Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights
20 day North & South Island Self Drive, from Auckland to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights

Travel the heart of the North Island exploring Auckland City, Rotorua, the Art Deco City of Napier and onto Wellington before crossing to the South Island. Continue down the east coast through Marlborough, Kaikoura and Christchurch before crossing the plains and into the Southern Alps and Mt. Cook. The alpine resort of Queenstown is next before heading north through Wanaka and onto the West Coast Glaciers. Return to Christchurch via the Tranz Alpine train.

Tour summary and feature
Itinerary details at a glance

North & South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$5,907 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch

20 days/19 nights

Boutique lodges & hotels

 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible

 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

 Viewed 13 times in the last 7 days

Tour feature
Also included with this tour

All breakfasts

Private train station transfers

Private airport transfers

Tour at a glance
Quick itinerary overview - Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland City
Accommodation: The Great Ponsonby Art Hotel B&B

Day 2: Explore Auckland and surrounds
Accommodation: The Great Ponsonby Art Hotel B&B

Day 3: Drive south through the rich fertile farmland of the Waikato and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Rotorua
Accommodation: The Springs Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 4: Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides
Accommodation: The Springs Rotorua

Day 5: First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 6: Discover the Art Deco architecture and vineyards of the Hawkes Bay
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Day 7: Drive south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa regions before crossing the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 8: Uncover the charms of Wellington City, including the quirky cafes and fascinating museums
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Day 9: Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds
Accommodation: The Peppertree
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.3 hours

Day 10: Drive to the seaside town of Kaikoura today
Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 hours

Day 11: Continue south through the Canterbury countryside to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 12: Explore Christchurch City or maybe take a day trip to Akaroa
Accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments

Day 13: Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 14: Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 15: The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Day 16: Milford Sound day tour and Cruise from Queenstown
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Day 17: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 18: Experience the glaciers of Westland National Park, either take a walk or maybe a scenic flight
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Day 19: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 20: Depart Christchurch today

Detailed itinerary
See a day by day description including activities & accommodation suggestions for this itinerary example
Tour full itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland City
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 1
Private transfer Auckland airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The APP includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Auckland

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

Escape the city centre and cruise the sparkling waters of Auckland's Waitemata Harbour and learn about the most well-known city landmarks. Sail under the Harbour Bridge and take in views of the Sky Tower, the city skyline, Rangitoto Island, North Head as well as the Bean Rock Lighthouse with a complimentary morning or afternoon tea.

Your accommodation: The Great Ponsonby Art Hotel B&B

The Great Ponsonby Arthotel is a delightful bed and breakfast in central Auckland. Beautifully decorated with original artworks, filled with books, magazines, music and Persian rugs, you will feel right at home. Just a two-minute stroll to Ponsonby's vibrant cafés, restaurants, galleries, shops and nightlife or a short taxi ride to the harbour and city centre.
Day 2 - Explore Auckland and surrounds
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 2
Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

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.

Explore Auckland City

Surrounding a natural harbour, New Zealand's largest metro area offers the best of both worlds. Sandy beaches, native bush and lush rainforests meld with a lively urban culture. Grab a coffee downtown and watch the sailboats glide from the Viaduct or head harbourside and take the helm of an America's Cup Yacht.

Catch the Quickcat to nearby Waiheke Island for a gourmet food and wine experience. Clear the cobwebs with a little exercise and hike the summit of Mt Eden -  Auckland's highest volcano. Pack a picnic and choose one of 800 regional national parks to explore. Hunua Falls - located within the Hunua Ranges - is one not to be missed. If relaxing is more your style, find a good book and head out to a deserted beach. Try Orewa - located an hour north of the city - or stay a little closer and head to Cheltenham Beach in Devonport.

Make time to ascend the Sky Tower or The Harbour Bridge and spike your adrenaline by bungy jumping off either (or both!). Finish on a high with dinner at one of the many trendy eateries to be found on Ponsonby Road.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Rangitoto Volcanic Explorer

A short 25-minute cruise through the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf delivers you to Rangitoto Island, the largest and youngest of Auckland's volcanic field. It last erupted around 600 years ago but is considered extinct and safe to explore. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by your guide and taken to waiting four wheel drive vehicles nearby. Once onboard - journey through rugged lava crops and native bush while you learn about the fiery history and geology of the island. You'll then be dropped off at the base of the summit, only a short climb along a wooden boardwalk to the top. After taking in the 360 degree panoramic views, rejoin the tour vehicle for the return trip to the wharf and back to Auckland.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Great Tastes Half Day Kumeu Wine Country Tour with Lunch

