18 Day Best of NZ Private Luxury Itinerary


Your Private Driver/Guide

When you touch down in New Zealand you will be met at the airport by Your Private Driver/Guide. 

Our guides have been with us for a long time and are seasoned professionals. Our aim is to give ‘you’ our guests a memorable experience of New Zealand and its stunning scenery. With years of experience in tourism in New Zealand, we guarantee that you will receive a first-class service!

The best part about our guides is that they are local and chances are they have their go-to destinations that only locals know about. Whether it’s a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, a favourite local pub, or a fantastic attraction that most tourists overlook, our guides can help recommend authentic experiences that you may not discover on your own.

First Light Travel's driver guides

Documents and 24/7 Support: We've Got You Covered!

Your detailed documentation pack will be hand-delivered by your guide. You'll find everything you need in one handy place: your personalised itinerary, clear instructions and maps, and reservation details for your accommodation and activities.

24 Hour Assistance: We’re just a free phone call away if you encounter any issues while you're on the road - at any time of day or night. Don’t waste your precious vacation time stressing - First Light Travel are here to help you quickly when every second counts.

What's also included?

Dedicated Travel Consultant                 Detailed Daily Itinerary and Vouchers        

144 Page A4 NZ Touring Atlas  

Full 24 Hour Support50 Page Essential New Zealand Guide 
documentation pac


Arrive Auckland

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand

Relax - you are on holiday and everything has been taken care of. We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your central city luxury accommodation. Make the most of some free leisure time in the 'City of Sails' - simply relax or take this opportunity to explore the many sights of Auckland. This evening we suggest you head down to the viaduct for dinner.

Some Activities and sightseeing options if you have time:

Explore Waiheke Island    Island Kayaking Adventure    America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky TowerRelax on the BeachRangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine TourWhale and Dolphin SafariMuriwai Surf Beach

Accommodation: Auckland - 1 night

Auckland City
Discover elegance on Auckland’s Viaduct where service and style are always in sync. The Sofitel Auckland has a global reach and a French luxury experience for its guests. Enjoy the marinas ambience from your own balcony, relax at the hotel’s spa by day and socialise at the champagne bar by night. Some of our world class amenities include: Fitness Center, Swimming Pool, World Class So Spa, Panoramic Ocean Views.
Sofitel Auckland


Giant Forests & Māori Culture on the West Coast

Heading north, follow the shoreline of the Kaipara Harbour, soaking up the views as we drive on to the fascinating Matakohe Kauri Museum. Later, we arrive at the ancient Waipoua Forest where we join Footprints Waipoua for a uniquely spiritual tour through the towering Kauri trees. Included is a visit to 51-meter tall Tane Mahuta, the God of the Forest; a natural giant with an impressive girth of 13.8 metres. Tonight, we enjoy a delicious meal on the edge of the harbour.  

Approximate Distance: 271 kms | 168 miles Total Driving Time: 3 hours 45 mins

Accommodation: Hokianga - 1 night

Waipoua Forest
The Copthorne Hotel & Resort is a waterfront hotel situated in Omapere on the Hokianga Harbour. It offers with stunning views towards huge sand dunes across the harbour and is just a one minute stroll to the shore, providing a picturesque and relaxed atmosphere, and quite laid back compared to Russell and Paihia. They offer you stylish accommodation with warm, hospitable service, contemporary ease and attention to detail.
Copthorne Northland


Tranquil Bay of Islands

Our day starts with a harbour cruise with another of our Ngapuhi friends, Pete (a real hard case!). He’ll tell you why all Kiwis have heard of Opononi and take us on our first foray ‘off the beaten track’, across the harbour for a walk along the deserted beach and for the adventurous, the chance to try sandboarding!

Northland is one of the narrowest spots in the whole North Island, which makes for an easy day from the Hokianga to the Bay of Islands, on the ‘other side’. We’re in no rush, so there’s time for plenty of stops along the way, like the famous Stone Store in Kerikeri, New Zealand’s oldest stone building. We’re now in the beautiful Bay of Islands, where we continue onto our home for the next 2 nights, Paihia. From our hotel walk just across the lawn to the Waitangi Treaty House, for our guided tour.   You’re standing on the spot where, In 1840, Maori chiefs and Queen Victoria’s representatives signed the treaty which gave birth to the nation of New Zealand.

