14-Day Family Itinerary for New Zealand
New Zealand is so diverse with so much to do! We get it; you want to see it all. In two weeks, you’re in for a rather intense travel schedule for visiting both the North Island and South Island, especially if you have kids in tow. If you’re determined to experience both islands in 14 days, then at least this New Zealand family itinerary for two weeks should help. We strongly recommend, however, that you consider travelling to just one of the islands if you’re only coming to New Zealand for two weeks. Take a look at North Island Family Itinerary: 2 Weeks and South Island Family Itinerary: 2 Weeks.
Otherwise, get mentally prepared because this New Zealand family itinerary for 14 days is going to be exhausting albeit spectacular, especially with your loved ones. Not only do we list family accommodation, transport tips and activities for all ages for each exciting destination, but we also show you how to plan this itinerary the EASY way with First Light Travel.
New Zealand Family Itinerary for 2 Weeks (14 Days): Overview
- Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Waitomo
- Day 2 – Waitomo to Rotorua
- Day 3 – Explore Rotorua
- Day 4 – Rotorua to Ohakune
- Day 5 – Ohakune to Wellington
- Day 6 – Wellington to Kaikoura
- Day 7 – Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs
- Day 8 – Hanmer Springs to Christchurch
- Day 9 – Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
- Day 10 – Lake Tekapo to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
- Day 11 – Explore Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
- Day 12 – Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown
- Day 13 – Explore Queenstown or Milford Sound Day Trip
- Day 14 – Queenstown to Queenstown Airport.
How to Get Around New Zealand in 2 Weeks with Kids
Most families come to New Zealand to experience the great Kiwi road trip. With that in mind, renting a car or campervan allows you to have full flexibility and comfort compared to using rather restrictive public transport. Parents who are on a tight budget, however, might want to consider the national bus service as a cheaper and more adventurous way to get around. In short, the best ways to get around using the below itinerary are as follows:
Rental Car or Campervan
This option gives you the freedom to visit all of the stops we recommend in this family 14-day itinerary by renting a car or campervan. As this itinerary starts in Auckland and ends in Queenstown, we recommend choosing a rental company that has depots in both cities – don’t worry; there are many. Start your research using The Guide to Renting a Car or The Guide Renting a Campervan in New Zealand.
National Bus Service
InterCity offers the cheapest way to get between the destinations mentioned in this budget itinerary. However, you are restrained by bus schedules and don’t have the option to do the road trip stops mentioned in this itinerary – they only stop for toilet breaks and refreshments. Find out more about the passes available in What’s the Difference Between InterCity Bus Passes?
Escorted Bus Tours
Let someone else worry about the driving, accommodation and itinerary on one of the escorted bus tours around New Zealand. Trafalgar, AAT Kings and Active Adventures welcome children on their national tours. Find out more in The Best 10-12-Day Tours of New Zealand.
This itinerary includes the ferry journey between Wellington and Picton. Learn more in our guide to The Ferry Between the North Island and South Island.
The below itinerary begins in Auckland and ends in Queenstown. Both cities have international airports and are well-connected with domestic flights. If you’re leaving from Auckland, you will need to consider booking a domestic flight from Queenstown to Auckland.
Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Waitomo
Travel time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Welcome to New Zealand! With just two weeks to explore the country, you don’t have much time to rest so pick up your car rental and hit the road to Waitomo. If you need to pick up supplies or want to grab a bite to eat, take a quick detour to Hamilton. You can also stop by the quirky town of Otorohanga which is the self-proclaimed “Kiwiana Capital of the World”.
One of the most popular sights in the country, Waitomo’s glowworm caves are awe-inspiring for all ages. You have a wide array of tours available to experience its famous glowworm caves. Walking cave tours are suitable for all ages, while older kids and teens might like underground tubing. Check out tour options in the 8 Best Waitomo Cave Tours.
Family Activities in Waitomo
- Do a walking tour of Ruakuri Cave
- Or enjoy a gentle boat trip through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
- Figure out the puzzles of the Troll Cave
- See the filming locations of The Hobbit at Hairy Feet Waitomo
- Meet a kiwi bird and more at the Otorohanga Kiwi House.
For more details on each activity, take a look at the 10 Things to Do in Waitomo with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Waitomo
- Waitomo TOP 10 Holiday Park
- Woodlyn Park Motel
- Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
- Glow Worm Motel
- The Loft at Te Kumi Tirohanga
Take a look at the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Waitomo for more information on our top picks.
