New Zealand Top to Toe Itinerary

This all-inclusive itinerary gives you a complete picture of New Zealand, including all of the must-see sights. Beautiful beaches, kauri forests, caves, and incredible geothermal activity may all be found on the North Island. Grand mountain vistas, adventurous activities, historic architecture, and wildlife encounters are the highlights of the South Island.

Go New Zealand Go New Zealand 1 month ago
New Zealand Top to Toe Itinerary

Days 1 to 4: Auckland and Northland

Drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to the North Shore of Auckland's bays and beaches. The highway will quickly carry you north, until the suburban scenery gives way to tranquil farmland. On your way to Whangarei, stop by the Matakana Farmers' Markets and the Goat Island Marine Reserve. Base yourself here or at Paihia before venturing out into the Bay of Islands and the Poor Knights, which are world-renowned for their excellent scuba diving (opens in new window). Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to get your cultural fix.

Poor Knights Islands
Poor Knights Islands
Poor Knights Islands, Northland, New Zealand
Bay Of Islands
Bay Of Islands
Bay Of Islands, Northland, New Zealand

Day 5: Spend the day in Auckland

Auckland, nicknamed as the "Metropolis of Sails," is a lively city with harbours, beaches, and islands. If you're feeling brave, take a ferry to one of the islands located just offshore from the city, or kayak there(opens in new window). Rangitoto is a dormant volcano with spectacular trekking routes, while Waiheke is noted for its wineries, sandy white beaches, and quirky galleries. Many of the islands are only a 40-minute ferry voyage from downtown Auckland(opens in new window).

Hauraki Gulf
Hauraki Gulf
Hauraki Gulf

Day 6: Auckland - Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves are known for their subterranean beauty. A succession of huge cave systems ornamented with stalactites, stalagmites, and glow-worms lie beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region (opens in new window). Choose from a guided walk and a relaxing boat ride to blackwater rafting(opens in new window), caving(opens in new window), and abseiling into the abyss.

Waitomo Caves
Waitomo Caves
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

Day 7: Waitomo Caves - Rotorua

You'll travel through farmland, lakeland, and woodland on your way to Rotorua. The only large town you'll pass through is Te Kuiti, so stock up on picnic provisions before setting out. Pureora Forest Park, which is home to several endangered bird species, is a great place for serious walkers. Lake Whakamaru is a popular fishing spot for trout. When you see (and smell!) the Whakarewarewa geothermal steam plumes, you'll know you've arrived in Rotorua. To learn more about Maori Arts and Crafts and the world-famous Pohutu geyser, go to Te Puia (opens in new window).

Day 8: Spend the day in Rotorua

Because Rotorua is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, traces of volcanic activity may be seen everywhere. Explore the region's geothermal sites before unwinding in a hot spa(opens in new window) in the evening.

Rotorua
Rotorua
Rotorua, New Zealand

Day 9: Rotorua - Taupo

Discover the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings on a trip to Taupo. These carvings have become a symbol of the Taupo region's cultural heritage, demonstrating how traditional Mori knowledge and abilities are passed down from generation to generation. These carvings can only be seen up close from a kayak and are only accessible by boat.

Taupō
Taupō
Taupō, New Zealand

Day 10: Taupo - Wellington

Tongariro National Park's magnificent volcanic views may be seen by traveling via the Central Plateau. The National Army Museum in Waiouru is well worth a visit. The terrain becomes dominated by rivers and valleys as you drive south into Taihape (the Gumboot Throwing Capital of the World). The Mangaweka Gorge is a natural wonder. Kapiti Island, located off the coast of Waikanae, is a natural reserve where visitors may get up up and personal with uncommon birds. Stop for a snack before continuing on to Wellington on the Kapiti Coast, which is noted for its gourmet food, particularly cheeses.

Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

Day 11: Spend the day in Wellington

Wellington is great for walking expeditions because it is nestled between the bay and the hills. Before taking a tour of the neighboring film studios, navigate a maze of street art and coffee shops. The Wellington Cable Car, the Houses of Parliament, Zealandia, and the Wellington waterfront are among the city's other well-known attractions.

Wellington
Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand

Day 12: Wellington to Marlborough

Welcome to Marlborough, where orderly rows of flourishing grapes serve as a constant reminder that you're in true wine country. There are numerous guided tours available that will allow you to sample the region's greatest food and wine. The 380-kilometer Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, which spans four wine districts and more than 100 cellar doors, includes Marlborough.

