The 14-day New Zealand Discovery self-drive is a wonderful two-week blend of the best scenic and cultural features from New Zealand's North and South Islands, taking routes less travelled. Destinations include: Auckland - Rotorua - Wellington - Marlborough - Nelson - West Coast - Glaciers - Queenstown - Milford Sound.
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, Wellington transfers, ferry and water taxi trips as detailed, a Milford Sound coach excursion, other 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!
Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your central city accommodation, where a Black Sheep Touring Co. representative will meet you to take you through your tour documentation, provide tips on driving and travel in New Zealand and advise you on your rental car pick-up. The rest of the day is free to explore the City of Sails. Your Trip Notes will provide suggestions on things to see and do.
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 Wellington
Depart Rotorua this morning and travel south via the spectacular Huka Falls and New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo. Your route takes you on the Desert Road, past the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, to Wellington, New
Zealand's picturesque capital city. Spend the evening enjoying the cultural features of this dynamic city.
Day 5: Wellington to Marlborough and Nelson
This morning, board your vessel and cross the Cook Strait to the South Island, gliding past the spectacular coastline of the Marlborough Sounds. Landing in Picton, collect your rental car and travel to the Marlborough wine region, renowned worldwide for its Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays. After tastings and perhaps a winery lunch (don't forget to choose your designated driver!), continue on to your accommodation in sun-drenched Nelson, pausing for a short hike through native beech forest along the way.
Day 6: Abel Tasman National Park
The Abel Tasman, with its temperate forest, aquamarine waters, and golden sand beaches, is arguably one of the most beautiful parks in the country. We recommend you join a special sea kayaking experience along the coast, ducking in and out of secluded bays, stopping to stroll along its beaches, and drawing in the tranquil beauty of the sea. Your Black Sheep Travel Consultant can advise on details and pricing and pre-book for you (recommended). Alternatively, you can spend the day hiking in the park.
Day 7: Nelson to Punakaiki
Head for the wild and woolly West Coast, making sensational scenic detours along the way. It's eyes on the road and hands upon the wheel as the route to Punakaiki hugs the coast, providing spectacular viewpoints of the Tasman Sea and lush, fern-clad coastline. After settling into your accommodation, the afternoon allows time to explore the area's features, including the Pancake Rocks and bounty of local craftspeople.
Day 8: 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 9: 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 10: Adventures on Ice
Your trip notes recommend the best ways 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 11: 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 12: 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 our Black Sheep Travel Consultant about available options.
Day 13: Milford Sound Nature Cruise
Today, we have included a coach excursion into spectacular Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. The journey to the fiord is one of the most scenic on which you could hope to travel. Letting someone else do the driving optimizes your ability to take in the scenery and you'll make brief stops along the way to explore nature's wonders. At Milford Sound, board your vessel and cruise the full length of the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea, passing alongside thundering waterfalls and fur seals basking on the rocks. Return by coach to Queenstown this evening or upgrade to a scenic return flight or overnight cruise (commenced on Day 12).
Day 14: 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.