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

With its snow-capped mountains, historical glaciers, rolling verdant hills, extremely pleasant locals, and ample world-class wine, New Zealand is as great as you’ve heard. In actual fact, take what you’ve heard and instances it by ten. New Zealand will merely blow your thoughts if you go to.

Individuals assume as a result of it’s a small nation, you are able to do all of it in two weeks. That’s not true. There’s rather a lot to do right here. From the north island to the south island, you want a whole lot of time right here to do all of it. You possibly can fill months with actions. New Zealand could also be small nevertheless it punches above its weight with issues to do.

However what should you don’t have months? What do you do then? What route do you are taking? What island must you begin with? The place do you go?

Or what should you do? Then what? The place do you start planning that form of journey?

I get these questions in my inbox on a regular basis. Having traveled everywhere in the nation a number of instances, I do know the complexities of attempting to determine get to these distant cities and out-of-the-way parks and glaciers.

Whereas buses and trains can take you most locations, one of the best ways to see the nation is by taking a street journey. With your individual set of wheels, you’ll have the ability to get deep into the pure landscapes that make this nation so well-known. New Zealand is a street journey nation. It’s one of the best ways to discover.

Beneath are my prompt itineraries that may assist you to plan your New Zealand street journey for max effectivity. Whether or not you’ve got two weeks, one month, and even longer, these will be certain that you see the highlights and get off the crushed path.

Observe: Two weeks is the minimal really useful time for a New Zealand street journey. There’s a lot to see and do right here, but you continue to don’t need to be rushed or spend all of your time within the automotive. When you solely have two weeks, deal with one island.

If you wish to study extra about Maori tradition, see the Waitomo glow worms, spend time in New Zealand’s foremost cities, and revel in enjoyable actions like mendacity on the seashore and sitting in sizzling springs, street journey the North Island.

If you wish to spend your time climbing glaciers, doing journey actions, and absorbing the epic landscapes of New Zealand, head to the South Island in your street journey.

With one month, you’ll be able to mix the next two-week itineraries to actually have the ability to take pleasure in all that each islands have to supply. Greater than a month? There’s nothing you’ll be able to’t do!



Selecting the Proper Automobile

A car, campervan, and Jeep on the road in the rainforests of New Zealand.
Earlier than you even plan your route, you want a method to get round. Street-tripping New Zealand by campervan may be very common, particularly among the many extra budget-conscious traveler, as they function each lodging and transportation. There are 5 foremost rental companies:

Costs fluctuate rather a lot. Your each day fee will change relying on the place you choose up the car in case you are dropping it off at a distinct place, how lengthy you’re renting it for, how far upfront you guide, and if you guide (within the excessive season, costs appear to double!).

If residing out of a van for just a few weeks doesn’t sound like your thought of a enjoyable time, merely lease a standard automotive and guide lodging alongside the best way. To guide a automotive, try Discover Cars, which searches rental companies large and small to seek out one of the best offers.

New Zealand Street Journey Itinerary: A Two-Week North Island Route

Days 1–2: Auckland

The skyline of Auckland, New Zealand at night
Auckland is the most important and most populous metropolis in New Zealand and, opposite to common perception, it’s not the capital (that’s Wellington). Since most flights land right here, spend a few days recovering out of your (probably) lengthy journey.

Spend a while hanging out on the Auckland Area, go snorkel on Goat Island, and should you love wine like I do, take a wine tour on Waiheke Island.

For an inventory of extra issues to do in Auckland, try my information to the town!

The place to Keep: The Albion – This historic lodging started as a “pub lodge” within the nineteenth century. Right this moment there’s nonetheless a pleasant previous tavern within the lodge. The rooms are snug and the place is quiet.

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 tip of the North Island for just a few days. With mile after mile of seashore and rocky shoreline surrounding the bay (which incorporates 144 islands), this space has a number of the greatest alternatives for dolphin and whale watching, kayaking, swimming, and boating. The Bay of Islands can also be residence to what I believe are a number of the greatest seashores within the nation.

