This self drive tour of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, gives you a really diverse experience of so many things this country has to offer. Take a Tranz Alpine rail journey through the Southern Alps, cruise beautiful Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, experience a Maori hangi (meal) and cultural show, see some of the finest Art Deco architecture in the world and experience the colourful and active geothermal Rotorua.
The iconic Sky Tower has stood tall at 328 metres, owning Auckland’s skyline for over 20 years. It’s an exciting hub of adrenaline activities, sky-high events, superb dining and breath-taking views.
Three fabulous viewing platforms offer the opportunity to admire Auckland from atop the tower. And a fantastic selection of bars, award-winning restaurants and cafes, two first-class hotels and the world-class SkyCity Casino are also available to visitors.
A visit to the Sky Tower is a great way to see the layout of New Zealand’s largest city. See the central city from above and take in the beautiful views up to 80 kilometres in every direction. Spot the key landmarks a number of volcanoes & historical locations within the greater Auckland area.
Experience the real Middle-Earth™ at the Hobbiton™ Movie Set. Step into the lush pastures of the Shire™ — as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies — in NZ’s Waikato region.
Follow acclaimed director Sir Peter Jackson’s lead and fall in love with the Alexander family sheep farm, a.k.a. the Shire. You’ll find it hidden in the unequivocal beauty of Waikato’s farmland, with the mighty Kaimai Ranges towering in the distance.
Your guide will escort you around the 12 acre set. You’ll see the intricate detailing, the most famous locations and learn how the movie magic was made.
Your walking tour will take you through the set past Hobbit Holes™ and the Mill. And your tour ends at Hobbiton’s world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn for a drink.
In traditional hāngī cooking, food such as fish and kumara (sweet potato), were cooked in a pit dug in the ground. Today, pork, lamb, potato, pumpkin and cabbage are also included. Hāngī was traditionally wrapped in flax leaves, but a modern Hāngī is more likely to use mutton cloth, aluminium foil and wire baskets. Traditionally the baskets were placed on hot stones at the bottom of a hole dug into the ground. The food is covered with a wet cloth and a mound of dirt that traps the heat from the stones. The Hāngī was left in the ground for about three to four hours, depending on the amount of food. The result of this process is tender meat and delicious vegetables, infused with smoky, earthy flavours. Today a process is used in above ground steaming facilities, giving a similar taste. Good food is central to the spirit of manaakitanga (hospitality). There are few experiences that rival sharing a feast cooked in a traditional Maori hāngī (earth oven), a centuries-old cooking method perfect for feeding a crowd and bringing a community together.
Conveniently located just minutes from Rotorua’s City centre, high on the side of Mount Ngongotaha, the Gondola will carry you to 487 metres above sea level to a stunning environment providing panoramic views of Rotorua City, Lake Rotorua and the surrounding area. There’s also Skyline Luge, which is a fun-filled adventure activity suitable for riders of all ages and experience levels. The tracks are all designed with twists, turns and tunnels to ride with your friends and family for a thrilling outdoor experience. Climb aboard your Luge cart and let gravity and your sense of adventure do the rest!
The world-renowned Agrodome farm show is a must on any visit to Rotorua. It is set in 350-acres of lush farmland, only 10 minutes from Rotorua city centre. Be entertained by a cast of talented animals.
For over 40 years, visitors have come to the the famous Farm Show at the Agrodome. You can also visit the Farmyard Nursery. It is home to the cutest baby animals who are available for cuddles and photos all year round.
There is a guided farm tour of the 350-acre working farm. You’ll get to hand-feed loads of friendly animals and sample delicious kiwifruit juice and honey from the land. And there is also the Woollen Mill and Shearing Museum to visit. Here you’ll learn the remarkable story of, NZ shearing pioneers, the Bowen brothers and discover the full process of wool from the sheep’s back to yours.
Discover one of New Zealand’s most magnificent geothermal wonderlands near Rotorua at Te Puia. See dramatic geysers, bubbling mud and beautiful native bush.
Enjoy the opportunity to come face to face with the biggest, active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere, Pōhutu Geyser. There are also jumping mud pools and live kiwi in the Kiwi Conservation Centre.
And watch master carvers and weavers at work at the NZ Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, and hear guides share stories passed down from their ancestors.
Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is a spectacular showcase of New Zealand’s most colourful and unique geothermal elements sculpted by thousands of years of geothermal activity. Featuring some amazing colours and thermal wonders such as the Lady Knox Geyser which is presented daily at 10.15am. This unique geyser can reach up to heights of 10-20 metres. See and learn about the magnificent workings of the Lady Knox geyser from the wonderful team. There is also the geothermal park, sculptured out of volcanic activity and thousands of years in the making, Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is considered to be New Zealand’s most colourful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. You are introduced to a uniquely different natural landscape – the key to what you see lies below the surface – one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand, extending over 18-sq. km. The Mud Pool is the largest mud pool in New Zealand, it was originally the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920’s.
Savour the distinctive style of Napier on this guided tour. Napier was levelled by earthquake and fire in 1931 and rebuilt in the depths of the Great Depression. The rebuild was rich in optimism and vitality, though; and the new buildings were built in the distinctive style of the thirties. Spanish Mission, Stripped Classical and above all Art Deco buildings now give the city centre a very special style.
Take an easy stroll through the compact Art Deco Quarter in the vibrant city centre. Your informative and entertaining guide will bring Napier’s fascinating architectural history to life for you. There is so much to learn, as you enjoy the opportunity to see one of the best collections of Art Deco architecture to be found in the world.
And you are also helping to preserve Napier’s Art Deco heritage, by doing a tour with the Art Deco Trust.
Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant sperm whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand fur seals, pods of dusky dolphins and the endangered wandering albatross.
Depending on the season you may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales. Kaikōura often hosts the orca and dolphins – and is home to the world’s smallest and rarest – the Hector’s. Kaikōura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of albatross, 14 varieties of petrels and 7 types of shearwater.
This thrilling jetboat ride takes you through the spectacular shotover canyons near Queenstown. See the canyons’ beauty and feel their power on the world’s most exciting jet boat ride. A unique combination of beauty and power, the Shotover Jet is an experience like no other.
This iconic Queenstown attraction is proudly owned by Ngāi Tahu, the Māori people of this land, and their connection to the Kimiākau (Shotover River) goes back centuries. As the home of their tīpuna (ancestors), this place is part of them.
Only Shotover Jet have access to the spectacular Shotover Canyons and no one knows this area like they do. The world-famous trip combines pristine natural landscape with wall to wall canyon action from start to finish!
The Dart River Safari jetboat experience is an exhilarating and spectacular journey through iconic landscapes. The landscapes in the Dart River Valley are nothing short of awe-inspiring. And you’ll learn about the area as you travel past snow-capped mountains, crystal clear waterways and lush ancient native beech forests.
The braided Dart River (or Te Awa Whakatipu) flows for 60km to the northern tip of Lake Whakatipu near Glenorchy. It’ll take you from the Southern Alps and the Dart Glacier in the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park to the lake. You’ll be towered over by mountain ranges on either side. And the Dart River Valley offers stunning panoramic views to enjoy at every turn.
Your passionate and knowledgeable driver will make help make your adventure unforgettable. Learn the culture and history of Te Wāhipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area as you travel.
A boutique winery tour is a wonderful way to explore the vineyards of Gibbston Valley, near Queenstown. Famous for their world-class pinot noir, the vineyards you will visit are set in the truly breathtaking scenery of an alpine valley.
Raising grapes this far south is hard work. But one sip of Gibbston Valley pinot noir tells you the effort is absolutely worthwhile. This area, outside Queenstown, is fondly known as the “Valley of the Vines”. And it is one of the most scenic wine growing areas in New Zealand. The vineyards are sandwiched between rugged mountains and the rocky Kawarau River gorge.
This high altitude area is subject to cold winters, hot dry summers and a huge night-to-day temperature range. But these challenging conditions have produced consistently superb wines. And worldwide recognition and an avalanche of international awards followed. More than 70% of the grapes grown here are pinot noir. Other varieties include chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc.
The Queenstown region features prominently in the incredibly popular Lord of the Rings trilogy. And Nomad Safaris’ “The Safari of the Scenes Tour” combines a true 4WD adventure with film locations from the LOTR trilogy.
Your guides rediscover the magic of Tolkien’s Middle-earth and bring it to life with rare facts and thrilling tales. Discover the magical side of New Zealand. And find out why this magnificent country was chosen to portray Middle-earth.
This Queenstown adventure safari is packed with breath-taking Lord Of The Rings filming locations and thrilling 4WD action.
The TSS Earnslaw offers one of the best ways to see Queenstown’s surrounding landscape. Cruise across Lake Whakatipu aboard the iconic century-old coal-fired steamship taking in the views at a leisurely pace.
An iconic piece of Queenstown’s history, The Earsnlaw has been lovingly maintained since 1912. Take time to explore the vessel, view the engine room, and study the historic displays of the steamship’s former life.
Your trip will take you across the lake, past the Remarkables mountain range and Cecil Peak to Walter Peak for a high country farm experience. Then you’ll cruise back to Queenstown Bay with plenty of time to take in that world-famous alpine scenery.
