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New ZealandNorth and South Island road trip

  • Off the beaten track
Want the freedom of having your own vehicle and like staying in luxurious boutique accommodation whilst enjoying fantastic local experiences? Then this itinerary is for you! Travel from north to south visiting tranquil lakes and stunning coastline. This itinerary is packed full of indulgent and exciting activities such as wildlife, cultural, food and wine small group tours which can be upgraded to...

Want the freedom of having your own vehicle and like staying in luxurious boutique accommodation whilst enjoying fantastic local experiences? Then this itinerary is for you! Travel from north to south visiting tranquil lakes and stunning coastline. This itinerary is packed full of indulgent and exciting activities such as wildlife, cultural, food and wine small group tours which can be upgraded to private experiences for the ultimate in personalized travel. Stay in unique, boutique properties putting you in touch with local personalities in stunning settings.

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Tour itinerary includes
  • Mountain
  • Countryside
  • Wine tasting
    Wine tasting
  • Sailing activities
    Sailing activities
  • Multi-activity

Customizable tour itinerary

This tour idea is fully customizable

This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Arrive Auckland

Welcome to Aotearoa! Upon arrival you will be met by your private driver and transferred to your accommodation in the city.

Spend the afternoon at leisure. Perhaps stroll around the northern side of Viaduct Harbour, admiring the super yachts, and cross the footbridge to Auckland’s new Wynyard Quarter and North Wharf area, a trendy cafe environment. In the other direction along the waterfront is Britomart a lively precinct upmarket lively precinct with designer shops and great eateries.

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Harbour - In the heart of Auckland and overlooking Viaduct Harbour this hotel celebrates its waterfront location with sweeping marina views and spacious promenades that lead you to the bustling restaurant and shopping districts nearby. The hotel offers luxurious bedrooms and suites all featuring private balconies, floor to ceiling windows and oversized bathrooms with separate rain showers and deep soaking bathtubs.

night in Sofitel (Auckland)

Day 2: Wahieke Island Wine Tasting

This morning depart on your Ferry to Waiheke Island, a perfect city escape. Met your guide for a small group tour of three of Waiheke’s top vineyards. Your tour includes a commentated scenic tour of the Island with time to stop for photographs and a two-hour lunch stop (at own cost) at a village or beachside café, or, for a memorable gourmet experience, at one of the top vineyards.

AucklandWaiheke Island
night in Sofitel (Auckland)

Day 3: Travel to Rotorua via Waitomo Caves

This morning collect your rental vehicle for your drive south to our geothermal and cultural capital, Rotorua.

Along the way stop at the Waitomo Caves to do one of the lesser known tours where you will visit two different cave systems. You will first be taken on an inflatable raft to view glowworms – there are no rapids in the cave, it’s very gentle and serene. You will then be able to walk thorugh the second cave.

The caves on this tour are presented very naturally, have been modified as little as possible and they are located on a very beautiful, backcountry farm. You will encounter few other visitors – if any at all.

Accommodation: Koura Lodge- Situated on the tip of Kawaha Point, a private, peaceful location, Koura Lodge is a unique lakefront retreat nestled in an established garden setting with panoramic views over Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island and Mt Tarawera.  Sheltered from the prevailing winds, and away from traffic noise and sulphur fumes, Koura Lodge makes for a stress free, relaxing holiday.  The Lodge offers a variety of luxury accommodation, with all 10 rooms featuring magnificent lake views and private ensuites.  A private jetty, lakeside spa/sauna and tennis court are just a few of the on-site facilities.

night in Koura Lodge (Rotorua)

Day 4: Mitai Maori Cultural Experience

Spend the day at leisure perhaps exploring the geothermal parks or walking along one of the many pretty lakes found here.

Late this afternon you will be collected from your accommodation for this evening’s authentic traditional Maori experience. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe. Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, and then see your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During a cultural performance, learn about Maori’s past, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance. You’ll be amazed by the spine tingling haka finale. 

night in Koura Lodge (Rotorua)

Day 5: Travel to Napier

Today drive east to Napier passing Lake Taupo and stunning forests.

Spend the rest of your day at leisure exploring this Art Deco city which is also one of the country’s largest wine producing areas.

Accommodation: The Masonic Art Dec Hotel -Located on the waterfront in Napier. Accommodation is in 42 recently-refurbished hotel rooms. The history, Art Deco architecture and individuality of the rooms add a unique ambiance and style. There is a choice of accommodation styles and types to suit with 20 rooms opening onto the balcony, which offers outstanding panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

Night at Art Deco Masonic Hotel (Napier)

Day 6: Gannet Safari

Today travel overland in air-conditioned vehicles right up to the Gannets at Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony. Cape Kidnappers is the largest and most spectacular mainland nesting place of gannets in the world. The 20,000 gannets are members of the Booby family with distinctive black eye markings and a pale gold crown. You will see adults and young nesting in serried rows. In the air birds swoop and dive as they bring back fish. On the ground, the pairs preen and perform the dance of the gannets’ recognition ritual.

Night at Art Deco Masonic Hotel (Napier)

Day 7: Travel to Nelson

Return your rental vehicle to Napier Airport then fly to Nelson where you will collect your next rental vehicle and drive to your accommodation.