Day 2 – Waitomo to Rotorua
Travel time: 1 hr 55 mins
Start off your morning with any of the activities you might have missed in Waitomo yesterday. Then, make your way to Rotorua. If you’re a family of Middle-earth enthusiasts, however, you will need to take a mandatory 15-minute detour to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Check out Viator or Klook to book your tickets or head to How to Get the Best Hobbiton Discount for tips on how to get in cheaper.
An alternative place to stretch our legs is just a 5-minute detour to the Putaruru Blue Spring/Te Waihou Walkway. The walkway is stroller-friendly and free to see the brilliant blue waters of the spring flowing down a stream.
If you haven’t worn the kids out once you get to Rotorua, you can always check out the free geothermal Kuirau Park in the city centre or do one of the experiences mentioned in tomorrow’s activity list. Check-in at your accommodation from the recommendations listed below.
Family Accommodation in Rotorua
- Holdens Bay Holiday Park
- Rydges Rotorua
- Arista of Rotorua
- Regal Palms Resort
- Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua
For more information on our top picks, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Rotorua.
Day 3 – Explore Rotorua
You have a free day in Rotorua to experience its family-friendly activities. How about a sheep and farm show at Agrodome? Why not zip through the trees with Rotorua Canopy Tours (more info on Viator, Klook or KKday)? For something free to do, go for a short walk in the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest or around one of Rotorua’s surrounding lakes like Lake Okareka.
Family Activities in Rotorua
- Experience the famous sheep show and farm tour of Agrodome
- Meet the kiwi birds, giant trout and more at the National Kiwi Hatchery (more info on Viator or Klook)
- See Rotorua’s highlights and lakes on Rotorua Duck Tours (on Viator and Klook)
- Do the family-friendly walks of the Whakawerawera Redwood Forest
- Experience that famous NZ adrenaline at Velocity Valley (on Viator or Klook).
For more information on each experience, check out the 10 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids.
Day 4 – Rotorua to Ohakune
Travel time: 2 hrs 40 mins
Leave Rotorua in the morning to allow enough time to enjoy an action-packed road trip to Ohakune. As you leave Rotorua, treat the kids to exploring a geothermal park. Options include Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu Volcanic Valley (on Viator and Klook) and Orakei Korako.
Before you reach Taupo, check out the powerful rapids of Huka Falls or, better yet, take an exciting jet boat ride with Hukafalls Jet to the falls (more info on Viator and KKday). Alternatively, wait until you reach Turangi to do a family-friendly white water rafting trip on the Tongariro River with Tongariro River Rafting.
The final section of the journey is through the Tongariro National Park, where it’s worth taking a quick detour to Whakapapa Village to do the short Tawhai Falls walk, the Mounds Walk for excellent volcano views or the 2-hour Taranaki Falls.
You’ll then reach Ohakune with probably some very worn-out little ones, so check-in at one of our recommended accommodations. Or, if you have some free time, do the Mangawhero Forest Walk and let the kids loose at the Ohakune Carrot playground. Additional experiences are listed below.
Family Activities in Ohakune
- Horse trek through streams and a historic town with Ruapehu Homestead Horsetrekking
- Hire bikes and ride the Jubilee Walkway, Mangawhero River Trail and more
- Let the kids loose at the Ohakune Carrot playground
- Tackle the indoor climbing walls at the Vertigo Adventure Centre
- Check out Dinosaur House in Raetihi
- Treat the kids to a world-famous Johnny Nation’s chocolate eclair.
For more information on each activity and its location, check out the 10 Things to Do in Ohakune with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Ohakune
- Rocky Mountain Chalets Ohakune
- Station Lodge
- The Hobbit Motorlodge
- The Powderhorn Chateau
- Ohakune TOP 10 Holiday Park
For more information on our top recommendations, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Ohakune.
Day 5 – Ohakune to Wellington
Travel time: 3 hrs 45 mins
Gather the tribe and get out of the door to hit the road to Wellington! There are loads of interesting sights that the kids will dig. The first you’ll encounter is Waiouru, home to the National Army Museum. With all the tanks displayed outside, just try to pass without the kids begging to stop! Next, you’ll pass through Taihape with its giant gumboot sculpture and Mangaweka with tempting cafes.
Bypass Hunterville to take an alternative route to Wellington stopping by Manawatu Gorge. This will just add 15 minutes to your drive time, but it’s well worth it to walk the family-friendly Tawa Loop Walk.
