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Grand New Zealand Self-Drive

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  • Included:
  • Accommodation
  • In resort assistance & 24 hour contact centre
  • Car hire
  • Other internal travel
  • Tour pack
Click here for Pricing & Dates


Starting at the top of the North Island in the inimitable Auckland, this 23-day self-drive journey sees you drive southwards encountering the stunning Bay of Islands, the cultural Rotorua and the impressive Lord of the Rings scenery of Wellington.

After a scenic boat transfer to the South Island you’ll again head south visiting wineries, mountains, glaciers and Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of the World. Finish the journey off with the iconic Tranz Alpine Scenic Train journey. Every day features breath-taking beauty. (NZ)

Prices are quoted per person on a twin-share basis and do not include international flights.


  • Explore Auckland and the breath-taking harbor
  • Spend a couple of days in the subtropical paradise of the Bay of Islands
  • Travel along the Kauri coast en-route to Rotorua
  • Journey across the Cook Strait for extraordinary scenery
  • Explore the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch
  • Soak up the history in Dunedin
  • Venture through the Southland countryside to bustling Queenstown
  • Travel along the renowned Haast Pass and take in the spectacular scenery
  • Take a trip on the famous Tranz Alpine train – one of the most famous train journeys in the world


Day 1

Arrive in Auckland

You’ll be met at the airport and private transport will take you to your accommodation at the heart of Auckland. Here you’ll have the chance to relax and shake off the jetlag.

Overnight: Waldorf Apartments, Auckland

Day 2


Today you’ll pick up your hire car. Your car will be a compact car (Holden Barina or similar) but if you would prefer a more spacious car we can upgrade for you. From here you can spend some time exploring Auckland at your own pace.

This huge city, by far New Zealand’s largest, is home to everything from vibrant shopping, quiet suburbs, fascinating museums and impressive art galleries. Make sure you visit the picturesque harbor, the Viaduct Basin and the Maritime Museum.

Outside of the city center you can visit West Auckland – a completely different experience. Here you’ll find rainforests, beaches and a superb range of wineries.

Overnight: Waldorf Apartments, Auckland

Day 3

Paihia, Bay of Islands

On day three you’ll head north up to the legendarily beautiful Bay of Islands – the drive takes about three-and-a-half hours but schedule a little longer for a more relaxed drive. On the way you’ll pass through the bohemian Puhoi with its attractive church, artsy Warkworth, harbor-side Whangarei and the one-of-a-kind Kawakawa, one of the only places in the world where the public toilets are a muse-see!

Finally you’ll reach the main town of the region, Paihia. Here there’s a lovely beach and truly wonderful scenery for you to enjoy.

Overnight: Sea Spray Suites, Paihia

Day 4

Bay of Islands

Today is a full day at leisure to explore this wonderful region of New Zealand. You could opt for a guided eco tour to see the bush, beaches and Maori culture. Alternatively, you could choose to take a cruise in the bay. Or if you’d prefer to travel at your own pace, how about a visit to the elegant Russell Township or historic Waitangi.

Overnight: Sea Spray Suites, Paihia

Day 5

Waipoua Forest/Warkworth

Today you’ll head west away from the Bay of Islands heading towards the wilder Tasman Sea. This route takes you through the townships of Omapere and Opononi – cute seaside places to stop for a relax and an ice cream. 

Afterwards you’ll visit Waipoua Forest where you can take a walk or two in the wilderness.  You’ll then head on to Warkworth, stopping off at the Matakohe Kauri Museum along the way. Once you’ve arrived in Warkworth you can choose to continue on to see Tawharanui Marine Reserve 

Overnight: Snells Beach Motel, Warkworth

Day 6


Today you’ll drive back through Auckland heading in the direction of Rotorua. Traveling by the side of New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato River, you’ll pass through Cambridge and Tairo before arriving in Rotorua. One of the unique features here is the steam from the geothermal activity, rising from the hills and the roadside.

Arguably the center of Maori culture in New Zealand you can get to know about the heritage and history of the country while you’re here. In the evening you can indulge in a traditional Maori dinner.

Overnight: Bella Vista Rotorua

Day 7


Today is your chance to explore Rotorua at a leisurely pace and also see a lot of the surrounding area. Visit Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is based about 30 minutes from Rotorua and here you’ll find sulphur ponds, geysers, waterfalls and bubbling pools.

The historic site of the Buried Village of Te Wairoa is worth visiting for the museum and the chance to look at the excavated buildings from before the eruption of Tarawera. You can also visit White Island off the coast of the Bay of Plenty.

Overnight: Bella Vista Rotorua

Day 8


Today you’ll drive from Rotorua to Wellington, going via New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo. Visit the Huka Falls on the way too. As you get closer to Wellington you’ll get the chance to enjoy more of the mountainous scenery including the symmetrical Mount Nguaruhoe, famous for its appearance as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Nearby you’ll find the town Waiouru and its Army Museum – well worth a visit. Then head south to the Kapiti Coast where you’ll find a number of pretty coastal towns including Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton.

Finally you’ll arrive in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. You can explore the city on foot taking in New Zealand’s National Museum and the cafes, restaurants and bars of Courtenay Place.

