22 Day Best New Zealand Hiking Tour: Self Drive New Zealand Tours Packages

22 Day Best New Zealand Hiking Tour: Immerse yourself in awe-inspiring landscapes while hiking through New Zealand’s stunning wilderness, creating unforgettable memories and connecting with nature at its finest with our best hiking tours in New Zealand.

If you are looking to spend additional time exploring New Zealand, we highly recommend checking out our extensive selection of day tours / activities. Our tours are designed to provide you with a comprehensive and memorable experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the unique culture and stunning scenery of New Zealand. With our all-inclusive packages, you can relax and enjoy your vacation, knowing that all your transportation, accommodation, and day tours / activities have been taken care of. Let us help you plan a hassle-free and unforgettable holiday in New Zealand.

  •    TOUR DURATION:
    21 days
  •    TOUR STARTS/ENDS:
    Auckland to Christchurch
  •    TOUR CATEGORY:
    Self Drive Tour
  •    TRANSPORTATION:
    Rental Car
  •    TOUR DEPARTURES:
    Daily
  •    AIRPORT TRANSFERS:
    N/A
  •    MEALS:
    21 x Breakfast 
  •    ACCOMMODATIONS:
    First Class Hotels, Superior Hotels, Standard Hotels
  •    PASSENGERS:
    no minimum number of passengers
  •    TOUR CODE:
    ANZ07
  •    PRE & POST ACCOMMODATION:
    “Available“
  •    CITIES/REGIONS VISITED:

ITINERARY

Depart from United States Of America, US

DAY 1 : ARRIVE AUCKLAND

Welcome to New Zealand!

On Day 1, you will arrive at Auckland Airport and pick up your rental car. During the drive to your hotel, you will get to know Auckland, also known as the “City of Sails”. You can drive to Mount Eden, an extinct volcanic cone that offers a beautiful view of the city or visit the elegant suburb of Parnell and the port of Auckland. You can also visit the Maritime Museum located at the harbor, which showcases New Zealand’s maritime history from the first Polynesian explorers to modern triumphs in the America’s Cup.
We recommend visiting the Auckland Sky Tower before sunset, which offers an incredible 360° view of ancient volcanoes, sparkling sunlit harbors, and much more.

DAY 2 : AUCKLAND - RANGITOTO ISLAND - AUCKLAND

On Day 2, we will board a ship to Rangitoto Island, one of the youngest volcanic islands on Earth, located in Auckland’s harbor. You can hike over solidified lava masses to the summit go swimming, fishing, or observe the birds and nature.

INCLUDED
Fullers – Rangitoto Ferry Return

EXPERT TIPS
Rangitoto Summit Track
Time: 2 hours (round trip)
Distance: 7 km

Walk along well-formed trails through ancient lava fields that are now home to the largest Pōhutukawa forest in the world and dozens of shorebirds, seabirds, and forest birds.
At the summit, another track circles the crater rim.

Departure: Fullers360 Ticket Office, Pier 1 or 2, 99 Quay Street, Auckland City at least 30 minutes prior to departure.

DAY 3 : AUCKLAND - WHITIANGA APPROX. 211KM, 3H15MIN

On Day 3, you will leave Auckland and head towards the Coromandel Peninsula, which boasts a diverse landscape of wild rugged mountains, rough and steep rocky cliffs, and south sea sandy beaches. You will stop by the Hot Water Beach near Hahei, where you can walk along the white sandy beach or take a swim in the clear sea. You can also hike to Cathedral Cove, a bizarrely sculptured rocky cove with impressively washed-out soft chalk cliffs.

DAY 4 : WHITIANGA - ROTORUA APPROX. 220KM, 3H30MIN

On Day 4, you will drive across the Bay of Plenty towards Rotorua, the main attraction of the North Island. Rotorua is a thermal city built around numerous hot mineral springs and is also the center of Maori culture. You will experience an authentic introduction to Maori culture in Mitai Village, complete with Pacific and Maori songs, dances, and games. You will also learn how to prepare a “Hangi” in an earth oven, Maori customs, flora and fauna for medicinal purposes, and much more.

