Essential Luxury New Zealand
14 Day Self Drive Touring Itinerary Starting in Auckland
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Essential Luxury New Zealand

A hand picked variety of luxury, adventure, excitement and relaxation awaits on this luxury countrywide suggested itinerary. From volcanoes to wine, luxury coastal lodges to the finest city hotels. Enjoy New Zealand’s iconic landscapes and friendly locals as you tour the length of the country. Includes some fantastic food, wine and sightseeing experiences.

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Brief Overview & Inclusions

Self Drive Touring Itinerary

This suggested tour costs from NZD$25,735 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Queenstown

14 days/13 nights

Luxury Lodges

 Rental car included

 Viewed 47 times in the last 7 days

from (per person)
NZD$25,735
twin share/double
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Day by Day Itinerary
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 1
Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Welcome to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 28 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wētā Workshop Unleashed

Explore worlds of horror, sci-fi and fantasy in the making. An exciting, realistic, and authentic experience, with three fully developed and original film concepts: A nail-biting horror Fauna, a fantasy epic Age of the Ever-Clan, and the mind-bending sci-fi Origins.
A 90-minute guided experience through fully themed environments, including immersive horror, fantasy, and sci-fi story worlds. Be immersed by a specially-created unique sweeping cinematic soundtrack, animatronic creatures, physical and digital interactives, hyper-realistic sculpted giants and characters, a horror house experience, and much more.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - All Blacks Experience

See what it takes to make, shape and be an All Black. Experience first-hand the excitement and emotion of game day. Discover the stories behind some of world rugby’s most famous players, moments and matches.
This guided experience introduces you to the game of rugby before being lead through state-of-the-art displays combining sound, images, interactive technology and hands-on activities. Discover New Zealand’s deep passion for our national sport, experience the full force of the All Blacks haka, tackle interactive zones where you can try out your kicking, catching, line-out and accuracy skills against legendary All Blacks.

Your accommodation: Fable Auckland

Located right on Queen Street the Fable Auckland is boutique and stylish property with an ideal location to enjoy and explore the vibrant heart of the 'City of Sails'.
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 2
Collect your rental car.

We have an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles from the top suppliers. See the range here or chat with your consultant about special requests such as vehicle type, size or features.

Auckland to Rotorua

The drive south from Auckland takes you past the Bombay Hills and into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of greater Auckland area and it's here you turn inland to central Waikato. You’ll soon go through the town of Matamata where you can visit the fully intact Hobbiton film set used in the shooting of the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Continuing on, you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

Solitaire Lodge

Nestled on the shores of lake Tarawera, Solitaire Lodge offers guests the ideal blend of indulgence and adventure from a picture perfect setting. Luxurious and elegantly appointed with floor to ceiling windows and stunning panoramic views across the lake, guests can choose to relax in front of an open fire with a book from the library, enjoy the bar facilities or take a stroll in the expansive herb garden. Nearby is the Lodge’s private jetty with complimentary use of the lodge’s kayaks, motorised dinghies and trout fishing gear.
Each of the suites are styled for comfort and feature panoramic views of the lake and volcano. Bringing the outdoors in, you are invited unwind and soak up the peace and quiet of this tranquil setting.
 

Your accommodation: Solitaire Lodge

Solitaire Lodge Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s premier luxury lodges, enjoys breathtaking views over Lake Tarawera, with lush natural bush and volcanic landscape backdrop. The subtle design brings the outdoors in, inviting you to unwind and soak up the peace and quiet of this tranquil setting. Minutes from this iconic resort you will discover a multitude of activities.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 3
Mount Tarawera & Orakei Korako Thermal Explorer by Helicopter

Combine the thrill of landing on Mount Tarawera with a flight that includes spectacular aerial views of Rotorua's stunning crater lakes, the renowned Tarawera Falls and the vibrant Waimangu and Wai-O-Tapu geothermal reserves.
Leaving Wai-O-Tapu, descend to follow the Waikato River to the hidden valley of Orakei Korako. Once landed, you will ferry across the river and begin your land-based tour. Experience hot springs, gushing geysers and the natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland. The return flight takes in views of farmland and the Paeroa mountain range before flying over Rotorua City and returning to the lakefront pier.