Approximate Distance: 70 kms | 43 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour

Accommodation Bay of Islands - 2 nights

Bay of Islands

Paihia Beach Resort directly overlooks the beach and is within walking distance to Paihia’s Wharf, the best base to explore the Bay of Islands. Soak up the panoramic views, lounge beside the pool or relax in the sauna after a long day on your feet. This luxury accommodation offers spacious rooms with all the amentities you would expect like spa and pool, and your own individual balconies.


Bay of Islands Dolphin Cruise

Today we explore the emerald isles of the Bay of Islands on a dolphin cruise. We pass Cape Brett and the ‘Hole in the Rock’ and stop at Otehi Bay on Urapukapuka Island. Returning to the quaint historical town of Russell - New Zealand’s first capital - in the early afternoon, we drive up Flagstaff Hill for panoramic views of the Bay of Islands before returning to Waitangi via vehicular ferry.

Bay of Islands Cruise


Galaxies of Glowworms & the City of Sails

Today’s another chance to get off the beaten track, one of the real advantages of travelling privately.  Our first port of call are the Kawiti Glowworm Caves, a one-two punch of scenic beauty and Maori history.  The caves are named after the famous Maori chief of the area, Kawiti, and still belong to his family, after great grandson Te Tawai Kawiti showed the first visitors through the caves in the 1950s.  Our guide through the caves will be one of the descendants of Kawiti too.

Glowworms are something most Kiwis grew up with, but are surprised to learn that they’re extremely rare in other countries.  In the glowworm world, New Zealand is the centre of the universe! The ancient limestone caves are home to millions of twinkling glowworms including the famous Milky Way cavern, you’ll learn all about them from your friendly guide.

This afternoon we’ll head back to Auckland for the night, right in the heart of it all - in the Viaduct.

Approximate Distance: 228 kms | 142 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 15 mins

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

Glow Worm Cave
Discover elegance on Auckland’s Viaduct where service and style are always in sync. The Sofitel Auckland has a global reach and a French luxury experience for its guests. Enjoy the marinas ambience from your own balcony, relax at the hotel’s spa by day and socialise at the champagne bar by night. Some of our world class amenities include: Fitness Center, Swimming Pool, World Class So Spa, Panoramic Ocean Views.
Sofitel Auckland


To the Realm of Hobbits - Steaming Rotorua

An exciting day awaits this morning. Journey to the emerald pastures and rolling hills of The Shire, where Hobbiton was brought to life on a private farm in Matamata. This idyllic village blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Set to the scale of a 3ft Hobbit you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a magical world of smoking chimneys, bluebells, and the Green Dragon Inn. Visit Bag End as well as the other 43 Hobbit Holes on this fully guided 2.5hr Hobbiton tour. Learn about the production of the movies – how did they make Gandalf appear so tall? Why was this exact site chosen to build Hobbiton? The passion and knowledge gleaned from your guide brings this authentic Middle-earth experience to life.

Continue your journey to the geothermal city of Rotorua.

Approximate Distance: 252 km | 157 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 15 mins

Accommodation Rotorua - 2 nights


Rotorua’s designer 5 star Boutique Hotel and Spa offers stylish luxury accommodation, with accommodation to suit most groups of travellers from Hotel rooms to 2 bedroom family apartments situated amidst the exciting attractions and experiences Rotorua has to offer. With excellent facilities such as the restaurant, heated pool, gym and mineral bathing facilities. 

Regent of Rotorua


Exclusive Cruise Lake Rotoiti & Te Wairoa Buried Village

At Okawa Bay on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotoiti, board "Tiua", a 53ft catamaran for a relaxing sail on serene Lake to secluded coves and natural hot pools reached only by boat - a memorable journey.

This afternoon, travel past the Blue & Green Lakes to the famous buried village of Te Wairoa. This is New Zealand's most visited Archaeological Site, where stories of the 1886 Mt Tarawera Eruption come to life. Te Wairoa was established by the Christian missionary in 1848 as a model village, however Te Wairoa survived for fewer than 40 years before it, and the nearby Pink and White Terraces were obliterated by the eruption of Mt Tarawera.

This evening, enjoy a traditional Maori Hangi (feast) and cultural performance.

Maori Culture tour


Geothermal Wonder / Tongariro National Park

Today we visit the surreal, geothermal reserve, Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable. 

On the road to Lake Taupo we view the turbulent Huka Falls where the Waikato River thunders through a narrow chasm. From Taupo there are magnificent views across the lake to the three active volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu (2,797 metres), the highest mountain in the North Island.These mountains of the volcanic plateau are our next destination, the World Heritage Tongariro National Park. Take a walk in the park this afternoon.

Approximate Distance: 179 kms | 111 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 mins

Accommodation National Park - 1 Night

Tongariro National Park
Located in the Tongariro National Park, The Park Hotel Ruapehu offers affordable accommodation in a stunning alpine setting. Guests are provided with free parking and 500MB of free WiFi. The Ruapehu Park Hotel is at the foot of a large ski field and volcano at Mt Ruapehu. It is surrounded by two other famous mountains Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.
The Park Hotel Ruapehu


National Park - Wellington

Our day starts in style, with breakfast at the historic Chateau Tongariro nestled at the base of the mountains. This is the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, from this volcanic plateau we make our way across the high country and down to our capital Wellington

We stay two nights in Wellington as we reckon you can’t miss "the coolest little capital in the world". We’ll check out the city's sights and head up Mt Victoria for the stunning views over the harbour before getting settled for the night. We’re right in the heart of Wellington's vibrant hub of museums, theatres, galleries, boutiques and cafes. Looking for some local flavour? Ask for one of Wellington’s trendy craft beers with your dinner (our pick – Tuatara).

Approximate Distance: 336 kms | 209 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 20 mins

Accommodation Wellington - 2 nights

Tongariro National Park
The Bolton is an independent hotel that provides the discerning traveller with a high degree of comfort and privacy. Located at the junction of Wellingtons central business district and political heart, the 5 star Bolton Hotel is elegant, welcoming and well equipped to make the most of your time in the Capital city.
The Bolton Hotel - Wellington


Wellington - Free Day in the Coolest Little Capital

The day is yours to enjoy, you are at the heart of all the action at The Bolton Hotel, a short walk to the waterfront, Te Papa National Museum and all the eateries and boutique breweries that Wellington is famous for.

Wellington is also the spiritual home of "The Lord of Rings" where you can visit Weta Workshop and see how all the props are made or drop into the Embassy theatre which hosted the world premier back in 2003.

Here are some sight seeing and activity suggestions while in Wellington:

National Museum - Te Papa    Visit Cuba StreetWeta Workshop Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Reserve 

Wellington Cable Car   

Carter Observatory 




Cook Strait Cruise / Marlborough Wine Country

This morning’s three-hour cruise across the Cook Strait and into the beautiful Marlborough Sounds is magical. From here, we explore the ‘Sauvignon Blanc capital of the world’ that is Marlborough – don’t miss tasting a glass or two of the local drop during the vineyard tour. We ascend gradually to St Arnaud village and Lake Rotoiti, a scenic gem nestled in the beech forested mountain range of the stunning Nelson Lakes National Park. We visit the Department of Conservation Centre before driving down to Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.

Approximate Distance: 133 kms | 83 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 50 mins

Accommodation Nelson - 2 Nights

Interisland Ferry
Six luxurious suites set in a park like setting provide a very comfortable home away from home. Large spacious villas, each with a bedroom and lounge area to relax in. Venture outside to soak up the atmosphere on the balcony where you are often joined by cheeky fantails, whilst watching weka and quails running across the lawn.
Pihopa Retreat Nelson


Cruise & Walk Abel Tasman National Park

Today you have a choice of a full scenic cruise or a cruise and walk from Marahau along the stunning Abel Tasman coastline. Abel Tasman National Park is our country's smallest national park. It protects 23,000 hectares of the most natural stretch of easily accessible coastline in New Zealand. The coastline is characterised by islands just offshore, sheltered waters, estuaries and golden, sandy beaches. Lie on a beach, or even go for a swim if the weather is warm. The park is sheltered from ocean swells, and enjoys a mild climate. After your cruise or walk we return to Nelson.

Abel Tasman Beach


Explore the Kaikoura Coast

From Nelson we drive to Pelorus Bridge, Havelock and Blenheim then down the spectacular Kaikoura coastline where big seas pound the rocks. Kaikoura is a small hamlet beside the ocean and beneath the towering Kaikoura Mountains. Seafood, especially crayfish, is a specialty. We stay right on the waterfront. This afternoon take a scenic flight to view whales and stroll along the coastline for encounters with the cheeky fur seals that live here.

