14 Days North and South Islands road tour
Holiday Planning Guide - 14 Days North and South Islands road
tour. Experience New Zealand with a two week Drive NZ planned
||Auckland at leisure
||Auckland to Whitianga
||Whitianga to Rotorua
||Rotorua to Taupo
||Taupo to Wellington
||Wellington to Picton
||Picton to Blenheim
||Blenheim to Nelson
||Nelson to Franz Josef
||Franz Josef to Wanaka
||Wanaka to Queenstown
||Queenstown to Christchurch
||Christchurch to Taupo
||688kms Plus Ferry
||Taupo to Auckland
You’ve got two weeks to explore all of New Zealand, so
why not make the most of it with the Drive New Zealand Rental
Cars two week North and South Island Road Trip.
Day 1: Auckland
Get Yourself Some Wheels
The first thing you are going to need for your two week road
trip is safe, reliable and budget friendly car hire in
Auckland. Luckily, Drive NZ comes to the rescue with Auckland
car rental. Just minutes from the Airport, they will sort you
out with whatever sized car you need, at the right price.
Go Sightseeing around Auckland
Landmarks, Museums and Parks
Being New Zealand’s main city, Auckland is full of
tourist sites, landmarks, historic museums and parks to
explore. Military buffs can check out the World War II era
caves and gun emplacements at
Bastion Point along with the
Devonport Naval Museum
Auckland War Memorial Museum
has a full history of New Zealand, with Maori artifacts,
historical Auckland, polynesian history and more. The
New Zealand Maritime Museum
displays New Zealand’s long maritime museum, while
The Museum of Transport and Technology
(There are two sites in Western Springs) has great displays of
machinery, vehicles and more.
Once you are tired of museums go for a walk in the many parks
One Tree Hill,
Auckland Domain & Winter Garden
Parnell Rose Gardens.
Enjoy some Fun Auckland
Auckland is full of fun activities, including theme parks such
in Manukau, craziness in a former mental hospital with
in Kingseat and loads of chances to test your fear of heights
Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb and Bungy,
(or if that's too scary, try out the casino below) and
If Zoos are more you think make sure you visit Auckland Zoo in
Western Springs or Kelly Tarltons Underwater World near
Mission bay, and amazing underwater aquarium and antarctic
Arty types will enjoy the
Auckland Art Gallery
and theatre at the
Wine and Dine in Auckland’s
Cafes and Restaurants
Decades ago many immigrants from former Yugoslavia moved to
Auckland, bringing with them the skills and craftsmanship of
fine winemaking. You’ll find amazing wineries a short
drive (or ferry) away in Kumeu, Matakana & Waiheke Island.
Remember to take a sober driver with you, so you can enjoy
some of the best wine in the upper North Island. Top wineries
Kumeu River Winery
(and home to some great parties too) and
Auckland is also home to some pretty amazing food, with the
top 50 restaurants being ranked in Metro magazine every year.
Treat yourself to a great feed at
Clooney. For those on more of a budget, make sure you grab a feed at
the fish and chips shop in Mission Bay, or grab a great burger
at one of the many
stores, or Ponsonby Favourite - Murder Burger!
Party the Nights Away in Clubs,
Pubs and Nightclubs
Auckland has an awesome music and party scene, whether its
live music, DJs and nightclubs, irish bars, backpackers spots
or something in between - you’ll find something in
Auckland. Get underground upstairs at
Rakinos, drink from teapots with the hipsters at
Cassette #9, confuse yourself with the signage at
or hang with the Ponsonby set at
Golden Dawn. Backpackers love Globe, while the waterfront area is
popular every weekend if top 40 is more your scene.
Day 2: Whitianga
Its a 205 km drive from Auckland to Whitianga which should
take you about three and a half hours.
Relax on the Beach
Its easy to lose count of all the great beaches nearby, some
of the best include Buffalo Beach, Flaxmill Bay,
Lonely Bay and Cooks Beach. If you feel like
driving a little further make sure you visit Hahei,
Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Remember to
bring a picnic with you and don’t forget to take all
your rubbish with you, keep our beaches beautiful.
