With two weeks in New Zealand, you can experience the natural wonders of the North and South Islands on a highlights tour. Alternatively, narrow your focus to one region and choose between a beach-filled trip on the North Island and a journey through the South Island's Southern Alps, glaciers, and fjords. Travelers who enjoy keeping active should set their sights on Franz Josef, Te Anau, and Mount Cook, while those visiting during winter can embark on an epic road trip from Queenstown to Auckland.

Itinerary #1: New Zealand North to South Highlights

Perfect for first-time visitors to New Zealand who enjoy the ease of plane, train, and bus travel, this two-week highlights tour features the highlights of the North and South Islands. Throughout, you'll experience the country's range of breathtaking landscapes, from Waiheke Island's tropical coastlines and Rotorua's geothermal wonders to the dramatic mountains of Queenstown and the glaciers of the West Coast. In between, embrace the country's warm culture through a dinner cruise, a visit to a Māori heritage center, and a farm tour.

See Milford Sound / Piopiotah by boat and plane on a scenic, all-day adventure
See Milford Sound / Piopiotah by boat and plane on a scenic, all-day adventure
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise Auckland
Day 2 Morning Auckland City Revealed, Waiheke Island EcoZip Adventure Tour Auckland
Day 3 Transfer to Rotorua via Hobbiton & Waitomo Glowworm Caves Rotorua
Day 4 Hell's Gate Experience, Redwoods Treewalk, Māori Feast & Performance Rotorua
Day 5 Fly to Christchurch, Punting on the Avon, Historic Tram Dinner Christchurch
Day 6 Discover Christchurch Morning Tour, Free Time Christchurch
Day 7 Bus to Lake Tekapo, Tekapo Springs Hot Pools, Dark Sky Project Experience Lake Tekapo
Day 8 Bus to Queenstown, Kawarau Bungee Jump, Skyline Gondola, Dinner at Rātā Queenstown
Day 9 Shotover River Canyon Jet Boat Ride, TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner Queenstown
Day 10 Full-Day Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Adventure Queenstown
Day 11 Shuttle Bus to Franz Josef / Waiau, Visit Franz Josef Glacier Franz Josef
Day 12 Twin Glacier 30-Minute Helicopter Flight, Lake Mapourika Scenic Cruise Franz Josef 
Day 13 Transfer to Greymouth, TranzAlpine Scenic Train to Christchurch Christchurch
Day 14 Depart Christchurch  

Welcome to New Zealand! Your adventure begins in Auckland, an excellent place to shrug off travel fatigue while enjoying a sunset dinner cruise and ziplining on Waiheke Island. Then, visit the surreal Waitomo Glowworm Caves and the enchanting Hobbiton Movie Set during a transfer to Rotorua. Dedicate the following day to experiencing the Hell's Gate geothermal area and Te Pā Tū, a Māori cultural center, before catching a flight to the South Island. Your destination is Christchurch, and with two days here, you'll have plenty of time to explore by foot, on a punt ride, and alongside a local guide.

Continuing south, you'll pause for a night in Lake Tekapo to experience the region's brilliant night sky at Mount John Observatory before carrying on to Queenstown. Three days here ensures you have plenty of time to tick off exciting activities—think bungee jumping, jet boating, and a farm visit—and embark on a day trip to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. Afterward, venture to the West Coast village of Franz Josef / Waiau to see the region's unique glacier-backed rainforest. Then, board the TranzAlpine Train for a spectacular journey back to Christchurch, where your adventure wraps up. Learn more

Itinerary #2: New Zealand Winter Discovery

Pack a few layers and take a road trip through New Zealand's dramatic South Island and lush North Island on this self-drive winter adventure. Perfect for those seeking an activity-filled trip, you'll experience skiing in the Southern Alps, stargazing under Mount Cook, and whale watching in Kaikōura. In addition, cross the Cook Strait by ferry, soak in natural hot springs, and tour the "magical" Hobbiton Movie Set.

Spot sheep in the snow-covered farmland of New Zealand's South Island
Spot sheep in the snow-covered farmland of New Zealand's South Island
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Queenstown, Free Time in the Adventure Capital Queenstown
Day 2 Full Day at The Remarkables Ski Field Queenstown
Day 3 Shotover River Jet Boat Ride, TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner Queenstown
Day 4 Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Full-Day Adventure Queenstown
Day 5 Drive to Aoraki / Mount Cook, Stargazing Experience Aoraki / Mount Cook
Day 6 Drive to Christchurch, Explore the City Christchurch
Day 7 International Antarctic Centre, Progressive Māori Dinner Tour Christchurch
Day 8 Drive to Kaikōura via Hanmer Hot Springs Kaikōura 
Day 9 Kaikōura Whale Watching Tour, Drive to Picton Picton
Day 10 Ferry to Wellington, Te Papa Tongarewa Māori Tour, Zealandia by Night Wellington
Day 11 Fly to Rotorua, Te Pā Tū Māori Feast & Performance Rotorua
Day 12 Rotorua Forest Canopy Adventure, Hot Springs, Kiwis & Māori Arts Rotorua
Day 13 Drive to Auckland via Hobbiton & Waitomo Auckland
Day 14 Depart Auckland  

Straight off the plane in Queenstown, you'll be met by pristine mountainous landscapes, and with four days based in this captivating town, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy its wintry splendors. Start with a free afternoon to bungee, paraglide, or wine taste. Then, continue the excitement with snowy fun at the Remarkables Ski Field, a thrilling jet boat ride, and a trip to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. Next, drive to Christchurch—pausing en route for a night of star gazing at Aoraki / Mount Cook—and upon arrival, get to know this small city through a food tour.

