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New Zealand road trip itinerary

Our recommended itineraries, including the must-see sites, stays and activities across New Zealand's North and South Islands.

We’ve got three hand-curated New Zealand road trip itineraries ranging from one to two weeks for the ultimate New Zealand holiday.

From mountains to the coast, skydiving to kayaking and wine tasting to movie locations, these itineraries pack it all into easy-to-navigate trips for first-timers in New Zealand.

Find your ride to take on New Zealand

Searching for trips of just the North or South Island?

Recommended New Zealand itineraries based on length

1-week New Zealand itinerary: Auckland to Milford Sound

Itinerary overview

    • Distance: 2,258km
    • Highlights and attractions: Hobbiton Movie Set, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, Queenstown, Milford Sound
    • Landscape: Mountains, glaciers, coastal, lakes
    • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized/sedan (recommended for winter)

Day Itinerary
Day 1

Distance: 228km

Approx. drive time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

Auckland to Rotorua
Day 2

Distance: 82km

Approx. drive time: 1 hour

Rotorua to Taupo
Day 3

Distance: 371km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours and 40 minutes

Taupo to Wellington
Day 4

Distance: 431km

Approx. drive time: 7 hours and 50 minutes (includes 3-hour ferry from North to South Island)

Wellington to Punakaiki
Day 5

Distance: 503km

Approx. drive time: 6.5 hours

Punakaiki to Wanaka
Day 6

Distance: 68km

Approx. drive time: 1 hour

Wanaka to Queenstown
Day 7

Distance: 575km

Approx. drive time: 7.5 hours (if driving yourself)

Milford Sound

Accommodation recommendations

Wellington: Travelodge Hotel Wellington
Wellington: Travelodge Hotel Wellington

finder.com.au Hotels

Wanaka: Bella Vista Motel Lake Wanaka
Wanaka: Bella Vista Motel Lake Wanaka

finder.com.au Hotels

Queenstown: DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown
Queenstown: DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown

finder.com.au Hotels


10-day New Zealand itinerary: Auckland to Milford Sound

Itinerary overview

  • Distance: 2,418km
  • Highlights and attractions: Bay of Islands, Hobbiton Movie Set, Mount Cook, Franz Josef Glacier, Milford Sound
  • Landscape: Islands, coastal, mountains, glaciers, lakes
  • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized/sedan (recommended for winter)

Day Itinerary
Day 1

Distance: 455km

Approx. drive time: 6 hours

Auckland
Day 2

Distance: 250km

Approx. drive time: 2.5 hours

Auckland to Rotorua
Day 3

Distance: 82km

Approx. drive time: 1 hour

Rotorua to Taupo
Day 4

Distance: 141km

Approx. drive time: 2 hours

Taupo to Napier
Day 5

Distance: 321km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours

Napier to Wellington
Day 6

Distance: 439km

Approx. drive time: 8 hours and 15 minutes

Wellington to Christchurch
Day 7

Distance: 380km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours and 50 minutes

Christchurch to Franz Josef
Day 8

Distance: 350km

Approx. drive time: 4 hours and 40 minutes

Franz Josef to Queenstown
Day 9

Distance: 0km

Approx. drive time: 0

Queenstown
Day 10

Distance: 575km

Approx. drive time: 7.5 hours (if driving yourself)

Queenstown to Milford Sound

Accommodation recommendations

Wellington: Travelodge Hotel Wellington
Wellington: Travelodge Hotel Wellington

finder.com.au Hotels

Queenstown: DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown
Queenstown: DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown

finder.com.au Hotels

Napier: Pebble Beach Motor Inn
Napier: Pebble Beach Motor Inn

finder.com.au Hotels

Christchurch: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch
Christchurch: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

finder.com.au Hotels

Franz Josef: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

finder.com.au Hotels


2-week New Zealand itinerary

Itinerary overview

  • Distance: 2,814km
  • Highlights and attractions: Coromandel Peninsula, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Hobbiton Movie Set, Tongariro National Park, Abel Tasman National Park, Franz Josef Glacier, Queenstown, Milford Sound
  • Landscape: Coastal, mountains, lakes, glaciers, islands
  • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized/sedan (recommended for winter)

