that dominate the Southern Scenic Route. 

We settle into our camp this afternoon in Pounawea, a quiet seaside settlement which nestles between the estuaries of the Catlins and Owaka Rivers.

After dinner, and weather pending, we’ll drive you up to the ‘Nuggets’ at the Totāra Scenic Reserve for a nerve-tingling photo opportunity. This steep elevated headland with a pretty lighthouse at its tip juts out into the South Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by rocky islets (likened to ‘gold nuggets’, hence the name). The iconic Nugget Point Lighthouse (the oldest lighthouse in the country) has a viewing platform with sensational views over the spiky rocks and out to the ocean’s horizon and looks incredible at sunset.  

Included B,D
Camping:  Pounawea

Day 20 –  Leaving the beautiful South Otago coastline and passing through Balclutha on our way north, we reach a tiny hamlet called Tuapeka Mouth, an old gold mining area that is now known for its excellent sheep, beef and dairy farming. Here, we cross the mighty Clutha River via a 125-year-old current-driven punt (motorless ‘ferry’), the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

We then follow the river up through the Teviot Valley with its beautiful rolling farmland and superb orchards before reaching Roxburgh where we cross a large dam over the Clutha again.

We then pass through the pretty rural town of Alexandra and on to Ophir, an ancient stone village that is ‘frozen in time’. Frozen it was too in July 1995, when it recorded New Zealand’s coldest ever temperature of 21.6° Celsius. 

We drive on, up through the Ida Valley, where we follow part of the Central Otago Rail Trail, a multi-day walking and cycling track built on a disused railway line that runs right through the heart of the region, before reaching Naseby, our base for the next two nights.Naseby was originally an old gold mining settlement and has preserved some beautiful historic buildings in its village centre including two stone hotels and an Old Settlers Museum. It is also New Zealand’s ‘Curling’ capital, with a purpose-built stadium that enables visitors to try their hand all year round at this sport popularised by the Winter Olympics. There are also gorgeous forest walks, a public swimming dam, and excellent mountain biking trails.  

Included B,D
Camping:  Naseby 

Day 21 - 22 That Oldy Worlde Bit - Naseby to Dunedin

Day 21 – We head off on a short, optional tour of the Maniototo today. Not far from Naseby lies the small, quaint ‘lost in time’ settlement of Saint Bathans, a once bustling gold mining town that was home to over 2000 residents – today, less than 1% of that number remain. The much-photographed Vulcan Hotel sits proudly on the main street, its interior unchanged from its heyday. Fascinating old photographs on the walls showcase the nearby mine workings, the houses, the sports teams and the colourful local inhabitants who lived here through the centuries, along with stories and tales about the ghost who is supposed to haunt the hotel. 

Back outside, the picturesque Blue Lake now hides the remnants of the intensive mining that created it, the spectacular colour of its deep waters intensified by the bright white cliffs that surround it. A loop track along one side of the lake highlights many old mining relics along the way, and signs provide further information about the history of the area. 

Then it’s back to Naseby for a game of curling – a sport that has been played here competitively since 1878! We will organise a group session where you will be shown the ropes and you can try your hand at essentially ‘bowling on ice’. A fun, unique experience we think you’ll enjoy. 

Included B
Camping: Naseby

Day 22 – We depart Naseby for the 1930’s ‘art deco’ town of Ranfurly. After a short stop here, we travel into the remote Maniototo, an elevated inland region of Otago famous for its rivers, mountains, high country stations and wide-open spaces. The pace is slightly slower here, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. 

We drive on through rolling hills, granite strewn landscapes, tiny historic hamlets and the forgotten buildings of old gold mining settlements, before cresting a brow and peering down into the country’s largest gold producing mine at Macraes. 

We continue on through rock scattered paddocks that look like they could be on the moon, and more abandoned stone remnants of Otago’s extensive gold mining history, before leaving the Maniototo and joining the Southern Motorway which leads us in to the city of Dunedin.

Included B,D
Cabins:  Dunedin

Day 23 - 25 That Scottish Bit - Dunedin to Oamaru

Day 23 – Free Day. Dunedin, a city of contrasts and colours, is the second largest urban area in the South Island. Its rich cosmopolitan culture is enhanced by its strong Scottish heritage and a large tertiary student population that enlivens the city’s centre. The city boasts a popular food and brewery scene, which combines with excellent museums, galleries and botanic gardens to attract visitors all year round.The University and iconic Railway Station are just some of the many beautiful buildings that have survived from Dunedin’s wealthy Edwardian and Victorian eras, when the proceeds from farming and the gold rush almost saw it become the country’s capital.

Other attractions include Larnach’s Castle (New Zealand’s only castle), the central Octagon and its statue paying homage to the Scottish poet Robbie Burns, and Baldwin Street (officially, the steepest street in the world). 

The city is situated along the beautiful Otago Harbour, a large natural inlet that offers brilliant scenic drives, white sandy beaches, amazing hikes and breath-taking views only minutes from the city.  Dunedin is also a wildlife haven and is the only place in the world where you can view Northern Royal Albatross on the mainland - their natural habitat at the Royal Albatross Centre on the south-eastern tip of the Otago Peninsula makes for a thrilling day out. Other wildlife tours offer the opportunity to see penguins, seals, sea lions, dolphins and possibly even whales. 

Included B
Cabins: Dunedin

Day 24 –  Free Day. Enjoy another free day in Dunedin. Alternatively, join our optional scenic tour as we explore some of the lesser-known beauty spots and hidden gems in Dunedin and its surrounds. 

Included B
Cabins: Dunedin

Day 25 – Today we take the scenic coastal road out of the Dunedin city centre and past Port Chalmers, Otago’s main harbour town, before heading up over the hills and winding our way north through small seaside villages and settlements.

Along the coast, we make a stop at the Moeraki Boulders. These large, unusual rocks are perfectly smooth and spherical, and lie scattered on a deserted stretch of the beautiful Koekohe Beach, providing a great photo opportunity. 

We then continue to Oamaru, a harbour town renowned for its proud historic Victorian precinct, its penguins, and for being the ‘Steampunk’ capital of New Zealand. Here you will find all things ‘weird and wonderful’ along with traditional craft shops and galleries nestled amongst the 19th century Victorian buildings. 

Included B,D
Camping: Oamaru

Day 26 - 29 The Highest Bit - Oamaru to Akaroa

Day 26 – Leaving Oamaru, we drive inland through the limestone strewn landscape before stopping along the way to view some very rare, early examples of Māori Rock Art that date back hundreds of years. This historic area includes both pre- and post-European occupation sites and is one of only two such sites in the South Island that are open to the public. 

