Whether you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush by going bungee jumping, have a taste for exotic food like a traditional Maori hangi, or crave an escape to a place of isolation with wide-open spaces, New Zealand is waiting for you to discover all that it has to offer.
Trippy user Jacey knew there’s so much to do and see in New Zealand, and she sought help from other travelers in the community. She asked:
My husband and I are planning to visit New Zealand in February for two weeks but are having a hard time determining what we should do and what we can do in that time. We are open to relaxing, adventure, city-life-just maybe not camping! If anyone has a few tips or a basic itinerary, I would love to hear it!
Here’s how you can spend two weeks in New Zealand as suggested by Trippy users:
David from Sydney suggested starting in North Island. He wrote:
The two main islands of New Zealand are quite different in scenery – the North is more populated, with miles and miles of green rolling hills. The South Island is spectacular – snow-capped mountains and rugged coastline.
My tips are North Island: Auckland, Bay Of Islands, Napier(if you’re into art-deco architecture), Matamata(if you’re a Tolkien fan). South: Queenstown, West Coast New Zealand.
Auckland and to Rotorua (North Island)
Start your trip in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. And end your trip in Christchurch, South Island. Stay two nights in Auckland. Auckland has it all, but here are eight things we recommend:
- Visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland Domain
- Stroll along the waterfront, Queen Street and High Street
- Skywalk and Skyjump on the Sky Tower
- Take the Auckland Harbour Cruise
- Get a short ferry ride to Devonport, a historic seaside village. Hike up to Mount Victoria to see views of Auckland
- Visit Mount Eden Village and hike up Mount Eden
- Have an ice cream or fish and chips on Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay
- Explore Waiheke Island
Trippy user Breana said:
I would start in Auckland because it’s the most populated and it’s very easy to get around from here. The bus is a very affordable option and also comforting with the very windy streets. It’s a very metropolitan place so easy to wander around and go to museums and down to the pier.
Rotorua has something for everyone. It smells like sulfur, but once you get over that, it’s beautiful. The Polynesian Spa in Rotorua has a lot of hot springs which this area is known for. You can get a massage and hang out in the pools for as long as you want. There is also the highest commercially used waterfall in the world in Rotorua that you can white water raft. Tongariro Crossing is an excellent day hike.
After Auckland, head over to Rotorua, the famous geothermal region of New Zealand. You need two days to discover the colorful and bubbling sulfur pools, hang out in one of the thermal pools and attend a Maori cultural performance and eat Maori hangi in a historic Maori marae (Maori village).
Trippy user Sue suggested a visit to Waitomo Caves while in Rotorua:
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are also interesting to see. I think you’ll be amazed by all of the diversity you’ll see in a small country like New Zealand!
Natasha and Jared agreed:
Drove from Auckland to Waitomo Caves Rd to see the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Absolutely breathtaking experience. Start early, so we were finished with the caves tour by evening and then drove onto Rotorua. Rotorua (2 nights 2.5 days) Polynesian Spa (hot pools, mineral springs, highly recommended), the Maori cultural experience with Te Puia, and seeing the Pohutu St were the highlights.
Caving at Waitomo is an amazing experience for those that love underground adventures! Check out my post about Cave-tubing by the light of glow worms! It’s the activity I remember feeling the most adrenalin pumping while in NZ. Highly recommend!
Go inside Waitomo Caves on a boat and discover the subterranean neon world of caverns, grottos, and the native New Zealand glowworms. Waitomo is a limestone cave system formed millions of years ago. Those who are more adventurous may want to go blackwater rafting in the cave.
Here’s Aroha, a native’s opinion on Rotorua and the surrounding areas:
Rotorua is the Maori cultural hub of NZ, lots of great cultural tours; some offer a traditional Maori hangi, food is cooked in the ground. “Tamaki Maori Village,” also some great adventures to be had, the Zorb, the Luge, White water rafting, caving: Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Also, some lovely geothermal areas, such as Waimangu thermal springs, and natural hot springs, the Polynesian spa is lovely.
Patrick, a Rotorua resident, said:
I would then inland to visit my hometown Rotorua and check out the many attractions to get your adrenalin fix at Agroventures, ZORB® Rotorua, or Ogo, Skyline Rotorua. Visit the kiwis Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park. Of you really want to get the full-fledged Kiwi Experience, try Off-Road NZ… challenge your husband to a race! Take a scenic flight to White Island Volcanic Air Safaris; I promise you will ever forget it!, get to know the locals Te Puia or Tamaki Maori Village or Mitai Maori Village. I would stay Regent of Rotorua Boutique Hotel & Spa or Black Swan or if your wallet allows Treetops Luxury Lodge Rotoruaor Solitaire Lodge. Go Rafting! Brave the largest commercially operated waterfall in the world; it will make you feel as if you conquered the world!!
You would need at least two nights to explore Rotorua and Waitomo Caves. I suggest three nights, giving you enough time to get to Hobbiton, the Lord of the Rings movie sets in Matamata, about 40 miles from Rotorua. Visitors are taken on a guided tour of the movie sets to discover the Hobbit holes, gardens, bridge, and mill and sample Hobbit Ale at Green Dragon Inn. It’s a fun place to be even if you’re not a fan of Lord of the Rings.
