Explore the highlights of New Zealand's North and South Islands on this self-drive adventure. Start in cosmopolitan Auckland before passing by the expansive cave system of Waitomo on your way to Rotorua. Here, you'll visit Tolkien's "Shire" and dip in thermal pools. Then, you'll fly over to South Island, where you'll drive yourself around Christchurch, explore the Glacier Region, and end in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.
New Zealand Travel Insights
Ten days is a great amount of time for a New Zealand trip: you'll easily be able to experience the top highlights of both islands—North and South—plus outdoor activities and themed adventures (Middle Earth, anyone?). With less time, stick to one island for a comfortably-paced, immersive tour; if you're dead-set on seeing both islands in less than a week, be prepared to move quickly. Travelers with two weeks can see it all, or combine the country's top sights with a week of fun in Australia.
New Zealand has a lot of climatic variety, from sub-tropical Northland to temperate Southland, and high mountains through the center of both main islands. Summer is generally hot in the North Island and warm in the South, while winters are mild and wet in the North Island and drier but often snowy in parts of the South Island. Whenever you plan to go, there will be parts of New Zealand that offer great conditions—find helpful information below on weather, crowds, costs, and more.
With two weeks, you can get to know both of New Zealand's islands or enjoy an in-depth exploration of either one. Take a North Island road trip from Auckland to Wellington, or stick to the South Island with stops in Queenstown, Te Anau, Wanaka, and Christchurch. Alternatively, opt for a multi-country trip that combines New Zealand's highlights with one full week in Australia.
You can comfortably explore four to five different destinations with ten days in New Zealand. Spend up to two days in each city, including the "Big Little City" of Auckland, geothermal Rotorua, and scenic Wanaka. There are also several opportunities to discover settings from the Lord of the Rings films in Matamata, Tongariro National Park, and Wellington. The itineraries below cover the North and South Islands with ideas for every traveler—from family-friendly excursions to hardcore outdoor adventures.
In one week, you can discover just the North Island, just the South Island, or cross over into both. By landing and departing in major cities (like Christchurch, Auckland, and Wellington), each trip ensures you can do some standard sightseeing. In the North Island, hit scenic stops like geothermal Rotorua and Tongariro National Park, while the South Island is home to Aoraki/Mt Cook, Wanaka, and Akaroa. Learn more with our trip ideas below.
Five days may seem short, but allows for an eventful adventure through New Zealand. Since there is not much time, it is ideal to travel within the South Island or the North Island—which budgets for a successful road trip with a few scenic stops. Anchoring the itinerary in a major city like Auckland allows for day trips to go kiwi spotting, wine tasting, and island hopping (if you’re not on the open road). Explore geothermal Rotorua, Aoraki/Mount Cook, the Banks Peninsula, Akaroa, and so much more in the five trip plans that follow.
With two weeks in New Zealand, there is plenty to discover on the South Island. Begin in Queenstown for some wine tasting, bungee jumping, scenic flights, and hot-pool soaks. Then, visit a glowworm cave in Te Anau, followed by hiking in Mt Aspiring National Park and more wine tasting in Wanaka. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are next, along with a stop at the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. Then, spend two days discovering Abel Tasman National Park, do more wine tasting in Blenheim, go sea kayaking in Akaroa, and wind down with a full day of sightseeing in Christchurch.
Highlights of Australia & New Zealand: Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown, Sydney, Melbourne, & Cairns - 14 Days
This two-week crossover trip takes you from New Zealand to Australia with plenty of adventure laced throughout. From Auckland, visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and the movie set of Hobbiton. Next, explore the volcanic landscape of Rotorua, followed by an entertaining dinner with the Maori. Go jet boating and wine tasting in Queenstown and tour the stunning Milford Sound. Then, fly to Sydney to go sightseeing and cruising around Sydney Harbour and embark on a day trip to the stunning Blue Mountains. In Melbourne, bookmark the hip neighborhoods and cafés and visit kangaroos and koalas in the wild. The tour concludes in Cairns with free time and an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef.
Ultimate New Zealand Road Trip: Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Queenstown, Te Anau, Christchurch, & More - 14 Days
Spend two weeks in New Zealand on this eventful road trip. From Auckland, drive through the Coromandel Peninsula to Whitianga. Then, stop in Tauranga before hitting geothermic Rotorua, followed by Art Deco-inspired Napier. Drive through gorges and vineyards toward Wellington, and ferry to Picton prior to arriving in Nelson. Cruise through beautiful Te Anau before closing out the journey in Christchurch.