We then continue up the gorgeous Hakataramea Valley to the geological wonder that is the Omarama Clay Cliffs. This natural rock formation was initially created by glacial run off and has then been further eroded by the weather over the millennia, leaving behind huge funnels and soaring turrets in deep gorges of red dirt that we are able to walk amongst. Another good photography opportunity. This afternoon, we take the beautiful drive up to the bright blue waters of Lake Pukaki and on to Mount Cook. Be prepared for some stunning views and picture-perfect photo opportunities as we drive deeper and deeper into the Southern Alps. 

Included B,D
Camping: Glentanner

Day 27 – Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a rugged landscape of ice and rock. It is home to 19 peaks that tower over 3,000 metres high, including New Zealand's highest mountain Mount Cook, which stands at 3,724 metres. There are many beautiful walks and hikes throughout Mount Cook National Park, and those who choose to wander out on the well-maintained tracks are rewarded with many viewpoints of the stunning mountains, glaciers, rivers and lakes. 

In addition to the walks and hikes, you can flightsee this iconic landscape from the air, get up close and personal to a real-life iceberg on a lake cruise, learn about the life of one of our greatest explorers Sir Edmund Hilary in the museum, spend time in a Planetarium, or even catch a movie! You may just want to sit, enjoy a coffee, and marvel at the views - there are so many ways to while away the day at Mt Cook Village/The Hermitage.

Included B,D
Camping: Glentanner

Day 28 – We take the short drive back around Lake Pukaki to Tekapo. Spend the rest of the day on the picturesque shores of Lake Tekapo with its backdrop of alpine scenery. Relax in the hot springs or enjoy time in the village. 

Tekapo, nestled on the shores of Lake Tekapo, is in the heart of the Mackenzie Country, and is famous for its glacial, turquoise-coloured lake and its Southern Alps backdrop. It is a popular base for both summer and winter sports, has a fantastic new outdoor hot pool complex that is located right next to our campground, and is also home to the largest internationally recognised ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ in the Southern Hemisphere - one of only eight such reserves in the world. The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and associated Mount John Observatory offer many opportunities to learn about and enjoy the magnificent night skies above us. 

Included B,D
Camping: Lake Tekapo

Day 29 – Driving over high passes and between more tall mountains, we say goodbye to the Mackenzie Country and head toward the rural towns of Fairlie and Geraldine, before turning north on the ‘Inland Scenic Route’ and driving through the lush pastureland of the Canterbury Plains. 

We cross the Rakaia River at the Rakaia Gorge, an alpine-fed river whose water far below is a bright milky-turquoise blue colour and looks astonishing on a sunny day. 

We then head east to Banks Peninsula and the small coastal settlement of Akaroa with its proud French heritage, via the breath-taking Summit Road. Its sweeping views of the harbour and surrounding hilltops are magnificent.

Included B,D
Camping: Akaroa

Day 30 - 31 The French Bit & That Alpine Crossing - Akaroa to Moana

Day 30 – Free Day. Your time to explore the most ‘French’ town in New Zealand, with its historic buildings, magnificent harbour, galleries, craft stores, ‘boulangeries’ and waterfront cafes. Relax or take part in the many activities that are on offer, whether it be out on the water, visiting the quirky art collections, or simply sitting by the shore enjoying a gelato.

Included B
Camping: Akaroa 

Day 31 – We say ‘adieu’ to Akaroa this morning and head all the way back across country via the famous Arthurs Pass National Park to the little village of Moana, situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Brunner. 

The amazing scenery starts as soon as we wind our way up out of Akaroa and over the hills of Bank Peninsula to the shores of Lake Ellesmere, and then on through the fertile Canterbury Plains to the start of Arthur’s Pass.

Arthurs Pass sits inside the National Park and is the highest of the three passes that traverse the South Island’s Southern Alps mountain range. Its huge peaks are home to vast scree slopes, steep gorges and wide shingle-bottomed rivers, which dwarf Highway 73 and create the most dramatic alpine scenery - a landscape photographer’s dream. Don’t worry - we’ll make plenty of stops along the way. 

We leave the pass on the other side of the Alps, and veer north off Highway 73 to make our way to isolated Lake Brunner, deep in the heart of the West Coast. 

Included B,D
Camping: Moana

Day 32 - 35That Really Wild Rocky Bit - Moana to Murchison

Day 32 – Heading to the coast and venturing north today, we take you to see Pancake Rocks, a geological marvel located at Punakaiki.

Thirty million years of erosion has created varying layers of hard and soft limestone, all of which look like gigantic ‘stacks of pancakes’, hence the name. The same erosion has also created a series of caves and channels. On a rough day, the sea thunders into the caves and forces its way up through the vertical shafts, bursting out the top through a number of blowholes. This impressive natural wonder can be accessed via a series of well-maintained boardwalks and pathways.

We have this afternoon to explore the spectacular coastline, limestone cliffs, canyons, caves, underground streams, and lush forests of Punakaiki and the Paparoa National Park. 

Included B,D
Camping: Punakaiki

Day 33 – Heading further north we hug the craggy coastline as we wind our way up the West Coast. Along the way, we pass endless black sand beaches, headlands and bays on our left, and deep gorges, high cliffs and the dense rainforest of the Paparoa National Park on our right. 

We make a stop at nearby Cape Foulwind, so named by Captain James Cook after his ship was blown out to sea here in 1770.  Should you choose to, hop out here and walk the spectacular 3.4km walkway with its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, cliffs and seashore. We’ll pick you up near the lighthouse at the other end.  

We’ll also have a stop in Westport for you to visit the interesting Coaltown Mining Museum* before we move on to the tiny coastal enclave of Mokihinui.
*at your own cost

Included B
Camping: Mokihinui

Day 34 – Today, we’re going on an optional, but totally unmissable, day trip north to the Oparara Basin and its intriguing complex of limestone caves, arches, outcrops and channels, deep in the Kahurangi National Park. Scientists believe it has taken over a million years for the somewhat placid Oparara River to carve out these stunning formations – so impressive that they featured in the Lord Of The Rings movies too. 

After a quick pit stop in Karamea, we head up to the turn off, and drive in towards the car park. From there, visitors walk through an ‘enchanted’ rainforest comprising of ancient beech and podocarp trees that are thickly carpeted in mosses and ferns. The feeling of being in a fairy-tale increases once you enter the arches themselves. 

The huge Oparara arch is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, soaring 43m high, 79m wide and 219m long. It is very impressive, artfully lit from both directions, and creates stunning reflections in the dark, whiskey-coloured waters of the river below. 

The Moria Gate Arch is smaller at 19 metres high but is arguably more photogenic and can be accessed through a small hole in the forest floor, from which you can walk the riverbank from one end of the arch to the other. 

A well-maintained track from the second arch then circles around through the forest, passed a Mirror Lake tarn amongst the trees, and back to the car park and its cheeky Weka birds.  

Once everyone is back, we’ll head back down south to our camp for the night.    

