Kia Ora! Welcome to New Zealand.
You arrive at Auckland Airport and pick up your rental car. During the tour to your hotel you will get to know the "City of Sails", as Auckland is also known. You can drive to the extinct volcanic cone of Mount Eden, from where you have a beautiful view over the city, or to the elegant suburb of "Parnell" and on to the port of Auckland. The rest of the day is at your own disposal.
In Auckland's harbor, board a ship to go to Rangitoto Island, one of the youngest volcanic islands on earth. A hiking trail leads over solidified lava masses to the summit (260 m) of this conically shaped island, which was formed around 700 years ago as a result of several eruptions. Alternatively you can go swimming or fishing, relax or watch the birds and nature.
In the morning you leave the big city of Auckland. The Coromandel Peninsula impresses everyone who visits it with its various types of landscape, such as rugged mountains, rough and steep rocky cliffs and sandy beaches facing the South Sea. Along the east coast you drive to Tairua and from there you can start a short drive to Hahei, which is near the Hot Water Beach. Enjoy a walk on the white sandy beach or bathe in the inviting clear sea. A hike to Cathedral Cove, a bizarrely sculptured rocky bay, is particularly spectacular. The surf erosion has impressively washed out the soft chalk cliffs.
Today you drive over the Bay of Plenty towards Rotorua, the main attraction of the North Island. This thermal city was built around the numerous hot mineral springs. Rotorua is also the center of Maori culture. The afternoon is at your disposal.
Today you take part in a tour with Kaitaki Adventures. First, an off-road vehicle goes up to Mt Tawarewa, a volcano that is best known for the eruption of 1886. There you go on a guided hike and can enjoy the breathtaking view of the surrounding lakes and volcanoes.
In the "Waimangu Valley" the mud pools smack their lips, the geysers hiss and the lakes steam. This thermal valley was not formed until 1886 when a volcanic eruption tore up the earth's crust. On an easy hike you can marvel at hot springs and steaming cliffs, as well as the enigmatic Inferno Crater, which rises and falls 8 m in a 38-day cycle. You come to a lake, at the bottom of which are buried the white and pink sintered terraces that were blown up by the Tarawera eruption.
Drive to Lake Taupo, which you can reach if you want after a stop at the famous Huka waterfall. You continue to the Tongariro National Park, characterized by the 3 active volcanoes, Ruapehu (2797 m), Tongariro (1967 m) and Ngauruhoe (2291 m). Its landscape of black ash, brown dusty desert and mountain streams lined with native beeches simply impresses everyone.
In the early morning a shuttle bus will bring you to the start of the Tongariro Crossing. A path that has become one of the most popular hiking trails due to the constantly changing, partly moon-like landscape and the spectacular views. From Mt. Tongariro (1968 m) you can see the sister volcanoes Mt. Ngauruhoe (2291 m) and Mt. Ruapehu (2797 m). You cross several craters, pass fumaroles and hot springs and admire the bright turquoise “Emerald Lakes”. At the end of the 6-10 hour hike (if you are physically fit) the shuttle bus will bring you back to your accommodation.
Today you drive south and experience an interesting change of vegetation. The drive through barren steppe land surrounded by peaks up to 2800 m brings you to the green, fertile farm areas of Rangitikei and Manawatu.
Then it goes past the self-proclaimed "rubber boot capital" Taihape, towards the capital Wellington, where you will arrive in the afternoon. In the middle of a beautiful landscape, right on the rough sea, the famous Cook Strait, you will discover Wellington, also known as "Windy City". The constant strong westerly wind earned this nickname for the city, which was founded in 1839 and separates New Zealand's North Island from the South.
Today you go on board the Interislander ferry.
First you travel through the Cook Waterway, which separates the North from the South Island. Then you glide through the Marlborough Sounds, an area of “drowned” valleys that was created by the geological subsidence of a low mountain range. Steep mountain ridges, which today jut out as narrow peninsulas between deep inlets, testify to the original mountains. The steep banks have a fjord-like character in places. You reach the small port of Picton.
Your day starts early as you take a hike on part of the famous Queen Charlotte Track. This 67 km coastal footpath stretches from historic Ship Cove to Anakiwa in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds. Through beech trees, rimu trees and around bays, the route offers breathtaking views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. The lush, subtropical bush is home to many of New Zealand's typical bird species.
Beachcomber Cruises will take you to Ship Cove by boat. From here you have an approx. 15 km long hike to Furneaux Lodge. Along the way you will be rewarded again and again with beautiful views.
A particularly scenic road along the coast takes you to the "shell town" of Havelock, on the edge of the Marlborough Sounds. You drive over the Pelorus Gorge, where you can enjoy a short hike through native forest. Continue to Nelson, New Zealand's sunniest city, and through fertile growing areas of wine, apples, pears and hops to the northern coast of the South Island. Then it's on to your quarters near the Abel Tasman National Park.
On today's half-day excursion, you will first enjoy the bays and beaches of the national park from the boat (about an hour's drive). With a stop on Tonga Island you get very close to the New Zealand fur seals. Then you hike for about 2 hours (4.1 km) past golden beaches, viewpoints, through native forest and over a suspension bridge with a waterfall to an idyllic bay where the boat picks you up and brings you back to the starting point in Kaiteriteri. There are several places to swim along the way.
You travel south-west through the Motueka river valley on a promising side route. After crossing the Buller Gorge you will experience an impressive change of flora and reach the subtropical lowland rainforest of the wild west coast. If you have the time, you can watch a large colony of sea lions ("NZ Fur Seal") on a short hike at Cape Foulwind near Westport.