Situated on the picturesque Otago Peninsula, a short distance from Dunedin, Larnach Castle is one of New Zealand’s premier visitor attractions. It took more than 200 workmen three years to build the Castle shell. Then master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interior.
William Larnach spared no expense on his dream home, which features the finest materials from around the world. Allowed to decay, it has been lovingly restored over decades by the Barker family who purchased it in 1967.
The family has restored the empty buildings from ruin and have assembled a large collection of original New Zealand period furniture and antiques. A living collection that showcases the craftsmanship and spirt of New Zealand.
Visit Larnach Castle to discover its rich history, dating back to 1871. Its interiors are a fascinating insight into Victorian decor. And you’ll enjoy exploring the exquisite gardens, which have attained a Garden of International Significance award from the New Zealand Gardens Trust.
We can customise any of our Self guided drive tours to your needs
Auckland, or Tāmaki Makaurau in Maori, is New Zealand’s largest city. It is based around 2 large and picturesque harbours. ‘The City of Sails’ is known as such because of the many yachts often seen on those harbours.
Tāmaki Makaurau is one of the few cities in the world to have harbours on two major bodies of water. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitematā Harbour on the Pacific Ocean.
The Auckland landscape is also dotted with 53 volcanic centres that make up the Auckland Volcanic Field. And the many volcanic cones are a feature of the city.
In the centre of the city, the iconic Sky Tower dominates the skyline and has views across the city and harbours.
There is lots to see and do close to the CBD. Bustling precincts include Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour, full of superyachts and lined with bars and cafes. Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, covers an extinct volcano and is home to the formal Wintergardens. A short harbour-side drive takes you to Mission Bay Beach, which offers a relaxed beachside vibe and a seaside promenade — a wonderful place for a stroll.
A slightly longer drive will take you to the Waitakere Ranges, which surrounding the city to the west, and pristine sub-tropical rainforest.
Rotorua is an inland city that is famous for its geothermal activity, Maori culture experiences, 18 lakes, and three major rivers in a beautiful natural environment.
Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists. Its geothermal activity, featuring geysers and hot mud pools, are world renowned. This thermal activity is created by the Rotorua Caldera, over which the town is built.
In Te Puia’s Whakarewarewa Valley, there are bubbling mud pools and the 30m-tall Pohutu Geyser, which erupts many times daily. Its also home to a living Maori village and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, with traditional wood carving and weaving schools.
Rotorua was one of the first places in the country to host tourists who came to experience the healing properties of the geothermal waters.
Napier is a beautiful coastal city on the East Coast of Aotearoa’s North Island. It is your gateway to the renowned wine-producing region of Hawke’s Bay and its array of gourmet delighting food and wine experiences.
Rebuilt after a 1931 earthquake, the city is known for Art Deco landmarks like the zigzag-patterned Daily Telegraph Building. Few places in the world have such a broad representation of the stripped classical, Spanish Mission, and art deco architectural styles within such a confined area. So, the city has deservedly become known as an Art Deco Capital.
Along the tree-lined waterfront promenade of Marine Parade, there is a statue of a Maori maiden, ‘Pania of the Reef’. Pania is an iconic symbol of the city and pointer to a rich cultural heritage. And the beautifully transformed Marine Parade is well worth a stroll.
Napier and the surrounding region is a food and wine lover’s delight. It is home to many fine wineries (including the historic Mission Estate & Te Awa Winery), fabulous restaurants, bars and cafes. The boutique shops are a must visit and the region boasts many artisan food producers.
Soak up the relaxed, Mediterranean vibe of this stunning region.
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city and the location of our parliament. Located at the bottom of the North Island it sits on the Cook Strait, which divides the North and South Islands. Strong winds through the Cook Strait give it the nickname “Windy Wellington”.
It is a vibrant and compact city, with a beautiful waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and some lovely turn of the century, timber houses on the steep hills it features. From Lambton Quay, the iconic red Wellington Cable Car heads to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
Wellington is home to New Zealand’s National Museum, Te Papa, and bespoke art and creative pursuits thrive in this city. Couple this with a strong café and restaurant culture and you have an interesting and unique little city to explore.
Blenheim sits in the heart of the wine-growing Marlborough region. It is known as one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand. Mountains frame the area and trap the summer heat (temperatures over 30°C are quite normal in February and March).
Rows of vines thrive in this environment and produce the majority of New Zealand’s famous Sauvignon Blanc.
In and around Blenheim you’ll find an array of cafes, restaurants, wineries, bars, shops, artisan food outlets and golf courses along with popular walkways along the Taylor River Reserve.
Aircraft enthusiast are in for a treat. A 10 minute drive from the railway station and you will be outside enormous airport hangers, about to enter a world of flight and excitement. Omaka Aviation Heritage is home to Peter Jackson’s personal collection of WW1 planes and memorabilia.
