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Overview

“Land of the Long White Cloud” is the English translation of Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand – and what better way to discover New Zealand than a 24-day self-drive holiday? You’ll be able to take in the breath-taking natural beauty and dramatic landscapes of both the North and South Island.

From glaciers and geysers, to wine and whales, New Zealand has it all. With this jam-packed itinerary, you can explore incredible beaches, cool cities, amazing wildlife, and world-class food and wine, all from the comfort of your own vehicle. Beginning in Auckland and ending in Christchurch, your journey will take in some of New Zealand’s top sights, including the Bay of Islands, Wellington, Kaikoura, Queenstown and Fox Glacier. You can even a ride on the TranzAlpine railway, too. All your accommodation and car hire is included – so all you need to do is hit the open road and enjoy the journey.

Day 1-2

Bay of Islands

Collect your hire car in Auckland and depart for the stunning Bay of Islands. A subtropical region of New Zealand’s Northland comprised of 144 islands, this place is known for its stunning natural beauty, mild weather and historic significance. A boat trip is one of the best ways to explore, as you can see the spectacular Cape Brett and the ‘Hole in the Rock’ – if you’re lucky, you might even be joined by some wild dolphins. And don’t miss the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where you can learn about Maori culture and see where New Zealand's founding document was signed back in 1840.

 

Overnight: Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge Paihia or similar (two nights)

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Day 3

Auckland

Retrace your steps back to Auckland, and spend the afternoon exploring the attractions of the 'City of Sails'. Feast on tasty cuisine at Ponsonby Central Market, or spend an evening on the waterfront enjoying cocktails and fresh seafood.

 

Overnight: SkyCity Hotel Auckland or similar

 

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Day 4-5

Coromandel Peninsula

With pristine beaches, misty forests, charming townships and ocean activities, the Coromandel Peninsula is the perfect contrast to Auckland. You’ll spend two nights in Whangamata. Known for its long sweeping beach, surf breaks and safe sea swimming, this is the ideal base from which to explore the peninsula’s highlights. You can see the beautiful rock arch at Cathedral Cove and visit Hot Water Beach, where you can dig a hole in the sands to enjoy your own thermal spa bath. Cyclists will love the Hauraki Rail Trail, while hikers should head to the trails of Karangahake Gorge. Coromandel Peninsula’s 400-kilometre coastline offers plenty of opportunities for diving, sailing and fishing, too.

 

Overnight: Breakers Motel in Whangamata or similar (2 nights)

Call our experts - 020 3944 2201

Day 6-7

Rotorua

Rotorua offers cultural Maori experiences, wellness spas and all kinds of activities. Sitting on one of the world’s biggest active geothermal fields, this city is home to geysers, bubbling mud pits and bright yellow sulphur pools. You can visit the geothermal wonderlands of Te Puia, Waimangu and Wai-o-Tapu, or go white-water rafting or zip-lining. Fancy something more relaxing? Spend an afternoon at Polynesian Spa, where you can unwind with a treatment or soak in geothermal pools. In the evening, ride the gondola up to Skyline Rotorua and watch the sunset from Stratosfare Restaurant, or see the forest light up at the Redwoods Treewalk.

 

Overnight: Novotel Rotorua Lakeside or similar (2 nights)
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Day 8-9

Napier

Best known for its Art Deco architecture and palm-lined streets, Napier is a beautifully preserved town on New Zealand’s east coast. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the Thirties, but there’s a fantastic array of cafés, bars and boutiques, too. Napier’s also an excellent spot for exploring the wider Hawke’s Bay region, which is famous for its food and wine. Explore the numerous vineyards, craft breweries, cideries and restaurants at your leisure, or join a guided tour so you can sip and scoff to your heart’s content.