Finally, it’s a couple of more hours to Wellington where you can either put your feet up at one of the recommended accommodations or visit one of the capital’s attractions. The kids (and your wallet) will love some of the free activities including the Te Papa Museum and exploring the Botanic Garden. A paid activity well worth doing, however, is Zealandia Ecosanctuary. But if any of our suggestions so far aren’t your cup of tea, we have some more:
Family Activities in Wellington
- Get active on the high-wire course at Adrenalin Forest
- Spend the day at Wellington’s beaches
- Learn about the night’s sky at Space Place
- Meet the animals and birds at Staglands Wildlife Reserve
- See how the movies are made at the Weta Workshop (on Viator and Klook).
Find out more about each activity for families in 10 Things to Do in Wellington with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Wellington
Find out more about each accommodation in the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Wellington.
Day 6 – Wellington to Kaikoura
Travel time: 3 hours ferry, 2 hours drive
It’s time to leave the North Island behind and take a scenic cruise to the South Island. Kids and adults alike love taking the Cook Strait ferry, not only for the stunning scenery of the Wellington Harbour and Marlborough Sounds but because driving onto a big boat is pretty darn cool. Learn more about the journey and prices in our guide to The Ferry Between the North Island and South Island.
Once you arrive on the South Island, continue onto Kaikoura. An interesting stop in Blenheim is the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre displaying realistic scenes of warplanes from World War Two. Find out more on Viator or Klook. For parents who have been dying to experience a New Zealand wine region, stop by one of the family-friendly wineries, like Wairau River, Cloudy Bay and Forrest Wines, that have games and/or toys for the kids while you enjoy a tasting.
Depending on how much time you have when you get to Kaikoura, relax with a potter around the Kaikoura Museum or play a round of mini-golf at The Emporium before checking in. We recommend doing wildlife tours tomorrow, but if you do find yourselves with plenty of time, here are some recommendations:
Family Activities in Kaikoura
- Kayak with cute fur seals in their natural environment (more info on Viator and Klook)
- Ride the Coastal Pacific train
- Go on a whale watching cruise (on Viator or Klook)
- Or a whale watching flight (on Viator or Klook)
- Look out for seals on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway.
For more information on each activity, see our 10 Things to Do in Kaikoura with Kids!
Family Accommodation in Kaikoura
- Alpine-Pacific Holiday Park
- Kaikoura TOP 10 Holiday Park
- Kaikoura Quality Suites
- Alpine View Motel
- The Fairways at Ocean Ridge
Find out more about each accommodation in the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Kaikoura.
Day 7 – Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs
Travel time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Get your wildlife fix in Kaikoura today, whether it’s through family-friendly tours like Seal Kayak Kaikoura (more info on Viator and Klook), on a whale watching boat tour (on Viator and Klook), or looking out for seals on the free Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing the little ones’ faces light up at the wonders of nature.
Once you’ve done what you want in Kaikoura, hit the road to the alpine resort town of Hanmer Springs. There, you’ll find the talk of the town, which is the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. Indulge in one of the largest hot pool complexes in the country with an epic water park.
Then check-in at one of the family holiday parks or chalets in town.
Family Activities in Hanmer Springs
- Experience the Amuri Jetboat or white water rafting experience for families (more info on Viator or Klook)
- Bond over an archery competition or hire some “rocket bikes” from the Hanmer Adventure Centre
- Soak and slide at the Hanmer Spring Thermal Pools
- Enter a world of whimsy on the Fairy Door Track
- Go on a llama trek with Hanmer Llamas.
For more details and the locations of each activity and others, head to the 10 Things to Do in Hanmer Springs with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Hanmer Springs
- Clear Ridge Apartments
- Alpine Adventure Holiday Park
- Settlers Motel
- Forest Peak Motel
- Hanmer Springs TOP 10 Holiday Park
For more details on our top recommendations, see the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Hanmer Springs.
Day 8 – Hanmer Springs to Christchurch
Travel time: 1 hr 40 mins
Today, head to Christchurch! On your way out of Hanmer Springs, consider doing one of the family-friendly jet boat, quad bike, white water rafting, bungy jump and paintball activities with Hanmer Springs Attractions – check them out on Viator or Klook. You might also want to pop by one of the beaches, like Leithfield Beach, Woodend Beach, Spencer Beach or Waimairi Beach. Or swap the beach for snow by taking a detour to the International Antarctic Centre.