December is the start of summer, and the peak season, in New Zealand. The weather can be great, or it can be cooler and wetter than later in the summer. New Zealand schools are out from mid-late December, so you'll encounter many domestic travelers as well as foreign tourists. Here are some important things to know about traveling to New Zealand in December.
November is the last month of spring in New Zealand, and that means the weather can be quite summery, although temperatures may not be as consistently hot as in summer. It's still the shoulder season, but the number of travelers coming to New Zealand increases in November. Here are some important things to know about traveling to New Zealand in November.
October is a great time to travel to and around New Zealand. It's the middle of spring, so the weather is often fine and warm, but it's still the shoulder season so even the most popular places aren't especially crowded. Here are some important things to know about traveling to New Zealand in October.
September is the first month of spring in New Zealand, and this can mean that warmer temperatures are on their way, but also that wintry conditions can linger. It's the shoulder season, which means you can make the most of slightly cheaper prices and less busy conditions at the most popular places, but still enjoy mostly good weather. Here's what you need to know about traveling to New Zealand in September.
August is the last month of winter in New Zealand, and along with July, this is the coldest month. Conditions in the north tend to be cool and wet, and in the south, cold and wet or snowy in the mountains. While this isn't peak tourism season throughout most of the country, it is a good time to go skiing. Read on to find out more about traveling to New Zealand in August.
July is mid-winter in New Zealand, which means cool and damp in most of the north, and cold, damp or snowy in the south. It's not peak season unless you're into skiing, and then you're in luck. Here are some important things to know about traveling to New Zealand in July.
June is the first month of winter in New Zealand, and while winters here aren't as extreme as in some parts of North America or Europe, they can still get quite cold. The North Island in particular also gets a lot of rain in the winter, but further south, in the mountains, this manifests as snow—marking the start of the ski season! Here a few important things to know about traveling to New Zealand in June.
May is the last month of autumn in New Zealand, and weather can range from pleasantly warm to quite wintry, depending on where you go. It's shoulder season, and some of the most popular destinations remain busy, but some of the more outdoorsy attractions see far fewer visitors than in the summer. Here are some important things to know about traveling to New Zealand in May.
April is the middle of autumn in New Zealand. In some parts of the country, that means the leaves on the trees turn orange and the air is crisp and cool. In others, especially further north, April can still be quite warm, especially earlier in the month. April is shoulder season in New Zealand, so you will see tourists around, but many places will not be as busy as they are during peak season. But, if Easter falls in April then expect domestic travelers to be out and about.
March is the first month of autumn in New Zealand, but summery conditions tend to linger, and in many parts of the country March is almost as warm and sunny as February. The further south you go, however, the more autumnal the weather, with leaves on the trees turning orange. If Easter falls in March then expect an increase in domestic tourists at popular places, otherwise March is the shoulder season in New Zealand. Here's what you need to know about traveling in New Zealand in March.
February is mid-summer in New Zealand, and also peak tourism season. But, schools go back earlier in the month, so international visitors won't be competing with locals for space on beaches or in camp grounds as they do in January, plus weather conditions continue to be ideal for outdoor activities. Here are some important things to know about traveling to New Zealand in February.
January is mid-summer in New Zealand, and peak tourism season. Schools are on holiday until the end of the month, so you'll encounter a lot of domestic tourists throughout the country. Temperatures are generally warm, although there's a lot of variation between the far north and the deep south. January also tends to be New Zealand's driest month, so conditions are good for outdoor adventures.
This 11-day adventure explores New Zealand's North Island, as well as one of the most popular regions of the upper South Island. Start in Auckland, and take a short scenic flight to Great Barrier Island, where you can hike, bathe in natural hot pools, or relax on the beach. Continue to Rotorua, with its geothermal waters and the Tongariro volcanoes, before making your way to Wellington. From there, you'll finish with Golden Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, and Nelson—the sunniest town in New Zealand.
North Island Adventure: Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Tauranga, Rotorua, Wellington, & More - 14 Days
Enjoy two weeks in the North Island of New Zealand on this tour of six different destinations. Begin in Auckland to do some sightseeing, stroll historic neighborhoods, and embark on a day trip to Waiheke Island. Next, head to the Coromandel Peninsula to discover the stunning coves, gorges, and beaches. Then, head to Tauranga for a glowworm cave excursion via kayak, followed by three days in the geothermal city known as Rotorua. Stay on a family farm in Mairenui, and spend two days in Wellington touring museums, parliamentary buildings, and more.
On this 10-day, family-friendly tour of the “Middle Earth” region of New Zealand, made famous by The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, enjoy some of the best filming grounds, and plenty of adventure along the way. Discover Auckland and the landscapes of the beautiful Waitakere Ranges, and then head to Matamata for a visit to The Hobbit film site. Visit the Kiwi House and explore Waitomo’s glowworms, rivers, and caverns. Explore Tongariro National Park, home to LOTR’s Mt Doom, and enjoy a flight over Whakapapa Village. Visit more memorable filming locations out of Wellington, and cap off the trip by playing hobbit for a day at Weta Workshop.
This 10-day road trip through New Zealand takes you through fjords, glaciers, and mountains abound. Begin in Christchurch on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, then take the beautiful drive to Mt Cook National Park to embark on two excursions to discover Tasman Glacier and the surrounding peaks. Next is another eventful drive—with stops along the way—to Te Anau, including a visit to a glowworm cave and a day cruise through stunning Milford Sound. Explore Queenstown and board a dinner cruise, visit Wanaka and Franz Joseph Glacier, and drop off your car before riding the exhilarating TranzAlpine Scenic Train back to Christchurch.
This family-friendly adventure takes you along the North Island highlights of New Zealand in 10 days. Begin in Auckland to do some sightseeing, and enjoy a wildlife adventure at Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter. Then, drive to the Coromandel Peninsula to tour the beaches, coves, and gorges. Next is Rotorua, the geothermal city, to discover the Buried Village, Wai-O-Tapu, and Hells Gate Geothermal Park. Enjoy some outdoor thrills in the activities capital of Taupo, an enriching visit to Te Papa National Museum in Wellington, and so much more on this all-ages tour.
Enjoy one week in New Zealand, from the South Island to the North Island. Begin in Christchurch on a fun sightseeing tour. Then, pick up your rental car and make a stop for a soak in Hanmer Springs, followed by a whale watching tour in Kaikoura. Next, drive from Picton, with a wine tasting stop along the way, and hop the Interislander Ferry to Wellington to tour the museum and native species. Head to Taupo for an incredible jet boating excursion to Huka Falls, tour the geothermal region of Rotorua by floatplane, visit a lush movie set in Matamata, and take a grand finale cruise around Auckland Harbour.
Spend seven days enjoying the best of the South Island of New Zealand. First, take in the popular sights of Christchurch and enjoy a mobile dinner via the Tram Restaurant. Then, visit Akaroa in the Banks Peninsula to get acquainted with the little blue penguins, followed by a trip to Lake Tekapo for a stargazing tour. Next, enjoy several scenic walks through Aoraki/Mount Cook and a trip to Wanaka to explore the highlights and Mt. Aspiring National Park. The vacation concludes in Queenstown with some wine tasting and final adventuring.
In one week, enjoy an action-packed road trip through New Zealand's South Island. Begin in Christchurch to do some sightseeing. Then, explore the culture, wildlife and rock formations of Oamaru, the churches and cathedrals of Dunedin, and more. Tour native species along The Caitlins from different lookouts, followed by a full day of activities in Queenstown, from flying and cruising over the sounds and fjords to skydiving and bungee jumping over gorges and rivers.
On this weeklong tour of New Zealand, explore three entirely different areas of the country. Begin in Auckland, the "Big Little City," to do some sightseeing, kiwi spotting, and island touring. Then, drive to Rotorua to explore the famous geothermal areas and go mountain biking in the Redwoods Forest. Next, make your way to Napier, nestled on Hawke's Bay, and rich with Art Deco culture.
Enjoy the outdoors of New Zealand's South Island on this quick, five-day trip. Begin in Christchurch and go punting on the Avon River, stroll Hagley Park, and zipline through the Adventure Park. Next, tour the Banks Peninsula, where time stands still. Discover the bays, villages, galleries, and cafés, as well as Akaroa, nestled in the heart of a volcano. Go swimming with Hector’s dolphins and view little blue penguins on a night tour. Then, head to Hanmer Springs for a therapeutic soak or two in the thermal pools, take a scenic hike, or go mountain biking along New Zealand High Country and Hanmer Forest Park.
On this short-yet-eventful tour of New Zealand, experience both the city and island life. Begin in Auckland, and take a scenic dinner cruise along the local harbors and marinas. Then, travel to the Bay of Islands and enjoy time in Paihia. Swim with dolphins, lounge on Te Ti Beach, and visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds for a guided history tour and a cultural performance. The trip concludes with an excursion into the Waipoua Forest, with its famous trees and acclaimed Matakohe Kauri Museum.
