Day 1: Arrive New Zealand | Drive or Fly to Tauranga
Upon arrival you can either connect on another flight to Tauranga or collect your rental car and drive 2.5hrs to Tauranga.
Your accommodation for the next two nights is situated in a quiet location - perfect to acclimdate and get a good nights rest. This luxurious accommodation has been created in the style and charm of a French Provencal home nestled in the hills. Your hostess, Kay is one of our favorites, you'll be in good hands (along with her small pooch, Freddie).
Accommodation: Tauranga - 2 nights
Day 2: Tauranga
Today there are many choices - take a walk along Mt Maunganui beach - voted the best in New Zealand! Go paddleboarding, try surfing or climb to the top of 'the mount' for views of the Pacific Ocean and stunning coastline. Take a drive to Hobbiton and tour the worlds only living movie set or further afield to either Rotorua - the home of geothermal parks and Maori Culture or hire a bike and take a ride on the Hauraki Rail Trail.
This evening you have the choice of either Glow Worm Kayak Tour or a massage at your accommodation.
Glow Worm Kayak
This is a truly unique experience; while you can see glow-worms elsewhere in New Zealand, and you can paddle a sea kayak in many places around the world, this is the only place when the two combine for a magical & truly unique experience. The tour is great fun with beautiful scenery, fantastic birdlife, and awesome glow-worms. Enjoy wine and cheese on the edge of Lake McLaren while your guides brief you on how to kayak effectively before launching you onto picturesque Lake McLaren at twilight to paddle to the mysterious glow worm canyon. The glow-worms are situated in a narrow, high-sided canyon at the top of the lake, not in a cave, so our tour only departs once a day before sunset so by the time we get to the glow-worm canyon it’s completely dark, as required to see the glow worms to the best effect. Paddling a kayak may be something you have tried before, but you probably haven’t kayaked at night (we provide head-torches) and certainly not have kayaked in the dark to see constellations of glow-worms. Tour Duration: Approximately 1-1½ hour kayaking. Total tour duration: 3-3½ hour tour. Min ages: 8 years.
Day 3: Tauranga - Hawkes Bay Wine Region
Today you will drive to the Hawkes Bay. Located on the east coast of the North Island, Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s leading food and wine destinations, renowned for its award-winning red wines. The region is home to world-class Art Deco architecture, a vibrant arts scene, rich Maori culture, and fresh local produce and artisan food.
Upon arrival you may like to enjoy lunch at award winning 'Terroir' Restaurant at Craggy Range vineyard or somewhere more casual. Wander downtown Napier and see the Art Deco architecture before heading to your boutique accommodation to settle in before pre-dinner drinks with your hosts, followed by dinner prepared by your in-house chef.
Accommodation: Hawkes Bay - 2 nights
Day 4: Hawkes Bay Wine Region
After a good nights sleep, today offers a very scenic cycle featuring some of the regions favorite wineries, this is a truly great day out!
Your adventure starts with the wineries of Black Barn and Te Mata Estate. From here you enjoy a 10miles on way cycle on the limestone cycle trail of the landscapes ride, following the Tuki Tuki River, to the coastal communities of Haumoana and Te Awanga. The views are stunning as you cycle the raised stop-bank trail and look out over orchards, vineyards, corn fields and farmland. Reaching the coast you’ll be ready to taste some more fine wine at Elephant Hill and Clearview Estate before your return transfer.
Day 5: Fly Napier, Hawkes Bay - Christchurch | Drive to Lake Pukaki (near Mt Cook)
Today you will return your rental car to Napier airport and fly to Christchurch. Upon arrival you will collect a new rental car and drive 3.5hrs to your accommodation, nestled at the base of Lake Pukaiki - every room has a view! You may like to grab one of the guest bikes for a quick ride on the Alps2Ocean trail, which passes by the lodge.
You are now in the vicinity of Aoraki Mt Cook, 3,724 metres (12,218 ft), the tallest mountain in New Zealand, helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for the conquest of Everest. You can visit the Sir Edmund Hilary Center while here. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It encompasses 23 peaks over 3000 metres high. It is alpine in the purest sense - with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields, all set under a star-studded sky.
Mountaineers regard the area to be the best climbing region in Australasia, while less skilled adventurers find plenty of satisfaction with the mountain walks that lead to alpine tarns, herb fields and spectacular glacier views. Encounters with cheeky kea (mountain parrots) are part of the fun.
Tonight you will enjoy dinner at your accommodation and afterwards, a unique and intimate guided star gazing experience you'll love!
Accommodation: Lake Pukaki - 3 nights
Day 6: Lake Pukaki / Aoraki Mt Cook Region
After breakfast you will drive to Twizel to collect your bikes and take the shuttle to your starting point on the Alps2Ocean cycle trail. You will have all day to enjoy the vistas and ride the 22 miles back to Twizel. Back at the lodge you will enjoy dinner in a convivial atmosphere with other visitors from around the world. Your New Zealand hosts are also well traveled and built the lodge. They have many great stories to share!
