Day 1: Arrive into Auckland the 'City of Sails'
Accommodation: M Social Hotel Auckland
Day 2: Collect your rental car and drive south through Waikato countryside to Matamata (Hobbiton) then onto Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 239 kms / 148 miles : 2.9 hours
Day 3: Take a spectacular scenic flight over Lake Tarawera, then its a short drive along the Geothermal Highway to Taupo
Accommodation: Hilton Lake Taupo
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 75 kms / 47 miles : 0.8 hours
Day 4: Cross the Central Plateau passing Tongariro National Park then south to the Capital City of Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 363 kms / 225 miles : 4.5 hours
Day 5: Board the Interislander ferry to Picton
Accommodation: Picton Yacht Club Hotel
Day 6: Depart Picton and drive south to the Garden City of Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 326 kms / 202 miles : 4.0 hours
Day 7: Explore more of Christchurch before continuing your travels
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours
On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.Your tour documentation pack and support
Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.Welcome to Auckland City
Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Today Cruise the sparkling waters of Aucklands Waitemata Harbour. You'll learn about the most well-known city landmarks, including a stopover on dormant volcano Rangitoto. You'll see spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and Devonport's historic naval base as well as enjoying the Bean Rock Lighthouse with a complimentary hot drink and sandwich.
Your accommodation: M Social Hotel AucklandA contemporary hotel for the curious, the explorers and those who thrive on new experiences. Functionally chic, this contemporary hotel overlooks the vibrant Princes Wharf that is home to a good array of dining, entertainment and shopping experiences.
Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick. To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.GPS navigation system
Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Take the drive south on State Highway one through the rolling hills and dairy pastures of the Waikato region. As you reach the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area, turn inland towards Matamata. This is the real Middle Earth, and it's here you can see many locations used in the filming of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit - as well as visiting the actual set of Hobbiton.Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest
Become immersed in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. Located just outside of Matamata - in the heart the lush Waikato farming region, your tour will begin with a drive through a picturesque sheep farm. You'll then be taken through Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and insight into the making of the films.Matamata to Rotorua
Just south of Matamata is the township of Tirau, home to the largest tin sheep and sheepdog, but it also offers a surprising number of bric a brac, art, craft and antique stores if you feel like browsing.
Arriving into the City of Rotorua the regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills.
Considered the cultural centre for the Maori people, Rotorua is the ideal place to gain an insight into the history and culture. The Rotorua Museum located in the government gardens is outstanding and its displays and presentations focus on the local Maori tribes and the major events through history that have affected them. Dominating the display is the devastating volcanic eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 but also of great interest is the Maori battalion display which portrays stories of this once feared military unit.
Nearby Ohinemutu Village is the original site of the first Maori settlers in the area and despite its now modern surroundings and buildings you can still gain a sense of what the original village was like. The magnificent meeting house and historic carvings along with the unique 'Tudor-style' St Faiths Church feature in many visitors photo albums.
One of the most popular introductions to the Maori Culture is through an evening at Mitai Maori Village where you can enjoy performances and demonstrations followed by a traditionally cooked hangi meal.
Of course Rotorua is also a great place to enjoy many other activities including, fishing, 4WD trips, relaxing spa treatments, mountain biking, walking and hiking plus helicopter and float plane trips.
An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.
Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel RotoruaMillennium Hotel is Rotorua's largest 4-star deluxe hotel. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 239 kms / 148 miles : 2.9 hours
Combine the experience of a 4WD hiking tour on Mount Tarawera by Kaitiaki Adventures. Your journey begins with an off road 4WD experience through native New Zealand bush, transporting you to the craters edge. After a 1.5-2 hour hike your 4WD will drop you at the remote shores of Lake Rerewhakaaitu when you will return to Rotorua by Floatplane. Enjoy a spectacular aerial overview of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Mount Tarawera and our hidden lakes district. This stunning flight completes the Tarawera experience and returns you to your departure point on the shores of Lake Rotorua at our downtown city floatplane pier.Rotorua to Taupo
Your drive today takes you through the heart of the Central North Island volcanic plateau. Make time to visit geothermal regions Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley, before arriving into Taupo, which sits on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo. Take a short detour to view the Huka Falls - the largest volume waterfalls in New Zealand and choose to ride the Huka Jet for an added thrill. See nearby Craters of the Moon geothermal reserve with great walking tracks around its many boiling pools and steaming vents.Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride
The Huka Jet is 30 minutes of pure fun and exhilaration, skimming close to cliffs, sliding past trees, feeling the adrenalin of full 360 degree spins. The excitement continues right up to the base of the foaming Huka Falls, where you get a spectacular water level view to New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Nothing compares to watching 220,000 litres per second tumbling over the cliff face towards you.
The water from the mighty Huka Falls runs down the Waikato River through a series of Hydro Power Stations. You'll get a view of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the comfort of a powerful Chevrolet V8 jet boat. This unique Geothermal Power Station uses underground geothermal activity to produce hot steamy water. The Waikato Rivers beautiful environment is varied and unique and is New Zealand's longest river flowing north from our largest lake - Lake Taupō.
Your accommodation: Hilton Lake TaupoOriginally built in 1889 as The Terraces Hotel the property was transformed to the elegant Hilton Lake Taupo in 2009. Just minutes from the town center it features sweeping views over the largest lake in New Zealand and across to Tongariro National Park.
Meals included: Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 75 kms / 47 miles : 0.8 hours
The drive around the edge of New Zealand largest lake leads you to Turangi, the self proclaimed Trout Fishing Capital. You can view the Department of Conservations' National Trout Centre and Hatchery here. You then climb up onto the central plateau and the high country Rangipo Desert. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. A little further the military town of Waiouru also hosts the Army Museum, an incredible collection of New Zealand’s military history and a memorial to its servicemen. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast. The coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton are worth a short detour before arriving into the capital city of Wellington. Plan to take most of the day for this drive.
Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand;s national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.
Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.
Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.
Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is very good.
Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel WellingtonThe Bolton Hotel offers contemporary apartment-style accommodation in the heart of Wellington. Just steps from the Parliament buildings and central business district, Bolton Hotel is conveniently close to the best of the city's shops, cafes and restaurants and is within walking distance of Wellington's vibrant waterfront.
Meals included: Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 363 kms / 225 miles : 4.5 hours
The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).
From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.
Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick. To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.
Your accommodation: Picton Yacht Club HotelLocated in the heart of Picton, only a short walk to the marina, shopping & dining precinct and the ferry terminal. Being in the Marlborough region, it is the gateway to the top of the picturesque South Island and Queen Charlotte Sound.
Meals included: Breakfast
Cross the ‘dry hills’ of the Marlborough ranges as you leave Picton and head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. Follow the coastline for around 50 kilometres and be sure too keep an eye out for seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. Arriving into the Kaikoura Township, enjoy its bustling atmosphere. With many cafes, restaurants and shops theres plenty to do - but the main reason for visiting is the wildlife. Whale Watch Kaikoura is New Zealand's only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale at all times of the year. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.
The drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch continues to follow the spectacular coastline before heading inland and through North Canterbury’s major wine region, the Waipara Valley to arrive into Christchurch City.
Your accommodation: Distinction Hotel ChristchurchThis luxury hotel is centrally located in the revitalised Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, a short stroll from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and new Christchurch Convention Centre.
Meals included: Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 326 kms / 202 miles : 4.0 hours
Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours