We Love —
- Explore the diverse landscape of New Zealand’s North and the South islands on this unforgettable 20-day, 19-night tour.
- Embrace unforgettable landscapes with this journey from Christchurch to Auckland.
- Drive past volcanoes, waterfalls, beaches, and geysers, in your very own rental car and venture inside the astonishing ice caves at Fox Glacier.
Your Destination —
On this 14 night holiday, you will travel from Auckland to Christchurch to discover a variety of unique experiences. Observe rare penguin species, climb volcanoes, hike through charming fishing villages, and take on exhilarating sporting activities. And if that is not enough, you can also dine with the Maori people and learn about their traditions on an unforgettable excursion.
Our Offer —
20-day, 19-night self-drive tour through New Zealand with car hire and breakfast
Your Itinerary In Brief —
Day 1 & 2: Christchurch
Days 3 & 4: Dunedin
Day 5 & 6: Te Anau
Day 7: Queenstown
Day 8: Fox Glacier
Day 9: Greymouth
Day 10: Blenheim
Day 11: Wellington
Day 12: Tongariro
Day 13 & 14: Roturua
Day 15: Hobbiton Matamata / Waitakere
Day 16 & 17: Paihia
Day 18 & 19: Aukland
Day 20: Departure from New Zealand
Your Itinerary —
Upon arrival, collect your vehicle at the Go Rental counter at the airport. You will then have the rest of your time in Christchurch to explore at your own leisure.
Christchurch was the second largest city in New Zealand before the devastating earthquake of February and June 2011 devastated the city. The city is recovering from this tragic accident and has rebuilt its centre with many "street arts", it still remains in reconstruction.
The city is known for its beautiful gardens, museums and restaurants. It is also the starting point for many excursions in Antarctica. Accommodation for 2 nights at the Chateau On the Park DoubleTree By Hilton (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Christchurch:
- Visit the city and its gardens and the arts centre.
- Stroll to the Akaroa peninsula to admire the wild fauna and flora.
- Take a tour of the Antarctic Centre with information on Antarctica and many activities such as the simulation of a storm in Antarctica, you can also observe "blue penguins".
Leave Christchurch in the morning to drive towards the South East Coast, arriving into Dunedin (approx. 360km).
The Otago region offers a great diversity of landscape combining a beautiful historic architecture of the cities, a strong natural heritage of remarkable beauty and a rich fauna with endemic species.
The historic Victorian buildings of Dunedin are among the best preserved in the southern hemisphere and give a certain charm to the city. A little further away from the city and towards Oamaru, you will be able to see the Little Blue Penguins (the smallest penguins in the world) coming out of the water every night to climb the land. The Otago Peninsula is also home to yellow-eyed penguins (one of the rarest penguins in the world), this peninsula is a great example of eco-tourism and remains very well preserved. You can also walk to Moeraki, a small fishing village to observe the Moeraki boulders, a strange natural phenomenon. They are huge spherical rocks up to 1m wide scattered on the beach of Koekohe. Accommodation for 2 nights at the Dunedin Leisure Lodge (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Dunedin:
- Walk around Portobello, a charming little village on the Otago Peninsula.
- Take the historic train over the Taieri Gorge with viaducts and tunnels dating back to 1879.
- Get closer to unique southern ocean animals and penguins of the Otago Peninsula.
Drive in the morning towards the West Coast along the ‘Catlins Forests’ arriving into Te Anau (approx. 300km).
Fiordland Park is one of the most spectacular and largest in New Zealand. This classified site spreads its magnificent beech forests, its torrents and waterfalls thanks to its important precipitations all the year.
Te Anau is the largest town near the Fiords near the largest lake on the South Island, Lake Te Anau. To reach Manapouri, starting point for fjord cruises, you will have to take a road that goes down into the mountain through lush forests, plains and beautiful lakes. Milford Sound is an unforgettable site whose highest point is Miter Peak (1,692 m). Doubtful sound, even wilder and more remote is less touristy. Accommodation for 2 nights at the Bella Vista (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Te Anau:
- A cruise to admire Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound.
