This action-packed itinerary dives into New Zealand's South and North Islands for a wide variety of landscapes and attractions. Kicking off in the adrenaline capital of the world, you'll kayak through the Milford Sound, explore the scenic capital (Wellington), take part in Rotorua's geothermal treatments, tour Hobbiton, and finish the adventure in the cosmopolitan city of Auckland.


  • Pick between a number of adrenaline sports and wineries in Queenstown
  • Boat through a series of limestone caves filled with glowworms
  • Sample some of Wellington's best restaurants and cafes 
  • Indulge in some geothermal spa treatments while visiting Rotorua 
  • Hike along Mount Eden to snap photos of Auckland during your last night

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Queenstown Queenstown
Days 2-3 Explore Te Anau & Fiordland National Park Te Anau
Days 4-5 Fly to Wellington - Explore Wellington
Days 6-7 Fly to Rotorua - Explore Rotorua
Day 8 Hobbiton Tour - Drive to Auckland Auckland
Day 9 Auckland Free Day Auckland
Day 10 Depart Auckland  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Queenstown

Queenstown has a picturesque lake and mountain setting

Welcome to Queenstown! Upon arrival, you'll be transferred from the airport to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the day to explore on your own. Originally born out of the Gold Rush during the 1860s, Queenstown is now the world capital for adrenaline and outdoor activities like bungy jumping, sky diving, and river rafting. But there's much more to Queenstown than extreme sports. In addition to the many options listed below, you can simply jump on a bike in town and circumnavigate Lake Wakatipu's dirt trails for a relaxing Kiwi experience. 

Additional suggested activities include: 

  • Cruise Lake Wakatipu: To get the best view of the lake, take this scenic cruise on the Steamship TSS Earnslaw. You'll have plenty of time to explore the decks and bridge, tour the engine room, join a sing-along with the onboard pianist, or just sit back and relax.

  • Ride the Skyline Complex: Ride this scenic gondola and you'll get the best views in the region spread out in a spectacular 220-degree panorama. From above, you can see Coronet Peak, the Remarkables mountain range, Lake Wakatipu, and Cecil and Walter Peaks.

  • Onset Hot Springs: These natural hot water pools are very intimate and have great views on the valley and Shotover River.

  • Wine Tasting in Otago: From the world's southernmost wine-producing region, you’ll find acclaimed Pinot Noir, as well as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and sparkling options. There are 75 wineries in the region serving 177 vineyards, so wine lovers will be in good hands in Otago.

  • Bunjy Jumping: Queenstown invented this activity so you'll have a few options to choose from. Stay in town or head to the Kawarau Bridge where you can opt to touch the water and/or get partially dunked.

  • Lord of the Rings Tour: Though you'll be seeing Hobbiton later in the trip, there are several possibilities to see some of the famous movie scenes in the area of Glenorchy.

  • Hiking trails: Many famous single-day and multi-days trails can be found in the area. You can also climb the summit of Ben Lomond from the top of the gondola and enjoy a memorable vista of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

With a young and fun crowd, you'll find a wide variety of dining and drink options all over town. For something casual, Ferg Burger is said to have the most famous gourmet burgers in the country. Just look for the queue of people outside their door wanting to order. In addition, there are many upscale options that offer waterfront, mountain, and vineyard views. 

Days 2-3: Explore Te Anau & Fiordland National Park

Plenty of scenery in the South Island

This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, you'll pick up your rental car and make the two-hour drive to Te Anau. This is the gateway to the Fiordland National Park—part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site—and an ideal base camp for hikers and visitors who want to explore the area's fjords. 

Over the course of the next few days, you'll have time to experience several activities within the Milford Sound, a place quite simply unparalleled to anything in this world, with mountains rising straight out of the sea. amongst the sound.

You can take a cruise on the fjord (technically a flooded glacial valley) to view countless waterfalls that tumble down sheer cliffs, with frequent sightings of fur seals and dolphins. There are also several kayaking tours as well as foot trails suitable for day hikes like the Key Summit or Kepler tracks.

Also, while here, make sure to visit the glowworm caves—a unique activity in New Zealand. Boat through a series of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools, and a roaring underground waterfall. Deep inside the caves is a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms; in the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.

No matter what you do in the Fiordland National Park area, make sure to pack insect repellent to stave off the sand-flies, as well as a raincoat due to the sound's reliable moisture, which helps keep the waterfalls roaring with action. 

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Days 4-5: Fly to Wellington - Explore

Cable Car
Ride the Cable Car in Wellington

After two days in Milford Sound, you'll make the drive back to Queenstown where you'll return your rental car and catch a short domestic flight to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred from the airport to your hotel. 

Called "the coolest little capital" in the world by Lonely Planet, Wellington is set on the edge of a stunning harbor and surrounded by rolling hills. In addition to the options listed below, Wellington also boasts a staggering array of cafes, bars, and restaurants, so you'll likely find that two days isn't enough time to experience all that this livable city has to offer.

Suggested activities include:

  • Ride the Cable Car: One of Wellington's most popular tourist attractions, the cable cars run from Lambton Quay in the commercial heart of the city all the way up to the suburb of Kelburn for beautiful walking trails and architecture. While here, you can visit the Botanic Gardens and have a picnic lunch (or dine at the café). 

