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The grand tour of New Zealand : Beaches, Mountains, Geysers, Fiords, Glaciers, Nature


Arrive in Auckland where you can explore the beautiful City of Sails. You’ll then head to the Coromandel Peninsula where you’ll discover stunning wild, deserted beaches. You leave this little piece of paradise for Rotorua where you can enjoy the geothermal activity and all the attractions that this small tourist town has to offer.

After enjoying the many facilities and activities in Rotorua, you’ll head towards the famous Tongariro National Park where you can enjoy one of the best day hikes in the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. You’ll go pass craters and lakes of different colours, each more impressive than the last. When you’ve had your fill of volcanoes and craters, it’s time to enjoy Napier, famous for its vineyards and Art Deco style architecture. Then you’ll head to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and voted the coolest little capital in the world.

From Wellington, you’ll put your campervan on the ferry to reach the South Island. On arrival in the largest island of New Zealand, head to the beautiful Abel Tasman Park where you can enjoy numerous walks or simply relax on the beautiful beaches. From here you’ll go to the west coast to visit Punakaiki and later Franz Joseph where you can do a glacier hike or scenic flight up one of the two largest glaciers in the region (Franz Josef and Fox Glacier). From here you are close to Fiordland, but on the way, make a stop in Wanaka, a small town with lovely mountain views and then continue to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.

After testing the limits of gravity, head towards the beautiful Fiordland National Park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. After a relaxing time in the fjords, continue your trip through the Catlins, ideal for beautiful hikes before putting the cap on university city of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. Drive back quietly to Christchurch through the Southern Alps and Mount Cook, which will give you the feeling of being alone in the world because of its vastness and stillness.

Campground prices are based on two people + motorhome on a powered site.
 

Stage 1 : Auckland

auckland3 You've finally arrived in Auckland, the City of Sails. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand but it is easy to explore and a very pleasant place to visit especially in summer with its many inner city beaches and beautiful North Shore bays.

It is also popular for its forest walks and cycle trails, many located less than 30 minutes from the city centre. Although the easy accessibility to nature is part of Auckland’s attraction, it is also a cosmopolitan city with many restaurants, bars and shops.


Camping:
Manukau Top 10 Holiday Park : powered site, $48 per night

To Do: Climb the Sky Tower, go out on an America’s Cup boat, visit Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium or the Auckland Zoo, explore the west coast beaches, climb Mt Eden volcano and go wine tasting on Waiheke Island.


Stage 2 : Auckland - Coromandel

Coromandel2 Pick up your campervan in the morning and head out on the open road to the Coromandel Peninsula. This area has it all! For nature lovers this is a wild destination with vibrant colours and green tropical forests covering most of the territory.

Stop off at one of the many white sand beaches surrounding the peninsula and go for a swim in the turquoise waters. For families this is a relaxing destination with many activities, beaches, walks, train rides, mini-golf...while backpackers and casual travellers will enjoy the rustic, relaxing atmosphere of this pristine destination.

Camping:
Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park : powered site, $46 per night

To Do: Hahei Kayaking, discover the beach at Cathedral Cove, soak in your own private hot pool at Hot Water Beach, go on a unique train ride near Coromandel Town.


Stage 3 : Coromandel - Rotorua

Rotorua The smell of sulfur and view of Lake Rotorua mark your imminent arrival in Rotorua, New Zealand’s geothermal mecca with plumes of steam and hot geyers coming out of the ground.

Why not soak in natural hot pools or take a mud bath! With its beautiful green and blue lakes and vast forests, it is a premier destination for walkers and bikers. The Maori culture is strong here with Maori representing one third of the inhabitants of the city. Take the opportunity to taste traditional food, listen to their stories and legends and appreciate their art and music.

Camping:
Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday Park, Rotorua: powered site, $44 per night

To Do: Visit farm animals, geothermal Waimangu Park and Te Puia, Zorb, Rafting, Polynesian Spa, scenic flight of the geothermal areas, visit the active volcano on White Island, gondola ride or mountain biking in the Redwood Forest, Maori Mitai Show.


Stage 4 : Rotorua - Tongariro National Park

ChateauTongariro Upon leaving Rotorua, don’t miss the famous Geothermal Park Wai-O-Tapu with the famous “champagne pool " and the “Knox Geyser".

Later stop at Huka Falls for a jet boat ride or just to take in the views of the waterfalls. Taupo and the lake are a 10 minute drive .  Continue to Tongariro National Park, a landscape of contrasts with lava, mountain peaks, active craters and pools of all colours. This park is a real gem for biking, rock climbing, snow sports, and the Tongariro Alpine crossing, recognized as one of the 10 most beautiful walks in the world.

Camping:
Tongariro Holiday Park:  powered site, $39 per night

To Do: Hike the Tongariro Crossing, take a coffee at the iconic Chateau Tongariro.


