Our 12 Regional Locations Enable Efficient Road Trip Stops on Both Islands
Most Home At First New Zealand lodgings provide comfortable common space indoors & out, as here in the Coromandel region.
A Choice of 12 Regions — 6 Regions on Each Island
With Home At First‘s help you choose those regions that interest you to build your itinerary. Build an itinerary that includes stops on the North Island and the South Island. Or, if you prefer, focus your visit on just one island.
Home At First’s New Zealand Road Trip offers lodging locations in 12 regions — 6 stops on the North Island and 6 stops on the South Island — making it possible to experience the great variety of New Zealand in efficient steps. Each stop is ideally located as a base for exploring its own region.
Each stop is practically located within 2-7 hours drive of the next stop. While your New Zealand Road Trip can move from one stop to the next each day, you will want to spend 2-4 overnights at several stops in regions of primary interest, especially where you have activities planned.
Our New Zealand travel experts will help you plan a Road Trip itinerary that lets you accomplish your goals efficiently by suggesting which stops are best for you in the time you have.
NORTH ISLAND LOCATIONS:
1. Northland: the Bay of Islands is a semi-tropical vacation paradise: islands, beaches, & kiwis.
2. Auckland: NZ’s Big City is also the City of Sails; & largest Polynesian city.
3. Coromandel: scenic peninsula with a unique, laid-back lifestyle on 2 coasts.
4. Rotorua & Taupo: Maori culture & geo-thermal marvels in central lakeland. Great fishing, too.
5. Hawkes Bay: principal wine-making region of the North Island
6.Wellington: youthful Kiwi capitol is NZ’s San Francisco & Vancouver
SOUTH ISLAND LOCATIONS:
1. Nelson: kool small city & hot wine region. Plus Abel Tasman Nat’l. Park.
2. Westland: Greymouth to Haast: remote wild west coast – frontier towns & glaciers-by-the-sea.
3. Queenstown: NZ’s always-trendy adventure capital, hiking mecca, with Lord of the Rings scenery.
4. Fiordland: world-class Milford & Doubtful Sounds; Milford Track and other Great Walks.
5. Mackenzie Country: Mt. Cook & Lake Tekapo: sheep stations & mountain lakes by the highest Southern Alps.
6. The East Coast: including stops at Dunedin (penguins & albatross), Christchurch (England in the South Pacific), the Kaikoura Coast (whale watching),
LODGING OCCUPANCY NOTES:
• Minimum stay at any lodging location is just one night.
• Minimum travel length: 14 lodging nights in New Zealand are necessary to get to know this wonderfully varied destination.
• Optimal travel length: 21 lodging nights in New Zealand is long enough to explore most of both islands without rushing.
Quality Hosted Lodgings: Bases for Regional Discovery where You Meet the Kiwis
Queenstown Inn — Home At First’s boutique hotel in New Zealand’s adventure capital.
SMALL, PERSONALIZED LODGINGS & THEIR KIWI HOSTS
The best travel enables the discovery of a destination and its people. At each stop on your Home At First‘s New Zealand Road Trip you get comfortable accommodations that come with Kiwi hosts. You explore a regional destination and are sure to meet New Zealanders as well as other travelers at your lodging.
Home At First’s New Zealand Road Trip lodgings vary as much as does one region from another. Some are boutique hotels with as many as a dozen guest rooms. Some are historic inns. Some are upscale B&Bs with between two and four guest rooms. Some are country lodges. Some are rural. Some are urban. Some are in towns or villages. All lodgings are positioned as ideas bases for regional exploration. All but the most remote are a short drive to shops, restaurants, cafés, and other services. Most offer private, off-street parking. All accommodations are at the least comprised of bedrooms with private baths. Some are suites with lounges.
While each Home At First New Zealand Road Trip lodging is unique, all share two important elements:
• Daily Breakfast: All lodgings provide daily breakfast — usually beautifully presented and cooked to order. Breakfast is almost always a delightful time to speak with your hosts and meet other guests.
Daily breakfast is a highlight at every Home At First New Zealand Road Trip lodging, as shown here in the Auckland region.
• Helpful Hosting: All Home At First New Zealand Road Trip lodgings come with knowledgeable, welcoming hosts on-site and on-call during your stay for questions, suggestions, problems, or emergencies. Some lodgings offer late-afternoon happy hours when hosts are available. Many hosts will book restaurants and activities reservations for you. Many — but not all — offer laundry services, too. Expect common rooms in most lodgings: guest lounges with TVs and overstuffed chairs. Expect free WiFi, too. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and saunas are rare.
At each stop in New Zealand, your hosts become the unofficial representatives of their regions — eager to help you get the most out of your short visit to their part of New Zealand.