  • City to Sea Walkway: This is a rich and varied walking path from one end of Wellington into the surrounding suburbs and hills, which continues to the rocky shores of Wellington's south coast. It sports wonderful views of Cook Strait and Kaikoura Ranges and takes approximately four hours. Walkway brochures can be picked up from the Wellington I-SITE Visitor Centre.

  • Mount Victoria Lookout: Get a panoramic view of the city from the top of Mount Victoria and watch as the Interislander sails in and out of the harbor. 

  • Te Papa National Museum: New Zealand's bold and innovative national museum offers interactive and visitor-focused museum experiences. Entry is free, though charges apply to some short-term exhibitions and activities. You can learn about New Zealand's geology and natural environment. Also gain insight into the native indigenous people, the Māori, who are celebrated in Te Papa's permanent exhibitions and communal center. 

Days 6-7: Fly to Rotorua - Explore

A geothermal lake called Champagne Pool

This morning, you'll be transferred to the airport for the short flight to Rotorua. Upon arrival, you'll pick up a rental car and have the next two days to explore the geothermal city. Brace yourself for the smell of sulfur! You'll spend the next two days exploring the area including numerous options to soak in the naturally-heated waters and take part in the traditional Māori atmosphere. 

Suggested activities include: 

  • Skyline Gondola & Luge: This is your chance to ride a gondola high above Rotorua for stunning panoramic views over the lake and nearby towns. If you're looking for more thrills, Skyline Luge is a fun-packed, gravity-fuelled ride suitable for all ages and abilities.

  • Polynesian Spa: For pure relaxation, New Zealand’s leading international day spa—often considered one of the best in the world—provides a unique thermal spa experience on the shore of Lake Rotorua.

  • Hells Gate: Set within 50 acres, this otherworldly geothermal park has a variety of thermal features. You can walk past steaming fumaroles and boiling mud pools, and see the violent geothermal activity of the Inferno and the Kakahi Falls—the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Agrodome: This informative attraction offers visitors the perspective of a true New Zealand farmer where you'll gain insight into the world of New Zealand agriculture. You'll experience 19 sheep breeds, sheep shearing, cow milking, lamb feeding, and dog demonstrations.

  • Hamurana Springs: This site is famous for its beautiful crystal clear freshwater springs which emanate from the ground and flow downstream into Lake Rotorua. It is the deepest natural spring in the North Island, and you can find a picturesque 20-minute walking trail through a grove of Redwood trees where you'll see many different bird varieties.

  • Mitai Maori Cultural Experience: An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring authentic introduction to Maori culture. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don’t miss your only opportunity to see more glowworms in their natural habitat. 

Day 8: Hobbiton Tour - Drive to Auckland

Lord of the Rings fans will love this tour

This morning, you'll wake up in Rotorua and then will make the hour-long drive to Matamata where you'll experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. This bucolic setting was featured in the Peter Jackson-directed films, The Lord of the Rings.

The tour starts with a drive through the picturesque 1,250-acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Your guide will escort you through the site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed on the tour, and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth.

At the end of the tour, you'll continue driving two hours north to Auckland for your overnight.

Day 9: Auckland Free Day

Hit the streets of Auckland

Today, you'll have the entire day to explore the largest city in New Zealand. A great place to start is by heading to the Sky Tower. Rising 1,076 feet (328 m), this iconic needle is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers breathtaking views in every direction. Purchase a ticket to ride in the glass-enclosed elevators to one of three spectacular viewing platforms—or for more excitement, choose the SkyWalk to step outside. Even more thrilling is the SkyJump, a bungee experience that gives you 11 seconds of pure adrenaline as you plunge 53 floors.

From here, you can walk over to Wynward Quarter, a new area in a former industrial hub built for the World Cup that is fast becoming a hit with Aucklanders. Wander around and visit the Auckland Fish Market offering seafood lunch options like steamed mussels and fresh oysters. Hop on a 50-year old restored tram and ride to New Zealand's oldest neighborhood, Parnell, to discover its galleries and cafés. Order a long black—a favorite coffee order in New Zealand—made by pouring a double-shot of espresso over hot water, then sit back and people watch. 

You can also check out more neighborhoods like trendy Ponsonby Road for high-end shopping and upscale restaurants. Britomart is another cool area near the railway station of the same name with bars, restaurants, designer shops, and a local market on Saturdays. Meanwhile, Devonport is a historic seaside suburb with a relaxed atmosphere. Walk around the village at your leisure and visit some of the charming art galleries, historic points of interest, and scenic lookouts. 

Before sunset, you can head to Mount Eden, a volcanic peak overlooking the city, for an early evening hike with views of Hauraki Gulf. While here, visit the area's quirky shops and local wine bars—a fun way to end the trip! 

Day 10: Depart Auckland

A stunning sunset in Auckland

It's time to say goodbye to Auckland! After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy any remaining free time to wander around the city. At the designated time, you'll be escorted to the airport for your onward flight. 


Map of Highlights of New Zealand - 10 Days
Map of Highlights of New Zealand - 10 Days