Road Trippin’ New Zealand, North to South Island:
Hey Friends! Welcome back:) I’m hoping to travel to New Zealand in the near future, so I put together a little itinerary! Something to note is that I made this Itinerary for MY interests. Everyone’s Itineraries are going to vary. There are things I left out so be sure to consider different road trip guides to ensure you’re hitting all the spots that interest you. I am only touching on a very little of what this beautiful country has to offer.
When To Travel:
- High Season- Summer months: December to February
- For less crowds, hiking weather & cheaper flights visit March to May
- Check out more on when to visit here: https://www.newzealand.com.au/faqs/best-season-to-visit-new-zealand/ and https://www.twowanderingsoles.com/blog/best-time-to-visit-new-zealand
Entering New Zealand:
Depending on which country you are from, will determine if you need a visa or not. Check out the visa- waiver countries here: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/general-information/visa-waiver-countries
You will need to request an Electronic Travel Authority, or ETA, BEFORE entering the country. This can take anywhere from a couple minutes to 72 hours to be processed. It can be done online or through NZeTa’s free app (cheaper if done on the app). Travelers will also have to pay a small fee towards the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, or IVL. Expect total costs to be 45-50$USD.
Bucket List Experiences in New Zealand:
- While on the North Island, visit the coastal paradise, Coromandel Peninsula. Known for the hot water beaches, incredibly fresh seafood, Bay of Islands, water sports, and green forests, Coromandel is a must see! Be sure to stop at the famous Cathedral Cove. Embrace the coastal towns here, and if you have the time, enjoy a couple days in the surrounding beach towns. You won’t regret it!
- At the VERY tip of New Zealand sits Cape Reinga. A place of spiritual significance for the Maori people, the indigenous Polynesian people of new Zealand. Cape Reinga is home to an ancient Pohutakawa tree and a quaint little lighthouse. Located at the meeting part of two oceans, this landmark is absolutely stunning!
- Wellington- The Countries capital city. Great stop for a night out with a lively bar seen!
- Go to the town of Matamata to see Hobbiton movie set from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”.
- Visit Tongariro National Park, the oldest national park in New Zealand. Home to the famous “Mount Doom” for you Lord of the Rings fans. While here you can hike through the forest to the active volcanoes. At the end of the day have a picnic by the incredibly blue-green lagoon.
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves. You can take a day tour from Auckland or Rotorua. Take a bus from Hamilton to Waitomo township (65 min) then take a 10 minute walk to the caves, or what seems to be the easiest/cheapest option is to rent a car and drive yourself.
- Skydive, bungee jump, and canyon swing in Queenstown at Ajhackett Bunjee or Kawarau Bridge Bungee OR Shotover Canyon Swing & Fox (all great options). When finished Bungee jumping at the Kawarau Bridge, head down to the Shotover River which connects to the Kawaru River for a day of white water rafting. Talk about an adrenaline junkies dream day! While in Queenstown check out the surrounding Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu. Located about a half hour outside of the city is the most popular ski resort on the South Island, Coronet Peak. The ski and snowboard season at Coronet Peak typically lasts from mid-June to October.
- Part of the Southern Island, Aoraki, often referred to as Mount Cook, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. While visiting Mount Cook, travelers can enjoy scenic walks throughout the national park. The most popular of these is the Hooker Valley Track. Other popular activities include partaking in a glamorous dinner with a view. Check out the Hermitage Hotel for a great dinner with a view. Hike to the Mueller and Tasman Lake viewpoints and star gaze in the dark sky reserve. Mount Cook is Located 2 hours from the town of Lake Tekapo. On your way to the national park stop to visit the beautiful Lake Pukaki.
- Go chase waterfalls in the Milford Sound-Fiordland National Park
- Kaikoura whale watching. The best time to see multiple species of whales is in the early mornings of June-August during the coldest season throughout their migration. Cost is typically 100-150$ USD/person.
- While traveling throughout South Island, check out Fox Glacier located on the west coast. This glacier is extremely accessible which makes it extremely popular amongst tourist.
- At the northern tip of the South Island, stop to breathe in the fresh air, the white sand beaches and crystal blue waters of the Abel Tasman National Park. Check out different activities and places to stop while visiting here: https://www.nelsontasman.nz/visit-abel-tasman/abel-tasman-national-park/
- While on the South Island be sure to stop in Wanaka. There is so much beauty to see in this town. Here are a few things to do while visiting: Wildwire Wanaka (Rock climbing next to a waterfall), Horseback ride through the Cardrona Valley, boat to Mou Waho Island, frolic through the lavender farm, fly a plane over Wanakas natural beauties, partake in a few day hikes (checkout Roys Peak Track, The Rob Roy Glacier Track, and Mt. Iron Track), and visit UNESCO world heritage area Mt. Aspiring National Park. For more activities look here! https://www.lakewanaka.co.nz/things-to-do/top-10-reasons/
- Drink your way through the Marlborough wine region found on the north-east tip of the South Island.
- Pasifika Cultural Festival in March: Festival filled with dance, arts, food and music in Auckland
- Auckland Lantern festival in February/March.
- Check out other festivals here https://traveltriangle.com/blog/cool-festivals-in-new-zealand/
Renting a Van:
Check out Jucy Rental and Wilderness Motorhomes for a campervan. Price ranges anywhere from $25-50$USD base rate depending on the size of the van. There are multiple drop off and pick up locations. Pick up and drop off from airports charge a large fee (100$/each). Prices will go up and vary depending on things like insurance coverage and added amenities. Get your own personal quote here! https://bookings.jucy.com/obe/direct/edit-quote/R0002669148/extras
Some additional information on renting a van found here:
If you feel service was great you can tip 10% at restaurants. Not common to tip taxi. Hotels: 1-2$ a bag and 1-5$ for room service. Tip tour guides 10-15%
New Zealand Plug, type 1. Standard voltage is 230 V and standard frequency is 50HZ.
Check out my Bucket List Items in New Zealand!!
If you have any recommendations feel free to drop a comment below! 🙂