New Zealand Itinerary

To ensure you get the most out of your trip to New Zealand, we've put together an itinerary that will enable you to explore many of the best sights and attractions. This schedule is based on a 21 night self-drive trip. Please refer to our Driving Distances table for full details on how far the major areas are from Auckland on the North Island.

21 Night Itinerary

Destination Duration Drive Time  Itinerary Highlights
1. Auckland 3 Nights Arrive 'City Of Sails'. Highlights: Skytower, Viaduct Harbour, Devonport, Rangitoto Island, Waiheke Island, Piha Beach & Waitakere Ranges. More Info
2. The Coromandel 2 Nights 2 hours Picturesque Coastline. Highlights: Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, Hahei Beach, Driving Creek Railway, More Info.
Option 0 Nights 1 hour Lord of The Rings. If you have time, you can visit the Lord of the Rings 'Shire' movie set at Hobbiton in Matamata on the way to Rotorua.
3. Rotorua 2 Nights 1 hour Geothermal & Maori Attractions. Highlights: Maori Villages, Geothermal Attractions, The Redwoods Forest, scenic lakes, Zorbing, Polynesian Spa, Gondola. More Info.
4. Taupo 1 Night 1 hour Lake Taupo. Highlights: Craters of the Moon, Orakei Korako Geothermal Attraction, Huka Falls, Tongariro National Park. More Info.
5. Wellington 2 Nights 4.5 hours Capital of Cool. Catch the ferry from Picton to Wellington (3.5 hour crossing). Highlights: Botanical Gardens, Wellington Zoo, Wellington Cable Car, Te Papa Museum, Zealandia, Oriental Bay, Weta Cave, Mt Victoria lookout, Cuba Street. More Info
Option   2 hours National Parks of Golden Beaches & Lakes. If you have a couple of extra nights available, drive from Picton to Abel Tasman National Park and enjoy the water taxis to the stunning beaches. Recommend staying in Motueka. It's also worth checking out Nelson Lakes National Park (Head to Saint Arnaud Village).
6. Kaikoura 1 Night 2 hours Whale Watching Capital of NZ. Highlights: Whale Watching, Fyffe House, Seal Colony, Coastal Walkway. More Info
7. Arthur's Pass 1 Night 3.45 hours Dramatic National Park. Highlights: Fantastic East Coast to West Coast Drive, Arthur's Pass National Park, Castle Hill, Cave Stream Scenic Reserve, Lake Pearson, Arthur's Pass Village. Devil's Punchbowl Falls walk. More Info
8. The Glaciers 1 Night 2.5 hours Glacier Hiking. Highlights: Try a guided hike or a scenic helicopter flight and glacier landing. Recommend staying overnight in Franz Josef (more accommodation options). It's also worth stopping off at Haast Beach (2 hours before Franz Josef) then Fox Glacier before you reach Franz Josef (30 minutes before).
9. Wanaka 1 Night 3.15 hours Lake & Mountain resort. Highlights: Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, scenic lake cruise, Mt Iron Walk, Puzzling World. Local Tip - when driving to Queenstown, drive via The Crown Range to Queenstown which is shorter and more beautiful. More Info.
10. Queenstown 4 Nights 2.5 hours Adventure Capital of NZ. Highlights: Bungy, Jet Boating, Paragliding, Gondola Ride, Ziptrek, Lake Cruise, Skydiving, Fly-Cruise-Fly return trip to Milford Sound, Historic Arrowtown, Gibbston wineries, top golf courses. Local tip = Moke Lake Walk. More Info
11. Mount Cook 1 Night 2.5 Hours Iconic Mountain Scenery. Highlights: Incredible scenic drive from Queenstown. Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki. Mount Cook National Park, Tasman Glacier Scenic Flight, Glacier Explorer, 4WD, Stargazing. Walking trails. More Info
12. Christchurch 2 Nights  3.5 hours The 'Garden City'. Highlights: Hagley Park, Botanical Gardens, River Avon Punting, Gondola, Banks Peninsula & Akaroa, Sumner and New Brighton beaches. More info.
Total  21 Nights   Depart Christchurch


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