Included B,D
Camping: Mokihinui

Day 35 –  Today we ‘tackle’ the Buller Gorge, an incredibly scenic drive that follows the Buller River as it meanders down through the Southern Alps to the Tasman Sea. 

Following the thin strip of bitumen that is Highway 67 south as it squeezes between the desolate black sand beaches of the West Coast on our right and the rugged, forested mountains of Kahurangi National Park on our left, we reach Westport again before turning inland and driving through the breath-taking ‘Lower’ section of the gorge.

Halfway through the ‘Upper’ section of the gorge, we stop at New Zealand’s longest swing bridge (110m in length). Marvel at the colour of the water below as you cross the bridge, and then read about and witness the area’s dramatic gold mining and seismic history in the open-air museum on the other side (included). If you are brave enough, take the zip line back across the river afterwards (not included)! 

We then make our way to Murchison where we stay for the night.

Included B,D
Camping: Murchison

Day 36 - 41 That Golden Bit At The Top - Murchison to Nelson Lakes 

Day 36 – Today, we make our way northeast along scenic Highway 6, before turning off and driving through the quiet, pleasant back-country roads and orchards along the Motueka River to the vibrant little town of Motueka.

After a short stop here, we zig zag our way up over the mighty Takaka Hill to Golden Bay. At an elevation of 791m above sea level, this sheer mountain pass boasts phenomenal views over Takaka Valley and Golden Bay below, and the Tasman Mountain Range and Kahurangi National Park in the distance. 

On the other side, we make a stop in the township of Takaka itself, a colourful, characterful wee place with interesting boutique shops and cafes. 

From there, it is on to Collingwood, our final destination for the day and our camp for two nights. Collingwood is a beautiful, quiet little settlement and a great base from which to explore the top of the South Island, Farewell Spit, Cape Farewell and Wharariki Beach.

Included B,D
Camping: Collingwood

Day 36 – Today, we make our way northeast along scenic Highway 6, before turning off and driving through the quiet, pleasant back-country roads and orchards along the Motueka River to the vibrant little town of Motueka.

After a short stop here, we zig zag our way up over the mighty Takaka Hill to Golden Bay. At an elevation of 791m above sea level, this sheer mountain pass boasts phenomenal views over Takaka Valley and Golden Bay below, and the Tasman Mountain Range and Kahurangi National Park in the distance. 

On the other side, we make a stop in the township of Takaka itself, a colourful, characterful wee place with interesting boutique shops and cafes. 

From there, it is on to Collingwood, our final destination for the day and our camp for two nights. Collingwood is a beautiful, quiet little settlement and a great base from which to explore the top of the South Island, Farewell Spit, Cape Farewell and Wharariki Beach.

Included B,D
Camping: Collingwood

Day 37 – Free Day. Collingwood started life as a bustling gold rush town back in the 1800’s, but today it is better known as a tranquil ecotourism destination due to its proximity to Kahurangi National Park and the Farewell Spit Nature Reserve.

Farewell Spit Nature Reserve is a bird sanctuary and wetland of ‘International Importance’. The Reserve is approximately 35km long, but public access is restricted to only the first 4kms. Only the government-registered guided tour company based in Collingwood is permitted to carry visitors further onto the Spit, and they provide a fascinating and very scenic day trip that also visits Cape Farewell (the South Island’s most northerly point), Fossil Point and the historic lighthouse.

Whether you choose to visit the Spit with the third-party tour or not, we ensure we work around the tide-based tour timetable so you can all accompany us on a visit to the beautiful Wharariki Beach. It’s high dunes, secluded bays, caves, rockpools, lonely beaches and rugged offshore islands and archways are a favourite for photographers. It is however so isolated that very few people visit, making it one of our truly hidden gems!!

Collingwood’s small-town charm is enhanced by its reputation for fresh tasty seafood, so why not try the fish & chips or scallops when you get your own dinner tonight. 

Other things to do whilst you are here include renting a bike to explore the nearby Aorere Valley, hiring a kayak to paddle around the beautiful Ruataniwha Inlet, or just browsing through the museum, art gallery and cafes situated in the main street.

Included B
Camping: Collingwood

Day 38 – Today, as we make our way back down Golden Bay, we make a stop at Te Waikoropupu Springs. Referred to locally/helpfully as ‘Pupu Springs’, these large natural pools contain eight main vents that discharge over 14,000 litres of water per second – enough to supply a city the size of Boston, Massachusetts. Until recently, the water at Pupu Springs was also the second clearest ever measured anywhere in the world (only water contained under the glaciers in Antarctica is clearer). It has now been pipped to third in the world by the spring under Blue Lake, which is also in the Tasman Region in New Zealand. Pupu Springs remain however the largest natural springs in New Zealand and the largest cold-water springs in the Southern Hemisphere. Short boardwalks and bridges guide visitors to a number of viewing platforms overlooking the large pools. 

On with our journey and after travelling back over Takaka Hill, we make another stop where we disembark for a short magical adventure underground. The Ngarua Cave experience (included) provides a guided tour down into a sequence of ancient limestone caves located deep inside Takaka Hill (aka ‘Marble Mountain’ due to the large seams of limestone and karst ‘marble’ from which it is formed). The caves, which were used in scenes for The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, house a variety of unusual rock formations, including breath-taking stalactites and stalagmites that are hundreds of thousands of years old. Remains of a number of New Zealand's now extinct birds have also been found in the caves, including complete skeletons of the large, flightless Moa – one of which remains on display today. Marble quarried from near Ngarua Caves was used to construct several prominent buildings in New Zealand including the Parliament Buildings and ‘Beehive’ in Wellington, and the Nelson Cathedral.

We move on, before reaching our destination of Marahau, the closest settlement and gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, where spend the next three nights. 

Included B,D
Camping: Marahau

Day 39 – Free Day. Abel Tasman National Park is a wilderness reserve at the top of the South Island that is renowned for its ‘tropical island’ beaches and its world-famous coastal track. 

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a well-maintained walking trail within the park that winds its way passed secluded inlets and bays, through native forest and across elevated ridges for sixty kilometres. Visitors access and explore the park via the walkway, or by catching the numerous water taxis that weave in and out of the many bays along the length of the park, or by air (book your flightseeing/skydiving trips in advance!).

Day walkers typically book one of the water taxis that regularly run from the village beach at Marahau up to a bay inside the park, walk one or two of the sections along the spectacular Coastal Track, and then catch a water taxi back home to Marahau at the end of the day. 

If walking isn’t your thing, you can take a scenic cruise along the beautiful coastline or have a go at kayaking. There are also plenty of safe beaches to enjoy. 

Included B
Camping: Marahau

Day 40 – Free Day. We have two full days here, so immerse yourself in this stunning region – we are sure it will become one of your New Zealand highlights.

