Private Guided Tours

New Zealand Exploration – Off the Beaten Path

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Discover New Zealand’s Hidden Gems

Our off-the-beaten-path itineraries are perfect for those who want to explore New Zealand beyond the typical tourist spots. Let us show you incredible highlights you may have never heard of, discovered over our 10+ years of exploring this beautiful country.

This itinerary includes 2 nights at Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, a farm stay with a home-cooked meal and private tour, boutique wineries, the Putangirua Pinnacles, dense rainforests, Abel Tasman National Park, glow worm cave rafting, Central Otago wineries, Hawea, and Stewart Island.

Enjoy this 4-week tour self-driven with our comprehensive route notes, or opt for a guided experience. Customize the journey to your preferences and create the adventure of your dreams with our expert advice and guidance.

Build your own tour
The activities listed above are just a glimpse of what’s possible! We pride ourselves on creating bespoke experiences tailored to your interests and desires. If you have specific activities or destinations in mind, let us know, and we’ll craft a personalized itinerary just for you. Every journey is unique, and we’re here to make yours perfect. Dream big – your adventure is waiting to be customized!
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Top attractions in this tour

Your 29-day road trip itinerary

29-day journey exploring x key destinations across New Zealand's diverse landscapes.
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DAY 1
Auckland Arrival

YOUR DAY

Guided: Upon arrival at Auckland Airport, a shuttle driver will be waiting for you as you clear customs. This driver 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 Auckland 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.

Full Itinerary
DAY 2
Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel

YOUR DAY

206km, 3 hours 20 minutes driving

South you go. Leaving New Zealand’s largest city you head for the Coromandel, one of the key locations for the New Zealand gold rush in the 1800s. You follow the coast road to the town of Coromandel, where you will take a trip on ‘The Driving Creek Railway’- New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway, with a working pottery and wild life sanctuary.

From there you will take the stunning 309 Road to the coastal town of Whitianga, stopping at stunning Waiau Falls and the Waiau Kauri Grove – to see ginormous anicent kauri trees up close.

Arrive in Whitianga in the afternoon/evening and enjoy the beautiful Buffalo Beach.

 

Full Itinerary
DAY 3
Whitianga and Surrounds

YOUR DAY

Today is free to explore the beauty of The Coromandel Peninsula. Perhaps take a walk to one of New Zealand’s most stunning beaches; Cathedral Cove where you wander through ancient native forest to the pristine beach that houses this striking rock formation. Other options for the day include a glass-bottom boat trip to a marine reserve, bathing at The Lost Spring, a visit to New Chum’s Beach (self-drive only), horse-riding at a local farm or kayaking to the idyllic other worldly paradise of Whenuakura/Donut Island. You will also enjoy a wine tasting at the incredible Mercury Bay Winery.

Full Itinerary
DAY 4
Whitianga to Mount Maunganui

YOUR DAY

156 km, 2 hours & 35 minutes driving

Today you are driving to the beautiful Bay of Plenty. First up the scenic dive along the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula, enjoy beaches such as Ocean Beach & Whiritoa Beach. if you are feeling adventurous perhaps take a kayak out to Whenuakura Island and enjoy the famous donut shaped island.

On your way to Mount Maunganui you may wish to visit Waihi the home of gold mining in New Zealand. When you arrive feel free to explore the area, options including surfing, fishing, and the famous Mount Maunganui summit Hike!

 

Full Itinerary
DAY 5
Mount Manganui to Pipiriki

YOUR DAY

315km, 4 hours 10 minutes driving

This morning you will pass by New Zealand’s largest lake – Lake Taupō and the active volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park to reach Pipiriki, where you will meet your guide for your mystical Bridge to Nowhere jet boat ride, walk and canoeing trip through the stunning Whanganui National Park.

Tonight you will stay overnight in a beautiful remote location in the park, at Bridge to Nowhere Lodge.

 

Full Itinerary
DAY 6
Pipiriki to Mairenui Rural Retreat

YOUR DAY

123km, 2 hours driving

Leave the Whanganui National Park today and venture towards a family farm in the nearby Manawatu Region. First, pass by the ski town of Ohakune and perhaps drive up to the top of the road on the North Island’s tallest mountain and most active volcano – Mt. Ruapehu. On a clear day it is possible to see all the way to the Tasman Sea!

Pass by New Zealand’s premier carrot growing region (and take a photo with their giant carrot statue of course), then continue on to Taihape – “Gumboot Capital of the World.” where you can try your hand at throwing a gumboot in their purpose built gumboot throwing lane.

Following this, drive across the Rangitikei River and marvel at the steep sandstone cliffs of this river, which was used to portray River Anduin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Tonight you will arrive at the beautiful Mairenui Rural Retreat where you will stay overnight with a kiwi family on a working farm, enjoy a home cooked dinner and breakfast and private farm tour.

Full Itinerary
DAY 7
Mairenui Rural Retreat to Martinborough

YOUR DAY

211km, 3 hours driving

You’ll leave Mairenui Rural Retreat via the gorgeous Manawatu Scenic Route after breakfast this morning and head through rolling green hills and alongside the dramatic Rangitikei River, to pass by Ashhurst and admire the wind farm en route.

Following this you’ll head South on State Highway 2 and have the opportunity to visit Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre – home to a very rare white kiwi and other very special native birds.

