Ultimate New Zealand Self Drive Golf Touring Itinerary

Very clam day overlooking the golf course at Cape Kidnappers

Welcome to Auckland!

Welcome to Auckland, 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. On your arrival, you will be transferred to your accommodation. After checking into your hotel, you can relax, take a stroll around our beautiful city, explore the Waterfront Restaurant Quarter or choose one of the many activities available to get 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 - 2 nights

Auckland Viaduct

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.


Explore Auckland

Auckland Highlights Tour
This small group tour will give you an understanding of how and where Aucklanders live and play. You will have a chance to explore both sides of the Harbour bridge - visiting the historic parts of the city including the heritage charm of Devonport  and Ponsonby. The summit of Mt Victoria provides stunning panoramic views of Auckland city and the Waitemata Harbour.

A beautiful view of Rangitoto Island.


Head North to the Bay of Islands

A subtropical wonderland of secluded bays, islands and history, the Bay of Islands is a coastal paradise. 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 Russell, New 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.

Approximate Distance: 243 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Bay of Islands - 3 nights

Bay of Islands

Cherry Bay Lodge is a Luxury Boutique Bed and Breakfast in the Bay of Islands and features three private suites all overlooking the idyllic Cherry Bay. Situated amidst native bush and a scenic reserve, this is a peaceful haven of tranquility. Experience comfortable, modern suites with ensuite and your own outdoor deck - wake up to the sounds of local Tui’s in the morning.

Cherry Bay Lodge - Bay of Islands


A Round at Kauri Cliffs

Kauri Cliffs was designed and built by David Harman of Golf Course Consultants, Orlando, Florida. The par 72 championship golf course measures 7,119 yards / 6,510 metres and offers five sets of tees to challenge every skill level. Kauri Cliffs is currently ranked #39 in the world by Golf Digest Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the World and considered a must on a New Zealand golf tour.

Non golfer -  This morning make your way to the wharf to link up with your sailing trip departing from the Russell Wharf. Board the Classic Sailing 42' Yacht to explore the natural wonders of the Bay. Snorkling, kayaking, walking the white sandy beaches, and a delicious lunch are all part of the day.

The stunning Kauri Cliffs in the Bay of Islands.


Waitangi Golf Club

Grab your clubs for a great days golfing at the Waitangi Course.  Again sea views and native trees abound, providing sacntuary for many varieties of native birds, and a welcome sea breeze for golfers.

Non-golfers: there is plenty to enjoy in the Historic Town of Russell and the historical landmark at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds adjacent to the golf course - where New Zealand's founding document was signed.

The golf area in Waitangi.


Paihia - Auckland

Today travel to south to Rotorua. Sitting squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire - Rotorua is a geothermal spectacular. Rotorua is more than boiling mud, there are ancient forests set amongst prisitine lakes, and the area is steeped in the history and tikanga (culture) of Maori, the First People of New Zealand. 

Approximate Distance: 457 kms | 284 miles  Total Driving Time: 6 hours 10 mins

Accommodation Rotorua - 2 nights

Geyser erupts in the geothermal town of Rotorua.

Situated in the heart of Rotorua is the 5 Star Regal Palms, their modern and contemporary apartments are suitable for couples and families offering a great range of features, including a spa pool. Relax in the Guest Lounge or get active on the Tennis Court, book a complimentary bicycle to explore the city or take a swim in the heated pool onsite.

Regal Palms Rotorua


Maori Traditions and Geothermal Activity

After a well deserved morning off, spend the afternoon gaining an appreciation of New Zealand Maori culture with visits to settlement sites and living villages. Visitors will learn about Maori customs, traditions, history and protocols new and old, with a guided visit to Te Puia, Rotorua's premier cultural centre  The guided tour through Te Puia includes a visit to the wood carving school, art and craft gallery, Rotowhio Marae, weaving display, kiwi house and finally Pohutu geyser.

Alternative 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


Cultural Show


Volcanic Reserve / Great Lake Taupo

At the midway point between Rotorua and Lake Taupo is New Zealand's most colourful volcanic area at Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Reserve . Enjoy unique volcanic features while walking well defined trails at your own pace, the earths crust is at its most exciting and accessible, the smell of sulphur and sight of steaming vents invade the senses.  

Approximate Distance: 85 kms | 53 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 10 mins

Accommodation Taupo - 1 night

Lake Taupo

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.


Wairakei Golf Course, Lake Taupo - Napier

Also considered a must on a New Zealand golf tour Wairakei International is located in the heart of the North Island and set amongst the spectacular scenery of the Lake Taupo region is the Wairakei Golf Course & Sanctuary. The course sprawls over 450 acres of natural countryside. This coupled with 6460 metres from the championship tees and 108 well placed bunkers has led to worldwide acclaim.  

Non-golfers: sit back and enjoy the view aboard the Cruise Cat on Lake Taupo. On a clear day you will have views of the majestic volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.

The drive east to Hawkes Bay, renowned for its beautiful coastline, bountiful produce and stellar wine industry.

Approximate Distance: 142 kms | 88 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 50 mins

Accommodation Napier - 2 nights

Wairakei International Golf Course enjoys worldwide acclaim.

Styled to complement its remarkable location on the edge of the beautiful Hawke's Bay, Scenic Hotel Te Pania boasts design awards for its style and offers an unmatched level of service to leisure travellers with a high four star accommodation rating. Enjoy the central waterfront location and the extensive sea views that all rooms share. Te Pania is just a short stroll from Napier’s main art deco style street with many shops, cafes and restaurants.

Scenic Hotel Te Pania - Napier



Atop towering cliffs above New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay lies a wild and thrilling golf adventure created by the hottest course architect of the decade – Tom Doak. Cape Kidnappers opened on January 2, 2004. Every hole has a view of the ocean, and Doak was able to route his course to incorporate several stunning fairways along the very edge of the cliff tops, siting greens where any ball that misses will plunge inevitably down 500 feet of sheer drop. 

Non golfers - enjoy the Art Deco City with a 1 hour walking tour of a city reconstructed in the style of the times, following the devasting earthquake which struck in 1931. 

Playing a round of golf area at Cape Kidnappers.


Napier - Wellington

The capital of New Zealand, Wellington, is our destination for this afternoon. This colourful city is a stronghold for culture and the arts, not to mention stunningly located on the edge of a picturesque harbour and at the foot of rolling green hills.

Approximate Distance: 319 kms | 198 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 10 mins

Accommodation Wellington - 2 nights

The harbour in Wellington.

Located right in the heart of Wellington is your unique boutique city apartment. Directly opposite Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand, it is the perfect base to explore Wellington, right by the waterfront restaurants, bars and esplanade. There are 12 modern rooms which offer an intimate feel and personalized service. 

Wellingtons 'At Home' apartments in the city centre.



Paraparaumu Beach Golf Course
No other golf club in the country has hosted the New Zealand Open more often than the world famous Paraparaumu Beach Golf Course, which is ranked amongst the top five of New Zealand's best golf courses. This delightful course is frequently described as the best links course in the Southern Hemisphere and a truly classical golfing experience capable of satisfying even the most discerning purist. The course was designed by Alex Russell, the famed co-designer of the legendary Royal Melbourne, and a man who worked alongside the great Alister MacKenzie. Russell was conservative in terms of his desire to excessively modify the landscape at Paraparaumu Beach, and with a clever stroke of his brush, he cleverly integrated the tightly rolled fairways and quirky geography into what is certainly a masterpiece of traditional golfing pleasure.

Non-golfers: take a little time to enjoy the sites of Wellington. For fans of the Lord of the Rings, an optional location tour takes you to the breath taking backdrops of the movies, or you can stroll the waterfront and indulge in the local eclectic cafe and restaurant scene. 

Paraparaumu Golf Club.


Cruise From Wellington - Picton

This morning, make your way to the Wellington Ferry Terminal in time for your morning crossing of the Cook Strait on the InterIsland Ferry. This challenging stretch of water connects the Tasman Sea to the Southern Pacific Ocean, you will enter the South Island island through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds. Blenheim is the winemaking 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 class wines.

Accommodation Picton - 2 nights


Built in 1886, this timeless elegant home has been restored in luxurious comforts and Victorian charm within Picton. The Sennen House offers self contained style accommodation with delicious breakfast provisions and just a short 1km stroll to Picton’s restaurants, shops and ferries. 

Sennen House - Picton


Marlborough Sounds Seafood Odyssea

Relax and enjoy the stunning Marlborough Sounds at the top of New Zealand's South Island with the exclusive Seafood Odyssea Cruise. As you cruise through the Sounds, sample fresh local seafood including Regal Salmon and Greenshell mussels paired with Marlborough wine for the definitive wine and food match while taking in the natural views of the Queen Charlotte Sounds/Totaranui.

Marlborough Odyssea Cruise


Golf and Whales on the Kaikoura Peninsula

The vines will keep you company as you reach the headlands of the East Coast. Once down on the flats, this road - (worthy of any big budget car commercial) hugs the coastline - make sure you stop to enjoy the marine life as Fur Seals bask and play along the rocky shoreline, before arriving in gorgeous Kaikoura. The Kaikoura peninsula enjoys a mild microclimate and is overlooked by majestic snowcapped mountains. Kaikoura's golf course is nestled between the magnificent vista of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains and the ocean waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Non-golfers: let us introduce you to the magnificent Sperm Whale, but also to migratory Humpback Whales (June & July), Orca (summer months), New Zealand's own tiny Hectors dolphin, the high spirited displays of the Dusky dolphins, New Zealand Fur seals and the Royal Albatross. There are over 79 species of whale and dolphin in the world today, with 34 of these species sighted in New Zealand waters, over half of these off Kaikoura. The beauty of the Ultimate New Zealand Self Drive Golf Tour is that you are not tied to a schedule and therefore you can choose as little or as many excursions as you see fit.

Suggested Wildlife Encounters in Kaikoura

Whale Watching Cruise

   Swim with the Seals in Kaikoura

Whale Watching Flight Kaikoura

   Dusky Dolphin Viewing or Swimming

Kayaking with Fur Seals

   Albatross & Pelagic Bird Watching Kaikoura

NOTE: A possible detour may be applicable on this day.

Approximate Distance: 157 kms | 98 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 

Accommodation Kaikoura - 1 night

Kaikoura Whale

The Fairways Apartments at Kaikoura are newly built self contained apartment complex situated right next to the Kaikoura Golf Club, and only 5 minutes from town. They offer 5 star 1 or 2 bedroom ensuite rooms suitable for couples and families wanting a holiday retreat in Kaikoura.


Perched right on the edge of Kaikoura's golf course is the Fairways Apartments.


Travel to Christchurch

A further 2 hrs 20 minute drive will bring you to Christchurch `The Garden City'. So say 'Hello Britannia!' as Christchurch is known to be more English than the English and  to host more Tea Parties than Alice could handle. The city’s founding forefathers came out from England with the first ship ‘The Charlotte Jane’ arriving in 1850. The spectacular Botanic Gardens, 161-hectare (397 Acres) Hagley Park and gardens such as the Mona Vale on the banks of the Avon River bear testiment to this legacy.

Some Suggested Activities to Help you to get to Know the Region

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

Approximate Distance: 181 kms | 112 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 mins

Accommodation Christchurch - 2 nights

The Quest Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square in the heart of the commercial, arts and tourist precinct. This purpose built property is on Christchurch's famous inner city Tram Loop and features a mix of new and heritage architecture. Incorporated in the complex are a variety of retail shops, cafes and restaurants. All the serviced Apartments have free Wi-Fi & Fully Equipped Kitchens.
Quest Hotel in Christchurch


Clearwater Golf and the Heritage Tramway Tour

Clearwater Resort is home to the NZPGA Championship and is a design by John Darby with input from New Zealand golfing legend, Sir Bob Charles. The par 72 championship course unfolds around small lakes fed by underground springs and its sweeping fairways enjoy amazing views of the mighty Southern Alps.

Non-golfers: hop aboard The Christchurch Trams offer a unique experience combining history and sightseeing. Enjoy a journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch's city centre on board our beautifully restored heritage Trams, one of Christchurch's leading attractions. Our friendly and knowledgeable drivers will inform you about the city, its landmarks and local sights. Your day-long ticket allows you to get on and off the Tram as often as you please.

