Tailored from £5,400 per person excl. flights
14 days Lake Taupo, Marlborough Sounds, Kaikoura, Queenstown
14 days Lake Taupo, Marlborough Sounds, Kaikoura, Queenstown
New Zealand is a country of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, romantic vineyards and rolling coastline. The country is made up of two islands, both equally rich in natural wonders and friendly locals, and this 14-day self-drive luxury trip takes in the best of the North and South.
You’ll start your Highlights of New Zealand Tour in Taupo, home to steaming geysers, majestic waterfalls and the Great Lake. You’ll explore a glowworm cave, hike the Huka Falls and soak in bubbling hot springs.
Next, you’ll cruise into Marlborough Sounds, a magical region of sparkling emerald water, lush forested coastlines and golden sandy shores. During your time here, you can kayak amongst sunning seals, spot whales and dolphins, then hike the Queen Charlotte Track to enjoy spectacular views.
Venturing east, you’ll arrive in Kaikoura after a scenic drive along the stunning Pacific coastline. The town is a marine life paradise, so you’ll have the chance to spot whales, seals, albatross and even swim with playful dolphins in their natural habitat.
End in lively Queenstown, where you’ll spend an incredible three days exploring this beautiful region. Take a helicopter tour over the magical Fiord National Park, cruise through the spellbinding Milford Sound and indulge in world-class wining and dining.
This highlights tour of New Zealand is a two-week whirlwind of adventure set in a scenic paradise you’ll never forget.
You’ll be greeted at Auckland airport by your own private driver who will transfer you to Waitomo Caves, which takes around three hours. Watch New Zealand’s stunning landscape pass by through the window on your way to your one-hour cave tour.
On arrival, you’ll take a 3.5-kilometre shuttle ride and a short walk through the spectacular bushland to the caves. You'll be guided by candlelight through Footwhistle Cave, also known as Te Anaroa Cave, where you will see the glimmering glowworms up close.
After your tour, your driver will transfer you to Taupo, which takes around two hours. You will pick up your hire car then make the 15-minute drive to your hotel.
You’ll be staying at Whakaipo Lodge, a luxury boutique lodge tucked away in tranquil bushland, surrounded by misty mountains and sparkling lakes.
Enjoy a welcome afternoon tea and spend the evening unwinding in the peaceful gardens. Indulge in wonderful barista-made coffee, exquisite wine, and delicious home-cooked meals made from local and homegrown ingredients.
Taupo has so much to offer, with a wide range of activities to choose from. Nature lovers will enjoy the Great Lake: a volcanic crater filled with deep and calm waters, perfect for swimming, fishing, kayaking and cruising.
Explore the geothermal region, from Orakei Korako's bubbling geysers and ending with Ruatapu Cave, the only geothermal cave in New Zealand. Walk the Craters of the Moon Trail, dotted with billowing steam vents and deep craters. Then, visit the hot springs of the Wairakei Terraces to soak in the mineral-rich thermal pools.
Thrill-seekers can enjoy white-water rafting, bungy jumping, and plenty of spectacular hiking and cycling trails. Kayak to the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, a series of stunning Maori rock carvings into the cliffs of Lake Taupo.
Taupo’s majestic Huka Falls are a thundering force of nature, with 22,000 litres of water pouring over the ledge every second and an eight-metre drop into the churning gorge along the Waikato River. The falls were named after the sight of water being whipped up into a foam from the sheer force of the rapids, with ‘Huka’ being the Maori word for foam.
You can marvel at the falls and get up close from the viewing platforms, or you can take an easy one-hour walk from Spa Park in Taupo to Huka Falls. The trail is lined with lush forest, following the river to the roar of the falls, plus you’ll find plenty of spots to capture some amazing photographs.
Today, you’ll drop off your hire car and take a flight from Taupo to Blenheim, where you’ll be greeted by your own private driver. You’ll be taken on a 30-minute drive to Picton, where you will meet your private water taxi, which will take you on a 40-minute cruise to your accommodation at Lochmara Lodge.
As you glide onto the sandy shores of Lochmara Bay, you’ll see the luxury resort nestled within lush green bushland. Spend the evening roaming the beautiful nature trails, or be pampered in the sumptuous bathhouse and massage suite.
The lodge has plenty of fantastic things to do, including free use of kayaks and paddleboards, a sandy beach, wildlife tours, bushwalks, and even nighttime activities such as stargazing, swimming in the phosphorescence and a glowworm grotto tour.
Spend the day roaming the breathtaking region of Marlborough Sounds. The vast expanses of dazzling emerald water rimmed by golden sandy coves and dense bushland are perfect for kayaking, hiking, cycling and sunny picnics.
Marlborough Sounds is made up of four main water bodies formed from ancient sea-drowned valleys, including Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, Pelorus and Mahau. There are over 50 protected nature reserves, where you’ll find an abundance of native wildlife. Kayak past sunning seals and forests filled with trilling birds, or take a cruise to spot dolphins, gannets and even orcas.
Visit Motuara, Long, Blumine and Allports Islands to view historic sites, or hike along peaceful nature trails to discover stunning panoramic views. Take a ride along the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive and sample local seafood delicacies matched to a glass of world-famous Marlborough wine.
The day is yours to spend exploring the Marlborough Sounds region. We recommend hiking the extraordinary Queen Charlotte Track, a stunning 71-kilometre trail of glistening bays, lush forest, historic sites and breathtaking ridge views, stretching from Ship Cove to Anakiwa.
