- New Zealand
- New Zealand 24 Day Fly Drive
Introducing Fly-Drive tours to the stunning islands of New Zealand. A country where snow-capped mountains, volcanic terrain and glacial lakes are surrounded by pristine coastline. New Zealand is the pinnacle of natural beauty and our carefully mapped routes guide you past the absolute highlights. With your car rental, flights, ferry and accommodation covered, it's just up to you to drive between each destination.
Depart the UK on your flight to Auckland.
Continue on your flight to Auckland.
Upon arrival in Auckland, collect your rental car and check in to your hotel. Later, spend some time to have a first look at New Zealand's largest city.
Today's drive up to the Bay of Islands is not one to be rushed, so build in a bit more time so you can enjoy the scenery along the way, such as giant Kauri forests and the pretty townships of Puhoi, Warkworth and Whangerai. Your hotel is in the seaside town of Paihaia, the ideal base to explore this beautiful area. There's a superb beach, or you may prefer to unwind in the hotel's extensive sub-tropical gardens or take a stroll down to the town's vibrant main wharf.
Today you might choose to take a break from driving and take a leisurely cruise round the Bay, gliding through the islands and marvelling at the stunning seascapes, including the amazing 'Hole in the Rock' and abundant marine life such as common and bottleneck dolphins. Alternatively, you may opt to take the car along the scenic route up to the northern tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a spectacular swirl of currents. If history is your thing, head to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the nation's birthplace and New Zealand's most historic site.
Return to Auckland with enough time to get a feel for this cosmopolitan, boat-mad 'City of Sails'. The focal point is Viaduct Harbour, one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world, teeming with all manner of vessels and buzzing with waterfront bars, cafes and restaurants. You could make the short ferry trip either to volcanic Rangitoto Island or to the lush Waiheke Island, both of which have excellent beaches.
Today's journey to Rotorua takes you south through the lush valley of New Zealand's longest river, the Waikato, and on to the town of Matamata. This is where they filmed the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies, and a visit to the Hobbiton film set is a must for any fan. Continuing on you'll arrive at Rotorua, famed as one of the most actively geothermic areas in New Zealand.
Situated in one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland of bubbling mud pools, hot springs and steaming geysers. Some of the best geological features can be found at Wai-O-Tapu geothermal park. In the afternoon why not visit the Mitai Maori Village and learn about New Zealand's native culture. If you prefer to make your own plans, there's limitless scope for hiking in this area or you could just relax and recharge in a hot alkaline spa pool.
Today's drive will take you to New Zealand's oldest protected park, Tongariro, named after one of the three active volcanoes at the heart of this incredible landscape. The largest of the three, Mt. Ruapehu, provides a dramatic view from your hotel, the Chateau Tongariro Hotel. You could just relax and enjoy its comforts, or you could go for some of the many activities on offer, including scenic flights, kayaking, hiking or biking.
Today it's southwards towards New Zealand's capital city Wellington and your point of departure over to the South Island. The trip takes you through picturesque countryside, vineyards and wineries in the heart North Island's richest farmland. On reaching the coast the route passes through several pretty seaside towns on its way to the spectacular natural harbour and city of Wellington.
A day based in Wellington has much to offer, from a plethora of museums including New Zealand's National Museum, the superb Te Papa, to a variety of outdoor and adventure experiences. There are two ways of getting a fantastic bird's eye view of the city; either take a cable car to the hills of Kelburn (where you can also visit the wonderful Botanic Garden), or stretch your legs with a walk to the top of Mount Victoria. Back down at sea level, the harbour and the downtown area have a wide range of shopping and entertainment opportunities on available.
Drop your car off and board the Interislander ferry for the three-hour crossing of Cook Strait to Picton - often described as the most breathtaking ferry trip in the world. Besides the dolphins, seals and seabirds keeping the boat company, there are unbelievable views, especially on the passage through Marlborough Sound. After passing through Queen Charlotte Sound this memorable voyage comes to an end at the picturesque port of Picton. Pick up your new car and make the short drive to Blenheim, a pleasant town at the heart of the renowned wine-producing region of Marlborough.
Today is a stupendous drive to Kaikoura, crossing the Marlborough hills and down to the spectacular coastline road that hugs the shore all the way to Kaikoura town. Nestling between the mountains and the ocean, this place offers all kinds of encounters with marine wildlife. You can watch whales from the sea or the air; you can swim with dolphins and seals; you can go deep sea fishing, or bird watching for albatross, molly-hawks and petrels.
The road from here to Christchurch continues on its spellbinding coastal course, then heads inland through the equally impressive Waipara Valley. If you're not in a hurry to reach the city it's worth taking a detour to the Alpine village of Hanmer Springs where you can experience a deeply relaxing immersion in natural mineral thermal pools. It's a great way to recharge before heading onward to Christchurch and planning the next day's itinerary.
