Best of NZ Road Trip

19 Day • Kiwi Road Trip from Queenstown to Auckland
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South Island, New Zealand
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Historic Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand
Dunedin, New Zealand
Historic Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand

 Queenstown, New Zealand

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Pohutu Geyser, Rotorua, New Zealand
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Milford Sound, New Zealand

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Wellington, New Zealand
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Wanaka, New Zealand

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Te Puia, Rotorua, New Zealand   Image credit: Graeme Murray
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Hobbiton Movie Set, New Zealand

Best of NZ Road Trip

19 Day Self-Drive - Kiwi Road Trip from Queenstown to Auckland

Drive both islands of New Zealand

Aotearoa, the “land of the long white cloud” welcomes you! Be ready to enjoy beautiful landscapes and coastlines, rare wildlife, Māori culture, superb food and wine plus unlimited adventure – accompanied by the warm welcome of the Kiwi people.  This is an incredible New Zealand self-drive tour offers you the best of both islands! This is perfect for travellers seeking authentic cultural experiences, while enjoying the independence that comes with driving to each region.  Your New Zealand package includes accommodations, car rental, transfers and excursions that will leave a lasting impression.

Best of NZ Road Trip
$5440 CAD
price per person, based on double occupancy
  • Package includes:
  • 18 nights standard accommodation in New Zealand, 14 days compact SUV car rental, sightseeing and excursions per itinerary, Interisland ferry including lounge pass, Airport transfers in Queenstown and Auckland
  • Meals: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 Dinner
  • Travel between:
    1 Apr – 10 Dec 2024 or 1 Feb- 31 Mar 2025
    Subject to availability
  • Contact us for Solo Traveller rates or to travel alternate dates

Trip Details

Included in your trip

Accommodations
Excursions
Wildlife Encounter
Ferry Fees
Car Rental
Private Airport Transfers

EXCLUDED FROM YOUR TRIP

International Flights/Airfare
Meals
Travel Insurance
Travel Visa
Tips/Gratuities

WHERE WILL YOU VISIT?

  • Queenstown
  • Lake Wakatipu
  • Milford Sound
  • Te Anau
  • Invercargill
  • Dunedin
  • Otago Peninsula
  • Oamaru
  • Christchurch
  • Kaikoura
  • Napier
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Rotorua
  • Hobbiton
  • Auckland

TRIP ITINERARY

New Zealand Road Trip Package - from Queenstown to Auckland

19 Day Adventure

Day 1: Arrive Queenstown, New Zealand

Kia Ora, welcome to Aotearoa (New Zealand).  On arrival into Queenstown, take a shuttle transfer to your hotel. At the foot of the Southern Alps, Queenstown offers incredible scenery, adrenalin packed adventures and may other attractions. This resort town is a wonderful place to start your New Zealand adventure.  Stay in Queenstown for 3 nights.

Day 2: Milford Sound National Park

Today you will travel to explore Milford Sound on a small group tour. Your full day excursion departs Queenstown and travels along the shores of Lake Wakatipu through rolling countryside to Te Anau. Continue along the spectacular Milford Road through impressive alpine scenery. Upon arrival at Milford Sound board a leisurely nature cruise along the fiord out to the Tasman Sea where you will enjoy spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest, towering peaks and wildlife including seals, dolphins and penguins. Meals included: Lunch.

Day 3: Queenstown

Today you have free time to explore the Queenstown region at your leisure. You may choose an adventure such as Bungy jumping or jetboating, take the gondola and luge for spectacular views or enjoy a guided wine tour.

Day 4: Queenstown to Invercargill

Pick up your car today and drive to Invercargill, New Zealand’s southernmost city.  Often referred to as the ‘City of Water and Light’, due to the long summer daylight hours, and appearances of the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).  This town has plenty of character combined with a friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Driving distance approximately 200km / 2.5 hours.  Stay in Invercargill for 1 night.

Day 5: Invercargill to Dunedin

Drive to Dunedin today, you have a couple of options of routes to choose and we recommend taking the long route via ‘The Caitlins’, the remote untouched coastal region stretching along the southeastern coast of New Zealand with sparsely populated small towns and spectacular scenery. Wildlife enthusiasts, beach lovers and surfers will love the Catlins. Some suggested places to stop along the way are Tunnel Beach Track, Central Cycle Trails, Nugget Point and Tokata walks as well as Waipapa Point Lighthouse, The Lost Gypsy Gallery. Driving distance (without stops) approximately 265km / 4 hours.  Stay in Dunedin for 2 nights.

Day 6: Otago Peninsula & Larnach Castle

Travel to the beautiful Otago Peninsula to discover it’s wild history and natural wonders. Explore Larnach Castle with its magnificent carved ceilings, antiques and original features such as artworks, clothing and furniture. The original owner has a scandalous and tragic history. The rooftop tower has 360° views of the Otago Peninsula.  Board a wildlife cruise to see the world’s only mainland nesting place of royal albatross, other rarely seen ocean birds.

Day 7: Dunedin to Oamaru

Depart Dunedin and travel north up the east coast to Oamaru.  Driving time is approximately 120km / 1.5 hours. You may choose to stop or detour along the way today to visit Port Chalmers, Heyward Point Track, Orokonui Sanctuary, Doctors Point, Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve, Karitane, Waikaouiti Beach, Shag Point, Kaitiki Point Lighthouse and Beach or the Moeraki Boulders. On arrival in historic Oamaru, you may want to take a walk along Harbour Street in downtown where most of the elegant sandstone architecture is from the 1800’s.

Later in the day you will take an excursion to visit the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, a natural colony of the smallest penguin in the world. You will be just 2-3 metres from the penguins as they arrive and cross into the colony for the evening. Enjoy the reserved seating area with informative commentary and as you make your way to the grandstand, you enter the breeding colony on a boardwalk among their nesting burrows. Stay in Oamaru for 1 night.

Day 8: Oamaru to Christchurch

Continue north along the east coast to Christchurch today.  Driving time is approximately 1.5 hours / 250km). If you have time you might stop in Timaru to see the Art gallery or Richard Pearse Museum, stop in Temuka to buy a local pottery souvenir or Geraldine to visit the gourmet cheese factory and vintage car museum. Christchurch (also know as Ōtautahi) is the South Island’s largest city that rebuilt after devastating earthquakes in 2011.  This creative urban centre has historic remnants as well as colourful murals that tell stories of the city’s resilience and spirit. Stay in Christchurch for 2 nights.

Day 9: Christchurch

Today is at your leisure to explore Christchurch and the Canterbury region. You may choose to take the tram tour of the city and gondola, try local wine, or simply stroll the streets to see how the city was rebuilt.

Day 10: Christchurch to Kaikoura

Drive north along the coast to Kaikoura today, approximately 200km / 2.5 hours.  You may like to allow additional time in winter, or to allow stops along the way and places like the Waipara wine region, Gore Bay or Cathedral Cliffs.  Kaikoura itself is Kaikoura is one of the prettiest towns in New Zealand, flanked by the Pacific Ocean and mountain ranges. It is also teeming with wildlife so you may have the opportunity to fur seals, dolphins, blue penguins, and whales.  On arrival in Kaikoura, you will enjoy a whale watching cruise.  Take your camera, warm clothing and light waterproof clothing as you enjoy a spectacular adventure. Stay in Kaikoura overnight for 1 night.

Day 11: Kaikoura – Picton – Wellington

Depart Kaikoura and drive north to Picton (approximately 160km / 2.5 hours) where you will board a large interisland ferry with your vehicle.  This trip across the Cook Strait to Wellington is regarded as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world and a ‘must do’ New Zealand experience.  We have also included lounge access to make this trip more comfortable. Arrive in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand and home to Parliament with a thriving cafe and dining scene and lots to see including Te Papa the Museum of New Zealand. After you disembark, drive to your Wellington hotel.  Stay in Wellington for 2 nights.

Day 12: Wellington

Today you will visit Te Papa – The Museum of New Zealand where you will have a tour of the highlights.  You could choose to spend hours here, you will also have free time to explore the city, perhaps take the cable car.

Day 13: Wellington to Napier

Start the day with a tour of the highlights of Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand.  Farewell Wellington, driving north approximately 4.5 hours / 330 km to Napier. The Hawkes Bay region is one of the first places in the world to witness the dawn of a new day and was once the scene of a large earthquake that destroyed the city. Today it is known as the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, it is also home to many fine wineries and excellent dining.  Stay in Napier for 2 nights.

Day 14: Napier

Today is free time at your leisure to explore Napier and the Hawkes Bay region.  You may choose to add an art deco themed walking tour of the city or perhaps visit a number of the wineries in the region for tastings.

Day 15: Napier to Rotorua

Drive to Rotorua, approximately 3 hours / 230 km.  Check in to your accommodations with the lake at your doorstep. You may enjoy a short stroll to the lakefront to ride the thrilling Kawarau Jet on Lake Rotorua, drive to the Skyline Gondola and enjoy a warm soak in one of the many thermal pools.  Stay in Rotorua for 2 nights.

Day 16: Rotorua

Your day is at leisure in Rotorua to explore as you please. In the evening visit Te Puia for an indigenous evening experience including dinner. The legacy of welcoming manuhiri (visitors) in this area began almost 200 years ago. Enjoy a tasty hāngī buffet dinner and then a cultural performance that includes a pōwhiri (traditional welcome), waiata (song), mōteatea (traditional chant) poi and haka. The evening culminates with hot chocolate and steamed pudding surrounded by steam and the geyser terrace bathed in coloured light. Meals included: Dinner

Day 17: Rotorua to Auckland

Depart Rotorua to drive north to Auckland today, stopping to visit the Hobbiton™ Movie Set, home of the Hobbits™ that was featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.  This Middle-earth adventure includes the only remaining intact movie set from the trilogies filmed in New Zealand.  Discover the 12-acre set and famous locations where movie magic was made including Hobbit Holes, the Mill and you may choose to sample a beverage at the world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn. Continue your drive to Auckland and return your rental vehicle on arrival before 4pm.  Stay in Auckland for 2 nights.

Day 18: Auckland

Today you have a full day excursion in Auckland to see the best of the city from the city to the coasts. The morning will be spent exploring the history and sights of the Auckland, known as the ‘City of Sails’. Stop at iconic landmarks including the Domain, Mt Victoria in Devonport and Westhaven Marina before heading to the city’s largest Regional Park – the Waitakere Ranges.  Visit the Arataki Centre for spectacular views back to the city and both harbours, admiring the magnificent Māori carvings that stand guard. Continue onto the wild and rugged west coast with the opportunity to stroll on an unspoiled beach and learn about the fascinating local history, flora and fauna of the region.

Day 19: Depart Auckland, New Zealand

Today is free in Auckland until your shuttle transfer to the airport for your onward flight (flight cost is not included in this package).

 


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