24 Day Grand Explorer
North & South Island Self Drive from Auckland to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

24 Day Grand Explorer

This explorer tour takes in major attractions of both the North and South Island, while also guiding you to some favourite holiday destinations of the locals, like the Coromandel Peninsula.  Along the way you’ll enjoy two night stays to ensure you really experience New Zealand and have time to enjoy the many activities on offer.  We’ve also included four very different scenic cruises, beginning with a cruise in the sub-tropical Bay of Islands and finishing with a nature cruise in the pristine Milford Sound.  At the right time of year you might spot dolphins, penguins, seals and royal albatross. 

Tour summary and feature

North & South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$6,799 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

24 days/23 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible

 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

 Viewed 10 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

At a glance - 24 Day Grand Explorer

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland City. Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Day 2: Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to Waipoua Forest and the Hokianga. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 254 kms / 158 miles : 3.1 hours

Day 3: Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga to the tropical Bay of Islands where you'll take to the water for a cruise. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.1 hours

Day 4: Head south to the 'City of Sails'. Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 137 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 5: Pass through the Hauraki Plains before the coastal climb to Coromandel. Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 6: Free day to explore the Coromandel Peninsula. Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 92 kms / 57 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 7: Travel along the Bay of Plenty before turning inland towards the lakes of Rotorua. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 191 kms / 118 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 8: Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 9: First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay. Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 10: Discover the Art Deco architecture and vineyards of the Hawkes Bay. Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Day 11: Drive south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa region, then over the Rimutaka Ranges to the capital. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 12: Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds. Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 104 kms / 65 miles : 1.6 hours

Day 13: Explore Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park. Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

Day 14: Head through the Lewis Pass to Christchurch. Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 465 kms / 289 miles : 6.5 hours

Day 15: Overthe hills to discover the charms of Akaroa, take a in the harbour. Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 16: Travel south through the Canterbury Plains where you'll join the coastline which takes you to Dunedin. Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 410 kms / 255 miles : 5.2 hours

Day 17: Let Monarch introduce you to the history and wildlife of the Otago Peninsula. Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 18: Travel through the historic gold rush fields of Central Otago to reach the 'Adventure Capital' of Queenstown. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 270 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 19: The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 20: You'll journey by luxury coach along the magnificent Milford Road, then cruise the fiord taking in all its natural wonders. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 21: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 22: Enjoy a walk or scenic flight for up close views of the glaciers. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 23: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch. Accommodation: The George Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 24: Depart Christchurch today.

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 24 day tour starting in Auckland

Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland City

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 1
Private transfer Auckland airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The APP includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

Escape the city centre and cruise the sparkling waters of Auckland's Waitemata Harbour and learn about the most well-known city landmarks. Sail under the Harbour Bridge and take in views of the Sky Tower, the city skyline, Rangitoto Island, North Head as well as the Bean Rock Lighthouse with a complimentary morning or afternoon tea.

Your accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

This modern and spacious hotel allows you to relax in style while enjoying the world-class casino, more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right on your doorstep!

Day 2 - Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to Waipoua Forest and the Hokianga

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 2
Collect your rental car

This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUV's.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest

The drive north to Waipoua Forest and the Kauri Coast takes you along the remote West Coast of the North Island and around one of the world's largest natural harbours, the Kaipara Harbour. The region was worked by immigrant Dalmatians who toiled to make a living from the gum fields. A visit to the Kauri Museum at Matakohe tells the story of their hardships and pioneering spirit and of the remarkable impact this tree had on the region and the wider world - and is must do. You'll have plenty of opportunity to stop along this spectacular route, so be sure to leave time for sightseeing.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twilight Waipoua Encounter

Experience the Waipoua Forest at night on this spectacular 4 hour tour. Learn about the rich birdlife and fauna that inhabit the forest, including the carnivorous kauri snail. You'll also get to experience the deep spiritual respect the Maori people have for this place. Your Maori guide will brief you on the protocols for your visit and you once formal greetings have been made you will be allowed to meet the giant Tane Mahuta, or Lord of the Forest - the oldest Kauri tree in the world.