Included B,D
Camping: Marahau

Day 41 – Today we drive around a headland to the beautiful Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve, home to yet more golden sandy beaches and turquoise waters. After an extended coffee/photo stop here, we say “haere ra” (‘goodbye’ in Māori) to the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park and travel further south through orchards, vineyards, thickly forested hills and mountains to the pretty little hamlet of St Arnaud.

St Arnaud sits on the edge of Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Lake Rotoiti (and its neighbour, Lake Rotoroa) are renowned for their phenomenal scenery, their dramatic hiking tracks, the fine brown trout and native eels swimming in the crystal-clear alpine waters, and the black swans who have made the lakes their home.

Lake Rotoiti is a popular destination all year round for boating, water skiing, swimming and kayaking, and kayaks and boat rides can be booked near the jetty, which is only a few minutes’ walk from our accommodation.

We spend one night here.

Included B,D
Lodge: Nelson Lakes

Day 42 - 45 That Boaty Bit In The Middle - Nelson Lakes to Wellington

Day 42 – This morning, we make our way northeast along State Highway 63 and through the beautiful Wairau Valley, home to some of New Zealand’s best-known white wines, before veering north for a leisurely lunch stop in Havelock. Also known as the ‘Greenshell Mussel’ capital of the world, Havelock is a small coastal village and harbour at the head of Pelorus Sound, one of an extensive network of sea-drowned valleys at the northern end of the South Island that make up the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

With lunch done, we head off along the world-famous Queen Charlotte Drive, a 35- kilometre journey that snakes its way eastwards along the breathtakingly beautiful stretch of water that gives it its name. With native forest on one side and the sparkling turquoise waters of Queen Charlotte Sound on the other, the elevated views we encounter along the Marlborough Sounds today are some of the most beautiful of our entire trip.
We finish today’s journey in Picton at the eastern end of the Queen Charlotte Drive, a quaint seaside town and the port for the interisland ferries that cross the Cook Strait to the North Island. 

Included B,D
Camping: Picton

Day 43 & 44 – Free Days to explore this picturesque town with its pretty seaside waterfront, cafes, galleries and specialty shops. Picton is home to The Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, a popular aquarium, a number of scenic boat rides that explore the many islands and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds, and is the base for the Queen Charlotte Track, one of New Zealand’s premier hiking experiences. Only a short drive away is Blenheim, which sits in the heart of NZ’s largest wine region. Book one of the many wine tours that offer pick-ups from Picton and transport their visitors through to the stunning Wairau Valley where you will discover why people the world over love Marlborough wine.

During our stay in Picton, ZigZag passengers have the opportunity to experience the marvellous ‘Mail Boat Cruise’ (included activity). This popular sightseeing ferry tour incorporates a mail, grocery and freight service that delivers to residential property owners (and their excitable pets) in some of the most spectacular and remote corners of the sprawling Queen Charlotte Sound.

On the alternate free day in Picton (weather permitting), we offer to those passengers who are interested, a day trip up to French Pass at the very top of the Marlborough Sounds. Revered as one of the most spectacular drives in New Zealand, this remote gravel road experience is not for the faint hearted, but travellers are rewarded with extraordinary hill-top views across the Marlborough Sounds and beyond. At French Pass, a narrow stretch of sea water that separates the mainland from D’Urville Island contains currents that are so strong, they form whirlpools on the surface of the ocean, which often resemble a horizontal waterfall at peak tide. The tiny township of French Pass nearby boasts a long jetty that extends out into the sea, from which it is possible to see eagle rays skim across the sandy bottom of the bay.

A farewell dinner is provided on our last night in Picton.

Included
Day 43 B
Day 44 B, D
Camping: Picton

Day 45 – Today’s the day we cross the Cook Strait, named after James Cook, the first European explorer to sail through it.

With the Tasman Sea to the west and the South Pacific Ocean to the east, Cook Strait divides the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It is 22 kilometres wide at its narrowest point and takes roughly 4 hours to cross. 

There are two companies that operate commercial sailings across this body of water - The Interislander and the Blue Bridge ferry companies both offer comfortable sailing experiences with food and beverage outlets on board, entertainment rooms and seated indoor viewing areas. 

Considered one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, the outdoor decks allow passengers to savour the magnificent views out through the Marlborough Sounds and into Wellington Harbour. The Queen Charlotte Sound is particularly scenic and sheltered, being surrounded by steep bush covered hills.  

We arrive in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital and spend three nights here in a centrally located hotel/hostel.

Included B
Hostel: Wellington

Day 46 - 52That Bit With The Vines & The Volcanoes - Wellington to Taumarunui  

Day 46 – Free Day. Wellington is a compact city based around a large working harbour that is home to a mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine. It has a particularly vibrant coffee and craft beer scene.

Museums, art galleries, theatres and festivals are at the heart of the city’s thriving cultural scene - New Zealand’s Te Papa Tongarewa national museum is located on the waterfront itself and is one of the best interactive museums in the world. 

Despite its nickname as the ‘windy city’ (due to the strong winds that often buffet it from the Cook Strait), Wellington has a number of beautiful walks within the wider city area that include sandy beaches, forested hills and waterfront promenades as well as a historic tourist cable car, the Zealandia bird sanctuary and the botanical gardens. 

Included No meals
Hostel: Wellington

Day 47 –  Free Day. You have another day in our cosmopolitan capital. We hope you enjoy exploring it from your cool wee hostel nestled in the heart of Wellington. 

Included No meals
Hostel: Wellington

Day 48 – We depart our capital and head north over the dramatic Remutaka Ranges, before veering off the main road at Featherstone and making our way around Lake Wairarapa and through lush green farmland to the sea. We then travel east along the rugged coastline to the desolate and very remote Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island. Weaving between steep jagged mountains on our left and the wild rolling seas to our right, the coastal route meanders through a number of small fishing settlements before arriving at the 125-year-old clifftop lighthouse at the end of the road. The view at the top is stunning. 

We then backtrack along the coast before driving north to Martinborough, a quaint little town with over twenty vineyards surrounding its cute village square. Along with some of the world’s finest olive groves (with many local oils winning international awards), much of New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir comes from the local vineyards. 

Tonight, we dine amongst the vines at one of the many wineries and enjoy a spot of wine tasting. That’s on us! 

Included D
Camping: Martinborough

Day 49 – We head north today, passing through small rural towns nestled amongst the verdant landscape of the Wairarapa, before turning west and heading over the Ruahine Ranges, home to one of the largest wind farms in the country. The Te Apiti wind farm can be seen stretching across 11.5kms of the surrounding hills and creates enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. 

We then make a short stop in Ashhurst, before venturing along the little-known ‘Manawatu Scenic Route’, which guides us up toward the centre of the North Island. This is a beautiful, remote area comprising of lush green valleys, rolling farmland, crystal clear rivers and steep-sided gorges that are criss-crossed with old bridges and viaducts. 