Today you'll be leaving the city and heading northwest to Kumeu Wine Country, Auckland's Heritage Wine Region. Enjoy lunch at a contemporary vineyard, sample world-renowned wines and marvel at the rugged surf-fringed coastline nearby. Your first stop is award-winning Soljans Estate Winery. Utilising both traditional and modern techniques, Soljans produce varied and richly flavoured wines. Built with sunshine in mind and a distinct Mediterranean-style, the onsite restaurant showcases fresh seasonal produce from around the region.
Continuing on, you'll visit the Muriwai Gannet Colony - one of the few mainland nesting sites in the world. Situated on the cliffs overlooking the Tasman sea you'll have breathtaking views of the beach and ocean beyond. Your final tasting is at West Brook Winery, one of New Zealand's oldest. These wines reflect true varietal character and their unique regional origins.

Your accommodation: The Great Ponsonby Art Hotel B&B

The Great Ponsonby Arthotel is a delightful bed and breakfast in central Auckland. Beautifully decorated with original artworks, filled with books, magazines, music and Persian rugs, you will feel right at home. Just a two-minute stroll to Ponsonby's vibrant cafés, restaurants, galleries, shops and nightlife or a short taxi ride to the harbour and city centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Drive south through the rich fertile farmland of the Waikato and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Rotorua
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 3
Auckland to Rotorua

The drive south from Auckland takes you past the Bombay Hills and into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of greater Auckland area and it's here you turn inland to central Waikato. You’ll soon go through the town of Matamata where you can visit the fully intact Hobbiton film set used in the shooting of the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Continuing on, you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

Your accommodation: The Springs Rotorua

The Springs is set in a simple yet elegant garden of roses and camellias evoking a sense of restful contentment. The Guest Wing, with four elegant rooms, is at the rear of the house ensuring a private, quiet stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 4 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 4
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rainbow Springs and National Kiwi Hatchery Combo

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. Come face to face with, and learn more about, New Zealand’s precious wildlife. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.
Go behind the scenes with New Zealand's national animal at the purpose built Kiwi Conservation Centre - created solely to try and stop the extinction of this unique species. Here you will gain first hand insight into the conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of kiwi eggs being hatched and returned to the wild.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees. In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mitai Maori Village

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: The Springs Rotorua

The Springs is set in a simple yet elegant garden of roses and camellias evoking a sense of restful contentment. The Guest Wing, with four elegant rooms, is at the rear of the house ensuring a private, quiet stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5 - First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 5
Rotorua to Napier

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. Home to a plethora of unique geothermal attractions including boiling mud pits, natural hot springs and steaming geysers, this area is a must do before you move on to Napier. Notable attractions are Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of hundreds of cubic metres of water spilling every second down the narrow 11 metre drop.
For an extra thrill take a jet-boat ride to the base of the falls. Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

This beautifully restored, single storey 1890's residence is nestled in a quiet cul de sac on Napier Hill, a great location from which to explore the Art Deco city. Experience a 5 star boutique Bed & Breakfast experience with unparalleled facilities and luxurious rooms.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 6 - Discover the Art Deco architecture and vineyards of the Hawkes Bay
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 6
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is Mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate touted as the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. End on a high with another ride, this time in a comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

Napier City

Napier, the city by the sea, is renowned for its 1930s Art Deco architecture, events such as the Art Deco Weekend in February, stately Norfolk pines, surrounding wineries and local fresh produce. 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 the Art Deco buildings.
Around 30 cafes are within walking distance of the central city area, while Ahuriri, just over Bluff Hill, is home to a further cluster of up market establishments. Marine Parade overlooks the Pacific Ocean and out towards Cape Kidnappers, home to the world's largest mainland gannet colony. A full day can be taken visiting Ocean Spa hot pools and swimming complex, the Hawke's Bay Museum and the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
A landmark of Napier is Bluff Hill, which is home for many Napier residents and provides views of the town,  beaches of Perfume Point and Westshore and out towards Whirinaki. Bluff Hill also overlooks the Port of Napier, one of New Zealand's busiest ports, transporting timber, local fruit and meat products to worldwide destinations.
In 1931, New Zealand's greatest natural disaster struck Hawke's Bay. At 10.47am on Tuesday February 3rd, an earthquake of magnitude Richter 7.8 struck. In a minute and a half, in two separate shocks, the centre of Napier was almost totally destroyed. Fires quickly broke out and reduced to ashes or gutted what the tremors had left standing. Damage in Hastings was also devastating, although the fires were contained. Wairoa and the smaller towns to the south as far as Dannevirke were affected. There were 258 deaths - 162 in Napier, 93 in Hastings and 3 in Wairoa along with many injuries. The reconstruction of Napier and Hastings were costly but the benefit was two modern cities and the Ahuriri Lagoon, or Inner Harbour as it was usually known, was raised over 2 metres, creating the land, which Napier desperately needed to expand.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Gannet Safaris

Drive along the scenic coast from Napier to Te Awanga and join Gannet Safaris Overland and the world's largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Gannet Safaris has been guiding visitors over Cape Kidnappers for over 35 years and their safaris are the only way to be driven right to within a few feet of these remarkable birds. You will travel in comfort in air conditioned 4 x 4 wheeled vehicles, through Cape Kidnappers Station - traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, through stands of native bush, steep gullies and breath-taking inclines. There is a stop on the way at a spectacular cliff top with panoramic views of Hawke Bay right across to Mahia peninsular. The 36km, three hour trip includes a commentary by your tour guide / driver on the farming operation on Cape Kidnappers Station and an introduction to the gannets. On arrival at the gannets you can stretch your legs and take in the scenery from your position at the brink of the cliffs edge - 100 metres above the ocean!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Take a scenic drive through the vineyards as you learn about the region and its wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at a boutique winery. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sea level overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities.
The Twilight Odyssey Tour includes sightseeing of the region with fully guided commentary, a progressive three course dinner at one of New Zealands top winery restaurants, wine tasting, champagne, wine with dinner, dessert wine, tea and coffee.

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

This beautifully restored, single storey 1890's residence is nestled in a quiet cul de sac on Napier Hill, a great location from which to explore the Art Deco city. Experience a 5 star boutique Bed & Breakfast experience with unparalleled facilities and luxurious rooms.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7 - Drive south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa regions before crossing the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 7
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton

The rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay leads you into some of New Zealand’s richest farmland, located around the Manawatu region. Passing along the Manawatu Gorge the Wairarapa welcomes you. Masterton is home to the golden shears sheep shearing competition while just further south Greytown boasts the largest concentration of historic wooden buildings in the country.

Nearby Martinborough is home to dozens of boutique wineries. The route takes you over the Rimutaka Range and along the magnificent natural harbour that the capital city of Wellington sits upon.

Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

The 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: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 8 - Uncover the charms of Wellington City, including the quirky cafes and fascinating museums
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 8
Wellington City

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.

Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you're a foodie at heart, a two hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For a educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - City Highlights Inspiration Half Day Tour

Enjoy an intimate small group tour looking at the unique aspects of the World's Coolest Little Capital. Drive through Courtenay Place and Oriental Parade and head up Mt Victoria for spectacular views of the City and Harbour. Then travel the stunning rugged coastline, now a marine reserve, stopping along the way to taste some famous Wellington coffee. Return to the central city for a drive through the quirky Cuba Street district and along Lambton Quay, the main shopping street for a chance to ride the famous Wellington Cable Car.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary Tour

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 high!

Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

The 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

Day 9 - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 9
Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton

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.

Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

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.

Picton to Blenheim

Only short 30 minute drive, you’ll follow the valley south to arrive in Blenheim, located in the heart of Marlborough - New Zealand’s largest wine producing region. Go through acres of leafy green vines and marvel at the magnificent ‘dry hills’ of Marlborough in the distance.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour

An afternoon among the vines! Be immersed in the Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through three or four hand-picked wineries to taste the award-winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through. A lunch stop is not included in this tour so we do advise you have something to eat prior to this activity. 

Your accommodation: The Peppertree

The Peppertree is situated in the midst of an extensive country garden a boutique vineyard and an olive grove. Choose from one of the five spacious suites, each of which reflects a different character. Days at The Peppertree begin with a delicious breakfast, served in the Dining Room or on the verandah.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.3 hours

Day 10 - Drive to the seaside town of Kaikoura today
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 10
Blenheim to Kaikoura

Cross the 'dry hills' of Marlborough and head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view native wildlife. To the east is the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife - and it's one of the only places in New Zealand you can see whales year round.

