New Zealand Journey Schedule: 2-4 Weeks (Upgraded 2023)

Car driving down a road with golden fields on either side, leading towards snow-capped mountains on the South Island of New Zealand
Published: 5/8/2023|May 8th, 2023

With its snow-capped mountains, ancient glaciers, rolling verdant hills, exceptionally friendly residents, and plentiful first-rate white wine, New Zealand is as terrific as you have actually heard. In truth, take what you have actually heard and times it by 10. New Zealand will merely blow your mind when you check out.

Individuals believe since it’s a little nation, you can do all of it in 2 weeks. That’s not real. There’s a lot to do here. From the north island to the south island, you require a great deal of time here to do all of it. You can fill months with activities. New Zealand might be little however it punches above its weight with things to do.

However what if you do not have months? What do you do then? What path do you take? What island should you begin with? Where do you go?

Or what if you do? Then what? Where do you start preparing that type of journey?

I get these concerns in my inbox all the time. Having actually taken a trip all over the nation several times, I understand the intricacies of attempting to determine how to get to those remote towns and isolated parks and glaciers.

While buses and trains can take you most locations, the very best method to see the nation is by taking a journey. With your own car, you’ll have the ability to get deep into the natural landscapes that make this nation so well-known. New Zealand is a journey nation. It’s the very best method to check out.

Below are my recommended travel plans that can assist you prepare your New Zealand trip for optimal performance. Whether you have 2 weeks, one month, or perhaps longer, these will guarantee that you see the highlights and leave the beaten course.

Note: 2 weeks is the minimum suggested time for a New Zealand trip. There’s a lot to see and do here, yet you still do not wish to be hurried or invest all your time in the vehicle. If you just have 2 weeks, concentrate on one island.

If you wish to discover more about Maori culture, see the Waitomo radiance worms, hang out in New Zealand’s primary cities, and delight in unwinding activities like resting on the beach and being in warm springs, trip the North Island.

If you wish to invest your time treking glaciers, doing experience activities, and taking in the legendary landscapes of New Zealand, head to the South Island for your trip.

With one month, you can integrate the following two-week travel plans to actually have the ability to delight in all that both islands need to use. More than a month? There’s absolutely nothing you can’t do!

Picking the Right Car

A car, campervan, and Jeep on the road in the rainforests of New Zealand.
Prior to you even prepare your path, you require a method to navigate. Road-tripping New Zealand by campervan is popular, particularly amongst the more budget-conscious tourist, as they work as both lodging and transport. There are 5 primary rental firms:

Costs differ a lot. Your everyday rate will alter depending upon where you get the car if you are dropping it off at a various location, for how long you are leasing it for, how far ahead of time you book, and when you book (in the high season, rates appear to double!).

If living out of a van for a couple of weeks does not seem like your concept of an enjoyable time, merely lease a regular vehicle and book lodging along the method. To schedule an automobile, have a look at Discover Automobiles, which browses rental firms huge and little to discover the very best offers.

New Zealand Journey Schedule: A Two-Week North Island Path

Days 1– 2: Auckland

The skyline of Auckland, New Zealand at night
Auckland is the biggest and most populated city in New Zealand and, contrary to common belief, it is not the capital (that’s Wellington). Because a lot of flights land here, invest a number of days recuperating from your (most likely) long journey.

Invest a long time hanging out on the Auckland Domain, go snorkel on Goat Island, and if you like white wine like I do, take a white wine trip on Waiheke Island

For a list of more things to do in Auckland, have a look at my guide to the city!

Where to Stay: The Albion— This historical lodging started as a “club hotel” in the 19th century. Today there’s still a good old pub in the hotel. The spaces are comfy and the location is peaceful.

Days 3-4: Bay of Islands

Lighthouse on the coast in the Bay of Island, New Zealand
Head to the Bay of Islands on the northern suggestion of the North Island for a couple of days. With mile after mile of beach and rocky shoreline surrounding the bay (which consists of 144 islands), this location has a few of the very best chances for dolphin and whale watching, kayaking, swimming, and boating. The Bay of Islands is likewise house to what I believe are a few of the very best beaches in the nation.