We then continue up and on to the Central Plateau, where we finally reach Whakapapa Village, our final destination for this afternoon. Whakapapa Village is located on the lower western slopes of Mt Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest peak. 

Included B,D
Lodge: Whakakpapa

Day 50 – Free Day. The North Island's ‘Volcanic Plateau’ is famous for its three active volcanoes - Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Sitting at 2797m, Mt Ruapehu is the North Island’s highest peak and is popular for skiing and bush walking. Mt Tongariro is home to the world-famous Alpine Crossing - a 19km hike over the mountain, with panoramic 360° views across the North Island. It has been regularly voted as one of the best scenic one-day walks in the world. It’s natural beauty spots include the three ‘Emerald Lakes’, the impressive ‘Red Crater’ and the picturesque ‘Blue Lake’. Mt Ngauruhoe has an almost perfect conical peak and is better known as ‘Mt Doom’ from The Lord of the Rings films.

Many shorter, easier walks can be completed from the adjacent Whakapapa Village.

The Chateau Tongariro, situated at Whakapapa Village, is an elegant hotel nestled in the heart of the National Park and surrounded by stunning natural landscape. It is a nice spot for a coffee or afternoon tea. 

The ‘Sky Waka’, a cable car which transports passengers 1.8km up Mount Ruapehu, is New Zealand’s longest gondola. There are multiple walks at the top, more 360° views and a very nice restaurant and cafe as well.

The historic Old Coach Road is another attraction in this area that is popular with cyclists and day-walkers. It once connected the two ends of the Auckland to Wellington rail trunk line by stagecoach, and was extensively used until the railway line was finally completed in the 1920’s. The 15km trail stretches along cobblestoned roads, amongst native bush, under massive steel viaducts and through old stone tunnels.

Ohakune, known fondly as the ‘carrot’ capital of NZ due to the large number of carrot farms in the area, serves Whakapapa and these mountains all year round with shops, cafes, an information centre and a range of adventure activities. 

Included B,D
Lodge: Whakapapa

Day 51 – Free Day. We have given you two free days in Whakapapa Village to enable you to experience the Tongariro Crossing if you wish, and still have time to enjoy the many other activities on offer here. 

Included B
Lodge: Whakapapa

Day 52 – Adventure Day. Forgotten World Adventures - Rail and River Run (included activity)

From Whakapapa, we drive to Taumarunui. Here you have an exciting adventure ahead. A full day experience will have you ‘rattling’ along through 40kms of disused railway track, tunnels, and bridges on your own modified ‘golf cart’. You’ll pass through back-country ghost towns and untouched landscapes steepened in Māori and early pioneer history. And that’s not all, you’ll then get to sit back and enjoy an exhilarating 23km jet boat ride along the Whanganui River. Great fun!

Included B,L,D
Cabins: Taumarunui

Day 53 - 56 That Beautiful Western Bit No One Goes To - Taumarunui to Waitomo

Day 53 – Today, we drive through the 148km long ‘Forgotten World Highway’, a rugged, picturesque maze of steep hills, native bush, farmland, historic buildings, and winding streams that are a truly ‘lost piece of New Zealand’. 

Almost halfway along, we find ourselves at the small settlement of Whangamomona, which declared itself an independent republic in 1989. Every two years, the famous January ‘Republic Day’ is held and the villages population swells with thousands of visitors. The main high street is taken over with umpteen country activities, including as sheep races, gumboot throwing, gut buster hill climbs, whip cracking and much, much more. The Republic Day finale sees all visitors voting for a new president, not all of which have been human! This quirky, charismatic town which only consists of one street and a few buildings is a charming place to call in and see for yourselves. The historic Whangamomona Hotel displays Republic Day photos dating back many years, and for a couple of dollars you can also have your passport stamped! Be some of the few people around the world who can say they have the ‘Republic of Whangamomona’ stamp in their passport!

Completing the second half of the Forgotten World Highway, we continue through the rugged Taranaki countryside before emerging from the hills at Stratford. Here, we circle around Egmont National Park and Mount Taranaki before arriving in to New Plymouth and straddling Surf Highway 45. 

Included B,D
Camping: New Plymouth

Day 54 – Free Day. New Plymouth is a vibrant and modern city, renowned for its sunny climate, art galleries, street art, picturesque parks and botanical gardens. It’s also famed for its Coastal Walkway which stretches 12.7km from the port to a small beach community in the north. Te Rewa Rewa Bridge can be found halfway along the walkway and has magnificent views of Mount Taranaki to the south. 

New Plymouth is blessed with many stunning beaches and provides a paradise for surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddle boarders alike. 

The Port of Taranaki is an interesting working harbour with a long history. There are places to eat and drink at the breakwater where you can watch the ships go 

Included B
Camping: New Plymouth

Day 55 –  Free Day. Day two in New Plymouth – if you didn’t yesterday, this is your chance to get up onto Mount Taranaki, in Egmont National Park. The visitor centres can provide you with lots of information about the beautiful walks throughout the area.  

Included B
Camping: New Plymouth

Day 56 – With Mount Taranaki in our rear-view mirror, we set off north today along one of the fastest eroding coastlines in the world. The relentless Tasman Sea continually sculpts and shapes the cliffs of the seafront here, creating numerous caves, tunnels and archways. Along the way we make stops by the translucent waters of the Tongapōrutu River and Mokau, a coastal village on the mouth of the Mokau River.

We continue through the steep-sided Awakino and Mangaotaki River gorges, memorable for their impressive limestone formations and thick native bush. 

We end in Waitomo tonight, famous for its extensive underground cave systems and its glow-worms. 

Included B,D
Camping: Waitomo

Day 57 - 62 That Bit With The Lake & Those Caves - Waitomo to Napier

Day 57 – Free Day. The caves, glow-worms, black water rafting, abseiling, caving, zip lining, bushwalking and the Discovery Centre & Museum – Waitomo offers so many experiences.

Included B
Camping: Waitomo

Day 58 –  A day of waterfalls and natural wonders. Today we visit two of the most scenic waterfalls in New Zealand. 

Marakopa Falls is a wide waterfall with an impressive 35m drop and is often referred to as the most beautiful in NZ. 

Bridal Veil Falls is a tall plunge waterfall that is 55m high. It is set in a beautiful bush clad bowl and can be viewed from three tiered viewing platforms. 

And if that’s not enough beauty, we will also visit the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, a 17m high natural limestone arch that has formed from the remnants of an ancient cave system. Be wowed as you walk through the fairy-tale like forest that leads up to this beautiful natural phenomena. 

We finish the day in Raglan, a laid-back West Coast surfing mecca and holiday spot where we will spend two nights.  

Included B,D
Camping: Raglan

Day 59 – Free Day. Raglan attracts many domestic and international surfers who come to catch the longest, most accessible and consistent ‘left hand break’ in the world. Even if you’re not a surfer, it’s fantastic to watch. Have a go yourself with a surf lesson or simply watch the board riders on the waves at Manu Bay. Laze on Ngarunui Beach or experience the large range of other water-based activities that Raglan has to offer. Browse around the boutique ‘bohemian’ shops, galleries and cafes or simply watch the youngsters jump off the bridge into the turquoise waters of the estuary at high tide. 

Included B
Camping: Raglan

Day 60 –  Today we head to Hamilton Gardens, a 54-hectare public garden situated on the banks of the mighty Waikato River in the city of Hamilton. This renowned parkland hosts an array of intricate and beautifully manicured themed gardens. From the Japanese ‘Garden of Contemplation’ to the grandeur of the ‘Italian Renaissance’ collection and on to the English ‘Flower Garden’, you will feel like you have been transported all around the world by the magnificent flora on display here. 

We spend some time this afternoon at Huka Falls where you can witness nearly a quarter of a million litres of water per second thundering through a natural rocky gorge before tumbling 11m into the roiling Waikato River below. There are numerous viewing platforms from which to see the falls, and you may also see the excited passengers on the Huka Jet as it comes racing up and almost touches the crashing waters on this, the ultimate thrill ride. 

We then continue on to the town of Taupo, which sits on the north-eastern shore of Lake Taupo. The lake was formed from a crater that was left after the large Taupo super volcano erupted 1800 years ago. The area is now a beautiful adventure playground with Lake Taupo at its centre and the three mountains of the Central Plateau to the south.

Included B,D
Camping: Taupo

Day 61 – Free Day. Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake at 622 square kilometres and offers a staggering number of activities to choose from, many of which are located in or around the lake. 

Cruise out on the lake to see the Ngatoroirangi Māori Rock Carvings, take a walk or bike ride on the many pathways (including the flat and very scenic ‘Lion’s Walk’), partake in a spot of trout fishing (Lake Taupo is recognised as one of the best places in the world to fish for trout), or try your hand at the Taupo Hole in One golf challenge. You can even jump out of a plane and skydive over the lake. These are a small selection of the many activities on offer here in Taupo.

Included B,D
Camping: Taupo

Day 62 – This morning, we stop for a visit at Orakei Korako (included), the largest silica terraces in New Zealand. Hot springs and bubbling mud pools make this an incredible experience as you wander around the hidden valleys and caves of this natural geothermal park. Orakei Korako boasts the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand. 

We then head southeast through thick pine forests and over high mountains to the city of Napier, capital of Hawkes Bay.   

Included B,D
Camping: Napier

Day 63 - 68That Beautiful Eastern Bit No One Goes To - Napier to Whakatane

Day 63 – Free Day. Hawkes Bay is recognised as one of New Zealand’s premier food and wine regions. It is also known as an international Art Deco capital with outstanding architecture dating from the 1930's when the area was decimated by a large earthquake. 

Napier is the largest city in the Hawkes Bay and has a very pretty seafront. Marine Parade is a great place to walk or cycle along whilst you admire the many Art Deco buildings on show. 

Wine tours are a popular pastime in this premier wine region of New Zealand, and many visitors to the town also choose to take a tour to the scenic Cape Kidnappers gannet colony.  

The old harbour area is also a lovely place to spend some time with plenty of quaint boutique shops and cafes to enjoy.

Included B
Camping: Napier

Day 64 – Free Day. Optional scenic drive today with ZigZag. Come and enjoy the dramatic scenery around the Tuku Tuku Road loop, up to Te Mata Peak and past the Mission Estate (the oldest winery in New Zealand which dates back to 1851). 

Included B,D
Camping: Napier

Day 65 – Today we travel north to the coastal town of Wairoa, before heading inland through stunning gorges along the Tiniroto Road to our very special destination for two nights, deep in the hill country of Ngatapa.

Included B,D
Lodge: Gisborne

Day 66 – Free Day. Today you can explore the delights of the Eastwoodhill Arboretum which covers 131 hectares of rolling rural farmland and contains the most comprehensive collection of flora in NZ. It displays over 4000 different varieties of trees, shrubs and plants and is extremely beautiful. Whether we are visiting in the Spring or in Autumn the colours and variety of species are spectacular. Meander your way through the numerous woodland paths within the park, take time out to sit in the gardens and enjoy the ambience or head into Gisborne city centre and watch the surfers from the boardwalk. 

Included B,D
Lodge: Gisborne

Day 67 & 68– The next two days see us travelling State Highway 35, which circles right around New Zealand’s East Cape. The East Cape is the easternmost point of the New Zealand mainland and is the first place to see the sunrise in the world! The 334 km road trip around the coastline is stunning, comprising of endless white sandy beaches, remote villages where wild horses roam free, and a number of historical points of interest. 

We stay the night at a beautifully secluded spot on the most remote part of the East Cape. Here, with weather permitting, we have the opportunity to zip open our tents at dawn and be the first people in the world to witness the sun rising up out of the ocean for the new day. What an experience!

Over our two days of travel around the Cape, we’ll visit the old abandoned wharf, wool and meat work buildings of beautiful Tokumaru Bay, and Tolaga Bay with what is believed to be the longest (660m) and most spectacular wharf of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. The wharf at Tolaga Bay stands where Captain Cook first met the leaders of the Te Aitanga a Hauiti tribe in 1769 and there are a number of other places along this historic section of coastline where Cook and his ship, the Endeavour set anchor. 

We’ll also pass through Te Araroa where you can find New Zealand’s oldest and largest Pohutukawa tree, the iconic and picturesque Anglican Raukokore Church and the tiny hamlet of Omaio, whose name literally means ‘peace, quiet & tranquillity’ in Māori.

We complete our East Cape experience in Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty.

Included B,D
Day 67 - Camping: East Cape

Included B,L,D
Day 68 - Camping: Whakatane

Day 69 - 76That Steamy, Smelly Bit With Hobbits - Whakatane to Hahei 

Day 69 –  Free Day. Whakatāne is the heart of the Eastern Bay of Plenty and frequently records the highest number of annual sunshine hours in New Zealand. It is the perfect place to unwind and explore the area’s beautiful natural setting. 

But there is also lots to do – it is one of the country’s premier fishing centres with more yellowfin tuna being caught here than anywhere else in New Zealand. You can also take a boat trip out to Moutohorā/Whale Island, a protected wildlife sanctuary that supports an abundance of native New Zealand birdlife. 

One of the more popular attractions is to take a flight over White Island and the numerous volcanoes that make up the Taupo Volcanic Zone – an incredible experience. 

Included B,D
Camping: Whakatāne

Day 70 – Today we head to Rotorua. As we near the city, we pay a visit to Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland, named as "One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World" (included). This is New Zealand's most colourful geothermal attraction consisting of a myriad of brightly coloured natural hot pools, sulphur mud baths and explosive geysers. Take a self-guided walk through the stunning landscape nestled within a natural bush setting and gaze in awe at the extraordinary natural phenomena here.

