14 Day Classic North and South Island Self Drive Itinerary

 
1

Welcome to Auckland!

‘Haere Mai’ and welcome to New Zealand.

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. After your transfer to Auckland city centre, check in to your hotel and freshen up before spending the remainder of the day exploring the ‘City of Sails’. Stroll the walkways of the Viaduct, peruse the boutique shops of the central city or visit the Sky Tower, the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building, for fantastic views of the harbour and beyond.

Some suggested activities and outings.

Explore Waiheke Island    Island Kayaking Adventure    America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky TowerRelax on the BeachRangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine TourWhale and Dolphin SafariMuriwai Surf Beach


Accommodation: Auckland - 1 night

Auckland City
Accommodation:
A contemporary hotel for the curious, the explorers and those who thrive on new experiences. Functionally chic, this contemporary hotel features 190 rooms and suites designed for all travellers, overlooking the vibrant Princes Wharf that is home to a stunning array of dining, entertainment and shopping experiences.
M Social Auckland

2

Travel to Geothermal Rotorua

Today travel to the heartland of New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is host to some of the world’s most incredible geothermal forces. Today see the farming ventures that New Zealand's economy was synonymous with - the wooly sheep - 13 species are viewable here!  Then visit 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.

Some alternative excursions in and around Rotorua are:

See Geysers & Boiling Mud    Polynesian Hot Springs  Whirinaki Forest Walk
Thermally Active GolfBiking the Mighty ForestsFlight to Volcanic Island
Museum of Art & HistoryEvening Cultural Experience   White Water Rafting


Approximate Distance: 372 km | 232 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Rotorua - 2 nights

The thermal wonderland in Rotorua.
Accommodation:

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

3

Canopy Tour of an Ancient Forest

Embark on a magical journey, only 15 minutes from Rotorua, through untouched native New Zealand forest from an unexplored perspective. On a 3 hour guided eco-tour, experience 1 mile of forest suspended up to 22 metres (72 feet) high amongst ancient trees.

Mix thrill and wonder through an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, ziplines (flying fox), and swing bridges. The changing views are breathtaking as you experience the thrill of flying through changing landscapes from high above unexplored forested valleys, to tight openings through the forest sub-canopy, to amongst stands of giant long-forgotten trees.

Zip Line

4

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This special place has outstanding volcanic features and is easy for the family to explore. It is a place of extremes and surprises ranging from herb fields to lush native forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateau and active volcanoes - Tongariro has them all, an unforgettable place your family will remember.. The park also offers many hiking options from shorter walks to waterfalls and fascinating volcanic features, including the crater of Ruapehu or the eight hour Tongariro Crossing, features phenomenal volcanic scenery and fine views of Lake Taupo and Mt Taranaki.

Many natural hot-pools are found through-out the park, free for those wanting a soothing spa.

Popular Walks Include:

  • Lake Rotopounamu, 2 hours
  • Meads Wall, 30 min 
  • Mounds Walk, 20 min 
  • Taurewa Track, 3 hour 
  • Ridge Track, 40 min 
  • Skyline, 1 1/2 hours
  • Silica Rapids, 3 hours
  • Tupapakurua Falls, 5 hours  
  • Tawhai Falls, 20 min return
  • Tama Lakes, 6 hour return
  • Taranaki Falls, 2 hour loop
  • Whakapapa Nature Walk, 15 min

Department of Conversation (DOC) Information Office

When visiting any of our National Parks, it always pays to pop into the local DOC (Department of Conservation) office and register your intentions. These friendly folk will not only help you decide which walk suits you, but they will also keep an eye out for you - This service is free!

Approximate Distance: 185 kms | 115 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 mins

Accommodation: National Park - 1 night

Tongariro
Accommodation:
Located in the Tongariro National Park, The Park Hotel Ruapehu offers affordable accommodation in a stunning alpine setting. Guests are provided with free parking and 500MB of free WiFi. The Ruapehu Park Hotel is at the foot of a large ski field and volcano at Mt Ruapehu. It is surrounded by two other famous mountains Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.
The Park Hotel Ruapehu

5

Wellington - the Cool Little Capital

It is a clear 4 hour drive down to Wellington, the last part of the journey hugs quite a rugged coastline with views out to Kapiti Island. 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 all set around a lively cafe culture.

