• Dolphin - Photo courtesy of Mr Hardman

New Zealand in 3 Weeks

An itinerary idea for spending three weeks in New Zealand.  The land of the long white cloud, two main islands that hold such appeal and rightly so.  This itinerary offers a three week option, but if time allows, do stretch your time to four weeks – you won’t regret it:

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New Zealand in 3 weeks

The land of the long white cloud, two main islands that hold such appeal and rightly so.  This itinerary offers a three week option, but if time allows, do stretch your time to four weeks – you won’t regret it:

Day 1: Auckland
Day 2: Coromandel Peninsula
Day 4: Rotorua
Day 6: Napier
Day 8: Wellington
Day 9: Abel Tasman Park
Day 12: Punakaiki
Day 13: Fox Glacier
Day 15: Wanaka
Day 16: Te Anau
Day 18: Queenstown
Day 20: Lake Tekapo
Day 21: Christchurch
Day 22: Depart Christchurch


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A volcanic land of mountains, fjords, and glaciers, white sandy beaches, cosmopolitan cities, romantic hide-aways, the land of the Lord of the Rings , the Bungy Jump and the white knuckle jet-boat ride. The land of immaculate vineyards and fine cuisine; New Zealand, technically half way around the world, metaphorically just around the corner – a land so beautiful it is impossible not to fall in love again and again.

Here is one idea for a 3 week self-drive itinerary, covering the North and South Islands. 4 weeks would be even better; there is so much to see in this beautiful country.

Day 1: Auckland
Arrive in Auckland, City of Sails, taking time to climb the Sky Tower for fantastic views of the downtown skyline, harbour, bridge and surrounding hills. Auckland is built on an isthmus, a narrow of finger of land surrounded by water. Of the 3.8 million population of New Zealand, approx. one third live in Auckland and whilst it is not the nation’s capital, it is the most cosmopolitan of all cities and a past host for the Americas Cup Challenge.
One night Auckland

Day 2: Coromandel Peninsula
Collect your hire car and head south today, through Auckland and on to the Coromandel Peninsula; a delightful coastline. Dig your own thermal bath on Hot Water Beach.
Two nights Coromandel Peninsula

If time allows, a visit to the Waitomo Caves at Hamilton is interesting for their abundance of glow worms. If you feel energetic, see the glow worms on a full day abseiling and tubing excursion.

Day 4: Rotorua
Today’s journey takes you through the Bay of Plenty area to Rotorua. One of the original Tourist attractions in the mid 19th Century, the once famous pink and white terraces were destroyed in a volcanic eruption. The area has re-gained its popularity as the centre of geo-thermal activity. Visit the museum, take time out to visit the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and the Whakawerawera hot pools, geyser and bubbling mud.
Two nights Rotorua

Day 6: Napier
Follow the Thermal Explorer Highway to Lake Taupo, the largest in the country, taking a quick look at the Huka Falls en route. Continue towards Napier. The route crosses the mountains that contain Hawkes’ Bay and brings you to Napier, famous for its Art Deco style and wonderful vineyards.
Two nights Napier

Day 8: Wellington
Today’s drive takes you through the Central Plateau area .Your destination is Wellington, New Zealand’s Capital city on the southern tip of the North Island. Visit the Te Papa Museum a wonderfully informative and hands on museum. Explore the Kapiti Coastline.
One night Wellington

With more time available consider including the Taranaki area to your itinerary

Day 09: Abel Tasman National Park
Drop your car this morning at the ferry terminal in Wellington and take the Inter-Islander ferry across the Cook Straits to Picton on the South Island. The second part of the journey takes you through Marlborough Sound – a wonderful introduction to the South Island. If time permits, take the Queen Charlotte Drive eventually arriving in Nelson. The Abel Tasman Park is not far from Nelson – if you feel energetic, drive to the Park entrance and take a water taxi up the coast. The taxi will arrange to pick you up at a given time giving you several hours (or days) to hike the well marked trails.
Three nights Nelson

Day 12: Punakaiki
Coming down the west coast, stop overnight in Punakaiki. This is the home of the Pancake Rocks – a strange rock formation, and the overnight stop simply allows you to take your time as these roads are so scenic that you will simply have to keep stopping for more pictures.
One night Punakaiki

Day 13: Fox Glacier
Continuing down the coast to Fox  and Franz Josef Glaciers. Weather and time permitting, take a scenic flight around Mount Cook or visit the highly informative Visitor Centre to learn about the glacier and its formation.
Two nights Fox Glacier

Day 15: Wanaka
The journey today takes you over the Haast Pass to lovely Lake Wanaka. Simply beautiful – this little town is surrounded by mountains and is the Queenstown of yesteryear.
One night Wanaka

Day 16: Te Anau
Te Anau is the gateway to Fjordland National Park – for both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. For either, you can visit for a day or take an overnight cruise. Of the two, Milford offers the most dramatic scenery, but Doubtful is the quieter with fewer visitors.
Two nights Te Anau

Day 18: Queenstown
Sitting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a sizeable town with activities for every adrenalin junkie! Here you will find bungee jumping, sky diving, a luge and plenty more. Much of the Lord of the Rings was filmed in this area, and although the sets had to be removed, the scenery will seem familiar. For those not into extreme sports, a drive to Glenorchy is beautiful.
Two nights Queenstown

Day 19: Lake Tekapo
North to Lake Tekapo and a visit to the Mount Cook National Park. This is also a great place for stargazing.
One night Lake Tekapo

Day 20: Christchurch
Return today to Christchurch for your final night. This most English of cities is compact and easy to navigate. A central hotel brings you within walking distance of the main city centre attractions. With a little more time, take a trip up to Kaikoura – a sleepy little seaside town world famous for whale watching.
One night Christchurch

Day 22: Depart Christchurch
Return to the airport for your onward or homeward flight.

New Zealand

Picture courtesy of New Zealand Tourism


Picture courtesy of Chris McLennan

New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Erehwon Colin and Pearl Frankling


Picture courtesy of Jim bell


Photo courtesy of Rob Suisted



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