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Road Trip New Zealand in Two Weeks

Updated on June 16, 2016

New Zealand, a country with many different diverse environments, thousands of activities that will make time fly and easily some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Some may ask, whether or not someone could experience both Islands of New Zealand in only two weeks? After experiencing a two-week New Zealand road trip, I have decided to inform others how this can be achieved by sharing just how I experienced the best experience of my life.

A cloud covered Franz Josef Glacier (Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island)
A cloud covered Franz Josef Glacier (Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island)

The first step towards organizing this trip of a lifetime, or the first step towards organizing any trip overseas is to find out the activities you would like to experience. This is always my first step because I always gain some initial excitement and hype towards the trip. My best advice for finding activities is to go to https://www.tripadvisor.com.au and find the top attractions for New Zealand. Now as a 19-year old boy, I was attracted to the many different adrenaline based activities available, for example; Bungy Jumping or Zorbing, which are available to do right across the country. I also experienced many different locations that offered beautiful views of different landscapes and environments. A tip is to plan activities that are in different locations across both islands, because the activities will often take you to different cities or towns and because 'every corner is as beautiful as an image on a post card', the more driving and exploring, the better experience you will receive.

Once you have made a list of all the activities you would like to experience, make a list of all the sights you would like to see. New Zealand, has beautiful mountains, glaciers, caves beaches and forests that simply cannot be missed when seeing this country!

Bungy Jumping in the clouds off the Kawarau Bungry Bridge (South Island)
Bungy Jumping in the clouds off the Kawarau Bungry Bridge (South Island) | Source

The second step is to find the locations of every activity and sight you would like to experience. This will become the basis of an itinerary for a road trip. Once you have found the locations make them into a list, dividing the activities and sights between islands, to look something like this.

North Island

White Water Rafting (Kaituna, Rotorua)

South Island

Ziptrek Eco Tour (Bobs Peak, Queenstown)

Once you have the locations of the activities and sights organised into a list, enter the addresses into Google Maps. This will help you start an itinerary.

The third step is to organize all the activities and sights by location, so you can start to organize an itinerary. Personally, my starting point I decided early on was going to be in Auckland, which is at the top of the North Island. If you look at a map of New Zealand, you'll find that the country is long and thin. My plan was to start at the top of the country and then zig-zag to the bottom, completing a bucket-list of activities and sights to see along the way! Not all activities and sights are in the one place, meaning it is completely necessary to travel between activities and sights. I found that there is never much travel distances between destinations and always places to stop off along the way and I can guarantee you'll have the urge to get out of the car to take plenty of photos. Driving from the top of either Island's to the bottom can take only 13 hours, so there is no worry about spending the whole trip in the car, as driving time is varied, but often always short.

Once you have found the locations of all activities and sights and organised them starting from the top of the country to the bottom, you should have directed routes between locations and how long it will take to drive there and a general idea about what your trip is starting to look like.



A markerAuckland New Zealand -
Auckland, New Zealand
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From experience, I believe that this trip is best started in Auckland, as it has a fantastic city and an airport close by.

OK so you know what activities and sights you're seeing and you know where they are and how long it will take to drive between them. It's now time for step four which is often the most challenging step, which is finding accommodation. I personally was trying to keep the costs of the trip down to a minimum, so I chose to stay in Backpackers (Hostels) and cabins which New Zealand is filled with! Other choices of accommodation are hotels, lodges, houses, bed and breakfast's, camping, caravan parks, cabins or camper vans, the options in New Zealand are unlimited and there are always places to stay. My advice would be to stay close to the activities and sights, and close to cities or towns, which makes it easier to find places to eat and shop.

The fifth step is to find a car, or even better a camper van which can be used to travel between destinations. As a 19 year old, I found it impossible to find a camper-van to hire, because all car hire companies require the driver to be at least 21 years-old in most circumstances. After extensive research, I finally found a car hire company that accepted people under the age of 21 years to hire a vehicle, so I settled for a wagon instead of a camper van. The company I used was about New Zealand Rental Cars http://www.rentalcar.co.nz/ , who offered a quick and easy service, with excellent customer service. What also attracted me to this company is that they let you pick up at one location and drop it off at another, as they have drop off locations all across the country, I was able to drive from one end of the North Island to the other, and leave it at the other side of the country with no issues at all.

