North and South Island Self-Drive

If you are looking to cover the highlights of both the North and South Island of New Zealand then this is a great itinerary to start with.  It can be adjusted based on your needs and requirements so do speak to our New Zealand expert to plan your perfect holiday.

Day one: Auckland to Whitianga, 120 miles, three hours
Drive via the beautiful Clevedon Valley region of Auckland and the Pacific Coast Highway before arriving in Thames, gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel’s dramatic and unspoiled coast offers beautiful white sandy beaches and many activities.
Stay two nights, standard: Beachside Resort, Whitianga; superior: Beachside Resort, Whitianga one-bedroom apartment

Day two: Coromandel, day at leisure 
Full day to enjoy this area.

Day three: Whitianga to Rotorua, 145 miles, three and a half hours 

Head for Tauranga along the Pacific Coast Highway. Arrive in the Bay of Plenty region in the early afternoon, in time for a swim or lunch in one of the many restaurants. Continue to Rotorua.
Stay two nights, standard: Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua; superior: Millennium Rotorua, superior room

Day four: Rotorua, day at leisure 

Full day at leisure in Rotorua.

Day five: Rotorua to Lake Taupo, 50 miles, one and a half hours 

Depart Rotorua for the short journey through the Lake Taupo region. Taupo is a perfect base to explore some stunning New Zealand scenery.
Standard: Lakeland Resort; superior: Hilton Lake Taupo

Day six: Lake Taupo to Napier, 89 miles, two and a half hours 
Depart Taupo on the Thermal Explorer Highway for the Hawke’s Bay Region, famous for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Napier and Hastings offer a high concentration of Art Deco architecture.
Standard: Scenic Hotel Te Pania; superior: The County Hotel, Luxury Room

Day seven: Napier to Martinborough, 156 miles, three and a half hours 

Today drive to Martinborough, well-known for the range of vineyards in the area. Spend the afternoon out and about on the wine trail.
Standard: The Claremont, Martinborough; superior: Aylstone Boutique Retreat

Day eight: Martinborough to Wellington, 52 miles, one and a half hours 
Drive over the beautiful Rimutaka Hills to Wellington, the nation’s capital. The downtown area is ideal for walking around, with lots if shops and cafes. Don’t miss a visit to Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand).
Standard: Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay; superior: Museum Art Hotel

Day nine: Wellington to Blenheim 

Three-hour ferry, then 30 minute drive. Drop your Avis car off at the Wellington Ferry office. Take the three-hour Interislander ferry to Picton on the South Island to collect a similar model vehicle from Avis. Drive the short distance to the wine-growing town of Blenheim.
Standard: Scenic Hotel Marlborough; superior: Chateau Marlborough

Day 10: Blenheim to Nelson, 86 miles, three hours 
Depart Blenheim and head north via the Marlborough Sounds region. Spend the afternoon discovering the many wineries. Alternatively there are many walks and boating activities.
Two nights, standard: Trailways Hotel; superior: Shelbourne Villa

Day 11: Nelson, day at leisure 

Full day at leisure. We highly recommend a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park.

Day 12: Nelson to Punakaiki, 172 miles, five hours
From Nelson, journey through scenic reserves and the earthquake-riven landscapes of the Buller Gorge to the historic coal-mining settlement of Wesport. Visit the seal colony.
Standard: Punakaiki Resort; superior: Punakaiki Resort Eco Suite

Day 13: Punakaiki to Franz Josef / Fox Glacier, 142 miles, three and a half hours
**Highly recommended by Carla, our New Zealand expert**
Explore the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Travel on to Greymouth, the largest township on the west coast, and Hokitika before arriving in Franz Josef, an area of mountain peaks and impressive glaciers. Here you can take guided glacier walks or scenic flights.
Standard: Punga Grove Franz Josef; superior: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 14: Franz Josef / Fox Glacier to Queenstown, 251 miles, six hours 
Leave the west coast and travel through the scenic wilderness of Haast Pass. Continue to beautiful Wanaka before arriving into Queenstown.
Two nights, standard: Rydges Lakeside Resort; Millennium Queenstown

Day 15: Queenstown, day at leisure 
Full day and so much to do. White water rafting, jet boating, or relax aboard the TSS Earnslaw as it cruises across the lake.

Day 16: Queenstown to Te Anau, 106 miles, three hours

Journey through mountains and alongside lakes before arriving in Te Anau. We suggest a trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, both accessible from Te Anau.
Standard: Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau; superior: Distinction Te Anau, Lakeview room

Day 17: Te Anau to Dunedin, 180 miles, four hours
Drive north from Te Anau to Gore and on to historic Dunedin. If time permits, book a
ride on the Tairei Gorge Railway.
Standard: Mercure Dunedin Leisure Lodge; superior: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City

Day 18: Dunedin to Christchurch, 225 miles, five hours
Travel via Timaru, known for its extensive Edwardian and Victorian architecture. Continue on to Christchurch to complete your itinerary.

* This is a flexible itinerary and so do contact us to discuss tailoring it to your needs and requirements.