Spend the rest of the day at leisure in this region known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries, microbreweries and a large creative community of working artists. 

Accommodation: Clayridge House - A charming bed and breakfast with views of Tasman Bay and the nearby mountain ranges. The Mt Arthur Suite, looks out towards Mt Arthur in the nearby Kahurangi National Park and to the sea of Tasman Bay. Clayridge House also offers a spacious self-contained cottage. The cottage is situated to make the most of the sun and sea views and has two bedrooms, a separate bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and a large lounge opening on to a private outdoor patio.

Napier, Nelson
Clayridge House and Cottages (Nelson)

Day 8: Abel Tasman National Park 

Today join your catamaran to cruise along the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park’s coastline. Your cruise itinerary is flexible so if there is something to see, like dolphins riding the bow wave or New Zealand fur seals fishing, then you can go take a look. After a light lunch you can swim, snorkel, sea kayak, go ashore for a bush walk, or just relax onboard. 

Day 9: Travel to Blenheim

This morning make your way east and then slightly south to Blenheim. You might like to stop along the way in Picton and look out into the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

Spend the rest of your day at leisure sampling the wines, the olive oils, and the gourmet foods that have put this region on the map as the gourmet province.

Accommodation: The Bell Tower – A boutique bed & breakfast located in the Marlborough Wine Region offering views over Marlborough's Richmond Range and Wairau Plains. The Highfield and Richmond Rooms are located in the main house and both have private courtyards with views over to the mountain range. The French Barn is separate to the main house and is built with recycled timber. Offering two bedrooms, living, dining and kitchenette this is perfect for families or two couples.

Night at The Bell Tower (Blenheim)

Day 10: Crayfish in Kaikoura

This morning drive south along the rugged east coast to Kaikoura.

The word ‘Kaikoura’ means ‘to eat crayfish’ so be sure to enjoy great seafood during your afternoon at leisure.

Accommodation: Kaikoura Boutique Hotel - An historic waterfront boutique hotel which has been recently refurbished and restored. It is located on Kaikoura’s waterfront, close to all tourist activities, shopping, cafes and restaurants. Choose from historic waterfront rooms, courtyard rooms, or our suite, each featuring unique interiors and views.

Blenheim, Kaikoura
Night at Kaikoura Boutique (Kaikoura)

Day 11: Whale Watch Boat Tour

Today you will join a Whale Watch Boat Tour, a unique experience with varied sightings.  Giant Sperm Whales are year-round residents and you may also encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. You could also see Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales and Orca. 

Night at Kaikoura Boutique (Kaikoura)

Day 12: Travel to Queenstown

This morning drive to Christchurch airport and return your rental vehcile before your flight to Queenstown where you will collect your final rental vehicle.

Queenstown is the South Island’s premier destination and it is easy to see why. With a cinematic background of mountains and lakes, this region has a unique and inspirational range of activities and experiences. Spend the day at leisure wandering the lively village full of great cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. 

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel -A boutique hotel located in the centre of Queenstown. The Dairy is widely regarded as one of Queenstown’s top boutique hotels. Warm, inviting and personal, they have 13 private, stylishly appointed bedrooms, each with it’s own ensuite. The premier rooms have wonderful views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables Mountains and the standard rooms take in other vistas of the surrounding alpine scenery.

Night at The Dairy Private  (Queenstown)

Day 13: Take Flight in Milford Sound 

This morning transfer to Queenstown Airport for your scenic flight to Milford Sound during which you will enjoy panoramic views of spectacular alpine scenery including glaciers, rivers, lakes and rainforest. You will then cruise the full length of the fiord to the Tasman Sea for excellent wildlife viewing including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season. You will return back to Queenstown by flight taking a different path so that you experience further dramatic scenery.

Milford SoundQueenstown
Night at The Dairy Private  (Queenstown)

Day 14: Day at leisure in Queenstown

You could spend your final full day relaxing in Queenstown or it’s well worth exploring the incredible surronds. Drive out to Glenorchy for a true slice of paradise, or to Arrowtown for alook around this quaint historic mining town. Further afield Wanaka is a lovely lakeside town which has a lot to offer in a beautiful setting.

Night at The Dairy Private  (Queenstown)

Day 15: Depart Queenstown

After two weeks exploring this memorable part of the world return your rental vehicle to Queenstown before departing for your home country.


Auckland Waiheke Island Rotorua Napier Nelson Abel Tasman National Park Blenheim Kaikoura Christchurch Queenstown Milford Sound

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Season Price Per Adult
Prices Starting From
January 2020 to December 2020 $4,450

Included in price:

  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • In-trip ground transportation
  • Activities according to your customized trip
  • Airport transfers
  • 24/7 local agency support
  • Trip creation with an expert local agent

Not included in price:

  • Arrival and departure flights
  • Meals and beverages not indicated
  • Personal expenses
  • Service gratuities
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance
Book your flights to New Zealand
International flights are not included in this trip. Thanks to our partnership with Option Way, you can take advantage of booking your flights directly with your local agent.
Check out the many benefits:
  • Competitive rates
  • All-inclusive prices with no hidden fees
  • Your local agent Amanda, in New Zealand, will inform you of any changes to your flights
For more information or to book your flights directly, head to our partner site.

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