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14 day new zealand highlights | back to itineraries index

NapierDay 1: Wellington - Napier
Distance 335km, approximate drive distance 5 hours

Follow State Highway 2 through the Hutt Valley, over the Rimutaka Hill, and into the Wairarapa region. Known for its warm summers and rural lifestyle, the region provides a relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of Wellington city. The small township of Martinborough has a growing world-wide reputation for its wine, and towns enroute to Napier - Greytown and Carterton - have a wealth of old country villas, gardens and cafes at which to stop and enjoy the atmosphere of this region. (Suggested Napier accommodation)

Day 2: Napier
Basking in a Mediterranean climate, the Hawke's Bay region is known for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Over 30 vineyards offer visitors a wine tasting and indoor/outdoor dining experience. In the morning spend time in Napier city. Visit the city's collection of Art Deco buildings and many antique and craft shops. After lunch, visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand for hands-on environmental education and research facilities and a unique eco-tourist entertainment centre. Alternatively join a guided tour with Long Island Tours, which specialises in Maori cultural tours and will take visitors into the countryside to learn more about Maori culture. Activities may include staying on a marae overnight. (Suggested Napier accommodation)

Day 3: Napier - Rotorua
Distance 225km, approximate 3 hours 50 minutes

Depart Napier on State Highway 5 for Lake Taupo and Rotorua. Lake Taupo is one of the North Island's most popular holiday destinations, both in summer and in winter. Taupo town centre is crammed with cafes and interesting shops and the Huka Falls area is great for picnics and nature walks. The drive to Rotorua will take approximately an hour. In Rotorua visitors have the opportunity to experience a number of Maori culture activities and attractions. 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. (Suggested Rotorua accommodation)

Day 4: Rotorua - Tauranga
Distance 86km, approximate drive time 1 hour 30 minutes

TaurangaIn the morning take a gondola ride up Mt Ngongotaha for views of Lake Rotorua and the central city district. At the top take the opportunity to try the luge. Other options in the morning include a visit to one of the farm shows available in Rotorua, which showcase many of the farming activities prevalent in New Zealand. Early afternoon, depart Rotorua on State Highway 33 for Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty region. This region seems to have it all - a mild, sunny climate, some of the country's most popular beaches and an abundance of orchards, especially kiwifruit, avocado and citrus. (Suggested Taupo accommodation)

Day 5: Tauranga - Coromandel
Distance 130km, approximate drive time 2 hours 15 minutes

Travel up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway to The Coromandel where the eastern side of the Peninsula is sprinkled liberally with white sand and surf beaches. Stay overnight in Pauanui, a holiday harbour town situated on Coromandel Peninsula's east coast, with a superb setting beside the Pacific Ocean. Visit Slipper Island where you can enjoy historic sites, scenic walks and safe snorkeling, diving and fishing. Or head for the Pauanui mountain walking track, where you can climbe from the south end of Pauanui Beach, to the top of Pauanui Mountain for panoramic views. (Suggested Pauanui accommodation)

Day 6: Coromandel - Auckland
Distance 271km, approximate drive time 3 hours 30 minutes

In the morning drive across The Coromandel on State Highway 25 and down the west side through secluded bays and coastal villages offering locally made art and craft. Stop in Coromandel town to soak up some of the small-town atmosphere and attractions it has to offer. Continue the journey back to Auckland through Thames. Traces of goldmining history, including abandoned shafts, can be found in and around the township of Thames. Check in to your accommodation in Auckland for the night. Take a trip up the Sky Tower for stunning 360-degree views of Auckland and to get bearings on the city. The tower has four observation decks and a revolving restaurant. Allow at least an hour to enjoy the spectacular views. Alternatively, discover the taste of New Zealand's Pacific Rim style of cuisine at one of the many restaurants in Auckland city. (Suggested Auckland accommodation)

Day 7: Auckland - Paihia
Distance 240km, approximate drive time 4 hours 15 minutes

PaihiaDepart Auckland for Paihia in the Northland region on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway (State Highway 1). This journey will take most of the afternoon. The Northland region is steeped in the history of New Zealand and is where the country's founding document - the Treaty of Waitangi - was signed in 1840. The myriad of islands, bays and beaches around the coastline provide visitors with a chance to experience a range of marine-based activities. On arrival in Paihia visit Waitangi, only five minutes' drive from Paihia village. Overnight in Paihia. (Suggested Northland accommodation)

Day 8: Paihia
Spend the day exploring the Bay of Islands area. Swimming with dolphins(northland daytours section), sailing, big-game fishing and kayaking - the Bay of Islands is a Historic and Maritime Park. Take a scheduled coach tour to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach. Scheduled daily tours depart from Paihia. At Cape Reinga lighthouse (one of New Zealand's northernmost points), view the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea colliding. (Suggested Northland accommodation)

Day 9: Paihia - Whangarei
Distance 240km, approximate drive time 2 hours

Drive south through Kaikohe on State Highway 12, to Hokianga Harbour. Take time to stop in the twin townships of Opononi and Omapere. Take a trip to the huge sand dunes, and sand toboggan down them. Another option in the area is a trip to discover the mangrove boardwalk in Rawene. Continue the journey south on State Highway 12 through Waipoua Forest. Stop to view Tane Mahuta, one of the giant kauri trees in the area. There are also treks and bush walks in the Waipoua Forest. Drive south on State Highway 12 to Dargaville and overnight in Whangarei. (Suggested Northland accommodation)

Day 10: Whangarei - Auckland
Distance 169km, approximate drive time 3 hours

Spend the morning in Whangarei before heading south to Auckland. The centre of a district famous for its superb beaches and romantic countryside, Whangarei enjoys more than 2000 hours of sunshine a year, and there's rainfall enough to keep surroundings lush, green and attractively semi-tropical. Take a domestic flight from Auckland to Christchurch. (Suggested Christchurch accommodation)

Day 11: Christchurch - Greymouth
Distance 258km, approximate drive time 3 hours 10 minutes

Christchurch GreymouthDepart 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)

Day 12: Greymouth - Franz Josef
Distance 179km, approximate drive time 3 hours 10minutes
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(helicopter line feature pge) 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 13: 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 14: Wanaka - Queenstown
Distance 117km, approximate drive time 1 hour 30 minutes

QueenstownDrive the short distance on State Highway 6 or over the newly sealed Crown Range road. Stop at the old goldmining village of Arrowtown for morning tea and a look through the shopping area. Spend the rest of the day and evening in Queenstown. There is always something to do in Queenstown, no matter what the season. In the summer as the temperatures rise, Queenstown's numerous waterways come into their own. Explore pristine waterways from a raft, canoe, jet boat, steam boat or sail boat. In autumn when the colours are vivid, Arrowtown throws its annual Autumn Festival. In winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turn into an alpine playground with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Winter Festival. Finally in spring, skiers can enjoy spring snow conditions, the sailing is exciting and the Queenstown gardens are in full bloom. (Suggested Queenstown accommodation)


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