10 Day Self Drive Tour of New Zealand


So you want to explore new Zealand but don’t have much time? I would suggest you choose North or South island and don’t try to do both. Quality over quantity will ensure you are not rushed and enjoy every day without too much driving.

Take a look at my suggestion for a 10 day tour of North Island starting in Auckland and ending in Wellington. You can easily fly back to Auckland for any onward flights.

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland City
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Day 2: Explore Auckland and surrounds
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Day 3: Drive south through the rich fertile farmland of the Waikato and maybe stop at Hobbiton Village on your way to Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Day 4: Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Day 5: First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke’s Bay
Accommodation: Pebble Beach Motor Inn, Napier
Day 6: Discover the Art Deco architecture, vineyards and gannets of the Hawkes Bay
Accommodation: Pebble Beach Motor Inn, Napier
Day 7: Drive south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa region to the boutique vineyards of Martinborough
Accommodation: The Claremont, Martinborough
Day 8: Travel over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington
Accommodation: Hotel Ibis Wellington
Day 9: Uncover the charms of Wellington City, including the quirky cafes and fascinating museums
Accommodation: Hotel Ibis Wellington
Day 10: Depart Wellington today

The details below are for each of the days where there is a major driving leg. Times are based on a reasonable average of between 70 and 80 kph (45-55 mph approx).

Day 3 – Driving distance and time: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 5 – Driving distance and time: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 7 – Driving distance and time: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 8 – Driving distance and time: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 10 – Driving distance and time: 6 kms / 4 miles : 0.1 hours


Take a look at the tours you can add on to the above trip:

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Become immersed in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. Located just outside of Matamata – in the heart of the lush Waikato farming region, your two hour tour will begin with a drive through a picturesque sheep farm. You’ll then be taken through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and fascinating insight into the making of the films.

Rotorua Canopy Tours – The Original Canopy Tour
Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees.
In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

Rotorua to NapierTwilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Take a scenic drive through the vineyards as you learn about the region and its wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at Vidal. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sea level (overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities in winter).

Wellington Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand’s rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley – just 10 minutes from the central city.

Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.

Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley – so your chances of seeing one is very good.

Wellington Middle Earth Tour

In a small group, you will head out to the Valley to explore the filming locations for Rivendell where Frodo recovered from his knife attack; the River Anduin where the Fellowship voyaged to Amon Hen; the Gardens of Isengard, where Gandalf rode to see Saruman and the site of the orcs felling the trees; see the quarry used for the filming of Helms Deep in Rohan and Minas Tirith in Gondor. Then back to the City to visit the Mount Victoria lookout and Buckland Forest where you can take a “shortcut to mushrooms”, “get of the road” and hide where the Hobbits hid from the Black Riders before taking a run to the Buckleberry Ferry and discovering Dunharrow Rohirrim encampment along the way.


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