When you’re right here you’ll be able to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (probably the most essential historic websites within the nation), discover Cape Reinga (the northernmost level of New Zealand), and see wild dolphins on a boat tour.

For an inventory of extra issues to do in Bay of Islands, try my full information!

The place to Keep: Haka Lodge – Situated in Paihia, Haka Lodge has a whole lot of widespread areas, a big kitchen, and nice views over the harbor. Every part is tremendous clear and the beds are snug. It’s a superb place to satisfy folks.

Day 5: Hobbiton

A Hobbit home in Hobbiton, New Zealand from the Lord of the Rings set
Visiting the Hobbiton film set featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit motion pictures is well certainly one of New Zealand’s most well-known actions and a should for followers of the movies and books. Even should you’re not a superfan, it’s attention-grabbing to see the film magic and go behind the scenes on this distinctive setting.

To see Hobbiton, you’ll have to take a tour that begins with a drive via the proprietor’s 505-hectare (1,250-acre) sheep farm, providing epic views over the Kaimai Vary. From right here, you’ll be able to discover Bag Finish, wander across the hobbit holes, and go to the Inexperienced Dragon Inn. Excursions begin at 89 NZD.

The place to Keep: Cosy Country Stay B&B – This can be a cute bed-and-breakfast situated in Matamata just some miles from Hobbiton. The hosts are improbable, there’s complimentary breakfast, and the property is quiet and tranquil, with roaming cats and goats for added environment.

Days 6–7: Rotorua

Maori warriors doing a performance in New Zealand
It’s only one hour from Hobbiton to Rotorua, probably the most common vacationer locations on the North Island. The identify comes from the unique Maori “Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe,” which means “second lake,” because it was the second lake that Maori chief Ihenga found within the space.

The Maori have been the unique inhabitants of New Zealand, having arrived from Polynesia between 1320 and 1350. That is one of the best space to learn about Maori history and culture. Don’t miss seeing a Maori cultural present when you’re right here (the Te Pa Tu Maori Cultural Experience is the one I attended).

The area can also be recognized for its geothermal exercise, and the dynamic panorama makes for thrilling nature walks, journeys to smelly sulfuric geysers, and soaks in luxurious spas with water from the new springs.

The place to Keep: Rock Solid Backpackers – This can be a centrally situated hostel with an expansive array of services, together with a cinema, a bar, a communal kitchen, 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’s (spoiler alert: they’re truly fly larvae that emit a bioluminescent glow). Positively one of many coolest locations I visited in New Zealand, the Waitomo glowworm cave could also be very touristy nevertheless it’s merely breathtaking and in contrast to something you’ve ever seen.

For a whole listing of issues to do in Waitomo, try my information in town.

The place to Keep: Juno Hall – Near the glowworm caves, Juno Corridor has a swimming pool and tennis court docket on-site. There’s a big kitchen in addition to an outside grill for barbecuing.

Days 9-10: Taupo

Red sailboat in front of a Maori rock carving on Lake Taupo in New Zealand
Taupo sits on the shores of Lake Taupo and is a part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, an space that has had excessive volcanic exercise for the previous two million years. Taupo has tons of unbelievable hikes, numerous boating excursions, charming native markets, and gorgeous nature. Consider it like a quieter model of Queenstown (the South Island’s journey capita)l.

It’s additionally certainly one of the best places to go skydiving in New Zealand due to the views and clear skies (although I didn’t do that whereas I used to be there).

I liked the small-town really feel of Taupo, sitting by the lake, and having the ability to take action many hikes. I might have stayed right here for weeks.

For an inventory of extra issues to do in Taupo, try my information!

The place to Keep: Finlay Jack’s has an enormous kitchen, an enormous widespread room, a spacious patio with BBQs, enjoyable and welcoming employees, bike leases, and a brilliant pleasant hostel canine. Every part within the hostel is up to date, with new, fashionable pod-style beds so you will get an ideal night time’s sleep. Briefly, all the pieces a backpacker or finances traveler would need 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
Trekking through this otherworldly, red-colored environment of volcanoes and sulfur was one of many highlights of my time in New Zealand. One of many Nice Walks of New Zealand and sometimes thought-about top-of-the-line day hikes on the planet, that is an epic 19-kilometer (12-mile) trek that takes a full day to finish (most individuals take 6-9 hours, relying in your health degree).

