20 nights including hotel stays, campervan hire and interislander ferry* Call for latest price and offers
A New Zealand campervan holiday is one of the best ways to discover everything this incredible Pacific nation has to offer, while allowing you total freedom – you can travel at your own pace and design your own itinerary. You’ll pick up your campervan in Auckland on the North Island and drop it off in Christchurch on the South Island, but everything you do in-between is up to you.
There are plenty of things to do within easy driving distance of Auckland. You can discover the magical movie set of Hobbiton™, see Rotorua’s geothermal wonders and marvel at Taupo’s thundering Huka Falls. Then you’ll reach the boutique wine region of Martinborough and New Zealand’s cool capital, Wellington.
Next, it’s time to hop on the Interislander Ferry and arrive in Picton on the South Island, just three-and-a-half hours later. You can go wine-tasting in Marlborough, hike through Abel Tasman National Park, explore dramatic landscapes and glaciers on the wild West Coast, try daredevil activities in Queenstown, and gape at millions of stars above Lake Tekapo. Finally, your trip wraps up in one of New Zealand’s most diverse and vibrant cities, Christchurch.
We suggest the below as an itinerary, but please speak to our travel specialists if you’d like to make any changes – we can help you plan every detail of your three-week New Zealand itinerary.
“Kia Ora” and welcome to New Zealand, as you kick-start your North Island itinerary with two nights in the vibrant city of Auckland. You can go up the Sky Tower for panoramic views over the city, feast on tasty cuisine at Ponsonby Central Market, and spend an evening on the waterfront enjoying cocktails and fresh oysters. Visit Waiheke Island – home to vineyards and picturesque beaches – or check out the All Blacks Experience to learn all about NZ’s famous rugby players. Want to see wild whales? The Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari sets sail every day and guarantees mammal sightings in Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. With so much to do, you might want to add on an extra night or two.
Overnight: Rydges Auckland
From the coast, head inland to Rotorua. If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings, we recommend stopping at the Hobbiton™ Movie Set on the way, where you can walk though The Shire from the Tolkien books. Admire life-size Hobbit Holes, enjoy a specially brewed beer at The Green Dragon Inn, and immerse yourself in the magic of the movie set.
Just an hour’s drive away, Rotorua offers cultural Maori experiences, wellness spas and all kinds of activities. Sitting on one of the world’s biggest active geothermal fields, Rotorua is home to geysers, bubbling mud pits and bright yellow sulphur pools. Visit the geothermal wonderlands of Te Puia, Waimangu and Wai-o-Tapu, or go white-water rafting or zip-lining. Fancy something more relaxing? Spend an afternoon at Polynesian Spa, where you can unwind with a treatment or soak in geothermal pools. Or ride the gondola up to Skyline Rotorua and enjoy an incredible dinner at the Stratosfare Restaurant as the sun sets.
With a lake the size of Singapore, Taupo is all about water. It’s home to New Zealand’s most visited attraction, Huka Falls, which you can marvel at from walking trails or a jet-boat. Adrenaline junkies can go skydiving in Taupo, or brave New Zealand’s highest cliff-top bungee jump, 47 metres above the Waikato River. For something more relaxing, take a boat trip to the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, or unwind in the mineral waters of Otumuheke Stream – a natural (and free) thermal spring.
You might also want to visit Tongariro National Park – it’s a dual World Heritage Site, thanks to its cultural identity and natural scenery. Keen hikers can attempt the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. One of New Zealand’s best day hikes, this 19-kilometre route is a challenging walk, but the lakes, mountains and volcanoes are worth it the effort. Shuttles can be arranged from Taupo and back again, or you could book a guided walk to learn about the landscape and its history as you hike.
En route to Wellington, stop off in the quaint wine village of Martinborough, where perfect pinot noirs and foodie delights await. You can discover olive groves, boutique stores, fabulous cafés and more than 20 wineries. The village is so small that most vineyards can be reached on foot, but hiring bikes or joining a wine tour is also a fun way to explore.
Wellington’s where you’ll board the ferry to the South Island, but make sure you allow some time to explore New Zealand’s cool capital city. Stroll along the vibrant harbour, drop in at one of the city’s many craft breweries, and visit the unmissable Te Papa Museum, where you can learn all about New Zealand’s extraordinary history. When it’s time to go, simply drive on to the Interislander Ferry in Wellington, and then drive off again at Picton. The three-and-a-half-hour ferry journey across the Cook Straight is one of the most beautiful in the world – you’ll see why when you sail into Queen Charlotte Sound.
Arrive in the South Island and make for New Zealand’s most famous wine region – Marlborough. World-famous for its delicious sauvignon blanc, this region has more than 30 cellar doors, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try some of the local produce. Why not join a guided tour of the vineyards, or hire bikes to explore the valleys and vines?
You can take advantage of the Maui Winery Haven while you’re here, too. Exclusive to Maui campervan customers, the Winery Haven experience allows you to camp overnight in a vineyard – and you’ll receive a delicious food and wine hamper to enjoy among the vines. You’ll be able to stay at Gibson Bridge Winery, a boutique family-owned vineyard in Renwick.
Hit the road and drive west to Abel Tasman National Park. Known for its pristine beaches, lush native forest and diverse wildlife, this peaceful spot is a nature-lover’s dream. The beachfront towns of Marahau and Kaiteriteri are perfectly positioned for exploring the highlights of the Abel Tasman National Park. You can’t drive your campervan into the park itself, but it’s easily reached – simply hop in a water-taxi, or join a sailing tour or guided kayaking trip. If you’d prefer to explore on foot, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. The entire walk takes between three and five days but, if you haven’t got the time, just take a water-taxi to Anchorage and then walk the 12 kilometres back Marahau at your leisure. There are plenty of options for swimming and beach time along the way.
New Zealand’s west coast is rugged and wild. With everything from rainforests to glaciers, this is one of the best coastal drives in the world. Head to Punakaiki to see Pancake Rocks – resembling stacked pancakes, this 30-million-year-old limestone formation is a natural phenomenon not to be missed. The cool town of Hokitika is another gem on the west coast. Here, you’ll find jade carving studios, glow worm caves and Hokitika Gorge, where the water is so impossibly turquoise it has to be seen to be believed.
This part of the South Island also has two of the most accessible glaciers in the world, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. One item for your bucket list is a guided heli-hike – you’ll fly up to the glacier in a helicopter, and then go on a guided hike through the icy caves and tunnels. The weather can be unpredictable, though, so we’d recommend spending a night in the area. This will increase your chances of getting out on a heli-hike, if the weather isn’t great on the day you arrive.
Next up, it’s Queenstown. Hailed as New Zealand’s adventure capital, this lakefront town is famous for its exhilarating activities. Skydiving, bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, jet-boating, zip-lining – you name it, Queenstown has it. But if adrenaline-pumping activities aren’t quite your style, why not opt for a more leisurely sailing trip on Lake Wakitipu? The TSS Earnslaw is a century-old steamship and one of the best ways to see Queenstown’s surrounding landscape. Or, for a different view of Queenstown, take to the skies in a helicopter and admire the vast lake and snow-capped mountains below. Your pilot will also be able to point out several filming locations from The Lord of the Rings.
Queenstown also makes a great base for exploring Fiordland National Park. This stunning spot is home to the dramatic Milford Sound and equally beautiful Doubtful Sound. You can take a day trip from Queenstown – which involves a scenic cruise and return coaches – or if you want to see Fiordland in style, or are simply short on time, book a scenic flight for the most unbelievable views.
Lake Tekapo is a show-stopping location to spend the last night of your New Zealand campervan holiday. The milky turquoise lake is stunning by day – but, come nightfall, be sure to turn your eyes to the heavens. Lake Tekapo is within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve – one of only 13 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world – so the night skies here are truly magical. You’ll be able to see millions of stars and, between April and September, you might even see the Southern Lights, Aurora Australis. For a unique introduction to astronomy, join in with Tekapo Stargazing at Tekapo Springs – this is the only hot pool star-gazing experience in New Zealand.
Arrive in Christchurch and drop off your campervan, then spend some time exploring one of New Zealand’s most interesting cities. Urban regeneration and heritage sit side-by-side in Christchurch, which boasts vibrant street art, green spaces, innovative architecture and a great dining scene. For a fun way to see the city, why not jump aboard the beautifully resorted Christchurch tram? You can hop on and off as you please, visiting key attractions like the Botanic Gardens, New Regent Street and The Terrace & Riverside Market.
Christchurch is well-connected with flights to Australia, Fiji and the Cook Islands – so your adventure can continue elsewhere, if you wish.
Overnight: Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square
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