New Zealand Highlights Self-Drive 

Check off the best bits of New Zealand over two memorable weeks.

A scenic road trip around the wonders of New Zealand.

Peek into the glowworm caves and marvel at the geothermic activity on North Island before flying to South Island for mountainous escapades, glacier hikes, scenic drives, and an epic train journey through the magnificent landscape.

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14 nights
Auckland, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Glacier Region, Christchurch

Recommended itinerary

Days 1-2


The Sebel in the Viaduct Harbour area will be a welcome sight after your long flight. You have a full day in Auckland to visit its highlights and ease into your new time zone, whether you want to peruse art galleries or spend time shopping and dining in and around Auckland’s two harbours.

Day 3

Waitomo Caves

You’ll pick up your hire car in Auckland and leave the city behind, driving south for around two and a half hours to Waitomo Caves. Here, underground rivers and caves are lit by glowworms. It’s incredible to witness whether you walk, raft, or crawl through the labyrinth. Spend a night in a family-run guest lodge to re-energise ahead of the next leg of your road trip.

Days 4-5


A two-hour drive brings you to Rotorua. If you’re a movie fan, then plan your route to stop at Hobbiton Village to tour the movie set of Lord of the Rings. When you arrive at Rotorua, the smell of sulphur is an instant indicator of the geothermal activity this area is known for. You have a full day to tour its fizzing geysers, searing hot springs, and bubbling mud pools. It’s also where you can get to know Maori culture and way of life and spend an evening trying hangi cooked in the ground.

Day 6


You’ll return your hire car in Rotarua and fly to South Island. You’ll spend the night in Christchurch, a city undergoing massive urban regeneration following a devastating earthquake in 2011. Visitors can punt along the river or stroll around its renowned botanic gardens.

Days 7-8


You’ll collect a hire car today and follow South Island’s eastern coast to Dunedin. It’s a four-and-a-half-hour drive, so you’ll want to plan a few rest stops to admire the sea views. Dunedin is nicknamed the Wildlife Capital of New Zealand, where you can spot northern royal albatross in their natural habitat or visit the world’s smallest penguin – the Little Blue Penguin.

Days 9-11


Drive west to Queenstown, ready for a few days of adventure in the mountains. You’re spoilt for choice in this adventurous location, where you can push your limits on an outdoor escapade or take an exhilarating hike. If you want the view to come to you, opt for the Queenstown Gondola for effortless vistas of The Remarkables.

Day 12-13

Glacier Region

A scenic drive brings you to New Zealand’s Glacier Region, where the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier slowly creep down the Southern Alps. Spend time hiking over the ice and marvel at the sensationally beautiful views.

Day 14


Leave the glaciers behind and drive north to Greymouth to return your hire car. A wonderful day aboard the TranzAlpine Express awaits, transporting you from the west coast on a four-and-a-half-hour train journey through the mountains to Christchurch on the east coast. When you arrive in Christchurch, you’ll check into a hotel for your final night in New Zealand.