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10 day taste of new zealand | back to itineraries index

Day 1: Auckland - Waitomo Caves
Distance 200km, approximate drive time 3 hours 10 minutes

Drive south on State Highway 1 through Waikato farmland. Pass the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, and drive through a number of attractive rural service towns. From Hamilton take State Highway 3. Stop in Otorohanga and visit the Kiwi House, a kiwi breeding sanctuary. Drive 8 km/5 miles south to get to the Waitomo Caves turn-off. Start at the Museum of Caves and view excellent exhibits on how caves are formed, the flora and fauna that live in them, the history of the caves and cave exploration. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the Waitomo area. (Suggested Waitomo accommodation)

Day 2: Waitomo Caves - Rotorua
Distance 166km, approximate drive time 2 hours 45 minutes

Drive south to Te Kuiti and turn onto State Highway 30 to Rotorua. From the moment people arrive in Rotorua they know they're somewhere quite different. At nearby geothermal hotspots there are geysers spouting, mud pools bubbling and belching and warm geothermal springs and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour. In the evening, entertainment could include a Maori cultural performance or a swim in a hot mineral pool to relax and unwind after a busy day. (Suggested Rotorua accommodation)

Bubbling Mud Pools At RotoruaDay 3: Rotorua
Spend the day exploring the Rotorua area. Please refer to our regional information and tours & activities section for some great attractions and tours to do whilst in Rotorua.

Day 4: Rotorua - Taupo
Distance 80km, approximate drive time 1 hour 20 minutes

Depart Rotorua for a short journey through to the Lake Taupo region on State Highway 5. If time allows, stop at Orakei Korako thermal area. Access to Orakei Korako is by boat and the average sightseeing time is about one hour. Taupo is the main centre in the region and Lake Taupo is also one of the North Island's most popular holiday destinations, both in summer and in winter. Arrive in Taupo by midday to allow plenty of time to see the many attractions in this area. Overnight in Taupo. (Suggested Taupo accommodation)

WellingtonDay 5: Taupo - Wellington
Distance 380km, approximate drive time 5 hours 10 minutes

Drive south from Taupo on State Highway 1 to Wellington, a journey of approximately five hours. Stop in Turangi at the National Trout Centre, an interpretative centre operated by the Department of Conservation OR stop at the Army Museum, Waiouru to visit a nostalgic and sobering collection of displays recording New Zealand's war and peacekeeping operations. Arrive in Wellington late afternoon. Wellington is the nation's capital and the political headquarters for the country. It is also home to Te Papa - the interactive Museum of New Zealand. Take a domestic flight from Wellington to Christchurch. (Suggested Christchurch accommodation)

Day 6: Christchurch - Greymouth
Distance 258km, approximate drive time 3 hours 10 minutes

Depart Christchurch travelling east on State Highway 73 through Arthur's Pass National Park, a spectacular trip. The Park has a diverse landscape, with forests, waterfalls, snowy peaks, walkways and trails, and rare wildlife including the endangered and reclusive kiwi and the kea, the cheeky mountain parrot. Travellers may wish to stop and stretch their legs in the Park and choose from a variety of short walks that leave from the vicinity of Arthur's Pass village. Alternatively, take the TranzAlpine scenic train from Christchurch to Greymouth. The train arrives early afternoon and rental cars are available for pick-up in Greymouth. (Suggested Greymouth accommodation)

GlaciersDay 7: Greymouth - Franz Josef
Distance 179km, approximate drive time 3 hours 10minutes
OR Greymouth - Fox Glacier
Distance 204km, approximate drive time 3 hours 55minutes

Depart Greymouth for Franz Josef Glacier. Enroute stop in Hokitika, the third largest centre on the West Coast. Shop at one of the many craft galleries for jade, hand-blown glass, gold nugget jewellery, woodcrafts, and wool products, or visit the glowworm grotto. Continue south to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Stop in Ross, a town that still has working goldmines, including one of the deepest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Arrive at one of the two Glaciers by early afternoon. Fox and Franz Josef are approximately 45 minutes' drive apart. Either walk to the base of the Glaciers or join one of the guided glacier walks, which accommodate every level of fitness and experience. There are also scenic flights and helicopter excursions for those who wish to view the Glaciers from the air. There are nature walks and other attraction options available to enjoy the area - visit the Franz Josef Glacier Visitor Centre for more information. Overnight at Franz Josef or Fox Glacier village. (Suggested Glacier accommodation)

Day 8: Franz Josef - Wanaka
Distance 287km, approximate drive time 4 hours 30 minutes

Depart the Glaciers and continue south through Haast Pass to Wanaka. On the drive south to Haast, don't miss Lake Matheson's reflection of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. Call in to the Visitor Centre at Haast Junction for information on other activities and attractions the area offers. The trip through Haast Pass is very rugged and scenic, so take the time to enjoy the scenery and stop along the way. The journey winds around the lakes of Hawea and Wanaka before arriving in Wanaka township mid-afternoon. Visit the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum where you can see a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircrafts, or Puzzling World where you can get lost in a world of jigsaw puzzles and a maze! Overnight in Wanaka. (Suggested Wanaka accommodation)

Day 9: Wanaka - Mt Cook
Distance 211km, approximate drive time 3 hours 5 minutes

Spend the morning in Wanaka and then drive State Highway 8 through the scenic Lindis Pass to Mt Cook. At 3754 metres/12,308 feet, Mt Cook (Aoraki) is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above a splendid cast of massive snow-clad peaks that make up Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park. Nudging one side of Mt Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30 km/18 mile giant and one of the longest outside the Himalayas. Visitors can base themselves in Twizel (50 minutes from Mt Cook) where there is ample accommodation available, or stay at the base of Mt Cook in Mt Cook village. Spend the rest of the afternoon in the area. (Suggested Mt Cook accommodation)

Ballooning Over ChristchurchDay 10: Mt Cook - Christchurch
Distance 331km, approximate drive time 4 hours 55 minutes

Depart Mt Cook for the drive back to Christchurch via Lake Tekapo. Stop on the shores of Lake Tekapo to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd - an historic church dedicated to the early pioneers of this area, and the sheepdog - a statue that is a tribute to high country farmers' best friend. Continue to Christchurch via State Highway 1 through Ashburton, the commercial centre of one of New Zealand's richest agricultural and pastoral districts, or via the Inland Scenic Route 72. (Suggested Christchurch accommodation)


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