An itinerary such as this will allow you to experience the best that both the South and North Island have to offer. Highlights include: Rotorua, the hub of New Zealand’s geothermal activity and Māori Culture, Franz Josef Glacier – one of the only glaciers in the world to be surrounded by rainforest, the beautiful shores of Lake Wānaka and a day cruise through majestic Fiordland! The best part is that this is your tour, done your way. Sit back, relax and experience the real New Zealand!
This tour can be easily Self-driven with our comprehensive route notes, complete with hidden spots to enjoy on the way. This allows you the freedom to explore them at your own pace on a self-drive tour if you prefer. Don’t feel like driving? We can provide a guide to! Remember you are in control! Rest assured, all our offerings are fully customizable and tailored to meet your specific preferences. Feel free to ask us to modify this itinerary to create the journey of your dreams! Learn more about our pricing: Personalized Pricing and Booking Process | The Road Trip New Zealand
Guided: Upon arrival at Christchurch Airport, a shuttle driver will be waiting for you as you clear customs. This driver will be holding a signboard with your name on it and will take you to your accommodation in the city. The day and night are free to spend at your leisure and your guide will meet you tomorrow morning.
Self Drive: Upon arrival at Christchurch Airport you will collect your rental vehicle within the airport terminal. Make your way to your inner city accommodation where the day and night are free to spend at your leisure and prepare for the adventure ahead.
Today you will drive through the mighty Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass National Park. Keep a look out for the Bealey River as well as the reflective waters of Lake Pearson and Lake Lyndon. Our favourite nature walk in this national park features a stunning 150 metre waterfall and spectacular views of the mountains as you peek through native beech forest. Be sure to keep a look out overhead for the Kea (New Zealand’s cheeky native alpine parrot)! Driving further you will reach the West Coast and the Tasman coastline. Head slightly inland where you can visit the stunning Hokitika Gorge to marvel at its beautiful bright blue waters and surrounding native forest. Continue further south through the rainforest to the town of Franz Josef glacier, nestled at the base of the towering alps and surrounded by dense native bush.
This morning you will have the opportunity to enjoy a short scenic helicopter flight with snow landing on Franz Josef Glacier, or a 3 hour guided heli-hike on the ice of glacier itself! (optional). One of the most dramatic journeys in the country is what you can experience on your drive over the Haast Pass through to Wānaka. En route you will visit Lake Matheson, otherwise known as ‘Mirror Lakes’ where on a clear day it is possible to see the reflection of New Zealand’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook (3754m/12,316ft). The walking possibilities are endless today around Haast and Haast Pass and you can choose from several nature walks, some of which feature spectacular waterfalls and deep blue coloured pools where it is possible to see trout swimming. One of our favourite spots at The Road Trip is Ship Creek, an isolated beach featuring native totara trees hugging rugged coastline. Tonight you stay in Wānaka, one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday spots.
Today is a chance to explore the beautiful lakeside town of Wanaka. Options include a walk up one of our favourite look out spots featuring 360 degree views of Lake Wānaka, Mount Aspiring National Park and the Clutha River, a visit to Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World, kayaking on the lake, a visit to the Warbirds and Classic cars Museum or even fishing on the lake for some brown or rainbow trout. Perhaps take on the majestic Rob Roy Glacier hike or venture Roy’s Peak if you’re feeling especially fit!
This afternoon you will enjoy a cruise to one of Lake Wanaka’s five islands, Mou Waho. Mou Waho Island is the most remote and in our opinion, the most beautiful of the five. With its steep rocky coastline, small secluded beaches, diverse birdlife and a hidden lake (Arethusa pool) which sits atop the island. A knowledgeable guide will accompany you on the two hour island walk and share insights on the geology, history, flora and fauna and local culture of the region.
This morning your South Island tour takes you to the beautiful town of Arrowtown via The Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest highway. Arrowtown was an important location in the gold rush of Central Otago in the 1860s and is now a historic town with a very special vibe. Perhaps browse the preserved Chinese gold mining village or wander the boutique shops the town has on offer. Following this, perhaps enjoy a wine tasting at Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door, overlooking the stunning Lake Hayes. This afternoon you will drive a further 2 hours to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Be prepared for one of the jewels of the New Zealand landscape! The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most spectacular in the world and certainly a highlight on any New Zealand tour. En route you will see spectacular valleys, breath taking mountains and hopefully spot the cheeky Kea (New Zealand’s mountain parrot). This morning you will experience all that the fjords have to offer with a 1.5 hour boat cruise featuring pristine waterfalls and towering mountains plunging into the Tasman Sea (included activity). Keep a look out for dolphins, seals and the Fiordland crested Penguin. On your trip back to Te Anau there is the opportunity to enjoy several short walks in the Fiordland National Park.
Today is free to explore Queenstown at leisure and take part in some of the fantastic activities that this ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ has to offer. Options for the adventurous include: Skydiving, Bungy Jumping, Jet Boating, Canyon Swings, White Water Rafting, Flyboarding and Paragliding. If you feel like taking a more relaxed approach to the day, a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw 100 year old steam ship or a walk through Queenstown’s Botanic Gardens are not to be missed. Perhaps drive out to the head of Lake Wakatipu and experience the breath-taking scenery of the Glenorchy area.
