Duration: 25 days – 24 nights
Itinerary: Auckland to Queenstown
Tour type: Self-drive
Create lifetime memories with the family, relax as you travel on the two great rail journeys of New Zealand and lose yourself along the rugged West Coast. Glamp, kayak, hike and see the world through your kids’ eyes as they learn and engage with local Maori culture and their unique ways of caring for Nature. A slower paced itinerary to help you reconnect with your whanau (family).
- An active holiday with the family!
- Travel on two of New Zealand train journeys
- Visit a Maori village and spend the night with a local family
- Sleep in a yurt in Wanaka
- Enjoy a wildlife cruise to see dolphins and whales
- Stay in an eco-community in the heart of Queenstown
- Accommodation in a mix of hotels, motels, B&B and small lodges
- Meals as per itinerary
- Tour inclusions as per itinerary (small group)
- Airport transfers on arrival
- Car rental with full insurance and GPS
- Ferry crossing between Wellington and Picton
- Train journey on the Tranzalpine and Coastal Pacific
- One day volunteering at Blue Duck station
- New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- E-documentation from Greenz Travel
- 24/7 assistance in the country
Day 1 – Arrival – Auckland
Kia Ora and Welcome to Aotearoa, New Zealand!
On arrival at Auckland airport you will be met and greeted by your driver in the arrival hall. Your driver will assist you with luggage and transfer you to town in a fully electric model X Tesla.
Day at leisure in Auckland.
Established over a narrow isthmus between the Tasman sea and the Pacific Ocean, Auckland city is blessed with two natural harbours, 25,000km of coastline and many beaches. The city is resolutely turned to the sea, as the many yachts dotting the city attest, giving it the nickname of ‘’City of Sails’’. By far the largest city in the country, with a culturally diverse population of 1.5 million, Auckland remains the trade capital despite losing its position as seat of Government in 1865.
Today, Auckland faces modern challenges due to a rapidly increasing population, an underdeveloped public transport system and one of the most expensive real estate in the world. But the city is looking into the future, and with forward thinking initiatives aims at becoming one of the most liveable cities in the world and an example of balanced city life where the vibrancy of the city lets in the healing power of the natural environment.
Accommodation: The Great Ponsonby Art Hotel – 2 nights
Includes full breakfast
Day 2 – Auckland
Whale Watch Safari (half day – shared)
Jump on board our 20-metre catamaran and settle in as we head out to explore the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, one of the most abundant and diverse marine parks in the world. From our large open deck, enjoy views of famous Auckland landmarks while watching out for orca and dolphins known to frequent the city-side waters.
As the crew provides knowledgeable commentary on the harbour’s ecosystem, our marine-science experts conduct biological studies and invite you to join interactive research activities.
Because we’re venturing into a wild, natural environment, every trip is different and the marine wildlife we encounter varies from day to day. We typically encounter Bryde’s whales and common dolphins, but you may also meet pygmy blue whales, New Zealand fur seals, sharks, manta rays, turtles and up to 26 species of seabirds – including the little blue penguin.
Conservation and research: Whale watch safari privately funds and supports Marine Wildlife studies through universities, trusts and government departments. You will sail with qualified marine researchers who conduct biological studies during your tour and will share their knowledge with you. Your ticket purchase directly contributes to the global push to protect our planet’s marine environment.
Day 3 – Auckland – Whakatane
Distance: 300km / 3 hours and 30 minutes
Today, collect your Hybrid car rental (model Toyota Camry Hybrid or similar) and drive to the Bay of plenty. Pass by Mt Maunganui and its white sand beach perfect for a dip in the ocean. The lively little seaside town has loads of great cafes and ice-cream parlours to check out too!
Continue along the coast to Whakatane.
Accommodation: Kahikatea Farm glamping – 2 nights
The campsite at Kahikatea Farm is set on an elevated spot amongst the pristine bush on the farm, surrounded by mature manuka trees. It consists of a lotus belle glamping tent and three small timber huts. The huts and tent have mains power. LPG bottles and a gas califont provide hot water. There is no WIFI at the site.
Day 4 – Whakatane – Rotorua – Whakatane
Distance: 80km / 1 hour (each way)
Today take a trip to Rotorua to enjoy the local sights and family friendly activities.
Rotorua lies at the heart of Pacific ring of fire and is the centre of an extensive thermal region and geysers, bubbling mud pools and steaming, sulphurous lakes give evidence of nature’s frightening yet fascinating power. In Rotorua you will see the earth come alive! The city is also surrounded by wonderful lakes and native forests and is an incredible outdoor playground as well as being the centre of modern Maori Culture.
