Two week road trip itinerary for New Zealand


3min read

Published 28 November 2013


Frankie, the blogger behind As the Bird Flies, tells us about her two week road trip through New Zealand. Warning: This post WILL make you want to pack your bags and explore this beautiful country in a campervan.

If you're tempted, take a look at our New Zealand self-drive holidays and keep an eye out for the golden coin. Click the Twitter button below the coin and you could win tickets to see the new Hobbit movie and a Hobbit goodie bag!


Even with a relatively small country like New Zealand it's hard to know where to start if you only have a limited time for exploring. Especially with a country like New Zealand because its two islands are bursting with beauty, history, tradition and culture. Not to mention Hobbits, wine and rugby. Well, here's a little help. Here’s my suggestion for a two week road trip in a camper van based on what I did and loved recently. (You can also find a full list of campsites to accompany this itinerary here)


Day 1 - Christchurch

Fly into Christchurch and spend a day and a night in the city before picking up your van. Be sure to absorb the recent history of the earthquake that shook the city in 2011 and applaud the resilience of the local people in rebuilding and adapting their city.


Day 2 - Wanaka

It's time to hit the road and this five-hour drive will take you past a few of the incredibly blue lakes that the South Island is famous for. Stop for lunch in Taupo and make sure you get to Wanaka in time to have a walk by the lake there.

Days 3 & 4 - Queenstown


It's a short one-hour's drive to Queenstown, but this means you have time to stop at Arrowtown, a historic settlement that grew from the gold rush. Afterwards you’ll join a road, which climbs and crosses the Crown Range mountains, one of the most picturesque roads in New Zealand and the country's highest.

Queenstown is the adventure, backpacking and party capital of South Island, so you'll need at least a day to either recover or squeeze in all the bungee jumps, jet boat rides and mountain biking. For the less adventurous I recommend a gentle(ish) hike up to the top of Queenstown Hill for brilliant views.

Day 5 - Te Anau


Heading further south, Te Anau is the nearest town to Milford Sound, one of New Zealand's famous fjords. Ferry tours are the easiest way to see this natural wonder, but kayaking is also on offer. The drive to and from Milford Sound is pretty spectacular and watch out for the Kia Ora birds on top of cars pecking away at the roof; it sounds a lot more frightening than it looks!


Day 6 - Kinloch Lodge


On the opposite end of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown is the small town of Glenorchy and a dirt track away from this is the idyllic Kinloch Lodge where you can camp for next to nothing and indulge in a delicious home-cooked meal in the Lodge's restaurant all with stunning lake views on your doorstep. A word of warning, cover up; sand flies also love the views at Kinloch Lodge and they are always hungry too!

Day 7 - Rapahoe


The longest drive we did (around seven hours), we timed it so that we could stop at Fox Glacier on the way. The last few hours of this drive are very special, taking in the ocean views of the South Island’s west coast. Rapahoe is a small village just north of Greymouth, where you will be perfectly placed to go see the nearby famous "Pancake Rocks" (Punakaiki) the following morning.


Day 8 - Nelson


Our pitch the night before we caught the ferry across to the North Island, we had to drive around four hours to get here and then spent the afternoon on the beach in the Abel Tasman National Park before enjoying some international cuisine in the surprisingly cosmopolitan city of Nelson.


Day 9 - Martinborough

Despite really wanting to spend a night in Wellington we drove straight off the boat - an impressive journey in itself - and headed northeast to Martinborough, a wine growing region often overlooked thanks to its similar sounding cousin, Marlborough. The perfect place to take a day off driving and try a few wines!

Day 10 - Napier


Keeping it cultural we drove another 200 miles to Napier in Hawke's Bay, a city that is famous for its art deco architecture. The reason the city boasts so much art deco is because Napier was flattened in vicious earthquake in 1931 and subsequently rebuilt in the style that was à la mode at the time. It's now considered to be one of the art deco capitals of the world, alongside Miami.

Day 11 - Taupo


It's only a short drive from Napier to Taupo, considered to be the Queenstown of the North Island with plenty of adrenaline fuelled activities on offer. This is also where all the fascinating geothermal activity can be seen explored and less pleasantly, smelt. Spend an hour at the Craters of the Moon before visiting the Huka Falls where you can go on a short "tramp" (Kiwi for hike!) along the river which links to a thermal spring that you can swim in.


Day 12 - Rotorua


Before leaving Taupo, spend the morning in the Taupo Hot Springs, which will ease you into your short drive north to Rotorua. With geothermal activity visible everywhere - from street corners to gardens - there are lots of activities to do here. We spent the afternoon at Te Whakarewarewa, a Maori village where Maori women traditionally lead tours as they have been for over a century. Their predecessors were considered to be the first tour guides of New Zealand.


Days 13 & 14 - Auckland

Flight Centre

© Flight Centre (UK) Limited, Registered in England No. 02937210.

* 0800 calls are free for landlines and mobiles. 0333 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. 0844/0845 calls are 7p/pm plus your local carrier charge. Prices are per person twin share, correct as at the date of publication, subject to change and may be higher/unavailable for certain dates. Airfares are economy on specified airlines from London, unless otherwise stated. For full booking conditions visit Booking Conditions. Some of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. We will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each holiday and travel service offered before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but not all the parts of your trip are listed on it, those parts not listed will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: