Great Sights of NZ Self Drive Tour Itinerary

Great Sights of New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary

Welcome to Queenstown!

Welcome to New Zealand, take this day to relax and orientate your selves. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and ringed by towering mountains, Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s ultimate holiday destinations. It may be the adventure capital of the world, but it’s also home to an excellent food and wine scene as well as great shopping, hiking and endless opportunities to relax. It’s just as easy to go fishing, golfing, gold panning or wine tasting as it is to bungy jump or sky dive. Famed for its international winter skiing profile and outdoor beauty, Queenstown is a brilliant destination to visit year-round. One thing is certain here: you won’t run out of things to do.  

Accommodation Queenstown - 2 nights

Stunning Queenstown
Offering a variety of one and two bedroom apartments set in a relaxing garden setting, you are only a five-minute walk to Queenstown's bustling centre. These quality suites and apartments have courtyards, balconies with alpine views and are self-contained and are complemented by high quality facilities and services to enhance your personal experience. A breakfast restaurant serves a continental breakfast.
Queenstown Appartments


Exploring the Queenstown Lakes District

Visit Arrowtown - a charming village-like settlement only a short drive from Queenstown, Arrowtown is home to gold mining heritage, historic buildings and leafy riverbanks. During autumn (fall), Arrowtown ignites in a riot of gold, red and orange as the deciduous trees that line its streets prepare for winter. Arrowtown sits along the banks of the gold-bearing Arrow River. The settlement itself was created in 1862 during the height of the Otago Gold Rush – pioneers flocked here in the hope they would strike it lucky. Visit Glenorchy - this is a 45 minute drive from Queenstown and and is the last stop before the world famous Fiordland National Park, Routeburn Track, Dart River and Greeenstone Valley.

Recommended excursions in and around 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

Lake Wanaka


Travel to Mt Cook, Stay Overnight in Twizel

Travel north through the Lakes district and over the Lindis Pass to Mount Cook National Park - A Fantasy Land of Ice and Rock. Mt Cook National Park, known for its exquisite alpine beauty and is home to the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook. Its Maori name, ‘Aoraki’ means ‘cloud piercer’ and at 12,016ft (3,755m) it towers above the surrounding snow-covered peaks in the park. There are some stunning walks to view glaciers, tarns and lakes ranging from 30 minutes to 6 hours - Mt Cook is a must visit. Tonight stay in the Twizel, a small friendly town in the Mackenzie Basin.

Some highly recommended excursions around the National Park.

Tasman Glacier by Boat   Hooker Valley Walk   Glacier Helicopter Landing   Star Gazing Tour


Approximate Distance: 200 kms | 125 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 40 mins

Accommodation - Twizel - 1 night

Mount Cook National Park

This is your chance to spend a night in the rural high country at Omahau Downs in Mackenzie Country, a kilometre from the Twizel Township. Imagine soaking outdoors in the wood fire bathhouse with a glass of wine and spectacular views of Mt Cook, or take on the rivers for some fly fishing in breath-taking scenery. Their self-contained cabins and original farm cottage are private and cosy after a long days exploring the region.   

Omahau Downs - Twizel


Kaikoura ‘Serengeti of the Sea'

Leaving Twizel head north past Lake Tekapo and into the Canterbury Plains. You will travel north of Christchurch eventually meeting the coast of the Pacific Ocean before reaching Kaikoura. The Kaikoura peninsula enjoys a mild microclimate and is overlooked by majestic snowcapped mountains. Kaikoura's unique proximity of the ocean and mountain range offers a host of eco-tourism-oriented activities, including whale watching, dolphin and seal swimming, kayaking, fishing and hiking.

Wildlife encounters available in Kaikoura

Whale Watching CruiseSwim with the Seals in Kaikoura
Whale Watching Flight Kaikoura       Dusky Dolphin Viewing or Swimming
Kayaking with Fur SealsAlbatross & Pelagic Bird Watching Kaikoura

Accommodation - Kaikoura - 1 night

Sperm Whale Kaikoura
The Anchor Inn Beachfront Motel, a modern and stylish motel superbly located on the Kaikoura's waterfront " The Esplanade ", with the majority of rooms enjoying magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Kaikoura ranges.
Anchor Inn Beachfront Rooms


Kaikoura to Picton

After lunch continue your journey through Marlborough to Picton. Marlborough is the engine room of the New Zealand wine industry. In the 1970's the plains would have been filled by sheep - now it  is vines as far as the eye can see, producing world cool climate varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. A 25 minute drive north of Blenheim you will find Picton the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds.

Approximate Distance: 156kms | 100 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours

Accommodation - Picton - 2 nights

Picton, Gateway to Marlborough Sounds
A stone's throw from the bustling London Quay where water taxis zip to and fro from the Marlborough Sounds is the Picton Yacht Club. This hotel complex boasts a swimming pool and harbour views with 48 rooms to accommodate every possible combination of traveller. The onsite facilities are excellent with an outstanding restaurant producing a very high quality of cuisine.


Enjoy a Relaxing Day in Marlborough

The choices today are endless - you could choose to take a scenic cruise in the Marlborough Sounds, or an exciting walk in the beautiful Queen Charlotte Soundor visit one of the excellent vineyard restaurants for lunch. Another fascinating option is a visit to the Aviation Heritage Centre. This centre has a dramatic presentation of some of the worlds rarest WW1 aircraft and aviation memorabilia (models were created by Weta Workshop - the wizards behind the Lord of the Rings & Hobbit Trilogies). It is even possible to book a tiger moth flight!

