The Relaxing NZ Journey's Self Drive Itinerary

 
1

Welcome to Auckland / Waiheke Island

Take the Sky Bus directly to the Waiheke Ferry Terminal in downtown Auckland. 

Artists and free-spirits mingle with the rich and famous on this blissful island, a haven of beautiful beaches, gastronomical treasures and small wineries. 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 outstanding, award winning wines.

Approximate Ferry Time to Waiheke Island: 35-40 mins
 
Accommodation Waiheke Island - 2 nights

Tranquil Waiheke Island.
Small boutique island accommodation and a fresh, unique restaurant experience in the heart of Waiheke Island. Situated just a 15-minute walk to Oneroa Beach, the Oyster Inn is perfectly situated to enjoy every aspect of Island Life. Relax in one of the three boutique hotel rooms with all the amenities you would expect from a 4 star property. Start your Waiheke Island experience with a complimentary pick up to and from the ferry terminal. If you so wish enjoy dinner or breakfast at our highly regarded onsite restaurant.
Oyster Inn Boutique Hotel Waiheke Island

2

Island Life - Relax or Explore

Waiheke Island is a place of lazy days and peaceful holidays, vineyards, olive groves and beautiful beaches.The Island is a national taonga (treasure) with many special places. Home to historic sites, wildlife and diverse habitats, the island is an important part of New Zealand’s landscape. 

What to Do...
 
​Tour the Wineries
Join a guided tour to experience some of Waiheke’s fabulous wineries. Enjoy tastings of award-winning wines and relax over a scrumptious vineyard lunch.
 
Stroll the Sands
Wander along the white sand at Oneroa and Onetangi beaches – two of the island’s best beaches – and take a dip in the sheltered waters.
 
Get Adventurous
There are lots of activities for adventure seekers on Waiheke – try archery and laser clay pigeon shooting, hire a scooter, take a scenic flight or zoom across the tree tops on a flying fox zipline.
 
Discover Art for Art’s sake

Check out Waiheke’s fantastic arts scene, from local galleries and studios to an inspiring sculpture park. Look out for regular art events too.
 

Aucklands Waiheke Island.

3

Coromandel Peninsula / Hahei

This morning take the ferry back to Auckland City, collect your rental car and take the scenic route to the beautiful Coromandel.

The Coromandel Peninsula lies east of Auckland, on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf. An impressive, heavily forested mountain range runs right up the middle of this peninsula - it’s bordered on each side by miles of spectacular coastline.

The idyllic seaside village of Hahei, (HA-hey) is a small settlement situated on the eastern side of the Peninsula.  Yes there are a couple of restaurants, cafes and fish and chippy, but essentially this is a secret hideaway were Kiwi families take their holidays – its all about the beach, where the waves are generally safe for children and the wide beach is ideal for a game of volleyball or to throw a Frisbee. The bay also provided a location for the filming of the fantasy feature, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Approximate Distance: 189 kms | 117 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 30 mins
 
Accommodation Hahei - 3 nights

Coromandel - Where New Zealanders go to holiday.
Accommodation:
Hahei Bed & Breakfast is a quiet and luxurious place to relax, specifically designed for your comfort. Enjoy beautiful gardens, a large swimming pool, sun-drenched decks, spacious guestrooms, views - both rural, sea and out to the off-shore islands.
Corromandel B&B

4

Arguably the Most Beautiful Beach in the World

A Day at the Beach - Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove simply has everything you could possibly want from a beach – sparkling clear blue water, world class snorkelling, clean white sand, deserted islands you can see from the beach, The massive naturally formed "Cathedral" archway carved out by the sea and wind over thousands of years and other really interesting rock formations; including one that acts as a great jumping platform. There has been no development at all so the beach has remained as it was thousands of years ago. There are native trees and bush behind the beach with a fresh water waterfall to cool you down and provide shelter on a sizzling hot summer’s day.
 
Getting There: Only accessible by foot, boat or kayak, we suggest you walk in and boat out. There is a spectacular 2.5 km (1.6 miles) coastal walk which takes you through to Cathedral Cove past the quintessential Coromandel scenery of pohutukawa trees and white sandy beaches.


