We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

12 night trip for North & South Island help

Stillwater, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
54 posts
20 reviews
13 helpful votes
12 night trip for North & South Island help

Hello to all, we have a trip planned for the end of the year over Christmas break. I know it’s along time away but I’m a planner and want everything booked as soon as I can get it booked to ease my mind when we arrive. We have 12 nights in NZ that doesn’t count travel days from the states. Was hoping 6 nites each island maybe 5 north and 7 south. Not sure what is open on Christmas Day is why I have roys peak on that day figure if everything is closed it will be a nice long hike to take up most of the day. I know it’s not a lot of time on each island but I feel it’s pretty “localized” so I’m not trying to do AKL- ZQN and everything in between.

12/24- land at 10:30am in AKL take plane to Queenstown at 12:25 land at 2:20pm, pick up camper van stay at Wanaka- 1 hr drive

12/25- Christmas/ Hike Roys peak 6-7 hrs, earlier the better. try to make it to lake Pukaki for night 2 hr drive

12/26-Hooker Valley track 3-4 hrs hike. head back to q-town for night 3:15 hr drive

12/27-head to Milford sound to stay at campsite(must book early) 4 hr drive

12/28-milford cruise early head back to q-town afterwards 4 hr drive

12/29-q-town - Luge


12/31- leave early to head to AKL stay at coromandel

1/1-head to Rotorua stay- redwood canopy tour

1/2-rotorua stay- zorbing, Māori culture

1/3-rotorua or AKl- glow worm caves- hot springs

1/4-AKL night

7 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for South Island, Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand, Tonga
Level Contributor
24,217 posts
739 reviews
509 helpful votes
1. Re: 12 night trip for North & South Island help

two hours is cutting the transfer time very tight. the recommendation is 3 hours between international and domestic flights. nzs biosecurity is very tough and usually delays here.

roys peak is in wanaka and its a really really boring walk - its 8km up a 4wd gravel road, no shade - but all for the instagram shot. consider rob roy glacier instead.

im finding you have really underestimated the driving in nz at peak holiday season. expect travel to take up to twice as long on boxing day - 26 dec. Traffic going to wanaka is going to be very very heavy and expect delays.

you are just rushing things during the day to cram in an event and rush off again. 31 dec is going to take you hours to travel from auckland to coromandel - its another huge travel day. and then going back to auckland towards the end of a long weekend. you are going to have to allow more time over your whole trip for driving.

Not an itinerary i would recommend at all. its a bit weird actually.

Stillwater, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
54 posts
20 reviews
13 helpful votes
2. Re: 12 night trip for North & South Island help

@ #1. Yes I should have changed the time for the flight to ZQN since I found a flight at 2pm for half the price of the 12:25 flight. I’m open to suggestions for sure. What would you change or cancel. I’m fine with skipping Roy’s peak. The view looks amazing but didn’t want to spend 6+ hours on a hike I just didn’t know what would be available to do on Christmas Day. I’ll check out rob roy glacier like you suggested. Thanks for the help.

New Zealand
Level Contributor
2,868 posts
58 reviews
25 helpful votes
3. Re: 12 night trip for North & South Island help

Kia ora, with your timescale, I would stick to the South Island only. You are dashing around, better to stay a minimum of 2 nights at each location.

Arrowtown, New...
Level Contributor
8,110 posts
68 reviews
65 helpful votes
4. Re: 12 night trip for North & South Island help

On day 1 you have a 12hr+ long haul flight - northern to southern hemisphere - winter to summer - today to tomorrow ... your bodies and brains WILL be hit with jet lag. On arrival at Akld, after getting through customs/ immigration, you're boarding another plane for another 90mins of flying even further south. Picking up a camper will take a good hour plus. You'll want to do a decent supermarket shop/ stockup - what with supermarkets closed xmas day - then with your current (poor) plan you won't have a chance to get to a good 'city' supermarket for several days. Then - oh, actually - many camper rentals do not allow you to go over the Crown Range - so you've a longer 90min-2hr drive via Kawarau Gorge/ Comwell/ Luggate to Wānaka (on the 'wrong' side of the road too). ...

Yes, it's daylight til late - but you'll not be Wānaka til at the earliest 8.30pm - and will have easily been travelling - with very little proper sleep - for 24hours.

... ... then you plan to be up early on Christmas Day for Roys Peak (you'll want to start well before 8am) - at least 7hour hike - then sit in the camper for 3+ hours over a mountain pass to Twizel area??? Good luck.

While we do not recommend driving on arrival day after long haul travel - I would be OK with you picking up the camper, visiting nearby New World supermarket, then driving the approx 1km to Driftaway Camp Ground. Park up there - easy access to the Frankton Trail - where you can stretch legs, get fresh air, have a gorgeous walk along the river - and perhaps even a very fresh dip in the lake. (Driftaway also have private hot tubs. - I've not yet had a staycation there - but NZpoppy has stayed there)...

Take the evening to settle yourself into the camper, relax, have a wine, enjoy sunset (if you manage to keep your eyes open long enough!).

Night 2 actually - stay Queenstown again - you can bus in to the town centre - perhaps consider booking either Stratosphere (Skyline gondola, luge, and restaurant) for xmas dinner; or TSS Earnslaw (old steam ship) cruise and christmas lunch.

Night 3 drive through to Mt Cook (Whitehorse campground)

Night 4 stay Mt Cook - or relocate to Lake Tekapo

Night 5 to Wānaka

Night 6 - I'd suggest Diamon Lake/ Rocky Mountain over Roys Peak. Much lower/ easier hike and I love the views. Mt Iron is another relatively easy hill. Alternatively - the Mou Waho cruise is fantastic (to a lake on an island on a lake on an island in the ocean!) Stay Wānaka

Night 7 drive through to Te Anau - yes, actually, I'd just go this far - perhaps evening lake cruise to the glowworm caves.

Night 8 drive Milford Sound road, stop at several walks on the way... stay at the Milford Sound Lodge campsite

Night 9 sunrise kayak, morning cruise, head back to Queenstown

Night 10 early flight via chch to Rotorua

Night 11 Rotorua

Night 12 akld and fly home.

Stillwater, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
54 posts
20 reviews
13 helpful votes
5. Re: 12 night trip for North & South Island help

@ #4 sounds like I need to cut out Roy’s peak totally and just stick with Queenstown for the first night or 2. Thanks for the help. Nothing I have done so far is set in stone sim I’m open for suggestions.

Destination Expert
for New Zealand
Level Contributor
18,618 posts
71 reviews
33 helpful votes
6. Re: 12 night trip for North & South Island help

You will have to give serious consideration to what you are going to do for meals on Christmas Day. Most every restaurant will be closed. If you pick up the campervan when you arrive, that opens up the option of self-catering, but you will have to go to the grocery store on Christmas Eve. As Pineapplesensei has stated, just getting the campervan will take an hour or more. It's not like renting a car. They will want to go through all the systems with you. Like how to flush the toilet, how to empty the cassette, where the power cord is and where to plug it in, how to start the gas flow for the LP and how to light the burners, where the water intake is, how to empty waste water, how to operate the heat, what will and won't work if you aren't plugged in, what is expected of you when you return the campervan.

It will be late by the time you are ready to "hit the road". I very much like her idea of staying at nearby Driftaway. It's very new and gets wonderful reviews.

If you don't want to cook for yourselves on Christmas Day or don't want to bother with grocery shopping on Christmas Eve, then you will have to make restaurant reservations as soon as they become available for booking.

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central, New Zealand, North Island, Cook Islands
Level Contributor
28,657 posts
140 reviews
82 helpful votes
7. Re: 12 night trip for North & South Island help

Hotel restaurants will be open to serve house-guests primarily. Usually Christmas Eve is the last chance to enjoy an independent restaurant meal. End of year, with staff requiring annual leave, restauranteurs shut their operation but may be open on NYE if they deem that busy night worthwhile.

If you fly into Rotorua from Christchurch/South Island, hiring a vehicle for a limited time, and thinking of driving same to Auckland is either no do'able or will cost an arm and a leg. During the busy festive season, rental companies are reluctant to bother with the logistics of getting their vehicle back due to previous and heavy bookings.

In all reality, I don't think it is worth flying to Rotorua at all. If you either remain on the South Island, or fly to Auckland ahead of departure that will be less pressure on your visit. The Coromandel Peninsula will hopefully enjoy a busy summer for 2024/25. Domestic tourism takes off during the Christmas Break.

Reply to: 12 night trip for North & South Island help
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
© 2024 Tripadvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in New Zealand. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.