This action-packed itinerary dives into New Zealand's South and North Islands for a wide variety of landscapes and attractions. Kicking off in the adrenaline capital of the world, you'll kayak through the Milford Sound, explore the scenic capital (Wellington), take part in Rotorua's geothermal treatments, tour Hobbiton, and finish the adventure in the cosmopolitan city of Auckland.
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Few destinations ignite the imagination the way New Zealand does. The diminutive two-island nation is filled with scenery best described as epic (think craggy peaks, vast beaches, dense forest, and crystalline fjords). And with the diversity of landscape come plentiful ways to take advantage of the great outdoors—hiking and biking are just the tip of the iceberg here. In one trip, you can immerse yourself in Māori culture in Rotorua, taste wine in the vineyards of Martinborough, and take a whale-watching tour off the coast of Christchurch.
Where should I go in New Zealand?
New Zealand is split between the North Island and the South Island, each offering something different. While the North Island is more densely populated and famed for authentic immersion into Māori culture near Rotorua, it is also known for the bustling city of Auckland, stunning beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, and famous landmarks from the Lord of the Rings movies such as Hobbiton. In contrast, the South Island is better known for the “adventure capital of the world,” Queenstown, and the surrounding natural beauty found among must-visit sites such as Mount Cook, the Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, and the fjords of Milford Sound.
When is the best time to visit?
New Zealand’s rugged landscapes, natural beauty, and adventure-filled activities make it a spectacular destination to visit year-round. Between the months of December and March, you can expect bright and sunny days with temperatures ranging between 60°F and 75°F—the perfect weather to enjoy beaches, hiking, and other outdoor activities. New Zealand also makes for an exciting getaway between June and September, when snow arrives to beckon skiers and other winter adventurers to the South Island and the mountains of the North Island. Learn more
Things to do in New Zealand
Travelers are spoiled for choice when it comes to adventure in New Zealand. Cruise the iconic fjords of Milford Sound, Bungy jump off a bridge in Queenstown, immerse yourself in local Māori culture, or hike the skyscraping peaks of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Take a guided tour of the Franz Josef glacier, catch a glimpse of seal pups playing in the waters of Abel Tasman National Park, whale-watch in Kaikōura, or see the stars like never before at the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve—the largest gold-standard Dark Sky Reserve in the world.
How many days do I need in New Zealand?
Whether your travels take you to New Zealand for one week, two weeks, a month, or more (and there's plenty to fill that time), you'll have lots of options for getting around. Tackle one of the country's famous "Great Walks," multi-day treks through dramatic landscapes immortalized by Lord of the Rings. Get up close with the Waimakariri River gorge and the snowy Southern Alps on a relaxing South Island train journey. Or rent some wheels and road trip from Auckland to Milford Sound, utilizing an inter-island ferry. The country may be small, but the possibilities are endless. Learn more
Getting around New Zealand
Most international travelers arrive by flying into either Auckland or Christchurch. Domestic flights serve every large and medium-sized city in the country, while self-driving allows access to more remote areas such as national parks and mountainous regions. To travel between the North and South Islands, you'll need to fly or take the car-friendly ferry between Wellington and Picton. Learn more
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This 10-day road trip in the South Island combines the best New Zealand has to offer. Discover jaw-dropping scenery here, including Lake Tekapo and its turquoise waters, Mt. Cook and the surrounding glaciers, the peaks of Mt. Aspiring National Park and the magnificent fjords. You will also enjoy more intimate and off-the-beaten-path experiences, including the exploration of the Banks Peninsula, with its active wildlife setting, as well as immersing yourself in the historical gold rush of the small town of Clyde.
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.
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.
This self-drive itinerary hits the highlights of New Zealand's North Island with a wide array of activities and landscapes. Along the way, you'll explore Auckland's best neighborhoods, sip pours from local wineries, go swimming and kayaking, and take part in Rotorua's geothermal treatments and Maori culture—all within the span of a week.
