Open Mackenzie Country Roads & The luscious Canterbury Plains
Open Mackenzie Country Roads & The luscious Canterbury Plains
Optional trip to Hobbiton & Rotorua Activities
Optional trip to Hobbiton & Rotorua Activities
Auckland Skyline & Harbour, North Island
Auckland Skyline & Harbour, North Island
Wellington City Bay and Harbour, Lake Taupo & Huka Falls
Wellington City Bay and Harbour, Lake Taupo & Huka Falls
Marlborough Sounds & Blenheim Vineyards and Cityscapes
Marlborough Sounds & Blenheim Vineyards and Cityscapes
Kaikoura wildlife & coastal scenery
Kaikoura wildlife & coastal scenery
Beautiful Christchurch Scenery
Beautiful Christchurch Scenery
Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki & The Remarkables by Queenstown
Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki & The Remarkables by Queenstown
Queenstown & Franz Josef Glacier
Queenstown & Franz Josef Glacier

North to South Explorer Self-Drive

15 nights from £4,649 per person Including Flights


A breathtakingly beautiful self-drive route that includes both of New Zealand’s contrasting islands, this self-drive journey is one you’ll reminisce about for many years to come. Beginning in Auckland and ending in Christchurch, the sights you’ll see in between will inspire and amaze. Along the way you will visit such destinations as Rotorua, Wellington and venture on an unforgettable train ride on the TranzAlpine train. (NZ)

Prices are quoted per person on a twin-share basis.

This is also a great idea for a motorhome holiday - this would be a guide only, and you'll need to contact our travel experts for a more detailed motorhome itinerary.


  • Visit the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua
  • Explore Lake Taupo and be inspired by the surrounding scenery
  • Journey through the tranquil vineyards of the Marlborough region
  • Go whale watching in Kaikoura
  • Witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Mt Cook National Park
  • Take part in adventurous activities in Queenstown
  • Visit the Franz Josef glacier

Tailor-make this holiday:
Our travel specialist can tailor-make this self-drive itinerary to your requirements, whether you’d like to extend your stay, change a hotel or perhaps you would like an upgraded stay along the way – our experts will be happy to create a tailor-made holiday for you.

Whats included?
  • Interisland ferry
  • Tranz Alpine train
  • Flights and Taxes
Why Book with New Zealand Sky?
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  • A friendly, family run business with a wealth of experience.
  • Great deals on offer for multiple destinations
  • Low deposits
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Day 1


Arrive into Auckland and pick up your itinerary and maps, before making the most of your time in Auckland. Also known as the ‘city of sails’, this vibrant city is situated between two harbours – Manakau and Waitemata. From the gourmet culinary offerings to the beaches of the West Coast and contemporary boutiques, Auckland has something for everyone. A great way to spend your time here is with a cruise around the harbour, where you can take in the sights from a new perspective.

Overnight: CityLife Auckland

Day 2

Auckland- Coramandel Peninsula

As you leave the Auckland city boundary the landscape changes to lush farmland. You'll cross the fertile Hauraki Plains - one of New Zealand's largest dairy producing regions. Pass the Thames Estuary - a haven for wildlife and shore birds. Arriving into the old gold mining town of Thames, there are two different routes to the east coast of the Coromandel. Either directly over the Coromandel Ranges or north to Coromandel Township along the Pohutukawa Coast (part of the Pacific Coast Highway).

Overnight: Oceans Resort

Day 3

Coramandel Peninsula

Explore the Coromandel Peninsula and the beautiful Cathedral Cove

llage where you’ll be treated to traditional performances and demonstrations, as well as a classic Hangi meal.   

Overnight: Oceans Resort

Day 4


Sitting in the heart of the world’s most volcanically active region and permeated by a strong smell of sulphur, Rotorua is a unique destination. No visit here would be complete without a trip to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, just a half hour drive from Rotorua. For the more indulgent visit to this region, head to the Polynesian Spa where you can take advantage of the natural thermal pools and unique mud massages.

A visit to the Agrodome will bring you to the national animal, the sheep, or you could visit Rainbow Springs for a glimpse of the iconic Kiwi bird. A strong contender for second place to Queenstown in terms of adventure, Rotorua is also brilliant for outdoor pursuits such as forest canopy tours, rafting and zorbing.

