New Zealand is a small country, but there's no shortage of things to see and do! One of the best ways to explore is by a self drive holiday.. The folks at Discover New Zealand have put together the ultimate itinerary to help you plan a roadtrip of a lifetime!
The Classic Kiwi Roadtrip: Christchurch - Auckland (23 Days)
Day 1: Arrive Christchurch
On arrival in Christchurch collect your chosen vehicle and any documentation. Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Suggested inclusions: The Christchurch sightseeing tour on an open topped double decker bus or visit the Antartic Cente to meet the penguins and ride a snowmobile.
Day 2: Christchurch – Mount Cook Region
Travel south across the Canterbury Plains and inland towards the majestic Southern Alps. Cross the rugged MacKenzie Country to reach the glacial lakes at the foot of the Alps. Stay 1 night in Mount Cook region.
Suggested inclusions; Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre or a scenic flight over towering Mt Cook.
Day 3: Mount Cook - Dunedin
Drive south to historic Oamaru and on to Dunedin – "the Edinburgh of the South".
Stay 2 nights in Dunedin.
Suggested inclusion; A tour of The Cadbury Chocolate factory appeals to everyone.
Day 4: At Dunedin
Known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ take time to enjoy the rich historical architecture and abundance of wildlife to be found in this fascinating area
Suggested inclusion; One of many Wildlife tours to view Penguins, Seals, Sea Lions and other coastal wildlife.
Day 5: Dunedin - Te Anau
Drive through the rolling hill country of South Otago and Southland. After the farming centre of Gore, cross the Waimea plains towards Fiordland. Stay 2 nights in Te Anau.
Suggested inclusions; Te Anau Glow Worm Caves, or a visit to Fiordland Cinema to view Ata Whenua a stunning visual experience of the beauty of the Fiordland wilderness.
Day 6: At Te Anau
A free day to explore the region surrounding Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri.
Suggested inclusion; Visit the isolated and magnificent Doubtful Sound.
Day 7: Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown
Drive through pristine beech forests and the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. Take a cruise through Milford Sound and appreciate the majesty of Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls. Return to Te Anau, then turn north, following the dramatic southern shores of Lake Wakatipu to reach Queenstown. Stay 2 nights in Queenstownn.
Day 8: At Queenstown
A day free for you to enjoy this fabulous Alpine resort.. There are dozens of optional activities as well, from thrilling jet boat rides to leisurely lake cruises, 4WD safaris, bungy jumping.
Suggested inclusion: A visit to Kiwi Birdlife Park to see native wildlife up close and a trip up the Skyline gondola to enjoy views across Lake Whakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range.
Day 9: Queenstown - Wanaka
Drive to Cromwell and on through the Southern Lakes district to lake Wanaka. Stay 1 night in Wanaka
Suggested inclusion; Puzzling World Wanaka is a maze of illusions and fascination.
Day 10: Wanaka - Glaciers
Continue north, through dense rain forest broken by rugged coastal vistas, towards the glaciers. A short side trip will take you to view one of these massive rivers of ice. Stay 2 nights in either Fox or Franz Josef Glacier townships.
Day 11: At Glaciers
A full day to explore this remote and beautiful area. Walks are available to the glaciers or we recommend a visit to the colony of the beautiful white heron (Kotuku).
Day 12: Glaciers - Greymouth - Nelson
Continue past Greymouth and the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Travel through the Buller Gorge to Nelson, known for it’s gourmet wine and seafood, and the abundance of local artisans and craft people. Stay 2 nights in Nelson.
Suggested inclusion; World of Wearable Arts and Classic Car Museum.
Day 13: At Nelson
A full day to explore the Nelson area. The nearby Abel Tasman National Park offers opportunities to walk or cruise it’s beautiful coastline.
Day 14: Nelson - Blenheim
Continue through the Rai Valley to Blenheim, surrounded by vineyards built on rich alluvial plains.
Suggested inclusion; For those who like their wine visit the many vineyards in the region.
Day 15: Blenheim - Picton - Wellington
Cross Cook Strait by ferry, to our capital city, sprawled over the hills surrounding Wellington Harbour. Stay 1 night in Wellington.
Suggested inclusions; Visit Te Papa our National Museum and see The Beehive home to the Government.
Day 16: Wellington - Rotorua
Drive north through along the rugged Kapiti coastline then over the Manawatu plains. Cross the volcanic plateau past the cones of Tongariro, Ngaruahoe and Ruapehu to skirt Lake Taupo, then continue through steam clad Wairakei to Rotorua, steeped in Maori culture and history. Tonight experience a Maori hangi (feast) amongst the surroundings of an authentic village. Stay 2 nights in Rotorua.
Suggested inclusions; Hobbiton film location guided tour.
Day 17: At Rotorua
A day free to explore this exciting thermal region – there are many activities to enjoy.
Suggested inclusions: Te Puia Geothermal Reserve, Agrodome Sheep & Dog Show, Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park
Day 18: Rotorua - Coromandel
Drive north through the Bay of Plenty and Tauranga to the Coromandel Peninsula. Stay 2 nights in Coromandel Peninsula.
Day 19: At Coromandel
Explore this region, known for its beautiful beachs & coastline, or relax and enjoy the local cafes and shops displaying the wares of local crafts people
Suggested inclusion; Dig a hole in the sand at Hot Water beach for an all natural spa experience.
Day 20: Coromandel - Bay of Islands
Drive across the Hauraki Plains towards Auckland and then to the Bay of Islands. . We recommend you take a route through Waipoua Forest. Stay 2 nights in Paihia.
Suggested inclusions; Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the founding document of modern day New Zealand was signed.
Day 21: At Bay of Islands
Today is at your leisure for optional activities, such as a visit to quaint Russell or the Waitangi National Reserve. Or you may prefer to join a full day coach tour to Cape Reinga or board a cruise to the intriguing Hole in the Rock.
Day 22: Bay of Islands – Auckland
Take the alternative route south to reach the sprawling suburbs of Auckland, then cross the Waitemata Harbour. Stay 1 night in Auckland.
Suggested inclusions; Hop on Hop off sightseeing tour of the city or a Harbour Cruise in the City of Sails.
Day 23: Depart Auckland
Return your car at the airport in time to catch your onward flight.
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