Passing through some very pleasant small towns (including Greytown which is known as the prettiest town in New Zealand), you can browse the delightful stores and cafes before arriving in Martinborough – the heart of the Wairarapa wine growing region. Here you can visit several beautiful boutique wineries and enjoy a delicious meal overlooking a vineyard. You have the option of renting bikes to ride between vineyards as most in the area are all quite close to each other.

You’ll stay overnight in the lovely little town of Martinborough.

Full Itinerary
DAY 8
Martinborough to Wellington via Putangirua Pinnacles

YOUR DAY

156km, 2 hours 15 minutes driving

This morning you will take the beautiful drive out to the Putangirua Pinnacles where scenes for The Dimholt Road in Lord of the Rings were filmed. The Putangirua Pinnacles are a stunning yet unusual canyon like landscape surrounded by tall, thin pinnacle rock formations. The impressive scenery here meant that no CGI was needed to create the Dimholt Road nature did it all! Go in search of the Army of the Dead by walking straight through the Pinnacles or take the walk up to the lookout and view this bizarre but beautiful landscape from above.

Next up you will leave picturesque Martinborough and take the drive over the Remutaka Ranges to arrive in Wellington to discover New Zealand’s capital city. Spots on your city tour could take in sights such as Mt Victoria – Wellington’s most spectacular viewpoint with 360 degree views of the city, harbour and mountain ranges in the background, parliament, New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa and Weta Cave where the magic of The Lord of the Rings was created.

 

Full Itinerary
DAY 9
Wellington

YOUR DAY

Today is your day to explore the Coolest Little Capital in the World! This morning you could take the Cable Car from the city up to Kelburn, where you will be able to wander the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Late morning, perhaps 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 groundbreaking 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 is famous for? Wellington is known as the cultural capital of New Zealand and due to its small size, the majority of the city can easily be covered on foot.

Full Itinerary
DAY 10
Wellington to Marlborough Sounds via Marlborough Wineries

YOUR DAY

3.5 hour ferry, less than an hour driving

Today you say farewell to the North Island and take a 3.5 hour ferry crossing through the Marlborough Sounds to the South Island of New Zealand, also known as New Zealand’s mainland. Upon arrival in the South Island, the first place that you sight is Picton, known as the gateway to the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Driving South you will head through the wine growing region of Marlborough – New Zealand’s largest and producer of 76% of all wine in New Zealand! Here you will stop for lunch at our favourite spot; The Wine Kitchen at Rock Ferry Winery – a boutique certified organic winery that serves delicious locally sourced and interesting dishes (Table will be booked but lunch is not included in quote).

Following this you could visit Cloudy Bay Winery where you can enjoy a wine tasting from a well known wine producer and laze about on their bean bags in the garden, or hang from an egg chair in a tree overlooking their expansive vines. Next up visit Villa Maria, The Vines Village, or both!

Following this you will drive back to Picton to catch the evening ferry to the secluded and beautiful Furneaux Lodge. Enjoy dinner at Furneaux Lodge’s restaurant and if you’re lucky enough, experience the phenomenon of bioluminescence in the water after dark. The Marlborough Sounds are known for bioluminescence sightings and it is a sight to behold!

Full Itinerary
DAY 11
Marlborough Sounds (Furneaux Lodge) Full Day

Today is a day to relax and enjoy the sights of Queen Charlotte Sound. Go for a swim, kayak or grab a good book and soak up some rays in a hammock overlooking the water! You can also walk a part of the Queen Charlotte Track which is accessible from Furneaux Lodge.

Full Itinerary
DAY 12
Marlborough Sounds (Furneaux Lodge) to Abel Tasman National Park

YOUR DAY

1 hour ferry + 193km, 2 hours 45 minutes driving

Today you will make your way from one spot of beauty to another! Head through the vibrant city of Nelson and perhaps check out the walking track that takes you to the geographical centre of New Zealand! Following this, drive through Motueka, past hop orchards and breweries to the gorgeous golden sandy beaches of Kaiteriteri and the Abel Tasman National Park. Perhaps check out a section of New Zealand’s most popular walk; the Abel Tasman Track. Enjoy lush native forest and golden beaches side by side. Either walk a section to a stunning bay and walk back, or walk further and be transported back by sea shuttle.

Full Itinerary
DAY 13
Abel Tasman National Park

YOUR DAY

Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest National Park and is famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush and spectacular scenery. Today you’ll explore the best of this region with a stunning half day kayaking trip that covers part of a marine reserve. Board a cruise to Medlands Beach where you can relax, swim and explore, then cruise back to Kaiteriteri to kayak in the shelter of one of of New Zealand’s most popular bays. Observe the marine reserve’s playful inhabitants – dolphins, fur seals, penguins and sea birds.

The rest of the afternoon is free to spend at leisure.

Full Itinerary
DAY 14
Abel Tasman National Park to Maruia Hot Springs

YOUR DAY

240km, 3 hours 10 minutes driving

Today you will leave the sunny north coast and trade the sandy beaches for hot springs surrounded by massive mountains. Enjoy the wilderness of the Lewis Pass, where you will spend the night at Maruia Springs, a Japanese style onsen nestled in the mountains, surrounded by natural hot springs.

Enjoy a delightful 3 course dinner tonight and 24 hour bathing in hot springs (indoor and outdoor) and a plunge pool, as well as access to all classes provided by Maruia Hot Springs.