You could give the car a break today because compact Christchurch is a wonderful city to explore on foot, or maybe on a tram tour. After the earthquake in 2011 the regeneration is remarkable but there are still reminders, such as the 'Cardboard Cathedral', an ingenious temporary replacement for the original cathedral. The Botanic Gardens provide a beautiful and tranquil oasis, whilst anyone interested in polar environments and adventures mustn't miss the International Antarctic Centre.
Another memorable drive through gorgeous scenery, crossing the Canterbury Plains and into the Mackenzie Basin, arriving at the lake and town known as Tekapo. The turquoise waters of the lake are a great photo opportunity. This is a good place for a lunch stop before continuing on to Lake Pukaki in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. The soaring peak of the iconic mountain towers over Aoraki Mount Cook Village, where you'll be staying. Contained in the hotel complex is the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, a cutting edge planetarium well worth a visit.
There is so much to enjoy on this trip you might want to make a whole day of it to savour some of the highlights en route. Pass through Twizel, which you may recognise from Lord of the Rings films. Then on through picturesque sheep farming country to Omarama, a magnet for gliding enthusiasts due to unique geography. You'll go through the beautiful Lindis Pass, perhaps stopping for a lunch break beside Lake Dunstan. Continuing on, you could stop off at the town of Cromwell, famed for it's historic buildings from the town's gold mining past. When the Remarkables Mountains come into view, you're approaching Queenstown.
Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, the alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic - a place for all seasons and all tastes. There's lively adventure sports as well as more leisurely activities to be found, including gourmet food, spa treatments, lake cruises, and great walks. Maybe catch a gondola up to Bob's Peak, or make a short drive to the superb wineries in the Gibbotson Valley. You'll be spoilt for choice in this magical place.
The drive to Te Anau is another scenic delight as you wind your way towards South Island's famous Fjordland. The town is the gateway to this astonishing region and, especially, the majestic, unmissable Milford Sound. A cruise on the Sound is an absolute must, but even the road to Milford from Te Anau is a spectacular trip in itself, through stunning alpine valleys, tunnels and dramatic forest. The actual voyage around the sound is breathtaking in any weather, with vertiginous cliffs reflected in the glassy water, cascading waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife.
The charming town of Te Anau offers plenty of choice for a fulfilling day, energetic or otherwise. It's a paradise for walkers, either for a pleasant stroll around the gorgeous lake or a more serious hike along the many mountain trails. There's a golf course, or maybe a helicopter flight over the fabulous fjords. Alternatively, you could take a boat trip across Lake Te Anau to see the extraordinary underground Glow Worm Caves.
Today's drive along the main highways will showcase the best of the southern scenery, with deep rivers, lush farmland and beautiful nature parks. After lovely rural Lumsden on the way to Gore you could stop at Mandeville airport and try a 10-30 minute flight in a Tiger Moth! On your way through Milton, spot the weird kink in the town's main street - the point where two surveyors' plans didn't meet up! Then on to Dunedin, New Zealand's architectural heritage capital.
New Zealand's strong connection with Scotland is most tangible in Dunedin, rich in Victorian and Edwardian buildings giving it the title 'Edinburgh of the South'. The city's architecture is now an eclectic mix of old and new, making it a delight to explore on foot. When refreshment beckons head for the Octagon, Dunedin's favourite meeting place packed with cafes and bars. A visit to Larnach Castle & Gardens is a delight, whilst wildlife watchers should head for the Otago Peninsula to see penguin, albatross and seal colonies.
The last leg of your trip will not disappoint because it's a memorable drive, starting with beautiful coastal scenery as you head north out of Dunedin. At the fishing village of Mouraki you'll see the famous Mouraki Boulders strewn on the beach. Continue through Oamaru, one of New Zealand's most charming and best preserved towns, and on to Timaru and Temuka. At Winchester take the 'Inland Scenic Route' for the final unforgettable stretch to Christchurch, with the awesome peaks of the Southern Alps looming ahead of you. A fitting end to an epic journey!
Drop off your car at the airport for your flight home.
British passport holders are not currently required to obtain a visa in order to travel to New Zealand. British passport holders currently need an ETA to enter New Zealand and should be obtained before you travel. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be able to arrange your ETA for you on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250 590 and quote Mercury Holidays. We strongly advise you to check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding required passport validity.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £49pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flights to New Zealand are with Emirates (EK), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 3. Each passenger is entitled to 30kg of hold luggage and hand luggage of 7kg not exceeding 56cm x 36cm x 23cm in size. Weight restrictions will be finalized on E-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Check-in should be at least 3 hours before departure.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) and we recommend you change some currency before you leave the UK.