Whale and Dolphin Explorer

from £3054
excluding flights *
20 nights Year round


Enjoy the best whale and dolphin encounters around New Zealand wrapped up in a great 20-day self drive touring itinerary. With a wide variety of whales and dolphins in the coastal waters and an abundance of unspoiled flora and fauna on land, New Zealand's two islands are a paradise for the wildlife and nature enthusiast.


  • Bay of Islands sailing and dolphin adventure
  • Dolphins and seals encounter in the Bay of Plenty
  • Gannet beach safari adventure in Hawke's Bay
  • Whale watch cruise in Kaikoura
  • Otago Peninsula penguin place conservation tour
  • Overnight cruise on Milford Sound

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • 7 breakfasts, 1 BBQ lunch and 1 dinner
  • Car rental throughout including GPS
  • Interislander ferry
  • Private airport transfer on arrival
  • Carino Sailing & Dolphin Adventure in the Bay of Island
  • Dolphin and seal encounter in Whakatane
  • Guided Gannet Tour in Hawke's Bay
  • Whale watch experience in Kaikoura
  • Penguin Place Conservation Tour
  • Milford Sound Overnight Cruise
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

Full description

Experience the beautiful harbour city of Auckland and the stunning Bay of Islands, where a year round dolphin presence makes this one of the best places in New Zealand to see these amazing marine mammals. You'll also visit the white sandy beaches and rainforests of the Coromandel Peninsula and travel through New Zealand's less visited Bay of Plenty with its premier surf beaches and kiwi and citrus orchards.

Head to the South Island, where the grandeur and variety of scenery and wildlife is simply staggering. See the sperm whales off the coast of Kaikoura and witness the endangered yellow eyed penguin in Dunedin. You'll also visit the majestic Fiordland National Park where you'll spend the night on-board the Milford Mariner allowing plenty of time to view the spectacular waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife - you're bound to encounter seals and if you're lucky maybe dolphins and penguins.

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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 with private bathroom, including car hire. Prices for other combinations of passengers and rooms available on request. Other vehicle types also available.

Departure Duration Car Category Twin Price (pp)
01 Nov - 31 Mar 2020 20 nights Toyota Corolla Hatch (or similar) £3,222
01 Apr - 30 Apr 2020 20 nights Toyota Corolla Hatch (or similar) £3,054
01 May - 30 Sep 2020 20 nights Toyota Corolla Hatch (or similar) £3,139
01 Oct - 31 Dec 2020 20 nights Toyota Corolla Hatch (or similar) £3,418
01 Jan - 31 Mar 2021 20 nights Toyota Corolla Hatch (or similar) £3,437

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • 7 breakfasts, 1 BBQ lunch and 1 dinner
  • Car rental throughout (Toyota Corolla Hatch or similar) including GPS
  • Interislander ferry (premium plus cabin)
  • Private airport transfer on arrival
  • Carino Sailing & Dolphin Adventure in Bay of Islands
  • Dolphin and seal encounter in Whakatane
  • Half day gannet beach adventure in Hawke's Bay
  • Kaikoura whale watch experience
  • Penguin place conservation tour in Dunedin
  • Overnight cruise onboard the Milford Mariner (ex Te Anau)
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection »

Itinerary & Accommodation

Itinerary & Accommodation

The itinerary shown is an example of this self-drive holiday. We have many other hotels and route recommendations which can be tailored to your requirements. Please discuss with our Travel Specialists who can put together a bespoke itinerary for you.

Day 1 Arrive Auckland

You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.
Overnight: Peace and Plenty Inn. Breakfast included.

Day 2 Auckland - Bay of Islands

Collect your rental vehicle and drive north to Russell in the beautiful Bay of Islands for a 2-night stay.
Overnight: The Duke of Marlborough Hotel (2 nights).

Day 3 Bay of Islands

Today join a full day sailing adventure and, conditions permitting, encounter wild dolphins. Relax as you set sail into the bay to experience the beauty of the Bay of Islands. Keep watch for dolphins and other marine wildlife, indulge in a delicious lunch, stop on beautiful remote islands and sink your toes into gorgeous sandy beaches. BBQ lunch included.

Day 4 Bay of Islands - Whitianga

Drive south via Auckland to Whitianga on the east coast of the Coromandel for a two-night stay.
Overnight: 970 Lonely Bay Lodge (2 nights). Breakfast included.

Day 5 Whitianga

Today is free for you to explore the Coromandel Peninsula, a region filled with rainforest-clad gorges and Pohutukawa-fringed beaches. Perhaps enjoying a soak in the thermal springs on Hot Water Beach, or a kayaking adventure at Cathedral Cove. Coromandel Town, at the northernmost part of the peninsula, is also worth a visit, with wonderful restaurants, bars and local craft shops on offer.

Day 6 Whitianga - Whakatane

Make your way to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty for a 2-night stay. Spend this afternoon at leisure.
Overnight: White Island Rendezvous (2 nights).

Day 7 Whakatane

Enjoy up close encounters with marine mammals in the sub tropical waters surrounding the active White Island Marine Volcano and nearby Whale Island also known as Moutohora Island. Sightings often include large pods of dolphin as well as seals, seabirds and occasionally whales.

