This imaginative itinerary offers the very best of New Zealand, incorporating well-known sights, national parks and renowned hiking trails. With your own 4x4 vehicle you’ll discover New Zealand’s exciting back country and at the end of each day return to comfortable accommodation.
- Coastal walkway and beaches of the Coromandel
- Volcanic landscapes of Tongariro National Park
- Abel Tasman's lush coastal forest and turquoise sea
- Rugged West Coast with rare birds and diverse flora
- Spectacular Fiordland and Milford Sound
- Southern Alps beautiful alpine scenery
The 25-day itinerary has been specially designed to include hikes in selected national parks and we even arrange transportation for you to and from the start and end of the walks so you don’t have to backtrack. To enjoy all the walks fully, you should be fit and ideally have previous mountain walking experience. However, the shorter walks can be enjoyed by most hikers.
Even though some of the walking may be rough underfoot, at the end of each day you’ll return to a comfortable bed for the night, staying in a mix of hotels, motels, lodges, guesthouses and homestay.
Exclusive to Discover the World clients
Book this 4x4 self-drive holiday and receive a free pre-programmed GPS unit and personalised holiday itinerary. Available on arrival this will be included as part of a comprehensive tour documentation pack which includes maps, off-road driving routes and descriptions and regional maps. This offer applies to this tour as well as our 22-day Real New Zealand and any tailor made 4x4 itineraries.
Itinerary & Accommodation
- Day 1 arrive Auckland
- You will be met on arrival and transferred to your accommodation.
- Days 2-3 Auckland - West Coast - Coromandel
(Average driving time: 3 hours)
Collect your 4x4 vehicle from the city depot. Explore Auckland’s fascinating west coast scenery. Highlights include Piha and the Muriwai Gannet Colony, as well as a choice of local vineyards. Head southeast and drive along the coast to charming coromandel town.
On day 3 you will be collected from your accommodation and taken to the starting point of the Coromandel Coastal Walkway, (grade 2, pre-booked). From Fletcher Bay begin your comfortable 3-4 hour self-guided trek. Afterwards enjoy a well-deserved swim in the ocean or bathe in a crystal clear creek.
- Day 4 Coromandel - Whangamata
(Average driving time: 2 hours | Wentworth Falls Track, grade 2, 2.5 hours)
At Hot Water Beach you can dig your own thermal pool at low tide or take the short walk from Hahei Beach to the amazing Cathedral Cove. Hike the Wentworth Valley to the waterfalls, and beyond if you are feeling energetic. Tonight you stay in a lovely B&B near Whangamata.
- Day 5 Whangamata - Rotorua
(Average driving time: 3.5 hours)
Travel along the east coast to Rotorua. Discover sparkling lakes, native and exotic forests, geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and the very best of New Zealand's Maori culture. You may wish to attend a 'hangi', and Maori cultural show this evening (optional).
- Day 6 Te Urewera National Park
Whirinaki Waterfall Track (grade 2, 3-4 hours)
Today's walk takes you through the Whirinaki Forest, an area of 60,000 hectares and one of the best preserved rainforests on the North Island. Rare birds like the kaka (parrot) and karearea (falcon) may be seen during today’s hike. After your walk you may like to relax in the thermal waters of the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua.
- Days 7-8 Rotorua - Taupo - Tongariro
(Average driving time: 4 hours)
Drive through the heart of the North Island and stop en route at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland or Waimangu Volcanic Valley before arriving in Tongariro National Park, renowned for its dramatic volcanic landscapes.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing (grade 4, 7-9 hours, pre-booked walk)
Today's walk on the Tongariro Crossing is acknowledged as one of the best day hikes in the world, providing the opportunity to view colourful craters, lakes and bubbling hot pools. The track takes you through various vegetation zones, from alpine bush to Tussock grass, on to barren highlands and down again to lush Podocarp forest. You will be picked up at the end of your walk. Alternatively, for an easier walking option, you can choose to take part in a guided sunrise walk on My Ruapehu.
Overnight in the Mt Ruapehu region (2 nights)
- Day 9 Tongariro - Wanganui - Wellington
(Average driving time: 5.5 hours)
Via Raetihi your journey continues to Pipiriki and along the Whanganui River, the most beautiful river on the North Island. Follow the course of the river along the Old Whanganui River Road to Wanganui and on to Wellington, where a visit to the National Museum, Te Papa, is highly recommended.
- Day 10 Wellington - Marlborough Sounds - Queen Charlotte Sound
- Drop off your vehicle and board the ferry to Picton. On arrival you will be transferred by water taxi to your accommodation in Queen Charlotte Sound. You may like to do an afternoon walk in this stunning part of the South Island.
