Travel down to the wonderful world of New Zealand on this quick highlight self-drive journey. With cosmopolitan cities, rolling hills, crystal clear lakes and a temperate climate, North Island is the starting point, taking in Auckland, Rotorua, Napier and Wellington. Experience indigenous rituals & food and really immerse yourself in the Maori culture. Head onto South Island, home to the imposing Southern Alps, several large glaciers as well as stunning towns and cities. A proper adventurer’s playground, South Island has plenty to get your blood flowing from some of the world’s highest bungee jumps to landing on ancient glaciers as they from the landscape below your feet. On South Island, take in Queenstown, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and Christchurch. This glimpse of what New Zealand has to offer will have you coming back again and again.
Our expert tour specialists can tailor this trip to exactly meet your needs. We make the suggestions but the decision is yours
Depart from the UK to Auckland. The most direct route will take you from Heathrow via Los Angeles with Air New Zealand but you can choose to go via the Far East or Middle East, with options from Scotland, Manchester or Birmingham with the likes of Emirates.
Upon arrival into Auckland, transfer to your city centre hotel for 3 days in this fantastic city. Explore the shops, bars and restaurants of Queen Street or spend time on the Auckland Waterfront, with Viaduct Harbour a popular spot for locals as well as tourists. Further afield, the northern part of North Island has plenty to offer with the west coast beaches like Muriwai and Piha within an hour of the city. Take to the water and experience Hauraki Gulf, teaming with marine wildlife or venture on to the many island such as Waiheke, home to many wineries as well as beaches and restaurants. Whatever you chose to do, Auckland will remain with you and most people will want to come back!
Includes - breakfast
Drive distance – 228 km / 142miles
Leave Auckland behind – collect a car downtown and head into the heart of North Island. Travel south through the region of Hamilton-Waiktao. Stop off in the town of Hamilton to see the stunning Hamilton Gardens or detour towards Matamata and step into ‘Middle Earth’ and tour the Hobbiton Movies Set before continuing to Rotorua.
Includes - breakfast
Rotorua will truly capture you on this day to enjoy and explore the local area. Explore what the centre of the earth does to our surface world in the geothermal wonderland of Wai-o-Tapu with geysers, a large geothermal park and bubbling mud pools. The activity lends its self to some revitalizing activities with Hells Gate and Polynesia Spa making the most of the natural, warm water and some spectacular views, while Lake Rotorua is there to be explored by the shore or on the water. The area is also famous for its Maori culture, experience this in the evening with the Te Po Experience.
Includes - dinner
Drive distance – 218 km / 135 miles
Head south and east out of the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua region and into Hawke’s Bay, on North Islands east coast. An abundant wine producing region, there are plenty of wineries to visit, farmers markets in Hastings and orchards to tour. See some of the island’s natural wonders in Te Urewera, with lakes, forests and mountains to explore or get wet, rafting on the Mohaka River. Arrive in the areas most famous city, the wonderful waterfront Napier with art deco architecture, a wine museum and the fascinating Gannet colony on Cape Kidnappers amongst the sites to see.
Drive distance – 324 km / 202 miles
The final drive on North Island takes you south west from Napier on the east coast to Wellington at the tip of the North Island, overlooking the Cook Strait that separates the two islands. The drive takes you through Manawatu. Stop at the largest town of Palmerston North, home to an extensive museum dedicated to one of New Zealand’s favourite past times – rugby. Leave the highway behind and drive ‘The Country Road’ to experience some diverse landscapes in this rural area before entering the Region of Wellington.
A full day to explore the city of Wellington or the surrounding area. If you saw Hobbiton Movie set on the way to Rotorua, see more of Middle Earth with a tour of the Weta Studios located close to Wellington. Maori culture comes to the big city with Te Wharewaka o Poneke offering you the chance to experience this on land or on the water, paddling a Waka (a Moari canoe). The big city of course offers you more options for shopping, relaxing and exploring the bars and restaurants of this fascinating destination.
The plan is dropping your car off in downtown Wellington on arrival and using public transport and walking to explore the beautiful city, so on your final day on North Island, a transfer will collect you from the hotel and take you to the city’s airport. From here, it’s a little under an hour and half’s flight to Queenstown, located in the region of Otago on South Island, on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown is a real adventures paradise with skiing in the winter and some of the worlds most famous bungee jumps within easy reach.
Two full days to explore Queenstown and the southern end of New Zealand. If you have a head for heights and love a good view, head to the top of Bob’s Peak via the Skyline Gondola with views over the town, lake and mountains sure to take your breath away. The outdoor lifestyle lends itself to hiking or mountain biking around the local area while history is to be found in Arrowtown, a gold rush era settlement and home to one of the best small museums in New Zealand called the Lake District Museum. Whether you want to take it easy, or get a rush there is plenty to fill your days around Queenstown.
Drive distance – 263 km / 163 miles
Drive north from Queenstown, out of the Otago region and along the boarder between Canterbury on the east and the imposing Southern Alps on the West Coast. Drive this breath-taking journey at the foot of the mountains, alongside winding rivers and past shimmering lakes, with Lake Pukaki being a highlight as Mount Cook dominates the skyline at the top of the lake.
Spend the day exploring and enjoying Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Numerous hiking and climbing routes are available in the park, with routes on offer from those who want a nice walk in the clean air to enthusiastic, experienced hikers and climbers who may want more of a challenge. The park in home to the Tasman Galcier, the largest in New Zealand and a wonderful sight – take a helicopter ride and land on the ancient ice for the ultimate experience. And even at night, the clear skies, away from the cities and light pollution, offer amazing views of the stars in New Zealand’s only International Dark Sky Reserve so look up for an unbelievable sight!
Drive distance – 332 km / 206 miles
Leave the park behind and drive back past the blue waters of Lake Pukaki before traversing across the Canterbury region of New Zealand, heading to the largest city on South Island, Christchurch. Drive past more stunning snow capped peak, past the stunning blue glacier fed lakes as you cross South Island, towards the Pacific Ocean.
Final day in New Zealand is spent in charismatic Christchurch. A real urban hub, this unique destination combines all you would expect in a modern city with heritage, culture and plenty of activity as well. Get around the city on foot, by gondola or tram. You can even punt down the Avon River and the city is easily and safely navigated by bicycle too. The city is home to famous Botanic Gardens which are well worth your time or simply browse the shops, get a bite to eat or sample some wonderful Kiwi hospitality at a bar.
Depending on your choice of airline, you may have a final morning in Christchurch to explore the boutiques or get a spot of lunch before taking the car to the airport and boarding an overnight flight back to the UK.
‘Harbour Front Chic’
Located overlooking Princess Wharf, this contemporary hotel offers plenty for all travellers. There are 190 rooms & suites with chic and functional interiors and a wide array of inviting public spaces, entertainment and dining options from around the world. M Social features a ‘Beast & Butterflies’, the signature restaurant serving international cuisine while all guests benefit from complimentary W-Fi throughout the hotel.
'Glamorous Hotel, Central Location'
Blending stylish glamour with a central location in the heart of Rotorua, Regent of Rotorua offers luxury accommodation overlooking the sparkling lakefront. Each room and suite has a sense of understated elegance, equipped with modern amenities and adorned with lavish furnishings. The Regent Room Restaurant offers delectable, fresh Pacific cuisine using local produce, while each meal is accompanied by a sensational boutique wine list. On site, you’ll find a refreshing swimming pool and fitness centre, while nearby you’re only a short walk from the hot pools and springs the city is famous for.
'Boutique waterfront bliss; Contemporary Art-Deco design'
Relax in style while gazing at ocean views within the buzzing city of Napier at the Crown Hotel. Here, guests are surrounded by modern, thoughtful art-deco aesthetic. Perfect for a romantic getaway or a family retreat, this luxurious hotel provides its guests with local gastronomic delights and relaxation activities, while offering complimentary Wi-Fi, parking, laundry and storage for bicycles.
‘Boutique design hotel in a fantastic location’
QT Museum Wellington offers personalised, friendly service with a warm atmosphere that complements the sophisticated boutique hotel rooms. Located opposite the waterfront and Te Papa provides fantastic harbour views, whilst being in the heart of the city, within walking distance of diverse shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife.
‘Parisian Inspired Award Winning Lakefront Hotel’
Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa is a Parisian inspired award-winning luxury property in the heart of Queenstown, just steps from the stunning Lake Wakatipu and dining district. Nearby are wineries, ski fields and golf courses and a myriad of other activities including horse riding, bungee jumping, parasailing, ice and roller skating, kayaking and water skiing. The Rooms and suites are opulent and stylish with a fantastic attention to detail and come with complimentary use of the Hammam and steam room at Le Spa. Dining is also French influenced particularly in the most recently added Left Bank Café. Surrounded by décor inspired by the artists, writers and philosophers from the Latin Quarter of 1960s Paris, executive chef Varick Neilson will serve you the best seasonal fare in true brasserie style.
‘Historical Hotel; Breath-taking Views’
First built in 1884, The Hermitage Hotel has a lengthy history of adventure which is synonymous with the fiery Kiwi nature. The perfect base from which to explore the local region, The Hermitage Hotel offers a range of restaurants and bars to appease any guest and suit all traveller’s needs. Similarly, the accommodation is wonderfully composed, with a host of rooms to facilitate many personalities.
'Boutique Hotel in the Heart of Christchurch’
The George Hotel is the essence of comfort and renowned for offering a personalised stay and attentive service. Its opulent rooms are elegant and stylish with sumptuous beds and luxurious furnishings. Located opposite Hagley Park and the Avon River, many attractions, including the Botanic Gardens and the Museum are within an easy walk. Dining is a highlight of the hotel and signature restaurant Pescatore, rated as one of New Zealand’s best dining experiences, is not to be missed.
Te Po begins at Te Keketanga-a-Rangi (Heavenly Origins), a space comprising twelve monumental carvings reaching skyward. Hear stories of the past prior to assembling at the waharoa (gateway) of the marae. Experience an authentic Maori welcome ceremony, warrior's challenge and kapa haka (performing arts) concert before enjoying a Maori Feast, featuring a range of traditional and indigenous inspired dishes that have been designed to create a memorable cultural experience.
Accommodation as listed
Flights in economy
Car hire on North and South Island
Airport transfers in Auckland and Wellington
Te Po Indigenous Experience
Meals unless stated otherwise
Car hire one way drop-fees
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We will use our destination expertise to plan an itinerary that will work for you – your personal specialist is happy to respond by phone, email or text. Your trip will be refined and reshaped until you love the way it looks, and it fits you perfectly!
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