Example Only - 31 Day Self-Drive Tour
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  • Quoted by: Marion
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A journey with individual character and a combination of attractions, culture and active experiences of nature - ideal for travellers who want to experience the genuine New Zealand, off the beaten tourist tracks.

The vehicle, accommodation and ferries will be booked for you. Travel relaxed in your own vehicle without the need for a time-consuming search for accommodation.

On many small hikes (if you wish) in some of the most beautiful national parks, you will experience the scenic highlights of both islands: rainforests, volcanoes, geysers, glaciers, mountain lakes, beaches and - in contrast - the big cities.

New Zealand, the double island on the other side of the globe, is a paradise for friends of nature. Nowhere else will you find climate zones, sceneries and vegetation as diverse and close to each other than here. Bushwalking, the name that New Zealand has given hiking, is the most direct way to experience Nature's beauty. Therefore, this tour offers many possible hikes and walks in the most beautiful national parks. You will see sleeping and active volcanoes, lonely bays, deep mountain lakes, geysers and thermal areas as well as fiords and rainforests. Experience the "double culture" of Polynesian Maori and European immigrants with their diverse traditions and feel the flair of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Special Highlights:

  • Waitomo Caves - the glow worm caves on the North Island
  • Wai-O-Tapu - 5 million years of Earth's history
  • Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach
  • Bay of Islands - History and islands in the turquoise waters of the bay
  • Tongariro National Park
  • Excursion to Farewell Spit, Golden Bay - a nature reserve for seabirds
  • Visit of a vineyard
  • Cruise Milford Sound and Queen Charlotte Sound

Why choose this trip? Tips from our guides:

  • With the wet and cold season in Europe starting, at the other end of the world the spring has just arrived in New Zealand. Or come in our autumn - the perfect way to prepare yourself for your summer, by warming yourself up after a northern winter!
  • Experience culinary delights and finest wines in fantastic nature
  • 8th wonder of the World - the Milford Sound, rainforests, half-deserts, alpine high country, volcano plateaus and the most beautiful coastal areas untouched since the last glacial period! An intense experience of Nature!
  • Free days with the option for more activities or just time to relax
  • Excursion to the Yellow-eyed Penguins, one of the rarest species of penguins in the world! You will only find them in the south of New Zealand!

Sales price in EURO per Person in one room from ca. 3.175 Hotel/Motel 3*+

Stay at Hotel/Motel 3*+, Studio

Stay at B&B 3* incl. breakfast

Price on the basis of 2 travellers in one room. Price and availability are subject to change due to the booking situation in high season (October until End of April incl) and provider.

Services:

  • Airport transfers, taxi to rental station. 
  • 30 nights in Motels/Hotels 3*+ incl. Kitchenette, without breakfast
  • or in Bed & Breakfast 3* incl. Breakfast
  • 30 day rental of a Nissan Tiida, Economy Class 1500cc, or similar with partially comprehensive insurance and one way fee
  • Ferry crossing: Wellington - Picton
  • Entry Wai-o-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
  • Individual, half-day cruise in the Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Milford Sound Scenic Cruise
  • Support by our office in Taupo
  • Insider tips

Non-service:

International flights, additional trips and excursions

Please note:

There are 2 overnight stay varieties for this tour.

1. Overnight in B&B of middle class incl. Breakfast. Other categories on request.

2. Overnight in Motels or Motor Lodges of middle class without Breakfast.

Price on the basis of 2 travellers in one room. Price and availability are subject to change due to the booking situation in high season (October until End of April incl.).

Accommodation:

The right choice of overnight stays is very important to us at the end of an active day, every guest would like to relax in comfortable and pleasant surroundings. In cities such as Auckland, Christchurch or Queenstown, we use centrally located 3-4 star hotels/motels. In other areas we prefer selected accommodation "NZ-owned and operated" where possible, combining Kiwi authenticity with the comfort of a good 3-4 star accommodation.

Motels: Meals/Breakfast:

In most of the accommodation you will be able to order breakfast. Some accommodation also have a Restaurant where one can get breakfast. The prices vary between NZ$16 und NZ$25 ("Continental" with toast, cheese, luncheon, marmalade/jam and cereal or "Cooked/English Breakfast" with e.g. scrambled or fried eggs and tomatoes, bacon and baked beans). You can go shopping for your own breakfast as most units have cooking facilities, microwave and sink, some have an electric cooker or hob / electric frying pan.

Gluten-free food is available all over New Zealand.

Individual extension of your vacation with the option e.g. Bay of Island and Cape Reinga or the Cook Islands can be included, if wished.

