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


Heather and Brian Harley


Hi Narissa

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that returned home to Australia on the 13th March safe and sound after our most enjoyable holiday in New Zealand.

We were so happy with all of the arrangements you made for us and were extremely pleased with all of the accommodation you put in place. All of the accommodation was clean and comfortable and we were able to cook quite a lot of our meals as most had cooking facilities. All of our tours you booked for us went very smooth and we were grateful that you booked us on the Doubtful Sound tour after Milford Sound was closed for people like us travelling independently.

We had such a wonderful trip and no doubt the highlight for us was being able to land on Fras Jozef Glacier. It was cancelled twice due to the low cloud but we were fortunate that we had the time to wait and were successful on the 1pm trip.

We had no hiccups anywhere with tours, accommodation and vehicles.

Thank you once again for all your help in ensuring we had a memorable trip. New Zealand is such a beautiful place and hopefully we will return one day.

We will have no hesitation in recommending you and First Light Travel to our friends.


Heather and Brian Harley - Australia

Kiranmayee Potluri and Setu Pendurthi


Let me start with the planning. Narissa, she was the best! She heard all our suggestions and requirements and made a perfect itinerary. From the minute we landed in NZ we were very comfortable with transport or accommodation. Did I mention we were traveling with a 1 year old , Narissa kept that in mind while planning everything. 

We did not plan any adventurous activities but wanted a nice scenic getaway and that was what we got. On the whole we didnot regret planning our travel with First Light even for a single day from our 9 day trip. I would recommend First Light Travel and Narissa to all my friends

Kiranmayee Potluri and Setu Pendurthi  - USA

Adele Kitsanelis


I first came across First Light Travel when I started researching itineraries for my trip to New Zealand, at that time I was planning to book everything myself. However, their Journey to a Southern land was almost perfect for me so I contacted them and with a few minor adjustments, I was all booked and ready to travel. 

From the moment I landed at Auckland airport until the moment I departed the whole trip apart from being PERFECT went like clockwork. The organization was amazing, all connections, check-ins and day trips went exactly to their prepared plan. I was hugely impressed with the organization of my trip. And, when I had a fall whilst out hiking, Michelle quickly cancelled one long hike for me (with a full refund) and altered one other excursion that I couldn't take part in due to my injury (with the difference in price being refunded)

I had the time of my life and cannot wait until I can come back to New Zealand.

Adele Kitsanelis  - Greece

Calvin and Janice Langford


Hi Narissa,

Thank you very much for setting up our wonderful New Zealand vacation (March 2020)! You did a spectacular job during the planning in 2019 to line up places to visit and activities to enjoy, and gave us an easy agenda to follow and see the beautiful sights of New Zealand. The accommodations were excellent, all providing nice inside space, great locations, kitchens and laundry to make our stays comfortable and close to the action. We really enjoyed the tours, boat outing in Bay of Islands with great island views and close interaction with dolphins and cormorants, having special tour guides in Napier (Ron and ’39 Packard for Art Deco tours, Tim for superb wine tasting and dinner tour), Waimarino Glowworm Tour, Wellington (Kate for Lord of the Rings and WETA tour, and some nameless kiwis in Zealandia) and Nelson (Robbo for kayak tour to Split Apple Rock and other features).

We really appreciated your support when the trip was affected by the Corona Virus emergency. 

You secured our US return flight early and kept us moving to safe places until we could get to Auckland and wait for departure. You were pro-active and always available to clarify things during that confusing time.

Overall, we had a very nice trip despite some challenging world events, we appreciate your flexibility and support, and we look forward to working with you for another trip.

Calvin and Janice Langford - USA

Sara Mateos and Jerome Bacot


We had a very nice and well-organized trip. The itinerary was tailored made for us, all was perfectly timed so we didn't have to rush and still we could visit plenty of places having also free time to relax. Some activities had to be canceled due to the heavy rains of February but we were informed well in advanced and offered several options instead. Everything was very smooth and we were so glad we have booked the trip with First Light Travel instead of doing it on our own. First Light Travel dealt with our itinerary from the very first moment, she was very friendly, helpful and took very well into account our demands to make a perfect itinerary for us.

New Zealand is such an amazing country and we enjoyed the trip very much

Sara Mateos and Jerome Bacot - Belgium

Barbara & Michael Bartling, Emily & James Bokern


Hi Amelia,

I just wanted to reach out to you once again to express my appreciation for all you did in making our trip to New Zealand an absolute success. I did write a review on Trip Advisor but I'm not sure I submitted it correctly.

As I'm still on quarantine with time on my hands I thought I would share a few things about our trip that you may use in working with other travelers.

First, we were so grateful that upon arriving in Christchurch you had a driver meet us to take us to our accommodation. After that long flight I'm not so sure we could have figured out the GPS system, how to drive on the opposite side of the road, and get to our hotel without being totally stressed.  Our driver, Norm, was delightful...and we had him the next morning for our trip to the train station. Again, awesome to have had a driver.

