New Zealand Itinerary

New Zealand Itinerary

New Zealand itinerary - great for hikersNew 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!

Day 3 – Taupo and Volcanoes

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

We woke up super early to walk along the Hooker Valley Track before it was too busy. Then as the day was so gorgeous, we did a few more easy walks near Mount Cook.
We then drove to 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?

Day 9 Te Anau – Glowworms, forests and lakes

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 theΒ 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?

25 thoughts on “New Zealand Itinerary

  1. i did a month from top to toe in 2014 with my son.Not so many hikes as you and I’m not sure we actually did any you did but we did do about 7 or 8 decent ones.He was keener on the jumping off stuff – which from your pictures you seem keen on too Josy; did you spend any time on the ground?- and as you say it was a fantastic country. I’d be back there in a heart beat.

    1. Eep! I just realized that I never replied to your lovely comment Geoff. Sorry about that!

      Do you remember which hikes you did? A whole month is Kiwiland sounds like a holiday from heaven! πŸ˜€

  2. The Dude and I had a fab road trip in Australia many moons ago, and have been meaning to make NZ a destination ever since. Thank you for the inspiration. And for your leaping photos! Too cute!

    1. Oooh I’ll have to swap with you as we are both really keen to visit Aus (well, Tasmania mostly!!) Did you go bird watching with the dude?

      1. Nah, this trip was AGES ago, well before we were β€œinto” birding. Probably well before you were old enough to LEAP! Love your hiking itineraries β€” as well as your leaping photos! xoxo

        1. Thanks Alice!

          Oooh I have a feeling the dude will love NZ even more then. I didn’t post many photos here, but we spotted so many cool birds there!!

  3. Wow, you did more in 12 days than I did during the whole year I was there! This must have been an amazing trip. I love that you started in Wellington and still made the effort to go through the North Island before heading back down south, isn’t it so beautiful? Thanks for sharing the experience and your fantastic photos! πŸ™‚

    1. Oooh you got to live in Kiwiland for a year!? You lucky thing!

      Quite a few people told us to just head straight South, but I am really glad we got to see a teeny bit of the North Island as well. I LOVED those volcanoes!

    1. Oh no! Em, I somehow missed your comment but squeeeee! That is so exciting that you are heading to NZ! Please let me know if you need any tips! πŸ˜€

      I didn’t really share info about hotels/food/car hire here, but i can send you details if you need them. Just let me know.

      Mr Fletche’s photos will be epic!

  4. This is a great itinerary for New Zealand! I want to go back during their summer so bad to do some of these hikes! Queenstown was my favorite and Te Anau was such a cute town as well.

    1. Thanks lovely!! I really wish we spent longer in Queenstown, there was sooo much beauty there! I guess you and I will both have to make it back!

      (p.s. sorry if my speedy reply freaks you out! lol I was online just as you commented. πŸ˜‰ )

    1. Oooh I wonder how much it has changed since 1985!? I have a feeling the food (and coffee) will be much better than you remember!

  5. This is a fantastic itinerary. New Zealand is at the top of my bucket list, I’m excited to catch the addiction when I finally visit there. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I’ve been wanting to visit New Zealand FOREVER! But it’s so far away that I keep putting it off! This outdoorsy itinerary is great though. I’m going to save it for future reference. Thank you!

  7. I wanted to do a working holiday visa in New Zealand, but now I’m thinking Australia and then popping over to New Zealand afterwards and spending like a month road tripping through there. Lake Wanaka reminds me of Moraine Lake in Alberta.

  8. New Zealand is by far my favorite country for outdoor activities! They have so many great hikes scattered all over the country – better yet, during your hikes you don’t have to look for dangerous animals cause all they have is birds! Haha love it.

    1. Haha that is so true! We didn’t have to worry about big predators, I hadn’t considered that. I would looove to go back and hike more around NZ!

  9. I love New Zealand and have been there twice now in the last two years, but have seen and done so many other things than you which is great to see as it gives me reason to go back ha ha! I loved the Hooker Valley and Milford Sound (and the drive up there from Queenstown) was so beautiful too. Oh, now I want to go back again!! πŸ™‚

    1. Yay Zarina, do you have posts about your adventures too? I love seeing all the possible things that we missed (and making excuses to plan to go back!)

      I found there were soooo many possible hikes near Queenstown and Lake Wanaka that I would love to go back to explore more.

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