Te Puia – Te Ra, day time experience (shared guided tour)
Follow your Maori guide as you explore Te Whakarewarewa, a 60 hectare Geothermal Valley, showcasing the famous Rotorua mud pools and over 500 geothermal wonders, including the Pohutu Geyser, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest active geyser!
Learn about traditional Māori Carving and Weaving as residence artists perform their Art before your eyes and hear ancestral stories of the Māori settlement in Rotorua.
90 minutes guided tour.
Kiwi Encounter – Behind the scene (private tour)
Kiwi Encounter is a working nursery and hatchery. Eggs are brought to us from the wild and when they have hatched, and the Kiwis are large enough to protect themselves from predators, they are released back into the wild. Learn all about the efforts of our team, discover what it takes to hatch a chick and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person!
Duration: 30 minutes
Conservation: Every Behind the Scenes Tour booked is a 100% donation to our kiwi conservation program, which helps ensure our ability to research, house and feed these precious birds so that we can continue to play a vital role in their survival.
Day 5 – Whakatane – Murupara
Distance: 75km / 1 hour
Journey right off the beaten track to Murupara, an isolated part of the Bay of Plenty on the foothills of the Te Urewera National Park to Kohutapu Lodge.
Surrounded by dense native bush, deep flowing rivers, and lush farmlands, Kohutapu Lodge is owned and operated by a local Maori family, the Ngati Manawa tribe, who have lived here for centuries.
Today, their culture still thrives and you will discover a history and a culture not yet touched by the hand of commercialism.
Together with your Maori Guide, you’ll explore a Maori art Cave, learn how Ngati Manawa ancestors protected a land rich in resource and breath-taking beauty, and listen to the stories of mystical protecting creatures. You will also visit a waterfall and learn how the tribe protect the local eel, a main source of food for the people.
Join your hosts at the lake edge lodge and help with the preparation of your traditional ground cooked Hangi dinner, before enjoying a selection of optional afternoon activities (eeling, fishing, kayaking, cooking…).
As the day closes in, our aunties will teach you to weave your own dinner plate out of flax. After your feast, retreat to your own cabin for a night in the village.
Accommodation: Kohutapu Lodge – 1 night
Includes breakfast and Hangi dinner
Day 6 – Murupara – Taupo
Distance: 110km – 1 hour and 30 minutes
Beautiful Lake Taupo is actually a huge volcano with a fiery history. Its most recent eruption, in 181 AD, was large enough to change the sky as far away as Europe and China. According to Maori legend, the lake is the pulsating heart of Maui’s fish (New Zealand’s North Island). Popular Taupo experiences include Huka Falls, geothermal walks, lake cruises and guided kayak expeditions to see the rock carvings at Mine Bay.
Taupo Kayaking Adventure – Mine Bay Rock Carvings (Half day – small group)
Beginning in the sheltered waters of Acacia Bay, come out with us and explore the secluded Rock Carvings at Mine Bay. Paddle below native bush, past steep cliffs and mini inlets that can only harbour a kayak before the amazing 14 metre-high carvings come into view. Your experienced guide will explain the carving’s cultural significance to the lake and surrounding areas while you float beneath them. On our return we stop for gourmet refreshments, where you can take the opportunity to swim in the clear waters of our beautiful lake. If the breeze comes up, we can raft our kayaks together and sail back !
Duration: 4 hours per trip (3 hours on the water)
Accommodation: Taupo DeBretts – 1 night
Day 7 – Taupo – Whanganui National Park
Distance: 150km – 3 hours
Today, you will wind your way in the deep country side to the entrance of Whanganui National Park. Away from the main tourist path, this untouched region is rich in History and Natural beauty. At the heart of it, flows the Whanganui river, New Zealand third longest river and of upmost importance to the region’s Māori people. In March 2017, following the path of Te Urewera, it became the world’s second natural resource to be given its own legal identity, with the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.
Accommodation: Blue Duck Station – 2 nights
Day 8 – Whanganui National Park
Take the day to enjoy the location and join one of the local guides and rangers on a bush expedition.
Blue Duck Station has one of the highest concentrations of Whio (blue duck) and Kiwi in New Zealand not to mention Wetas, native bats and fish. To help increase numbers of these and other native species on the farm, the team is improving their habitat by encouraging bush to regenerate, enhancing water quality and trapping predators.
