20 January 2017
There is no better way to fully appreciate the natural beauty of New Zealand than to drive through it. And on this exciting two week self-drive tour you will see all the main highlights of both North and South Island as you travel from Auckland down to Christchurch. Lord of the Rings country never fails to delight visitors and with the freedom you have by driving yourself you will have plenty of opportunities to make the most out of your 14 day itinerary by finding places where other tourists can't reach.
On arrival at Auckland airport you can collect your rental car for your exclusive use until the end of the tour package. Drive into this bright and buzzing city with its exclusive waterfront area and go exploring before eating out in one of a number of fine restaurants.
This morning you say farewell to Auckland and drive south over the Bombay Hills and through the lush Waikato pasturelands to the famous geothermal centre of Rotorua, where you spend the next two nights. The journey is around 200 miles and, of course, you drive on the left just like in England.
Geysers, mud pools and thermal springs have been attracting visitors to Rotorua since the 1800s and the living, breathing landscape never fails to amaze. A faint sulphur scent lingers in the air, a constant reminder of the thermal activity that is visible in pockets scattered around the region. Clouds of steam drift from Kuirau Park, home to boiling mud pools and crater lakes. Fumaroles and silica terraces displaying amazing colours can be found at the region’s various thermal parks – a must-see for any visitor.
Today you leave the steamy wonderland and Maori culture of Rotorua and travel south-east today towards Napier, known as the fruit bowl of New Zealand and a well known wine region. This journey is again around 200 miles but the driving is easy and the rolling countryside a delight.
A full day today at leisure with time to explore the lovely parks, gardens, shoreline and wineries of Napier, one of New Zealand's most attractive cities, located at the south of the Hawkes Bay and capital of the country's wine growing industry. Palm trees line the inner-city streets and the wonderfully sculpted Marine Parade runs along the shore. Known as the Art Deco City, Napier has the most comprehensive collection of inner-city art deco buildings in the world.
Back in the car today for the 300 mile journey south through the Manawatu Gorge, horticultural farms and the rocky seascapes to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is also the country's arts and cultural capital. Visit the galleries, see the world-class New Zealand Symphony Orchestra or the Royal New Zealand Ballet and on the waterfront you’ll find Te Papa Tongarewa, a presentation of New Zealand’s story through art and interactive display. Wellington has a vibrant café scene and some of the best restaurants in the country.
Today it is time to change islands. Drop your car off at the rental car depot at the Wellington Ferry Terminal and board the Interislander Ferry for your journey across Cook Strait to Picton. On arrival in South Island collect your rental car and make your way to Blenheim, a drive of around 100 miles.
There is another long and picturesque 300 mile drive today from Picton. Journey down the coast past the towns of Kaikoura, which is famous for whale watching and Cheviot before arriving in Christchurch, one of New Zealand's most beautiful and relaxed cities. Time to relax in the wonderful parks or go shopping.
It will be hard to tear yourself away from Christchurch as there is so much to see and do there, but today you begin another 300 mile drive to majestic Mount Cook. While in Mount Cook National Park you may want to make time for a scenic skiplane or helicopter flight over the Tasman Glacier.
This morning travel south over the Lindis Pass and through the Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown. This journey is also around 300 miles but the scenery is so stunning that the time will pass in a flash. Once you have arrived in the adrenalin junkies capital of the world it is up to you which adventure you try.
A full day at your leisure to select your optional sightseeing or thrilling experience. There is bungee jumping, jet boating and white water rafting to name but a few and for a more relaxed time, vintage steamer lake cruises, visits to high country sheep stations, mountain gondola rides - the list is endless. You should also make time to relax and simply marvel at the beautiful mountain scenery.
Depart this morning for the 250 mile drive to Dunedin through the Kawarau Gorge to Cromwell, following the Clutha River down through Alexandra via the rich farmlands of South Otago. Dunedin - the Edinburgh of the South - is a fascinating place. Visit the railway station, the world's steepest street, the Otago Peninsula - home of the Royal Albatross Colony, the Yellow Penguins or historic Larnach Castle.
This morning you drive the 250 miles heading north to Moeraki to view the unique outdoor beach boulders. Continue via Oamaru and Timaru across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch where you will have time to see some of the sights you missed earlier in your trip.
Today your wonderful self drive tour of New Zealand comes to an end. Time for some more sightseeing and shopping in Christchurch before you return your rental car directly at the airport and prepare for your onward flight or journey back home having seen for yourself why New Zealand is a paradise for tourists.
Standard fr £1677pp
Superior fr £2132pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated