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 holiday. Here’s what our guests have to say about First Light Travel.

We have over 600 five star online reviews - We are the highest rated New Zealand based travel agent.


Barbara and Timothy Orourke

United States of America

We had the pleasure of working with Toni who planned a perfect trip for us! We gave her an idea of what we wanted to do and she came up with our awesome itinerary.
 We enjoyed all the trips that were planned for us. We especially appreciated that we were able to weave some free time into each of the locations we visited. It helped to make our adventure so personal to our needs.
First and foremost I have to compliment Toni on the choice of accommodations. They were all just perfect for the locations and our needs. All of them had kitchen facilities and in room/or on property laundry. All were perfectly located to what we wanted to do. 

For example we were planning on hiking in the Abel Tasman National Park and we could walk to the park's entrance from our chalet, which was just fantastic.

First Light Travel was very responsive when we had to cancel the last 5 days of our trip due to COVID-19. We appreciated how quickly they got back to us.
All in all we would say that our adventure to Australia and New Zealand was everything we hoped for and more. We know that Toni and First Light Travel helped to make it happen.

We cannot wait to come back to New Zealand. We will certainly have First Light Travel plan our trip.

Barbara and Timothy Orourke - United States of America

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

Yvonne Frederiksen 


I only had 4 weeks to travel around New Zealand's South Island. With the support of Amelia I had a wonderful time. She helped me choose the best activities and her choice and recommendations very good.

I will definitely book again with First Light Travel. Thank you so much!!

Yvonne Frederiksen  - Germany

Mike & Ruth John


For us, as first time visitors to New Zealand, booking with First Light Travel took all the hassle out of organising the trip. Christine was great - she gave us a suggested itinerary and then adapted it as we researched places to visit. All our pick-ups, car hires etc went smoothly. When Milford Sound was closed because the road was washed out Christine booked us a trip to Doubtful Sound. Many of the people we met on our travels missed out because they were unable to change tours (as I'm sure we would have been unable to if we had booked our own tour. We loved New Zealand and will visit again.

Mike & Ruth John - Canada

Pamela & Michael Najdowski  


We were super pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Narissa and the staff at First Light Travel. Narissa had responded for my request for help in planning a 13-day first-time trip to New Zealand to include highlights in both the North and South Islands during high season when booking could be tight. In a matter of hours she came up with an excellent plan that managed to fit in all of our hopes. My husband and I were most impressed by the selection of providers of the special activities that they recommended. I think it would have been difficult to determine the best providers and tour guides for us on our own. The documents provided to us in advance and at our first hotel were stellar. We never had any questions or doubts about what we should be doing to take full advantage of what was arranged in advance and what we could do with our free time.

If we had been unsure that we had the full support of First Light Travel while in New Zealand, we soon learned that they had us fully covered. On the third day of the trip I left my phone, wallet, and travel vouchers at a small roadside rest area. Shortly after I called First Light and they had already communicated with a police office who took my now found items to our next travel stop on our itinerary. I am so glad that we made it in time to join the Spellbound Glowworm Cave Experience, which was a treasure in itself. We had no other difficulties or confusions on the rest of our well organized trip.

Pamela & Michael Najdowski   USA

Robert & Linda Marlow

Huntsville Alabama USA

I did a lot of research before deciding on First Light Travel. I could not have made a better choice. First Light Travel responded to my initial inquiry right away and got the process started to plan our trip to New Zealand and Australia. She made the whole experience as easy as it could be. Emails and phone calls were always helpful and informative. Even with a couple of unexpected flight changes and other issues they had it all taken care of in no time. This was the vacation of a lifetime and First Light Travel made it all come true. I would definitely use First Light Travel again.

Robert & Linda Marlow  - Huntsville Alabama

Valerie & Jere Jackson

United States of America

We give FirstLight the highest ratings possible. Our detailed itinerary was perfect & included driving times that were within 5-10 min of our planned schedule!! Our consultant  really listened to us & responded promptly to our questions & her suggestions were extremely helpful. First Light Travel made our trip a truly unforgettable, wonderful experience.

We strongly recommend First Light Travel.

Valerie & Jere Jackson  - United States of America

Marian & Robert Klein


First Light Travel and Deb Evans planned a perfect three week trip for my husband and me. She totally understood both our activity preferences and our level for hotels. We are hikers and it was a complex itinerary,we covered lots of area and activities. Her suggestions were awesome. It was one of the best trips we've taken. I feel we got great value for the cost. (picture is summit McKinnon Pass)

Marian & Robert Klein - USA

Thomas and Sinden Schoedel


Hi Shelley,

Well, Sinden and I just got back from our long anticipated trip to your neck of the woods and I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know everything went without a hitch.  All of the transfers were flawless, and we had no delays or issues of any kind.  So kudos to you for setting everything up for us and it working so well!  We never could have done it ourselves.  Here’s a little feedback from our trip:

The Milford Track exceeded our highest expectations!  What an incredible experience, and we had great weather the whole time, including a downpour on the third day of the hike which gave us the grandest waterfalls all around!  I will definitely do it again, perhaps in three years as I’d like to bring my son when he graduates from college.  Only this time I would like to spend more time in NZ, perhaps touring some coastal towns and more of the north island.  But plenty of time to think about it.  The last day in Queenstown we did an unguided bike tour of the Gibbston Valley wineries just outside of Queenstown which was the perfect way for us to spend the day.  We started in the small town of Arrowtown, did some gift shopping, and then biked about 5 miles or so to the Valley, crossing the original bungee jumping bridge in the process.  It was a great day sampling some wonderful wines in a beautiful setting!

The night we spent in Auckland awaiting our flight to Tahiti, we went to the city center for dinner and stumbled across the Grill.  While we didn’t have reservations, they accommodated us after a 20 minute wait, which we spent getting a cocktail at their bar.  Hands down the best steak my wife or I have ever had.  If we ever are in Auckland again, we will definitely return there!  Highly recommended.  Pricey, but worth it in our opinions.

Bottom line – we will definitely be back to NZ!  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thanks again for everything!!


Thomas and Sinden Schoedel - USA

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