Hot Water Beach
Fancy a soak, then head to the beautiful Hot Water Beach, you will find hot water bubbling through the golden sand. Families, kids and couples can be seen digging their own spa pool in the sand and relaxing in the natural hot springs - this is one experience that should be on your New Zealand bucket list and a truly unique Kiwi experience.

A stunning view of Cathedral Cove.

5

Leisure Time in the Coromandel

The Coromandel is a renowned outdoor haven where rugged terrain meets idyllic coastline. These natural features provide inspiration for the creative works and unique attractions hidden around every corner. The laid back culture, locally known as ‘Coromandel time’, encourages a relaxed atmosphere that is better understood once experienced. Have a relaxing day to choose to do as much or as little as you wish.


Recommended excursions in and around the Coromandel:

Dive the Aldermans   Soak in the Lost Springs   Visit Cathedral Cove
Soak in Hot Water Beach   Rainforest Rail JourneyExplorer Cruise
Water Works ParkGuided Sea Kayaking Kauri Forest Guided Hike
Sunset at Coromandel beach.

6

Great Lake Taupo

Undoubtedly Taupo's most magical  approach is from the  north. Emerging from the roar and  steam of Wairakei's  geothermal  power installations, the road crests a bill to unfold the distant huddled  mountain  peaks of Tongariro,  Ruapehu  and the smoking volcano, Ngauruhoe.  Lake Taupo - a flooded volcanic crater of immense proportions opens  out  in broad  panorama. On the way into Taupo make sure you stop to look over at the mighty rage of water that is Huka Falls.


Taupo is a quiet peaceful place but there are some really interesting excursions to do.

Taupo Hot Springs   Kayak to Maori Rock Carvings    Visit Huka Falls 
Golf at WairakeiWhite Island Volcano Adventure    Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland


Approximate Distance: 280 kms | 173 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 38 mins

Accommodation Taupo - 1 night

Great Lake Taupo
Accommodation:

The Lake Motel Taupo is one of the original motels in Taupo, it has been well maintained over the years becoming a unique retro style. The accommodation showcases a classic style but with a modern twist. Situated only 220 metres from the lake front, and is surrounded by trees so you can enjoy a quiet stay. 

The Lake Motel near the shores of beautiful Lake Taupo.

7

Fly to Nelson - South Island

This morning make your way to the Airport for a connecting flight to Nelson.

Nelson has a large creative community of working artists that gives the town a laid-back, bohemian feel. Passionate wine makers and craft beer brewers in the area mean that sitting in the sun with the tipple of your choice is a lovely way to enjoy the town centre.

Receiving some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand, the Nelson district it the perfect destination to visit year round. Located in the North-West corner of New Zealand, the Nelson region is surrounded by sheltered mountain ranges, golden beaches, national parks and boutique wineries and breweries. From Nelson, it’s easy to access any of three distinctly different National Parks.

Accommodation Nelson - 1 night

Nelson City
Accommodation:
The Palms Motel is a great choice for a comfortable place to stay in Nelson. Relax on the open patio, take a dip in the pool or visit the nearby amenities. Located in the centre of beautiful Nelson, The Palms Motel offers a modern, interior decorated self-contained apartments with full kitchen facilities. Everything you need to have a hassle free time in beautiful Nelson.
The Palms Motel Nelson.

8

Abel Tasman National Park - an Easy Going Adventure

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 outstanding beauty. Walking and Kayaking and then just kicking back on one of the many unspoilt beaches you will discover along the way is what its all about. Plus you have the added bonus of face-to-face encounters with marine wildlife and birds. The outstandingly beautiful and remote Abel Tasman National Park 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.

This tour experiences the best of both worlds, you can kayak for 2 days and try 1 day walking on the Abel Tasman Coast Track (or Visa Versa or One of the Other) while enjoying comfortable accommodations and fine meals at the beachfront lodges each night.

Kayaking: The kayaking is suitable for all levels of experience, you don't need previous sea kayaking experience as you will be accompanied by friendly knowledgeable guides at all times on the water. 


Todays Planned Itinerary:

  • Scenic drive to Kaiteriteri from Nelson (1 hour) 
  • Cruise Kaiteriteri to Totaranui – 1.5 hours
  • Walk - 2 hours 6 kms (3.7 miles) including tidal crossing
  • Maximum elevation 60 m (200 ft)


Included: Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

Accommodation - Meadowbank Homestead Awaroa - 1 night

Abel Tasman National Park.

After a day in the Abel Tasman return to your own ensuite room and a hot shower. Over a fine 3-course dinner, swap stories with fellow travellers and be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves lapping golden sands. This is one of only 2 Beachfront Lodges within the boundaries of Abel Tasman National Park.

Meadowbank Homestead Abel Tasman

9

Awaroa to Torrent Bay

Another day, another picture postcard setting. This morning enjoy the short walk over the Tonga Saddle to Onetahuti where you can again relax on another sandy beach; this one however, is flanked by impressive granite headlands surrounded by unusual rock formations - perhaps a side trip to the Tonga Quarry historic site is in order. Bark Bay for lunch – relax or explore, sunbathe or swim. Your afternoon stroll enjoys a succession of magnificent views of headlands, beaches, estuaries, walking through lush native forest and even crossing a classic New Zealand swing bridge at the Falls River.

Kayak and Walk option: Walk to Onetahuti 1.5 hours, 4 kms (2.4 miles), Sea Kayak to Torrent Bay 4 hours 10 kms (6.2 miles)

Enjoy the best of both worlds with the option of both kayaking and walking. Walk from Awaroa to Onetahuti (as above). Kayak to the Seal Colony on Tonga Island where fur seals breed. Kayak through clear waters as you cruise past Tonga Quarry and Arches, A lunch stop at sheltered Bark Bay before continuing you continue beach hopping along the coast into Torrent Bay to be welcomed with refreshments and a hot shower in your ensuite room.


Walking Option: 6-7 hours 17 km (10.56 miles)

Included: Breakfast, Morning and Afternoon Tea, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Torrent Bay Beachfront Lodge - 1 night

Walking the Abel Tasman Track

After your adventures are complete why not laze on the sun deck or feel the sand between your toes on the beach in front of the lodge or snooze in your own room or have a hot shower. Over a fine 3-course dinner, swap stories with fellow travellers and be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves lapping golden sands. This is one of only 2 Beachfront Lodges within the boundaries of Abel Tasman National Park.

Torrent Bay Beachfront Lodge

10

Torrent Bay to Kaiteriteri / Nelson

After breakfast depart the lodge by kayak at about 9.30am. We’ll stop for lunch and a rest at any one of the bays, before we continue our journey through azure waters to the famous Kaiteriteri beach, where our driver will be waiting to meet you for the return journey to Nelson - arrival about 5.30pm.

Todays Planned Itinerary:

Sea Kayak Torrent Bay to Kaiteriteri 4.5 hours (12 kms)
Scenic drive Kaiteriteri to Nelson (1 hour)

Included: Breakfast, Morning and Afternoon Tea, Lunch.

Accommodation - Nelson - 1 night

Homward Bound Abel Tasman.
Accommodation:
The Palms Motel is a great choice for a comfortable place to stay in Nelson. Relax on the open patio, take a dip in the pool or visit the nearby amenities. Located in the centre of beautiful Nelson, The Palms Motel offers a modern, interior decorated self-contained apartments with full kitchen facilities. Everything you need to have a hassle free time in beautiful Nelson.
The Palms Motel Nelson.

11

Punakaiki - A Wild Coast & Unusual Rock Formations

Travel through Wakefield, before heading over the Spooners saddle in the Golden Downs forest. Follow SH6 to Murchison, although part of the Nelson Region, this will be your first introduction to the glory and green that is the scenic beauty of the West Coast and Buller Region.  Navigate the awesome Buller Gorge, where at Hawks Crag the road has been hacked out of solid rock – you’ll drive under a dramatic overhang. Continue on to Punakaiki, famous for its ancient Pancake Rocks and booming blowholes. It is the centrepiece of the Paparoa National Park, which is packed with a variety of stunning landscapes. 

