15 Day High Roads of New Zealand
15 Day High Roads of New Zealand
On this off-the-beaten-track adventure you will discover some of the most beautiful, and remote, locations in New Zealand – and visit places that many travellers have never even heard of. Driving along gravel roads and muddy tracks, you will experience the diverse beauty of the North Island, while steep climbs on mountain passes will reveal unforgettable vistas over the South Island’s immense alpine landscape.
Tour highlights
  • Discover the forested beauty of Te Urewera
  • Drive through lush beech forest on the Braeburn Track
  • Visit historic gold fields in the Kyeburn area
  • Spot dolphins and whales as you cross the Cook Strait
  • Tour Only from
    Call our experts
    Tailor your trip to you
    Itinerary Inclusions Exclusions Request a quote
    Click to expand
    Click to expand
    Click to expand
    Click to expand
    Click to expand
    Tour Only from
    Day 1: Arrive in Auckland

    Upon arrival in Auckland, you will be greeted at your hotel by a representative from REST New Zealand tours who will provide you with all necessary travel documentation and talk you through your itinerary for the next two weeks. You’ll then have the remainder of the day to explore New Zealand’s most populous city – take a stroll along the waterfront, get a culture fix at Auckland Art Gallery or enjoy panoramic views from atop Mount Eden.

    Day 2: Auckland - Rotorua

    Approximate driving time: 3.5 hours; distance: 235 km

    After picking up your rental car you will travel south to New Zealand’s Sulphur City, Rotorua. A geothermal wonderland, this town is famed for its bubbling mud pools, geysers and hot springs. Surrounded by native forest and crater lakes, it is also an excellent place to learn about Maori culture.

    Day 3: Rotorua – Te Urewera National Park – Lake Waikaremoana – Napier

    Approximate driving time: 6.5 hours; distance: 320 km

    You will begin today by heading to secluded Lake Waikaremoana in the rugged hill country of Te Urewera. Lying between the Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay, Te Urewera is an area of dense temperate rainforest dotted with huge waterfalls, trickling streams and moss-covered tress. A significant part of the road here is gravel track, so you’ll be glad you’re in a 4x4! After spending some time at Lake Waikaremoana, walking a stretch of the track that follows the shore and enjoying the breathtaking views from Panekire Bluff, you’ll journey on to the coastal city of Napier. Known as the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand, Napier is laidback and charismatic, with the air of an upmarket English seaside resort. Streets are lined with beautifully-preserved 1930s buildings sporting pastel facades, and you’ll find an abundance of trendy restaurants, cafés, bars and boutiques. Be sure to stop by one of the region’s many vineyards before retiring to your hotel for the evening.

    Day 4: Napier – Tongariro National Park

    Approximate driving time: 5 hours; distance: 190 km

    The route today will take you along the road less travelled, through the centre of the North Island, giving you a unique insight into rural New Zealand. Once used by horse-drawn carriages, struggling through difficult terrain as they made their way from the port of Napier to the inland farms, the road is now completely sealed and passes through one of the largest sheep stations in the country. Your destination is the dual UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tongariro National Park, where you can spend the afternoon walking one of the many trails on offer, marvelling at the park’s rocky peaks and spectacular volcanic landscape.

    Day 5: Tongariro National Park – Whanganui National Park – Wellington

    Approximate driving time: 5.5 hours; distance: 315 km

    Leaving Tongariro behind, you will follow the course of the Whanganui River, passing through the settlements of Raetihi and Pipiriki, towards historic Wanganui. From here, you’ll journey on to Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant and creative capital city. Hike to the summit of Mount Victoria, explore the beautiful Botanic Gardens or enjoy a flat white at one of the city’s many fantastic coffee shops – but be sure to allow some time to explore Te Papa, the incredibly innovative national museum.

    Day 6: Wellington – Picton – Nelson

    Approximate driving time: 1.5 hours; distance: 110 km; ferry crossing: 3.5 hours

    Kicking off with a ferry journey across the picturesque Cook Strait, today is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. After arriving in the lovely little port town of Picton, you will drive west along the spectacular Queen Charlotte Drive – a 35-kilometre road fringed with ferns that winds past sleepy bays and beautiful beaches. Your destination for today is the thriving city of Nelson – a creative hub famed for its near-constant sunshine.