Your accommodation: Solitaire Lodge

Solitaire Lodge Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s premier luxury lodges, enjoys breathtaking views over Lake Tarawera, with lush natural bush and volcanic landscape backdrop. The subtle design brings the outdoors in, inviting you to unwind and soak up the peace and quiet of this tranquil setting. Minutes from this iconic resort you will discover a multitude of activities.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 4
Rotorua to Napier

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.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

With spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, nestled among 6,000 acres of rugged  coastal farmland, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers offers a multitude of activities within a five-star luxury setting. Offering many comfortable spaces to relax and unwind, including an intimate snug, stylish lounges, outdoor conservatory areas - there is no better way to take in this picturesque landscape.
Choose from a range of leisure facilities such as: a heated infinity pool and jacuzzi, spa treatments with beautiful forest and ocean views, a world class  golf course and clubhouse and a  fully equipped gym, offering yoga, pilates, golf specific fitness and personal training.
The Farm is also home to some of the best trails in the north island, from independent forest walks to ocean stroll or guided farm tours - pack a picnic and set off on an afternoon of outdoor fun. Also on offer are mountain, bikes, quad bikes and horse treks for the more adventurous traveller.

Your accommodation: Rosewood Cape Kidnappers Hawkes

Located in Hawke's Bay, one of New Zealand's most important wine districts, Cape Kidnappers has a rich history. The Farm is a five-star experience set on a 6,000-acre sheep and cattle farm which encompasses land reminiscent of Montana but plunges 800 feet straight into the sea. A championship golf course designed by Tom Doak is just one reason to experience The Farm.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 5
Private Luxury Wine Tour including lunch

A tour designed for those who are looking for a more intimate experience of renowned Hawke's Bay wineries. Learn about the local yield and the region's long viticultural history, and indulge in a two course gourmet lunch. Taste classic varieties such as Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris Viognier, Semillon and Riesling. There will also be an opportunity to taste sherry, port and dessert reds.

Your accommodation: Rosewood Cape Kidnappers Hawkes

Located in Hawke's Bay, one of New Zealand's most important wine districts, Cape Kidnappers has a rich history. The Farm is a five-star experience set on a 6,000-acre sheep and cattle farm which encompasses land reminiscent of Montana but plunges 800 feet straight into the sea. A championship golf course designed by Tom Doak is just one reason to experience The Farm.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 6
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton

The rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay leads you into some of New Zealand’s richest farmland, located around the Manawatu region. Passing along the Manawatu Gorge the Wairarapa welcomes you. Masterton is home to the golden shears sheep shearing competition while just further south Greytown boasts the largest concentration of historic wooden buildings in the country.
Nearby Martinborough is home to dozens of boutique wineries. The route takes you over the Rimutaka Range and along the magnificent natural harbour that the capital city of Wellington sits upon.

Your accommodation: Naumi Hotel Wellington

Naumi Studio Wellington, an iconic heritage landmark in the heart of the Cuba Street precinct. After an extensive renovation, this 116-room property has transformed into visual feast for the senses, enthralling guests with eclectic spaces inspired from seafaring, the library world and enduring love.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.1 hours

Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 7
Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton with exclusive access to the Premium Plus Lounge

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 is a remarkable photographic opportunity. At the end of Queen Charlotte Sound the cruise comes to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.
When you're not out on the deck enjoying the amazing views, you can retreat to the exclusive Premium Plus lounge which is the most comfortable and relaxing way to travel across the Cook Strait. You'll enjoy complimentary beverages, light snacks, lunch or breakfast, internet access, magazines and newspapers and the most comfortable seating, so you can sit back and enjoy the journey.

Collect your rental car.

We have an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles from the top suppliers. See the range here or chat with your consultant about special requests such as vehicle type, size or features.

Your accommodation: Sennen House, Picton

This magnificent 2-storey villa is one of Picton's original colonial homesteads. Extensively restored, Sennen House offers guests a truly unique accommodation experience, set in 5 acres of National Trust protected native forest and grounds, yet only a short stroll to Picton's restaurants, shops, ferries and foreshore.
Meals included: Breakfast
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 8
Full-Day Beyond the Vines Wine Tasting Tour with Marlborough Wine Tours

Take in the sights of Marlborough's wine country scenery and taste some of the region's best offerings on this full-day tour from Blenheim. We visit 5-6 wineries on the tour to taste Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot Noir as well as some lesser known varieties from the area. One of the cellar doors will be a lunch venue - at your expense on the day. Our guides will take you on a journey through the region and you will taste many wines and learn so much more about wine production and our beautiful Marlborough region.

Your accommodation: Sennen House, Picton

This magnificent 2-storey villa is one of Picton's original colonial homesteads. Extensively restored, Sennen House offers guests a truly unique accommodation experience, set in 5 acres of National Trust protected native forest and grounds, yet only a short stroll to Picton's restaurants, shops, ferries and foreshore.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 9
Picton to Christchurch

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Half Day Guided Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds

The half day guided sea kayak trip is an ideal opportunity to fit a little kayaking adventure into a busy holiday itinerary. After a short safety briefing you'll be in the water, allowing you maximum time to enjoy the tranquil waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound. Starting at Ngakuta Bay you then paddle out of the bay and into Grove Arm. The sound is surrounded by bush-clad shorelines and sandy beaches. There will be a short stop to enjoy a light refreshment break along the way before returning to Picton.

