Duration: 24 days – 23 nights
Itinerary: Auckland to Queenstown
Tour type: Self-drive
Celebrate your union with a romantic yet exciting journey across New Zealand. Stay at intimate and charming small lodges, marvel at high mountain peaks, golden beaches, sunsets and waterfalls… We’ll get you immersed in a pristine Nature and spoil you along the way with unassuming and sustainable luxuries for a memorable honeymoon.
- Visit Cape Reinga in the very Far North
- Stay in luxurious off-grid lodges
- Explore with your own Hybrid car
- Hike and kayak the Abel Tasman National Park
- Explore Nelson Lakes National Park for an off the beaten track experience
- Stay in a glass hut in the heart of Dark Sky Reserve
- Spend two nights in a yurt in Wanaka
- One scenic train rides
- Volunteer in a tree Nursery in Queenstown
- Accommodation in a mix of hotels, B&B, small lodges and Glamping experiences
- Meals as per itinerary
- Airport transfers on arrival
- Car rental with full insurance and GPS
- Tour inclusions as per itinerary (small group and private)
- Train ride on the Northern Explorer
- Ferry crossing to Waiheke Island and from Wellington to Picton
- One day volunteering planting trees with Wakatipu Reforestation Trust
- New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- E-documentation from Greenz Travel
- 24/7 assistance in the country
Day 1 – Arrival – Auckland – Waiheke Island
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.
On arrival in Auckland, board your ferry for Waiheke Island.
In the heart of the Hauraki Gulf, just a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city… Although considered a suburb of Auckland, Waiheke has forged a very distinctive identity that can be felt the moment you step off the ferry.
Popular in the 80’s as a haven for those seeking a more alternative lifestyle, the island still ooze creativity with many artists, musicians, writers and poets having taken up residence. Despite the more recent migration of city dwellers, the island retains a strong community spirit.
You will be charmed by the laid-back vibe, the picture-perfect beaches, the vineyards with a view and the farmland dotted with olive groves.
Accommodation: Marino Ridge – 2 nights
Includes Full breakfast
Day 2 – Waiheke Island
WaihehE-bike rental – Views, Vines, Wine & Dine (self-guided)
What a better way to spend a day on Waiheke than indulging in what it’s best known for.
This self-guided e-bike ride explores wineries over Waiheke’s eastern side of the island and features panoramic views across to Auckland and surrounding islands. You will be cruising through the beautiful touristic seaside village of Oneroa and visit three wineries before breezing back down along the southern coast to your starting point.
If you’re up to it, there’s the option of heading out to the far eastern point of the island for more breath-taking views of Auckland along a sweeping, bush lined road.
Allow for around half a day to complete the entire 27km loop, with around 1.5 hours cycle time, plus additional time for wine tasting and lunch.
Bike delivery to your accommodation
Includes e-bikes, helmet and maps.
Day 3 – Waiheke Island – Auckland – Bay of Islands
Distance: 225km / 3.5hours
Today, ferry back to Auckland and collect your Hybrid car (Toyota Camry or similar) for your drive to Northland.
The Bay of Islands, on the east coast of Northland, is an idyllic destination with a subtropical climate, thick rainforests, white sand beaches and over 150 islands. The Bay is also the birthplace of the nation as New Zealand’s founding document, The Treaty of Waitangi, was signed in the township of Waitangi in 1840.
Accommodation: Donkey Bay Inn – 2 nights
Includes full breakfast and pre-dinner drinks and canapes
The lodge is nestled in the hill, wonderfully integrated in the natural landscape and barely visible to the naked eye. Donkey Inn is sustainably cooled under a huge 600sqm living roof (believed to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere!) and is fully off-grid and energy efficient producing its own electricity via solar panels.
Day 4 – Bay of Islands
Carino – sailing day (small group)
Surrounded by deep blue water, vivid green islands and diverse wildlife, sailing on Carino, a 50ft catamaran, is the best way to experience the stunning bay of islands.
