19 Day ‘Bed & Breakfast’ Self-Drive Tour
Our most popular self-drive tour. Discover New Zealand on a trip through its North and South Island staying at charming “Bed & Breakfasts” along the way.
- Rental car in the booked category day 1-19
- 18 nights in accommodations as described
- 18 x breakfasts
- 2 x dinners
- Ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton for foot passengers and rental cars
- Picton boat transfer – accommodation Marlborough Sounds and vice versa
- Digital travel documents
- 15% New Zealand sales tax (GST)
- Travel insurance
- International flight
- Meals unless otherwise stated
- Activities specified with “optional”
- Gasoline and parking fees
Create Your Tour
This self-drive tour is an example, but we have over 10 years of experience creating customised itineraries for your specific needs. Let us know your travel requirements and we can create a special itinerary for your dream self-drive holiday of New Zealand.
Day 1: Arrival Auckland
Welcome to New Zealand! Pick up your rental car at the airport. While driving to your first accommodation, you will get to know the “City of Sails”, as Auckland is also called. You can drive to the extinct volcano Mt. Eden, from where you have a beautiful view of the city. Or in the elegant suburb "Parnell" and to the port of Auckland. Afterwards you can either walk along the harbour or stroll through the shopping centres in the city centre. A visit to the War Memorial Museum or the Sky City Tower is also recommended (all activities optional). We recommend dinner in the Brazilian Wildfire Restaurant. This restaurant, located at the harbour, offers you a special culinary experience. If you prefer a dinner with spectacular panoramic views of New Zealand's largest city, we recommend visiting the rotating orbit restaurant.
Day 2: Auckland - Dargaville - Waipoua Kauri World - Paihia (B) approx. 423km, 6h
In the early morning you leave the city of Auckland and drive over the harbour bridge along the Hibiscus coast to Matakohe and visit the popular Kauri and Pioneer Museum (optional). In the afternoon you will reach the Waipoua Kauri Forest, in which you can find the gigantic Kauri trees in addition to the typical tree ferns. These are not only among the most powerful conifers on earth, but also among the oldest in natural history. After a tour of the forest, continue via Opononi to the natural harbour of Hokianga. The strong west wind regularly leaves large amounts of sand that pile up at the entrance to Hokianga Harbour to form impressive dunes. Continue on the Paihia, also known as the Bay of Islands.
Day 3: Paihia (B)
Design the day according to your wishes. You could take a trip along "Ninety Mile Beach" to Cape Reinga at the tip of the North Island. Or take a boat trip through the Bay of Islands (optional), New Zealand's subtropical paradise. An interesting historical point is the visit to the Treaty House in Waitangi (optional), where the peace treaty between Maoris and the English was signed in 1840 and which is still very important in the coexistence of both cultures. We recommend the "Dolphin Eco Experience" (optional). This tour gives you the opportunity to swim and snorkel with dolphins in their natural environment. If you are lucky you may encounter bottlenose dolphins, as well as other dolphin species, baleen whales, killer whales, seals, fish and penguins. You will also drive to some remote islands and gain an insight into this historically significant region.
Day 4: Paihia - Waitomo / Waikato District (B, D) approx. 421km, 6h
Via Whangarei and Auckland it goes into the fertile heart of the North Island with its distinctive dairy farming before you reach the Waitomo / Waikato district. Nearby you have the opportunity to visit the famous Waitomo glowworm caves (optional). In a boat you glide through the glow worm grotto on the underground lake . Alternatively, you can take it a little more adventurous. Equipped with a wetsuit, helmet and miner's lamp, you drive through the glow-worm cave hooked together in car tires. As soon as the lamps are extinguished, the cave ceiling lights up in 1000s of small lights like the Milky Way. Spend the evening in a country style accommodation. Enjoy a tasty dinner together with your New Zealand hosts and end the evening in a pleasant atmosphere.
Day 5: Waitomo / Waikato District - Whakatane (B) approx. 233km, 3h15min
After breakfast, say goodbye to your warm hosts. On your way to Whakatane we recommend a stop in Matamata (optional). Here you can discover the real Middle-earth. On a 2-hour guided tour, visit the film set of the "Lord of the Rings" and the "Hobbit" trilogies, which you might better know as "The Shire". During your tour you will see the hobbit caves, "The Green Dragon Inn" and many other highlights. The journey continues via the "Avocado" city of Katikati and the port city of Tauranga in the 'Bay of Plenty', the main growing area for kiwi. Finally, you will reach your destination of the day, Whakatane, where you will see the island 'White Island', an extremely active volcano under a constant cloud of smoke, protruding from the sea. The city, shaped by Maori history, lies with its beautiful harbour right on the sea. Here you have the opportunity to go swimming in the Pacific.
Day 6: Whakatane (B)
The day is at your leisure. You can use the day to relax on the beach, or take a very special tour. The adventurous and geologically interested should not miss the boat trip to White Island. Captain Cook gave this name to the most active of all volcanic islands because of the rising sulphur fumes from it. You drive there for about 1 1/2 hours and then explore the island under expert guidance to the bubbling, stinking crater rim - equipped with a helmet and gas mask! If this seems too daring or time-consuming, you can explore the island from the air in a 20-minute flight - a brilliant photo object. (These activities are optional).
