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This 10-day New Zealand driving holiday offers an excellent overview of both islands at a relaxed pace.
Travel from Auckland to Christchurch, visiting Rotorua, Wellington, and Kaikoura along the way. Highlights include the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, a Maori cultural experience at a geothermal reserve including a hangi dinner, and a whale watching scenic flight.
Read on for the full details of the 10 Day Taste of New Zealand driving holiday.
Arrive in Auckland – the “City of Sails” is New Zealand’s largest city and is bordered by two stunning harbours. Collect your rental car from the airport and make your way to your accommodation.
Relax in Auckland today. Your options include visiting the Sky Tower, the Auckland Zoo, or Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium; venturing to one of Auckland’s stunning beaches or West Auckland wineries, or doing a spot of shopping.
Stay 1 night in Auckland City.
Driving time Auckland to Matamata 160 km / 99 miles, 2 hours
Make your way to Matamata to discover the real Middle-Earth on the most picturesque private farmland. Near Matamata, visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from the Lord of the Rings films in a fascinating two-hour guided tour. The set has been completely rebuilt and will remain as it was seen in the films. There are spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills of the movie set, which is still a working sheep and beef farm. You can relax and soak up the unique atmosphere with a great cup of coffee or a light meal in The Shire’s Rest Café.
Driving time Matamata to Rotorua 187 km / 116 miles, 2.5 hours
In the afternoon, enjoy the scenic journey to Rotorua, distinguished by Maori culture and geothermal activity. This diverse city will put on a display as you encounter geysers, mud pools, steaming craters and 16 beautiful lakes.
Stay 2 nights in Rotorua.
Relax and explore Rotorua today as you stroll through Hell’s Gate to view a steaming thermal reserve with mud pools, craters and activities including the chance to try Maori weaving and wood carving. After this, the geothermal waters of the Hell’s Gate Sulphur Spa will rejuvenate and refresh you, as you relax and take in the surreal surroundings of the wondrous geothermal landscape.
In the evening, enjoy a Maori Cultural Experience including a Hangi Dinner. Hear stories and learn how Maori traditions live on today. Experience an authentic Maori welcome. Watch a challenge by the Maori warriors, a karanga (call) from the Maori women welcoming you onto the marae, and a whaikorero (welcome speech). Relax and enjoy the beautiful waiata (songs), the world renowned haka (challenge), and the elegant poi dance. Learn Maori customs including Maori musical instruments, haka and poi. The dining experience is a culinary opportunity like no other. Following dessert, you will be transported down into the valley to conclude your evening beside the awe-inspiring Pohutu geyser.
Driving time Rotorua to Taupo 76 km / 47 miles, 1 hour
Enjoy the short drive south to Taupo, a township which is rich in natural beauty and filled with attractions such as the Huka Falls, New Zealand’s most visited attraction. Keeping with the water theme, Taupo is a great lake for trout fishing, boat cruises, water-skiing, sailing and kayaking. The Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, which can only be seen from the water, make for a great boat trip or kayaking excursion. The forests surrounding the lake offer hiking and mountain biking to suit all levels of experience.
Stay 1 night in Taupo.
Driving time Taupo to Wellington 375 km / 233 miles, 4.5 hours
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, has so much to offer. Set on the edge of a stunning harbour, surrounded by rolling hills, it’s a city rich in culture waiting to be explored. From shopping and picturesque walks to live theatre, exhibitions, Te Papa Tongarewa: the Museum of New Zealand and more – Wellington has something for everyone.
Wellington’s top attractions include Te Papa, Weta Workshop, Wellington Cable Car, Mt Victoria Lookout and Wellington Zoo.
Stay 2 nights in Wellington.
Relax and enjoy Wellington City for the day. You may like to visit Zealandia, located a 10- minute drive from downtown Wellington. Hidden in a suburban valley, this project aims to return a 225-hectare section of bush to its pre-human state. Take a walk and hear the songs of the flourishing native bird population.
This afternoon you may like to try the visually stunning Makara Peak track, as well as the City to Sea walk where you can experience the best of Wellington’s waterfront. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city and enjoy an ice cream at the top.
You also have the option to add on a Wellington Explorer Tour or Lord of the Rings Tour.
Sailing time Wellington to Picton 70 km / 43 miles, 3 hours
Driving time Picton to Kaikoura 156 km / 97 miles, 2 hours
It’s all about the journey today as you continue your holiday and board the Interislander Cook Strait Ferry, which will transport you on a scenic cruise to Picton. Enjoy the coastal drive along the East Coast to Kaikoura.
In the afternoon, experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a Whale Watch Scenic Flight to view the majestic Sperm Whales off the Kaikoura Coast.
Stay 1 night in Kaikoura.
Driving time Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs 134 km / 83 miles, 1.5 hours
Travel on to Hanmer Springs, a year-round holiday destination offering a variety of outdoor activities and of course the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. Visitors have been travelling to bathe in the rejuvenating mineral pools for over 120 years! Relax in open-air thermal pools and de-stress with spa therapies.
Stay 2 nights in Hanmer Springs.
Relax in Hanmer Springs today, and experience the adrenaline rush of going 80 km per hour, skimming the river below, with Thrillseekers Jet! Cut corners as turquoise snowmelt churns out behind you, and experience 360° spins while you travel up the stunning Waiau Gorge.
Driving time Hanmer Springs to Christchurch 133 km / 82 miles, 2 hours
At your leisure, travel to Christchurch today. Relax and explore New Zealand’s Garden City in the afternoon.
Option to add on one or more of Christchurch’s top attractions including the Tram, Gondola, Punting on the Avon or the Botanical Gardens Tour.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Drop your rental car off at Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch.
We offer a range of 10-day New Zealand holiday packages. If this itinerary doesn’t match what you are looking for, we recommend browsing our other options for inspiration.
Our New Zealand holiday packages are fully customisable. In other words, we can change the schedule, inclusions, and accommodation level to suit your preferences.
Another option is to book a domestic flight between the two islands to cut down on driving time. For instance, the 10 Day Iconic New Zealand Holiday Package packs in countless highlights at a more relaxed pace.
Your personal travel consultant will help decide which itinerary is best for you–and tailor it to match exactly what you want.
Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning your unforgettable New Zealand driving holiday.
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