Not far away is Kerosene Creek, a stream heated by natural hot springs. Complete with a waterfall and a series of steaming sandy bottomed pools surrounded by dense forest, this delightful spot is a local secret and your chance for a dip in the warm bath-like water. It’s so peaceful and serene here, you won’t want to leave. 

We then spend four nights in the fascinating city of Rotorua.

Included B,D
Camping:  Rotorua 

Day 71 – Free Day. Rotorua has so much to offer. From geothermal natural springs with shooting geysers and bubbling mud pools to adrenaline pumping activities like guided volcano climbing, ziplining and zorbing. There are also kilometres of lake, river and forest paths and trails to explore on foot or bike and a visit to Rotorua is not complete without experiencing our unique Māori culture too. And these are just some of the amazing things to see and do here, which is why we have given you almost four days in the city to fully immerse yourself in this incredible region. 

Included B,D
Camping: Rotorua

Day 72 - Free Day. You will have the day to yourselves in Rotorua. This afternoon in camp, we have a go at cooking our own Hāngī. A Hāngī is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using either natural steam or heated rocks buried in a pit oven. The campsite has a stainless-steel version that uses the natural geothermal steam from under the ground. Watch or help us if you wish, or just enjoy the food once it comes out of the ground a few hours later! 

Included B,D
Camping: Rotorua

Day 73 – Free Day until 5pm. We spend our final night in Rotorua at the Mitai Māori Village, where you will be given an authentic introduction to Māori culture and treated with a traditional Hāngī feast. (included)

Included B,D
Camping: Rotorua

Day 73 – Free Day until 5pm. We spend our final night in Rotorua at the Mitai Māori Village, where you will be given an authentic introduction to Māori culture and treated with a traditional Hāngī feast. (included)

Included B,D
Camping: Rotorua

Day 74 – The ‘Hobbiton’ Day. (Included activity)

Experience the magic of the Hobbiton movie set, situated in the heart of the Mighty Waikato region. Here you will explore the real ‘middle earth’ and the lush pastures of the ‘Shire’ with a guided walking tour of Hobbiton as featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Wander amongst the ‘Hobbit Holes’, past the Mill and down to the Green Dragon Inn for a refreshing complimentary drink. Even if you’re not a fan of the books or films, we are sure you will still find this tour extremely endearing, interesting and very photogenic. 

After our adventure here, we head to the City of Tauranga where we drive past New Zealand's biggest port and one of its largest natural harbours before ending up in the popular seaside resort of Mount Maunganui. Its long sandy main beach stretches right up to the base of the ‘Mount’ which can be climbed to gain spectacular views across the city, harbour and coastline. 

Included B,D
Camping: Mt. Maunganui

Day 75 – Free Day. Enjoy a walk along the beach, watch the surfers ride the waves and the ships coming into the harbour, indulge in the numerous cafes, juice and coffee shops along the sea front, or take the walk up the Mount. 

If you fancy a day in the city, you can take the bus into Tauranga and shop til you drop - up to you.


Included B,D
Camping: Mt. Maunganui

Day 76 – We start today by driving to the little inland town of Waihi, New Zealand's 'Heart of Gold', with a gold mining history spanning three centuries and a local open pit mine that is still fully operational.

We then drive further north to the stunning Mount Paku peninsula. The 360° panoramic views at the top of the summit walk are not to be missed, looking down over Tairua harbour, Pauanui Beach, the beautiful turquoise blue estuary waters, and out along the coast to the Alderman Islands. 

We now find ourselves in The Coromandel, a popular holiday region renowned for its 400kms of pristine white sandy beaches and relaxed vibes. 
Included B,D
Camping: Hahei

Day 77 - 82 Those Beachy Bits Either Side Of Auckland - Hahei to Russell 

Day 77 – Free Day. Hahei, a village on the Coromandel Peninsula, is located within the Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve. It’s stunning sheltered bay of golden sands is framed by Pohutukawa trees and old white volcanic cliffs. The islands of Mercury Bay can be seen from the coastline, with the best vantage points being Te Pare Point in the historic reserve at the southern end of Hahei beach, an area which is also the site of an ancient Māori pa (fortified village).

Voted one of the most picturesque spots in the Coromandel, Cathedral Cove is home to a soaring limestone rock arch that separates two white sandy beaches and is a pleasant walk, kayak or boat trip away from Hahei. The walkway starts right at camp and meanders its way to the top of the cliff where you will have spectacular views across Mercury Bay. It then descends down to the Cove. 

Included B,D
Camping: Hahei 

Day 78 – Today, we zigzag across and around the Coromandel Peninsula to Coromandel Town, visiting some truly beautiful beaches and harbour towns along the way

Included B,D
Camping: Coromandel Town

Day 79 –  Free Day. Your chance to experience the Coromandel Coastal Walkway. One of New Zealand’s most popular coastal walks with its beautiful scenery and remote location, it borders the northern Coromandel coastline between Stony and Fletcher Bays and follows an old bridle path formed by early pioneers. Pick up and drop off will need to be organised by you in advance*. 

Alternatively, you have a day to explore Coromandel Town, a unique town with character, soul and ambience. As well as galleries and craft shops, the town has many restored Victorian buildings, a narrow-gauge mountain railway and a small mining museum.
*at your own cost 


Included B,D
Camping: Coromandel Town

Day 80 – ‘Relocating’ from the Coromandel to the Northland region, we head down the Thames Coastal Road, which offers more magnificent views along the coastline here. 

We then take the scenic route north via the Firth of Thames. This quiet, pretty road is also known as ‘The Seabird Coast’. On the way, we pass through bays, beaches, lush reserves and alongside marshes, wetlands, tidal flats and mangroves that are home to over sixty different avian species and in excess of 40,000 individual birds.

We then navigate our way through Auckland, ‘the City of Sails’, with its impressive skyline and iconic Sky Tower looming in the distance, before heading toward the surf, sea, sand, and rugged coastal scenery of our first destination in Northland, beautiful Mangawhai Heads. 

Included B,D
Camping: Mangawhai Heads

Day 81 – Free Day. Whether its relaxing on the beach, walking beside the sand dunes or having a go at fishing, kayaking or the many other water-based activities on offer, Mangawhai Heads is a beautiful spot to spend your day.

You might also wish to explore the excellent Mangawhai Coastal Cliff walk. This 2-3 hour round trip offers spectacular elevated ocean views up and down the coast and out to the many offshore islands. 
 
Included B,D
Camping: Mangawhai Heads 

Day 82 – Today we travel north where we pass through stunning Langs Beach, a Northland gem, to Whangarei Falls. This 26m high waterfall on the Hatea River in the Whangarei Scenic Reserve makes for a pleasant lunch stop. 