You leave Central Otago today through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell where you can make a stop en route at a local fruit shop to try real fruit ice cream and perhaps sample New Zealand famous manuka honey products. From there, cross the Lindis Pass to the Mackenzie Country and travel alongside the stunning turquoise Lake Pukaki towards Aoraki/Mt Cook Village. Weather permitting you can take a short walk at the foot of Mt Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain. Our favourite walk ventures into the Hooker Valley and takes in some of the most impressive views in the country. En route to Lake Tekapo, perhaps take a trip to the top of Mt John to experience the feeling of being on top of the world. The cafe at the top boasts stunning 360 degree views of the Mountains and turquoise coloured lakes in the area. Tonight you will enjoy a guided tour at Mt John Observatory where you can marvel at the spectacular dark sky reserve that surrounds you.
This morning you depart Lake Tekapo and continue on to Christchurch. The afternoon is free to explore The Garden City of Christchurch. You could enjoy a stroll in the botanic gardens and a drive around the bays of Banks Peninsula, taking in Lyttelton which was the gateway for many of Christchurch and the Canterbury region’s first European settlers. Cathedral Square and the remains of the Christchurch Cathedral are well worth a visit, as well as the revitalised central shopping area and Riverside Market.
Today you will head north through the wine growing area of Waipara to Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a sea life paradise which boasts whales, seals, albatross and dolphins. There are over 17 species of whale to be found in Kaikoura all within 8 km of the coastline. Early afternoon you will take a whale watching boat tour. Keep a look out for Sperm Whales, Humpback Whales and Orcas as well as many species of Dolphin. Spend the night in the seaside village of Kaikoura.
This morning you will have the chance to visit a seal colony to view New Zealand’s native fur seal up close (but not too close!). Driving north you will head through the wine growing region of Marlborough (New Zealand’s largest and biggest producer of wine). From here board a ferry in Picton with your vehicle and sail across Cook Strait. Arrive in Wellington and enjoy the vibrancy of “The Coolest Little Capital in the World.”
Today is your day to explore the Coolest Little Capital in the World! This morning you will take the Cable Car from the city up to Kelburn, where you will be able to wander the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Next, hop on the free shuttle to Zealandia, the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The 225 hectare ecosanctuary is a ground+breaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, 6 of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. Tonight why not enjoy one of the delicious restaurants the city has to offer?
This morning you depart Wellington and continue North to the beautiful Tongariro National Park. In the afternoon you’ll arrive in the beautiful ski resort of Ohakune where you may wish to take a hike in the National Park itself. Enjoy a night at the Powderhorn Chateau where the cast of Lord of the Rings stayed during filming in the area!
En route today we recommend taking a short detour to the village of Whakapapa and the Chateau Tongariro in the Tongariro National Park where you may wish to enjoy a hike. One of The Road Trip’s favourites is 2 hours long featuring native bush, volcanic views and stunning waterfalls. In clear weather you will spot 3 of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes – Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngaurauhoe (also known as Mt Doom). Heading North today, you will reach Lake Taupō, New Zealand’s largest lake. Winding your way around the lake, you will reach the lakeside holiday town of Taupo.
Further down the road, stop at the mighty Huka Falls where you could take a spin in the Huka Falls Jet and experience the thrill from beneath (optional). Continuing on the ‘Thermal Explorer Highway,’ you will arrive at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland- a Wonderland of Stunning Geothermal Activity. You will visit New Zealand’s largest thermal mud pool, sinter terraces and stunning hot and cold pools of many different colours. You will arrive in Rotorua late afternoon where you could have a walk through the wonderful redwood forests or a look at Rotorua’s lovely Government Gardens and lakefront. Tonight perhaps enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs of Polynesian Spa.
This morning you will enjoy the Ultimate Canopy Tour with Rotorua Canopy Tours. This is an unforgettable 3.5-hour Canopy Tour journey. Venture deep into the wilderness to experience prehistoric New Zealand forest at its best. Following this, today is free for leisure activities. Options include: Rotorua Gondola and Luge, zorbing, or the spectacular Treewalk of the redwood forest. This evening you will enjoy an authentic cultural experience at Te Pā Tū (formerly Tamaki Māori Village). Te Pā Tū offers seasonal celebration experiences. “Tū Te Rā.” Tū Te Rā is a summer celebration, aligned with the maramataka – the Māori lunar calendar. This is a time when the sun expresses optimal energy, the days are longer, and light nourishes the natural world. Tū Te Rā celebrates the abundant harvest of this season, and explores concepts, rituals, and stories of ancient Māori warfare and peace in a feast of culture and cuisine.
Today you will transfer to Auckland Airport for your onward travel arrangements. We trust that you’ve had an excellent time in New Zealand and wish you safe travels to your next destination.
Onward flight is not included.
This off-the-beaten-path itinerary includes 2 nights at the beautiful and remote Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, a farm stay including a home-cooked meal and private farm tour, boutique wineries, the mighty Putangirua Pinnacles, dense native rainforest, the golden beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park, rafting in Aotearoa’s most impressive glow worm cave, Central Otago wineries, Gorgeous Hawea, and the famous Stewart island!
Highlights include Rotorua, the hub of New Zealand’s geothermal activity and Māori Culture, Franz Josef Glacier – one of the only glaciers in the world to be surrounded by rainforest, the beautiful shores of Lake Wanaka and a day cruise through majestic Fiordland! The best part is that this is your tour, done your way. Sit back, relax and experience the real New Zealand!
Dive deep into the heart of New Zealand, exploring its unparalleled beauty and diverse landscapes. This all-encompassing journey introduces you to both the South and North Islands’ most iconic destinations, ensuring an unforgettable experience.
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