This itinerary has been specifically designed for visitors keen to minimise their impact on the environment. With carefully selected eco-friendly accommodation and a hybrid rental car, this 20-day self-drive itinerary showcases the benefits of sustainable travel and conserving resources.
- Enjoy coastal walks and secluded beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula
- Stay overnight at Kapiti Island Nature Lodge
- Explore on foot or by kayak in Abel Tasman National Park
- Plant a tree as part of a unique eco experience in Wanaka
- Enjoy countless wildlife opportunities from dolphin and whale watching in Kaikoura to spotting Yellow-eyed penguins on Otago Peninsula
- Accommodation in rooms with private bathrooms (with the exception of Kapiti Island)
- All breakfasts & 7 dinners
- Boat cruise and eco-experience in Wanaka
- Stargazing tour in Tekapo
- Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton
- Hybrid car rental throughout
Accommodation includes a mix of unique hotels, bed and breakfasts and luxury eco-lodges. Many are working conservation projects, some increasing native species by improving habitat conditions, water quality and trapping predators, others have been designed and maintained in an environmentally sensitive manner, to ensure native trees, insects and birds thrive.
In addition to the eco-friendly accommodation, you’ll explore the country’s natural beauty the eco way with a hybrid vehicle. Offering one of the best fuel economies and low emissions, this is not only a relief on your wallet, but on the environment as well.
Along the way you’ll witness stunning landscapes, from secluded beaches and bays in the Coromandel to striking mountains and marine wildlife in Kaikoura. From the geo-thermal activity and Maori culture in Rotorua to the glaciers and rainforests on the West Coast of the South Island, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing excursions. There will be opportunity to include a range of eco-focused ‘hands-on’ experiences, with minimum impact to the surrounding environment.
Prices & Dates *
Airfares start from around £825 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.
From prices per person based on 2 sharing a room, including car hire
|Departure||Duration||Car Category||Twin (pp)|
|01 Oct 2019 - 31 Mar 2020||19 nights||Hybrid Eco Friendly Sedan||£4,313|
This itinerary is designed to travel over the summer months from October to March inclusive. Please contact us for prices to travel outside of this period.
- Accommodation in mix of hotels, B&B's and eco-lodges, all with private bathrooms (except at Kapiti Island Lodge where the bathroom is shared)
- All breakfasts & 7 dinners
- Meet and greet on arrival
- Boat cruise and eco experience in Wanaka
- Stargazing tour in Tekapo
- Interislander ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton
- Hybrid car rental throughout (subject to insurance excess)
- 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
- No surcharge guarantee
- Full financial protection »
Itinerary & Accommodation
Itinerary & Accommodation
On arrival in Auckland you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. Your hotel tonight, The Great Ponsonby Arthotel, was the first accommodation provider in New Zealand to extensively use eco products for guest amenities, laundry and cleaning. Being centrally located it is an easy walk or quick bus ride into town with the green link bus running every 10 or 15 minutes. We recommend a leisurely stroll along Auckland’s waterfront and dinner in one of the excellent restaurants at the Wynyard Quarter.
Collect your hybrid rental car and travel along the western shores of Coromandel Peninsula to Coromandel Town. Cafés and small shops invite you for a stop. You’ll stay overnight in Tairua, where you can enjoy kayaking, play golf or simply relax at the beach. The short walk to the top of Mount Paku will reward you with a great view. Awarded a Gold Environmental Award from Qualmark, Colleith Lodge is a boutique luxury five star one level accommodation in a unique breath taking location. Set on 1 ½ acres amid native bush, the grounds are maintained in an environmentally sensitive way, which helps ensure native trees, insects & birds thrive.
Today you have time to enjoy the tranquillity and quietness of the Coromandel Peninsula. The white beaches are perfect for swimming, surfing or diving. At Hot Water Beach you can dig your own thermal pool at low tide. A nice short walk from Hahei Beach takes you to the famous Cathedral Cove, one of the most interesting bays in the country. You might like to enjoy a local guided kayak tour here, operated by a small eco-friendly Kiwi company. Paddle through amazing sea caves and explore volcanic islands in the Marine Reserve.