Day 7: Lake Pukaiki / Aoraki Mt Cook Region
Today we recommend driving to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and spending the day. Take a hike on many of the great walking tracks, take the Glacier Explorer tour, a Heli Hike on the Tasman Glacier or a Scenic Flight (additional cost - must be prebooked). Getting up in the air in this part of New Zealand is definitley worthwhile. Tonight you will enjoy dinner at the lodge.
Day 8: Lake Pukaiki - Clyde, Otago Rail Trail
Today you will drive to the quaint town of Clyde, check in to your accommodation at Olivers Lodge and stroll across the road to the bike outfitter who will fit you to your bikes for your next 2 days riding. Afterwards, wander this small town or take a walk by the river.
The historic Olivers Lodge complex has opened a new chapter in its fascinating history, undergoing an authentic restoration, reflecting its significant place in the chronicles of the Central Otago region. 1869 as a general store, servicing the prospectors who sought their fortunes during the Otago gold rush. Today, in recognition of its outstanding heritage value, Olivers is protected by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust with a priority category one classification.
Tonight you will dine at highly regarded 'Olivers Restaurant' - then you're only a few short steps back to your accommodation!
Accommodation: Clyde - 3 nights
Day 9: Clyde, Otago Rail Trail
After breakfast you will be transferred to Auripo to begin your Otago Central Rail Trail “One Day Wonder”. The Poolburn Gorge Section is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Otago Central Rail Trail. It cuts through the Raggedy Range that separates the Manuherikia and Ida Valley. Highlights of this section of the trail include the 37m high Poolburn Viaduct, two tunnels, the trails longest bridge and Central Otago stunning landscapes.
Your lunch is your own choice of many cafes on the 17 mile ride. You can extend this easily if you would like to ride on to Alexandra or Clyde.
This evening you will be transferred to “Pitches Store” for your 5 course degustation meal at their award winning restaurant.
Day 10: Clyde, Roxburgh Gorge
After breakfast you will begin your Roxburgh Gorge adventure by heading off down the 150th Anniversary River Track towards Doctors Point. Here Clutha River Cruises will meet you and provide you with an hour and half of glorious river travel and an introduction to the gold mining history of this area. You will then be dropped to Shingle Creek for your last ride in this spectacular gorge as it opens out to the Roxburgh Dam. You will be met by Bike It Now! and returned to “Olivers" for your last night.
This evening you will dine at Paulina’s – which offers a relaxed atmosphere in the heart of Clyde.
Day 11: Clyde - Queenstown
Today you will drive to Queenstown through the Central Otago Wine Region and the Kawarau Gorge. Stop at one of the wineries, many with cellar doors and restaurants, watch the madness at the Kawarau Bridge of the bungy jumpers or take a stroll around Arrowtown and stop at the Chinese Setters village to see the restored 1880s village of Chinese gold miners, with rustic huts & interpretive signs.
Once in Queenstown you will feel the energy change - a resort town with shops, restaurants and mountain and lake views. Your accommodation is located on the edge of town with stunning lake views. This evening head into town for dinner or dine at your accommodation.
Accommodation: Queenstown - 3 nights
Day 12: Queenstown | Milford Sound
Today you will be collected from your accommodation for your scenic flight to Milford - one of New Zealand's icons!
Scenic highlights may include the famous Skippers Canyon, the Paradise region (recently made popular as film locations for Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Trilogies), and the Donne glacier among many other awe-inspiring features. Your 35 minute flight concludes with an over flight of the fiord of Milford Sound, prior to landing.
The second half of the adventure begins in Milford Sound, where you will board the “Spirit of Milford” to enjoy your Milford Sound Nature Cruise. Nature Guides offer a personal commentary. The “Spirit of Milford” catamaran explores nooks and crannies along the edge of the fiord, nudging into sheer rock faces to examine flora and fauna in detail.
Following your Milford Sound cruise your return flight takes in many of the pristine alpine lakes and waterfalls that Fiordland National Park is recognized for, including the Sutherland Falls which span 1900ft. Flight time is another 35 minutes, with a total trip time of approximately 4 hours. After enjoying your Scenic Flight back from Milford Sound landing back in Queenstown we will return you to your accommodation to complete the journey.
Tip: Because of the weather dependent nature of flying in the Southern Alps to Milford Sound, we recommend booking in for your first available day in Queenstown. So that, should the weather be unfavorable for flying on the first day, you will have maximum flexibility to roll your excursion on to a following fine weather day.
Tonight you may like to dine at one of Queenstown's fabulous restaurants or at your accommodation.
Day 13: Queenstown | Free day to explore
There is a lot to do in Queenstown! Ride the gondola to Bob's Peak, Hike on the Routeburn Track or Queenstown Hill, hire a bike, go white water rafting or jetboating, take a wine tour or play a round of golf.
Day 14: Queenstown - Auckland
Today you will depart Queenstown to Auckland and connect to your flight back to the US.