During December of last year we were approached by Wanderlust travel magazine to work together to gather location ideas fora truly great self-drive holiday. Naturally, we took this opportunity to showcase just how much New Zealand has to offer as a self-drive holiday destination. To this end, we put together an itinerary that would allow Wanderlust see the sights and sounds of New Zealand all at their own pace. We received high praise for our work with them, but you can read that in Wanderlust’s own article.
We originally created two itineraries, one for New Zealand’s North Island and one for its South Island. Wanderlust eventually set their hearts on the South Island tour. Their final self-drive holiday covered around 600 miles over two weeks and included Lake Wanaka, Fox Glacier and the Doubtful Sound along with an array of New Zealand experiences. We’ve crafted plenty of self-drive New Zealand holidays over the years and we always find ourselves being complimented for them. One advantage of travelling by your own hired car is that you’re always in control of the journey that extra level of flexibility.
An Adventurous North Island New Zealand Road Trip:
We mentioned that we created two itineraries – and we did. Since we wrote up two prospective itineraries, we thought we’d share the one that Wanderlust didn’t use with you. This gives you a compressed idea of the sort of schedule you’ll get with one of our self-drive holidays (but don’t worry; we can go for much longer than two weeks – our longest has been six months!).
- Day 1: Fly into Auckland, pick up your car and get set for the road trip
- Day 2: Drive to the Coromandel Peninsula, stop at the Mussel Kitchen for a green-lipped mussel lunch and take the gravel “309 Road” to Whitianga and Kuaotunu Bay seeing huge kauri trees and enjoying breath-taking views along the way.
- Day 3: Explore the Coromandel Peninsular further in the car, walking, snorkelling and visiting its amazing beaches.
- Day 4: Drive around to the Bay of Plenty with a visit to the Gold Mine at Waihi and coastal views along the way, finishing in Whakatane.
- Day 5: Take a day tip to White Island (an active marine volcano) and a trip to Moutohora Island (bird sanctuary) returning back to Whakatane.
- Day 6: Drive to Hicks Bay on the East Cape with spectacular coastal scenery and genuine Maori culture and architecture along the way.
- Day 7: After an early start travel to the East Cape Lighthouse for sunrise. The most easterly point in mainland New Zealand and the first mainland point in the world to see in the new day. Drive to Gisborne with more stunning coastal scenery and Maori culture. Take a look at the spot where Captain James Cook first landed in NZ in 1769.
- Day 8: Visit wineries in the region, go surfing or take a guided reef-ecology tour to walk with wild stingrays, staying in Gisborne once more overnight.
- Day 9: Drive from Gisborne to Murupara driving around Lake Waikaremoana and through Te Urewera forest (the largest wilderness region of the North Island). On arrival experience a true Maori cultural experience including a traditional hangi, eel fishing, flax weaving, cooking and storytelling.
- Day 10: After finishing the Maori experience, drive from Muruparaa around the spectacular Lake Taupo to Turangi.
- Day 11: From Turangi join a group fly fishing on the Tongariro River or walk across the volcanoes of Tongariro Naitonal Park.
- Day 12: Drive through Taumarunui to the start of the breath-taking Forgotten World Highway to New Plymouth, overlooked by the Mount Taranaki volcano. Take in New Plymouth’s emerging art culture.
- Day 13: Drive from New Plymouth to Raglan, one of the most popular surf beaches in New Zealand where you you’d spend the afternoon at a surf school.
- Day 14: Drive through Auckland to Karekare beach with a wild black sand beach and a walk in the lush forest of the Waitakere ranges, staying at a lodge in the forest.
- Day 15: Drive to Auckland to depart.
What do you think? There’s far more to New Zealand than you can ever cover in just one road trip, but that’s just another reason to come back a second (or third, or fourth…) time. To start planning your own self-drive holiday around New Zealand, the first step is to get in touch!