18 days in New Zealand Itinerary

18 days in New Zealand Itinerary

Created using Inspirock New Zealand route planner

Make it your trip
Fly
1
Rotorua
— 2 nights
Drive
2
Taupo
— 3 nights
Shuttle
3
Tongariro National Park
— 2 nights
Drive
4
Waitomo Caves
— 2 nights
Fly to Queenstown, Bus to Te Anau
5
Te Anau
— 3 nights
Bus
6
Queenstown
— 2 nights
Fly
7
Paihia
— 1 night
Fly
8
Auckland
— 2 nights
Fly

S M T W T F S
5
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Rotorua

— 2 nights

Sulphur City

Surrounded by lakes and featuring impressive areas of geothermal landscape, the city of Rotorua offers an otherwordly landscape and a welcoming, peaceful environment, with the culture of the native Maori people very much in the foreground.
Start off your visit on the 10th (Fri): let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour and then kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks. Keep things going the next day: take in the natural beauty of Te Puia, take in the natural beauty of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

Discover how to plan a Rotorua trip in just a few steps with Inspirock's itinerary builder.

San Francisco, USA to Rotorua is an approximately 17.5-hour flight. Traveling from San Francisco to Rotorua, you'll lose 20 hours due to the time zone difference. In December, Rotorua is somewhat warmer than San Francisco - with highs of 71°F and lows of 59°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Sat) to allow enough time to drive to Taupo.

Things to do in Rotorua

Parks · Nature · Tours · Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 9 — 11:

Taupo

— 3 nights

Great Cloak of Tia

The resort town of Taupo lies on the banks of Lake Taupo, the largest body of water in the whole of Australasia.
Attractions like Huka Falls Walkway and Maori Rock Carvings make great kid-friendly stops. Next up on the itinerary: get outside with Outdoor Activities, explore the striking landscape at Craters of the Moon, explore and take pictures at Spa Thermal Park and Riverbank Recreational and Scenic Reserve, and see the world from above with a helicopter tour.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, photos, and tourist information, read our Taupo driving holiday planning tool.

Traveling by car from Rotorua to Taupo takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 14th (Tue) to allow time to take a shuttle to Tongariro National Park.

Things to do in Taupo

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Tours
Find places to stay Dec 11 — 14:

Tongariro National Park

— 2 nights
Tongariro National Park has a long history of preserving New Zealand's pristine alpine landscape.
On the 15th (Wed), tour the pleasant surroundings at Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Here are some ideas for day two: tour the pleasant surroundings at Silica Rapids Track, tour the pleasant surroundings at Whakapapa Nature Walk, and then take in the dramatic scenery at Taranaki Falls.

Plan a Tongariro National Park trip in moments using our itinerary builder.

You can take a shuttle from Taupo to Tongariro National Park in 1.5 hours. Other options are to drive; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Thu) to allow time to drive to Waitomo Caves.

Things to do in Tongariro National Park

Trails · Parks · Outdoors · Nature
Find places to stay Dec 14 — 16:

Waitomo Caves

— 2 nights
Head deep beneath the surface of the earth at Waitomo Caves, a village and cave system that draws both extreme sports enthusiasts and those wanting something a little more relaxed.
Kick off your visit on the 17th (Fri): Head underground at Waitomo Glowworm Caves, then skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and then relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour. On the 18th (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: get outside with Waitomo Clay Birds.

To see maps, traveler tips, reviews, and tourist information, use the Waitomo Caves tour planning app.

Traveling by car from Tongariro National Park to Waitomo Caves takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of train and taxi. On the 18th (Sat), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to Te Anau.

Things to do in Waitomo Caves

Outdoors · Tours · Wildlife · Adventure
Find places to stay Dec 16 — 18:

Te Anau

— 3 nights
Set among the picturesque peaks and glacially carved fiords of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau offers those wishing to explore the park a great place to stay and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a small town in an enviable location.
Family-friendly places like Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound will thrill your kids. There's still lots to do: take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports, hike along The Chasm Walk, and get outside with Bushbash - Day Wilderness Expeditions.

To find other places to visit, where to stay, more things to do, and more tourist information, you can read our Te Anau travel route planning app.

Traveling by combination of flight and bus from Waitomo Caves to Te Anau takes 8 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and ferry; or do a combination of bus, train, and ferry. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 21st (Tue) so you can catch the bus to Queenstown.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks · Nature · Wildlife · Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 18 — 21:

Queenstown

— 2 nights

Shallow Bay

Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
Start off your visit on the 22nd (Wed): relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, then head outdoors with Outdoor Activities, and then get outside with Outdoor Activities. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: get your game on at Skyline Queenstown, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Kiwi Birdlife Park, then get some thrills on the water with a speed boat tour, and finally see the world from above with a helicopter tour.

To find ratings, where to stay, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Queenstown trip tool.

Getting from Te Anau to Queenstown by bus takes about 4 hours. Cap off your sightseeing on the 23rd (Thu) early enough to catch the flight to Paihia.

Things to do in Queenstown

Tours · Outdoors · Fun & Games · Spas
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:

Paihia

— 1 night
The main tourist town in the Bay of Islands area, Paihia gives visitors a good range of accommodations, a convenient town center, long sandy beaches, and interesting architecture.
Start off your visit on the 24th (Fri): contemplate the long history of Waitangi Treaty Grounds, then stop by The Cabbage Tree Shop, and then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

To find photos, where to stay, maps, and other tourist information, refer to the Paihia trip builder site.

Getting from Queenstown to Paihia by flight takes about 5 hours. Other options: do a combination of car and ferry. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 24th (Fri) to allow time to fly to Auckland.

Things to do in Paihia

Shopping · Historic Sites · Parks · Tours
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 24:

Auckland

— 2 nights

City of Sails

The largest and most populous city in New Zealand, Auckland combines a rich history and thriving contemporary culture in an abundance of museums, art galleries, and performance venues.
Kick off your visit on the 25th (Sat): learn about all things military at Auckland Museum, admire nature's wide array of creatures at Auckland Zoo, and then enjoy breathtaking views from SkyTower.

To see where to stay, photos, more things to do, and other tourist information, you can read our Auckland trip itinerary maker tool.

Getting from Paihia to Auckland by flight takes about 2.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. In December, daily temperatures in Auckland can reach 64°F, while at night they dip to 64°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Sun) so you can fly back home.

Things to do in Auckland

Zoos & Aquariums · Museums · Parks
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 26:

New Zealand travel guide

4.5
Specialty Museums · Hiking Trails · Landmarks
Land of the Long White Cloud
Far-flung New Zealand has become known for its astounding topography, singular biodiversity, varied climate, and for marrying native Maori and post-colonial European cultures on its two main islands and the multitude of smaller landmasses dotted around them. Free-spirited New Zealanders cultivate a love of sports, sustainability, and the outdoors. Far from other landmasses, the islands existed for millions of years before being inhabited by humans, so an abundance of species have come to thrive in the thick, wild rainforest, vast and rugged backland, and extensive surrounding marine areas. While much of New Zealand tourism centers around adventures through this spectacular scenery, take time to explore the nation's rich cultural heritage as well. The traditions and history of the Maoris, and the industry and internationalism of the descendents of the first European settlers endure in fascinating attractions, ranging from museums, to farms, to places of worship.