While you’re here you can check out the Waitangi Treaty Premises (among the most crucial archaeological sites in the nation), check out Cape Reinga (the northern most point of New Zealand), and see wild dolphins on a boat trip

For a list of more things to do in Bay of Islands, have a look at my total guide!

Where to Stay: Haka Lodge— Found in Paihia, Haka Lodge has a great deal of typical areas, a big kitchen area, and terrific views over the harbor. Whatever is incredibly tidy and the beds are comfy. It’s an excellent location to satisfy individuals.

Day 5: Hobbiton

A Hobbit home in Hobbiton, New Zealand from the Lord of the Rings set
Going to the Hobbiton film set included in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit motion pictures is quickly among New Zealand’s most well-known activities and a need to for fans of the movies and books. Even if you’re not a superfan, it’s fascinating to see the film magic and go behind the scenes in this special setting.

To see Hobbiton, you’ll need to take a trip that begins with a drive through the owner’s 505-hectare (1,250-acre) sheep farm, providing legendary views over the Kaimai Variety. From here, you can check out Bag End, roam around the hobbit holes, and check out the Green Dragon Inn. Trips begin at 89 NZD.

Where to Stay: Cosy Nation Stay B&B— This is a charming bed-and-breakfast situated in Matamata simply a couple of miles from Hobbiton. The hosts are wonderful, there’s complimentary breakfast, and the home is peaceful and peaceful, with wandering felines and goats for included environment.

Days 6– 7: Rotorua

Maori warriors doing a performance in New Zealand
It’s simply one hour from Hobbiton to Rotorua, among the most popular traveler locations on the North Island. The name originates from the initial Maori “Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe,” implying “2nd lake,” as it was the 2nd lake that Maori chief Ihenga found in the location.

The Maori were the initial residents of New Zealand, having actually shown up from Polynesia in between 1320 and 1350. This is the very best location to learn more about Maori history and culture Do not miss out on seeing a Maori cultural program while you’re here (the Te Pa Tu Maori Cultural Experience is the one I participated in).

The area is likewise understood for its geothermal activity, and the vibrant landscape produces amazing nature strolls, journeys to stinky sulfuric geysers, and take in high-end medspas with water from the warm springs.

Where to Stay: Rock Solid Backpackers— This is a centrally situated hostel with an extensive range of centers, consisting of a movie theater, a bar, a common kitchen area, and even a rock-climbing wall.

Day 8: Waitomo

Silhouettes of people staring up at the starry blue lights of glowworms in the caves of Waitomo, New Zealand

Waitomo is understood for its worms– glowworms, that is (spoiler alert: they are really fly larvae that give off a bioluminescent radiance). Absolutely among the coolest locations I checked out in New Zealand, the Waitomo glowworm cavern might be really touristy however it’s merely awesome and unlike anything you have actually ever seen.

For a total list of things to do in Waitomo, have a look at my guide on the town.

Where to Stay: Juno Hall— Near the glowworm caverns, Juno Hall has a pool and tennis court on-site. There’s a big kitchen area along with an outside grill for grilling.

Days 9-10: Taupo

Red sailboat in front of a Maori rock carving on Lake Taupo in New Zealand
Taupo rests on the coasts of Lake Taupo and becomes part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, a location that has actually had high volcanic activity for the previous 2 million years. Taupo has lots of unbelievable walkings, great deals of boating trips, captivating regional markets, and spectacular nature. Consider it like a quieter variation of Queenstown (the South Island’s experience capita) l.

It’s likewise among the very best locations to go sky diving in New Zealand thanks to the views and clear skies (though I didn’t do this while I existed).

I liked the small-town feel of Taupo, sitting by the lake, and having the ability to do so lots of walkings. I might have remained here for weeks.

For a list of more things to do in Taupo, have a look at my guide!

Where to Stay: Finlay Jack’s has a substantial kitchen area, a huge typical space, a large patio area with Barbeques, enjoyable and inviting personnel, bike leasings, and an extremely friendly hostel pet. Whatever in the hostel is upgraded, with brand-new, modern-day pod-style beds so you can get a terrific night’s sleep. Simply put, whatever a backpacker or spending plan tourist would desire from a hostel.