The track’s starting point marks the location where the first meeting between South Island Maori and Europeans took place, when Captain James Cook sailed the HMS Endeavour into Ship Cove in 1770 and made the cove his base.
It’s an easy hike with mostly flat terrain, split into sections so you can take a full day hike along a section or enjoy a shorter walk of a few hours.
After breakfast you’ll board a water taxi to Picton, where a shuttle will take you to pick up your hire car. You’ll then take the two-hour scenic drive to Kaikoura, soaking up the stunning views along the Pacific Coast.
You’ll be staying at the Kaikoura Boutique Hotel, a charming waterfront hotel at the heart of Kaikoura. This historic building has recently been refurbished with stylish rooms and an elegant champagne bar.
Take a relaxing stroll along the esplanade, keeping an eye out for seals and seabirds. Walk into town to find a range of charming restaurants and sample crayfish, the local delicacy.
Kaikoura is set on the rugged east coast of the South Island, nestled between a stunning coastline and mountains blanketed in lush forest.
Best known for its vibrant marine life, Kaikoura gives visitors the chance to see a rich abundance of wildlife in their natural environments, including whales, dolphins, seals, the albatross and an array of birdlife.
Take a walk along the Kaikoura Penninsula Walkway to watch seal colonies sunning themselves on the rocks. Go whale watching to see majestic sperm whales, try diving or snorkelling, or hop on a fishing charter to catch your own fresh fish.
When you’ve had enough of the ocean, you could take a hike up Mt Fyffe for panoramic views of the region, or you could take a scenic wildlife flight over Kaikoura.
Enjoy a relaxing morning before heading out at midday for a special dolphin encounter. You’ll join an eco-friendly tour to swim with the largest pods of dusky dolphins found around New Zealand. Depending on the season, the pods can range from 100 to 1000 dolphins.
Dusky dolphins are known for their playful and interactive behaviour and love to show off with acrobatic leaps and frolic with you in their natural environment.
You can also choose to view the dolphins from the boat, where you can snap incredible photographs and take home some special memories.
This morning you’ll make the 3.5-hour drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch airport, where you’ll board a flight for Queenstown. You’ll arrive in Queenstown in the afternoon, where you’ll pick up your hire car and make the 20-minute drive to your accommodation.
You’ll be staying at Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel, a luxury five-star hotel haven with sophisticated decor, exceptional service and spectacular mountain views. The property is set amidst peaceful parklands, only a 300-metre walk into the heart of the city and Lake Wakatipu.
Spend the evening enjoying complimentary pre-dinner drinks and canapés made with local produce, then take a pleasant stroll into town to enjoy the vibrant restaurants and bars.
This morning, you'll be picked up from Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel and transferred to a heli base, where you will board a helicopter for a tour over the Queenstown region.
You’ll fly over breathtaking alpine scenery, with dense forests and rolling farmlands, into Fiordland National Park brimming with glittering lakes, waterfalls and valleys.
As you land at Milford Sound, your pilot will guide you to the boat terminal, where you’ll check in for your spectacular Milford Sound cruise. You’ll glide quietly through unspoilt valley, marvelling at the hushed atmosphere and grand peaks.
Your pilot will meet you after your special experience to escort you back to the helicopter for your return flight. On this flight, you’ll see stunning ice shelves and will even land on a glacier for a photo opportunity.
The day is yours to explore the Queenstown region and there’s plenty to see and do.
Spend the morning on the 1.5-kilometre Queenstown Hill Time Walk, which leads to stunning panoramic views over the region. Take the 45-minute scenic drive to Glenorchy, a picturesque town with a great hiking trail around Lake Sylvan, or hop on a winery tour to sample the region’s world-class wine.
Queenstown is a thrill-seeker’s paradise, with a huge range of adventure activities to try. You can go skydiving, bungy jumping, canyoning, zip-ling, rafting, paragliding, heli-mountain biking, fly fishing and more. You can also head up to the Skyline Gondola for amazing views over the city.
Your last day in Queenstown can be spent at your leisure, with the city offering a range of fun activities.
We recommend having lunch at Amisfield Winery, a beautiful stone restaurant overlooking a breathtaking landscape of vineyards and rugged mountains. Renowned chef Vaughan Mabee has worked in Michelin star restaurants around the world and has brought his culinary talents to the award-winning wineries of the region.
Then, unwind in the afternoon with a magical experience at the Onsen Hot Pools. Relax in the natural hot pools and sip champagne as you take in stunning views of the Shotover River Canyons.
Depending on your flight time, you’ll check out of your hotel, drop off your hire car and arrive at the airport.
Your luxury tour of the highlights of New Zealand has come to an end, but we hope you’ll leave full of wonderful memories and amazing stories; from the spectacular natural landscapes and incredible wildlife encounters, to the delicious local dining and luxurious accommodations - you’ve had some truly special experiences.
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As with all Wayfairer holidays, this luxury New Zealand tour has been put together with the aim of benefiting local communities, as well as the natural environment.
All the local guides referred to in this itinerary are paid a fair wage, we only recommend accommodation options with responsible initiatives and our tours have a strong focus on environmental responsibility.
This Highlights of New Zealand tour includes an eco-friendly dolphin encounter, where you swim with dolphins in their natural habitat, guided by local experts to ensure it’s a positive, playful experience for both you and the dolphins. You’ll also stay in hotels with a commitment to sustainability, with many using locally-grown produce, recycled materials and environmentally-conscious design.