Nature’s playground

A family trip to New Zealand is like vacationing in Middle earth (minus the Orcs). Therefore, a fitting start is a visit to Hobbiton, the charming outdoor movie set where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies were filmed. Continue to Rotorua and take a twilight forest walk suspended above giant tree ferns, looking for elves all the way. Next stop is Christchurch for your train ride over the glorious Southern Alps. A scenic caving trip on the West Coast reveals the blue fairy lights of glowworms. Further south are the magical rainforests and ice flows of the glacier region. Then head to New Zealand’s ultimate playground, Queenstown, for an adventure deep in Lord of the Rings country. Head home having had a very happy ending to your vacation.

Premier Stays
Price per person from
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All payment is in NZD. Pricing in other currencies is indicative based on the current exchange rate. Final payment amount is determined by your bank based on the latest conversion.
Classic Stays
Price per person from
  • NZD
  • USD
  • CAD
  • GBP
  • AUD
  • SGD
  • EUR
All payment is in NZD. Pricing in other currencies is indicative based on the current exchange rate. Final payment amount is determined by your bank based on the latest conversion.

Based on 2 adults and 2 children, 2 rooms double occupancy or as noted. Prices vary depending on season. Request Your Date for exact pricing and a range of activity add-ons.

Length11 days | 10 nights
DestinationAuckland to Queenstown

Premier Stays

Classic Stays

Classic Stays
Modern, well-appointed properties that provide a comfortable, convenient base from which to explore. Perfect for the region, they’re typically within easy access to cafes and other amenities.

Premier Stays
Quality lodgings in superb settings, from stylish lakeside lodges to restful alpine retreats. Note that in a few cases, Classic Stays are used on a trip classified overall as Premier to allow access to stunning, remote locations where Premier Stays are not available.

Luxe Stays
Exclusive, indulgent hideaways with exceptional facilities and service. The best in New Zealand (and perhaps the world). Note that in a few cases, Premier Stays are used on a trip classified overall as Luxe to allow access to stunning, remote locations where Luxe Stays are not available.

Special Stays
Some tours feature overnight cruises and multiple-day hikes, with stays in private lodges or Department of Conservation huts, for special wilderness experiences.


You’re comfortable on tracks with gently undulating terrain and can move comfortably and freely. Suitable for families with young children. Note, activity add-ons may change rating.

You enjoy walking/light hiking, can handle a hill or two, and appreciate life-affirming soft adventures that dip a toe outside your comfort zone.

You’ve got a bit of Kiwi in you and are ready to hit the hills and push yourself a little. Some of these trips include multi-day hikes that get you further into the wild. It’s not all Bear Grylls, though. You’re happy to enjoy a rewarding glass of pinot at day’s end.

This is an overall guide. Our trips include a range of activities across the spectrum. Request a Detailed Itinerary for more details on fitness levels needed for individual activities.

StyleSelf Drive

Small Group
Scheduled, guided adventures with just the right number of like-minded travellers to share in the laughs and make new friends.

Guided, professionally crafted trips with your own group and your choice of travel dates.

Self Drive
Self-guided, stress-free road trips with all the elements sorted for you. Our professionally crafted itineraries and booking team, your dates and travel companions.

Guided or self-guided, this is your personal New Zealand dream made manifest. A fully customized experience based on your passions, finessed with our professional planning.

Soft Adventure,

Daily Brief

Click on the orange icons to read about lodging along the way (not available on mobile). C=Classic, P=Premier, L=Luxe, S=Special Stays. Note accommodation may vary based on departure date. For hotel links and more information, Request a Detailed Itinerary above.

Welcome to New Zealand! You will be transferred to your central city accommodation, where a Black Sheep team member will meet you for an orientation about your trip and about driving in New Zealand. The remainder of the day is free to freshen up from your journey and to explore the city, including the fantastic waterfront area.


Head south through the rich farmland of the Waikato region to Hobbiton and tour the movie set from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies. Visit the Green Dragon Inn, Bag End and the party tree before continuing your journey to Rotorua. This afternoon or evening, visit the 100-year-old Redwood Forest for a magical treewalk, walking above giant tree ferns on a series of suspension bridges as you traverse between mighty redwoods. country’s best tracks, and more.


Rotorua is a a centre for Maori culture and a hotbed (literally) of geothermal activity. Explore its fascinating geology with a variety of optional add-ons: view boiling mud pools, hot lakes, and geysers; fly over the impressive Mt Tarawera crater rift; and more. A huge range of adventure and cultural activities are also available, including Maori performances, luging, farm shows and more.


Drop your car at Rotorua airport and fly south to Christchurch, described by some as the most English of New Zealand's cities. Explore the city—we suggest hiring a canoe to paddle on the Avon, visiting the International Antarctic Centre, complete with resident penguins, or visiting the Botanical Gardens.


Board the famous TranzAlpine train for a trip over the glorious Southern Alps to the wild and woolly West Coast. Pick up your rental car and take a short drive along stunning shoreline to your accommodation on the edge of the Paparoa National Park. Explore the blowholes and surge pools of the intriguing Pancake Rocks and hunt for treasures on the beach at your doorstep.


Beneath this part of the South Island is a maze of intricate cave systems. Explore one of these systems on a scenic caving trip, viewing delicate, unspoiled formations, magical glowworms and a secret rainforest entrance. For the more adventurous and slightly taller (min age 10 years), an upgrade is available to a Cave Rafting experience.


This morning, it's a spectacular drive down to New Zealand's glacier region. Walk along glacial riverbed to a viewing point near the impressive terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier. Additional walks in the area wind through old-growth rainforest. Optional activities include thrilling helicopter flights and heli-hiking adventures.


Continue south, on a spectacular roadtrip through the Mt Aspiring National Park. Your notes identify hidden lake, waterfall, beach, and forest walks along the way. Pause in the scenic lakeside town of Wanaka before crossing the Crown Range to your lodging in Queenstown. Head out and explore the town, alive with the thrill of imminent adventure.


Today is an exciting daytrip deep in Lord of the Rings territory. Travel to the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu for a thrilling jetboat ride up the Dart River Valley. Disembark on the river’s edge and board an inflatable canoe for a leisurely paddle back, visiting the spectacular, ice-blue water of the Rock Burn Chasm and riding over gentle rapids to your pull-out point in Paradise. Return to Queenstown this afternoon.


If you can dream it, you can do it in Queenstown, or so it seems. Because of the huge range of activities available, we’ve left the day free for you to pick and choose how you spend it, from adventures like ziplining, horse trekking, river rafting, or bungy jumping, to farm tours, hiking, biking, luging, and more, including an optional day trip to Milford Sound. We’re here to help you decide.


Depending on your flight schedule, squeeze in one last adventure, take one last walk, or buy one last t-shirt before reluctantly heading to Queenstown Airport to drop off your rental car and await your flight home. Realise the only time you’ve used your phone was to take pictures (hundreds of them).

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If you already have a dream in mind, our Travel Shepherds await the challenge of bringing it to fruition. Request a Custom Quote based on your interests.

Trip Inclusions

Of course, a successful road trip is more than just your hands on the wheel and the wind in your hair. See below for the inclusions in your Self Drive journey—inclusions that take the stress out of your trip, so all you have to do is worry about that hairdo.


All accommodation during your tour

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Hobbiton Movie Set tour
Redwoods tree walk
Tranzalpine train ride
Glowworm cave tour
Dart River Funyak Safari

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Included meals as outlined in your itinerary. Meal inclusions may change based on hotel availability.

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Premium wagon (Toyota Highlander or similar) with no-excess insurance and unlimited kilometres
Arrival transfer in Auckland
Arrival transfer in Christchurch
Transfer to Christchurch train station
TranzAlpine train journey

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Professional office staff to help plan every aspect of your trip
Detailed pre-trip information
Meet and greet by a Black Sheep team member upon arrival (Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown only)
Detailed Self Drive touring pack delivered on arrival
Background support from Black Sheep HQ
Flight assistance available

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Gear & Amenities

Stainless steel water bottle
NZ road atlas
Trip notes with detailed itinerary, directions, insider tips, dining and activity recommendations, and more

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New Zealand Wonderland
Self Guided
Self Drive