Services Rental Car:

Included is the standard insurance with an excess of NZ$1,500.00 (credit card impression is made).

By request an additional insurance (excess reduced to NZ$0.00) can be arranged for NZ$12.00 / day.

24h roadside assistance NZ-wide

Unlimited Kilometres

No fee for additional driver

By request a GPS-System can be rented: NZ$15 / day


Rental car Class Economy 1500cc, e.g. Nissan Tiida Sedan or similar

Possible hikes/walks: all hikes/walks have an easy to medium rating

  • Cathedral Cove (tide dependent)                                                                    ca. 2h
  • Hot Water Beach (tide dependent)                                                                  ca. 1h
  • Wai O Tapu Wonderland                                                                                  ca. 2h
  • Huka Falls                                                                                                         ca.1/12h
  • Waitomo - Ruakuri Walk                                                                                   ca. 3h
  • Beach walk west coast/North Island                                                               ca. 1h
  • Abel Tasman Coast Track                                                                                ca. 4h
  • Golden Bay Farewell Spit                                                                                ca. 2h
  • Pancake Rocks                                                                                                 ca. 1h
  • Hokitika Beach                                                                                                 ca. 1 - 2h
  • Nugget Point                                                                                                    ca. 1h
  • Surat Bay                                                                                                          ca. 2h
  • Mt. Cook National Park - Kea Point                                                                  ca. 1h
  • Mt. Cook National Park - through the valley of the Hooker Glacier              ca. 3h
  • Botanical Garden Christchurch                                                                       ca. 1-3h

Itinerary:

1. Day - Arrival in Auckland.

A Shuttle will bring you to your hotel in the centre of Auckland, just minutes away from the wharfs. The rest of the day is at your own disposal. You have time (depending on your flight arrival time) to explore the City of Sails. Your accommodation is close to the so-called 'Viaduct Basin' - the yacht harbour of Auckland's millionaires - so that it is easy to find interesting places and the many restaurants and pubs. And a lot of good restaurants and pubs and bars are just minutes away from your hotel. Perhaps you can already find your first restaurant for your first dinner in New Zealand? 

ON: Auckland

2. Day - Auckland

A Taxi will bring you to the Downtown Rental Station where you will pick up your vehicle.

If you have to get used to driving on the left side of the road, we suggest some driving in the city and/or the surrounding areas. The City of Sails has numerous interesting look-outs: One Tree Hill, Mt. Eden, Cornwall Park, Sky Tower, Devonport on the other side of the Harbour. And don't forget - there are more restaurants to be discovered which are awaiting your pleasure! Or maybe a trip to the West Coast with its wild black beaches? We can book this trip for you with an Auckland-based guide. Please inquire. 

ON: Auckland

3. Day - Auckland - Bay of Islands, 4h 45m

You will leave Auckland early in the morning and be.gin your trip north along the Hibiscus Coast. Depending on when you depart you will reach the Waipoua Kauri Forest (with Tane Mahuta) around noon. The Kauri trees are some of the mightiest conifers on the planet. Some reach a height of about 50m and might have been here since the birth of Christ. Late afternoon/early evening will see your arrival in Paihia at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand's subtropical paradise or in Whangaroa Harbour, one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world.

ON: Paihia

4/5. Day - Bay of Islands

Possibilities:

Exploration of the Bay of Islands per Boat and Swimming with Dolphins is a unique experience

A day trip to Cape Reinga's Lighthouse at the northernmost point of New Zealand (to drive to this place yourself via 90 Mile Beach is not recommended due to the potential dangers!). In the north-west of the North Island is Cape Reinga, a place of special cultural and spiritual significance for Maori. Marked by an old Pohutukawa tree one finds the "Reinga", a place of crossing, where according to Maori legends the souls of the dead begin their last journey to the homeland of their ancestors (Hawaiiki). The tree is said to be 800 years old and supposedly has never bloomed.

Additional highlights:

Ninety Mile Beach (the path the Maori souls walk)

Puketi Kauri Forest

  • Sailing the Bay of Islands, day trip

ON: Paihia

6. Day - Bay of Islands - Orewa, 2h 45m

To break up your journey a bit (no stress!) you will have one night in Orewa. Go for a walk on one of the most beautiful beaches, relax in your own spa in your room and enjoy a delicious dinner in town. 

ON: Orewa

7. Day - Orewa - Whitianga, 4h 10m

Drive the longer route along the coast lines of the Hauraki Gulf, the views make it well worth it! Stop for lunch in Coromandel Town before you cross the peninsula to drive to Whitianga. 

ON: Whitianga

8. Day - Free Day Whitianga

Visit Hot Water Beach close to Whitianga, where you can dig your own hot pool at low tide, and walk to Cathedral Cove, one of the most famous photo scene in the country. Go for a dip in the blue waters or walk Cooks Beach/Hahei, go kayaking, or a tour with a glass bottom boat is possible too. 

Visit Cathedral Cove beach to spend the day or several hours there (one of the most beautiful beaches) or find out how Macadamia nuts grow. How about an excursion to Coromandel Town on the other side of the Peninsula? That side is completely different!

Ride on the Driving Creek Railway to the Eyeful Tower to enjoy the amazing vews (on many days you could see Auckland from here). On the way back via a different route, stop to admire some of our oldest trees, the Kauri. And maybe you stop at The Waterworks Park - if you enjoy unusual objects and water games (you can swim in the river here!). 

ON: Whitianga

9./10. Day - Whitanga - Rotorua, 3h 25m

You will pass many kiwi orchards on your way to Rotorua. Thousands of years ago this area was shaped by volcanic activity and still is one of the most impressive of New Zealand's thermal areas with its high-fizzing geysers and bubbling mud pools. This evening you have the possibility to visit a Maori Village with Hangi, which is the traditional feast of Maori. You will also see demonstrations of dances and a traditional welcome ceremony. Optional: Maori Village and Hangi Dinner Concert ca. NZ$120pp. 

ON: Rotorua

11. Day - Rotorua - Taupo, 1h

Experience the power of the Earth and 5 million years of geological history while walking through Wai O Tapu Wonderland, the tribal area of the Arawa Maori. Here (outside of the park) you could bathe in a natural hot spring. On your way to Taupo on the crater lake by the same name stop at the Huka Falls. The Waikato River (New Zealand's Rhine) narrows from a width of ca. 100m to ca. 15m. The resulting bubbling water gave the place its Maori name- Huka = foam. You will stay at New Zealand's largest inland lake for a couple of days to be able to do some trips from this central place into the surrounding area.

How about a relaxing afternoon in the Hot Pools? Wairakei Terraces offers large pools with different temperatures as well as Maori massages (Miri Miri)! Or how about a trip on a quadbike? ON: Taupo 

12/13. Day - Taupo - Possiblities:

1. A quiet day - admire the surrounding area (esp the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park) from the lake, book a cruise. And in the afternoon pure relaxation in the hot pools of Wairakei Terraces or DeBretts??

2. Day trip to Waitomo Caves -- Taupo - Waitomo Caves - Taupo / 3h 50m

The caves are famous for their so-called "Glow Worms" (but not the fireflies you know). These are transparent glowing larvae of fungus gnats hanging from the ceiling of the caves. The soundless cruise is an experience ... as if moving underneath a unique starry sky. Once there, you have a choice of different cave trips. The visit of the caves only is from ca. NZ$50pp, and NZ$235pp for "Black Water Rafting" (e.g. Kiwi Cave Rafting NZ$150, Triple Cave Combo NZ$118 or Black Labyrinth Tour NZ$135).

Further Options at Waitomo Caves: Waitomo - Ruakuri Walk: Tunnel walk through wild, spectacular karst scenery, ca. 3 h.

3. Tongariro Crossing - You will be picked up at your accommodation early in the morning by a special Shuttle (at the moment $60pp return) which will bring you to the start of this walk. This hike will take you between 5 - 7 hours, depending on how fit you are and how many breaks (for photos) you make. In the afternoon another of these shuttles will pick you up at the end of the walk and bring you back to your accommodation in Taupo.

4. Day trip to Napier - City tour, National Aquarium, drive the Hawke's Bay, wine tasting. 

ON: Taupo 

14. Day - Taupo - Wellington, 4h 55m

Today you will travel on the so-called Desert Road through the Tongariro Nationalpark, famous for its three volcanoes Mt. Ngaruhoe, Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ruapehu. Carry on with some stops on the west coast to our capital Wellington. Along the way, visit one of the most beautiful beaches of this region and walk along the ocean, ca. 1-2h (Otaki).

Explore New Zealand's capital late this afternoon - the Parliament and the historic Quarter with St.Paul's Church; the views from Mt Victoria over the city and the harbour. Nice weather will even show you the South Island! What a lasting impression of the "most beautiful of capitals"!

Or spend time at our National Museum TE PAPA, directly on the waterside promenade, and combine this visit with an easy walk on that promenade. Entry is free.

