Urban Escapes to Cultural Capitals: Auckland to Wellington Self-drive

16 Days | 13 Nights

Price per person from *$5059pp (*Based on Double Occupancy)
Air/Land Inclusive

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Discover the enchanting beauty and rich culture of New Zealand on an unforgettable 14-day self-drive experience. From Auckland’s vibrant cityscape to the serene Bay of Islands, the pristine Coromandel Peninsula, the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, and the art deco charm of Napier, your adventure will be filled with breathtaking sights and memorable experiences.

  • Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles including New Zealand Domestic Flight
  • 13 Nights Superior Accommodation
  • 11 Days Intermediate Car Hire
  • 10 Tours/Experiences including Zealandia by Night, Napier Art Deco Walk, Maori Cultural Evening and Coromandel Cruise
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Your journey commences with a warm welcome as you arrive at Auckland Airport. A private transfer takes you to the elegant Sudima Auckland City, where you’ll find a respite in a comfortable Superior King room. To start your day, enjoy a delectable breakfast at the hotel.

Set out to explore Auckland’s diverse culinary scene on a “Taste of Auckland” full-day tour. You’ll uncover the city’s vibrant food culture and savor a variety of delicious local dishes that reflect New Zealand’s culinary richness.

After breakfast, you’ll embark on the next leg of your journey. Collect your intermediate car rental, a trusty companion for your adventures. You’ll be driving to the scenic Bay of Islands, a coastal gem renowned for its natural beauty. Upon arrival, check into The Sanctuary Bay of Islands, where you’ll be accommodated in a Sea/Bush View Suite. Your stay includes a nourishing breakfast.

Today’s adventure takes you on an Island and Wildlife Day Cruise in the Bay of Islands. This immersive experience offers the opportunity to encounter fascinating marine life, explore historic sites, and discover the untouched beauty of the region’s islands.

Depart the Bay of Islands and hit the road early, bound for the Coromandel Peninsula. This region is known for its natural splendor and pristine coastlines. On arrival, check-in to Brenton Lodge for a 2-night stay.

Join a 2-hour cruise called “The Full Monty” and explore Coromandel’s breathtaking coastline, secret coves, and hidden gems. You’ll be captivated by the rugged beauty of this coastal paradise.

The next leg of your journey takes you to Rotorua, where you’ll be welcomed by the city’s geothermal wonders and rich Māori culture. Relax at the Regent of Rotorua for 2 nights, allowing you time to experience the city.

Dive into Māori culture and experience the Te Po Indigenous Evening, featuring traditional rituals, a Maori feast, and captivating performances. Your vacation also includes a ride on Rotorua’s Skyline Gondola for lunch and a magical Redwoods Treewalk under the night lights.

As the sun rises, embark on a scenic drive to the serene town of Taupo, nestled on the shores of Lake Taupo. Taupo is renowned for its majestic lake, and today you’ll embark on a scenic cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings. This captivating journey lets you explore Lake Taupo’s beauty and cultural significance.

Your next destination is the city of Napier, celebrated for its art deco architecture. You’ll find a warm welcome at The Crown Hotel, offering a restful stay in a 1 Bedroom Suite. As evening approaches, join an art deco guided walk to uncover the city’s charming heritage.

A scenic drive takes you to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Novotel Wellington becomes your home for the next two nights, where a Superior Room and daily breakfast are included. Your stay in Wellington is marked by cultural exploration, including the Te Papa Highlights Tour and the Zealandia by Night Evening Tour, where you’ll discover the wonders of the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary.

As your adventure through New Zealand ends, you’ll bid farewell to Wellington. Your memorable journey has introduced you to the country’s diverse landscapes, rich culture, and unforgettable experiences.

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Travel Dates

*Price per person from Based on Double Occupancy
Jun 29, 2024 - Jul 24, 2024 from $5399pp*
Jul 25, 2024 - Sep 25, 2024 from $5059pp*
Sep 26, 2024 - Oct 16, 2024 from $5789pp*
Oct 17, 2024 - Dec 4, 2024 from $5459pp*
Dec 5, 2024 - Dec 12, 2024 from $5839pp*
Dec 13, 2024 - Dec 23, 2024 from $6439pp*
Dec 24, 2024 - Jan 3, 2025 from $5939pp*
Jan 4, 2025 - Jan 13, 2025 from $6299pp*
Jan 14, 2025 - Jan 29, 2025 from $5839pp*
Jan 30, 2025 - Mar 20, 2025 from $5459pp*

For baggage and optional fee information please click here.

*Prices are quoted in USD and are ‘from’, per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplements apply. Valid for weekday departures and weekend returns. Transpacific departures Fri – Sun incurs a $50 fee each direction. Advertised pricing reflects low season pricing. Seasonal surcharges apply for travel outside this season. Must be booked by August 31, 2024. Black-out dates apply Napier Dec 26 - Jan 4; Feb 7-8; Feb 21-22; Feb 28-Mar 1. Other blackout dates may apply. Rates are not valid for special events and surcharges may apply. Prices are current at time of posting (6/30/2024) and may differ when you book your travel and are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed, due to fare increases and currency fluctuations. All pricing is strictly subject to availability. All prices, itineraries and routing are subject to change without notice.  Please call for our current prices. CA CST: 2076233-40 | WA ID: 601 684 531 

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  • Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Auckland, returning from Wellington
  • One-way private arrival transfer from Auckland Airport to Hotel
  • 2 nights Auckland, Sudima Auckland City, Superior King including breakfast
    • A Taste of Auckland full-day tour includes hotel transfers, 3-hour city tour with 3 wine tastings and a vineyard lunch with a glass of wine
  • 11 days Intermediate Car Hire  includes unlimited mileage, GST, Standard Damage Waiver and Excess Reduction (Nil)
  • 2 nights Bay of Islands, The Sanctuary Bay of Islands, Sea/Bush View Suite including breakfast
    • Island and Wildlife Day Cruise includes use of snorkeling gear, tea/coffee and a BBQ lunch
  • 2 nights Coromandel, Brenton Lodge, Ocean View King Suite including Continental breakfast
    • 2-hour The Full Monty Cruise includes use of snorkeling gear.
  • 2 nights Rotorua, Regent of Rotorua, Superior Room including breakfast
    • Te Po Indigenous Evening Experience includes hotel transfers, hangi dinner and cultural performance
    • Rotorua Skyline Gondola Experience includes gondola ride and buffet lunch
    • Redwoods Treewalk Nightlights includes night time entry and a short introductory talk
  • 1 night Taupo, Anchorage Resort, One Bedroom Lakeview Unit
    • Scenic Cruise to Maori Rock Carvings includes tea/coffee
  • 2 nights Napier, The Crown Hotel, 1 Bedroom Suite including breakfast
    • Art Deco Evening Guided Walk
  • 2 nights Wellington, Novotel Wellington, Superior Room including breakfast
    • Te Papa Highlights Tour includes admission
    • Zealandia by Night Evening Tour includes admission and guided walk
  • US/foreign taxes and fees including September 11 Security Fee



  • Car Rental excludes additional insurances, petrol, bond, additional drivers (NZ$5+GST per day up to a maximum of NZ$25 +GST for the entire length of rental), Standard Insurance Excess (payable direct) and miscellaneous charges
  • New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) NZ$17 on free App or NZ$23 if completed online PLUS the IVL of NZ$35. Payable on application.

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  • 01

    Day 1: Depart USA

    This evening make your way to the Los Angeles Airport for your overnight flight aboard Air New Zealand to Auckland. Enjoy a dining experience full of super fresh ingredients and flavors and an extensive range of premium New Zealand wines to complement each meal. Relax in the ergonomically designed seats that create generous personal space to ensure a comfortable journey. Take control of the on-demand entertainment and enjoy a wide range of audio and video and a collection of the very best in music.

  • 02

    Day 2: International Date Line

    During your flight, you will cross the International Date Line.

  • 03
    Sudima Auckland City Superior Room

    Day 3: Auckland

    On arrival at Auckland Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel by private vehicle for a 2-night stay. The remainder of your day is free to explore the city at your leisure.

    • Sudima Auckland City  (Superior)
  • 04
    Auckland Aerial View featuring ocean and Harbour Bridge c.ATEED

    Day 4: Auckland (B)

    Explore Auckland's vibrant city in the morning on a small-group tour, immersing yourself in the local culture and lifestyle of the City of Sails. After the city tour, venture to Kumeu Wine Country, a quick 30-minute drive from downtown Auckland. Savor award-winning wines at Soljans Vineyard and indulge in a sun-soaked Mediterranean-style lunch at their restaurant. West Brook Winery awaits, offering idyllic views and wines that reflect their regional origins. Continue to a gannet nesting site on cliff-tops overlooking the Tasman Sea, where you can observe these magnificent seabirds in their natural habitat without disruption. The journey concludes with tastings at Coopers Creek, known for their extensive range of unique wines.

