The Royal Tour - A Self Drive Itinerary


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New Zealand’s largest city is located between two large harbours and 48 extinct volcanic cones scattered over the city are evidence of it's volancic past. They also provide a perfect location for viewing the city! A diversely cultural place, Auckland is a great location for marine adventures, wine tasting, forest walks and urban sophistication.

After checking into your hotel,relax, take a stroll around our beautiful city, explore the highly acclaimed Waterfront Restaurant Quarter or choose one of the many activities available to give a more in depth understanding of Auckland and the surrounding area.

Some Activities and Sightseeing Options Available are:

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

This hotel is a standout for location, comfort and style. The rooms offer either views of the Viaduct Harbour or the cityscape, enjoying a central position amongst the best restaurants, theatres, shopping and harbour-side attractions that Auckland has to offer.Accommodation options include luxury suites and apartments that include an LCD TV and a furnished balcony offering views of the harbour or the city.
Sebel Suites Auckland Waterfront


Taupo via Waitomo

The Waitomo region is most famous for its subterranean splendour - the Waitomo Caves. The rolling Waikato hills hide the ancient limestone cave systems, heavily decorated with stalagmites, stalactites, and of course glow-worms. Many caves are open to the public and there is a caving experience for everyone - some are easy, while others require specialized caving guides and equipment. Enjoy the magic and splendor of the Spellbound Glowworm Caves, for it is here where Sir David Attenborough on the BBC series 'Life in the Undergrowth' described it as an “Astonishing Cave” And “one of natures most Magical Illuminations!”. This is an easy adventure everyone will enjoy or if caving is not for you - try a local walk or just relax and enjoy lunch in one of the cafes in the village before continuing on for another approx 2 hrs to Great Lake Taupo.

Approximate Distance: 341 kms | 118 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Accommodation Taupo - 2 nights

Located on the lakefront of Lake Taupo, our self-contained, serviced, motel accommodation has a range of studios and one bedroom units, all with spa baths, air conditioning and unlimited complimentary WiFi. Take in the spectacular views or take a swim in their pool on those hot summer days. The Reef Resort is a great base to stay and explore all the Taupo region has to offer, and has hosts that ensure they go the extra mile to guarantee you the get most out of your stay.
Reef Resort Taupo



The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, which is well stocked with sizeable trout. You’ll find everything a traveller could wish for, including an excellent choice of restaurants. Most accommodation establishments make good use of the underground thermal activity to provide hot spas for relaxation. You’ll follow the western edge of Lake Taupo to reach Turangi. The drive is very scenic and there are many picnic opportunities along the way. Where streams run into the lake, you’ll often see trout fisherman trying their luck. The town of Turangi is the trout fishing capital of New Zealand. There are famous fishing spots in almost every direction, including ‘The Delta’, ‘The Hole’, ‘Little Big O’ and ‘Tailrace’ (believed to contain the world’s fattest trout). The walks and ski fields of the Tongariro National Park are also close by.  

Rotorua is easily visited as a day trip - situated 40 minutes drive from Taupo,  right on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic activity is part of the city’s past and present. Take a side road to a Geothermal Park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud. Towards the end of your journey you’ll encounter the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. Other diversions include Huka Falls and a world-acclaimed golf course.




On the long, straight Desert Road you’ll enjoy amazing views of Tongariro National Park’s Volcanoes. In Waiouru, the QE2 Memorial Museum is worth a look. As you drive south towards Taihape (the Gumboot Throwing capital of the world), the landscape becomes dominated by rivers and valleys. The Mangaweka Gorge is a scenic masterpiece. Find time to browse the antique shops of Bulls, or spy on wading birds in the estuary near Foxton. Two beautiful dune lakes are an easy detour from Levin.

Offshore from Waikanae Beach is Kapiti Island Nature Reserve. A car museum and gourmet cheese factory are other attractions in this area. Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafes, restaurants, museums, theatre and all kinds of shops. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty. As New Zealand’s capital, this city is rich in political history.

Approximate Distance: 375 kms | 233 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Wellington - 2 nights

he 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. Featuring an indoor lap pool, sauna and spa, gym and restaurants - your stay here will be met by a high level of comfort and privacy.
The Bolton Hotel - Wellington



The passage across Cook Strait on the InterIsland Ferry goes through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. The fast ferry makes the trip in just over 2 hours, the cruise-style ferry takes 3 hours. Both types of vessel can transport vehicles. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the sounds. The picturesque seaside town of Picton is the South Island base for the ferry service that links the North and South islands of New Zealand. It’s also the gateway to the marine, forest and island attractions of the Marlborough Sounds. Museums and interesting walks will keep you entertained while you’re here.

The drive to Nelson first takes you to the town of Havelock, which is known as the Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World. Nearby Canvastown is a place to explore old gold mining fields – thousands tried to get rich here in the 1860s. At Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve you can enjoy a bush walk or a swim, depending on the time of the year. And if you’d like a glimpse of local life in 1890, Rai Valley has a beautifully preserved cottage museum. The city of Nelson is home to a fascinating community of beach, bush and art lovers. From here you can organise yourself an eco-adventure or become immersed in the local creative culture.

Approximate Distance: 109 kms | 68 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 45 mins

Accommodation Nelson - 2 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



The road to Motueka hugs the coast, which makes it easy to browse beaches as you go. The Waimea Inlet and the villages of Mapua and Ruby Bay are particularly irresistible. Art and pottery studios, vineyards and excellent cafes are other local distractions. In the horticultural town of Motueka you can indulge your love of fresh fruit and vegetables, and feed your imagination with local arts and crafts. Once through Motueka head to the Riwaka Valley which is the home of fruit stalls and orchards - stop in for some fresh fruit for your days adventures.

Most of the day trips  originate in either Marahau or Kaiteri and they can include kayak, cruise, walk and sail options into the beautiful golden sands of the Abel Tasman National Park The Coast Track in the Abel Tasman National Park is the most popular ‘great walk’ in New Zealand. The track takes you past pristine golden sand beaches and calm turquoise waters. 

Today we recommend that you cruise into the park and walk a section of the track before returning by boat back to Kaiteriteri.

Approximate Distance: 64 kms | 40 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour



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  - 1 night


Surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and with stunning views of the Tasman Sea, Punakaiki Resort is 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.


Punakaiki Resort



The road between Hokitika and Greymouth provides great views of the wild west coast. Detour to the beach and breathe the salt spray air. Driftwood is the ornamentation of choice for west coast beaches – every shape, size and colour. Shantytown, just south of Greymouth, is a reconstructed 1880s gold rush town – great family entertainment. Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. Greenstone (NZ jade) is the town’s treasure these days – you can see it being polished and sculpted. You might also want to pan for gold, investigate the museum and do the historical walk. First explored in 1865, the Franz Josef Glacier has been moving forward at a rate of about 1 metre a day since 1985. Previously it was in retreat. Franz Josef township has a good range of accommodation and eating establishments.

The Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers advanced so close to the sea at this latitude. While in the area, you can choose from a wide range of adventure activities (mostly involving glaciers and mountains). After a short drive south, you’ll arrive at Fox Glacier. The glacier’s terminal face is just 5 kilometres (3.1 Miles) from the township, and the road to the walking track crosses ancient moraine from earlier advances and retreats. Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister, William Fox. 

Approximate Distance: 241 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 

Accommodation Fox Glacier - 1 night

After your day exploring the West Coast, spending the night at Distinction Fox Glacier in the beautiful Fox Glacier Village is a real treat. Tucked into the foothills of the Southern Alps, rooms here feature their own balcony, spacious bedroom and lounge area. Spend the evening relaxing in the guest lounge or browsing through the many books in the Hotel library. 

