Three-Week Food Itinerary for New Zealand
Make your New Zealand journey a culinary one with this New Zealand food itinerary for three weeks (21 days). Incorporating the flavours of the North Island and South Island, this foodie road trip plan takes you through diverse wine regions to factory tours and hidden artisanry gems. The itinerary also offers recommendations on places to stay, things to do, and, of course, places to eat.
Start planning your gastronomical trip with this New Zealand foodie itinerary for 21 days. Oh, and don’t forget to bookmark The Food Guide to New Zealand – you’re definitely going to need that.
New Zealand Food Itinerary for Three Weeks: Overview
- Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Auckland
- Day 2 – Explore Auckland
- Day 3 – Auckland to The Coromandel
- Day 4 – The Coromandel to Rotorua
- Day 5 – Explore Rotorua
- Day 6 – Rotorua to Whakatane
- Day 7 – Whakatane to Gisborne
- Day 8 – Explore Gisborne
- Day 9 – Gisborne to Napier
- Day 10 – Explore Napier
- Day 11 – Napier to Palmerston North
- Day 12 – Palmerston North to Wellington
- Day 13 – Explore Wellington
- Day 14 – Wellington to Christchurch
- Day 15 – Christchurch to Oamaru
- Day 16 – Explore Oamaru
- Day 17 – Oamaru to Dunedin
- Day 18 – Explore Dunedin
- Day 19 – Dunedin to Alexandra
- Day 20 – Alexandra to Queenstown
- Day 21 – Queenstown to Queenstown Airport
How to Get Around New Zealand in Three Weeks
This 21-day foodie road trip around New Zealand is a self-drive itinerary. However, there are other transport methods that you’ll need to use, while we also offer an alternative way to get around if you don’t want to drive.
Rental Car or Campervan
Because we recommend hotels, motels and B&Bs in this itinerary, it’s recommended that you use a car rather than a campervan. Use a rental company that has depots in Auckland and Wellington and then Christchurch and Queenstown where this itinerary begins and ends. Get started on your research with Travel By Car in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.
This itinerary requires you to travel between Wellington on the North Island and Christchurch on the South Island via domestic flight. Get tips on flying in New Zealand in the guide to Domestic Flights in New Zealand and The Travellers’ Guide to New Zealand Airports.
If you would rather not drive around New Zealand yourself, escorted bus tours provide an effortless alternative. The downside is that these guided tours won’t focus as much on foodie experiences as this itinerary does. Check out a range of fully-guided tours on The Best 20+ Days Tours of New Zealand.
For more advice about transport, check out What is the Best Way to Get Around New Zealand?
Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Auckland
Travel time: 25-40 minutes (depending on traffic)
Welcome to New Zealand and the beginning of your three-week foodie road trip! You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the North Island as part of this 21-day itinerary because the island has been the most populated of the two main islands for centuries. In turn, it’s the island with the most diverse and developed range of cultures, thus, flavours.
Your first stay will be in Auckland, which you can get to after picking up your rental car or by taking one of the other airport transfer options. The latter may help you save money on your car rental daily rate. Then, just pick up your vehicle on Day 3 instead.
You have plenty of time to explore Auckland tomorrow. For now, check out the fantastic coffee scene of the CBD (we recommend The Shelf on High Street) or the seafood fare of Harbourside in the city centre. Check out more recommendations in The Food Guide to Auckland. Below, we’ve also listed hotels with spectacular restaurants, which are our recommended accommodations for foodies.
Accommodations in Auckland with the Best Restaurants
- The Grand by SkyCity
- JW Marriott Auckland
- Cordis, Auckland
- Mövenpick Hotel Auckland
- Grand Millennium Auckland
Find out more about each accommodation on our list of the 25 Best Hotels in Auckland.
Day 2 – Explore Auckland
Auckland‘s foodie scene takes your palette in several directions, literally. You could be hopping on a ferry to the winemaking island of Waiheke Island for a diverse wine tour with Ananda Tours (find out more about tours, read reviews and book your experience on Klook and Viator). Alternatively, stick to the city centre and do a tour specially designed for food lovers with The Big Foody. Inspire yourself with more activities using the list below.
Food Experiences in Auckland
- Tour Waiheke Islands’ wineries
- Join a culinary tour of the city centre with The Big Foody
- Treat yourself to fine dining at Harbourside, Kazuya and more!
