Auckland, near the top of the North Island, and Queenstown, near the bottom of the South Island, are about 960 miles (1550 km) apart. The quickest and easiest way of traveling between the two places is to fly, but there are other options for travelers who aren't in a hurry and want to take the scenic route.

By Air

Duration: 2 hours

Many flights make the trip each day between Auckland and Queenstown. This is the most convenient way to get between the two cities. Flights depart from the domestic terminal of Auckland Airport. On arrival in Queenstown, shuttle buses and taxis connect Queenstown Airport with the town, or you can rent a car directly from the airport.

By Car

Duration: 3+ days

Traveling between Auckland and Queenstown by car is a good option if you want to go on a road trip through New Zealand's two main islands. While the trip can be made in three days of solid driving, most travelers prefer to take their time, spreading the trip over a minimum of two weeks, but ideally longer.

There are many things to see and do along the way and potential routes. The most straightforward route is to get on State Highway (SH) 1 from Auckland and head to Wellington, stopping at the Tongariro National Park en route. From Wellington, take the vehicle ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton, at the top of the South Island (book tickets as far in advance as possible). 

Once you reach the South Island, you have two options: drive from Picton down the east coast via Kaikōura and Christchurch, and then turn west inland, through Twizel and Tekapo in the Mount Cook area, and finally arrive in Queenstown. Or, from Picton, drive west to Nelson and then south down the West Coast, passing through Westport, Greymouth, Hokitika, Franz Josef / Waiau, Fox Glacier, over the Haast Pass, through Wānaka, and finally to Queenstown. Both of these routes are fantastic road trips and shouldn't be hurried.

If driving through the Central Plateau in the North Island and the mountainous areas of the South Island in the winter, be sure to check road and weather conditions before setting out. Roads in these areas are often closed due to snowfall, even in late autumn and spring, and you may have to take a longer way around. And, while most of New Zealand's roads are in decent condition, some of the mountainous roads can be challenging for less-experienced drivers.

By Bus

Duration: Several days

While it's not possible to travel directly from Auckland to Queenstown by bus, you can combine long-distance bus services through the North and South Islands. As with the suggested driving itinerary above, making the trip by bus is best spread over several weeks, stopping at points of attraction along the way.

To make this trip a bit faster, go straight through from Auckland to Wellington on day or overnight buses, cross the Cook Strait on a ferry, and then travel directly from Picton to Christchurch. From Christchurch, you'll need to change buses to continue the journey to Queenstown. If you wanted to go along the West Coast from Picton, you'd need to change buses in Franz Josef / Waiau.


Map of How to Get from Auckland to Queenstown
Map of How to Get from Auckland to Queenstown