On board help to set sails or sit back and relax as the sails catch the breeze. While you are sailing, watch for local little blue penguins, the world’s smallest penguin, diving gannets, pied cormorants, shearwaters, stormy petrels and other ocean birds.
The Bay of Islands is also a unique location for bottlenose dolphins, as it provides them with abundant food and security for resting and breeding and is part of their large home territory.
Carino is the only yacht licensed by DOC to view wild dolphins in the Bay of Islands.
Enjoy an island stopover, snorkel, take nature walks, or just relax in the sun on the sandy beaches.
Conservation: We have taken the unprecedented step to voluntarily cease all swim with dolphin activities during our cruises. The decision reflects our commitment to protect the local dolphin population and to remain at the forefront of conservation within the Bay of Islands. A New Zealand University report, commissioned by the Department Of Conservation, has indicated a very high level of correlation between boat-dolphin interaction and an ongoing drop in the local bottlenose dolphin population within the Bay of Islands. Carino Sailing and Dolphins was privileged to have had a direct involvement in the production of this report. As a direct result of our first-hand experience with the research team and their findings, we have decided to take a precautionary approach to dolphin interaction and have elected to voluntarily stop swimming with wild dolphins in the Bay of Islands.
Plus every ticket directly contributes to marine mammal research and conservation.
Includes: BBQ lunch, Island stopover, snorkelling gear.
Duration: 6 hours
Day 5 – Bay of Islands – Ahipara
Distance: 130km / 2 hours and 20 minutes
On your way to West Coast, veer off the main road and take the long way around via Matauri Bay. The roads are winding but will reward you with plunging views to the ocean and out to the Cavalli Islands. The coastline is dotted with perfect white sand beach and dolphins are often spotted off the coast. After you’ve pass the Whangaroa harbour you will drive along Doubtless Bay, which is of great historical significance as it is believe to be where the first man, Kupe, landed with his Waka in 900AD. You will then turn inland until you reach your destination at Ahipara, the beginning of 90 Mile Beach.
Accommodation: The Huts – 2 night
Includes breakfast provisions
Day 6 – Ahipara – Cape Reinga
Distance: 130km / 1 hours and 45 minutes (each way)
Today we suggest a day trip to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of the country.
The drive is dotted with points of interests: white silica sand, giant sand dunes, farmland and bush but as you approach the Cape, you you will feel as if you have reached the end of the world …
The breathtaking beauty and magic of the site is worth the drive as you tower high above and witness the colliding of Pacific ocean and the Tasman sea.
Cape Reinga is a highly spiritual and sacred place. According to Maori belief, this is where the spirits of deceased Maori leave to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
Cultural note: please respect the site and refrain from eating. if you’re looking for a good picnic spot, take the turn off to beautiful Tapotupotu Bay, 5km before the Cape.
Day 7 – Ahipara – Kauri Coast
Distance: 130km / 2 hours and 40 minutes
Leave 90 Mile beach as you drive south through the Hokianga Harbour and to the Mighty Kauri Forest.
Footprints Waipoua – Daytime Experience (private)
Join a friendly local Maori guide for your journey into the rich and ancient ecosystem of Wapioua Forest and you will learn about the indigenous use of plants and be amazed at the life cycle of a kauri Giant.
Your tour will start with a karakia (prayer) seeking permission from Tāne Mahuta (the Māori God of the Forest) to enter his domain and to ensure that a safe and enjoyable experience. Under the branches of this 2000-year-old living treasure our guides will share the Māori creation story – the separation of Sky Father (Ranginui) and Mother Earth (Papatūānuku).
Duration: 3.5 hours
Accommodation: Highfield River Retreat – 1 night
Sustainability: Highfield River Retreat consists of a large, wooden-framed luxury tent and a camp cabin, providing a charming kitchen, dining and lounging area. An outdoor bath provides the perfect place to soak and relax. The campsite is completely off-the-grid, but has everything you need to enjoy a comfortable stay. LPG bottles and a gas califont provide hot water, and solar power provides lighting.
Day 8 – Kauri Coast – Auckland
Distance: 200km / 2 hours and 40 minutes
Loop your Northland experience as you drive back to Auckland.
Stay on the North shore, on the outskirt of Auckland to prolong the feeling…
Accommodation: Warblers retreat – 1 night
Includes breakfast provisions
Day 9 – Auckland – Rotorua
This morning, drop off your car rental in town and meet your driver for your transfer to Rotorua. Kick back, relax and enjoy the drive in your comfortable Tesla X.
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 comes 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.
Polynesian spa – Private pools (1 hour)
Polynesian Spa is New Zealand’s original and iconic geothermal bathing experience. The geothermal hot mineral waters are sourced from two natural springs and feed into 28 hot mineral pools. The slightly acidic Priest Spring waters relieve tired muscles, aches and pains while the alkaline waters of the Rachel Spring nourish the skin.
Accommodation: Regent of Rotorua
Day 10 – Rotorua
Rotorua Canopy Tour – small guided adventure
It’s the pre-historic native forest that makes the Canopy Tours experience so unique. The Ultimate Canopy Tour is an unforgettable and enlightening adventure. This journey takes you deep into untouched New Zealand forest – this experience will show you the New Zealand you came to see. Not for the faint of heart, you’ll step into another world and test your limits on some incredible features that will blow you away. Your kiwi guides will lead your small group on a personal and unforgettable adventure. Your guide is trained to keep you safe, make you smile, teach you about NZ nature and create memories that last you a lifetime.
Duration: 3.5 hour
Conservation: Since 2012, the company has been restoring the centuries of neglect that had befallen this beautiful corner of New Zealand. Back in 2012, Dansey Road Scenic Reserve was home to thousands of possums and rats that had taken over the ancient native forest. The native species were not doing very well, the forest was silent, and possums had damaged and stripped the trees bare. They started a trapping programme after raising funds from the Canopy Tour operation. The effort was so conclusive that they started their own Conservation Trust.
Today, the bird chorus is strong, the population of native species is increasing every day and the trees are on the road to recovery.
Canopy Tour is a brilliant example of how Tourism can help restore natural habitat.
Canopy tour is a Qualmark Gold operation and has won the 100% Pure New Zealand label.
Day 11 – Rotorua – National Park – Wellington
Today, meet your driver for a private transfer to National Park.
Visit Wai O Tapu along the way.
Wai O Tapu – self-guided tour
Sculptured out of volcanic activity and thousands of years in the making, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is considered to be New Zealand’s most colourful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. Enjoy viewing unique volcanic features such as the famous ‘’champagne pool’’ as you walk at your own pace along well-defined tracks.
Continue to National Park. This is a scenic 2 hours drive with glimpse of the volcanoes.
Board your train to Wellington in the early afternoon.
Northern Explorer – National park – Wellington
The Northern Explorer rumbles through the heart of the North Island on an epic journey that covers 680km of New Zealand’s finest scenery, as it travels between Auckland and Wellington. You will hop-on and start you journey next to the volcanic picks of Tongariro National Park.
Departs National Park 1.15pm – arrives Wellington 6.25pm
On arrival in Wellington make your way to your hotel.
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.
Accommodation: QT hotel – 1 night
QT is a Qualmark Gold Hotel
Day 12 – Wellington – Picton – Abel Tasman National Park
Today make your way to the ferry terminal.
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”.
Upon arrival in Picton, you will meet your driver for a transfer to Kaiteriteri.
Join your water taxi for a transfer to your lodge, nestled in the Park.
Accommodation: Meadowbank Homestay – 1 night
Includes breakfast and dinner
Sustainable practices: The Wilsons family business evolved as a model for sustainable tourism, including boats, lodges, walking and sea kayaking, leading to John Wilson being honoured in 2008 with a Queen’s Service Medal for services to tourism. Recognising that environmental responsibility means much more than planting trees and recycling, Wilsons Abel Tasman participates in long-term strategies to ensure the sustainability of tourism as one of the region’s most important industries.
