Ten days in New Zealand is enough to drive the length of either the South Island or the North Island, with plenty of time for national parks, nature reserves, and animal sightings. Adventurous families will enjoy jet boat rides, zip lining, or even a helicopter flight, while nature-oriented families will get their fill of scenery at Milford Sound and the glowworm caves. For movie fans, the Hobbiton set in Matamata and the Wētā Cave Workshop in Wellington will satisfy their desire to visit the real Middle-earth.

Itinerary #1: North Island Active Family Road Trip: Auckland, Rotorua, Napier & Wellington

This active family itinerary is perfect for families with young kids. Roadtripping between attractions on the North Island allows plenty of time to take in Auckland, play at Muriwai Beach, and zip line at Waiheke Island. You'll even hit highlights like Hobbiton and Footwhistle Glowworm Cave, watch native birds at the world's largest gannet colony, and spot glowworms at Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary before taking in the museums in Wellington. 

View over Piha Beach, Auckland
View over Piha Beach, Auckland
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Sky Tower Dinner Auckland
Day 2 Devonport, Muriwai Beach, America's Cup Sailing Tour Auckland
Day 3 Waiheke Island Explorer, EcoZip Adventure Auckland
Day 4 Drive to Rotorua via Hobbiton Rotorua
Day 5 Footwhistle Glowworm Cave, Te Pa Tu Cultural Experience Rotorua
Day 6 Rotorua City & Lakes Duck Tour, Te Puia Springs & Māori Arts Rotorua
Day 7 Drive to Napier via Taupo, Lake Taupo Cruise, Gannet Safaris Napier
Day 8 Drive to Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Wellington
Day 9 Wellington Cable Car & Carter Observatory, Wētā Workshop  Wellington
Day 10

Depart Wellington


On Day 1, stroll along Auckland's waterfront, watch the sailboats, and enjoy the views from Sky Tower. Wander through Devonport's villas and military tunnels on Day 2. Afterward, play on Muriwai Beach or sail an America's Cup yacht down Waitemata Harbour. Day 3 is for seeing Waiheke Island, first on foot and then from high atop EcoZip Adventures' zip line, while Day 4 tours through Matamata, home to the set of Hobbiton. After your fill of movie locations, you and the kids will be mesmerized by the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave at Waitomo, followed by the Māori culture and performances at Te Pā Tū on Day 5.

Day 6 brings more adventure with a duck boat tour of Rotorua and viewing the green and orange sulfur pools and spurting geysers at Te Puia Springs. Day 7's drive to Taupō is full of exciting museum stops, but the highlight will be an up-close look at the world's largest gannet colony, high on Cape Kidnappers. Drive to Wellington on Day 8, stopping at Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary to spot glowworms and native birds. Because there is no shortage of activities in Wellington, Day 9 will leave kids happily exhausted from exploring places like Carter Observatory and Wētā Cave Workshop. Learn more

Itinerary #2: New Zealand Nature for Families: Geysers, Glowworms & Lavender Fields

In this nature-focused itinerary, families will enjoy additional outdoor highlights and scenery with a full day exploring Tongariro National Park, an eco-tourism walk through Rotorua's redwood forest, and a stop to smell the flowers at Lauren's Lavender Farm. 

Explore the redwoods of Rotorua
Play hide-and-seek amid the redwoods of Rotorua
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Sky Tower Auckland
Day 2 Hobbiton Tour Auckland
Day 3 Transfer to Rotorua, Glowworm Tour & Redwoods Forest Rotorua
Day 4 Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, Māori Cultural Dining Experience Rotorua
Day 5 Transfer to Tongariro National Park, Forgotten World Rail Cart Tour Tongariro 
Day 6 Explore Tongariro National Park Tongariro 
Day 7  Transfer to Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Wellington
Day 8 Wētā Cave Workshop Tour, Explore Wellington City Wellington
Day 9 Northern Explorer Train to Auckland, Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise Auckland
Day 10

