This journey is the classic B&B New Zealand self drive tour, designed for your needs. Enjoy an everlasting holiday you might remember and explore the diversity of this amazing country on a stunning route from South to North. Experience the incredible natural beauty and Maori cultural heritage that makes our country so unique. The perfect tour to explore this pristine country!
This tour package can be customized to suit your requirements precisely. All our self drive tours can also be booked with a chauffeur/tour guide as a private tour option! Please let us know your special requests.
Please look at our other New Zealand self-drive tours and if you can’t find the right tour- no problem! We are happy 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 your round trip, we take care of the rest.
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Please look at our other New Zealand self-drive tours and if you can’t find the right tour- no problem! We are happy 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. Enjoy New Zealand and your round trip, we take care of the rest.
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.
Auckland with its suburbs has over 1 million inhabitants. It is the largest city in the country and spreads generously over a narrow isthmus between the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. Over 60 extinct volcanic cones and craters characterize the landscape, while an endless procession of sails in the harbor is typical of the relaxed way of life here. Auckland was the state capital until 1865 and is today the economic center of New Zealand.
Kia Ora and welcome to New Zealand, the “land, of the long white cloud”.
You arrive at the airport in Auckland and pick up your rental car at the car rental agency. On your way to your first accommodation you will make acquaintance with the “City of Sails”, as Auckland is also called. Walk to the top of Mount Eden, one of the 48 volcanic cones and the highest natural point in Auckland. You will enjoy spectacular views over the city and Waitematā Harbour.
Just before sunset, we recommend a visit to the Auckland “Sky Tower”. This magnificent 328m high tower is the focal point of this beautiful city. From the top you experience an incredible 360° view of ancient volcanoes, sparkling sunlit harbors and much more.
Hahei is located on the Coromandel Peninsula on the northern shore of New Zealand’s North Island. This small village situated within Mercury Bay makes a fantastic holiday destination with its white sandy beaches, spectacular rock formations, geothermal springs and marine wildlife preserves to explore. There is much to see and do in Hahei, but key activities include the Cathedral Cove Walk (which passes beneath an enormous limestone arch); the Gemstone Bay Snorkel Trail, with descriptions of sea life attached to floating buoys to enhance your experience; and swimming at Hot Water Beach, where two hot springs warm the ocean water.
Today you will leave the megacity of 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 can get to know the Coromandel Peninsula. Especially worthwhile is, among other things, the visit to the Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own “nature spa pool” and relax in the hot water. Afterwards you can cool off by jumping into the sea.
You can also discover the impressive Cathedral Cove by boat, kayak or on foot. This rock formation on a white sandy beach was also one of the settings of the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. “
Also recommended are the lookout points around Lonely Bay and Shakespeare Cliffs.
Or take a ride on New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge railroad, which takes you over viaducts and through tunnels along magnificent landscapes. A meandering course takes you about 2.7 km through lush primary forest to a ‘station’ high on the mountain, offering you fantastic views of the Coromandel Peninsula.
The city of Rotorua has been a spa town since the 1800s, thanks to the many geysers, hot springs and mud pools that can be found in what is one of the world’s most active geothermal fields. The Maori, who considered the region sacred, make up 35% of the population and a popular attraction is discovering their rich culture and traditions. Rotorua is surrounded by lakes, mountains, forests and other natural features that afford visitors the opportunity to try out a number of outdoor activities between relaxing sessions in the hot springs and pools.
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.
The Polynesian Spa’s geothermal mineral water comes from two natural springs and feeds 28 hot mineral pools. Ideal for relaxing after a long drive.
Today you can decide from the numerous excursion sites depending on your mood. You can take the cable car to a panoramic mountain and enjoy the panorama of Rotorua from there.
In the Waimangu Volcanic Valley you can go on different hikes (1.5km to 4km), where you will pass various hot springs and hike through the rainforest.
In the evening you will visit a Maori village and participate in a Hangi. The “Hangi” is the traditional feast of the Maori. First, a hole in the ground is dug and next to it, special heat-sensitive stones are made to glow in a fire of hot-burning Manuka wood. Then the hole in the ground is filled with the hot stones, and the food to be cooked is placed on the stones in layers, wrapped in leaves. The hole in the ground is then closed with earth and the food is cooked naturally for several hours. You will be present to see how the “hangi” is then “lifted”. Afterwards you will enjoy the wonderful steamed different vegetables as well as meat. There will also be a selection of salads and of course Maori bread.
