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18 Day Best of New Zealand Self-Drive

An 18 day self-drive that offers you the very best that New Zealand has to offer. Take in the highlights of the North and South Islands and choose the type of accommodation that suits you best.

18 Day Best of New Zealand Self-Drive

Day 1: Auckland to Whitianga

(120 miles, 3 hours)

Drive via the beautiful Clevedon Valley region of Auckland and the Pacific Coast Highway before arriving in Thames gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel’s dramatic and unspoiled coast offers beautiful white sandy beaches and many activities. Stay 2 nights. 

Day 2: Coromandel – day at leisure

Full day to enjoy this area. 

Day 3: Whitianga to Rotorua

(145 miles, 3 hours)

Head for Tauranga along the Pacific Coast Highway. Arrive in the Bay of Plenty region in the early afternoon, in time for a swim or lunch in one of the many restaurants. Continue to Rotorua. Stay 2 nights.

Day 4: Rotorua – day at leisure

Full day at leisure in Rotorua.

Day 5: Rotorua to Lake Taupo

(50 miles, 1.5 hours)

Depart Rotorua for the short journey through the Lake Taupo region. Taupo is a perfect base to explore some stunning New Zealand scenery.

Day 6: Lake Taupo to Napier

(89 miles, 2.5 hours)

Depart Taupo on the Thermal Explorer Highway for the Hawke’s Bay region, famous for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Napier and Hastings offer a high concentration of Art Deco architecture.

Day 7: Napier to Martinborough

(156 miles, 3.5 hours)

Today drive to Martinborough. well known for the range of vineyards in the area. Spend the afternoon out and about on the wine trail.

Day 8: Martinborough to Wellington

(52 miles, 1.5 hours)

Drive over the beautiful Rimutaka Hills to Wellington the nation’s capital. The downtown area is ideal for walking around, with lots of shops and cafes. Don’t miss a visit to Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand).

Day 9: Wellington to Blenheim

3 hour ferry then 30 minute drive. Drop your Avis car off at the Wellington Ferry office. Take the three hour Interislander ferry to Picton on the South Island to collect a similar model vehicle from Avis. Drive the short distance to the wine growing town of Blenheim.

Day 10: Blenheim to Nelson

(86 miles, 2 hours)

Depart Blenheim and head north via the Marlborough Sounds region. Spend the afternoon discovering the many wineries. Alternatively there are many walks and boating activities. 2 night stay.

Day 11: Nelson – day at leisure

Full day at leisure. We highly recommend a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park.

Day 12: Nelson to Punakaiki

(172 miles, 5 hours)

From Nelson, journey through scenic reserves and the earthquake-riven landscapes of the Buller Gorge to the historic coal-mining settlement of Wesport. Visit the seal colony.

Day 13: Punakaiki to Franz Josef

(142 miles, 3.5 hours)

Explore the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Travel on to Greymouth, the largest township on the West Coast, and Hokitika before arriving in Franz Josef, an area of mountain peaks and impressive glaciers. Here you can take guided glacier walks or scenic flights.

Day 14: Franz Josef to Queenstown

(251 miles, 6 hours)

Leave the West Coast and travel through the scenic wilderness of Haast Pass. Continue to beautiful Wanaka before arriving into Queenstown for 2 nights.

Day 15: Queenstown at leisure

Full day and so much to do. White water rafting, jet boating, or relax aboard the TSS Earnslaw as it cruises across the lake.

Day 16: Queenstown to Te Anau

(106 miles, 3 hours)

Journey through mountains and alongside lakes before arriving in Te Anau. Enjoy a trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, both accessible from Te Anau.

Day 17: Te Anau to Dunedin

(180 miles, 4 hours)

Drive north from Te Anau to Gore and on to historic Dunedin. If time permits book a ride on the Tairei Gorge Railway.

Day 18: Dunedin to Christchurch

(225 miles, 5 hours) 

Travel via Timaru, known for its extensive Edwardian and Victorian architecture. Continue on to Christchurch to complete your itinerary.

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How we create your perfect tailor-made holiday

1. Take inspiration from this website or our brochures

2. Ring to speak to one of our destination experts

3. We will create a tailor-made holiday just for you

4. Travel with confidence


All our travel specialists have travelled extensively throughout our regions.

To speak to someone with first hand knowledge please call 01423 565111