Make the Most of Your Time in New Zealand

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Aoraki / Mount Cook
How Many Days to Spend in New Zealand

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.

Redwoods Forest, Rotorua
Map of 5 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
5 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

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.

Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area, Rotorua, New Zealand
Map of 6 Days in New Zealand - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
6 Days in New Zealand - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas

In six days, you can focus on one of New Zealand's islands, though it's possible to cover a little of both. Go on a tour through Central Otago's wine country on the South Island or spend time in the cities of Auckland, "Hobbiton," and Rotorua on the North Island. Adventure travelers will love Queenstown, where you can bungee jump and soar down the Shotover River Canyon. In contrast, culture-seekers will love the Maori villages near Rotorua or the scenic flights and cruises available in Fiordland National Park.

Lake Wanaka
Map of 1 Week in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
1 Week in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

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.

Hike with the whole family up Mount Maunganui in Tauranga for pretty views
1 Week in New Zealand - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas

With seven days in New Zealand, you can find an itinerary that offers something for the entire family, whether that's nature, culture, or cuisine. Focus on one island and hit the highlights of Christchurch, Tekapo, and Aoraki / Mount Cook in the South. Or dedicate one week to seeing Hobbiton, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and Rotorua in the North. Cover both islands on a fast-paced nature tour from Auckland to Queenstown to see whales and dolphins in the North Island and kiwi birds in the South.

Auckland city skyline at sunset with Auckland Sky Tower
Map of 8 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
8 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

With eight days, it's possible to hit New Zealand's highlights across both islands on a fast-paced trip, or you can slow it down and focus solely on one of its islands. Explore the length of the country from Auckland to Queenston, or cover glaciers, like Franz Josef, the Southern Alps, and Christchurch on the South Island. Alternatively, stick to the North Island for Wellingtong, Auckland, Middle-earth, and dormant volcanoes.

Cape Reinga on New Zealands far north is the point where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean
Map of 9 Days in New Zealand - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
9 Days in New Zealand - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas

With nine days in New Zealand, you can explore the highlights of the North and South Islands, including Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington, on a classic road trip. Or, take your time exploring the coastlines of the North Island, driving from the northernmost point of Cape Reinga to the glowworm caves in Waikato. If you're all about "Lord of the Rings" scenery and adrenaline-pumping activities, a South Island itinerary takes you from remote Fiordland to action-packed Queenstown.

Hike in the Giant Redwoods forests in Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
10 Days in New Zealand - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas

Ten days in New Zealand is enough to drive the length of either the South Island or the North Island, with plenty of time for national parks, nature reserves, and animal sightings. Adventurous families will enjoy jet boat rides, zip lining, or even a helicopter flight, while nature-oriented families will get their fill of scenery at Milford Sound and the glowworm caves. For movie fans, the Hobbiton set in Matamata and the Wētā Cave Workshop in Wellington will satisfy their desire to visit the real Middle-earth.

Tongariro National Park
Map of 10 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
10 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

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.

Morning view from Te Mata Peak, Hawke's Bay on New Zealand's North Island
11 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Eleven days is plenty of time to visit New Zealand's highlights, from cities and culture to mountains and adventure sports. Focus on just one island to get an in-depth look, or cover both islands for an exciting and diverse overview. Highlights of the North Island include the Hobbiton Movie Set, the geothermal attractions of Rotorua, and lively Auckland and Wellington. The South Island delivers grand mountains, lakes, and of course, Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Serene Milford Sound
12 Days in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

With 12 days, you can take a slower pace to focus on one New Zealand island or speed things up and hit the highlights of both, like a classic Auckland to Queenstown route, perfect for first-timers. Meanwhile, the South Island offers glacier hikes and fjord cruises, while the North Island appeals to those interested in Rotorua's geothermal activity and Maori culture. Avid skiers can opt for the Otago and Southland itinerary, combining a few days on the slopes with Queenstown bungee jumping and Oamaru penguin sightings.

Yellow-eyed penguins of Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island
13 Days in New Zealand - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Thirteen days in New Zealand is enough time to fit in a taste of both islands, or you can focus on one for a more immersive experience. Foodies can enjoy local flavors on the South Island, nature lovers can appreciate the abundance of outdoor activities on the North Island, and intrepid travelers can find a daily adrenaline rush on a road trip of the North and South Islands. Meanwhile, first-timers can experience city culture, natural wonders, and active adventures on a classic tour that covers both islands.

Sunset over New Zealand's Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown
Map of 2 Weeks in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
2 Weeks in New Zealand - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

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.

A gold mining hut in historic Arrowtown
15 Days in New Zealand - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas

Fifteen days in New Zealand allows you to explore the highlights of the North and South islands, including Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, and Queenstown. Take a gastronomy and wine-inspired tour through the country's wine regions of Waiheke Island, Hawke's Bay, and Marlborough. Or concentrate on the hot spots of the South Island alone on a dedicated ski holiday. If you're looking to add another country to your list, spend six nights in Australia's Sydney and Melbourne on a multicountry adventure.

Travel through the rugged, rocky outcrops of Castle Hill Scenic Reserve
3 Weeks in New Zealand - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas

In three weeks, you can take your time road-tripping across the South Island, from cities to caves to glaciers. Or move at a faster pace and hit the highlights of both islands, including a scenic ferry ride between the two. Alternatively, you can do a combo tour with Australia and visit New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria in addition to Maori cultural experiences and outdoor adventures in Auckland, Rotorua, and Queenstown.