New Zealand Itinerary Travel User Guide
New Zealand, a land of unparalleled beauty and adventure, offers a myriad of stunning landscapes, outdoor activities, and cultural experiences. This itinerary travel user guide will help you explore New Zealand’s best destinations in a planned and systematic manner. This guide features a comprehensive two-week itinerary covering both the North and South Islands, recommendations for accommodations and dining, must-visit attractions, and practical travel tips.
Week 1: North Island
Day 1: Arrival in Auckland
Upon arrival at Auckland International Airport, check into your accommodation and explore the city. Visit the iconic Sky Tower, wander around the bustling Viaduct Harbour, and stroll through the Auckland Domain, home to the Wintergardens and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Day 2: Auckland to Paihia (Bay of Islands)
Drive 230 kilometers north to Paihia, located in the stunning Bay of Islands. Spend the day exploring Paihia and the nearby historic town of Russell. Consider a boat tour to explore the islands and see the famous Hole in the Rock.
Day 3: Bay of Islands
Set out on a full-day adventure, including a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. Embark on a dolphin-watching cruise or indulge in water-based activities such as kayaking and snorkeling.
Day 4: Bay of Islands to Rotorua
Head south to Rotorua, a geothermal wonderland known for its Maori culture, hot springs, and bubbling mud pools. On the way, make a pit stop at Hobbiton Movie Set for a guided tour of the famous Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film locations.
Day 5: Rotorua
Experience Rotorua’s geothermal attractions, such as Te Puia, Wai-O-Tapu, and Hell’s Gate. Learn about Maori culture at the Tamaki Maori Village, where you can enjoy traditional performances and a hangi feast.
Day 6: Rotorua to Wellington
Drive to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Explore Te Papa Museum, stroll along the waterfront, and take the cable car up to the Botanic Garden.
Day 7: Wellington
Spend another day exploring Wellington’s attractions, including the Weta Workshop, Zealandia Ecosanctuary, and the historic Old St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Week 2: South Island
Day 8: Wellington to Nelson (via Picton)
Board the Interislander ferry and sail across the Cook Strait to Picton, located in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds. Drive to Nelson, a city known for its sunny weather, craft beer, and art scene.
Day 9: Abel Tasman National Park
Join a guided tour or rent a kayak to explore the crystal-clear waters, golden beaches, and native forests of Abel Tasman National Park. Alternatively, hike a section of the famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Day 10: Nelson to Franz Josef Glacier
Drive through the Buller Gorge, past Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, and down the rugged West Coast to the town of Franz Josef, home to the eponymous glacier.
Day 11: Franz Josef Glacier
Choose from a range of activities such as glacier hiking, heli-hiking, or a scenic helicopter flight over Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. In the evening, relax in the Glacier Hot Pools.
Day 12: Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown
Continue south to the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown. Take the scenic route through the Haast Pass and Wanaka, admiring the stunning landscapes along the way.
Spend a day exploring Queenstown and its surroundings. Adventure seekers can try bungee jumping, jet boating, or skydiving, while those seeking a more relaxed experience can take a scenic gondola ride up Bob’s Peak, followed by wine tasting in the nearby Gibbston Valley. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a thrilling ride on the iconic Shotover Jet.
Day 14: Queenstown to Milford Sound
Embark on a day trip to the breathtaking Milford Sound, often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Join a guided tour or drive yourself through the awe-inspiring landscapes of Fiordland National Park, making stops at Mirror Lakes, the Chasm, and the Homer Tunnel. Once at Milford Sound, take a scenic cruise to experience the beauty of the fjord, waterfalls, and wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and penguins.
Day 15: Queenstown to Christchurch
On your final day, drive to Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island. Take a stroll through the picturesque Botanic Gardens, visit the Canterbury Museum, and admire the street art that has emerged since the 2011 earthquake. If time permits, take a punt down the Avon River or ride the Christchurch Gondola for panoramic views of the city.
Auckland: M Social Auckland, Cordis Auckland
Paihia: Paihia Beach Resort & Spa, The Waterfront Suites
Rotorua: Regent of Rotorua, Novotel Rotorua Lakeside
Wellington: QT Wellington, Sofitel Wellington
Nelson: Trailways Hotel Nelson, The Sails Nelson
Franz Josef Glacier: Franz Josef Oasis, Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Queenstown: The Rees Hotel, Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Christchurch: The George, The Distinction Christchurch
Auckland: Depot Eatery, The Grove
Paihia: Charlotte’s Kitchen, Alfresco’s Restaurant & Bar
Rotorua: Atticus Finch, Terrace Kitchen
Wellington: Logan Brown, Ortega Fish Shack
Nelson: Hopgood’s & Co, The Cod & Lobster Brasserie
Franz Josef Glacier: The Landing Restaurant, SnakeBite Brewery
Queenstown: Rata, Botswana Butchery
Christchurch: Roots, Gatherings
Practical Travel Tips
When to visit: New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. The best time to visit is during the summer months (December to February), although shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) offer mild temperatures and fewer crowds.
Driving: New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road. Car rentals are widely available, but ensure you have a valid driver’s license and understand the local road rules.
Currency: The currency used in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller transactions.
Connectivity: Wi-Fi is available in most accommodations and some public spaces. However, it may be limited or require payment in remote areas. Consider purchasing a local SIM card for data access during your trip.
Safety: New Zealand is a relatively safe destination for travelers. However, it is still essential to take basic precautions, such as locking your valuables in a safe, avoiding walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas, and using common sense.
This two-week New Zealand itinerary showcases the best of both the North and South Islands, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and cultural experiences. With the help of this user guide, you’ll be well-equipped to plan and enjoy a memorable trip to this incredible destination. From the bustling cities of Auckland and Wellington to the serene landscapes of Milford Sound and Abel Tasman National Park, you’ll find yourself immersed in the unparalleled beauty and diverse experiences that New Zealand has to offer. By following this carefully crafted itinerary and taking note of the recommendations for accommodations, dining, and travel tips, you can ensure a smooth and unforgettable journey through the breathtaking land of Aotearoa.