Marlborough wine Country


Cruise to Wellington - The Arts Capital

This morning, make your way to the Interisland Ferry Terminal in time for your Cook Strait ferry sailing. This challenging stretch of water connects the Tasman Sea to the Southern Pacific Ocean, you will leave the South Island through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Wellington is another of our Harbour Cities situated at the southern most tip of the North Island. The Wellington vibe is creative and ecclectic - the nations politicians and parliament rub shoulders with street performers, the National Te Papa Museum and a lively cafe culture.

Accommodation Wellington - 2 nights

InterIsland Ferry
Located on Wellington's premier Oriental Parade, overlooking the stunning Wellington Harbour, Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay is the perfect base to explore the city. Merely 10 minutes away, are the city's shopping, commercial, and entertainment centre. The Te Papa Museum, Live Theatre in Courtney Place. The beautifully appointed rooms incorporate design cues from the surrounding natural environment and feature all the modern comforts you would expect from a contemporary city hotel.
Wellington Harbor


Free Day to Explore Wellington

Wellington is the nation’s capital city. A magnificent landscape of steep sided hills sits beside a beautiful harbour, and the city itself bustles with a vibrant creative culture. Renowned for its eclectic, arty atmosphere, Wellington is a real kiwi cultural treat and numerous galleries and character-filled shops line its colourful streets. The Museum of New Zealand 'Te Papa' is full of national treasures and sits beside the water in the downtown area of the city centre - well worth a visit. Wellington is also famous for having some the New Zealand's best restaurants - gourmet dining experiences here are truly world class. Culture, cuisine and scenic beauty abound in New Zealand’s iconic capital.

Some suggestions to enhance your stay in Wellington:

National Museum - Te Papa    

   Visit Cuba Street

   Weta Workshop Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Reserve 

   Wellington Cable Car   

   Carter Observatory 

Wellington harbour during a sunset.


The Volcanic Central Plateau/Rotorua

Today head north out of Wellington passing through several small towns along the way Paraparaumu, Shannon, Taihape and Waiouru (home of the NZ Army). You will travel the desolate alpine beauty of the Desert Road - catch a sunbeam burst through dramatic clouds as the snow capped peaks of Ruapehu and Tongariro loom nearby. Lake Taupo is set amidst rolling green countryside and spectacular mountain scenery. Rotorua is a natural wonder of geothermal activity that includes natural hot pools, steaming craters and boiling mud pools.

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

Approximate Distance: 452 kms | 280 miles  Total Driving Time: 6 hrs

Accommodation Rotorua - 2 nights


Tongariro National Park
Located only a short way from the town centre and the lake front, our motel in Rotorua has been independently assessed by Qualmark as 4 star quality accommodation. Easy to find on Lake Road and from the moment you arrive, you'll enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the nearby aquatic centre, the CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Bella Vista


Cultural Village & Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley

Discover the heart of Maori culture in New Zealand at Te Puia, located in Rotorua in the Central North Island - a region that is surrounded by picturesque lakes and forests. This is also one of the most geothermally active environments in the country and Te Puia's 70 hectare park in the beautiful Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley is right in the heart of the action. Restless forces boil to the surface in the enchanting, superheated mud pools and hot springs and geysers gush hot steam and water in spectacular fashion. The famous Pohutu Geyser erupts approximately every 20 minutes and bursts reach heights of 30m (100ft). Silica terraces, native bush and birdlife and a wonderful insight into Maori culture and tradition rounds off a fascinating and memorable experience.

View over Whakarewarewa thermal valley.


Travel to Auckland, the City of Sails

Auckland City is 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. 

Approximate Distance: 228 kms | 140 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Accommodation Auckland- 2 nights

Auckland view from Devonport

Within a stones throw of the Britomart & Harbour side entertainment and dining precinct - your stay in Auckland will be a memorable one. Fully equipped modern serviced one, two and three bedroom apartments are perfect for short or long term stays within Auckland City. Full Kitchen Facilities - Oven & stovetop, microwave, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, cuttlery and cooking utensils and Internal Laundry Facilities allow you the freedom to stay as if you had never left home. Newly refurbished hotel rooms are perfect for shorter stays.

Nesuto Stadium Apartments, Located in Auckland Central Business District.


Waiheke Island - Cruise to the Heart of the Gulf

Waiheke Island is to Auckland as the Hamptons are to New York – the former being on a much smaller scale. Home to beautiful beaches and holiday homes, Waiheke Island produces some outstanding wines. Just a thirty-minute boat ride away the island lends itself nicely to relaxing and sampling to fine food and wine. A natural complement to the fine wines you will taste on Waiheke is a range of hand-made specialty foods all locally-grown produce.

Take a tour of the island and stop off in Oneroa at one of the excellent cafes for lunch.


Waiheke Island.


Homeward Bound

Enjoy a final leisurely breakfast and relax, take a stroll around our beautiful city, explore the highly acclaimed Waterfront Restaurant Quarter it is likley you have an evening flight out from Auckland so choose one of the many activities available to give a more in depth understanding of Auckland and the surrounding area.

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We are sure you will enjoy the Great Sights of New Zealand Self Drive 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 'Great Sights of New Zealand Self Drive Tour' - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

Auckland Viaduct

Profile picture for user Jess
What Jess says about this tour: I love the combination of experiences this tour offers. You get to take in the remoteness and wilderness of the Alps and geothermal valleys and lakes and mix this up with culture and arts. There is also plenty of time to cruise the harbours, indulge in the wineries and get up close to our unique flora and fauna. A real favourite.
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