Perfect Two Week Road Trip Itinerary for New Zealand

Perfect Two Week Road Trip Itinerary for New Zealand

March 2019

Perfect Two Week Road Trip 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. Here is how to spend two beautiful weeks exploring the North and South Islands of New Zealand!

Day 0Arrive in New Zealand
Travel to Queenstown
Check into Airbnb
AJ Hackett Bungy Jump
Explore Queenstown
Day 1Tiki Trail – hike or gondola ride
Optional hike extension to Ben Lomond or Skyline Luge
Queenstown Wine Trail Tour
Day 2Pick up car rental
Get burgers to go at Ferburger
Drive to Mt Cook
Hike Hooker Valley Trail
Check into Airbnb
Day 3Drive to Tekapo
Drive to Fairlie with stop at Fairlie Bakehouse 
Drive to Christchurch
Botanical Gardens
Check into Airbnb
Day 4Drive to Kaikoura
Peninsula hike
Kaikoura Seafood BBQ Kiosk
Check into Airbnb  
Explore Kaikoura
Fish and Chips from Top Shop
Day 5Drive to Picton
Picton Ferry to Wellington
Arrival at Wellington
Check into Airbnb 
Weta Workshop Tour
Treat yourself meal at Shed 5
Day 6Te Papa Museum
Explore downtown Wellington
Drive to Tongariro
Check in at Tongariro Park
Day 7Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day 8Drive to Taupo  
Skydive Taupo
Spa Thermal Park  
Huka Falls Lookout
Drive to Rotorua
Check into Airbnb
Day 9Hobbiton Tour
Skyline Luge
Day 10Redwoods Treewalk
Sequoia Eatery
White Water Rafting
Te Puia Experience
Day 11Drive to Waitomo
Lost World Epic Cave Tour
Drive to Auckland (2.5 hours)
Check into Airbnb
Day 12Return car rental
NZ Wine Pro Tour
Ice cream at Giapo
Dinner at Cotto
Day 13Parnell Open French Market 
Auckland Memorial Museum
Lunch at Wu and You
Explore downtown Auckland
Day 14Departure

Read the full trip details!

North Island

South Island

What to Expect

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