The Māori name, 'Te Papa Tongarewa', translates literally to 'container of treasures'. A more comprehensive interpretation is 'our container of treasured things and people that spring from mother earth here in New Zealand.' Modern and interactive the museum shows New Zealand's history, Maori and their culture as well as very interesting aspects of the geological makeup of the island (a markedly intense experience of an earthquake simulation) and changing special exhibits. 

ON: Wellington

15. Day - Wellington and ferry to South Island

After Breakfast walk to the Parliament, together with the Old Government Building (largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere) one of the biggest attractions of the city. Every hour, on the hour you can join a free guided tour. Or let a cable car bring you up the hill to the Botanical Gardens with wonderful views of the city.

The ferry will bring you to the South Island in the afternoon. Enjoy the crossing on the Cook Strait and the fiord-like arms of the Marlborough Sounds. A short, but impressive experience!

There is time to explore the small harbour of Picton at the end of the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound in the evening. 

ON: Picton

16. Day - Picton- Motueka, 2h 25m

In the morning you will participate in a "Delivery Cruise", the boat delivers necessary groceries, the mail and walkers to the remote houses and resorts of the gorgeous Queen Charlotte Sound. Early afternoon you carry on via the Queen Charlotte Scenic Driveway to Motueka, at the entrance of the Abel Tasman National Park. The walk on the Queen Charlotte Walkway requires an additional overnight stay! 

ON: Motueka

17./18. Day - 2 Free Days in the Abel Tasman National Park

You can plan for these days individually. The Abel Tasman National Park with its golden beaches is the epitome of paradise for many travellers.

There are many possibilities to spend the days, e.g. a day trip along the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a much loved walkway. You cruise to one of the many bays (with a water taxi) and then walk back (or vice versa) (ca. 3-4h) or enjoy some kayaking as well (could be all day) - really enjoyable.

More possibilities:

Swim, Boat trips or a Kayak tour.

  • Day trip to the Golden Bay and Collingwood / 50 km one way: a guided tour of 6.5 hours to Farewell Spit can be booked from here, price NZ$150pp. The Farewell Spit is managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) and serves as a nature reserve for seabirds. This tour guides you to and on the sand dunes which houses a gannet colony and an old lighthouse. This tour is tide dependent!
  • Day trip to Golden Bay with a visit of Pupu Springs, the clearest sweet water spring in the southern hemisphere (visibility under water up to 70m), a salmon farm, the Cobb Dam (great views of the area and the Kahurangi National Park, one of our largest National Parks) and Takaka, a Hippie-remnant in the Golden Bay/Abel Tasman.

ON: Motueka

19. Day - Motueka - Hokitika, 5h 10m

From Abel Tasman Nationalpark drive to Hokitika, the Jade- and Gold-Centre of New Zealand. Do not miss a walk through the town - Souvenir Alarm!

On the way, visit the famous Pancake Rocks Punakaiki and walk among the rocks. This formation which indeed is reminiscent of a stack of pancakes, is especially impressive when the wild westwind is blowing - the waters of the Tasman Sea are being pushed up between the rocks and shoot spouts of water in the air. If time permits, visit Shantytown Park (entry NZ$40pp incl. gold panning). Over 30 historic buildings transfer you into the time of the "Great Gold Rush" of the 1860s. An old, still working steam train Type 508 - Avonside Engine Company, Bristol, England built in 1877, invites you on a trip around the area.

If you wish to try your luck, try your hand at gold panning and who knows, maybe you will have another souvenir to take home!  

Do go for an evening walk on the wild beach and admire one of the most impressive sunsets you will ever see! 

ON: Hokitika

20. Day - Hokitika - Franz Joseph Glacier, 1h 45m

Possibilities on this day include:

  • Walk to the face of a glacier, ca. 1h.
  • Scenic Flight with a helicopter over the Southern Alps with landing on glaciers
  • Excursion to the Okarito Lagoon with possible boat trip

Tip: the helicopter flight and/or the boat trip can be booked for this day (depending on the weather conditions).

ON: Franz Joseph (or Fox Glacier)

21. Day - Franz Joseph - Queenstown, 4h 35m

From the Glaciers your journey goes (with a possible stop in Wanaka) via the Haast Pass to our adventure capital Queenstown. Your photo collection can be greatly increased on this route, as there are many, many views worthy of being photographed! Maybe you have lunch at the Hard Antler Bar & Restaurant in Haast? Good food, impressive place! 

ON: Queenstown 

22. Day - Free Day Queenstown

Queenstown, the St. Moritz of New Zealand, offers a wide array of activities. Whether you are interested in a jet boat trip or want to try a bungee jump (first commercial bungee in New Zealand), rafting, walking, hiking, steamboat trip across Lake Wakatipu with a high country farm visit or would like to try the fabulous Central Otago wines - almost everything is possible. 

ON: Queenstown

23. Day - Queenstown - Milford Sound 3h 55m - Te Anau / 1h 45m

Today you will drive to the 8th wonder of the world "Milford Sound" in Fiordland National Park. This Park is a World Heritage Area and a scenic boat trip (at 1.45pm) through the dreamy background of the Sounds, surrounded by almost vertical rock of 1200m height is breath-taking and mystical. The drive there will lead you through one of the last, since the last ice age unchanged mountain regions. 

ON: Te Anau

24. Day - Te Anau - Catlins 

A drive off the beaten tourist tracks is a drive to the Catlins. On the way, visit a variety of attractions, e.g. numerous hidden waterfalls and Surat Bay with its sea lions and seals. With a bit of luck (tides) you can see the "Petrified Forest" in Curio Bay. This Petrified Forest is estimated to be about 180 million years old. There is always a place to stop and enjoy a short walk. We suggest to have breakfast/ lunch/ afternoon tea at the Niagara Falls Cafe. Great Food! 

ON: Catlins 

25./26. Day - Catlins - Dunedin 1h 25m

Via Nugget Point you drive to Dunedin, the University City. Drive to the Otago Peninsula and maybe visit Larnach Castle, the only castle in New Zealand (entry fee applies). Some kilometres further along the peninsula you will find the only land-based (and close to civilisation) Albatross Colony in the world. Close by you can go on a guided tour on a private farm to see the shy Yellow-eyed and Dwarf Penguins.

More possibilities:

Natural history boat trip along the coast to the breeding colony of the Royal Albatross, you will also see cormorants (locally called shags), penguins and ocean-dwelling mammals such as sea lions. Or a drive into the canyons of the back country with the Taieri Gorge Railway - very recommended! 

ON: Dunedin

27. Day - Driving in the Hinterland / 2h

Expect another attractive highlight of your tour, a drive through the back country region Maniototo. The road goes between mountain ranges and impressive landscapes to your next goal.

And on the way you could rent a bicycle to ride part of the famous Otago Rail Trail (return to your car will be organised).

You will stay at an accommodation of a special kind - the Danseys Pass Coach Inn built in 1862, far off civilisation. 

ON: Danseys Pass Coach Inn 

28. Day -From mountains to really high mountains / 2h 15m

This day brings you closer to Twizel. On the way to the Waitaki River you could look for the Elephant Rocks which served as a backdrop in many movies. Along the river you could stop and visit a vineyard, known for excellent wines like Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc with its tropical fruity taste so typical for this region.

After check in drive a little further (about 50km) to Mt. Cook, the highest mountain of New Zealand. If the weather is nice you would have the chance for a scenic flight around the mountains and the glaciers of the Southern Alps. The walk of about 1h to Kea Point or into the valley of the Hooker Glacier (about 3h) with views of Mt. Cook can be done from Mt. Cook Village.

Or you could just lean back and enjoy the imposing landscape. Something special would be a kayak tour on the Tasman Glacier Lake (4 - 5 h).

You will be back in Twizel later this afternoon. At night you could book a guided tour on Mt. John - the Mt. John Observatory Tour, as this region is one of the worldwide few with the official "Dark Zone" status. 

ON: Twizel

29. Day - And finally our Gardencity - or French? 4h

On your last leg of your tour you pass Lake Pukaki - when the weather is nice the views of the highest mountains are astounding. Follow the canal with its turquoise waters that connects this lake with Lake Tekapo. Stop at a salmon farm before you enjoy your last nature views on the Scenic Route to Christchurch. Try one of the best pies of the country in Fairlie! 

ON: Christchurch 

30. Day Christchurch

  • City Tour in a Doppeldecker
  • Visit of the Botanical Gardens
  • Kayak or punting on the Avon River
  • Excursion to Akaroa, our French town on the Banks Peninsula

Description:

Christchurch - Akaroa - Christchurch 

Akaroa is a pretty little French-style town in one of the most beautiful bays. The views of the town, bays, lakes and forests on this drive are fantastic.

If you are interested, you can book a cruise of the harbour or to go out to swim with the Hector dolphins, the smallest and rarest dolphins of the world. The inquisitive dolphins are in the bay most of the year and greet the boats regularly.

Optional: boat trip Hector Dolphins with Swimming ca. NZ$155pp. 

ON: Christchurch

31. Day - Return rental, transfer Airport and return home