Guests are hosted in genuinely eco-friendly Lodges: Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa and Torrent Bay Lodge. Solar hot water, bio-active sewerage systems, locally sourced produce, organic cleaning systems and extensive recycling reduces the environmental impact of these lodges.
Day 13 – Nelson – Abel Tasman National Park
Wake to breakfast overlooking Meadowbank’s gardens and the waters of Abel Tasman’s largest tidal estuary. Walk over a forested saddle to Onetahuti where your guide will settle you into your stable, double kayak with full instructions and safety briefing. You’ll then kayak through Tonga Island Marine Reserve and explore hidden inlets on the way to Torrent Bay.
Accommodation: Torrent Bay lodge – 1 night
Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 14 – Abel Tasman National Park – Nelson Lakes
Distance: 90km – 1 hour and 30 minutes
Wake up to morning light on the golden sands of Torrent Bay and a hearty breakfast to set you up for paddling to Te Pukatea Bay and past the islands of the Astrolabe Roadstead to Kaiteriteri.
Return to Nelson with the guiding company’s coach.
Upon returning in Nelson, collect your Hybrid car rental and drive Inland towards Nelson Lake National Park.
Accommodation: Triple Tui B&B
Includes breakfast provisions
Triple Tui is an Eco friendly, self-contained log cabin nestled in beautiful native bush.
Situated on a 50 acre lifestyle farm, Triple Tui was built from locally harvested, sustainable wood, and is powered by solar power and hydro-electricity. The cottage is fully off the grid.
Day 15 – Nelson Lakes National Park
Today is at leisure.
Nelson Lakes National Park (established in 1956) protects 102,000 hectares of the northern most Southern Alps. The spectacular landscape of the National Park was sculpted by massive glaciers during the most recent ice ages, and many glacial landforms remain – the alpine lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa are two most obvious examples.
The park offers tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes both big and small.
The Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project aims to restore approximately 5000 hectares of this beech forest on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Take one of the many walks through the project and you’ll see and hear the results of this work, a forest alive with the sights and sounds of birds!
Day 16 – Nelson Lakes National Park – Maruia Springs
Distance: 145km – 2 hours
On arrival in Maruia, we recommend checking the hot pools facilities at Maruia Hot Spring to melt away the last few days of hiking and kayaking.
Discover relaxation and nature at the base of the mountains as you immerse yourself in New Zealand’s pure thermal springs and sauna experiences. Maruia Hot Springs offers bathing options in mineral water that naturally flows from the ground.
Accommodation: Maruia River Retreat – 1 night
Day 17 – Maruia Spring – Christchurch
Distance: 195km – 2 hours and 30 minutes
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.
Accommodation: Eco Villa – 1 night
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 18 – Christchurch – Aoraki/Mount Cook
Distance: 290km / 3 hours and 30 minutes
Located South West of the Canterbury region and far from the lights of the cities, the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin have recently been recognised “International Dark Sky Reserve”. With a Sky full of stars at night, the region charms both the tourists and the alpinists with its beautiful scenery : the National Park hosts the country’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook, and the impressive 27km-long Tasman Glacier, which turquoise water runs down to form stunning lakes and rivers amongst the dry plains of the Mackenzie Basin.
Accommodation: Skyscape – 2 nights
Includes breakfast and dinner provisions
Note: This distinctive accommodation is designed to maximise the extraordinary skies of the Mackenzie Country at night, with your bedroom built predominantly of glass.
Skyscape is 100% off grid, using solar, gas and spring fed water.
Day 19 – Aoraki/Mount Cook
Today is at leisure to hike in the National Park.