Approximate Distance: 316 km | 196 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 

Accommodation: Wellington - 2 nights

Wellington Waterfront.
Accommodation:
QT Wellington offers a fusion of luxurious art, technology, and indulgence. It boasts an eclectic collection of New Zealand art and features a fitness centre and an indoor heated swimming pool. Each of the rooms at QT Wellington includes abstract lines and playful patterns. Surrounded by urban hills, the rooms include satellite TV, a private bathroom with hairdryer, and ironing facilities. Some rooms feature harbour views.
QT Wellington

6

A day of Leisure - in the Capital of Cool...

Named the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ by Lonely Planet, enjoy a relaxing day exploring Wellington. Located in at the southernmost end of New Zealand's North Island, 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. 

This Afternoon visit Te Papa: The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is New Zealand's national museum, located in Wellington. Known as Te Papa, or 'Our Place'.

 Here are some suggested excursions in and around Wellington

National Museum - Te Papa

    Visit Cuba Street

   Weta Workshop Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Reserve     

    Wellington Cable Car    

   Carter Observatory 
Wellington

7

Interisland Ferry - Kaikoura ‘Serengeti of the Sea’

This morning, board the Interisland Ferry for your morning cruise across the Cook Strait. 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.

Then head through Marlborough the winemaking capital of New Zealand, continuing south the vines will keep you company as you reach the headlands of the East Coast. Nestled between soaring mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura is known as New Zealand’s ‘Serengeti of the Sea’. The natural wonders here are breath taking. Fur seals lounge on the rugged coastline and, just offshore, whales and dolphins thrive in an ocean that teems with life.

Approximate Distance: 305 km | 189 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Kaikoura - 1 night

Interisland Ferry

The White Morph Motor Inn is situated on the waterfront with an easy stroll into the township for convenient dining, shops and bars (there is also a restaurant on site). Choose between the deluxe spa rooms with ocean view balcony, or the 4 star studio rooms & family apartments with garden views. 

White Morph Motor Inn - Kaikoura

8

Humpback and Sperm Whales - Christchurch

A spectacular marine playground exists off the coast of Kaikoura and living in this environment is the mighty Sperm Whale. It is here that resident bachelors dive to immense depths in search of Giant Squid, so accessible to Sperm whales but still elusive to mankind. Visitors are drawn to Kaikoura by the ability to view these magnificent mammals in their own environment 12 months of the year and Kaikoura The rich diversity of wildlife found means that every day is a chance to see something different and unique - and you will - from seabirds to cetaceans (whales and dolphins), seals, or even Orca.

Alternative Wildlife Encounters in Kaikoura

Whale Watching Cruise   Swim with the Seals
Whale Watching Flight       Dusky Dolphin Viewing
Kayaking with Fur Seals   Pelagic Bird Watching


Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

Whale Kaikoura
The Distinction Hotel is a brand new hotel opening in 2019 in the revitalised heart of Christchurch and Cathedral Square. Centrally located and a short stroll to the Botanical Gardens, New Regent Street, the Arts Centre, and Avon River. This luxury Christchurch hotel offers 179 elegant, air-conditioned hotel rooms including 3 floors of brand new Superior Rooms and Suites.
Distinction Hotel Christchurch

9

Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook

At the centre of the South Island the expansive high ground from which the scenic peaks of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park protrude is known as Mackenzie Country and within its boundary is Lake Tekapo, a highland lake and township sitting at 710 metres (2329 Feet) surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock. The lake itself is known for its amazing turquoise colour - a truly fabulous to stop and take the family for a lake-side picnic.

