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Auckland to Christchurch, West Coast Discovery

14 places · 14 days
Go New Zealand ·last month
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On this 14-day tour from Auckland to Christchurch via the West Coast, you'll see vibrant towns, peaceful beaches, and untamed wilderness. This voyage takes you from New Zealand's greatest metropolis to the South Island, passing via stunning beach resorts, volcanic scenery, and our hip tiny capital. As you travel along the West Coast and through gorgeous alpine resorts before arriving in the inventive city of Christchurch, you'll encounter excellent wine, lush rainforests, and ancient glaciers.

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Itinerary
Day 1: Auckland to Whitianga
Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, is a vibrant and beautiful place to visit. Take some time to explore before heading to the Coromandel Peninsula, a popular holiday destination for both Kiwis and visitors. Coromandel township, once a gold-mining and forestry town, is now a haven for artists, crafters, and environmentalists. A railway enthusiast has developed an hour-long train trip at Driving Creek, and there are other wonderful walks in the region. Whitianga, on the other side of the peninsula, is a lively beach town with enough to do. Cathedral Cove (a stunning photo place) and Hot Water Beach (where you can dig your own natural bath) are two must-see sites in this area.

Coromandel

Coromandel, New Zealand
Day 2: Whitianga to Rotorua
Drive from Whitianga to Tauranga, an affluent city that sprawls along the edge of a beautiful harbour. Stop in for a bite to eat or to go fishing, snorkeling, or dolphin watching. Mount Maunganui, which is close by, is ideal for surfing and beach walks. Continue your journey inland to Rotorua when you're ready. Rotorua is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which means that volcanic activity may be seen everywhere. Explore New Zealand's geothermal sites and learn about the Maori people's distinctive culture. Alternatively, enjoy one of Rotorua's numerous adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.

Kerosene Creek

Kerosene Creek Old Waiotapu Road, Waiotapu, N...
Day 3: Rotorua to Taupo
Today's trip from Rotorua to Taupo is short, but there's plenty to keep you occupied along the route. This area, like Rotorua, is a hotbed of geothermal activity, with turnoffs to geothermal sites like Craters of the Moon, Orakei Korako Cave, and Wairakei Terraces dotted along the way. Discover geysers, silica terraces, and boiling mud craters. Taupo is a vacation town on the edge of New Zealand's largest lake. Fishing, kayaking, and jet boating are all popular activities here. A boat tour to Mine Bay's Maori rock sculptures is a fantastic chance to discover more about the Lake and its inhabitants.

Taupō

Taupō, New Zealand
Taupo also features the world's largest commercialized skydive drop zone.
Day 4: Taupo to Napier
From rough peaks and gorgeous valleys to gentle plains and vast vistas, the journey from Taupo to Napier is filled with breathtaking beauty. The Tarawera hot springs and the Waiarua Falls overlook are two stops along the trip.
Beautiful Art Deco architecture may be seen in the twin cities of Napier and Hasting, the result of a 1931 earthquake that damaged many of the original structures. For more information on this intriguing history, go to your local MTG museum. Hawke's Bay also has many wineries, many of which are within reasonable cycling distance of Napier. The gannet colony and the renowned golf course at Cape Kidnappers are also worth visiting.

Napier

Napier, New Zealand
Day 5: Napier to Wellington
On your route south to Wellington today, you'll pass through a variety of attractive provincial towns. Palmerston North, one of New Zealand's largest provincial cities, features a charming historic core. Many of the original 1920s and 1930s stores have been refurbished and are now used as boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The rose gardens and the Rugby Museum in the town may also pique your curiosity. Follow the Kapiti Coast for a while longer. Kapiti Island, located off the coast of Waikanae, is a natural reserve where visitors may get up up and personal with uncommon birds. Other nearby attractions include a vehicle museum and a gourmet cheese factory. It takes less than an hour to get to central Wellington from here.

Wellington

Wellington, New Zealand
Day 6: Spend the day in Wellington
Spend a day in the capital of our country. Wellington is a compact, cultured city with a lot of personality. The downtown area, which is nestled between the harbour and the hills, is great for walking tours. Cafes, restaurants, museums (including Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum) and a variety of stores are all available. Wellington is known for its dance, theatrical, and musical acts.

Wellington Harbour

Wellington Harbour, Wellington, New Zealand
Day 7: Wellington to Nelson
Today you'll take a ferry ride from the North Island to the South Island. One of the most magnificent boat rides in the world is over Cook Strait and into the Marlborough Sounds. Cook's Lookout, Tory Channel, and the Red Rocks seal colony are all must-sees. Continue west from Picton to Nelson. Take a break along the road at Pelorus Bridge, where you may go for a woodland walk or a swim. Havelock is a great area to go for a seafood feast, especially Greenshell Mussels, which are a local specialty.