- Day 11 Queen Charlotte Sound
Queen Charlotte Walk (grade 2, 2-3 hours, pre-booked walk)
Explore the Marlborough Sounds by boat and on foot. Your excursion includes water taxi transfers as well as a self-guided hike on the famous Queen Charlotte Track. Enjoy the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds' coast - a magical place for exploring.
- Days 12-13 Queen Charlotte Sound - Abel Tasman
(Average driving time: 3 hours)
Transfer back to Picton by boat and then pick up your rental car before driving the scenic route along Queen Charlotte Drive and the bays and beaches of the Marlborough Sound. Arrive in Abel Tasman National Park where you have a 2-night stay.
Abel Tasman Coast Track (grade 1-3, 4 hours, pre-booked walk)
A boat takes you along the coast to Abel Tasman National Park to a bay for the start of your walk. Here you can walk through lush coastal rainforest, native bush and on golden sandy beaches. After your walk the boat will pick you up from another bay.
- Day 14 Abel Tasman - Paparoa National Park/Punakaiki
(Average driving time is 6 hours)
The drive along the winding Buller Gorge takes you to the wild West Coast. A side trip to Westport and Cape Foulwind's seal colony is worthwhile and the curious blowholes and pancake rocks of Punakaiki are fascinating.
- Day 15 Punakaiki
Pororari River Track (grade 2, 3 hours)
Enjoy a wonderful walk today through a river valley and gorge with dramatic cliffs and dense subtropical forest with rare birds. There is a good picnic area and swimming spot along the way. Bizarre rock formations at the coast and the subtropical climate with plenty of sun and rain are responsible for the diverse flora. Insiders consider this to be the best National Park in New Zealand.
- Day 16 Punakaiki - Westland National Park/Franz Josef
(Average driving time: 4 hours)
Continue south to Franz Josef, where you stay overnight. Glaciers, rainforest and coast are close together in Westland National Park. The many different shades of green of the dense rainforest will amaze you. There is a lot to see and do in this region. Perhaps take a jet boat tour in Whataroa to the White Heron Colony or visit Okarito on the coast and enjoy a kayaking trip through this quiet lagoon. Helicopter flights with glacier landings are possible from Fox or Franz Josef Glacier.
- Day 17 Westland National Park - Haast Pass - Lake Wanaka
(Average driving time: 4.5 hours) | Mount Iron, Wanaka (grade 1, 1.5 hours
We recommend a stop at Ship Creek Walk and a side trip from here to Munro Beach. During the months of October to December you may be lucky enough to see penguins and hector's dolphins playing in the sea. Drive over the Haast Pass, a scenic drive with many opportunities to stop and explore, and onto Lake Wanaka. After the long drive the easy walk to the top of Mount Iron will reward you with a 360 degree view to the Southern Alps.
- Day 18 Lake Wanaka - Mt Aspiring National Park
Rob Roy Glacier Track (grade 2-3, 4-5 hours)
This great track starts in beautiful Matukituki Valley at a swing bridge. The walk enables easy access to a spectacular alpine region with snowfields, glaciers, steep cliffs and waterfalls.
- Day 19 Wanaka - Fiordland National Park/Te Anau
(Average driving time: 3.5 hours)
Travel across the Crown Range to Lake Wakatipu and then through rural countryside onto Te Anau. This little town is known as the "walking capital of the world" and its glowworm caves are another local attraction.
- Day 20 Te Anau-Milford Track
Milford Coach, Cruise and Walk Day Tour (grade 2-3, 5-6 hours, pre-booked walk, operates Nov-Mar)
Enjoy a leisurely, small group day trip to Milford Sound, including a boat cruise along the full length of the fiord to the Tasman Sea. Choose from either a series of short walks and exploration with a friendly, local nature guide or 2.5 hours hiking (unguided) on the renowned Routeburn Great Walk to Key Summit.
Overnight in Te Anau
- Days 21-22 Te Anau - Queenstown
(Average driving time: 2.5 hours)
The relatively short drive back to Queenstown gives plenty of time to further explore Fiordland National Park, then drive along Lake Wakitipu to Queenstown where you will stay for the next two nights.
With time a leisure, enjoy a range of adrenalin-focused activities or, alternatively, relax with a walk in the Remarkables mountains, play golf or visit the gold-mining town of Arrowtown.
