Itinerary #1: Epic Self-Drive Adventure in New Zealand
Discover the iconic landscapes of New Zealand on this classic self-drive adventure. Perfect for first-time visitors, this trip takes you from Cape Reinga, at the top of the North Island, through the dramatic Southern Alps, and into Fiordland, located at the bottom of the South Island. Other highlights include heli-hiking on Franz Josef, a cultural experience in Rotorua, a "The Lord of the Rings" tour near Queenstown, and a free day in Wellington.
|Day 1||Arrive in Auckland, Drive to Rotorua via Hobbiton Tour, Māori Feast & Show||Rotorua|
|Day 2||Explore Rotorua Your Way, Hell's Gate Experience||Rotorua|
|Day 3||Drive to Wellington via Lake Taupō||Wellington|
|Day 4||Free Day in Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour||Wellington|
|Day 5||Fly to Christchurch & Explore||Christchurch|
|Day 6||Akaroa Day Tour & Harbor Cruise||Christchurch|
|Day 7||TranzAlpine Train to Greymouth, Drive to Franz Josef / Waiau||Franz Josef / Waiau|
|Day 8||Discover Franz Josef Glacier, Heli-Hike||Franz Josef / Waiau|
|Day 9||Drive to Queenstown, TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner||Queenstown|
|Day 10||Fly-Cruise-Fly to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi||Queenstown|
|Day 11||Jet Boat Ride, Explore Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 12||Glenorchy Safari Tour||Queenstown|
|Day 13||Fly to Auckland & Explore||Auckland|
|Day 14||Drive to Paihia, Hole in the Rock Cruise||Paihia|
|Day 15||Cape Reinga Scenic Flight & Guided Tour||Paihia|
|Day 16||Drive to Auckland||Auckland|
|Day 17||Depart Auckland|
Welcome to New Zealand! After picking up your rental car in Auckland, you'll leave the big city behind and get right into the incredible landscapes the country is known for. Stop by Hobbiton Movie Set on your way to Rotorua, then spend the following day experiencing the geothermal wonders of the region. Back on the road, your next destination is Wellington, where you'll split your stay between the Te Papa museum and Zealandia, a wildlife eco-sanctuary, before hopping on a flight bound for Christchurch. Start your South Island exploration with a trip to Akaroa and a scenic train ride to the West Coast.
Pick up a new rental car in Greymouth and continue down to Franz Josef / Waiau for a two-night stay, complete with an epic glacier heli-hiking experience. Then, enjoy the scenic 5.5-hour ride to Queenstown, as the following few days will be filled to the brim with adventure. Take to the skies for a scenic flight to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, jetboat through Shotover River Canyon, and experience "The Lord of the Rings" scenery on a 4WD safari. After a flight back up to the North Island, delight in a more relaxing stay in the Bay of Islands before catching your flight home. Learn more
Itinerary #2: Contrasts of New Zealand: North & South Islands Tour
Crafted especially for those seeking a perfect blend of culture, relaxation, and adventure, this alternate highlights trip showcases the variety of experiences and landscapes New Zealand has to offer at a more relaxed pace. Start with an afternoon wine tasting your way around the rolling wineries of Waiheke Island, discover the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, and spend five days based in Queenstown, the country's "Adventure Capital." Then, end your trip by driving up the remote West Coast and hopping on a train through Arthur's Pass National Park.
|Day 1||Arrive in Auckland, Sky Tower Dinner||Auckland|
|Day 2||Waiheke Island Hop-On Hop-Off Tour||Auckland|
|Day 3||Drive to Whitianga via Coromandel, Driving Creek Railway & Potteries||Whitianga|
|Day 4||Cathedral Cove Cruise from Whitianga||Whitianga|
|Day 5||Drive to Rotorua via Hobbiton||Rotorua|
|Day 6||Te Puia Tour & Māori Arts, Amphibious Duck Tour, Redwoods Nightlights||Rotorua|
|Day 7||Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Mitai Māori Village||Rotorua|
|Day 8||Fly to Queenstown, Skyline Gondola & Luge||Queenstown|
|Day 9||TSS Earnslaw Cruise to Walter Peak with Lunch||Queenstown|
|Day 10||Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise||Queenstown|
|Day 11||Dart River Jet Boating & Funyak Tour||Queenstown|
|Day 12||Explore Glenorchy & Arrowtown||Queenstown|
|Day 13||Drive to Franz Josef / Waiau via Blue Pools & Haast||Franz Josef / Waiau|
|Day 14||Glacier Heli-Flight with Snow Landing, Hiking, Waiho Hot Tubs||Franz Josef / Waiau|
|Day 15||Drive to Greymouth via Hokitika, Train to Christchurch||Christchurch|
|Day 16||Explore Christchurch, International Antarctic Centre||Christchurch|
|Day 17||Depart Christchurch|
Your New Zealand adventure begins in Auckland, shrugging off jet lag while dining at the Sky Tower and hopping between picturesque vineyards on Waiheke Island. Next, pick up your rental car and drive along the stunning Pohutukawa Coast to Whitianga, where you'll sail to Cathedral Cove and its nearby islands before continuing to Rotorua. Delve into the fascinating Māori culture through visits to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and the Mitai Māori Village, and experience the geothermal wonders of the region at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland until it's time to bid farewell to the North Island.