As you wind your manner via Tongariro Nationwide Park, you’ll stroll via volcanic terrain (together with the place Mordor in Lord of the Rings was filmed), previous excessive peaks and sulfur lakes, and finish the day in a dense forest. It’s straightforward in components (the start and finish) and steep in others (particularly the portion after “Mount Doom”), so that you’ll get a superb mixture of issue ranges.

Make sure you deliver water, sunscreen, a hat, rest room paper, and a sweater or jacket (the climate can change quickly). Count on to pay round 40 NZD per individual for a round-trip shuttle to and from the path or 280 NZD for a full-day guided hike.

The place to Keep: National Park Alpine Lodge – Situated in Nationwide Park Village (one of the best place to remain if doing the trek), this lodge options budget-friendly personal rooms, a communal kitchen and customary space (with a comfortable fire for chilly nights!), and a useful employees.

In any other case, you’ll be able to keep in Taupo, which is the place folks normally base themselves after they do that 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 favourite metropolis in the complete nation. It’s an artsy, eclectic place, boasting tons of cultural actions, an unbelievable nightlife, a number of the greatest meals within the nation, tons of murals, world-class artwork reveals, insightful museums, and an exquisite harbor (which is greatest seen from Mount Victoria, which overlooks the complete metropolis).

Make sure you go to Te Papa (New Zealand’s nationwide museum), journey the cable automotive to the Cable Automotive Museum, and tour Weta Workshop (an Academy Award–profitable props and particular results studio).

For an inventory of extra issues to do in Wellington, try my detailed information to the town.

The place to Keep: The Dwellington – Greater than half the Dwellington is widespread area, with a video games room, a cinema room (with comfortable seats!), residing rooms, out of doors patios, and even tennis and squash courts. The employees additionally actually goes out of their method to ensure you really feel welcome.

When you’ve solely bought two weeks and are ending your street journey in Wellington, you’ll be able to fly out of the airport right here to wherever you should go subsequent. In case you have extra time, you’ll take the car ferry (round 3.5 hours) to Picton on the South Island to proceed your journey (during which case, comply with the next two-week South Island itinerary, however in reverse).

New Zealand Street Journey Itinerary: A Two-Week South Island Route

When you select the South Island in your two-week street journey, begin in Queenstown. Even when your worldwide flight lands in Auckland on the North Island, you’ll be able to simply get an inexpensive flight to Queenstown. Queenstown additionally has direct flights to many main cities in Australia in case your journey to New Zealand is an element of a bigger journey 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 small, picturesque city overlooking Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the gorgeous peaks of the Remarkables mountain vary. It has a feisty and outdoorsy vitality to it, with slim streets and pedestrian lanes stuffed with outlets and eating places.

Generally known as “the journey capital of New Zealand” (it’s the launching pad for each type of journey exercise you’ll be able to consider), Queenstown lives as much as the hype. Though it has develop into vastly common, I can’t categorical my love of Queenstown sufficient. I really like sitting by the lake, watching the sundown with a bottle of wine, and climbing the close by trails.

Discover close by vineyards, benefit from the waters of Lake Wakatipu, bungy soar, zipline, rafting, or skydiving. There’s rather a lot to do right here.

For an inventory of extra issues to do in Queenstown, try my detailed metropolis information.

The place to Keep: Nomads Queenstown – Most rooms have balconies, the showers have prodigious water stress, and the pillows are thick. There are actions each night time and a free dinner and quiz night time on Sunday. Total, it is a excellent place 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 scenic and distant (and as such, additionally residence to quite a few Lord of the Rings movie places). Given its gigantic mountains, deep lakes, swelling rivers, untamed forests, and resplendent fjords (lengthy, slim inlets banked by steep cliffs, created by glaciers), the federal government has largely made the land off-limits to guard these pure sources.