A wild and romantic landscape awaits you between Westport and Greymouth. The limestone cliffs of the "Pancake Rocks" near the small village of Punakaiki are famous. Wind and sea have worked hard on the rock, attacking softer intermediate layers of clay or sand and forming bizarre rock sculptures. At these "pancake rocks" you undertake an easy tour to experience the force of the Tasman Sea, which shoots up here at high tide through underground tunnel systems between the rocks from "blowholes".
You stay overnight in Hokitika today.
The turquoise Hokitika River squeezes through a gorge that is wonderful to look down into on an easy half-hour hike. Walk through dense native forest to a viewing platform and over a suspension bridge to another platform with impressive views of the gorge and river. In Franz Josef you reach the Southern Alps and now have the mountains in front of you. The Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are among the few on earth whose glacier tongues reach down to the rainforest.
In the morning you have the opportunity to walk around Lake Matheson with an easy walk through the rainforest. When there is no wind, the glaciers and snow-capped mountains of the 3000m are reflected here, surrounded by the rainforest - a feast for the eyes and a popular photo opportunity!
The journey continues to the Westland National Park, where you can take an approx. 2-hour hike in the rainforest.
Then it goes on to Haast. You cross the Haast Pass, the water and climate divide of the Southern Alps, and immerse yourself in the Aspiring National Park. Surrounded by gigantic mountains you drive along the lakes Hawea and Wanaka.
For today and in good weather we recommend the approx. 4-hour demanding hike to Rob Roy Glacier to get as close as possible to the three-thousand-meter peak Mt. Aspiring. You drive into the Matukituki Valley and hike in the Rob Roy Valley, a gorge shaped by the Ice Age. Above the tree line you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the massive cliffs, surrounding glaciers and subalpine meadows. Often you will even come across the endemic, curious kea parrot, the only mountain parrot in the world.
Today you go to Queenstown first. Due to its beautiful mountain location on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, this small resort has developed into the popular tourist center of the South Island. The elongated lake extends between steeply rising mountain ranges. Then you continue to Fiordland National Park, New Zealand's largest and most undeveloped national park. Hardly any other landscape embodies the concept of wilderness better than fiordland. In the west, 14 fjords penetrate like long sea tongues deep into the primeval forests of a rugged alpine world. Not far, snow-covered mountain peaks rise above alpine grass mats up to 2700 m. You first drive to Te Anau, the gateway to this world cultural heritage site, and spend the night there.
Today is another highlight on the program. On what is probably New Zealand's most beautiful mountain road to Milford, you pass the Mirror Lakes and the gloomy Homer Tunnel and even come across parrots and keas during a stop. After about 2.5 hours of driving you will reach the landmark of New Zealand and the most beautiful end of the world, Milford Sound. Lush vegetation stands out in front of the reflecting fjord and in the background a huge mountain juts out of the earth. Already deeply impressed, you start on a 100-minute boat trip past huge waterfalls and with a little luck you will encounter seals, penguins and dolphins. Then you drive back to Te Anau.
Continue inland through McKenzie Country. Scant rainfall makes this highland appear as a barren steppe landscape. Wide “tussock” corridors, which span the hills like a carpet, transform the landscape into a strange inner-alpine basin landscape. At the nearby Pukaki Lake you have the opportunity to admire the magnificent glacier world. In this region full of contrasts, you end another eventful day in Mt Cook Village. The Maori call New Zealand's highest mountain at 3724 m “Aoraki”, the “cloud piercer”.
Today you can go on a hike in the Hooker Valley and have the alpine mountains as a backdrop. First you cross a suspension bridge. The path continues to wind between two lateral moraines of the Müller glacier. After another suspension bridge, the path drops slightly and you come to the shelter in a small depression. From here you can see the Hooker Glacier valley with Mt Cook in the background. It is another 30 minutes to the glacier lake. After a rest, I start the way back to Mt Cook village (total walking time: 4-5 hours).
Before you leave the Southern Alps, we recommend a stop at the glacier lake Tekapo. At the turquoise lake, which is in the middle of the mountains, there is a small chapel and a monument for herding dogs. Flocks of sheep and colorful flowers complete the idyllic picture with the white mountains in the background. You are now in McKenzie Country, a landscape with a steppe character. As far as the eye can see, the New Zealand tussock grass sways in the wind. The drive continues through the vast farmlands of the Canterbury Plain. You will arrive in Christchurch in the afternoon, also known as the “Most English City” outside of England.
Your New Zealand trip ends today. You drop off your rental car at the airport in order to start your onward or home flight from there.
(Services included in the price)
Vehicle according to the booked category, day 1 - 22
21 nights in accommodation as described
Fullers - Rangitoto Ferry Return
Kaitiaki Adventures - Mt Tarawera Crater Walk Experience
Waimangu - Walk and hike
Tongariro Crossing shuttle bus
Interislander ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton for foot passengers and rental cars
Beachcomber Cruises: Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge
Wilson's Abel Tasman Seals and Beach
Real Journeys - Milford Sound Nature Cruise
15% GST (New Zealand VAT
(Services not included in the price)
Petrol and parking fees
Meals unless otherwise stated
Surcharges when booking 4x4 off-road vehicles; Individual tour changes and tour extensions or tour shortenings are possible - please inquire, please inquire for single rooms or single trips.
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