- A small plane flight over Doubtful Sound.
- Take a steam train ride in the Kingston Flyer.
Drive in the morning towards Queenstown (approx. 170km).
The Central Otago region offers ever-changing landscapes creating sumptuous shades of colour. Queenstown has become one of the great tourist centres of the country with its many outdoor activities and atmosphere breathing adventure! The capital of the Southern Alps is a beautiful city surrounded by majestic mountains and located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu just as grandiose. Accommodation for 1 night at the GC GOLD Blue Peaks Lodge (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Queenstown:
- A jet boat ride on the Shotover River.
- Make the highest New Zealand elastic jump.
- Take a hike to Glenorchy and admire some of the landscapes of The Lord of the Rings.
- The road between Queenstown and Arrowtown (50 km) bypassing Coronet Peak and back along Lake Hayes.
- Visit Arrowtown about 20 km from Queenstown, a quaint little town in the Gold Rush.
Drive to the Glacier region crossing Cardrona & Wanaka before arriving into Fox Glacier (approx. 330km).
A glacier forms when there is more snow than it melts. There are many glaciers in the Southern Alps and among the largest is Fox about 13 km long and Franz Josef about 11 km. These are the only glaciers in the world that can offer ice landscapes, subtropical vegetation and ocean temperate zones.
The Fox Glacier rises down Mt. Tasman at about 2,500 m and ends at only 300 m above sea level. Although it has declined for many years, it now advances to the valley of a few centimetres or even meters per day. Accommodation for 1 night at the Fox Glacier Lodge B&B (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Fox Glacier:
- Helicopter overflight with removal on glaciers
- Walk to Lake Matheson where you can admire the reflection of Mt Cook, Mt Tasman and La Pérouse peaks.
Leave the Glacier behind you and drive towards the coast to arrive into Greymouth (approx. 200km).
This region is the wettest in New Zealand, giving the wild landscapes a special glow. In the past, the West Coast was very troubled by the discovery of gold deposits and is now much quieter.
The city of Hokitika is the capital of Nephrite jade or greenstone or Pounamu in Maori, a stone found only in the South Island. It was formerly used to make tools or weapons and is now used for jewellery and decorative items. According to the Maori, the stone holds a certain power and is sacred.
In Punakaiki, you will find the Pancake Rocks, rocks with the appearance of a stack of pancakes. These are limestone formations eroded by wind and water, the sight of the sea rushing is all the more beautiful at high tide. Accommodation for 1 night at the Oak Lodge B&B (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Greymouth:
- Visit a jade tailor shop.
- Take a walk to Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki.
- Visit an old gold mine.
Morning drive towards the Nelson Lakes National Park arriving into Blenheim (approx. 400km).
Blenheim is the most populous city in the Malborough area. The city was once mainly agricultural-oriented, now moving towards a richer urban life and is renowned as the centre of New Zealand's wine industry.
The region enjoys a sunny climate with hot and quite dry summers and mild winters, conducive to the development of vineyards. Malborough is the largest wine region in the country with nearly 65 wineries and 290 winegrowers for more than 4,000 hectares of vines with mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Accommodation for 1 night at the Scenic Hotel Marlborough (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Blenheim:
- Wine tasting at Allan Scott, Cloudy Bay, Forest Hill.
- Walk around the plain of Wairau and admire the surrounding hills.
Ferry crossing early afternoon from Picton to Wellington. The crossing of the Cook Strait takes about 3 hours (92km) is more than a means of transport between the2 islands of New Zealand as the scenery is stunning.
The city of Wellington is located in the centre of New Zealand, this strategic point allowed him to become the capital of the country in 1865 (after Auckland). Accommodation for 1 night at the Travelodge Wellington (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Wellington:
- Te Papa Museum, the largest in New Zealand.
- The Zealandia Nature Reserve where you will find many endemic species.
Drive towards the Tongariro National Park (approx. 340km).
Located in the centre of the North Island, the oldest national park of the country is spread around the Tongariro volcano. The park is full of Maori cultural and sacred places and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.
It covers 7,600 km² and includes the 3 active volcanoes of Tongariro (1,968m), Ngaurhuoe (2,290m) and Ruapehu (2,797m). The latter dominates the nature reserve and is the most active volcano in the park, it erupts every 50 years on average.
Here, the landscapes are breathtaking and unfold in front of you with incredible beauty. Accommodation for 1 night at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Tongariro:
- Hiking Tongariro Crossing and its emerald lakes.
- Walk along Whakapapanui Gorge to Taranaki Falls.
Drive along Lake Taupo towards Rotorua (approx. 180km).
In this region, volcanoes and geothermal springs are great landscape designers and a trip to New Zealand would not be complete without this step.
The city is located on a 200 km volcanic fault from White Island to Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park and is built directly on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
An unforgettable place where geothermal activity is omnipresent. The smell of sulfur and the eruption of geysers will make you feel that Rotorua is different from other places already visited.
Rotorua is also the ancestral land of Te Arawa, a people who arrived more than 600 years ago, and whose presence offers many cultural experiences to visitors. It is also a great trout fishing area in the surrounding lakes and rivers. Accommodation for 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Rotorua (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Rotorua:
- Experiment Maori culture with dances, songs and meals typical of Te Puia.
- Visit the Maori Museum and the Bath House Art Gallery.
- Visit the geothermal park of Wai-O-Tapu.
On your way to the Waitakere Forests, consider visiting the Hobbit Village of The Lord of the Rings movies (located at Matamata on the way to Auckland & Waitakere). Arrival into Waitakere (approx. 250km).
Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is a place where bush, native wildlife and black sand beaches meet. With over 250 kilometres of hiking trails, this is a wonderful place to explore on foot, surrounded by spectacular scenery. Accommodation for 1 night at the H Heritage Waitakere Estate (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included
Drive to the Bay of Islands (approx. 230km).
Northland is the birthplace of New Zealand because it was here that the first Polynesian explorers followed by the British centuries later. The region, therefore, bears the double imprint of its two peoples.
Northland's rugged peninsula stretches 450km between Auckland and Cape Reinga Point. Northland is famous for the variety of its brightly coloured landscapes and wild coasts where silence is king.
Northland includes Bay of Islands and Far Far North. The very rugged coast of Bay of Islands encompasses 150 islands including 8 main and many deserts. This region is also home to Waitangi Reserve, a landmark for New Zealanders. It was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on February 6, 1840, by Maori chiefs and representatives of the British crown to allow settlers access to certain lands and rights over the country.
You will also be able to cross the Waipoua Forest Reserve where the oldest kauris of the country stand and see Tane Mahuta ("lord of the forest") 1500 years old, with a circumference of 13.77 m and 51.50 m high. Accommodation for 2 nights at the Kingsgate Hotel Paihia (or similar) in a standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Paihia:
- Treaty of Waitangi museum.
- Poor Knights islands for scuba diving.
- Cruise to swim with dolphins at Bay of Islands.
- A ride on Ninety Mile Beach, Cape Reinga and its lighthouse.
- Walks at Cable Bay and Spirits Bay.
Afternoon drive back to Auckland (approx. 220km).
Auckland "Sailing City", cosmopolitan Auckland, relaxing Auckland, sparkling Auckland, so many names that carry the largest metropolis of the country.
Many Polynesian, Asian and European cultures blend together to make the city attractive, diverse and full of life! With the mild climate, the omnipresence of the sea and its many beaches, the city constantly invites to enjoy the joys of the outdoors. There are about 102 almost deserted beaches within 1 hour of the centre and 1 in 4 people owns a boat.
The city is also very volcanic and has 60 extinct volcanoes some of which have been converted into a park. Mt Eden, whose summit rises to 196m is the highest in the city and will offer you a spectacular panorama of the region.
West of Auckland, crossing the Waitakere Ranges where you can enjoy the landscapes of huge kauris and ferns, you can relax or surf the black sand beaches such as Piha and Karekare.
Take the time to enjoy the city and all its neighbourhoods more attractive than each other. New Zealand's 'take it easy' way of life will not leave you indifferent! Accommodation for 2 nights at the Auckland City Hotel Hobson (or similar) standard double room with breakfast included.
To do in Aukland:
- Take a walk on the volcanoes of Mt Eden or One Tree Hill.
- Dinner in one of the many restaurants of Viaduct or Ponsonby.
- Climb to the top of the Sky Tower and observe the city and its surroundings at 360°.
- Victoria Market, the weekend to buy New Zealand crafts.
Day 20: Departure from Auckland
Drive to Auckland international airport to drop off your vehicle. Check-in 2.5 to 3 hrs prior to departure for all international flights.
Your Hotels —
Our members will stay at the following accommodation (or similar) on a Bed and Breakfast basis.
Dunedin: Dunedin Leisure Lodge (or similar)
Te Anau: Bella Vista (or similar)
Queenstown: GC GOLD Blue Peaks Lodge (or similar)
Fox Glacier: Fox Glacier Lodge B&B (or similar)
Greymouth: Oak Lodge B&B (or similar)
Blenheim: Scenic Hotel Marlborough (or similar)
Wellington: Travelodge Hotel (or similar)
Tongariro National Park: Chateau Tongariro Hotel (or similar)
Rotorua: Holiday Inn Rotorua (or similar)
Waitakere: H Heritage Waitakere Estate (or similar)
Paihia: Kingsgate Hotel Paihia (or similar)
Auckland: Auckland City Hotel Hobson (or similar)
All rooms sleep up to
Please note: the bed for the 3rd/4th guest sharing is likely to be a sofa bed or camp style bed. If any of these hotels are not available, hotels of a similar standard will be found.
Your Excursions —
You may choose to add the following excursions at the next stage of the booking process.
Enjoy this cruise on the Otago Peninsula to see region-specific wildlife - the region is known as the home of the royal albatross.
After the Otago Harbor exit, you will sail past Careys Bay's historic fishing village, gorgeous colourful bays, hills, farmland and forest far away. Your skipper will tell you Maori legends about the picturesque peninsula of Otago, the arrival of the first settlers and inform you about the volcanic geology of the region.
Then, a bus will take you to the private reserve of Penguin Place where you can discover and observe the fabulous yellow-eyed penguins that are only on the South East coast of New Zealand and are an endangered species. You will be able to play the animal photographer and observe the unique behaviour of penguins. On your return, your bus will travel along the Otago Peninsula to admire the beautiful landscape.
Take an early morning bus from Queenstown (7.15 am) to Manapouri to cruise on Milford Sound and then return to Queenstown at the end of the day (8.00 pm).
During your cruise on the fjord, a guide with specialised knowledge about the history of the region, the fauna and flora will give you a detailed interpretation in English. You will discover the many waterfalls, observe dolphins, sea lions and even sometimes the rare penguins of Fiordland.
Departure from your hotel in Te Anau at 8.45 am to Manapouri joining our Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise. This is a short 30-minute journey through the rolling countryside.
From Manapouri, cruise across the crystal waters of Lake Manapouri to West Arm before boarding a coach and crossing the alpine route of the Wilmot Pass through some of Fiordland’s most dense rainforest. On reaching Deep Cove, board a modern catamaran vessel, the Patea Explorer, for a three-hour cruise exploring the waterways of this serene and isolated fiord.
There is plenty of time available to explore points of interest and view the spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest and mountains all the way out to the Tasman Sea. The area is home to Bottlenose dolphins and fur seals and when in season, the rare Fiordland Crested penguin. A Nature Guide with specialist knowledge of the region’s history, flora and fauna provide detailed commentary in English. On the return cruise, the vessel’s engines are turned off and passengers are treated to the ‘sound of silence’ where guests experience floating in silence on the fiord, only the rush of waterfalls and birdsong breaks the silence.
Lunch options (lunch not included) and complimentary tea and coffee are available. Return to Te Anau by coach to arrive around 5.45 pm.
Combine the excitement of walking on a glacier with the thrill of a helicopter flight! The glacier overflight will allow you to access and explore a part of the inaccessible glacier, you will see spectacular caves and ice arches.
Meeting with your pilot at Fox Glacier helibase at 8.30 am. You will start your flight from the peaks of the lower glacier, here the ice is constantly moving. You will then make a tour over the upper ice section and Victoria Falls before landing. The landing place on fox glacier is exceptionally beautiful! Your guide will then dress you with crampons, specially designed for these ice conditions and you will follow him in the glacier, where the incredible ice caves are only visible here. Each departure is a real exploration trip!
Please note that this is a natural and ever-changing environment. Ice characteristics are constantly changing and no guarantee can be given as to the observed landscape. Flight from a minimum of 4 people. Suitable for children from 9 years old.Duration of the total excursion: 4 h - Weather permitting, the ice time is approximately 2.5 h.
Your evening begins with a quick look at where your meal is prepared, in the ground, to be stewed. The preparation of your traditional dinner (hangi) begins in the afternoon to ensure its best cooking. The baskets where the food is deposited are wrapped in manuka leaves to give them a unique smoky flavour, then they will be buried in the ground to be cooked for about 3 hours!
The evening will continue with a Powhiri, an authentic welcome ceremony. Powhiri is a Maori ritual when two groups meet for the first time. Gathered at the entrance of the Marae Rotowhio, you will be invited to this tradition which will begin with the sound of a pūtatara (conch). You will then be invited to enter the Tupuna Whare (ancestral meeting place).
You will be guided to the place where you will enjoy your meal (buffet, drink not included). Then at night, you will be driven for a few magical moments in the valley of Te Puia where you will end your journey in Maori land with tales of legends around Pohutu Geyser.
This Geothermal site has been carved by volcanic activity for thousands of years. Wai-o-Tapu is considered the most colourful and diverse geothermal site in the country. You can discover the diversity of the landscape on trails ranging from 30 to 75-minute walking distances.
Lady Knox Geyser - A guide to the Wai-o-Tapu site will explain the history and mechanics of the geyser with a small informal presentation in the natural amphitheatre near the geyser. The geyser is located on another island, about 3 minutes drive from the Wai-o-Tapu information centre, directions to get there will be given at the entrance.
The Mud Pool - The mud pool erupting is an atypical and unavoidable point of the site. This is the site of a former large mud volcano eroded by erosion in the 1920s.
In the middle of farmland on the North Island, visit the Hobbit (Hobbiton) Village of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. This fascinating 2-hour guided tour will take you back to the world of Peter Jackson.
During the visit, you will see the Hobbits House, The Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and other infrastructure and gardens built entirely for the movies.
Set off on a three-hour Bay of Islands cruise in search of dolphins and other marine life. Enjoy the views from our catamaran Dolphin Seeker as we journey right to the end of the Cape Brett Peninsula, to the famous Hole in the Rock on Motukokako Island.
According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space... and if you get dripped on, consider yourself lucky!
Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as we get you up close to the action. Our purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and our crew have years of experience locating dolphins in these waters.
Dolphin Seeker has indoor and outdoor seating available, and the largest outdoor viewing decks in the Bay of Islands. Choose to pre-book a picnic lunch, bring your own food, or there is hot and cold food available to buy on board.
Your Journey —
Flights: You may choose from Economy, Premium or Business class flights on sectors that they operate, at the next stage of the booking process.
The flights included are with either a scheduled or no-frills airline and are subject to live availability and prices can change. You can choose your preferred departure times during the booking process. Please select your flight options carefully as departure and arrival airports may differ.
Car Hire: Car hire is included in this offer.