Take a day and visit Taupo… On the way there, you should definitely try “The Squeeze” and visit Huka Falls. Skydive Taupo and admire both coasts and the volcanoes of Ruapehu. In Taupo, there is Huka Lodge Taupo and Hilton Lake Taupo. On a lighter note, check out the. McDonald’s it was voted the best MacDonald’s in the World!!!
Nelson, Marlborough and Franz Josef Glacier (South Island)
I still can’t decide what the highlights of the South Island are because wherever you go, it’s just beautiful. I particularly liked Abel Tasman National Park, where I booked a fantastic Kayak tour. The area looks like paradise, and you can also hike along the coast and see some secret beaches. I also liked the two glaciers (Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier), and if you have enough money, I can totally recommend a heli hike on Franz Josef Glacier. I’m not a fan of Queenstown, but the Ben Lomond Track is a day walk with the best views ever. The road from the glaciers to Queenstown is impressive, by the way!
Breanna had similar thoughts:
In South Island, you can take a wine tour in Nelson and then head to Abel Tasman National Park the next day. This is another hike, and it’s GORGEOUS. Franz Josef glacier is also a beautiful hike. It’s amazing to see all of these climates so close together. I would round out with Queenstown, which is a smaller city with a lot of cute restaurants and also thrills such as bungee jumping and skydiving. And lastly, Milford Sound for more beautiful scenery. I hope this helps start the planning!
Located in the northern part of South Island, Nelson Tasman and Marlborough offer an array of activities. You can relax at the golden sand beaches, hike in lush green sub-tropical rainforest, visit wineries, check out the boutique breweries and eat the freshest seafood in the world.
The Abel Tasman National Park is the most visited national park in New Zealand, with a beautiful coastline, rich in marine wildlife, and suitable for kayaking, hiking, and boating. You can also go for tandem skydiving in the sunniest region in New Zealand.
Fans of Sauvignon Blanc should not miss wine tasting tours in Marlborough. Marlborough produces the famed New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. You can visit over 100 wineries, and at least 40 of these wineries offer tastings and lunch.
From Nelson, proceed onto the west coast towards Franz Josef Glacier. You’ll find primitive rainforest, green pastures and lush green landscape as this is the wettest region in New Zealand. Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are the most popular attractions in this region. Go on a full-day guided glacier hike or go on a heli hike on a helicopter with an experienced guide.
Queenstown and Wanaka
Trippy user Jason recommended these activities in Queenstown:
Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of the World. So many activities. So sad leaving here even after you have done as many as you can. We did all 3:
AJ Hackett Bungies, Kawarau Bridge Bungy – AJ Hackett Bungy, The Ledge Bungy, and of course, Nevis River.
Grab a Burger at Fergburger. Everyone hyped this Burger before we arrived and it. Still exceeded the expectations.
The Luge at the top of the Skyline Gondola Restaurant and Luge. At first, this seems like a Children’activity…Do not be fooled. A gravity Go-Kart that will bring out the competitive spirit in absolutely anyone.
Make sure you join a tour with “Spirit of Queenstown”, a catamaran that offers a scenic cruise and brings you to Mt Nicholas High County Farm. That’s the only way to get to this farm with over 30,000 sheep. The TSS Earnslaw offers a 90-minute cruise on Lake Wakatipu with lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner.
Take a day trip to Milford Sound, and Te Anau as Natasha suggested:
We also went to Milford Sound in Fiordland on a day trip cruise with Intercity. They took us to places like Te Anau on the way for short treks, and I enjoyed the trip with them. It’s recommended to spend the night on an overnight cruise, but we did not do that because of poor weather.
While in Queenstown, I suggest going to Wanaka, the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. This remote wilderness is a paradise for those who want a quiet place to hike and enjoy nature. It is also home to 400 species of moths and butterflies, 59 species of birds, and houses many of the Lord of the Rings filming locations.
Before heading home, stop at Christchurch, the Garden City of New Zealand. Christchurch is still rebuilding after the February 22, 2011 earthquake. Chiara from San Francisco shared her experiences in Christchurch. She wrote:
From Christchurch, we made our way southeast to Akaroa because we read that there were dolphins in that area. We stayed in a little village in Onuku Farm. The price is $14 per person per night with a van. They have amenities, and they offer excursions. We chose to go kayaking with dolphins for $30. Amazing experience.
You may want to check out the art galleries at Little River, wineries and cheese factories on your way to Akaroa.
Wondering how to get around when in New Zealand?
A Trippy user had that question. He wrote:
What is the best way to travel in and around New Zealand? Both in and out of the cities. I am going in January for four weeks and want to experience and much as possible. Should we rent a car or take the train? Is there good transit in the major cities? I will be splitting my four weeks between the North and the South (2 weeks each).
Rory from Taupo New Zealand said:
The best way to see and experience New Zealand is by doing a road trip. It’s a Kiwi right of passage. Whether you hire a car and stay in motels/hotels, or hire a campervan (like lots of tourists do) is up to you and your budget. Just be aware that a few of the smaller roads, especially in the South Island, aren’t good for campervans (your campervan company will tell you which ones). Don’t bother with trains, as they’re slow and don’t go to many of the places you need to visit. To get from Wellington (North Island) to Picton (South Island), take the Interislander car ferry. It’s one of the most spectacular arrivals you’ll experience (the Marlborough Sounds are amazing). Think islands and dolphins jumping off the bow.