Your accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga

Situated at Omapere, right on the waters edge of the Hokianga Harbour with a stunning view to huge sand dunes across the bay the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Hokianga is a perfect place to discover the rich history and beauty of the Hokianga.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 254 kms / 158 miles : 3.1 hours

Day 3 - Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga to the tropical Bay of Islands where you'll take to the water for a cruise

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 3
Hokianga to Paihia, Bay of Islands

Heading east from the Hokianga, a detour to Rawene is recommended (signposted) to view the historic wooden buildings on the harbour and stop for a break at the Boatshed Cafe, sitting on the water with fantastic views. Crossing from the West Coast to the east you soon arrive at the subtropical Bay of Islands.  A slight detour north will take you to Kerikeri, famous for its crafts and fruit orchards, it’s also the largest township in the region.  Kerikeri is home to New Zealand's oldest standing European buildings, the Stone Store and Kemp House, both are open to visitors. Continue on to Paihia, an excellent base to explore the Bay of Islands.  Nearby is a wealth of early New Zealand history, learn about the signing of the Treaty at Waitangi and Maori culture.  Across the harbour is the cute village of Russell, with many historic buildings, a lovely place to explore.  Paihia is also the launching point for many marine encounters, see dolphins, kayak or cruise the beautiful Bay of Islands - there are many ways to experience this paradise.

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Board your cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action. The purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and the crew have years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. Dolphin Seeker has indoor and outdoor seating available, and the largest outdoor viewing decks in the Bay of Islands.

Explore the Bay of Islands

Commonly known as the ‘winterless north’ New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is made up of over 140 subtropical atolls. Renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate, this tropical paradise ticks all the boxes. Spend some time on a remote stretch of beach, or see the local dolphins on an ocean safari. If diving is your thing, take the morning to descend the Rainbow Warrior - The Greenpeace flagship sunk by French saboteurs in 1985. Wander around Russell, a whaling port founded in 1843. Learn about our culture in historic Waitangi, the site where The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Maori and European settlers dictating the terms by which New Zealand would become a British colony. Take a travel day to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island.

Your accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands is located within the Waitangi Treaty grounds, surrounded by native bush and the beautiful Bay of Islands Harbour.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.1 hours

Day 4 - Head south to the 'City of Sails'

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 4
Bay of Islands to Auckland

Today leave the Bay of Islands behind as you head south towards Auckland, City of Sails. You'll go through Kawakawa, famous for its unique Hundertwasser toilets, before passing the port-side town of Whangarei. Continue on through Warkworth and take a side trip to Matakana, renowned for its beaches and boutique vineyards. As you near the outskirts of Auckland, stop for a breather in Puhoi, New Zealand's only Bohemian settlement, before passing through the North Shore and into the heart of Auckland City.

Your accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

This modern and spacious hotel allows you to relax in style while enjoying the world-class casino, more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right on your doorstep!

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 137 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 5 - Pass through the Hauraki Plains before the coastal climb to Coromandel

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 5
Auckland to Pauanui

Leaving Auckland you will travel through rolling green Waikato countryside and across the fertile Hauraki Plains. Your drive will take you near the Firth of Thames, a haven for wildlife, in particular, the shorebirds at Miranda. Arriving into the historic gold town of Thames you then cross the Southern Coromandel Ranges and onto the scenic east coast of the peninsula, littered with white sandy beaches.
If you prefer the scenic route, head north from Thames up to the Coromandel Township, following Highway 25 around the peninsula past Kuaotunu and Whitianga, with a stop at Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.
Your destination of Pauanui meaning big Paua in Maori, lies at the mouth of the Tairua River on its south bank, directly opposite the larger town of Tairua.

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 6 - Free day to explore the Coromandel Peninsula

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 6
Tairua

Tairua is a small seaside town and fishing village sitting on a natural harbour. The dominant feature is Paku Hill and extinct volcanic cone that stands at the harbour entrance. Great views of the town ship and the Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed from the look out at the top. With numerous white sandy beaches, cafes and restaurants this is a great place to spend some relaxing time. Dive trips to the Alderman Islands depart from here.

Pauanui to Hot Water Beach Return

A just north from Pauanui is the famous Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach derives its name from the geothermally heated water that seeps through the sands. At low tide, you can dig a hole and create our own mineral hot pool. The beach itself is golden sand and is an ideal place to spend an afternoon at the seaside. A few cafes and art stores are also here, in particular, Moko which has a great range of local and Polynesian arts and crafts for sale.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Kiwi Dundee adventures Nature and Coast day tour

A photographer's dream! A delightful sample of Coromandel Peninsula's natural heritage and scenic beauty. Enjoy the flora and fauna of the semi-tropical rainforest with giant ferns, kauri trees and crystal clear streams. Visit the old historic gold caves sparkling with glowworms and hear the fascinating history of this magic area. Visit stunning coastal scenery with white sand beaches, magnificent cliffs decorated with ancient Pohutukawa trees, old Maori pa sites and offshore islands. A visit to Hot Water Beach [tide permitting]. Lunch is included and will be a delightful picnic or a visit to our favourite cafe. The Nature and Coast day walk is their most popular walk and is a gentle walk suitable for everyone including children.