 

Full Itinerary
DAY 15
Maruia Hot Springs to Karamea

YOUR DAY

234 km, 3 hours 15 minutes driving time

You’ll continue your Journey down the western side of the Lewis Pass towards the wild west coast of the South Island. Here you will encounter rainforests dominated by ancient rimu, kahikitea, miro and totara trees and several varieties of native tree ferns.

Perhaps take a detour to Cape Foulwind seal colony as you head North along the magnificent coastline. Head up and over the mountains to reach the peaceful town of Karamea at the very Northern end of SH6.

Venture a little bit further along the road to enjoy a section of the beautiful Heaphy Track – untouched native forests and secluded beaches galore, then also explore the magnificent Oparara Basin Arches. Stay overnight in Karamea.

Full Itinerary
DAY 16
Karamea to Punakaiki with Glow Worm Rafting at Underworld Adventures

YOUR DAY

152 km, 2 hours 15 minutes driving time

This morning you will head South back over the mountains and down the coast. A bit further past where you came from yesterday you will stop in at Underworld Adventures in Charleston. Here they will kit you up for the trip of a lifetime through their glowworm caves. The journey starts with a trip on their rainforest train, a walk through the rainforest and a journey into their large limestone cave. Following this you will lie on a tube and drift under the light of thousands upon thousands of glow worms on the cave ceiling. This particular cave has more glowworms than any other cave in NZ and the experience is truly cathartic.

Following this you will continue south to Punakaiki where you can enjoy the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes!

Full Itinerary
DAY 17
Punakaiki to Hokitika

YOUR DAY

84 km, 1 hour 13 minutes driving

Driving South down the coast from Punakaiki, you arrive in Hokitika where you can take a detour inland to visit the stunning bright blue waters and native forests of Hokitika Gorge. Watch the sunset from the famous Hokitika sign on the beach before calling it a night.

Full Itinerary
DAY 18
Hokitika to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

YOUR DAY

245km, 3 hours 10 minutes driving

This morning you will drive South down the coast from Hokitika, you arrive in Franz Josef Glacier where you will spend the afternoon in the beautiful town surrounded by rainforest. This afternoon you will have the option of a flight over or heli-hike on the majestic Franz Josef Glacier, one of the only glaciers in the world to be flanked by rainforest on both sides (optional – extra cost).  Perhaps visit our favourite local spot, Okarito Lagoon and Beach, one of the most scenic isolated wilderness spots on the West Coast.

Drive a further hour to the secluded Moeraki Wilderness Lodge and enjoy dinner in serenity.

Full Itinerary
DAY 19
Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge Full Day

YOUR DAY

Today you have a full day to enjoy Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge & surrounds. Please see complimentary experiences below which you can enjoy:

The Interior of the Rainforest – A Step Back in Time Discover 1000 year old trees, orchids, and a myriad of ferns. Search for birdlife & learn about the conservation campaigns that saw these rainforests protected in perpetuity as a World Heritage site.
Freshwater Ecology of the Moeraki River Learn about the inhabitants of a waterway teaming with life. Discover tiny invertebrates that support a complex food web and handfeed giant freshwater eels
Learn Easy Kayaking Join a trained guide to paddle our safe and stable kayaks. Explore the calm waters of Lake Moeraki and watch waterbirds, spot trout and experience absolute serenity.
Night Sky & Glow Worm Discovery After dinner take a stroll to learn about the stars of the southern sky and see glow worms light up the rainforest

Or you have the option to enjoy the below half and full day guided trips (optional – extra cost as noted below):

Half & Full Day Guided Trips

Explore further afield with a skilled guide and small group on our longer guided wilderness adventures. The programme will be explained on your arrival and activities don’t need to be booked in advance.

Wilderness Seacoast: Penguins & Fur Seals Challenging Adventure (harder)
The Wilderness Lodge’s ‘signature walk’ traverses dramatic seacoast. Scramble over volcanic boulders, climb through rainforest and enjoy tea beside a tumbling waterfall. See fur seals year round and penguins from Aug – early Dec.
Wilderness Seacoast: Hector’s Dolphins & seashore ecology (easier)
A gentle walk along a beautiful yet rarely visited piece of coast. Discover rockpools, islands, coastal caves, and see the world’s smallest marine dolphin, Fossick for wave-sculpted driftwood, jade & other gemstones.
Tawaki Penguin Discovery Walk an unmarked trail to a spectacular beach. Watch the world’s third rarest penguin make their way between the Tasman Sea and their rainforest nests (Aug – early Dec. only)
Moeraki Rainforest Walk, Kayak and Beach Discovery Hike majestic floodplain forests then kayak a calm lagoon to the coast. See the world’s most epiphyte (perching plant) laden tree (101 species!), and search for gemstones on deserted West Coast beach
Moeraki Pack Track & Historic Hut “Tramping” Adventure Until 1965 the Moeraki Valley could only be access on foot. This little-used trail now provides access to the upper valley. Cross a swing-bridge spanning thunderous rapids and enjoy lunch in a historic hut.
Full Itinerary
DAY 20
Moeraki Wilderness Lodge to Lake Hawea (Cross Hill)

YOUR DAY

175 km, 2 hours 45 minutes driving

Today you will enjoy one of the most dramatic journeys in the country is what you can experience on your drive over the Haast Pass through to Hawea. En route you will visit 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 The Cross Hill domes at the secluded Lake Hawea.