Overnight: Quest Rotorua

Day 5


Experience the Maori culture at Te Puia and in the afternoon take a thrilling zipline forest tour

Overnight: Quest Rotorua

Day 6

lake Taupo to Hawkes Bay

First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay.
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.

Overnight: Bella Vista Napier

Day 7

Hawkes bay and Napier

Discover the wineries of the Hawkes Bay, home of New Zealand's oldest vineyards. Hawke's Bay Wine Experience half day tour
Discover the delights of Hawke's Bay on this 5 hour afternoon winery tour. You'll visit 4 local wineries including the oldest vineyard in New Zealand. You'll have the chance to taste award winning wines, learn about the winemaking process and the history of the region, as well as visit a barrel room and taste wine directly from the barrel.

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.

Overnight: Bella Vista Napier

Day 8

Hawkes Bay - Wellingon

Head south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa before crossing the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington

Overnight: City Life Wellington

Day 9

Interislander ferry from Wellington - Picton

Cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds. 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.

Overnight: Harbour View Motel, Picton

Day 10

Picton - Christchurch (326km)

From Picton you cross the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges as you 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 such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling place with many cafes, restaurants and shops, but the main reason for visiting here 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.


Day 11

Christchurch – Mt Cook National Park (329km)

Venture into the heart of the South Island today, crossing the Canterbury Plains and stopping off at Geraldine before traversing Mackenzie Country. Lake Tekapo is the first of the large lakes on your journey, where you can admire the amazing surrounding landscape, followed by Lake Pukaki. It’s here that you’ll catch your first glimpse of Mt Cook which overlooks the lake. There are countless ways you can make the most of your time in Mt Cook National Park, from kayaking and hiking to a scenic helicopter flight with a glacier landing.

Overnight: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Day 12

Mt Cook National Park – Queenstown (256km)

Just south of Mt Cook is Twizel – the location for many of the scenes in the Lord of the Rings films and a must-see for movie enthusiasts. Along the way there are some interesting highlights including Lindis Pass – one of the highest roads in New Zealand – as well as the quaint village of Tarras, the beautiful Bendigo Reserve and historic Cromwell. Venture through Gibbston Valley to reach the famous Kawarau Bridge where you bungy jump into the vast space below, before being greeted by the stunning Remarkables mountain range as you approach Queenstown.

Overnight: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 13

Fly Milford Sound

Fly in and out of the spectacular Milford Sound for a cruise around the Sound. Fly above the rugged backcountry of Central Otago. Witness what the power of nature has created over the years, as you journey over Mt Aspiring National Park and the world heritage listed Fiordland National Park. Then, take to the water on a cruise through the iconic Milford Sound before flying back over even more stunning landscapes.

Overnight: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 14

Queenstown – Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka) (348km)

Cross the Crown Range road, New Zealand’s highest sealed road, to the alpine town of Wanaka which is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. The route from here follows the shores of Lake Wanaka and Hawea to lead you to the village of Makarora. After visiting this quaint area, head towards the Haast Pass and on to the West Coast towards Franz Josef.

Overnight: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Day 15

Franz Josef – Christchurch (171km)

Drive north to the gold mining town of Ross and onwards to the West Coast’s largest town of Greymouth. Here you will board the TranzAlpine scenic train, journeying through Arthur’s Pass National Park to Christchurch. The route takes you through gorges and river valleys and remains one of the most sensational train routes in the world.

Overnight: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Day 16


Transfer to the airport for your departing flight from Christchurch today.


What’s Included

  • International Flights and Taxes
  • Motel accommodation as listed, or simular (15 nights)
  • Car hire throughout - with fully inclusive rental car insurance, GPS, airport/ferry terminal fees and additional drivers
  • Glacier Explorers
  • Milford Sound Fly, Cruise, Fly with Milford Sound Scenic Flights
  • TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch
  • Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation
  • Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
  • Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour
  • Cathedral Cove Scenic Cruise
  • Original Ziplining Experience with Rotorua Canopy Tours
  • Te Ra Daytime Experience at Te Puia
  • Hawkes Bay Wine Experience half day tour
  • Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton

You can upgrade your accommodation on to 4* hotels for this itinerary - please enquire

Jenn Hillyar
Book today

Talk to our travel experts for more information and to book or tailor-make your holiday

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