DAY 5 : ROTORUA

On Day 5, you will join a half-day tour with Kaitiaki Adventures to Mt Tawarewa, a volcano famous for its 1886 eruption. This fully guided hiking experience offers scenic views and 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and volcanoes.
On Day 6, you will travel approximately 177km for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Lake Taupo. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to stop and explore the Waimangu Valley, which was formed in 1886 by a volcanic eruption. Here, you can go on an easy hike to witness the hot springs, steaming cliffs, and the Inferno Crater. You will also see the white and pink sinter terraces that were shattered during the Tarawera eruption, buried at the bottom of a lake.

DAY 6 : ROTORUA - TAUPO - TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK APPROX. 177KM, 2H15MIN

On Day 6, you will travel approximately 177km for 2 hours and 15 minutes from Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Lake Taupo. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to stop and explore the Waimangu Valley, which was formed in 1886 by a volcanic eruption. Here, you can go on an easy hike to witness the hot springs, steaming cliffs, and the Inferno Crater. You will also see the white and pink sinter terraces that were shattered during the Tarawera eruption, buried at the bottom of a lake.

Afterward, you will head to Lake Taupo and stop at the famous Huka Waterfall before continuing your journey to Tongariro National Park. The park is known for its three active volcanoes, Ruapehu (2797 m), Tongariro (1967 m), and Ngauruhoe (2291 m), and its stunning landscape of black ash, brown dust desert, and mountain streams lined with native beech trees.

DAY 7 : TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK

On Day 7, you will take a shuttle bus to the start of the Tongariro Crossing, one of the most popular hiking trails in New Zealand, which will take you around 6-10 hours to complete. Along the way, you will witness the constantly changing, partly moon-like landscape and the spectacular views of Mt. Tongariro (1968 m), Mt. Ngauruhoe (2291 m), and Mt. Ruapehu (2797 m). You will cross several craters, pass fumaroles and hot springs, and admire the bright turquoise “Emerald Lakes.” If you are physically fit, the shuttle bus will take you back to your accommodation at the end of the hike.

DAY 8 : TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK - WELLINGTON APPROX. 338KM, 4H

On Day 8, you will drive approximately 338km for 4 hours from Tongariro National Park to Wellington. The drive will take you through barren steppe land surrounded by peaks up to 2800 m before reaching the green, fertile farm areas of Rangitikei and Manawatu. You will then drive towards Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, which is located in the middle of a beautiful landscape and directly on the rough sea, the famous Cook Strait. You can explore the city’s beautiful harbor promenade, and well-preserved Victorian architecture, and take a ride on the bright red cable car up to the well-kept Botanical Gardens. You can also visit Te Papa, the lavishly appointed National Museum, and even make a detour to Zealandia for an evening tour, a wilderness oasis near downtown that is home to endangered species.

DAY 9 : WELLINGTON - PICTON + FERRY CROSSING

On Day 9, you will board the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton, passing through the Cook Waterway that separates the North Island from the South Island and the Marlborough Sounds, an area of “drowned” valleys created by the geological subsidence of a low mountain range. The ferry ride offers stunning views of steep ridges and fjord-like shores. You will reach the small harbor town of Picton and spend the rest of the day exploring the area.

DAY 10 : PICTON

On Day 10, you will take a hike on a section of the famous Queen Charlotte Track, a 67km coastal trail that stretches from historic Ship Cove to Anakiwa in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds. You will be taken to Ship Cove by boat transfer from Beachcomber Cruises, and from there, you will hike 15 km to Furneaux Lodge, rewarded with breathtaking views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. The lush subtropical bush along the trail is also home to many of New Zealand’s typical bird species.