Once you have arrived in the city of Christchurch and have checked in at your accommodation, there’s plenty of easy activities to enjoy. For instance, explore the Botanic Gardens with the little ones, who will love the duck ponds, interactive water features and running around gorgeous gardens. Next to the gardens is the free-entry Canterbury Museum with all sorts of artefacts and stories about the early Maori, wildlife, Antarctic exhibitions and more.
See the list below if you require more inspiration for Christchurch antics.
Family Activities in Christchurch
- Ride the chairlifts, find the fairy doors or zipline over the trees at Christchurch Adventure Park
- Do the treetop obstacle course of Adrenalin Forest
- Take a day tour to Akaroa with Leisure Tours
- Experience the Polar regions at the International Antarctic Centre
- Ride the Christchurch City Tram (more info on Viator and Klook).
For more details on each experience and others, see 10 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Christchurch
- Country Glen Lodge
- Tasman Holiday Parks – Christchurch
- Lorenzo Motor Lodge
- Fable Christchurch
- Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport
For more details on our top recommendations, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Christchurch.
Day 9 – Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
Travel time: 2 hrs 45 mins
Continue your way down the South Island but not without stopping by a few fun towns along the way. First, visit Rakaia for refreshments and to see the giant fish sculpture. Next is Ashburton where the kids can burn off some energy in the gorgeous gardens and around the dunk ponds of the Ashburton Domain. You’ll then come across the town of Geraldine with nearby attractions such as horse trekking, alpaca farm tours and the Talbot Scenic Reserve – all ideal for families. Find out more in the 10 Excellent Things to Do in Geraldine.
In Fairlie, a pie from the Fairlie Bakehouse is mandatory before you finally arrive in Lake Tekapo. Soak in the beautiful landscapes of the blue lake and Southern Alps or literally soak in the Tekapo Springs. The latter also includes a kiddies’ water play area, as well as large waterslides in summer and ice skating in winter.
Enjoy one night in your Tekapo accommodation (which you’ll need to book early due to the limited choice).
Family Activities in Lake Tekapo
- Have a splash a Tekapo Springs
- Take the kids up the ski fields of Mt Dobson or Roundhill in winter
- Do the easy Lake Tekapo Walkway
- Wow the family with a scenic flight from Tekapo to the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
- Take a pic of the picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd and the sheepdog statue.
For more ideas, head to the 10 Unmissable Things to Do in Lake Tekapo.
Family Accommodation in Lake Tekapo
Day 10 – Lake Tekapo to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
Travel time: 1 hr 10 mins
It’s a relatively short yet exceptionally scenic drive to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park as you follow the vibrant turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki to a tiny village under the majesty of New Zealand’s highest mountain.
In Mt Cook, you have a selection of stunning short walks to enjoy, from glacier walks to bush walks. If your budget will allow, jump on an exciting boat tour to see giant icebergs on the Tasman Glacier Lake or take to the skies in a helicopter or ski plane (more info on Viator and Klook).
Family Activities in Mt Cook
- See the Tasman Glacier on the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Lake Track
- Roam around in the forest on the Governors Bush Walk
- Take the skies in a helicopter or ski plane (on Viator and Klook)
- Check out a planetarium and use powerful telescopes on a stargazing tour
- Whiz around a glacier lake with giant icebergs on a boat tour.
For more details on each experience, check out the 7 Things to Do in Mt Cook with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Mt Cook
- Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge
- Glentanner Park Centre
- The Hermitage Hotel Mt Cook
- Aoraki Alpine Chalet
- Aoraki Court Motel
For more details on each recommendation, take a look at the 8 Best Family Accommodations in Mt Cook.
Day 11 – Explore Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
Take the time to relax today; you deserve it. When you’re ready, experience Mt Cook the way your family prefers. It could be checking out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre with its 3D dome cinema, relaxing with a family-friendly meal with grand views, or doing any of the activities mentioned yesterday or in the 7 Things to Do in Mt Cook with Kids.
Day 12 – Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown
Travel time: 3 hrs 10 mins
In Omarama, take a 30-minute detour to the Clay Cliffs for its otherworldly formations of pinnacles and narrow ravines. You can also sample part of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail if your kids are super active.
After Omarama is the Lindis Pass, which is often deemed the most beautiful road in New Zealand. After the Lindis Pass is Cromwell where you can get refreshments including fresh fruit that the town is renowned for – they have a giant sculpture to prove it. You might also want to try the go-karting at the Highlands Motorsport Park.
As you travel down the Kawarau Gorge toward Queenstown, stop by the Goldfields Mining Centre to pan for gold or jump on Goldfields Jet for an adrenaline-pumping ride down the river.
By the time you get to Queenstown, you’ll probably need a good rest, so check-in at your accommodation. You’ll experience more of the “Adventure Capital” tomorrow.
Family Accommodation in Queenstown
- Queenstown TOP 10 Holiday Park
- Peppers Beacon
- Holiday Inn Queenstown
- The Waterfront
- Whistler Holiday Apartments
For more information on each accommodation, check out the 15 Best Family Accommodations in Queenstown.
Day 13 – Explore Queenstown or Milford Sound Day Trip
It’s time to tick the Queenstown experiences off your bucket list. It could be whizzing through the trees with Ziptrek Ecotours (more info on Viator, Klook and KKday), learning about New Zealand’s unique wildlife at the Kiwi Birdlife Park, or racing each other on the gravity-fuelled go-karts of The Luge – and that’s just the beginning!
Family Activities in Queenstown
- Get the adrenaline pumping on an exciting jet boat ride
- Zip through the trees on a zipline tour (more info on Viator, Klook and KKday)
- Learn about New Zealand’s birds at the Kiwi Birdlife Park
- Watch the sheep being worked on the Walter Peak farm tour (on Viator, Klook and KKday)
- Race each in downhill go-karts at The Luge.
For more information on each activity, as well as a few more ideas, head to the 20 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids!
Alternative Option: Day Trip to Milford Sound
Travel time: 7+ hours
Alternatively, this day is a great opportunity to see the “Eighth Wonder of the World” Milford Sound. However, the drive is LONG from Queenstown, so you might want to take a bus tour to Milford Sound with a cruise included. Bus tours last approximately 12 hours but include plenty of stops at short walks and cafes along the way, so you won’t miss out too much compared to driving yourself. Check out recommended tours in the 10 Best Milford Sound Tours from Queenstown & Te Anau.
Day 14 – Queenstown to Queenstown Airport
Travel time: 10 mins
After two weeks in New Zealand, it’s time to wrap this adventure up with any of the activities you might have missed in Queenstown before heading to Queenstown Airport.
Remember to give yourself plenty of time to return your rental vehicle. There are connecting flights between Queenstown and Auckland if you are flying out of Auckland, otherwise, flights to Australia leave from Queenstown.
Plan This Family Itinerary with First Light Travel
If you like this two-week family itinerary but don’t like the hassle of planning everything yourself, then there’s a way to lighten the load. First Light Travel is an online travel agent specialising in self-drive family itineraries in New Zealand at no extra cost to you. Plus, using their service is super simple:
- First, send First Light Travel an enquiry by completing their online form
- Then, you’ll receive your customised family itinerary
- Review your itinerary and work with your First Light Travel agent on perfecting it
- Finally, First Light Travel will organise the rest including the bookings.
First Light Travel has access to more than 20,000 travel products, including almost all the tours and accommodations featured on this list (and more). With that and their local expertise here in New Zealand, they will create a well-catered itinerary to meet your needs while also suggesting some dream travel experiences that you may have never heard of. They only work with companies where their past clients have had positive experiences, so you know you’re in good hands.
What’s more, all of the bookings are arranged by First Light Travel, so instead of having to contact each individual accommodation and operator should your travel plans change, any amendments can be done through your FLT agent – easy! Did we mention the service is at no extra cost to you?!
For more information on planning your own New Zealand itinerary, see How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary. Or better yet, jump on firstlighttravel.com and start making your own itinerary there.
More About a New Zealand Family Itinerary for 2 Weeks/14 Days
That’s it for our New Zealand family itinerary for 14 days. If that wasn’t the itinerary you were looking for, check out these alternative 14-day itineraries:
- North Island Family Itinerary: 2 Weeks / 14 Days
- South Island Family Itinerary: 2 Weeks / 14 Days
- New Zealand Budget Itinerary: 2 Weeks / 14 Days
- New Zealand Luxury Itinerary: 2 Weeks / 14 Days
- New Zealand Foodie Itinerary: 2 Weeks / 14 Days
- New Zealand in 2 Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary
- How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
Finally, get advice on planning more of your family getaway with The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.