Best of Both Islands Self Drive Itinerary


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When you touch down in New Zealand your detailed documentation pack will be hand-delivered by one of our trusted representatives. 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 Support 50 Page Essential New Zealand Guide  


Welcome to Christchurch

New Zealand’s second-largest city and the gateway to the South Island, Christchurch sits on the very edge of the Canterbury Plains and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. A few years on from the devastating earthquake that raised the city’s centre to the ground, a new city built for the future is rising from the ashes. It’s an exciting time to visit Christchurch, the blank canvas that was the CBD is starting to fill and inspiring architects from all over the world.

21st Century Architecture
Explore a western city in transition from a former Victorian beauty to a cutting edge 21st Century City. Visit the ‘Cardboard Transitional Cathedral’ in Latimer Square, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Built in August 2013, it seats 700 people and is primarily made from futuristic cardboard combined with wood and steel or visit the ‘Restart Mall’ eloquently made from shipping containers. There are many examples of ingenuity popping up all over the city – after all, necessity is the mother of all invention and these Cantabrians are a resourceful bunch.

Some suggested activities if you have time:

Easygoing Cycling Tour     Punting the Avon River     Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise
Māori Cultural Evening French Akaroa Tour Southern Alps Ballooning
Christchurch Gondola Clearwater Golf Arthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

Rydges Latimer Square in Christchurch overlooks scenic Latimer Square, an iconic New Zealand green space with ample room for travellers to roam and enjoy the shade of lush, broad-leaved trees. This contemporarily kiwi designed rooms & suites are spread over four levels, with the piece de resistance being the fifth level penthouse suite which boasts views stretching from the Port Hills to the Southern Alps.
Rydges Latimer Square Christchurch


TranzAlpine Train Journey to Glacier Country

Rated as one of the top six scenic train journeys in the world, the famous TranzAlpine Train will take you deep into the heartland of the South Island… a coast to coast journey through some of the world’s most extreme and beautiful scenery. The Tranz Alpine winds its way over massive viaducts and through spectacular gorges and river valleys, tracking slowly across the country's greatest mountain range, the Southern Alps. It stops in the heart of the Southern Alps at Arthur’s Pass before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth. From Greymouth collect your rental car and travel to Franz Josef - this is Glacier Country.

Approximate Distance: 381 kms | 237 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 45 mins

Accommodation: Franz Josef - 1 night

Holly Homestead whispers history.Enjoy the guest lounge and a glass of port before retiring to your room. Built in 1926 the Holly Homestead is a perfect example of “Arts and Crafts’, mixed with casual country chic. Your hosts Beradine and Gerard have refurbished the house and delivered a boutique B&B just three minutes drive from Franz Josef Village. Take in the charm of the property whilst enjoying breakfast in the country kitchen or simply relax in your private room.
Holly Homestead


Scenic Flight with Glacier Landing / Lake Wanaka

Together with the Fox Glacier 20 kilometres (12 Miles) away, Franz Josef Glacier is unique in the fact that it is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world. These huge valleys of ice tumble down from the Southern Alps into green, lush rainforest – only 200m (656 ft) from sea level.  The view from the air is a spectacular vision of subtropical forests sandwiched between the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps. The seclusion of an alpine landing in this inaccessible landscape is priceless. 

This is the ultimate glacial and mountain experience, this Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight covers it all; Glacial icefalls, crevasses and neves, and views from ocean to Alps. Get your camera ready for the spectacular snow landing – with rotors off, the silence is deafening.

After your scenic flight your driving days do not get much better than this. As you farewell the beech forests of the Mt Aspiring National Park and traverse the Haast Pass - be prepared to view lakes and rivers coloured like rare jewels - emerald and sapphire hued, intensified by the contrast of the surrounding mountain and tussock clad hillsides. Wanaka is a stunning lakeside town - situated perfectly in the north basking sunshine.

Approximate Distance: 284 kms | 176 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 25 mins

Accommodation: Wanaka - 1 night

Wanaka Homestead is nestled amongst the Wanaka Station Park, and in a idyllic location only 200m from stunning Lake Wanaka. This Lodge offers an informally luxurious experience being purposely built in a traditional style, but with all the comforts of modern living radiating warmth and character. A delicious continental and/or cooked breakfast, prepared by your friendly hosts. There are also two fully self-contained cottages available.
Wanaka Homestead


Te Anau - Gateway to Fiordland National Park

The drive from Wanaka to Te Anau will take three and half hours, but there is plenty to enjoy along the way. We highly recommend staging your Fiordland National Park activities from Te Anau as a base (Queenstown to Milford becomes a 12hr return highway trip that needs to be to avoided!) Some of the sightseeing along the way are beautiful - Lakes Wakatipu and Manapouri and the Manapouri Dam. The Te Anau Wildlife Centre (take the opportunity to identify some of the numerous native birds visitors may only see on your walks and hikes)

This afternoon there is plenty of time to check out one of Te Anau's top attractions - The recently discovered and wonderful Te Anau Glowworm Caves. It starts with an informative trip by boat across Lake Te Anau to the western side of the lake. Upon arrival you will be met by friendly guides who will accompany you underground. As the darkness and silence descends - your senses will be overwhelmed by a glowworm galaxy as stunning as any Southern night sky.

