National itinerary

Miles Holden

National itinerary

Want to see the whole country? You’ll need at least two weeks to get the best picture of both North and South Islands, and four is even better! A popular option is to arrive in Auckland, travel south by road and finish in Christchurch before flying back to Auckland.

Minimum Length Four weeks
Highlights Waitangi Treaty Grounds; Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga; Waitomo Caves; White-sand beaches; Māori culture; Art Deco architecture; Wine tasting; Historic cities; Wildlife; Glaciers and national parks.

The journey starts in New Zealand’s biggest city before heading north to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Explore history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and discover great beaches on the way north to Cape Reinga. Heading south along the west coast takes you through the Hokianga and along the Kauri Coast back to Auckland. Head south to Hamilton, in the Waikato. From here, take a detour to the Waitomo Caves and its underground adventures. Passing back through Hamilton, head north to The Coromandel. Further east, in the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga is a buzzing coastal city.

It’s an easy drive from here to Rotorua. Set in a geothermal wonderland, this is also a hotspot for Māori culture. Further south is lakeside Taupo. When you’ve had your fill of adrenaline, drive to Art Deco Napier. Take a tour of architectural highlights and explore the vineyards before travelling to Wellington. Now say goodbye to the North Island and catch a ferry to Picton.

On arrival in Picton, explore the idyllic Marlborough Sounds before heading to Blenheim. Then drive to Nelson and soak up the local culture before heading to Greymouth, mid-way point of a breathtaking drive down the West Coast to Franz Josef. Leave the West Coast behind and cross through Haast Pass to Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park. Further south is Queenstown, adventure capital. Travel west to Te Anau, base for exploring Fiordland.

The next leg takes you to Invercargill, Bluff and Stewart Island. Continue to Dunedin and take a guided tour to see the historic architecture. Head north to Oamaru to see more historic architecture – and penguins. Inland is Mackenzie with its stunning blue lakes. Out of the mountains and on the Canterbury Plains, Methven is a centre of outdoor activities. Further north are Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura. Drive south to finish your ultimate New Zealand adventure in the city of Christchurch.


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