SELF DRIVE TOURING
CHRISTCHURCH | WEST COAST GLACIERS | QUEENSTOWN | MILFORD SOUND | WELLINGTON | LAKE TEKAPO | MOUNT COOK | CHRISTCHURCH | NAPIER | ROTORUA | AUCKLAND | BAY OF ISLANDS
With two rail journeys and 3 free days this comprehensive tour takes you to the best known sights in New Zealand at a relaxed pace. You’ll enjoy the delights of majestic Mt Cook, cross the alps on the TranzAlpine Train, sample wines near Napier and much more.
- Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers
- Hawkes Bay - home to fine wines and exceptional food
- Cape Reinga - where two oceans collide
- Explore the Bay of Islands, known for its beauty and history
Day 1 : Arrive Christchurch
Arrive into Christchurch and transfer independently to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore. Overnight in Christchurch.
Day 2 : Christchurch - West Coast Glaciers (190 kms + rail)
Early this morning board the TranzAlpine Train, New Zealand’s premier alpine rail journey to travel across the Canterbury Plains to Arthur’s Pass. Pick up your car at Greymouth Rail Station and drive south through Hokitika to the West Coast Glaciers and Franz Josef Glacier.
Day 3 : West Coast Glaciers
Today is free for you to relax and enjoy the scenery or participate in the many activities available in this glacial wonderland. In Glacier Country, it takes a while to make a West Coast ice cube - about 10,000 years or so. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are among the most accessible glaciers in the world and Glacier Country offers a wealth of adventure activities. Take a guided glacier hike, ride a quad bike, fly in a helicopter or sightseeing plane or even do a tandem sky dive. Wildlife attractions include the kiwi breeding programme in Franz Josef, the White Heron Sanctuary in Whataroa and kiwi in the wild at Okarito. After your busy day, soak in lovely hot pools. Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier provides stunning reflections and views of Aoraki/Mt Cook.
Day 4 : West Coast Glaciers - Queenstown (410 kms)
Today you will drive south past tranquil lakes, across the Haast River and climb Haast Pass; This route was a traditional pathway for Maori journeying west in search of pounamu (greenstone or jade). Pass the beautiful Lake Hayes on your way to Queenstown.
Day 5 : Milford Sound (595 kms)
This morning you’ll head through spectacular scenery to Milford Sound and join a cruise along this magnificent fiord. Marvel at the waterfalls tumbling thousands of feet down sheer rock faces to the sea below, at the bird and marine life that is so prevalent and at the sheer primeval beauty of the region. This drive is a long one, with considerable distances on narrowing alpine roads. If you are unsure about driving in such conditions and for long periods of time, you may want to consider upgrading todays trip to a coach inclusive one and let someone else take the strain whilst you enjoy the scenery.
Day 6 : Queenstown
Today is free to explore this alpine resort. Today, we’ve included admission to the Skyline Gondola. Sit back and relax as you’re taken 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak, where you’ll enjoy the best views in the region unfolding before your eyes. You get to experience a spectacular 220 degree panorama with breath-taking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peak and, of course, Queenstown. When you get to the top, choose your own pace from the host of activities on offer (not included).Maybe you’ll have a relaxing evening with some of the best of New Zealand and international cuisine, or head back to the city centre to explore.
Day 7 : Queenstown - Lake Tekapo/Mount Cook (195 miles)
Depart Queenstown via the Kawerau Gorge and traverse the Lindis Pass to reach the MacKenzie Country framed by the snow-capped Southern Alps. Depending on your chosen hotel grade you will overnight at Mount Cook or continue to beautiful Lake Tekapo for your overnight stay.
Day 8 : Lake Tekapo/Mount Cook – Christchurch (200 miles)
This morning continue north and climb Burkes Pass before descending to the Canterbury Plains. Cross the snow fed Rakaia River and arrive in Christchurch. The rest of the day is free for you explore this vibrant city.
Day 9 : Christchurch - Wellington
Board the Coastal Pacific train and skirt the South Pacific Ocean to Kaikoura before journeying north through the Wairau Valley to Picton. Board the Interislander for a cruise through the tranquil Marlborough Sounds and on to Wellington, where you collect your car at the ferry terminal before driving to your hotel.
Day 10 : Wellington - Napier (340 kms)
Journey north over the Rimutaka Ranges to the Wairarapa before continuing north to Hawkes Bay and Napier with its Art Deco buildings, dramatic history and abundance of fruit and wine crops.
Day 11 : Napier
An earthquake resulted in Napier becoming one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world. Following the disaster the rebuilding began almost immediately, bringing with it the architectural style of the times. Napier’s city centre has the feel of a time capsule - the seamless line of 1930’s decor is quite extraordinary. Spend today exploring the region’s incredible buildings, stopping to relax at one of many excellent cafés and wineries.
Day 12 : Napier - Rotorua (230 kms)
Today drive inland to New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo, in the centre of the island. From Taupo head north through the world’s largest man made forest to the thermal city of Rotorua.
Day 13 : Rotorua
Enjoy a day of sightseeing incorporating Rotorua’s best attractions. A guided tour of Te Puia and the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute to see roaring geysers and boiling mud pools, Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park, the Agrodome Leisure Park famous for its entertaining sheep show, a gondola cable car to the Skyline complex and Polynesian Spa, New Zealand’s leading international day spa and hot mineral baths (mineral bath admission only included). This evening attend a traditional Maori Hangi meal and Cultural Show set in a replica Maori village.
Day 14 : Rotorua - Auckland (360 kms)
This morning leave Rotorua and drive over the Kaimai Ranges to the picturesque 1 acre farm near Matamata where scenes from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed. Take a guided tour and learn how this working farm was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth. Your guide will show you Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and many other structures from the movies. After the tour, continue your journey to Auckland.
Day 15 : Auckland - Bay of Islands (240 kms)
Drive north over the Auckland Harbour Bridge and through the northern suburbs before reaching the beaches of the Hibiscus Coast and the beautiful Bay of Islands. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore this delightful area.
Day 16 : Bay of Islands
Today is free to explore the region or alternatively take a tour to Cape Reinga (included in tour price). The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty & history. For those that love beaches and water activities, it’s paradise. Embark on a voyage of discovery and enjoy the beauty of this area by joining a daily cruise, chartered yacht or sea kayak (not inclued). Consider heading to Tapeka Point, just north of Russell, where you’ll enter a maritime adventure playground with an abundance of wildlife including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, gannets and more.
Day 17 : Bay of Islands - Auckland (240 kms)
This morning is memorable! Cruise through the beautiful Bay of Islands on board a luxury catamaran to Cape Brett and the famous Hole in the Rock. Hear the stories of the brave warriors and their coming of age challenge to climb the island and of the Kokako, a now extinct bird that the island is named for by the Maori. As you cruise through the many islands the crew will share the stories of Captain Cook and his crew while keeping their eyes peeled for marine life. Keep an eye out for bottlenose and common dolphins before returning via Russell to Paihia for a free afternoon. Returning to Paihia, drive south back to Auckland, for your final night.
Day 18 : End of Tour
Your tour ends today with the check out from your hotel and the return of your car to Auckland airport.
This tour is also available in reverse commencing in Auckland and ending in Christchurch.