10-day New Zealand itinerary
Enjoy Auckland's beautiful harbour, Rotorua's geysers and hot pools and Wellington, our creative capital city. Hop over to the South Island for Nelson, the Abel Tasman National Park beaches, the Southern Alps and Christchurch. Finish your journey at Queenstown, the home of adventure.
New Zealand itinerary for 10 days of sightseeing
Fly between North Island destinations
Fly between South Island destinations
North Island itinerary ideas
The landscapes of New Zealand's North Island are famous for their incredible contrasts and beauty. Check out some of our best recommendations.
Visit six New Zealand cities in 10 days
Book an Air New Zealand return airfare to Auckland, then catch domestic flights around the country to enjoy beautiful landscapes and thrilling activities.10 days
Starting in the North Island, spend a full day in Auckland. It's New Zealand's biggest city and totally stunning. It's framed by harbours and dotted with ancient volcanic cones. Auckland is the fast-beating heart of a beautiful region, where things to see and do are within easy reach.
Day 1: Things to see and do in Auckland
- Dubbed 'the city of sails', getting out on the water in Auckland is a great way to view its layout. Take a trip to the historic seaside village of Devonport by ferry. Walk to the top of Mt Victoria or North Head, two of Auckland's extinct volcanic cones.
- The Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter are at the heart of Auckland's sailing action. Soak up the atmosphere at a waterfront restaurant. Or sail the harbour aboard an America's Cup yacht. Watch for whales and dolphins from a luxury catamaran. Discover New Zealand's maritime history with a harbour tour on a historic sailing boat from the Maritime Museum New Zealand.
- Escape to one of Auckland's nearby islands. A short ferry ride can take you to Rangitoto Island. Hike to the summit for an incredible 360° panorama of the Hauraki Gulf and city. Tiritiri Matangi Island is one of the world's most successful conservation projects. In this wildlife sanctuary you can see native New Zealand birds living free and naturally. The island is home for the famous kiwi, as well as takahē, tui, bellbirds, fantails, and many others. Waiheke, the 'island of wine', has dozens of boutique wineries and is only a 40-minute ferry trip from Auckland.
- Back ashore, check out the views from the iconic Sky Tower. Step outside and walk around the tower from the outside – 192-metres above ground. If there's time, head to the Auckland Harbour Bridge for New Zealand's only bridge climb.
- New Zealand is famous for producing blockbuster films like Avatar, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. Book a tour at Weta Workshop Unleashed in the Skycity entertainment precinct where a guide will take you behind the scenes of fantasy, sci-fi and horror movie making. See how film special effects are made with interactive exhibits including the chance to try your hand at an alien autopsy.
- Many young Kiwis dream of being an All Black. Located in the Skycity entertainment precinct, the All Blacks Experience is an insightful tour that shows you what it takes to become an All Black. Developed with the help of many of New Zealand's rugby greats, it's a spine-tingling experience.
- Auckland's thriving arts scene offers plenty of opportunity to linger, browse and buy. In the central city, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is a blend of modern and heritage architecture. Be sure to set aside some time to admire the world's most extensive collection of Māori taonga at Auckland Museum.
- Don't forget to eat! Auckland's innovative restaurants serve the best of modern New Zealand cuisine. You'll find outstanding eating precincts throughout the city, each with a special appeal. Britomart shopping centre is home to excellent restaurants and cafés with a relaxed outdoor setting. Commercial Bay, Auckland's newest centre, lets you eat with views of the Waitemata and Viaduct Harbours. Dine at one of Wynyard Quarter's many restaurants a front-row seat to magnificent superyachts and sailing action.
Rotorua sits at the heart of the North Island's volcanic zone. Its geothermal landscape is dotted with boiling mud pools, geysers and steaming craters. It's also a major centre for Māori culture, with both traditional and modern attractions. With so many tours on offer, it's easy to get around without a rental car.
Day 2 and Day 3: Things to see and do in Rotorua
- The huge geothermal valley of Te Puia is a great starting point. See its boiling mud pools and Pohutu, the biggest geyser in the southern hemisphere. Visit the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and see wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving.
- The Whakarewarewa Redwood forest is a great place for mountain biking. It has 130km of trails, fantastic for every skill level. For world-class downhill mountain biking, try Skyline Rotorua. You can take the Skyline gondola back up the hill at the end of each run.
- Or try different kinds of adventures. Fly through the forest on a zipline with Rotorua Canopy Tours. Conquer a 7-metre waterfall on a Kaitiaki Adventures white water rafting trip. Walk across 28 suspension bridges high above the ground on a Redwoods Treewalk or Nightlights Tour. They're all linked to conservation projects and have won awards for sustainability.
- To see conservation in action, take a behind-the-scenes tour of Rainbow Springs Nature Park, an ecotourism must-see. Conservationists are helping NZ's famous endangered kiwi with its egg hatchery. They help kiwi chicks hatch, then care for them until they're ready for the wild.
- On day 3, try Rotorua's exciting family activities. Skyline Rotorua Gondola gives you stunning views of the city, its lake and its surrounds. From the top, the kids (and parents) can luge down. It's like a road toboggan, with three different options and over 5km of tracks. One ride is never enough. Kids will also love Velocity Valley, an 'extreme theme park' with crazy rides. Or take a guided family kayak tour, or a farm tour at Rotorua Heritage Farm.
- After a day of adventure, relax in naturally-heated hot pools and mud baths. The lakeside Polynesian Spa has hot mineral bathing and spa therapies. Or jet-boat across Lake Rotoiti to Manupirua Hot Springs, accessible only by boat.
A short flight from Rotorua brings you to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. This compact city is packed with character, culture, shops, and creative eateries. You could spend days exploring and . Most attractions are just a short walk away. If not, taxis and public transport can take you to any attraction in minutes.
Day 4: Things to see and do in Wellington
- Wellington is New Zealand's culinary capital, thanks to its coffee, craft beers and dining. Start your day with coffee at a chic inner-city café. Enjoy lunch with a view at a dining spot overlooking the water. For dinner, try a boutique bar or an award-winning restaurant.
- Check out the national museum, Te Papa. It brings exhibits to life through interactivity and creativity. Then take a short walk along the waterfront to Oriental Bay, an inner-city golden-sand beach. Look for the typographical sculptures of the Writers' Walk on the way.
- If you're a movie fan, book in a tour of Weta Workshop. It's an easy, short bus-ride away in Miramar. This is the movie effects studio responsible for Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, Avatar and more. On the tour you'll see a couple of film creatives at work.
- A trip on the historic red cable car takes you from the central city to the Botanic Gardens. From there take a 30-minute walk or a quick shuttle ride to Zealandia. It's the world's first fully-fenced urban eco-sanctuary. Set around a picturesque reservoir, it's full of rare and extraordinary native birds, including tui, kaka, kererū, tieke, hihi and kiwi. You could even see a tuatara, a unique reptile from the time of the dinosaurs.
- Wellington's compact CBD makes for easy shopping. Find the perfect gift, or shop for yourself in its cool fashion stores.
South Island itinerary ideas
The South Island is full of dramatically beautiful, Instagram-ready landscapes. Here are some of our must-see itinerary ideas to inspire you.
Getting to Nelson from Wellington couldn't be easier on a super-scenic flight. Beautiful beaches, the Abel Tasman National Park, arts and vineyards all make this region special. What's more, Nelson is the sunniest town in New Zealand.
Things to see and do in Nelson
- Nelson is all about art. Explore the creative and heritage precinct, then stroll through Queen's Gardens. For a more challenging hike, climb to the Centre of New Zealand monument on Botanical Hill. The views across the city and Tasman Bay are worth every step.
- Take in Nelson's CBD, and visit the Suter Art Gallery, the Provincial Museum and Founders Heritage Park. Just out of town go gaga at the crazily-creative National World of Wearable Art. It's a museum where art fits the human form. You can also see more than 140 veteran, vintage and classic cars.
- Nelson's wonderful climate helps produce sensational wine, cider, beer, and artisan foods. Why not get on your bike to discover the Great Taste Trail? Bike to craft breweries, cellar doors, food producers and much-loved restaurants. Local bike hire operators are ready to help with maps and ideas for a magical trip.
- If you're in Nelson on Saturday, you're in luck. The Nelson Market will be on, with hand-made clothes, trinkets, artworks and organic produce. Many say it's the best arts, crafts and produce market in New Zealand.
- Kaiteriteri is the launching point for Abel Tasman National Park boat cruises. It's just an hour's drive from Nelson. Relax on the golden-sand beaches, or swim in the stunning turquoise waters. See even more on a kayak day trip with Wilson's Abel Tasman.
The flight from Nelson to Christchurch is a highlight in itself. You can marvel at the massive Southern Alps, and the snowy Arthur's Pass National Park. When you land, you can spend days enjoying the South Island's largest city. It has heritage buildings, picturesque parks, cool street art and surprise adventures like punting on the River.
Things to see and do in Christchurch
- Right next to the airport is the Antarctic Centre. Take a peek at unique wildlife like the kororā, New Zealand's little blue penguin.
- Catch one of Christchurch's historic trams along Rolleston Ave to the Christchurch Arts Centre. Its Gothic Revival buildings are packed with arts and craft stores and delicious food.
- Cross the road to Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, some of the oldest in New Zealand. Enjoy colourful fields of flowers, including heritage roses and a daffodil woodland under ancient trees. Next door are the stunning stone buildings of the Canterbury Museum and Christ's College.
- Stroll back into the city centre along the Avon River and pause at the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. Enjoy the Riverside Markets on Oxford Terrace, and explore the city's new laneways, architecture and retail and dining areas.
- Or glide along the Avon River on a relaxing, eco-friendly punting tour. An experienced punter in traditional Edwardian attire will propel you quietly along the river, so you admire the city in peace.
- Spend day 8 at the historic town of Akaroa. This town is a little slice of colonial France in New Zealand, and a wonderful day trip. You can feel the influence of 1800s French settlers in the street names and historic wooden cottages with pretty gardens. Take an Akaroa cruise and see the Hector's dolphin, the world's smallest and rarest dolphin. They love to play while you're enjoying a trip with Black Cat Cruises. When conditions are right, you can even take a magical swim with the dolphins.
