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The Ultimate List of New Zealand Road Trip Itineraries

Though New Zealand may seem small, its skinny shape and mountainous spine make for long driving times and large distances between destinations. Choosing the right New Zealand road trip itinerary can mean the difference between the trip of a lifetime and a logistical headache.

Whether you are self-driving or traveling with a private guide, choose your New Zealand driving route carefully to maximize your stay in this incredible country.

Here are some recommendations for choosing the perfect New Zealand road trip itinerary–no matter the length of your stay.

doubtful sound overnight cruise
Choosing The Perfect New Zealand Driving Itineraries

Table of Contents

Choosing the Perfect 1-Week New Zealand Itinerary

One week is a very short amount of time to see New Zealand. However, if you plan your stay right, a week-long visit can be an extremely rewarding first taste of New Zealand.

Just be warned–as soon as you leave, you will be dreaming of your next trip to New Zealand!

If you have only one week in New Zealand, you should choose just one island to focus on. You can cover a lot more ground on your New Zealand road trip if you don’t waste time traveling between islands. That leaves more time for doing things and less time for transportation.

However, people disregard this advice all the time and still manage to have a wonderful experience, so we have included recommendations for packing the best of both islands into just one week as well.

There are essentially two major New Zealand road trip loops, one for each island. Whether you complete the full loop or just part of it depends on how much you enjoy driving.

1-Week South Island Road Trip Itineraries

If this will be your first visit to New Zealand, and natural scenery is one of your key reasons for traveling here, the South Island is the obvious choice.

These are the most common 1-week South Island itineraries, plus a few variations for those who like getting off the beaten track.


1. The 7-Day South Island Loop Itinerary

The most epic scenery on the South Island–including glaciers, fiords, turquoise lakes, braided rivers, and towering peaks–can be seen on a loop from Christchurch down to Queenstown and back. This loop passes through the Mackenzie Basin in one direction and up the West Coast in the other.

This loop includes a huge amount of driving, but it is a common choice for travellers who really want to see everything and don’t mind a fast pace. (See variations below for a less hectic version of this itinerary.)

The common route is:

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Day 2: Travel into the Mackenzie Basin, stay in Lake Tekapo or Mt Cook Village

Day 3: Travel to Queenstown, stay 2 nights

Day 4: Day trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound (or Doubtful Sound)

Day 5: Travel to Wanaka, stay the night

Day 6: Travel through Haast Pass to the West Coast, stay in Franz Josef or Fox Glacier

Day 7: Drive or take the TranzAlpine Train through the mountains to Christchurch, stay in Christchurch

Day 8: Fly out of Christchurch

This loop itinerary includes key higlights such as Aoraki/Mt Cook, Lake Tekapo, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Wanaka, Franz Josef Glacier, and potentially the TranzAlpine Train.

2. The 7-Day Christchurch to Queenstown Itinerary

This New Zealand road trip itinerary is basically a half-version of the South Island loop. You can travel in either direction, and your main decision is which side of the mountains you travel on.

The West Coast makes for longer driving times, so if you want the shortest possible drive while packing in the most scenery, travel down to Queenstown via the Mackenzie Basin.

The 7-day Christchurch to Queenstown itinerary allows you to spend an extra night each in Wanaka and Queenstown, both of which have plenty of activities and sightseeing on offer.

This itinerary goes as follows:

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Day 2: Travel either to Franz Josef (if traveling down the West Coast) or to Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook Village (if traveling through the Mackenzie Basin), stay the night

Day 3: Travel to Wanaka, stay 2 nights

Day 4: Free day in Wanaka

Day 5: Travel to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 6: Day trip to Milford Sound

Day 7: Free day in Queenstown

Day 8: Fly out of Queenstown

Again, this itinerary can easily be reversed depending on where you fly into and out of.

3. The 7-Day Bottom of the South Island Loop Itinerary

Though Milford Sound is on every traveller’s must-visit list, it is usually seen on a whirlwind tour out of Queenstown. This far-south loop allows you to stay in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park, so you can get a deeper look at this incredible wilderness region. Another highlight on this route is Dunedin, a historic city and one of New Zealand’s top wildlife destinations.

This less-common route is perfect for travelers who want to see the most rewarding natural sights on the South Island plus a few hidden gems. The route is as follows:

Day 1: Arrive in Queenstown, stay 2 nights

Day 2: Free day in Queenstown

Day 3: Travel to Te Anau, stay 2 nights

Day 4: Day trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound

Day 5: Travel to Dunedin, stay 2 nights

Day 6: Free day in Dunedin

Day 7: Travel to Wanaka, stay the night

Day 8: Travel back to Queenstown and fly out

Highlights of this loop include Queenstown, Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, historic Dunedin, the Otago Peninsula, and Wanaka.

4. The 7-Day Top of the South Island Loop Itinerary

This itinerary takes you off the beaten track, and should only be chosen if you’ve already seen the major sights on the South Island or if the main focus of your New Zealand road trip is wineries, beaches, or marine life.

The route of travel is Christchurch to Christchurch. As there are no other international airports along the way, your options for turning this into a partial loop are limited (unless you take the ferry up to Wellington and fly out from there).

This loop goes as follows:

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Kaikoura (for whale-watching) or Blenheim (for wineries), stay 2 nights

Day 3: Whale watching tour (Kaikoura) or winery tour (Blenheim)

Day 4: Travel to Nelson, stay 2 nights

Day 5: Day trip into Abel Tasman National Park

Day 6: Travel to Hokitika, stay 1 night

Day 7: Drive or take the TranzAlpine Train to Christchurch, stay the night

Day 8: Fly out of Christchurch

For a more relaxing version of this loop, head to Hanmer Springs on Day 6 and spend two nights before driving the short distance back to Christchurch the day of your flight out.

Highlights include Kaikoura, the Marlborough wine region, Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park, Hokitika Gorge, traditional Maori jade carving artisans, and potentially the TranzAlpine Train.

1-Week North Island Road Trip Itineraries

The North Island is the obvious choice for any travelers who want to enjoy beaches, caves, volcanoes, Maori culture, and key Lord of the Rings destinations.

Only one North Island loop makes sense for 1-week visits. Variations of this New Zealand road trip route depend on whether you want to visit Hobbiton, the Waitomo Caves, or Taupo.

This loop travels from Auckland to Auckland, taking advantage of closely-spaced highlights near the center of the island.

Another option for a 7-day North Island holiday travels from Auckland to Wellington.

1. The Most Common 7-Day North Island Loop Itinerary

This route includes much less driving than similar South Island options, so it’s a great choice for families with young children. The destinations on this loop have plenty of activities on offer for all ages.

The most common route is as follows:

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Whitianga (in the Coromandel Peninsula), stay 2 nights

Day 3: Free day in the Coromandel Peninsula

Day 4: Travel to Rotorua (via Hobbiton, if interested), stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Day 5: Free day in Rotorua

Day 6: Travel to Taupo, stay the night

Day 7: Travel to Hamilton via the Waitomo Caves, stay the night in Hamilton

Day 8: Travel back to Auckland, fly out of Auckland

This itinerary packs a long list of highlights into a compact itinerary: the Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, Hobbiton Movie Set, Rotorua, Huka Falls, Lake Taupo, and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

2. The 7-Day Auckland to Wellington Itinerary

This itinerary includes one longer day of driving, and it swaps the Coromandel Peninsula for Wellington and views of Tongariro National Park. If you don’t want to miss New Zealand’s most enchanting city, this Auckland to Wellington road trip itinerary is the perfect choice. Another bonus for Lord of the Rings fans is the chance to visit Weta Workshop and tour filming locations around Wellington.

This New Zealand road trip route is as follows:

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Hamilton via the Hobbiton Movie Set, stay the night in Hamilton

Day 3: Travel to Rotorua via the Waitomo Caves, stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Day 4: Free day in Rotorua

Day 5: Travel to Taupo, stay the night

Day 6: Travel to Wellington, stay 2 nights

Day 7: Free day in Wellington

Day 8: Fly out of Wellington

1-Week New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

If you want to see both islands in a week, your only choice is to fly between the two. Even with a domestic flight, this 7-day New Zealand driving tour offers more of a fleeting taste of each island than a chance to really explore the highlights.

With so little time, you need to focus on areas that offer the most highlights in the smallest area.

1. The 7-Day Best of Both Islands Itinerary

This itinerary is the best way to get a taste for the highlights of each island in just 7 days.