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 92 kms / 57 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 7 - Travel along the Bay of Plenty before turning inland towards the lakes of Rotorua

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 7
Pauanui to Rotorua via Tauranga

Leaving Pauanui, head south to New Zealand's surfing mecca. In addition to lazing on the beach or surfing, Whangamata offers big game fishing, walking and mountain biking in native and exotic forests. Continuing on to Tauranga you will arrive into the harbourside city in the Bay of Plenty region. It hosts historic buildings like the Elms Mission Station, an 1847 Georgian-style home. A bridge over the harbour connects Tauranga to Mount Maunganui, a beach town with hot saltwater pools and an extinct namesake volcano with winding walking paths. Finally, you will arrive into the City of Rotorua. The regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills. Considered the cultural centre for the Maori people, Rotorua is the ideal place to gain an insight into the history and culture. Visit the local museum located in the government gardens or the nearby Ohinemutu Village, the original site of the first Maori settlers in the area or enjoy a traditional Maori "Hangi" meal and a cultural performance. Of course, Rotorua is also a great place to enjoy many other activities including, fishing, 4WD trips, relaxing spa treatments, mountain biking, walking and hiking plus helicopter and float plane trips.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Millennium Hotel is Rotorua's largest 4-star deluxe hotel. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 191 kms / 118 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 8 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 8
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rainbow Springs and National Kiwi Hatchery Combo

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. Come face to face with, and learn more about, New Zealand’s precious wildlife. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.
Go behind the scenes with New Zealand's national animal at the purpose built Kiwi Conservation Centre - created solely to try and stop the extinction of this unique species. Here you will gain first hand insight into the conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of kiwi eggs being hatched and returned to the wild.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees. In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Millennium Hotel is Rotorua's largest 4-star deluxe hotel. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9 - First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 9
Rotorua to Napier

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. Home to a plethora of unique geothermal attractions including boiling mud pits, natural hot springs and steaming geysers, this area is a must do before you move on to Napier. Notable attractions are Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of hundreds of cubic metres of water spilling every second down the narrow 11 metre drop.
For an extra thrill take a jet-boat ride to the base of the falls. Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Your accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

The Art Deco Masonic Hotel occupies a significant historic building on Napier’s waterfront and has been richly refurbished in keeping with the Art Deco architecture. With its central location and decadent décor, this is the best place to experience what Napier is famous for.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 10 - Discover the Art Deco architecture and vineyards of the Hawkes Bay

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 10
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is Mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate touted as the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. End on a high with another ride, this time in a comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

Napier City

Napier, the city by the sea, is renowned for its 1930s Art Deco architecture, events such as the Art Deco Weekend in February, stately Norfolk pines, surrounding wineries and local fresh produce. Supported by a Mediterranean climate and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year this popular year-round destination boasts a vibrant cafe culture amongst the splendour of the Art Deco buildings.
Around 30 cafes are within walking distance of the central city area, while Ahuriri, just over Bluff Hill, is home to a further cluster of up market establishments. Marine Parade overlooks the Pacific Ocean and out towards Cape Kidnappers, home to the world's largest mainland gannet colony. A full day can be taken visiting Ocean Spa hot pools and swimming complex, the Hawke's Bay Museum and the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
A landmark of Napier is Bluff Hill, which is home for many Napier residents and provides views of the town,  beaches of Perfume Point and Westshore and out towards Whirinaki. Bluff Hill also overlooks the Port of Napier, one of New Zealand's busiest ports, transporting timber, local fruit and meat products to worldwide destinations.
In 1931, New Zealand's greatest natural disaster struck Hawke's Bay. At 10.47am on Tuesday February 3rd, an earthquake of magnitude Richter 7.8 struck. In a minute and a half, in two separate shocks, the centre of Napier was almost totally destroyed. Fires quickly broke out and reduced to ashes or gutted what the tremors had left standing. Damage in Hastings was also devastating, although the fires were contained. Wairoa and the smaller towns to the south as far as Dannevirke were affected. There were 258 deaths - 162 in Napier, 93 in Hastings and 3 in Wairoa along with many injuries. The reconstruction of Napier and Hastings were costly but the benefit was two modern cities and the Ahuriri Lagoon, or Inner Harbour as it was usually known, was raised over 2 metres, creating the land, which Napier desperately needed to expand.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Gannet Safaris