Split Apple Rock

Split Apple Rock Moonraker Way, Kaiteriteri, ...
Nelson is home to a diverse group of beach, wildlife, and art enthusiasts. You can plan an eco-adventure or immerse yourself in the local artistic culture from here.
Day 8: Nelson to Westport
The journey to Westport is intriguing and lovely. Stop at Murchison for some fantastic white-water rafting or a visit to the district museum to learn about the devastating earthquake that struck the area in 1929. You may pan for gold in Lyell or take a stroll through a pioneer cemetery. Continue to Westport through Hawks Crag's magnificent granite overhang and along the dark, foreboding Buller Gorge. Westport is known for its coal mines, but it's also a great place to go on outdoor adventures. Visit the local mining museum before heading to the seal colony on your walking shoes. Other outdoor activities include whitewater rafting, jet boating, horseback riding, and rafting.

Westport

Westport, New Zealand
Day 9: Westport to Franz Josef Glacier
Today you'll travel south to the West Coast Glaciers, passing via the gold-rush villages of Greymouth and Hokitika. Wild beaches and stormy waves will greet you along the trip, giving you a sense of this rough and remote location. Visit Paparoa National Park, which is home to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, which resemble piled pancakes. You can't miss Shantytown for some gold-rush history, or stop at Hokitika to watch carvers craft Pounamu (jade) into stunning jewelry. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are located further south. These are some of the world's most accessible glaciers, with a variety of options for exploring them, ranging from short hikes to flightseeing trips.

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast, New Zealand
Day 10: Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka
Continue your drive south to the village of Haast, which has a Wild West feel about it. Hunters are flown into the mountainous ranges by helicopter, and stuffed animal trophies are displayed prominently in local bars. Take a breather before tackling the Haast Pass's dramatic twists and turns, complete with stunning waterfalls and river landscapes. Wanaka is a lakeside town with an appealing blend of excellent living, family pleasure, and adventure when you arrive. There are many cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops to visit in this peaceful town. There are also some unusual attractions, such as Puzzling World's 3D maze and the boutique Paradiso Cinema.

Lake Wānaka

Lake Wānaka, Otago, New Zealand
Day 11: Wanaka to Queenstown
The Crown Range is the quickest route to Queenstown. It's a difficult drive, but the vistas are spectacular. Take the path that travels alongside the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan, and the Shotover River as an alternative. The Gibbston area's wineries and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge make for intriguing side trips.
Queenstown, New Zealand's mountain resort, is vibrant, smart, and breathtakingly beautiful. It's where you may find practically every type of activity, including bungee jumping, jet boating, horseback riding, and rafting. It's also a place to go for high-end activities like gourmet cuisine and drink, spa treatments, and relaxing golf games.

Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand
Day 12: Milford Sound day trip
Milford Sound, a 22-kilometer-long fiord topped by Mitre Peak and filled with tall waterfalls, vertical rock cliffs, and seals, is a sight to behold. Whether you drive your own car or take a tour, keep an eye out for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain, the Mirror Lakes, and the rough-hewn Homer Tunnel that leads into the Sound. A trip in Milford Sound is a must-do during your visit to Fiordland, and most boats include an underwater observatory. In a sea kayak, you can explore at your own speed.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound, Southland, New Zealand
Return to Queenstown or spend the night at Te Anau.
Day 13: Queenstown to Aoraki Mount Cook
Today you'll go to New Zealand's tallest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Omarama is one of the interesting settlements along the journey. The thermal that may lift glider pilots over 10,000 meters draws gliding enthusiasts to this town. The Black Stilt, the world's rarest wading bird, can be seen in Twizel.

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki, Canterbury, New Zealand
Mountain climbers, hikers, and landscape enthusiasts come from all over to visit Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Aerial sightseeing, heli-skiing, and heli-hiking are all fantastic ways to enjoy the region. Alternatively, take a walk on one of the many walking trails. You can also take a boat journey to New Zealand's largest glacier, the Tasman Glacier, from here.
Day 14: Aoraki Mount Cook to Christchurch
The road to Christchurch passes via the Lake Tekapo township. This is a photographer's dream, with its sparkling turquoise lake and stunning mountain backdrop. Before going on to Christchurch, make sure to stop by the Church of the Good Shepherd and the sheepdog statue. Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island, is full of charming tradition, innovation, and outdoor activities. There are many things to do here, including punting on the Avon River, heritage tram excursions, street art trails, botanical gardens, and breathtaking heli-flights. Spend the afternoon exploring the sights and sounds of this fascinating city.
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