New Zealand Holidays
Dynamic, rugged and uncompromisingly beautiful, New Zealand is made up of two islands – the North and the South. In the North Island you'll discover the geysers and mud pools of Rotorua, the capital Wellington as well as the vibrant city of Auckland. The South Island is where you’ll find the towering mountains around Wanaka and Mount Cook, the whales and dolphins of Kaikoura and the laid-back attitude of Christchurch, the island’s largest city.
To cover all of these highlights and more, our Experts are here to help you plan your perfect New Zealand holiday, and make sure you start your Journey the right way with the country's national carrier: Air New Zealand. Take inspiration from our sample holidays below or choose your own adventure with a bespoke itinerary.
Popular Tailor-made New Zealand Holidays
New Zealand is more than just a place you simply fly to and stay in. To truly experience it all you’ve got to explore its islands, cruise its fjords and marvel at its many natural wonders. As a result, our New Zealand holidays are more than just flights and hotels, they’re tailor-made Journeys designed to showcase the very best that this country has to offer. Experience the Best of the North Island with 11 days' car hire, a Bay of Islands Hole in the Rock cruise and Tamaki Maori Village tour, or be seduced by the Best of the South Island with 13 days' car hire, a Milford Sound cruise with lunch and a thrilling Franz Josef Glacier valley walk. Feeling inspired? Check out our holiday ideas below or our tailor-made holidays above.
Where to Go in New Zealand
New Zealand can be split into two parts: the North Island and South Island. The North Island is where you’ll find Auckland, the country’s largest city and the main entry point of New Zealand. From Auckland you can explore the North Island quite easily by car with notable highlights including the Bay of Islands, Lake Taupo, Wellington and Rotorua. The South Island is larger than the North Island and is home to 10 of New Zealand’s 14 national parks. Highlights of the island include Milford Sound, Abel Tasman National Park and Christchurch. For more details on where to go, see our favourite destinations below:
New Zealand Holiday Types
With a multitude of experiences on offer in New Zealand, your style of holiday can take on any number of styles. Tramp (the Kiwi word for hike) through New Zealand’s stunning scenery on an active holiday, cruise through the wild setting of Milford Sound on a nature holiday, or plan an epic road trip exploring at your own place on a fly-drive holiday. See below for inspiration on how to holiday in New Zealand or talk to our Experts today if you have something special in mind.
Things to do in New Zealand
- Cruise the sounds
- Walk across Franz Josef Glacier
- Marvel at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
- Hike in Abel Tasman
- Explore Middle Earth
- Go stargazing in Aoraki National Park
- Seek Adventure in Queenstown
- Discover the bubbling pools of Rotorua
Magma-carved, glacier-sculpted and spread across two marvellous isles, New Zealand’s landscapes are the stuff of fantasies. It’s no wonder Peter Jackson chose to use this magical country as the staging ground for Middle Earth. Across the North and South Islands, here are eight things that you just have to see:
A landscape of towering peaks and deep waters, punctuated by emerald rainforests and pebbly shores, the South Island’s UNESCO-listed Fiordland National Park is nature at its grandest. People talk about locations being ‘breathtaking’, but this enchanting spot gives real meaning to this often overused phrase.
How to do it: Take in the untouched beauty of Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds by cruising and kayaking the waters or hiking the famous trails. You’ll get up-close to Milford Sound – the most iconic of the trio – on our South Island Wonders Journey.
Caves and sheets of blue ice are the big draw on the Franz Josef Glacier, as it shifts steeply down from the Southern Alps towards the seas. Under the watchful eye of an experienced guide, you can take a helicopter direct to the glacier, where you’ll stop and begin your crampon-clad stroll across this 7,000-year-old frozen land. It may be cold, but you’ll hardly feel it: the thrill of the adventure and fresh natural beauty of the jagged iridescent landscape will keep you warm.
How to do it: Scale the face of Franz Josef and relax in its glacier hot pools, bordered by emerald trees, on our Glacier & Sound of Silence holiday in New Zealand’s South Island.
Pictures capturing bioluminescence are impressive, but they really don’t do it justice. To experience Mother Nature’s light display at its brightest, visit the North Island’s Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where thousands of these vibrant insects cover the ceiling of the cavern. As you float through on a boat ride, you’ll feel like you’re being enveloped by a blue-hued canopy of stars. Who needs space travel when you can do this?
How to do it: Cruise through the Waitomo Glowworm Grotto on our Best of the North Island Journey.
Abel Tasman is renowned for having some of the best walking trails in the whole of the South Island. In fact, its signature Abel Tasman Coastal Track is world-renowned for postcard-perfect landscapes, fascinating forests and a plethora of wildlife – from penguins to dolphin pods.
How to do it: To walk the whole length of the track takes between three and five days. However, the route is easily accessible for boats, so you can take a water taxi to the portion you want to see and just spend a day trekking. On our South Island Wildlife & Wine Journey, you’ll spend two nights in this national park, cruising the coastline before walking the section from Totaranui to the Meadowbank Homestead – Awaroa.
New Zealand is just as incredible in reality as it is on the screen. Lord of the Rings fanatics can experience the real-life movie sets for themselves in Rotorua, home to the hobbit holes and pint-sized inns that make up Hobbiton. Wellington’s Turoa – the filming location for The Desolation of Smaug – promises a behind the scenes glimpse too; here you can see the franchise’s props, costumes and models at the Weta Workshop.
How to do it: Our aptly-named Middle Earth Explorer Journey takes you to Wellington, Waiheke and Rotorua, and of course includes a Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm tour.
A rugged, wild mix of turquoise lakes, lofty peaks and tramping tracks aplenty, Aoraki/Mount Cook is so much more than your average national park. Sure, you can hike here, soak up incredible kiwi landscapes and embrace the spirit of adventure, but visit after dark to see this South Island gem really come to life. Designated an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2012, the Aoraki region is the perfect spot for some southern hemisphere stargazing and, if you’re lucky, spotting the aurora australis (the southern lights).
How to do it: Head for the Mount John observatory, near Tekapo, and make use of six telescopes, known to observe around 50 million stars on a clear night. Alternatively try the Pukaki Observatory at the Mount Cook Lakeside Retreat. Spend two nights in the park on our Landscapes of New Zealand Journey.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. In fact, it does pretty well in the world list too; after all, it’s renowned for many thrill-seeking activities, from bungee jumping to skydiving to white water rafting.
How to do it: Enjoy the thrills of jetboating, luging and a range of other adventure activities on our Active New ZealandJourney.
The spluttering volcanic land of Rotorua is famous for its hot springs, mud pools and geysers. You can bathe in mud, watch as steaming water spurts several metres into the air at unpredictable intervals, and attempt to uncover the geothermal mysteries of this other-worldly region. While you’re here, check out the local Maori culture too – Rotorua is the country’s cultural heartland.
How to do it: See authentic Maori dances and discover Rotorua’s majestic geothermal valleys on our Best of Both Islands Journey.
When to go to New Zealand
- Spring: September to November
- Summer: December to February
- Autumn: March to May
- Winter: June to August
With its enduring natural beauty shining bright throughout the year, the best time to visit New Zealand is whenever you can. Even in the coldest, wettest months (June to August), some parts of the country are at the optimal time to visit. And so, whatever time of year you’re planning to visit, New Zealand will show you a good time. Just remember as New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to the UK, so be sure to pack your swimsuit in December and winter coat in June.
Spring is one of our favourite times to visit New Zealand, particularly because the weather is still pleasant but it's a much cheaper, and less crowded, time of year to visit. This time of year is also ideal for enjoying the great outdoors, hiking in the national parks and seeing the country's flowers in bloom. During this season, temperatures tend to range between 10 and 20ᵒC and rain is common in October, so be sure to pack for the elements.