The Right Transpacific & Domestic Flights
Early morning Air New Zealand flight arrival being serviced in Auckland after completing the 12+ hour transpacific journey.
all the flights you need
Home At First can expertly handle all the flight planning for your New Zealand Road Trip.
Home At First’s airline experts plan your North American domestic flights, your round-trip transpacific flights to New Zealand, and any necessary New Zealand domestic flights based on a combination of factors: the lowest fare, most-efficient routing, best timing for your needs, using most reliable & comfortable airlines and airliners. We will make our recommendations based on our research. You can accept our proposal or ask for modifications. Our price chart includes fares based on round-trip transpacific flights from Los Angeles (LAX) USA to Auckland (AKL) New Zealand. Your best routing may be via a North American gateway other than Los Angeles. Two New Zealand inter-island flights are also built-in. Additional New Zealand domestic flights and any North American domestic flights are extra-cost items.
• Overnighting before/after your transpacific flights: For various reasons, many travelers break their journey for one night before departing North America or after returning to North America from Auckland on their way home. By request Home At First can make hotel arrangements at your transpacific gateway airport.
Air NZ Domestic flight to Kerikeri, Northland, boarding at Auckland. Passengers beginning in Northland save drive time via this hopper.
• New Zealand Domestic Flights: Many Home At First travelers who arrive in Auckland continue to their first lodging location region by taking a New Zealand domestic flight. At their first regional destination airport they pick-up their rental car and drive a short distance to their first lodging location. Almost all Home At First travelers visit both main islands of New Zealand. Although it is possible to connect from from one to the other by ferry (a 3.5-hour trip; can be affected by weather on the sometimes very rough Cook Strait), we recommend flying between the North and South Islands: smoother, shorter, and less prone to disruptions. Typically, Home At First New Zealand Road Trip travelers have two or three domestic flights built in their itineraries.
• Ground Arrangements Only Option: If you have made your own flight arrangements (e.g. using frequent flier miles), Home At First also offers a special Ground Arrangements Only package rate that includes lodgings and transport in New Zealand, but does not include transpacific flights.
• Optional Stopovers: En route to or from New Zealand, different airlines offer stopovers in Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, or Australia. While these additional experiences are attractive, they usually require minimum stays at hotels or resorts contracted with your airline, and can be expensive. Additionally, the timing of landing and departure at the stopover destination can be inconvenient and minimize the actual jet-lag-free, day-time available for enjoying the visit. Home At First will help you plan a stopover, and make recommendations how to maximize your enjoyment at the lowest cost and disruption.
Explore New Zealand in Comfortable Rental Cars
Most of New Zealand has little traffic & lots of parking, like here on Matauri Beach in Northland. Exceptions: the few cities.
NEW ZEALAND CAR RENTAL
Home At First‘s New Zealand Road Trip specialists have driving experience up and down both islands. We can tell you what to expect and get your the right vehicles.
Home At First’s New Zealand experts will recommend the appropriate rental cars for your needs: small enough to be fuel efficient and easy to park, but large enough to hold all your luggage and provide passenger comfort for travel days of up to 7.5 hours of driving. Collect your rental car at the arrival airport of your first New Zealand regional lodging location.
Your custom-made Home At First New Zealand Road Trip comes with detailed driving directions to each of your lodgings. If you are visiting both islands, you will turn in your rental car at a logical regional departure airport, fly to the next island, then pick-up your pre-reserved rental car for use on this island. At the end of your itinerary on the second island, you turn in your rental car at a logical regional departure airport and (if coming from the South Island) fly back to Auckland where you check-in for your transpacific flight back to North America.
GETTING AROUND NEW ZEALAND:
• Left-Side Driving: As in many parts of the old British Empire, New Zealanders drive on the left. If you have never driven on the left, the learning curve is short, but significant. Most drivers become accustomed to the change after about 3 hours. For this reason, we often recommend not starting your New Zealand Road Trip in Auckland, the most traffic-congested part of the country. Except for the cities of Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and Christchurch, traffic congestion is rare in New Zealand. Away from the cities, winding mountain and coast roads present most of the driving challenges. In some regions — especially on the South Island — you can drive for 5-10 minutes on main roads and not see another car.
• Guidebook Keyed for Your New Zealand Road Trip: Home At First’s exclusive “New Zealand Road Trip Activities Guide” helps you make the most out of your visit. Included are suggestions for touring & sightseeing both islands, scenic rail journeys and boat cruises, fishing, walking/hiking/trekking, cycling, swimming, golf, restaurants, shopping, Maori culture, museums, galleries, and much more.