Day 1: Spend half a day in Auckland. Sleep in Auckland
Spend about half a day in Auckland stroll through the lively Ponsonby neighborhood, ambling through Auckland CBD and taking a short ferry ride to Devonport, the urban seaside town. Beautiful views of Auckland downtown await from Devonport.
Day 2: Drive from Auckland to Waitomo Glowworm caves; then drive to Rotorua. Sleep in Rotorua
After enjoying a good breakfast in Auckland, pick up your rental car and drive to Waitomo Glowworm Caves to enjoy the sight of the glowworms that look like stars lit up in the night. It is a unique experience only in New Zealand, so not to be missed.
Then continue your drive to Rotorua. Walk around the Kuirau Park to see the active geothermal activity in the park. Then spend some time strolling through the Government Botanical Gardens. End the day with dinner at one of the restaurants on Eat Streat.
Day 3: Do the Hobbiton tour in the morning; then visit Wai-O-Tapo Geothermal Wonderland in the afternoon and end the day with Te Puia cultural experience and authentic Maori dinner. Sleep in Rotorua
Grab a quick breakfast in Rotorua and drive for an hour to Matamata, to do the Hobbiton Tour. I recommend the morning tours to beat the crowd. Then return to Rotorua, eat lunch and drive to the Wai-O-Tapo Geothermal Wonderland. After spending about 3-4 hours walking on the trails and enjoying the different geothermal activities, go to Te Puia. Their evening cultural performance and the Maori style buffet dinner is a must-do!
Day 4: Fly to Christchurch and spend the rest of the day in Christchurch. Sleep in Christchurch
Fly from Rotorua to Christchurch in the morning. After reaching Christchurch, enjoy a good lunch and stroll through the town and the Botanical Gardens. Canterbury Museum is also pretty neat. Christchurch was hit with a massive earthquake back in 2011 and the city is still recovering.
Day 5: Drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. Sleep in Tekapo
It’s a long, but beautiful drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. The roads pass through green agricultural lands, sheep farms and deer farms. Lake Tekapo is gorgeous. Take a short drive to St. John’s observatory to get aerial views of this lovely lake.
Day 6: Drive from Tekapo to Wanaka; stop at Lake Pukaki and Mt. Cook on the way. Sleep in Wanaka
After breakfast in Tekapo, drive to Lake Pukaki. Enjoy the gorgeous views of the turquoise blue lake with the glacier-covered Southern Alps in the background. Then continue driving to Mt. Cook. I recommend hiking the Hooker Valley trail and the short hike to see the Tasman Glaciers and Tasman Lake. Then drive to Wanaka and spend the night there.
Day 7: Spend the morning in Wanaka; drive to Queenstown, stopping at Arrowtown on the way. Do the gondola and luge in Queenstown. Sleep in Queenstown
Enjoy a good breakfast in Wanaka. Then go see “That Lonely Wanaka Tree”, one of the most photographed trees in the country. Then drive to Queenstown, taking a small detour to Arrowtown on the way. The drive from Wanaka to Queenstown is gorgeous. Arrowtown is one of those cute little pretty towns; you will not regret that detour. After you reach Queenstown, take the gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak to see panoramic views of Queenstown. If you are in a mood for some adventure, I recommend trying the luge.
Day 8: Take the day trip to jetboat and funyak in the Dart River. Sleep in Queenstown
Day 9: Take the day trip to Milford Sound. Sleep in Queenstown
There is a number of tours that offer day trips from Queenstown to Milford. All in all, it is a very very tiring, yet amazing day. I personally recommend driving to Te Anau the previous day, and driving by yourself to Milford Sound the next day. However, one-day tour options from Queenstown are available for those who are in a time crunch.
Day 10: Roam around in Queenstown and don’t say Bye, say “See you again soon”
Spend the morning strollign through the town, buying souvenirs. Then bid your adieu to Queenstown.