Drive along the scenic coast from Napier to Te Awanga and join Gannet Safaris Overland and the world's largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Gannet Safaris has been guiding visitors over Cape Kidnappers for over 35 years and their safaris are the only way to be driven right to within a few feet of these remarkable birds. You will travel in comfort in air conditioned 4 x 4 wheeled vehicles, through Cape Kidnappers Station - traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, through stands of native bush, steep gullies and breath-taking inclines. There is a stop on the way at a spectacular cliff top with panoramic views of Hawke Bay right across to Mahia peninsular. The 36km, three hour trip includes a commentary by your tour guide / driver on the farming operation on Cape Kidnappers Station and an introduction to the gannets. On arrival at the gannets you can stretch your legs and take in the scenery from your position at the brink of the cliffs edge - 100 metres above the ocean!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

The Grape Escape Half Day Wine Tour visits some of Hawke's Bay's most famous wineries and is designed for casual wine appreciators and wine aficionados. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantastic wines. Taste great wines made with passion and learn of the areas unique growing conditions. There is the opportunity to purchase and take home your favourite wines and memories. You will visit 4 to 5 local wineries and taste Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and much more. Also try some of New Zealand's finest cheeses matched with wine.

Your accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

The Art Deco Masonic Hotel occupies a significant historic building on Napier’s waterfront and has been richly refurbished in keeping with the Art Deco architecture. With its central location and decadent décor, this is the best place to experience what Napier is famous for.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 11 - Drive south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa region, then over the Rimutaka Ranges to the capital

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 11
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton

The rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay leads you into some of New Zealand’s richest farmland, located around the Manawatu region. Passing along the Manawatu Gorge the Wairarapa welcomes you. Masterton is home to the golden shears sheep shearing competition while just further south Greytown boasts the largest concentration of historic wooden buildings in the country.

Nearby Martinborough is home to dozens of boutique wineries. The route takes you over the Rimutaka Range and along the magnificent natural harbour that the capital city of Wellington sits upon.

Wellington's museums - suggested activity

Te Papa
Te Papa means 'our place' and is considered to be the 'museum of New Zealand'. The building opened in 1998 and since then has shown millions of visitors it's fascinating and unique collection of New Zealand's art, history, memorabilia, natural wonders, treasures and stories as well as hosting many international displays.
One of the finest collections of Maori artefacts can be found here as well as displays dedicated to the many different cultures that make up New Zealand's current population. Make sure you allow enough time to explore museums many floors. The museum is open 10am to 6pm and is free to visit. A small fee may be applicable to some short term visiting displays.

Wellington Museum
Housed in the iconic Bond Store on Wellington’s waterfront, the Museum of Wellington is dedicated to the preservation and study of Wellington’s rich social and cultural history. It provides a backdrop for the permanent display of the people and events that have made Wellington what it is today. The Museum’s atmosphere is thick with history. The Bond Store dates back to 1892, when it was a cargo warehouse and head office of the Harbour Board. Careful restoration has preserved the building’s striking facade, as well as solid timber beams and the original flooring inside. The latest technology is used to further stimulate your senses. Traditional displays sit alongside interactive exhibits, holographs and a giant cinema screen that stretches the length and breadth of an entire wall, a feature unique in Australasia. The collection includes over 95,000 items. Open 10am to 5pm entry is free. 

New Zealand Portrait Gallery
The New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata is a small gallery which tells the stories of New Zealanders through the art of portraiture. The Gallery is located in Shed 11 on Wellington’s waterfront.
Open 10:30am to 4:30pm daily, entry is free.

City Gallery Wellington
Showing art that is sometimes challenging and always captivating from some of the world’s leading artists, City Gallery Wellington is known for world-class exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand and international art. It is located in Te Ngākau Civic Square and is open daily, 11am to 5pm.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.
Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.
Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is high!

Your accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Located on Wellington's premier Oriental Parade, overlooking the stunning Wellington Harbour, Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay is the perfect base to explore the city. Just 10 minutes away are the city's shopping and entertainment centre. Te Papa Museum, Live Theatre in Courtney Place, and many of the city's finest restaurants and bars are also close by.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 12 - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 12
Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).
From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

Collect your rental car

This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUV's.

