Self-drive tours New Zealand

Update July 2020: CANCELLED

Due to the covid-19 measures, we have decided to cancel all holidays until further notice. With the current measures, and what we expect the measures will be like in 6 to 12 months, it is not possible to organize anything.

New Zealand borders are closed for all tourists. The people that do get in (residents stuck abroad, family, temporary workers), have to go into a self-paid quarantine for two weeks. But even if all that is lifted by the time summer season starts in New Zealand (which is unlikely in itself), we just can’t run the risk of you getting stuck at the border, or not being able to leave the country.

The holidays will be back when there is more certainty what the future measures will be like. We will adept to the new circumstances. Only then will we be able to assess what we can and what we can’t do. Please stay in touch if you want to be informed about new dates, or if you have any other questions or ideas. Just send an e-mail to:

Choose your ideal self-drive tour

Are you not really a group-tour-kind-of-person? But you do like to have things well arranged before you take off? Then GOIN has put together the perfect self-drive tours and routes for you. New Zealand is great for holidays that take you on a road trip across the country. Tourism is the biggest industry for New Zealand and many tourists drive around the country for a few weeks. But sometimes it still feels like you’re the only one on the road.

New Zealand roads are different! You should be aware of that when you drive a car yourself. Measure distances in time, not kilometres, for instance. It usually takes you longer than expected to get from A to B, and some roads can be challenging. Most well-maintained roads are however usually easy and fun to drive. Although many Europeans and Americans often need time to get used to driving on the other side of the road.

PS: If you don’t find anything you like in the tours we offer, or when you have any special requests, then I invite you to contact us for a custom made tour. GOIN can put together a personal tour and itinerary that is customized to your planes, wishes, needs, and budget.

Preparing for your trip to New Zealand

For most people, a trip to New Zealand is a special holiday. It’s often something they’ve been looking forward to for years. Although I understand circumstances do not always allow us to choose freely, because of work, family, or physical limitations, I strongly advice you to take your time for this holiday. Two weeks is just too short… three weeks is the absolute minimum. Most Europeans spend almost three days in total travelling there and back again, anyway. And do not underestimate the effect of the jetlag, either. A few hours is not a big problem, but for Europe it’s usually 10 to 12 hours difference. That’ll take you a week to get used to.

Another advice is to not cram everything together and try to do as much as possible. You will not see it all, and it’s better to just accept that in advance. If you want everything, you will always end up frustrated about travelling and disappointed about not seeing this or that. Also, things can change, and you need to be flexible to adept to that. So, you have to make choices. You can find many beautiful places on-line and choosing is not easy when everything looks like a fairy tale. With the right choices, you focus on quality over quantity.

How can GOIN Travels help you?

From my travel experience in the country (even living there for a while), I can help you make those choices. The packages I’ve put together are well balanced in such a way, that you will be dazzled by everything you see and do, but you won’t walk around like a zombie, because of not getting enough sleep (trust me, I’ve seen them). After all, I still want you to be able to drive safely and comfortably… and return home happy.

The shortest distance between the north and the south of the country is 2200 km by car. The most extreme maximum distance is 2813 km, by the way. On some parts of the road you can’t go any faster than 50 km/h on average for a long time. Especially on the South Island there are several areas where there is often only one road to take. Driving takes you a long time to get from one place to the other.

Although driving and travelling is an experience in itself, the idea to see it all… it’s absolutely impossible. The routes GOIN has put together, are efficient and won’t strain you too much. Some have a bit of a theme, automaatically making choices for you. It also avoids you ending up going all over the place. NB: Some details of the routes below are still “under construction”, but they can definitely be followed already.

Self drive tours New Zealand:

Spiritual New Zealand

This is the same route we take for the guided tour). This tour visits several places on the north island (and a few on the south) with very high energy. You will visit places of great spiritual importance for the Maori. This route can easily be modified, extended or shortened. The current route takes you 28 days, with the option to skip a week in the north and/or the south.

Auckland -> Coromandel -> Whitianga -> Rotorua -> Taupo (Tongariro Crossing) -> Napier -> Wellington (-> ferry to Picton) -> Kaikoura -> Nelson <-> Kaiteriteri (day hike in ATNP) -> New Plymouth (domestic flight or day trip with the car) -> Waitomo -> Paihia (Bay of Islands + night-cruise) -> Kaitaia (Cape Reinga) -> Waipouha -> Auckland

South Island Alternative Wonders

This is a 28 day route across the south island. You’ll visit some (inevitable but must-see) touristic highlights. And I’ll guide to some hidden, less-touristic gems. There will be less tourists in those places, but they are just as impressive. The route takes you to Chaslands, Stewart Island and Westport, for instance. You’ll also visit Doubtful Sound in stead of Milford Sound, and Fox Glacier in stead of Frans Jozef.

Christchurch -> Timaru -> Dunedin -> Chaslands -> Bluff (for the ferry to Oban, on Stewart Island) -> Te Anau -> Doubtful Sound (night-cruise) -> Queenstown -> Wanaka -> Fox Glacier -> Westport -> Nelson <-> Abel Tasman National Park (day hike) -> Kaikoura -> Hanmer Springs -> Greymouth -> Christchurch (via Arthur’s Pass with the Tranz Alpine

North Island Alternative Beauty

This 28 days tour doesn’t follow the road of the crowd, but takes an alternative road. It will definitely bring you to places that are less touristic, but are amazingly beautiful nonetheless. Especially the start of this journey is different than other touristic routes. Later on in the trip, there are a few visits to rather touristic places, too. Making small changes can turn this into a shorter trip… whatever you feel like is best for you.

Auckland -> Great Barrier Island (ferry) -> Whangarei (domestic flight) ->  Paihia/Russell -> Waipouha -> Waitomo Glow-worm Caves or  Hobiton (you choose) -> New Plymouth -> Wellington -> Martinborough (Tora Coastal Walk) -> Napier -> Gisborne ->  (drive around the East Cape) -> Tauranga or Mount Manganui -> Whitianga -> Coromandel (Great Coastal Walkway) -> ferry to Auckland

Highlights of New Zealand

This route has been thought out to visit many highlights, but also to not overdo it with travelling. Most tourists are tempted to drive too much to see too many places. For many of them, the experience becomes almost unpleasant, because they’re never satisfied. And they’ll be tired all of the time. But trust me on this one… even if you drive for a year, there’ll still be things that you ‘missed’. With this route you’ll be travelling about 4000 km in 33 days, but you’ll never drive for two days in a row.

Auckland -> Paihia (Bay of Islands) -> Kaitaia (tour to Cape Reinga) -> Waitomo -> Rotorua -> Napier -> Wellington -> (ferry to Picton) -> Kaikoura -> Nelson <-> Kaiteriteri (Abel Tasman National Park) -> Hokitika -> Frans Jozef -> Queenstown -> Te Anau <-> Milford Sound (day trip) ->  Dunedin -> Christchurch

Note: this tour is not a round trip, like all the others are. This tour starts in Auckland and finishes in Christchurch. You can easily fly to Auckland for your return flight, or just go internationally from Christchurch. The first option is the far cheaper one, by the way…

Customization - creating your own experience

If you like the idea of one or more of the tours, but you don’t like the entire package… Or you have special requests, needs, or a specific budget (time or financial)… Please contact GOIN for more information and advice. Through simple changes we can make the trips shorter or longer, or visit places on your wish-list. GOIN knows the way and the time it takes to get from one place to another. Our experience is the basis for our advice to you, like making specific smart choices to avoid problems. Check out the options for our customized holidays, and/or send an email for more info: