2 Weeks New Zealand Itinerary
New Zealand, a land of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant Maori culture, and friendly locals, beckons travelers with its natural wonders and outdoor adventures.
Crafting the perfect New Zealand itinerary requires a careful balance of exploring both the North and South Islands, discovering charming cities, and immersing yourself in the stunning wilderness.
Let’s embark on a journey through this island nation with a curated itinerary that captures the essence of Aotearoa.
It will be necessary to take a flight to reach Auckland, the largest city in the country. For return it will be possible to fly from Christchurch or Auckland. This itinerary is also well designed for van trips, which will choose to stay by camping (free of charge or not) but is also suitable for travellers choosing to travel by car and then staying at a hotel, motel or youth hostel.
Day 1: Auckland
Day 1 will be devoted to the arrival of your vehicle in New Zealand as well as the taking of possession of your vehicle. Depending on your time of arrival, this day may also allow you to visit the city of Auckland but also to rest from your long flight.
Do not underestimate the time spent at the airport on the passage of customs, collecting your luggage, but also passing bio-security checks to check that you are not carrying prohibited products in New Zealand.
Likewise, do not underestimate the time taken from taking possession of your vehicle, depending on the time of arrival, but also the time of arrival, it can sometimes take a two-hour check.
If you arrive early in the day, the rest of it will be devoted to visiting the city of Auckland. The departure will take place the next morning. If you arrive at the end of the day, you can visit the city at the end of your stay.
Often misunderstood as the capital of New Zealand (in fact, it is Wellington’s most strategic central position), Auckland is the largest city in the country in terms of population and area, with more than 1.6 million inhabitants.
It is one of the main points of arrival in New Zealand, and it is essential. The cultural offer is very varied and there is no shortage of activities. Shopping, culture, nature, there is something for all tastes in Auckland.
If you do not want to miss anything from the city but your time on the spot is limited, opt for a guided tour of the city in one day.
Please read our article to know more about Auckland: 3 Days in Auckland: Ultimate 3-Day Itinerary
Accommodation in Auckland
Hotels and Motels are very common in Auckland, here you will find something for all budgets.
- CBD Viaduct Harbour
- Auckland Waterfront Serviced Apartments
- M. Social Auckland
Day 2: From Auckland to Coromandel
The idea for this first real day of travel is to travel between Auckland and the village of Hahei in the Coromandel Peninsula.
Starting from CBD, the journey is expected to take just under 2h30. If you make the trip in the morning, you should have the afternoon free to walk the 40 minutes between the main car park of the beautiful Cathedral Cove Beach.
Depending on the tide and time you have left, you may be able to reach Hot Water Beach and why not enjoy the warm waters of its source.
Traject between Auckland and Hahei: 2 Hours 20 – 175 Kilometers
The road between Auckland and Hahei is no particular difficulty. You will take one of the few (real) motorways from Auckland to the city of Pokeno. From there, the traffic should be much less dense.
After a month and a half of the journey you will pass through the main town of the Coromandel Peninsula: Thames. You will find enough to eat but also to do some shopping if necessary.
The road between Thames and Cathedral Cove is very pretty, crosses the Coromandel Forest Park, a very wooded area.
This beautiful peninsula (85 kilometres long and only about 40 metres wide) is located very close to Auckland and is a destination of choice to enjoy the beautiful beaches and hikes offered by the peninsula.
The Coromandel Peninsula is home to two of the most touristic places in the country: Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach (you’ll talk about it just below).
It is also home to one of the most beautiful roads in the country.
Accommodation in Coromandel Peninsula
Hotels and Motels are the most common accommodations on the peninsula.
Day 3: From Coromandel to Rotorua via Hobbiton
Depending on your time of arrival around Cathedral Cove and the activities carried out the day before, this morning will be, in part, dedicated to Hot Water Beach (if you have not had time to go there by day 2).
For the rest of the day, you have several choices:
First of all for the fans of the Lord of the Rings, it will be possible to visit Hobbiton, the village of hobbits.
For those who are not interested in this visit, you can take a light detour to visit Karangahake Gorge.
In both cases, care should be taken to reach the town of Rotorua in the late afternoon at the latest. A few places in the city are worth looking at, but it is mainly in the evening that Rotorua’s must-see activity comes: the Maori meal.
Traject Between Hot Water Beach And Rotorua: 3 Hours – 215 Kilomests
- You want to visit Hobbiton: With regard to the duration of the visit to Obbiton and the journey, no stops will be on the programme. Hobbiton is located in the city of Matamata. This will not be a detour as the city is located on the way between Hot Water Beach and Rotorua.
Remember to book your visit to Obbiton a few days before you pass around the area.
- You don’t want to visit Hobbiton: If you don’t want to visit Hobbiton then you’ll have more time. The journey will be different since we advise you to take a road along the coast. This road crosses the city of Waihi, a city whose past (and present) is marked by the exploitation of the surrounding gold mines. Take a detour of some 20 kilometres and take the opportunity to visit Karangahake Gorge. An old gold mine located in the middle of nature in a simply beautiful setting. Several hikes of about 1 hour and without any difficulty will be offered to you.
Rotorua is located in the Bay of Plenty district, on the shores of the lake of the same name.
The geothermal activity of the area is the main point of interest in the vicinity of Rotorua. Its geothermal parks such as Wai-O-Tapu or Waimangu attract a large number of visitors.
Another key role in Rotorua is to attend a Maori meal, a unique experience that will teach you more about the customs of the first inhabitants of New Zealand.
All this makes Rotorua an essential stop for a stay in New Zealand.
Accommodation in Rotorua
Day 4: From Rotorua to Tongariro via Taupo
This day will be one of the busiest of the trip. In fact, you will have to leave Rotorua in the morning to visit one of the geothermal parks in the region.
Here are the two parks we think are worth a visit. For reasons of budget and time, we recommend that you choose just one.
- Wai-O-Tapu is, in our view, a little more photogenic because it includes more different sediments and minerals.
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley is a larger park, also offering beautiful wonders of nature.
The price of entry is also roughly similar (around 40 dollars for Waimangu (a boat ride is included), about thirty for Wai-O-Tapu).
In mid-day we will return to the town of Taupo to discover some unique places such as the Huka Falls or the Maori Rock Carvings (whose “What to do in Taupo”) and then we will travel to Tongariro National Park in the late afternoon.
It is important to join Tongariro National Park to start the Tongariro Alpline Crossing hike in early morning. If you do not plan to do this hike, but only shorter hikes in the park, then it is possible to spend the night in Taupo and then join the national park in the morning the following day.
For doodles around Tongariro National Park, see you in day 5.
Traject Between Rotorua And Taupo: 1 hour– 80 Kilometers
National Park Tongarian: +1 hour – 70 Kilomests
In view of the schedule in charge today, the only stop will be one of the geothermal parks in the region: Wai-O-Tapu or Waimangu.
It is not necessary to book these visits in advance, so be sure to arrive relatively early so as not to waste time.
The dimensions of Lake Taupo are bluffing and by far it is very possible to be mistaken and to think that it is the sea that you see in front of you.
The lake is the largest in the country and the Pacific region in which Australia and New Zealand are located. Taupo is one of the leading places on the North Island if you want to indulge in adventure sports, including a parachute jump or a jetboat tour.
Fishing enthusiasts will not be left out either, as trout fishing is a popular activity in the region. Anyway, Taupo has something to occupy everyone.
Accommodation in Rotorua
Day 5: Tongariro National Park
The day will therefore be devoted to the discovery of Tongariro National Park. To this end, you have a number of solutions.
- The first is to launch one of the most famous and beautiful day hikes in New Zealand: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 19-kilometre hike through the national park.
- The second solution is to discover the park via various smaller hikes.
Whether you have chosen to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing or shorter hikes, depending on the end of the hikes, to sleep again near the national park (towards Ohakune will be the most convenient) or, if you finish early, to anticipate the day tomorrow and advance to Wellington.
This park is very often considered the most beautiful in the country, and it is quite legitimate.
It is composed of three impressive volcanoes, and is known to have served as the setting for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
In summer, hiking will be the main activity to be done in the park. In winter you will be able to ski on one of its volcanoes.
Accommodation around Tongariro National Park
Day 6: Wellington
After two days a little speed this day should be quieter. End your journey to Wellington, check in your accommodation (hotel, inn or camping) and then enjoy the rest of the day as well as the evening to visit Wellington.
Traject Between Tongariro National Park (Ohakune) And Wellington: 3 Hours 20 – 285 Kilometres
We will not make any particular stops on this path. The aim was to reach Wellington quickly enough to enjoy the rest of the day to visit the city.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. It is not the largest city, but without a doubt one of the largest. It was chosen for its geographical, central position in relation to the country.
Wellington is a city of about 250,000 inhabitants. It is a very pleasant city despite its sometimes difficult climate.
The capital of the United States is regularly reunited among the cities with the best quality of life in the world.
There are many activities, one day will not be too day to discover the city.
Accommodation in Wellington
Day 7: From Wellington to Abel Tasman
The day will be devoted to crossing the Cook Strait and then the journey between Picton (entry place) at Abel Tasman National Park. Ideally, you should take a ferry in the early morning so that you can make a safe way to the national park.
The night will take place around Abel Tasman National Park (see Day 8).
Traject between Wellington and The National Park Abel Tasman: 3 Hours Deferry Jusque Picton This 2h20 – 180 Kilomest Under Park
The Cook Strait crossing will allow you to rest and enjoy the Marlborough Sounds landscapes of the South Island. Hopefully it is also possible to see dolphins, whales or killer whales in Wellington Bay, but also in the outskirts of Picton.
The road between Picton and Abel Tasman National Park is beautiful but very winding at times, especially at the beginning.
Depending on the time you take the ferry, you will be able to have your meal in Picton, or Nelson, a friendly city that I think is worth a look.
We will return to the park in the late afternoon, either the town of Motueka (located 25 minutes from the national park) or in Marahau, the gateway to the park.
Day 8: Abel Tasman National Park
Day dedicated to the discovery of Abel Tasman National Park. Hiking, kayaking, swimming or even parachute jumping are on the programme.
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most popular and popular in the country.
Located in the north of the South Island, the park offers a lush nature, but it is above all its magnificent beaches that make it its particularity.
You can choose from many activities such as hiking, kayaking, swimming or even parachute jumping.
Accommodation in Abel Tasman National Park
Day 9: From Abel Tasman NP to Franz Josef Glacier
This day will allow us to reach the glaciers of the West Coast (Franz Josef and Fox Glacier) from Abel Tasman National Park.
A day that will have a long journey, the longest of the stay. Nevertheless, you can enjoy the many photo stops.
Traject between Abel Tasman National Park and Inks: 6 Hours – 470 Km
The first stop that we will recommend will require a very slight detour of a few tens of minutes. But this one is worth it since it will take you to Punakaiki.
Strange rock formations, pancake rocks are really worth looking at. A short walk of about 30 minutes will be enough to go around this place. In addition to these rock formations, you can see maritime geysers if the tide times match.
After this stop you will continue along the coast for a moment and will have the chance to discover some beautiful beaches but also cross a lush forest.
We recommend a stop in Hokitika to admire the Hokitika Gorge and its turquoise waters. The walk is only a few minutes long and the detour itself will lengthen your journey by a little thirty kilometers. Also take a short tour of the beach to see the famous wood carving of Hakitika. Hokitika is located just over 2 hours from the glaciers.
The West Coast of the South Island is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, beaches, forests, but it is above all its glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef, which make it its particular feature.
These glaciers are unique in the world. Indeed, these glaciers are closer than any other glacier to an ocean or sea. Only 15 kilometers separate these glaciers from the Tasman Sea. Fox and Franz Josef are 13 and 12 kilometers long, respectively, but their size is inexorably reduced to time.
These glaciers have the particularity of being surrounded by a virgin forest.
Several ways to discover these unique places, helicopter overflight followed by a hike on the glaciers, a hike to the foot of the glaciers or a parachute jump, the highest in New Zealand.
Accommodation around Glaciers of the West Coast
Day 10: From Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown
The goal of the day is to reach the city of Queenstown. A small stop may be considered in Wanaka. It is advisable not to arrive too late in Queenstown, the time in Queenstown will be limited. The end of the day will be devoted to the discovery of the city.
Traject between Josef Glacier and Queenstown: 4h 30 – 350 Km
A relatively long route separates the region from the glaciers and the city of Queenstown.
The beginning of the road runs along the west coast of the island and will make you discover beautiful places such as Bruce Bay or Haast.
The second half of the journey will introduce you to the lakes of the Southern Alps, such as Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. A stop can be made in Wanaka, Cardrona (ski ski resort) or Arrowtown.
Queenstown is one of the most popular touristic cities in the country. It is nicknamed the “World Capital of Adventure” as many activities there are.
Skiing, parachute, jet boat, bunger jumping, sledging, hiking, there is something for everyone.
The town is surrounded by mountains and bordered by Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown offers a large number of bars, shops and restaurants, including the best burger in New Zealand.
Accommodation in Queenstown
Day 11: From Queenstown to Milford Sound
Long day in perspective. By your own means, or via a day excursion (less tiring) it will be necessary to reach Milford Sound from Queentown to make the cruise in one of the most beautiful fjords in the world.
The route between Queenstown and Milford Sound is relatively long, about 4 hours’ drive. Many bus tours are offered from Queenstown and will be to be promoted.
Traject between Queenstow and Milford Sound: 3 Hours 30 – 280 Km
The first stretch of road, up to Te Anau, does not offer any special stop, unlike the second part.
The first stop will therefore be considered in this city: Te Anau to take advantage of the first landscapes on the Fiordland National Park.
From Te Anau, you stay 1 hour 40 minutes to Milford Sound. This road, the Milford Road, is simply beautiful. Many photo stops are to be expected.
If you opt for a day trip from Queenstown, then stops will be scheduled. You’ll learn more about the Milford Road by reading our Milford Sound article.
Milford Sound is perhaps the first to be a visit to New Zealand. Although away from the country’s main living quarters, Milford Sound is a must.
Located in Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is an impressive fjord, one of the most beautiful in the world.
Accommodation in Te Anau
- Hostel: Te Anau Lake Front / YHA Te Anau
- Camping and Motel: Te Anau LakeView Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels
- High-end hotel: Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villa
Day 12: From Queenstown to Mount Cook
Departure from Queenstown in the morning to Twizel and then Mount Cook, one of the most spectacular places in the country. The afternoon will be devoted to hiking around the mountain.
If you want to do more than one, be careful not to leave Queenstown too late.
Traject between Queenstown and Twi-El / Mont Cook: 0230 / 3h – 200 / 250 Km
Even if the routes used are beautiful, we do not recommend any particular stops. You will have the opportunity to pass through various truly magnificent points of view, including the road along Lake Pukaki, which is a mandatory photo stop.
You can choose to stay in Twizel, the last small town before access to hiking departures, 55 kilometres further or directly to Mount Cook Village, a very small village from where most of the hikes go.
Mount Cook, Aoraki named Maori, is the highest peak in New Zealand.
This mountain, located in the South Alpine chain, culminates at 3724 meters. Although it is not possible (to ordinary people) to climb this mountain, there are many hikes, some very easy near it.
The beauty of the landscapes of this region is simply breathtaking. Snowy tops, lake with turquoise water or glacier are at the rendezvous. The accessibility of these landscapes is a plus.
Accommodation around Mount Cook
Day 13: From Mount Cook to Christchurch via Lake Tekapo
The end of your stay will greatly depend on your return flight.
Depending on whether your return flight takes place on Day 14 in the morning or evening, at the debasement of Christchurch or Auckland, the end of your stay will be different.
- Flight back from Auckland by day 14:
It will then be necessary to ensure that you return to Christchurch in day 13, return your vehicle and then fly to Auckland.
- Return flight from Christchurch on the morning of day 14:
Here, too, it will be necessary to ensure that you return to Christchurch at the end of the day (Day 13) and then return your vehicle.
- Flight back from Christchurch on the afternoon of day 14:
You can take your time of day 13 in Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo and return to Christchruch at the end of day 13 or go directly to the airport (returning your vehicle) in day 14.
- Return flight day 15:
If you have an extra day, you can choose between: take your time in Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo or cut the 12-part day road in two games.
Lake Tekapo is a small town bordered by a lake that makes it its charm. Located 700 metres high, this lake, surrounded by mountains, is a must-see site of a road trip in the South Island of New Zealand.
Its lake, but also its church, the most photographed in the country and its starry sky make this place unique.
The region is located under one of the five starry sky reserves of the world. Paradise for astrophotography enthusiasts.
Traject between Mont Cook and Lake Tekapo: 1 Hours – 100 Kilometres, Christchurch: 3 Hours – 220 Kilomets
The route from Mount Cook to Lake Tekapo runs along to Lake Pukaki, from where you will have only 40 kilometres to complete.
The road is therefore shorter if you have spent the night in Twizel and will only have 40 minutes’ drive. We’ll see a little bit lower than seeing in Lake Tekapo.
To reach Christchurch, there will be two routes for you, the shortest route through the city of Ashburton. This will be given priority if you lack time.
The other road is through Rakaia Gorge. Gorge that can be admired from a bridge or from the banks of the river. The water is quite surprising in colour, since it is very clear, almost transparent.
This detour will lengthen your journey by about 20 minutes or 30 kilometers.
Accommodation around Lake Tekapo
Day 14: Christchurch
Depending on your time and flight, the day will be devoted to the journey between Christchurch and Auckland (1h20 by direct flight) and then to the visit to Auckland.
Please note that it will take the airport at least two hours before departure time. Depending on the time of departure, the journey between the city centre of Auckland and the airport can be relatively long in case of traffic.
If your return flight is from Christchurch, take the opportunity to visit the city and its parks.
From the centre of Christchurch many buses take you to the airport. This is the case of the “Red Bus” (Red Bus), “Purple Bus” (purple bus” or line 29 which all pass through the city centre to finish at Christchurch airport. Some car rental companies will offer to take you to the airport.
Christchurch is the third largest city in the South Island, but the largest in the South.
This city was marked by two terrible earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that destroyed almost the entire city. It is therefore a city in the midst of reconstruction that still bears many consequences of these tragedies.
Nevertheless, the city is worth a discovery, its ruins, but also its street arts, new neighborhoods, museums and many parks.