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What is tailor made? Customised itinerary | Every trip is unique | Flexible accommodation options | Designed to your budget

    Places visited:

  • Auckland
  • Coromandel Peninsula
  • Rotorua
  • Napier & Hawkes Bay
  • Wellington
  • Picton & The Marlborough Sounds
  • Hanmer Springs
  • Christchurch
  • Greymouth
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Wanaka
  • Te Anau
  • Queenstown
  • Explore the beaches, caves and Maori sites of the Coromandel Peninsula.

  • Bathe in natural alpine hot springs in Hanmer Springs.

  • Take the TranzAlpine Railway through the Southern Alps to New Zealand's West Coast.

  • Enjoy a scenic nature cruise on Doubtful Sound.

Audley Travel specialist Miriam

What our specialists say...

This self-drive trip is ideal for first-time visitors to New Zealand wishing to discover the main highlights of both islands. Starting in the North Island, you’ll explore the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua’s geysers, and the excellent museums of Wellington. You then journey by ferry to the South Island which offers some of the country's finest mountain scenery as well as the delightful alpine village of Hanmer Springs. Traversing the island on the TranzAlpine train, you’ll explore the West Coast’s glaciers before journeying to Fiordland National Park, cruising Doubtful Sound and finishing with a few days in Queenstown.

We recommend this trip for:

  • Auckland
  • Coromandel Peninsula
  • Rotorua
  • Napier & Hawkes Bay
  • Wellington
  • Picton & The Marlborough Sounds
  • Hanmer Springs
  • Christchurch
  • Greymouth
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Wanaka
  • Te Anau
  • Queenstown
  • Auckland

Itinerary idea in detail

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Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Day 1 International outbound flight

International outbound flight

Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Auckland.

Day 2 International outbound flight

International outbound flight

On-board your international outbound flight to Auckland.

Day 3 Auckland

Auckland

On arriving in Auckland you're welcomed by an Audley representative and transferred by private vehicle to your accommodation in the central city. The rest of the day is at leisure. Relax after your flight, or start exploring the city by taking a trip up the Sky Tower for 360-degree views over the city and harbours.

Accommodation options

Day 4 Auckland

Auckland

Enjoy a day at leisure around Auckland. We recommend taking a stroll along the waterfront and enjoying a bite to eat at one of the cafes on Viaduct Harbour. In the afternoon, you might like to take a Maori guided tour of One Tree Hill, an important cultural site for both Maori and New Zealanders alike, which also offers great views over Auckland. Alternatively, make the short ferry trip to bucolic Waiheke Island and visit its many wineries.

Accommodation options

Day 5 Coromandel Peninsula

Auckland , Coromandel Peninsula

Today you collect your hire car from the downtown depot and make your way to the Coromandel Peninsula. You can take the shorter drive, crossing the flat plains of the northern Waikato region and arriving at your accommodation in around two and a half hours. You could also, if you wish, take the more scenic five hour route. Sections of it hug the coast and you'll have great views of the Pinnacles mountain range.

Accommodation options

Day 6 Coromandel Peninsula

Coromandel Peninsula

Today you explore the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula with one of our best-loved guides, Kiwi Dundee. The guides will take you around the peninsula as part of a small group, showing you sights such as historic gold-mining caves, Maori sites, and Hot Water Beach (tide permitting). You'll enjoy a picnic lunch on this full day tour, and be dropped back at your accommodation at the end of the day.

Accommodation options

Day 7 Rotorua

Coromandel Peninsula , Rotorua

Depart the Coromandel Peninsula this morning and make your way to Rotorua. The drive takes around three hours or you can take it at a more leisurely pace and explore the sights along the way. At Tauranga and Mount Maunganu you can take a hike that gives great views of Tauranga Harbour, Matakana Island and the Bay of Plenty. Further south, you'll pass volcanic-formed lakes and lakeside villages before reaching Rotorua. Relax at your hotel on arrival.