As recognition of their work, Blue Duck Station has been granted three Ballance Farm Environment Awards and a Department of Conservation Services to Conservation Award. Come and help one of the ranger build tree boxes for the Wetas.
You will still have some time left in the day to enjoy one of the lodge’s activity such as a backcountry horse trek across the property 5000 acres of riding trails or paddling down the Whanganui river to follow the path of the first Maori Waka.
Day 9 – Whanganui National Park – Taihape
Distance: 165km – 3 hours and 30 minutes
Today you travel along some of New Zealand very winding country roads.
Tucked away at the base of the Ruahine Ranges and Mt. Aorangi, on the banks of the Rangitikei River, River valley lodge is the perfect escape from the stress of everyday life.
The lodge offer a true New Zealand experience with Grade 5 Rafting rated as one of the best half day trip in the world! If you’re not up for the challenge, you can also opt for a more gentle paddle on a river trip to the magic and beautiful Rangitikei, Ngaruroro and Whanganui Rivers.
Accommodation: River Valley Lodge – 2 nights
Includes Breakfast and dinner
Conservation: River Lodge is also actively involved in protecting NZ native bird and invertebrate against waves of introduced predators including Stoats, Weasels, Rats and Cats. They now run their own conservation project and service 100 predator traps covering about 20 kms of the Rangitikei River. If you are interested, you can learn more and help on scenic trapping experience.
Day 10 – Taihape
Rangitikei White Water Rafting – Grade 2 (full day)
This is a family adventure experience that is safe, scenic and fun. Board your raft from the front lawn of the lodge and paddle downstream on the Rangitikei River.
With over 30 Grade 2 (easy) rapids, the 13 km scenic section of the Rangitikei River will reward the entire family with stunning scenery and some thrill too.
On the way down, immense cliffs cradle the river canyon. It is in one of these sections that we stop and have a picnic lunch.
From there it is a relaxing float out to the takeout, followed by a scenic drive back to River Valley Lodge.
Note: if you have older children – we can suggest the more challenging grade 5 trip.
Day 11 – Taihape – Wellington
Distance: 260km – 3 hours and 30 minutes
Situated at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington, was recently named “the coolest little capital in the world“ by Lonely Planet.
Surrounded by nature and fuelled by creative energy and a pulsing cultural scene, Wellington is a compact city with a powerful mix of culture, history, nature, cuisine, good freshly brewed coffee and tasty craft beers. Don’t miss Te Papa, the iconic NZ National Museum.
Te Papa Museum Highlights (60 minutes)
Join a group and our friendly and knowledgeable Hosts will bring the stories of New Zealand’s places and people to life. This tour is the perfect way to get an overview of Te Papa’s highlights, Māori taongataonga treasures, and New Zealand history. Ideal for visitors wanting an introduction for an extended visit on their own time.
Accommodation: QT Wellington – 1 night
Day 12 – Wellington – Picton – Marlborough Sounds
This morning board your ferry for your journey across the Cook Straight.
This is a 3-hour crossing between Wellington and Picton. The 92km voyage has been described as “one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world”.
Enjoy lunch in Picton before boarding your cruise to the heart of the Marlborough Sounds.
Motuara Island Sanctuary and Dolphin Watching Tour (group)
Embark on a fully guided wildlife and dolphin cruise like no other. Travel from Picton through the Marlborough Sounds on a scenic journey to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary. Our comfortable vessels and expert team take you on a conservation-focused, wildlife adventure for your soul.
On the journey, we’ll be encountering a huge variety of rare, wonderful and interesting species along the way such as the playful Hector’s, Bottlenose, or Dusky Dolphins (90% encounter rate).
Our special Department of Conservation permits allow us to seek out and interact with all species of marine mammals that live in the Sounds. We’ll take you there and provide respectful interactions with these amazing creatures.
We also see NZ fur seals and numerous seabirds before landing on Motuara Island, a 100% predator-free island for a 1-hour nature lover’s walk to remember – great for adults and kids alike.
You will get to see some rare species such as the yellow-crowned Parakeet and Saddleback.
Cruise back towards Picton and your boat will drop you off at your accommodation nestled in the sounds.
Accommodation: Lochmara Lodge – 2 nights
Includes breakfast and dinner
Lochmara Lodge is focusing his effort on conservstion. The lodge has been operating an extensive Mainland Island predator control program for the past 12 years in addition to widespread habitat planting. The bird life on the property speaks for itself, the dawn chorus is amazing! 4 years ago they started developing a facility for Wildlife Recovery programs and forming a relationship with the department of Conservation. Over this time, they have set up programs working with injured wildlife, Kakariki, Weka, and the Marlborough Green Gecko as well as providing nesting boxes for the Blue Penguin and the Tree Weta. Lochmara Lodge is a Qualmark Gold accommodation.
