Perfect Two Week Itinerary for New Zealand

Perfect Two Week Itinerary for New Zealand

March 2019

Perfect Two Week Itinerary for New Zealand

New Zealand moved high on the “big trip” list when my brother came back from a trip in 2018. His pictures and videos were simply stunning! We had to go and I could not wait.

With only two weeks to explore New Zealand, we knew it would be an impossible task to see everything. After doing preliminary reading, it was clear people do not recommend a two week trip to see both North and South islands and to instead focus on one. Since we both had a feeling this would not be our last visit to New Zealand, we decide this trip would be a highlight reel from both islands. We started planning by pinning locations on Google maps that we wanted to see and the hoped that an organic itinerary would come together.


As hoped, our pins provided a natural flow and driving gave us the flexibility to accomplish as much or as little as we wanted. We started on the South Island in Queenstown, drove north through Mt Cook then continued north up the east coast until we hit the ferry to transfer to the North Island. From the capital of Wellington, we continued north towards Auckland making many stops along the way. We were so proud and excited with our itinerary- an incredible 2,070km (1286 miles) of driving through New Zealand.

Our major stops: Queenstown –> Mt Cook –> Christchurch –> Kaikoura –> Wellington –> Tongariro National Park –> Rotorua –> Auckland

Upon our return, it is easy why people recommend focusing on one island but even two weeks would not be enough time to see everything on one island. Since we had such limited time, we knew there was a high risk of our itinerary experiencing changes. Many of our activities were weather dependent and there are many other factors that are out of our control. Do not miss other tips on what to expect when visiting New Zealand!

We ended up having to change quite a bit around from the originally planned itinerary to accommodate. The biggest thing we planned for that got canceled was a trip out to Milford Sound. Since it is an 8 hours drive from Queenstown, we opted to treat ourselves by booking a plan ride since 16 hours of driving alone would eat up a large portion of the trip. Little did we know, the plane barely flies due to weather conditions at the Sound. While we were disappointed, we ended up moving Mt Cook a day up and have a much better weather day than the day we originally scheduled so it all worked out. Something to look forward to next time!

Even over a year later, we are still smiling over how incredible this trip was and I already have ideas for our next New Zealand adventure.

Day Time Activity  Food Lodging 
Day 1


Evening Flight to LAX 2PM

Land LAX 5:17PM

Flight LAX 8:55PM

 Day 2


Day Crossing the international date line
Day 3


Morning Land AUC 6:45AM

Flight AUC 8:40AM

Land QNS 10:35AM

Afternoon Check into Airbnb
AJ Hackett Bungy Jump
Rehab Queenstown
Evening  Explore Queenstown Taco Medic 

Seight’s Ale House

Day 4Monday Morning Tiki Trail On hike (pack) Queenstown
Afternoon Queenstown Wine Trail Tour Gibbston Cheesery 
Evening  Blue Kanu

Patigonia Ice Cream

Day 5


Morning Pick up car Patagonia  Twizel
Afternoon Drive to Mt Cook Fergbakery
Evening  Hike Hooker Valley Trail
Check into airbnb
Day 6


Morning Drive to Tekapo 

Drive to Fairlie 

Fairlie Bakehouse  Christchurch 
Afternoon Drive to Christchurch
Botanical Gardens
High life 
Evening  Check into Airbnb
Day 7


Morning Drive to Kaikoura Copenhagen Bakery  Kaikoura
Afternoon Peninsula hike Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk
Evening  Check into Airbnb

Explore Kaikoura

The Top Shop
Day 8


Morning Drive to Picton
Picton Ferry at 10:45 AM



Afternoon Arrival at Wellington 1:30PM
Check into Airbnb 
Evening  Weta Workshop Tour Shed 5
Day 9


Morning Te Papa Museum The Hanger 
Wills Kitchen
Tongariro Park
Afternoon Drive to Tongariro Pasteria 
Evening  Check into lodge
Day 10


Morning Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing On hike (pack) Tongariro Park
Day 11


Morning Drive to Taupo

Skydive Taupo

Afternoon Spa Thermal Park

Huka Falls Lookout


Drive to Rotorua

Check into Airbnb

Urbano Bistro
Day 12


Morning Hobbiton Tour Hobbitant Cafe Rotorua
Afternoon Skyline Luge
Evening  Eat Streets
Day 13


Morning Redwoods Treewalk Sequoia Eatery Rotorua
Afternoon White Water Rafting Sequoia Eatery
Evening  Te Puia Experience
Day 14


Morning Drive to Waitomo

Lost World Epic Cave Tour

Afternoon On tour 
Evening  Drive to Auckland (2.5 hours)

Check into Airbnb

On tour
Day 15


Morning Drop off car Auckland
Afternoon NZ Wine Pro Tour On tour
Evening  Explore Auckland Giapo
Day 16


Morning Auckland Memorial Museum Parnell Open French Market 
Afternoon Bus to Airport  Wu and You
Evening  Flight AUC 7:30PM

Land LAX 10:35AM

Flight LAX 3:15PM

Land Home

Read the full trip details!

North Island

South Island

What to Expect

If you have been to New Zealand before, let me know what I missed and what your favorites are!

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