Depart Auckland


On Day 1, discover Auckland by walking up Mount Eden, around the flower-filled Wintergardens, and taking in panoramic views from Sky Tower. You'll spend Day 2 in the real Middle-earth with a tour of the Hobbiton movie set. Before settling in Rotorua, explore the electric blue glowworm caves at Waitomo on Day 3. At night, take an eco-tourism walk through a towering redwood forest. Day 4 brings geothermal natural wonders at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and a Māori cultural experience. Nature-loving families will enjoy Day 5's scenery from the Forgotten World Railway ride and the purple blooms of Lauren's Lavender Farm

Take some easy trails past waterfalls at Tongariro National Park before seeing Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park on Day 6. The kids will be eager for up-close encounters with native birds at Wellington's wildlife eco-sanctuary, Zealandia, on Day 7. After being immersed in nature, Day 8 is for seeing movie props, costumes, and displays at Wētā Workshop and for exploring the museums and attractions in Wellington, like Wellington Cable Car. On Day 9, kids will love gliding past volcanoes and gorges on the Northern Explorer train before a dinner cruise around Auckland's harbors and marinas. Learn more

Plan your trip to New Zealand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Itinerary #3: South Island Active Family Adventure

Another active family itinerary, this sequence is faster-paced and focuses on adventures on the South Island that especially older kids will enjoy. The whole gang will ride a luge and jet boat in Queenstown before looping around the southeastern coast and driving to Christchurch, stopping at natural wonders like Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Fiordland National Park, and Milford Sound. You'll spot basking fur seals, penguins, and whales at attractions and viewpoints along the way. 

See New Zealand's little blue penguins
Have fun seeking out wildlife like New Zealand's little blue penguins, with the family
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Queenstown, Gondola & Luge Queenstown
Day 2 Macetown 4WD Tour, Dart River Jet Boat Queenstown
Day 3 Drive to Te Anau, Te Anau Glowworm Caves Te Anau
Day 4 Milford Sound Cruise & Picnic Te Anau
Day 5 Drive to Invercargill Invercargill
Day 6 Drive to Dunedin, Explore Dunedin & Otago Peninsula Dunedin
Day 7 Drive to Oamaru, View Penguin Colony Oamaru
Day 8 Drive to Christchurch, Antarctic Centre & Historic Tram Dinner Christchurch
Day 9 Day Tour to Kaikōura with Whale Watching Christchurch
Day 10

Depart New Zealand


On Day 1, get acquainted with Queenstown with a Skyline Gondola ride where you'll view Lake Wakatipu and mountain peaks from above before descending a hilltop luge track. The following day, you'll visit Macetown to pan for gold in the Arrow River before zipping on a  jet boat in Mount Aspiring National Park. Day 3 will leave the kids in awe of the electric blue color and geology of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. The whole family will enjoy Day 4's nature adventures, whether the views of Mirror Lakes and the Earl Mountains in Fiordland National Park or a close-up look at basking fur seals in Milford Sound

Day 5 takes you to Invercargill with time to view Lake Manapouri, jump on Clifden Suspension Bridge, hunt for real gems on Gemstone Beach, build sandcastles on Oreti Beach, or birdwatch at Awarua-Waituna Wetlands. Drive along the Southern Scenic Route the next day, stopping to walk the trail leading to Purakaunui Falls. Visit penguins, sea lions, and albatrosses in Dunedin at the Royal Albatross Centre. While Day 7 offers outdoorsy options like hopping across the Moeraki Boulders and viewing the Blue Penguin Colony, Day 8 explores Christchurch's museums and playgrounds before ending with an exciting whale watching tour in Kaikōura on Day 9. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Active South Island Family Vacation: Christchurch to Queenstown

A family with kids of all ages will enjoy this active 10-day family itinerary of the South Island, where you'll drive south from Christchurch to Queenstown, stopping at must-see sites like the Te Anau Glowworm Caves and Milford Sound. With visits to Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve, Mount Cook Village, stargazing at an International Dark Sky Reserve, and an exhilarating helicopter flight, this itinerary combines nature adventures and thrill-seeking activities.

