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16 day New Zealand Trip Itinerary Advice (September 2024)

6 posts
16 day New Zealand Trip Itinerary Advice (September 2024)

Hi everyone! I'm currently planning my first trip to New Zealand from Canada with a friend in September 2024. The trip I have laid out is 16 days and I'm looking to get advice on my itinerary from anyone who's willing to help me plan the best trip possible!

For some background, I want to visit both the north and south island as I am a huge LOTR fan (Hobbiton is a must) but I also want to take in the incredible sights / hikes that the south island has to offer (Milford Sound, Mount Cook, etc). My friend and I are both in our late 20s and are fairly active (but we wouldn't mind getting in even better shape in preparation for this trip).

I've read a lot of itineraries online where people have overbooked themselves and setup too much driving for a single day, so I'm doing my best to not do that and make sure that my friend and I are not overexerting ourselves while still getting to see as much as possible. Currently, there are 6 days on this trip with 0 travel time and another 3 days with 160km or less of driving.

My itinerary with the total driving per day can be found below

Day 1 - Fly into Auckland and catch a connecting flight to Queenstown. Spend the day doing some light exploring and recovering from the long flight. (I've heard Fergburger is good!) (0km)

Day 2 - Take a bus tour* to Milford Sound. Take a boat tour of the fjords and then head back to Queenstown to sleep. (~600km of bus travel). This is the longest travel day of the trip and we understand that it'll be a big day

*In order to reduce the amount of driving we would have to do and allow for a bit of mental rest

Day 3 - Drive to Wanaka. On the way, stop at Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge to go bunjee jumping. Finish the drive and take in sights at Wanaka. (68km)

Day 4 - Drive to Mount Cook village and do the Hooker Valley Trek. (206km)

Day 5 - Stay at Mount Cook and do another hike (suggestions?) or a helicopter tour (worth it?). (0km)

Day 6 - Drive to Lake Tekapo and take in the sights of Lake Pukaki along the way. Visit the Church of the Good Shepard (104km)

Day 7 - Drive to Mount Potts area and stay at the Mount Potts Lodge. Hike Mount Sunday (AKA Edoras) (189km)

Day 8 - Stay at Mount Potts area and Hike mount Mount Potts (0km)

Day 9 - Drive to Christchurch and spend the afternoon taking in the sights (suggestions?) (225km)

Day 10 - Fly* to Wellington. Pick up a rental car at the airport and explore Wellington (1 flight)

*We figured this saves us quite a bit of driving, a ferry ride, and the flights are very cheap

Day 11- Stay in Wellington and explore the city some more (suggestions?) (0km)

Day 12 - Drive to Tongariro National Park and either do a small hike (e.g Tawhai Falls, Taranaki Falls) or just relax for the night. (295km)

Day 13 - Stay in Tongariro National Park and do a guided tour* of the Tongariro Crossing (0km)

*As far as I understand, in September, it is heavily suggested to take a guided tour

Day 14 - Drive to Matamata and relax / recover from the hike the previous day (214km)

Day 15 - Stay in Matamata and fulfil my boyhood dream of visiting Hobbiton! (0km)

Day 16 - Drive to Auckland and fly home (161km)

What does everyone think? I've tried to split up the rest days / minimize the travel on most days to ensure we're not just driving the whole time but I really want to hear from others who have travelled to New Zealand! Any advice on my itinerary is greatly appreciated and if anyone has suggestions of places to visit along the way or activities to do, please don't hesitate to throw them in the comments below!

Thanks and look forward to hearing from you all soon!

11 replies to this topic
6 posts
11. Re: 16 day New Zealand Trip Itinerary Advice (September 2024)

Hi Jeff!

Good to know about the helicopter tour. Silly question though, are most tours cancellable then? (e.g the first day looks good and we take a tour but we don't want to take a tour the second day also)

Thanks for tips about the hiking there! It looks like such an amazing place to hike, so any info is really appreciated :D

I've heard such great things about the glow worms but I'm having a tough time finding a spot to fit them in the trip without overbooking / stretching ourselves too thin! Maybe the one that gets away this trip LOL

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