- Day 23 Queenstown - Mount Cook
(Average driving time: 4 hours) | Hooker Valley Track (grade 2-3, 2-4 hours)
Via the wilderness of Central Otago and across the Lindis Pass you reach the foot of Aoraki, Mt Cook. Your walk here starts in Mount Cook Village and takes you over two swing bridges to a viewing point with amazing views to Mount Cook and the glaciers. No less interesting is the side trip from Omarama to the Clay Cliffs. The bizarre rock formations change colour depending on the time of day. Overnight is spent in Mount Cook Village.
- Days 24-25 Mount Cook National Park - Lake Tekapo - Christchurch
(Average driving time: 5.5 hours)
At the end of your holiday enjoy a scenic flight over lakes and alps or drive to the top of Mount John near Lake Tekapo and enjoy the amazing views. Your drive takes you along the foothills and over the endless wide Canterbury Plains to the city of Christchurch. Take a walk through Hagley Park and along the Avon River. Enjoy the many cafes and restaurants and take advantage of a last opportunity to purchase some souvenirs.
The following day, return your rental vehicle to the airport and depart.
Hikes are graded 1-5. Grade 1 is easy, while grade 4 is suitable for experienced hikers with a good level of fitness and grade 5 is for experts.
It is possible to include a REST NZ add-on either before, during or after your chosen REST itinerary. These add-ons provide access to some truly authentic Kiwi experiences and let you visit the lesser-known New Zealand, without the crowds of tourists.
The REST NZ add-ons are designed to be built into regular REST NZ itineraries. The add-ons connect classic tourist locations, such as Auckland, Rotorua and Napier or Dunedin and Queenstown.
You simply combine an add-on (or as many as you like) with your main itinerary to guarantee an authentic New Zealand experience in between the better-known centres.
We are happy to adjust the add-on to perfectly fit in with your tour - please talk to one of our accredited Kiwi Specialists for further information.
A variety of accommodation options are included in this holiday. Please contact us for further details.
ExcursionsA number of walks are included in this itinerary. Your Travel Specialist will be able to advise on additional or upgraded excursion options to suit your interests.
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Prices & Dates
This tour can depart daily, year round, though the recommended months are November to April.
Prices in £ per person
Valid from 01/04/18 -15/09/18
|Go Rentals 4x4 + Value hotels||£3,002|
|Budget IFAR 4x4 + Standard hotels||£3,173|
Valid from 16/09/18 -31/03/19
|Go Rentals 4x4 + Value hotels||£3,344|
|Budget IFAR 4x4 + Standard hotels||£3,706|
● Go Rentals - 4x4 vehicle (Toyota RAV 4 or similar)
● Budget IFAR vehicle (Toyota RAV 4 or similar)
Meet and greet on arrival in Auckland ● Interislander Ferry ● Transfer to the Coromandel Coastal Walkway ● Transfer to/from the Tongariro Alpine crossing ● Optional guided sunrise walk on Mt Ruapehu ● Boat transfer to the Queen Charlotte Track ● Boat transfer in Abel Tasman National Park ● Milford Coach, Cruise and Walk Day Tour ex Te Anau ● Vehicle rental (based on either Go Rentals vehicles, models 1-6 years old) or Budget Rentals vehicles - including unlimited kilometres & vehicle insurance subject to an insurance excess ● Comprehensive travel documentation including personalised Tour Manual, detailed driving instructions and recommended activities, New Zealand road atlas and map, and regional brochures ● Interislander ferry ● Twin/double Value or Standard category accommodation in a mix of hotels, B&B's and homestays, all with private facilities
International or domestic flights and airport taxes ● Fuel and vehicle insurance excess waiver fee ● Optional extra activities ● Additional vehicle rental charges ● Tips and gratuities ● Travel insurance
Please note that only Go Rentals vehicles travel on the Interislander Ferry.
All holidays and prices are subject to availability. These prices are a guideline and are subject to change depending on exchange rates. Prices quoted are based on 2 people sharing. Other accommodation options (eg Superior or Deluxe) available on request.
Flights and Stopovers
We quote flight prices based on individual requirements to allow for the extensive choice of routes and fares available. Our team will be happy to provide a tailor made quotation.
International flight prices from London to New Zealand start from £702 per person
For further information on flight options, please click here »
For further information on stopover options, please click here »
We pride ourselves on our ability to tailor make holidays for our clients. Please let us know if you have any specific requests.
How to book
So that we may send you a personalised quote and confirmation of availability, please click on the link below and complete our Enquiry form. One of our Travel Specialists will then be in touch to complete your booking or answer any further questions you might have.
We will always offer the best price available at the time of booking and guarantee no surcharges - see our 100% Guarantee for full details.
Speak to a specialist: 1-844-584-0668Book this trip
Our team of Travel Specialists have extensive first-hand knowledge of our destinations and are passionate about travel.