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Highlights of New Zealand

14 Days & 13 Nights
  • Discover the highlights of New Zealand on this 2-week drive and hike tour
  • The TranzAlpine train, one of the world’s most unforgettable journeys
  • Glaciers, geysers, jagged mountains, rolling pastureland and steep fiords
  • New Zealand gastronomy and world-class local wines
  • Cruise on Milford Sound and spot bottlenose dolphins and crested penguins
Explore New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes and indulge in world-class walking on this 14-day highlights drive and hike tour. New Zealand most definitely has it all and on this journey you will walk to the summit of Rangitoto, a volcanic island, view landscapes with intense geothermal activity such as geysers and mud pools in Rotorua, walk in the Southern Alps and in forests and beside lakes, immerse yourself in the glacier and Fiordland region of the South Island and take a Milford Sound Cruise with its views of jagged peaks and amazing wildlife. This drive and hike tour allows you to experience the very best that New Zealand’s North and South Island’s have to offer within 2-weeks.

What To Expect

If you only have 2 weeks to spare for a holiday, consider this drive and hike tour in New Zealand on which you can experience world-class walking and discover the best of the North and South Islands. All of New Zealand’s iconic places are included from the geothermal extravaganza that is Rotorua, to the world-class scenery of the Southern Alps. The walking varies from easy to challenging but the choice is yours as they are always optional.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.

Activity:

Drive & Hike | Enjoy the best of a large region by car and on foot. Day hikes in the best places. Itinerary usually inn to inn, with mapping provided. No bag transfer. Car hire offered as an option or included.

This trip is suitable for:

Families, Multi-Generational, Mixed Abilities

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Coastal & Island
  • National Parks & Trails
  • Mountains

Grade & Terrain

There are many varying types of walks on this itinerary, from easy, flat and short walks, to longer more challenging hilly walks on rough terrain. However they are all optional and therefore you can choose which walks you would like to do. All the walks are available in the Macs Smartphone App, so you can easily find your way using this GPS technology.

Walks are mostly on dirt tracks and trails, which are mostly Department of Conservation walks all very well-maintained. New Zealand is a walkers paradise and well-renowned for its walking tracks, therefore it is all very well organised and sign—posted.

There are walking tracks that are seasonal, but you should be able to do them all as this tour is available in the spring, autumn/fall and summer. However, some walks are weather-dependent and since the weather can change rapidly in New Zealand is it always best to check the forecast, especially walking in high elevations. Also, if there is a Department of Conservation or tourist office nearby, we recommend checking the weather and the condition of the trail before embarking on a walk, particularly the longer walks in high terrain. Some walks are also in avalanche territory, so again, its best to check at a DOC office or on the DOC website for any warnings (see information pack for more details).

Navigation

The tracks in New Zealand are generally very well-marked and signposted so you should not have a problem finding your way. We have also provided GPX tracks for all the walks, which are accessible on the Macs Smartphone App, so you can simply follow the route on your phone. It will be essential to use the smartphone app for this particular trip as we will not have detailed route notes for all the walks.

Accommodation Information

On this tour you will stay in very comfortable, hotels, motels, lodges, B&B’s and guesthouses. All rooms are ensuite and you will receive a very warm welcome from your hosts, especially in the B&B’s and guesthouses which are all family owned. As much as possible we have chosen accommodations with character and where you will meet local hosts. However in some areas, hotels and motels are the best choices.

Here are some examples of the accommodation that we use on this tour. However, if these are not available, we will use others which will be the same standard.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.

Meals

Breakfast will be provided by your accommodation in most locations. This will either be a continental or cooked breakfast, depending on what that particular accommodation provides. There are a couple of places where breakfast cannot be included, but you can buy it locally in cafés or restaurants.

Lunches and dinners are not provided but you can easily shop for both or eat in local cafes and restaurants. On the walking days you can buy a packed lunch in a local shop/café.

Included
  • 13 Nights in B&B’s, guest houses, lodges, hotels and motels
  • Private transfer from Auckland Airport to Auckland Hotel
  • Car Rental
  • GPS unit
  • 10 Breakfasts
  • Return ferry to Rangitoto Island
  • Entrance to Waimangu Thermal Valley & Orakei Korako Geyserland and Thermal Park
  • Milford Sound Cruise
  • Domestic flight from Wellington to Queenstown
  • TranzAlpine Train Greymouth to Christchurch
  • New Zealand Sim Card
  • Information pack
  • Access to the Macs Smartphone App with GPS Tracks
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support
Excluded
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Auckland
  • Travel from Christchurch
  • Lunches and Dinners
  • 4 Breakfasts
  • Fuel for car
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal necessities
  • ETA & IVL requests (mandatory as per 1 Oct 2019)
Extras
  • Additional nights

When To Go

This drive and hike Highlights of New Zealand trip is bookable between September 15th and May 15th. This is within the spring, autumn/fall and summer months when the weather will be more favourable, although it is subject to change quickly at any time of year!