Today you will travel along the East Coast and pass through the Kiwi growing area of Te Puke where you can stop at the visitor centre and learn all about the national fruit of New Zealand. Later you reach Rotorua, the heartland of Maori culture and centre of thermal activities in New Zealand. On your way to Taupo, we recommend a visit to Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland or Waimangu Volcanic Valley before you travel onwards to your accommodation. Tonight you will stay in a very private and tranquil location close to Whakaipo Bay, one of Lake Taupo’s most beautiful and pristine bays. Within a short distance there are spectacular volcanic, snow-covered mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers, sandy deserts and virgin bush. If time allows we would recommend visiting Rotorua Canopy Tours for a guided eco-tour (all ages welcome, no experience required). Journey deep into ancient New Zealand forest, learn about local history and forest conservation from the top of the forest canopy.
Weather permitting, your journey will start with spectacular views of the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. On arrival you’ll have plenty of time for one of the shorter walking options, starting from Whakapapa Village in the heart of the national park. You stay overnight at Blue Duck Station. Located in the Ruapehu District on the banks of the Whanganui and Retaruke Rivers, and surrounded by Whanganui National Park, it is not only a sheep and beef farm and tourism centre, but also an award-winning, working conservation project helping to increase numbers of native species by improving their habitat, enhancing water quality and trapping predators.
Get a taste of what Blue Duck Station is all about on a Bush Safari. See remains of the unbelievable local history, hear all about their conservation work and witness the results it has produced. During the summer months go on a short kayak tour through the gorge to the base of the Kaiwhakauka Falls and you may even spot a Blue Duck or two!
Journey south along the Whanganui River, the most beautiful river on the North Island. Follow the course of the river to Wanganui and on to the Kapiti Coast. Here you will board your vessel to Kapiti Island where you will stay overnight at Kapiti Nature Lodge. Kapiti Island is an internationally renowned sanctuary for New Zealand native birds, a genuine native forest and a reserve for New Zealand wildlife. There are approximately 1200 Little Spotted Kiwi on Kapiti Island and this tour is your best chance of seeing a Little Spotted Kiwi in a predator free and natural environment.
This morning you make your way to New Zealand’s capital city Wellington. Time permitting, we recommend a sightseeing tour and a walk along the waterfront to Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand. Later cruise through the picturesque Marlborough Sound on the ferry over to Picton and make your way along Queen Charlotte Drive with its many bays and beaches. Stop in sunny Nelson, with its local art scene, before you continue to Abel Tasman National Park. Your home for the next two nights is The Resurgence, one of the world’s leading luxury eco-lodges, set in 50 acres of wilderness with 5 km of bush tracks.
Abel Tasman National Park offers a wide range of activities and plenty of walks for all fitness levels. From your accommodation you can enjoy easy day trips to Golden Bay, Kahurangi or Nelson art studios and wineries. Be sure to pre book local activities such as kayaking, guided hikes, birding trips and winery or art tours as these get booked far in advance.
Today continue through Wairau Valley via St Arnaud in Nelson Lakes National Park and then onto the East Coast. Blenheim is the focal point for the Marlborough wine region and an ideal stop for a gourmet lunch at one of the wineries. From here travel along the spectacular coastline down to Kaikoura where you will stay overnight. Kaikoura is beautifully located by the sea with the snow-capped mountains of the Kaikoura Ranges as the backdrop. In 2002 Kaikoura, as a township, was the first local authority in the world to become a Green Globe certified community. Be sure to book your whale watching experience or dolphin encounter before you travel. The sperm whales and dusky dolphins inhabit the coastal waters of Kaikoura all year round, but Kaikoura is also visited by many other migrating whales, such as the humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales. Your accommodation tonight is a totally immersive and private experience, designed for environmental sustainability. Park your car and take a delightful nature walk (900 m / 10-15 min walk) to your unique PurePod hovering above the ferns and tussocks. Discover your own isolated slice of Kiwi paradise, revel in the birdsong all day and at night explore the stars of the southern sky from the comfort of your luxury bed.
