The 11-day New Zealand Highlights self-drive is a compact yet scenically and culturally rich sampling of some of New Zealand's most popular destinations. They include: Auckland - Rotorua - Christchurch - West Coast - Glaciers - Queenstown.
Below is a brief trip summary. For any questions, details on optional activities, driving times, and a quote on this itinerary, please contact one of our Travel Consultants. Pricing includes pre-booked accommodation, rental car and insurance, pre-booked activities as selected, and a comprehensive packet of personalized trip notes, road atlas, and more. See Self-drive Tour Pricing on our Dates & Rates page for details.
Day 1: Welcome to New Zealand!
After your transfer to your central city accommodation from Auckland Airport, a Black Sheep Touring Co. representative will meet you there to take you through your tour documents, explain your rental car pick-up, and to give advice on travel and driving in New Zealand. The remainder of the day is free to relax from your journey and to explore the City of Sails.
Day 2: Auckland to Rotorua
Head south, through the rich farmland of the Waikato region to Rotorua, a cultural center for Maoridom and an active volcanic and geothermal region. Maori culture, spa rejuvenation and adventure activities, including some of the country's best mountain bike trails, are on offer here. Details on mountain bike hire are included in your self-drive packet and can be worked around other optional activities, including a range of Maori cultural and thermal experiences as identified by your Black Sheep Travel Consultant.
Day 3: Geothermal Adventure
Explore some of the regions most extraordinary geothermal features with a variety of optional add-ons: visit the active White Island volcano, take a float-plane flight over the impressive Mt Tarawera crater rift and steaming lakes, or visit a colourful and diverse thermal reserve featuring boiling mud pools and geysers.
Day 4: Rotorua to Christchurch (flight cost as advised)
This morning, drop your car at Rotorua airport and fly south to Christchurch, described as the most English of New Zealand's cities. Pick up your rental car and explore the city. Your trip notes will advise on Christchurch highlights so you can make the most of your day. Stay in the city this evening or upgrade to the special experience of a New Zealand farmstay. Black Sheep Travel Consultant has details.
Day 5: Christchurch to Punakaiki
Depart Christchurch and drive inland, over the glorious Southern Alps. Cross alpine rivers and wind beneath snow-capped peaks before descending to the wild and woolly West Coast region. Drive along stunning shoreline to your accommodation for the next two nights. Explore hidden tracks and natural features outlined in your trip notes and enjoy the bounty of talented craftspeople here.
Day 6: Taking the Underground
This part of the South Island is honeycombed with intricate cave systems which can be explored in a choice of ways, from scenic caving to adventure caving to New Zealand's renowned and unforgettable cave rafting. Your Black Sheep Travel Consultant can advise on the options for this day, including above-ground alternatives.
Day 7: Punakaiki to the Glaciers
This morning is a spectacular drive to New Zealand's glacier region where you'll be based for the next two nights in comfortable alpine accommodation. Before dinner, stroll beneath a thick canopy of old-growth rainforest on one of the prettiest little walking tracks in New Zealand.
Day 8: Adventures on Ice
Your trip notes recommend the best way to make the most of this spectacular region. Walk along the glacial riverbed to view the impressive terminal face of Fox Glacier and explore additional trails through neighbouring ancient rainforest. Optional activities allow you access to the glacier, including a variety of glacier hikes and a heli-flight that lands you on the neve.
Day 9: Queenstown Bound
Walk around a forest-rimmed lake created by retreating glaciers long ago before embarking on a stunning drive to Queenstown. Your trip notes identify sensational hidden walks and scenic stops along the way. Dense rainforest gives way to the stark mountains of the Mt Aspiring National Park as you enter the Otago region, New Zealand's outback and home to its high country sheep stations. Queenstown, resting on beautiful Lake Wakatipu and flanked by the aptly named Remarkables mountain range is a stunning setting in which to stay for your remaining two nights.
Day 10: Queenstown
Queenstown is New Zealand's adrenalin center. There is a wide range of optional activities available, including jetboating, horse trekking, whitewater rafting, sky diving, four-wheel-drive adventures, and bungy jumping, or more leisurely pursuits such as walking, fishing and wine trails. Talk to your Black Sheep Travel Consultant about available options.
Day 11: Homeward Bound
Depending on your flight schedule, you'll have time to relax and make final purchases before dropping your rental car at Queenstown airport and traveling home or to your next destination. We're confident you'll leave New Zealand with an experience that will enrich your life for years to come and have you planning to return.