Ten days is a great amount of time for a New Zealand trip: you'll easily 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.
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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.
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.
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.
With one week in New Zealand, you can indulge in the finer things in life while admiring soaring mountains, lush vineyards, and turquoise lakes. Focusing on either the North Island or South Island ensures you have plenty of time to explore, and you can take your pick between a wellness escape, an off-the-beaten-path adventure, or an itinerary featuring wineries and farm-fresh cuisine. Other options include a luxury road trip from Christchurch to Queenstown and a highlights of the North Island tour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With two weeks in New Zealand, you can experience the entire country on a family-friendly, fast-paced highlights tour with cultural excursions in Rotorua, a ride on the TranzAlpine train in Christchurch, and exciting adventures in Queenstown. Alternatively, spend two weeks on the North Island and visit the Coromandel, the Maori Rock Carvings in Taupo, and the Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington. Or dedicate the whole time to the South Island, swimming with dolphins in Akaroa and penguin-spotting in Dunedin.
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.
In New Zealand, it's possible to visit nine destinations in just over two weeks. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the Coromandel Peninsula and the glowworms in Te Anau, while first-timers will experience a combination of big-city attractions and Maori culture in Rotorua. Hike around Franz Josef Glacier on an active adventure or take a car ferry ride to Blenheim and the Marlborough wine region on a self-drive itinerary. Travelers seeking wilderness experiences should add Tongariro National Park.
With 17 days in New Zealand, you can experience the country's incredible landscapes without feeling rushed. If you're a first-time visitor, opt for a self-drive adventure that hits the highlights of Queenstown, Wellington, Rotorua, and Paihia. Or, slow down things and focus on the country's warm culture on a road trip to the cities, mountains, and lakes. Adrenaline seekers will love a trip that includes bungee jumping and zorbing, while hiking enthusiasts should focus on the South Island's pristine trails.
Eighteen days in New Zealand is enough time to visit both islands. Wildlife enthusiasts can bird-watch in Whakatāne and spot penguins on the Otago Peninsula, while foodies will appreciate culinary experiences that include a Te Pā Tū Māori feast on the North Island and a Marlborough Sounds seafood cruise on the South Island. First-time visitors eager to make the most of their trip can combine outdoor adventures in New Zealand with Australian cuisine and urban exploration in Sydney and its surroundings.
With 20 days in New Zealand, you have time to explore the highlights of the North and South Islands and add unique excursions catered to your preferences. First-time visitors looking for a mix of activities will love an outdoor adventure trip, while those who prefer fewer hours on the road should focus their time on the South Island. Hiking enthusiasts will find the ultimate New Zealand road trip the perfect fit, and those who desire a mix of luxury and adventure should opt for the food, wine, and nature itinerary.
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.