Spirit of New Zealand Self Drive
SELF DRIVE TOUR
AUCKLAND | ROTORUA | NAPIER | WELLINGTON | CHRISTCHURCH | WEST COAST GLACIERS | QUEENSTOWN | MILFORD SOUND | MOUNT COOK
Exciting cities contrast with quaint rural towns; smouldering lakes, spouting geysers and bubbling mud-pots with towering snow-clad mountain peaks; icy blue glaciers with rushing streams, tranquil lakes and verdant rainforests. From Auckland and Wellington to the vineyards of the North Island; the marine life of Kaikoura to the farmlands of the Canterbury plain; and the peace of Milford Sound and majestic Mount Cook to the non stop action of Queenstown, this self drive holiday has it all.
Spirit of New Zealand Self Drive
Day 1 : Arrive Auckland
Arrive in Auckland and make your own way to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore the city. The hundreds of sailing boats in Auckland harbour are an amazing sight and have gained New Zealand’s largest city the nickname “City of Sails”. But there’s much more to Auckland than its fantastic harbourfront; you’ll find shopping galore, restaurants that serve food to die for and a thriving night-scene too; no wonder it’s one of the best places to live in the world.
Day 2 : Auckland - Rotorua - via Waitomo Caves (228km)
Self drive option: Make your way to the downtown car rental office to collect your vehicle.
Coach tour option: You will be collected directly from your hotel.
Depart Auckland this morning and journey south through the farming districts of the Waikato.
World-renowned and a magnet for both local and overseas visitors, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must-see. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as expert guides provide informative commentary on the Caves’ historical and geological significance. Enjoy the world famous boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 120 years of cultural and natural history. Entrance fee is included. Continue south past Lake Karipiro to arrive in Rotorua.
Day 3 : Rotorua
Today you have the choice of either a morning sightseeing tour or an evening Maori Hangi and Concert. (Please specify your choice at time of booking). If choosing the Maori Hangi and Concert, you’ll experience ceremonial rituals, powerful performances and hangi feasting. Learn about the customs, protocols and stories that have been passed through the generations of time. Self drive passengers choosing the morning sights tour will be provided with a map and entrance vouchers to the attractions, and can visit at their leisure. The afternoon is free to explore.
Day 4 : Rotorua - Napier (219km)
This morning is free to explore Rotorua, known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing fascinating Maori culture. Early afternoon travel through the world’s largest man-made forest to Taupo before climbing over the North Island’s main ranges to Napier in the prominent wine and fruit producing region of Hawkes Bay, famous for its Chardonnays. Napier is also famed for its Art Deco buildings, built after the devastating earthquake of 1931.
Day 5 : Napier - Wellington (315km)
Today enjoy a morning tour and briefly learn of the history, including its darkest period immediately after the 1931 earthquake that devastated the city leaving 1000s of people homeless. Next visit some of the region’s award winning wineries, with time allowed for tastings. This afternoon fly south to New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.
Children are not permitted on the winery tour.
Self-drive passengers return their car to Napier Airport. Your next car is collected on day 8.
Day 6 : Wellington
Today is free to enjoy New Zealand’s capital. Perhaps you’ll relax at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand inner-city beach and delve into the many museums, art galleries and theatre shows that make up the city’s pulsing cultural scene. If you’re into the outdoors, Wellington has action-packed adventure activities like mountain biking and sea-water kayaking, as well as beautiful walks around the harbour and surrounding hills. Try the visually stunning Makara Peak track, as well as the City to Sea walk where you can experience the best of Wellington’s waterfront. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city and enjoy an ice cream at the top. Or you may wish to visit Te Papa (the museum of New Zealand) or perhaps visit the Parliament Buildings
Day 7 : Wellington - Christchurch (Ferry & 337km)
This morning cross Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry and cruise through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton where you board the Coastal Pacific Train. Head south past some of New Zealand’s best wine country to Kaikoura, famous for its crayfish and whale watching before heading on to Christchurch. If you would like to go whale watching in Kaikoura or wine tasting in Blenheim it is possible to add an extra night or additional sightseeing options (call for details).
Day 8 : Christchurch - West Coast Glaciers
Board the TranzAlpine train this morning and journey across the Canterbury Plains and wind up the gorges of the Waimakariri River, flanked by snow capped mountains to Arthur’s Pass. After exiting the Otira Tunnel and the forests of the West Coast, reach Greymouth to board your coach to the West Coast Glaciers.
Self drive passengers collect their rental vehicle on arrival in Greymouth.
Day 9 : West Coast Glaciers - Queenstown (523km)
Today you will travel south past tranquil lakes and past towering mountains with cascading waterfalls. Leaving the West Coast Rain Forest for the arid Central Otago, journey past the shores of Lake Wanaka to the Kawerau Gorge before passing Lake Hayes to arrive in Queenstown.
Day 10 : Milford Sound Day Excursion
Coach tour passengers: Board the coach, specially built for Milford Sound and head south along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and on to Te Anau for a morning tea stop. Departing Te Anau travel through the remote wilderness of the Eglington Valley and emerge from the Homer Tunnel to the magnificence of Milford Sound.
Self drive passengers: 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. See price panel for details.
All passengers: Cruise Milford Sound and experience up close the geographical uniqueness of 5000ft sheer rock faces rising from the sea and the numerous waterfalls and marine life. Return to Queenstown for your overnight stay.
Day 11 : Queenstown
Today is free to explore. We have included a ride on the Skyline Gondola high atop the Queenstown basin. Perhaps you’ll take an optional boat ride on the famous TSS Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu or head off to nearby Arrowtown, once a gold mining settlement. The adventurous might try the adrenalin rush of the Shotover Jet boat ride or even a bungee jump. This is an upcoming wine area, so maybe a winery tour is more to your liking. Please ask us to make your arrangements before you travel
Day 12 : 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. Upon arrival at Mount Cook time allows for an optional ski plane or helicopter flight over the Alps (extra cost applies). Depending on your chosen hotel grade you will overnight at Mount Cook or continue to beautiful Lake Tekapo for your overnight stay.
Day 13 : 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 14 : Christchurch Departure
Your tour ends with the check-out from your hotel and the return of your rental vehicle for self-drive passengers.