Activities on the Water
There are loads of activities for those who enjoy playtime on
the water including PADI Diving,
Banana Boats, Seafari Windsurfing,
Cave Cruisers and Glass Bottom Boats.
Food & Drink
Food is plentiful in the Coromandel, and Whitianga provides
lots of options for the travelling foodie. Wild Hogs is
great for fast food including burgers and pizza,
Squids is perfect for seafood lovers,
Cafe Nina provides the late breakfast and early lunch
and Tuatua is the place to go for Tapas.
Day 3: Rotorua
Its an easy 200 km drive from Rotorua to Whitianga that should
take you just over three hours on the open road with a hire
Rotorua is full of thermal areas, from boiling mud, geysers
and hot pools, its the number one reason people visit the
area. Te Puia is a geyser which erupts up to 20 times a day,
are must visit attractions for bubbling mud, beautiful
coloured lakes and more. Swim in the hot pools at the
Blue Baths &
Polynesian Spa or hit the slides at the Wet’n’Wild water
park. Make sure you also check out
Kerosene Creek, hidden about 20 minutes down the road on the way to Taupo,
its a great hidden local secret hot pool.
Museums, Maori History and
Rotorua Museum is located in the heart of the city and is one
of the prettiest buildings in town with its Tudor
architecture, the exhibits inside aren’t half bad
either. The Buried Village shows you what life was like before
a volcanic eruption destroyed the village, preserving
everything as it stood on the day.
Rotorua is full of fun things to do including
with its gondola up the mountain, restaurant with the best
views in town and high speed luging to get back down. Nearby
you can roll down the hill in a giant inflatable ball, known
locally as the
Zorb, the more adventurous can try it in pairs or full of water.
You can tour the area in a World War II era American DUKW
landing craft with Rotorua Duck Tours or if you are a
4WD nut hit the hills with Off Road NZ and the
Land Rover Experience. Rock climbers can scale
The Wall, while trout fans only have to check out the
local fishing stores dotted all over the city for the latest
news on local spots on the rivers and lakes (just remember to
get your licence before hand).
Have a Drink
Strangely enough Rotorua seems to be the home of a fair few
imported and craft beer places. Make sure you visit Brew,
Rotorua’s very own microbrewery for some real local beer
including pale ales and more. Pub food and live music is
always on at the Pig and Whistle right next to the courthouse,
while you can get a wide range of imported Belgian beer on tap
and bottled at the creatively named Belgian Beer Bar.
Finding a Bed
Hotels, Motels and Backpackers are available everywhere on the
“strip” as Fenton street is known by the locals,
with rooms and beds available to suit any budget. If you are
stuck pop into the local Visitor Information Centre at
the start of the street near the lake.
Day 4: Taupo & The Central
Its about 80km from Rotorua to Taupo with a rented car, which
should take just over an hour, a little longer if you stop off
at the hot pools at Kerosene Creek.
Enjoy the Lake and Rivers
Still have your fishing gear after Rotorua? Theres great fly
fishing to be found in the Tongariro river. River
Rafting tours are available at most tour agencies, with
Rafting NZ and Tongariro River Rafting being
favourites.If you’ve got a great shot don’t forget
to try your luck with the Hole in One by the lake. If
speed is more your thing try jetboating near
Huka Falls, or Bungy Jumping.
If you want to drive further out of Taupo,
Gravity Canyon is home to some crazy airborne
activities including a flying fox that hits 160 kph at top
speed! Driving south will take you to the desert road, along
with the New Zealand Defense Force base and
Waiouru Army Museum.
Hit the Slopes
Just a short drive from Taupo and you are near the ski fields
and mountains of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and
Mt Ruapehu. These ski fields are some of the best in
New Zealand and well worth the drive to see, or if skiing
isn’t your thing make sure you try out the
Tongariro Crossing, easily one of the most beautiful full day walks in the
entire country, if not the world. You might even spot the
craters of Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings on the way!.
