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Gardens of New Zealand

17 day Self Drive - from £2809

Explore New Zealand’s gardens and unique flora in this comprehensive 17 day itinerary staying in boutique accommodation and visiting areas of outstanding natural beauty.


  • Auckland Rainforest walk tour
  • Hobbiton Movie Set tour
  • Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Larnach Castle and Gardens
  • Deluxe lodges and hotels
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Your Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Auckland

On arrival at Auckland Airport a private transfer will take you to your luxury hotel. Within walking distance is Albert Park, home to a number of spectacular trees. A little further out is the city’s oldest and most popular park, Auckland Domain, developed around the cone of an extinct volcano. The Domain features formal gardens as well as native forest walking tracks; The Wintergarden’s glasshouses contain temperate and tropical plants as well as an extensive native fernery, and Auckland Museum.

Hotel: Hotel DeBrett

Day 2: Auckland

Today you will be taken on a full day guided tour to Auckland’s wild black sand beaches and lush rainforest. Spend the day walking and relaxing in the real New Zealand while hearing the stories of the region. You’ll first visit the Arataki Visitor Centre – gateway to Auckland’s coastal rainforest. The breath taking panoramic views from the sweeping decks extend from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Continue further west to the wild and rugged west coast. Walk through lush rainforest with giant tree ferns growing alongside picturesque streams in regenerating rainforest.

Then stroll on an awe-inspiring beach and experience the uniqueness of the soft, black sand and the clear ocean breeze. Your journey then takes you to an area of untouched original rainforest with mature 1,000 year old kauri trees. New Zealand has existed for millions of years separate from the rest of the world so has evolved in isolation to produce its own unique flora and fauna.

Hotel: Hotel DeBrett
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Auckland – Matamata – Hamilton (196km)

This morning make your way to the rental car city depot where you will collect your rental car for your exclusive use. Depart Auckland for your journey south. You may like to stop and visit the Hamilton Gardens which feature a traditional Maori Garden as well as themed gardens from all over the world. Travel via Matamata for an afternoon tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set.

Your guided tour takes you through a picturesque sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Learn how the hobbit holes were created and how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth complete with hobbit holes and hobbit gardens and orchards.

Hotel: Novotel Hamilton Tainui
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Cambridge to New Plymouth (228km)

Travel today to the Taranaki region where the volcanic soil and rainforest climate provide ideal growing conditions for native rainforests and many exotic species that have found a new home on the plains and rolling hills dominated by Mt Taranaki.

Hotel: Nice Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5: New Plymouth

Recommended gardens to visit today are Te Kainga Marire – an amazing intimate native garden; world renowned Pukeiti, a 360- hectare rainforest on the slopes of Mount Taranaki that features over 500 rhododendron varieties; Pukekura Park with a huge variety of plant collections amidst a diverse range of landscapes; Hollard Gardens and Tupare originally private gardens that have grown into spectacular displays of native and exotic specimens.

Hotel: Nice Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6: New Plymouth – Wellington (355km)

Enjoy the transformation of scenery through Otaki Gorge as you travel via the Kapiti Coast to Wellington.

Hotel: Booklovers B&B
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7: Wellington

A 10 minute drive will take you to Zealandia, an urban sanctuary dedicated to telling New Zealand’s unique conservation story. With over 225 hectares of regenerating native forest and 40 species of birds, it is a unique, world-first eco-attraction. Discover the story of New Zealand’s natural history and conservation movement with a world-class interactive exhibition.

Hotel: Booklovers B&B
Meals: Breakfast

Day 8: Wellington – Picton – Nelson (130km)

Return your car and board the Interislander Ferry for your cruise across Cook Strait. On arrival in Picton, pick up your car and take a leisurely drive to Nelson.

Hotel: Kershaw House
Meals: Breakfast

Day 9: Nelson

Enjoy a day at leisure in the stunning coastal region of Abel Tasman. There are some outstanding walks and rainforest treks to be done, or alternatively relax on the sandy beaches next to the crystal clear waters of the Abel Tasman National Park.

Hotel: Kershaw House
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10: Nelson to Fox Glacier (482km)

Travel today down the West Coast. This remote area has a ruggedly beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow capped mountains. A recommended stop is at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes where the surging sea has sculptured amazing shapes out of the rocks. Also of note en route, just 15 minutes south of Hokitika is the West Coast Treetop Walk – an exhilarating scenic walk adventure among the ancient tree canopy of temperate rainforest giants.

Hotel: Misty Peaks
Meals: Breakfast

Day 11: Fox Glacier – Queenstown (327km)

Today will take you on a memorable trip through some of the most magnificent scenery in New Zealand to the alpine resort town of Queenstown; exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic.

Hotel: Browns Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 12: Queenstown

Enjoy a day at leisure for you to enjoy many of the sights and activities on offer in New Zealand’s most exciting and picturesque town. A recommended excursion is a 20 minute drive to Arrowtown – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River.

Hotel: Browns Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 13: Queenstown

Today is yours to discover more of this beautiful lakeside town. The Queenstown Gardens are just a few minutes walk from central Queenstown and offer a beautiful tranquil setting with some of the best panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu.

Hotel: Browns Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 14: Queenstown – Dunedin (286km)

Today, travel via river plains and tussock country through Coastal Otago to Dunedin. This is a region of natural beauty overlaid with a fascinating cultural history and often referred to as the eco-capital of New Zealand. Nearby is the beautiful Otago Peninsula home to New Zealand Fur Seals, rare Hooker’s Sea Lions, Yellow-Eyed Penguins, and the only mainland Royal Albatross colony.

Hotel: Camp Estate
Meals: Breakfast

Day 15: Dunedin

Included with your accommodation is a visit to Larnach Castle and the beautiful Gardens. Over a century old this large garden surrounding historic Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula is at an altitude of 300 metres. The scenery is spectacular and though the garden is subjected to wind and low rainfall it contains a unique collection of plants seldom seen elsewhere.

Hotel: Camp Estate
Meals: Breakfast

Day 16: Dunedin to Christchurch

Today, depart Dunedin and travel north crossing the Canterbury Plains and travelling to Christchurch known as ‘the Garden City’ of New Zealand. In a loop of the Avon River, bordered on three sides by the green expanse of Hagley Park are the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Some of the largest, tallest and oldest trees in New Zealand can be found here.

The gardens host spectacular colour and form, intriguing artworks and some of the largest, tallest and oldest trees in New Zealand. A loop of the gently-flowing Avon River, criss-crossed by bridges, encloses a large part of the gardens which include horticultural displays, conservatories, memorials, garden art and walking tracks.

Hotel: The Classic Villa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 17: Christchurch

Tour concludes with the return of your rental car to Christchurch Airport depot.

17 day Self Drive - from £2809

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*OFFER – Free car upgrade on selected self drive holidays until 30th April 2019. Valid on new bookings only. Vehicles are subject to availability, seasonal variations may apply.

All prices are per person and based on 2 sharing a double or twin room. Price shown based on low season travel from May to September, subject to availability. Hotels specified are subject to availability and may be substituted by one of a similar or higher standard. Supplements will apply if alternative hotels are booked.

Map Gardens of New Zealand Self Drive

Self Drive Touring

Relaxed and enjoyable self drive tour. Book them as they are or ask your consultant to add extra days in the places you choose.

Your self drive includes:

  • 16 nights accommodation
  • Deluxe hotels including breakfast
  • Air conditioned car
  • Inclusive vehicle insurance
  • Maps and driving information
  • Flexible itineraries

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