Best of Rotorua

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Rotorua
The city of Rotorua sits on top of one of the world’s most active volcanic regions, as evidenced by the steam rising from cracks in the road, bubbling and hissing water in pools along the lake’s edge, and, of course, the smell of sulfur. Take a walk along the lake edge to Ohinemutu, one of the country’s oldest Maori villages, or fly in a float plane over the craters of Mount Tarawera. Just outside the city, the thermal reserves at Whakawerawera and Wai-O-Tapu give you the chance to walk amongst bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and sulfur ponds.

Previous kimkim travelers have been able to participate in a Maori village cultural experience, where Maori hosts in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe down the Wai-o-Whiro stream, tell stories in dance form, and top it off with a meal cooked in a volcanically heated earth oven. If you prefer to explore on wheels, a Kahukiwi Experiences 4WD Guided Culture Tour with a Maori guide will take you to the sacred land of the Ngāti Pikiao tribe, complete with stories of local myths, history, and life. For the adrenaline-focused, go white-water rafting along the Kaituna Cascades down 14 rapids, including Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall.
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View of the Auckland skyline and volcanoes of Devonport from the North Head mountain, Devonport
Map of Auckland & Rotorua: Best Itinerary Ideas
Auckland & Rotorua: Best Itinerary Ideas

Travelers to New Zealand typically plan a trip for 9 to 11 days when combining both Auckland and Rotorua with Queenstown. For travelers wanting to visit Auckland and Rotorua exclusively, plan five to seven days for a well-paced trip. Read on for the best itineraries, including Auckland and Rotorua, and beyond.

Rotorua
Map of Self-Drive New Zealand: The North Island Bucket List - 8 Days
Self-Drive New Zealand: The North Island Bucket List - 8 Days

Experience the highlights of New Zealand's North Island on this eight-day self-drive adventure from Auckland to Wellington. Explore national parks and hot springs, see real Hobbit homes, and immerse yourself in the rich Indigenous culture and history. This journey includes many options for an adrenaline rush, as well as relaxing spa treatments to unwind and rejuvenate. This is the best way to see the North Island at your own pace!

Rotorua
Map of New Zealand: Auckland & Rotorua - 5 Days
New Zealand: Auckland & Rotorua - 5 Days

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. 

Lady Elizabeth Bownen Falls, New Zealand
Map of New Zealand's North & South Islands: Culture, Nature & Adventure – 6 Days
New Zealand's North & South Islands: Culture, Nature & Adventure – 6 Days

If you're short on time but ready to explore New Zealand, this action-packed itinerary ticks off the best of the North and South Islands in just six days. Witness the volcanic wonders of Rotorua, venture to the real Middle-earth, eat around Auckland, cruise the magical fjords of Milford Sound, feast with a local Maori tribe, and get your thrills in Queenstown. In between it all, every turn offers breathtaking landscapes and incredible scenery that leave you wanting more.

Visit Rotorua and discover its hissing and bubbling geothermal activity
Map of New Zealand North Island Adventure: Auckland, Rotorua & Napier - 9 Days
New Zealand North Island Adventure: Auckland, Rotorua & Napier - 9 Days

See the highlights of New Zealand's scenic North Island on this nine-day trip. Start in Auckland, where you'll go ziplining and hiking and enjoy a wine tour. Take a day trip to Hamilton Gardens, then pick up your rental car and drive to Rotorua, stopping en route for a tour of Hobbiton. In Rotorua, you'll have a Maori cultural experience, enjoy more ziplining, try "zorbing," and visit stunning Tongariro National Park, ending your journey in Napier, known for its Art Deco architecture.

A hobbit hole in Matamata's Hobbiton on New Zealand's North Island
Map of New Zealand's North Island - 6 Days
New Zealand's North Island - 6 Days

From Auckland to Taupo, this six-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.

Redwoods Forest, Rotorua
Map of New Zealand: Auckland, Rotorua, & Napier - 7 Days
New Zealand: Auckland, Rotorua, & Napier - 7 Days

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.

Auckland City
Map of Highlights of Australia & New Zealand: Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown, Sydney, Melbourne & Cairns - 14 Days
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.

A road through the North Island's Waitakere Ranges
Map of Nature-Filled North Island Road Trip - 7 Days
Nature-Filled North Island Road Trip - 7 Days

Experience the great outdoors of New Zealand's North Island on this week-long, road trip itinerary. Loop your way south from Auckland to spot whales in Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, hike through the lush rainforests of the Waitakere Ranges, and glimpse the real Middle-earth in Matamata. Discover the geothermal marvels of Wai-O-Tapu in Rotorua, take an evening kayak tour into the glowworm canyons of Tauranga, and end your adventure back in Auckland with a sunset harbor dinner cruise.

View over Piha Beach, Auckland
Map of North Island Active Family Road Trip: Auckland, Rotorua, Napier & Wellington - 10 Days
North Island Active Family Road Trip: Auckland, Rotorua, Napier & Wellington - 10 Days

This 10-day itinerary is the perfect match for adventurous families looking to experience the great outdoors of New Zealand's North Island. Starting in Auckland, you'll drive south to Wellington via Rotorua and Napier. Immerse yourself in nature along the way, experiencing native bush, bird, and animal life. Explore some of New Zealand's most intriguing land and cityscapes, including those of the imagination: a tour of the famous Weta Workshop will be a highlight for kids and adults alike.

Family holiday New Zealand
Map of New Zealand North Island Family Adventure: Dolphins, Glowworms & Hobbiton - 7 Days
New Zealand North Island Family Adventure: Dolphins, Glowworms & Hobbiton - 7 Days

Discover New Zealand's family-friendly North Island on this seven-day road trip. Breathe in the fresh sea air on a dolphin and whale watching safari from Auckland, and explore the Hobbiton set from the "The Lord of the Rings" with its grassy mounds and big round doors. Enter the "sulfur city" of Rotorua and imagine you're on another planet as you pass erupting geysers and boiling mud pools before descending into the glittering glowworm cave at Footwhistle.

Lakeside in Queenstown
Map of Family Adventure in New Zealand: Jet Boats, Whale Safaris & Māori Culture - 7 Days
Family Adventure in New Zealand: Jet Boats, Whale Safaris & Māori Culture - 7 Days

With boat rides, bungee jumps, and Maori immersion experiences, this action-packed seven-day adventure across New Zealand will appeal to even hard-to-please teens. Bring the family together with an ocean safari in Auckland, and relive "The Lord of the Rings" during a tour of Hobbiton. Immerse yourself in traditional Maori culture and gastronomy in Rotorua, then head to Queenstown's "adventure capital" to brave the thrill of a jet boat ride through the stunning Mount Aspiring National Park.

Cityscape image of Auckland skyline, New Zealand
Map of Auckland, Rotorua & Wellington: Best Itinerary Ideas
Auckland, Rotorua & Wellington: Best Itinerary Ideas

Most people visiting Auckland, Rotorua, and Wellington spend about 10 to 11 days in New Zealand, which usually includes some time in Queenstown as well. If you're not interested in Queenstown, 8 to 10 days is enough for your Auckland, Rotorua, and Wellington trip. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as seven days. For the best itineraries, including Auckland, Rotorua, and Wellington, keep reading below.

See gannet colonies on the dramatic clifftops of Cape Kidnappers (photo courtesy of Rosewood Cape Kidnappers)
Map of Luxury Highlights of New Zealand's North Island - 7 Days
Luxury Highlights of New Zealand's North Island - 7 Days

Discover the highlights of New Zealand's North Island on this weeklong luxury tour. From Auckland, you'll hit the road south, staying at spectacular 5-star hotels as you make your way toward Wellington. Meet native wildlife, soar above Rotorua's geothermal landscapes on a floatplane, go wine tasting in Hawke's Bay, and take an Art Deco vintage car tour in Napier. Explore Maori culture as you go with a traditional spa experience at Wai Ariki and a visit to the Ngati Pikiao community.

Walk under the canopy of giant fern trees in Waitakere Ranges in Auckland
Map of Active Adventure in New Zealand – 11 Days
Active Adventure in New Zealand – 11 Days

Get your adrenaline pumping on this 11-day adventure tour of New Zealand. You'll travel from the North Island to the South, stopping to admire Auckland's black-sand beaches, Rotorua's geothermal pools, and Mount Tarawera's craters. Along the way, bounce down hillsides in an inflatable Zorb, hike and kayak across the South Island, and enjoy high-octane quad biking and jet-boating tours in New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown.

Franz Josef Glacier
Map of New Zealand Self-Drive Tour: Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Franz Joseph & Queenstown - 8 Days
New Zealand Self-Drive Tour: Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Franz Joseph & Queenstown - 8 Days

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.

Enjoy a two-hour boat cruise across Milford Sound
Map of A Taste of New Zealand: Queenstown, Wellington, Rotorua & Auckland  - 8 Days
A Taste of New Zealand: Queenstown, Wellington, Rotorua & Auckland - 8 Days

For those who like a trip to include thrills, food, and natural wonders, this eight-day itinerary should check off all the boxes. New Zealand is known for its hospitality, and you'll experience the very best of it at a mountaintop farm, a lakeside spa, and a multicourse Māori feast. Along the way, you'll get to see a fjord from a plane, glowworms from a boat, and Wellington's cityscape from a century-old funicular railway.

Wellington's iconic century-old furnicular
Map of New Zealand North Island Road Trip: Auckland to Wellington - 8 Days
New Zealand North Island Road Trip: Auckland to Wellington - 8 Days

See the North Island from top to bottom on this eight-day New Zealand road trip. Get to know the "City of Sails" in Auckland, then set out into the rainforests of Waitakere and the lush farmland of Waikato. Visit Hobbit houses in the real Middle-earth and venture into glowworm-illuminated caves, then follow the smell of sulfur to Rotorua and its geothermal wonders. After hiking to the dormant volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, end your adventure among the quirky urban charm of Wellington.

Exploring the forests of Rotorua
Map of Family Fun on New Zealand's North Island: Wildlife, Culture & Hobbiton - 7 Days
Family Fun on New Zealand's North Island: Wildlife, Culture & Hobbiton - 7 Days

The goal of a good family vacation is for everyone to have a great time. That's sure to happen on this week-long, self-drive adventure through the North Island of New Zealand. Starting in Auckland and traveling down to Waitomo, Hobbiton, Rotorua, and Tauranga, kids of all ages will love the range of natural and cultural attractions on offer. Explore glowworm caves, go dolphin watching, learn about Maori culture, and much more.

Get up close to the Māori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo
Map of Ultimate New Zealand & Australia Adventure  - 15 Days
Ultimate New Zealand & Australia Adventure - 15 Days

This is the perfect trip for first-timers to Australia and New Zealand. Kick off the tour in Sydney and Melbourne with a few days to experience each city, plus nearby attractions like the Great Ocean Road. Then fly to New Zealand's South Island for a range of outdoor activities in the adventure capital of the world. Next is a road trip on the North Island, where you'll see spouting geysers, glowworm caves, and Maori rock art—ending with a whale- and dolphin-watching cruise off the coast of Auckland.

A winding road in the Marlborough Sounds
Map of New Zealand Ultimate North to South Island Road Trip - 9 Days
New Zealand Ultimate North to South Island Road Trip - 9 Days

Brimming with adventure, spectacular nature, and lively cities, this nine-day road trip dives into the best of New Zealand's North and South Islands. Visit cosmopolitan Auckland and sample Waiheke Island's best beaches and wineries, then head to Rotorua for thrill-seeking activities, Maori villages, and natural hot springs. After a breathtaking ferry ride across Marlborough Sounds, your trip ends with whale watching and a scenic drive along the Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch.

Maori house in Rotorua
Map of New Zealand North Island Explorer - 9 Days
New Zealand North Island Explorer - 9 Days

Ideal for adventure lovers and active travelers, this nine-day, self-drive itinerary features the best of New Zealand's North Island. Board an ocean safari for dolphin watching in the Bay of Islands, explore New Zealand's rich Maori history, and experience the mighty power of the Pacific Ocean at Cape Reinga. After beachcombing and snorkeling time at Snells Beach, head inland to Rotorua for rejuvenating geothermal pools, a Maori cultural dinner, and sparkling glowworm caves.

View of the Mount Maunganui suburb from the summit of the dormant volcano Mauao
Map of Explore New Zealand's North Island: Auckland to Wellington - 11 Days
Explore New Zealand's North Island: Auckland to Wellington - 11 Days

Experience New Zealand's eclectic mix of city and country, fantasy and reality on this 11-day journey across the North Island. Travel from the bustling harbors of Auckland to the steaming geysers of Rotorua, ride cable cars up Wellington's hills, and kayak across Lake McLaren. Along the way, catch glimpses of sites made famous by the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, like Hobbiton, the Putangirua Pinnacles, and Weta Cave.

Sunset on Mount Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park
Map of Best of New Zealand's North Island: Adventure, Culture & Relaxation - 13 Days
Best of New Zealand's North Island: Adventure, Culture & Relaxation - 13 Days

Ideal for those who want a road trip with a taste of everything, this itinerary will take you from the city lights of Auckland Harbour to the luminescence of Lake McLaren's glowworm canyon. Pamper yourself with a luxurious spa one day, then challenge yourself with whitewater rafting or an alpine hike the next. Experience Maori culture and art, then relax after digging your own beachside hot pool. Whether you choose to dine in Hobbit or Sky Tower-style, this trip will be unforgettable.

Views across Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown
Map of New Zealand Discovery Tour: Auckland to Queenstown - 9 Days
New Zealand Discovery Tour: Auckland to Queenstown - 9 Days

Beginning in the vibrant capital of Auckland, this adventure-packed nine-day itinerary starts with a sail under the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Then, it's on to explore geothermal Rotorua and historic Christchurch and visit the spectacular Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park for stargazing and a glacier cruise. You'll finish with many options in Queenstown, from bungee jumping to a jet boat ride to vineyard tours.

Steam and Sulphur fill the air around the volcanic lakes of Rotorua
Map of Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch & Queenstown: Best Itinerary Ideas
Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch & Queenstown: Best Itinerary Ideas

Travelers to New Zealand typically plan a trip for 11 to 14 days when combining Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, and Queenstown with Aoraki / Mount Cook. If you're only headed to Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, and Queenstown, you can enjoy a comfortably-paced trip in 11 to 12 days. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as 9 or 10 days. Check out the below favored Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, and Queenstown trips.

Hike with kids in New Zealand
Map of Family Nature & Culture Trip in the North Island: Auckland to Wellington - 14 Days
Family Nature & Culture Trip in the North Island: Auckland to Wellington - 14 Days

Strike a good balance between cultural and natural highlights on this family-focused two-week tour of New Zealand's North Island. Starting in the biggest city, Auckland, you'll travel south through the Coromandel Peninsula and the geothermal heartland around Rotorua and Taupo before ending in the cool little capital of Wellington. Along the way, participate in a range of adventures that will appeal to everyone in the family: snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching, Maori cultural experiences, and much more.

Rotorua's towering redwood forest
Map of Discover Sydney & New Zealand - 18 Days
Discover Sydney & New Zealand - 18 Days

Witness Australia and New Zealand's abundant beauty on this far-reaching 18-day tour. Start in Sydney and take day trips to the Hunter Valley's vineyards and the Blue Mountains. Leave for Queenstown to discover the adventure capital of New Zealand, fly over Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, and head to Wellington to learn about native wildlife. Witness the geysers of Rotorua and get lost in its massive redwood forests. Celebrate the end of your trip in Auckland with dinner at the top of the Sky Tower.

This unique tour includes an overnight cruise in the Milford Sound
Map of Best of New Zealand's North & South Islands - 10 Days
Best of New Zealand's North & South Islands - 10 Days

This exciting itinerary combines top highlights in New Zealand's North and South Islands. Spend your first night in Auckland with a dinner cruise facing the twinkling skyline, then hit the road toward volcanoes, spouting geysers, and glow worm caves. Drop your car in Wellington, the nation's capital, and fly to Queenstown for adrenaline sports (if you choose), an overnight cruise in Milford Sound, and a wine tour to finish the adventure.

Visit the Hobbiton set in Matamata
Map of New Zealand's North Island Nature & Middle-earth Family Tour - 10 Days
New Zealand's North Island Nature & Middle-earth Family Tour - 10 Days

Movie-loving families can step right into the world of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" on New Zealand's North Island. This fun 10-day itinerary combines Middle-earth highlights like the Hobbiton movie set and Weta Cave Workshop with a range of other active, outdoorsy adventures that parents and kids will love. Go zip lining on Waiheke Island, check out Rotorua's geothermal attractions, meet farm animals in Tauranga, and much more.

Explore the redwoods of Rotorua
Map of  New Zealand Nature for Families: Geysers, Glowworms & Lavender Fields  - 10 Days
New Zealand Nature for Families: Geysers, Glowworms & Lavender Fields - 10 Days

Explore the very best of New Zealand's natural wonders in this family-oriented 10-day trip. Begin by immersing yourself in Hobbit life at the Hobbiton film set, after which you will be taken to a vast underground network of caves lit up by glowworms. Take a nighttime walk among gigantic redwood trees along a lantern-lit path, and learn about Maori culture during a hearty feast in a natural forest amphitheater. Finally, ride a rail cart to some of New Zealand's most beautiful lavender fields.

New Zealand's powerful Huka Falls
Map of North Island Road Trip: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Napier & Wellington - 11 Days
North Island Road Trip: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Napier & Wellington - 11 Days

Perfect for nature lovers and thrill-seekers, this 11-day, self-drive itinerary lets you discover the wonders of New Zealand's North Island at your own pace. Start in Auckland for panoramic views from the top of the Sky Tower, then head to the Bay of Islands to learn about Maori culture and relax on its many beaches. Explore geothermal geysers and ancient forests in Rotorua, go wine tasting and gannet spotting around Napier, then step into the world of film with a visit to Wellington's Weta Workshop.

The road to Mount Cook National Park on New Zealand's South Island
Map of New Zealand Scenic Self-Drive Tour: Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Canterbury & Otago - 11 Days
New Zealand Scenic Self-Drive Tour: Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Canterbury & Otago - 11 Days

One of the best ways to experience New Zealand's diverse geography and wildlife is to get on the road and see it for yourself. This 11-day itinerary forges a path from the rolling hills, limestone caves, and Hobbit holes of the North Island to the whale-friendly coasts, fjords, and gorges of the South Island. Along the way you'll visit with native birds, fly over a glacier in a helicopter, and unwind at a geothermal spa.

Mount Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park
Map of New Zealand North Island Self-Drive Tour: Auckland to Wellington - 11 Days
New Zealand North Island Self-Drive Tour: Auckland to Wellington - 11 Days

Experience the best of New Zealand's North Island on an exciting 11-day independent road trip. Start in Auckland, the country's largest and most famous city, known for its perfect marriage of cosmopolitan and natural offerings. Then, drive south to see volcanoes and geysers in Rotorua and Tongariro National Park. Enjoy a Maori feast and performance before continuing to the vineyards of Martinborough, the country's premier wine country. Finish the tour in the small but thrilling capital city, Wellington.

Te Mata Peak
Map of New Zealand North Island Highlights: Culture, Wine & Wildlife - 11 Days
New Zealand North Island Highlights: Culture, Wine & Wildlife - 11 Days

Nature lovers, film buffs, and wine connoisseurs: get ready to experience 11 days of New Zealand's top cultural and natural highlights. Sample the country's finest wines paired with delicious food during a vineyard tour of Hawke's Bay, and follow in the footsteps of Frodo and Samwise in a "The Lord of the Rings" filming locations tour. Traverse spectacular countryside by car and train as you spot rare wildlife like gannets, kiwis, and even the rare tuatara—New Zealand's living dinosaur.

Let someone else drive as you sit back and take in the views of both islands
Map of A Taste of New Zealand - 11 Days
A Taste of New Zealand - 11 Days

This fun and fast-paced tour takes you across New Zealand's South and North Islands for a wide range of epic landscapes and distinct activities. Kick off the trip in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the world, and cruise through Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. Then, hit the highlights in Christchurch and Wellington before heading north through geothermal wonders and glowworm caves. Ride to the top of Auckland's Sky Tower in time for a sunset drink to finish the adventure.

Spot sheep in the snow-covered farmland of New Zealand's South Island
Map of New Zealand Winter Discovery - 14 Days
New Zealand Winter Discovery - 14 Days

If you plan to visit New Zealand in June, July, or August, this two-week winter trip includes the best of the North and South islands, with seasonal adventures like skiing and whale watching adding a layer of richness. Your self-drive journey begins in Queenstown with a snow day and a Milford Sound / Piopiotahi tour. Journey north to Picton via Aoraki / Mount Cook, Christchurch, and Kaikoura, then cross between the islands by ferry to see the best of temperate Wellington, Rotorua, and Auckland.