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Hamilton via the Hobbiton Movie Set, stay the night in Hamilton

Day 3: Travel to Rotorua via the Waitomo Caves, stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Day 4: Free day in Rotorua

Day 5: Fly to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 6: Day trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound

Day 7: Free day in Queenstown

Day 8: Fly out of Queenstown

This itinerary shortchanges the South Island a bit, but with such long driving times between destinations on the South Island, it isn’t worth trying to pack anything else in. Queenstown is exciting enough that it warrants as long a stay as possible.

Choosing the Perfect 10-Day New Zealand Itinerary

10 days in New Zealand gives you a bit more time to relax and explore, though you still need to choose your route carefully. Most 10-day itineraries involve either stretching out or tacking one extra day onto the above 7-day itineraries.

If you want to see both islands in 10 days, you should still book a domestic flight between the two. Driving from Auckland to Queenstown in 10 days is exhausting.

10-Day South Island Road Trip Itineraries

Most of the best 10-day South Island itineraries are extended versions of the 7-day routes above. However, you can also do a larger loop that incorporates the top of the South Island before heading down to Queenstown–if you don’t mind driving long distances.

These are the best 10-day South Island routes.

1. The Extended 10-Day South Island Loop Itinerary

This follows the same route as the 7-Day South Island Loop, with extra nights added in select destinations.

Definitely add an extra night each in Queenstown and Wanaka. Your final extra night can be spent in Queenstown (you will easily fill three full days there), Christchurch, Franz Josef/Fox Glacier (if you want to do a glacier heli hike), or Hokitika (if you want to break up the trip between Franz Josef/Fox Glacier and Christchurch).

Though still heavy on driving, this is a much more manageable South Island loop than the 7-day version.

2. The Extended 10-Day Bottom of the South Island Loop Itinerary

This mainly follows the same route as the 7-Day Bottom of the South Island Loop, with two nights on Stewart Island added between Te Anau and Dunedin. The third additional night can be added to Queenstown, Invercargill (either before or after Stewart Island), or Wanaka.

By adding a side trip to Stewart Island, this loop ventures even farther off the beaten track–few travelers make it to New Zealand’s third island. And on the drive between Invercargill and Dunedin, you have the option to explore the lovely and little-visited Catlins region.

3. The 10-Day Long Route Christchurch to Queenstown

As mentioned above, this itinerary is heavy on driving. However, it packs the essential highlights of the South Island from top to (almost) bottom in one action-packed trip.

Once again, travelers can choose to stay in either Kaikoura or Blenheim depending on whether they are more interested in whale watching or wine tasting.

This New Zealand road trip itinerary follows the below route:

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Kaikoura (for whale-watching) or Blenheim (for wine-tasting), stay the night

Day 3: Travel to Nelson, stay 2 nights

Day 4: Day trip into Abel Tasman National Park

Day 5: Travel to Hokitika, stay the night

Day 6: Travel to Franz Josef/Fox Glacier, stay the night

Day 7: Travel to Wanaka, stay the night

Day 8: Travel to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 9: Day trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound

Day 10: Free day in Queenstown

Day 11: Fly out of Queenstown

As you can see, this itinerary only has two stays more than one night. However, it incorporates highlights such as Kaikoura, the Marlborough wine region, Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park, Hokitika Gorge, Franz Josef Glacier, Wanaka, Queenstown, and Milford Sound/Doubtful Sound.

4. 10-Day Variations of the Short Route from Christchurch to Queenstown

The 7-Day Christchurch to Queenstown itinerary is one of the most flexible South Island options, and many different options for a 10-day extension are possible.

For a less hectic visit to Milford Sound: Add two nights in Te Anau between Wanaka and Queenstown and visit Milford Sound from there. The third night can be added to Christchurch, Queenstown, Hokitika (if you’re traveling down the West Coast) or Franz Josef (if you’re doing a heli hike).

For history and wildlife watching: Add two nights in Dunedin after Wanaka. From there, continue to Te Anau for two nights, visit Milford Sound from there, and cut your stay in Queenstown down to two nights.

For whale watching and hot springs: Add one night in Kaikoura and two nights in Hanmer Springs. From there, continue straight through to either Franz Josef (via Lewis Pass) or Lake Tekapo.

