Essential New Zealand

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Pohutu Geyser

Essential New Zealand

from £1,317 excluding flights

  • 13 nights
  • Year round

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Highlights

In pictures
new zealand coromandel aerial view hot water beach istk

Experience the beaches and lush forest of the Coromandel Peninsula

new zealand rotorua champagne pool wai o tapu istk

Discover Rotorua's geo-thermal wonders and Maori culture

Franz Josef Glacier

Visit the West Coast glaciers, nestled on the edge of the rainforest

new zealand kayaking abel tasman national park ntt

Explore Abel Tasman National Park on foot or by kayak

new zealand napier the dome art deco building sstk

Visit Art Deco Napier in the heart of Hawke's Bay wine country

Shotover Canyon

Choose from a wealth of activities in adventurous Queenstown

Why this trip...

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

Cabot Trail explore at leisure white

Explore at leisure

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

canada forest trail istk well researched route white

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

Overview

This self drive 14-day itinerary is especially designed for the budget-conscious traveller wanting to experience the very best of New Zealand at an affordable cost. Savour the spectacular scenery and highlights of this amazing country as you start your journey in Auckland, the City of Sails, and travel far south to the magnificent alpine resort town of Queenstown.

Starting in Auckland, drive to the lush and tranquil Coromandel, travel south via Napier, New Zealand's famous Art Deco city, before heading to the capital city of Wellington.

Journey across the Marlborough Sounds to the South Island where you can enjoy the arts and crafts of charming Nelson, the dramatic west coast and its superb glaciers, before travelling south to the Southern Lakes region, blessed with an abundance of stunning scenery. Spend time here and enjoy the exceptional wealth of adventurous or relaxing activities on offer.

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 arrive Auckland

On arrival at Auckland airport make your way to the Super Shuttle for transfer to your hotel in the city. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure. It is well worth getting out on the water to enjoy the maritime flavour of the City of Sails. You may like to take a wildlife harbour cruise and enjoy the informative commentary on the sights of Auckland. The Auckland War Memorial Museum is also well worth a visit. It tells the story of New Zealand, from its unique flora and fauna and its history at war, to its priceless collection of Maori and Pacific treasures. Overnight at Copthorne Hotel Auckland City.

On arrival at Auckland airport make your way to the Super Shuttle for transfer to your hotel in the city. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure. It is well worth getting out on the water to enjoy the maritime flavour of the City of Sails. You may like to take a wildlife harbour cruise and enjoy the informative commentary on the sights of Auckland. The Auckland War Memorial Museum is also well worth a visit. It tells the story of New Zealand, from its unique flora and fauna and its history at war, to its priceless collection of Maori and Pacific treasures. Overnight at Copthorne Hotel Auckland City.

new zealand view of auckland from mt eden istk

Day 2 Auckland - Whitianga

Collect your rental vehicle and journey south to Whitianga on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, perhaps enjoying one of many nearby coastal tracks on foot or by bike. Short walking trails lead to picture-perfect isolated beaches away from civilisation. You may like to take a guided walking tour with local experts, Kiwi Dundee Adventures, to properly discover this enchanting region. Spend two nights at Beachside Resort.

Collect your rental vehicle and journey south to Whitianga on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, perhaps enjoying one of many nearby coastal tracks on foot or by bike. Short walking trails lead to picture-perfect isolated beaches away from civilisation. You may like to take a guided walking tour with local experts, Kiwi Dundee Adventures, to properly discover this enchanting region. Spend two nights at Beachside Resort.

Day 3 Whitianga

Spend a full day at leisure on the Coromandel Peninsula. 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.

Spend a full day at leisure on the Coromandel Peninsula. 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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new zealand coromandel pohutukawa istk
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula

Day 4 Whitianga - Rotorua

Make your way to Rotorua in central North Island. Rotorua is the spiritual home to the Maori tribe of Te Arawa and is set amongst a myriad of crystal clear crater lakes. Here you can experience nature's awesome earth forces - bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and silica terraces. Spend two nights at Ibis Rotorua.

