North & South Island Self-Drive Tour
Duration: 21 nights self-drive tour
Auckland 2 nights
Bay of Islands 2 nights
Auckland 1 night
Rotorua 2 nights
Tongariro 1 night
Wellington 2 nights
Nelson 2 nights
Greymouth 1 night
Fox Glacier 1 night
Queenstown 2 nights
Te Anau 2 nights
Dunedin 1 night
Christchurch 2 nights
Day 1 Auckland: Arrive Auckland airport and pick up your hire car. The rest of the day is at leisure to take in the sights of Auckland.
Day 2 Auckland: Today is at leisure to explore the harbour, stroll around the shops or take a day trip to Waiheke Island and sample local wines.
Day 3 Auckland/Bay of Islands: Leave Auckland for the scenic drive up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. En route stop off and visit Waipoua Kauri Forest and Hokianga Harbour (approx 3½ hours).
Day 4 Bay of Islands: A day at leisure to explore the area with its natural beauty, amazing beaches and 150 mostly uninhabited islands. There are also the historic sites of Waitangi where New Zealand's treaty was signed and Russell which was the first capital of New Zealand.
Day 5 Bay of Islands/Auckland: This morning, maybe take a cruise to Cape Brett, viewing dolphins and schools of fish on the way, then after lunch drive back to Auckland, known as the City of Sails (approx 3½ hours).
Day 6 Auckland/Rotorua: Leave early this morning to visit the Waitomo Caves en route to Rotorua. At the caves you can take a guided tour of the limestone caverns and join a boat trip through the underground grottos which are lit by thousands of glow worms. Travelling onwards to Rotorua, you will know when you arrive by the smell of sulphur in the air which comes from the geothermal pools (approx 4-5 hours).
Day 7 Rotorua: A day to explore the town with the spouting geysers and bubbling mud pools. This is also the home of Maori culture.
Day 8 Rotorua/Tongariro: Driving south you will come to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, known for its water based activities and which may be a good place to stop for lunch. Travelling on, enter Tongariro National Park, one of only twenty places in the world awarded dual World Heritage status for its nature and culture. There are three volcanoes here plus some of the locations where Lord of the Rings was filmed (approx 4 hours).
Day 9 Tongariro/Wellington: Take a leisurely drive south to the capital, Wellington, known as the Windy City (approx 5 hours).
Day 10 Wellington: Explore the city today. Travel up Mount Victoria for a fantastic view of the harbour, visit the botanical gardens by cable car or go to Te Papa Museum.
Day 11 Wellington/Nelson: Sail across the Cook Strait to Picton by ferry, and drive onwards to Nelson taking in the beautiful views and scenery on the way (approx 2 hours drive Picton to Nelson).
Day 12 Nelson: A day to explore Abel Tasman National Park with its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. Take a ferry up the coast, then walk along the coastal tracks back, or try a sea kayak tour. Those feeling adventurous may like to try sky diving.
Day 13 Nelson/Greymouth: Leave this morning driving via Punakaiki and Paparoa National Park. Punakaiki is centred around Pancake Rocks, limestone rocks which have formed into what looks like stacks of pancakes. There are many other natural attractions in the park such as mountains, limestone formations and wilderness areas. Travel on to Greymouth. (approx 4 hours).
Day 14 Greymouth/Fox Glacier: Travel to Fox Glacier via Franz Josef stopping to view the mighty glaciers. You can also take a guided glacier walk or go on a heli-hike (approx 2½ hours).
Day 15 Fox Glacier/Queenstown: Travel south on to Queenstown the adrenalin capital on the shore of Lake Wakatipu (approx 4½ hours).
Day 16 Queenstown: There are lots of activities to occupy your time here. Take the Skyline gondola up for great views of the city, then if you are feeling energetic you can zoom down on a three wheeled cart or try bungee jumping. Take a jet boat on the lake, go white water rafting and even skiing in our summer!
Day 17 Queenstown/Te Anau: Travel onwards to Te Anau for a cruise on Lake Te Anau or explore the glow worm caves (approx 2 hours).
Day 18 Te Anau: Depart this morning on a coach excursion, taking in the scenic views en route to Milford Sound before boarding a nature cruise to see the fiords at their best. Return to Te Anau by coach.
Day 19 Te Anau/Dunedin: Depart the fiordlands to Dunedin, which has a very Scottish feel and plenty of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. On arrival visit Larnach Castle, Speights Brewery or view the penguin colonies (approx 4 hours).
Day 20 Dunedin/Christchurch: Travel today to Christchurch breaking your journey in Oamaru or Timaru for lunch. This is a long drive today so you may wish to break your journey and overnight in Oamaru or Mount Cook. Please ask for details (approx 5 hours).
Day 21 Christchurch: Day at leisure to explore the city with its English feel and gardens. Alternatively extend your stay and venture up to Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs to take in the picture postcard views, whale and dolphin watching boat trips and thermal hot pools.
Day 22 Christchurch: Drop your hire car off at the airport.
Accommodation: 3* Copthorne Auckland; 3* Scenic Circle Bay of Islands; 4* Sudima Rotorua; 4* Chateau Tongariro; 4* James Cook Grand Chancellor, Wellington; 4* Rutherford Hotel, Nelson; 3* Kingsgate Greymouth; 4* Distinction Fox Glacier; 3* Copthorne Hotel Queenstown; 4* Distinction Te Anau; 4* Quest Dunedin; 3* plus Rydges Latimer, Christchurch
Meals: Room only.
Tour price: The price shown is based on the best value travel dates in low season and includes accommodation, ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton, Milford Sound Nature Cruise from TeAnau on day 18 and 22 days group C compact car hire. International flights are not included.