Ultimate New Zealand Journey

32 DAYS

4230 km

Puntos destacados

  • Beaches and islands
  • Volcanoes and geysers
  • Mountains and glaciers

Proximidad

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

Includes two ferry crossings: Cook Strait (one way), Stewart Island (return)

Discover New Zealand on this 32-day ultimate itinerary that will take you from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island and a multitude of places in between.

Begin in New Zealand's biggest city Auckland and explore the beautiful beaches, geothermal attractions and wineries of the North Island before crossing the Cook Strait to the South Island. Here you'll meet fascinating wildlife, visit ancient glaciers and majestic fiords, and experience thrilling adventures as you journey the length of the South Island.

Day 1: Auckland

Auckland
Auckland, Auckland

By Alistair Guthrie

Auckland

AUCKLAND

Vibrant city style and spectacular landscapes

Puntos destacados

  • Cafes, bars and restaurants
  • West Coast beaches
  • Sunset kayak to Rangitoto

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN AUCKLAND

Explore a buzzing urban hub nestled between two contrasting coastlines.

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Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. It’s a place to enjoy marine adventures, wine trails, forest walks and urban sophistication.

Head out on a ferry to visit the island volcano of Rangitoto, or Waiheke, also known as the 'Island of Wine'. Alternatively, you may like to indulge in a little inner-city culture. Enjoy the shops and diverse restaurants of downtown Auckland, and visit the Auckland Museum and Auckland Art Gallery.

Day 2 - 5: Bay of Islands & Cape Reinga

Northland & Bay of Islands
Waitangi Treaty Ground, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Fraser Clements

Northland & Bay of Islands

NORTHLAND

A place of history, long beaches and giant trees

Proximidad

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN NORTHLAND

Discover a wonderland of islands, marine life, Kauri forests and Maori legend.

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The resort town of Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands. Catch a cruise to the outer islands and go dolphin spotting. Or take the ferry to the charming township of Russell, where you can explore the historic buildings of New Zealand's first capital. In nearby Kerikeri, you'll find historic sites like the Stone Store and the Mission House. The historic Treaty House at Waitangi is worth a visit, it marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation; take a guided tour to learn more.

If you have time, take a trip to Cape Reinga, the very top of New Zealand and a sacred spot for Maori. While you're there you can try sandboarding or off-road driving on the famous 90 Mile Beach.

Day 6 - 7: Hokianga & Waipoua Forest

Northland & Bay of Islands
Waipoua Forest Footprints tour, Northland & Bay of Islands

By David Kirkland

Puntos destacados

  • The world's largest Kauri tree
  • Hokianga Harbour
  • Maori cultural experiences

Proximidad

  • By car: 1 h 5 min | Paihia to Hokianga via SH12
  • By : 4 h 40 min | Hokianga to Auckland via SH12
  • By bus: No bus service from Hokianga to Auckland

DISCOVER WAIPOUA FOREST

Explore New Zealand's famous Kauri forest.

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From Paihia, travel across to the east coast to Omapere/Opononi where you can enjoy stunning views of the Hokianga Harbour. The awesome Waipoua Forest, home of New Zealand's largest kauri trees is a great place to learn more about Maori myth and legend. Take a guided tour through these giant trees.

Return to Auckland via Dargaville. Along the way, Trounson Kauri Park offers more chances to treegaze and the Kai Iwi Sand Lakes are great for swimming. Visit Matakohe’s kauri museum, where you’ll discover the district’s fascinating history or pause in the village of Maungaturoto and explore the local antique and craft shops.

Day 8 - 10: Coromandel & Rotorua

Rotorua
Relax in the Polynesian Spa, Rotorua

By Fraser Clements

Rotorua

COROMANDEL & ROTORUA

Seaside towns to geothermal sites

Puntos destacados

  • Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach
  • Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Geothermal attractions and Maori culture

Proximidad

  • By car: 2 h 20 min | Auckland to Whitianga
  • By : 3 h 10 min | Whitianga to Rotorua
  • By bus: Intercity, NakedBus or Mana for bus routes.

Formerly a centre of gold-mining and timber, Coromandel Town is now a haven for artists, craftspeople and conservationists. There is plenty to explore, including a train trip through the forest at Driving Creek.

Nearby, Whitianga makes a good base for visiting two of the region's must-see attractions, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. The road south takes you through the surf town of Whangamata and the dramatic Karangahake Gorge.

Before you get to Rotorua, you'll have the chance to visit Hobbiton Movie Set, where Peter Jackson brought the Shire to life in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies. In Rotorua itself, you'll find a place of spectacular geothermal activity, Maori culture and ample adventure.

Day 11 - 13: Taupo & Napier

Hawke's Bay
Hawke's Bay Cycle Trails, Hawke's Bay

By Camilla Rutherford

Hawke's Bay

TAUPOHAWKE'S BAY

New Zealand's largest lake & wineries

Puntos destacados

  • Walking and cycling trails
  • New Zealand's largest lake
  • Winery tours & renowned golf courses

Proximidad

  • By car: 1 h | Rotorua to Taupo
  • By : 1 h 45 min | Taupo to Napier
  • By bus: 6 h 30 min | by Intercity, NakedBus or Mana

Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, making it a great place for boat cruises, kayaking, jet boating and fishing. Take a tour to the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay to learn about the history of the area. Nearby, Tongariro National Park is a favourite with hikers. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a particular highlight.

After a 1931 earthquake nearly levelled the city of Napier, it was rebuilt in the style of the times and is now a hub of Art Deco design. The Hawke's Bay region is also known for its excellent vineyards many of which can be accessed along easy cycle trails. The gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers and the premier golf course next door are also worth a visit.

Day 14 - 15: Wairarapa & Wellington

Wellington
Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

By Two Bearded Men

Wellington

WAIRARAPAWELLINGTON

Food, wine, museums and galleries

Puntos destacados

  • Boutique wineries
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Bars, cafes, and restaurants

Proximidad

  • By car: 3 h 35 min | Napier to Wairarapa
  • By : 1 h 10 min | Wairarapa to Wellington
  • By bus: 6 h 45 min | by Intercity & Metlink

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail takes you south to Wairarapa, where you'll find a collection of charming colonial style towns with a mix of boutique shops, art galleries, antique stores, cafes and restaurants. Some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir comes from this area's family-owned vineyards, so it’s not surprising it is a popular destination for those who enjoy premium wines and vineyard cafes.  

Journey over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington, New Zealand's capital. This compact and cultured city is full of character and ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafes, restaurants, and a huge range of museums and art galleries. Dance, theatre and live music are another Wellington speciality. 

Day 16 - 18: Marlborough & Kaikoura

Christchurch - Canterbury
Kayak tour with Kaikoura Kayaks, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Kai Schworer

Christchurch - Canterbury

MARLBOROUGH & CANTERBURY

Waterways, wineries and wildlife

Puntos destacados

  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Wildlife encounters
  • Heritage attractions

Proximidad

  • By ferry: 3 h 30 min | to Picton via Cook Strait ferry
  • By car: 5 h | Picton to Christchurch
  • By bus: 10 h 40 min | by Intercity or NakedBus

The passage across Cook Strait to the South Island is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. Take in the sights as it travels through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton.

From here, it's a short journey to Blenheim, the heart of wine-growing Marlborough. With more than 20 wineries nearby this is a great place for a wine tour, or explore the area by bike, kayak or on foot via one of the hiking trails. Further south, Kaikoura is all about wildlife experiences. Here you can see whales mixing it with dolphins, orcas and fur seals.

Continue on to Christchurch, the South Island's largest city, where you will spend the night.

Day 19 - 21: The West Coast

West Coast
Franz Josef Gletscher entdecken, West Coast

By Fraser Clements

West Coast

WEST COAST 

Rainforests, glaciers and geological treasures

Puntos destacados

  • Arthur's Pass National Park
  • Gold mining history
  • Ancient glaciers

Proximidad

  • By car: 6 h | Christchurch to Fox Glacier
  • By train: 4 h 50 min | to Greymouth by TranzAlpine
  • By bus: 4 h 10 min | to Fox Glacier by Intercity

Today you'll cross the South Island using a route known as Arthur's Pass. Maori tribes crossing to the west coast first used the route, today it is home to Arthur's Pass National Park and a great place for walking.

Your first stop on the West Coast is at Greymouth, the region's largest settlement. Once a gold mining town, Greymouth is rich in history. You can get a taste at nearby Shantytown Heritage Park.

Greenstone (NZ jade) is a highlight in Hokitika; you can see carvers sculpting and polishing pieces in workshops around the town. Next travel the short trip to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. These mighty rivers of solid ice are some of the most accessible glaciers in the world and well worth the visit.

Day 22 - 24: Queenstown & Wanaka

Queenstown
Queenstown Ledge Bungy, Queenstown

By Haka Tours

Queenstown

WANAKA & QUEENSTOWN

A mix of adventure and tranquillity

Puntos destacados

  • Bungy, skydiving, and jet boating
  • Hiking, horse treks and 4WD offroad tour
  • Skiing and snowboarding in winter

Proximidad

  • By car: 4 h 30 min | 262 km Queenstown via Wanaka
  • By bus: 7 h 15 min | to Queenstown via Wanaka
  • By : by Intercity or NakedBus

Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you leave the coast and travel over Haast Pass to Wanaka. Here you'll find an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. Hiking, cycling, boat cruises and 4WD Safaris are just some of the ways to explore this beautiful area. You’ll also find unique attractions, like Puzzling World and the quirky Paradiso Cinema.

The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, skydiving and rafting. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

Day 25: Milford Sound & Te Anau

Fiordland
Milford Sound Cruise, Fiordland

By Tourism New Zealand

Fiordland

FIORDLAND

One of New Zealand's most breathtaking regions.