 

Overnight: Scenic Hotel Te Pania or similar (2 nights)

 

Call our experts - 020 3944 2201

Day 10-11

Wellington

Drive south along the well-signposted 'Classic New Zealand Wine Trail' to Martinborough – whose gourmet restaurants and vineyards might persuade you to stop for an indulgent lunch – before arriving in Wellington for a two-night stay. New Zealand’s capital city boasts all sorts of attractions. You can explore the vibrant waterfront, try incredible seafood, visit craft breweries, stroll around botanic gardens, ride a cable car and learn all about New Zealand’s history at Te Papa Museum – admission is free.

 

Overnight: Novotel Wellington or similar (2 nights)

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Day 12

Blenheim

Drop off your rental car at the ferry terminal in Wellington, and board the Interislander for the scenic three-hour crossing to Picton in the South Island. This ferry journey across the Cook Straight is one of the most beautiful in the world, and you’ll soon see why when you sail into the Queen Charlotte Sound. You’ll collect your new rental car in Picton, before heading to the world-famous Marlborough wine region.

Known across the globe for its delicious sauvignon blanc, Marlborough has more than 30 cellar doors. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to try some of the produce – why not join a guided winery tour, or hire bikes to explore the valleys and vines?

 

Overnight: Scenic Hotel Marlborough or similar

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Day 13

Kaikoura

Next, it’s on to the coastal town of Kaikoura. Famous for its whale-watching, this place has cruises available throughout the day. Alternatively, for a unique experience, you could take to the skies on a whale-watching flight, where you’ll be able to really appreciate the magnificence of the world’s largest mammal.

You can also swim with dusky dolphins in Kaikoura, but even a stroll along the rugged headland will give you glimpses of seals and seabirds – the wildlife here is fantastic. Make sure you also try some of NZ’s best crayfish at the casual – but iconic – Kaikoura Seafood BBQ, along with garlic scallops, fresh mussels and whitebait fritters.

Overnight: The White Morph or similar

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Day 14-15

Akaroa

Travel past Christchurch to the Banks Peninsula, known for its beautiful scenery, walking trails and secluded beaches. The little town of Akaroa will be your home for the next two nights, whose harbour was once the heart of an ancient volcano. Akaroa is a lovely town with a strong French influence, fantastic colonial architecture and top-notch food. Plus, it’s a great place to jump aboard a nature cruise to see Hector’s dolphins – the smallest and rarest in the world – as well as fur seals, penguins and seabirds.

 

Overnight: Tresori Motor Lodge or similar (2 nights)

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Day 16-17

Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Dunedin is a five-hour drive, but there’s plenty to see and do on the way to keep you entertained. You can drive across the flat Canterbury Plains, then stop for a coffee and a stroll around the botanic gardens of Timaru. See the world’s smallest penguins in their natural environment at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, or marvel at the giant Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach, before arriving in Dunedin for a two-night stay.

This quirky city boasts its own castle, a street art trail, craft breweries, fantastic beaches and some of New Zealand’s best wildlife. The Otago Peninsula, to the east of Dunedin, is home to colonies of rare yellow-eyed Penguins and little blue penguins, plus the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross. We recommend booking a tour or wildlife cruise to have the best chance of seeing the peninsula’s wild inhabitants.

 

Overnight: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin or similar (2 nights)

Call our experts - 020 3944 2201

Day 18-20

Queenstown

Next up, it’s Queenstown. Hailed as New Zealand’s adventure capital, this place is famous for its exhilarating activities. Skydiving, bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, zip-lining – you name it, Queenstown has it. But if adrenaline-pumping adventures aren’t quite your style, why not opt for a leisurely sailing trip on Lake Wakitipu? A century-old steamship, TSS Earnslaw is one of the best ways to see Queenstown’s surrounding landscape. Or, for a different view, hop in a helicopter and admire the vast lake, snow-capped mountains and filming locations from The Lord of the Rings.  
Queenstown also makes a great base for exploring Fiordland National Park. This stunning area is home to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. You can take a day trip from Queenstown, which involves a scenic cruise and return coaches. If you want to see Fiordland in style, or you’re simply short on time, you can also book a scenic flight for the most unbelievable views.