Full Itinerary
DAY 21
Hawea/Wānaka

YOUR DAY

Today is a chance to explore the beautiful lakeside town of Wānaka. 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, or even fishing for some brown or rainbow trout. Perhaps take on Roy’s Peak if you’re feeling especially fit!

Full Itinerary
DAY 22
Lake Hawea to Clyde via Central Otago Wineries and Orchards

YOUR DAY

83km, 1 hour 10 minutes driving

Today you’ll drive towards Cromwell where you could enjoy lunch at Mt Difficulty Winery in Bannockburn, overlooking Central Otago vineyards. Following this you have the option to enjoy a guided tour through a stone fruit orchard, check out Cromwell’s historic precinct or do some hot laps around the world class tracks of Highlands Motorsport Park! Following this you will make your way to the historic town of Clyde, where you will spend the evening.

Full Itinerary
DAY 23
Clyde to Oamaru via St Bathans

YOUR DAY

236km, 3 hours driving

From one historic town to the next! This morning you will have time to enjoy Clyde and surrounding areas. Enjoy breakfast at Olivers and next perhaps enjoy a dip in the Clutha River, a hike up to Alexandra’s Clock on the Hill or a wander through the Orchard Garden Maze. Perhaps rent a bike and cycle some of the Central Otago Rail Trail!

Following this you will get on the road and head to the old gold mining town of St Bathans. Here you can enjoy a dip in Blue Lake – a manmade lake carved out for gold extraction and later filled in as a recreation reserve. Enjoy a drink at the historic Vulcan Hotel in the village centre.

Next up, drive through the delightful small town of Naseby – “2000ft above worry level!,” before ending up on the Pacific Coast and stopping in at the Moeraki Boulders. These boulders are concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs that back the beach, some of which weigh several tonnes and are up to 3 metres in diameter.

Next along the route is the town of Oamaru, famous for its Victorian heritage precinct and steampunk artefacts. This evening you will watch little blue penguins come ashore from a hard day of fishing, before calling it a night!

Full Itinerary
DAY 24
Oamaru to the Catlins (Curio Bay)

YOUR DAY

300 km, 4 hours driving

Today you drive south to The Catlins, a rugged wild landscape featuring fossilised forest, waterfalls, numerous walks and Curio Bay where there is the chance to spot dolphins.

First up, you’ll pass through Dunedin. In and around Dunedin there is much to see and explore, including sights such as Baldwin Street, ‘The Steepest Street in the World’ with gradients reaching up to 35%! Other sights include the historic railway building, university campus buildings and the Otago Museum.

Once you’re in the Catlins, visit Nugget Point. This scenic reserve provides the wonders of nature all around you from remarkable 260-degree sensational views. This walk is an easy, slightly uphill walk from the car park to the lighthouse – 20 minutes return.

Spend the night in the stunning Curio Bay.

 

Full Itinerary
DAY 25
Curio Bay to Stewart Island

YOUR DAY

103 km, 1 hours and 20 minutes driving + 1 hour ferry

Your first suggested stop for the day is Slope Point – the southernmost point of the South Island and just across from the Curio Bay Cliffs. Take care on the gravel roads but we promise that the precarious drive is worth it for the feeling of being at the edge of the world!

From here you continue around the coast and find yourself in Bluff, the southern most town of the mainland and the spot where the ferry departs to Stewart Island. You take the ferry crossing over to Stewart Island, where the rest of the afternoon is free to take a nature walk, explore some hidden spots on the island or simply relax and absorb the atmosphere.

Tonight you will get the opportunity to see our native kiwi bird on a twilight guided tour. This tour is the best chance to see the endangered nocturnal bird in its natural surroundings. The trip includes a boat journey to a remote part of the island and guided walk with a local expert.

Full Itinerary
DAY 26
Stewart Island/Rakiura

YOUR DAY

Today you will experience Stewart Island’s smaller neighbouring island; Ulva Island. Here you will enjoy a half day discovering native flora and fauna and bird life. On this predator free reserve, view ancient podocarp trees, lush tree ferns, delicate ground ferns, mosses and orchids. Learn about practical and medicinal uses of trees and plants while listening out for kaka, the exquisite notes of the bellbird and the wonderfully varied calls of the Tui. Watch lime-green parakeet flying amongst the treetops. Glimpse rare saddleback and yellowhead and try to spot New Zealand’s smallest bird; the rifleman.

Tonight you can relax and further enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of Stewart Island.

Full Itinerary
DAY 27
Stewart Island to Te Anau

YOUR DAY

180km, 2 hours 15 minutes driving

This morning you will catch the ferry back to the mainland and Bluff. Explore all the attractions Invercargill has to offer. First up we recommend you visit Bill Richardson Transport World, this museum began in a back shed has been transformed into something truly spectacular. This is now the largest private automotive museum of its type in the world, boasting more than 300 spectacular classic vehicles.

After this we recommend you check out the Classic Motorcycle Mecca, regularly described as ‘stunning’ and ‘mind-blowing’ in scale, as its the Southern Hemisphere’s leading motorcycle museum. Offering New Zealand’s most diverse collection.

Next up, head inland to Te Anau – known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park, which covers approximately 1.2 million hectares. In the afternoon there is the possibility to take one of the many short walks in the area.