Stage 5 : Tongariro National Park - Napier

HawkesBay You then set off towards Napier. Destroyed by an earthquake in the early 1930s, Napier was rebuilt with an Art Deco influence, hence why Napier is called the “Art Deco capital of the world “. The city centre has the greatest concentration of art deco buildings.

Due to its location in the beautiful rolling hills of the Hawkes Bay, rich in colour and sunshine, Napier is the perfect base for visiting the many wineries, wildlife such as the immense colony of gannets at Cape Kidnappers, and for playing a round of golf on the internationally recognised 18 hole Cape Kidnappers course.

Camping:
Bay View Snapper Holiday Park:  powered site, $44 per night

To Do: Tour the vineyards by bike, meet the Gannets of Cape Kidnappers, the famous 18-hole golf course at Cape Kidnappers, visit Napier the Art Deco city, mini golf.


Stage 6 : Napier - Wellington

Wellington Head south to Wellington, the small capital voted the most "friendly" to the world. Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants and cafes in the country, the most comprehensive museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, and fantastic walks to do along the harbour and the hills of the city.


Camping:
Wellington Waterfront Motorhome Park:  powered site, $50 per night

To Do: Te Papa Museum, the cable car for views of Wellington, walk through the Botanical Gardens or the waterfront and a drink in Cuba Street.


Stage 7: Wellington - Abel Tasman National Park

abel-tasman2 Catch the ferry to the South Island. This scenic crossing will give you great views of the Marlborough Sounds, a good introduction to the beauties of this island. Drive to the Abel Tasman National Park, considered one of the most beautiful parks in New Zealand.

Enjoy the contrast of the colours of the tropical rainforest, white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of the Tasman Sea. Hiking, kayaking, boating and relaxing on the beach, are just some activities you can do during your stay.

Camping:
Motueka Top 10 Holiday Park : powered site, $45 per night

To Do: Swim with sea lions, explore the park on foot, go on an eco-Safari on Farewell Spit and explore the National Park by kayak or catamaran.      


Stage 8: Abel Tasman National Park - Punakaiki (the West Coast)

punakaiki Leaving the Abel Tasman is never easy but the west coast is full of surprises.  Here you’ll discover a rugged landscape with dense subtropical vegetation, wild beaches and an unleashed sea, as well as a very small population.

This is New Zealand at its purest! Along this coast Punakaiki attracts travellers for its natural sculptures, the famous "Pancake Rocks" formed by the erosion from the sea, rain and rivers.
 

Camping:
Punakaiki Beach Camp: powered site, $31 per night

To Do: Visit the Pancake Rocks, walks in the subtropical forest, canoe on the Pororari River.


Stage 9: Punakaiki - The Glaciers (Franz Josef / Fox)

FranzJosef Continue along the West Coast, you’ll notice the scenery becoming increasingly rough, wild and often very wet. Finally you’ll reach New Zealand’s famous glaciers: Fox and Franz Josef. These are virtually on the sea front and less than 300 metre above sea level, they are the highlights of the region.

Don’t hesitate to ask us about a scenic flight to appreciate the true value of their pristine vastness, or a glacier hike.


Camping:
Franz Josef Top 10 Holiday Park : powered site, $42 per night

To Do: Scenic flight of the glaciers by helicopter, go on a Heli-Hike adventure, relax at the spa on the edge of the glacier, discover the many hikes in this area.


Stage 10: Franz Josef - Wanaka

Wanaka2 The quiet, charming village of Wanaka is located at the foot of the Alps on the edge of a lake of the same name.

This is a great base for many hiking trails which are located nearby or you can simply relax by the lake. Wanaka in winter becomes a vibrant ski resort with slopes less than 30min drive away.

Camping:
Wanaka Lake View Holiday Park : powered site, $36 per night

To Do: Discovering Puzzle World, go on short or long hike along the lakes or Mt Aspiring.


Stage 11: Wanaka - Queenstown

Queenstown At the foot of the mountains and nestled beside Lake Wakatipu is Queenstown, recognised as New Zealand’s adventure capital for extreme sports. In addition to adrenaline rush activities such as bungy jumping, rafting, parachute, jet boating... it's a beautiful town with many scenic vantage points. This is a paradise for walkers, golfers, fishermen and lovers of nature.


Camping:
Queenstown Top10 Holiday Park, Creeksyde: powered site, $50 per night

To Do: Go on a horseback ride, explore the backcountry with a nature safari, bungy jump, cruise and Kiwi BBQ on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, rafting, enjoy the many golf courses in the area, scenic flight over the Southern Alps.


Stage 12: Queenstown - Te Anau and the Fiords

Milfordsound A two-hour drive from Queenstown, Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park, the largest park, and certainly the most impressive, in New Zealand. Recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

This region is monumental with huge peaks (Mitre Peak  is 1,652 metres) plunging directly into the sea, breathtaking waterfalls and rain measured in metres rather than centimetres. Don’t forget your camera!