Week two of your trip kicks off with back-to-back scenic drives, the first to Kaikōura for a whale watching tour, and the second through the wine region of Marlborough. Soon, you'll arrive in Picton, board a ferry, and journey across the Cook Strait to Wellington. Spend your first day on the North Island at the impressive Te Papa museum, then catch a flight to the geothermal-rich city of Rotorua. A two-day stay here ensures you have unhurried time to attend a traditional Māori experience and soak in hot springs before completing your adventure with a drive to Auckland. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: New Zealand South Island Explorer: Southern Alps, Glaciers, Lakes & Fjords

Take the wheel and discover the South Island's diverse landscapes on this scenic road trip. With two or more days each in Christchurch, Aoraki / Mount Cook, Dunedin, Te Anau, and Queenstown, you can look forward to a mix of adrenaline-pumping activities, wildlife encounters, and short hikes. Mixed in, you'll have time to explore at your leisure, indulge in New Zealand's farm-fresh cuisine, and wine taste your way through Central Otago's famed vineyards.

Pause in Dunedin for spectacular coastal scenery and a castle and cruise tour
Pause in Dunedin for spectacular coastal scenery and a castle and cruise tour
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Christchurch, Avon River / Ōtākaro Waka Paddle Christchurch
Day 2 Antarctic Penguin Encounter, Whale Watching Tour, Māori Food Safari Christchurch
Day 3 Pick Up Rental Car, Drive to Aoraki / Mount Cook Aoraki / Mount Cook
Day 4 Glacier Boat Trip, Hiking Tracks & Stargazing  Aoraki / Mount Cook
Day 5 Drive to Dunedin, Explore the City Center Dunedin
Day 6 Dunedin Castle & Cruise Tour, Penguin Place Dunedin
Day 7 Drive to Te Anau, Glowworm Caves, Kepler Track Te Anau
Day 8 Scenic Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Cruise Te Anau
Day 9 Drive to Queenstown, Shotover River Jet Boat Queenstown
Day 10 Skyline Gondola Ride, Historic Steamship & Farm Dinner Experience Queenstown
Day 11 Central Otago Wine Tour, Visit Old Cromwell Queenstown
Day 12 Drive to Franz Josef / Waiau & Glacier Franz Josef Glacier
Day 13 Glacier Flight, TranzAlpine Train to Christchurch Christchurch
Day 14 Depart Christchurch  

Your trip begins in Christchurch, where you'll get your first taste of New Zealand's ever-present nature and warm culture through a paddling excursion along the Avon River / Ōtākaro, a whale watching tour in nearby Kaikōura, and a unique food safari. Next, collect your rental car, drive inland to Aoraki / Mount Cook, and spend a day boating, hiking, and stargazing. Continuing south, you'll soon reach the coastal city of Dunedin. Two days here ensure you have time to cruise around Taiaroa Head in search of albatross and tour the historic Larnach's Castle.

You'll next stay in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park, where you'll embrace its prime location with a hike on the renowned Kepler Track and a cruising excursion on Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. After another drive, you'll find yourself in Queenstown, setting off on a scream-inducing jet boat ride and enjoying dinner at the Walter Peak High Country Farm. Queenstown is also the perfect base for wine tasting amid Central Otago's picturesque vineyards. However, there's more to see, and before wrapping up your trip, you'll squeeze in a spectacular glacier flight and travel by train to Christchurch. Learn more

Itinerary #4: New Zealand North Island Adventure

Crafted especially for travelers seeking a culturally rich trip filled with free time to unwind, this relaxed itinerary features the North Island's pristine beaches and geothermal wonders. Throughout, you'll have the opportunity to sip wine on Waiheke Island, beach hop on the Coromandel Peninsula, overnight at a tucked away farmstay, and meander through Wellington's fragrant Botanic Gardens. Plus, with a rental car on hand, you'll find it easy to sink into New Zealand's laid-back pace.