Travel through New Zealand's beautiful South Island, getting to know its cultural hotspots, famous landscapes and public gardens, and sprawling vineyards along the way. Over 12 days, you'll enjoy the cafes and fine art of Nelson, spend two days sipping wine in Marlborough, hike near beautiful Lake Wanaka and the famous Milford Sound, and more.
Ten days is a great amount of time for a New Zealand trip: you'll easily be able to experience the top highlights of both islands—North and South—plus outdoor activities and...
In one week, you can discover just the North Island, just the South Island, or cross over into both. By landing and departing in major cities (like Christchurch, Auckland, and...
You can comfortably explore four to five different destinations with ten days in New Zealand. Spend up to two days in each city, including the "Big Little City" of Auckland,...
With two weeks, you can get to know both of New Zealand's islands or enjoy an in-depth exploration of either one. Take a North Island road trip from Auckland to Wellington, or...
January is mid-summer in New Zealand, and peak tourism season. Schools are on holiday until the end of the month, so you'll encounter a lot of domestic tourists throughout the...
February is mid-summer in New Zealand, and also peak tourism season. But, schools go back earlier in the month, so international visitors won't be competing with locals for...
March is the first month of autumn in New Zealand, but summery conditions tend to linger, and in many parts of the country March is almost as warm and sunny as February. The...
April is the middle of autumn in New Zealand. In some parts of the country, that means the leaves on the trees turn orange and the air is crisp and cool. In others, especially...
With two weeks in New Zealand, you can experience the entire country on a family-friendly, fast-paced highlights tour with cultural excursions in Rotorua, a ride on the TranzAlpine train in Christchurch, and exciting adventures in Queenstown. Alternatively, spend two weeks on the North Island and visit the Coromandel, the Maori Rock Carvings in Taupo, and the Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellington. Or dedicate the whole time to the South Island, swimming with dolphins in Akaroa and penguin-spotting in Dunedin.
In three weeks, you can take your time road-tripping across the South Island, from cities to caves to glaciers. Or move at a faster pace and hit the highlights of both islands, including a scenic ferry ride between the two. Alternatively, you can do a combo tour with Australia and visit New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria in addition to Maori cultural experiences and outdoor adventures in Auckland, Rotorua, and Queenstown.
With 12 days, you can take a slower pace to focus on one New Zealand island or speed things up and hit the highlights of both, like a classic Auckland to Queenstown route, perfect for first-timers. Meanwhile, the South Island offers glacier hikes and fjord cruises, while the North Island appeals to those interested in Rotorua's geothermal activity and Maori culture. Avid skiers can opt for the Otago and Southland itinerary, combining a few days on the slopes with Queenstown bungee jumping and Oamaru penguin sightings.
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Dec 18 - Jan 1, 2023
Lydia and her team at New Zealand Self Drive Tours were fantastic! They were quick to respond when there was a minor issue at one of the wine cellars and the issue was resolved immediately. And this was on Christmas eve!! The app was extremely helpful throughout our drive. Just one suggestion for the folks at the New Zealand Fine Touring-- The Milford Fly Cruise Fly website is inaccurate about the pick up times from the hotels in Queensland for the 10 am trip. Please let them know that people... read more
Christmas vacation to New Zealand
Dec 23 - Dec 30, 2022
Our travel agent, Liz Neal, helped us plan an amazing family vacation to New Zealand. We traveled to three different cities on both islands. Every accommodation, driver, and tour she booked for us were excellent, on time, and exactly as described. We had originally planned to visit the North Island only, but Liz convinced us to go to Queenstown also, and was her advice ever spot on. We had some tours in mind before we went, but Liz suggested a few others that were fantastic. We can't wait to... read more
New Zealand Rocks!
Dec 5 - Dec 17, 2022
We enjoyed our trip of a lifetime thanks to the help of Christina. She listened and planned a trip that was perfect for our preferences and also the pace of travel. Our bike trips were fabulous...although now we are hooked on pedal assisted e-bikes! The Dunston Bike Trail is amazing. The helicopter landing on Franz Josef as well was over the top! We couldn't have asked for a better trip. read more