Cruise across remote Doubtful Sound on New Zealand's South Island
Map of New Zealand Panorama:  Auckland to Christchurch - 17 Days
New Zealand Panorama: Auckland to Christchurch - 17 Days

This 17-day New Zealand adventure ticks off the best of the North and South islands with extreme thrills, cultural connections, and unusual destinations and experiences. Land in Auckland, then drive south to Rotorua for a Maori feast and zorbing adventure. Swap to the South Island to experience Fiordland National Park, then chase thrills with bungee jumping, swings, and a jet boat in Queenstown. Helicopter to the Fox Glacier, then board the TranzAlpine Scenic Train for Christchurch.

Rotorua's Champagne Pool is a highlight of the area's geothermal wonders
Map of Contrasts of New Zealand: North & South Islands Tour - 17 Days
Contrasts of New Zealand: North & South Islands Tour - 17 Days

New Zealand is truly a land of contrasts: sandy subtropical beaches and high snowcapped mountains, Maori culture and colonial architecture, frozen glaciers, and bubbling mud pools. Experience a bit of everything on this fun-filled 17-day tour of both the North and South Islands. Complement self-driving with well-planned day tours, domestic flights, and scenic train journeys to make the most of your time on the islands of Aotearoa, which may look small on a map but pack in plenty of variety.

Overlooking Lake Tekapo
Map of New Zealand's North & South Islands: Auckland to Queenstown - 12 Days
New Zealand's North & South Islands: Auckland to Queenstown - 12 Days

Discover a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers on this 12-day tour through New Zealand's North and South Islands. Take a cruise across Auckland's scenic harbors, enter the magical world of Hobbiton, and stand in awe at Rotorua's geysers. Experience the remarkable stillness of Milford Sound, then head into the backcountry to find Lake Tekapo and take a zip line ride over Wanaka before heading back to civilization in the second city of Christchurch.

Wind through the hills of Rotorua
Map of  New Zealand North Island Road Trip: Auckland to Wellington - 12 Days
New Zealand North Island Road Trip: Auckland to Wellington - 12 Days

Journey the length of New Zealand's North Island on this self-drive road trip from Auckland to Wellington. In between kayaking with glowworms, exploring the Pacific "Ring of Fire" in Rotorua, sitting down to a Maori feast, and stepping into the worlds of Middle-earth and Hobbiton, this whimsical 12-day adventure leaves you with plenty of time to relax on the Bay of Islands' beaches and sample some of the country's best pinot noirs.

Kick off your adventure exploring North Island treasures like Waiheke Island
Map of Highlights of Aotearoa: New Zealand's North & South Islands - 18 Days
Highlights of Aotearoa: New Zealand's North & South Islands - 18 Days

With this action-packed 18-day itinerary, there's no need to choose between New Zealand's North and South Islands—you can do them both. Start in Auckland, the "City of Sails," before moving through the North Island's rural and geothermal heart to Wellington. Take the ferry to the South Island, where you'll travel by train down the east coast to Christchurch, cut through the Southern Alps, and take a guided road trip down the West Coast to Queenstown.

Finish the trip in Queenstown for a slew of activities
Map of New Zealand's Ultimate Tour - 13 Days
New Zealand's Ultimate Tour - 13 Days

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.

Matamata
Map of New Zealand: From South Island to North Island - 7 Days
New Zealand: From South Island to North Island - 7 Days

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.

Kick off your scenic New Zealand road trip with a drive along the Coromandel Peninsula
Map of New Zealand North Island Adventure - 14 Days
New Zealand North Island Adventure - 14 Days

With two weeks to explore New Zealand's North Island, you can experience the best of its cities, coast, and countryside. Start in buzzing Auckland and take a day trip to the vineyards of Waiheke Island. Then, collect a rental car and hit the road toward the Coromandel Peninsula's dramatic coves and beaches. Continue to Tauranga to kayak through glowworm caves, experience geothermal wonders in Rotorua, and spend the night at a rural farmstay—wrapping up in Wellington with a ride on its famous cable car.

Visit stunning wineries in several locations, starting with Waiheke Island
Map of New Zealand Road Trip: Local Food, Wine, Culture & Nature  - 19 Days
New Zealand Road Trip: Local Food, Wine, Culture & Nature  - 19 Days

Get ready for an authentic road trip exploring New Zealand's charm, natural beauty, and local food and wine scene. Over 19 days, you'll savor New Zealand's finest vineyards in Hawke's Bay and Queenstown, cruise across serene Lake Taupo and the stunning Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, and explore geothermal wonders in Rotorua. You'll also hike majestic mountains and dine well in Auckland, Napier, and Christchurch for a trip of a lifetime.

Mother and child looking at mountains in New Zealand
Map of New Zealand Family Explorer from North to South - 14 Days
New Zealand Family Explorer from North to South - 14 Days

Whether you have younger or older kids, this two-week itinerary includes various outdoor and adventure-focused activities to keep everyone interested and entertained. While many travelers to New Zealand only focus on one island, this carefully planned itinerary includes both the North and South Islands by making use of a domestic flight. Explore the geothermal attractions of the North Island as well as the rugged mountains and glaciers of the South Island—and lots more.