Full Itinerary
DAY 28
Doubtful Sound Day Trip

YOUR DAY

40 minutes driving return

Today you will drive the 20 minute trip to Manapouri Harbour for your day cruise through Doubtful Sound. This spectacular journey starts with a cruise to the other side of Lake Manapouri, followed by a bus trip over a pass to the fjords followed by a magical afternoon cruising through the towering peaks and stunning waterfalls of Doubtful Sound. The trip also passes by the famous Manapouri power station.

In the afternoon, return to Te Anau and enjoy a further night on the beautiful shores of the lake.

Full Itinerary
DAY 29
Te Anau to Queenstown + Departure

YOUR DAY

175 km, 2 hours driving

You will head to Queenstown, ‘New Zealand’s adventure capital of the world’. Skirting your way around Lake Wakatipu makes for some stunning photography and you will be amazed by the Remarkables Mountain Range, one of the most famous back drops for Lord of the Rings. Today you will transfer to Queenstown Airport for your further travel arrangements. We trust you’ve had a wonderful time here in New Zealand!

Onward flight is not included.

 

Full Itinerary
What’s included?
Your choice of accommodation. Silver (4 star), gold (5 star) or platinum (luxury lodge) options available
Most breakfasts, select lunches and dinners
A choice of self-drive and privately guided transport
In-depth and detailed custom travel guide
Listed activities (the list is fully customisable)
Full insurance coverage on rented vehicles
Overnight parking where necessary
Custom tour creation with one of our travel experts
What’s not included?
Return international flights
Personal travel insurance
Some lunches and dinners
Individual shopping and souvenirs
Extra, optional activities

Why book a privately guided road trip

Bespoke Itineraries
Bespoke Itineraries
Personalised tours tailored to your preferences
Authentic Kiwi Experiences
Authentic Kiwi Experiences
Genuine insights into New Zealand's culture
Flexible Bookings
Flexible Bookings
Secure and adaptable travel arrangements
Private Travel Safety
Private Travel Safety
Safe, crowd-free, intimate exploration
Local Expertise
Local Expertise
In-depth knowledge from a Kiwi-owned business
Community Support
Community Support
Contributions to local businesses and communities
Explore New Zealand like a local with this off the beaten path itinerary. I love showing my clients a wide range of special hidden gems during their time in New Zealand, including places I have discovered by chance and spots I loved as a kid. Come and explore these spots for yourself!
Alex
General Manager

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Can we make the trip shorter or longer?
A: Yes, we can adjust the trip length to fit your schedule. For a shorter trip, we recommend focusing on one island. However, feel free to talk to us as we have many more ideas and hidden gems like New Plymouth and Gisborne that you might want to include. We can tailor the trip to your preferences.
Q: Can we stay at Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs)?
A: Yes, we can arrange stays at charming B&Bs. However, please note that availability can be limited, especially in more remote areas. We recommend booking early to secure your preferred accommodations.
Q: Can we have a 4WD for the gravel roads?
A: Yes, we can arrange a 4WD vehicle for your trip, which is ideal for navigating gravel roads. If you’re concerned about driving on gravel, we can also plan a route that avoids these roads, ensuring a comfortable journey.
Q: Can we have a part-guided, part self-drive tour?
A: Absolutely! Splitting the islands works well, with a guide helping you get accustomed to New Zealand. You can enjoy the flexibility of a self-drive experience while benefiting from the expertise of a local guide for part of your journey. This allows you to make the most of your adventure.