Ride the chair lift in Queenstown
Ride the chair lift in Queenstown
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Christchurch, Sightseeing & Tram Dinner Christchurch
Day 2 Drive to Mount Cook Village, Evening Stargazing Mount Cook Village
Day 3 Boat Tour to Tasman Glacier, Helicopter Glacier Tour Mount Cook Village
Day 4 Drive to Wānaka, Free Time & Hiking in Wānaka Wānaka
Day 5 Lake Wānaka Cruise & Nature Walk, Puzzling World Wānaka
Day 6 Drive to Te Anau, Te Anau Glowworm Caves Te Anau
Day 7 Milford Sound Day Tour Te Anau
Day 8 Drive to Queenstown, Cruise, Farm Tour & Dinner Queenstown
Day 9 Skyline Gondola & Luge, Dart River Jet Boating Queenstown
Day 10

Depart Queenstown


Begin by sightseeing in Christchurch before paddling a canoe down the Avon River / Ōtākaro and dining aboard a tramcar restaurant. On Day 2, drive through Mount Cook Village, Canterbury Plains, and Tekapo before settling into Aoraki / Mount Cook and viewing constellations through telescopes at an International Dark Sky Reserve with your stargazing tour guide. The following day, cruise on Tasman Glacier Lake before landing a thrilling helicopter flight on the Tasman Glacier. Make your way to Wānaka on Day 4, where you'll admire Wānaka Lavender Farm after enjoying lake activities near Mount Aspiring National Park at your own pace.

Day 5 is for discovering islands and lakes inside Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve and visiting Puzzling World's mazes and optical illusions, while Day 6 brings an awe-inspiring visit to Te Anau Glowworm Caves—a thrill for the whole gang. After taking in the electric blue and white cave network, head to Milford Sound on Day 7, admiring scenery along the way. On Day 8, enjoy views of The Remarkables en route to Queenstown. There, you'll cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Take a Skyline Gondola ride to Bob's Peak and opt to descend via the luge track on Day 9. Later, you'll venture into Mount Aspiring National Park via an exhilarating jet boat ride. Learn more

Itinerary #5: New Zealand's North Island Nature & Middle-earth Family Tour

This family-friendly itinerary journeys from Auckland to Wellington on the North Island. Kids of all ages and movie fans will enjoy "Middle-earth"-like scenery and experience the Hobbiton movie set as well as Wellington's Wētā Cave Workshop with characters, props, and displays from movies including "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit." 

Visit the Hobbiton set in Matamata
Visit the Hobbiton set in Matamata
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Dinner Cruise Auckland
Day 2 Coromandel Day Trip, Sky Tower Dinner Auckland
Day 3 Waiheke Island Day Trip, Adventure Activities Auckland
Day 4 Drive to Tauranga, Explore Waterfalls & Parks Tauranga
Day 5 Drive to Rotorua, Geysers, Lakes, Culture & Forest Canopy Rotorua
Day 6 Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, Cultural Dinner Rotorua
Day 7 Drive to Napier, Explore Napier & Gannet Safari Napier
Day 8 Drive to Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Wellington
Day 9 Wellington Cable Car, Observatory & Wētā Workshop Tour Wellington
Day 10

Depart Wellington


On Day 1, see Auckland's Waitematā Harbour and skyline via a dinner cruise before venturing to the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, snorkeling at Cathedral Cove, and enjoying dinner atop the Sky Tower on Day 2. Thrill-seeking kids will love the zip lining adventure and forest walk at Waiheke Island on Day 3. The following day, drive to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty region to explore Mount Maunganui or hike Mauao, a dormant volcano. On Day 5, continue your journey inland to Rotorua, where kids will enjoy learning about geothermal activity and Māori culture before a canopy tour through Rotorua's native forest.

Movie enthusiasts will appreciate visiting the set of Hobbiton in the Waikato town of Matamata on Day 6. Later, families can participate in a performance at Mitai Māori Village. After taking in this cultural experience, discover Huka Falls, cycle at Hawke's Bay, or view the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers on your way to Napier on Day 7. After driving to Wellington on Day 8, spot kiwi, tuatara, and tiny frogs at Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary. Check out more of Wellington's family-friendly attractions on Day 9, including the Wellington Cable Car and Botanic Gardens, before touring the Wētā Cave Workshop's movie props and sets. Learn more

More Great 10-Day Destination Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to New Zealand? Check out these other 10-day New Zealand Itineraries, with outdoor adventures, family-friendly trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 


Map of 10 Days in New Zealand - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas
Map of 10 Days in New Zealand - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas