New Zealand Self Drive Tour Reviews


To make your New Zealand travel dreams come true you need the right team in your corner.

That’s where we come in! We’ve been helping travellers enjoy the very best of New Zealand since 2001 and have learned plenty of tricks which will help you have a hassle-free and super fun NZ self drive holiday. Here’s what our guests have to say about First Light Travel.

We have over 900 five star online reviews - We are the highest rated New Zealand based travel agent.


Cindy Reeves


Aloha Michelle,

We had an absolutely fabulous visit to New Zealand.  The weather was amazingly cooperative for us the whole time.  On the day of our glow worm trip, the 10am tour had to be cancelled due to rough waves on the lake, but by the time our 2pm tour came up it was fabulous!  Also, the all the tours to Milford Sound the day before ours had to be cancelled due to road closures and avalanche clearing--but everything was open again for us the next day and we had a sunny and warm boat trip with 100's of waterfalls!  All of our tours were absolutely excellent and I thank you so much for your organizing of all the tickets ahead of time! It was nice to just present the vouchers and all the vendors seemed to really like the process as well.  And you are right, lucky for us, there were no cancellations.  We also made some fun side trips on our driving days to the Christchurch Botanic Garden, the National Kiwi, Kawarau bungy jumping (just to watch!), Gibbston Winery, Salmon Farm, the Takahe bird sanctuary, the Otago Museum and the NZ Maritime Museum in Auckland!  Except for the problems with the one in Queenstown, the hotels were also great.   

Cindy Reeves USA


Mike Herbert


Hi Michelle,

Thanks for the follow-up.  We had a delightful experience in your lovely country and yes, your services exceeded our expectations. We were blessed by great weather.   All of your vendors were exceptional.   I would not have changed a thing. I was extremely appreciative of the fact that you encouraged us to visit the South Island.    Queenstown and Milford Sound really put an exclamation point on the trip.

We did get to see a World Cup game in Auckland.    We went to the game between Spain and Switzerland on August 5th. Attached are a few photos from our trip (we took over 1300!).

Mike Herbert (USA)

We will use First Light again and could not be happier we did with this first trip to beautiful NZ.


Danielle and the whole team at First Light Travel made our month long trek across both islands an enjoyable and well -planned trip. We were there during the 30 year Cyclone and even with the challenges that arose our trip was wonderful. I highly recommend using a travel agent and especially this company on a first visit to NZ. When our phones would only email (not call or text) the whole team worked to get our issues fixed: One issue was we were running late for Hobbiton (the evening tour and dinner). We had gotten ourselves lost and with little gas (always fill up on half tank if driving a lot and when it's available!). Even through our spotty internet/email First Light was able to connect with Hobbiton and when we rolled in 2 minutes past bus departure, there was a staffer ready with our tickets and ushering onto the bus, and not with a scowl, but a welcome! They knew all about our mishaps with the map/gas/travel and showed lots of grace, thanks to communication with First Light. We will use First Light again and could not be happier we did with this first trip to beautiful NZ.

Ann & Philip Duran, USA

I'd give it ten stars out of five if I could


Hi Natalie, 

I've been meaning to sit down and send you a thoughtful, detailed thank you. We had such a delightful time--everyone loved it. And we loved it so much that we're trying to figure out when we can return. My second child (the 15 year old) fell in love with kiwi birds at the Wildlife Centre, so much so that all they wanted for their birthday was to sponsor one. The sponsorship comes with the ability to visit the bird, so we will have a good excuse to return! I can't tell you how many lovely people we met. Strangers would approach to offer help, and were so warm and kind. Besides the natural beauty of the island, that's what really caught our attention. 

All of the accomodations more than met our needs. The only one that wasn't terrific, but was adequate, was the rental villa in Te Anau. The manager was quite frankly just odd, and seemed upset when we arrived a little early. The rental was adequately clean, but not nicely equipped. We wouldn't have been excited to stay for more than 1-2 nights, but it fit our needs. The apartment in Queenstown was stunning, and huge, and clean, and the views! It was easily accessible with a car, had parking, and was very walkable. What a terrific choice. We wished our vacation was a week longer, just to enjoy that space and the city. We appreciated the breakfast offered in almost every accomodation--it made our days a lot easier to know where and when we were going to eat at least once each day.  While I might have slightly preferred a more central Christchurch hotel given that we were walking everywhere, the family was all charmed by the Tudors, and the space offered was generous. We would happily stay there again. The rental car process was seamless and easy on both ends, and the roads were really great!

We adored so many of the experiences; it's hard to choose a favorite. I think most of us would say that it was the Doubtful Sound cruise, which was just lovely. The scenery was beautiful, and we were lucky enough to have a gorgeous two days after a rainy, windy, gray first 4-5 days. The train ride was also beautiful, and so relaxing. We would repeat all of the experiences again, with the exception of the Monarch cruise. I'll give my honest feedback: it was packed way too full to really enjoy, and we didn't get very near any wildlife. It was probably too short to see much, but none of us wished it was much longer when we were stuffed in like sardines in a can. My youngest was half way off the end of a bench to make space for everyone else, and refused to sit on my lap because she's at the elderly age of 8. We've been on wildlife viewing cruises before, and we know that no one can ever guarantee animal viewing in the wild. However, we spent that one drizzly, windy, overcrowded hour mostly looking at one albatross. The rest of the experiences were all delightful though! We will plan on stargazing and a ski plane next time, and are so delighted that we might get to return. If you ever have another client who ventures down to the Catlins, it might be worth a mention of stopping by The Lost Gypsy gallery. One artist has converted an old bus and some outdoor space into a museum of his automatons created from found items. It's quirky, weird, fun, and interactive. It's well worth the detour to Papatowai just for a 30-60 min visit. It made the top five list for several of my kids, and I loved it too. 

