How many days do you need to see New Zealand? (a more nuanced look)

Spending 10 days visiting New Zealand would make perfect sense since you’ll have the time and opportunity to visit both the North and South Islands. It is adequate time to also enjoy the engaging outdoor activities and themed adventures. If your purpose to stay for less time, pick one island between the two and optimize the time there. On the other hand, if you have time at your disposal then it’s adequate for you to visit both islands and exhaust your planned itinerary.

However, the locals say there’s a lot to experience and see, and all can’t be exhausted within a single visit. If you think of Europe it’s large and populous with so many places you could go and visit. It’s impractical to say that you can use a single visit to see all of Europe. If that’s the case why would you rash to cover all of New Zealand in a single visit?


The shortest ideal stay

It would be reasonable to stay 7 to 12 days including the weekends. That is adequate time for you to enjoy your stay in New Zealand. You will have time to visit prime locations in detail or at least get to know different places and spot some that should fit in the plans of your next trip. For a satisfying experience, a fortnight would be a decent time.

If you want to spend less time, say an extended weekend, you should really just choose one city of one area, so you don’t have to spend too much of your precious time moving around. That said, the country is so beautiful so getting-around is in itself an experience. That is why a short stay shouldn’t be shorter than a week or two.

Tram Cart on a hill side in Wellington, New Zealand


The longest ideal stay

The longest time depends on what is convenient and ideal for you. Just make sure the nature of your visa permits you to extend your stay. It is very important to familiarize and adhere to New Zealand immigration policies to avoid getting into the wrong side of the law. You can have your tourist visa extended for up to six months. However, be cautious and keen to avoid facing immigration authorities if you extend past the six months.

Most of us find it difficult to extend our stay to such a duration because of other personal commitments. The longest and realistic time to stay in New Zealand should be about four to six weeks. Another deterrent is that the cheapest airfares only allow individuals to stay for a duration not exceeding one month. The first time I went to New Zealand, I stayed for 5.5 months but I worked for about half of that time.

When making plans to visit New Zealand it is best to plan an itinerary. If you plan to visit both Islands then allocate sufficient time to your travel. Approximately allocate five days for each island having in mind that you have a lot to cover. Ten days are enough to fully exhaust the experience in one island or quickly venture into both.

If you visit New Zealand with your family you can use ten days to take family-friendly trips to either Island. If you choose the North Island you get to travel to big cities like Wellington and Auckland where you can enjoy amazing wildlife destinations. In Auckland city, you can have a family fun-filled trip to destinations like Rotorua which is known as the geothermal city. In Auckland, you’ll also enjoy seeing waterfalls, national parks, beaches, and forests in more than 800 regions.

If you choose the South Island take time to tour Christchurch and the capital of Queenstown. You can as well take time to visit prime destinations such as the Aoraki/Mt Cook region. Focusing on one island will consume around seven days to exhaust the primary destinations. Once you land in New Zealand make sure you make the entire trip worthwhile by covering a good number of destinations.

Rent a car or campervan once you arrive to help you make trips to these top destinations. It’s also much more convenient and affordable.


Two weeks in New Zealand

Two weeks are enough to plan a trip to two islands. Explore a combination of big cities, geothermal energy, islands, and mountains on a traditional island trip to New Zealand. In two weeks you’ll enjoy and explore popular tourist attractions like Mount Eden, Britomart, Sky Tower, and Devonport. You can also enjoy a cruise while taking exquisite wine around Wahek Island. Again, I propose you enjoy a sumptuous breakfast with your family on the shores of the beach.

Another exciting and wonderful place you can visit is Rotorua where you get to see hot springs and take mud baths. Don’t pass the chance to see Raglan town, which is known for the sandy beaches and volcanic cliffs, and it is also home to pays Maori. Enjoy other places like Vanaka and Te Anua where you can enjoy exploring the famous lakes and mountains.

Lake Tekapo is the best place to see clear stars. Along your way to Acaroa expect to see Hector’s little blue penguins and dolphins. Choose to have a self-drive and exciting trip that spans across the two islands.

Rotorua hot springs and mud baths


Stop at several small towns along the Coromandel Peninsula and take a tour of Matotata to see the famous Lord Of The Rings Movie movie. Discover the history of geothermal energy at the Rotorua Museum, see the sights and the Hooka Falls in Taupo. Stop in Art Deco style Napier, then in the mountainous terrain of Manawatu Prefecture. Visit the Hokitika Bridge, streams, and strictly protected areas on a natural ferry to the capital. Before booking a fun activity and wine route in Queenstown, visit the two glaciers that lead to the beach and stay in Vanaka.


Why is it ideal to drive in New Zealand?

Don’t hesitate as there is a lack of road and train options. We may be a bit biased, but traveling to New Zealand is a wonderful way, perhaps the best way to experience a beautiful country. Our roads are well-maintained, well-marked, well-maintained and have surprises at every turn. It’s probably a lot less busy than before.

If you need a quick overview of how much it costs to rent a campervan to drive around in you should definitely see my quotes list here...


New Zealand Weather

New Zealand is close to the sea and the climate tends to mild both in summer and winter. The temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold in winter where they rarely drop below freezing point. You can only find snow in mountainous areas and never in the lower ground except at the foot of South Island. The weather varies and differs around the country. The further you go the south the cooler the temperatures become. A number of regions region regularly enjoy rain in the months of February, July, and December.

Averagely, you’ll find 5 to 12days of measurable precipitation on a monthly basis. Aside from the weather, it’s also wise to avoid traveling to New Zealand during peak seasons. The peak season is mostly during summer which is around mid-December through mid-January.

The abovementioned period coincides with the local school holidays as well as the New Year and Christmas holidays. During such holidays it becomes hard to enjoy your trip or vacation since there are limited accommodation, increased congestion, and human traffic.


Book your flights well in advance

It is also wise to note that New Zealand flights fill up early especially during the peak season. If you want to take advantage of the discounted flights then book your flight early enough and buy an air ticket at an affordable price. Remember there also seasonal changes that affect the rates of airfare to New Zealand. Avoid the months between 9th December and 31st January. To avoid paying high fare try and travel to New Zealand no later than 8th December or after the beginning of February. You can make plans during early fall or late spring when everything is normal. You will enjoy more once you make plans to visit New Zealand during off peaks.

Booking accommodation and maneuvering around to a top destination will become affordable and convenient.


Don’t go with a fixed mind on the exact days you’ll spend.

Planning an itinerary is theoretical and most people don’t consider some of the external factors that may derail the trip.

The routes and destinations come with very rich geographical features which include hilly and mountainous regions that need careful driving skills. Avoid over speeding such points, most roads are rarely straight for long. It might take a bit longer than expected to maneuver around and cover up the entire itinerary. During the holiday’s people observe an average speed of 80 kph (50 mph) which ideal and somewhat slow if you want to cover the vast majority of places. Constant breaks for resting, feeding, and recreational purposes also affect the schedule and make the trip longer.

Never underestimate or omit the driving time if you intend to make most of your time in New Zealand. I’ve done this multiple times, and I always ended up disappointed. When you look at the map “it’s right there”, New Zealand has windy roads and a fair bit of mountains.

I advise you to factor in everything that you believe might happen and come up with a realistic wish list that you can follow through without having to reconsider your time if you have other commitments. Driving will enhance your experience since you’ll experience things first hand as you journey towards a different destination in New Zealand. A realistic period for you to fully enjoy a tour in New Zealand would be around 14days. You will have adequate time to visit both Islands and create fun memories. A single visit might be enough before you leave to identify other destinations you would like to visit once you plan to visit again.