Day 11: Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The emerald green lakes against the stark volcanic landscape of Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a hike in New Zealand
Travelling through this otherworldly, red-colored environment of volcanoes and sulfur was among the highlights of my time in New Zealand. Among the Great Walks of New Zealand and typically thought about among the very best day walkings on the planet, this is a legendary 19-kilometer (12-mile) trek that takes a complete day to finish (the majority of people take 6-9 hours, depending upon your physical fitness level).

As you wind your method through Tongariro National forest, you’ll stroll through volcanic surface (consisting of where Mordor in Lord of the Rings was recorded), previous high peaks and sulfur lakes, and end the day in a thick forest. It’s simple in parts (the start and end) and high in others (particularly the part after “Mount Doom”), so you’ll get an excellent mix of trouble levels.

Make sure to bring water, sun block, a hat, bathroom tissue, and a sweatshirt or coat (the weather condition can alter quickly). Anticipate to pay around 40 NZD per individual for a round-trip shuttle bus to and from the path or 280 NZD for a full-day directed walking

Where to Stay: National Forest Alpine Lodge— Found in National Forest Town (the very best location to remain if doing the trek), this lodge functions affordable personal spaces, a common kitchen area and typical location (with a comfortable fireplace for cold nights!), and a handy personnel.

Otherwise, you can remain in Taupo, which is where individuals normally base themselves when they do this trek.

Days 12– 14: Wellington

The red cable car ascending its track with the skyline of Wellington, New Zealand in the background

Wellington is my preferred city in the whole nation. It’s an artistic, diverse location, boasting lots of cultural activities, an extraordinary night life, a few of the very best food in the nation, lots of murals, first-rate art displays, informative museums, and a stunning harbor (which is best seen from Mount Victoria, which neglects the whole city).

Make sure to check out Te Papa (New Zealand’s nationwide museum), ride the cable television vehicle to the Cable television Automobile Museum, and trip Weta Workshop (an Academy Award– winning props and unique impacts studio).

For a list of more things to do in Wellington, have a look at my comprehensive guide to the city.

Where to Stay: The Dwellington— Majority the Dwellington prevails area, with a recreation rooms, a movie theater space (with soft seats!), living spaces, outside patio areas, and even tennis and squash courts. The personnel likewise actually heads out of their method to make certain you feel welcome.

If you have actually just got 2 weeks and are ending your trip in Wellington, you can fly out of the airport here to any place you require to go next. If you have more time, you’ll take the vehicle ferryboat (around 3.5 hours) to Picton on the South Island to continue your journey (in which case, follow the following two-week South Island schedule, however in reverse).

New Zealand Journey Schedule: A Two-Week South Island Path

If you pick the South Island for your two-week trip, begin in Queenstown. Even if your global flight lands in Auckland on the North Island, you can quickly get an inexpensive flight to Queenstown. Queenstown likewise has direct flights to lots of significant cities in Australia if your journey to New Zealand becomes part of a bigger experience in Oceania.

Days 1-3: Queenstown

Aerial view of Queenstown, New Zealand, showing the city on the water with mountains in the background
Queenstown is a little, stunning town ignoring Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the gorgeous peaks of the Remarkables range of mountains. It has a lively and outdoorsy energy to it, with narrow streets and pedestrian lanes filled with stores and dining establishments.

Referred To As “the experience capital of New Zealand” (it’s the releasing pad for every single sort of experience activity you can think about), Queenstown measures up to the buzz. Although it has actually ended up being extremely popular, I can not reveal my love of Queenstown enough. I like sitting by the lake, enjoying the sundown with a bottle of white wine, and treking the neighboring tracks.

Check out neighboring vineyards, delight in the waters of Lake Wakatipu, bungy dive, zipline, rafting, or sky diving There’s a lot to do here.

For a list of more things to do in Queenstown, have a look at my comprehensive city guide.

Where to Stay: Nomads Queenstown— A lot of spaces have verandas, the showers have prodigious water pressure, and the pillows are thick. There are activities every night and a totally free supper and test night on Sunday. In general, this is a terrific location to remain.

Days 4-6: Fiordland

A  ship set against the sheer cliffs of Milford Sound in New Zealand
The Fiordland area is among the nation’s most picturesque and remote (and as such, likewise house to various Lord of the Rings movie places). Provided its enormous mountains, deep lakes, swelling rivers, untamed forests, and resplendent fjords (long, narrow inlets banked by high cliffs, produced by glaciers), the federal government has actually mostly made the land off-limits to safeguard these natural deposits.

