Itinerary #1: New Zealand Highlights North to South
This traditional trip through New Zealand has it all. Start with sightseeing in Auckland, visit all the geothermal highlights in Rotorua, go hiking and wine tasting in Wanaka, and more
|Days 1-2||Auckland - Tour the City and Waiheke Island||Auckland|
|Days 3-4||Rotorua - Bike and nature tours||Rotorua|
|Days 5-6||Raglan - Tour the Surfing Destination||Raglan|
|Days 7-8||Te Anau - Fiordland National Park and Guided Tours of the Sounds||Te Anau|
|Days 9-10||Wanaka - Town Tour and Hiking in Mt. Aspiring National Park||Wanaka|
|Day 11||Lake Tekapo - Hiking, hot pools, and stargazing||Lake Tekapo|
|Days 12-13||Akaroa - Hiking and swimming with dolphins||Akaroa|
|Day 14||Christchurch - Depart From New Zealand|
Kick off the trip in Auckland. Ascend the Sky Tower, the largest manmade structure in the country, and embark on the SkyWalk around the perimeter. Visit Wynyard Quarter’s daily fish market and take in the views of the waterways from Mt. Eden. Historic Devonport is a relaxed take on a seaside village, while Britomart is home to hip restaurants, cafés, and shops. On your second day in Auckland, take the ferry to Waiheke Island, which offers nature walks, art, snorkeling and diving, and laid-back beach fun. Enjoy the island’s wineries, too, and stay the night at a bed and breakfast.
Head to Rotorua, known as the geothermal city, next. Check out the now-excavated Buried Village, view the colorful pools at Wai-O-Tapu, hike through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley’s craters, and seek out the geothermal hot springs and mud spa at Hells Gate. Then, continue exploring Rotorua’s Redwoods Forest via bike tour, take a ride up the Skyline Gondola, visit the native Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs Nature Park, and get pampered at the Polynesia Spa.
Cruise over to the surfing town of Raglan, with its black-sand beaches and volcanic cliffs. Go kayaking or paddleboarding around Raglan Harbor, or go surfing in Manu Bay and Whale Bay. Wake up and drive to Bridal Veil Falls, a Maori-honored waterfall measuring 180 feet high, followed by a trip to Kawhia, and over Te Puia Road, to soak in the hot springs over the dunes.
Te Anau, home to Fiordland National Park, is the next two-day stop. Explore the landscapes by hiking or tramping Kepler Track or Routeburn Track. Take a cruise along Lake Te Anau to visit the subterranean glowworm caves. Then, take another boat tour of the stunning Milford Sound, with its countless waterfalls and glacial valleys. Explore Doubtful Sound, too, and learn about native flora and fauna—fur seals bask on the rocks and bottlenose dolphins swim in the deep sea.
Wanaka, filled with lakes, mountains, rivers, and fun activities is next on the itinerary. Hike through Mt. Aspiring National Park, and enjoy skiing in the winter months. Then, indulge in a bit of wine tasting in the Central Otago region, followed by a thrilling waterfall plunge and an indoor rock-climbing excursion. For day adventurers, pencil in Rob Roy Glacier and Mou Waho Island.
Next, make your way to Lake Tekapo for some scenic hiking, relaxing soaks, and incredible stargazing. Then, head to Akaroa to discover the Banks Peninsula, from swimming with Hector’s dolphins to viewing little blue penguins at the Royal Albatross Centre. Stroll the Banks Track and take in your final views of New Zealand, before departing from Christchurch tomorrow. Learn more
Itinerary #2: North Island Adventure - Auckland to Wellington
Explore the highlights of the North Island on this eventful, two-week tour of five regions.
|Day 1||Arrival in Auckland and Self-Guided Tour||Auckland|
|Day 2||Auckland - Sky Tower & Devonport||Auckland|
|Day 3||Auckland - Waiheke Island Day Trip||Auckland|
|Day 4||Drive to Coromandel Peninsula, Beaches & Coves Tour||Coromandel|
|Day 5||Coromandel - Visit Hot Water Beach and Karangahake Gorge||Coromandel|
|Day 6||Tauranga - Glowworm Cave Kayaking Excursion||Tauranga|
|Day 7||Tauranga - Town Exploration||Tauranga|
|Day 8||Rotorua - Wai-O-Tapu, Buried Village, & Hells Gate||Rotorua|
|Day 9||Rotorua - Rainbow Springs Nature Park & Agrodome||Rotorua|
|Day 10||Rotorua - Skyline Gondola & Polynesian Spa||Rotorua|
|Day 11||Mairenui Farm - Visit & Stay||Mangaweka|
|Day 12||Wellington - Te Papa & Beehive Tours||Wellington|
|Day 13||Wellington - Scenic Walk, Cable Cars, & Botanic Gardens||Wellington|
|Day 14||Departure from Auckland|
Begin in Auckland, and do some self-guided touring of the city. Make stops in Wynyard Quarter to try fresh seafood, and then Britomart, a trendy area with high-end shops, restaurants, and cafés. Take in the beautiful views from Mt. Eden to close out your first day. Wake up and continue exploring Auckland. Take the elevator up the Sky Tower to enjoy panoramas of the city, or embark on the SkyWalk around the perimeter. Then, head to the historic, seaside village of Devonport, which is filled with galleries, lookouts, and more. Next, take the ferry over to Waiheke Island. Do a bit of high-quality wine tasting and discover the scenic coastline. End your island tour at the Waiheke Community Art Gallery, rich with works from local, national, and international artists, alike.
The Coromandel Peninsula—a favorite vacation spot of the locals—is next. Stop at Cathedral Cove, take a beachside walking track, or do some kayaking or boating to tour the area. Pencil in Whangapoua and New Chums Beach, too. Wake up and visit Hot Water Beach (don’t forget your bathing suit for a mineral-rich soak), and then make your way to Karangahake Gorge to take the Historic Walkway along the Ohinemuri River. Then, head to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty to discover Mount Maunganui’s huge sandbar with dormant Mauao volcano. At night, embark on a unique glowworm cave by kayak. Continue exploring Tauranga, including the buzzing waterfront area known as The Strand. Enjoy Tauranga Harbour—swim with dolphins, go fishing, or kayak around the popular setting.
Make your way to Rotorua for the next three days. Start out by exploring the geothermal highlights, which include Wai-O-Tapu, Buried Village and Hells Gate. Then, venture to Rainbow Springs Nature Park for the Kiwi Encounter to learn about the beloved birds and the current conservation efforts. The wildlife fun continues at the Agrodome to explore life as a local farmer. Round out the tour of Rotorua by riding up the Skyline Gondola, and perhaps indulging in the thrilling Skyline Luge ride, followed by a relaxing stint at the Polynesian Spa. Then, take a walk along the flowing Hamurana Springs and throw a coin into the water to see how far it will go.
Stop at the Mairenui Farmstay next, where you can truly immerse yourself in the farm life of the region, alongside the Sweet Family. Learn all about farming operations, rest, relax, play tennis, and swim and fish—for trout—in the nearby river. The last leg of the trip takes you to Wellington. Visit Te Papa National Museum to learn all about the indigenous Maori, then stroll the Beehive, Parliament House, and Parliamentary Library to get acquainted with the New Zealand government. Wake up and take the 4-hour City to Sea Walkway from hills to the rocky shores, and absorb exceptional views of Cook Strait and the Kaikoura Ranges. Then, visit the Botanic Gardens and enjoy a picnic lunch. Indulge in a nice final dinner in Wellington before catching your departure flight out of Auckland tomorrow. Learn more
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Itinerary #3: South Island Tour - Queenstown to Christchurch
This South Island vacation, enjoy the best of the region. Go adventuring in Queenstown, Wanaka, Akaroa, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Embark on wine tasting tours and explore the glowworm caves in Te Anau, finally getting to know Maori customs at Abel Tasman National Park.