Puntos destacados

  • Boat cruises day and night
  • Kayaking and diving
  • Walk the Milford Track

Proximidad

  • By car: 3 h 45 min | 287 km (one way) via SH6 & SH94
  • By : Drive times may vary greatly in winter.
  • By bus: Visit the local iSITE for day trips & tours

Once described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth natural wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is a relaxing contrast to Queenstown. It takes a fair amount of time to get there but it's worth it once you're out on the water of the Sounds. Take a boat cruise or hire a kayak and soak in the magical blue skies, green mountains, crystal-clear water and tumbling waterfalls.

Alternatively, take a flightseeing tour of the Sounds, departing from Queenstown. Spend the night in Te Anau, where you can explore the local glowworm caves.

Caution: If you choose to self-drive to Milford Sound, be sure to give yourself plenty of time as conditions varying greatly on this route, particularly in winter.

Day 26 - 27: Southland & Stewart Island

Southland
Ulva Island, Stewart Island, Southland

By Venture Southland

Southland

SOUTHLAND & STEWART ISLAND

Rugged coast and rare wildlife

Puntos destacados

  • Hiking on Stewart Island
  • Wildlife encounters
  • Parks and gardens

Proximidad

Choose between two routes to Invercargill; the longer, wilder route takes you past spectacular Lake Manapouri and on to Riverton, one of the country's oldest settlements. The quicker route takes you through Lumsden where you'll find some premier cycling routes.

Invercargill is New Zealand's southernmost city. Enjoy the tuatara house at the local museum or take a stroll around the gardens, aviary and duck ponds of Queens Park.

From here, you'll cross Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island. Much of the island is a national park and a good place to enjoy nature at its wildest. Highlights include spotting kiwis on Ocean Beach, walking amidst the birds on Ulva Island and hiking the tracks through the park.

Day 28 - 29: The Catlins & Dunedin

Dunedin
Lanarch Castle, Dunedin

By Enterprise Dunedin

Dunedin

DUNEDIN

Quirky city vibe, wildlife and a castle

Puntos destacados

  • Larnach Castle
  • Royal Albatross Centre
  • Funky bars and vibrant nightlife

Proximidad

  • By car: 2 h 35 min | Invercargill to Dunedin
  • By bus: 3 h 45 min | via Gore by Intercity
  • By : Visit the local iSITE for Dunedin day tours.

The road north to Dunedin will take you into the rugged wilderness of the Catlins. Stop to see seals and sealions, Hector’s dolphins, several species of penguin, and a petrified forest in Curio Bay

In the late 19th century, Dunedin acquired an impressive amount of ostentatious Victorian architecture. No expense was spared. Today you can enjoy the historic public buildings, imposing churches, palatial homes and ornate hotels. There’s even a castle.

Eco-tourism is the other face of Dunedin; head out to the Otago Peninsula to visit colonies of penguin, albatross and seals.

Day 30 - 31: Waitaki & Aoraki Mount Cook

Christchurch - Canterbury
Lago Pukaki, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Miles Holden

Puntos destacados

  • Hiking and cycling trails
  • New Zealand's highest mountain
  • Stargazing in the Dark Sky Reserve

Proximidad

  • By car: 4 h | Dunedin to Aoraki Mount Cook
  • By bus: No direct bus route - see car-free options

AORAKI MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK

Discover alpine landscapes, ancient glaciers and turquoise lakes.

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Follow the coast north to Oamaru, stopping along the way to visit the mysterious Moeraki Boulders. The heritage town of Oamaru is home to a lovely collection of historic whitestone buildings, a Steampunk museum and a colony of little blue penguins. Further inland Omarama, is a magnet for gliding enthusiasts. The northwesterly wind blows steadily to form the famous Northwest Arch, a thermal that can take the glider pilots to 10,000 metres.

Your next stop is Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's highest mountain and longest glacier. This is a region simply made for mountain climbing and hiking. It is also part of the International Dark Sky Reserve, making a spectacular spot for stargazing.

Car-free option

Travel through Central Otago instead of Oamaru and spend a night in Cromwell.

Day 32: Lake Tekapo & Christchurch

Christchurch - Canterbury
Tranvía, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Julian Apse

Puntos destacados

  • Quirky cafes, restaurants and bars
  • Explore Akaroa & Banks Peninsula
  • Relax at Sumner Beach

Proximidad

  • By car: 4 h 15 min | Mount Cook to Christchurch
  • By bus: 5 h 35 min | by Intercity or NakedBus

TOP EXPERIENCES IN CHRISTCHURCH

Enjoy shopping, art, great food & wine and stunning scenery.

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On your way back to Christchurch today, be sure to stop at the lakeside settlement of Tekapo, where you can enjoy of a whole raft of activities. Fishing, kayaking, bike riding and horse trekking are some of the things to do here. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and the sheepdog statue for great photo opportunities.

Your final stop, Christchurch, is an entertaining mixture of refined lifestyle and cultural excitement. The tranquil Avon River meanders through the city and adjacent Hagley Park, historic buildings house a lively arts community and restored trams make it easy for visitors to get around. Spend the rest of your journey visiting heritage sites, museums, galleries, and enjoying the vibrant restaurant scene. 

Driving in New Zealand

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

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