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7 day Auckland to Christchurch Essential Highlights

6 nights, Auckland to Christchurch

7 day Auckland to Christchurch Essential Highlights

This 7 day itinerary travels through the heart of the North Island to the capital city of Wellington. Cross the Cook Strait and explore the Pacific Coastline of the South Island before arriving into Christchurch. An ideal tour for those short on time and a wonderful introduction to the diversity New Zealand has to offer.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Hobbiton movie set
Mitai Maori village Rotorua
Volcanic Safaris Floatplane Taupo
Whale watching in Kaikoura
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland the 'City of Sails'

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Auckland City

Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise - suggested

Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

Head out on the sparkling Waitemata Harbour and gain an insight into the city surrounds. This Cruise includes a complimentary return ticket to Devonport and a you'll also stop over at dormant volcano Rangitoto. Highlights of this tour include the iconic Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and Devonport’s historic naval base. You'll also see Bean Rock Lighthouse while enjoying morning or afternoon tea (a hot drink and a muffin). The harbour cruise lasts one and half hours and departs daily from the Downtown Ferry Terminal at 10:30am and 1:30pm.

Your free return ticket to Devonport can be used whenever you like - it doesn't have to be the same day.  Hop across the harbour to Auckland's ‘marine suburb' and spend some time exploring its delightful shops, cafes and galleries.

Accommodation: M Social Hotel Auckland

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation: M Social Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: M Social Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: M Social Hotel Auckland
Accommodation: M Social Hotel Auckland

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$35-NZ$45 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 2 - Collect your rental car and drive south through Waikato countryside to Matamata (Hobbiton) then onto Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 239 kms / 148 miles : 2.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton
Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

As you drive South on State Highway one you'll  go through the rich farming community and dairy pastures of the Waikato king country.  Passing the Bombay Hills - the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area - you'll turn inland towards Matamata. This is the real Middle Earth, and its here you can see many locations used in the filming of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit as well as visiting the actual set of Hobbiton.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Today visit the actual Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. In the heart of the Waikato farming region, take a two hour tour through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and The Party Tree - all the while hearing behind-the-scenes tales and learning about the making of the films. You'll also have the opportunity to tour a picturesque sheep farm for an insight into New Zealand's most notorious animal resident. 

Matamata to Rotorua

Matamata to Rotorua
Matamata to Rotorua
Matamata to Rotorua
Matamata to Rotorua

Just south of Matamata is the township of Tirau, home to the largest tin sheep and sheepdog, but it also offers a surprising number of bric a brac, art, craft and antique stores if you feel like browsing.
Arriving into the City of Rotorua the regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills.
Considered the cultural centre for the Maori people, Rotorua is the ideal place to gain an insight into the history and culture. The Rotorua Museum located in the government gardens is outstanding and its displays and presentations focus on the local Maori tribes and the major events through history that have affected them. Dominating the display is the devastating volcanic eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 but also of great interest is the Maori battalion display which portrays stories of this once feared military unit.
Nearby Ohinemutu Village is the original site of the first Maori settlers in the area and despite its now modern surroundings and buildings you can still gain a sense of what the original village was like. The magnificent meeting house and historic carvings along with the unique 'Tudor-style' St Faiths Church feature in many visitors photo albums.
One of the most popular introductions to the Maori Culture is through an evening at Mitai Maori Village where you can enjoy performances and demonstrations followed by a traditionally cooked hangi meal.
Of course Rotorua is also a great place to enjoy many other activities including, fishing, 4WD trips, relaxing spa treatments, mountain biking, walking and hiking plus helicopter and float plane trips.

