Posted: 5/8/2023 | Might eighth, 2023
With its snow-capped mountains, historic glaciers, rolling verdant hills, extremely pleasant locals, and plentiful world-class wine, New Zealand is as great as you’ve heard. In truth, take what you’ve heard and instances it by ten. New Zealand will merely blow your thoughts whenever you go to.
Folks suppose 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 lots to do right here. From the north island to the south island, you want lots of time right here to do all of it. You’ll be able to fill months with actions. New Zealand could also be small nevertheless it punches above its weight with issues to do.
However what in case 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 in case you do? Then what? The place do you start planning that type 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 the way to 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 simplest ways to see the nation is by taking a street journey. With your personal set of wheels, you’ll be capable of 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 simplest ways to discover.
Beneath are my advised itineraries that may allow 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 make sure that you see the highlights and get off the overwhelmed path.
Be aware: Two weeks is the minimal advisable time for a New Zealand street journey. There’s a lot to see and do right here, but you continue to don’t wish to be rushed or spend all of your time within the automobile. For those who 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 major cities, and revel in enjoyable actions like mendacity on the seaside 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 be capable of 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
Earlier than you even plan your route, you want a approach to get round. Street-tripping New Zealand by campervan could be very well-liked, particularly among the many extra budget-conscious traveler, as they function each lodging and transportation. There are 5 major rental companies:
Costs fluctuate lots. Your every day price will change relying on the place you decide up the automobile if you’re dropping it off at a distinct place, how lengthy you might be renting it for, how far upfront you e book, and whenever you e book (within the excessive season, costs appear to double!).
If dwelling out of a van for just a few weeks doesn’t sound like your concept of a enjoyable time, merely hire a traditional automobile and e book lodging alongside the best way. To e book a automobile, take a look at Uncover Automobiles, which searches rental companies huge and small to search out the perfect offers.
New Zealand Street Journey Itinerary: A Two-Week North Island Route
Days 1–2: Auckland
Auckland is the most important and most populous metropolis in New Zealand and, opposite to well-liked perception, it isn’t the capital (that’s Wellington). Since most flights land right here, spend a few days recovering out of your (doubtless) lengthy journey.
Spend a while hanging out on the Auckland Area, go snorkel on Goat Island, and in case you love wine like I do, take a wine tour on Waiheke Island.
For a listing of extra issues to do in Auckland, take a look at my information to town!
The place to Keep: The Albion – This historic lodging started as a “pub lodge” within the nineteenth century. At the 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
Head to the Bay of Islands on the northern tip of the North Island for just a few days. With mile after mile of seaside and rocky shoreline surrounding the bay (which incorporates 144 islands), this space has a number of the finest alternatives for dolphin and whale watching, kayaking, swimming, and boating. The Bay of Islands can be dwelling to what I feel are a number of the finest seashores within the nation.
When you’re right here you’ll be able to go to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (one of the crucial essential historic websites within the nation), discover Cape Reinga (the northernmost level of New Zealand), and see wild dolphins on a ship tour.
For a listing of extra issues to do in Bay of Islands, take a look at my full information!
The place to Keep: Haka Lodge – Positioned in Paihia, Haka Lodge has lots of widespread areas, a big kitchen, and nice views over the harbor. All the things is tremendous clear and the beds are snug. It’s an excellent place to satisfy folks.
Day 5: Hobbiton
Visiting the Hobbiton film set featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films is definitely one in every of New Zealand’s most well-known actions and a should for followers of the movies and books. Even in case 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 must take a tour that begins with a drive by means of 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 Nation Keep B&B – It is a cute bed-and-breakfast situated in Matamata only a few miles from Hobbiton. The hosts are implausible, there’s complimentary breakfast, and the property is quiet and tranquil, with roaming cats and goats for added environment.
Days 6–7: Rotorua
It’s only one hour from Hobbiton to Rotorua, one of the crucial well-liked vacationer locations on the North Island. The title 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 the perfect space to find out about Maori historical past and tradition. Don’t miss seeing a Maori cultural present whilst you’re right here (the Te Pa Tu Maori Cultural Expertise is the one I attended).
The area can 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 Strong Backpackers – It is a centrally situated hostel with an expansive array of amenities, together with a cinema, a bar, a communal kitchen, and even a rock-climbing wall.
Day 8: Waitomo
Waitomo is thought for its worms — glowworms, that’s (spoiler alert: they’re really 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 an entire listing of issues to do in Waitomo, take a look at my information in town.
