Guided Tours vs. Self-Drive Holidays - What's Best for You?

April 24, 2014

Here at Kiwi Travel we offer both guided tours and rental car or motorhome options. We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons of each type based on our extensive industry knowledge in creating fantastic New Zealand holiday packages. If you’re having a hard time deciding which option is best for you, we think you’ll find this article helpful.

While each one is fun and flexible, there may be a few reasons you’d choose one over the other.

A van outside a large kiwifruit 

Guided tours and day tours

The small group tours and day tours we offer are set itineraries with many costs of activities included in the overall fare, and day tours can be added to a self-drive experience.

Small group tours generally have a maximum of 10 people and are somewhat customisable to suit different people’s needs. Throughout the trip, there may be optional activities to allow for further customisation.  

Advantages of guided tours

  • It’s relaxing to take a holiday you don’t have to organise. If you like to go with the flow and not have to worry about planning ahead, then a guided tour is a great option.
  • If you’re by yourself, it’s a great way to socialise and meet new people.
  • You won’t have to do any driving!
  • The price of your fare includes all accommodation and transport during the trip, breakfast and the attractions included in the itinerary.
  • There is a mix of excitement and down-time, and optional activities.
  • You may be able to skip lines at attractions as many activities are pre-booked.
  • You will have an expert guide to direct the tour, so you'll learn plenty about New Zealand’s culture and history.

Drawbacks of guided tours

  • Guided tours are full on, allowing visitors to make the most of their time in New Zealand. If you enjoy taking things more slowly and really ‘digesting’ an experience, then you may prefer a different approach to touring.
  • There is a set itinerary, so if you’re someone who likes to see where the open road leads, a guided tour might feel restrictive.
  • The group will make an early start on some of the days to squeeze in a variety of activities. If you’re a night owl, you might find yourself yawning your way through the mornings.
  • Guided tours may not be an option if you’re on a tight budget.


Self-drive holiday packages

We offer two main types of self-drive holidays – car hire and motorhome holidays. We offer a wide variety of cars and motorhomes available to suit your style and number of people in your group. Some of our trips provide you with a suggested route and suggest optional extras, but you can modify the itinerary and are free to roam the countryside at will.

Advantages of self-drive holidays

  • The main advantage here is flexibility – do as much or as little as you like each day.
  • Trips like these are great if you prefer to spend most of your time with family or friends.
  • Choose your own itinerary, destinations and accommodation.
  • Self-drive holidays can be more economical and friendly on your wallet.
  • You can hire a car or motorhome for a shorter or longer time than a guided tour.

Drawbacks of self-drive holidays

  • A guided tour could be worrying if you have small children – driving and planning yourself is great as you can stop as often as you like and have more child-friendly activity options.
  • Driving in New Zealand is very different to many other countries – you may not be used to driving on the other side of the road and there are plenty of winding, hilly roads. Make sure you know the New Zealand road rules.
  • Some places may not allow motorhomes to park ‘just anywhere’ to camp for the night.
  • Unless you want to be by yourself, travelling alone can often get… well, lonely.

In the end, the decision is up to you. Feel free to contact us and enquire about any questions you may have. We’re happy to help choose the holiday that’s right for you.

Picture credit:

Kiwi 360 by Studio tdes, CC-BY-2.0

Filed under Places to Visit

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