In this example of a New Zealand itinerary for 2 weeks, I have tried to showcase many the iconic things to see and do here in New Zealand. Feel free to modify it to suit your particular needs and preferences. This itinerary takes in both of the two main islands that make up New Zealand and will give you a great taste of the country; it's sights, culture and people.
While New Zealand is a relatively small country, it has so much to offer visitors wanting a full New Zealand experience. The pressures of modern living do not allow the same amount of vacation time we once had. To really experience the wonders and grandeur of this country you need a minimum of a month or more.
Driving a New Zealand Itinerary for 2 weeks
Two weeks is a reasonable amount of time to tour New Zealand in a campervan or car. Primarily this site is aimed at motorhomes or campervans, and the itinerary is adaptable to all free and independent travellers.
Having said that, it is still somewhat rushed but will give you a good taster of the country.
As can be seen from the map on the right, the route of this recommended itinerary encompasses a good portion of the country and takes in many of the highlights.
I like to emphasise this message as we find folk taken in by the scenery and momentarily lapse their concentration as to which side of the road they should be on. See New Zealand Road Rules.
Arrive into Auckland International airport
Pick up your vehicle, whether a Campervan or a car and stay the first night in Auckland.
My recommendation is the Ramarama Country Caravan Park. It is out of the city and relatively close to the airport, allowing you a head start on the morning traffic as you head south.
Travel to Hot Water beach.
Total distance approx 150 kms
Total drive straight time approx 2 hrs
Set off via Sate H'Way 1 and head to State H'Way 2, travel through the Bombay hills past the market gardens. Great opportunity to stock up on the fruit and veggies.
Heading towards the Coromadel, be aware of the changing speed limits which alternate between 100, 90 & 70 km's per hour.
You will travel for approx an hour through the rich dairy farming country and arrive at the Kopu roundabout. Turn left towards Thames. Thames is the biggest town in the area and an Ideal location to visit the supermarket and complete your supplies.
You may like to explore Thames before heading back to the Kopu roundabout and continuing over the Kopu Hikuai route to Tairua.
Welcome to New Zealand hills.... a testing but safe drive.
Follow the signs or GPS to Hot Water Beach.
The Highlight of Hot Water Beach is at low tide when you can dig in the sand and make your very own natural spa pool. Check the tide times to do this.
There in many other activates to do in around the area, like walking through Cathedral Cove.
Travel day to Rotorua.
Total distance approx 240 kms
Total drive straight time approx 3.5 hrs
Beautiful seaside drive today if you take my recommendation.
Head back towards Tairua and instead of going up into the hills again, head south towards Whangamata, a lovely beach/surf town right on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Contunue on into Kiwi fruit and Avocado growing regions. Visit the open cast mine in the historic gold town of Waihi before continuing on through to Tauranga. If time is on your side take the bridge across to Mt Maunganui and check out the surf beach for a lunch stop.
It's then off to Rotorua via Papamoa and more Kiwi fruit than you have ever seen in your life before. A lovely drive and you eventually travel alongside Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotorua before reaching the city centre.
Day to explore this geothermal wonderland at your own pace.
Rotorua has plenty to see and do. Some suggestions include:-
- The Agrodome - great place especially if you are travelling with children.
- Rainbow Springs - Introduction to New Zealand wildlife and the famous Kiwi bird - Fun water slide for children and adults alike
- Te Puia - provides you with a geothermal and Maori cultural experience
- The Rotorua Duck - is an old WW2 amphibian vehicle that takes you to and into, the local lakes and surrounding area
- Skyline Gondola - Take a ride on the Gondola and have an exhilarating luge adventure down the side of the mountain - Another great activity for children
- Waimangu Geothermal park created by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in the 1800's.
- Wai-O-Tapu the place of sacred waters. Be sure to explore the best FREE bubbling mud pools
- Rotorua Museum experience the earthquake, eruption theatre and the spa history of the area
Today, travel over spectacular terrain to Napier.
Total distance approx 220kms
Total drive time approx 3hrs
On route to Napier there are some great sightseeing opportunities, starting with viewing the Huka Falls and the start of the Waikato River. Have a leisurely lunch stop at Lake Taupo beside New Zealand's largest lake. If lady luck is with you, you will be able to see the three active mainland volcanoes in the distance.
Leaving Lake Taupo, make your way over the mountains and ravines to the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, Napier.
Look out for a sign on the left hand side to a scenic lookout and the Waipunga Falls. Approx 53 km's from the Taupo i-Site.
Arrival into Napier gives you the chance to check out the Art Dec shop and many of the buildings that were built in the 1930's after the city was destroyed by a massive earthquake.
Napier also offers a n excellent opportunity to stock up on your supplies.
Napier is a lovely city right on the Eastern sea border.
Napier has a fascinating history and is also very much the "Wine Capital" of the North Island.
Today - Wellington
Total distance approx 330kms
Total drive time approx 4.5hrs
When you leave Napier, I recommend taking the coastal road to Hastings, the other city in the Hawks Bay region.
You will pass through orchards of apples pairs and other pip and stone fruit as well as one of the great vineyard regions of New Zealand. Pass through some of the smaller towns like Waipukurau and Dannevirke.
At Woodville, you have the option of travelling down the centre of the Island into Wellington or continue through to the West coast and take State H'Way 1 to Wellington.
My choice is down the centre through many historic towns like Greytown. A very quaint little town and ideal for a lunch stop.
Try to get into Wellington a little early, without jeopardising safety and explore some of the attractions and sights of the capital city.
Morning in Wellington Then Picton in the South Island.
Take the morning to explore some more of the great views, art and other interesting features that Wellington has to offer.
Drive up to the top of Mt Victoria and take in the spectacular views of the city and find the various art sculptures scattered around the city
A trip up and down the Wellington Cable car is always a great ride. Check out the Cable Car Museum or the Wellington Botanical Gardens at the top, before descending and time permitting, research Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand.
Take the afternoon Cook straight ferry to Picton and be mesmerised by the Marlborough sounds and check out the quaint town of Picton.
Big drive today to Punakaiki
Total distance approx 330kms
Total drive time approx 4.75hrs
Head West young Man and Lady, as you make your way to the rugged west coast of the south island on your New Zealand itinerary for 2 weeks.
The first part of the journey is through the world famous Marlborough region know as the home of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. You will travel by vineyard after vineyard and many world-renown wineries.
An impressive drive, as it is a major detour due to an earthquake that happened in Kaikoura in November 2016. So please take extra care and time travelling this first part of today's journey.
Just outside of Murchison you will turn right onto a bridge and head for Punakaiki, today's final destination. You may want to visit Westport, an old coal mining town steeped in history.
A possible trip out to Cape Foulwind to visit the seal colony is an option as you head down the coast.
This part of the West Coast is one of my favourite drives, with the rugged coast and terrain eventually arriving at the Punakaiki lookout. Take time either today or in the t morning to view the blow holes and the incredible pancake rocks.
Overnight in Punakaiki and set off in the morning for Franz Josef and the Glacier.
Continue down the Coast to Franz Josef
Total distance approx 225kms
Total drive time approx 3 hrs
Keep the coast on you right as you make your way to Greymouth, an active coal mining area and known for the mighty Grey River. Greymouth is an ideal location, to use the supermarket to replenish the supplies, being the largest town on the West coast.
The next town to stop at is Hokitika, the home of New Zealand Jade, Greenstone or as the Maori people call it Pounamu. A very sacred stone to the indigenous people of this land and was the hardest substance know to them.
An approx two hour drive from Hokitika and you will arrive at your destination for tonight, Glacier Country, Franz Josef.
I love this town, be sure to go and visit the boys and girls at The Landing, tell them I sent you.
If the weather is fine, I recommend going straight to the Glacier and view the Franz Josef Glacier. The glacier is retreating so fast these days and one the best views is from the carpark. However, you can take one of the many hikes/walks in the area. Unfortunately, you will not be able to get to the terminal face. An awesome experience is to fly up and land on the glacier in a helicopter.
Queenstown Adventure Capital
Total distance approx 400 kms
Total drive time approx 5.25hrs
Fairly big day today as you make your way to the Central Otago region and the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown.
Once again my recommendation is to take the slightly longer route via Cromwell and Lake Dunstan. RBecause it is an easier drive than taking the crown range road which is the highest sealed pass in the country, especially if there is snow and ice around. However, the views from the crown range are stunning when all is said done. The choice is yours of course.
If going via Cromwell, the fruit bowl of the South Island, be sure to stop by Mrs Jones's for a magnificent selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.
As you head through the Kawerau Gorge and into Queenstown itself, you will again pass some wineries specialising in Pinot Noir. Be sure to stop in at the world famous "Bungy Bridge" and take a plunge.
There is so much to do here in Queenstown, so I think a three night stop is appropriate..
Queenstown is a very busy town year round. In the Winter it buzzes with the skiers and snowboarders, and in the summer the general tourists and adventure junkies come to play.
There is so much to see and do here, so check out some of my other posts on Queenstown.
Iconic Milford Sound
A visit to Milford or Doubtful sound is a must do.
I strongly recommend that you leave your vehicle at your accommodation and take a Milford Sound Cruise utilising one of the many operators who make day trips onto Milford Sound...
Due to the road, the distance and getting a better chance to enjoy this spectacular day, look seriously at doing this Great Sights Milford Sound Cruise.
Lakes Galore Head to Lake Tekapo
Total distance approx 260kms
Total drive time approx 3 hrs
Having tested your thrill seeking skills in Queenstown, it's time to slow down a little and take in some of New Zealand's most spectacular scenery.
Start by heading back via Cromwell and cross the bridge at Lake Dunstan to travel over the second highest pass, the Lindas Pass, to Omarama - Twizel and Lake Tekapo for the overnight stop.
Along the way stop at Lake Pukaki to view Mt Cook New Zealand's highest mountain. Unfortunately, Mt Cook is not the best of hosts, as it is only visible to about 30% of guests that visit the area. However, some great photos can still be taken from this location, even if hidden in the clouds.
Pick up some fresh Salmon for dinner at the salmon farm along the way before arriving at Lake Tekapo.
Total distance approx 230kms
Total drive time approx 3 hrs
Before leaving the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo, be sure to visit the stone Church of the Good Shepherd and the statue to the hard working sheep dog.
Today travel down off the high country and pass through some rural farming towns as you make your way to Christchurch.
Take a great photo stop at the top of Mt Michael , stop in at Geraldine and view the worlds largest jersey or have lunch. You may want to visit the port hills as you enter Christchurch.
Today is your last travelling day on this New Zealand Itinerary for 2 weeks and I'm sure you will be a little saddened to be leaving this unique part of the world behind.
So make a promise to yourselves to come back to see and experience those things that you missed this time around.
Tomorrow you may fly back to Auckland and then off home, or if you are going to Australia, you can fly direct from the Christchurch airport.
Kia Ora and safe travels.
NOW IT'S YOUR TIME TO COMMENT
Have you been to any of these places?
How was your experience?
Do you have any suggestions for this itinerary?
Please leave a comment below I would love to hear from you.