Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Hike and Drive New Zealand

from £4619 excluding flights

  • 22 nights
  • Year round
Home Destinations Australasia New Zealand Hike and Drive New Zealand


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Hike the iconic Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds

Routeburn Track

Take a cruise and scenic hike at beautiful Milford Sound

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Explore native forest and golden beaches on the Abel Tasman track

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Discover the volcanic landscapes of Tongariro National Park

Roy's Peak, overlooking Lake Wanaka

Immerse yourself in Mt Aspiring National Park

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula

Experience the forest-fringed Coromandel Peninsula

Why this trip...

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This holiday showcases places and experiences away from the usual tourist routes

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Activities included

This itinerary features a range of included activities

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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


This imaginative itinerary offers the very best of New Zealand, incorporating well-known sights, national parks and renowned hiking trails. With your own 4×4 vehicle you’ll discover New Zealand’s exciting back country and at the end of each day return to comfortable accommodation.

The 22-day itinerary has been specially designed to feature a selection of hikes in national parks and conservation areas, covering a variety of landscapes and terrain. There’s the chance to add on optional independent hikes along the way, as well as joining included small group experiences, where your local guide will share insights about the surrounding landscapes, flora and fauna. As well as hiking you’ll experience NZ by boat and by air with memorable flight-seeing and scenic cruises included. You’ll also visit some of New Zealand’s star attractions such as Milford Sound, Rotorua and Abel Tasman National Park.

To enjoy all the walks fully, you should be fit and ideally have previous mountain walking experience. However, the shorter walks can be enjoyed by most hikers. Even though some of the walking may be challenging underfoot, at the end of each day you’ll return to a comfortable bed for the night, staying in a mix of hotels, motels, and guesthouses.


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

You will be met on arrival and transferred to your accommodation in downtown Auckland. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city, or relaxing in one of Viaduct Harbour’s many bars and restaurants overlooking the Hauraki Gulf.

Collect your 4×4 vehicle and make your way to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. You may wish to take the scenic route around the peninsula via Coromandel Town, before arriving in Tairua on the east coast for a 2-night stay.

On day 3 you’ll be collected from your accommodation for a challenging but rewarding guided hiking journey into pristine rainforest. Discover giant rock faces, rugged volcanic peaks, and ancient kauri, rimu and rata trees. Wonder at the world’s largest tree ferns, paddle in crystal clear rivers and rock pools, and learn about the flora and fauna within this magnificent forest.

Full day guided tour including up to 6 hours of moderate-challenging hiking

Cathedral Cove
Hahei Beach
Coromandel coastline

This morning you can explore the Coromandel Peninsula’s popular east coast at leisure. Perhaps visit Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own thermal pool at low tide; take the short walk from Hahei Beach to the spectacular Cathedral Cove; or hike the scenic Wentworth Valley to the waterfalls. Later make your way to Rotorua, the geothermal heartland of New Zealand. You may wish to attend a ‘hangi’ and Maori cultural show this evening (optional).

Optional hike on Wentworth Falls Track, easy-moderate, 2.5 hours

Today you will be collected from your hotel for a full day excursion into Te Urewera National Park, where you will spend around 4 hours hiking through the beautiful Whirinaki Forest. Covering an area of 60,000 hectares, Whirinaki is one of the best preserved rainforests on the North Island and is home to 500 year old trees that tower up to 60 metres high. The forest provides an outstanding habitat for many of New Zealand’s rarest birds such as kaka (North Island parrot), yellow-crowned kakariki (parakeet), toutouwai (North Island robin) and karearea (falcon).

Full day guided tour including 4 hours easy-moderate hiking

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Lake Waikaremoana, Te Urewera National Park

Drive through the heart of the North Island, perhaps stopping en route at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland or Waimangu Volcanic Valley before arriving in Tongariro National Park, renowned for its dramatic volcanic landscapes.

On day 7 you will tackle the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, acknowledged as one of the best day hikes in the world and taking in colourful craters, lakes and bubbling hot pools. The track takes you through various vegetation zones, from alpine bush to tussock grass, on to barren highlands and down again to lush podocarp forest. Alternatively, for an easier walking option, you can choose to take part in a guided sunrise walk on Mt Ruapehu.

Full day guided tour including 7-8 hours moderate-challenging hiking

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Today you may wish to take the scenic route via Pipiriki, following the Old Whanganui River Road along the shores of this beautiful river south to Whanganui. Allow plenty of time to stop at the various viewpoints and short walks that scatter the 65km drive. After picking up the highway again from Whanganui you’ll make your way to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington, for an overnight stay.

Board the ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton, from where you will be transferred by water taxi through the stunning Marlborough Sounds to your accommodation in Queen Charlotte Sound.

Explore the Marlborough Sounds at leisure today – you can be as active or relaxed as you wish! Soak in the hot tub and enjoy the views, take to the water in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard, or explore the area’s numerous walking trails. These range from short strolls to tackling sections of the famous Queen Charlotte Track, with the option to utilise water taxis to pick and choose your preferred route.

Optional hiking on Queen Charlotte Track from Furneaux to Punga Cove, easy-moderate, 3-4 hours one way

Marlborough Sounds
View from the Queen Charlotte Track
Marlborough Sounds

Transfer back to Picton by boat and then make your way to Kaiteriteri, on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park, for a 2-night stay.

The following day you will transfer by boat into the park to walk the most varied section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track from Medlands to Anchorage. Meander through lush coastal rainforest, native bush and across golden beaches, as well as crossing the impressive Falls River Swing Bridge, before ending at Anchorage Beach for your water taxi back to Kaiteriteri.