Prepare for dramatic scenery. Majestic mountains rise from Queenstown's glacier-carved lake, Lake Wakatipu, creating an unforgettable view. Experience the astounding alpine scenery, a vast range of outdoor activities, and the city's sophisticated nightlife. Milford Sound, the South Island's UNESCO World Heritage site, is a short road trip away. It's easy to spend more than two days exploring this incredible destination.
Queenstown is the home of adventure. There are opportunities for everyone to challenge their comfort zone. Start gently with a jet-boat ride through the Shotover River canyons. Take a scenic helicopter flight for jaw-dropping views of Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, the Franz Josef Glacier and Mt Aspiring National Park. Dial up the adrenaline with a visit to the famous Kawarau Bridge Bungy. Keen for more? Try the Ledge Swing or tandem skydiving.
Things to see and do in Queenstown
- Enjoy an iconic New Zealand experience at the Skyline. Take a gondola ride to the top of Bob's Peak for panoramic alpine views. There's even more to do at the top, including a luge track and ziplining with Ziptrek Ecotours.
- You can fully embrace the spectacular environment throughout the year. Pedal your heart out over 120km of mountain biking trails, collectively known as the Queenstown Trail. Or relax with a game of golf at one of the region's six courses.
- Central Otago is famous for its pinot noir. A wine tour is the perfect way to explore its vineyards and winemakers. Gibbston Valley has a wine cave and a highly-recommended restaurant. The Peregrine architecture is as world-class as its wine. Or try Amisfield, with its cellar door sales and a bistro with incredible mountain views. A short drive from Queenstown, Cromwell and Bannockburn offer many acclaimed vineyards, including Mt Difficulty and Felton Road.
- Take a boat cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, a steamship that's over 100 years old. The trip takes you to Walter Peak High Country Farm, where you can become part of the magnificent scenery on a horse trek, farm tour or bike ride.
- A quick drive north on the way to Wanaka will bring you to Arrowtown. Stroll along a tree-lined avenue with cute wooden cottages and historic stone buildings from the gold-mining days. If you're here near the end of April, you can join in on the fun of the Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival. Experience a whole week of live music, vintage cars, craft workshops, gold panning and much more.
- Many scenes in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed in Queenstown. Visit these legendary movie locations on a Nomad Safaris 4WD adventure.
- End your day's itinerary with a soak in healing hot pools. Onsen Hot Pools near Arthur's Point is just a short drive from Queenstown. Enjoy the tranquillity and privacy of your own cedar-enclosed spa room overlooking the spectacular Shotover River.
- On day 10, visit Milford Sound on the west coast of the South Island. Rudyard Kipling once described this fiord as the 'eighth natural wonder of the world'. Catch a boat cruise or hire a kayak to appreciate the fiord with its forested mountains and many tumbling waterfalls. Keep an eye out for seals, rare penguins and dolphins. For top-level excitement, take to the skies with a flightseeing trip over Milford Sound to Fiordland National Park. While Milford Sound may get up to 180 days of rain a year, the rain makes the waterfalls even more impressive.
Catch a flight from Queenstown to Auckland, and then connect on to your international flight home.
What is the best month to visit New Zealand?
If you're looking for warmer weather, travel New Zealand during January and February. March to May is perfect touring weather with autumn colours on display. June to August is a great time for stargazing and skiing due to crisp, clear winter skies. The countryside comes alive with spring flowers in October and November. In December, New Zealand's Christmas tree, the Pohutukawa, blooms along the North Island coast.
What is the weather like in New Zealand?
Most of New Zealand enjoys a mild climate with plenty of sunshine and sea breezes. In the mountainous, central regions of both islands, the climate is alpine, with snow showers possible in winter. The weather is changeable, so it pays to prepare for the chance of rain at any time of year.
How much money do you need per day in New Zealand?
How much money you need for your New Zealand trip depends on the style of accommodation and transport you prefer. You will find a range of accommodation choices in New Zealand, from camping grounds and hostels to luxury hotels and lodges. You can see pricing for accommodation, transport and activities here.
When is the high season to travel in New Zealand?
The high season for travel in New Zealand is during New Zealand's summer months between December and February. The busiest period for travel over summer is during New Zealand's school holidays between 20 December and the end of January.
What can you see in New Zealand in 10 days?
For a 10-day trip, we recommend visiting up to four or five different destinations. Our 10-day itinerary locations are some of the most popular: Auckland the City of Sails, Wellington the cultural, art and food capital, and Queenstown the home of world-class adrenaline activities. Our network links 20 destinations, so you can visit the main attractions of the North Island and South Island in 10 days.
How many days do you need to see New Zealand?
You can enjoy incredible scenery throughout New Zealand. Even if you only have several days, you can experience many unforgettable attractions. Travelling by domestic air lets you see more of the country. This North and South island itinerary includes some of the highlights that you can experience in just 10 days. To see even more incredible cities and attractions, plan your visit for two weeks or more.