There’s simply no better way of seeing New Zealand than on an epic road trip, taking in the best of both the North and South islands. Coastal sweeps, countryside drives and high mountain passes will see you between everything from mighty glaciers and geothermal wonders to vineyard tastings and national-park beaches. There’s also plenty of Maori heritage amongst the country’s city greats and historic towns. And throughout, you’ll stay in some of the finest properties that New Zealand has to offer.
Begin in style with a private-chauffeur airport transfer where you’ll enjoy VIP airport lounge access before your flight out.
On arrival into New Zealand’s largest city, you’ll be met by a private driver who’ll see you to your luxury hotel. It’s the perfect introduction to Auckland – a 1920s Art Deco icon set right in the heart of town.
As such, you’ll have all of the city’s delights on your doorstep, from its Maori art galleries and museums to the giant Skytower’s sweeping views. If you look a little closer, you’ll also be within easy reach of volcano hikes, rainforests dotted with Maori carvings, and gulf islands home to superlative vineyards.
Hotel Grand Windsor
Picking up your hire car from central Auckland, it’s time to set off on your road trip. You’ll quickly find the city giving way to lush countryside, as you follow the coast to your exclusive seaside accommodation. With just four suites, it’s delightfully intimate, not least for its easy access to golden beaches that host geothermal pools.
For something more active, head into the peninsula’s centre for some back-bush hiking, or head out on a scenic drive for impressive rock formations and a west coast thrashed into weathered jags.
Heading inland, you’ll make your way to Rotorua, where New Zealand’s volcanicity shines brightly in hot springs, geysers, mud pools and even lurid-orange mineral lakes. And, all this activity is contrasted by your relaxed accommodation – an early-20th-century mansion complete with lake views and its own beach.
There’s also plenty of cultural intrigue as well, with the local Maori mythology kept alive in traditional villages, where you can join cultural performances and hangi feasts.
On your way back to the coast, you’ll watch as Rotorua’s volcanic exuberance calms into undulating greenery. Your goal is Napier, whose Art-Deco beauty is paired with some of New Zealand’s finest vineyards, found in next-door Hawke’s Bay.
In between tasting opportunities, be sure to find some time to relax in your luxurious accommodation – a converted vicarage where you’ll enjoy complimentary pre-dinner drinks and canapés.
Despite its status as the country’s capital, Wellington is full of provincial charm, best experienced in its superb microbrewery scene, surrounding hills and postcard-perfect harbour. It’s a privileged view taken in right from your chic room and your hotel’s rooftop infinity pool.
Further highlights include the excellent Museum of New Zealand, home to a fascinating collection of Maori woodcarvings.
Leaving your car behind, you’ll board the Interislander ferry to enjoy all the comforts of Premium Class. As the lush-green bays of the Cook Strat drift past, you’ll be treated to a complimentary meal, along with snacks and beer or wine.
Then, on arrival in the South Island, you’ll pick up your new hire car for the journey through vineyard-dotted countryside to Nelson. Alongside the wine, you’ll also want to get a taste of next-door Abel Tasman National Park. This beautiful collection of burnished beaches and secluded coves is backed by thick jungle, ideal for both hiking and kayaking. Nights are spent in the luxury Te Koi on the tip of the historic Bronte Peninsula.
The South Island’s west coast is delightfully rugged, characterised by cragged inlets watched over by old-growth forests. It’s all scenery that characterises your drive south to Westland National Park, where you’ll stay right among its wilderness rainforest in a luxury hotel that features private balconies and a canopy-level restaurant. You’ll also want to explore the next-door Franz Josef Glacier, perhaps on an optional hike or helicopter ride, before returning to warm back up in a forested hot pool.
Your trip down to Queenstown will bring you alongside rushing rivers, past quaint lakeside towns and into the heights of the Southern Alps. Perched between the Remarkables mountain range and glittering Lake Wakatipu, there’s a full range of activities here, from skiing and skydiving to bungee jumping and white-water rafting.
However, look beyond the high adrenaline and you’ll find mountain hikes, vineyard tastings and laidback gold-rush towns set on idyllic lake shores. Or, explore further with a scenic cruise on spectacular Milford Sound – a true fjord icon. You’ll return each night to the boutique alpine-chic of your luxury accommodation.
You’ll venture deeper into the South Island’s mountains today, your scenic route rewarding you with Lake Tekapo – a glassy delight almost entirely surrounded by snow-capped peaks. It’s a spectacular view enjoyed right from your luxurious suite.
You’ll also want to get a closer look, perhaps on a hike or horseride before perhaps taking some time to relax in the geothermally heated hot springs. For photographers, don’t miss out on the Church of the Good Shepherd. Its delightful stone construction is backdropped by some of the region’s prettiest scenery.
Heading east, you’ll arrive at your final stop – Christchurch. Charmingly English, it’s resplendent in green parks and neo-Gothic vestiges; you can even try your hand at punting on the River Avon. Don’t also miss out on the superb botanic gardens.
You’ll take it all in from your boutique accommodation, enjoying its flawlessly contemporary styling and a one-to-one staff to guest ratio.
After your final breakfast, drop your car off at Christchurch Airport and board your overnight flight home.
"I've designed this route to rival the greatest driving holidays the world has to offer. And, alongside the impossibly scenic views, there's plenty of time for some relaxed indulgence. Along with its superb wineries, New Zealand is famous in the trade for its boutique accommodation. So, I've selected some of the country's finest offerings for you to stay in."
Low Season from: £4,505 pp
High Season from: £4,955 pp