Day Itinerary
Day 1

Distance: 168km

Approx. drive time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Auckland to Hahei

Day 2

Distance: 237km

Approx. drive time: 2.5 hours

Hahei to Waitomo

Day 3

Distance: 178km

Approx. drive time: 2.5 hours

Waitomo to Rotorua

Day 4

Distance: 88km

Approx. drive time: 1 hour

Rotorua to Taupo

Day 5

Distance: 60km (if not taking the shuttle)

Approx. drive time: 50 minutes

Taupo (Tongariro National Park)

Day 6

Distance: 331km (372km from Taupo)

Approx. drive time: 4 hours (4 hours and 45 minutes from Taupo)

Tongariro National Park (Taupo) to Wellington

Day 7

Distance: 210km

Approx. drive time: 5 hours and 20 minutes

Wellington to Nelson

Day 8

Distance: 131km

Approx. drive time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Nelson (Abel Tasman National Park)

Day 9

Distance: 265km

Approx. drive time: 3.5 hours

Nelson to Punakaiki

Day 10

Distance: 217km

Approx. drive time: 2 hours and 50 minutes

Punakaiki to Franz Josef

Day 11

Distance: 286km

Approx. drive time: 3 hours and 40 minutes

Franz Josef to Wanaka

Days 12 and 13

Distance: 68km

Approx. drive time: 1 hour

Wanaka to Queenstown

Day 14

Distance: 575km (if not doing the tour)

Approx. drive time: 7.5 hours

Milford Sound

Accommodation recommendations

Wellington: Travelodge Hotel Wellington
Wellington: Travelodge Hotel Wellington

finder.com.au Hotels

Wanaka: Bella Vista Motel Lake Wanaka
Wanaka: Bella Vista Motel Lake Wanaka

finder.com.au Hotels

Queenstown: DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown
Queenstown: DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown

finder.com.au Hotels

Franz Josef: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

finder.com.au Hotels

Coromandel: Coromandel Top 10 Holiday Park
Coromandel: Coromandel Top 10 Holiday Park

finder.com.au Hotels

Waitomo: Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park
Waitomo: Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park

finder.com.au Hotels

Tongariro: Chateau Tongariro Hotel
Tongariro: Chateau Tongariro Hotel

finder.com.au Hotels

Nelson: Trailways Hotel Nelson
Nelson: Trailways Hotel Nelson

finder.com.au Hotels


Need a car? Book a ride now

New Zealand overview

  • Weather: Weather varies across the two islands with the north of the North Island experiencing a subtropical climate and the South Island having proper winters that reach as cold as -10°C inland. Most of the population and sites are along the coasts which means that temperatures are mild (15°C average for the North Island and 9°C for the South Island). There is a lot of sunshine and moderate rainfall.
  • Best time to visit: Opt to travel around New Zealand during summer. (December to February) for sightseeing as the weather is warm.
  • Recommended vehicle type: Economy or mid-sized/sedan (recommended for winter)

Car hire deals in New Zealand

Europcar Europcar

15% off car hire

Valid for rentals until 21 July 2019 at participating locations across Australia and New Zealand. Minimum of 5 days rental. T&Cs apply.

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Campervan hire from $5/day

Available on select routes, dates and locations in Australia and New Zealand.

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Up to 20% off New Zealand car hire

Valid until 31 March 2019. Minimum of 3 days rental. T&Cs apply.

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EasyRentCars.com EasyRentCars.com

Up to 50% off car hire

Valid for rentals on select dates depending on the destination. Destinations include Thailand, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, UK, USA, Canada and more. T&Cs apply.

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Europcar Europcar

10% off New Zealand car hire

Valid until 1 August 2019. Minimum of 3 days rental. T&Cs apply.

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Europcar Europcar

Up to 20% off car hire

Valid for rentals until 1 August 2019 at participating locations across Australia and New Zealand. Minimum of 2 days rental and must be booked 21 days prior vehicle pick up. T&Cs apply.

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25% off premium hire insurance

Get up to 25% off on your car rental when you purchase GoZen Cover. Valid at participating locations across Australia and New Zealand. T&C's apply.

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Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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