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U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

10 Days in New Zealand - a New Zealand road trip to remember

Greetings, intrepid travelers. If you are  looking to cover a remarkable distance and see wonders aplenty with just 10 days in New Zealand, this is how to do it.

It may sound ambitious, but it can be done. New Zealand's favourable exchange rate means that you get great value. The  excellent road network makes driving a rewarding experience. And the enchanting diversity of New Zealand's landscapes ensures a mesmerising holiday experience.

Picture yourself behind the wheel of your chosen rental car, cruising the open roads, meandering through an array of landscapes that change with every twist and turn (New Zealand is truly a photographer's paradise, so keep your phone and camera charged, because you will use it continually).

This 10 day self-drive New Zealand itinerary aims to offer you an all-embracing experience of Aotearoa ("land of the long white cloud") while respecting your time constraints.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola And Restaurant Courtesy Skyline Gondola 500pxWide

A very special place

New Zealand is a place of endless beauty where grand sights await around every corner. From the tip of the snow-topped mountains down to the shores lapping against diversely beautiful beaches, ancient rain forests and widely acclaimed wine regions, the splendors are as many as they are varied.

Despite having just 10 days in this paradise, you'll quickly realize how rewarding every day is. No matter where you go or what you choose to do, there's a sense of discovery, setting the stage for amazing photo ops and memorable moments.

The landscapes, the people, the heritage, and the lifestyle of New Zealand are so unique and distinct that they leave a lasting impression on your mind and soul. Uncover the marvels of nature, experience the warmth of Kiwi hospitality, feel the rush of adventures, and fall in love with New Zealand.

New Zealand is rightly celebrated for its vast outdoors, and the South Island is where nature truly casts its spell. From the golden beaches of Abel Tasman National Park to the rugged beauty of the Southern Alps, and the deep, dark waters of Fiordland, New Zealand's South Island is a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts.

On the other hand, New Zealand's North Island boasts its attractions just as proudly. From the electric vibe of Wellington's nightlife to Auckland's bustling cityscape, from the geothermal springs of Rotorua to the glowworm-lit caves of Waitomo, our North Island is a delight that unfurls an intriguing blend of natural and urban extravagance.

Whether you're a food lover, adventure seeker, wine connoisseur, nature enthusiast, or a culture vulture, this 10 day New Zealand itinerary packs in a gamut of experiences and offers something special for every kind of traveler.

Your 10 days in New Zealand - ready, set, go!

Map 10 Days in New Zealand- courtesy Google Maps

Commence your once-in-a-lifetime journey in Auckland, the most populous city of New Zealand; a bustling urban tapestry interwoven with tranquil bays, verdant hills, peaceful beaches, and around 50 volcanic cones. After a good night's rest, brace yourself for an adventure-filled, exhilarating 10 days ahead.

Day 1

Rise and shine early on Day 1. The perfect Auckland introduction is the highly rated Auckland highlights tour, including your entry to the imposing Sky Tower . The panoramic views from its deck will afford you a sweeping 360° view of the city, the ocean, and distant hills. But remember, you are just starting to reveal the many delights that await on your 10 days in New Zealand.

Your tour also reveals the delights of Auckland harbour, together with a visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It's not only one of the country’s most important museums but also one of the most iconic Auckland buildings harking back to the 1920s. Here, immerse yourself in New Zealand's history and Maori culture, giving you the perfect foundation for the rest of your trip.


Day 2

Start your second day with a road trip to the enchanting Waitomo Glowworm Caves, located around 198 kilometers south of Auckland – a scenic three-hour drive approximately.

Inside, a galaxy of glowworms awaits, illuminating the dark cave with a surreal luminescence. A memorable boat trip beneath this twinkling canopy rounds off this once-in-a-lifetime visit.

And if your inner thrill seeker calls out, try the challenging blackwater rafting. What an experience.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves boat group Courtesy
Waitomo Glowworm Caves Family Looking up at formations Courtesy

Day 3

Today you delve into the heart of New Zealand's geothermal wonders and captivating Maori culture in the city of Rotorua. Your drive from Waitomo takes around 2 hours.

Make sure you stop by the Hobbiton Movie Set, a dreamlike wonder unique to New Zealand and a must-see for "Lord of the Rings" enthusiasts in particular.

In Rotorua, Mother Nature's prowess is unrivaled, especially at the geothermal parks like Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu. Amongst boiling mud pools, bright-colored mineral terraces, and impressive geysers, you'll see how the earth is always evolving. Extend the day with a visit to Te Puia, the Maori culture experience, and top it off with a delicious traditional Maori Hangi feast for dinner.

For glorious views of the region, take the Skyline Gondola up to Mount Ngongotaha. When you reach the summit, some 487 metres above sea level, Lake Rotorua, the city, and surrounding countryside are all visible.

Rotorua Waiotapu Champagne Pool Chris McLennan
Rotorua Skyline Gondola

Day 4

Day 4 presents a short 1 hour drive to stunning Lake Taupo, the vast inland sea testament to one of the world's most cataclysmic volcanic eruptions. Rejuvenate by dipping into the DeBretts hot springs, admire the magnificent Huka Falls, or simply bask in the beauty of the great Lake Taupo itself. In Summer the lake warms to a balmy 23 degrees and a dip is highly recommended.

Taupo Huka Falls 2020

Day 5

Up early today for your four and a half hour drive to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.

Prepare to be wooed by the city's boutique cafes and eateries, ardent art scene, and heritage architecture. Places such as the Te Papa Museum, the waterfront promenade, and the panoramic Mount Victoria Lookout should ideally feature on your agenda.

Te Papa Gallipoli The scale of our war 500 x 374

Day 6

Your sixth day in New Zealand takes you from the North to the South Island, relishing three-and-a-half hours of unrivaled views on the scenic Interislander Ferry. Cruising through the Cook Strait and into the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds, you will disembark in Picton, a charming town nestling at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound. Spend the afternoon visiting local wineries and sampling some of the region's famous blends. Spend the night in either Picton, or the larger centre Blenheim.

Day 7

Day 7 pans out in the sun-drenched environs of Nelson, the place to immerse in natural beauty, visit pristine beaches, engage with the local arts scene, and explore the tracks of the Abel Tasman National Park. The Nelson region, with its year-round sunshine, is nigh on impossible not to fall in love with.

Viator Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk

Day 8

Today your adventure takes you three hours drive South to the marine wonderland of Kaikoura.

In this stunning coastal haven, sea-life encounters (think whales, dolphins, and seals) and fresh seafood are the orders of the day.

Kaikoura Iconic Shot Courtesy.

Day 9

A big day today as you drive South through the "Garden City" Christchurch, to the Mackenzie Basin and Lake Tekapo village  (around 5 hours drive). The ethereal beauty of Lake Tekapo, with its turquoise waters ensconced amidst the Southern Alps, will make you reach for your camera. Make sure you explore the Church of the Good Shepherd, a small quaint church offering peaceful respite amid stunning landscapes. Tonight treat yourself to the Tekapo Star Gazing experience where you laze in the Tekapo Hot Springs whilst star gazing in an internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve.

In the distance the Southern Alps reach skywards. Home to 19 peaks over 3,000 meters and 72 named glaciers, the region's crowning glory is Aoraki/Mount Cook itself – New Zealand’s tallest mountain.

Takapo Church of Good Shepherd Image courtesy Fraser Gunn and
Lake Pukaki image courtesy Casey Horner and Unsplash

Day 10

This morning your three hour drive takes you past towering mountains and alongside crystal-clear lakes. Cruising down Lindis Pass, and finally arriving in Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of New Zealand.

Typically buzzing with energy and tourism-year round, Queenstown is an adrenaline-junkie’s playground with activities such as bungee jumping, jet boating, and skydiving. However, it also caters to the leisure seeker wonderfully, with a beautiful lake, top-notch vineyards, and gourmet eateries. A mandatory food stop in Queenstown is Fergburger, known worldwide for its delicious gourmet burgers.

With limited time we recommend an early afternoon trip on the Skyline Gondola to Bob's Peak. Breathtaking views.

Follow this up with an evening cruise on the historic steamer the TSS Earnslaw and dinner at Walter Peak Station.

The historic steamer TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables in the background - image Courtesy Kirsten Frosh And Unsplash
Viator Kawarau Jetboat Queenstown
Queenstown Luge Courtesy Skyline Queenstown

Summing Up

In conclusion, "Can I see New Zealand in 10 days?" Undeniably, "Yes!" During these memorable 10 days in New Zealand, you're taken from cozy cityscapes to the rugged wilderness, from tranquil alps to dynamic coasts, and from serene beaches to mysterious fiords.

Every bit of this country is worth savoring, and the itinerary ensures that you see the best of both the North and South Islands. This land of contrasts ensures your journey through its versatile territories is filled with myriad experiences and a patchwork of precious memories.

Remember, New Zealand isn't just traveled; it's experienced. Every bend of the road, every ripple on the lake, every rustle in the rainforest, every star in the southern sky adds to your experience. And though you may be staying for just 10 days, the memories you gain, the adventures you embark on, and the stories you create will last a lifetime.

The world outside New Zealand can wait because this is a place where time seems to stand still, letting you enjoy every moment, every landscape, and every encounter to its fullest. New Zealand doesn't just welcome you; it enthralls, captivates, and eventually, captures a piece of your wanderlust heart.

So come, journey through this stunning land of palm-fringed beaches, snow-capped peaks, sparkling lakes, roaring rivers, and quiet fjords. Experience the bustling city life, absorb the traditional Maori culture, taste the award-winning wines, and discover why New Zealand is a destination like no other.

From the moment you step off the plane, you'll feel the magic of New Zealand permeating the air. And with every Kilometer you cover, the country reveals another of its numerous wonders, urging you to explore deeper, travel further, and create memories that you'll cherish forever.

During these enriching 10 days in New Zealand, you'll find that every day is an adventure. Wherever you go, whatever you see, remember to embrace the journey as much as the destination. In the end, it's not just about the places you visit but the experiences you gain and the memories you make.

So pack your bags, fill up your car, and set off on this self-drive adventure. Through the drama of the scenery, the thrill of the journey, and the sheer beauty of the country, discover your own New Zealand story in these amazing "10 days in New Zealand."

With its stunning landscapes, adventurous spirit, rich culture, and friendly people, New Zealand will win you over. Inspiring and invigorating at every twist and turn of your journey, New Zealand is more than just a holiday destination; it's a memory you'll hold onto and treasure always.

There's nothing quite like stepping into the unknown, trying new things, embarking on unfamiliar journeys, and creating your own tales of exploration. New Zealand, with its irresistible charm, is hoping to play host to your adventure-rich and memory-making 10 days in New Zealand.

In conclusion, whether you want to relax in thermal springs, bungee off a cliff, indulge in glorious seafood, sail through fjords, or wander through vineyards, know that this vivacious land will cater to all your demands and desires. So are you ready for your "10 days in New Zealand" expedition? Let the journey begin!

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