Posted on 09/25/2019
One week isn’t really enough time to properly enjoy New Zealand, particularly if you’re coming all the way from North America. Nine days allows just enough time to cover the essentials, for which we recommend the following itinerary. Spend a couple of nights in Auckland, where the relaxed pace of life and perfect blend of indoor and outdoor activities give you time to shake off any jetlag. Then head to the bubbling mud pits and spouting geysers of Rotorua. Again, this is a two night stop. Explore Te Whakarewarewa thermal reserve, Te Puia Rotorua, or even the Agrodome for a sheep herding demonstration. One evening should be dedicated to taking in a traditional Maori concert and hangi feast before moving on to Queenstown. Take it from personal experience, two nights here is not enough! Schedule three or four. A day trip to Milford Sound is a must, but it will eat up an entire day, so allow at least one more for getting the most out of New Zealand’s adrenaline capital. Consider jetboating, zip-lining, a scenic helicopter ride, boating, or simply enjoying the mountain landscape. Round off the trip with at least one night in Christchurch. This rejuvenated city is now home to an exciting mix of small bars, restaurants, shops, and cafes, ever-changing art installations, and long-standing highlights such as the Canterbury Museum and International Antarctic Centre. However, Two Perfect Weeks in New Zealand. With two weeks in New Zealand, add two nights in wonderful Wellington after Rotorua. Allow some time to explore the fantastic Te Papa Tongerewa Museum of New Zealand, consider a visit to Hobbiton, or take a trip along the Seal Coast to meet some of the region’s cutest inhabitants. Then fly to Queenstown as per the one week plan, but extend the South Island adventure with two nights in Glacier Country, choosing between Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Franz Josef is better developed, with an established tour route (visitors are still required to book a guided heli-tour) plus more accommodation, dining, and sightseeing options in town. Fox is a touch on the wilder side, so tour routes can change according to conditions. It’s also the only accessible glacier in New Zealand with views of Mounts Cook and Tasman. One might recommend Franz Josef to families and those in search of creature comforts, while Fox is more suited to active nature lovers with a sense of adventure. Either is a great choice, however, as the two glaciers are evenly matched for natural ‘wow factor.’ From here, it’s a relatively quick trip back to Christchurch, though consider booking a KiwiRail Scenic Journey to really bring the Southern Alps to life.