Your accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses

Hapuku Lodge was built to give guests a great night's sleep in one the most beautiful places in the world. The Lodge sits tight between the mountains and the ocean, on a deer stud and olive farm.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 hours

Day 11 - Continue south through the Canterbury countryside to Christchurch
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 11
Kaikoura to Christchurch

Today you travel down the coast before heading inland through the North Canterbury wine region - the Waipara Valley. As you drive through this area you’ll be greeted by one of New Zealand's most notorious animals, the sheep. If you’ve time on your hands we recommend taking a detour to Hanmer Springs for relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you'll see a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura

Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer a once-in-a-lifetime, up close encounter with the giant Sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, occasionally make an appearance.
Cruise in style on modern catamarans, specifically designed for whale watching - Featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Your accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 12 - Explore Christchurch City or maybe take a day trip to Akaroa
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 12
Explore Christchurch City

Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South.

Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts - wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens. 

Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Visit the International Antarctic Centre or take a day to go on safari at Orana Wildlife Park. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for a authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Hot Air Balloon Ride

Escape to a world of peace and tranquillity. Hot Air Ballooning is a magical experience and a flight with Ballooning Canterbury offers panoramic views across the fertile Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. There is nothing quite so romantic and exciting as floating effortlessly over an ever changing landscape.
Before leaving the ground, the pilot will give you a briefing. During your flight you will experience spectacular views and have fantastic photo opportunities. Chilled champagne, orange juice and a light snack then be served. Hot air ballooning is a hands-on experience and you will be encouraged to assist with the setup and pack away of the balloon itself.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola

In the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch City, ride the Christchurch Gondola for nearly a kilometre to the collapsed rim of an extinct volcano - which exploded six million years ago.  Take in the panoramic 360-degree views of the central city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps.  Wander the summit complex and choose one of many nature walks or visit the Time Tunnel - a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch.

Your accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 13
Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.
Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

The Hermitage Hotel ringed by magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, is a world-renowned tourist destination and has been an icon of superior accommodation and dining since 1884.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 14 - Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 14
Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown

Today you'll leave Mount Cook National park and travel to Queenstown. Go through the lakeside town of Twizel and then pass through the gliding capital of New Zealand - Omarama - before ascending the Lindis Pass. Follow the road to Cromwell, located at the at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. Continue on towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump, or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

The Dairy is a small private luxury hotel providing exquisite bed and breakfast accommodation. Just 1 minutes walk from Queenstown Centre it also features a large lounge with an open fire, outdoor spa and a bar.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 15 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 15
Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boat the Shotover River

Take a ride on ‘Big Red’ through the spectacular canyon walls of the upper Shotover River.  Shotover Jet Boat is the only company allowed to operate in this remarkable location and their skilled drivers will take you on a wet and wild ride you’ll never forget.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola Queenstown and 3 Luge Rides

In the heart of Queenstown, located 450 metres above town in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. A gondola ride to the summit makes for awe-inspiring views of the city surround. Arrive at the complex and wander the outside viewing decks for a picture perfect outlook. Then onto the Luge! The 800 metre luge track offers an exhilarating journey through banked corners, tunnels and dippers.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Go back in time on this return trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw Steamship. You'll be greeted off the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead.
Here you'll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The seasonal menu includes an expansive array of local produce, including succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Finish your meal with an irresistible dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea and coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country.
On your cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship's pianist or breathe in the fresh night air as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

The Dairy is a small private luxury hotel providing exquisite bed and breakfast accommodation. Just 1 minutes walk from Queenstown Centre it also features a large lounge with an open fire, outdoor spa and a bar.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 16 - Milford Sound day tour and Cruise from Queenstown
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 16
Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with an extended two hour Nature Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On board a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the Milford Mariner for a leisurely extended cruise of the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rain forest, mountains and wildlife with extensive commentary by the onboard nature guide. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

The Dairy is a small private luxury hotel providing exquisite bed and breakfast accommodation. Just 1 minutes walk from Queenstown Centre it also features a large lounge with an open fire, outdoor spa and a bar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 17 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 17
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - to arrive in the Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools for a 1 hour return walk through native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 18 - Experience the glaciers of Westland National Park, either take a walk or maybe a scenic flight
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 18
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef is a small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice from a viewpoint you can walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself you must take a licensed helicopter tour.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquility. Unwind in one of the three main pools. Temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees and the water comes directly from a glacial stream. Wash off the day and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 19 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 19
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Crossing the south from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine is considered one of the worlds greatest train journeys. You'll travel from east to the west of the south island through Arthur's Pass National Park.

From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

On arrival at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 20 - Depart Christchurch today
Auckland to Christchurch 20 day Highlights - Day 20
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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