Today drive west to Hanmer Springs, famous for its thermal pools and then continue onto the winding Buller Gorge which takes you to the West Coast. A side trip in Westport to a seal colony at Cape Foulwind is worthwhile. Later we recommend a walk along the Pororari River near Punakaiki and watching the sunset at Pancake Rocks will be a memorable experience. You’ll stay at Punakaiki Resort, which is only a stone’s throw from the beach. The Eco-Suites here are environmentally friendly, designed in harmony with the local environment, utilising only organically grown timbers and commercial materials with little or no toxins, to maintain a sense of privacy and seclusion.
Today you’ll continue along the West Coast to Franz Josef. En route you might like to visit a jade workshop in Greymouth or Hokitika, and watch the jade carvers in action. We recommend visiting Okarito, a small coastal village where you can take a kayak trip through the quiet Okarito lagoon, home to thousands of native birds (more than 76 different species) including the famous white heron and royal spoonbills. For the more adventurous there are jet boating tours or helicopter flights with glacier landings on Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Your accommodation tonight is encircled by native bush and building materials have been chosen to minimise environmental impact. The property’s carbon footprint is also reduced with its energy efficient design.
Today you’ll make your way to Wanaka. We recommend stopping at Ship Creek Walk and also a side trip to Monro Beach Walk. In spring (Oct – Dec) you might be lucky and see Fiordland crested penguins and hector dolphins playing in the sea here. You’ll drive over Haast Pass, a scenic drive with many opportunities to stop and explore. After a long drive the easy walk to the top of Mount Iron will reward you with a 360 degree view over the Southern Alps. Tonight you’ll stay in an idyllic location nestled amongst Wanaka’s Station Park, once home to the town’s original Homestead (the New Zealand term for farmhouse). Purpose-built in a sensitive traditional style, but with all the comforts of modern living in mind, the lodge radiates warmth and character.
Today you’ll explore Wanaka’s raw natural beauty. Included today is a Wanaka Nature Encounter tour. Begin your day with a boat cruise on the pristine waters of Lake Wanaka to Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A guided walk to the spectacular summit reveals the island’s secret - a lake on top of an Island! Enjoy a serene “High Tea” here, up close and personal with rare native birds and plant a tree as part of this unique eco experience. Return to Wanaka for a café lunch (at own cost) or optional packed picnic lunch. After lunch experience some of New Zealand’s most spectacular backcountry in this exclusive 4WD adventure covering terrain many locals have never seen as you climb above Lake Wanaka. Traversing remote tracks, you will enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the Southern Alps whilst exploring private farm roads, ancient Maori trails, heritage sites and farming life.
Today you’ll cross the Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest official road to Queenstown. Spend some time in the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world, seek out relaxation and rejuvenation in one of the spa and wellness centres or just breathe pure mountain air before you continue to your Te Anau accommodation. Highly recommended cruise on Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound. Milford Sound is arguable the most impressive with its sheer cliff faces, tall mountains, stunning waterfalls and marine life. Doubtful Sound is less frequently visited and substantially larger than Milford Sound, offering a beautifully peaceful trip and the ability to immerse yourself in the vast and deep wilderness. Throughout Fiordland National Park wildlife viewing opportunities include dolphins, seals and, in season, the rare Fiordland crested penguins.
Today drive through Fiordland National Park, the biggest rainforest in New Zealand with 1000 year old Totara trees. In Clifden visit the oldest suspension bridge in the country and then continue on the Southern Scenic Route via Te Waewae Bay where you can watch dolphins and whales from the cliffs. You’ll drive on through the Catlins, a windy and rough coast home to many beautiful bays, forest and waterfalls before reaching Dunedin where its Scottish roots are clearly reflected in the Victorian and Edwardian architecture.
