Thinking about going on a New Zealand road trip?
We have gathered all the information that you need to plan out your New Zealand itinerary 4 weeks road trip through both the South Island and North Island. All the best places to stop and see in a month in New Zealand.
We wanted to take our time going through New Zealand and be able to stop anywhere we wanted and go see all that New Zealand has to offer. So hiring a campervan was the perfect option for us to experience the country. We took this New Zealand trip for 1 month as part of our 1 year trip around the world with our kids. We absolutely fell in love with the country and I am sure you will too after your visit.
What You'll Find in This Post
- New Zealand Trip Planning
- New Zealand Map
- New Zealand South Island Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- New Zealand North Island Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- New Zealand Campervan Rental
- Best Areas to Stay in New Zealand
- New Zealand Travel Tips
New Zealand Trip Planning
Planning a trip to New Zealand can sometimes be overwhelming so we have outlined the route that we took on our one month road trip itinerary of New Zealand.
The best way to travel New Zealand is to campervan through the country and road trip. It truly is the proper way to see New Zealand because some of the best places to see are not in the cities but out on the road. You can rent a car and obviously stay at some places close to these spots but it won’t give you the same experience. If you have the option, I would highly recommend campervanning (otherwise known as RVing or motorhome) across New Zealand.
First off, 4 weeks in New Zealand is plenty of time to see both South Island and North Island. You will have enough time to spend an adequate amount of time on each of the islands.
Usually, the typical route for a road trip in New Zealand is to either go from Auckland to Christchurch or vice versa.
We chose to go from Christchurch to Auckland because of two reasons. The first was the weather, the South Island generally get cooler than the North Island first and we were there during the autumn so we opted to do the South Island first. Secondly, we got cheaper flights going into Christchurch from Sydney and then out from Auckland to the United States. So for us, that was the route we took, but you can easily reverse this New Zealand travel itinerary.
New Zealand Map
Here is a brief overview of the New Zealand road trip map, numerically starting with Christchurch and ending in Auckland. Starting with New Zealand South Island road trip and then upwards to places to visit in New Zealand North Island.
New Zealand South Island Itinerary: 2 Weeks
Here is the New Zealand road trip itinerary that we took for 30 days in New Zealand.
Christchurch – 1 Night
Arrive in Christchurch and arrange for your campervan hire company to pick you up from the airport. You will then be prepared by the campervan company with all the rental details and you are off to start your New Zealand road trip!
It would recommend staying in Christchurch for the first day, check to confirm everything works in your campervan and go to the grocery store to get food staples for your road trip. If you have a bit of time to spare you can check out a few things in Christchurch before you start your road trip.
Lake Pukaki or Lake Tekapo – 1 night
The first stop after you head out on your South Island road trip should be to Lake Pukaki. On the way stop at Lake Tekapo to admire the amazing views. This isn’t too far away from Christchurch so it lets you get used to driving, especially if it on the opposite side of the road for you (as it was for us).
Lake Pukaki is a beautiful spot that will reassure you that the beauty of this country is outside the cities. We had snow-capped mountains with ice blue waters to admire. If you prefer you can stay at Lake Tekapo and go check out the sky gazing in the evening, it was just a bit too late for the kids.
Mount Cook – 1 Night
The next morning make your way to Mount Cook National Park, along the gorgeous drive along Lake Pukaki. Enjoy the Hooker Valley Track hike which will take you to some remarkable views of Mount Cook. Mount Cook village is the only place to stay in the park and close to all the hikes.
Wanaka – 2 Nights
Make your way over to Lake Wanaka then for a couple of nights through Lindis Pass with a stop at the Lookout and Haast Pass before arriving to Wanaka. This is one place that we absolutely loved and could honestly live here one day. The town is centred around Lake Wanaka with a famous tree that perches out from the lake.
Spend some time in the town or just on the outskirts hiking or seeking adventure. We enjoyed picnics at the lake, a day hike and walking in town. Wanaka always has something going on, so check out their Wakana’s website for what is happening in Wanaka when you are there.
Milford Sound – 1 Night
One of the best things to do in New Zealand South Island is to go see Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Hand down worth the extra time to go and spend 1 night at this location and take a scenic boat cruise to see Milford Sound. Get your tickets in advance to ensure your spot on the boat cruise here.
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The amazing Milford Sound! Waterfalls, streams, and so many paths to explore. Pouring rain and along the mountains you can easily spot at what elevation the rain turned into snow #roadclosed #milfordsound #newzealand . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel
Be sure to book your campsite ahead of time since there is only one place to stay and during high season they are sold out frequently. It is a must see in New Zealand and worth the bit of extra planning ahead to book this.
Queenstown – 3 Nights
The adrenaline capital of New Zealand is Queenstown! If you are wanting to bungee jump, paraglide, skydive, race rapids on a jet boat or any kind of activity that will pump up your adrenaline this is the place for you!
For those who are wanting other fun things to do I would recommend the Skyline gondola and luge, which will get you a great birds-eye view of Queenstown. Simply enjoy the great restaurants, cafes and walking around the downtown area.
Franz Joseph & Fox Glacier – 1 Night
Next, make your way up to Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier area. We stopped at Mount Aspiring National Park and Lake Matheson on the way and did the great walk around Lake Matheson.
We only had time to do another hike that day, so we chose Fox Glacier hike and carried on to Fraz Joseph to stay for the evening.
Motueka – 3 Nights
Drive all along the west coast of the South Island, stopping at Paparoa National Park to see the pancake rocks!
