• Explore New Zealand

Explore New Zealand

Explore New Zealand on this wonderful 21 Day New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary. You’ll take in the beautiful Bay of Islands, our buzzing city of Auckland, Rotorua’s Maori Culture, along with our Art Deco and coolest little capital, Wellington!   In the South you will have the chance to cruise, walk or kayak in the Abel Tasman National Park before visiting our Green Globe community of Kaikoura to experience our marine life. Take the Tranzalpine Train, a world famous train journey over to the west coast and walk on the Franz Josef Glacier.   This itinerary keeps on giving with an amazing overnight cruise on Milford Sound and finally Dunedin, Edinburgh of the South.

Highlights: Bay of Islands Cruise, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Rotorua Sightseeing, Maori Cultural Performance & Hangi, Art Deco Walk, Interislander Ferry between Wellington and Picton, Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk, Whalewatch Cruise, Tranzalpine Train, Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk, Milford Sound Mariner Overnight Cruise and Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour.

Day By Day


Welcome to Auckland, the 'City of Sails'

Following your airport transfer, the remainder of the day is yours to explore.

The city of sails offers world-class shopping, restaurants and galleries which are encircled by wine regions, stunning beaches, pristine rainforest and the magnificent Hauraki Gulf.

Auckland City Hotel, Deluxe Room with Full Breakfast*

Erected in 1912, the building has been extended and transformed into a captivating boutique Hotel. Retaining its iconic facade with its ideal combination of inventive design and traditional efficiency, Auckland City Hotel has retained the character and charm of its past enhanced with a relaxing contemporary decor.

 *If you are arriving early from an International Flight, please see our team about pre-registering your room for guaranteed access on your arrival. (at additional cost)


Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 3.5 hours, 227km’s (141 miles)

Collect your Intermediate Sedan rental vehicle (Holden Cruze or similar) with all-inclusive insurance.

Passengers: 5
Bags: 2 x Large
Key Features: Automatic Transmission, 4 Door Sedan, Air Conditioning and Dual Airbags

Please contact us if you would like to upgrade your vehicle type to a larger vehicle or SUV/4WD (at additional cost).

The Bay of Islands is an island paradise comprising of 144 Islands with a handful of historic small towns. The stunning scenery, golden beaches and fresh seafood make it one of the best destinations in New Zealand. The Bay of Islands is also home to several historical attractions such as the Mission House and the Waitangi Treaty grounds, the birthplace of the nation.

Copthorne Bay of Islands Hotel, Standard Room with Full Breakfast

The base for discovering the beautiful Bay of Islands. This property is surrounded by native bush and the sparkling water of the bay. Conveniently located close by is the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, bush walks, a golf course and the small township of Paihia.


Paihia, Bay of Islands

Explore the Bay of Islands on your Discover the Bay cruise which includes dolphin, whale and birdlife viewing and travel through the world famous Hole in the Rock (conditions permitting).

In the afternoon, we suggest a visit Kerikeri’s Mission House, the country’s oldest house built by John Butler in 1821, and the Mission’s Stone Store dating from 1832, New Zealand’s oldest stone building. These wonderful buildings are regarded as the “Cradle of the Nation”, and are a must for all visitors to the Bay of Islands. Within minutes by car or an hour’s walk from the Kerikeri Basin car park is the 27 metre Rainbow Falls.


  • Cruise amongst the beautiful Bay of Islands
  • View the wildlife and birdlife and enjoy an Island stopover

Copthorne Bay of Islands Hotel, Standard Room with Full Breakfast


Paihia to Auckland

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 3.5 hours, 227km’s (141 miles)

Retrace your journey back to Auckland today, we suggest you travel via the west coast taking the Hokianga Harbour, Waipoua Forest and the Kauri Museum at Matakohe.

Auckland City Hotel, Deluxe Room with Full Breakfast

Erected in 1912, the building has been extended and transformed into a captivating boutique Hotel. Retaining its iconic facade with its ideal combination of inventive design and traditional efficiency, Auckland City Hotel has retained the character and charm of its past enhanced with a relaxing contemporary décor.


Auckland to Waitomo, Rotorua

Today’s Drive Time & Distance:
Auckland/Waitomo, 2.5 hours, 224km’s (139 miles)
And Waitomo/Rotorua, 2 hours, 139 km’s (86 miles)

Visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and enjoy a guided tour of over 250 metres of stunning underground scenery including the impressive Cathedral.  A boat trip will then take you through the spectacular Glowworm Grotto where you will glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Grotto, fascinated by these tiny glowworms that light your way.

Continue through to Rotorua, a volcanic wonderland and a place that is rich in Maori culture and history.


  • Explore the underground caves and starry wonderland of Waitomo Caves

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua, Superior Room with Full Breakfast

Set on the shores of Lake Rotorua, adjacent to the Polynesian Spa complex, Government Gardens and only a five-minute stroll to the city centre. Offering 248 well appointed rooms, many with superb views of Lake Rotorua and a 3.5 star Qualmark Hotel grading.



Your Rotorua Sightseeing Tour takes in four of Rotorua’s most famous attractions. Experience a guided tour of Te Puia, a place of Maori culture and a thermal wonderland of impressive geysers and boiling mud pools. At Rainbow Springs Nature Park enjoy a guided tour showcasing native wildlife including the New Zealand Kiwi. Then get a glimpse into New Zealand’s proud agricultural heritage at the Agrodome with an entertaining sheep show including a shearing display and sheep dog trial. And finally travel up the Skyline Gondola and take in the stunning views out over Rotorua.

In the evening, enjoy an authentic introduction to Maori culture leaving you amazed and in awe. Enjoy a traditionally cooked Hangi meal, culture performance and learn of their past, carvings and the moko (tattoo art).


  • Visit a Maori Village and learn about our Maori Culture through dance and music.   See displays of bone & wood carving, weaving and traditional Maori tattoo art.
  • Experience our geothermal wonderful including shooting geysers and bubbling mud pools
  • See our New Zealand Kiwi, along with various native bird species
  • Enjoy a entertaining sheep show, shearing display and sheep dog trial

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua, Superior Room with Full Breakfast


Rotorua to Taupo, Napier

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 3 hours, 220 km’s (136 miles)

On route to Napier today, stop in Lake Taupo and visit the Huka Falls.

Napier’s trademark is its Art Deco architecture built in the 1930s, following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that destroyed the city in 1931. Few places in the world have such a broad representation of the Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and Art Deco styles within such a confined area, which is why the city has deservedly become known as the Art Deco Capital.

To discover Napier’s story of history, architecture and the human spirit, join your guide for your two hour guided walking tour. Conducted by an accredited Art Deco Trust volunteer guide, your tour includes an “Art Deco Walk” booklet, a 30 minute audio visual presentation followed by a 1.5 hour walk. The tour finishes at the Deco Centre and is followed by the optional viewing of a 20 minute movie.


  • Take a guided walk through Napier, our Art Deco Capital and learn more about the city’s past and architecture.

Quest Napier, Studio Apartment with Cooked Breakfast Provisions

In keeping with the Art Deco style of Napier, the 1920’s facade of the hotel has been left intact and the front section of the Apartments has been lovingly restored to showcase the high stud ceilings and wooden floors of the era. It is interesting to note that the original building was one of the few in the city centre to survive the devastating earthquake of 1931 and subsequent fire. Quest Napier offers a range of Studio and One Bedroom Self Contained Apartments.  


Napier to Wellington

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 4.5 hours, 315km’s (195 miles)

Called the world’s ‘coolest little capital’ Wellington is known for its vibrant arts scene, world class café and restaurant culture. An easily walk to the downtown area and attractive waterfront, Wellington enjoys more cafes, bars and restaurants than New York City. A creative, cosmopolitan city, Wellington combines the sophistication of a capital with the warmth and personality of a village.

James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Terrace Room with Full Breakfast

Located in the heart of Wellington, minutes from the Cable Car, Parliament, and Lambton Quay’s shopping district and nearby to Te Papa & Westpac Stadium.  The hotel is known for its friendly, professional service and well-appointed accommodation for holiday travellers.  Two renowned restaurants & bars, conference facilities, a day spa & fitness room, an exclusive club lounge and complimentary Wi-Fi to complete the guest experience. 




Board your coach for the perfect introduction to Wellington City!  Experience the best attractions and must see landmarks of this vibrant city and get off the tourist trail. Gain a 360° view of the city from Mount Victoria, experience the rugged south coast seas and explore interesting quaint villages throughout the city. Take a ride on the famous cable car (optional extra at own cost) but most of all sit back and enjoy Wellington at its finest!


  • Explore our Capital City, taking in various attractions and landmarks including the Beehive & Government Buildings
  • Enjoy panoramic views across to the South Island from Mount Victoria

James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Terrace Room with Full Breakfast


Wellington to Picton, Nelson

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 2 hours, 133 km’s (82 miles)

Board your Interislander Ferry and cruise across the Cook Strait, through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton.   From Picton, travel through Blenheim to Nelson, a vibrant city.

The Christ Church Cathedral looks over the city streets where you will find boutique shops, art galleries and alfresco dining. Along Wakefield Quay, Nelson’s picturesque waterfront, you will find several restaurants with views across the harbour to the mountains.


  • Cruise across Cook Strait and into the gorgeous Marlborough Sounds to Picton

Rutherford Hotel, Premium Room with Full Breakfast

The hotel boasts a prime spot only minutes walk from Nelson’s landmark cathedral and main shopping district. Explore the great indoors and soak up the comforts of the hotel:  enjoy a leisurely lap in the pool, relax in the steamy sauna, or workout in the gymnasium. 


Abel Tasman Day Trip

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 1 hour, 61 km’s (38 miles) each way

Today you will travel to Kaiteriteri, an entry point to the Abel Tasman National Park. We have included an open pass to the park where you can choose to cruise the entire length of the park, or combine the cruise with a short or extended walk.


  • Discover the golden beaches, bays and coastline of the stunning Abel Tasman National Park

Rutherford Hotel, Premium Room with Full Breakfast


Nelson to Kaikoura, Christchurch

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 6 hours, 424 km’s (263 miles)*

Leaving Nelson today, take the coastal route through Kaikoura to experience the Whalewatch cruise.

Off the coast of Kaikoura is a marine environment so rich in nutrients that it attracts some of the most magnificent creatures. Among them the giant Sperm Whale, which can grow up to 20 metres in length and has the largest brain of any animal alive. Not only sperm whale, but also humpback whale (June and July), Orca (November to March), New Zealand’s own tiny Hectors Dolphin, the high spirited displays of the Dusky dolphins, New Zealand Fur Seals and the Royal Albatross are also on display.

Continue to Christchurch, which has re-emerged as a vibrant city following the 2010-2011 earthquakes.


  • Discover our marine wonderland with a cruise off the coast of Kaikoura, viewing sperm and humpback whales, hector and dusky  dolphins as well as New Zealand fur seals.

Chateau on the Park, Guest Room with Full Breakfast

Set amongst five acres of tranquil surroundings and amongst gorgeous gardens the Chateau on the Park hotel offers a welcome retreat for both leisure and corporate guests. The hotel is well located just minutes away from Westfield Riccarton Mall, the CBS Arena, Addington Business District, Hagley Park and the Christchurch Railway Station.


Christchurch to Greymouth, Franz Josef

Today’s Drive Time & Distance –2.5 hours, 177km’s (110 miles)

Leaving your car with the hotel, you will transfer by private vehicle to the Railway Station and board the Tranzalpine Train, one of the world’s great train journeys.

The train travels coast to coast through forests and farmland and over the spectacular Southern Alps. It offers the comfort of world class carriages and allows passengers to see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. The train then climbs into the majestic Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass National Park, before descending through lush beech rainforest to the West Coast town of Greymouth.

From Greymouth, collect your rental vehicle and travel south to Franz Josef.


  • Travel from the coast to coast, through tunnels, across farmlands, rivers and the Southern Alps onboard the Tranz Alpine Train.

Punga Grove, Studio Unit with Boxed Breakfast

Punga Grove is centrally located and just metres away from the Franz Josef shops, cafes, bars and tour operators. The property has a great rainforest setting. Punga Grove’s has a range of rooms offering fully equipped kitchens with ovens or hobs, microwave and fridge, direct dial phones in all units, most with modem compatibility, Sky TV and wifi access.


Franz Josef

Meet your guide this morning for your Glacier Valley Walk, where you will walk alongside the mighty Waiho River bed which follows the glaciers path of retreat in this remarkable landscape.  Near the terminal face, cross over the public barriers and access their exclusive trails, where after a brief climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing terminal face of the glacier.

Please note this trip does not take you onto the ice, but it does go right up to the ice, if conditions are safe to do so.


  • Take an informative guided walk to the terminal face of the Franz Josef Glacier

Punga Grove, Studio Unit with Boxed Breakfast


Franz Josef to Wanaka, Queenstown

Today’s Drive Time & Distance –5.5 hours, 352km’s (218 miles)

Travel south along the coast to Haast before turning inland through Wanaka, before skirting around Lake Wakatipu and arriving into Queenstown.

Heartland Hotel Queenstown, Standard Room with Full Breakfast

Your Swiss-style chalet in the hills. Perched above the town centre, the Hotel has a distinctive A-frame architecture which helps to create a traditional alpine atmosphere. Situated on Stanley Street, the Hotel is the ideal place to stay if you want to be close to all the action of Queenstown’s main centre, yet be elevated enough to take advantage of the spectacular views over lake Wakatipu to the mountains.



Today is at leisure.

Optional Activities:
Choose from a range of exciting tours from Jetboat Rides, Four Wheel Drive Tours, Horse Riding, Scenic Cruises, Farm & Cycle Tours then us know, we would be happy to offer our suggestions and recommendations.

Heartland Hotel Queenstown, Standard Room with Full Breakfast


Queenstown to Milford Sound

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 4.5 hours, 287 km’s (178 miles).

Enjoy a leisurely drive to Milford Today for your overnight cruise, the ultimate way to experience Milford Sound. When all the day visitors have left, the fiord transforms into a peaceful scene of dramatic landscape.   After boarding the Milford Mariner, enjoy a full length cruise of the fiord to the Tasman Sea. With an onboard Nature guide, learn about the history and natural environment of the fiord and look out for wildlife such as seals, penguins and dolphins. Go for a paddle in a kayak, or hop on board a tender craft to explore the fiord up close. The boat will anchor in the shelter of Harrison Cove overnight.


  • Explore Milford Sound onboard this leisurely overnight cruise
  • Take in the spectacular waterfalls, various wildlife and learn about the history of the fiord
  • Have the opportunity to explore the coastline by kayak or tender craft

Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise, Private Double/Twin Cabin with Three-Course Buffet Dinner & Breakfast


Milford Sound to Dunedin

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 5.5 hours, 406 km’s (252 miles)

Continue to Dunedin.   A city of classical architecture and Scottish Charm, Dunedin prides itself on being New Zealand’s centre for learning, heritage, arts and culture and gateway to the diverse wildlife of the Otago Peninsula. The vibrant city centre is compact with restaurants, cafes and accommodation within easy walking distance.

Wains Hotel Dunedin, Superior Room with Full Breakfast

Centrally located on Princes Street, the hotel is just a short walk from the Octagon, casino and the city’s dynamic shopping district. This 50 room boutique hotel is being restored to its Victorian elegance.



Your Wildlife Tour today includes a cruise past historic fishing villages, ports, bays, farmlands and the forest before reaching Taiaroa Head and Wellers Rock. You will learn about the harbour’s volcanic, Maori and European history and get to visit the Yellow Eyed Penguins in their natural habitat.


