This 3-week New Zealand self-drive itinerary showcases the country’s diversity, from the bubbling geysers and Maori culture of Rotorua to the snow-capped mountains and glassy lakes of Queenstown. We’ve hand-picked our favourite accommodation from cosy B&Bs to boutique-style lodges - each property is unique and is guaranteed to impress.
To enhance your New Zealand self-drive tour - why not take a cruise into the heart of the Milford Sound or get an incredible birds-eye-view of Franz Josef glacier from a heli-tour? Every part of this holiday can be tailor-made to suit your exact requirements. We will talk you through all the options on offer to make this spectacular journey a trip of a lifetime. Contact us to begin planning your dream New Zealand holiday!
Depart the UK from your chosen airport.
Collect your rental car at the airport and make your way to your accommodation.
The rest of the day is at leisure so spend your afternoon exploring the ‘City of Sails’.
It’s time to hit the road and head to the Coromandel Peninsula and Whangamata where you’ll spend the next 2 nights.
The rest of the day is at leisure, why not head to the idyllic harbour or explore the boutique shops along the parade.
A full day at leisure here.
Today, you’ll drive on to the geothermal town of Rotorua, famous for its spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools and strong sulphuric scent.
The afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy, but we highly recommend you take part in a ‘Hangi’ (traditional Maori feast).
Today you’ll head for Te Puia; another geothermal wonderland, where you’ll see steam shooting up from the ground in a spectacular display, have a chance to see NZ’s famous Kiwi birds and buy some traditional Maori arts and crafts.
Drive on to the pretty town of Napier, known for its Art Deco architecture.
A full day in Napier to explore on your own.
After breakfast, it’s time to head to the cultural capital of New Zealand, Wellington.
Why not visit the Te Papa museum (New Zealand’s national museum) or take a Lord of the Rings tour?
Today you’re bound for the South Island.
After dropping your car off at the port terminal, you’ll board the ferry for a 3-hour journey across the Cook Strait; described as one of the most scenic ferry rides in the world.
Once you arrive, take a water taxi from Picton to Marlborough Sounds where you’ll spend the next two nights.
A whole day at leisure.
Start by taking the water taxi back to Picton to collect a rental car, then continue on to Nelson, known for its golden beaches and national parks. It’s about a 2-hour drive to Nelson and another hour or so to water-taxis or sea shuttle to explore Abel Tasman's glorious bays and beaches.
Today you’ll journey on to Greymouth which is about a 4-hour drive. Situated at the mouth of the Grey River from which it takes its name, this is the largest town on the west coast.
The next destination is the small centre of Franz Josef, located right on the park boundary of Westland Tai Poutini National Park, home to the famous Franz Josef Glacier.
We recommend visiting the glacier for a hike, or even taking a scenic helicopter ride for some incredible aerial views.
Today’s drive will bring you to Queenstown. One of the South Island’s highlights, the city is known for its magnificent scenery, luxury lifestyle and abundance of thrill-seeker activities. You’ll find Queenstown is a great place to hike, bike and explore, so we’ve included 3 nights in this adventure capital.
Spend the day exploring Queenstown and its adventurous pastimes, jump off one of the highest bungee jumps in the world or try your hand at luging, you can also take the Queenstown Gondola and witness stunning views across the snow-capped mountains and clear lakes as you travel up to the top of Bob's Peak.
You have another day to explore Queenstown today. Why not head out to Milford Sound; an absolute must-see? The sounds provide some of the most stunning scenery you’ll encounter anywhere in New Zealand.
Today’s drive will take you to Lake Tekapo village; located on the shore of the country’s highest large lake. It's home to the stone ‘Church of the Good Sheperd’, which has hosted thousands of weddings since its dedication in 1935. Nearby is the Mount John Conservatory, a world heritage site.
Enjoy a continental breakfast before driving on to Akaroa, nestled on Banks Peninsula, in the heart of an ancient volcano.
Spend the afternoon in the village with its colonial architecture and craft stores.
Day at leisure.
Today you have a one hour journey back to Christchurch with plenty of time to return your car and connect with your flight back to the UK.
New Zealand is a year-round destination and there is always something to see and enjoy whatever time you decide to travel. High season runs from December to February (summer), prices will be at a premium at these times and availability limited so it is advisable to book in advance. March to April and September to November can be a great time to travel as the weather is fine and the crowds fewer. Low season is May to August (winter) for most of New Zealand, this is, however, the best time for skiing and so ski towns such as Queenstown will be at their busiest.
We’re experts in planning tailor-made holidays, so whether you’re looking for a luxury New Zealand holiday, ideas for a road trip or multi-stop flights to New Zealand with stopovers – let us help you with the planning. Our experts can tailor-make precisely the trip you’re looking for – this itinerary is purely a suggestion, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.