DAY 11 : PICTON - KAITERITERI APPROX. 193KM, 2H45MIN

You’ll drive a scenic route along the coast to Havelock, Pelorus Gorge, and Nelson. Then, you’ll travel to your accommodation near Abel Tasman National Park.

DAY 12 : KAITERITERI

You’ll take a half-day excursion to Abel Tasman National Park. You’ll enjoy the bays and beaches during a boat ride, followed by a 2-hour hike. Along the way, you’ll see a native forest and a waterfall. You’ll also have opportunities to swim and view New Zealand fur seals.

DAY 13 : KAITERITERI - PUNAKAIKI - HOKITIKA APPROX. 361KM, 5H

You’ll travel through the Motueka River Valley, and cross Buller Gorge to reach the wild West Coast. You’ll stop at Cape Foulwind and Punakaiki to observe sea lions and pancake rocks. You’ll spend the night in Hokitika, known for its greenstone processing.

DAY 14 : HOKITIKA - FRANZ JOSEF APPROX. 134KM, 1H45MIN

You’ll hike through the Hokitika River gorge, with impressive views of the river and native forest. Then, you’ll reach Franz Josef to see the Southern Alps and Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. You can also take some expert tips for hikes at Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, and Ōkārito Trig.

DAY 15 : FRANZ JOSEF - WANAKA APPROX. 284KM, 4H

On Day 15 of the trip, you will travel from Franz Josef to Wanaka, covering approximately 284km in 4 hours. In the morning, you will have the opportunity to go for an easy walk through the rainforest around Lake Matheson. When the wind is calm, you can see the glaciers and snow-capped mountains of the 3000m range reflected in the lake, which is surrounded by lush rainforest. This makes for a beautiful sight and a popular photo spot.

DAY 16 : WANAKA

On Day 15 of the trip, you will travel from Franz Josef to Wanaka, covering approximately 284km in 4 hours. In the morning, you will have the opportunity to go for an easy walk through the rainforest around Lake Matheson. When the wind is calm, you can see the glaciers and snow-capped mountains of the 3000m range reflected in the lake, which is surrounded by lush rainforest. This makes for a beautiful sight and a popular photo spot.

After that, you will proceed to the Westland National Park, where you can take a hike in the rainforest for around 2 hours. Then, you will head to Haast, crossing the Haast Pass, which is the water and climate divide of the Southern Alps. As you cross the pass, you will enter the Aspiring National Park. You will get to enjoy the stunning views of the gigantic mountains as you drive along the lakes Hawea and Wanaka.

Here are some expert tips for hikes that you can take depending on the weather:

– Schiffsbach: Dune Lake Walk – This is a 30-minute walk that takes you through the dunes and coastal forest. You can get some great photo opportunities from platforms overlooking Dune Lake and the shoreline southwest of Jackson Head.
– Monro Beach Walk – This is a 1-hour 20-minute walk that covers a distance of 4.7 km.
– Ship Creek: Kahikatea Swamp Forest Trail (SH6) – This walk takes around 20 minutes to complete and covers a distance of 800 m. Along the way, you can observe forest plants and wildlife.
– Roaring Billy Falls – This is an easy 25-minute walk along a tree fern-lined path that takes you past some beautiful specimens of miro, matai, and silver beeches. You can witness the aptly named Roaring Billy cascading over huge boulders.
– Blue Pools Track (between Wanaka and Haast) – This is a 1-hour walk that covers a distance of 10 km (return along the same track). It takes you through extensive beech and podocarp forests and leads you to the natural wonders of pure glacial water from the mountains. You can cross the suspension bridge over the Makarora River and walk along a boardwalk to the second swing bridge, the viewing platform over the Blue Pools.

DAY 17 : WANAKA - QUEENSTOWN - TE ANAU APPROX. 227KM, 3H

The lakes of Wanaka and Hawea were formed over centuries of glaciation and offer stunning landscapes to explore. You can discover these beautiful surroundings through various activities such as mountain bike trails, paragliding, scenic flights, or by hiking along countless trails. The highest point in the region is Mount Aspiring (3,027 m), which is located in one of the largest national parks in the country. Within the park’s boundaries, you can find a rare alpine world waiting to be discovered.