Day 7: Whakatane - Rotorua - Taupo (B) approx. 171km, 2h30min
Today they leave Whakatane and travel past the city of Rotorua, which is characterised by volcanic activity and the smell of sulphur. Here you are spoiled for choice between the many local attractions. We recommend visiting Orakei Korako or Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland (optional).
Orakei Korako: Experience a world full of bubbling geysers, hot springs, mud holes and sinter terraces. Hike through the "Hidden Valley '' and visit the thermal "Ruatapu Cave" on the bottom of which are the "Pool of Mirrors". You won't find so many active geysers anywhere else. Orakei Karako has been described by Lonely Planet as the best thermal area in New Zealand.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland: is known for boiling mud pools, white sinter terraces, geysers and boiling lakes. With its "painter's palette, devil's inkwell and champagne pool" it is the most colourful of the thermal areas. The main attraction is the Lady Knox Geyser, which breaks out every morning (10.15 a.m.) to a height of 20m.
The journey continues to the largest lake in New Zealand, Lake Taupo. We recommend visiting the Huka waterfalls on the way, where the mighty Waikato River forces its way through a mountain strait. In the evening we recommend a visit to the Wairakei Terraces to take part in a traditional hangi (optional). You will be welcomed as a guest (Maori: Manuhiri) in the visitor centre and led to the courtyard, where an authentic welcome ceremony awaits you. After an interesting tour of the Maori village, head to the dining room (Maori: Whare Kai), where a meal (Hangi) cooked on underground is waiting for you. After dinner, a "haka" performance with songs and dances awaits you at the end, a unique and emotional experience that you will not soon forget.
Day 8: Taupo - Wellington (B) approx. 371km, 5h15min
The three partially still active volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park form the backdrop of your trip along the Desert Road. The drive through barren steppe land, surrounded by peaks up to 2700m, takes you to the green, fertile farm areas of Rangitikei and Manawatu. The journey continues along the Kapiti coast to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Here you can visit the parliament, stroll along the promenade or explore the national museum "Te Papa" (free of charge). The funicular takes you to the observatory, botanical garden and viewpoint of the harbour, while you can enjoy a wonderful view of the capital of New Zealand from Mt. Victoria. In the evening we recommend visiting Zealandia. You will go on an evening hike through "Zealandia" with a local guide. Here you can see various animals that only become active in the evening. With a little luck, you will also see the kiwi bird, an endangered, flightless bird and at the same time the national symbol of New Zealand. All of the above activities are optional.
Day 9: Wellington - Marlborough Sounds (B, D) approx. 3h ferry crossing + boat transfer
In the morning, including your rental car, board the Interislander ferry towards the South Island to Picton. You drive over the Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds, an area of "drowned valleys", which was created by the geological lowering of a low mountain range. Steep mountain ridges testify to the original mountains, which today protrude as narrow peninsulas between deep arms of the sea. Picton will take you by boat transfer to your idyllic property in the Marlborough Sounds. Located directly on the water, you will discover a world without streets and everyday noise, which guarantees you pure relaxation. At the end of the day, enjoy a tasty dinner in this unique atmosphere.
Day 10: Marlborough Sounds - Kaikoura (B) approx. 156km, 2h15 min + boat transfer
You will be brought back to Picton by boat transfer. Then continue south along the east coast.
You first reach Blenheim in the Marlborough Plain. Winegrowing in this region began in the 1970s when "Montana Wines" was looking for new land in Auckland. The composition of the earth, long hours of sunshine, a long autumn and cold winter are excellent conditions for a first-class wine, especially Sauvignon Blanc. We continue along the wild and romantic coast to Kaikoura. Sperm whales occur here regularly, attracted by the rich food supply of the warm ocean currents. You can see fur seals lying on the rocks along the highway and with a little luck dolphins can jump acrobatically out of the water. Numerous seabirds also float through the air here.
Day 11: Kaikoura - Hokitika (B) approx. 365km, 5h15 min
In the morning you have the opportunity to take a whale watching tour (optional). The journey takes you further into the hinterland, along forest roads with little traffic and over the alpine-covered Lewis Pass and dense beech forests to the west coast. On your way you drive through the port city of Greymouth and a landscape characterised by pasture and forestry, as well as historic gold mining areas. Then you will reach your daily destination Hokitika, located at the mouth of the river of the same name. The city is above all the centre of processing the green stone, the very hard, New Zealand jade, which is transformed here into beautiful pieces of jewellery.
Day 12: Hokitika - Franz Josef (F) approx. 134km, 2h
In the morning we recommend you take part in the "Arahura Greenstone Tour" (optional). You go on a guided tour along the Arahura River in search of the green jade. Your Maori guide will tell you the legends and stories of his people "Kati Wae Wae Hapu". You will also learn what the greenstone means to the Maori and how important it is to the people. On your hike you are guaranteed to find your gem and can take it with you as a souvenir of your time in New Zealand. The tour lasts about 2 hours. The journey continues to Ross, a forgotten, old gold mining village. Ross is said to be standing at $ 700 million in gold. All the more reason that this area again attracts numerous adventurers. "... a large, highly raised landmass ..." wrote the Dutchman Abel Tasman in his logbook when he was the first European to see New Zealand in December 1642. His comment undoubtedly referred to the striking, elongated mountain range of the Southern Alps, whose highest peaks abruptly rise to a height of 3500 m south of Hokitika. As a natural weather barrier, the high mountain ridge is responsible for one of the most extreme rainfall regimes. Large ice masses form above the snow line, forming fast-flowing valley glaciers.
Day 13: Franz Josef - Wanaka (B) approx. 286km, 4h
Today you can take a morning hike to Lake Matheson near the village of Fox (optional), also known as "Spiegelsee", because when the weather is nice, New Zealand's highest mountain, Mount Cook, is often reflected in the water. The journey continues through the Westland National Park, which has been declared the "natural heritage of mankind". Across the Haast Pass, the climate and watershed of the Southern Alps, past the high mountains of the Aspiring National Park and the deep glacial lakes of Wanaka and Hawea, you can reach the beautifully situated town of Wanaka.
Day 14: Wanaka – Te Anau (B) approx. 226km, 3h15min
The journey takes you via Queenstown to Fiordland National Park, New Zealand's largest and most undeveloped national park. Hardly any landscape embodies the term wilderness better than Fiordland. In the west, 14 fjords penetrate deep into the primeval forests of a rugged alpine world like long tongues of sea. Snow-covered mountain peaks rise not far above alpine grass mats up to 2700 m. First you drive to Te Anau, the gateway to this world natural heritage.
Day 15: Te Anau – Milford Sound – Queenstown (B) / approx. 405km, 5h45min
Today you have the opportunity to take a trip to the famous Milford Sound (optional). Milford Sound is the most developed of the fjords and has been called the eighth wonder of the world. You drive along the spectacular 'Milford Road'. At the Homer Tunnel you can often see the cheeky keas, the only mountain parrots in the world. Then board a tour boat that takes you on a cruise along Milford Sound. The ship follows the course of the fjord and glides out to Lake Tasman. Enjoy the wildly romantic backdrop, which is dominated by almost vertical mountain walls. Then drive to Queenstown, often called 'St. Moritz the South Pacific '. Due to its beautiful mountain location on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the small resort has developed into a popular tourist centre on the South Island. Alternatively, an excursion on the less accessible Doubtful Sound is possible (optional).
Day 16: Queenstown (B)
There is a lot to experience and discover in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Today is at your free disposal. Take a trip on the steamship "TSS Earnslaw" and cross Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. You can also have a grilled lunch here and take part in a farm tour. Alternatively, you can explore Queenstown's wild hinterland by jeep with an experienced, knowledgeable SUV driver. Learn about the gold mining past as you drive over hill and dale through the rough terrain of Skippers Canyon, the "Grand Canyon of New Zealand". "Lord of the Rings - Tours" to the locations are also offered. Other recommended activities are: Skyline Gondola, Shotover Jet and Dart River Safari (all activities optional).
Day 17: Queenstown – Lake Tekapo (B) approx. 256km, 3h30min
From Wakatipu Lake, the journey goes over the Lindis Pass (9971 m) through the MacKenzie Country. At Pukaki Lake you have the opportunity to admire the magnificent glacier world of Mount Cook in good weather. The Maori call this mountain "Aoraki", the "cloud piercer".
Continue to Tekapo Lake. Here is the "Church of the Good Shepherd", which has defied the barren, harsh climate of this area since about 1930. Built with local materials, it should symbolise durability and strength. The picturesque view from the window behind the altar is particularly impressive. There you can admire the intensely turquoise-coloured lake and the alpine mountains beyond. In the evening we recommend the "Earth & Sky Observatory Tour" (optional), where you can get to know the wonders of the southern starry sky.
Day 18: Lake Tekapo - Christchurch (B) approx. 244km, 3h30min
Today you leave the three thousand meter peaks of the Southern Alps and experience a spectacular change of vegetation again. You first reach highland farms that differ from lowland farms. The journey then continues through Canterbury, the fertile heart of the South Island, where vast farmlands stretch like a patchwork. The final destination is Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. Here you can take a walk through the beautiful botanical garden and visit the Re: Start pedestrian zone. This is a very special attraction: opened in October 2011, 8 months after the devastating earthquake, it offers around 40 different shops and cafes - all in colourful, creatively designed shipping containers! Typical New Zealand products are sold. The hustle and bustle invites you to stroll in a unique atmosphere.
In the evening we recommend the Christchurch "Tram Dinner" (optional). Here you can dine in style in the restored historic tram, in an air-conditioned carriage while you get to know the city on a sightseeing tour.
Day 19: Christchurch departure (B)
Drive to Christchurch Airport and drop off your rental car. From here you can start your onward or home journey. We wish you a good flight!