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New Zealand's wildlife self-drive tour

22 days from $9,235pp

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Tour highlights

  • Swim with the playful dolphins in the warm waters of the Bay of Islands.

  • Hear the call of the birds on Tiritiri Matangi.

  • Spot rare kiwi at Zealandia.

  • Encounter huge sperm whales at Kaikoura.

  • Watch the cheeky penguins on the Otago Peninsula.

Price includes:

  • Fully insured vehicle rental
  • All accommodations
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Itinerary idea in detail

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

  • On arrival in Auckland you will be met by our representatives and have a private transfer to the domestic terminal for your flight to the Bay of Islands. Once in Kerikeri you pick up a hire car and make your way to your accommodation.

  • This morning you join a Dolphin Swim Cruise which will take you out into the bay to look for dolphins. What a way to start your vacation!

  • Make your way south from the Bay of Islands to the international city of Auckland where you will stay for two nights. This afternoon is at leisure to explore the city. We recommend making a stop at the Viaduct Harbour region to have a nice meal or stop at the Auckland War Memorial Museum to learn about the New Zealand war history.

  • Today you'll be collected from your hotel in the morning and enjoy a full day tour of the Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary. This is an excellent chance to learn of the history and evolution of New Zealand's birds and animals. Along with time to independently explore, the day includes a guided walk through the native bush.

  • Make your way southeast to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula today. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the Coromandel Peninsula. We recommend going to Hot Water Beach to make your own hot water hole or head to the mining region of the peninsula.

  • You will be collected from your accommodation for a full day tour of the Coromandel. You will tour around the entire peninsula, visiting beautiful coastline and seemingly endless mountains. Your guide will ensure you learn of the Coromandel's significant Maori cultural history. In terms of industrial history, you will visit an old gold mining site from the area's mining heyday. Your guide will also highlight the native kauri trees (New Zealand Redwoods), and the impressive Hot Water Beach, where you can have a hot spring experience like none other on Earth.

  • Make your way south to Rotorua, the thermal center of New Zealand. Here you can see bubbling mud-pools, steaming lakes and impressive geysers. In the evening you will be collected from your accommodation and head to a local Maori cultural center. Enjoy a traditional Maori Hangi meal and cultural experience at the Mitai Maori Village. You will learn of New Zealand's indigenous culture, be treated to a Haka performance, and walk through the sacred Fairy Springs, which is a renowned spot for glowworms. Finish the night by taking a trip into Rainbow Springs where you have the chance to see kiwi.

  • Today you will go on an adventure to see volcanoes and rainforests on a guided walk around the Rotorua area. You will also learn lots about the native birdlife on this trip.

  • Head out early today and make your way south to the capital city of Wellington. The remainder of the day is at leisure in Wellington. We recommend stopping at the famous Te Papa Museum, to learn all about the country's natural, Maori, and European history.

  • Spend the day at leisure exploring the capital city before taking a trip out to Zealandia tonight for a night tour — the reserve is home to plenty of native species which had originally been wiped out from the mainland. There is a great chance to see tuatara and kiwi birds here.

  • Journey across the Cook Strait and through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds today, looking out for dolphins and seals as you cruise through the tranquil waters. Drive south to Kaikoura.

  • You will hopefully encounter the majestic sperm whales, as well as dolphins, albatross and seals, all of which make these waters their home. The afternoon is open to explore the mountain trails near Kaikoura.

  • This morning drive to Christchurch and spend the afternoon exploring the city.

  • Spend today at your leisure. Although Christchurch is still undergoing reconstruction from an earthquake in 2011, there is still loads to see and do. Enjoy a walk through Hagley Park on your way to the Central Business District, where you'll find an abundance of shops and restaurants.

  • Make your way down to Dunedin today, and you might like to stop for a break at the fascinating Moeraki Boulders, just north of Palmerston.

  • You join a wildlife cruise today that will allow you to see the fantastic wildlife of this area in its natural environment. The trip includes a visit to the yellow-eyed penguin colony, an extremely rare species, where you can get very close to the penguins via some specially designed underground walkways.

  • Continue to make your way south to Invercargill in time for your short flight over to Stewart Island, a pristine island which is mostly national park where you will stay for two nights.

  • Today you have a full-day tour of Ulva and Stewart Islands with a knowledgeable local guide, on which you will learn all about the resident fauna and flora.

  • You return to Invercargill by light aircraft today and continue onto Te Anau where you will stay for one night. In the evening make your way down to the Real Journeys Visitor Centre for an evening excursion to the renowned Te Anau Glowworm Caves, one of the few places on earth to see these bioluminescent creatures!

  • This morning you will be collected from your hotel and driven to Manapouri, where you'll get a ferry across to the Manapouri Power Station and then board another coach, bringing you to the Doubtful Head via Wilmot Pass, allowing you to see the Sound from far above. You'll board the Fjordland Navigator for your overnight scenic cruise. There are a number of ways to experience the Sound, with its dominating peaks and cascading waterfalls, enjoy this magical place as you wish!

  • You will return from the cruise late this morning to collect your car and make your way to Queenstown for your last night stay.

  • Today you will fly from Queenstown to Auckland to connect with your onward flight.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodations, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

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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.

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When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
Auckland
 
Kerikeri
 
Russell
 
Coromandel Peninsula
 
Rotorua
 
Wellington
 
Picton
 
Kaikoura
 
Christchurch
 
Dunedin
 
Stewart & Ulva Islands
 
Te Anau & Manapouri
 
Queenstown
 

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