New Zealand has emerged over recent years as a producer of fine wine, and is also a major exporter of
meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables. The raw materials are excellent and there are some marvellous restaurants as well as local delicacies.
Note: The itinerary is designed for self-drive but can easily work with a driver/guide. May be customized.

DAY 1  ARRIVE AUCKLAND
You will be met and transferred to your hotel by private vehicle.   
This afternoon, a private sightseeing tour of Auckland, featuring views from Mt Eden, the Domain Gardens, Parnell Village and the excellent Maori and Pacific Islands Court at the Museum.
Accommodation: Auckland, 2 nights

DAY 2  WAIHEKE ISLAND WINERIES (BL)
This morning, cruise across Waitemata harbor to Waiheke Island where you will be met at the wharf by a local guide for a small group wine tour.   Since the 1970s, the islands's Mediterranean climate has seen the growth of a flourishing wine industry with low quantities of high quality fruit. Visit several vineyards, such as Cable Bay, Mudbrick, Stonyridge and Te Whau, to name but a few. Stop for lunch at a village or beachside café or at a top vineyard restaurant. Late in the afternoon, you will be transfered back to the wharf to connect with the ferry back to Auckland.
DAY 3  TO WAITOMO & ROTORUA (BLD)
The drive today takes you through the Waikato Valley, a major dairy and horse raising area to the Waitomo Caves region. Enjoy a guided tour of the Ruakuri Cave with its winding passages and immense caverns. (2 hrs, 1.6 kms.) See glowworms, elaborate cave formations, underground rivers and more. Continue across the bush-clad Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua, the center of the geo-thermal region.   
This evening, enjoy a hangi dinner and concert of traditional Maori song and dance on a Marae.  
Accommodation: Rotorua 1 night

DAY 4   TO NAPIER (B)
This morning's sightseeing geo-thermal activity - gushing geysers, boiling mud pools, steaming vents and mineral terraces at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
This afternoon's drive will take you through Taupo and across the Kaimanawa Ranges to the art deco city of Napier, center of the Hawkes Bay wine region.
Accommodation: Napier 2 nights

DAY 5    HAWKES BAY WINERIES(BL)
Today join a wine and dine tour driving through stunning scenery. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation for this region's fantastic wines. Visit 5 or 6 wineries, stopping at one for lunch and later for dessert. Wine varieties will include Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc as well as Pinot Gris and Viognier as well as aromatics.

DAY 6  TO WELLINGTON (B)
Today travel south through the rolling farmlands of Hawkes Bay into the Wairarapa region, New Zealand's fifth largest wine region. The region enjoys a sunny, dry climage with vinew planted on free-draining, low vigour soils, resulting in intensely flavored grapes. Pinot Noir makes up 60% of plantings. Other varieties include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Suggest a visit to Martinborough to visit some of the small 26 boutique wineries, before driving over Rimutaka Hill to the capital.
Accommodation: Wellington 1 night

DAY 7  TO BLENHEIM (B)
Leave by ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island.  The last part of the cruise through the Marlborough Sounds is especially scenic.    The Marlborough wine region is a short drive from Picton. Alternatively, take a short flight to Blenheim.  
Forty years ago, there was hardly a commercial grape grown in the Blenheim area. Now the Marlborough district is the top wine producing area of New Zealand, with its wines winning awards around the world. Well known wineries are Cloudy Bay, Delegats, Allan Scott, Nobilo, Framinghams, Villa Maria and Wither Hills.

DAY 8  MARLBOROUGH WINERIES (BL)
Today join a small group wine tour through the Marlborough region, specializing in stunning private wine and food experiences, behind the scenes tours, winemaker-hosted tastings and special reserve grade wines. You will meet great people who know wine and love sharing their passing for wine. Wineries may include Auntsfield Estate, Te Whare Ra, Cloudy Bay and Nautilus, with lunch at Wither Hills.

DAY 9  TO CHRISTCHURCH (B)
It's a 5 hour drive along the east coast to Christchurch, perhaps stopping at Kaikoura for a whale watching flight or cruise.  Then travel across the farmlands of the North Canterbury Plaines and the Waipara wine district, where the area's micro-climate makes it ideal for growing grapes. Or you may prefer to visit a few of the Waipara wineries before reaching Christchurch,
often called the Garden City because of its lovely parks and gardens.
Accommodation:  Christchurch 1 night

DAY 10   TO QUEENSTOWN (B)
Travel south across the fertile Canterbury Plains with sheep and cattle farms. The road travels through small country towns before climbing over Burke's Pass, with changing scenery and the Southern Alps as a backdrop. Along the way, maybe stop for a scenic flight above Mt Cook, or at the Church of the Good Shephard on the shores of Lake Tekapo. The road climbs more to Lindis Pass before descending into Central Otago. Pass the Clutha River and Lake Dunstan, then through Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown.
Accommodation:  Queenstown 3 nights

DAY 11  CENTRAL OTAGO WINERIES (BL)
Today a gourmet wine tour in this exciting new region which is attracting the attention of wine lovers worldwide. The area has poor, schist soils and harsh winters, but long warm summer days - ideal conditions for growing some of the world's best grape varieties. The tour will showcase the region's award winning wines and fine cuisine with a platter-style lunch, including a tour at Gibbston Valley Winery and four other vineyards in the Gibbston Valley, Cromwell and Bannockburn region.

DAY 12  DOUBTFUL SOUND (BL)
Depart Queenstown and drive to Manapouri for a full day excursion to Doubtful Sound. Cross Lake Manapouri by lauch and meet up with a coach which will take you across Wilmot Pass for your first glimpse of the Sound. Cruise this remote and pristine fijord with its stunning scenery and wildlife. Enjoy the 'sound of silence' when the catamaran's engines are turned off! Wonder at the magnificent surroundings of rainforests, mountains and waterfalls and watach for the resident pod of bottlenose dolphins and fur seals which like to bask on the rocks. At the end of the day, retrace your steps back to Queenstown.

DAY 13  DEPART QUEENSTOWN(B)
Today at leisure until it's time to return your car to the airport before your flight home.
Or stay on for a few more nights in Queenstown.

 

 

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