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Choosing where to go in New Zealand may well be the biggest problem of your visit if you’re short on time.

Chances are that you’ve come a long way to get here, so give yourself ample time to make the most of it. If you’ve got a month or more, check out our Length of NZ Classic.

We’ve made up a number of itineraries here, but there’s no right and wrong way of visiting NZ.

North Island

While we recommend giving Auckland at least three days, if you’re short on time, follow the Auckland In-A-Day route. And if you can find three or four days, don’t forget to Explore the North and the Bay of Islands.

South Island

If you love mountains and nature, take a look at our South Island Loop itinerary. Hikers will swoon over the walking options in our Dayhikers’ South Island Itinerary.

Our wildcard here is the Glenorchy & Paradise Day Trip out of Queenstown. Glenorchy is our author’s top spot, and Sir Ian McKellen, ‘Lord of the Rings’ legend, called Paradise “my favourite place on Earth”. Incidentally, the guided Lord of the Rings Tour to Middle Earth filming locations around Queenstown are also well worth taking for fans of the trilogy.


Recently, more and more visitors are basing their visit around wineries. If that’s you, consider our Wine Lovers’ Itinerary.

Auckland In-A-Day

Top sights in the City of Sails

Exploring the North

Visit the Bay of Islands & the top (3-4 days)

Glenorchy & Paradise Day Trip

The north end of Lake Wakatipu & beyond

Dayhikers' South Island Itinerary

Daywalks Trip in the South (2 weeks)

Length of NZ Classic

4 weeks driving the length of NZ

North Island Loop

Circle the island in 2 weeks

South Island Loop

Circle the island in 3 weeks

Wine Lovers' Itinerary

Follow the vines (1-3 weeks)

Lord of the Rings Tours

Middle Earth filming locations around Queenstown

Text © Craig McLachlan

Image by Taylor Brandon on Unsplash