The sixth step is to find flights! I always use Sky Scanner to find the cheapest flights, no matter where I go! https://www.skyscanner.com.au/

The seventh step, and the final step is to save money and go for it! There are many different ways you can save money for a trip. My best tip is to find out how much accommodation, flights and activities are all going to cost, then make that a goal to save for! I then calculate the rough costs for food and also petrol. Now I'm from Australia, so I found the cost for petrol in New Zealand to be quite high compared to where I'm from, it cost generally around $1.50-60 per liter, so I allocated roughly $300, but I may have spent more than that on the trip.

A waterfall in the Franz Josef Glacier valley (Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island)
A waterfall in the Franz Josef Glacier valley (Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island)

Here's a rough itinerary of how I spent two weeks exploring New Zealand and some comments and recommendations about the activities I did and the sights I saw!

Day 1 -
Catch a flight to Auckland, get the rental car, check out the city.


Day 2 -
Go to Auckland zoo, the biggest zoo in New Zealand!
This zoo is seriously impressive, a huge range of different animals and a chance to see a Kiwi. http://www.aucklandzoo.co.nz Costing kids $10 and parents $22



A giraffe at the extremely green Auckland zoo (Auckland, North Island)
A giraffe at the extremely green Auckland zoo (Auckland, North Island)

Day 3 -
Check out the city more, I played a round of mini golf, that had an awesome Lost in Time theme http://www.lilliputt.co.nz/lost-in-time/ costing $15 for adults and $12 for children. Visit the Auckland Skytower, this is an absolute must, a 328m tower that provides views of the whole city https://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/attractions/sky-tower/ costing $28 for adults and $11 for children, with children under 5 able to go for free.

Views of the lit city at night from the Sky Tower (Auckland, North Island)
Views of the lit city at night from the Sky Tower (Auckland, North Island)

Day 4 -

Drive to Matamata and check out Hobbiton. For any Lord of the Rings fan this is an absolute must, the most authentic LOTR experience you can get in NZ, even if you haven't seen LOTR I recommend going. Seeing the hobbit holes and finding out information about how the filmed the film was incredible. http://www.hobbitontours.com/ costing $80 for an adult and $40 for a child.

Finish off the day by making the short drive to Rotorua, and do some Zorbing! Zorbing was a great experience, it isn't a complete adrenaline rush like I thought it would be, but it is great fun and an excellent activity to do with kids. http://www.ogo.co.nz/ costing $99 for three rides.

A hobbiton hole from the Hobbiton tour (Matamata, North Island)
A hobbiton hole from the Hobbiton tour (Matamata, North Island)
The Zorbing track! (Rotorua, North Island)
The Zorbing track! (Rotorua, North Island)

Day 5 -

Go white water rafting in Rotorua. White water rafting through the rough Kaitunu River, was an insane experience and a complete adrenaline rush! Tours provide helpful and safety conscious guides that also pick you up before the trip, and drop you home after. http://www.riverrats.co.nz/ $105 per person.

Spend the rest of the day, exploring the Rotorua town. The geo-thermal town has lots of bubbling mud pool and natural hot springs.

The Kaituna River, a waterfall that you actually get to go over when white water rafting (Rotorua, North Island)
The Kaituna River, a waterfall that you actually get to go over when white water rafting (Rotorua, North Island)

Day 6 -
Get the Sklyine Gondola, and have a ride on the Skyline Luge. This is great fun, especially for kids. Almost like go-karts you go down the mountain on a fast paced track, whizzing around corners and other people. Costing $49 for an adult and $39 for a child, including the Gondola ride and 3 Luge rides https://www.skyline.co.nz/rotorua/

The Skyline Luge track with an amazing view (Rotorua, North Island)
The Skyline Luge track with an amazing view (Rotorua, North Island)

Day 7 -

Drive to Waitomo and do the black water rafting! A great experience, where you hop into rubber tubes and go through dark and mysterious limestone caves, where you get to see glow worms. http://www.waitomo.com/black-water-rafting $135

Inside the lime stone caves (Waitomo, North Island)
Inside the lime stone caves (Waitomo, North Island)

