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Cultural New Zealand self-drive

20 days from $5,945pp

What is tailor made? 100% custom | Exceptional experiences | Hand-picked guides | Lodging with character | Designed to your schedule, budget & interests

Itinerary highlights

  • Visit the Waitangi Treaty Ground in the Bay of Islands, a symbolic place where Maori and European culture have historically entwined.

  • Visit some of the vineyards on Waiheke Island which have helped put New Zealand wines on the map.

  • Visit Te Papa Museum in Wellington, where you can learn all about New Zealand's Maori Culture amongst other fascinating exhibits.

  • Visit the observatory at Lake Tekapo to view the sparkling night skies in this UNESCO dark sky reserve.

Price includes

Fully insured vehicle rental
All accommodations
  • Auckland
  • Kerikeri
  • Paihia & The Bay of Islands
  • Auckland
  • Waiheke Island
  • Auckland
  • Taupo
  • Wellington
  • Picton & The Marlborough Sounds
  • Blenheim
  • Picton & The Marlborough Sounds
  • Hanmer Springs
  • Christchurch
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Arrowtown
  • Queenstown
  • Wanaka
  • Glenorchy
  • Queenstown
  • Auckland

Itinerary idea in detail

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Ask us if you would also like us to arrange your international flights at our preferred rates.

Day 1 Paihia & The Bay of Islands

Auckland , Kerikeri , Paihia & The Bay of Islands

Upon arrival in Auckland you will be welcomed by one of our representatives and transferred by private vehicle to the domestic terminal. Here you will fly to Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. Collect your hire car from the airport and make your way to the coastal town of Paihia.

Day 2 Paihia & The Bay of Islands

Paihia & The Bay of Islands

Spend the day at leisure exploring the Bay of Islands. Pay a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the historic location of the treaty signed between the Maori chiefs and the British Crown or take a boat trip through the 'Hole in the Rock'.

Day 3 Auckland

Paihia & The Bay of Islands , Auckland

Today you will drive down to Auckland, the 'City of Sails'. You might like to stop in the delightful town of Matakana en route; with a number of boutique shops and cafes this is a great place to have lunch with the locals.

Day 4 Auckland


Today you will be collected from your hotel by a guide from Time Unlimited for a morning City Highlights tour. Your guide will cater the trip to your interests, all the while telling you of Auckland's natural and social history. This is a great opportunity to get a great seafood meal in, so make sure to mention it to your guide and you won't be disappointed!

Day 5 Waiheke Island

Auckland , Waiheke Island

This morning you take the ferry over to Waiheke Island, just a short journey away from Auckland downtown. From the boat enjoy scenic views of the harbour.

Day 6 Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Enjoy a day at leisure on Waiheke, explore some of the beautiful beaches or visit one of the award-winning wineries.

Day 7 Taupo

Waiheke Island , Auckland , Taupo

Take the ferry back to Auckland today, rejoin your vehicle and make your way south to Lake Taupo. Stop off in Rotorua to see some of the geothermal activity on the way.

Day 8 Taupo


Join a cruise on Lake Taupo to see the famous Maori rock carvings then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Perhaps visit Huka Falls or the interesting Wairakei Terraces thermal area.

Day 9 Wellington

Taupo , Wellington

Today you make your way down to Wellington through some lovely little country towns and return your hire car on arrival.

Day 10 Wellington


Enjoy a day at leisure in Wellington, the country's capital. Be sure to spend some time in Te Papa - a combination of museum, art gallery and cultural centre all under one roof.

Day 11 Picton & The Marlborough Sounds

Wellington , Picton & The Marlborough Sounds

Make your way to the ferry terminal this morning and take the Interislander to the South Island. You will stay in the waterfront town of Picton for a couple of nights. This is a great place to enjoy the famous New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels.

Day 12 Picton & The Marlborough Sounds

Blenheim , Picton & The Marlborough Sounds

Today you will enjoy a Maori Cultural tour of the Picton area; a fascinating insight into the historic and cultural significance of the area.

Day 13 Hanmer Springs

Picton & The Marlborough Sounds , Hanmer Springs

You collect your car this morning and make your way south and inland to Hanmer Springs via the Lewis Pass. On arrival head to the hot springs and relax in the naturally geothermal heated pools.


Day 14 Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs

Today is at leisure in Hanmer Springs, enjoy a lovely walk through the Alpine village or perhaps drive round to Kaikoura and spend the day exploring there.


Day 15 Lake Tekapo

Hanmer Springs , Christchurch , Lake Tekapo

Today you make your way to Lake Tekapo, skirting around Christchurch then heading inland across the Canterbury Plains.

Day 16 Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

You have the day to explore Tekapo. One of the most famous viewpoints in New Zealand - from the Church of the Good Shepherd - is found here and there are some fantastic walks along the lakeside. This evening journey up to Mt John Observatory and observe a myriad stars in the night sky. As a UNESCO designated Dark Sky Area this is one of the best places in the world to go stargazing.

Day 17 Queenstown

Lake Tekapo , Arrowtown , Queenstown

Continue your journey today through the spectacular Lindis Pass to the Southern Lakes Region. Make your way to Arrowtown, an old gold mining settlement and now a quaint little town with many cafes and art galleries to enjoy.

Day 18 Queenstown


This evening I have included a trip on the TSS Earnslaw, a vintage steam ship that cruises on Lake Wakatipu. You will cross the lake to Walter Peak High Country Farm where you will enjoy a gourmet BBQ dinner and embark on a farm tour where you will get an insight into New Zealand's farming culture.

Day 19 Queenstown

Wanaka , Glenorchy , Queenstown

Enjoy a final day exploring this area. You might like to visit Lake Wanaka and soak up the cafe culture there. If you didn't visit Arrowtown on your way from Lake Tekapo, we suggest you do so today on your way to Lake Wanaka. Alternatively you might like to drive along Lake Wakatipu to the quaint old village of Glenorchy, they have a lovely village shop & cafe and some of the most magical scenery in New Zealand to explore on foot. Alternatively you might like to drive along Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy, a tiny old village with a lovely shop & cafe and some of the most magical scenery in New Zealand to walk through.

Day 20 Return home

Queenstown , Auckland

Take an internal flight from Queenstown to Auckland where you catch your onward flight.

Audley Travel Specialist Jessie
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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
Waiheke Island
Lake Taupo
Hanmer Springs
Lake Tekapo
Lake Wanaka

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