People golfing at Clearwater Golf Club.


Travel to Mt Cook

Leaving the city via the Canterbury plains, you will reach Lake Tekapo which is approximately halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown Continue on 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.

Approximate Distance: 332 kms | 206 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 

Accommodation Mt Cook - 1 night

A beautiful view of Mount Cook.

A stunning destination surrounded by the silent splendor of the Southern Alps and with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the surrounding National Park World Heritage area. There is a selection of properties within the Terrace Road campus from Hotel to Chalet and Mountainview Motels - all budgets and standards can be catered for.

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook


Glacier Tour by Boat / Onwards to Queenstown

A unique guided experience to get along side an iceberg!. Transfer by bus to the beautiful Tasman Valley for a short walk before boarding a MAC boat to enjoy a Tasman Glacier Adventure to the Terminal Lake. This tour is 4 hours duration with plenty of time left to travel via the Lindis Pass and Gibbston Valley to Queenstown. We've all heard the endless hype about it being the adventure capital of the world, and there are certainly enough crazy activities here to challenge the strongest, but Queenstown offers much more besides. 

Approximate Distance: 265 kms | 165 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 10 mins

Accommodation Queenstown - 4 nights

Tasman Glacier
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


Jacks Point Golf / Queenstown Highlights Tour

The course works with nature, not against it. Designed with minimal excavation, the 6538 metre (7150 yard) course is built on the most spectacular of Jack's Point terrain, weaving through tussock grasslands, dramatic rock outcrops, steep bluffs and swathes of native bush to the edge of Lake Wakatipu. 

Non-golfers: See Queenstown’s 6 best sights and activities in one very affordable fun packed morning. Group sizes are small, vehicles are luxurious, friendly local driver-guides all ensure that Queenstown Highlights is the best tour on offer.


Jacks Point Golf Club.


Millbrook Golf or Walter Peak via Earnslaw Steamer

Few courses can compete with the fabulous golfer’s paradise that is the five-star, award winning Millbrook Resort in Queenstown. Framed by the impressive Remarkables mountain range, Millbrook ranks highly amongst the very best golf courses in New Zealand, and is arguably one of the most scenic in the world. The luxury resort boasts every conceivable facility and the 27 spectacular holes make up three 9-hole championship courses, each named after prominent local landmarks. Sir Bob Charles, our greatest golfer, designed the course and his creation is a truly essential kiwi golfing experience that is second to none.

Non-golfers - Walter Peak High Country Farm is just a short boat ride from Queenstown across the stunning Lake Wakatipu on the 100 year old stean boat the TSS EarnslawThe charming, lakefront location is a real draw card for Walter Peak Station, as is the great dining experience on offer. Even the ferry ride over is a thrill with visitors arriving courtesy of the charming old TSS Earnslaw. The sheep shearing demonstrations at Walter Peak Station are always a favourite and a stroll around the grounds or a first class sheep dog display rounds off a pleasant visit to a unique piece of New Zealand high country.


Earnslaw Steamer


Scenic Flight & Dramatic Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Today, board a twin engine aircraft for your scenic 35 minute flight to Milford Sounds. During your flight there are panoramic views of the spectacular alpine scenery including glaciers, rivers, lakes and rainforest.  On reaching Milford Sound, enjoy a full length cruise of the fiord in modern, purpose built vessels. The vessels offer excellent viewing of waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife with large windows, spacious decks and comfortable lounges. At the completion of your cruise, return to Queenstown by plane.  Transfers are provided to and from your accommodation to Queenstown airport.

Milford Sound Scenic Flight


Queenstown and Homeward Bound

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

There maybe time for some last minute excursions or shopping before you head home. Return your car at the airport prior to boarding your departing flight. We know you will enjoy the Ultimate New Zealand Self Drive Golf 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.

Time permitting, 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

So what are you waiting for? Contact First Light Travel and book the Ultimate New Zealand Self Drive Golf Tour  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!


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What Steve says about this tour: What a fantastic way to try out New Zealand's top golf courses and still see the beautiful mountains, fiords, glaciers, wildlife and indigienous culture. We've done all the planning to make this a wonderful round!
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