So much 4WD but so little time? ‘The 4WD Experience’ is our most popular journey for the time-conscious traveller.
This self drive takes you to some of the most beautiful and scenic locations in New Zealand, uncovering the “hidden gems” that most traveler’s don’t ever hear about.
Drive down picturesque country roads and take excursions along gravel tracks that lead to beautiful lake and forest areas. Traverse what is reputedly the highest road in New Zealand revealing unforgettable views over the immense mountainous landscapes.
Spend your evenings experiencing the most unforgettable Kiwi hospitality on offer by staying in carefully hand selected B&B’s, lodges and farm-stays.
On arrival in Auckland Meet & Greet by REST NEW ZEALAND TOURS. Transfer to your accommodation in Auckland, handover of travel documents. If you are not too tired, we recommend a leisurely stroll along Auckland’s waterfront.
Pick up your rental car. You drive to Rotorua: Discover 18 sparkling lakes, magnificent native and exotic forests, geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and the best of New Zealand’s fascinating Maori culture.
Today you are crossing Te Urewera National Park and you will be happy to travel by 4x4. The partly gravel road takes you through dense rainforest to the secluded Lake Waikaremoana and later on to the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand, Napier at Hawkes Bay. A stroll through the city is a good contrast to the impressions of the day and will give you some insight in the interesting history of Napier. You can end the day at one of the many vineyards of this region.
Driving on a less travelled road through the centre of the North Island will give insight in rural New Zealand. Parts of this road network were used in the past to connect the inland farms with the port of Napier. Horse drawn carriages used to struggle through the difficult terrain. The road is now completely sealed and goes through one of the largest sheep stations in this country. You stay overnight at the foot of Mount Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. You can do a walk in the afternoon in this fascinating area.
Via Raetihi your tour continues to Pipiriki and along Whanganui River, the most beautiful river on the North Island. You follow the course of the river along the old Whanganui River Road to Wanganui and on to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is a vibrant city and we recommend a sightseeing tour and a walk along the waterfront to Te Papa the National Museum of New Zealand.
The tour with the ferry through picturesque Marlborough Sound is one of the highlights of your trip. From Picton you drive along the picturesque Queen Charlotte Drive with its many bays and beaches to sunny Nelson. Enjoy the local art scene and the many vineyards and beaches of this area.
You drive to the remote Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park. A special track with some river crossings takes you from St. Arnaud to Murchison. After lunch you return to the hinterland and travel on remote gravel roads through dense beech forest and cross the main divide via the Lewis Pass before civilization catches up with you again in Hanmer Springs. Relax in the thermal pools under the sky or take a walk, go golfing, hire a mountain bike or do a bungy jump.
Make a side trip to Kaikoura to swim with dolphins and seals and watch whales in their natural environment. Or drive direct to Garden City Christchurch; often referred to as the most English town outside England. Take a walk through Hagley Park and along the Avon River before you drive over the wide Canterbury Plains to the foot of the Southern Alps where you stay overnight.
The turquoise colour of Lake Tekapo will capture you. Take a scenic flight from Tekapo over Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. You drive then along a remote valley, covered by scarce vegetation and tussock grass. Climb across a long forgotten and rarely used mountain pass to reach your overnight destination amidst the Waitaki Valley.
You drive over another remote pass. During the New Zealand gold rush this area was one of the most populated in the country. One of the reminders of this glorious past is the tiny village of St. Bathans. A handful of historic houses, a pub and a very nice manmade lake are the only witness of this era. From the wine region of Central Otago you drive over a remote track to the Wakatipu Basin and to Queenstown.
Over 2 million visitors are drawn to Queenstown each year to experience unique scenery, search for adventure, seek out relaxation and rejuvenation, or to just breathe pure mountain air. The region is home to plenty of hiking and biking trails, guided tours, family activities, boat cruises, and scenic flights to Milford and Doubtful Sound or spa and wellness centres. For adrenalin junkies, the self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world offers plenty to get your blood pumping: Test your limits with white water rafting, ziplining, 4x4 off-roading, paragliding and skydiving.
You cross the Crown Range over New Zealand’s highest official road to Wanaka. You reach the West Coast over the Haast Pass, a scenic drive with many opportunities to stop and explore. Be impressed by the breathtaking beauty and the many different shades of green of the dense rainforest. Glaciers, rainforests and coast are close together in Westland National Park. We recommend a side trip to Monro Beach Walk and a stop at Ship Creek Walk. During the months of October to December you might even be lucky and see penguins and hector dolphins playing in the sea.
Make one of the walks in the glacier area or book a helicopter flight with glacier landing from Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. There is a lot to see and to do. Visit the isolated Okarito at the coast and make a kayak trip through the quiet lagoon. Or a jet boat tour in Whataroa to a White Heron Colony where you can watch these rare birds. Hokitika and Greymouth are the jade centres of the country. Visit a workshop and watch the jade carvers do their art work.
You can do a side trip to the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki in the morning. The route over the main divide to Christchurch takes you along Lake Brunner and climbs over Arthur’s Pass, the only real mountain pass in New Zealand. The famous TranzAlpine Express train crosses it too. You arrive in Christchurch. Enjoy the many cafes and restaurants and take advantage of a last opportunity to purchase souvenirs from Aotearoa.
Drop off your vehicle at the rental car office at the airport.