Day 8 -
Drive to the Tongariro National Park, and hike the Tongariro crossing! This was an excellent experience, and a great day out to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in NZ! Great for any LOTR fans as you can walk besides Mt Doom and look upon Mordoor. Guided hikes are available, In the summer I don't think it's necessary to be guided to complete the crossing, but i winter when the mountain is covered by snow you will need the equipment and experience to do the hike by yourself. http://www.adriftnz.co.nz/ Costing $255 for a guided hike

A snow covered Mt Doom (Tongariro National Park, North Island)
A snow covered Mt Doom (Tongariro National Park, North Island)

Day 9 -

Ski or Snowboard the Turoa Ski area on the western slopes of Mt Ruapehu. This can only obviously be done in the winter, but the mountains are a great day out and learning Skiing or Snowboarding is a fun experience.

Day 10 -
I loved Snowboarding so much, that I decided I'd like spend another day doing it, this time I wanted to try a different mountain so I went to the the Whakapapa Ski Area on the north-western slopes of Mt Ruapehu. If it's summer and you're not able to ski, I would recommend making the drive to Wellington, and spend a couple days checking out the vibrant city.

The Ski slopes at the Turoa Ski Area (Mt Ruapehu, North Island)
The Ski slopes at the Turoa Ski Area (Mt Ruapehu, North Island)

Day 11 -

Make the drive to Wellington and check out the city, and visit the Weta Workshop. An absolute must for any LOTR fan! See first hand how and where they made all the props and costumes for the movie, and a few other movies also. http://wetaworkshop.com/ costing $25

Trolls at the Weta Workshop (Wellington, North Island)
Trolls at the Weta Workshop (Wellington, North Island)

Day 12-

Get a flight to Queenstown and spend the rest of the day exploring the city. Arguably this is where the 'road trip' would end. I chose to spend the remaining days in Queenstown as the South Island had long travel distances to some of the more exclusive sights to see and Queenstown has a vibrate city, many of adrenaline filled activities and beautiful views which you could spend month preoccupied with.

Day 13 -

Get a the Skyline Gondola to Bobs Peak and do the Ziptrek Eco-Tour! Zip-lining to see incredible sights of the city and the surrounds of the lake and mountains. This was a great, fun, adrenaline filled experience that I couldn't recommend more. http://www.ziptrek.co.nz/ costing $109
Spend the rest of the day doing some more rounds of the Luge. Queenstown like Rotorua has a Luge track, which is entirely different, and just as fun.

The view from the trees, doing the Ziptrek Eco-Tour (Queenstown, South Island)
The view from the trees, doing the Ziptrek Eco-Tour (Queenstown, South Island)

Day 14 -

Go Jet Boating through the Shotover Canyon. This is great fun, plus you get to see some incredible views. http://www.shotoverjet.com costing $135
Spend the other half of the day Bungee jumping! This experience may not be for everyone, but it is absolutely insane and one of the best experiences I had during the trip, an adrenaline rush that can be matched by nothing else. http://www.bungy.co.nz/ costing $195 for an adult and $145 for a child

The Shotover Canyon (Queenstown, South Island)
The Shotover Canyon (Queenstown, South Island)

Day 15 -
Make the lengthy drive to the Franz Josef Glacier and take a Valley Hike Tour. This was well worth the drive. The Valley is beautiful and you get to see the end of the glacier, that is quickly diminishing so get there quickly! http://www.franzjosefglacier.com/ costing $75 for an adult and $65 for a child

Franz Josef Glacier (South Island)
Franz Josef Glacier (South Island)

So there you have it, a complete itinerary! I know the Itinerary may not suit everyone of all ages, but if you are young, fun and wanting to go to New Zealand in Winter, then this trip is an absolute must. Some final recommendations are, get a Fergburger in Queestown and do not, whatever you do, stay in one place! This country is aching to be explored, and there's so much to see, this country needs to be road tripped, it's an absolute must!

show route and directions
A markerAuckland -
Auckland, New Zealand
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B markerMatamata -
Matamata, New Zealand
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C markerRotorua -
Rotorua, New Zealand
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D markerWaitomo -
Waitomo, New Zealand
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E markerTaupo -
Taupo, New Zealand
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F markerWellington -
Wellington, New Zealand
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G markerQueenstown -
Queenstown, New Zealand
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H markerFranz Josef Glacier -
Franz Josef Glacier 7886, New Zealand
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