Day 8 Whakatane - Napier

Drive south to the city of Napier, completely rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 1931, it features one of the densest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the world.
Overnight: The Crown Hotel (2 nights).

Day 9 Napier

Discover the magic of Cape Kidnappers with an experienced guide at the largest mainland gannet colony in the world. Spend your afternoon at leisure exploring this fascinating city.

Day 10 Napier - Wellington

Drive to Wellington, through the Wairarapa region, best known for producing world-class Pinot Noir in its Martinborough vineyards as well as being home to the acclaimed Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre.
Overnight: Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay.

Day 11 Wellington - Picton - Kaikoura

Enjoy a morning of leisure, possibly visiting New Zealand's National Museum Te Papa or Mt Victoria lookout. In the afternoon take the Interislander ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island. Enjoy a relaxing ferry journey in the premium plus cabin where comfortable seating, complimentary drinks, light refreshments and internet access are available. On arrival in Picton make your way down the east coast to Kaikoura for a two night stay.
Overnight: White Morph Inn (2 nights).

Day 12 Kaikoura

Join a Whale Watch Cruise for a unique marine experience providing the opportunity to see sperm whales against the dramatic backdrop of the Kaikoura mountains. Other species of whale may also be seen, as may dusky dolphins, Hector's dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and a wide variety of sea birds.

Day 13 Kaikoura - Akaroa

Make your way to the ancient volcanic peninsula of Akaroa via the picturesque city of Christchurch. This afternoon explore the beautiful bays and harbour or enjoy the opportunity to see playful Hector's dolphins and other wildlife on a harbour cruise (additional cost).
Overnight: Akaroa Criterion.

Day 14 Christchurch - Dunedin

Drive south and follow the coastal route to Dunedin for a two-night stay, perhaps stopping at the Moeraki boulders en route.
Overnight: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (2 nights).

Day 15 Dunedin

Explore the nearby Otago Peninsula, home to colonies of royal albatross and yellow-eyed penguins. Included is a penguin place conservation tour. Spend this afternoon at leisure in this very Scottish city, which boasts the country's oldest university and some interesting architecture.

Day 16 Dunedin - Te Anau

Drive to Te Anau, the natural gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Overnight: Dunluce Bed and Breakfast. Breakfast included.

Day 17 Te Anau - Milford Sound

Drive to Milford along an amazingly scenic route and board the Milford Mariner for an overnight cruise on Milford Sound. Optional activities include kayaking and exploring the shoreline.
Note: the overnight cruise does not operate from mid May to mid September. During these months the itinerary takes you from Te Anau-Milford Sound-Queenstown and includes a nature day cruise in Milford Sound with picnic lunch and an extra night in Queenstown. (Breakfast and evening buffet dinner included on board).

Day 18 Milford Sound - Wanaka

Return to Milford wharf and drive to Wanaka. Stop en route in Queenstown, situated along the eastern shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Overnight: Wanaka Springs Lodge. Breakfast included.

Day 19 Wanaka - Mt Cook

Spend the morning at leisure in Wanaka before making your way to the alpine village of Mount Cook and New Zealand's highest peak. A wide variety of walking tracks are available to see the mountains and glaciers at their best.
Overnight: Matuka Lodge. Breakfast included.

Days 20-21 Mt Cook - Christchurch

Drive to Christchurch for your final night before returning to the airport for departure the following day.
Overnight: The George Hotel.

Copthorne Oriental Bay, Wellington

New Zealand

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

Located just 2 minutes’ walk from the Te Papa national museum, this 118-room hotel is within easy reach of vibrant Courtney Place and a variety of the city's best restaurants, bars and shops.

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Dunluce B&B, Te Anau

New Zealand

Grade: Standard

Type: Guesthouse B&B

A contemporary home in 1.5 acres of landscaped gardens of New Zealand's remarkable local flora, the 4 rooms of Dunluce B&B are imbued with a comfort and warmth only found in the countryside.

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Peace and Plenty Inn, Devonport

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Guesthouse B&B

This beautifully restored 7-room villa sits in the heart of historic Devonport on Auckland’s North Shore.

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The George

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

Located in the heart of Christchurch, overlooking picturesque Hagley Park and the Avon River, The George is just a step away from key attractions including the arts market, restaurants and Botanical Gardens.

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Wanaka Springs Lodge

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Luxury Lodge

This boutique lodge offers generous New Zealand hospitality with 8 rooms set amongst a magnificent landscaped garden.

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The White Morph, Kaikoura

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

A 22-room waterfront hotel on Kaikoura’s esplanade, The White Morph enjoys commanding views of the ocean and mountains.

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970 Lonely Bay Lodge, Coromandel Peninsula

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Luxury Lodge

With a selection of five spacious luxury suites, each with a king size bed, en-suite bathrooms, luxury linens and a private terrace overlooking the stunning Mercury Bay and Cooks Beach, 970 Lonely Bay Lodge provides the perfect location for your beachside escape.

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How to Book
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