Milford Noise is an incredible fjord that’s best understood for the towering Mitre Peak and its surrounding jungle. You can stroll the woody path along the sandy coast for best views of the peak, or take the Gorge Stroll on the Cleddau River to get near effective waterfalls.

The fjord itself is house to seal and penguin nests. You can typically see pods of dolphins romping in the waters too. Check out by boat and have a look at the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory to see unusual black coral and other undersea life. Southern Discoveries is the only business doing cruises that consist of the Undersea Observatory. Cruises begin with 129 NZD

While less popular than Milford, Doubtful Noise is the inmost and second-largest fjord in the nation. You can just get to Uncertain through boat. A wilderness cruise of Doubtful Noise costs 199 NZD.

Where to Stay: Milford Noise Lodge— This is rather actually the only location to remain within about 50 kilometers (31 miles). It’s not low-cost, however the views are unrivaled, the complimentary breakfast is scrumptious, and the modern spaces are comfortable yet modern-day. Otherwise, if you have an automobile, you can remain in the closest town, Te Anau where you’ll discover less expensive lodging.

Days 7-8: Wanaka

Famous tree in the water of Lake Wanaka, with snow-capped mountains in the background in the town of Wanaka, New Zealand
Wanaka is a ski and summer season resort town framed by snowcapped mountains. As neighboring Queenstown has actually ended up being overcrowded recently, travel to Wanaka has actually taken off and this drowsy however actually cool little town has actually ended up being popular with backpackers and outside lovers, particularly skiers and boaters. There’s not a load to do here beyond delighting in the outdoors. The majority of people come here for a couple of nights to trek, unwind, and carry on.

For a list of more things to do in Wanaka, have a look at my comprehensive city guide.

Where to Stay: Mountain View Backpackers— This hostel has a substantial outside area with a grill, area to depend on the sun, and a huge table to gather together around (there were lots of pleasurable nights invested drinking white wine outdoors).

Day 9: Franz Josef Glacier

People hiking on a glacier in Franz Josef, New Zealand
Franz Josef is a small town that’s primarily utilized as a jumping-off point for seeing the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier.

Treking the glaciers here is a memorable experience. Regretfully, since they have actually declined and are melting rapidly due to environment modification, the caverns and strolls have actually been closed down. Now, the only method to travel on the glaciers is through heli-hike ( a legendary half-day or full-day helicopter/hiking experience). These are costly (500 NZD), however the helicopter flight, travelling, and experience as a whole deserve the cost in my viewpoint.

On the other hand, you can simply trek to the glacier face and take images from a range. There are lots of seeing points (and you’ll see images of simply how far the glaciers have actually declined in for many years).

Where to Stay: Chateau Backpacker & & Motels— Simply a ten-minute drive from the glacier, this accommodations uses totally free homemade soup every night, totally free breakfast (homemade waffles and pancakes!), 2 common kitchen areas, and a jacuzzi.

Days 10– 11: Abel Tasman National Forest

Sandy beach and bright blue waters of Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand
Drive simply 6 hours north of glacial Franz Josef and you’ll remain in beachy Abel Tasman National forest. With its blue-green water, thick jungles, and warm temperature levels, this park makes you seem like you remain in the tropics instead of New Zealand. It covers over 23,876 hectares (59,000 acres), implying there are a great deal of single and multi-day walkings (consisting of the 3-5-day Abel Tasman Coast Track, among the Great Walks of New Zealand).

The very best method to see the park is by kayak, so you can check out the little coves and beaches that actually make the location unique. Full-day leasings begin at around 85 NZD, or you can sign up with a directed kayaking trip beginning at 130 NZD. You can likewise take a picturesque cruise around the park for 79 NZD.

Where to Stay: Marahau Beach Camp— Uses both dorms and little personal homes, a common kitchen area, and a seasonal dining establishment. There are likewise camping tent and campervan websites if you wish to conserve cash.