Real and Independent
Traveller Feedback

Read reviews on Tripadvisor
Fantastic Road Trip in the South Island
Just had 21days in NZ south island. The Road Trip crew organised everything and it was faultless! The tour was tailored to our wants and what we were into. The App was just great so we were never concerned about if we were on time or what to see on the way.Cannot recommend this crew enough! The month of May is perfect for what we wanted to do. Again thanks to the Road Trip crew for a great holiday. There is not enough room here to write about all the great things we saw and did. The Kiwis are great!
Ian S
Jun 2024
Wonderful time touring the South Island of New Zealand. Highly recommend The Road Trip Tour Company!!!
A little late in posting this review, but it was such a wonderful experience I wanted to make sure I let Alex and our guide Constance know what a great time we had. Kudos to Alex for putting together a fantastic itinerary on such short notice and to Constance for her knowledge, wit, and patience with the four of us spry 60+ year olds. She was an amazing host who loves her country and loves to share its history, she was a fantastic driver as well, she knew when we needed to get on the road and knew so many short cuts during rush hour traffic, she made us so happy we weren’t driving. As a side note, being from the States, I would highly recommend not driving, we’ve driven NZ and Australia before and having a driver is sooo much more enjoyable. We highly recommend The Road Trip!!! Thank you again Alex for making our vacation amazing!!!
AliT-SoCal
May 2024
The Road Trip is the best way to organize a great trip to New Zealand
The Road Trip team did an outstanding job organizing and scheduling our recent visit to New Zealand. There were no issues communicating with them from the States and they made it easy to schedule a video call and discuss what would best match our interests and priorities. Alex and the team then sent us a first draft itinerary to review .They had excellent suggestions and many great options. Lastly, they sent a final itinerary and an app to use throughout our trip. Communication throughout the process and the trip was easy and the app was fantastic --it had all the information we needed each day – hotel reservations, activities, meals etc. and we appreciated the many suggestions in the app for places to visit and activities so we could tailor each day to our liking. Because our trip was so successful, we’re planning to use The Road Trip to return to New Zealand in 2025. It’s by far the best way to organize a great trip to New Zealand that is tailored for you.
Janet S
May 2024
Amazing NZ vacation with The Road Trip New Zealand company.
The Road Trip New Zealand organized a 12 day road trip in the South Island for us! Alex and his team were focused on making the best arrangements to meet our goals for this trip. The team began by finding out what our interests were and then matched a road trip itinerary designed to meet our goals. The pace of activity in each day was good ( Though New Zealand is very very big and we could have spent easily a month exploring the country....or more). We will have to return! Highlights in the South Island are many including the helicopter ride to the top of Franz Josef Glacier, tramping through the rainforest, the Amisfield Winery wine pairing lunch, and our walks around Auckland to discover restaurants and see the sights. Dealing with the Road Trip New Zealand team was easy, they took the time to listen to us, pay attention to our budget and put together a great trip. Communicating with them from the other side of the world was easy and we found the team responsive to our emails. Many thanks for all your help in making this trip memorable!!
RB L
May 2024
Wonderful trip
I had a great trip with my friends. New Zealand is beautiful. This time I experienced it. The views and scenery were spectacular. I hope I can comeback to NZ again.
Tiến H
Apr 2024
Wonderful, custom made New Zealand road trip with "The Road Trip"
If you are looking for a bespoke tour of New Zealand's South Island, I would recommend going with the Road Trip. Other than for day trips, my wife and I avoid bus trip tours. We want my own agenda and dislike waiting for a large group of people to assemble and don't like being part of herd following a flag around and having to be rushed to the next place. After doing extensive research about the places we wished to visit and after looking at several companies, We decided to go with the Road Trip. We were able to talk directly with Matt about our interests and he put together a two week tour agenda. After reviewing, I added some things and changed others to get exactly the route and agenda we wanted. Chris M. was our guide and excellent driver and quickly learned what we liked and the types of things we wanted to do and see. We were able to make changes on the fly and spend as much or little time at each place as we wanted and arrive at our next lodging spot early - or later if we wanted more time someplace. When our whale-watch tour was cancelled, Chris suggested a steamboat tour and BBQ lunch as an alternative which was an excellent choice. He also knows interesting local and out of the way places to stop for views, walks, breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks, many which we likely would not have discovered on our own or at a convenient time. Chris was very personable, accommodating and polite and had a great sense of humor. He is well versed in NZ flora and fauna and can identify native birds and plants and provide a lot of info about them. He is also quite knowledgeable about Maori culture, history and lore. He is well travelled and has many interesting life experiences and stories to relate. We spent many hours in the car so I believe we got to know one another quite well. Thanks again to the Road Trip and to Matt and Chris for taking good care of us and giving us a truly memorable experience!
usclapps
Mar 2024
An amazing service! Highly recommend!
Having never been to New Zealand before we wanted to self drive and asked the Road Trip to suggest an itinerary. We spoke to Matt via Zoom and discussed our interests, time lines and budget. Within a short period of time Matt sent us a suggested itinerary. We met again via Zoom and discussed the plan. Each day we looked forward to opening the App and following the suggested route as we explored NZ. Points of interests, suggested cafes and rest stops along the route did not disappoint. All of the accommodation and activities were excellent. Wonderful to arrive in a city and look at the suggested restaurants, etc. we followed the the Road Trips suggestions most evenings for dinner and were delighted we did! On a couple of occasions, timings for activities were altered by the provider and our App was immediately updated and a email was also sent to us. We loved New Zealand, we thoroughly enjoyed The Road Trip’s staff and services. This is the way to travel!! Highly recommend! 10/10!!!
Vacationer588794
Mar 2024
Had the trip of a lifetime thanks to The Road Trip!
Highly highly HIGHLY recommend The Road Trip to plan your New Zealand adventure. Everything was planned perfectly between the hotels and the adventures. Their recommendations were spot on and we had the trip of a lifetime. There were 8 of us ranging from teens to late 60s and the adventures we had were perfect from climbing to jet boating to staying on the Milford Sound. We didn’t have any hiccups, everything was booked perfectly and made to be so easy! We just showed up and everything was good to go! We will be back one day and have The Road Trip team plan another vacation for us! Well done team and THANK YOU SO MUCH!