The places and accommodations you selected for the four of us were spot on. You had us in lovely towns (or pretty cool remote locations like Waikiwa Bay), close to restaurants as we like walking to dinner when possible.  You picked some amazing houses/apartments, such as the Paparoa Beach Hideaway. What a way to kick off the trip. It was a very cool place.

We tend to lean towards more "off the beaten path" activities but we were so glad you suggested a few guided excursions.  Our Kepler Track heli-hike was a great one. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our knowledgeable guide Becs. We learned so much and had many of our questions answered. It was a delightful day.   Luck was with us when your office rescheduled our Southern Discoveries Milford Sound tour to a Trips & Tramps tour. We again learned so much from our guide. Plus he made several stops for short interpretive walks and afternoon tea at a lovely picnic area.  Another great day. Thank you for encouraging us to include a few guided tours.

To accommodate our "off the beaten path" natures, we purchased a book titled "NZ Frenzy" by Scott Cook.  The South Island edition breaks the island down by region and then lists and describes the top tourist attractions, well known second tier must sees and his favorite obscurities along with an "Obscure -O-Meter". We did his "Don't Miss" suggestions and had a blast exploring some of his obscure hikes.  Cannibal Bay in the Catlins with its sea lions was a treat, as well as a hike into Glacier Burn Valley near Wanaka. His book was a perfect resource for us.

One item for you to note is that we learned the Rippon Winery in Wanaka is by appointment only.  We opted for an obscure walk instead!

Funny story. The guides for our kayak in Akaroa were from our home state of Wisconsin. One of the guides is from a town only 45 minutes from our home! And in the summer he leads kayak trips on Lake Superior for the company we used for our kayak/camping trip a few years ago.  Small world! Great sea kayak trip; the guides were extremely knowledgeable about the area, history, geology, bird and marine life. 

The highlight of our trip was the overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound.  We were lucky enough to have good weather. The cruise was nothing like I had expected.  The ship was large, the rooms and beds were comfortable, the food was delicious and plentiful, and the Nature guide was impressive.  The water, scenery, stars and sunrise were beautiful to experience. Having done this first made Milford Sound seem small and extremely commercialized!   

Lastly I want to give a shout out to First Light Travel.  We called the office twice, both times on the weekend. The gentleman/men who answered the calls were extremely helpful. Our first call had to do with the Milford Sound bus transport issue.  Within minutes he had it resolved and before he could call us back with an update we already had an email from Trips & Tramps confirming our morning van pickup. Our second call was in regards to the US issuing a travel level 4 warning to return home immediately.  The Bokerns were quite stressed over this and the travel consultant they talked with in your office did a great job of calming their fears, talking through our options and giving sound advice. Your email response, though you were out of the office, was greatly appreciated as well.  We put our concerns aside and did another obscure hike near the Rob Roy track!

We had a fabulous trip...tramped over 200km, drove over 3000km, experienced the South Island from end to end and side to side. Thank you again for being part of our adventure.

Warmest regards,

Barbara & Michael Bartling, Emily & James Bokern - USA

Mel and Sue Thompson


Found First Light Travel on the internet and gave them a call. I talked to Narissa Phillips who helped us plan and execute a really fun tour. Everything went according to plan. One hotel room was a disappointment but they got us a refund for the inconvenience. They did place us for three nights at the River Resort which was fantastic! We were concerned about driving on the left, but the roads are well marked and safe to drive. First Light Travel included a wonderful comprehensive map guide of New Zealand. This plus the GPS made driving a snap.

Narissa was terrific and thorough, and her charming accent just added to the positive experience with First Light Travel.

Mel and Sue Thompson -  USA

Paul Morimoto and Kelli Zmiarovich's Honeymoon


We only had ten days to spend in New Zealand for our belated honeymoon and Kasey did an amazing job of getting everything we wanted to see and do in, without making if feel like we would need a vacation after our vacation. We plan to visit again, and will absolutely use First Light Travel again! 

Paul Morimoto and Kelli Zmiarovich - Hawaii

Craig & Lindsey Goehring


Hi there - Back home and now joining our whole state in lockdown. And I know you have the same in your country. Hard to wrap the head around this thing - pandemic. As I mentioned, the locations, activities, rooms and “trip flow” were all top notch. Your country sells itself with its people, environment, scale, and beauty but a solid itinerary makes the trip. The organization and voucher system were very much appreciated. The rooms and views were outstanding. The Lime Tree lodge is more than a work in progress but worked fine as more of a rest/recharge spot.

We enjoyed working with you, fabulous itinerary and trip planning. Thank you!

Craig & Lindsey Goehring - USA

Linda and Bruce Shore


Michelle was fabulous! She was prompt, attentive, clearly communicated, and when our Heli Hike at Franz Josef Glacier was cancelled due to bad weather, she made sure we received our refund, and she gave us timely updates regarding road closures due to construction and bad weather. And when I left my ipad at the hotel in Mount Cooke, Michelle gave me valuable information about a bus route that would leave Mount Cook in time to get to our next hotel in Christchurch. Because of this, the bus driver arrived later that same day in our new city with my iPad! Michelle is a gem, make sure you don’t lose her!!!!

Linda and Bruce Shore - Canada

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