10-Day North Island Road Trip Itineraries

As with the 10-day South Island itineraries, the 10-day North Island road trip itineraries are mainly versions of the 7-day itineraries with an extra destination added.

However, for those who want to visit less-known destinations, a Wellington to Wellington loop is also possible in 10 days.

1. The Extended 10-Day North Island Loop Itinerary

This itinerary adds a 2-night stay in Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, to the 7-day loop. This can be added at the beginning or end of the trip. An extra night should be added in Auckland as well to break up the drive from Paihia to the next destination.

2. The Extended 10-Day Auckland to Wellington Itinerary

There are a few destinations you can add to the 7-day Auckland to Wellington route, depending on your interests.

For beaches and coastal scenery: Add two nights in the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel Peninsula. The Bay of Islands is a longer drive, so you’ll need the third night back in Auckland before continuing south. And if you stay in the Coromandel Peninsula, your third night can either be added to the nearby Tauranga (for more coastal scenery) or Taupo (if you plan to explore Tongariro National Park).

For wineries and Art Deco: At the start of your holiday, stay an extra night in Auckland so you can visit Waiheke Island. On the way between Taupo and Wellington, add two nights in the Art Deco town of Napier and enjoy a wine tasting tour through Hawkes Bay.

For New Zealand’s best volcanic scenery: Add two nights in Tauranga, so you can make a day trip to the active volcano called White Island, and stay an extra night in Taupo to hike in Tongariro National Park.

3. The 10-Day Wellington to Wellington Itinerary

This itinerary is heavier on driving than Auckland to Auckland routes, but it helps travelers avoid the chaos of New Zealand’s largest city. The southern portion of the North Island is less-visited than the central regions, so you won’t see as many crowds.

This itinerary follows the below route:

Day 1: Arrive in Wellington, stay 2 nights

Day 2: Free day in Wellington

Day 3: Travel to Napier, stay 2 nights

Day 4: Free day in Napier

Day 5: Travel to Rotorua, stay 2 nights

Day 6: Free day in Rotorua

Day 7: Travel to Hamilton via the Hobbiton Movie Set, stay the night in Hamilton

Day 8: Travel to New Plymouth via the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, stay 2 nights in New Plymouth

Day 9: Free day in New Plymouth

Day 10: Travel to Wellington, stay the night

Day 11: Fly out of Wellington

10-Day New Zealand Road Trip Itineraries

As mentioned above, the best way to plan a 10-day New Zealand road trip is with a domestic flight between the two islands.

However, one exception to this is travelers focusing on wine regions who wish to travel from Auckland to Christchurch and don’t mind missing the more dramatic scenery of the southern South Island.

1. The 10-Day Best of Both Islands Itinerary

This itinerary follows the 7-Day Best of Both Islands Itinerary for the first 7 days.

The final 3 days can take you either up the West Coast or through the Mackenzie Basin to finish in Christchurch, as follows:

Day 8: Travel to Wanaka, stay the night

Day 9: Travel to Franz Josef/Fox Glacier (West Coast) or Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook Village (Mackenzie Basin), stay the night

Day 10: Travel to Christchurch, stay the night

Day 11: Fly out of Christchurch

2. The 10-Day Auckland to Christchurch Itinerary

This itinerary is great for wine afficionados, who can visit vineyards in the Auckland region, on Waiheke Island, in Hawke’s Bay, around Nelson, and in Marlborough.

This is also a more relaxed itinerary, with plenty of 2-night stays.

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay 2 nights

Day 2: Free day in Auckland

Day 3: Travel to Rotorua (via Hobbiton, if interested), stay 2 nights

Day 4: Free day in Rotorua

Day 5: Travel to Napier, stay 2 nights

Day 6: Free day in Napier

Day 7: Travel to Wellington, stay the night

Day 8: Take the Interislander Ferry to Picton and travel to Blenheim, stay 2 nights

Day 9: Free day in Blenheim

Day 10: Travel to Christchurch, stay the night

Day 11: Fly out of Christchurch


Choosing the Perfect 2-Week New Zealand Itinerary

Two weeks is the ideal amount of time to visit New Zealand–unless, of course, you can stay even longer!

With two weeks, you can do justice to both islands, or truly get to know the island of your choice.

