New Zealand is an incredible travel destination. With so much worth seeing, the question you’re asking yourself shouldn’t be if you should visit, rather how long you should spend there.
You can stay for up to 90 days with a New Zealand eTA, take a look at the NZ visa requirements to check you’re eligible before you go ahead and plan your trip.
Although we recommend taking full advantage of the NZeTA, we know that spending 3 months overseas may not be an option for you. With this in mind, we’ve put together a series of mini guides to help you decide how many days you need in New Zealand to see and do everything on your list.
- One week or less in New Zealand
- Two weeks in New Zealand
- A month or more in New Zealand
- When to visit New Zealand
One Week or Less in New Zealand
If you have just 7 days to spend in New Zealand, you’re going to have to prioritize. Whilst it’s absolutely still worth visiting the country even if you don’t have much time, you might struggle to squeeze in all the highlights.
If you do just have a week, we recommend making a list of all the places you definitely don’t want to miss in New Zealand in order of preference, and then planning your itinerary around them. Some suggestions you might want to consider are:
- Hobbiton Movie Set
- Auckland city
- Waitomo glowworm caves
- Milford Sound
Don’t be too ambitious when planning a short stay, give yourself enough time to get from one place to another. You don’t want to end your vacation more stressed than when you started! It’s best to select just a few attractions and really enjoy them rather than rushing from one stop to the next.
How to Spend Two Weeks in New Zealand
With 2 weeks in New Zealand, you can choose between spending longer in each location or adding a few more destinations to your itinerary.
One option would be to start your trip in Auckland on the North Island, exploring both the vibrant city center and its scenic surroundings. Enjoy the views from the top of the Sky Tower; if you’re brave enough try the SkyWalk to start your vacation with an adrenaline boost! You’ll want to dedicate at least 3 days of your trip to Auckland and the surrounding area.
Whilst on the North Island don’t miss out on visiting other top attractions and destinations including the cool capital of New Zealand Wellington, as well as Rotorua and Hamilton.
For the second part of your vacation, take the ferry across to the South Island. Abel Tasman National Park, Christchurch, and Queenstown should definitely make it onto your South Island itinerary. If you have time, head to Fiordland and the stunning Hokitika Gorge.
Renting a car is a great way to get around and will allow you greater flexibility so you can get even more out of your stay.
A Month or More in New Zealand
Spending a month or even longer in New Zealand will give you the opportunity to stray off the beaten path and discover some of the lesser-known areas of the country.
Of course, you’ll still want to include all the hot spots we’ve already mentioned but you can combine these with less popular, but no less beautiful, destinations.
One way to get the most out of your trip is to visit some of the paradisiacal islands. Stewart Island and Waiheke Island are both widely known and great places to start. Other options include D’Urville Island for watersports and other activities, or Enderby Island where you might even spot a few New Zealand sea lions!
With 30 days or even more you can allow yourself more flexibility and spontaneity. Spend a few extra days in the places you love and add places to your itinerary as you go along. Just make sure everything fits within your 90-day NZeTA limit.
The Best Time to Visit New Zealand
Another important consideration in addition to how long you stay is when you’ll visit New Zealand. Being in the southern hemisphere, when it’s summer in the US it's winter in New Zealand!
Spring: September, October, and November
Summer: December, January, and February
Autumn: March, April, and May
Winter: June, July, and August
In general, the climate of New Zealand is temperate. There are regional variations that you’ll notice as you travel around but you can expect mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and plenty of sunshine.
The best time to visit New Zealand depends on what activities you have planned. If you’ll be spending a lot of time at the beach, summer might be your best option. This is also the best time of year to go camping.
If skiing and snowsports are more your thing, head to New Zealand between June and August. The Central North Island, Queenstown, and Christchurch all perfect for a winter ski trip.
Autumn is a fantastic time of the year to see the landscape turn golden, Canterbury and Otago are particularly beautiful during fall. Autumn and spring are also slightly quieter than winter and summer, and the weather is still great!