Go on an adventure on the roads of New Zealand. This self-drive tour will allow you to discover the North and South Islands in complete freedom. The itinerary has been carefully planned so that you don’t miss any of the country’s highlights, while not having to worry about your accommodation being booked for you. For a planned but self-paced trip, this is the perfect combination!
- 15 night accommodation at 3-star hotels
- 2 meals: 2 dinners
- Car rental for a duration of 16 days with Budget Rent A Car (Toyota Corolla or similar)
- One way Interisland ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton for car and passengers
- A Te Pō Hangi and concert in Te Puia
- Cruise to Abel Tasman National Park
- Admission to West Coast Wildlife Centre with Kiwi Backstage Pass
- Skyline Queenstown, Gondola ride
- TSS Earnslaw Cruise and Walter Peak Farm
- Te Anau Glowworm Caves
- Elm Wildlife Tours, Peninsula Encounters Wildlife Cruise
|Until March 31, 2024
Not included: International and domestic flights – Electronic Travel Authority for New Zealand: An NZeTA request costs NZD $17 on our free mobile app, or NZD $23 if completed online https://nzeta.immigration.govt.nz/ – Optional excursions – Beverages – Items of a personal nature – Gratuities to hotel personnel, guides and drivers.
DAY 1 AUCKLAND
Kia Ora and welcome to New Zealand. After clearing customs and collecting your luggage, proceed to the Budget rental car desk to complete your car rental paperwork before travelling to downtown Auckland.
Accommodation : Grand Chancellor 3* or similar
DAY 2 AUCKLAND – COROMANDEL (Approximately 180kms)
Depart Auckland and travel along the Pacific Coast Highway to the Coromandel region. The Coromandel Peninsula is one of New Zealand’s favourite summertime spots with endless beaches, coves and bush walkways.
COROMANDEL PENINSULA – the Peninsula juts out from the South Auckland coastline to separate the Hauraki Gulf from the Bay of Plenty. Deep in the bush lie abandoned mining machinery, old kauri water dams, and timber milling equipment. The Peninsula is full of contrasts – the sea lapping on quiet golden beaches, or crashing onto jagged rocks at the bottom of a steep cliff. Farmland is fertile in some places, and in other areas has reverted to manuka and gorse.
Accommodation : Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge 3* or similar
DAY 3 COROMANDEL – ROTORUA (Approximately 250kms)
Before departing this morning for Rotorua, you may wish to enjoy a refreshing dip or visit one of the many picturesque spots the Coromandel has to offer.
ROTORUA – located on a volcanic plateau, and formerly a spa town, Rotorua is most famous for its geothermal activity. Rotorua is the main place in New Zealand where aspects of Maori traditions can be seen, from wood carvings, and meeting houses, to a Hangi dinner and Maori dances. Native introduced tree species abound locally and combined with several picturesque lakes, Rotorua is a fascinating mix of culture and nature.
Accommodation : Rydges Rotorua 4* or similar
DAY 4 ROTORUA (D)
Today is at leisure in the Geothermal Wonderland of Rotorua. Some activities in the area can include Kuirau Park, Rotorua’s lakes, The Redwoods, Government Gardens and St Faith’s Church. Also home to many adventure activities, you may wish to try rafting the Kaituna River. For the Lord of the Rings fan, visit the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, approximately 1 hour drive from Rotorua.
INCLUDED: Te Po Indigenous Evening Experience
The legacy of welcoming manuhiri/visitors began almost 200 years ago when the the people of Te Whakarewarewa were hosting the country’s first manuhiri to our geothermal wonderland. This legacy continues today as you are welcomed by the descendants of those original hosts. Te Puia’s world-famous hāngī buffet dinner is served in Pātaka Kai Restaurant, Bar and Cafe. The cultural performance will take place in our beautifully carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua. It will include a pōhiri (traditional welcome), waiata (song), mōteatea (traditional chant) poi and haka. The evening culminates with hot chocolate and steamed pudding surrounded by steam and the geyser terrace bathed in coloured light. Followed by your return to your hotel.
Accommodation: Rydges Rotorua 4* or similar
DAY 5 ROTORUA – NAPIER (Approximately 230kms)
Depart Rotorua and travel South to Napier located in the Hawke’s Bay. En route stretch your legs at the lakeside township of Taupo before continuing to Napier. Napier is the Art-Deco capital of New Zealand after the entire city was rebuilt in the 1930s due to a devastating earthquake. The streets are lined with captivating buildings.
Accommodation : Bella Vista Napier 3* or similar
DAY 6 NAPIER – WELLINGTON (Approximately 325kms)
Depart Napier and travel to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city located on the Southern tip of the North Island. Wellington is also New Zealand’s capital city for arts and culture. Wellington is an urban paradise surrounded by a glistening harbour on one side and rolling green hills on the other.
Accommodation : Bella Vista Motel Wellington 3* or similar
DAY 7 WELLINGTON – NELSON (3 hours ferry)
This morning, drive to the Interislander ferry terminal to board the Interislander ferry and watch the city sky line of Wellington disappear into the distance as you enter the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. On arrival to Picton, travel to Nelson.
NELSON – with its gardens and gorgeous sunsets, looks across Tasman Bay. Streets and parks are named after Admiral Nelson and his exploits, as well as the names of the ships that brought the first pioneers over from England. Forestry, fruit and fishing are the main focus of Nelson’s port, while to the west, apple orchards, tobacco and hop plantations occupy the land.
Accommodation : Bella Vista Nelson 4* or similar
DAY 8 NELSON – KAITERITERI – ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK – KAITERITERI – NELSON
INCLUDED: Full Scenic Cruise
Today, drive to picturesque Kaiteriteri Beach to bord a scenic cruise into the majestic Abel Tasman National Park as far north as Totaranui. View world-famous Split Apple Rock, fur seals and much more before you return to Kaiteriteri. A great cruise for all ages. Return to Kaiteriteri and drive back to your hotel.
Accommodation: Bella Vista Nelson 4* or similar
DAY 9 NELSON – GREYMOUTH (Approximately 305kms)
Depart Nelson and travel south along the South Islands rugged West coastline. Experience the historic coal-mining settlement of Westport before arriving in Punakaiki, which is also located on the coast, home to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Make a stop to visit The Pancake Rocks that famous limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago. The seabed was raised above sea level by earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations we see today. When conditions are right, large ocean swells thunder into the caverns beneath the rocks and huge waterspouts blast skywards through the blowholes creating a spectacular sight. Continue to Greymouth, where you will stay for the night.
Accommodation : Bella Vista Greymouth 3* or similar
DAY 10 GREYMOUTH – FRANZ JOSEF (Approximately 175kms)
Today depart Greymouth and travel south on State Highway 6 to Franz Josef.
INCLUDED: Admission to West Coast Wildlife Centre with exclusive Kiwi Backstage Pass Tour
Make your own way to the West Coast Wildlife Centre, located at the corner of Cowan and Cron Streets, Franz Josef Village to commence a Combo Pass (including Kiwi Backstage Pass). The West Coast Wildlife Centre is one of the largest Kiwi Captive Rearing facilities in New Zealand and is helping to save the critically endangered Rowi and Haast Tokoeka Kiwi from extinction. A Kiwi Ranger will guide you through the incubation and rearing facility. Chicks will be available to view on the Backstage Pass from October to March (subject to change and breeding season). Outside of the natural kiwi breeding season, Backstage Pass tours will include guided live kiwi spotting in the Nocturnal House.
Accommodation : Scenic 3* or similar
DAY 11 FRANZ JOSEF – QUEENSTOWN (Approximately 355kms)
Today depart Franz Josef and travel down the rugged West Coast via Fox Glacier and Haast to Queenstown. We recommend a stop at the beautiful town of Lake Wanaka along the way.
INCLUDED: Skyline Queenstown, Gondola ride
Enjoy a return Skyline Gondola ride to the summit of Bob’s Peak where you can enjoy panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
Accommodation : Heartland 3* or similar
DAY 12 QUEENSTOWN (D)
Today is at your leisure in Queenstown – the place to complete your adventure ’to do’ list: Skydiving, bungee jumping, jet boating, canyon swinging, white-water rafting, parapenting, heli-skiing. Home to the world’s first commercial jet boating, bungee jump and river surfing, there’s something in the air. Queenstown’s reputation as the world’s favourite adrenaline destination is well deserved. From the mild to the wild you’ll find your adventure threshold here. The expansive natural physical environment offers superb air, water and land based activities. Go walking, sailing, hiking, climbing, fishing, cycling, golfing, off-roading, skiing or mountain biking.
INCLUDED: TSS Earnslaw Cruise and Walter Peak Farm and gourmet BBQ dinner
Report to the Steamer Wharf 20 minutes prior to your departure.
For a dining experience like no other, cruise across Lake Whakatipu on the iconic TSS Earnslaw and discover Queenstown’s incomparable fine dining destination. Cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw across to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Once at the lakeside Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant savour the delicious aromas as our chef has the best of local produce sizzling away on the grill. Overlooking Lake Whakatipu and Queenstown’s alpine scenery, the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak High Country Farm is the perfect place to spend a few hours. Its colonial architecture and sweeping grounds evoke the elegance of a bygone era. An entertaining farm demonstration is also included or you can explore the beautiful lakeside gardens. After dinner, cruise back to Queenstown.
Accommodation: Heartland 3* or similar
DAY 13 QUEENSTOWN – TE ANAU (Approximately 185kms)
Once you arrive in Te Anau, check into your hotel.
INCLUDED: Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Cruise across beautiful Lake Te Anau, to the Cavern House. On arrival, learn about the caves and view fascinating displays. Your guides will then take you in small groups by path and small boats underground into the caves. Highlights include incredible limestone caverns, whirlpools, waterfalls and the magical glow-worm grotto. Return to Te Anau. There will be a guided walk (approx 30-40 minutes) in the forest area and lake surrounding the caves offered to guests as an option. The track will also be lit in the evenings.
Accommodation : Kingsgate 3* or similar
DAY 14 TE ANAU – DUNEDIN (Approximately 292kms)
Depart Te Anau and enjoy the scenic drive to Dunedin. Being the Scottish capital of New Zealand and the home of Otago University, Dunedin is a city rich with culture and heritage.
INCLUDED: Elm Wildlife Tours, Peninsula Encounters Wildlife Cruise
Join a local guide for a journey across the Otago Peninsula. Travel over the high road with postcard views of the harbour and coast. You’ll travel past quaint communities and rural farms. Spot wading birds as your mini-bus explores around the inlets and the wetland eco-systems. Your tour will visit a remote Otago Peninsula beach. A short walk from the mini-bus will provide dramatic views of rugged coastal cliffs, offshore islands and perhaps some huge sea lions. The trip continues to Wellers Rock Wharf, for a Monarch Wildlife Cruise. You’ll travel out of the harbour, around Taiaroa Head, and out to sea. Watch royal albatross glide across the water and return to their breeding colony. Beneath a historic lighthouse is a colony of playful furseals. You’ll spot other rare seabirds and maybe blue penguins or other marine mammals. Guests are also welcome to bring a pre-packed meal on tour with them. Snacks and drinks can be purchased whilst aboard the MV Monarch. We recommend having a good sized lunch before the tour departs Dunedin. The final stop is at a Yellow-eyed Penguin conservation reserve. Visit the on-site rehab centre before a tour of the reserve. You’ll take trails through native bushland, walking through tunnels and trenches to different viewing hides scattered around the reserve. Watch as the world’s rarest penguin returns ashore and interacts around their nesting sites. The tour ends with a relaxed drive, following the harbour, back to Dunedin.
Accommodation : Kingsgate 3* or similar
DAY 15 DUNEDIN – CHRISTCHURCH (Approximately 365kms)
Depart Dunedin and travel north to Christchurch.
The Garden City, lies on the level plains that initially attracted the closely knit Church of England settlers that settled the area. The largest of the South Island cities, Christchurch retains something of the English nature of its origins – the willow and oak-lined River Avon and clustered mediaeval stone buildings.
Accommodation : Ibis Christchurch 3* or similar
DAY 16 CHRISTCHURCH – VANCOUVER
Return your rental car to Christchurch Airport before checking in for your departure flight to Vancouver. Arrive on the same day as you cross the International dateline back.