Arrowtown was so delightful, especially since we arrived about 45 min before the first tour groups. We had fantastic espresso, the best donut we've ever had anywhere, and panned for gold. The museum is fabulous, and has a great scavenger hunt for kids. Overall, we wished that we had an entire day to bum around, or maybe two. It was really quite charming. Too bad our vacation wasn't a month long!

We had phenomenal meals at the Redcliff Cafe in Te Anau (so so so good, and the kids dinner was one of the best I've ever seen for variety and quality), Vault 21 in Dunedin, and Gatherings in Christchurch. Seriously delicious, and something we'd visit again, and again, and again if they were near our home. We also enjoyed our Mrs. Fergberger coffee and pastries a lot. 

Whew! That's a lot, I know, and I'll resubmit a lot of it on the form. I just wanted to personally thank you for crafting such a fabulous trip. You were patient with all of our neurotic questions (ok, my neurotic questions), and the experience was so easy and seamless. I'd give it ten stars out of five if I could.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,



Shirley Capel


Confident from the get-go, Micala and the team at First Light Travel helped us plan a vacation that we will always remember! Your Service, Your consultant, Ease of planning/booking, Unique travel products, Quality of information made it the right choice for me to choose First Light. I loved the unique Maori experience in Rotorua with the cultural exposure and the Hangi meal, the itinerary was perfect. Thank you for the memories.

Shirley Capel, Malaysia

Rebecca & Bruce Hobbs


Tracy, Anne, and Michelle did such a great job putting together our 49-day trip to New Zealand.  We traveled from the north end of the North Island most of the way to the south end of the South Island.  Most of that time was with wonderful, knowledgeable private drivers.  We stayed in amazing hotels and estates with fantastic chefs.  Along the way, we landed on Mount Tarawera, a volcano that erupted in 1886, and visited a Māori village that was excavated after the eruption; we went on a private tour of Te Papa Tongarewa with a Māori elder, and were the only two visitors that day invited to view their behind the scenes collections of Māori taonga (treasures); we spent 90 minutes in Footwhistle Cave photographing glowworms with the father of the cave owner; we walked through Hobbiton; the docents at museums in three smalls towns opened their museums for us; and we spent a couple of hours with a dinosaur hunter, who has an extinct species of shark named after him, viewing the K-T Boundary, the iridium-rich layer of dust left behind after the Chicxulub asteroid strike in the Yucatán Peninsula.  When we got home, friends and family asked us our favorite thing on our trip.  There was absolutely no way to answer.  We never ran out of things to do.  Each day was full of amazing experiences!

Gay & Gregory Laubert


Thank you Gina and First Light Travel for a dream come true! My husband was stationed in NZ when he was in the US Navy many years ago and raved of its beauty ever since. He finally got to share it with me. Gorgeous country and gracious people. Our favorite spot was Mt. Cook. Your detailed arrangements, including driving times and reminders, were appreciated. The accommodations selected were clean, comfy and perfect for us. We tell everyone: the visit was worth the long flight and if you want to go, make sure you call Gina at First Light Travel!

Gay & Gregory Laubert USA

Denise and Dennis Riley


Working with First Light was wonderful. They custom built our trip to New Zealand and Australia and followed through with all of our requests. Their correspondence once prompt and working with Michelle was a joy. We chose to visit New Zealand for 2 weeks and Australia for one week. We let Michelle know our thoughts of what to visit and she put together an itinerary for us. We were able to blend our own planning with some of her professional thoughts. FirstLight set up our car rental and our hotels and some of our tour packages. All of these plans went smoothly once on our trip. I highly recommend using this company for your New Zealand and Australia adventures.”


Denise and Dennis Riley (USA)

David and Margaret Beer


Hi Jaimee, 

Our last day travelling back to Perth today , I want to thank you and your team for a great holiday. Also for sorting out the issues of transport between the islands. We have had an amazing time experiencing the wonderful golf courses, accommodation and activities that you’ve planned for us.

We will certainly recommend and already have anyone that wants to visit NZ. More than happy for you to put this email on your website 

Thanks again 

David and Margaret Beer, Australia

Dianna & Doug McIntyre


Hi Michelle, Doug & I had the most amazing trip!!! Thank you for working with us to create an itinerary took us to so many wonderful places and experiences. This trip would not have happened without you. When we began planning the trip you talked to us on the phone. You listened well and were able to adjust your generic itinerary to fit us. We enjoyed all the excursions. I can't pick out which one I liked best. The accommodations (except the one in Methven) were great! In addition, you were available to help us when adjustments had to be made due to cyclone Gabrielle. We've got some great memories and pictures. Thank you so much!!!

Dianna & Doug, USA

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