Kick off your scenic New Zealand road trip with a drive along the Coromandel Peninsula
Kick off your scenic New Zealand road trip with a drive along the Coromandel Peninsula
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Free Time Auckland
Day 2 Visit the Sky Tower & Historic Devonport Auckland
Day 3 Waiheke Island Day Trip Auckland
Day 4 Drive to the Coromandel Peninsula, Visit Cathedral Cove & Hahai Beach Coromandel
Day 5 Visit Hot Water Beach & Karangahake Gorge Coromandel
Day 6 Drive to Tauranga, Glowworm Cave Kayaking Excursion Tauranga
Day 7 Free Day in Tauranga: Waterfalls, Beaches & Dolphin Watching Tauranga
Day 8 Drive to Rotorua, Tour Wai-O-Tapu, Buried Village & Hell's Gate Rotorua
Day 9 Visit the National Kiwi Hatchery & the Agrodome Rotorua
Day 10 Skyline Gondola & Polynesian Spa Rotorua
Day 11 Drive to Mairenui Farmstay, Free Time Mangaweka
Day 12 Drive to Wellington, Te Papa National Museum & the Beehive Wellington
Day 13 City to Sea Walkway, Cable Car & Botanic Gardens Wellington
Day 14 Fly to Auckland, Depart  

Your North Island adventure begins in Auckland with two days of independent exploration, perhaps strolling around the lively Wynyard Quarter and ferrying over to Devonport. Then, dedicate a day to savoring the wines of Waiheke Island before collecting your rental car and driving to the Coromandel Peninsula. With two days in this dreamy beach-dotted region, you'll have ample time to visit Cathedral Cove, experience the unique Hot Water Beach, and hike amid the Karangahake Gorge. The beach theme continues with a drive to Tauranga, which is an excellent spot to chase waterfalls, kayak, and unwind.

Next, leave the coast behind, drive southwest to Rotorua, and spend the afternoon meandering through the Hell's Gate geothermal area. While in Rotorua, you'll also visit the National Kiwi Hatchery and the Agrodome and rejuvenate at the Polynesian Spa. Afterward, make your way south to Wellington, and along the way, delight in a memorable overnight at Mairenui Farmstay. Then, in Wellington, visit the expansive Te Papa museum and celebrate the end of your trip with an idyllic day meandering along the City to Sea Walkway and through the Botanic Gardens. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Active Highlights of New Zealand's South Island

Hike, helicopter, jet boat, cruise, and kayak your way around New Zealand's South Island on this epic outdoor adventure. Perfect for those who love incorporating fitness into their vacation, you'll stay plenty active while exploring the natural wonders surrounding Christchurch, Franz Josef / Waiau, Queenstown, Te Anau, and Mount Cook. Notable highlights include hikes on the Kepler and Routeburn Tracks, a helicopter flight to a glacier, bungee jumping, and cruising Milford Sound / Piopiotahi.

Hiking in Mount Cook area
Hiking with a view in Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Christchurch, Punting on the Avon Christchurch
Day 2 Explore Christchurch, Visit the International Antarctic Centre Christchurch
Day 3 TranzAlpine Train to Greymouth, Drive to Franz Josef / Waiau Franz Josef / Waiau
Day 4 Twin Glacier 30-Minute Helicopter Flight, Okarito Lagoon Kayak Trip Franz Josef / Waiau
Day 5 Drive to Queenstown, Skyline Queenstown Gondola & Luge Queenstown
Day 6 Shotover Jet Boat Ride, Kawarau Bungee Jump, Onsen Session Queenstown
Day 7 Appellation Food & Wine Tour, TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner Queenstown
Day 8 Drive to Te Anau, Cruise to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves Te Anau
Day 9 Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Cruise, Te Anau Wildlife Sanctuary Te Anau
Day 10 Hiking in Te Anau, Routeburn Track Guided Day Walk Te Anau
Day 11 Drive to Aoraki / Mount Cook, Stargazing Experience Aoraki / Mount Cook 
Day 12 Tasman Lake Cruise, Cass Valley Backcountry 4WD Tour Aoraki / Mount Cook 
Day 13 Drive to Christchurch, Historic Tram Dinner Christchurch
Day 14 Depart Christchurch  

Your active adventure kicks off in Christchurch, an excellent place to get your bearings while checking out city sights independently. Ready for more, you'll next board the TranzAlpine Scenic Train, zip your way to Greymouth, and continue by rental car to the glacier-backed town of Franz Josef / Waiau. Enjoy a night's rest, then pack in a scenic flight with a glacier landing, a short trek, and a kayak excursion before setting your sights on Queenstown. Known as New Zealand's adventure capital, you'll discover just how quickly three days can fly by here with a jet boat ride, bungee jump, wine tour, and farm show on the agenda. 

After bidding farewell to Queenstown, you'll hit the road to Te Anau. While small, this town has the big job of being the gateway to Fiordland National Park, which means over the following days, you'll be cruising Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and hiking parts of the Routeburn and Kepler Tracks. Afterward, settle in for a scenic drive to Aoraki / Mount Cook, arriving in time to join a fascinating stargazing experience. Cruise, 4WD, and hike among Mount Cook's dramatic landscapes the following day; then, complete your road trip with a drive through Burkes Pass to Christchurch. Learn more

More Great 2-Week New Zealand Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to New Zealand? Check out these other two-week New Zealand itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.


Map of 2 Weeks in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 2 Weeks in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas