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Clinton River along the Milford Track, Fiordland, New Zealand

Wilderness Highlights of New Zealand

23-day tailor-made self-drive from £6,460 pp incl. flights


Short description

Discover the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand on this tailor-made self-drive


  • Explore iconic landscapes and the North and South Islands’ secluded beaches and forests
  • Superb marine life excursions available from Kaikoura, New Zealand's whale and dolphin-watching capital
  • Includes a spectacular TranzAlpine train ride through the Canterbury Plains and the foothills of the Southern Alps en route to Fox Glacier

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Bay of Islands
  • 1 Night Waipoua Kauri Forest
  • 1 Night Auckland
  • 2 Nights Coromandel
  • 2 Nights Rotorua
  • 1 Night Wellington
  • 2 Nights Abel Tasman
  • 2 Nights Kaikoura
  • 1 Night Christchurch
  • 1 Night Fox Glacier
  • 2 Nights Lake Moeraki
  • 2 Nights Queenstown


Recommended for:
Activity adventure | History & culture | Natural world | Self-drive

New Zealand's landscapes are truly spectacular. Verdant subtropical forests, miles of unspoilt coastline, shimmering turquoise lakes, plunging fjords, towering glaciers and soaring mountain peaks characterise the beauty of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud.

This 23-day tailor-made self-drive takes in some of New Zealand's most beautiful regions from the Bay of Islands, Coromandel and Rotorua on the North Island to Kaikoura, Fox Glacier and Fiordland on the South Island. We've even suggested some excursions to help you get off the beaten track and experience New Zealand in all its untamed natural glory.

Day by day itinerary

Days 1-2

Fly from the UK to New Zealand's largest city.

Days 3-4
Bay of Islands

Arrive in Auckland and make your way to the domestic airport for your flight to Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. On arrival, collect your hire car and drive to your accommodation in Opua. The remainder of your first day is at leisure.

The following day we recommend an optional fully-guided two-hour night walk in the Puketi Forest. At twilight, listen to the bird song changing as night descends, see the bats flying overhead and observe the nocturnal wildlife of the forest. If you're lucky, you might even spot a kiwi.

Stay: The Sanctuary @ Bay of Islands (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 5

Drive to Waipoua Lodge, a luxury homestead on the Kauri Coast. Spend today exploring the region, home to the oldest and tallest known kauri trees on earth. An optional guided walk in the company of the descendants of Kupe – the great chief of Hawaiki who arrived in New Zealand in 925AD – is a wonderful way to learn about the history, culture and nature of this wild corner of Northland.

Stay: Waipoua Lodge, Waipoua Forest (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 6

Depart Waipoua and drive south to Auckland. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring the City of Sails.

Stay: Hotel DeBrett, Auckland (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Days 7-8

After a leisurely breakfast depart Auckland and head east to the Coromandel Peninsula. Check into your accommodation and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

The following morning we recommend an optional Kiwi Dundee Nature & Coast tour. The day starts with a walk through beautiful Kauri forest, full of fern trees and crystal clear streams. You'll see sparkling glowworms in old gold caves while enjoying a hike through the remnants of the region's mining days. Later in the day you'll explore the coast, taking in white sand beaches, magnificent cliffs studded with Pohutukawa trees, old Maori pa sites and beautiful offshore islands before finishing, tide permitting, at Hot Water Beach.

Stay: Grand Mercure Puka Park

Meals: B

Days 9-10

Drive from Coromandel to Rotorua, New Zealand's famous geothermal region, full of geysers, hot springs and volcanic mineral pools. Check into your accommodation and the rest of the day is at leisure.

The next day we recommend an optional Whirinaki Rainforest eco-cultural walk. Join your local Maori guide to commence a full day exploration of Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tane Conservation Park, one of the world’s last great remaining temperate rainforests. Hike over a dramatic canyon, through giant ancient tree species and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch beside a waterfall, before following the clear waters of a river as it winds through dense forest comprising of species dating back to the Jurassic era. Finish with an optional soak in one of Rotorua's famous natural hot springs.

Stay: Koura Lodge, Rotorua (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 11

Drive to Rotorua airport and return your hire car before boarding a flight to New Zealand's capital Wellington, at the very foot of the North Island. On arrival you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day exploring this cosmopolitan harbour city where a ride on the Wellington cable car and a visit to the Te Papa Museum are just two of the highlights.

Stay: QT Museum Wellington (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 12-13
Abel Tasman

Transfer to the Interislander Ferry Terminal for your Premium Plus ferry journey to Picton at the northern tip of the South Island. Collect your hire car in Picton and make your way to Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Spend a full day at leisure exploring the beautiful bays and beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park. White-water rafting, hiking, mountain biking and kayaking are just some of the activities on offer in this stunning coastal region. One four-course dinner is included in your stay.