Overnight: City Life Wellington

Day 9

Ferry to Picton/Blenheim

Today you’ll take the wonderfully scenic ferry ride from Wellington harbor to Picton on the South Island. On the way you’ll pass the Red Rocks seal colony, Marlborough Sounds and the spectacular Kaikoura Ranges.

On arrival you’ll pick up a new hire car and travel to Blenheim, which is at the center of New Zealand’s most famous wine region. Definitely go on a wine tour and sample some of the amazing local produce.

Overnight: Waterfront Motel, Blenheim

Day 10


Today you’ll travel to the stunning mountainous region of Kaikoura, journeying along the wonderful coastline. Here you can go whale watching or experience swimming with seals. This is a fantastic place for nature lovers.

Overnight: Anchor Inn Motel, Kaikoura

Day 11


Hug the coastline for the start of your drive today, then head inland through North Canterbury’s stunning wine region, the Waipara Valley. Expect to see hillsides brimming over with sheep and then detour to the Hanmer Springs for the chance to take a dip in the thermal pools.

When you arrive in Christchurch you’ll check into your accommodation and can then spend the rest of the day exploring. Why not visit the International Antarctic center? Here you can understand a little more of what life is like on the world’s frozen continent.

Overnight: Camelot Motor Lodge, Christchurch

Day 12


The small city center of Christchurch doesn’t require a car – you can just walk or take a ride on the historic trams. Take a look at the shops, restaurants and bars for a real flavor of a modern New Zealand city.

If you’d like to explore the surrounding area you could go on a Christchurch Wildlife Cruise. These cruises depart from Lyttelton and allow you the chance to see a number of amazing creatures off the coast.

Overnight: Camelot Motor Lodge, Christchurch

Day 13

Mt Cook National Park

Today you’ll leave Christchurch and venture to the interior of the South Island for a visit to Mount Cook. Take in the majestic scenery of the mountains and the lakes, explore the village and choose from a huge range of activities.

Overnight: Hermitage Motels, Mt Cook Village

Day 14-15


After more time today to explore the Lord of the Rings scenery around Mount Cook you’ll head off on the road to Dunedin, a charming city with a rich Scottish heritage. You’ll then rest and stay here overnight.

On day 15 you can explore the city, taking in the famously beautiful Railway Station and visiting the only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony in the world. You can also explore the rest of the Otago peninsular for stunning scenery and New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle.

Overnight: Motel on York, Dunedin

Day 16

Te Anau

Today you’ll travel through farmland scenery and coastal fishing towns before reaching Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park. Once here you can spend the evening relaxing.

Overnight: Lakefront Lodge, Te Anau

Day 17

Milford Sound

Today you’ll take the short drive into Fiordland National Park, and search out Milford Sound where you’ll see a wonderful range of sceneries from mountains and lakes to forests and glaciers. You can then take the Milford Sound Nature Cruise, cutting through the fiords in search of dolphins, seals and penguins.

Overnight: Lakefront Lodge, Te Anau

Day 18


On day 18 you’ll cross through Mossburn, famous for its large population of deer. Once again the drive will be very scenic with Lake Wakatipu and mountain ranges for your backdrop. Stop off for a short trip to Kingston where you’ll see the classic steam train, the Kingston Flyer, before heading on to Queenstown where you’ll spend the night.

Overnight: Garden Court Suites and Apartments, Queenstown

Day 19


Today is a full day to spend in Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of the World.  Famous for its adrenalin-fuelled sports like bungee jumping and skydiving, Queenstown is perfect for thrill seekers. It sits directly on the shores of Lake Wakatipu meaning you can also find water-skiing, jet skiing and other watersports on offer.

Just a short drive away is Gibbston Valley with a number of superb vineyards – worth visiting if you enjoy a drink. Alternatively you can head to Arrowtown, a former gold mining town with classic architecture and some excellent shops. You can even go on a Nomad Safari four-wheel-drive expedition into interesting locations including Mace Town and Skippers Canyon.

Overnight: Garden Court Suites and Apartments, Queenstown

Day 20-21

Franz Josef Glacier

On day 20 you’ll cross the Crown Range, the highest sealed road in New Zealand, and then carry on to Wanaka. Here you’ll be treated to lake views before entering Mount Aspiring National Park. You’ll stop off here for a 30-minute walk in the forest. You’ll then head onwards to the Fox Glacier before finally reaching Franz Josef Township.

On day 21 you’ll get the chance to visit Franz Josef Glacier itself and you’ll get the opportunity to take guided walks choosing from a range of options to suit your schedule. Another option is to take a helicopter flight over the glacier followed by a hike.

Overnight: Punga Grove Motel & Suites, Franz Josef Glacier Village

Day 22

Tranz Alpine Scenic Train

Today you’ll drive to Greymouth where you’ll drop your car off. From here you’ll catch the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train to Christchurch. You’ll see all the best of New Zealand’s scenery. On arrival in Christchurch you’ll be transferred to your accommodation.

Overnight: Camelot Motor Lodge

Day 23


Transfer to the airport for your flight home.


What’s Included:

  • Internal travel: Car; Tranz Alpine train; Interislander Ferry; Cruise
  • Motels (22 nights)
  • Highly detailed and comprehensive touring pack

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