Make your way to Rotorua in central North Island. Rotorua is the spiritual home to the Maori tribe of Te Arawa and is set amongst a myriad of crystal clear crater lakes. Here you can experience nature's awesome earth forces - bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and silica terraces. Spend two nights at Ibis Rotorua.

Day 5 Rotorua

Enjoy a full day of leisure today in Rotorua and explore this fascinating geothermal region. Relax in pools of natural mineral water, wrap yourself in healing mud or treat yourself to a massage under warm thermal waters. Rotorua provides many opportunities to come face to face with the spirit of Maori culture. Experience the living Maori village of Whakarewarewa, visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Craft Institute where you will see traditional carving techniques in action or take an extraordinary journey through Maori culture and mythology with The Realm of Tane.

Enjoy a full day of leisure today in Rotorua and explore this fascinating geothermal region. Relax in pools of natural mineral water, wrap yourself in healing mud or treat yourself to a massage under warm thermal waters. Rotorua provides many opportunities to come face to face with the spirit of Maori culture. Experience the living Maori village of Whakarewarewa, visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Craft Institute where you will see traditional carving techniques in action or take an extraordinary journey through Maori culture and mythology with The Realm of Tane.

new zealand rotorua maori girl whakarewarewa village tnz
new zealand rotorua redwood forest istk
new zealand rotorua mud pools whakarewarewa thermal reserve istk

Day 6 Rotorua - Napier

Head further south today to Lake Taupo and then on to Napier, an Art Deco inspired town set in the heart of Hawke's Bay Wine Country. Supported by a Mediterranean climate and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year this popular year-round destination boasts a vibrant cafe culture amongst the splendour of its Art Deco buildings. After a long day taking in the sights, revitalize yourself by sampling some of Hawke's Bay's award winning wines and fresh Bay produce from one of the many restaurant, café and winery menus. Overnight at Bella Tuscany on Kennedy.

Head further south today to Lake Taupo and then on to Napier, an Art Deco inspired town set in the heart of Hawke's Bay Wine Country. Supported by a Mediterranean climate and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year this popular year-round destination boasts a vibrant cafe culture amongst the splendour of its Art Deco buildings. After a long day taking in the sights, revitalize yourself by sampling some of Hawke's Bay's award winning wines and fresh Bay produce from one of the many restaurant, café and winery menus. Overnight at Bella Tuscany on Kennedy.

Day 7 Napier - Wellington

Head to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city offering an unforgettable urban experience in a stunning natural setting. Set between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, this compact city has great shopping, professional theatre, memorable arts, culture and heritage and great cafes and restaurants all close to untouched nature spots. Central Wellington itself is only 2 kilometres in diameter and you can walk from one side to the other in under 20 minutes. Overnight at Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel.

Head to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city offering an unforgettable urban experience in a stunning natural setting. Set between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, this compact city has great shopping, professional theatre, memorable arts, culture and heritage and great cafes and restaurants all close to untouched nature spots. Central Wellington itself is only 2 kilometres in diameter and you can walk from one side to the other in under 20 minutes. Overnight at Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel.

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Day 8 Wellington - Picton - Nelson - Motueka

Head to the Wellington Ferry Terminal for your scenic journey on the Interislander across the Cook Strait. You will take your vehicle with you on the ferry. On arrival make your way to Motueka, perhaps stopping en route in Nelson. The Nelson region is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, boutique wineries, micro breweries and a large creative community of artists. Continue onto Motueka, the gateway town to Abel Tasman National Park, and your home for the next two nights at Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalets.

Head to the Wellington Ferry Terminal for your scenic journey on the Interislander across the Cook Strait. You will take your vehicle with you on the ferry. On arrival make your way to Motueka, perhaps stopping en route in Nelson. The Nelson region is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, boutique wineries, micro breweries and a large creative community of artists. Continue onto Motueka, the gateway town to Abel Tasman National Park, and your home for the next two nights at Abel Tasman Ocean View Chalets.

Day 9 exploring Abel Tasman

Spend a full day at leisure in Abel Tasman National Park. 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.

