Twenty day New Zealand driving tour

Day 1 – 2 Auckland

Start your North Island road trip in New Zealand’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Auckland. Popular attractions include Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, the Auckland Museum and Auckland Zoo. Scale to the top of Sky Tower for a fantasic view around the city and harbour and test your nerves on the glass floor! Or take a harbour cruise to Devonport on the ferry.

Day 3 Waitomo

Distance 195 km

Approximate Driving Time 2 hours 50 mins

Suggested stop en route:  Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park – close-up views of our national bird plus view native birds and reptiles.

Waitomo Caves are famous for their stunning limestone formations and not to be missed is the silent boat journey through the glow worm grotto. Or take the plunge and travel through the underwater river on an inner tube!

Day 4 – 5 Rotorua

Distance 156km

Approximate Driving Time 2 hours 15 mins

Suggested stop en route: Mangaokewa Reserve – this reserve, five minutes south of Te Kuiti on State Highway 30, offers picnic areas and a bush walk to the Cascade Waterfalls.

Travel through farmland to Rotorua, New Zealand’s thermal wonderland. Take in a Maori dinner with cultural entertainment or visit the many thermal geysers and mud pools that make Rotorua famous including Hell’s Gate and Wai-o-Tapu. Take the Skyline Gondola to the top of Mt Ngongotaha and then enjoy the excitement of the luge ride to the bottom!

Day 6 Taupo

Distance 76km

Approximate Driving Time 1 hour

Suggested stop en route:  Orakei Korako – New Zealand’s best kept secret. Explore the “Hidden Valley” – geysers, mud pools, silica terraces and legendary Ruatapu Cave.

You’ll see plenty of thermal action on the way to Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. Once a huge volcano, Lake Taupo is now a water lover’s dream with activities galore. Take a cruise on the lake or visit the spectactular Huka Falls on the Waikato River.

Day 7 – 8 Wellington

Distance 375km

Approximate Driving Time 5 hours

Suggested stop en route:  National Army Museum at Waiouru – a fantastic museum for families to explore.

Travel south through the desolate Desert Road and the Tongariro National Park – don’t forget to stop for those awe-inspiring snaps of the volcanoes! Onward to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city and home to Te Papa, the National Museum. This extensive museum is situated on the waterfront and entry is free. A popular activity is to take a step back in time and travel on the Cable Car to enjoy the beautiful harbour views then make your way down to the city through the Botanical Gardens. Don’t forget a stop at Carlton Observatory for a look at our place in the universe.

Day 9 Nelson

Ferry crossing – 3 hours 20 mins (approximate)

Driving Distance 141km

Approximate Driving Time 1 hour 55 mins

Cruise across the Cook Strait and view the magnificient Marlborough Sounds. The road to Nelson is also full of scenic beauty. Natureland Zoo and Founders Heritage Park are great family attractions in Nelson.

Day 10 Greymouth

Distance 296km

Approximate Driving Time 4 hours 20 mins

Suggested stop en route: Punakaiki – see the pancake rock formations and experience the thrill of the blowholes.

Make your way through the Buller Gorge to Greymouth on the South Island’s wild West Coast.

Travel along the scenic West Coast to Greymouth. Visit Shanty Town, a step back in time to the gold rush days. Pan for gold and see if you can strike it rich!

Day 11 Fox Glacier

Distance 203km

Approximate Driving Time 3 hours

Suggested stop en route: Hokitika – browse for gifts in the boutique and arts and crafts shops.

Fox Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, offering amazing views and the chance for some adventure with a guided walk upon the glacier.

Day 12 Wanaka

Distance 262km

Approximate Driving Time 3 hours 50 mins

Suggested stop en route: Waterfalls – Thunder Creek Falls, the Gates of Haast and Fantail Falls are easily accessible from the road and well worth the stops.

The drive from the West Coast through the Haast Pass takes in some spectacular scenery. Puzzling World in Wanaka is a great topsy-turvy attraction for kids of all ages!

Day 13 – 14 Queenstown

Distance 70km

Approximate Driving Time 1 hour

Suggested stop en route: Kawarau Suspension Bridge – see the bungy jumpers at the original thrill-seeking site.

Make the short drive to New Zealand’s adventure capital – Queenstown! Enjoy a thrilling jet boat ride on the Shotover River,  bungy jump, go horse riding, cruise across Lake Wakatipu on a paddlesteamer, take a helicopter flight to the top of the Remarkables, travel on the Skyline Gondola for the most spectacular views and so much more!

Day 15 – 16 Te Anau

Distance 174km

Approximate Driving Time 2 hours 30 mins

Suggested stop en route: Kingston – jump on board the famous Kingston Flyer, a vintage steam train for a spectacular journey to Fairlight.

Enjoy a scenic boat ride to the Te Ana-au Glow Worm Caves or visit the Department of Conservation’s Wildlife Centre. Devote one full day for the return trip (232km) to Milford Sound, travelling through the Homer Tunnel and Fiordland National Park to arguably New Zealand’s most famous tourist attraction. View towering Mitre Peak, see waterfalls, seals and dolphins during a cruise on the fiord. Visit the Milford Discovery Centre and Milford Deep Underwater Observatory to view marine life usually only seen by divers.

Day 17 – 18 Dunedin

Distance 298km

Approximate Driving Time 4 hours 20 mins

Suggested stop en route:  Kiwiana – stop and have your photo taken with the Stag statue in Mossburn and the Brown Trout statue in Gore.

One of Dunedin’s most popular attractions is New Zealand’s only castle, Larnarch Castle, with its magnificent architecture and gardens plus spectacular views. Become one with nature with a visit to a penguin, seal or albatross colony.

Day 19 Lake Tekapo

Distance 299km

Approximate Driving Time 4 hours 20 mins

Suggested stop en route:  Moeraki – let the kids loose on the boulders, perfectly rounded by years of erosion by sea, sand and win.

Stop at beautiful Lake Pukaki for views of Aoraki/Mt Cook before arriving in Lake Tekapo – a stunning example of New Zealand scenery. The Church of the Good Shepherd and the sheepdog statue are also great photo opportunities.

Day 20 Christchurch

Distance 230km

Approximate Driving Time 3 hours 20 mins

Suggested stop en route:  Ashburton Domain – take a picnic to this beautiful park, walk amongst the trees and feed the ducks.

Travel across the vast Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. Situated within sight of the Southern Alps, Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island. Visit the Airforce Museum or The International Antarctic Centre where you can view the penguins and enjoy a thrilling 4D movie! Slow down the pace with a cruise on Akaroa Harbour or get up close with nature as you swim with the dolphins.

One Comment

  1. kymmage 30/12/2017 at 4:15 pm

    My kids haven’t seen a lot of the country outside of the top of the North island. This would be such a great idea for us.

Leave A Comment