We suggest the Hooker Valley Track (4 hours return)
Enjoy the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Southern Alps on one of the best local day hikes – wind up the Hooker Valley past alpine streams and glaciers in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Take in the views of Mueller Glacier, Hooker Lake and Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Day 20 – Aoraki/Mount Cook – Wanaka
Distance: 150km / 2 hours
Wanaka has the buzz of a genuine alpine town and is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures, and 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 – Rob Roy Glacier walk (small group)
Just an hour from Wanaka is the beautiful Mt Aspiring National Park… Within the park you will find the Rob Roy Glacier, a huge glacier beginning high above on Rob Roy Peak (2,606 metres) clinging to the ever-steepening mountainside as it descends into the Rob Roy Valley occasionally dropping off in chunks off the cliffs – spectacular and noisy!
In other parts of the world, it may take several days or weeks to trek to places as beautiful as the Rob Roy Glacier, but Eco Wanaka Adventures are able to offer this experience in one day in a World Heritage area.
The day begins with a scenic drive around Lake Wanaka, and into the Matukituki valley driving through several fords, stopping for photos along the way. From here, the guided walk begins through farmland with sheep and cattle, and then across a swing bridge into the alpine rainforest to emerge above the treeline into the alpine herb fields opposite four glacier faces. A perfect lunch spot and a base for further exploration of this magical valley, the jewel of Mt Aspiring National Park.
Swing bridge, waterfalls, rainforest, crystal clear mountain streams and glaciers – the Rob Roy Glacier guided Walk has it all!
Following lunch the walk is all downhill back to the car park.
Day 22 – Wanaka – Queenstown – Glenorchy
Distance: 115km / 2 hours
Today, drive to Queenstown, the “adventure” capital, a sought-after destination for its picturesque lake, scenic snow-capped mountains and great dining scene. Spend the morning volunteering at the local tree nursery.
Volunteering day – Whakatipu Reforestation Trust
Whakatipu Reforestation Trust protect and restore the native biodiversity of the Wakatipu Basin through revegetation projects, collaboration, education and advocacy. The trust works with the community to grow and plant out native plants, including threatened species. This will create wildlife corridors that will, in turn, attract native birds and insects back into the basin, significantly enhancing the biodiversity of the area.
Depending on the season, come and help out growing seedlings in the nursery or join the team on one of their planting days!
In the afternoon, head out to Glenorchy, just 55 minutes from Queenstown.
Glenorchy is nestled on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu and is the gateway to famous hiking trails. This rustic town is a true outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Set against a background of native beech forest and towering mountain ranges, Glenorchy’s surrounds are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Lake Wakatipu and the Dart River offer opportunities for kayaking and some of New Zealand’s best hiking trails can be accessed from here.
Accommodation: Camp Glenorchy – 2 nights
Environment: Camp Glenorchy is has been designed, built and operated in line with the philosophy and principles of the Living Building Challenge (LBC), recognised as the most stringent environmental building design certification in the world. Camp Glenorchy is registered under the Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) Certification™ pathway.
Day 23 – Glenorchy
Horse back riding – The River Wild (small group)
A gentle walking-paced horse ride along beautiful braided rivers and stunning scenery in the Dart Valley. Ride through some of New Zealand’s most stunning and awe-inspiring scenery.
This two-hour long adventure offers spectacular scenery of Te Wahi-pounamu, the South West of New Zealand UNESCO World Heritage site.
The route of the River Wild trek varies day to day to ensure that our horses, guides and returning manuhiri (visitors) are able to enjoy as much of the stunning scenery as possible. The majority of these treks include beautiful river crossings, although changes to the weather mean that this cannot always be guaranteed.
You can rest assured that the views will be breath taking in every direction as you are taken on a journey of discovery through the magnificent Dart Valley, including the backdrop for many famous film locations.
This is an experience to remember for riders of all levels.
Day 24 – Glenorchy – Queenstown – Departure
Distance: 55km / 1 hour
Today you farewell this corner of paradise as you head back to Queenstown and drop your car off on time for your homebound flight.