Spend a full day at leisure in Abel Tasman National Park. 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.

new zealand abel tasman gold sand beach istk
Abel Tasman swing bridge
Hiking the Abel Tasman Track

Day 10 Motueka - Hokitika

From Motueka drive to the dramatic West Coast. The Great Coast Road stretching from Westport to Greymouth has been featured as one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world in Lonely Planet. Historic Hokitika is a place to appreciate the fascinating history of the West Coast. Here you can visit galleries specialising in pounamu jewellery and art works. The Arahura River, which enters the sea just north of Hokitika, is a traditional source of pounamu (greenstone). Gold jewellers, wood turners and potters provide other souvenir opportunities. Overnight at Beachfront Hotel.

From Motueka drive to the dramatic West Coast. The Great Coast Road stretching from Westport to Greymouth has been featured as one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world in Lonely Planet. Historic Hokitika is a place to appreciate the fascinating history of the West Coast. Here you can visit galleries specialising in pounamu jewellery and art works. The Arahura River, which enters the sea just north of Hokitika, is a traditional source of pounamu (greenstone). Gold jewellers, wood turners and potters provide other souvenir opportunities. Overnight at Beachfront Hotel.

Day 11 Hokitika - Franz Josef Glacier

The hospitable town of Franz Josef serves the glacier of the same name. Stay here while you explore this spectacular World Heritage Area. Franz Josef Glacier is five kilometres from the town and a 20 minute walk will take you to its terminal face. From the glacier car park, you can hike to a choice of lookout points for a bigger view of this awesome river of ice. If you want to actually make contact with the glacier, take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike. Aerial sightseeing is highly recommended. Overnight at Glacier View Motel.

The hospitable town of Franz Josef serves the glacier of the same name. Stay here while you explore this spectacular World Heritage Area. Franz Josef Glacier is five kilometres from the town and a 20 minute walk will take you to its terminal face. From the glacier car park, you can hike to a choice of lookout points for a bigger view of this awesome river of ice. If you want to actually make contact with the glacier, take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike. Aerial sightseeing is highly recommended. Overnight at Glacier View Motel.

new zealand west coast franz josef glacier guided hike twc
new zealand west coast punakaiki view twcst
new zealand west coast lake matheson misty morning sstk

Day 12 Franz Josef Glacier - Queenstown

Your longest travelling day takes you down one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline on the West Coast. Head south via Haast Pass towards the alpine town of Queenstown, which sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges. With a smorgasbord of outdoor activities, Queenstown is renowned as the adventure capital of the world. Spend two nights at Blue Peaks Lodge.

Your longest travelling day takes you down one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline on the West Coast. Head south via Haast Pass towards the alpine town of Queenstown, which sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges. With a smorgasbord of outdoor activities, Queenstown is renowned as the adventure capital of the world. Spend two nights at Blue Peaks Lodge.

Day 13 Queenstown

Enjoy a full day at leisure today in this wonderful alpine town. You can choose to be adventurous and enjoy activities such as sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting or simply relax with a gentle lakeside walk, a vineyard wine tasting or just simply relax and admire the views.

Enjoy a full day at leisure today in this wonderful alpine town. You can choose to be adventurous and enjoy activities such as sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting or simply relax with a gentle lakeside walk, a vineyard wine tasting or just simply relax and admire the views.

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Gibbston Valley
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Day 14 depart Queenstown

Make your way to Queenstown airport and drop off your rental vehicle before your departure.

Make your way to Queenstown airport and drop off your rental vehicle before your departure.

Accommodation Options

We have selected properties for this holiday referenced in the itinerary in a mix of hotels and motels. However, with a wide choice of accommodation in New Zealand, we can change to suit your personal preference mixing different grades and styles.

Discuss your options with our Travel Specialists.

Optional Exursions

Prices and Departures

Price from £1,317 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
  • Car rental throughout (Toyota Corolla Hatch or similar) with GPS
  • Interislander ferry crossing for passengers and vehicle
  • Shuttle transfer on arrival
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

This itinerary starts from £1,317 per person, based on 2 sharing a room in simple 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.

Meet our expert

nordic team doug kington bw
One of our specialists
Meet Doug

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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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