For a two-week holiday, most travelers choose Auckland to Wellington for the North Island or Christchurch to Christchurch for the South Island. These routes allow you to hit all of the major highlights on both islands–with a few extra days for less-known destinations.

And for a two-week New Zealand road trip itinerary, traveling from Auckland all the way down to Queenstown is now doable.

14-Day South Island Road Trip Itineraries

For a 14-day South Island road trip from Christchurch to Christchurch, you need to decide whether you want to include the top of the South Island (with its beaches, whale-watching, and wineries) or the bottom of the South Island (with its fiords, history, and penguins).

A Christchurch to Queenstown route can include both ends, while missing the Mackenzie Basin with Lake Tekapo and Aoraki/Mt Cook.

1. The 14-Day Christchurch to Christchurch Around the Top Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Kaikoura/Blenheim, stay 2 nights

Day 3: Free day in Kaikoura/Blenheim

Day 4: Travel to Nelson, stay 2 nights

Day 5: Day trip to Abel Tasman National Park

Day 6: Travel to Hokitika, stay the night

Day 7: Travel to Franz Josef, stay the night

Day 8: Travel to Wanaka, stay 2 nights

Day 9: Free day in Wanaka

Day 10: Travel to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 11: Free day in Queenstown (or day trip to Milford Sound/Doubtful Sound)

Day 12: Free day in Queenstown

Day 13: Travel to Mt Cook Village/Lake Tekapo, stay the night

Day 14: Travel to Christchurch, stay the night

Day 15: Fly out of Christchurch

2. The 14-Day Christchurch to Christchurch Itinerary Including the Far South

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook Village, stay the night

Day 3: Travel to Dunedin, stay 2 nights

Day 4: Free day in Dunedin

Day 5: Travel to Te Anau, stay 2 nights

Day 6: Day trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound

Day 7: Travel to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 8: Free day in Queenstown

Day 9: Free day in Queenstown

Day 10: Travel to Wanaka, stay 2 nights

Day 11: Free day in Wanaka

Day 12: Travel to Franz Josef, stay the night

Day 13: Travel to Hokitika, stay the night

Day 14: Take the TranzAlpine Train or drive through Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch, stay the night

Day 15: Fly out of Christchurch

3. The 14-Day Christchurch to Queenstown Itinerary with Everything In Between

This is a fast-paced itinerary with plenty of driving and many one-night stays. It is not recommended for families with young children.

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Kaikoura/Blenheim, stay the night

Day 3: Travel to Nelson, stay 2 nights

Day 4: Day trip to Abel Tasman National Park

Day 5: Travel to Hokitika, stay the night

Day 6: Travel to Franz Josef, stay the night

Day 7: Travel to Wanaka, stay the night

Day 8: Travel to Dunedin, stay 2 nights

Day 9: Free day in Dunedin

Day 10: Travel to Te Anau, stay 2 nights

Day 11: Day trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound

Day 12: Travel to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 13: Free day in Queenstown

Day 14: Free day in Queenstown

Day 15: Fly out of Queenstown

14-Day North Island Road Trip Itineraries

On the North Island, there is one 14-day Auckland to Wellington itinerary that encompasses all of the island’s main travel destinations. Slight variations are of course doable, but almost everything falls along this major route.

1. The 14-Day Auckland to Wellington Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Paihia (in the Bay of Islands), stay 2 nights

Day 3: Free day in the Bay of Islands

Day 4: Travel back to Auckland, stay the night

Day 5: Travel to Whitianga (in the Coromandel Peninsula), stay 2 nights

Day 6: Free day in the Coromandel Peninsula

Day 7: Travel to Hamilton via Hobbiton (if interested), stay the night in Hamilton

Day 8: Travel to Rotorua via the Waitomo Caves, stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Day 9: Free day in Rotorua

Day 10: Travel to Taupo, stay the night

Day 11: Travel to Napier, stay 2 nights (or stay an extra night in Taupo and only one night in Napier if hiking the Tongariro Crossing)

Day 12: Free day in Napier

Day 13: Travel to Wellington, stay 2 nights

Day 14: Free day in Wellington

Day 15: Fly out of Wellington

14-Day New Zealand Road Trip Itineraries

One great way to plan a 2-week New Zealand road trip is to choose your favorite 7-day North Island and South Island routes and book a domestic flight between the end destination of one and the starting destination of the next.