Day 13 – Marlborough Sounds
Today is at leisure.
Tune in to the pace of nature and experience a way of life with NO roads as the lodge has no road access. Relax by the beach and in one of the over-water hammocks, borrow one of the kayaks and go explore the bay or learn about wildlife rehabilitation in the Marlborough Sounds at the in-house Wildlife Recovery Centre.
Day 14 – Marlborough Sounds – Marlborough High Country
Distance: 85km – 1 hour and 20 minutes
Today your water taxi will return you back to Picton.
Drive to the Marlborough High Country, for a stay like no other on a high country station. The Spray Point Station occupies 2,200 hectares, with two valleys, mountains, 15km of riverbanks along two rivers, numerous creeks with moss covered stones and mini waterfalls…
Hosts Jenny, Sarah and Ben Mapp invite you to step ‘Off the Mapp’ and follow in the footsteps of the old musterers from a bygone era.
Discover a hidden conservation wilderness, a high country playground, an historic station and an exceptional retreat all at once!
Accommodation: Off the Mapp – 2 nights
One of the key aims of Off the Mapp is to protect and enhance the natural environment and indigenous biodiversity for future generations. Since the purchase of the property in 2004, over 1000ha has been set aside under QEII Covenant with the aim of restoring the land to support indigenous fauna and flora. The property is involved in Carbon farming, as traditional grazing country is slowly returned to native forest, providing a natural carbon sink and improving the biodiversity, erosion problems, and water quality in the area. The project is being carried out under the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, a scheme designed for long-term carbon storage in permanent forests. Under this initiative, there is no allowance for large-scale harvesting of the forest and forest registration includes a 99-year contract for carbon storage ensuring a long term vision.
Conservation volunteering opportunities are available with Off the Mapp.
Day 15 – Marlborough High Country
Today is at leisure at the property.
Hike on the tracks, swim in the crystal clear Spray and Waihopai rivers, explore the conservation wilderness, help with the predator control programme, go bird watching or fishing… you’ll discover peace, privacy, adventure and rugged natural beauty all year round.
Day 16 – Marlborough High Country – Blenheim – Christchurch
Distance: 60km – 1 hour
This morning is at leisure.
Head to Blenheim on time for lunch at one of the local vineyard before dropping off your car to board your train.
Coastal Pacific – Blenheim to Christchurch
With the Pacific Ocean lapping at its wheels on one side and the Kaikoura ranges rising majestically on the other, the Coastal Pacific is undoubtedly the most picturesque of New Zealand train journeys.
Departs Blenheim 2.46pm – arrives Christchurch 8.30pm
Accommodation: Eco Villa – 2 nights
Sustainable Principe of Eco Villa: Eco Villa is a new sustainable concept in travel accommodation in the heart of Christchurch. Locally owned and operated by The Chadwick’s family, the idea is to create a ‘’home away from home’’ for travellers, while showcasing sustainable principles and inspire people.
Your hosts are passionate about Christchurch and the rebuild and want to create a social environment, a place to meet like-minded travellers and get your sustainable imagination brewing!
Day 17 – Christchurch
New Zealand second biggest city, Christchurch, became infamous in 2011 following several deadly earthquakes which destroyed most of the city stone heritage buildings and deeply affected the soul of its people. Today, visitors can witness a virtual rebirth of the city as demolitions, repairs and rebuilding occur to shape the new and vibrant face of Christchurch.
Christchurch Bike tour – The Regenerating Garden City (Self Guided Bike Tour)
Riding a bike is simply the best way to discover our city. Let our guidance take you on a journey of Christchurch’s rich history dating back hundreds of years to the early Māori and British settlers.
Take a ride through the dramatically changing central city, with a stop for a gourmet kiwi style lunch at one of Christchurch’s longest established hospitality venues along the way. Finally discover how our place, Ōtautahi is reemerging after a natural disaster as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Duration: 4 – 6 hrs Total
Day 18 – Christchurch – Greymouth – Franz Josef
Distance: 175km – 2 hours and 15 minutes
Today board the Tranzalpine for a journey across the South Island from East to West.
Experience the South Island’s striking natural landscape, see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest.
Departs Christchurch 8.15pm – arrives Greymouth 13.05pm
The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way, taking just under 5 hours.