The place to Keep: Juno Corridor – Near the glowworm caves, Juno Corridor has a swimming pool and tennis courtroom on-site. There’s a big kitchen in addition to an outside grill for barbecuing.
Days 9-10: Taupo
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 unimaginable hikes, a number of boating excursions, charming native markets, and beautiful nature. Consider it like a quieter model of Queenstown (the South Island’s journey capita)l.
It’s additionally top-of-the-line locations 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 cherished the small-town really feel of Taupo, sitting by the lake, and having the ability to take action many hikes. I may have stayed right here for weeks.
For a listing of extra issues to do in Taupo, take a look at 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 workers, bike leases, and a brilliant pleasant hostel canine. All the things within the hostel is up to date, with new, trendy pod-style beds so you will get an awesome night time’s sleep. Briefly, the whole lot a backpacker or funds traveler would need from a hostel.
Day 11: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Trekking by means of this otherworldly, red-colored atmosphere 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 this 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 by means of Tongariro Nationwide Park, you’ll stroll by means of 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 simple in elements (the start and finish) and steep in others (particularly the portion after “Mount Doom”), so that you’ll get an excellent mixture of problem ranges.
Remember to convey 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 particular person for a round-trip shuttle to and from the path or 280 NZD for a full-day guided hike.
The place to Keep: Nationwide Park Alpine Lodge – Positioned in Nationwide Park Village (the perfect 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 workers.
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
Wellington is my favourite metropolis in all the nation. It’s an artsy, eclectic place, boasting tons of cultural actions, an unimaginable nightlife, a number of the finest meals within the nation, tons of murals, world-class artwork displays, insightful museums, and a fantastic harbor (which is finest seen from Mount Victoria, which overlooks all the metropolis).
Remember to go to Te Papa (New Zealand’s nationwide museum), journey the cable automobile to the Cable Automobile Museum, and tour Weta Workshop (an Academy Award–profitable props and particular results studio).
For a listing of extra issues to do in Wellington, take a look at my detailed information to town.
The place to Keep: The Dwellington – Greater than half the Dwellington is widespread house, with a video games room, a cinema room (with soft seats!), dwelling rooms, outside patios, and even tennis and squash courts. The workers additionally actually goes out of their approach to be sure to really feel welcome.
For those who’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 it’s good to go subsequent. When you’ve got extra time, you’ll take the automobile ferry (round 3.5 hours) to Picton on the South Island to proceed your journey (by which case, observe the next two-week South Island itinerary, however in reverse).
New Zealand Street Journey Itinerary: A Two-Week South Island Route
For those who 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
Queenstown is a small, picturesque city overlooking Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the attractive peaks of the Remarkables mountain vary. It has a feisty and outdoorsy vitality to it, with slender streets and pedestrian lanes stuffed with retailers and eating places.
Often known as “the journey capital of New Zealand” (it’s the launching pad for each kind of journey exercise you’ll be able to consider), Queenstown lives as much as the hype. Though it has change into massively well-liked, 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 bounce, zipline, rafting, or skydiving. There’s lots to do right here.
For a listing of extra issues to do in Queenstown, take a look at 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. General, this can be a great spot to remain.
Days 4-6: Fiordland
The Fiordland area is likely one of the nation’s most scenic and distant (and as such, additionally dwelling to quite a few Lord of the Rings movie areas). Given its gigantic mountains, deep lakes, swelling rivers, untamed forests, and resplendent fjords (lengthy, slender 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 a tremendous fjord that’s finest recognized for the towering Mitre Peak and its surrounding rainforest. You’ll be able to stroll the wooded path alongside the sandy shore for good views of the height, or take the Chasm Stroll on the Cleddau River to get near highly effective waterfalls.
The fjord itself is dwelling to seal and penguin colonies. You’ll be able to 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 embrace the Underwater Observatory. Cruises begin from 129 NZD.
Whereas much less well-known than Milford, Uncertain Sound is the deepest and second-largest fjord within the nation. You’ll be able to solely get to Uncertain by way of boat. A wilderness cruise of Uncertain 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 trendy. In any other case, you probably have a automobile, you’ll be able to keep within the closest city, Te Anau the place you’ll discover cheaper lodging.
Days 7-8: Wanaka
Wanaka is a ski and summer season resort city framed by snowcapped mountains. As close by Queenstown has change into overcrowded in recent times, journey to Wanaka has exploded and this sleepy however actually cool little city has change into well-liked with backpackers and outside lovers, 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, chill out, and transfer on.
For a listing of extra issues to do in Wanaka, take a look at my detailed metropolis information.
The place to Keep: Mountain View Backpackers – This hostel has an enormous outside house with a grill, house to lie within the solar, and an enormous desk to congregate round (there have been many pleasurable nights spent consuming wine outside).
Day 9: Franz Josef Glacier
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 shortly on account of local weather change, the caves and walks have been shut down. Now, the one approach to trek on the glaciers is by way of heli-hike (an epic half-day or full-day helicopter/climbing expertise). These are costly (500 NZD), however the helicopter journey, trekking, and expertise as a complete are well worth the worth for my part.
Conversely, you’ll be able to simply hike to the glacier face and take images from a distance. There are tons of viewing factors (and also you’ll see images of simply how far the glaciers have receded in through the years).
The place to Keep: Chateau Backpacker & Motels – Only a ten-minute drive from the glacier, this lodging presents free selfmade soup each night time, free breakfast (selfmade waffles and pancakes!), two communal kitchens, and a sizzling tub.
Days 10–11: Abel Tasman Nationwide Park
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 lots of single and multi-day hikes (together with the 3-5-day Abel Tasman Coast Monitor, one of many Nice Walks of New Zealand).
One of the best ways to see the park is by kayak, so you’ll be able to discover the little coves and seashores that actually 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 can too take a scenic cruise across the park for 79 NZD.
The place to Keep: Marahau Seashore Camp – Provides each dormitories and small personal cottages, a communal kitchen, and a seasonal restaurant. There are additionally tent and campervan websites if you wish to get monetary savings.
From right here, decide 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 be capable of catch an inexpensive and fast flight again to Auckland in your worldwide flight dwelling.
For those who’re heading to Christchurch, maintain studying. For those who’d like to go to Wellington, scroll again up and observe the information within the North Island itinerary part.
Days 12-14: Christchurch
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, retailers, and displays. The locals have labored exhausting to rebuild, and there’s a group spirit right here that actually shines. I really like the place Christchurch goes.
Whereas there’s not lots “to do” per se, the vibe right here is actually relaxed, and it’s value not speeding by means of in case you aren’t quick on time. Remember to journey the gondola, go to the Canterbury Museum, and tour Quake Metropolis (a singular and interactive museum that recounts private tales from the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes).
For a listing of extra issues to do in Christchurch, take a look at my metropolis information.
The place to Keep: Urbanz – That is an superior hostel situated in downtown Christchurch with pleasant workers and an enormous kitchen. There’s additionally a hostel bar, a pool desk, quick Wi-Fi, laundry, films, and cozy couches, in addition to a car parking zone.
If it’s good to 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 might be discovered for as little as 65 NZD in case you e book upfront.
New Zealand Street Journey Itinerary: One Month
You’ve bought longer to discover New Zealand, nice! You’ll doubtless fly into Auckland, and make your manner south by means of the North after which South Island following the above itineraries. You’ll be able to take your time, linger longer, go to extra locations, and shift your plans in case you really feel pulled in a sure course.
Once more, these are simply advisable itineraries — I encourage you to adapt as wanted!
Issues to Keep in mind When Street-Tripping New Zealand
That can assist you benefit from your street journey, please keep in mind the next guidelines:
- Site visitors flows on the left right here (not the suitable, like within the US or Canada).
- You have to all the time park your automobile within the course that site visitors goes (or threat a fantastic).
- There are many pull-off factors for taking images — use them as an alternative of stopping at a random spot alongside the aspect of the street, which might 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 count on 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.
- For those who’re touring by campervan, use the CamperMate app to search out close by campsites, gasoline stations, and dump stations.
New Zealand is an unforgettable nation, loaded with epic landscapes, pleasant Kiwis, and a wealthy tradition. Resulting from its distant location, visiting is normally a once-in-a-lifetime journey for many vacationers. Taking a street journey is one of the simplest ways to benefit from your time right here, tailoring your itinerary to your personal preferences and New Zealand bucket listing.
Want a rental automobile in your epic journey? use the widget under to search out the perfect offers!
E book Your Journey to New Zealand: Logistical Suggestions and Tips
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’ll be able to e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they constantly return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low-cost resorts.
For those who’re searching for particular locations to remain, here’s a full listing of my favourite hostels in New Zealand.
Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes fallacious. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances previously. My favourite corporations that supply the perfect service and worth are:
On the lookout for the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Try my useful resource web page for the perfect corporations to make use of whenever you journey. I listing all those I exploit to save cash after I’m on the street. They’ll prevent cash whenever you journey too.
Need Extra Info on New Zealand?
Remember to go to our sturdy vacation spot information on New Zealand for much more planning ideas!
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