Approximate Distance: 287 kms | 178 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Accommodation Punakaiki  - 2 nights

Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.
Surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and with stunning views of the Tasman Sea, Scenic Hotel Punakaiki is in a great location. The resort is situated only 300m from the famous Punakaiki Blowholes and has been designed in harmony with the local environment.  Evenings are spent relaxing in a standard resort room with views of the sea or an Eco Suite with rainforest and distant seaviews.

 
Scenic Hotel Punakaiki

12

Galaxies of Glow Worms

Today take part in a superb eco-cave tour where you travel by the rainforest train through primeval rain forest and explore the enormous Nile River Caves. Explore an ancient wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites in the large dry upper levels and become entranced while under the galaxies of glowworms in the awe-inspiring Ananui entrance series. Discovered only recently, the Metro cave is one of the few caves in the world you can walk through and see in its natural, un-spoilt state, the way it was discovered.

West Coast Glowworm Caves

13

Franz Joseph Glacier

Heading south into the National park known as ‘Glacier Country’ – in parts, huge valleys of ice tumble down almost to sea level. Also blessed with lakes, rivers and wetlands; Westland is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Here, the landscapes are highly revered by those kiwis who have lived here for generations, as well as by the local Ngai Tahu tribe who hold this wild place in high spiritual esteem.

Approximate Distance: 218 kms | 135 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 48 mins

Accommodation Franz Josef - 2 nights

Terminal Face Frans Josef Glacier.
Accommodation:
The Franz Josef Oasis Hotel is a brand new establishment that offers an outstanding luxury accommodation option in Franz Josef Glacier. Located just five minutes from Franz Josef, this boutique hotel offers luxurious rooms features en suite bathrooms and a cosy fireplace. Guests enjoy a spacious covered outdoor terrace, perfect for taking in the garden and mountain views while at lunch or dinner. Rooms feature soundproofing, double-glazed windows and deluxe linen.
Oasis Franz Josef

14

Helicopter Exploration & Hike - Franz Josef

This is a fantastic introduction to an enthralling world of ice. The Franz Josef Heli Hike starts with a thrilling flight, high above the rugged terrain, you will land on the glacier, ready to undertake a three hour guided glacier hike. Your friendly guide will lead you through some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring glacier scenery in the world. Your guide will choose your route carefully as you go and, with an eye for the most spectacular ice formations, you'll soon be making your way through an extraordinary land of towering peaks and glistening blue ice explaining the dramatic environmental changes over the last few years.

Time Hiking: 3 Hours

Fitness Required: If you are moderately fit, you will enjoy this excursion. 

Equipment Supplied: We supply ankle supporting hiking boots with crampons. If it is looking like rain you will be provided Goretex rain jackets and waterproof over trousers.

Glacier Hike

15

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.

Approximate Distance: 353 kms | 135 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 219 mins

Accommodation Queenstown - 2 nights

Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu
Just 5 minutes’ walk from Lake Wakatipu, Blue Peaks Lodge offers heated rooms with satellite TV. The property offers free parking and 500mb of free Wi-Fi per stay. Blue Peaks Lodge Queenstown is 3 minutes’ walk from Queenstown Gardens, and 10 minutes’ drive from the popular Onsen Hot Pools. Queenstown Airport is a 15-minute drive away.
blue peak

16

Queenstown at Leisure

It is well known Queenstown is New Zealand’s ‘four season’ resort town and arguably the adventure capital of the world. However there are plenty of outings to suite all tastes. You may like to take a soak in the fabulous Private Hotpools overlooking the beautiful Shotover River or perhaps take a stunning Scenic Flight over the celebrated Milford Sound would light your fire. One thing is certain you won't run out of things to do.

Some suggested activities and outings.

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

The Dart River Wilderness

17

Homeward Bound

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

We know you will enjoy our Relaxing New Zealand Journey and our promise to you 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 our Relaxing New Zealand Journey North and South Island Tour - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!

Bon Voyage to New Zealand

Profile picture for user Jess
What Jess says about this tour: This 17 day self drive tour takes in both islands while allowing two to three-day stays in stunning locations. Guests can really explore and unwind. Highlights include heli-hikes over glacial ice, walking tracks that hug our most stunning beaches, and having time for easy adventures in the great outdoors. I happily recommend this tour to travellers of all ages.
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