Discover Aotearoa

Discover Aotearoa

from £3,172 excluding flights

  • 20 nights
  • Year round
Franz Josef Glacier

Discover Aotearoa

from £3,172 excluding flights

  • 20 nights
  • Year round

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Highlights

In pictures
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula

Experience the forest-fringed Coromandel Peninsula

new zealand fiordland doubtful sound overnight cruise3 rj

Enjoy a cruise on magnificent Doubtful Sound

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Explore Abel Tasman's lush coastal forest and turquoise sea

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Learn about Maori culture and history

new zealand west coast franz josef glacier guided hike twc

Explore the rainforest and glaciers at Franz Josef

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Walk around Napier and marvel at its Art Deco architecture

Why this trip...

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Explore at leisure

With the route, transport and accommodation sorted, each day offers the freedom to explore

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Well-researched route

We've put our years of experience into creating this well-paced itinerary that includes the places we know you'll enjoy

Aoraki Mt Cook National Park tailor made white

Tailor made

This itinerary can be tailor made to suit you and is intended to give you a guideline of what is possible in a given timeframe

Overview

Our most popular self drive, this classic 21-day itinerary offers a complete overview of New Zealand in a timescale that suits. Including iconic cultural experiences, 'must do' attractions and of course, stunning and varied scenery, you'll cover a lot of ground and still have time to relax and savour the experience.

Other North Island highlights include the forest-fringed Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua's geothermal wonderland and the vibrant cultural capital of Wellington.

Nip across magnificent Cook Strait and the adventure continues on the South Island with West Coast glaciers, mighty Mount Cook, the adventure capital Queenstown, stunning Lake Wanaka and the mesmerising landscapes of Fiordland.

Itinerary

The itinerary shown is an example of this self-drive holiday. We have a wide choice of hotels and a variety of route recommendations which can be tailored to your requirements. Please discuss with our Travel Specialists who can put together a bespoke itinerary for you.

Day 1 Auckland

You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel in the City of Sails.

You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel in the City of Sails.

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Day 2 Auckland - Coromandel (190 km)

Collect your rental car and make your way to Whitianga, nestled on the Coromandel Peninsula, a region filled with rainforest-clad gorges and Pohutukawa-fringed beaches, such as Cathedral Cove.

Collect your rental car and make your way to Whitianga, nestled on the Coromandel Peninsula, a region filled with rainforest-clad gorges and Pohutukawa-fringed beaches, such as Cathedral Cove.

Day 3 Coromandel

Explore at your leisure today, perhaps enjoying a soak in the thermal springs on Hot Water Beach, or a kayaking adventure at Cathedral Cove. Coromandel Town, at the northernmost part of the peninsula, is also worth a visit, with wonderful restaurants, bars and local craft shops on offer.

Explore at your leisure today, perhaps enjoying a soak in the thermal springs on Hot Water Beach, or a kayaking adventure at Cathedral Cove. Coromandel Town, at the northernmost part of the peninsula, is also worth a visit, with wonderful restaurants, bars and local craft shops on offer.

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Day 4 Coromandel - Rotorua (230 km)

Drive south today, either following the coast road via Tauranga or inland via the interesting towns of Paeroa and Te Aroha, towards the active geo-thermal heartland of Rotorua. Enjoy a personal guided tour of Ohinemutu Village including the iconic St Faith's Church. Your guide will share the legends and history of the village which will give you an insight into Maori culture.

Drive south today, either following the coast road via Tauranga or inland via the interesting towns of Paeroa and Te Aroha, towards the active geo-thermal heartland of Rotorua. Enjoy a personal guided tour of Ohinemutu Village including the iconic St Faith's Church. Your guide will share the legends and history of the village which will give you an insight into Maori culture.

Day 5 Rotorua

Today discover the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Lake Rotomahana on a self guided walk and boat cruise. You can explore the world's youngest geothermal valley at your own pace along the beautiful walking trails, woven through a natural geothermal ecosystem. Walks vary in length from 1.5kms - 4.5kms, covering a range of geothermal activity, hot springs, volcanic craters, nature and wildlife. The trail leads you down to the lake, where you can complete the experience with a relaxing 45 minute boat cruise around Lake Rotomahana, the final resting place of the Pink & White Terraces.

Today discover the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Lake Rotomahana on a self guided walk and boat cruise. You can explore the world's youngest geothermal valley at your own pace along the beautiful walking trails, woven through a natural geothermal ecosystem. Walks vary in length from 1.5kms - 4.5kms, covering a range of geothermal activity, hot springs, volcanic craters, nature and wildlife. The trail leads you down to the lake, where you can complete the experience with a relaxing 45 minute boat cruise around Lake Rotomahana, the final resting place of the Pink & White Terraces.

