On the other side of the world, opposite Europe, New Zealand’s North and South Island extend over a length of 1600 kilometres. Endless beaches, fiords, fern forests and geysers, the magnificent mountain world of the Southern Alps, as well as endless pastures, open up a multitude of unique opportunities for nature lovers. Hardly any other part of our world offers so many different landscapes in a relatively small area. The spectacular landscapes and the species-rich flora and fauna are the focus of this journey.The natural beauty of our National Parks is one of the most impressive experiences of this tour. A boat trip in Milford Sound will certainly remain unforgettable. Covering the best features of both islands you will travel in comfort and by your own paste. Your accommodation is waiting for you. And it’s the perfect Honeymoon in New Zealand as well!
Find here the itinerary daily details of your New Zealand tour.
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The following summary lists driving information for each major driving day of your itinerary. Times and distances are based on ideal conditions without stops. Plan to take longer to allow time to explore and enjoy some stops. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support – details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.
You arrive at Auckland Airport. During the tour to your accommodation you will make acquaintance with the „City of Sails“, as Auckland is also called. Auckland has approximately 1.5 million inhabitants and is the largest city of New Zealand. Auckland rests on a chain of around 50 extinct volcanic cones and an un-ending procession of sails in the port is typical for the relaxed way of life here.Until 1865, Auckland was the capital and is today the economic centre of New Zealand. Enjoy the wonderful panoramic view over the city from the summit of the ancient volcano Mt Eden.
Today you will leave the Auckland and drive through the fertile Waikato region, which is the „greenest spot“ in New Zealand with its lush meadows. Afterwards, the journey continues to the Coromandel Peninsula.
Today you will experience the Coromandel Peninsula. Visit the Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own „spa pool“ and relax in the hot water. Shovels can be rented locally for $10 or ask at your accommodation. To cool down afterwards, take a dip in the ocean.
You can also discover the impressive Cathedral Cove by boat, kayak or on a beautitiful little track. This rock formation on a white sand beach was also one of the settings of the movie „The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.“
Or take a ride on New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge railroad – the driving creek railway- which takes you over viaducts and through tunnels along magnificent landscapes. A windy course takes you about 2.7 km through lush native forest to a ’station‘ high on the mountain, offering you fantastic views of the Coromandel Peninsula.
Today you will leave the peninsula and head south towards Rotorua.
On the way there you will make a stopover in Matamata. Here you will discover the real Middle Earth. During your 2-hour guided tour you will visit the film set of the „Lord of the Rings“ and the „Hobbit“ triologies, which might be better known to you as the „Shire“. During your tour you will see the Hobbit Caves, „The Green Dragon Inn“ and many other highlights.
Afterwards you will continue to your today’s destination Rotorua.
This region is not only the center of Maori culture, but also famous for its geothermal activity. Geysers, steaming lakes and rivers, bubbling mudholes and multi-colored hot mineral springs known for their healing properties can be admired here.
Today you spend the day in Rotorua. In Te Puia Thermal Reserve you will learn how thin the earth’s crust is here and how hot it is underneath. With all your senses you will experience colorful sinter terraces, eruptions of geysers, bubbling mud holes and the stinking vapors of sulfur fumaroles. You can also watch New Zealand’s most famous bird in the Kiwi House.
Alternatively, you can take the cable car up to a viewing platform and enjoy the panoramic view of Rotorua. In the evening we recommend a visit to a Maori village and marae (traditional Maori gathering place). Here you will be welcomed with a traditional greeting at the gate of the marae and afterwards you will experience Maori rituals. After the concert in the marae you are invited to a hangi, a traditional Maori meal cooked on heated stones in an arth oven.
As your continue your journey today you can make a stop at Kerosene Creek at the Kerosene Hot Springs. These natural, free hot springs consist of a stream, a 2m high waterfall and several hot pools in the middle of the forest (approx. 200m walk from the car park) about halfway between Rotorua and Taupo.
Afterwards your journey continues to Lake Taupo, which was formed about 2000 years ago by a huge volcanic eruption. Here, a stop at the foaming Huka Waterfalls or the geothermal park Craters of the Moon is worthwhile.
Afterwards you drive along Lake Taupo to the Tongariro National Park. This is dominated by three sister volcanoes Mt Ruapehu (2797 m), Mt Tongariro (1967 m) and Mt Ngauruhoe (2291 m), as well as a landscape of black ash, brown dust desert and mountain streams lined by native beech trees.
Many Maori tales and legends surround the three mountains. In 1991 the national park was declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, and two years later also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Various scenes of the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings were filmed in the Tongariro National Park. Mount Ngauruhoe can be seen in the film as Mount Doom. You will stay overnight here with a view of the volcanoes, in Ohakune, at the foot of Mt Ruhapehu.
The three still partly-active volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park form the scenery of your drive along Desert Road. The drive through barren country, surrounded by peaks up to 2700m, brings you to the green, fertile farm areas of Rangitikei and Manawatu.
The journey continues along the Kapiti Coast to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Here you can visit the parliament, stroll along the promenade or explore the national museum „Te Papa“ (entrance free).
The funicular will take you to the Observatory, Botanical Gardens and viewpoint over the harbour, while from Mt Victoria viewpoint you can enjoy a magnificent view of New Zealand’s capital. In the evening we recommend a visit to Zealandia. With a local guide you can go for a short walk through the park and see various animals, which only become active in the evening. With a bit of luck you might even see the kiwi, an endangered flightless bird and the national symbol of New Zealand (all activities optional).