Accommodation options

Day 8 Rotorua

Rotorua

A day at leisure to explore Rotorua. You may like to visit Te Puia or Wai-O-Tapu for a chance to see some fascinating geysers and for an opportunity to learn a little more about the Maori culture (at Te Puia). In the evening you will experience a traditional Maori feast and performance.

Accommodation options

Day 9 Napier & Hawkes Bay

Rotorua , Napier & Hawkes Bay

Make your way to Napier in the heart of the Hawke's Bay region today. The journey will take you via Lake Taupo where you may like to stop for lunch. The whole route lasts about four hours, passing through varied scenery including plantations and vineyards, as well as some wilder, more remote stretches.

Accommodation options

Day 10 Napier & Hawkes Bay

Napier & Hawkes Bay

A day at leisure to explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay area. You may like to take a tour of the local winelands where you will have the opportunity to sample some of the country's finest wines. At Cape Kidnappers, you can visit a huge colony of nesting gannets. Alternatively, explore the Art Deco architecture of Napier.

Accommodation options

Day 11 Wellington

Napier & Hawkes Bay , Wellington

Leave Hawke's Bay this morning and make your way to the capital city of Wellington. This five and a half hour drive passes through rolling countryside, sheep farms, and the town of Norsewood. Drop off your hire car upon arrival and you'll have the rest of the day to explore at leisure. We can arrange a night tour of Zealandia, a wildlife reserve where you might spot the elusive kiwi as dusk falls.

Accommodation options

Day 12 Wellington

Wellington

Today is yours to explore New Zealand's capital under your own steam. We highly recommend spending several hours in the national museum, Te Papa, where you have the opportunity to learn a little more about New Zealand's history and Maori culture. The museum features an excellent Maori meeting house and even a reconstruction of natural wonders such as a glow worm cave.

Accommodation options

Day 13 Hanmer Springs

Wellington , Picton & The Marlborough Sounds , Hanmer Springs

Make your own way to the ferry terminal this morning for your Interislander ferry journey to the South Island. This is a stunning journey that will take you through the Marlborough Sounds and you will be rewarded with some fabulous photo opportunities en route. The crossing lasts around three hours. Pick up a hire car upon arrival and make your way inland and south to the pretty alpine town of Hanmer Springs.

Accommodation

Day 14 Christchurch

Hanmer Springs , Christchurch

This morning go for a walk to explore the beautiful scenery that Hanmer has to offer and then enjoy a relaxing dip in the hot springs before driving down to Christchurch this afternoon. This evening, try one of the city's many excellent restaurants. We can book you a meal in the quirky yet chic Tramway restaurant. It's a great way to see the city while dining on delicious traditional New Zealand cuisine.

Accommodation options

Day 15 Christchurch

Christchurch

You will have time at leisure to explore the 'Garden City' of Christchurch today. We recommend visiting the ingenious cathedral made of cardboard and ambling around Cashel Street's vibrant pop-up mall. You could also take a gondola ride to the top of Port Hills for panoramic views over the city and the Banks Peninsula.

Accommodation options

Day 16 Franz Josef Glacier

Christchurch , Greymouth , Franz Josef Glacier

Drop your car off at the airport and take a taxi to the train station this morning for your scenic TranzAlpine rail journey to the West Coast. The journey normally lasts four and a half hours as you travel through the farmlands of Canterbury, then traverse the mountainous Southern Alps before arriving into Greymouth. Snacks, sandwiches, salads and drinks (including wine and beer) are sold on board. On arrival you pick up your hire car and make your way down the West Coast to Franz Josef Glacier, a two hour drive through glaciated landscapes. We suggest stopping at the town of Hokitika to visit its jade museum, or to take a break in one of its cafes.

Accommodation options

Day 17 Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

You will have today at leisure on the West Coast. You may like to visit Lake Matheson at sunrise, New Zealand's most photographed lake where you will have some fantastic views of the surrounding Southern Alps. You could also take a scenic helicopter ride over the glaciers, which sometimes involve landing on the ice itself. Wildlife enthusiasts might enjoy birdwatching at Lake Okarito Lagoon, or visiting the West Coast Wildlife Centre, which runs a rehabilitation and incubation project for kiwi birds.

Accommodation options

Day 18 Wanaka

Franz Josef Glacier , Wanaka

Today you drive through the magnificent Haast Pass and make your way to Wanaka. This journey will take you through forests, coasts and mountains, and along the northern edge of Mount Aspiring National Park. There are lots of short walks and scenic viewpoints along the way: we like stopping off at Lake Moeraki and Ship Creek. With no stops the drive takes around five hours, but we recommend just taking your time and following your whims, pulling over to explore and admire views.

Accommodation options

Day 19 Wanaka

Wanaka

Spend today at leisure in Lake Wanaka. There are some excellent short and more strenuous walking trails here. Adrenaline-seekers will also find much to enjoy: jet boat rides, paragliding, white water rafting and rock climbing. Wanaka also has fine restaurants, bars and cafes, some with a view over the willow-lined lake.

Accommodation options

Day 20 Te Anau

Wanaka , Te Anau

Depart Lake Wanaka and make your way to Te Anau. This four and a half hour drive takes you past Queenstown (where you may wish to stop) and Lake Wakatipu, through apricot orchards and vineyards, and over New Zealand's highest public road. After arriving in Te Anau, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. You may like to visit the local glow worm caves this evening, or take in a visit to the tiny local cinema to watch Ata Whenua, a superb presentation about the local area.

Accommodation options

Day 21 Te Anau

Te Anau

This morning you will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Manapouri. You will be taken by boat across Lake Manapouri where you will meet another coach that will take you across a mountain pass to Doubtful Sound. Here you will board your day cruise. This is an excellent opportunity to explore this remote part of Fiordland National Park. Look out for birds, seals, dolphins, penguins and, if you are very lucky, whales! At the end of the day you will be transferred back to your accommodation in Te Anau.

Accommodation options

Day 22 Queenstown

Te Anau , Queenstown

Drive about two and a half hours to Queenstown this morning and enjoy a day at leisure here. Although Queenstown is known for its high-risk activities such as bungee jumping and skydiving, these are certainly not the only ways to enjoy the area. You could drive up to Arrowtown, a place almost frozen in time as a former gold rush town, or take a gondola ride up to a mountaintop restaurant for a meal with a view over The Remarkables. We like to drive along Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy, a small settlement, and stop off at some luscious botanical gardens and tea rooms along the way, before enjoying a walk through the forest at Glenorchy.

Accommodation options

Day 23 Queenstown

Queenstown

Another day at leisure to explore Queenstown and its surroundings. Today you might wish to take a 4x4 safari into the remote backcountry to see the wilderness that is Mount Aspiring National Park. For something a little more pulse-racing, try jet boating on the Dart River. There are also several excellent Pinot Noir wineries in the area.

Accommodation options

Day 24 International return flight

Queenstown , Auckland , International return flight

Today you take a two hour flight from Queenstown to Auckland in order to connect with your international return flight.

Day 25 International return flight

International return flight

Arrive home today to complete your journey.

Audley Travel specialist Emma
Audley Travel specialist Barbara

Contact a specialist

The specialist who designs your trip to New Zealand will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip. Your dedicated specialist will take the time to understand your preferences and build them into an itinerary to match, working to your budget. He or she will keep perfecting it until you’re completely happy and ready to book.

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When to go

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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily Max Temperature Monthly Rainfall
Auckland
 
 
 
Coromandel Peninsula
 
 
 
Rotorua
 
 
 
Napier
 
 
 
Wellington
 
 
 
Picton
 
 
 
Hanmer Springs
 
 
 
Christchurch
 
 
 
Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers
 
 
 
Lake Wanaka
 
 
 
Te Anau & Manapouri
 
 
 
Queenstown
 
 
 

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