This allows you to cut down on driving time, because the longest distances are between Taupo and Wellington (on the North Island) and Picton and Christchurch (on the South Island).

However, 2 weeks is also a comfortable amount of time to travel all the way from Auckland to Queenstown. The North Island portion of this route generally does not vary, but on the South Island you have to choose whether you want to travel down the west or east side of the Southern Alps.

1. The 14-Day Auckland to Queenstown Itinerary: West Coast Version

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Rotorua via Hobbiton (if interested), stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Day 3: Free day in Rotorua

Day 4: Travel to Taupo, stay the night

Day 5: Travel to Wellington, stay the night

Day 6: Take the Interislander Ferry to Picton and drive to Nelson, stay 2 nights

Day 7: Day trip into Abel Tasman National Park

Day 8: Travel to Hokitika, stay the night

Day 9: Travel to Franz Josef, stay the night

Day 10: Travel to Wanaka, stay 2 nights

Day 11: Free day in Wanaka

Day 12: Travel to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 13: Free day in Queenstown (or day trip to Milford Sound / Doubtful Sound)

Day 14: Free day in Queenstown

Day 15: Fly out of Queenstown

The long drive down the West Coast can get monotonous after a while, so one variation of this itinerary is to follow the East Coast Version (below) until Christchurch, and then cut through Arthur’s Pass to Hokitika so you can travel down the West Coast from there. This variation hits the highlights on both coasts.

2. The 14-Day Auckland to Queenstown Itinerary: East Coast Version

The first 4 days of this version are the same as above. However, instead of staying in Nelson for two nights, you can stay in Wellington for two nights (or swap your night in Kaikoura for two nights in Blenheim if you wish to enjoy a wine tour in Marlborough).

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, stay the night

Day 2: Travel to Rotorua via Hobbiton (if interested), stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Day 3: Free day in Rotorua

Day 4: Travel to Taupo, stay the night

Day 5: Travel to Wellington, stay 2 nights

Day 6: Free day in Wellington

Day 7: Take the Interislander Ferry to Picton and drive to Kaikoura, stay the night

Day 8: Travel to Christchurch, stay the night

Day 9: Travel to Lake Tekapo/Mount Cook Village, stay the night

Day 10: Travel to Wanaka, stay 2 nights

Day 11: Free day in Wanaka

Day 12: Travel to Queenstown, stay 3 nights

Day 13: Free day in Queenstown (or day trip to Milford Sound / Doubtful Sound)

Day 14: Free day in Queenstown

Day 15: Fly out of Queenstown


Choosing the Perfect Longer New Zealand Itinerary

If you have 3 weeks or even a month to see New Zealand, you are in for a treat. A longer stay in New Zealand means you can visit the major highlights of both islands, slip in a few less-known destinations, and still have time to relax.

The best way to plan a longer New Zealand holiday is to start with the basic 14-Day Auckland to Queenstown Itinerary and add any other regions that catch your interest. The shorter itineraries give you an idea of how these can be incorporated. For instance, if you wish to stay in Te Anau, add in a two-night stay between Wanaka and Queenstown. Or, if you have three weeks, refer to the 10 Day Bottom of the South Island Itinerary for ways that excursion to Te Anau can be extended.

On the North Island, the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula are both great extensions to this 2-week itinerary.

And if you plan to hike one of the New Zealand Great Walks, you can base yourself in a nearby location before and after while still leaving plenty of time to explore the rest of the country.

What if you’re traveling for less than a week?

If you have less than 7 nights in New Zealand, your best option is to base yourself in one location and take day trips from there.

Queenstown is the obvious choice. With myriad activities on offer in town, plus a number of rewarding day trips in the vicinity, Queenstown offers an action-packed taste of the South Island’s best experiences. Day trip destinations include Milford or Doubtful Sound, Arrowtown, Wanaka, and Glenochy.

If you prefer to visit the North Island, Rotorua is a great sightseeing base. Fly into and out of Auckland and spend your time in Rotorua visiting geothermal reserves, experiencing Maori culture, and soaking in rejuvenating sulphur spas. Once you’ve seen your fill of the town, venture to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, or Taupo on day trips.

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