Explore the treetops of Rotorua
Map of North to South New Zealand Family Trip: Nature, Cities & Adventure - 14 Days
North to South New Zealand Family Trip: Nature, Cities & Adventure - 14 Days

Start your family trip in New Zealand off on a high with a three-course meal atop the 1,000-foot Sky Tower in Auckland. Zip through Rotorua's native forest via zip lines, swing bridges, tree platforms, and trails before taking a rail cart tour through farm country, at the end of which you'll be treated to a plowman's lunch and a visit to lavender fields. Introduce your children to the night sky at a stargazing workshop, and finish your trip by swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

See Milford Sound / Piopiotah by boat and plane on a scenic, all-day adventure
Map of New Zealand North to South Highlights - 14 Days
New Zealand North to South Highlights - 14 Days

Eager to explore the vast beauty of New Zealand without driving? This two-week itinerary uses convenient transfers, buses, and flights to ensure you experience the country's top highlights, from cities to countryside. Start in Auckland and travel south to the wonders of Rotorua before flying to the South Island. Take a dramatic bus trip from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, then continue to Queenstown and Franz Josef / Waiau Glacier. Finally, ride the TranzAlpine Scenic Train back to the city.

New Zealand's mix of country and city will inspire you to explore
Map of Epic New Zealand Road Trip: Auckland to Queenstown - 21 Days
Epic New Zealand Road Trip: Auckland to Queenstown - 21 Days

On this 21-day adventure by air, land, and sea, you don't have to pick between New Zealand's North and South Islands—see the best of both. Experience the glowworm caves of Waitomo and the country's largest glacier on Lake Tasman. Let your taste buds guide you to a Maori village feast and the wines of Martinborough. Cross the scenic Cook Straight by boat, and see behind the scenes of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" in the Weta Workshop in Wellington.

Wai-O-Tapu in Rotorua
Map of New Zealand: North to South - 14 Days
New Zealand: North to South - 14 Days

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.

Explore New Zealand's oldest park, Tongariro National Park
Map of New Zealand North & South Island Road Trip - 15 Days
New Zealand North & South Island Road Trip - 15 Days

From the cosmopolitan cities and raw geothermal activity of the North Island to the stunning landscapes and heart-pumping thrills of the South, this 15-day self-drive itinerary squeezes the best experiences out of New Zealand. Fly over Milford Sound, helicopter over an active volcano, and ride the scenic TranzAlpine train with this luxury itinerary packed with adventure.

Waiheke Island vineyard, New Zealand
Map of New Zealand North & South Island Road Trip Highlights: Auckland to Queenstown - 15 Days
New Zealand North & South Island Road Trip Highlights: Auckland to Queenstown - 15 Days

Travel New Zealand from top to tail on this 15-day self-drive adventure. Start in the North Island, where you'll explore Maori culture and geothermal landscapes and tour the Hobbiton film set from "The Lord of the Rings." Next, take the Interislander ferry to the South Island for whale watching and glacier tours, followed by a trip to the country's adventure capital, Queenstown. The journey ends with a cruise of the famous, UNESCO-listed Milford Sound.

Milford Sound
Map of New Zealand Highlights by Road, Rail & Air - 15 Days
New Zealand Highlights by Road, Rail & Air - 15 Days

Discover everything from trendy cities and staggering countryside to award-winning wines and gourmet food tours on this far-reaching 15-day trip around New Zealand's North and South Islands. Float over the Canterbury Plains at first light in a hot air balloon, be helicoptered up to the Franz Josef Glacier, and sit back while you enjoy a cruise through the breathtaking Milford Sound.

Scenic View of Mount Cook in New Zealand
Map of Ultimate New Zealand Self-Drive Adventure - 16 Days
Ultimate New Zealand Self-Drive Adventure - 16 Days

This 16-day New Zealand self-drive itinerary brings out the best of the North and South islands combining nature and adventure with relaxation. Start in Auckland, tick off Rotorua and Wellington, then cross to the South Island. Drink wine in Marlborough, see Kaikoura Coast wildlife, and pass by Christchurch on your way to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park. Hike the Haupapa / Tasman Glacier, chase thrills in Queenstown, and join a luxury overnight cruise on Milford Sound / Piopiotahi.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a full-day hike on the North Island
Map of New Zealand Culture & Nature Tour: Auckland to Queenstown - 16 Days
New Zealand Culture & Nature Tour: Auckland to Queenstown - 16 Days

Active types will love this 16-day road trip, where you'll discover the diversity, cultural heritage, and thrilling adventures that make New Zealand a truly remarkable destination. First, bounce from the vibrant city of Auckland to the geothermal wonders of Rotorua. Then hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing before flying to the South Island to experience the glow worms of Te Anau. Finish with a fjord cruise, followed by two nights in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.

Brave the ultimate New Zealand experience with a bungee jump off Kawarau Bridge
Map of Active Adventure on New Zealand's North & South Islands  - 16 Days
Active Adventure on New Zealand's North & South Islands - 16 Days

Adventure seekers rejoice—this action-packed odyssey through New Zealand delivers plenty of excitement as you wind your way through the country's most stunning natural scenery by car, train, and ferry. Go bungee jumping and skydiving over the adventure capital of Queenstown, cruise under waterfalls in Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, and go heli-hiking on Franz Josef Glacier. After ziplining over Rotorua's forest canopy, finish with a SkyWalk on top of Auckland's Sky Tower.