Milford Sound is an incredible fjord that’s greatest recognized for the towering Mitre Peak and its surrounding rainforest. You possibly can stroll the wooded path alongside the sandy shore for excellent views of the height, or take the Chasm Stroll on the Cleddau River to get near highly effective waterfalls.

The fjord itself is residence to seal and penguin colonies. You possibly can usually see pods of dolphins frolicking within the waters too. Discover by boat and take a look at the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory to see uncommon black coral and different underwater life. Southern Discoveries is the one firm doing cruises that embody the Underwater Observatory. Cruises start from 129 NZD.

Whereas much less well-known than Milford, Uncertain Sound is the deepest and second-largest fjord within the nation. You possibly can solely get to Uncertain through boat. A wilderness cruise of Doubtful Sound prices 199 NZD.

The place to Keep: Milford Sound Lodge – That is fairly actually the one place to remain inside about 50 kilometers (31 miles). It’s not low cost, however the views are unmatched, the complimentary breakfast is scrumptious, and the up to date rooms are cozy but fashionable. In any other case, you probably have a automotive, you’ll be able to keep within the closest city, Te Anau the place you’ll discover cheaper 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 city framed by snowcapped mountains. As close by Queenstown has develop into overcrowded in recent times, journey to Wanaka has exploded and this sleepy however actually cool little city has develop into common with backpackers and out of doors fanatics, particularly skiers and boaters. There’s not a ton to do right here past having fun with the outside. Most individuals come right here for just a few nights to hike, calm down, and transfer on.

For an inventory of extra issues to do in Wanaka, try my detailed metropolis information.

The place to Keep: Mountain View Backpackers – This hostel has an enormous out of doors area with a grill, area to lie within the solar, and an enormous desk to congregate round (there have been many fulfilling nights spent ingesting wine outside).

Day 9: Franz Josef Glacier

People hiking on a glacier in Franz Josef, New Zealand
Franz Josef is a tiny city that’s primarily used as a jumping-off level for seeing the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier.

Mountain climbing the glaciers right here is an unforgettable expertise. Sadly, as a result of they’ve receded and are melting rapidly as a consequence of local weather change, the caves and walks have been shut down. Now, the one method to trek on the glaciers is through heli-hike (an epic half-day or full-day helicopter/hiking experience). These are costly (500 NZD), however the helicopter journey, trekking, and expertise as a complete are well worth the value in my view.

Conversely, you’ll be able to simply hike to the glacier face and take pictures from a distance. There are tons of viewing factors (and also you’ll see pictures of simply how far the glaciers have receded in over time).

The place to Keep: Chateau Backpacker & Motels – Only a ten-minute drive from the glacier, this lodging presents free home made soup each night time, free breakfast (home made waffles and pancakes!), two communal kitchens, and a sizzling tub.

Days 10–11: Abel Tasman Nationwide Park

Sandy beach and bright blue waters of Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand
Drive simply six hours north of glacial Franz Josef and also you’ll be in beachy Abel Tasman Nationwide Park. With its turquoise water, dense jungles, and heat temperatures, this park makes you’re feeling such as you’re within the tropics reasonably than New Zealand. It covers over 23,876 hectares (59,000 acres), which means there are a whole lot of single and multi-day hikes (together with the 3-5-day Abel Tasman Coast Monitor, one of many Nice Walks of New Zealand).

The easiest way to see the park is by kayak, so you’ll be able to discover the little coves and seashores that basically make the world particular. Full-day leases begin at round 85 NZD, or you’ll be able to be part of a guided kayaking tour beginning at 130 NZD. You may as well take a scenic cruise around the park for 79 NZD.

The place to Keep: Marahau Beach Camp – Presents each dormitories and small personal cottages, a communal kitchen, and a seasonal restaurant. There are additionally tent and campervan websites if you wish to lower your expenses.

From right here, choose your final cease: both drive onwards to Christchurch and finish there or take the ferry over the Wellington (an journey in and of itself!) and finish there. Both manner, you’ll have the ability to catch an inexpensive and fast flight again to Auckland in your worldwide flight residence.

When you’re heading to Christchurch, preserve studying. When you’d like to go to Wellington, scroll again up and comply with the guidelines within the North Island itinerary part.

Days 12-14: Christchurch

Gondolas set against a backdrop of lakes and mountains in Christchurch, New Zealand
Although severely broken by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 (over 185 folks have been killed and three,000 buildings have been broken), Christchurch has rebounded and developed right into a brand-new metropolis. This revival has instilled a newfound sense of hope and vibrancy, and led to extra funky bars and markets, and new eating places, outlets, and reveals. The locals have labored arduous to rebuild, and there’s a neighborhood spirit right here that basically shines. I really like the place Christchurch goes.

Whereas there’s not rather a lot “to do” per se, the vibe right here is actually relaxed, and it’s value not dashing via should you aren’t quick on time. Make sure you ride the gondola, go to the Canterbury Museum, and tour Quake Metropolis (a novel and interactive museum that recounts private tales from the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes).

For an inventory of extra issues to do in Christchurch, try my metropolis information.

The place to Keep: Urbanz – That is an superior hostel situated in downtown Christchurch with pleasant employees and an enormous kitchen. There’s additionally a hostel bar, a pool desk, quick Wi-Fi, laundry, motion pictures, and comfortable couches, in addition to a parking zone.

If you should get again to Queenstown, it’s a 6 hour drive from right here. Alternatively, you’ll be able to fly to Auckland. The flight is simply over an hour and tickets may be discovered for as little as 65 NZD should you guide upfront.

New Zealand Street Journey Itinerary: One Month

Snow-capped mountains in the background of a green valley in New Zealand
You’ve bought longer to discover New Zealand, nice! You’ll probably fly into Auckland, and make your manner south via the North after which South Island following the above itineraries. You possibly can take your time, linger longer, go to extra locations, and shift your plans should you really feel pulled in a sure course.

Once more, these are simply really useful itineraries — I encourage you to adapt as wanted!

Issues to Bear in mind When Street-Tripping New Zealand

That will help you profit from your street journey, please keep in mind the next guidelines:

  • Visitors flows on the left right here (not the precise, like within the US or Canada).
  • You have to all the time park your automotive within the course that visitors goes (or threat a superb).
  • There are many pull-off factors for taking pictures — use them as a substitute of stopping at a random spot alongside the facet of the street, which may be fairly harmful given how tight the roads are right here.
  • Roads listed here are winding, so do not forget that it’d take longer than you anticipate to cowl a selected distance.
  • So long as your present and legitimate driver’s license is in English, you don’t want an Worldwide Driver’s Allow.
  • When you’re touring by campervan, use the CamperMate app to seek out close by campsites, fuel stations, and dump stations.


New Zealand is an unforgettable nation, loaded with epic landscapes, pleasant Kiwis, and a wealthy tradition. Attributable to its distant location, visiting is normally a once-in-a-lifetime journey for many vacationers. Taking a street journey is one of the best ways to profit from your time right here, tailoring your itinerary to your individual preferences and New Zealand bucket listing.

Want a rental automotive in your epic journey? use the widget beneath to seek out one of the best offers!

E book Your Journey to New Zealand: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

E book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to discover a low cost flight. They’re my favourite search engine as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned!

E book Your Lodging
You possibly can guide your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and greatest offers. If you wish to keep someplace apart from a hostel, use as they persistently return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low cost inns.

When you’re in search of particular locations to remain, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in New Zealand.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances prior to now. My favourite corporations that supply one of the best service and worth are:

Searching for the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my resource page for one of the best corporations to make use of if you journey. I listing all those I exploit to save cash after I’m on the street. They may prevent cash if you journey too.

Need Extra Data on New Zealand?
Make sure you go to our robust destination guide on New Zealand for much more planning suggestions!

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