From here, choose your last stop: either drive onwards to Christchurch and end there or take the ferryboat over the Wellington (an experience in and of itself!) and end there. In either case, you’ll have the ability to capture an inexpensive and fast flight back to Auckland for your global flight house.

If you’re heading to Christchurch, keep reading. If you want to check out Wellington, scroll back up and follow the ideas in the North Island schedule area.

Days 12-14: Christchurch

Gondolas set against a backdrop of lakes and mountains in Christchurch, New Zealand
Though seriously harmed by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 (over 185 individuals were eliminated and 3,000 structures were harmed), Christchurch has actually rebounded and developed into a new city. This revival has actually instilled a newly found sense of hope and vibrancy, and resulted in more cool bars and markets, and brand-new dining establishments, stores, and displays. The residents have actually striven to restore, and there is a neighborhood spirit here that actually shines. I like where Christchurch is going.

While there’s not a lot “to do” per se, the ambiance here is actually unwinded, and it deserves not hurrying through if you aren’t brief on time. Make sure to ride the gondola, check out the Canterbury Museum, and trip Quake City (a special and interactive museum that states individual stories from the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes).

For a list of more things to do in Christchurch, have a look at my city guide.

Where to Stay: Urbanz— This is an incredible hostel situated in downtown Christchurch with friendly personnel and a substantial kitchen area. There’s likewise a hostel bar, a swimming pool table, quickly Wi-Fi, laundry, motion pictures, and comfortable sofas, along with a parking area.

If you require to return to Queenstown, it’s a 6 hour drive from here. Additionally, you can fly to Auckland. The flight is simply over an hour and tickets can be discovered for as low as 65 NZD if you book ahead of time.

New Zealand Journey Schedule: One Month

Snow-capped mountains in the background of a green valley in New Zealand
You have actually got longer to check out New Zealand, terrific! You’ll likely fly into Auckland, and make your method south through the North and after that South Island following the above travel plans. You can take your time, stick around longer, check out more locations, and move your strategies if you feel drawn in a particular instructions.

Once Again, these are simply advised travel plans– I motivate you to adjust as required!

Things to keep in mind When Road-Tripping New Zealand

To assist you maximize your trip, please keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Traffic streams on the left here (not the right, like in the United States or Canada).
  • You should constantly park your vehicle in the instructions that traffic is going (or run the risk of a fine).
  • There are lots of pull-off points for taking images– utilize them rather of stopping at a random area along the side of the roadway, which can be rather hazardous offered how tight the roadways are here.
  • Roadways here are winding, so bear in mind that it may take longer than you anticipate to cover a specific range.
  • As long as your present and legitimate motorist’s license remains in English, you do not require an International Chauffeur’s License.
  • If you’re taking a trip by campervan, utilize the CamperMate app to discover neighboring campgrounds, gasoline station, and dispose stations.


New Zealand is a memorable nation, filled with legendary landscapes, friendly Kiwis, and an abundant culture. Due to its remote area, going to is normally an unique journey for a lot of tourists. Taking a journey is the very best method to maximize your time here, customizing your schedule to your own choices and New Zealand pail list.

Required a rental vehicle for your legendary experience? utilize the widget listed below to discover the very best offers!

Schedule Your Journey to New Zealand: Logistical Advice

Schedule Your Flight
Usage Skyscanner to discover an inexpensive flight. They are my preferred online search engine since they browse sites and airline companies around the world so you constantly understand no stone is left unturned!

Schedule Your Lodging
You can schedule your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most significant stock and finest offers. If you wish to remain someplace besides a hostel, usage as they regularly return the most affordable rates for guesthouses and low-cost hotels.

If you’re searching for particular locations to remain, here is a total list of my preferred hostels in New Zealand

Do Not Forget Travel Insurance Coverage
Travel insurance coverage will safeguard you versus disease, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s detailed defense in case anything fails. I never ever go on a journey without it as I have actually needed to utilize it lot of times in the past. My preferred business that use the very best service and worth are:

Searching For the very best Business to Conserve Cash With?
Have A Look At my resource page for the very best business to utilize when you take a trip. I note all the ones I utilize to conserve cash when I’m on the roadway. They will conserve you cash when you take a trip too.

Desired More Details on New Zealand?
Make sure to visit our robust location guide on New Zealand for much more preparation ideas!

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