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Day 6 Rotorua - Napier (219 km)

Enjoy a wonderful drive today, via Lake Taupo, Australasia's largest freshwater lake. En route to Napier enjoy a visit to Orakei Korako geothermal area today (also known as "The Hidden Valley"), situated on the Waikato River at Lake Ohakuri. Even with two thirds of the original geothermal area covered by an artificial lake, Orakei Korako is still New Zealand's largest geyser field and one of the country's must-see natural attractions. Continue on to Napier, New Zealand's Art Deco capital, set in the heart of Hawke's Bay Wine Country. With a feast of Art Deco architecture, the city was rebuilt in the early 1930's following a massive earthquake and by the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe and nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930's - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco - in such a concentrated area.

Enjoy a wonderful drive today, via Lake Taupo, Australasia's largest freshwater lake. En route to Napier enjoy a visit to Orakei Korako geothermal area today (also known as "The Hidden Valley"), situated on the Waikato River at Lake Ohakuri. Even with two thirds of the original geothermal area covered by an artificial lake, Orakei Korako is still New Zealand's largest geyser field and one of the country's must-see natural attractions. Continue on to Napier, New Zealand's Art Deco capital, set in the heart of Hawke's Bay Wine Country. With a feast of Art Deco architecture, the city was rebuilt in the early 1930's following a massive earthquake and by the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe and nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930's - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco - in such a concentrated area.

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Day 7 Napier - Wellington (322 km)

Drive south to New Zealand's vibrant capital city, Wellington. If you have time en route stop at Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre, home to 3 extraordinary white kiwi. As you near Wellington you will experience the wide diversity of vegetation visible on the Tararua and Rimutaka Ranges. The neighbouring Wairarapa region is famous for its wine and numerous vineyards.

Drive south to New Zealand's vibrant capital city, Wellington. If you have time en route stop at Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre, home to 3 extraordinary white kiwi. As you near Wellington you will experience the wide diversity of vegetation visible on the Tararua and Rimutaka Ranges. The neighbouring Wairarapa region is famous for its wine and numerous vineyards.

Day 8 Wellington - Picton - Motueka (179 km)

Today travel in the Premium Plus cabin on the interislander Ferry across the magnificent Cook Strait. On arrival in Picton make your way to the charming township of Motueka, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park.

Today travel in the Premium Plus cabin on the interislander Ferry across the magnificent Cook Strait. On arrival in Picton make your way to the charming township of Motueka, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park.

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Days 9-10 Abel Tasman National Park

Days at your leisure to explore the bays and coves of this wonderful park. Accessible only by water taxi, here you can go sea kayaking and see seals, birdlife, dolphins and possibly visiting orca. Enjoy a walk during your time here on the stunning Abel Tasman Coast Track.

Days at your leisure to explore the bays and coves of this wonderful park. Accessible only by water taxi, here you can go sea kayaking and see seals, birdlife, dolphins and possibly visiting orca. Enjoy a walk during your time here on the stunning Abel Tasman Coast Track.

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Day 11 Motueka - Punakaiki (267 km)

From the tranquil golden sand beaches head out west to this rugged wild region, and its astonishing variety of landscapes, rich history and abundant wildlife. Be sure to view the fantastic blow holes and rock formations in Punakaiki.

From the tranquil golden sand beaches head out west to this rugged wild region, and its astonishing variety of landscapes, rich history and abundant wildlife. Be sure to view the fantastic blow holes and rock formations in Punakaiki.

Day 12 Punakaiki - Franz Josef (217 km)

Make your way to glacier country today and to the world's most accessible temperate-zone glaciers, nestled in valleys lined with rainforest. Optional activities here include guided glacier walks and scenic flights. This afternoon enjoy a guided Okarito Wetlands tour into the rainforest waterways where you will see birds, plants, trees and the incredible landscape that make Okarito one of the West Coast's most accessible, yet pristine and tranquil areas. The open-air boat moves slowly, allowing you to enjoy 360-degree views and a wealth of birdlife including the graceful Kotuku- Great White heron, Royal Spoonbills, the intrepid godwits from Siberia and Alaska, the leggy Pied Stilts, and many others.

Make your way to glacier country today and to the world's most accessible temperate-zone glaciers, nestled in valleys lined with rainforest. Optional activities here include guided glacier walks and scenic flights. This afternoon enjoy a guided Okarito Wetlands tour into the rainforest waterways where you will see birds, plants, trees and the incredible landscape that make Okarito one of the West Coast's most accessible, yet pristine and tranquil areas. The open-air boat moves slowly, allowing you to enjoy 360-degree views and a wealth of birdlife including the graceful Kotuku- Great White heron, Royal Spoonbills, the intrepid godwits from Siberia and Alaska, the leggy Pied Stilts, and many others.

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Lake Matheson

Day 13 Franz Josef - Queenstown (333 km)

Drive through World Heritage rainforests and cross the Haast Pass to reach the stunning alpine resort town of Queenstown, which lies at the heart of the spectacular Southern Lakes region.

Drive through World Heritage rainforests and cross the Haast Pass to reach the stunning alpine resort town of Queenstown, which lies at the heart of the spectacular Southern Lakes region.

Day 14 Queenstown - Te Anau (171 km)

Enjoy mountain views and farm country on the drive to Te Anau. Situated beside a lake, this town is the gateway to Fiordland National Park, part of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Site.