One of the most popular short hikes in the park is the Iron Mountain hike, which offers a wonderful panoramic view of the area. It is a must-do for all visitors. For more experienced hikers, we recommend the challenging 4-hour hike to Rob Roy Glacier, which takes you as close as possible to the three-thousand-meter peak of Mt. Aspiring. To get there, you will need to drive to the Matukituki Valley and then hike in the Rob Roy Valley, a gorge that was shaped by the Ice Age. Once you reach above the timberline, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of massive cliffs, surrounding glaciers, and subalpine meadows. You may even encounter the endemic and curious Kea parrot, the world’s only mountain parrot. Make sure to check the weather conditions before embarking on your journey.

DAY 18 : TE ANAU

On Day 18, you will drive to Milford Sound, which is the most beautiful end of the world and the landmark of New Zealand. On the way, you will pass the Mirror Lakes and the Homer Tunnel and may even encounter parrots and keas during a stop. You will then go on an extended boat trip at Milford Sound to see more nature, waterfalls, wilderness, and wildlife. On the way back to Te Anau, you can stop for a hike on the Routeburn Great Walk to Key Summit.

The Routeburn Great Walk to Key Summit offers spectacular views of Fiordland National Park. If you only have time for a walk on the way to Milford Sound and the weather is good, this track is worth the effort. From The Divide parking lot, follow the Routeburn Track for about an hour to get to the Key Summit Track. From here, it’s a 20-minute climb to Key Summit with panoramic views of the Humboldt and Darran Mountains.

You can also choose to visit Doubtful Sound instead of Milford Sound, which is a beautiful fjord three times longer than Milford Sound with ten times the surface area. However, there is no direct access road, so the only way to Doubtful Sound is through a cruise across scenic Lake Manapouri, followed by a drive over Wilmot Pass, which is New Zealand’s most expensive and majestic road. During the trip, you will stop to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and see Doubtful Sound glistening below. In Doubtful Sound, you will board our spacious, custom-built catamaran Patea Explorer for a 3-hour cruise through this pristine fjord. During the cruise, our knowledgeable and friendly naturalist guides will share with you their passion for the region and provide all the information you need about the various species of wildlife you may see, including dolphins, fur seals, and the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.

DAY 19 : TE ANAU - MOUNT COOK VILLAGE APPROX. 420KM, 5H

In the morning, we will be traveling through Queenstown to reach Arrowtown, a former gold mining town that has been beautifully restored. Arrowtown also has an old Chinese settlement that is worth exploring. This charming town is perfect for a leisurely coffee and a stroll through the small stores. 

After that, we will continue inland through McKenzie Country. The region receives sparse rainfall, which makes it appear as a barren steppe landscape. However, the wide “tussock” meadows that cover the hills like a carpet, transform the landscape into a strange-looking inner alpine basin landscape. 

We will then visit Lake Pukaki, where you will have the opportunity to admire the magnificent glacier world. This area is full of contrasts, and you will end another eventful day in Mt Cook Village. The highest mountain in New Zealand, standing at 3724 m, is called “Aoraki” by the Maori people which means “cloud piercer”.

EXPERT TIPS

Arrowtown, a town in New Zealand, has a beautiful tree-lined Main Street that is adorned with images of the fall gold. However, in the mid-19th century, gold was much more than just a beautiful sight. It was the real deal and everyone rushed to find it. The historic Buckingham Street area, which is lined with cottages and buildings, was the original hub of economic activity within the city.

Chinese gold miners also migrated to the area during this gold rush and by 1874, over 3,500 Chinese people were living in Otago. In Arrowtown, the Chinese were forced to live in shacks along lonely gullies on the banks of Bush Creek, which were on the outskirts of town. Many of these huts have been restored, and visitors now have the chance to travel back in time to this “golden” era and experience the hardscrabble and humble living conditions of the “other half” in this prosperous town.

