21 days in New Zealand Itinerary

21 days in New Zealand Itinerary

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Route & dates

21 days in New Zealand Itinerary

Start: Auckland
Drive:  3​h
1
Paihia
— 1 night
+2
Taxi + Fly + Taxi:  3​h
2
Waitomo Caves
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
3
Whakapapa
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
4
Rotorua
— 3 nights
Fly:  3​h
5
Wellington
— 1 night
Fly:  3​h 15​min
6
Queenstown
— 2 nights
Bus:  3​h 15​min
7
Te Anau
— 3 nights
Drive:  5​h 15​min
8
Mt. Cook Village
— 2 nights
Drive:  5​h 30​min
9
Fox Glacier
— 2 nights
+2
Bus + Foot + Fly:  9​h 15​min
10
Auckland
— 1 night
Fly:  4​h
End: Christchurch

1
night
Paihia

The main tourist town in the Bay of Islands area, Paihia gives visitors a good range of accommodations, a convenient town center, long sandy beaches, and interesting architecture.
Kick off your visit on the 20th (Fri): look for all kinds of wild species at Wildlife Areas, admire all the interesting features of Waitangi Treaty Grounds, take in the dramatic scenery at Haruru Falls, then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour, and finally identify plant and animal life at Paihia Harbour. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 21st (Sat): stroll through The Strand Beach, tour the pleasant surroundings at Oneroa Bay, look for gifts at Paihia Bookshop, then surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour, then cast your line with a fishing tour, and finally glide through the air with a parasailing or paragliding tour.

To see other places to visit, maps, photos, and tourist information, refer to the Paihia sightseeing planner .

Auckland to Paihia is an approximately 3-hour car ride. You can also do a combination of bus and flight; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Sat) so you can travel to Waitomo Caves.

Things to do in Paihia

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Russell
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Scuba & Snorkeling
Nature & Wildlife Tours

2
nights
Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves ©
Head deep beneath the surface of the earth at Waitomo Caves, a village and cave system that draws both extreme sports enthusiasts and those wanting something a little more relaxed.
Kick off your visit on the 22nd (Sun): explore the fascinating underground world of Piripiri Cave Walk, Head underground at Aranui Cave, get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, explore the fascinating underground world of Ruakuri Cave, then explore the fascinating underground world of Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and finally take a memorable tour with Tours. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: snap pictures at Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk, admire the sheer force of Marakopa Falls, head outdoors with Waitomo Clay Birds, then head off the coast to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, then take a peaceful walk through Yarndley's Bush, and finally look for all kinds of wild species at Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, maps, and more tourist information, read our Waitomo Caves tour builder tool .

Do a combination of taxi and flight from Paihia to Waitomo Caves in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of flight and bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Mon) to allow enough time to travel to Whakapapa.

Things to do in Waitomo Caves

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Otorohanga, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, Yarndley's Bush
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Waitomo Glowworm Caves ©
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
River Rafting & Tubing
Ruakuri Walk ©
Ruakuri Walk

2
nights
Whakapapa

Whakapapa ©
On the 24th (Tue), take a memorable tour with Tours, look for all kinds of wild species at Tongariro National Trout Centre, trek along Tongariro Alpine Crossing, then take in the pleasant sights at Tongariro Crossing Shuttles, and finally take in the dramatic scenery at Taranaki Falls. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: hike along Rotopounamu Track, explore the wealth of natural beauty at Te Porere Redoubt, then grab your bike and head to Ohakune Old Coach Road, and finally trek along Horsemtrails.

For ratings, other places to visit, where to stay, and tourist information, refer to the Whakapapa attractions planning site .

You can drive from Waitomo Caves to Whakapapa in 2.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Wed) early enough to travel to Rotorua.

Things to do in Whakapapa

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trips

Tongariro National Park, Turangi
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Tongariro Alpine Crossing ©
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Horsemtrails ©
Horsemtrails
Taranaki Falls ©
Taranaki Falls

3
nights
Rotorua

Surrounded by lakes and featuring impressive areas of geothermal landscape, the city of Rotorua offers an otherwordly landscape and a welcoming, peaceful environment, with the culture of the native Maori people very much in the foreground.
Step out of the city life by going to Huka Falls Walkway and Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Explore Rotorua's surroundings by going to Taupo (Fishing Charters & Tours, Adrenaline & Extreme Tours, & more). The adventure continues: kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, take in the natural beauty of Te Puia, contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Rotokakahi, and look for all kinds of wild species at Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park.

For maps, traveler tips, photos, and other tourist information, go to the Rotorua trip planner .

Traveling by car from Whakapapa to Rotorua takes 2.5 hours. Expect a daytime high around 25°C in December, and nighttime lows around 17°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 28th (Sat) early enough to travel to Wellington.

Things to do in Rotorua

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trip

Taupo
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
Huka Falls Walkway ©
Huka Falls Walkway
Zipline

1
night
Wellington

Wellington
Wellington, the world's southernmost capital city and New Zealand's second most populous urban area, combines the nation's rugged history and nature with its modern and cosmopolitan present.
Start off your visit on the 29th (Sun): take an in-depth tour of The Great War Exhibition, get a sense of history and politics at New Zealand Parliament, explore the activities along Oriental Bay, then see the interesting displays at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, then admire the natural beauty at Wellington Botanic Garden, and finally identify plant and animal life at ZEALANDIA Sanctuary.

To find traveler tips, maps, photos, and tourist information, use the Wellington trip website .

Traveling by flight from Rotorua to Wellington takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or drive. Expect a daytime high around 22°C in December, and nighttime lows around 15°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 29th (Sun) so you can travel to Queenstown.