    • Sudima Auckland City  (Superior)
  • 05
    Sanctuary Bay of Islands Room

    Day 5: Auckland - Bay of Islands (B)

    After breakfast, collect your rental vehicle and make your way north to the Bay of Islands. Departing from New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, you'll journey northward through picturesque landscapes. Along the way, discover charming coastal towns, hidden coves, and lush forests. The Bay of Islands awaits with its pristine beaches, secluded islands, and rich history. Enjoy the freedom of a self-drive excursion, allowing you to explore at your own pace, creating memories that will last a lifetime in this coastal paradise. Check-in to your hotel for a 2-night stay.

    • The Sanctuary Bay of Islands  (Superior)
  • 06
    The Sanctuary Bay of Islands View

    Day 6: Bay of Islands (B)

    Today, join an island and wildlife day cruise for an extraordinary experience in the Bay of Islands, where you'll encounter stunning wildlife and pristine natural beauty. This excursion isn't just about enjoying the wonders of the sea; it's an opportunity to give back to the local community. By choosing this cruise, you actively support marine conservation and research while contributing to the Carino Marine Explorers Trust, a registered charity dedicated to children's marine education. The 6-hour cruise offers relaxed sailing, the chance to spot wild dolphins and penguins, island stops for swimming and snorkeling, and a BBQ lunch. It's a responsible, fun, and relaxing way to explore the Bay of Islands while making a meaningful impact on the environment.

    • The Sanctuary Bay of Islands  (Superior)
  • 07
    Brenton Lodge Exterior

    Day 7: Bay of Islands – Coromandel (B)

    Embark on a captivating day’s drive from the serene Bay of Islands to the Coromandel Peninsula, a coastal gem awaiting your exploration. As you make your way to the Coromandel, be prepared for lush forests, hidden coves, and coastal beauty that will leave you spellbound.

    • Brenton Lodge  (Superior)
  • 08
    Ocean Leopard Tours Cathedral Cove

    Day 8: Coromandel (CB)

    Make your way to Whitianga Wharf and board your vessel for a 2-hour cruise. Explore 12km of rugged volcanic coastline visiting nearby islands, stunning beaches, including Lonely Bay, Cooks Beach, Hahei and the spectacular Cathedral Cove where Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia) was filmed. Venture across the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve where you’ll observe an abundance of marine and bird life. Get up close and personal with towering pinnacles, giant blowholes and huge sea caves including Orua Sea Cave, one of the largest in New Zealand and only accessible by boat. Throughout the tour your local guide will highlight Mercury Bay’s rich and colorful history giving a fabulous balance of information and time to soak up the sights and sounds.

    • Brenton Lodge  (Superior)
  • 09
    Ocean Leopard Tours Full Monty

    Day 9: Coromandel – Rotorua (CB,D)

    The drive from the Coromandel to Rotorua unveils a dynamic shift in New Zealand's landscape. Departing from the Coromandel Peninsula's coastal serenity, your journey leads you inland, where rolling hills and native forests dominate the scenery. The road to Rotorua promises an intriguing transition, as you approach the heart of New Zealand's geothermal wonders. Rotorua's volcanic landscapes, steaming geysers, and Maori cultural experiences await, providing a stark contrast to the coastal beauty of the Coromandel. This evening, enjoy Te Puia's renowned hāngī buffet dinner while a mesmerizing cultural performance transpires in the intricately carved Te Aronui a Rua meeting house. This immersive experience includes a traditional pōhiri welcome, waiata songs, mōteatea chants, poi dances, and powerful haka performances. The evening culminates with hot chocolate and steamed pudding, all within the enchanting backdrop of steam and geyser terraces illuminated by vibrant hues.