This Evening Star Gazing: Our experienced guides will introduce you to our beautiful southern night sky with a full hour using the naked eye, astro-binoculars, and state of the art 14" and 11" astronomy telescopes. Unleash your imagination as you discover our neighborhood in the universe including the southern cross, seasonal ecliptic objects, planets, planets, stunning star clusters, moons, distant galaxies, and even our very own galaxy, the spectacular Milky Way.

Some recommended excursions to consider while in the National Park

Star Gazing Evening Tour   Glacier Scenic Flight and Landing   Tasman Glacier Explorer


Approximate Distance: 385 km | 239 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 45 mins

Accommodation: Mt Cook - 2 nights

Lake Tekapo.

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

10

Hooker Valley Track

Hooker Valley Guided Hike: 5 Hours Walking, Distance 11 km (6.8 mi)

Start your day with a guided walk up the beautiful Hooker Valley, providing breathtaking views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks. Enjoy a stunning 11 km (6.8 mile) trek along over mostly flat terrain (there are some rocky bits) to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier. The journey encompasses an Alpine Memorial and passes over the turbulent Hooker River by Swing Bridge to unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers. Your guide will point out the unique features of this alpine world as you enjoy lunch in the shadow of New Zealand's and Oceania's highest peak, standing at 3,754 metres (12,316 Feet)

Hooker Glacier

11

Queenstown Bound

Queenstown, located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and 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 the famous Shotover Jet-Boating and hiking through to superb golf, gourmet food and wine tours or romantic hot air ballooning.

Recommended excursions in 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


Approximate Distance: 255 km | 159 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation: Queenstown - 3 nights

Queenstown
The Scenic Suites offers well appointed rooms in an enviable position, with just five minutes walk to the bustling town centre. The hotels elevated position gives commanding views over Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. Featuring panoramic views of the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu, this streamlined hotel is a 5-minute walk from art at Milford Galleries and a 7-minute walk from Skycity.
Scenic Suites Queenstown

12

Milford Sound - Coach/Cruise/Fly

For the most engaging way to experience the riches of Fiordland National Park. This option includes three modes of transport (land, sea & air) making this the ‘holy grail’ of combination tours.

Coach: Board a luxury coach for a journey into beautiful Fiordland. The Road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The first part is relatively mild farmland, and then you’ll ease into a beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. Look for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes and through the rough-hewn Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound.

Cruise: Enjoy a scenic cruise of the entire length of Milford Sound viewing the spectacular waterfalls and famous Mitre Peak. Grand, brooding, serene and wild, Milford Sound draws visitors from all over the globe to cruise its length. The purpose-built cruise boat offers excellent viewing of waterfalls, rainforest, mountains, and wildlife with large windows, spacious decks, and comfortable lounges.

Fly: Experience the “Absolutely Stunning” scenery as you fly over Sutherland Falls and over beautiful Milford Sound and lakes Te Anau and Lake Manapouri on your way back to Queenstown.

Milford Sound Cruise

13

Gourmet Wine Tour of Central Otago

Central Otago wine is so much more than a taste experience. You’ll see the real drama in the scenery, hear the pristine silence of the high country, savour the scent of pure clean air, and feel the pulse of the heart of Central Otago. Taste wines at four of the best vineyards in the Gibbston, Bannockburn, and Cromwell regions whilst enjoying the Scenery of Kawarau Gorge, the Otago Goldfields, Historic Old Cromwell Town and Lake Dunstan and then enjoy a delightful gourmet platter lunch at the award-winning Carrick Winery Restaurant.

wine tour

14

Homeward Bound

Return your rental vehicle at Queenstown Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday.

Farewell New Zealand.

Profile picture for user Jess
What Jess says about this tour: What a great chance to really see New Zealand but with multiple 2 night stays so you get to relax and really enjoy the chosen locations. The diversity of geothermal Rotorua, the cool of the capital Wellington and then the Southern Alps mountains travelling from Mt Cook all the way to Milford Sound. Its a great trip - 5 Stars from me!
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