  • Cruise the length of the Otago Harbour to Taiaroa Head, the world’s only mainland nesting place of the Royal Albatross
  • Learn about the harbour’s volcanic geology along with its Maori and European history
  • Visit a private conservation reserve dedicated to helping the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin survive

Wains Hotel Dunedin, Superior Room with Full Breakfast


Dunedin to Christchurch

Today’s Drive Time & Distance: 5 hours, 361 km’s (224 miles)

Travel north along the coast, viewing the spectacular Moeraki Boulders and travelling through various small towns.

Chateau on the Park, Guest Room with Full Breakfast

Set amongst five acres of tranquil surroundings and amongst gorgeous gardens the Chateau on the Park hotel offers a welcome retreat for both leisure and corporate guests. The hotel is well located just minutes away from Westfield Riccarton Mall, the CBS Arena, Addington Business District, Hagley Park and the Christchurch Railway Station.


Depart Christchurch

Explore the Garden City, before packing your suitcases for the last time.  Return your rental vehicle to Christchurch Airport and connect with your departure flight (flight not included)

Your 21 Day Self Drive, New Zealand Itinerary concludes today in Christchurch.



Mount Cook

Visit New Zealand's Aoraki Mt Cook, our highest peak. It stands at 3724 metres ... Read more

Contact Details

Phone Us
+64 3 3555 990
+64 21 461 971

Our Physical Address
21 Verona Place, Ohoka
Christchurch 7692
New Zealand

Our Postal Address
PO Box 36437, Merivale
Christchurch 8146
New Zealand


Tour Inclusions

21 Day Self Drive New Zealand Itinerary

Special Notes & Conditions:
The Milford Overnight Cruise operates between Mid September and Mid May.  For travel outside of these dates we can include an extra night in Milford, Queenstown or Te Anau with the Milford Sound Day Cruise.

Terms & Conditions

Booking Terms & Conditions:


All pricing is in New Zealand Dollars and includes 15% GST (Goods & Services Tax).


Pricing is subject to availability and confirmation of the stated itinerary at time of booking.  If we are unable to confirm the stated hotels and services, we will endeavour to confirm substitutes at similar rates, however additional costs may apply.

Rental Car Terms & Conditions:

Inclusions: unlimited kilometres, airport/ferry collection fee, full insurance (subject to reduced excess), front windscreen cover, personal accident insurance, guaranteed replacement vehicle in case of accident.

Exclusions: insurance excess reduction of $345.00 including GST (note, standard insurance excess is $3,450.00 including GST), bond, petrol costs, one way fee ($57.50), optional extras, (all additional expenses to be paid direct)

Payment Policy

We do require a non-refundable deposit of NZD$250.00 per person before we go ahead with securing any reservations.

In addition, some of our suppliers may require further deposits to cover their strict cancellation policies, in this case we would advise you at the time of quoting and confirming your itinerary.

The balance of your booking would be required 45 days prior to your travel date.   If you book inside 45 days, full payment would be required at time of booking.

Payment can be made by electronic wire transfer and should include the additional NZD $25.00 bank fee.   We also accept Visa and Mastercard at an additional fee of 3.1%.

Bank Account Details

Bank Name & Address: Westpac Bank, Mid City Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand

Account Name: Inspired New Zealand Travel

BSB Number: 03-0296

Account Number: 0011146-000

Swift/Routing Code: WPACNZ2W 


We are happy to amend your itinerary and dates, however please keep in mind that some of the original services may not be available for your new dates, which may incur additional costs for substituted services.   Amendment fees may apply with multiple changes.

Cancellation Fees

Once Confirmed               Non-refundable Deposit of NZD $250.00 per person

Inside 45 – 21 Days          A Cancellation fee of 30% of your total booking value will apply, along with any cancellation fees applied by our accommodation, sightseeing and other providers.

Inside 20 – 8 days             A Cancellation fee of 50% of your total booking value will apply, along with any cancellation fees applied by our accommodation, sightseeing and other providers.

Inside 7 Days                      Full Cancellations, 100% charge

We will however do our very best to recover and minimise these cancellation fees but recommend that you purchase Travel Insurance to cover yourself.


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