How Many Days Do You Need In New Zealand?

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand but aren’t sure how long you should spend there? This article breaks down how long you should spend in New Zealand!
How Many Days do You Need in New Zealand? Photo: Aneta Foubíková | Unsplash

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While New Zealand may be a relatively small country, there are so many things to see and do. 

How many days do you need in New Zealand? The answer depends on a range of things, such as where you’re coming from, what you plan to do, how you plan to travel and your budget. 

However, as a rule of thumb, a minimum of 14 days gives you enough time to visit both the North and South islands. 

How Long Does it Take to Get to New Zealand? 

New Zealand. Photo: Tobias Keller | Unsplash

Your trip to New Zealand will depend on how long it takes you to get there. 

For example, if you’re travelling from Australia, you won’t have to factor in jet lag. However, if you’re travelling from the other side of the world, you’ll have to factor in jet lag and the drastic time change. 

Getting to New Zealand from the USA & Canada 

You can get to New Zealand within 12 hours from the West Coast of the USA and Canada. However, it’ll take much longer from the East Coast. 

Because of the time difference, you’ll want to spend at least one day relaxing and acclimatising to the time once you arrive in New Zealand. 

Getting to New Zealand from Europe 

If you travel to New Zealand from the other side of the world, such as Europe, you’ll spend at least 24 hours travelling. 

Due to the long travel time, you’ll need a day or two to recover from the jet lag and time change once you arrive in New Zealand. 

Related: Is New Zealand expensive to visit?

How Many Days do You Need in New Zealand? 

Roys Peak. Photo: Aaron Sebastian | Unsplash

The time you need to visit New Zealand depends entirely on you. 

Below are a few things to help you decide how long to make your trip

  • What do you like to do and see?
  • How long do you have to spend travelling?
  • Your budget
  • Your preferred style of travel (plane, campervan, car) 
  • How fast do you like to travel (on the go all the time or slow and steady)?
  • How much detail do you like to include when visiting new places? 

If you’re travelling to New Zealand for the first time, a minimum of 14 days is needed to explore the North and South Islands at a relatively fast pace. 

However, you could easily spend two weeks exploring the North Island or just the South Island. The North Island is known for its beautiful beaches and big cities. The South Island is known for its mountains, lakes and adrenaline-filled activities.

If you have the time, spending one month exploring New Zealand will give you enough time to explore the best of what the country offers and then some. 

Related: This is the best time to visit New Zealand.

Best Places to See on the North Island 

Bay of Islands. Photo: Linde Lanjouw | Unsplash

Some of the best places to see in the North Island on your trip to New Zealand include

  • The Bay of Islands: Located in the far north of the country, the Bay of Islands boasts stunning beaches, beautiful islands and fantastic scenery.
  • Auckland: The biggest city in New Zealand is most likely where you’ll be flying into. Auckland is home to a vibrant food and drink scene and beautiful beaches. 
  • Waiheke Island: Located off the harbour in Auckland, Waiheke Island boasts plenty of wineries and jaw-dropping beaches.
  • Coromandel: The Coromandel Peninsula is a favourite for locals and tourists for its beautiful beaches, laid-back towns and spectacular scenery.
  • Rotorua: This town in the centre of the North Island is known for its geothermal activity. Visit active geysers and soak your feet in the thermal springs. 
  • Tongariro National Park: Made up of three active volcanoes, Tongariro National Park is where you can hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the most popular day hike in the country. 
  • Mt Maunganui: Located in the Bay of Plenty, Mt Maunganui is a beautiful beach suburb in Tauranga boasting a beautiful beach and mountain you can climb with stunning views of the bay. 
  • Wellington: No trip to New Zealand would be complete without visiting the capital city of Wellington. 

Related: This is the ultimate two-week New Zealand itinerary.

Best Places to See on the South Island 

Lake Tekapo. Photo: Niklas Ohlrogge | Unsplash

Some of the best places to see in the South Island on your trip to New Zealand include

  • Abel Tasman National Park: Located at the top of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and plenty of walking trails to explore. 
  • Marlborough: If you love wine, visiting the many different vineyards in the wine region of Marlborough is a must. 
  • Franz Josef Glacier: Located on the west coast of the South Island, Franz Josef Glacier is a 12 km-long temperate maritime glacier that you can hike to the top of. 
  • Aoraki/Mount Cook: Visiting the tallest mountain in New Zealand is an absolute must. Even if you aren’t a mountain climber, seeing the mountain in all its glory from the bottom is just as exhilarating. 
  • Queenstown: Known as the world’s adventure capital, if you love adrenaline activities, you must visit Queenstown. From jet boating to bungee jumping, there are so many fantastic things to do in the town. 
  • Milford Sound: Known as the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound is a fjord on the lower west corner of the South Island and is an absolute must-visit during your trip to New Zealand. Boasting stunning waterfalls and jaw-dropping scenery, there is so much to love about Milford Sound. 

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, one of the first things you must decide is how long to visit. 

Two weeks is the minimum time needed to explore both the North and South Islands. However, if you have more time to spare, it means more time exploring different parts of the country.

When are you planning to visit this beautiful part of the world? 


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