Continue all the way along the west coast until your reach Motueka, which is a great spot to spend a few nights to explore Abel Tasman National Park. We spent 3 nights here to enjoy some of the great hikes in Abel Tasman National Park, some boat tours and great beaches.
Abel Tasman National Park was one of our favourite hiking days in all of New Zealand!
Picton – 1 night
Before crossing over to the North Island, stay in the quaint town of Picton. We chose to stop off in Nelson for a few items, take our time and then take the early morning ferry to get over to Wellington.
New Zealand North Island Itinerary: 2 Weeks
Wellington – 1 Night
Wellington is a great city to spend a day in to see some of the museums, shopping, great food restaurants and city life for a day. We went to the Museum of New Zealand and spent the rest of the afternoon strolling down the main shopping areas.
Taupo – 1 Night
Taupo is next on the list of places to go to on the North Island. Lots of things to do in the area, we had some very rainy weather otherwise we would have done some of the great hikes and walks.
We were able to go to check out some of the cool geothermal activities in the area like the Craters of the Moon in Wairakei and go see Huka Falls. We also went to see the Wai-O-Tapu thermal pools on our way to Rotorua.
Rotorua – 2 Nights
Spend a couple of nights in Rotorua to be able to explore this area. Our favourite was the amazing Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest walk where you can walk up among the Redwoods. The smell of these gorgeous trees is remarkable and unforgettable.
Waitomo – 1 Night
A must on your visit to the North Island of New Zealand is to go see the glow worms in Waitomo. It is worth the extra diversion of the road trip to be able to go to this very cool! The experience is out of this world to see these glow worms light up. Be sure to get your tickets HERE in advance to align your time up, it is very busy and usually sells out.
Hobbiton – 1 Night
Another great spot that MUST be visited in New Zeland is Hobbiton, the area of New Zealand where all the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed for Hobbiton. Hobbiton is one of the places to visit in New Zealand North Island!
We enjoyed this day so much wandering around Hobbiton on this tour, and although it can be an expensive tour it is well worth the value. Be sure to get your tickets in ADVANCE for Hobbiton HERE and if you want to enjoy great lunch or any of the special events those only happen on certain days.
We drove from Waitomo in the morning, did the early afternoon tour and then drove up to Whenuakite (Hot Water Beach).
Coromandel Peninsula – 2 nights
For the first night, we stayed at Hot Water Beach and enjoyed going on the beach the next morning and digging up a spot on the geothermal beaches. Then made our way over to Hanei and Cathedral Cove for an afternoon adventure before staying in Coromandel for the evening.
There is a lot of things to do in this area too, I think next time we may explore ore around this spot!
Russell – 3 nights
Russell is up at the top of the North Island by the Bay of Islands. We loved Russell and towards the end of the trip, we wanted some downtime to just stay in one spot and relax. There are so many great tours and activities that can be done from here including whale watching, boat trips and hiking. There are also tours that you could take to go up to Cape Reinga too!
We chose to go buy some small fishing gear and fish off the shore and just enjoy the scenery and slow down a bit.
Orewa – 1 night
We chose to head back towards Orewa for 1 night, since it was just a short drive outside of Auckland and gave us the evening to re-pack, clean and get everything ready before heading back into Auckland for our campervan return. We were able to stay in a place right on the beach and love our last view for the evening from the campervan.
Auckland – 2 nights
We dropped off the campervan in the morning and decided to stay in a hotel for 2 nights to explore Auckland. We stayed at the Rydges Auckland hotel, and it was an excellent location close to everything. This hotel is in the Central Business District of Auckland and very close to the Sky Tower!
We walked around the city and explored most places on foot. We went to some great restaurants and enjoyed a great rugby game at Eden Place one evening to watch some of the All Blacks players play on the teams.
New Zealand Campervan Rental
We rented a Maui Campervan for the entire month of our road trip in New Zealand and were really happy with the company and campervan.
We opted to go with a 6-Berth campervan for 4 people so that we didn’t need to make the beds in the morning and everyone would have their seats ready to travel in the mornings.
Check-in and check-out were extremely easy. Maui company picked us up for Christchurch airport and took us to our hotel in Auckland. We had one small issue with the water pump on our trip, and the customer service centre was very responsive and had it fixed within a day for us.
Best Areas to Stay in New Zealand
If you need some hotels on either end of your campervan trip these are the destinations where most campervan rental major hubs are. There are also a few travellers that choose to break up their campervan trips and treat themselves to a warm shower and big bed in a hotel along the way too!
Here are some ideas for areas to stay in hotels:
New Zealand Travel Tips
- New Zealand roads can be interesting at times with road closures, washed out roads and other hazards you need to be aware of. Check New Zealand’s website here for the latest information. We checked this daily for the areas that we were driving.
- Drivers License – Don’t forget to have an international driver’s license for any campervan rental.
- Be sure to have international insurance before you travel. We used World Nomads for our entire year of travel, including our time in New Zealand.
- If you are needing a rental car this site searches all the major competitors in New Zealand to give you the best price.
- Apps for booking campsites – We used Campermate & WikiCamps (New Zealand) for the best way for our New Zealand trip planner.
- Mobile data service can be non-existent at times, so be sure to keep an eye on where you are and the next petro or gas station. International plans for prepaid cards were $99 for 8GB and $39 for 3GB at the time when we went. Campsites often only had 100MB or 500MB per night of wifi.
- Don’t forget to print out our free Camping with Kids Checklist!
- We took a New Zealand travel guide with us and a road map to help us navigate the roads. This map/guide was our favourite for planning out some ideas on our road trip.