    • Brenton Lodge  (Superior)
  • 10
    Regent of Rotorua Superior Room

    Day 10: Rotorua (B,L)

    Begin your day with a journey to the Skyline Gondola, offering breathtaking regional views. Relish a premium buffet lunch at Skyline Rotorua's Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar, showcasing locally sourced seafood, meats, and produce. Your dining experience includes a guaranteed window seat, a welcome drink, and unlimited sparkling or still Britta water. As dusk approaches, visit the Redwoods Treewalk, featuring 28 suspended bridges, 27 platforms, and 700 meters of treetop adventure suitable for all ages. Informative storyboards narrate local tales and forestry insights along the way. This ecological walk is perfect for wet weather, and you can explore at your leisure without safety harnesses or training, basking in the serenity of this remarkable forest.

    • Regent of Rotorua  (Superior)
  • 11
    Taupo Cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings with Chris Jolly

    Day 11: Rotorua – Taupo (B)

    The scenic drive from Rotorua to Taupo is a journey that unveils New Zealand's natural beauty at every turn. As you leave the geothermal wonders of Rotorua behind, you'll be captivated by the ever-changing landscapes that transition from lush forests to open farmland. The drive leads you through serene countryside, and the magnificent Lake Taupo soon comes into view, offering stunning vistas of its crystal-clear waters.

    • Regent of Rotorua  (Superior)
  • 12
    Crown Hotel Napier Room

    Day 12: Taupo - Napier

    This morning, see the majestic Maori Rock Carvings in complete comfort on the two storied catamaran. Explore the largest crater Lake in the North Island with a live commentary, whilst enjoying a homemade muffin and hot drink. As you depart from the tranquil shores of Lake Taupo, you'll journey through lush farmlands and rolling hills. The road unfolds before you, revealing the Hawke's Bay region's iconic landscapes. You'll soon arrive in Napier, renowned for its captivating art deco architecture and stunning coastal views, making the drive a prelude to the city's unique charm and rich history.

    • The Crown Hotel  (Superior)
  • 13
    Napier Art Deco 04590976 c.123rf

    Day 13: Napier (B)

    Today is free to explore the Napier/Hawke’s Bay region. Delve into Napier's rich Maori heritage at the Pania of the Reef statue and experience the local culture. The city's gorgeous beaches, such as Marine Parade, provide opportunities for relaxation and seaside picnics, making Napier an ideal destination for a diverse array of daytime adventures. For wine enthusiasts, a visit to the nearby Hawke's Bay wine country is a must, offering tastings at world-renowned vineyards. This evening, take a walk back in time with a guided walking tour of Napier's fascinating Art Deco Quarter. Your local guide will tell you stories of the earthquake that destroyed the city, the people they were affected, and the remarkable recovery and rebuild that was completed within two years. A truly memorable experience of the most complete Art Deco city in the world.

    • The Crown Hotel  (Superior)
  • 14
    Novotel Wellington Room

    Day 14: Napier – Wellington (B)

    As you leave Napier's art deco charm behind, the road takes you through lush vineyards, rolling hills, and coastal vistas, offering glimpses of the stunning Hawke's Bay coastline. The drive continues through rugged terrains and native forests, ultimately leading you to Wellington, the country's capital. As you approach the city, the captivating landscapes and bustling harborside activities set the stage for your exploration of Wellington's vibrant cultural scene and the many attractions that await in this dynamic capital city.

    • Novotel Wellingon  (Superior)
  • 15
    Wellington scenic mt Victoria c.Celeste Fontein

    Day 15: Wellington (B)

    This morning, visit Te Papa Musuem and learn about how New Zealand came to be and what the future holds for this island nation on a privately guided tour of the national museum. Explore the diverse natural environment, the continued growth of Māori culture, and what the national art collection has to say about living in New Zealand. Discover intricate details and ask in-depth questions about New Zealand with your own personal guide who will take up close to a diverse array of taonga dotted around the museum. There is plenty of time to explore the city before you make your way to Zealandia Ecosanctuary for a full 2.5-hour experience. Explore the valley by torchlight as your guide leads you in search of the endemic species found in Zealandia. Experience many of the rare and endangered species and see those who only come out at night. Your group may even see some of the 130 little spotted kiwi who call Zealandia home. Gain insights into New Zealand’s natural history and the significance within Māori culture. The tour will end with a replenishing cup of hot kawakawa tea (bushman’s tea) in the Visitor Centre.

    • Novotel Wellingon  (Superior)
  • 16

    Day 16: Depart Wellington (B)

    After breakfast, there is time to explore the city further before returning your rental vehicle to Wellington Airport prior to your return flight back to the US via Auckland.

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