With two weeks in New Zealand, you can see a lot of the country. You won’t be able to pack in everything but you should make sure at least a few of the highlights below are on your schedule.
Many trips to New Zealand start in the North Island city of Auckland. The city has a number of attractions, including climbing the Auckland Harbour Bridge and wandering along Viaduct Harbour. If you have time, take a day trip from the city out to Waiheke Island, where you can do a wine tour around some of the countries top vineyards. If you want to see New Zealand at your own pace, this is also a great place to pick up a rental car.
Heading south, be sure you make a stop at the Waitomo Caves. These fascinating caves literally glow in the dark due to the cave’s large population of glowworms. You can sign up for everything from a short cave walk to a hardcore spelunking tour with blackwater cave rafting and abseiling.
Next up is Rotorua, a region known for active volcanic activity and the local Māori culture. A good place to see the power of the land is at Kuirau Park, where you can see steam geysers and active, bubbling mud pools. For those with a bit more in the budget, splurge on a helicopter ride over the Hell’s Gate Thermal Valley and to White Island, where you can walk around an active volcano crater.
After all the volcanic action, take a break to experience a bit of the local Maori culture, which is most known for haka, a warrior dance used by the New Zealand rugby team. You can learn a lot about the Maori with a Te Po evening tour, complete with a feast of traditional Maori dishes.
Moving down to the South Island, we come to Christchurch, also known as the Garden City. It is New Zealand’s second largest city and it has a very English feel, with elegant parks and fine English-style architecture. Unfortunately many of the city’s historic buildings were damaged in a 2011 earthquake but you can still get a feel for the city’s colonial past by visiting the Botanical Gardens or Mona Vale.
From the Garden City we move south to the Adventure Capital of the World – Queenstown. Here you can sign up for anything from skydiving to bungy jumping, with the latter being invented in the city! Tours focused on visiting filming sites for the Lord of the Rings movies are also quite popular. Hiking in the region is great and for serious hikers the 3 day Routeburn Track is a good option.
One last must-see on the South Island are at least one of the many glaciers. At the longest glacier in New Zealand, Tasman, you can see gorgeous turquoise colored glacial lakes. You can also combine Tasman with near by Hooker Glacier and a stop at the Mount Cook Village. The short walk to Rob Roy Glacier passed through forests, a hidden valley, and ends right at the face of the glacier. For the ultimate adventure, be sure to visit the Franz Josef Glacier, where you can sign up for a helicopter tour which gives you an aerial view of the glacier before dropping you on its moving surface for an incredible hiking experience.