Christchurch is an fascinating city to explore. It was once a historic garden city. Since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes it has turned into a fascinating city of regeneration and growth.
The central city is filled with cutting-edge architecture alongside some of the oldest buildings in New Zealand. But Christchurch is constantly evolving, always giving locals and visitors something new to explore. Expect street art and innovative projects, a bustling hospitality scene and established green spaces.
The Avon River runs through the city, bringing a natural landscape to the urban environment. Cruise along the picturesque river on a flat bottomed punt. Take a ride on a historic tram through the city. With wonderful parks and botanic gardens to explore Christchurch is a great place to visit.
Tucked into the forested foothills of the Southern Alps is the cosy township of Fox Glacier. Focused around a 13-kilometre-long temperate maritime glacier, ‘Fox’ is in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of Aoteaoroa’s South Island.
Fox Glacier describes both the glacier and the nearby village. The town offers glacier hikes, flights, scenic walks and glow worm caves just a short walk from the town centre. And there is a good choice of cafes and restaurants.
Like its twin, Franz Josef, the glacier descends from the Southern Alps down into temperate rainforest just 300 metres above sea level.
Close to Fox is beautiful Lake Matheson, one of the most photographed lakes in New Zealand. On a clear day it reflects Mount Cook and features prominently in many New Zealand promotional images. The short walk that circles the lake is a local must-do, offering numerous photo ops.
Queenstown is a stunning resort town, renowned for its beauty and wealth of adventure activities, it sits on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Southern Alps mountains, Queenstown is also a base for exploring the region’s vineyards and historic mining towns.
Iconic adventure activities include bungee jumping off Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge and jet-boating on the Shotover and Dart rivers. And in winter, there’s skiing on the slopes of The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cardrona ski resorts.
Queenstown is a hub of adventure, thrumming with adrenaline and an buzzing with a carefree sense of fun. But extreme activities aren’t the only options here. This world-famous resort town and its surrounding area boast many things to see, do, eat, drink and explore. Something for everyone at any time of year.
Known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’, Dunedin is a city that wears its Scottish heritage with pride. The small city boasts some eye-catching architecture and is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.
A gaelic language namesake of ‘Edinburgh’, Dunedin sits at the end of a long picturesque harbour surrounded by dramatic hills. There is so much to see and do here. Stroll through the city and its heritage buildings. Visit intriguing museums and historic homes like Olveston. Experience the rare wildlife found in the spectacular landscapes that surround the city.
The nearby Otago Peninsula offers endless views and beautifully rugged beaches. Nestled at the foot of Taiaroa Head is the Royal Albatross Centre — the only place in the world on the mainland where you can view Northern Royal Albatross in their natural habitat.
You will also find other wildlife including colonies of the world’s rarest penguin on the Peninsula. On the beaches, you will find fur seals and sea lions just lazing around and enjoying their natural habitat.
Dunedin’s heritage even extends to a real castle, high on the hills of the Otago Peninsula. Larnach Castle is New Zealand’s only castle and a much-loved piece of Dunedin history.
There are few places on earth like Kaikōura. A small coastal village, with a relaxed beachside vibe, it has some stunning views of both mountains and sea. And it offers to enjoy the bounty of the sea whether eating local kai moana or encountering local sale sea life off the coast.
The nearby Seaward Kaikōura Mountains, a towering snow-clad mountain range, provide a stunning backdrop over the town centre. Meanwhile, the town extends out to the Kaikōura Peninsula, where the waves of the Pacific Ocean roll in.
These mountains rise to heights of 2600m. And the undersea canyon that comes to meet them, plunges to depths of over 1200m very close to shore. These two factors alone make Kaikōura unique.
Stand on top of a snow-capped mountain in the morning. Whale watch or dolphin / seal swim in the afternoon. Then take in a gorgeous sunset while feasting upon fresh seafood beside the sea.
Enjoy a very special view of the South Island’s striking natural landscape. Take the Tranz Alpine train between Christchurch and Greymouth. See epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest.
You’ll cross the remarkabley flat Canterbury Plains overlooked by the majestic Southern Alps before eventually crossing the aqua-blue Waimakariri River. Tunnels, viaducts and feats of railway engineering take you across alpine passes where you’ll then travel through lush lake valleys towards the West Coast of the South Island. This iconic train trip is the journey of a lifetime.
The TranzAlpine is acknowledged as one of the world’s great train journeys. The 223 kilometre (139 mile) one-way trip takes just under 5 hours and connects Christchurch and Greymouth on the West Coast via Arthurs Pass through the Southern Alps.
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