19 Day New Zealand Self Drive Tour: Discover New Zealand on a trip through its North and South Islands staying at a charming “Bed & Breakfast” along the way.
Each self-drive booking will receive a free travel kit including atlas, maps, directions, and more!
Important information for self-drive tours in NZ:
Hirer must be 21+ years old.
The hirer must provide a full, valid driving license.
The hirer must provide a credit card for the insurance bond.
An international driving license is accepted but not required.
Overseas drivers must present their passports and overseas licenses when applying for a New Zealand one.
Most major car hire companies have desks at airports, ferry terminals, and cities throughout the North and South Island.
Auckland – Dargaville – Waipoua Kauri Forest – Bay of Islands – Russell – Paihia – Auckland – Coromandel Peninsula – Rotorua – Taupo – Tongariro National Park – Wellington – Picton – Abel Tasman National Park – Paparoa National Park – Barrytown – Westland National Park – Glaciers – Haast Pass – Wanaka – Queenstown – Te Anau – Queenstown – McKenzie Country – Fairlie – Mt Cook – Christchurch
(B) – Breakfast, (L) – Lunch, (D) – Dinner
Auckland Airport and pick up your rental car. During the drive to your hotel you will make acquaintance with the beautiful “City of Sails”, as Auckland is also called. You can drive to the extinct volcanic cone of Mt Eden, from where you have a beautiful view over the city, or continue to the elegant suburb of Parnell and to Auckland Harbour. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure – you may choose to stroll along the harbour or through the downtown shopping malls.
Early in the morning, leave the metropolis of Auckland and drive over the Harbour Bridge and along the Hibiscus Coast to Matakohe, where you can visit the popular Kauri and Paper Museum (optional). In the afternoon, you arrive at the Waipoua Kauri Forest where you find the native Fern trees flourishing next to mighty, 1500 year-old Kauri trees. The tour continues via Opononi and along the Bay of Hokianga to the Bay of Islands.
Today you could choose to drive from Ninety Mile Beach right up to the tip of the North Island, Cape Reinga. Alternatively, take a boat cruise around the subtropical paradise that is the Bay of Islands, visiting the famous “Hole in the Rock” (optional). Visit Russell, New Zealand’s oldest city and former capital, and make time to see Waitangi (optional), where in 1840 a fundamental treaty between the English and the Maori was signed. Still today, the Treaty of Waitangi has a great impact on the living together of the two cultures.
Early in the morning, you drive via Whangarei and Auckland to the Peninsula of Coromandel. You have the opportunity to stroll through the township Thames and discover the rich history of the Coromandel Peninsula.
Today you can spend the day along the east coast of the Coromandel and its various amazing beaches. Highlights are Cathedral Cove, Hahei Marine Reserve and Hot Water Beach, where you have the chance to dig your own hot pool on the beach (depending on tides)! We also suggest a boat ride along the coastline to discover the Marine Reserve (optional).
In the afternoon you arrive at Rotorua, the main attraction of the North Island. This thermal city is built around many hot mineral springs and geothermal wonders. Rotorua is also a great place to experience Maori culture. In the evening, you can participate in a Hangi, a traditional Maori meal cooked in the ground(optional). After the feast, the Maori performers sing, play and dance, including you in their lively musical culture. Experience the Maori Haka and the swinging of the poi. All actions, games and dances are accompanied by harmonious singing (optional).
You can spend the whole day in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve and in the remote Waiotapu Area, renown for their boiling mud puddles and geysers (optional). At Rainbow Springs (optional), you could see New Zealand’s National animal, the flightless Kiwi bird, in its night house.
Travel through an important forestry area reaching the picturesque, fast-flowing Huka Falls. The Thermal Energy Plant at Wairakei is of great technical interest. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in NZ and of volcanic origin. State Highway 1 runs along the lake’s edge.
You drive to the heart of the Tongariro National Park. This oldest of the New Zealand National Parks consists of a grand volcanic mountain landscape. You have the opportunity to stroll in the National Park and see the three active volcanoes in all their magnificence.
Your tour continues southward through the fertile farmlands of Levin to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.
You can undertake a city sightseeing tour and drive to Mount Victoria from where you can enjoy a beautiful view over the city. The rest of the day is at your own free disposal. The top of the cable car (optional), running from Lambton Quay, also gives a fine close-up view of the city. Apart from its importance as the political centre the city offers a large cultural choice of museums and art galleries.
In the morning you board the ferry. After a scenic three-hour cruise across Cook Strait and through the scenic island world that is the Marlborough Sounds, you arrive at the small port of Picton. Picton is a bustling town in an incomparable setting at the head of exquisite Queen Charlotte Sound. The town enjoys a view of green and blue bush-clad ranges dropping to a sheltered bay. Along the spectacular panoramic road, Queen Charlotte Drive, your route takes you via Nelson to Motueka, entrance of the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you can relax on the lonesome beaches and bays. Today you spend the evening close to the entrance of the National Park.