Best places to visit in spring:
- Mount Cook
- Franz Josef Glacier
- Lake Tekapo to see the lupins in bloom
- Hawke’s Bay for the Food and Wine Classic
With temperatures reaching up to 25ᵒC and country-wide school holidays, summer is considered the high season for New Zealand. That said, with a population of 4.4 million (half that of London), there's plenty of room to enjoy the beaches, bays and wide-open spaces. To make the most of the warm weather and sunshine, we recommend exploring the North Island.
Best places to visit in summer:
- Bay of Islands
- Auckland for the Seafood Festival
- Lake Taupo
Following the popular summer season, autumn is still a very pleasant time to visit New Zealand, when you can enjoy many of the attractions to yourself. To indulge in the cooler temperatures and changing foliage, we recommend exploring the South Island, especially places like Abel Tasman National Park which offers ideal hiking weather in the fall.
Best places to visit in autumn:
- Waikato for the Balloons over Waikato festival
- Abel Tasman National Park
- Arrowtown for a patchwork of autumn leaves (pictured above)
Winter is another popular time to visit New Zealand, with the hotspot of the season being Queenstown for skiing. It’s also one of the best times to see wildlife, specifically migrating humpback whales in Kaikoura and penguins and seals in Milford Sound. Winter in New Zealand also marks rugby season so, if you’re a fan, be sure to book in advance to witness world-class rugby played out in front of a passionate crowd. Temperatures during this time can average around 10-15ᵒC, with snow common around the Southern Alps.
Best places to visit in winter:
- Milford Sound for ideal wildlife watching
- Kaikoura for whale watching
- Queenstown for ski season
- Auckland for restaurant month
New Zealand Holiday Advice and Ideas
More About New Zealand
Capital city: Wellington
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Vaccinations: Extra vaccinations are not required.
Flight time: London to Auckland flight time is around 27 hours with a stopover included in either Asia or the Middle East.
Visas: British Citizens do not require a visa for stays of less than six months.
Why Book Your New Zealand Holiday with Flight Centre
We know New Zealand: Many of our Travel Experts have visited, lived in or are from New Zealand, and can easily craft a tailor-made trip to suit your needs and budget.
Local knowledge: As an Australasian-born company, Flight Centre has stores and offices throughout New Zealand, giving us access to fantastic local knowledge. With a team on the ground in New Zealand, we’ll not only ensure you have a fantastic experience, but also offer you insider information and tips that only locals will know.
Flexibility: We offer flexible deposits, the opportunity to pay the balance of your holiday just 10 weeks before departure and fixed change and cancellation fees.
Travel Butler and 24/7 Emergency Assistance Service: When you book a holiday to New Zealand from our range of tailor-made Journeys, you’ll also enjoy access to our inclusive Travel Butler concierge and 24/7 Emergency Assistance services.
Stopovers to New Zealand
Stop over in the South Pacific
Seeing as you are in the Southern Hemisphere it makes sense to stop over in the South Pacific Ocean. After all what better way is there to relax and recharge after a long haul flight than sitting on a white sand beach surrounded by palm-lined coasts. Once you have finished relaxing why not explore the extraordinary underwater world of the Pacific.
We have a range of routes to choose from which include Fiji, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. Enquire with your travel expert now.
Stop over in Thailand
Take full advantage of some of the wonderful shopping opportunities in Bangkok as well as the chance to taste arguably some of the world's best cuisine. Flight Centre has a huge range of high-quality hotels and day trips available in Bangkok to make the most of your stay.
Stop over in California
Whether it's the pull of hedonistic San Francisco or the glitzy Los Angeles, stop over in Califonia for a taste of life 'accross the pond' before venturing to New Zealand. Ride on Iconic cable cars, sample some of the world famous wines of the Napa Valley or experience the hubub of Venice Beach.