Enjoy mountain views and farm country on the drive to Te Anau. Situated beside a lake, this town is the gateway to Fiordland National Park, part of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Site.

Day 15 Te Anau

Travel by coach today from Te Anau to Pearl Harbour, Manapouri. Here you will board your vessel and cruise across the lake to West Arm before travelling by coach through dense rainforest across Wilmot Pass. Once at Deep Cove board a catamaran for your 3 hour cruise of Doubtful Sound. Enjoy spectacular waterfalls, lush rainforest and majestic mountains and watch out for fur seals or resident pods of bottlenose dolphins.

Travel by coach today from Te Anau to Pearl Harbour, Manapouri. Here you will board your vessel and cruise across the lake to West Arm before travelling by coach through dense rainforest across Wilmot Pass. Once at Deep Cove board a catamaran for your 3 hour cruise of Doubtful Sound. Enjoy spectacular waterfalls, lush rainforest and majestic mountains and watch out for fur seals or resident pods of bottlenose dolphins.

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Day 16 Te Anau - Lake Wanaka (226 km)

This beautiful lakeside town has an abundance of outdoor activities in a stunning natural setting. It is a slightly quieter alternative to Queenstown and is in close proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park. The ideal location for keen hikers and those wanting to explore pristine landscapes.

This beautiful lakeside town has an abundance of outdoor activities in a stunning natural setting. It is a slightly quieter alternative to Queenstown and is in close proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park. The ideal location for keen hikers and those wanting to explore pristine landscapes.

Day 17 Lake Wanaka

Explore at your leisure today, perhaps join a half day Mou Waho Island Lake Cruise including a guided nature walk or alternatively enjoy time at leisure exploring the wilderness trails by bike, foot or on horseback. There are also more adventurous activities such as canyon swinging, boat cruises, kayaking and jeep safaris.

Explore at your leisure today, perhaps join a half day Mou Waho Island Lake Cruise including a guided nature walk or alternatively enjoy time at leisure exploring the wilderness trails by bike, foot or on horseback. There are also more adventurous activities such as canyon swinging, boat cruises, kayaking and jeep safaris.

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Day 18 Lake Wanaka - Twizel (144 km)

Head north through magnificent rural landscape to Twizel. The scenery here is literally breathtaking as you take in mesmerising blue glacier lakes and tussock-clad hills as well as clear skies, perfect for stargazing.

Head north through magnificent rural landscape to Twizel. The scenery here is literally breathtaking as you take in mesmerising blue glacier lakes and tussock-clad hills as well as clear skies, perfect for stargazing.

Day 19 Twizel

Spend today at leisure, perhaps enjoying one of the nearby hiking trails, or for those that wish to explore the area further perhaps opt for a guided hike in Mount Cook National Park. Glacier kayaking is also available in Mount Cook National Park or why not enjoy the impressive views on scenic flight, to really appreciate the grandeur of the area.

Spend today at leisure, perhaps enjoying one of the nearby hiking trails, or for those that wish to explore the area further perhaps opt for a guided hike in Mount Cook National Park. Glacier kayaking is also available in Mount Cook National Park or why not enjoy the impressive views on scenic flight, to really appreciate the grandeur of the area.

Lake Pukaki and the road to Mt Cook
Hiking in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
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Day 20 Twizel - Christchurch (285 km)

Drive via scenic Lake Tekapo and the town of Geraldine across the Canterbury Plains to the city of Christchurch.

Drive via scenic Lake Tekapo and the town of Geraldine across the Canterbury Plains to the city of Christchurch.

Day 21 Christchurch

Drop off your rental vehicle at the airport today and depart.

Drop off your rental vehicle at the airport today and depart.

Accommodation Options

With a wide choice of accommodation in New Zealand, we can mix and match different grades and styles to suit your personal preference - from hotels, farmstays and self-catering apartments to boutique B&Bs and idyllic lodges in stunning locations.

Discuss your options with our Travel Specialists.

Excursions

Prices and Departures

Price from £3,172 excluding flights

Airfares start from around £825 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom (mix of hotels, motels, B&B's and lodges)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Car rental throughout (Toyota Corolla Hatch or similar) including GPS
  • Interislander ferry crossing (premium plus cabin)
  • Private airport transfer on arrival
  • Ohinemutu Village guided walk and Maori experience
  • Waimangu Valley self guided walk and boat cruise
  • Orakei Korako admission
  • Abel Tasman cruise & walk open day pass
  • Okarito Wetlands boat tour
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

This itinerary starts from £3,172 per person, based on 2 sharing a room in standard accommodation, and vehicle rental with GPS.

Prices may vary depending on departure date, or should you prefer alternative categories of accommodation or vehicle size. Please contact us for a detailed quote based on your preferred travel dates, vehicle category and style of accommodation, or to tailor this itinerary.

 

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Tailor made trips

As independent destination specialists, we are able to tailor make holidays to suit you, be that customising the itineraries shown on this website or creating something bespoke.

Travelling sustainably

We believe travel is about finding the right balance between minimising our impact on the environment and broadening minds through new experiences and cultural interaction.

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