The busiest months are January, February, March and over the Christmas/New Year season. If you wish to go during these times you will need to book far advance in order to get availability at the accommodations. Please note that normally it will take about 3-5 business days to confirm a booking, due to the length of this itinerary. During busy times and if you do not book 6 months in advance it could take longer.

Time of Year

The best time of year is from September to May which is when this tour operates. In the spring there will be flowers in abundance, it should be warm to hot in the summer (never hot in the mountains though) and in the Autumn/Fall it will be a bit quieter with nice colours.

Getting to the Start

You can fly into Auckland Airport. This airport is served by many airlines, both international and domestic, including Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, American, Thai Airways. Virgin Australia, Etihad and Quatar Airlines.  

Upon arrival at Auckland Airport a GK Limousine driver will be waiting for you just outside the sliding doors that you will come though from customs. Your driver will be on the left with your name(s) on his board and will drop you off at your accommodation in the centre of Auckland.

* Please be aware that when booking flights from the UK to New Zealand you will arrive 2 days after you set off and on return you will arrive 1 day after you set off. So, for example, if you leave on a Tuesday you will arrive on a Thursday and on return if you leave on a Saturday you will arrive home on the Sunday. This is obviously because of the time it takes to get there but also because you are travelling back and forth across the International Date Line. Similar principles apply when travelling from other places in Europe and from the USA and Canada.

Getting from the End

You can fly out of Christchurch Airport, which is an airport that is served by many airlines, both international and domestic, including Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Emirates.  

On your final day a private transfer will bring you to the airport from your accommodation.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Extra Information

This tour is a drive and hike. By driving you will be able to see a lot more than if you were to travel by public transportation, which is not exactly very prevalent here. We have set the tour up so that you will pick up your rental car after you have stayed in Auckland. We have also provided a GPS unit. You will then drop this particular car off in Wellington before baording a domestic flight to Queenstown, where you pick up another car. You will then keep the car until you drop it off in Greymouth and before boarding the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch.

Equipment

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take with you to New Zealand. This includes warm and cold weather gear, hiking boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.

Car Rental

Car rental is included in the cost of this tour, as it is a drive and hike itinerary. When you arrive in Auckland, a private transfer is included to take you to your hotel. Car pick up will occur on the morning of Day 3. You will drop the car off at the airport in Wellington before taking a flight to Queenstown and then you will pick up another car on arrival at the airport. This car you will use until you arrive in Greymouth, where you will drop it off before boarding the TranzAlpine Train to Christchurch. You will be able to park your car at all of the accommodations and the walks will mostly have car parks at the start where you can safely leave it. At times you will have to leave your car in a car park with luggage inside, however New Zealand has a very low crime rate  and you should feel comfortable doing so. The car will be a Toyota Corolla or equivalent.

The car rental includes tax (GST), unlimited kilometres and insurance, but excludes the first NZ$2500.00 (deductible) of any accident damage to the vehicle.

As part of your car rental a GPS unit will be provided and is included in the cost of the tour. We will provide addresses for all accommodations, sites and walks so that you can easily find your way. In case of any issues we also provide an included New Zealand SIM card so that you can make contact with any accommodation and service providers.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

How far in advance do I need to book?
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Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Auckland and overnight Day 2 Ferry to Rangitoto Island. Loop Walk to Summit 7 miles / 12 km Day 3 Rental car pick up. Drive to Rotorua Day 4 Waimangu Volcanic Valley Walk. Orakei Korako Geyserland and Thermal Park. Drive to Taupo 4 miles / 6 km Day 5 Drive to Tongariro National Park. Taranaki Falls and Tama Lakes Walking Tracks - Choice of walks 12 miles / 20 km Day 6 Drive to Martinborough. Free time to vineyard visit on arrival Day 7 Drive to Wellington, explore. Afternoon flight to Queenstown Day 8 Milford Sound Cruise. Routeburn Track, Key Summit 4 miles / 7 km Day 9 Drive to Wanaka via Arrowtown/Queenstown Day 10 Roy’s Peak Track 10 miles / 16 km Day 11 Drive to Glaciers region and Franz Josef. Free time Day 12 Choice of Walks, Alex Knob Track, or Robert’s Point Track 9 miles / 15 km Day 13 Drive to Greymouth. TranzAlpine Train to Christchurch Day 14 Onward Travel

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