|Day 1||Arrival in Queenstown & Exploration||Queenstown|
|Day 2||Queenstown - Extreme Sporting||Queenstown|
|Day 3||Te Anau - Glowworm Cave Tour||Te Anau|
|Day 4||Wanaka - Lake Wanaka & Mt Aspiring National Park||Wanaka|
|Day 5||Wanaka - Wine Tasting & Local Attractions||Wanaka|
|Day 6||Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers - Heli-Hike Excursion||Fox Glacier|
|Day 7||Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks Visit||Punakaiki|
|Day 8||Abel Tasman - Walking & Hiking Tracks||Kaiteriteri|
|Day 9||Abel Tasman - Maori Canoe Excursion||Kaiteriteri|
|Day 10||Blenheim - Wine Tasting & Omaka Aviation Center Visit||Blenheim|
|Day 11||Akaroa - Sea-Kayaking Tour||Akaroa|
|Day 12||Akaroa - Scenic Walks & Royal Albatross Centre||Akaroa|
|Day 13||Christchurch - Self-Guided Tour||Christchurch|
|Day 14||Departure From Christchurch|
The trip begins in Queenstown, which is known for its historical connection to the Gold Rush of the 1860s. Take a scenic steamship to tour Lake Wakatipu, visit the Skyline Complex for incredible nature views, and enjoy a post-travel soak in the onsen pools. You can also go wine tasting and take a scenic walk—there is plenty to do, depending on your preference. Take the second day to enjoy some iconic adventuring. Go bungee jumping over the Kawarau Bridge, skydiving over The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu, whitewater rafting along the local rivers.
Next, head to Te Anau to cruise the western shores of the lake. Boat to Cavern House to tour the glowworm caves and glide through the darkness among thousands lighting your way alongside rushing water. Visit Wanaka, known for its beautiful lakes, mountains, rivers, and more. Hike in Mt Aspiring National Park (where you can ski in the winter months). Spend the next day enjoying the local vineyards in Central Otago, which is known for producing some of the best pinot noir in the country. Make your way to Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers next for a thrilling Heli-Hike excursion. Do not miss Lake Matheson and take note of the nearby reflections courtesy of Aoraki/Mt Cook, too.
Next, make a stop in Punakaiki, best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, where heavy swells of water are forced upward through the formations. Then, spend two days in Abel Tasman National Park. First, embark on an unguided walk from Marahau for a few hours to discover the natural island landscapes and coves. Then, take a guided kayak tour back for another viewpoint of your surroundings. In the morning, learn about the Maori canoe and its importance to the culture, then head out on a double-hulled boat to share in the treasured heritage. Visit the farming town of Blenheim next, which is famous for its boom of vineyards. Go wine tasting, and then visit the Omaka Aviation Center, which is a unique depiction of regional aircraft history.
Then, it is time to explore the Banks Peninsula, including the highlight: Akaroa. Go on a sea kayaking safari along Flea Bay to encounter native wildlife from a nearby reserve. Look out for Hector’s dolphins, penguins, and plenty of seabirds. Then, enjoy the local cafés, seaside villages, and boutique galleries of the area. On your second day in Akaroa, take on the Banks Track for stunning views over the caldera. Then, visit the Royal Albatross Centre for more encounters with endemic wildlife, including a major nesting site for little blue penguins. The trip concludes in Christchurch with a self-guided tour. Stroll Hagley Park and Cathedral Square, then go punting on a flatboat along the Avon River, followed by a ziplining excursion. Enjoy your final dinner at the Tram Restaurant, which is a unique way to see the city sights by dinner train, before heading home the next day. Learn more
Itinerary #4: Ultimate New Zealand Road Trip
Take an adventure-packed road trip from Auckland to Christchurch. Along the way, tour the Coromandel Peninsula and geothermal Rotorua, explore Art Deco-influenced Napier and Queenstown, and take the scenic route to Dunedin.