During a concert with dancing and singing, the Maori will perform their melodic, but also their warlike songs. Weapons, musical instruments and games will also be explained. You will experience that this people can be very cruel and scary, but also very boisterous, cheerful and hospitable.
Tongariro is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the heart of North Island. It encompasses three active volcanoes – Mount Ngauruhoe, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ruapehu (one of the most active volcanos in the world) – that have great significance to the local Maori people. The raw beauty of the environment draws a high number of tourists, and is also the reason much of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed here. There are activities to be enjoyed by everyone here, from scenic cruises to white water-rafting, hiking, rock climbing and skiing in winter.
Today you will leave Rotorua and drive to Tongariro National Park.
On the way you will visit the “Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland”, known for boiling mud pools, white sinter terraces, geysers and bubbling lakes. With its “Painter’s Palette, Devil’s Inkwell and Champagne Pool”, it is the most colorful of the thermal areas.
Afterwards, the journey continues to Lake Taupo, a crater lake larger than Lake Constance, which was formed about 2000 years ago by a massive volcanic eruption. Before you reach Taupo, a stop at the foaming Huka Waterfalls or at the geothermal park Craters of the Moon is worthwhile. Afterwards you drive along Lake Taupo to the Tongariro National Park. This is defined by three sister volcanoes Ruapehu (2797 m), Tongariro (1967 m) and Ngauruhoe (2291 m), as well as a landscape of black ash, brown dust desert and the mountain streams lined with native beeches.
Many Maori legends and myths surround the three mountains. In 1991, the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and two years later, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several scenes from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy were filmed in Tongariro National Park. Mount Ngauruhoe is featured as Mount Doom in the film.
Located on the south-western tip of North Island on the Cook Strait, Wellington is the constitutional and cultural capital of New Zealand – dubbed ‘the coolest little capital in the world’. With its diverse architecture, world-class museums, cultural attractions and award-winning restaurants, Wellington is a popular destination for both local and international travellers. Due to its location in the ‘Roaring Forties’ the city experiences its fair share of wind and as a result, sailing is a popular activity here – with charters offering the visitors the experience of a relaxed cruise with beautiful views of the city and the surrounding bays.
Today you will drive south and experience an interesting change of vegetation. The drive through barren steppe land surrounded by peaks up to 2800 m brings you to the green, fertile farm areas of Rangitikei and Manawatu.
Afterwards, passing the self-proclaimed “rubber boot capital” Taihape, you will drive towards the capital Wellington, where you will arrive in the afternoon. In the middle of a beautiful landscape, directly on the rough sea, the famous Cook Strait, you will discover Wellington or also called “Windy City”. The ever-present strong westerly wind gave this nickname to the city, which was founded in 1839 and separates the North Island of New Zealand from the South.
During a city tour, passing beautiful buildings, you can drive to Mount Victoria, from where you have a magnificent view. Furthermore, you can visit the beehive-like Parliament building, built in neoclassical style.
Cuba Street, one of the most popular and well-known streets in Wellington, is one of those places where everyone is welcome and feels at home.
Today you have a free day at your disposal in Wellington.
At Te Papa National Museum you will get an interesting insight into the history and culture of New Zealand (free entrance). You can also take the cable car up to the botanical gardens for a walk. You will have a fantastic view over the city. Or you can take a trip to the Weta Workshop, Peter Jackson workshop where characters and props from movies like the Hobbit and Narnia were brought to life.
In the evening, you can take an evening light hike through “Zealandia” with a local guide. Here you will see various animals, which become active only in the evening hours. With a little luck you will also hear or see the Kiwi bird, an endangered flightless bird and also the national symbol of New Zealand.
On the rugged east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, the seaside settlement of Kaikoura is located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from lush farmland beneath the mountains. This little hamlet has become a popular tourist destination, primarily due to its famous wildlife watching opportunities. Few places can boast such a wide range of accessible wildlife. With whales, dolphins, fur seals, penguins and albatrosses frequently spotted, this area is truly a nature lovers dream. Visitors can join the Art Trail to witness the skilled local artisans at work in their own studios and galleries or visit the town’s first home which was built in 1842, remains remarkably well-preserved and, interestingly, was built using whale bone as its foundation. So, if you are looking for a bit of history, a touch of crafty culture and a whole heap of outdoor adventure, Kaikoura won’t fail to impress.