On this five-day adventure through the South Island, explore four regions of New Zealand. Begin in Christchurch and go punting on the Avon River, followed by a ziplining excursion at the Adventure Park. Then, embark on several scenic walking tracks through the incredible terrain of Mount Cook National Park. Next, visit the town of Clyde for some sightseeing and wine tasting, followed by Queenstown for excursions like bungee jumping, skydiving, whitewater rafting, and more.
On this active, five-day tour, experience two different cities in New Zealand. Begin in Auckland, and stroll the trendy neighborhoods, followed by a day outdoors, including a dolphin and whale watching excursion. Then, travel to Rotorua, a geothermal destination. Explore the cultural and historical sites, dip into the hot springs, bike through the Redwoods Forest, and visit the famous Polynesian Spa.
Enjoy an eventful five days in Auckland on this active itinerary. Upon arrival in the “Big Little City,” explore the town’s best shopping nooks, restaurants, museums, and parks. Then, go kiwi spotting on a day-to-night nature tour, followed by a wine tasting trip to Waiheke Island. The vacation concludes with a ferry ride to Rangitoto Island to explore the scenic volcanic destination and its lava tunnels.
Discover the best of New Zealand on this 14-day road trip, covering highlights from north to south, as well as the lesser-known regions. Immerse yourself in varied landscapes, including the spectacular surfing spots of Raglan, geothermal areas of Rotorua, and glacial fjords in Te Anau. Along the way, you will also visit vineyards and encounter native wildlife as you hike, paddle, and fly your way across the country.
This 10-day road trip in the South Island combines the best New Zealand has to offer. Discover jaw-dropping scenery here, including Lake Tekapo and its turquoise waters, Mt. Cook and the surrounding glaciers, the peaks of Mt. Aspiring National Park and the magnificent fjords. You will also enjoy more intimate and off-the-beaten-path experiences, including the exploration of the Banks Peninsula, with its active wildlife setting, as well as immersing yourself in the historical gold rush of the small town of Clyde.
This self-drive itinerary covers the highlights of New Zealand's North Island, from Auckland to Wellington. Along the way, you will park your car and switch to your mountain bike to ride unique cycling trails covering historic logging and railway routes, through dramatic landscapes of native bush, volcanoes, and mountains.
Perfect for first-timers, this 13-day itinerary covers an epic variety of landscapes and activities that only New Zealand could offer. Starting in Auckland, you'll head south passing through glowworm caves, natural mud baths, and famous film sets. Stay a few nights in Wellington before continuing to the South Island for the country's highest peaks, incredible natural wonders (like Milford Sound), and—if you so choose—a range of adrenaline sports to amp up this "Kiwi" adventure.
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.
This self-drive itinerary hits the highlights of New Zealand's North Island with a wide array of activities and landscapes. Along the way, you'll explore Auckland's best neighborhoods, sip pours from local wineries, go swimming and kayaking, and take part in Rotorua's geothermal treatments and Maori culture—all within the span of a week.
Travel through New Zealand's beautiful South Island, getting to know its cultural hotspots, famous landscapes and public gardens, and sprawling vineyards along the way. Over 12 days, you'll enjoy the cafes and fine art of Nelson, spend two days sipping wine in Marlborough, hike near beautiful Lake Wanaka and the famous Milford Sound, and more.
This 12-day tour features a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. Explore New Zealand's cities, mountain landscapes, native bush, and beaches. Begin in Wellington working your way through parks and vineyards to Christchurch and to the mountains and fjords of Mount Cook and Milford Sound, ending your stay in Queenstown.
From Auckland to Taupo, this 6-day itinerary presents the highlights of the North Island's diverse and dramatic landscapes. You'll trek amid emerald lakes and ancient volcanoes, explore The Shire from Lord of the Rings, and discover the sacred thermal waters of Wai-O-Tapu.
Explore the beauty of New Zealand's North Island, from the foodie's haven of Wellington to stunning Tongariro National Park. This seven-day tour starts in Wellington and ends in Auckland, with a variety of local activities including hiking, visiting Lord of the Rings' filming locations, touring wine country, and spotting local wildlife.
Traverse New Zealand on this two-week adventure-packed trip, covering the highlights of North and South Island. Discover diverse landscapes, from world-class surfing beaches, volcanic islands, and fern forests to geothermal waters, glacial fiords, and imposing mountains. Along the way, you'll visit historic mining towns, go wine tasting and hike, paddle, and fly your way across the country.