The Ultimate Self Drive Holiday in New Zealand
What is it that contributes to make The Ultimate Self Drive Holiday in New Zealand? I have given this question a lot of thought and discussed it with my colleagues and friends. We have come up with a list of questions and answers that may assist travellers’ who are contemplating a visit.
• How long will I need?
Ideally, and for the Ultimate Self Drive Holiday you will need three weeks to experience both Islands. However you can visit parts of the North and South Islands in just 10 days. People who can only spare 10 days to see a sample of what is on offer will invariably return sometime in the future. Next week I am going to do the Doubtful Sound Cruise in Southland – I have allowed 4 days for my return trip from Christchurch.
• What will I see on the Ultimate Self Drive Holiday?
New Zealand scenery offers a different view around every corner – mountains and sea (sometimes both in the same ‘frame’) lakes, vineyards, rivers, forest, glaciers and farming for as far as the eye can see.
Visitors get very excited to find that different experiences are often in very close proximity to each other. Just imagine:
- You are swimming at one of the golden beaches in the Nelson area and then within 4 hours you are walking one of our famous West Coast Glaciers.
- You can be on a Dolphin cruise in the Bay of Islands and then within two hours visiting Waipoua Kauri Forest, viewing trees that are thousands of year’s old.
• What about stopping along the way?
Self Drive equals ‘ own pace’ which for me is the only way to see ‘everything’.
- Stop at your leisure at a roadside stall and purchase some Apricots fresh off the trees in Cromwell or a Water Melon in Keri Keri.
- Everyone is a photographer these days, Jeanette and I are often found photographing places or items of interest for our MNZV facebook page. The opportunities are endless.
- Pull over when you see something unique to New Zealand or that just interests you.
- If hiking/walking is your thing – you will be spoilt for choice in terms of places to stop, refresh, and enjoy little scenic areas that are off the beaten track. We think that is what a holiday is all about. One of my favourite places to stop for a short walk is Pelorous Bridge in the Havelock Sound.
- The ability to go at your own pace is the true reward of The Ultimate Self Drive Tour.
• What about the people?
A warm welcome from the locals is pretty much ‘par for the course’ wherever you are in New Zealand.
There is a saying here that the further South you go, the friendlier the people. Perhaps because the South is less populated and there is a slower pace of life which means more time to chat.
New Zealander’s love visitors and are very proud of their country, they will readily share information about their favourite places.
I can’t resist approaching someone who is looking lost (map in hand) to see if I can help them along their way and to offer tips about off the road places that might otherwise be missed.
What types of accommodation will I find?
The mix of accommodation on offer in New Zealand is much the same as the rest of the world. All the ‘star’ levels of hotel options, self-catering motels (apartments), backpacker options and cabins in holiday parks. Our Ultimate Self Drive Holiday accommodations are Bed & Breakfasts that are located in very scenic areas with hosts that have great in depth local knowledge. The hosts will tell you the best place to eat in town (not necessarily the tourist places) the best winery in the area, the activities you may enjoy and where to go walking. I love staying with our hosts just because of that home away from home feeling that you get after a day driving and exploring.
Guests on a Meet New Zealand Vacation
• What about the food options on our Ultimate New Zealand Self Drive Holiday?
New Zealand is a foodie’s paradise and a Self Drive holiday means you can even factor in one of the weekend markets as you travel around. The Matakana Market north of Auckland is one of our most famous. My local is the Ohoka Market – a great place to pick up everything from cheeses, salmon, fresh vegetables (direct from the grower), second hand tools, woollen goods, to artwork. The ‘ready to eat’ food stalls are always difficult to choose between and the inevitable stop and relax over a cup of delicious coffee is all part of the visit. Nearly every centre in New Zealand has a Farmer’s market going on somewhere in the area on a Saturday or Sunday.
If the restaurant/winery scene is what you prefer you will be ‘blown away’ by the level of quality dining on offer. Every variety of cuisine is available. A lot of our restaurants specialise in local and seasonal foods which they buy direct from the growers.
Recently I had lunch at St Claire Winery in Marlborough. The food was: fresh, local and delicious. A great wine match was suggested which contributed to a fantastic long lunch, outside with a great view of the vineyard.
• What is the best way to experience Maori Culture?
Our visitors are ‘blown away’ NZ’s Maori Culture and an experience of the culture needs to be factored into the Ultimate New Zealand Self Drive holiday.
- Rotorua – spine-tingling is the only way to describe a visit to one of Rotorua’s cultural experiences. I have been lucky enough to visit Whakarewarewa – The Living Moari Village at dusk. It’s eerie – all the senses are awakened -the smell of the sulfur; the intermittent spouting of hot water in the pools and the bubbling mud – truly extraordinary.
- The Waitangi Treaty Ground in Northland is probably our best known area to experience Maori Culture. The home of the Treaty of Waitangi (New Zealand’s founding agreement signed between representatives of the British Crown and various New Zealand Maori Chiefs in 1840). The grounds and the museum offer a real reflection of what has ‘gone before’ and there is so much to see. Standing at the edge of the Bay looking out to the Pacific with the Treaty House behind you gives you a little glimpse of what it would have been like to arrive there by Waka (canoe) all those years ago.
Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village – photograph courtesy of Whakarewarewa
• What can I expect in regard New Zealand roads?
New Zealand has an adequate road system with all main and secondary roads being sealed and having two lanes. We drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Although on a map New Zealand looks miniscule (and it is, compared to many other countries) generally it takes longer to drive from place to place than most visitors envisage prior to arriving here, as driving times are relatively slow. Among the reasons for this is because we have few motorways or freeways and our roads often traverse hilly or windy areas. For this reason we like our guests to stay at least two days in each destination so they are well rested and get to relax and truly enjoy the experience.
Click Here to find out more about driving in New Zealand.