You can undertake a day trip into the National Park (optional), initially by boat along the dreamlike coast with its many lonesome bays, golden beaches and small islands. This unique coastal area is very popular with trampers. After the boat trip, enjoy a light three-hour walk, so that you may truly enjoy the amazing forest and the beaches. In the afternoon, return by boat to Kaiteriteri.
Today’s journey is a full day’s drive, if all places of interest are to be seen. Take the route via Murchison and then along the fast flowing Buller Gorge with its gorges to the coast. Here you experience a dramatic change of vegetation.
Take a short walk to Cape Foulwind, where a small Seal colony can be discovered. Next, drive to the Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki. These bizarre rocks belong to the spectacular Paparoa National Park. The soft chalk rocks are permanently being eroded by the wild Tasman Sea. They lie clearly separated from the harder deposits and this makes them look like piles of pancakes.
Along the West Coast, you pass the forgotten gold miners’ townships of Hari Hari and Ross.
In Franz Josef, you reach the Westland National Park and the Southern Alps. Nowhere else on Earth do the glaciers come down to an altitude of 250 meters above sea level and touch the rainforest without transition, and it is a truly amazing sight. A short side trip can take you to the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Here you have the opportunity to enjoy helicopter round-trips including actually landing on the glaciers (optional)!
Drive through the rainforests of the west coast. The Westland National Park belongs to the most fascinating and multi-faceted National Park in New Zealand. At Lake Moeraki, in the middle of the evergreen rainforest, you can undertake an easy one-hour walk through the moss and algae clad primal forest. Emerge from the forest at the wildly foaming Tasman Sea at Munro Beach. Continue across Haast Pass, the water and climate frontier of the Southern Alps and reach the area of Mount Aspiring National Park, driving along the idyllic Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka.
Today, within just a few hours, you experience the different sceneries of the rugged Queenstown mountain world, the fertile farm lands of the Southland region and finally Fiordland itself. The Fiordland National Park is not only New Zealand’s largest but also one of the largest National Parks in the world and has been declared a World Heritage site. Upon the grand scenery of the narrow valleys, the steep rocks that reach toward the skies, and the lush rainforest (the floor of which is covered by moss and ferns) one can be overwhelmed by a sentiment of human powerlessness. In Fiordland nature is the master. Tonight you stay in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland.
This morning, you have the opportunity to go on a cruise of the Sounds, where you get an opportunity to see stunning sights, spot seals and dolphins, fish the great depths and generally soak up the beauty (optional)!
After this experience, your journey continues to Queenstown, the site of the largest goldrush in the country back in the 1860’s. Queenstown now has an international reputation as the adventure capital of the world. A unique alpine setting located next to a freshwater lake, a range of 75 different activities and attractions for visitors to experience and a compact town centre are just some of Queenstown features.
Another day in Queenstown to spend at your leisure.
You travel through Otago and reach the bizarr eclay cliffs at Omarama. After the walk, continue your tour to Lake Tekapo. The largest of the three lakes in the Mackenzie Country, this beautiful turquoise lake is blessed with a magnificent vista up into the Southern Alps. Leaving the Southern Alps behind, we enter a prosperous farming region, the Canterbury. Tonight you overnight at a farmhouse in Fairlie, hosted by local farmers.
On your way to the South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch, take time to enjoy a walk along a nature trail in the Peel Forest to study the endemic fauna and flora. You will also pass through the Canterbury Plains, New Zealand’s most intensive farming district. It is the largest flat country area in this country and here you can see not only all varieties of farm animals including deer and emus, but also everything that agriculture in this wonderous climate has to offer. Canterbury is the ‘granary’ of the country. On long, straight roads, you drive through this area intersected by wind protection hedges to Christchurch, the ‘most English city outside of England’.
Drop off your rental car at the Christchurch rental car depot and depart NZ for your next destination.
19 Day New Zealand Self Drive Tour offers the following:
No minimum number of passengers
Breakfasts Daily at all hotels
All sightseeing entry fees included (as mentioned in each itinerary)
A choice of accommodation options
All tours can be added to
All packages can be taken in reverse (except ‘Stunning New Zealand’)
Standard Accommodation Options
Standard is equivalent to a good 3-star tourist hotel. These hotels represent excellent value for money and usually have a licensed restaurant and bar on the premises.
Superior Accommodation Options
Superior describes hotels in the 3 1/2 to 4-star category. More often than not, these will be centrally located and offer a wide range of services and facilities.
First Class Accommodation Options
First Class are central city or resort location hotels at the top end of the scale rating 4 to 4 1/2 stars. All hotels at this level have excellent facilities, bars and restaurants etc, full services, and many feature swimming pools, spa baths, and fully equipped gymnasiums for the enjoyment of guests.