Mitai Maori Village

Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 3 - Take a spectacular scenic flight over Lake Tarawera, then its a short drive along the Geothermal Highway to Taupo

Driving distance and time: 75 kms / 47 miles : 0.8 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane

Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane
Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane
Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane
Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane

Combine the experience of a 4WD hiking tour on Mount Tarawera by Kaitiaki Adventures. Your journey begins with an off road 4WD experience through native New Zealand bush, transporting you to the craters edge. After a 1.5-2 hour hike your 4WD will drop you at the remote shores of Lake Rerewhakaaitu when you will return to Rotorua by Floatplane. Enjoy a spectacular aerial overview of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Mount Tarawera and our hidden lakes district. This stunning flight completes the Tarawera experience and returns you to your departure point on the shores of Lake Rotorua at our downtown city floatplane pier.

Rotorua to Taupo

Rotorua to Taupo
Rotorua to Taupo
Rotorua to Taupo
Rotorua to Taupo

Your drive today takes you through the Central North Island volcanic plateau. See thermal hotspots Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley before arriving into the town of Taupo Just north are the Huka Falls and a short detour to view is highly recommended. Go close to the spray with a thrilling jet boat ride or see the nearby Craters of the Moon geothermal reserve with its boiling pools and steaming vents.

Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride

Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride
Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride
Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride
Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride

The Huka Jet is 30 minutes of pure fun and exhilaration, skimming close to cliffs, sliding past trees, feeling the adrenalin of full 360 degree spins. The excitement continues right up to the base of the foaming Huka Falls, where you get a spectacular water level view to New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Nothing compares to watching 220,000 litres per second tumbling over the cliff face towards you.
The water from the mighty Huka Falls runs down the Waikato River through a series of Hydro Power Stations. You'll get a view of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the comfort of a powerful Chevrolet V8 jet boat. This unique Geothermal Power Station uses underground geothermal activity to produce hot steamy water. The Waikato Rivers beautiful environment is varied and unique and is New Zealand's longest river flowing north from our largest lake - Lake Taupō.

Accommodation: Hilton Lake Taupo

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hilton Lake Taupo
Accommodation: Hilton Lake Taupo
Accommodation: Hilton Lake Taupo
Accommodation: Hilton Lake Taupo

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 12 noon
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: offsite paid parking NZ$15-NZ$20 per 24 hrs
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$30-NZ$40 per 24 hrs
  • Restaurant on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Cross the Central Plateau passing Tongariro National Park then south to the Capital City of Wellington

Driving distance and time: 363 kms / 225 miles : 4.5 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Taupo to Wellington

Taupo to Wellington
Taupo to Wellington
Taupo to Wellington
Taupo to Wellington

The drive around the edge of New Zealand largest lake leads you to Turangi, the self proclaimed Trout Fishing Capital. You can view the Department of Conservations' National Trout Centre and Hatchery here. You then climb up onto the central plateau and the high country Rangipo Desert. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. A little further the military town of Waiouru also hosts the Army Museum, an incredible collection of New Zealand’s military history and a memorial to its servicemen. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kapiti Coast. The coastal seaside towns of Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton are worth a short detour before arriving into the capital city of Wellington. Plan to take most of the day for this drive.


Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand;s national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour - suggested

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
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.

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 5 - Board the Interislander ferry to Picton

Driving distance and time: 0 kms / 0 miles : 0.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

Accommodation: Picton Yacht Club Hotel

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Picton Yacht Club Hotel
Accommodation: Picton Yacht Club Hotel
Accommodation: Picton Yacht Club Hotel
Accommodation: Picton Yacht Club Hotel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Swimming pool

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Day 6 - Depart Picton and drive south to the Garden City of Christchurch

Driving distance and time: 326 kms / 202 miles : 4.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Picton to Christchurch

Picton to Christchurch
Picton to Christchurch
Picton to Christchurch
Picton to Christchurch

From Picton you cross the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges as you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling place with many cafes, restaurants and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife. Whale Watch Kaikoura is New Zealand's only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale at all times of the year. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.

The drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch continues to follow the spectacular coastline before heading inland and through North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley to arrive into Christchurch City.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 7 - Explore more of Christchurch before continuing your travels

Driving distance and time: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Depart Christchurch today

Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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