It is important you read and understand the risks associated with this activity. For more information click here.

Your accommodation: The George Hotel

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award-winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. It also has an award-winning restaurant, 50 Bistro onsite.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 326 kms / 202 miles : 4.0 hours

Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 10
Christchurch to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.
Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue colour. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.
Please note: There are no food shops at Mt Cook, and dinner options are limited to one restaurant. If you wish to self-cater, you must stock up before arriving in Mt Cook, or make dinner reservations in advance.

Ultimate Alpine Adventure

On this flight you will have the chance to fly in both the Ski Plane and Helicopter in the same day. Flying through the remarkable Tasman Valley and landing on the snow covered peaks with this scenic option is an unforgettable experience! Depart from Aoraki Mt Cook Airport in either our Ski Plane or Helicopter. Enjoy the beautiful views of the many mountains surrounding the picturesque Tasman Valley as you fly through one of the most beautiful regions New Zealand has to offer. The icebergs dotting lake the blue glacier lake, the Hochstetter ice fall and the cloud piercing Aoraki Mt Cook are some of the stunning views you will encounter on your journey through the Southern Alps. After landing high in the mountains you will get to spend some time enjoying one of the many snow covered peaks that Aoraki Mt Cook National Park has to offer. With snow covered shoes you will then fly back to the Aoraki Mt Cook Airport in the either the Ski Plane or the Helicopter. Giving you the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent scenery of the park in both aircrafts, making this flight option a spectacular once in a life time opportunity.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Experience the best views in the park from the spacious top floor rooms of the magnificent Hermitage Hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 11
Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown

Leaving the alpine region of Mt Cook, you'll travel through the lakeside town of Twizel, then a little further to Omarama - the gliding capital of New Zealand. Continue on over the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand’s highest roads with a summit of 971 meters. Arrive in the quaint village of Tarras, then continue on a short way to the historic Bendigo Reserve, one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements.
Follow the road to Cromwell, and keep going through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Matakauri Lodge

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning panoramic views of the Remarkables, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just a short seven minute drive for the centre of Queenstown, Matakauri Lodge is a relaxing alpine retreat tucked into one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. The main lodge consists of a spacious lounge, dining and living areas complimented by large open fires. It also has a large patio, library and courtyard - all comfortable spaces to relax in. You can also take a swim in the pool or relax in the Jacuzzi, both offering spectacular views of the lake and mountainside.

Your accommodation: Rosewood Matakauri Queenstown

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views from every angle of the Remarkable, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just seven minutes from Queenstown the lodge provides an alpine lakeside retreat nestled in one of the world’s most serenely beautiful landscapes.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours

Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 12
Explore Queenstown

Well-known as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’, Queenstown is home to a range of adventures, from the world's first and most famous bungy jumps to jet boat thrills, white-water rafting, and skydiving. However, Queenstown offers far more than a fast-paced, action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic, and scenic wonders. Take a stroll through the beautiful lakefront parks and gardens, browse through market stalls on weekends, dine in wonderful al-fresco restaurants, or ride on the 100-year-old historic Steamship - TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. Take the Queenstown Gondola up to Bob's Peak and soak up the panoramic views of the magnificent lake and mountain ranges. And after all of that, if you do want the adrenaline rush, Queenstown is known for taking your pick from the Shotover Jet, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge, or Heli-ski.

Your accommodation: Rosewood Matakauri Queenstown

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views from every angle of the Remarkable, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just seven minutes from Queenstown the lodge provides an alpine lakeside retreat nestled in one of the world’s most serenely beautiful landscapes.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 13
Exclusive Milford Sound Heli Cruise

Breathtaking, magnificent and truly spectacular, a Milford Sound Heli Tour is a must do when visiting New Zealand. Descend through carved glacial valleys to Milford Sound where you'll join an informative cruise on the fiord itself. The unique character of Milford Sound is due to the huge volume of rainfall this region receives - resulting in a surreal world of moss, rainforest, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. You'll cruise the waterways carved by glaciers all the way to the wild west coast. On your return flight to Queenstown experience an alpine landing where you can step foot on pristine wilderness rarely seen by people. 

Your accommodation: Rosewood Matakauri Queenstown

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views from every angle of the Remarkable, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just seven minutes from Queenstown the lodge provides an alpine lakeside retreat nestled in one of the world’s most serenely beautiful landscapes.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Essential Luxury New Zealand - Day 14
Enjoy your final morning in Queenstown before driving to the airport for your onward flight

Take in the sights of Queenstown one more time before returning your car to the airport and catching your onward flight.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

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