Picton to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive

Queen Charlotte Drive travels the Marlborough Sounds coastline between Picton and Havelock. Magnificent views of the sounds can be had from many vantage points so allow plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. If you can spare the time take the narrow windy road to Portage along Mahau Sound and Kenepuru Sound with their bush clad hillsides and secluded sandy coves.

The small port town of Havelock has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to choose from so plan your journey to arrive in time for lunch. The highway between Nelson and Picton also crosses the Pelorus River and just at this junction is the famous and historic Pelorus Bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks with the most popular the 30 minute loop through beech, rimu and totara forest to the swing-bridge.

Crossing the Bryant Range you arrive onto Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson.

Your accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

The Rutherford Hotel Nelson offers luxurious accommodation with a full complement of features designed to help you achieve the most from your stay. Situated at the doorstep of three national parks and an unmatched range of sandy beaches, blue seas and mountain wilderness.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 104 kms / 65 miles : 1.6 hours

Day 13 - Explore Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 13
Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region

Nelson is a great city to explore on foot. Visit the historic areas, the famous Cathedral or relax and enjoy the atmosphere at one of the many cafes on Trafalgar Street. Nelson is also noted for its many artists, and galleries displaying their work can be enjoyed by following one of the Art trails listed locally. Around 45 minutes drive away is Abel Tasman National Park. The region offers countless opportunities to explore for visitors of every age and capability, from enjoying the golden sand beaches and clear warm waters to guided kayaking trips viewing seals and dolphins, to exploring some of New Zealand's finest walking tracks.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Why not enjoy a scenic cruise through the Sounds or take a kayaking tour around its many sheltered bays? Relax to the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals - fur seals and dolphins.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch

Experience the best of Abel Tasman on this combined beach cruise and walk tour. You will first take a cruise into the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, where you will pause to watch the antics of the Resident Fur Seal Colony. After landing at the historic Tonga Quarry Beach, take a two hour, fifteen minute walk over forested land and around the spectacular Bark Bay Estuary - renowned for its cascading waterfalls. You will then region the cruise at the sheltered golden cove on Medlands Beach.

Your accommodation: Rutherford Hotel Nelson

The Rutherford Hotel Nelson offers luxurious accommodation with a full complement of features designed to help you achieve the most from your stay. Situated at the doorstep of three national parks and an unmatched range of sandy beaches, blue seas and mountain wilderness.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14 - Head through the Lewis Pass to Christchurch

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 14
Nelson to Christchurch (via Nelson Lakes National Park)

Leaving Nelson you will pass through the suburb of Richmond. Moving on you will travel through the Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Park regions. Trees, rivers and valleys accompany you now as you head towards the town of Murchison. Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers paradise with white water rafting, jet boating, gold panning, kayaking, 4WD trips and excellent trout fishing.
From Murchison, you will head south towards Maruia Springs, which has been attracting travellers for years and the natural hot springs are now located within an authentic Japanese themed resort, a great place to stop for a soak if time allows. Head inland over the Lewis Pass where the landscape changes to a sub-alpine zone with large forests of red and silver beech. Near the summit a short walking track, the Tarn Nature Walk, is an ideal place to break your journey.
The drive south to Christchurch takes you through some fine rolling farmland and North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley.

Your accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

This luxury hotel is centrally located in the revitalised Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, a short stroll from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and new Christchurch Convention Centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 465 kms / 289 miles : 6.5 hours

Day 15 - Overthe hills to discover the charms of Akaroa, take a in the harbour

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 15
Christchurch to Akaroa

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife daily on a Black Cat Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. You’ll see the rare, native dolphin – the Hector’s or New Zealand Dolphin. There’s also the chance to spot the world’s smallest penguin, the White Flippered Little Blue Penguin, Fur Seals and other sea birds.
Other cruise highlights are some majestic volcanic cliffs (including the impressive Cathedral Cave) and signs of Akaroa’s fascinating past including early Maori, French and British settlements.

Your accommodation: Criterion Motel

The Criterion Motel offers studio apartments with spectacular views over Akaroa Harbour. You're also just a short walk from the fantastic cafes and restaurants that Akaroa offers.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 16 - Travel south through the Canterbury Plains where you'll join the coastline which takes you to Dunedin

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 16
Akaroa to Dunedin

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. The towns of Timaru followed by Oamaru are worth a short detour to the town centre.
The town of Oamaru is most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Explore the old quarter or if you don't mind a late arrival into Dunedin then stay around to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.
Just a little further south and you arrive at Moeraki and its famous Moeraki Boulders. Following a look at these incredible and unique geological features don't miss taking a late lunch or coffee and cake at Fleur's Cafe in Moeraki Township. The last stretch of road follows the coastline before crossing the hills and descending into the city of Dunedin.