Stay: The Resurgence, Nelson and Abel Tasman (Superior)

Meals: B D

Days 14-15

Depart Abel Tasman this morning and head to the eastern coastal town of Kaikoura, New Zealand's whale and dolphin-watching capital. Check into your accommodation and spend the rest of the day relaxing.

The next day you'll have a full day to discover Kaikoura and we recommend an optional Whale Watch excursion. Board your Whale Watch Kaikoura vessel at 'The Whaleway Station' to begin your cruise. Every cruise is different, but on a typical day you can expect to see New Zealand fur seals, pods of dusky dolphins and endangered wandering albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migratory humpback whales (June-July) and orcas (December-March).

Stay: Manakau Lodge, Kaikoura (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 16

Depart Kaikoura and continue south to Christchurch, the South Island's largest city. Return your hire car and spend the rest of the day exploring Christchurch.

Stay: The Classic Villa, Christchurch (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 17
Fox Glacier

A private transfer takes you to Christchurch railway station where you'll board the TranzAlpine Train to Greymouth. This spectacular four-hour jourmey is rightly considered to be one of the world's great train journeys, passing through the Canterbury Plains and the foothills of the Southern Alps to Greymouth on New Zealand's west coast.

On arrival in Greymouth, collect your hire car and head south towards Fox Glacier where you'll spend the night.

Stay: Misty Peaks, Fox Glacier

Meals: B

Days 18-19
Lake Moeraki

This morning, choose between an optional helicopter flight over Fox Glacier, or explore the area on foot on a Fox Trail Terminal Face Walk. Although you'll not walk on the glacier itself, you will see how this incredible force of nature has shaped the environment while enjoying stunning views of the ice wall looming above. After your chosen tour, drive along the scenic west coast to your accommodation on the shores of Lake Moeraki.

The following day you'll enjoy an included half-day nature walk with lunch. Enjoy a gentle walk along a beautiful yet rarely visited piece of coast where you'll discover rock pools, islands and coastal caves and perhaps see the world's smallest marine dolphin. Throughout the tour, keep an eye out for jade, wave-sculpted driftwood and other seaside treasures. 

Lunch is included on day 19 only.

Stay: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Days 20-21

Continue south to Queenstown in the heart of the Southern Alps, the final stop on your New Zealand holiday.

For your last full day in New Zealand we recommend an optional Lakeshore Forest & Bird Walk. This half-day walk combines the best of native flora and fauna with magnificent lake and mountain views. In its own microclimate, the flora is protected from the elements, so the species are much larger than elsewhere. Native birds are readily seen and heard in and around the edges of the forest and your guide will introduce you to an array of edible and medicinal plants used by Maori and European settlers.

Other worthwhile options include a thrilling jet boat trip along the Dart River followed by a guided walk with lunch through the Mount Aspiring National Park, or a guided day hike along the famous Routeburn Track, passing primeval forests, grand alpine meadows, meandering streams and majestic snowy mountains.

Stay: Arrowtown House Boutique Hotel, Queenstown (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 22-23

Return your hire car to Queenstown airport and board flight home, arriving in the UK on day 23.

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

23-day tailor-made self-drive from £6,460 incl. flights


Low Season

from £6,460 pp. incl. flights

High Season

from £6,755 pp. incl. flights


  • Complimentary UK airport lounge access
  • Return international flights between London, Auckland and Queenstown
  • Domestic flights between Auckland and Keri Keri and Rotorua and Wellington
  • 19 nights accommodation staying in 4* (Superior) hotels on a mix of B&B, half & full-board basis
  • 19 days medium car hire with GPS
  • Interislander ferry based on premium plus
  • Return private transfers in Christchurch
  • TranzAlpine train journey
  • Half-day guided nature walk at Lake Moeraki

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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Meet the team

Adjust your itinerary with our recommended extensions

Tall Ship Sailing

On-the-day excursion

Whether it’s climbing the rigging, manning the helm or simply taking time out with a fresh scone, sailing on a tall ship is a delightful experience

Twin Glaciers by Helicopter

On-the-day excursion

Take in both Franz Josef and Fox Glacier from up high before zooming in with a snow landing

Abel Tasman Discovery

On-the-day excursion

Enjoy the best of both worlds as you explore the Abel Tasman National Park on a cruise and choice of walking trails

Stewart Island

Three-day extension

Discover the unique wildlife and coastal geography of Stewart Island between catamaran cruises, scenic walks and island conservancy visits


Three-day extension

Explore the dramatic volcanology of the Tongariro region on sunset walks, white water rafts and its famed Alpine Crossing, returning each night to a comfortable suite for log cabin warmth

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0614 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

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