Camping:
Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park: powered site, $50 per night

To Do: Cruising Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, visit glow worm caves, see the film about the Fiordland region in Te Anau.


Stage 13: Te Anau - and The Catlins

Catlins Located in the extreme south of the country, this region is well preserved from mass tourism. View beautiful beaches, lush forests, waterfalls and not to mention a unique wildlife with dolphins, seals, sea lions, penguins and sea elephants. The Catlins are a door to New Zealand’s past where life was simple and in harmonious with nature.

Camping:
Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park at McLean Falls: powered site, $39 per night

To Do: Explore the region on horseback, kayak or on foot, walking to Nugget Point, leave to discover Curio Bay.


Stage 14 : Catlins - Dunedin

Dunedin2 Today you drive to Dunedin, or Edinburgh in Gaelic, and yes the city is like its Scottish origins. Dunedin is Otago’s capital and the 2nd largest city the South Island, it’s a college town that comes to life every night in the streets and bars of the city centre.

Besides the clean green charm of the town, beaches and cliffs, Dunedin is the place for wildlife lovers. Here you can see sea lions, penguins or huge sea lions, not forgetting the Albatross colony.

Camping:
Dundedin Holiday Park: powered site, $39 per night

To Do: Go on an eco-safari to explore the wildlife of the area, enjoy the many surrounding beaches, discover the architecture of the city, party with students at night.


Stage 15: Dunedin - Mount Cook

MtCook-Aoraki2 The small village of Mt Cook is located at the foot of the highest mountain in the country, Mt Cook (3754 meters). This is an excellent base for exploring the National Park, Tasman Glacier and the Southern Alps in general. It's an amazing place that offers magnificent views. After the turn-off to reach the alpine village, you follow the turquoise Lake Pukaki with a backdrop view of the mountains.

This area is also a paradise for fishermen, it is world renowned for trout fishing and salmon, it would be a rare day where you came home empty-handed!

Camping:
Glentanner Park Centre: powered site, $44 per night

To Do : Discover the Sir Edmund Hillary Museum, view the Tasman glacier by boat, stroll around the beautiful Tekapo and Pukaki lakes, take a scenic flight over this beautiful region.


Stage 16 : Mt Cook - Christchurch

christchurch Today you’ll head towards Christchurch, on the way don’t forget to stop at Lake Tekapo and the Church of the Shepherd to admire the colours of the lake and enjoy the peace and quiet of the place.

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island, and is slowly being rebuilt after a strong earthquake in 2012. Despite this, visitors are always welcome and we encourage you to stay at least one night to visit surrounding areas such as Sumner (a family resort) and the small village of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula, both of these can be done in one day.

Camping:
All Seasons Holiday Park : powered site, $38 per night

To Do: Visit the beaches of Sumner Bay, explore Banks Peninsula, in Christchurch visit the Antarctica Centre and the art galleries.


Stage 17 : Christchurch - Kaikoura

kaikoura You still have a little time, so make a small loop to the north, starting with the Kaikoura region.

This one of the most beautiful regions of the country. Snowy capped mountains overlook the ocean and its beautiful rugged coastline has seals and sea lions basking in the sun. The waters of the ocean here support a unique eco-system where whales, dolphins, seals and albatross feed. Speaking of food be sure to stop at one of the caravans along the road to Kaikoura and enjoy freshly cooked lobster the Kiwi way.

Camping:
Kaikoura Alpine-Pacific Holiday Park : powered site, $40 per night

To Do: Swim with Hector dolphins or sea lions or see whales up close, hike the Kaikoura Coast Track and don’t miss the lobster in the village or small roadside caravans, a real treat.


Stage 18 : Kaikoura - Hamner Springs

hanmer-spring This is a small geothermal town located at the entrance of the Alps.
Hamner Springs is ideal for families and lovers of hiking and horse riding.  It is also a popular venue for beautiful bike rides in the forest area. This little corner of paradise is a place of rest and relaxation and famous for its thermal baths, which you can use every day if you wish.


Camping:
Hamnner Springs Top 10 Holiday Park : powered site, $42 per night

To Do: Rent a bike and go on one of the many trails in the mountains, relax in the natural hot pools.


Stage 19 : Hamner Springs - Christchurch

AirNZ You return to Christchurch and drop off your campervan. Catch your plane back home with pictures and happy memories to remind you of your time in New Zealand.


Camping:
All Seasons Holiday Park : powered site, $38 per night


 

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Top 10 activities
  • Kayak to Cathedral Cove
  • Wai-O-tapu Geothermal area
  • Mitai Maori Cultural show and dinner
  • Tramp the Tongariro Crossing
  • Walk through the Abel Tasman National Park
  • Heli-Hike on Franz Josef Glacier
  • Horse Riding
  • Cruise in the Milford Sounds
  • Eco safari in Dunedin
  • Swim with the Dolphins
 

 

 

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