    Day 7: Nelson – Nelson Lakes National Park – Lewis Pass – Hanmer Springs

    Approximate driving time: 6 hours; distance: 310 km

    Travelling 120 kilometres southwest of Nelson, your first stop of the day will be Lake Rotoiti – the smaller of two alpine lakes that form the heart of the dramatic, glacier-carved Nelson Lakes National Park. Located at the northern tip of the Southern Alps, the park offers many excellent opportunities for tramping – from easy lakeside walks to challenging alpine hikes. After lunch you’ll return to the hinterland and travel on remote gravel road, through dense beech forest, across the Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs. Whether you’re looking to relax or seeking adventure, you’ll find many ways to pass the time in this popular year-round holiday destination.

    Day 8: Hanmer Springs – (Kaikoura) – Christchurch – Mt. Hutt

    Approximate driving time: 4.5 hours; destination: 290 km

    Today you will journey to the Mid Canterbury foothills via the Garden City of Christchurch – often referred to as the most English town outside England. On the way, take a detour to the coastal town of Kaikoura. Ideally situated between the mountains and the sea, Kaikoura is a fantastic place to encounter a variety of wildlife, including whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.

    Day 9: Mt. Hutt – Lake Tekapo – Waitaki Valley

    Approximate driving time: 5 hours; distance: 235 km

    Situated on the southern shore of a lake of the same name, and set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the tiny town of Tekapo will be today’s first stop. Enjoy a leisurely lunch while glancing out across the turquoise waters, or get a bird’s-eye view of New Zealand’s highest mountain with a scenic flight over Aoraki/Mount Cook. Leaving Tekapo, you’ll journey through the tussock grassland communities of the Mackenzie Basin, past mesmerising Lake Pukaki, before climbing a rarely used mountain pass to reach your overnight destination in the Waitaki Valley.

    Day 10: Waitaki Valley – Cromwell – Queenstown

    Approximate driving time: 6 hours; distance: 350 km

    Driving over another remote pass, you will make your way through the Central Otago wine region and its historic gold-mining settlements, including the tiny village of St. Bathans. Once home to 2,000 people, it now has fewer than a dozen permanent residents, but remains little changed since its heyday. Nineteenth-century buildings, including an Anglican Church, school house and still-operational public house, sit close to a manmade lake with astonishingly blue water. From here, you will drive over the Wakatipu Basin to Queenstown, where you’ll spend the next two nights.

    Day 11: Queenstown

    Superbly situated on a bend of Z-shaped Lake Wakatipu, and hemmed in by the jagged peaks of the The Remarkables, Queenstown is New Zealand’s self-proclaimed adventure capital. Adrenaline junkies will find plenty here to test their limits, including white-water rafting, zip-lining, 4x4 off-roading, bungee jumping and skydiving. For those who prefer a more sedate pace, Queenstown also offers an abundance of hiking and biking trails, boat cruises, numerous spas and wellness centres and a fantastic array of restaurants. There are even scenic flights to Milford and Doubtful Sound – two of the most scenic places in the entire country.

    Day 12: Queenstown – Wanaka – Westland National Park/Franz Josef

    Approximate driving time 6 hours; distance: 360 km

    Leaving Queenstown you will drive on the highest road in New Zealand across the Crown Range to picture-perfect Wanaka. From here, you will head to the West Coast, following the traditional route taken by the Maori, over the magnificent Haast Pass. Passing through forest, past lakes and waterfalls, this is a drive that presents many opportunities to stop and explore as you gradually make your way towards Westland National Park. We highly recommend allowing time for the Monro Beach Walk and a stop at Ship Creek Walk. During the months of October to December you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of penguins and hector dolphins playing in the sea.

