The Relaxing New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary


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144 Page A4 NZ Touring Atlas  

Full 24 Hour Support 50 Page Essential New Zealand Guide  


Auckland: the City of Sails

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand!

Now relax, you are officially on holiday. Everything has been taken care of, we will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodation.

Auckland city centre surrounds a large harbour that bustles with life, both on water and on land. In the Auckland region, the North Island is geographically narrow and the city straddles a slim piece of land with coastline facing both the Pacific Ocean, and, on the wild West Coast, the Tasman Sea. Boutique shopping, pulsing, Pacific-inspired markets and a passionate cafe culture make this city a charming place to visit.

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

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

Hotel de Brett is situated in downtown Auckland and is considered a very unique luxury boutique hotel. Set in Auckland’s hip High Street, the fashion district, the iconic building has been reinterpreted into a 25 room luxury boutique hotel with each room designed with eclectic furniture, New Zealand Art and photography. The décor is a celebration of contemporary New Zealand art and design, with hints of the hotel’s art deco past.
Hotel De Bretts Auckland City


North to the Beautiful Bay of Islands

Today collect your car its time to start your Relaxing New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary and travel north to the subtropical wonderland of the Bays of Islands. This is a sleepy place that is  steeped in both Maori and early European history.

Get out on the water with a boat cruise or sailing charter and spot dolphins and whales frolicking in the water before seeing the Hole in the Rock, just off Cape Brett, up close. Stroll the streets of RussellNew Zealand’s first capital, and soak up its whaling and pioneering past. Learn about the birth of New Zealand in Waitangi, where the treaty that made New Zealand a British colony was signed. The compelling mix of early New Zealand heritage and coastal beauty makes the Bay of Islands an unforgettable destination to experience first-hand. For divers, the Rainbow Warrior wreck – sunk just off Matauri Bay – is a riot of colour; jewel-hued anenomes in pink, purple and yellow stick to the rails and schools of fish call the wreck home. Also offering world-class fishing and the opportunity to swim with dolphins, the Bay of Islands is a must-do for lovers of perfect beaches and pristine coastline.  

Approximate Distance: 242 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Russell - 3 nights


Donkey Bay Inn - you'll not want to leave! With expansive views over the Bay of Islands you could quite possibly feel that you had seen the whole thing without leaving your room! Being a 5 minute drive from the cafes and restaurants in Russell this really will be a highlight of your trip. Operatic, artistic, iconoclast, sensual and enigmatic are just some of the words that have been used to describe The Donkey Bay Inn.

Donkey Bay Inn - expect the unexpectd


Just Relax at Donkey Bay Inn

Fully energy sufficient and cooled under a huge living roof, this architectural masterpiece will truly take your breath away with its cavernous rooms, imaginative angles and breath-taking views at every turn. Along the path down to our secluded, sandy beach you’ll encounter an extraordinary sculpture – a perfect place to meditate or re-energise.  Linking the bush and the sea is a broad, sheltered, almond-shaped terrace, shaded by olive trees. A secluded and tranquil place to relax any time of the day or night, a wine tasting? Why not – the owner’s family has been making wine for centuries.

Here are some excursions available if you want to get 'Out and About'

Historical Island Cruise   Diving Rainbow Warrior   4WD Adventure Cape Reinga
Sailing the Islands   Dolphin Swimming   Giant Kauri Forest Walk
Cultural Tour of Waitangi   Golf at Kauri Cliffs   Sea Kayaking the Bay



A Classic Day Sailing in the Bay of Islands

Aboard this Classic Single Mast Sailing Boat and set sail from Russell and explore the enchanting islands and bays in this aptly named region. Swim or snorkel, kayak or just bask in the sun. The Pacifics' crystal-clear waters are home to dolphins, penguins and nearly always make them-selves known. Your skipper will share with you his knowledge of the Bay of Islands, the emerald jewel in the crown of fabulous Northland -  and if you wish this a great place to learn to sail, all you need do is ask...


The Sleepy Rural Village of Matakana

Two hours south of the Bay of Islands is a small village with a lot to offer. Here you can while away the hours - browsing the gift shops and tasting artisanal food products. With excellent local vineyards and cafes, you will enjoy the sights and sounds of small-town New Zealand. The surrounding coastline is excellent with Pakari Beach offering vast stretches of white sand or the sheltered shorelines of Snells Beach nearby - a perfect place to visit on your Relaxing New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary.

