New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days
New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days

© westcoast.co.nz

14-Day Family Itinerary for New Zealand

New Zealand is so diverse with so much to do that, 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 just one of the islands if you’re only coming to New Zealand for two weeks. Take a look at North Island Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days and South Island Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days.

Otherwise, get mentally prepared because this New Zealand family itinerary for 14 days is going to be exhausting albeit spectacular with your loved ones.

How to Get Around New Zealand in Two 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 have depots in both cities – don’t worry; there are many. Start your research using The Guide to Renting a Car or 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, Active Adventures and Thrifty Tours welcome children on their national tours. Find out more in The Best 10-12-Day Tours of New Zealand.
  • Ferry – 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.
  • Domestic flights – 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.
New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Shaun Jeffers - THL

Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Waitomo

Travel time: 2h10mins

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 city. 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 through Waitomo’s limestone and glowworm caves (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor)
  • Enjoy a gentle boat trip through the caves (on See Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Figure out the puzzles of the Troll Cave
  • See the filming locations of The Hobbit at Hairy Feet Waitomo
  • Meet a kiwi bird and other native wildlife 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

Take a look at the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Waitomo for more information on our top picks.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Agrodome Rotorua - Destination Rotorua

Day 2 – Waitomo to Rotorua

Travel time: 1h55mins

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 and Tripadvisor 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.

Budget Accommodation in Rotorua

For more information on our top picks, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Rotorua.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Tourism Media - Tourism New Zealand

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 (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)? Why not zip through the trees with Rotorua Canopy Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)? 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 (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Meet the kiwi birds, giant trout and more at Rainbow Springs (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • See Rotorua’s highlights and lakes on Rotorua Duck Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Do the family-friendly walks of the Whakawerawera Redwood Forest
  • Experience that famous NZ adrenaline at Velocity Valley (on Viator and Tripadvisor)

For more information on each experience, check out the 10 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Visit Ruapehu

Day 4 – Rotorua to Ohakune

Travel time: 2h40mins

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 (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Waimangu Volcanic Valley (on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Orakei Korako (on Viator or Tripadvisor).

Before you reach Taupo, check out the powerful rapids of Huka Falls or, better yet, take an exciting jet boat ride to the falls (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Alternatively, wait until you reach Turangi to do a family-friendly white water rafting trip on the Tongariro River with Tongariro River Rafting (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Rafting New Zealand (on Viator and Tripadvisor).

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

For more information on our top recommendations, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Ohakune.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 5 – Ohakune to Wellington

Travel time: 3h45mins

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 a plane hanging over the highway.

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 (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). But if any of our suggestions so far aren’t your cup of tea, we have some more:

Family Activities in Wellington

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 Accommodation in Wellington.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

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 and Tripadvisor. 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 tipple.

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

For more information on each activity, see our 7 Things to Do in Kaikoura with Kids!

Family Accommodation in Kaikoura

Find out more about each accommodation in the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Kaikoura.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© ChristchurchNZ

Day 7 – Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs

Travel time: 2h30mins

Get your wildlife fix in Kaikoura this morning before your next drive, whether it’s through family-friendly tours like seal swimming/watching (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), on a whale watching boat tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor), 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 of the town.

Family Activities in Hanmer Springs
  • Experience the Amuri Jetboat (more details on Viator and Tripadvisor) or white water rafting experience for families (on Viator or Tripadvisor)
  • Bond over an archery competition or hire some “rocket bikes” from the Hanmer Adventure Centre (see Viator and Tripadvisor for more details)
  • Paddle down the Wairau River in an inflatable canoe with Hanmer Springs Attractions (check them out on Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • 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

For more details on our top recommendations, see the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Hanmer Springs.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© ChristchurchNZ

Day 8 – Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Travel time: 1h40mins

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 and Tripadvisor. 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 (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).

Once you have arrived in the city of Christchurch and 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 (more details on Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Do the treetop obstacle course of Adrenalin Forest (Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Take a day tour to see New Zealand’s largest blue penguin colony
  • Meet huskies, experience a Polar storm and more at the International Antarctic Centre (Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Ride the Christchurch city tram (Viator and Tripadvisor).

For more details on each experience and others, see 10 Things to Do in Christchurch with Kids.

Family Accommodation in Christchurch

For more details on our top recommendations, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Christchurch.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 9 – Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Travel time: 2h45mins

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 Bakery 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
New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 10 – Lake Tekapo to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Travel time: 1h10mins

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 Tripadvisor).

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
  • 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

For more details on each recommendation, take a look at the 8 Best Family Accommodation in Mt Cook.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

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 list below.

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
  • 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.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 12 – Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown

Travel time: 3h10mins

It’s your longest drive yet, but there are many exciting reasons to break up the journey to Queenstown starting with the town of Twizel. Twizel offers plenty of cafes, the Twizel River Trail and a Lord of the Rings film location tour (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor).

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. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.

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

For more information on each accommodation, check out the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Queenstown.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Julian Apse - Tourism New Zealand

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 and Tripadvisor), learning about New Zealand’s unique wildlife at the Kiwi Birdlife Park (on Viator and Tripadvisor), or racing each other on the gravity-fuelled go-karts of The Luge (on Viator and Tripadvisor) – and that’s just the beginning!

Family Activities in Queenstown

For more information on each activity, as well as a few more ideas, head to the 10 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids!

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.

For those of you who want to drive the 7+-hour return journey yourself, take a look at The Guide to Milford Sound and the Milford Road, as well as The Guide to Milford Sound for Families.

New Zealand Family Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

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.

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