Surf at Ngarunui beach in Raglan
Map of Highlights of New Zealand: From North to South - 15 Days
Highlights of New Zealand: From North to South - 15 Days

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, hike, paddle, and fly your way across the country.

Abel Tasman National Park
Map of Highlights of the North Island and Top of the South, New Zealand - 11 Days
Highlights of the North Island and Top of the South, New Zealand - 11 Days

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.

The Glenorchy wharf pier on New Zealand's South Island
Map of Epic Self-Drive Adventure in New Zealand - 17 Days
Epic Self-Drive Adventure in New Zealand - 17 Days

See the best of New Zealand's two islands with this 17-day self-drive itinerary. Starting in Auckland, you'll hit the road south to see geothermal wonders in Rotorua and the capital, Wellington. Skip to the South Island, where Christchurch and charming Akaroa await. Ride the TranzAlpine Train to the West Coast, where you'll heli-hike the Franz Josef Glacier, seek thrills in Queenstown, and fly over the magnificent Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. Return to Auckland and road trip out to the Bay of Islands to finish the trip.

Māori carvings in Rotorua
Map of Best of New Zealand: Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Aoraki / Mount Cook & Queenstown - 16 Days
Best of New Zealand: Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Aoraki / Mount Cook & Queenstown - 16 Days

A 16-day tour of New Zealand is just the right length to appreciate the beauty and diversity of its two main islands, the North and South Islands. Start in Auckland, experiencing its big-city attractions and natural charm. Continue to geothermal Rotorua, a heartland of Maori culture. Fly south to Christchurch for a few days around the Garden City before driving into the mountains. Aoraki / Mount Cook, Queenstown, and Milford Sound / Piopiotahi offer some of the country's most stunning scenery.

A quiet backroad near Lake Tekapo
Map of New Zealand Cities, Mountains & Lakes Road Trip - 17 Days
New Zealand Cities, Mountains & Lakes Road Trip - 17 Days

Experience a bit of everything on this 17-day self-drive tour through New Zealand's North and South Islands. Strike out from Auckland on an epic road trip south, traveling through the North Island's agricultural, geothermal, and wine-producing heartland. Along the way, stop for wine-tasting, glowworm kayaking, and a Maori cultural experiences. From Wellington, take the ferry to the South Island, where you'll hike on glaciers, cruise on remote waterways, and enjoy the vastness of the empty landscape.

Trade your car for a boat cruise around the Coromandel Peninsula
Map of New Zealand's Ultimate Self-Drive Tour in the North Island  - 18 Days
New Zealand's Ultimate Self-Drive Tour in the North Island - 18 Days

Immerse yourself in spectacular beauty, rich Maori culture, and geothermal wonders with this 18-day journey around New Zealand's North Island. Begin the drive in vibrant Auckland before you chase scenery through the Waitakere Ranges, Coromandel Peninsula, and Bay of Islands. Then, venture to Lake Taupo and Rotorua, followed by relaxed coastal towns like Tauranga, Whakatane, and Raglan. Make your way back to Auckland for a sunset cruise to finish this epic road trip.

Enjoy views of Mount Cook , the highest mountain in New Zealand
Map of Self-Driving Tour of New Zealand's Nature & Culture:  Auckland to Queenstown - 18 Days
Self-Driving Tour of New Zealand's Nature & Culture: Auckland to Queenstown - 18 Days

New Zealand was practically made for self-driving vacations, and you'll get to experience the best of the North and South Islands on this 18-day itinerary. Starting in Auckland, head to the beaches of the Coromandel and the geothermal wonders of Rotorua before flying south to Christchurch. Then it's off into the Southern Alps, where you'll see some of New Zealand's highest mountains, hike some of its finest trails, and cruise to its most spectacular viewpoints.

Explore the remote beaches in Invercargill, New Zealand's southernmost city
Map of New Zealand Outdoor Adventure: Queenstown to Auckland - 20 Days
New Zealand Outdoor Adventure: Queenstown to Auckland - 20 Days

This epic 20-day journey will take you to the best outdoor attractions of New Zealand's South and North Islands. Begin in Queenstown with a scenic dinner cruise and jet-boating and biking excursions. Next is a road trip, where you'll spot wildlife on Stewart Island and kayak at Franz Josef / Waiau Glacier. Switch your car for the scenic TranzAlpine Train to Christchurch to sightsee and swim with dolphins. Then fly to Rotorua to relax in thermal hot springs before finishing in Auckland with a full-day tour.

Discover geothermal landscapes in Rotorua
Map of Self-Drive  & Discover New Zealand’s Landscapes: Winelands, Glaciers, Fjords & Geothermal Wonders - 20 Days
Self-Drive & Discover New Zealand’s Landscapes: Winelands, Glaciers, Fjords & Geothermal Wonders - 20 Days

Explore New Zealand's diverse landscapes on this 20-day tour. Start on the North Island, where the lush vineyards of Waiheke and the geothermal wonders of Rotorua await. Wander Hawke's Bay's beaches and spot kiwi birds at Zealandia before sailing to the South Island. Here, you'll discover the mighty Tasman and Franz Josef glaciers by helicopter and boat, then cruise UNESCO-listed Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. End with a ride on the TranzAlpine, one of the world's most spectacular railway journeys.