Approximate Distance: 243 kms | 151 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Kaikoura - 1 night

Kaikoura Whale Watching

The White Morph Motor Inn is situated on the waterfront with an easy stroll into the township for convenient dining, shops and bars (there is also a restaurant on site). Choose between the deluxe spa rooms with ocean view balcony, or the 4 star studio rooms & family apartments with garden views. 

White Morph Motor Inn - Kaikoura


Akaunui Farm Homestead & Mt Cook National Park

This morning we continue south, winding inland over the Hunderlee Hills and dropping down to the patchwork beauty of the Canterbury Plains. Today's lunch is very special – Akaunui Farm Homestead, owned by Di and Ian Mackenzie, is surrounded by beautiful gardens and the homestead itself oozes history and character. We dine on fresh produce from the bountiful veggie garden and enjoy true kiwi country hospitality. In the afternoon we drive past stunning alpine lakes and fields of golden tussock before arriving at our accommodation in the foothills of the Southern Alps, and into the World Heritage and breathtaking Mt Cook National Park where you stay in the shadow of New Zealand's tallest Mountain. 

Approximate Distance: 506 kms | 314 miles  Total Driving Time: 6 hours 42 mins

Accommodation Mt. Cook - 1 night

Mt Cook National Park

A stunning destination surrounded by the silent splendor of the Southern Alps and with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the surrounding National Park World Heritage area. There is a selection of properties within the Terrace Road campus from Hotel to Chalet and Mountainview Motels - all budgets and standards can be catered for.

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook


The Alpine Resort of Queenstown

Always a memorable time on tour, your day in Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and ‘home ground’ of the most famous Kiwi of all, Sir Edmund Hillary. Take your pick from exploring the dramatic landscape on one of the many easy walking tracks around the village, or make it an experience you’ll never forget with a boat cruise on the glacial lake, a scenic flight or a heli hike high up on the Tasman Glacier!

After lunch we begin the scenic journey to Queenstown. The mountain-rimmed Mackenzie Basin, the golden tussock of the Lindis Pass and the rocky Kawarau Gorge make the views on this part of the journey stunning.

Your accommodation is minutes away from the city centre and looks out to Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountains. This evening, enjoy Queenstown’s delicious dining options – your driver/guide will give you some great recommendations. 

Approximate Distance: 264 kms | 164 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 20 mins

Accommodation Queenstown - 3 nights


Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and a short walk in to the centre of Queenstown is the elegant Hotel St Moritz. The hotel is modern and stylish decorated in an alpine style fitting to the location. Boasting an excellent restaurant and bar on site, spacious comfortable rooms, and a professional level of service, your stay will be rewarding.


Milford Sound Cruise & Fiordland Scenic Flight

Today you’ll experience some of the most dramatic scenery the country has to offer. Travel alongside the shores of Lake Wakatipu and on to Te Anau and the Milford Road. Deep in the heart of Fiordland National Park, this road is an impressive collection of soaring mountains, mirror lakes, waterfalls and deep, glacier-carved valleys. Arriving in Milford Sound we board a boat cruise, exploring the Sound’s inky waters and sheer cliffs. Return to Queenstown on a stunning scenic flight over the scenery of Fiordland, topping off a magnificent day in the New Zealand outdoors.

Milford Sound Cruise



Today is your opportunity to experience Queenstown exactly as you want to. Whether you’re after extreme adventure or more relaxing activities, your driver/guide will assist you in your plans. 

Recommended excursions in Queenstown:

Routeburn Day WalkHighest Bungey JumpExplore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

Biking Skippers Canyon      Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise  Dart River Jetboat Safari      

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail


For something a little more relaxing the Botanic Gardens and lakeside walkways offer plenty of places for relaxing strolls, or browse the boutique shops for New Zealand classics like merino clothing.


Jet Boat Dart River


Transfer to Queenstown Airport

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

We take care of your transfer to Queenstown Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday. Our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand.


What Emma says about this tour: The emphasis of this private tour is connecting with natural New Zealand. Whether it's dolphins encounters, caving with glow worms, scenic flights over the Milford Sound, visiting farm homesteads or breathing in the fresh air of the ancient Kauri forests. This 18-day adventure gets you up-close to nature with a smattering of urban life and wine sampling. A tour for lovers of travel and adventure, who highly value privacy and outstanding service as a priority.
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