U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

Use our free New Zealand Itineraries to plan your perfect self drive holiday

Not sure where to go or what to see in New Zealand? No need to worry, we can help.

If you are planning a trip, then our New Zealand Itineraries are the perfect place to start, and are based on the most popular routes through both the North and South Islands.

Magical Milford Sound - pic courtesy Tourism Holdings

Just pick the one you like, hire your car or motorhome and off you go!

And if you want to visit both islands, no problem. Just combine one of our South Island itineraries with one of our North Island itineraries, and you are all ready to go.

What about self drive packages?

Each of our itineraries is also available as a self drive package based on that itinerary.

For more information please see the individual itinerary pages, which you can view by clicking on the links below:

View South Island Itineraries

View North Island Itineraries

Important tips - please read on

By using our New Zealand itineraries in conjunction with our information pages for each region, you can get a feel for where to go and what to see in New Zealand.

Wellington's iconic cable car makes its way up Kelburn Hill - pic courtesy Ian Trafford

What Do I Do Next?

After you have decided roughly where you want to go, the next step is to decide if you are going to:

  • Hire a car and drive yourself, booking accommodation and activities as you go, or
  • Book one of our great Self Drive Packages, which can include your car, accommodation and selected activities, 

Please read below for the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The decision to drive yourself or to buy a packaged self drive tour is a personal one, and is often influenced by things such as your budget, the amount of time that you have available, your accommodation needs, the kinds of activities that you like, your knowledge of your holiday destination, and many other factors.

Here are our thoughts on the different options:

Hire A Car And Drive Yourself Booking Accommodation As You Go

Many people that visit our site use their chosen itinerary as a rough guide for their trip. If you don't mind organizing everything yourself, and don't need to stick to a tight schedule, you might just book your car or campervan, and a few nights accommodation, and take your time to follow your chosen route. If you stick to the schedules detailed in our New Zealand itineraries, you shouldn't have any problems.

Small group glacier walk at Franz Josef

We have done this many times and can highly recommend it as a great way to see New Zealand, provided you have a good idea of where you want to go, what you want to see, and have a bit of flexibility with your budget. It's amazing how a place like New Zealand "entices" you to spend a little more on that "special" activity (we had a helicopter flight and landing on Franz Josef Glacier a few years back. It cost a small fortune but was well worth it!).


  • allows you freedom to travel at your own pace stopping for longer at spots that you like
  • just you and your travel partners, no pesky strangers!
  • less need to stick to an organised timetable
  • you can visit the attractions that you want to see, not those chosen by others (like on an organized tour)
  • you can view your accommodation before you book it


  • fuel not included
  • unless you carefully plan your itinerary you can end up rushing or missing out on some places that you wanted to see
  • accommodation can be difficult to find in some locations at peak times so you may not always get what you had hoped for
  • it may be harder to budget because you don't know your accommodation, food, transport and activity costs up front
  • meals are not included

So, if you feel like driving yourself we offer a booking service for cars and campervans at market leading rates. You can learn more HERE.

Booking A Self Drive Package

We find that more and more people are asking us to build them a self drive package. Our specialist consultants have built tailored self drive tours for hundreds of customers over the years and can build the ideal package for you. With their intimate local knowledge, they can help you decide where to go (and where not to), and what to see and do.

The Haast River winds its way towards the coast

So, if you have had a look at our sample New Zealand itineraries, why not use one of them as your starting point, and let our experts put together a self drive package which can include your car hire, accommodation, and selected activities?


  • accommodation, car hire and activity costs are known up front, making it easier to budget
  • our experts can share their local knowledge and put together the best itinerary based on your individual needs
  • no wasting time going to places that have little attraction
  • you have the freedom to let our experts arrange accommodation in selected locations only, leaving you some freedom to book other locations as you desire


  • fuel not included
  • no experienced tour guide
  • meals are not included

For more information on our great self drive packages, just click HERE.

Looking over Lake Wanaka from The Moorings apartments

How Long Should I Allow For My Holiday?

We recommend a minimum of three weeks to see the best of both islands (four if possible), or at least 9-10 days per island.

Queenstown viewed from Pepper's Beacon

Although New Zealand is a relatively small country (about the same size as Japan or the U.K.), you will find yourself spending more time than anticipated in many locations. Amazing scenery and an endless range of things to see and do often adds to the planned trip length, and New Zealand is one of those places where visitors often tell us "I could live here without hesitation".

And although driving distances may seem short when viewed on a map, travel times can sometimes be longer than expected due to the often hilly terrain, or winter weather conditions, particularly in parts of the South Island.

The best advice we can give is to plan your trip carefully, take your time and allow yourself at least a couple of multi day stays in selected locations.

If your time is limited to only a week or so, don't try and see both islands. Just visit one island. And save the other one up for your next visit, because we know you will want to return.

Read About Our Last South Island Trip

Would you like to read about where we went on our last New Zealand holiday? Check out our New Zealand Travel Journal.

You might also be interested in our ebook, "7 Must See South Island Attractions".

Check out our range of New Zealand Itineraries below

Grab a coffee, sit back and explore our great range of free New Zealand itineraries. And feel free to ask us any questions that you have (there is an enquiry form at the bottom of this page).

Happy planning!

View South Island Itineraries

View North Island Itineraries

The Inter Island Ferry

The Interislander transports passengers and vehicles between the North and South Island, and offers a spectacular alternative to flying between islands.

The ferry Kaitaki

There are currently three ferries in the fleet, and the ninety kilometer trip takes around three hours, traveling through the stunning Marlborough Sounds, and across Cook Straight.

On board there are various viewing decks, cafes, and ample lounge areas to sit back and relax, taking in the views.

If you are traveling between the islands, we highly recommend including a trip on the Interislander in your New Zealand itinerary.

To learn more about the Inter Island Ferry, check availability, and make bookings, just click here.

Do you have a question about New Zealand travel? Just ask us.

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

Thanks for visiting our New Zealand Itineraries page, We hope it has been helpful, and please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at all.

New Zealand itineraries top of page

Check road conditions at the New Zealand Transit Authority