Your first destination on the South Island is Queenstown, and you'll fill five days ticking off its many activities. Embark on a thrilling ride up the Skyline Gondola, cruise Lake Wakatipu, and take in the remote beauty of Doubtful Sound. You'll also jet boat on the Dart River and explore the tiny towns of Glenorchy and Arrowtown before hitting the road to Franz Josef / Waiau. Discover the isolated West Coast while heli-hiking on Franz Josef Glacier and traveling by train through Arthur's Pass National Park, then spend your final days admiring Christchurch's resilient beauty. Learn more
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Itinerary #3: New Zealand Cities, Mountains & Lakes Road Trip
Ideal for travelers looking to experience New Zealand's remote landscapes while still enjoying plenty of time to relax, this alternative road trip features short hikes, scenic cruises, and a warm introduction to Māori culture. You'll get to know the country's friendly cities with two nights each in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Then, experience the night sky without any light pollution during a stay in Tekapo before spending your final days buzzing around Queenstown's awe-inspiring landscapes.
|Day 1||Arrive in Auckland||Auckland|
|Day 2||Day Trip to Waitakere Ranges||Auckland|
|Day 3||Drive to Rotorua via Hobbiton, Māori Cultural Experience & Dinner||Rotorua|
|Day 4||Nature Walk & Boat Cruise, Twilight Glowworm Kayaking||Rotorua|
|Day 5||Drive to Napier, Optional Vintage Car Tour||Napier|
|Day 6||Full-Day Winery Tour by E-Bike||Napier|
|Day 7||Drive to Wellington, Zealandia Evening Tour||Wellington|
|Day 8||Capital Tastes Walking Tour||Wellington|
|Day 9||Ferry to Picton, Coastal Pacific Train to Christchurch||Christchurch|
|Day 10||Full-Day Akaroa Tour with Cruise||Christchurch|
|Day 11||Drive to Lake Tekapo, Stargazing Adventure||Lake Tekapo|
|Day 12||Free Day Around Lake Tekapo, Haupapa / Tasman Glacier Heli-Hike||Lake Tekapo|
|Day 13||Drive to Queenstown, Skyline Gondola Ride||Queenstown|
|Day 14||Helicopter Tour & Rob Roy Glacier Hike||Queenstown|
|Day 15||Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise||Queenstown|
|Day 16||Full-Day Jet Boat Adventure & Funyak River Safari||Queenstown|
|Day 17||Depart Queenstown|
Settle into your New Zealand adventure with a relaxing day in Auckland and during a guided trip to the Waitakere Ranges. Then, hop into your rental car and hit the road to Rotorua. While here, attend a special dinner and show at Mitai Māori Village and discover glowworms on an evening kayak excursion before continuing southeast to Napier. Delight in this superb winemaking region during a full-day e-bike winery tour. Next, hit the road to Wellington, where a stroll through the Wellington Botanic Gardens, a leisurely evening at Zealandia, and a walking food tour are on the agenda.
On Day 9, bid farewell to the North Island and cross the Cook Strait to the South Island by ferry. Hop on a train bound for Christchurch, pick up your rental car, and spend an afternoon cruising along the Banks Peninsula. Then, drive to Lake Tekapo, where you'll admire the impressive night sky during a stargazing experience and embark on adventures of your choice until it's time to hit the road to Queenstown. Your last five days will fly by as you join a guided hike in Mount Aspiring National Park, cruise the isolated Doubtful Sound, and jet boat down the Dart River. Learn more
Itinerary #4: New Zealand Panorama: Auckland to Christchurch
Featuring three or more night stays in Rotorua, Te Anau, Queenstown, and Christchurch, this 17-day itinerary is perfect for those seeking a slower-paced exploration of the North and South Islands. From dinner cruises and spa visits to bungee jumping and jetboating, there's no shortage in the variety of experiences you'll tick off. Add on dinner at an award-winning restaurant, a unique zorbing adventure, and a scenic helicopter ride, for additional memorable experiences.
|Day 1||Arrive in Auckland, Private Walking Tour, Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise||Auckland|
|Day 2||Drive to Rotorua via Hobbiton & Waitomo Glowworm Caves||Rotorua|
|Day 3||Te Puia Tour, Kiwi Tour & Māori Arts, Polynesian Spa Day||Rotorua|
|Day 4||Morning Eco Thermal Park Tour, Te Pā Tū Māori Feast & Performance||Rotorua|
|Day 5||Zorb Experience, Drive to Auckland via Hamilton||Auckland|
|Day 6||Fly to Queenstown, Drive to Te Anau||Te Anau|
|Day 7||Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise||Te Anau|
|Day 8||Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Explore Te Anau||Te Anau|
|Day 9||Drive to Queenstown, TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner||Queenstown|
|Day 10||Jet Boat Ride, Original Onsen Evening Session||Queenstown|
|Day 11||Nevis Bungy & Swing Combo, Dinner at Rātā||Queenstown|
|Day 12||Glenorchy Safari Tour, Wine & Food Experience||Queenstown|
|Day 13||Drive to Fox Glacier, Twin Glacier Helicopter Flight & Snow Landing||Fox Glacier|
|Day 14||Drive to Greymouth, TranzAlpine Scenic Train to Christchurch||Christchurch|
|Day 15||Ko Tāne Māori Experience & Guided Kiwi Tour, Historic Tram Dinner||Christchurch|
|Day 16||Half-Day City Tour, International Antarctic Centre & Penguin Backstage Pass||Christchurch|
|Day 17||Depart Christchurch|
Your adventure begins in Auckland, where you'll get your first taste of New Zealand's natural beauty while sailing around the Waitematā Harbour. Then, pick up your rental car the following morning and drive to the geothermal hot spot of Rotorua. While here, admire bubbling sulfur pools at the Te Puia Springs, relax at the Polynesian Spa, and learn about Māori history at Te Pā Tū. You'll also have the chance to get silly with a unique Zorb experience before catching a flight from Auckland to Queenstown, followed by a drive to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Experience the rugged beauty of Fiordland during a Doubtful Sound cruise before driving back to Queenstown for four adventure-filled days. Get your adrenaline pumping jetboating through the Shotover River Canyon, braving AJ Hackett's Nevis Bungy and Swing, and joining a 4WD safari in Glenorchy. Make your way up the West Coast next, stopping in Fox Glacier for a helicopter flight, and board a train in Greymouth to reach Christchurch. Between an afternoon at the Ko Tāne Living Māori Village and visiting the International Antarctic Centre, your final days will soar by. Learn more
Itinerary #5: The Wonders of New Zealand's South Island: Hiking, National Parks & Nature
Perfect for those looking to limit travel time and spend entire days hiking among New Zealand's awe-inspiring landscapes, this adventure focuses solely on the South Island. Highlights include treks along the Milford Track and Routeburn Track, a heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier, and a free day in Queenstown to head out on the trail of your choice. In between, treat weary legs to memorable overnight cruises on Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and Doubtful Sound to experience Fiordland at its purest.
|Day 1||Arrive in Christchurch, Christchurch Gondola||Christchurch|
|Day 2||Ko Tāne Māori Experience & Kiwi Tour, Historic Tram Dinner||Christchurch|
|Day 3||TranzAlpine Train to Greymouth, Drive to Punakaiki||Punakaiki|
|Day 4||Glowworm Cave Tour, Drive to Franz Josef / Waiau||Franz Josef / Waiau|
|Day 5||Hiking & Kayaking, Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike||Franz Josef / Waiau|
|Day 6||Drive to Queenstown, TSS Earnslaw Farm Tour & Dinner||Queenstown|
|Day 7||Hiking in Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Days 8-9||Drive to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, Overnight Cruise||Milford Sound / Piopiotahi|
|Day 10||Drive to Queenstown, Dinner at Botswana Butchery||Queenstown|
|Day 11||Drive to Manapouri, Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise||Doubtful Sound|
|Day 12||Drive to Te Anau, Glowworm Caves||Te Anau|
|Day 13||Hiking at Te Anau & Milford Road, Guided Walk & Scenic Cruise||Te Anau|
|Day 14||Full-Day Routeburn Track Guided Walk||Te Anau|
|Day 15||Drive to Aoraki / Mount Cook Village||Aoraki / Mount Cook|
|Day 16||Hike Mount Cook, Tasman Lake Cruise||Aoraki / Mount Cook|
|Day 17||Drive to Christchurch, Depart|
Start your South Island adventure in Christchurch, where you'll get your bearings in New Zealand while exploring Heathcote Valley and the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Then, take the TranzAlpine Scenic Train to Greymouth, collect a rental car, and continue to the coastal town of Punakaiki. Tick off visits to the Pancake Rocks and the Nile River Caves before driving to Franz Josef / Waiau for an epic afternoon trekking in Westland Tai Poutini National Park and heli-hiking atop a glacier. After another scenic drive, you'll find yourself in Queenstown, with a full day set aside to embark on a hike of your choice.
On the morning of Day 8, it's time for your long-awaited overnight cruise on Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. Head back to Queenstown for a leisurely night, then return to Fiordland for an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, followed by a trip across Lake Te Anau for a glowworm cave experience. Feeling fully rejuvenated from time well away from civilization, you'll be ready to conquer a guided hike to Giant Gate Falls and a trek on the Routeburn Track. Then, before returning to Christchurch, you'll spend two days hiking under New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki / Mount Cook. Learn more
More Great New Zealand Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to New Zealand? Check out these other New Zealand itineraries, with outdoor adventures, self-drive trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.
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