New Zealand is amazing! It is a country with ridiculously beautiful and varied scenery, unique animals and birds, as well as tasty wine and coffee. I was expecting to love the mountainous areas and the crazily-blue glacial lakes. However I also fell in love with the pretty beaches, epic volcanic landscapes and hobbit-esque green countryside. Our New Zealand itinerary might be good for other people that like pretty views and hikes!
This page links to all my Kiwi blog posts, so please feel free to have a peek.
Epic New Zealand itinerary for 12 days
I spent quite a long time researching what we could do in New Zealand. Our priorities were to see as many pretty places as we could, and hike as many trails as possible at a relaxed holiday-style pace. If you are not really into hiking, you could still do a similar itinerary, you’d just be able to relax in these pretty areas, instead of tramping through them!
I left off the couple of days for the wedding in Wellington at the start of our adventure, but you can easily add on time in Wellington!
Why New Zealand?
New Zealand has always been one of those dream destinations for me, especially after watching Lord of the Rings. When I lived in Japan, one of my best friends was a Kiwi, so I have been meaning to visit her ever since. Every time I see photos or hear about all the epic hikes it just made me want to go even more. However, the problem with New Zealand, is it is always just so far away! Getting there from the UK was just a bit out of my price-range while Marc and I saved up to get married and buy our flat. Then in 2018, my friend Kendra got married (to the lovely Mitch) in Wellington. This gave Marc and I a good enough excuse to save up to visit New Zealand.
After the wedding we stayed for a couple of weeks to walk as much as we could. It was one of the most epic holidays I have ever had, and it took months for me to write up all my posts about it! That is why I am so keen to share our New Zealand itinerary with you all!
New Zealand Itinerary
Day 1 – Wellington
Explore Wellington, swim in the sea near Porirua and drive up to Tongariro National Park.
Day 2 – Tongariro Crossing Hike
Hike the amazing Tongariro Crossing. This is a full day, and you may be exhausted at the end of it, but tramping through the incredible volcanic landscape is fun for every step!
This was a bit of a lazy recovery day for us. We took a boat out to see the Maori Carvings near lake Taupo, then drove up to the Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland for a few hours. We finished our day at Okoroire Hot spring, where we soaked our tired legs in the natural hot springs.
Day 4 – New Brighton Beach, Christchurch
Drive to Auckland then fly to Christchurch
We were pretty relaxed on our first day on New Zealand’s South Island, but we did walk along New Brighton Beach and munch fantastic fish and chips.
Day 5 – Easy hikes near Lake Tekapo
Drive to Lake Tekapo
After the drive, we were ready to stretch our legs so we did the easy hike up to Mount John Walkway. We started the day in the rain, so when the weather improved, we squeezed in a few more easy hikes near Lake Tekapo.
Day 6 – Mueller Hut Hike
Drive to Aoraki / Mount Cook, then hike!
This was my favourite hike of our trip, the Mueller Hut tramp. You have to hike up thousands of steps into the clouds, but the views are truly spectacular.
Day 7 – Hooker Valley and Lake Wanaka
Day 8 – Roy’s Peak
This was another truly beautiful hike to Roy’s Peak. The path is very easy to follow, but it has a large elevation gain and more ridiculously good views. Can you see me jumping in the photo below?
Drive to Te Anau to visit the Te Anau Glowworm caves
We had some free time before visiting the glowworms, so we walks along a Kepler Track day hike. Then, that afternoon, we still had bundles of energy, so tramped around Lake Mistletoe as well as the Boyd Creek Tops.
Day 10 – Milford Sound
This was our epic day in Milford Sound. We started the day with a Milford Sound Boat Tour, then hiked up Key Summit as well as to Lake Marian. In between all the walks, we made a few stop offs, so you can see the must see sights around Milford Sound
Day 11 – Queenstown and Bob’s Peak
Drive to Queenstown
This was our final day on the South Island, so although we didn’t have much time, we did a quick hike up Bob’s Peak.
Day 12 – Waiheke Island, Auckland
We planned to do the The Coast to Coast walk across Auckland, from the Waitemata Harbour to the Manukau. However it was such a hot day, that we changed plans and took a ferry to Waiheke Island instead.
New Zealand Travel tips – Great Walks
Have you heard of New Zealand’s ten Great Walks? They are 10 epic long distance hikes located all over New Zealand. If you like hiking, these all sound amazing. The problem is, if you’d like to stay in the huts and do these multi day hikes, you need to plan and book everything early. I planned our trip about a month before we left, and this was far too late to book accommodation along these famous hikes.
New Zealand Travel tips – Day hikes
If you are planning things at the last minute, but want to get a taste of the Great Walks, you can still do sections of them as day hikes. Plus there are hundreds of fantastic day hikes dotted all over Kiwiland. The Department of Conservation in New Zealand has tonnes of ideas for hikes, including maps and advice about each one.
Be wary – New Zealand is addictive
We had soooo much fun on this trip. I feel like I could live there for years and only scratch the surface of all the possible amazing walks. I am very sure that we’ll go back at some point.
Lastly, I hope you like the look of our jam-packed New Zealand itinerary. Have you done any of these walks? If so I’d love to hear if you had similar (or crazily different) experiences. What do you think I have missed?