Marlborough
Marlborough
Marlborough, New Zealand

Day 13: Marlborough - Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs (opens in new window) is a relaxing and indulgent vacation. You can relax in the hot springs(opens in new window) or indulge in a variety of spa(opens in new window) treatments. Hanmer is well known for its outdoor activities. Some of the activities include forest treks, horseback riding, trout fishing, jet boating, bungee jumping, and golf. See more things to do in Hanmer Springs.

Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs, New Zealand

Day 14: Hanmer Springs - Christchurch

Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island, is dynamic and funky. In this lasting centre, which is rebuilding after a devastating earthquake in February 2011, old English gardens juxtapose with pop-up bars and container-based shopping complexes. Punting along the Avon River, motorcycling in the Port Hills, visiting Sumner Beach, and exploring the Antarctic Centre are all popular activities.

Christchurch
Christchurch
Christchurch, New Zealand

Day 15: Christchurch - Dunedin

The Southern Alps give breathtaking beauty as you travel south. Just before Timaru, you'll pass through Temuka, a village known for its high-quality pottery; if you want a handy souvenir, check for the Temuka factory shop. Oamaru has a charming historic district with its own colony of small blue penguins that walk up the beach at dusk. Make a pit stop at the famous and enigmatic Moeraki Boulders on your way to Dunedin.

Day 16: Dunedin - Stewart Island

Lake Waihola, about a half-hour drive south, is a popular spot for picnics, sailing, and waterskiing. Winding roads will lead you to seals and sealions, wilderness beaches, waterfalls, footpaths, and rivers as you proceed into the Catlins. Visit Invercargill or Bluff before boarding the Stewart Island ferry(opens in new window) (Rakiura in Maori). The ferry ride, which can be bumpy at times, takes roughly an hour. You can also fly from Invercargill, which will take about 15-20 minutes. Stewart Island was recently designated as New Zealand's newest national park, covering a large portion of the island. Visitors come to the island to experience nature at its most natural state.

Stewart Island
Stewart Island
Stewart Island, Southland, New Zealand

Day 17 & 18: Depart from Stewart Island and Discover Fiordland

The road to Milford Sound is one of New Zealand's most picturesque drives, but if you're going in the winter (July-August), read up on winter driving guidelines first. Book a coach tour from Te Anau if you like to unwind (opens in new window). The first section is mostly farmland, then you'll enter beech forest around the Fiordland National Park's entrance. Look for the Mirror Lakes and the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain. A cruise on Milford Sound (opens in new window) is a must-do during your visit to Fiordland. Stunning fiords, majestic waterfalls, and snow-capped hills abound in this magnificent natural setting.

Fiordland
Fiordland
Fiordland, Southland, New Zealand

Day 19: Fiordland - Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand's mountain resort, is thrilling and enticing. It's where you may find nearly every type of activity, such as bungee jumping, jet boating, horseback riding, rafting, and river surfing. It's also a place to go for high-end activities like gourmet cuisine and drink, spa treatments, and relaxing golf games.

Queenstown
Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand

Day 20: Queenstown - Wanaka

The Crown Range Road is the quickest way to Wanaka. It's a difficult drive, but the vistas are spectacular. The route that runs alongside the Shotover River, Lake Dunstan, and the Clutha River is suitable for more cautious drivers. The Gibbston area's wineries and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge make for intriguing side trips. Add an easy detour to the picturesque old village of Arrowtown to any route you take.

Day 21: Wanaka - Fox Glacier

You'll want to leave early today so you can take in the breathtaking countryside and visit the West Coast Glaciers. The northern end of Lake Wanaka is the first picturesque highlight of your journey, followed by Lake Hawea. It's impossible to miss the iconic 'bra fence,' which began as a joke but has since become a local legend. Before tackling the dramatic twists and turns of the Haast Pass, fuel up and rejuvenate in the rural town of Makarora. As you enter rainforest territory, take in the sights of waterfalls and river vistas. Stay in Fox Glacier and take guided walks around the area from there.

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier, New Zealand

Day 22: Fox Glacier - Arthur's Pass - Christchurch

You'll pass through classic west coast river and woodland scenery on your way east to Christchurch. The hazy slopes of the Southern Alps gradually give way to rushing streams, spectacular bridges, and tiny towns. The Arthur's Pass path was first utilized by Maori tribes going to the west coast in search of pounamu (jade). It is now a complex mountain pass that is famous for both its splendor and its magnificent civil engineering.

Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass, New Zealand

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