Your accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Distinction Dunedin Hotel occupies the grand Chief Post Office built in the 1930’s. This art deco inspired building has recently been transformed into a 4 star hotel with elegant décor, set in the heart of the city.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 410 kms / 255 miles : 5.2 hours

Day 17 - Let Monarch introduce you to the history and wildlife of the Otago Peninsula

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 17
Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle

This full day tour gets you closer to our unique southern ocean wildlife. See the worlds only mainland nesting place for the Northern Royal Albatross. NZ fur seals also breed here and the impressive NZ Sealions may be seen on sandy beaches. Often seen are other albatross species, petrels, penguins, dolphins and more. You will also take a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin's great landmarks where the expert guides take you on a journey back in time; into the rich, turbulent and scandalous lives of the Larnach family. Enjoy the history and superb craftsmanship of New Zealand's only castle. Climb to the parapets for 360 degree views of the Otago Peninsula and explore the stunning gardens of international significance.

Your accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Distinction Dunedin Hotel occupies the grand Chief Post Office built in the 1930’s. This art deco inspired building has recently been transformed into a 4 star hotel with elegant décor, set in the heart of the city.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 18 - Travel through the historic gold rush fields of Central Otago to reach the 'Adventure Capital' of Queenstown

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 18
Dunedin to Queenstown

This drive takes you through the heart of the historical Otago Goldfields . The townships of Lawrence, Roxburgh and Alexandra - once booming mining towns in the late 1800's gold rush - now sleepy sun-traps bearing the little resemblance to their bustling past. However, some buildings do remain as do the original shafts and workings. In more recent times Alexandra has become the 'stone fruit capital' of New Zealand -  with the ideal climate for the trees. It is also a great place to buy some of the local produce. The road follows the South Island's longest river, the Clutha River, and at Clyde you will see one of the largest hydro power stations harnessing its energy before passing through the Gibbston Wine Valley to arrive at your destination today, Queenstown.  
 

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 270 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 19 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 19
Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.

Shotover Jet Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride! Skim past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breathtaking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world-famous Shotover Jet full 360-degree spins!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Go back in time on this return trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw Steamship. You'll be greeted off the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead.
Here you'll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The seasonal menu includes an expansive array of local produce, including succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Finish your meal with an irresistible dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea and coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country.
On your cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship's pianist or breathe in the fresh night air as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 20 - You'll journey by luxury coach along the magnificent Milford Road, then cruise the fiord taking in all its natural wonders

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 20
Milford Sound Cruise and coach tour from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with a 1 hour 40 minute Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On boarding a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown or Te Anau, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the modern, spacious vessel for a leisurely cruise in the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and the wildlife. During the cruise your friendly crew provide commentaries in several languages and point out the sights such as Mitre Peak and the Pembroke Glacier.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 21 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 21
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - to arrive in the Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools for a 1 hour return walk through native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Only a breath away from the Franz Josef Glacier, Scenic Hotel is located in the heart of Franz Josef Village. Here you will find all of the amenities you would expect, as well as being close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer in the beautiful Westland region.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 22 - Enjoy a walk or scenic flight for up close views of the glaciers

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 22
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef is a small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice from a viewpoint you can walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself you must take a licensed helicopter tour.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Valley Walk with Franz Josef Glacier Guides

The Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed, following the glacier’s path as it winds its way through the remarkable landscape. Here you will learn about the glacier’s history and learn the legend of Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere. After a brief climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the glacier’s rapidly changing terminal face. Accessing some exclusive trails and including great storytelling from your experienced and well-trained guide.
Following on from your scenic walk, enjoy access to the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, the perfect end to an unforgettable day.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Only a breath away from the Franz Josef Glacier, Scenic Hotel is located in the heart of Franz Josef Village. Here you will find all of the amenities you would expect, as well as being close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer in the beautiful Westland region.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 23 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 23
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

On arrival at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: The George Hotel

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award-winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. It also has an award-winning restaurant, 50 Bistro onsite.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 24 - Depart Christchurch today

24 Day Grand Explorer - Day 24
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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