Spot whales off New Zealand's East Coast in Kaikoura
Map of Auckland to Christchurch Road Trip: Food, Wine & Nature Trail - 20 Days
Auckland to Christchurch Road Trip: Food, Wine & Nature Trail - 20 Days

Get a taste of New Zealand's rich food, wine, and natural wonders on this 20-day adventure. Travel from Auckland to Christchurch, stopping to enjoy food tours and cooking classes, feast on barbecue at a Queenstown farm, and visit Kumeu's world-famous vineyards. Natural highlights include captivating glowworm caves, Rotorua's geothermal landscapes, and the mighty Franz Josef Glacier. You'll also take an overnight cruise across the serene waters of Doubtful Sound.

Enjoy a mix of guided excursions and free time to choose your own hiking adventures
Map of Ultimate New Zealand Road Trip & Tekapo Trek - 20 Days
Ultimate New Zealand Road Trip & Tekapo Trek - 20 Days

From glaciers and natural pools to kayaking and whale watching, this epic 20-day road trip through New Zealand has something for everyone. Discover the country's best from north to south, beginning in Auckland and finishing on the island of Te Anau. Highlights along the journey include wineries, wildlife tours, a three-day mountain trek, glowworm caves, lake and fjord cruises, stargazing excursions, and so much more!

The ocean-side train journey through New Zealand's Canterbury region
Map of New Zealand by Rail: Scenic South to North Island Adventure - 11 Days
New Zealand by Rail: Scenic South to North Island Adventure - 11 Days

Experience three breathtaking train journeys on this 11-day New Zealand adventure. Sit back and enjoy the views as you make your way from Queenstown to Auckland—traversing the windswept Canterbury Plains, winding along the Pacific coast, and cruising the magnificent Marlborough Sounds. Along the way, you'll stand in awe of the mighty Franz Joseph Glacier, search for kiwis and glowworms in the forests of Wellington, and step into movie magic in the rolling hills of Hobbiton.

Ski with spectacular views in New Zealand's Queenstown
Map of Ultimate New Zealand Ski & Scenery Tour - 11 Days
Ultimate New Zealand Ski & Scenery Tour - 11 Days

For adventure and nature lovers, this 11-day ski and scenery tour across New Zealand is a dream. Kicking off in vibrant Auckland, you'll explore the rainforest and coastlines of the Waitakere Ranges before heading to Rotorua. From here, fly to the South Island to visit Christchurch and spend two days skiing or snowboarding in Queenstown. End your trip with a boat ride across the peaceful Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and a helicopter tour above glaciers.

The Southern Alps overlooking Lake Tekapo
Map of New Zealand's Natural Wonders: Auckland to Queenstown - 12 Days
New Zealand's Natural Wonders: Auckland to Queenstown - 12 Days

Experience what New Zealand is known for—its natural beauty—on this luxurious 12-day road trip. View gulfs and glaciers from seaplanes and helicopters, and breathe in the sulfurous fumes of Hell's Gate Thermal Valley in Rotorua. Hike between towering volcanoes in the Tongariro National Park before soaking in mountain-water hot tubs with nothing but the birds, mountains, and lakes for company. Finish off your stay in one of the world's top lodges overlooking the snowcapped Southern Alps.

Drive to Cape Kidnappers for impressive views of the coast and a gannet colony
Map of Ultimate New Zealand East Coast Road Trip: Queensland to Auckland - 13 Days
Ultimate New Zealand East Coast Road Trip: Queensland to Auckland - 13 Days

Embark on a 13-day whirlwind tour of New Zealand's North and South Islands as you follow the east coast. Begin in Queenstown, a southern city known for extreme adventure sports, then make your way up as you visit wine regions like Wanaka and Kaikoura and see glaciers in Aoraki / Mount Cook. Take a ferry to North Island, stopping in Wellington, the capital, before visiting volcanic landscapes and Maori villages in Rotorua. The tour finishes with a tour of Waitomo Caves and Auckland, the country's largest city.

Walk along Lake Wakatipu in the early morning, Queenstown
Map of New Zealand North & South Islands Road Trip: Auckland to Queenstown - 13 Days
New Zealand North & South Islands Road Trip: Auckland to Queenstown - 13 Days

Get to know New Zealand's cities, towns, and stunning landscapes on this 13-day road trip. Begin in the North Island, where you'll explore Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula, and Hobbiton, the film set of "The Lord of the Rings." Continue to Taupo for bungee jumping and hiking, then visit Rotorua to see Waiotapu's geothermal wonders. Next, move on to Christchurch and the South Island, where you'll hike, dine, cruise, and fly your way around Aoraki / Mount Cook, Queenstown, and the Franz Josef / Waiau Glacier.

A road along Hawea Lake in New Zealand's South Island
Map of Ultimate New Zealand Road Trip: Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Queenstown, Christchurch, & More - 14 Days
Ultimate New Zealand Road Trip: Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Queenstown, 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.

You'll visit New Zealand's best wine regions between Auckland and Queenstown
Map of New Zealand North & South Islands Food & Wine Road Trip  - 15 Days
New Zealand North & South Islands Food & Wine Road Trip - 15 Days

Best for food and wine lovers, this self-guided road trip spans nearly the entire length of New Zealand for the adventure of a lifetime. From Auckland, you'll make your way south through key wine regions while partaking in meals on land, tram, and boat, including a traditional Maori feast and a farm dinner on the South Island. The itinerary also visits top natural attractions with free time to enjoy activities ranging from easy hiking trails to paragliding over Queenstown.