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

Accommodation: Te Anau - 2 nights

Whitestones B&B is located 10km from Te Anau on a working deer farm. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity in generously sized King/twin rooms with ensuites and a purpose built guest/dinning lounge. Both rooms have fantastic views of surrounding countryside and mountains, complete with private entrances to all guest areas. Choose from an extensive breakfast menu and/or continental breakfast at a time to suit you.
Te Anau


Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

Deep in the heart of Fiordland lies the vast and beautiful Doubtful Sound. The name came by way of the pioneer Captain James Cook who expressed his uncertainty as to whether the inlet was navigable under sail. This sound is home to a number of impressive waterfalls and small islands and is the second longest of the South Island’s fiords. Doubtful Sound is an untouched, serene and mysterious place that is often referred to as the ‘Sound of Silence’. Fur seals, bottle nose dolphins and penguins are likely to be seen on your cruise.


The Alpine Resort of Queenstown

You could wake every day in Queenstown for a year and not repeat the same activity. Queenstown is the centre of adventure in New Zealand, there truly is something here for everyone.

Recommended Excursions in Queenstown:

Routeburn Day Walk Highest Bungey Jump Explore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

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

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail

Approximate Distance: 174 kms | 108 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights

Just 8 minutes walk into the heart of Queenstown you will find the Alexis Motel and Apartments, surrounded by majestic alpine scenery and spectacular views across Lake Wakatipu. Choose from a variety of self contained accommodation which include One Bedroom Apartment, Two Bedroom Apartment and Studio Suites

Alexis Motel and Apartments


Wilderness Safari - Deep into Mt Aspiring National Park

The inventor of the worlds first modern jet boat was a New Zealander with the Hamilton Jet. Today as you ride the jet on the Dart River Wilderness Safari, you will marvel at the skilled navigation of the ever changing shallows of the Dart River braids taking you for a one and a half hour ride deep into the remote Mt Aspiring National Park

Then take a walk on the famous Heritage Trail (40 mins) of the aptly named Paradise Valley, framed by snowcapped mountains  and ancient forests, the commentary of your friendly guides will provide insight in to the  Maori and colonial history of the region. 


Fly to Rotorua - Sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire

Sitting squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire - Rotorua is spectacular, the earths crust at its most exciting and accessible in the downtown parks and lake front, the smell of sulphur and sight of steaming vents invade the senses. Giant geysers rocket into the air and colourful sulphur terraces hiss and boil. But Rotorua is more than boiling mud, there are ancient forests set amongst pristine lakes, and the area is full of history and tikanga (culture) of Maori, the 1st People of New Zealand. Enjoy a day soaking up this magical place, at the Polynesian Spa. Voted as one of the top ten spas in the world.

Recommended excursions in and around Rotorua:

See Geysers & Boiling Mud     Polynesian Hot Springs   Whirinaki Forest Walk
Thermally Active Golf Biking the Mighty Forests Flight to Volcanic Island
Museum of Art & History Evening Cultural Experience    White Water Rafting

Accommodation: Rotorua - 2 nights

Relax in Rotorua at the Silver Fern Accommodation and Spa, located just minutes away from the city centre and close to the tourist attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Silver Fern offers spacious, light and secure suites with a private spa pool or double spa bath to enjoy on those cold nights. Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, Sky TV and DVD/CD facilities during your stay. A continental or cooked breakfast can be delivered to your room every morning of your stay and an 11am check out will make your stay in Rotorua totally memorable.
Silver Spoon Rotorua.


Waimangu Geothermal Walk and Lake Rotomahana Cruise

This is a great half-day geothermal and nature experience, beginning with a walking tour along the Waimangu Volcanic Valley Crater walkway (this is mainly downhill and flat). There are shuttle buses to transfer from the valley to the Lake Rotomahana Boat Cruise. Enjoy the 45-minute cruise voyaging around the beautiful lake. This is a protected Wildlife Refuge and scenic reserve. Allow 3 hours for the walk and boat cruise.


The City of Sails - Auckland

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, situated amongst a cluster of extinct volcanic cones, next to a large harbour that bustles with life, both on water and on land. The Auckland isthmus straddles a slim piece of land with coastline facing both the Pacific Ocean, and, on the wild West Coast, the Tasman Sea. Enjoy a stroll around the waterfront that is teeming with excellent cafes and restaurants from which to enjoy the sights of the The City of Sails. Drop off your rental car today. 

Some Activities and sightseeing options if you have time:

Explore Waiheke Island     Island Kayaking Adventure     America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky Tower Relax on the Beach Rangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine Tour Whale and Dolphin Safari Muriwai Surf Beach

Approximate Distance: 225 kms | 140 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 

Accommodation: Auckland  - 2 nights


The modern and spacious Skycity Hotel Auckland is located right in the CBD and allows you to relax in style while enjoying more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right at your doorstep. Each air-conditioned room includes a private bathroom, minibar, satellite TV, including CCTV channels, and 24-hour room service. All rooms have a view of the courtyard, city skyline or Auckland Harbour.
Skycity Hotel - Auckland


Auckland City Revealed - Half Day Tour

What better way to find out how and where Aucklanders live and play. This morning travel around the Auckland Isthmus, learn about the historic parts of the city before heading over the Harbour bridge to the North Shore. There is time for a coffee before heading back to take in the panoramic views of the city and Waitemata Harbour. This evening head to the entertainment precincts of the wonderful Viaduct Harbour and Britomart. Great food and wine is almost a national obsession - blessed with the best seafood, meat and produce there are excellent dining options and we are happy to share the latest dining hotspots.


Homeward Bound

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We are sure you will enjoy the Best of Both Islands New Zealand Tour and 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. 

Ready to find out more?  Talk to us here in New Zealand about the Best of Both Islands New Zealand Tour - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

What Michelle says about this tour: This tour serves up the best of both islands and showcases the diversity of our country. From mud pools to glacier landings, thriving multicultural Auckland to the deepest wilderness of Fiordland National Park. I think this tour offers just the right amount of breathing space between locations with minimal driving and loads of fun day excursions.
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