One week is nowhere nearly enough for exploring New Zealand, but let’s face it. Almost no one has the luxury to take leave for weeks, and when you do get your two weeks off, we all try to see as much as possible while traveling to faraway destinations like New Zealand – in my case it was trying to explore New Zealand and Australia – hectic, exhilarating and absolutely unforgettable fortnight of my life! Therefore, I wanted to share my itinerary to prove that it is possible to explore AND enjoy New Zealand in 7 days, even though I know savvy travelers will roll their eyes at me.
Day 1. Arrive to Auckland – New Zealand’s largest and most cosmopolitan city – check into your hotel and take a leisurely stroll around the town. Make sure you grab a good cup of coffee and perhaps brunch first. Both do wonders to your jetleg! You can read about my recommendations on what to do and see in Auckland here, and a list of my favorite restaurants here.
Day 2. After a delicious breakfast (I know, I’m obsessed), hop on a ferry to Waiheke Island for a wine tasting tour. Not a wine drinker? Believe me, this tiny island is so scenic you’ll still have tons to do – hike, tour the olive farm (do yourself a favor and buy this award-winning chutney – best thing I have ever tried and now a staple in my kitchen!), sunbathe at the beach, and of course indulge at local cuisine. Whether you care to fine dine at one of the vineyard restaurants, or grab a plateful of fish and chips, you will find something to satisfy your taste buds. Alternatively, you can spend the afternoon in Devenport, a neighboring peninsula with a charming atmosphere, great eateries and fantastic views of Auckland skyline. You can read more about how we spent a day on Waiheke Island and it’s wonderful wineries here.
Day 3. Take a tour of Hobbiton, Waitomo Glowworm Caves and Rotorua, which is a heart of Maori Culture. We did an organized tour, but you can always rent a car and do the drive yourself.
Day 4. Catch an early flight to Christchurch and do a scenic drive to Fox Glacier.
Day 5. Visit Mt. Cook, Lake Tekapo – a surreal turquoise lake set in the golden, tussocky Mackenzie Country – and then drive to Queenstown.
Day 6. No visit to the South Island should end without a trip to Milford Sound. It’s not just about the destination, but the entire drive along the Milford Road is jaw-dropping. We chose to book a tour that drove us to the Sound and then we flew back to Queenstown, which saved us tons of time and energy and allowed us to enjoy an evening in the town. This was truly one of the most scenic places and worth visiting. You can find out the full details about our trip here.
Day 7. Enjoy your last day in the most idyllic resort town that is Queenstown. We spent a truly idyllic day not only enjoying this little resort town, but also driving around and exploring some of the best wineries in the region. Lake Wanaka is also an hour-drive away and is absolutely worth seeing. Find out more in my detailed post here. I also listed all the highlights of our stay in Queenstown here.
What will you miss? Well, the capital of New Zealand Wellington with its charming views of the harbor and, allegedly, an amazing dining scene. A ferry ride to Marlborough and its fantastic wineries. Last but certainly not least, insanely scenic ride at the southernmost point of South Island. But hey, you shouldn’t feel guilty if one week is all the time you’ve got. Think about it this way – there is always a reason to come back!
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