We then continue up through remote rural countryside to the charmingly historic town of Russell in the Bay of Islands.

Included B,D
Camping: Russell

Day 83 - 87That Northern Bit With The Islands - Russell to Matauri Bay 

Day 83 – Free Day. No timings for today as it’s your time to do whatever you please. In fact, we have allowed 3 whole free days here in Russell. This will give you the chance to explore the town itself, take the frequent foot ferry across to Paihia*, take a boat trip out around the Bay of Islands* and/or visit Waitangi*

Situated just a short walk from Paihia, Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most historic sites, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British Crown and more than 500 Māori chiefs. At Waitangi, visitors are given an in-depth introduction to the early history of New Zealand and Māori culture. You can visit the Treaty House itself, marvel at the fully carved Māori meeting house and traditional Waka (canoes), experience a live cultural performance and explore the two museums and beautiful grounds. 
*at your own cost 

Included B
Camping:  Russell 

Day 84 – Free Day.

Included B
Camping: Russell 

Day 85 – Free Day.

Included B,D
Camping: Russell

Day 86 –  Today we head north via Paihia to Kerikeri, home to New Zealand’s oldest buildings. 

Dating back to 1822, The Kerikeri Mission Station (Kemp House) stands adjacent to the old Stone Store which was built in 1832. Situated in a beautiful orchard setting, we have time to look around, visit the museum* and store, and enjoy some lunch at the cafe on site. 

This afternoon, we drive through the rolling hills of Northland to a picturesque beach settlement called Matauri Bay. Here you can climb the hill right at camp to see the Rainbow Warrior Memorial and for stunning views across to the Cavalli Islands, or just relax on the beautiful beach at our campsite.
*at your own cost 

Included B,D
Camping: Matauri Bay

Day 87 – No need to take down your tents this morning as we are off on a full day trip to Cape Reinga. Today takes us all the way to the top of New Zealand - the northernmost point. It is a scenic drive to get there, but the main attraction is at the end of the road. After passing through green pastures, we are then greeted with large rolling sand dunes on both sides of the road. Then as we get closer to the very top of New Zealand, we wind our way up steep hills and are rewarded with incredible views of the roiling ocean, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. Here at Cape Reinga, we have time for a stroll down to the iconic lighthouse and its outstanding views of the northern coastline. It is here that we can often see the two distinct colours of the waters as they come together.

Soon after starting our drive back to Matauri Bay, we make a stop at the Te Paki sand dunes - a vast area of sand with native bush on one side and Ninety Mile Beach and the ocean on the other. They are quite incredible to see. You’ll have time to walk across the desert-like landscape or hire a sandboard and have a go at ‘boarding’ down the dunes! Time permitting, we will then take you to the start of Ninety Mile Beach for a quick photo.

Included B,L,D
Camping: Matauri Bay 

Day 88 - 90 That Bit With The Big Trees At The End - Matauri Bay to Auckland

Day 88 – Today we cross over to the west coast and around the Hokianga Harbour before visiting Opononi and Omapere, two small towns that were well known in the 1950’s for a friendly dolphin called ‘Opo’. She was a young Bottlenose dolphin that enjoyed playing and spending time with humans in the harbour here. 

We then make a stop at Arai Te Uru on the southern head of the Hokianga Harbour. This headland offers spectacular views of the Tasman Sea and the giant sand dunes on the opposite side of the harbour entrance.

After our stop here, we head south and meander our way through the Waipoua Kauri Forest, before making a stop at majestic Tāne Mahuta, the ‘Lord of the Forest’ and New Zealand’s largest living Kauri tree. Keep looking up as you take the short walk through the forest, and you will soon see this magnificent tree towering over all of the others. At over 2000 years old, it is hard not to be in awe of Tāne Mahuta’s size, strength and ancient presence. Get somebody to take a photo of you with the tree behind - you’ll appear very small indeed.

We spend the night in this densely forested area of Northland. 

As an optional (included) activity, we will take you into the Trounsen Forest to search for Kiwi once the sun has gone down. This is a very special experience - most New Zealanders have never seen a Kiwi in the wild. We will have a 50% chance of seeing one. Whilst walking amongst a forest of enormous Kauri trees we will need to be very quiet as we shine our red torch lights (provided) through the undergrowth in our search for these shy, nocturnal birds. The flightless Kiwi bird is a ‘taonga’ (treasure) to Māori, who have strong cultural, spiritual and historic associations with it. It is also an icon here in NZ, symbolising the uniqueness of New Zealand's wildlife and natural heritage.

Included B,D
Camping: Kauri Coast 

Day 89 – We begin today with a visit to the Kai Iwi Lakes (weather permitting). Consisting entirely of freshwater, these basin type lakes were created more than 1.8 million years ago and were formed by the accumulation of rainwater in sand depressions. Each of the three crystal clear lakes is fringed with pure white sand and surrounded by pine forest.

We then continue south through Dargaville and alongside the Wairoa River before stopping at the award-winning Kauri Museum. This heritage museum brings to life the history of the mighty Kauri tree, a NZ native and one of the world’s largest trees (which can live up to 3000 years). The Kauri Museum is the world’s 1st Carbon-zero certified museum and hosts galleries of lifelike scenes of pioneering life, interactive hands-on displays, the world’s largest kauri slab (measuring 22.5 metres in length), a rare collection of polished kauri gum and a working sawmill. 

After time in the museum we will head over to the Mahurangi Peninsula at the top of the Hauraki Gulf.

Included B,D
Camping: Sandspit

Day 90 – Our final activity for your ZigZag itinerary. This morning we have a cruise on the Mail Boat to Kawau Island, the largest mail run by water in the Southern Hemisphere, complete with a farewell BBQ lunch (included). As we cruise the beautiful bays, you will have stunning views throughout this scenic region and of its historic landmarks, while we visit up to over 75 different wharves delivering freight and mail to the island residents. You will then be able to spend time on this picturesque island

Visit Mansion House and its beautifully manicured gardens, stroll the many walking tracks - a wonderful way to see the Island’s dramatic coastline, relax in the serene settings or even take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. Keep your eye out for the abundance of wild birds on the island (including the many peacocks) and you may also catch a glimpse of a dolphin or penguin whilst we cruise to and from the island. 

We will then drive back to Auckland city where we will say our goodbyes. We will drop you off at one of two locations – either in the central city or out at the airport.

Included B,L

90 days, 89 nights
NZD

$17,995

NOW

$16,195.50

Christchurch to Auckland (8390km)
10 travellers
Feb 22nd – May 21st
90 days, 89 nights
Book Now
*The price above is shown in New Zealand Dollar (NZD). The Tour will be charged as a flat rate + any credit card or bank transfer fees. To convert the above price to your local currency, click here!

Still thinking?

Meet your tour guides before you commit to your trip. Click here to book in a time to chat with us today!