Dunedin’s Otago Peninsula is renowned for the world’s only mainland breeding colony of the northern royal albatross and the world’s rarest penguin, the yellow-eyed penguin, plus various species of seals, sea lions and pelagic birds. We recommend taking a guided nature tour out to the Otago Peninsula with its tidal inlets where, depending on tide and season, a variety of birds can be observed – pied stilt, white faced heron, oyster catcher, spoonbill and arctic waders. One local tour includes the opportunity to contribute to ongoing re-vegetation by planting a native tree. We also recommend taking a guided tour around Penguin Place, a conservation project, founded in 1985 when there were just eight breeding pairs of Yellow Eyed Penguins on the property. The colony peaked in 1996 with 36 breeding pairs; since then numbers have declined and nesting pairs fluctuate from year to year. Guided tours include close up viewing of the beautiful Yellow Eyed Penguins. Covered trenches and observation huts will hide you so the penguins will not be frightened and you can observe them going about their daily business unperturbed by your presence.
Today you’ll drive north to the famous Moeraki Boulders before driving inland towards the Alps and Omarama. Visit the impressive Clay Cliffs or make a side trip to Mount Cook Village and admire the glaciers and mountains close up. In the evening join a Night Stargazing tour at the summit of Mt John (included). Conditions permitting, allow the astronomy guides to help you navigate the southern night sky using green laser pointers. Experience the thrill of peering through powerful telescopes and binoculars to see amazing sights, both near and far. You’ll stay overnight at Lake Tekapo with its impressive snowy glaciers, turquoise lakes and striking mountains.
Today drive along the foothills and over the endless wide Canterbury Plains to the Garden City of Christchurch. Take a walk through Hagley Park and along the Avon River. Enjoy the many cafes and restaurants and take advantage of a last opportunity to purchase souvenirs from Aotearoa. Your accommodation is just 10 mins from Christchurch Airport and 15 mins to the city centre. Enjoy your last full day in New Zealand, wander the 10 acres of vines, orchards and olive grove located on the grounds of the lodge. In the spirit of a clean, green New Zealand Clearview Lodge actively minimises any adverse environmental impact by using resources efficiently and disposing of waste responsibly, thereby providing an environmentally and socially responsible experience for guests.
Today your New Zealand journey comes to an end. Return your rental vehicle at the airport.
Read on for further information on some of the working conservation projects included throughout your itinerary.
Blue Duck Station
Located in the Whanganui National Park, Blue Duck Station is not only a sheep and beef farm but also an award-winning, working conservation project helping to increase numbers of native species by improving their habitat, enhancing water quality and trapping predators. See remains of the local history, hear all about conservation work and witness the results it has produced. During the summer months go on a short kayak through the gorge at the base of the Kaiwhakauka falls and spot a Blue Duck.
The island is an internationally renowned sanctuary for New Zealand native birds, a genuine native forest and a reserve for New Zealand wildlife. Kapiti Island Nature Tours runs its environment nature activities and Kapiti Nature Lodge from Waiorua Bay. There are approximately 1200 Little Spotted Kiwi on Kapiti Island and this tour is your best chance of seeing a Little Spotted Kiwi in a predator free and natural environment.
Kaikoura, the Eco capital of the world, is beautifully located by the sea with the snow-capped mountains of the Kaikoura Ranges in the background. In 2002 Kaikoura, as a township, was the first local authority in the world to become a Green Globe certified community. Nearly every local operator has a green mission threaded through their operations, caring for the environment which brings tourists from all over the world.
The Otago Peninsula together with its 20 km long harbour, is the home of an abundance of magnificent world famous wildlife. The Royal Albatross, the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin, the Little Blue Penguin and Stewart Island Shag can all be seen in their natural habitat. Many Seals live here as well as the Hooker Sea Lions and the occasional Sea Elephant.
Tekapo - International Dark Sky Reserve
The skies above Tekapo and its surroundings which includes the country’s highest peak Aoraki Mt Cook, have been officially declared an ‘International Dark Sky Reserve’ and form the world’s largest such reserve. Unique star features include the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies to the Milky Way that are only visible in the southern hemisphere.
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