|Day 1||Arrival in Auckland & Self-Guided Tour||Auckland|
|Day 2||Drive to Whitianga Via Coromandel||Whitianga|
|Day 3||Stop in Tauranga & Drive to Rotorua||Rotorua|
|Day 4||Stop in Taupo & Drive to Napier||Napier|
|Day 5||Stop in Masterton & Drive to Wellington||Wellington|
|Day 6||Ferry to Picton & Drive to Nelson||Nelson|
|Day 7||Drive to Hokitika||Hokitika|
|Day 8||Drive to Franz Josef Glacier||Franz Josef Glacier|
|Day 9||Glacier Tour & Drive to Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 10||Queenstown Exploration||Queenstown|
|Day 11||Drive to Te Anau||Te Anau|
|Day 12||Drive the Southern Scenic Route to Dunedin||Dunedin|
|Day 13||Stop in Moeraki & Drive to Christchurch||Christchurch|
|Day 14||Depart From Christchurch|
The trip kicks off in Auckland, where you can explore the local museums and galleries on foot, or launch into an adventure to one of more than 800 regional national parks, beaches, waterfalls, forests, and more. In the morning, drive to the Coromandel Peninsula. Cruise through the dairy region and make a stop in Miranda to see large flocks of native birds. Then, pass through the old mining town of Thames and decide between the quick or leisurely route toward Whitianga.
Wake up and drive through more small towns, and make a stop in the port town of Tauranga. Take the detour to Matamata for movie set tour if you are fan of The Lord of the Rings, or continue to Rotorua. Visit the Rotorua Museum to learn about the geothermal history, along with thermal reserves like Wai-O-Tapu and Whakawerawera. Ride the Skyline Gondola for views of the town, and stop by the Agrodome for an adrenaline fix, or two.
Stop at any sights you may have missed in Rotorua, and continue on to Taupo—take in views of the lake in a crater, and stop to view the water plunging down at Huka Falls. Continue on to the Art Deco-influenced town of Napier to stroll and explore at leisure. Head out along the rolling countryside of Hawke’s Bay to the Manawatu region. Pass through Manawatu Gorge, Masterton, and Greytown’s large wooden building concentration. Stop in Martinborough for some good food and drink en route to Wellington. Ferry over to Picton on a scenic journey through Oterangi Bay, Cook Strait, and Marlborough Sounds, with views of the Kaikoura Ranges along the way. Cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound and pick up your rental car in Picton. Head to Nelson and enjoy the scenic ride through Portage. Stop in Havelock and ride over the historic Pelorus Bridge.
Head toward Murchison for lunch—a popular region for adventurers. Enjoy the views through Buller Gorge via Westport and stop in Whites Creek, the longest swing bridge. Stop in Greymouth en route to Hokitika, home to Lake Mahinapua Scenic Reserve. Explore the boulders and pools surrounding the namesake gorge. Leave Hokitika and pass through the old gold mining town of Ross and historic Harihari. Then, head into the glacier region to visit Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Continue the road trip along the coast, and keep a close watch for elephant seals on Knights Point Lookout, as well as waterfalls along mountains on the Haast River—check out the Blue Pools, too. Head into Wanaka before dropping into Queenstown.
Spend the day enjoying Queenstown via the Gibbston Valley Wine Trail, check out nearby Arrotown, or take a four-wheel-drive tour to Macetown. Venture to Fiordland National Park, drive through The Lord of the Rings country, go bungee jumping, ziplining, heli-skiing, luging, and more. Board the Steamship TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Wake up and drive toward Te Anau. Make stops in Kingston and Southland, and pass through the deer capital of Mossburn. Continue on toward The Caitlins. Follow the Otago coastline all the way to the fishing town of Riverton, before landing in Dunedin. Stop to explore the famous Moeraki Boulders along the beach, tour the town, and enjoy fresh seafood before heading to Oamaru to tour the Old Quarter. Pass through port towns and over bridges, all the way to Christchurch. Visit the International Antarctic Centre and ride in a Hagglund vehicle before your departure tomorrow. Learn more
Itinerary #5: Highlights of Australia & New Zealand
This crossover journey starts in New Zealand with sightseeing in Auckland, geothermal sights in Rotorua, and wine tasting in Queenstown. Fly to Sydney and tour the Blue Mountains, Melbourne, and the Great Barrier Reef.