A days exploring just isn’t complete without a good feed
and Taupo doesn’t disappoint. Grab a deep fried Mars bar
from the local fish and chip shops or if you are feeling
classier try out the local restaurants and cafes. If you are
still near the ski fields make sure you visit the
Powder Keg and Matterhorn, who not only serve top notch
burgers and nachos, but also host touring DJs and musicians.
Other favourites include Replete, Cypress Tree,
Eruption and Pimentos.
Day 5 & 6: Wellington &
Its around 380km from Taupo to Wellington in your hire car and
the trip should take around 5 hours, assuming you don’t
end up stuck in traffic on arrival in Wellington. Pay
attention to your map as Wellington City is full of one way
Wellington’s has the best coffee and cafe scene in New
Zealand, and a trip isn’t complete without checking out
Cuba Street. Grab a short white or black, kick back and watch the world
go by as you enjoy the creations of New Zealand’s best
baristas. Later on at night Wellington comes alive with pubs,
clubs and bars on Cuba Street and
Film buffs and Lord of the Rings fans will love Wellywood,
and Weta Studios, The Embassy Theatre and loads
of film sets, locations and props dotted around the city.
There are plenty of guided tours available as well.
History and Culture
A trip to Wellington isn’t complete without visiting
Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. Walk through the city
streets until you find the
Wellington Cable Car
and Cable Car Museum. Film buffs will love the
New Zealand Film Archive. While culture fans will enjoy the
Wellington Art Gallery
National Library of New Zealand.
Nature buffs will love the bird sanctuary, tuataras and kiwis
a few kilometers drive out of town.
Wellington is full of hotels for visiting politicians, but a
personal favourite has to be the
Museum Hotel, with its massive art collection and tastefully decorated
rooms, you’ll be amazed who you will run into in its
hallways, from All Blacks to movie stars. Those on more of a
budget should check out Wellywood Backpackers,
The Cambridge Hotel & Backpackers
Crossing The Cook Strait &
Next up is the
to cross the Cook Strait. Make sure you book your tickets a
day or two in advance as these can sometimes sell out. Expect
the crossing to last about 3 and a half hours, with a
reasonable wait before boarding as well. There isn’t a
lot to do in Picton as its more of a stopping off point before
exploring the South Island or Marlborough Sounds. If you have
time check out the Eco World Aquarium,
Edwin Fox Maritime Museum or Picton Museum.
Day 7 & 8: Blenheim &
Its a short drive from Picton to Blenheim at under 30 minutes
in a rental car, while Blenheim to Nelson is 115 km and should
take you an hour and three quarters.
Wine Tasting in Marlborough
Next you’ll head off to Blenheim a short 30km, half an
hour drive which will have barely any traffic compared to the
busy roads in the North Island. Blenheim is fairly quiet
itself, but close enough to the wineries of the Marlborough
Region to keep it interesting. Spend the day touring some of
New Zealand’s top wineries including
and far more that the region is famous for.
There is a wide range of motels and hotels dotted around the
region, while budget accommodation can be found at
Drive to Nelson
Nelson is only a short 116 km drive in your hire car from
Blenheim taking you past Kaikoura, home of some of the best
Whale Watching experiences in New Zealand. Non stop, the
journey should take no more than two hours.
Nelson is home to some great adventure activities including
Happy Valley Adventures,
Cable Bay Kayaks
and Simply Wild, ideal for anyone who likes some rough
rivers, flying foxes, mountain biking or wilderness
Accommodation in Nelson
Nelson is described as one of the most livable cities in New
Zealand, and is home to great accommodation for travellers of
all budgets. Great hostels include
Paradiso Backpackers, Nelson Beach Hostel and
Tasman Bay Backpackers.
Day 9: Franz Josef Glacier
One place you can’t miss while driving down the West
Coast of New Zealand is the Franz Josef Glacier - a 6 hour and
290 km journey from Wanaka in your hired vehicle.
Theres one sight that you simply have to see which is the
Franz Josef Glacier itself, a 12 km long glacier that
starts in the Southern Alps and finishes in New Zealand Native
rain forest. The best way to explore is with a helicopter tour
that can book booked in the town.
Food & Drink
For good West Coast food you can’t miss
Speights Landing Bar & Restaurant, for the sort of
stuff a real “Southern Man” would eat.
Guzzis provide great pizza, while Priya serves
up excellent Indian.
Chateau Franz Backpackers is a great place to crash
with its very own spa pool, while
Glow Worm Cottages has a little bit more privacy.
Day 10 & 11: Wanaka &
Its just under 300 km from Franz Josef to Wanaka, but due to
the winding roads it will take your hire car just under six
hours, so be careful. Wanaka to Queenstown is a short two hour
ride at around 120 km.
The area is full of picturesque movie locations that need to
be seen to be believed. Make sure you try the
for an aerial view of Queenstown. Drive further out into
Arrowtown to check out the old Chinese Settlement from
the gold rush days. Military buffs will love the
Warbirds & Wheels
museum, and if you are there in time
Warbirds Over Wanaka.
The mountain ranges such as the
deserve their namesake and along with Cardrona are great
places for skiing and snowboarding.
Snow Farm New Zealand
provides cross country skiing and
is the oldest ski field in the region.
Food & Drink
Beer lovers have to check out the local brewery at
for locally brewed lager, black beer and pilsner.
Gibbston Valley Wines
are a must visit for wine lovers wanting locally grown wine.
There is plenty of accommodation in the area, with thousands
of tourists in the area, but in peak season book ahead. Make
sure you check out Bumbles Backpackers in Queenstown
and Base in Wanaka.
Day 12: Christchurch
The trip from Queenstown to Christchurch should take you and
your hired car around 7 hours and is just under 500 km.
Right now its in the process of being rebuilt, stronger than
ever (There's even a mall made out of shipping containers
- Re:Start). Its one of the older cities in New Zealand
so expect to see some very British style buildings and gardens
as you drive around, you’ll also find it great to cycle
and walk if you get the chance.
Make sure you check out New Zealand’s only official
at Cathedral Square. Art & history lovers are best
to check out the Art Gallery. Movie buffs can venture out into
the Canterbury plains and see Lord of the Rings film sets used
Christchurch is the international launchpad for many countries
into Antarctica, and you can check out the goings on at the
International Antarctic Centre. Wildlife lovers check out Orana Park Wildlife Sanctuary
Food & Drink
Food lovers are best to check out the top food market in New
Zealand at the
Christchurch Farmers Market. Craft beer can be found at
Pomeroy’s Old Brewery Inn and
Cassels & Sons Brewery. Bodhi Tree is
getting a strong reputation for, strangely enough Burmese
is of course the best place to get a Pizza in town.
Theres plenty of great accommodation in Christchurch, but in
this case theres one place that you absolutely must stay -
Jailhouse Accommodation, an 1870s era prison that closed down in the late 90s. Where
else can you stay you spent the night in jail without getting
Day 13: Taupo
Get ready for a long journey today, with the trip taking your
rental car from Christchurch to Taupo taking around 9 hours on
the road, as well as the time you spend on the Cook Strait
Catch up on anything you missed in the central region of New
Zealand. Stop off along the way at the
Waiouru Army Museum
and check out a piece of NZ history including our Victoria
Cross medals on display, or jump on top of a tank for some
great holiday photos!
Day 14: Return to Auckland
Its the final stretch, with the trip from Taupo back to
Auckland taking around four hours to cover the 280 km
Once you are back in Auckland, catch up on any sights that you
missed on day one or two, before dropping your car back off at
Drive NZ Rental Cars once you are finished with your
Auckland Car Rental.