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Best of New Zealand - Self Drive Tour

The ultimate 21-day New Zealand adventure tour

The ultimate 21-day New Zealand adventure tour

Day 1

Collect rental car and travel 3 hours to The Bay of Islands - New Zealand’s Winterless North

Discover the birthplace of modern New Zealand; the Bay of Islands is steeped in colonial and Maori history. A myriad of 144 islands and harbours with stunning beaches, glistening waters and ancient kauri forests. A legendary marine playground: explore by relaxing yacht, cruise to the 'Hole in the Rock', swim with dolphins or dive shipwrecks the Rainbow Warrior, HMNZS Canterbury and on subtropical reefs.

Day 1

Day 2 - 3

Bay of Islands - 3 Day Eco-cruz Sailing Expedition

Join the friendly crew and experience the Bay of Islands Maritime Park on a 3 day / 2 night coastal exploration aboard the 72ft SV Manawanui. Appreciate the marine environment and the outdoors in a relaxed, down to earth atmosphere. The focus is on a range of outdoor activities which are designed to be fun and to also enable a greater level of interaction with the different maritime habitats. Sail the ocean, walk across towering cliffs, snorkel on stunning reefs, kayak around uninhabited islands and gather your own fresh seafood to experience the Maritime Park's rich diversity.

Day 2 and 3

Day 4

Once back in port - travel 2 hrs to Tutukaka - The Paradise Coast

Situated on a beautiful stretch of coastline, Tutukaka Township is nestled at the head of sheltered harbour, a safe, natural harbour with a modern marina, café, restaurants and bars. Gateway to the Poor Knights Islands, the town is the base for gamefishing, diving and scenic cruises. This tranquil stretch of coastline is often described as the Paradise Coast, and for good reason, the beaches on the Tutukaka Coast all offer swimming, boating and walking as well as fishing. The coastline is scenically breathtaking, rugged and rocky, punctuated with white sand surf beaches with an array of activities to suit all needs. With world-class diving, stunning beaches and coastal walkways, and a mild sub-tropical climate, Tutukaka Coast is one of the country's best kept secrets.

Day 4

Day 5

Diving the Poor Knights Marine Reserve

Need we say more - The Poor Knights Marine Reserve, was Named by Jacques Cousteau as one of the Top 10 Dive Sites in the world. The islands are a special experience for divers and snorkellers, with a unique blend of subtropical and temperate marinelife. Over 125 species of fish share this complex marine environment, along with soft corals, sponges, vibrant anemones, sting rays, gorgonian fans and vast kelp forests. Beneath the waters you'll also find the world's largest sea cave, Rikoriko, reputed to have hidden a marauding Japanese submarine during World War II. Cruises often stop in this giant cavern to sample the amazing acoustics and watch the school of bright fish in the waters below. The warm currents here originate in the Coral Sea, so the water temperature is higher and visibility greater than that of nearby coastal waters. Born from volcanic activity, tropical and sub-tropical life abounds in this unique underwater environment. Caves, tunnels and archways are all home to great schools of friendly colourful fish - great photography!

Day 5

OR Snorkel, Kayak, Lunch Cruise - Poor Knights Islands - Perfect Day

Diving, Snorkelling, Kayaks, Swimming, Sunbathing, Sightseeing, what ever you would like to do! Discover the Poor Knights Islands unique species in a very unique environment. These 11 million year old islands harbor the world's largest sea-cave, and are known as the Middle Earth in the Middle of the Ocean. The great underwater adventurer Jacques Cousteau named these Islands as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world! With turbulent history, dramatic scenery, breathtaking scenery, myriad fish, secret hidden harbors, whales, dolphins, gannets, seals, sea birds, incredible and unique bird life accompanied with great food: Fresh platters to suit all tastes, free teas, coffees and snacks - This recipe for a Perfect Day cannot be matched anywhere!

Day 5

Day 6

Travel 4 hrs 30 mins to Waitomo - Cave Country

The green rolling landscapes of the Waikato region that lies to the south of Auckland form some of the most fertile land in New Zealand, yet this is one region in particular which holds more than just surface appeal. For Waikato also boasts an extensive labyrinth of underground caverns that formed millions of years ago and are now a major tourist attraction. To the south of Hamilton, the small and pleasant town of Waitomo is the focal point of the region's subterranean wonders. The caves at Waitomo are one of New Zealand's most commanding wonders - a celebration of nature's work over the last one hundred thousand years. There are hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow-worms, under ground lakes, stalactites and stalagmites, and all manner of limestone crustaceans - a lost world waiting to be discovered. Above ground, the area around Waitomo is also popular for horse riding and bush walking.

Day 6

Day 7

The Lost World Caving and Abseiling Epic Journey – Waitomo

This is Waitomo's ultimate adventure and it is dramatic! The day starts with a 100 meters abseil (330ft) - the world's longest commercial caving abseil - for some fifteen odd minutes, to get you into the Lost World - and that is just the beginning! Once down, you embark on a journey back to the surface through the most incredible cave system. Heading upstream you follow a challenging underground river by whatever means - climbing ropes, swimming, wading, passing through vaults the size of cathedrals, up waterfalls and stalactites, squeezing through tight gaps and jumping into black pools! Be warned, this is not a simple cave tour. This is a full on caving experience. You need to be fit and you are going to get very wet, you'll be in the safe muddy hands of some of New Zealand's most well trained guides.

Day 7

Day 8

Travel 2 hrs to Tongariro National Park

Established in 1887, Tongariro was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. It is also a dual World Heritage area, a status which recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. It is a place of extremes and surprises, a place to explore and remember. From herb fields to forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateau and active volcanoes - Tongariro has them all. In the summer you will find available all kinds of that allow you to get out and enjoy the Tongariro National Park - hiking, biking and kayaking and in the winter National Park has fantastic skiing on the Whakapapa and Turoa Ski fields on Mt Ruapehu.

Day 8

Day 9

Explore Tongariro National Park - Walks from 1 to 8 hours

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This status recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features. It is a place of extremes and surprises, a place to explore and remember. From herb fields to forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateau and active volcanoes - Tongariro has them all. The park also offers many hiking options from shorter walks to waterfalls and fascinating volcanic features - including the crater of Ruapehu or the eight hour Tongariro Crossing, features phenomenal volcanic scenery and fine views of Lake Taupo and Mt Taranaki. Overnight challenges include the four-day Northern Circuit and the six-day Round the Mountain track - one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

Day 9

Day 10

Travel 2 hrs 30 mins to Discover the Geothermal Wonderland of Rotorua, stopping at Lake Taupo on the way

Rotorua is surrounded by steaming lakes, bubbling hot pools and bursting geysers, host to some of the world's most incredible natural forces. A heartland of Maori culture, the local people have embraced this turbulent land. For the traveller there is a breadth of attractions - families will enjoy viewing farm attractions and native wildlife, adventure seekers can experience world class white water rafting or mountain biking, while culture enthusiasts can experience indepth vibrant Maori traditions.

Day 10

Day 11

Fly to Nelson - New Zealand’s Sunshine Capital

Nelson - City of Sunshine. A haven for artisans seeking a lifestyle amid a landscape of mountains, valleys, unspoilt shores and National Parks, including the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. The idyllic climate has enabled a winery, art and orchard trail to explore by car or relaxing bike ride.

Day 11

Day 12

Two Day Kayaking and Walking with Beach Camping – Abel Tasman National Park (Uncatered)

This fully guided overnight option allows you to experience the unique coastal paradise of the Abel Tasman by land and sea on this hassle-free adventure. Explore one of New Zealand's adventure tourism icons by sea kayak. The Abel Tasman coastline is characterised by near-shore islands, sheltered waters, estuaries and golden sandy beaches. This marine reserve is home to a New Zealand Fur seal colony and marine and terrestrial birds are abundant along the coastal margin. The park is sheltered from ocean swells, and enjoys a mild climate in New Zealand's sunniest region, making it an excellent place to visit throughout the year. Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park. It protects 23,000 hectares of the most natural stretch of easily accessible coastline in New Zealand. Our walking track follows the picturesque coastline with its pristine golden sand beaches and calm turquoise waters, climbing up to awesome views, then down again for a refreshing swim or picnic before we take to the water and experience the park coastline from a seal's-eye view in our sea kayaks.

Day 12

Day 13

Return to Marahau and overnight at Abel Tasman Oceanview Chalets - 1 night

Day 14

Travel 7hrs to Fox Glacier

At 13 kilometres in length, Fox Glacier is the largest West Coast glacier. However, its current length pales in comparison to past size where in the last ice age the glacier extended almost to the sea leaving its telltale moraine walls as evidence of past advances, the most recent being in the 1750's. The glacier is fed by the vast snowfields that drain the Southern Alps at a height of approximately 2000 metres. The abundance of snowfall occurs as the moisture laden winds that sweep across the Tasman Ocean are forced upwards to flow over the mountains they have encountered. As they rise the air cools and the moisture converted to rainfall Nearby Lake Matheson is a kettle lake formed by a decaying glacier as it retreated back to the existing valley.

Day 14

Day 15

Fox Glacier Heli Hike

The fly-in, fly-out Heli-hike combines the excitement of walking on the Fox Glacier with the thrill of helicopter flights. By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier that is otherwise very difficult to get to. It is here, shunted between two ice falls, that the awesome glacier forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches. Equipped with sturdy leather boots, you board the helicopter for your first flight over the awe-inspiring pillars of the lower icefall. Here, the steep ice is in constant motion. You then circle the marvellous upper icefall and the Victoria Falls before landing. Your remote landing site on the ice is an exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. At this stage, you are outfitted with instep crampons, specially designed by Alpine Guides for these ice conditions and you follow the ice steps, cut by the guides, as you explore the beautiful formations and ice caves which are seen only here. This trip offers wonderful photographic opportunities. Each departure is a true voyage of exploration; there are so many changing features that the guides always find something new. Ice time, weather permitting, is about 2.5 hours.

Day 15

Continue 4 hrs to Lake Wanaka

Wanaka is located on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka, embraced by the Southern Alps, Wanaka is Otago's second resort town after Queenstown. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand's fourth largest lake, reflect the snow-capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park. Here you can absorb the unstoppable beauty of pristine wilderness and know that it will be easy to find a great restaurant for dinner. The township of Wanaka is a magnet for visitors who want to find the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and indoor luxury. There are comfortable places to stay, great shops and eateriesand all the time there's the call of the wild. The lake, mountains and around-the-year events calendar will keep you looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 15

Day 16

Niger Stream Canyoning Wanaka

Ready for a fantastic adrenaline rush? The Niger Stream is a world class canyon, located in the gorgeous Matukituki Valley, gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. Be prepared for a day of high excitement and heaps of fun in a unique and fabulous natural setting. You will be abseiling and sliding down waterfalls, climbing and jumping over rocks and into pools. This is one of the most wonderful back-to-nature experiences you can find.

Day 16

Continue 1 hr to Queenstown - Adventure Capital

Queenstown, located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the magnificent Southern Alps, is New Zealand's most celebrated destination. Offering a wealth of accommodation to suit all travellers, there is huge diversity in the experiences to be enjoyed - from adrenaline activities such as bungee jumps and sky diving, adventurous excursions like jet-boating and hiking through to superb golf, gourmet food and wine tours or romantic hot air ballooning. Numerous day excursions are available, from the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound; Glenorchy's stunning scenery at the head of Lake Wakatipu, or to the historic towns of Central Otago. Queenstown itself has an excellent range of shops, restaurants and nightlife to enjoy. One thing is certain: you won't run out of things to do.

Day 16

Day 17

Free day to relax and explore Queenstown, return rental car.

Day 18 - 20

Hollyford Track Three Day Guided Wilderness Hike

Day 1: Arrive at Hollyford Valley Travel through some of New Zealand's most divine scenic valleys to the start of the track in the Hollyford Valley, to re-trace footsteps of original Maori and early pioneer explorers. Ample food and comfortable bedding are provided at your private lodges, so you are free to discover a fascinating world through the expert interpretation of your guide. At the end of your first day's adventure you'll be welcomed at Pyke Lodge. Enjoy a 3 course dinner then relax with a drink and savour the majesty of Mount Madeline while reflecting on a great day.
Hotel: Pyke River Lodge
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 2: Board your jet boat for a scenic ride along the Hollyford River and down Lake McKerrow. You may even encounter a family of Bottlenose Dolphins! Walk through ancient forest giants such as native Rimu, Totara and Kahikatea. A little farther on, Long Reef plays host to a colony of New Zealand fur seals. Marvel at their nimble skills in the crashing surf and relax as they laze on the rocks. Martin's Bay Lodge completes a special day and glasses are raised to the traditional 'Hollyford Toast' as a memorable way to finish your day.
Hotel: Martins Bay Lodge
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3: Explore Martin's Bay Spit, a famous landmark separating the powerful Tasman Sea from the Hollyford Valley. View historical sites of Maori occupation. You will also have the opportunity to explore on your own. This afternoon board your helicopter for a scenic flight along the rugged coast and into Milford Sound. Return to Queenstown / Te Anau along the Milford Road up through the famous Homer Tunnel with a stop en route at the source of the Hollyford Valley River.
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 18 - 20

Day 20

Return to Queenstown for your last night

Day 21

Head to the airport and fly home

**** End of the tour ****

Download Detailed Itinerary [pdf]

COST: Send request for pricing

For more information
Contact:
Dive Discovery
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1 800 886-7321
(415) 444-5100

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