    Day 13: Franz Josef – Hokitika/Greymouth

    Approximate driving time 2.5 hours; distance: 160 km

    You’ll spend this morning exploring Glacier Country, either from above or below. A scenic flight or exhilarating heli-hiking trip is the best way to see the ice caves and crevasses of Fox or Franz Josef Glacier – or, for the less adventurous, the valley walk is a great option. Wildlife enthusiasts should take a kayak trip on the nearby Okarito lagoon – an important feeding ground for thousands of wading birds. Alternatively, join a guided tour to New Zealand’s only White Heron nesting site, Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, and enjoy a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these rare birds. In the afternoon, you’ll journey to Hokitika and Greymouth – the jade centres of the country. Visit a workshop and learn how raw greenstone is carved into art.

    Day 14: Hokitika/Greymouth – Arthurs Pass – Christchurch

    Approximate driving time: 4 hours; distance: 260 km

    In the morning, take a detour to Punakaiki to see the famous pancake rocks and blowholes – extraordinary limestone formations on the edge of Paparoa National Park. At high tide, the ocean swells into caverns beneath the rocks and water shoots skyward with incredible force. Leaving Punakaiki you will wind your way over the Southern Alps, past Lake Brunner towards Arthurs Pass – the only real mountain pass in New Zealand. Travelling through vast alpine wilderness, over viaducts and bridges, you’ll eventually reach Christchurch. New Zealand’s second largest city is still rebuilding itself after devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, but there’s no shortage of things to see and do.

    Day 15: Depart Christchurch

    Today you will drop off your car at the airport rental desk, as your New Zealand tour officially comes to a close.

  • 14 nights’ accommodation in hotels as specified, subject to availability
  • Activities and experiences as specified
  • Goods & services tax 15%
  • Rental car throughout as specified (please refer to our rental car terms and conditions sheet)
  • Basic vehicle insurance (subject to insurance excess)
  • Interislander Ferry from Wellington to Picton or vice versa (Deluxe category includes Premium Plus)
  • REST New Zealand travel documentation, including personalised REST Tour Manual with detailed day-to-day driving instructions and recommended activities, New Zealand road atlas and map
  • Flights (international or domestic)
  • Airport tax
  • Personal expenses & tips
  • Drinks with meals (except water/tea/coffee)
  • Optional activities
  • Foreign language assistance
  • Petrol
  • Additional rental car charges
  • Insurance excess
  • Request a Quote

    Call Center Man

    For a free, no obligation quote, fill in the form below. One of our expert Travel Consultants will email you all the relevant information on destinations, flights and prices.

    If you would like to discuss your travel plans in more detail, call us on .

    Please be assured that your personal details will be kept strictly confidential and will not be passed onto any third party. This service is only available to customers based in the UK.

    Please correct the following item(s) highlighted below.


    If you're looking for a more complex holiday then please fill in our enquiry form below and we'll be in touch to tailor-make your perfect trip. Simply wanting a city break or a beach getaway? Click HERE to get a price. Just select your favourite hotel and choose your travel dates to receive an accurate quote online.

    Where would you like to go?

    Alternatively select any of these popular destinations
    + Dubai
    + New York
    + Las Vegas
    + Thailand
    + Barbados
    + Maldives
    + Mauritius
    + All Resorts inc Cancun
    + Malaysia
    + Bali
    + SriLanka
    + South Africa
    + Saint Lucia
    + Spain


    For how long?

    Your Details

    Your address


    Adults (17yrs +)
    Children (2-16)
    Infants(Under 2)

    Is this a special occasion?

    What would you like

    Hotel Star rating (3 star and above)

    Where would you like to fly from?

    What class would you like to fly in?

    What is your budget (optional)


    How else can we help? (optional)


    Date {{vm.Date | date: "dd-MM-yyyy"}}
    Duration (Nights)
    Your details
    {{vm.FirstName}} {{vm.LastName}}
    Your address
    {{vm.HouseNumber}} {{vm.StreetName}} {{vm.Town}} {{vm.County}}
    Children {{vm.Child}}
    Hotel Rating
    Departure Airport
    Flight Class
    Budget {{vm.prefixbudget}}
    Please check to opt-in if you wish to receive further marketing from Travelbag. If you don't want to do this now, you can later. Also here's our privacy policy
    Please Wait...