Starting in Auckland, take in the sights of this buzzing city and its surroundings either by foot or even air. In the evenings relax at the newly opened Sofitel, right on the viaduct harbour.
From the bustling city, drive south to the geothermal heart of New Zealand, rich with Maori culture and a fascinating area to visit, with boiling mud pools and spouting geysers in abundance. Staying at the beautiful and newly refurbished Solitaire Lodge, set in the shores of the stunning Lake Tarawera. Enjoy the beautiful location, with glassy clear lakes, hot springs and miles of dense woodland to be explored.
Continue further south to the Hawkes Bay region, famed for superb wine and an upcoming gastronomic scene. Your base here is the serene and private Greenhill Lodge, set amidst the rolling winelands of the area. Spend your days wine tasting and exploring the town of Napier, completely rebuilt after an earthquake in 1931 in the Art Deco style of the era.
Fly to the South Island to the superb wineries of the Marlborough Nelson wine region. Spend a few nights at the boutique Bronte Lodge. Set on the banks of the Waimea Estuary, Bronte Lodge is perfect for exploring the Abel Tasman national Park and all it has to offer. From Nelson, drive through the Marlborough wine region en-route to Kaikoura, visiting famous wineries such as Cloudy Bay to do some wine tasting. The Marlborough area is not only well know for having some of the best vineyards in the world, but it is also full of world class chefs serving up some of the best food you will find in New Zealand – this area really is a gastronomic’s dream.
Upon arrival in Kaikoura, let childhood nostalgia take hold as you stay in the most amazing tree house at Hapuku Lodge, set high in a native Manuka grove. Each tree house is utterly luxurious, with heated slate floors and native wood accents and the lodge serves up some amazing cuisine. Kaikoura is home to a huge variety of marine life, join in a boat trip to view the resident sperm whales, which feed in the deep waters of the Hikurangi Trench, or swim with pods of hundreds of dusky dolphins, which frequent the area.
Head further south to Christchurch where you can enjoy some city life and shopping for the night before taking in more New Zealand’s famously beautiful scenery by taking the Transalpine train across the snowy peaks of Arthur’s pass to Greymouth on the west coast. It is here you will journey to the small township of Franz Josef, at the foot of the mighty ice monolith of Franz Josef Glacier. Take a helicopter to the higher reaches of the glacier where the ice is brilliant blue and explore the ice caves, peaks and seracs with your knowledgeable guide. Stay at the wonderfully located and supremely comfortable Westwood Lodge, with its warm wooden interiors and cosy fires.
Finally, make your way down through Central Otago to the vibrant lakeside town of Queenstown for the finale of your amazing trip. Whilst this pretty alpine town is known for its extreme sports, there are plenty more relaxing things to do and it is also the gateway to the stunning Fiordland National Park, showcasing both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. It is also a great area for biking, horse riding and wine tasting - the Central Otago region produces the most fantastic Pinot Noir! Stay at Eichardts Boutique Hotel, right on the shores of the lake in the heart of the town. With luxurious linens, possum fur throws and sublime surroundings, this is the perfect end to an amazing adventure through New Zealand.
When to travel
The climate in New Zealand is incredibly pleasant, with warm and balmy summers and cold crisp winter months with wonderful clear, blue skies. The warmer high-season months of November to April are perfect for outdoor exploration. The colder months of June to August are the best time to ski.
Both North and South Islands are drier on the east coast, rather than on the west, where mountain ranges act as a trap for the moisture-rich winds from the Tasman Sea. It is also worth remembering that it is usually a few degrees cooler on the South Island than the North Island and as New Zealand has a maritime climate, the weather can change rapidly.
Best time to visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Location and directions
Auckland, Rotorua, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Franz Josef & Queenstown
Experience the highlights of the North and South islands of New Zealand. Starting in Auckland and visiting the Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Franz Josef and finally Queenstown
How to get there
19-hour International flight (via Hong Kong). The city's international airport is about 30-minutes from Mollies.