|Day 1||Arrival in Auckland||Auckland|
|Day 2||Waitomo Caves, Hobbiton Tour, & Drive to Rotorua||Rotorua|
|Day 3||Free Day in Rotorua & Hangi Dinner Experience||Rotorua|
|Day 4||Fly to Queenstown & Local Adventuring||Queenstown|
|Day 5||Milford Sound Tour||Queenstown|
|Day 6||Wine Tasting Tour of Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 7||Fly to Sydney & Free Day||Sydney|
|Day 8||Sydney Sightseeing & Harbour Cruise||Sydney|
|Day 9||Blue Mountains Day Trip||Sydney|
|Day 10||Fly to Melbourne & Free Day||Melbourne|
|Day 11||Kangaroos and Koalas in the Wild Day Trip||Melbourne|
|Day 12||Fly to Cairns & Free Day||Cairns|
|Day 13||Great Barrier Reef Day Trip||Cairns|
|Day 14||Departure From Cairns|
Take a tour of Auckland, from the best restaurants to the inner-city hot spots. Check out the beautiful beaches, and maybe ferry over to a nearby island. Wake up and journey to Central North Island. Embark on a guided tour of the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata, and experience Middle Earth in real-time. Then, visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, including a grotto decorated with twinkling glowworms overhead. Continue on to Rotorua, and arrive in the evening. Enjoy the geothermal sights on your own, and then head to Tamaki Maori Village at night to experience the Maori culture via the indigenous customs, entertainment, and a delicious feast cooked on hot stones.
Fly to Queenstown and get into some adventures. Take a thrilling jet boat ride on the Dart River or go on a kayaking tour. Rise early for your trip to Fiordland National Park. Cruise along Milford Sound and take in the peaks, dark waters, and dramatic cliffs. Enjoy another day in Queenstown on a wine tasting tour. Sample premium pours and experience local pinot noir and other varietals while you learn about regional winemaking.
Hop a plane to Sydney for a free day. Stroll the beaches and public gardens, and head to sparking Sydney Harbour. Enjoy the thriving restaurant scene, markets, and stories of the ancient culture. Continue exploring Sydney via the Darling Harbour Cruise. Indulge in a buffet lunch spread, and then board a bus to tour historic The Rocks. Stop at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Take in the spectacular sight of the Sydney Opera House and wander the shoreline of famed Bondi Beach. Head out on a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Visit Featherdale Wildlife Park and Koala Sanctuary to get acquainted with the local wildlife—kangaroos, wallabies, and more. Take in views of Three Sisters from Echo Park and explore more of the scenes below via viewpoints from Scenic World.
Board a plane to Melbourne next. Enjoy some free time or do some sightseeing. Bookmark Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, and Queen Victoria Marketplace. Take note of the funky street art and bohemian cafés all around, and maybe catch a live music show at a pub at night. Discover more of the native wildlife on a day trip to Kangaroos and Koalas in the Wild. Learn all about the local species and how to spot wildlife wherever you are in the country.
Fly to Cairns for a day at leisure. Take a trip to Kuranda on the Skyrail Gondola, and visit Koala Gardens and Cairns Aquarium for even more wildlife excursions. In the morning, board a high-speed boat and head to the world-famous Great Barrier Reef. Get to know the reef systems via snorkeling, and take in the golden beaches all around on this farewell treat—prior to leaving out of Cairns tomorrow. Learn more
More Great 14-Day New Zealand Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your New Zealand trip? Check out these other 14-day New Zealand itineraries, ranging from active, to cultural, to luxury, or family-friendly trips.
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