 

Overnight: Mercure Queenstown Resort or similar (three nights)

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Day 21

Wanaka

Nestled on a picturesque lake and surrounded by views of the stunning the Southern Alps, Wanaka is a buzzing little town with a big focus on outdoor adventures. Thrill-seekers can go skydiving, canyoning, climbing and jet-boating, and there are hundreds of kilometres of biking and hiking trails. The lake is ideal for swimming, kayaking and fishing. And don’t miss your opportunity to take a photo of “That Wanaka Tree” – the crooked willow tree which grows out of the lake has become a major tourist attraction in its own right. Wanaka is also a self confessed foodie town, with a huge variety of lakefront cafés and bars, a popular farmers market and a host of fine dining restaurants.

 

Overnight: Mercure Oakridge Resort Wanaka or similar

Call our experts - 020 3944 2201

Day 22

Fox Glacier

The spectacular drive from Wanaka to the West Coast takes in rivers, lakes and mountains, hugging the dramatic coastline past remote villages and isolated beaches strewn with driftwood. Be sure to stop en route for the short walk through native forest leading to pristine waters of Makarora’s Blue Pools, or stretch your legs at Ship Creek where you’ll find sand dunes and a swamp forest. Arrive in Fox Glacier and get ready to tick an item off your bucket list. On a heli-hike, you’ll fly up to the glacier in a helicopter, and then go on a guided hike through the icy caves and tunnels.

 

Overnight: Sunset Motel Fox Glacier or similar

Call our experts - 020 3944 2201

Day 23-24

Christchurch

Continue up the West Coast and drop off your car in Greymouth. From here, you’ll board the TranzAlpine Train for the 223-kilometre train journey to Christchurch. This is one of the world’s great rail journeys, traversing the Cantebury Plains against the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps.
You’ll spend the final night of your New Zealand holiday in Christchurch. This pleasant city is home to green spaces, bright street art and a world-class food scene. If you want to explore, why not jump aboard the beautifully resorted Christchurch tram? You can hop on and off as you please, visiting key attractions like the Botanic Gardens, New Regent Street, The Terrace & Riverside Market.
Christchurch is well-connected with flights to Australia, Fiji and the Cook Islands – so your adventure can continue elsewhere, if you wish.

 

Overnight: Rydges Latimer Square or similar

Call our experts - 020 3944 2201

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  • What's Included

  • Essential Information

Included
  • 23 nights’ accommodation and as specified (subject to availability)
  • Car hire for the self-drive duration (Auckland to Wellington and Picton to Greymouth) with unlimited kilometres
  • Interislander passenger ferry from Wellington to Picton
  • TranzAlpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch
  • Self-drive kit, including maps and instructions
Not included
  • Meals and drinks
  • Airport transfers
  • Optional activities and tours
  • Personal expenses
  • Petrol

Additional information

- The accommodation mentioned in this itinerary can tailored to suit your budget and requirements – please speak to our travel specialists to find out more

- We recommend adding a pre-night in Auckland and the beginning of your holiday, to allow yourself some rest after your flight

What's Included

Included
  • 23 nights’ accommodation and as specified (subject to availability)
  • Car hire for the self-drive duration (Auckland to Wellington and Picton to Greymouth) with unlimited kilometres
  • Interislander passenger ferry from Wellington to Picton
  • TranzAlpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch
  • Self-drive kit, including maps and instructions
Not included
  • Meals and drinks
  • Airport transfers
  • Optional activities and tours
  • Personal expenses
  • Petrol

Essential Information

Additional information

- The accommodation mentioned in this itinerary can tailored to suit your budget and requirements – please speak to our travel specialists to find out more

- We recommend adding a pre-night in Auckland and the beginning of your holiday, to allow yourself some rest after your flight

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