In the morning, you will board the Interislander ferry with your rental car, which will take you to Picton in the South Island. You will travel across the Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds, an area of drowned valleys created by the geological subsidence of a low mountain range. Steep ridges still bear witness to the original mountain range, which today are narrow peninsulas jutting out between deep inlets. After a scenic drive through Marlborough you will arrive in sunny Nelson.
Today you will first drive to Kaiteriteri in the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you will experience an amazing boat trip. Enjoy the trip along the coastline with extensive beaches and small offshore islands. The unique coastal landscape is especially popular for hiking. The boat ride will be followed by a 2-hour hike to intensively enjoy the beauty of the golden beaches and bays. Afterwards you will be taken back to Kaiteriteri, from where you will drive home to Nelson.
Travel southwest through the Motueka River Valley on a scenic drive. After crossing Buller Gorge, you will experience an impressive change of the local flora and reach the subtropical rainforest of the wild west coast.
At Cape Foulwind you will have the opportunity to observe a large colony of sea lions on a short hike. A wild and romantic landscape awaits you along the coastline. Famous are the limestone cliffs of the „Pancake Rocks“, near the small town of Punakaiki, where you will spend the night today. Sculpted by sea and weather, these rocks resemble stacked pancakes.
After a drive through historic gold mining areas, you will reach the town of Hokitika, which is mainly the center of processing greenstone, the very hard New Zealand jade. Here you can visit a jade factory or the Kiwi House.
Continue along the west coast through evergreen rainforest to the glacier region of the Southern Alps. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, about 12 km long, slide down to a height of 300 m above sea level, that’s worldwide unique in temperate latitudes.
Today you will drive through the rainforests of the Westland National Park. This is one of the most diverse and fascinating national parks in New Zealand, and has been declared a „Heritage Park“. The lush moss growth of the lowland rainforest and the swamp forests create a fairytale atmosphere.
Cross the Haast Pass and head inland again, where the Aspring National Park opens up to you. This combines more than 100 glaciers and some of the highest peaks in the Southern Alps. You will reach the lakes Hawea and Wanaka. The contrast between the lush green rainforests of the west coast and the dry grasslands of Otago is stunning. The forests are replaced by tanned sheep pastures and highlands covered with „tussock“ grass.
Enjoy the impressive, winding mountain route of the Crown Range, past numerous impressive views of the rugged mountains, you will reach Queenstown in the evening. Beautifully situated on the Lake Wakatipu, it was once settled by sheep farmers and later by gold prospectors, but has now developed into a tourist destination.
In Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, there is much to experience and discover. Today is free for you to explore.
Take a trip on the steamboat „TSS Earnslaw“ and cross Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. Here you will also receive a grilled lunch on request and can take part in a farm tour. Alternatively, you can explore Queenstown’s wild hinterland by jeep, with an experienced 4×4 driver. Learn about the gold-digger past as you drive over rough and smooth through the rugged terrain of Skipper Canyon, New Zealand’s Grand Canyon.
Lord of the Rings tours to filming locations are also offered. Other recommended activities: Skyline Gondola, Shotover Jet and Dart River Safari (all activities optional).
Beautiful drive to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Today you have the option of a cruise on Milford or Doubtful Sound (optional). You will drive into Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s largest yet most undeveloped national park. Hardly any landscape embodies the term „wilderness“ better than the Fiordland.
In the west, 14 fjords penetrate deep into the primeval forests of a rugged alpine world like overlong ocean tongues. Not far, snow-capped mountain peaks rise above alpine grassy mats to 2700m. You drive along the spectacular Milford Road. At Homner Tunnel you often see the cheeky Keas, the only mountain parrots in the world. At noon you leave for the Scenic Cruise in Milford Sound and glide out almost to the Tasman Sea. Enjoy the wildly romantic scenery defined by near-vertical mountain walls like Mitre Peak. You will have a picnic lunch on board the ship (optional).
Continue inland through the McKenzie Country. Sparse rainfall makes this highland appear as a barren steppe landscape. Wide „tussock“ meadows, which cover the hills like a carpet, transform the landscape into a strange looking inner alpine basin landscape. At Lake Pukaki you will have the opportunity to admire the magnificent glaciers of Mt. Cook. The Maori call the with 3754m highest mountain of New Zealand „Aorangi“, the „cloud piercer“. In this area full of contrasts you will end another eventful day.
Today you will leave the three thousand meter peaks of the Southern Alps behind and experience a spectacular change of vegetation again. You will first reach highland farms, which differ from the lowland farms in terms of livestock farming. The journey then continues through Canterbury, the fertile heart of the South Island, where vast stretches of farmland stretch like a patchwork quilt. The final destination is Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island.
Here you can take a walk through the beautiful Botanic Gardens and visit the Art Centre. In the evening we recommend the Tram Dinner. Here you will dine in style on the restored historic tram, in an air-conditioned carriage, while you explore the city on a sightseeing tour (all activities optional).
Explore Christchurch, known for its English heritage, today. Expect street art and innovative projects, a bustling hospitality scene and of course the stunning parks and gardens. Here you have the opportunity to explore the inner city core by the historic tram. The tram also has a restaurant where you can end your last evening in New Zealand with a stylish dinner (optional).
Please drive to Christchurch Airport in time and drop off your rental car here. From here you can start your journey home or onwards. We wish you a good flight!
Please take a look at our other New Zealand self-drive tours and if you can’t find the right tour- no problem! We are happy to advise you individually to offer you the perfect New Zealand holiday. Get in touch with us! Behind this website are real people who want to share their enthusiasm and expertise for this country. You enjoy New Zealand and we take care of the rest.