You can take a short walk through this partially restored and well-interpreted Chinese settlement from the 1880s and get a glimpse of what life was like during the gold rush era.

DAY 20 : MOUNT COOK VILLAGE

Today, you can go for a hike in Hooker Valley and enjoy the stunning alpine mountains in the background. Firstly, you will cross a suspension bridge, and then walk along a trail that winds between two lateral moraines of the Müller Glacier. You will come across another suspension bridge and then the trail will drop slightly, bringing you to a shelter located in a small depression. From here, you will have a clear view of the Hooker Glacier valley, with Mt Cook in the background. It will take you another 30 minutes from here to reach the glacier lake. After taking a rest, you can start your way back to Mt Cook village. The total walking time for this hike is around 4-5 hours.

DAY 21 : MOUNT COOK VILLAGE - LAKE TEKAPO - CHRISTCHURCH

Before leaving the Southern Alps, we recommend making a stop at the glacier lake Tekapo. The turquoise lake is located in the middle of the mountains and features a small chapel and a monument to herding dogs.

You are now in the McKenzie Country, which features a steppe-like landscape covered in New Zealand tussock grass that sways in the wind. The journey continues through the vast farmlands of the Canterbury Plain, and you will reach Christchurch in the afternoon. Christchurch is known as the “most English city” outside of England.

The Cathedral Square area is an interesting place to explore. You can either hop on a restored streetcar or walk between Hagley Park and Cardboard Cathedral, New Regent Street, and the South City Mall. You can easily spend a whole day downtown, including a visit to a museum and the botanical gardens.

We recommend taking a side trip to the Toi Pōneke Arts Centre if you have the time. Additionally, if you’re up for it, take a gondola ride up to Christchurch’s Lookout Mountain. From there, you’ll have a panoramic view of Christchurch and the nearby Banks Peninsula, which was formed by volcanic activity.

DAY 22 : CHRISTCHURCH

Today marks the end of your New Zealand trip. You may drop off your rental car at the airport before your onward or return flight.

Arrive to United States Of America, US

Inclusions & Highlights

Vehicle according to the booked category, day 1 – 22
– 21 x nights in accommodation as described
– 21 x breakfast
– Fullers – Rangitoto Ferry Return
– Mitai Evening Experience – Cultural Experience incl Hangi Dinner
– Kaitiaki Adventures – Mt Tarawera Crater Walk Experience
– Waimangu – Walk and hike
– Shuttle Bus Tongariro Crossing
– Interislander ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton for foot passengers and rental cars
– Beachcomber Cruises: Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge
– Wilsons Abel Tasman -Seals and Beach
– Real NZ – Milford Sound Cruise
– 15% New Zealand sales tax (GST)

Tour Exclusions:
– Travel insurance
– International flight
– Meals unless otherwise stated
– Activities specified with “optional”
– Gasoline and parking fees

ACCOMMODATION

First Class Hotel
First Class are central city or resort location hotels at the top end of the scale rating 4 to 41/2 stars. All hotels at this level have excellent facilities, bars and restaurants etc, full services, and many feature swimming pool, spa baths, and fully equipped gymnasium for the enjoyment of guests.

Superior Hotel
Superior describes hotels in the 31/2 to 4-star category. More often than not, these will be centrally located and offering a wide range of services and facilities.

Standard Hotel
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.

Luxury Lodges
‘Simply the Best’ – each luxury lodge is unique in its own right offering the best in location, service, quality and showcasing New Zealand’s food and wine. All include breakfast and many include dinner either in the tariff or by pre-arrangement at a small additional cost.

Boutique Hotels/Bed and Breakfasts
We have many unique 5 star small hotels and home-hosted bed and breakfasts that offer exceptional service and quality. These all include breakfast daily and again, many do include dinner on request (for an additional charge).