Things to do in Wellington

Parks Museums Wildlife

Side Trip

Wellington Botanic Garden
Find places to stay Dec 28 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
ZEALANDIA Sanctuary ©
ZEALANDIA Sanctuary
Oriental Bay ©
Oriental Bay

2
nights
Queenstown

Queenstown ©
Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
On the 30th (Mon), steep yourself in history at Fallen Soldiers Memorial, take a memorable tour with Tours, get interesting insight from Tours, then take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports, then look for all kinds of wild species at Kiwi Birdlife Park, and finally stop by Outside Sports. On the 31st (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, get your game on at Skyline Queenstown, then have some family-friendly fun at Fear Factory Queenstown, and finally take in the awesome beauty at Coronet Peak.

To find reviews, ratings, and more tourist information, read Queenstown online itinerary planner .

You can fly from Wellington to Queenstown in 3.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of flight and bus; or do a combination of ferry and car. Finish your sightseeing early on the 31st (Tue) to allow enough time to take a bus to Te Anau.

Things to do in Queenstown

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Skyline Queenstown ©
Skyline Queenstown
Coronet Peak ©
Coronet Peak
Kiwi Birdlife Park ©
Kiwi Birdlife Park

3
nights
Te Anau

Te Anau ©
Set among the picturesque peaks and glacially carved fiords of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau offers those wishing to explore the park a great place to stay and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a small town in an enviable location.
Get in touch with nature at Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Step out of Te Anau with an excursion to Milford sound Hwy in Milford Sound--about 56 minutes away. Next up on the itinerary: tour the pleasant surroundings at Hollyford Track, trek along The Chasm Walk, identify plant and animal life at Punanga Manu o Te Anau, and explore the activities along Lake Te Anau.

For photos, ratings, other places to visit, and tourist information, refer to the Te Anau trip maker site .

Take a bus from Queenstown to Te Anau in 3.5 hours. Cap off your sightseeing on the 3rd (Fri) early enough to travel to Mt. Cook Village.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks Trails Outdoors

Side Trips

Fiordland National Park, Milford sound Hwy
Find places to stay Dec 31 — Jan 3:
Highlights from your plan
Doubtful Sound ©
Doubtful Sound
Hollyford Track ©
Hollyford Track
Milford Sound ©
Milford Sound

2
nights
Mt. Cook Village

Mt. Cook Village ©
Siting under towering peaks of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt.
Start off your visit on the 4th (Sat): contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Pukaki, head outdoors with Aoraki/Mt. Cook, tour the pleasant surroundings at Hooker Valley Track, stroll through Sealy Tarns Track, then stroll through Kea Point Track, and finally see the sky in a new way at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. Here are some ideas for day two: see Off-Road Tours, explore the activities along Lake Tekapo, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Mueller Hut Route, and finally trek along Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier walks.

To find ratings, traveler tips, and more tourist information, you can read our Mt. Cook Village trip maker app .

Explore your travel options from Te Anau to Mt. Cook Village with the Route module. Cap off your sightseeing on the 5th (Sun) early enough to go by car to Fox Glacier.

Things to do in Mt. Cook Village

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trips

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu), Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki
Find places to stay Jan 3 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Hooker Valley Track ©
Hooker Valley Track
Sealy Tarns Track ©
Sealy Tarns Track

2
nights
Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier ©
A trip to Fox Glacier brings you close to one of New Zealand's most easily accessible natural wonders.
Kick off your visit on the 6th (Mon): kick back and relax at Gillespies Beach, take in the awesome beauty at Fox Glacier, identify plant and animal life at West Coast Wildlife Centre, then stroll through Franz Josef Glacier, and finally relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas. On your second day here, tour the pleasant surroundings at Fox Glacier South Side Walk, hike along Minnehaha Walk, stroll through Moraine Walk, hike along Mount Fox Route, then explore the activities along Lake Matheson Walk, and finally stroll through Fox Glacier Hiking Trails.

To find reviews, more things to do, maps, and tourist information, refer to the Fox Glacier itinerary maker website .

You can drive from Mt. Cook Village to Fox Glacier in 5.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Tue) so you can travel to Auckland.

Things to do in Fox Glacier

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trip

Franz Josef
Find places to stay Jan 5 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Gillespies Beach ©
Gillespies Beach
Franz Josef Glacier ©
Franz Josef Glacier
Fox Glacier South Side Walk ©
Fox Glacier South Side Walk

1
night
Auckland

Auckland ©
The largest and most populous city in New Zealand, Auckland combines a rich history and thriving contemporary culture in an abundance of museums, art galleries, and performance venues.
Start off your visit on the 8th (Wed): see majestic marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour, then head off the coast to Tiritiri Matangi Visitor Centre, then kick back and relax at Piha Beach, and finally contemplate the geological forces at Mount Eden. On the 9th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: tour the pleasant surroundings at Orewa Beach, explore the activities along Devonport, contemplate the geological forces at Rangitoto Island, observe the fascinating underwater world at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium, then see the interesting displays at Auckland War Memorial Museum, and finally enjoy breathtaking views from SkyTower.

Plan a Auckland trip in moments using our itinerary builder.

Traveling by combination of bus and flight from Fox Glacier to Auckland takes 9.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and flight; or do a combination of bus and flight. In January in Auckland, expect temperatures between 22°C during the day and 22°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 9th (Thu) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Auckland

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Piha Beach, Orewa Beach
Find places to stay Jan 7 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
SkyTower ©
SkyTower
Tiritiri Matangi Visitor Centre ©
Tiritiri Matangi Visitor Centre
Rangitoto Island ©
Rangitoto Island

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