KCaissey
Mar 2024
Great trip planning !
Our itinerary was planned so well. There were 4 of us (2 couples) and the activities were just as we wanted which was a mixture of adventures, leisure time, variety of lodging including off the beaten path ones. They were accommodating and receptive to our wishes.
teeseeann
Feb 2024
Definitely use The Road Trip to plan your journey in New Zealand
We used The Road Trip to plan out our 18 day "Road Trip" in New Zealand and it was one of the best things that we did. We talked to them about what we wanted to see, where we wanted to go and they took care of everything. We spent 13 days in the South Island and 5 days in the North Island and it was basically "turn key" for us. We showed up at the airport in Christchurch and they took care of the car rental, all of our hotels / motels, the excursions that we wanted to go on, provided us points of interest along our drive including suggested hikes, things to do in the cities that we visited as well as restaurant recommendations. All of these I have typically done myself on other trips, but having them do it on this trip was worth every penny and made things much more enjoyable and significantly less stressful. Even after we started our journey they were very responsive to some changes that we made on the fly (because of weather). I would highly recommend them - in fact we asked if they provide these services in other countries because if they did we would definitely use them!
Jim H
Feb 2024
Use the Road Trip team for your trip to NZ
I highly recommend using The Road Trip team to plan your NZ trip. We booked our trip in March 2020 and due to the pandemic, we obviously had to cancel. The Road Trip team helped us to rebooked when NZ opened its borders without having to forfeit any of our deposit moneys. We ultimately took a self-guided tour in 2024 where the Road Trip team helped us to plan an itinerary that met our specific needs and timeline. The final itinerary was perfect and we followed it to a tee, including the GPS recommendations. All our hotel, car rental, flight and excursion confirmations were booked as outlined in our detailed itinerary. In other words, we didn't have any problems when we arrived at hotels, to pick up cars, catch flights or do excursions such as gondolas, boats, trains, helicopters, etc....They also helped us to book some excursions at the last minute. We loved all the hotels they booked. And finally our helicopter excursion was cancelled due to weather and the Road Team transferred the booking with the same helicopter company to a different city and tour so we wouldn't miss out. It was also nice knowing that the Road Trip team was there to support us during our stay. Again, I highly recommend The Road Trip team. They stuck with us for four years! I am soooooo glad we used them. You should too.
Marco C
Feb 2024
New Zealand Trip of a Lifetime
Road Trip NZ helped us plan a 15-day independent tour of New Zealand and we can't say enough good things about them. We started with some ideas of what we wanted and they provided suggestions to improve the trip plan. During planning and during the trip itself they were easy to reach and responded quickly. They coordinated a rental car for us on the North and South islands and booked all accommodations and planned activities. For each stop, we chose the "level" of hotel (platinum, gold, silver). No matter what level was selected, the accommodations were excellent for that type of stay (roadside motels to big city hotels). The included meals, and activities were all first-rate and every time we walked into someplace new, they had our information and checked us in quickly. Road Trip NZ provided an easy to use customized phone app that had all of the needed trip information: directions, places to eat, interesting stops along the way, and additional activities at each location. For directions, activities, or food, the app never steered us wrong. Highlights of the trip included a wine tour of Waiheke Island, Heli-hike on Franz Joseph Glacier, Hobbiton, Waimangu Valley, and jet boating. I highly recommend that everyone visit New Zealand and use Road Trip NZ to plan your trip of a lifetime.
Sharon G
Jan 2024
Couldn't be better ......
Responding at very short notice for a trip over the Christmas period, The Road Trip pulled together a well balanced week of sightseeing and activities. Kinloch hotel and Lana Hotel were both first class and our driver/guide, Chris Martin was a good driver, always on time and came with a great sense of humor. Very happy with our week.
globalguy
Jan 2024
December NZ road trip : Spectacular scenery and memorable experiences.
We had a wonderful road trip with my family of 4 along with my mum and uncle. We were surrounded by beautiful scenery while en route, not just at the destinations. The experiences and activities catered to the more active and sedate family members allowing each to experience NZ at their own pace . Several parts of the route were windy, and each day required 2-5 hours of driving either in parts or in a stretch. We were fortuitous to have my husband, who is experienced driving long distances abroad and in NZ to take us from place to place. Even so, the Toyota Hiace was challengeng to manoeuvre around the few hundred kilometres of steep windy bends. The weather was generally kind to us while we were there in NZ in Dec while we were there from 17-30 Dec 2023.
Jacqueline W
Jan 2024
Tasting Menu of New Zealand!
It was a most fabulous three week honeymoon in beautiful New Zealand! Our team at Road Trip (Matt and Denina) put together and booked an incredible itinerary. A true "tasting menu" of New Zealand. We decided on a self-drive option and presented Matt with a challenge (my husband's list was lengthy). After a couple of back and forths via email and a zoom call we ended up with one week on the North Island and two on the South. They booked everything; from the rental cars (Ezi Rentals - excellent), to the lodgings (all comfortable, clean, breakfast included and perfectly located), domestic airline tickets, and several things to do (kayaking, glow worm caving, etc). Except for our lunches and dinners everything was pre-paid which made it sooooo easy. Their detailed itinerary included so many suggestions for side trips, tips for the best photo opportunities, when to top off on gas and restaurant/cafes suggestions. Denina responded so quickly to our on the road requests to change times for certain activities or type of car (we wanted more trunk space). There is NO way we would have been able to enjoy this perfect "tasting menu" of New Zealand without The Road Trip. We wholeheartedly recommend using them for your trip to NZ! Thank you Road Trip team.
Jacalyn Y
Dec 2023
South Island of NZ
First time in New Zealand so hired the road trip to travel the South Island. The views were amazing as expected. The staff were very responsive and tried their best to make our trip smooth. They customized the trip to our budget and it was easy to enjoy each day following the itinerary. Please be more involved in choosing activities to get the maximum benefit
