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


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

Elaine & Scott Keller


Our trip to New Zealand was nothing short of amazing. What a beautiful country! We were lucky enough to spend a month touring both islands, and Christine did an excellent job of listening to my inputs and designing a trip that was just perfect for my husband and me. We cannot say enough good things about First Light Travel or New Zealand.

Elaine & Scott Keller - USA

Steve and Caroline Moss


Hi Christine

We did have a wonderful time in New Zealand and the GPT tour was very good - generally meeting or exceeding our expectations. We really feel we have seen many highlights and were very impressed with the programme and organisation.

Many thanks for your help with all your friendly & efficient contacts.

Many thanks

Steve and Caroline Moss  - UK

David & Tonia Brangwin


First Light Travel put together a wonderful trip for us to New Zealand. The itinerary had us doing things that we have never done before like kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park and heli-hiking on a glacier. I am not sure if I would have done these things if I had planned the trip on my own. I do know it would have taken a lot of effort to put everything thing together on my own so I thought it was definitely worth it to use a local travel agent who knew the country. I had compared this trip to a fully guided trip and feel that we got more of our money worth doing a trip this way. We like traveling independently so this made the planning easy and the support was great. We had a couple of the tours canceled because of weather so having an agent to call to make other arrangements was great.

David & Tonia Brangwin   - USA

John and Debra Clemmings

United States of America

Shelley Kirk was so easy to work with. She provided us with lodging and activity options and guided us in our choices, without any pressure to oversell us. When our Milford Sound visit was canceled due to heavy rain and road closures, Rhodri Howell helped us to rebook Doubtful Sound on your public holiday Waitangi Day. Courtesy and professionalism at every turn, thanks for a great experience First Light Travel!

John and Debra Clemmings - United States of America

Julie & Rodney (Rod ) Lehmann

Minnesota USA

We very much enjoyed our trip organized by First Light Travel. We came in with no preconceptions and little knowledge of New Zealand and Salli set up a memorable trip that gave us a bit of everything over a two week visit - adventure, sightseeing, hiking, great cities and overall good times - and set us up to want to visit again for more. Thank you for a great time!

Julie & Rodney (Rod ) Lehmann - Minnesota USA

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