Full day unguided tour including 4 hours easy-moderate hiking

Abel Tasman swing bridge
Hiking the Abel Tasman Track
Abel Tasman National Park

The drive along the winding Buller Gorge will take you to the South Island’s wild West Coast. Time permitting, a detour to Westport and the Cape Foulwind seal colony is highly recommended. On arrival in Punakaiki you may be lucky to witness the curious blowholes in action (tide dependent) amongst the famous pancake rocks.

Before continuing your journey you may wish to visit the stunning Paparoa National Park. The Paparoa Track is New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk, but for those without 2-3 days to spare the park offers a variety of short trails too. Perhaps spend an hour exploring the 4km Cave Creek Memorial Track with its moss-covered rocks and overhanging trees, or enjoy a taste of the Pororari River Track for spectacular views of the river gorge and its magnificent limestone cliffs.

Later follow the coast road south to Franz Josef, renowned for its glacier of the same name. A visit to the nearby ‘mirror lake’, Lake Matheson, is recommended.

(Optional hike on Pororari River Track, easy-moderate, 1.5-3 hours)

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Franz Josef Glacier
Lake Matheson

Before leaving the West Coast you may wish to stop at Knights Point Lookout, or take the 4.7km return walk to Monro Beach. From October to December you may be lucky enough to see Fiordland crested penguins and Hector’s dolphins playing in the surf. Drive over the Haast Pass, a scenic drive with many opportunities to stop and explore, and onto Lake Wanaka. After the long drive an easy walk to the top of Mount Iron will reward you with spectacular views of the Southern Alps.

Optional hike up Mount Iron, Wanaka, easy, 1.5 hours)

Make your own way to Makarora (62 km) today for a memorable excursion into Mt Aspiring National Park. Your tour starts with a spectacular 25 minute flight into the remote Siberia Valley, offering stunning aerial views over rugged mountains, glaciers, mountain lakes, valleys and rainforests. After landing in the wilderness you’ll take a 3-hour independent hike through native bush, river valleys and beech forest, before rounding off the experience with a thrilling 30-minute jetboat ride that follows the mountain river through the Wilkin Valley and back to your starting point in Makarora.

Full day tour including scenic flight, jetboat ride, and non-guided 3 hours easy hiking

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Lake Wanaka
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Travel across the Crown Range to Lake Wakatipu and then through rural countryside onto Te Anau. This little town is known as the gateway to Fiordland and its glow worm caves are another local attraction.

Enjoy a leisurely, small group day trip to Milford Sound, including a 2-hour boat cruise along the full length of the fiord to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent indoor and outdoor viewing opportunities of the waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. You’ll then take a series of short guided walks (ranging from 5-30 minutes) to learn more about the geology, flora and fauna of this World Heritage area, including stops at ley locations such as Gertrude Valley, Lake Gunn, Marian Gantry, Mirror Lakes or The Chasm.

Full day guided tour including Milford Sound Cruise and easy short trail walks

Milford Sound
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Milford Sound

Enjoy a leisurely drive back along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the busy resort town of Queenstown. This afternoon you may wish to enjoy your choice of adrenalin-focused activities, take a relaxing walk in the shadow of the Remarkables mountains, cruise on the lake or visit the nearby gold-mining town of Arrowtown.

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Shotover Canyon
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Today’s drive will take you to the heart of the Southern Alps, travelling via the shores of dazzling Lake Pukaki to reach Mt Cook Village, your base for the night. Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park offers a wealth of hiking trails; time permitting the Hooker Valley Track is highly recommended, with three swing bridges and undulating trail. Or perhaps tackle the more challenging 4-hour return to Sealy Tarns, including 2200 steps – the effort is rewarded with spectacular views over the Hooker Valley and surrounding peaks, including Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Optional hiking including Hooker Valley Track, easy-moderate, 3 hours)

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Hiking in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
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You may wish to enjoy an optional scenic flight this morning, before driving via Lake Tekapo and the wide Canterbury Plains to the city of Christchurch. Take a walk through Hagley Park and along the Avon River, or enjoy the many cafes and restaurants the city has to offer. The following day, return your rental vehicle at the airport and depart.

Accommodation Options

We have carefully selected accommodation to suit this holiday based on a mix of hotels, motels and B&Bs. However, with a wide choice of accommodation in New Zealand, we can adapt and mix different grades and styles to suit your personal preference.

  • copthorne oriental bay wellington superior double room
  • copthorne hokianga exterior
  • nelson awaroa lodge standard room

Prices and Departures

Price from £4619 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.
Note: Airfares tend to be cheaper the earlier you book.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Car rental throughout
  • Interislander ferry crossing
  • Full day guided Wilderness Adventure Walk, Coromandel Peninsula
  • Full Day guided Whirinaki Walk, Rotorua
  • Full Day Tongariro Alpine Crossing Guided Walk
  • Boat transfers to Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Boat transfers to Abel Tasman National Park
  • Siberia Experience (Fly, Hike & Jetboat), Wanaka
  • Milford Sound Cruise and Walks, Te Anau
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

This itinerary starts from around £4,619 per person, based on 2 sharing a room with private bathroom in standard hotels, and rental of an intermediate 4WD vehicle.

Prices may vary depending on departure date and booking date, as well as any changes to the included components. The final cost of a tailored holiday will be based on the level of accommodation, size of vehicle, included activities, travel season, and how far in advance it is booked. We will confirm the exact price for your holiday in your individual quotation, based on your chosen travel dates and inclusions.

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The World's Great. Pass it On

To mark our 40th anniversary, we've launched our Education Bursary Fund to help disadvantaged school children experience the wonders of travel. A percentage of revenue from every holiday booked will go into the bursary fund to pay for at least 40 students to join one of our school trips abroad.