Approximate Distance: 171kms | 107 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 mins

Accommodation: Matakana - 1 night

This 4 star luxury self contained bed and breakfast is situated in the heart of the Matakana countryside, with vineyards, restaurants, olive groves and stunning beaches within close proximity. Named for the rolling hills of Sugarloaf, and surrounded by sheep, cattle and various fruit trees with exquisite views out to the Hauraki Gulf. Enjoy a home made fully cooked or continental breakfast over looking the rural setting. 

Sugar Loaf Lodge, Matakana


Travel to the Geothermal Wonderland - Rotorua

The heartland of New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is host to some of the world’s most incredible geothermal forces. Geysers and clouds of steam are dotted around the city and the un-mistakable smell of sulphur gives the city an otherworldly feel. Here you’ll find natural wonders like the Pohutu geyser, erupting 20 times a day and spouting up to 100 feet, as well as bubbling mud pools, warm geothermal pools and sulphuric terraces in a variety of colours. Nowhere else in New Zealand are the turbulent forces that shape the world more evident. 

On arrival in Rotorua you will find the Polynesian Spa conveniently located nearby - they offer a full range of treatment rooms and spa options.

Travelling Distance 295km | 185mi Total Travelling Time 3hrs 40 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


Mount Tarawera Landing

Fly to the site of the largest eruption in New Zealand’s living memory. Landing on Mount Tarawera offers a privileged view of spectacular craters and domes formed by the 1886 eruption. Here you will enjoy an interesting commentary based on the region’s history, culture and geology. Flights to and from the volcano take in expansive views of our stunning Lakes District, National Parks and a view of Mount Tarawera from above!


Fly to Nelson - the Region of Wellness & Abundance

Today return your rental car to the airport and fly to Nelson at the top of the South Island. Nelson receives some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand, making it the perfect destination to visit year round. The Nelson region is surrounded by sheltered mountain ranges, golden beaches, national parks and boutique wineries and breweries. Its large creative community of working artists gives the town a laid-back, bohemian feel and the passionate wine makers and craft beer brewers mean that sitting in the sun with the tipple of your choice is a lovely way to enjoy the city centre. From Nelson, it’s easy to access any of three distinctly different National Parks. 

Accommodation Nelson - 3 nights

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


Two Days on the Beach - Abel Tasman National Park

The Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest national park at 225sq km. Small in size but big on beauty! Golden beaches border the translucent turquoise sea, and sandy estuaries fringed by natural forests. The walking tracks here, both in land and costal, are world famous for their out standing beauty. You can walk the coastal track, or enjoy one of the many shorter day walk options using a cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak to enter into the Abel Tasman. If that all sounds just a little too energetic, then just kick back on one of the many unspoilt beaches you will discover along the way. Plus you have the added bonus of face-to-face encounters with marine wildlife and birds. Tonga Island is located in the Marine Reserve or the Abel Tasman National Park and is home to the ever-entertaining seal colony. And who knows you may be lucky enough to spot visiting dolphins and Orcas playing in the Abel Tasman National Park waters.


Fly to Queenstown

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 3 nights

For your perfect escape to Queenstown, come and experience The Dairy Private Luxury Hotel, our clients rave about this property with a reputation for high quality and excellent service. Built in the 1920’s it has been voted #24 in the World and #1 in New Zealand for Small Hotels so you can be assured you won’t be disappointed. Situated only a minute walk to Queenstown with 13 rooms, all with ensuites and stunning views of the surrounding alpine area.


Get Out and About - In and Around - Queenstown

Surrounded by the magnificent Southern Alps, is New Zealand’s most celebrated destination.  Offering a wealth of experiences to be enjoyed – from adrenaline activities such as bungee jumps and sky diving, adventurous excursions like jet-boating and hiking through to superb golf, gourmet food and wine tours or romantic hot air ballooning.

Recommended excursions around 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


Homeward Bound

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

This morning you can return to Queenstown in time to relax at one of the many enticing cafe's or last minute shopping before flying home.

We know you will love this Relaxing New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary, and our promise is to make your travels in New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles 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 'Relaxing New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary'  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

Profile picture for user Jess
What Jess says about this tour: I love the pace of this itinerary with time to really wind down and take it all in. Staying in some unique NZ accommodations with many activity options to choose from or simply lay back and drink in the beautiful surrounds perhaps with a chilled glass of wine or two?
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