Jongdae L
Dec 2023
The Trip of a Lifetime
We had a phenomenal experience with The Road Trip. The whole team that we worked with (Alex, Shani, Denina, Matt and others who worked behind the scenes) was incredible! I tend to be a demanding customer, because I have high expectations and I'm very detail oriented. There are 6 key things I look for when selecting a travel agency and The Road Trip delivered on all of those things! LOCAL - they are a local agency, and actually have visited the places they are recommending. I don't want a travel agent who is just googling stuff - I can do that myself. I want a recommendation from an EXPERT who truly understands me and the experience I am hoping to create for my trip. The Road Trip team are EXPERTS and I knew I could fully trust that they were speaking from personal experience when they crafted all the details of our trip. I also especially love that they make the drives interesting by giving you information and cool places to stop. They specialize in road trips, obviously, but I loved that touch bc it's a LOT of work to research good hikes along a route on your own. They make it easy! LUXURY - Splurging on travel is my vice. I live for it and if I am not planning a future trip I feel sad! The Road Trip did a great job of delivering on what I was looking for while still sticking to the budget I provided. And I mean it when I say I'm demanding, especially in this regard. CUSTOM - Alex was the main person I worked with in the initial planning stages and he truly listened to what I was looking for: luxury, adventure, and a good use of our time to maximize the 2.5 weeks we had. The first itinerary he set for us showed me that he knew what I wanted and it only took us a few small tweaks here and there to land on the final. TIMELY - Gosh, they work fast! It took only 5 DAYS between the first time I spoke to Alex for an introductory call and initial discussion to landing a near final itinerary. I also loved that I was able to schedule a call to start, instead of trading emails. It's just more personal and easier to chat through what you are looking for. Also, I should mention that the whole trip was booked just 3ish months before the trip, because I made a sort of "last minute" decision that we wanted a big fun trip and we had only one window of time where we could easily get away from work for 2.5 weeks. To me, getting everything booked quickly was incredibly important and I really appreciated Alex and the team's urgency. ORGANIZED - The team uses a great tool that lays out every detail of the trip starting from the drafts to the documents provided for the actual trip. Everything was in an app and the level of detail satisfied my insanely Type-A personality that craves information. I could simply pull up the app and I knew everything in store for us that day. I did translate the details to a single page itinerary for my own purposes, but I always do that bc it ensures I am fully aware of the itinerary and all the critical times. TRUTH/TRANSPARENCY - I had asked to add Bay of Islands into the itinerary after the first couple of drafts and specifically asked to stay at specific luxury accommodation. Alex looked into it for us and then informed me that there was a promo (Pay 2 nights, get a 3rd free) that was only open to guests booking directly. It was not available to bookings via travel agency. He openly told me this and recommended we make that booking ourselves to take advantage. This shows that The Road Trip is transparent and dedicated to making sure their customers get the best possible experience. I already trusted Alex, but this made me trust him even more! CUSTOMER SERVICE - (this last one is most important to me). Everything went super smoothly on the trip, until the last 3 days when high winds (despite gorgeous sunny days) caused a couple of things to be canceled, most importantly our Fly-Cruise-Fly to Milford Sound, which I was SO looking forward to. No one to be blamed of course, not The Road Trip, or any of their vendors - sometimes it happens, weather is weather and safety is critical! However, I called the Road Trip team and spoke to Matt and asked if there was ANY WAY we could get rescheduled before we left the country and within LESS THAN AN HOUR he had managed to reschedule all our activities for the last couple of days so we could still go on ALL OF THEM. I was so impressed and SO grateful to him for making this happen for us. Not to mention, after he reorganized everything for us, he gave us his personal cell number just in case we needed to contact him urgently if anything else came up. Thankfully I didn't need to use, I certainly didn't want to bother him, BUT it made me feel like an incredibly valued customer! When I first set out to plan this trip, I contacted 5 agencies with the intent on selecting one after seeing first draft itineraries. I had spoken to Alex personally over a google chat and reviewed 3 drafts of an itinerary with him all before I even heard back from the other travel agents. I told all the rest of them that I had already found an amazing company who was delivering on the white glove customer service experience I expect from travel agents, especially for a luxury vacation. I knew pretty much right after speaking to Alex that I was going to book our trip with The Road Trip and now I've given you many reasons to do the same. You won't regret it, let them plan the trip of a lifetime for you.
Ruchie
Dec 2023
Great, fun and memorable times in New Zealand
Alex and team at the Road trip were great! Attention to details, willingness to make adjustments at the last minute, and planning our whole trip in New Zealand to be a truly enjoyable experience, were all things that we appreciate. The adventures were so fun and the people who took us on our adventures were great! Thank you for making our holiday one of the best ones..
Lisa Sofiar
Dec 2023
Even better the second time around!
We booked a 10 day South Island tour with The Road Trip and we had a wonderful time. Bruce was our guide and he was great. Very knowledgeable and accommodating. Also a great sense of humor. This is my second time booking with them for the same tour/trip but they made this experience different and unique from the last which was refreshing. I highly recommend this to anyone!
Huy N
Nov 2023
One of the best trips we have ever taken!
My spouse and I used The Road Trip to plan a self-drive tour of both islands and we had a wonderful experience. We usually plan all of our vacations ourselves, but we were overwhelmed by how to narrow down all the many fabulous things to see and do in NZ to two weeks. Plus we were confused about what activities were not recommended given the current weather and road conditions. The Road Trip created a great itinerary based on our interests, with the perfect balance of time spent sightseeing and time on the road. Their driving directions listed the highlights of each town we were to pass through, so we could decide in advance whether we wanted to stop, and they also included any scenic overlooks. The Road Trip even booked an amazing activity for us that I had not seen included in any of our guidebooks that became the highlight of our trip! They responded quickly to all of our questions and were always very friendly and helpful. We are already planning our next visit to NZ and look forward to working with them again.
Rachel B
Nov 2023