On arrival in Greymouth, collect your Hybrid car rental (model Toyota Camry Hybrid or similar) and drive to Franz Josef.
Accommodation: Te Waonui retreat – 2 nights
Includes Breakfast and dinner on the first night
Te Waonui is a Gold Qualmark accommodation
Day 19 – Franz Josef
Glacier Country Kayaks – Classic tour
The Original Franz Josef Kayak Adventure Awaits …Glide effortlessly across the water taking in the panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide. Tours depart at various times throughout the day. Mornings are often the calmest time of the day on the lake, a perfect time for photographers to capture the beauty of this area.
Duration: Allow 3 hours
Day 20 – Franz Josef – Wanaka
Distance: 290km – 4 hours
Today embark on New Zealand most scenic drive!
The roads winds its way between the rugged coastline and the rainforest and offers fantastic panoramas. From Haast, journey inland to a mighty valleys and the beautiful Mt Aspiring National Park, thick with rainforest and waterfall. The landscape dries out as you reach Lake Wanaka.
Wanaka has the buzz of a genuine alpine town and is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures! With Mount Aspiring National Park located close by, it’s the perfect destination for exploring the Southern Alps.
Accommodation: Oasis Yurt – 2 nights
Day 21 – Wanaka
Eco Wanaka – Half day Cruise & Island Nature Walk (small group)
Boat cruise across Lake Wanaka to the remote and magical Mou Waho Island nature reserve, which is predator–free and home to the rare flightless Buff Weka (extinct on the mainland since 1920).
A one hour return guided bush walk is included, which takes you up to reveal the island’s secret – a lake right on top of the island! Unique and very photogenic!
Or you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the birdlife at the beach and shelter at the island base with your own morning or afternoon tea.
We have “High Tea” on top of the island overlooking both of these lakes, where you can drink in the vibrant birdsong and the panorama of the Southern Alps spread out before us.
Plant a native tree as part of your eco-experience. This is a unique opportunity to give back to this special island and New Zealand’s environment.
Day 22 – Wanaka – Queenstown
Distance: 70km – 1 hour and 10 minutes
Drive to Queenstown, the “adventure” capital, a sought-after destination for its picturesque lake, scenic snow-capped mountains and great dining scene.
Originally lust after by the Gold miners, the region nowadays attracts tourist, adventure seekers and wine lovers.
Accommodation: Sherwood – 3 nights
This boutique hotel has recently undergone an intensive renovation, embracing a lifecycle approach to improve building performances, efficiency and increased comfort without creating unnecessary waste. Sherwood is one of the largest private solar installs in New Zealand and the solar array is currently generating more electricity than the hotel consumes with the balance being returned to the grid.
Day 23 – Queenstown
Ziptrek – Moa tour (4 lines)
The perfect starter to your adventure experience in Queenstown. Journey through the forest on four incredible ziplines with stunning views across Lake Wakatipu to the Remarkables mountain range.
Two guides will take you on a journey through the place we live, Aotearoa – land of the long white cloud, our place in the mountain and lake environment while sharing a story of our path to sustainability.
The ziplines start low and slow and gradually build your confidence as they get progressively longer, higher and faster. This tour is fun for everyone!
Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Min age: 6 years
Conservation role: Ziptrek takes a proactive approach to restoring, protecting and enhancing their natural environment. All the timber used in the construction was locally and sustainably sourced. Ziptrek requires limited power but the safety gates, Eftpos facility and in-house photo system are all powered through solar panels. In addition to being environmentally conscious in their chosen materials, they are also involved in a few conservation programmes such as the eradication of wilding pines on the course and around Bob’s Peak, a native tree and shrub planting program and stoat and possum trapping around the course.
Day 24 – Queenstown
Station to Station – cycle trip (self-guided)
Leave the bright lights of Queenstown and set a course for one of New Zealand’s most remote high country farms.
Cycle between Mt Nicholas and Walter Peak high country farms along the far shores of Lake Wakatipu. Follow an easy 14km marked trail along a quiet country road with panoramic alpine views. Explore at your own pace on this easy and unforgettable cycle ride with spectacular views at every turn.
The trip includes a Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise from Queenstown to Mt Nicholas and a return cruise from Walter Peak on TSS Earnslaw as well as a Farm Experience.
Grade: Easy – Ride time: 1 hour 30 minutes – Distance: 14km
Day 25 – Queenstown – Departure
Today you farewell this corner of paradise as you head back to Queenstown and drop your car off on time for your homebound flight.
Thank you for choosing to travel Greenz!