Distinction Hotel - Fox Glacier



Not far from Fox Glacier is the western end of the Copland track. In half a day you can walk to the hot springs at Welcome Flat. Pretty Lake Paringa is full of trout, and you can enjoy a delicious meal of salmon at the salmon farm. Lake Moeraki is another peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. The long one-lane bridge over the Haast River leads you into the settlement of Haast, once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works (the government department responsible for road and bridge building). It’s a town with a touch of the wild west – helicopters fly deer hunters into the rugged ranges and local pubs make a feature of stuffed animal trophies. Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you leave the coast and climb up the Haast river valley to Haast Pass. The road snakes through the Aspiring National Park, and the vegetation becomes more sparse as you travel inland. The wilderness town of Makarora is a chance to refuel and refresh. Watch for the famous ‘bra fence’ – it’s become a local legend. Lakes Wanaka and Hawea make the last part of your trip beautifully scenic.

Approximate Distance: 262 kms | 163 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation Wanaka - 1 night

Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort is nestled in a quiet Lake Wanaka location and enjoys wonderful mountain views from the serviced apartments. The resort offers stylish, self-contained, serviced apartments each providing you with a high level of personal comfort and convenience, perfect for all seasons. Distinction offer a range of large, stylish and spacious self-contained apartments that provide a high level of personal comfort and convenience. They offer great facilities including a fully equipped designer kitchen.
Distinction Wanaka Alpine Resort



The lakeside resort town of Wanaka can provide you with an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. It has a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. You’ll also find some unique attractions, like the 3D maze and the ‘warbird’ air show, which is held every two years.

The shortest route to Queenstown is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan and the Shotover River. The vineyards of the Gibbston area and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge are interesting distractions along the way. The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

Approximate Distance: 70 kms | 44 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 10 mins

Accommodation Queenstown - 2 nights

Experience the sophistication of Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel, a haven of stylish, 5 star accommodation for all seasons. A boutique hotel with a modern romantic style and exclusive service awaits you in the heart of New Zealand’s adventure capital. Set in peaceful parkland, and savour views of Queenstown’s majestic mountains. Enjoy easy access to the vibrant town centre where shopping, cafes and nightlife are nestled on the shores of spectacular Lake Wakatipu.
Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel


A Picnic in Paradise - A Remote Wilderness Experience

This morning take an exclusive helicopter flight takes you into the breathtaking New Zealand wilderness and the chance to enjoy a delightful a champagne picnic in complete seclusion. This private helicopter flight takes you to a remote, secluded area of outstanding natural beauty.

Your pilot will whisk you away from Queenstown over spectacular scenery to an otherwise inaccessible spot where you will be dropped off to explore the wilderness as you wish. Enjoy a delightful champagne luncheon and discover this amazing area at your own pace before calling your pilot from your radio when you are ready to return to civilization, leaving your afternoon free to explore Queenstown.

If time permits some 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



High country landscapes and trout fishing rivers are features of the road to Te Anau. The first part of your drive clings scenically to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Take a break when you reach the small town of Kingston, the home of a remarkable vintage steam train. Further on, the settlements of Lumsden and Mossburn can be explored for unique shopping opportunities – a farm tour is another possibility. Te Anau township sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau. From here, the delights of the Fiordland National Park are within easy reach, including the start of the Milford Track. Cruise on the lakes, walk the tracks and visit the Department of Conservation wildlife centre. The Te Ana-au Caves are an excellent adventure.

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

Accommodation Te Anau - 2 nights


Te Anau’s modern, up-market motel offers superior accommodation and a genuine welcoming service. Lakefront Lodge is a great base to discover Fiordland National Park and the various walking tracks such as Kepler, Routeburn, Hollyford or Milford. 



The Road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The first part is relatively mild farmland, then you’ll ease into beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. Look for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes. The rough hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into Milford Sound, an amazing 22km-long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak. A cruise on Milford Sound will be an essential component of your time in Fiordland, or you can get up close and personal in a sea kayak. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces and seals are some of the things you’ll remember. The underwater observatory is an option with most cruises. 



Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We know you will enjoy The Royal Tour, A Premium New Zealand Self Drive Holiday 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. 

Profile picture for user suzie
What suzie says about this tour: Speaking as an expert on travel within New Zealand, it's easy to see why our former PM put this itinerary together. Travelling on the classic drives of both islands you take in the iconic kiwi experiences such as the caves and geothermal areas and add in special touches like the flights into remote wilderness locations. A highly recommended self drive adventure that suits a range of ages.
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