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Discover New Zealand - Southbound
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Bay of Islands
We leave Auckland and drive north through fantastic scenery towards New Zealand's winterless north. There are beautiful beaches and unspoiled places to explore. The next day we have a host of available activities including kayaking, a boat trip to the islands or just relaxing Visit the village of Russell for a look into NZ's past.
We have an early start and make our way south to Waitomo via Auckland. We cross the harbour bridge and get a great view of the city of sails. Here we stop for lunch and then carry on through to Waitomo which is famous for its limestone caves, glow worms and black water rafting.
Today we have some great choices, maybe a boat trip and walk through the glow worm caves or black water rafting. This is an unforgettable trip involving hiking and descending an underground river floating on an inner tube. The sights are fantastic and this will be one of your highlights. After lunch we head to Rotorua to visit the Te Puia thermal reserve. See geysers and boiling mud pools in an amazing display of mother earth's power. We check in to our lodging and you have the option of a Maori Hangi dinner and concert for afterwards.
We drive around an hour south to Taupo. Taupo is the home of extreme sports on the North Island. On the way we visit the spectacular Huka Falls. Here you can bungy jump, jet boat or just relax by the world's biggest crater lake. We then drive on to Mt Ruapehu to be ready for our next day's activities. There are several options for the next day. Many will want to hike the famous Tongariro Crossing track. A good day hike which is known as the best of its kind in New Zealand. This hike has spectacular views of the volcanic plateau and lakes. There are many short, easy hikes in the park, all accessible for people of all fitness levels and many with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
We leave the National Park and head through the central north island to the capital city; Wellington. Here you may visit the fantastic Te Papa Tongarewa museum, the museum of New Zealand. The museum holds many Maori cultural artifacts, and is home to the remains of the worlds largest specimen of colossal squid. Captured in 2007, it weighs in around 495kg. Later we will have dinner out on the town overlooking the bay. Seafood anyone?
We cross to the South island on the inter island ferry and enjoy the fantastic scenery of the Marlborough Sound. We have a huge variety of activities to choose from including kayaking, boating, sailing in the Abel Tasman National Park, mountain biking or just relaxing in town or on the beach. Nelson is very picturesque and is a delight to visit.
Leaving Nelson we head to the beautiful coastline of Kaikoura where many adventures await us. Take a boat trip out to see the whales. Experience being close to some of the largest creatures in the world. For those who wish there are plane or helicopter flights to view the whales. Kaikoura is famous for its seafood and marine life with much to see and do.
We have the morning in Kaikoura taking an early boat trip or whale-watch flight for those who did not do this the day before. We then drive down to Christchurch. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
We depart Christchurch early in the morning and head over the fertile Canterbury Plains heading for the mountains. We leave the dry East Coast and cross the dividing range to go down to the lush, green and moist West Coast. The countryside changes radically as great deep blue rivers spring from the steep mountainsides.
Franz Josef Glacier
The drive down the coast today is beautiful. We have several cultural activity options before leaving for Franz Josef Glacier along the coast of forests, lakes and hidden beaches. We pull in to Franz Josef in the evening and prepare for tomorrow's activities. The following day we have many options. There are spectacular flights available in either a helicopter or a ski-plane. The flights offer unequalled views of the mountains, valleys and glaciers and there is the option of a snow landing depending on the trip you pick. There are also guided walks onto the glacier and excellent light hikes available in the valley.
We drive the remainder of the west coast and climb up through the Haast Pass into the Southern Alps. This is a stunning drive with fantastic views of the mountains, rivers and lakes. Over three full days in Queenstown, you'll have the chance to see and experience the place that is widely acknowledged as being the extreme activity capital of the world. Try bungy-jumping, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, helicopter rides, jet boating and paragliding. There is also a huge variety of shops, restaurants and fun things to see in town. On our first day we'll do a tour of the area to show you around. After that you have two days free to enjoy the area and do your own thing. Queenstown and its surrounds are an unforgettable and very special part of the world.
We drive through to Doubtful Sound to go aboard your overnight cruise boat for a fantastic trip through the fjords. This place is stunning with tall mountain peaks, waterfalls, and is one of the most spectacular places in the country. Tonight we sleep in four berth cabins aboard the ship.
After returning to dry land we drive up to the foot of New Zealand's highest peak, Mt Cook. The drive is over expansive high country farmland with views of the Alps, rivers and lakes. We spend the night in Mt Cook National Park.
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