Early in the morning you leave Wellington by ferry and cross the Cook Strait to the South Island. The 3-hour trip on the Interislander ferry is very impressive and offers many beautiful photo opportunities. First you pass through the Cook waterway and then glide through the Marlborough Sounds, an area of “drowned” valleys formed by the geological subsidence of a low mountain range. Steep ridges still bear witness to the original mountain range, which today jut out as narrow peninsulas between deep inlets. The steep shores have a fjord-like character in places. Salmon and mussels are farmed in the sounds – next to wine production, the most important industry in the region.
Finally you will reach Picton. From here you continue south along the east coast. You will first reach Blenheim in the Marlborough Plain. Viticulture in this region began in the 70’s, as “Montana Wines”. The composition of the earth, high sunshine duration, a long autumn and cold winter, are excellent conditions for a first-class wine, especially for Sauvignon Blanc.
Your journey continues along the wild and romantic coast to Kaikoura. Sperm whales regularly occur here, attracted by the abundant food supply of the warm ocean currents. You can also observe fur seals, which lie on the rocks here along the highway, and with a little luck even dolphins jump acrobatically out of the water.
Loved for its beauitful golden sand beach(made of quartz and mica particles), the sunny town of Kaiteriteri is a launching place for trips into the Abel Tasman National Park. Kaiteriteri has a motor camp, motels, a general store and a choice of places to eat (check out the seafood). Local hikes include Withells Walk and Kaka Pah Point. From Kaiteriteri you can catch a water taxi or tour into the Abel Tasman National Park; you can also hire kayaks or arrange to go seal swimming. It’s often possible to rent a private beach house if you’re planning to stay for more than a few days.
Today you will take part in a whale watch tour and have the opportunity to get to know the sea creatures of this area better. You will go out on a boat under expert guidance to get closer to the whales.
From Kaikoura, you will return to Picton and via the “shell town” of Havelock, located on the edge of the Marlborough Sounds, you will travel via Pelorus Gorge, where you could enjoy a short hike through native forest.
Continue to Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest city, and through fertile growing areas of wine, apples, pears and hops to the northern coast of the South Island.
You will reach Kaiteriteri.
Today you will make an excursion to the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you will take part in a boat tour. Enjoy the trip along the bay-rich coastline with extensive beaches and small offshore islands. The unique coastal landscape is especially popular for hiking.
After the boat trip you will go on a 2 hour hike to enjoy the beauty of the golden beaches and bays. Afterwards you will be brought back to Kaiteriteri.
Hokitika or “Hoki” as locals have affectionately named this little town, is idyllically located on a stunning, driftwood-strewn beach on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Presided over by the towering Mount Cook and the Southern Alps this idyllic little town functions primarily as a gateway to the South Westland World Heritage National Park, however, the town itself offers plenty to keep you blissfully engaged. Hokitika is well-known for its excellent local crafts and has developed a prolific artistic community with an array of open studios and galleries displaying skilful artisans in the process of, among other things, weaving, greenstone carving or blowing glass. It’s a place of simple pleasures: scout the craft galleries, enjoy the fabulously fresh local seafood, or simply have a relaxing picnic on the banks of the picturesque Lake Kaniere surrounded exquisite snow-capped mountains. Hokitika is a great place to get away from the bustle of the city to engage in some wonderfully relaxing self-indulgence.
On a scenic byway, travel westward through the Motueka River Valley South. After crossing Buller Gorge, you will experience an impressive change of plant life and reach the subtropical lowland rainforest of the wild west coast.
At Cape Foulwind near Westport you will have the opportunity to observe a large colony of sea lions on a short hike. After Westport a wild and romantic landscape awaits you – parallel to the coast runs the up to 1500m high folded mountain belt of the Paparoas. “Canyon”-like gorges provide the only access into the rugged mountainous terrain of this national park. Famous are the limestone cliffs of the “Pancake Rocks”, near the small town of Punakaiki. 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 primarily the center of processing greenstone, the very hard New Zealand jade. Here you can visit a jade factory or the Kiwi House.
The quaint west coast town of Franz Josef has a few hundred permanent residents, but numbers swell during the holidays to around 2000 visitors per day. This is glacier country, and Franz Josef glacier (after which the town is named) and Fox Glacier, some 23km further south, are the main attractions. The town offers myriad options for cosy accommodation, especially after the snow and ice activities on offer – combine a helicopter tour with a guided walk on the glacial terrain to view ice caves, and spectacular crevisses and pinnacles. Helicopter tours over the two glaciers are also available, with a stop off at the head of either glacier so you can experience the frozen landscape up close.
Continue along the west coast through evergreen rainforest to the glacier region of the Southern Alps. Unique in temperate latitudes, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, about 12 km long, slide down to an altitude of 300 m above sea level.
You can book a scenic flight over the glaciers or arrange an ice hiking adventure. Alternatively, explore the area on foot, you can walk independently to the viewpoints.
Queenstown is situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and has stunning views of the surrounding alpine peaks. Considered by many as one of the world’s adventure capitals, it offers visitors a wide selection of adrenaline-boosting activities to choose from, such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, zip lining, skiing and skydiving. Queenstown also has a lively bar and restaurant scene, and for those who prefer the quieter things in life there are vineyards, golf courses, spas and wellness centres.
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, fed by glaciers. The contrast between the lush green rainforests of the west coast and the dry grasslands of Otago province is immediately striking. The forests are replaced by tanned sheep pastures and highlands covered with “tussock” grass.
Over 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 deeply carved Lake Wakatipu, it was once settled by sheep farmers and then gold prospectors, but has now become a tourist destination.
Queenstown offers a range of fun activities, from adrenaline to relaxation: skyline, jet boat, sky diving, etc.
Today you are in for another highlight. You will take part in the Milford Sound Cruise.
The journey to Milford Sound is as spectacular as the destination. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view from Queenstown to Milford Sound, because today you don’t need to drive yourself. You will drive along the spectacular Milford Road. At the Homer Tunnel you often see the cheeky Keas, the only mountain parrots in the world.
Arriving at Milford Sound, board an excursion boat that will take you through the fjord, gliding almost out to the Tasman Sea. Enjoy the wild romantic scenery, which is determined by almost vertical mountain walls, such as Mitre Peak. Afterwards you will be brought back to Queenstown.
Tekapo – commonly known as Lake Tekapo – is a small town located near the geographical centre of New Zealand’s South Island. As its name suggests, the town is primarily known as a lakeside resort village, offering some excellent outdoor activities in remote and tranquil surroundings. In addition to numerous hiking trails, mountain bike paths, horse trekking and a full array of water sports (including salmon fishing), Lake Tekapo is most famous for its stargazing opportunities. Head to the Mount John Observatory, where you will learn about the unique geography of its region and its cloud-free skies, which are supported by local light pollution laws, as the area seeks to secure World Heritage status for starlight preservation. Lake Tekapo also boasts the photogenic Church of the Good Shepherd and plenty of dining and lodging options.
From Lake Wakatipu the journey goes over Lindis Pass (971 m) through the McKenzie Country. Sparse rainfall makes this highland appear as a barren steppe landscape. At Lake Pukaki you will have the opportunity to admire the magnificent glaciers of Mt. Cook.
A little later you will reach the turquoise colored Tekapo Glacier Lake, located in the middle of the mountains, with its photogenically situated small chapel. Flocks of sheep and colorful flowers complete the idyllic picture with the white mountains in the background.
Despite the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Christchurch was placed second on The New York Times’ list of 52 ‘Places to Go’ in 2014. This speaks volumes of the spirit of this city and its people, whose collective creativity has seen a number of restorative art projects developed on the empty lots and buildings the disasters left behind. The city also offers a fabulous array of activities, including punting down the Avon River, helicopter tours, hot-air ballooning and whale and dolphin watching. Or stroll around the Botanic Gardens.
You will leave the mountains of the Southern Alps, cross numerous farmlands and reach Christchurch, the largest city of the South Island, in the afternoon. We recommend a side trip to the Toi Pōneke Arts Centre.
If you have time, take the gondola up to Christchurch’s Lookout Mountain. From here you have a panoramic view of Christchurch, as well as the ‘Banks Peninsula’, a nearby peninsula formed by volcanic activity. The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is a wildlife park and nature reserve in Christchurch, which is worth a visit.
Today your New Zealand trip ends. You will drive to the airport and return the rental car to the car rental agency.
We hope you enjoyed your trip and wish you a good onward or homeward 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, we take care of the rest.
Get in touch for your New Zealand holidays. That’s what we are here for. Behind this website are real people who are at your disposal with expertise and passion for this extraordinary country place in the world. We know where to go as we live here – and we are looking forward to sharing our hidden gems with you.