- Try out Auckland’s street eats
- Discover the bar scene on a cocktail tour with Unique Tours.
See our 8 Best Foodie Experiences in Auckland for more information on each experience.
Day 3 – Auckland to The Coromandel
Travel time: 1 h 25 mins to 2 h 30 mins (depending on Coromandel accommodation)
Pick up your rental vehicle in Auckland city centre, if you haven’t already, and start exploring the real New Zealand. Set your sights on the glorious beaches, seafood and artisanry goodness of the Coromandel Peninsula. On your way there, stop by the Cheese Barn in Matatoki to sample a variety of locally made cheeses. As you reach Hahei, take a self-guided tour of Cathedral Cove Macadamias and get a taste of a real Kiwi boutique winery at Mercury Bay Estate or Purangi Estate.
Food Experiences in The Coromandel
- Hit the foodie hotspots along the Hauraki Rail Trail
- Try wine and other beverages at a local winery
- Mingle with the locals at a farmers’ market
- Pick up artisan cheese, chutneys, honey and more
- Embark on a guided hiking food tour with Nature & Nosh Tours.
For more information on each activity, check out 7 Foodie Experiences in the Coromandel.
Accommodations in the Coromandel with the Best Restaurants, Meals & Breakfasts
The Coromandel’s best accommodations for breakfasts, meals and restaurants are scattered throughout the peninsula, so drive times from Auckland will vary depending on where you stay.
- Lady Bowen Bed & Breakfast, Thames
- Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort, Pauanui Beach
- Coghill Cottage, Whitianga
- The Church Accommodation, Hahei
- Rapaura Watergardens, Thames
For more information on our top picks, take a look at the 15 Best Hotels & Resorts in the Coromandel.
Day 4 – The Coromandel to Rotorua
Travel time: 3 hours
Drive south to Rotorua via Omahu Valley Road so you can visit Omahu Valley Citrus which specialises in, well, citrus products. Visits must be made by appointment. Then stop by Paeroa to take a photo with a giant sculpture of New Zealand’s very own soft drink, L&P. L&P can be found in any convenience store (otherwise known as a dairy), supermarket or restaurant in New Zealand.
Speaking of refreshments, a good town to stop by for such is Te Aroha. The town also has a cool walk up Mt Te Aroha, as well as mineral hot pools.
Your final destination today is the geothermal hotspot of Rotorua. Rotorua also has a strong Maori presence, making a hangi buffet experience an absolute must! Hangi is a Polynesian style of cooking where food is slow-cooked in an underground oven. Both Te Pa Tu (formerly Tamaki Maori Village – more info on Viator and Klook) and Mitai Maori Village serve hangi buffets in their evening tours. These tours also include cultural performances and an insight into their traditions and customs.
Accommodations in Rotorua with the Best Restaurants
- Regent of Rotorua
- Prince’s Gate Hotel
- Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort
- Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua
- Pullman Rotorua
Check out the 15 Best Hotels in Rotorua for more information on our top picks.
Day 5 – Explore Rotorua
If you haven’t tried Maori food yet, head to Whakawerawera Living Maori Village to see how they cook food using the village’s geothermal vents (more info on Viator and Klook). Otherwise, you might be interested in diving into the New Zealand farming industry at Agrodome. See more experiences listed below, as well as dining recommendations in The Food Guide to Rotorua.
Food Experiences in Rotorua
- Try a Maori hangi at Te Pa Tu (more info on Viator and Klook) or Mitai Maori Village
- Do a blueberry orchard tour
- Visit Rotorua’s local winery and craft beer pub
- Learn about New Zealand farming on the Agrodome
- Save the date for the Kuirau Park Saturday Market and Rotorua Night Market.
Check out the 9 Foodie Experiences in Rotorua for elaboration on each activity.
Day 6 – Rotorua to Whakatane
Travel time: 1 h 15mins
After you’re satisfied that you’ve done everything you want to do in Rotorua, it’s a reasonable drive to Whakatane. The coastal town has pick-your-own berry farms (open in summer), as well as fudge tastings at Tui Aotearoa and chocolates from Scilla Chocolates.
An almost obligatory experience, however, is sitting on Ohope Beach with some fresh Kiwi-style fish and chips. Try any one of Ohiwa Oyster Farm, Gibbo’s on the Wharf and others listed in The Food Guide to Whakatane.
Food Experiences in Whakatane
- Pick your own berries at one of the berry farms
- Try craft beers at the Mata Brewery & Tasting Room
- Try authentic Maori food at Mataatua or with NATIVConnectioNZ
- Do a fudge tasting at Tui Aotearoa
- Pick up some Bay of Plenty chocolates at Scilla Chocolates.
Take a look at the 9 Foodie Experiences in Whakatane for more information on each experience.
Accommodations in Whakatane with the Best Restaurants
Take a look at the 10 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Whakatane & Ohope for more information on our top picks.
Day 7 – Whakatane to Gisborne
Travel time: 2 h 45 mins
Take the stunning journey from Whakatane through the Waioeka Gorge to Gisborne following Opotiki to Gisborne via The Waioeka Gorge: 8 Epic Stops! for things to do.
You’ll eventually arrive in the funky little wine region of Gisborne, where we recommend a guided wine tasting at the Gisborne Wine Centre. Or, if beer is more your thing, the Sunshine Brewery is well worth seeking out.
For dinner, try the casual yet elegant fine dining establishment of The Works. See more suggestions in The Food Guide to Gisborne.
Accommodations in Gisborne with the Best Restaurants, Meals & Breakfasts
Take a look at the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Gisborne for more information on our top picks.
Day 8 – Explore Gisborne
Today could be the day that you explore the wineries around Gisborne, such as Millton Vineyards & Winery, Matawhero Wines and Bushmere Estate. You could otherwise watch a cidery factory at work through the display windows of the Harvest Cidery. They offer tastings too.
Food Experiences in Gisborne
- Visit the wineries around Gisborne
- Try craft beer at the Sunshine Brewery
- Taste cider and watch it being made at the Harvest Cidery
- Have a comprehensive tasting session at the Gisborne Wine Centre
- Hit one of Gisborne’s wine or beer festivals.
Check out the 8 Foodie Experiences in Gisborne for elaboration on each experience.
Day 9 – Gisborne to Napier
Travel time: 2 h 55 mins
Continue down the east coast today stopping by the quaint tearooms and cafes of Morere and Wairoa. Then, it’s onto New Zealand’s original wine region, Hawke’s Bay. It’s not just all about the wine though, as the region hosts one of the oldest farmers’ markets in New Zealand, while attractions surrounding manuka honey and chocolate are also on the menu.
Speaking of the menu, take your pick of restaurants in Napier like the fresh seafood from Hunger Monger and an eclectic mix of flavours at the Indonesian-Dutch fusion restaurant of Restaurant Indonesia. As you can probably guess by now, more information and recommendations can be found in our Food Guide to Napier.
Accommodations in Napier with the Best Restaurants
Check out the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Napier for more information on our top picks.
Day 10 – Explore Napier
Let’s waste no time diving into the winery experiences of Hawke’s Bay. Tours like Prinsy’s Tours, Vines and Views Tours and others will handle the driving and the cellar door tasting fees while you handle the wine tastings.
If you’re lucky enough to be around on a weekend, don’t miss the Napier Urban Farmers’ Market or Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market. Otherwise, delve into the world of honey-making at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre.
Food Experiences in Napier
- Do a driven wine tour…
- … Or a self-guided cycling tour of the wineries with Napier City Bike Hire & Tours
- Check out the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market
- Visit the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
- Do a chocolate tour at Silky Oaks Chocolates.
For more information on each experience and more, check out the 10 Foodie Experiences in Napier.
Day 11 – Napier to Palmerston North
Travel time: 2 h 25 mins
Continue your way south today as you make your way to your next city destination, Palmerston North. If you haven’t already, travel via Hastings to sample its charming eateries. Then it’s a journey through the rural heart of Hawke’s Bay where you could stop by Oruawharo Homestead for one of its high tea days.
After passing through the dramatic scenery of the Manawatu Gorge and perhaps walking off your high tea on the Tawa Loop Walk, you’ll have more cool cafes to experience in Ashhurst, such as The Herb Farm which uses its herb garden to create all sorts of herbal products.
Finally, you’ve reached Palmerston North, fondly known by the locals as “Palmy”. If you have time, jump on the Arrosta Coffee roastery tour to experience the passion behind the coffee bean.
Food Experiences in Palmerston North
- Experience the bustling farmers’ markets
- Take a tour of a coffee roastery
- Browse honey products and taste honey ice cream at Waireka Honey
- Take a brewery tour of the Tui Brewery
- Find out about milk production at Robotic Dairy Farm Tours.
Take a look at the 7 Foodie Experiences in Palmerston North for information on all these experiences and their locations.
Accommodations in Palmerston North with the Best Restaurants, Meals & Breakfasts
- Hiwinui Country Estate
- Copthorne Hotel Palmerston North
- Distinction Coachman Hotel
- Distinction Palmerston North Hotel
- Aspree Motor Inn
For more information on our top recommendations, see the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Palmerston North.
Day 12 – Palmerston North to Wellington
Travel time: 2 hours
Wellington has an eclectic mix of eateries to suit a range of tastes. If you want something classically Kiwi, pick up a New Zealand-style savoury pie from the likes of Caffe L’affare and Midnight Espresso. Iconic fish & chips can be found at the Wellington Seamarket on Cuba Street and The Chippery on Majoribanks Street, while a more fancy twist of the sea fare can be found at Ortega Fish Shack and Shed 5.
Accommodations in Wellington with the Best Restaurants, Meals & Breakfasts
See the 25 Best Hotels in Wellington for more information about each activity.
Day 13 – Explore Wellington
Dive deeper into Wellington’s flavours today with a guided food tour. Food and Spice Odyssey will take you to experience the hidden artisanry gems of the city, which you can find out more about on Viator.
Food Experiences in Wellington
- Check out the local craft beer breweries
- Take a tour of the Wairarapa wine region with Zozo Travel
- Treat yourself to the Wellington Chocolate Factory tour
- Try out the local street eats
- Join Food and Spice Odyssey for a culinary tour of the city.
See our 9 Foodie Experiences in Wellington for more information on each activity.
Day 14 – Wellington to Christchurch
Travel time: 20 minutes drive then 1 h 5 mins flight then 20 minutes drive
Because we’ve spent a lot of time on the North Island, it’s time to take a quick flight to Christchurch to continue our culinary journey in the lower South Island. Return your rental vehicle to the Wellington depot then catch your flight to Christchurch Airport where you can pick up a new rental car.
If you’ve been on a mission to visit every wine region so far in New Zealand then you get another opportunity with the Waipara Valley. Either tour the wineries yourself using the 10 Wonderful Wineries in the Waipara Valley or join a tour with Cheeky Wine Tours. Once you reach the city, a city sightseeing dinner on the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant is a unique option.
Food Experiences in Christchurch
- Tour the Waipara wine region with Cheeky Wine Tours
- Experience Christchurch’s iconic farmers’ markets
- Do a cultural food tour with Amiki Tours
- Enjoy fine dining on the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant
- Taste and tour The Spirits Workshop Distillery.
See the 9 Foodie Experiences in Christchurch for more details on each experience.
Accommodations in Christchurch with the Best Restaurants
Find out more about our top picks in the 20 Best Hotels in Christchurch.
Day 15 – Christchurch to Oamaru
Travel time: 3 h 10 mins
Once you reach Oamaru, you have the choice between a factory tour of Whitestone Cheese, artisan goodies in the Victorian Precinct, a confectionary factory and, yes, another wine region!
We’ll go over the food tours and experiences tomorrow. Until then, our dining recommendations include Cucina for its artful plates of Italian and South American cuisine and the Riverstone Kitchen which grows its own produce on-site. See The Food Guide to Oamaru for more recommendations.
Accommodation in Oamaru with the Best Restaurants, Meals & Breakfasts
- Brydone Hotel Oamaru
- Pen-y-bryn Lodge
- Oasis on Orwell Bed and Breakfast
- Northstar Motel
- Heritage Court Motor Lodge
See the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Oamaru for more information on our top picks.
Day 16 – Explore Oamaru
Now, where were we on the cheese? Oh yes, visit Whitestone Cheese, which offers comprehensive tours of its cheese factory including cheese tastings.
You can always travel part-way up the Waitaki Valley to pop into its boutique wineries of New Zealand’s newest wine region. But we must insist that you spend some time browsing the Victorian Precinct. Not only does it hide brewbars like Scott’s Brewing Co., homemade artisan products at the Riverstone Larder, and European-style Harbour Street Bakery, but its magnificent white limestone architecture is like nowhere else in New Zealand.
Food Experiences in Oamaru
- Tour the Whitestone Cheese factory
- Venture to the Waitaki Valley wine region
- Try some craft beer in the Victorian Precinct…
- … And pick up a pie, ice cream and artisan goods in the Victorian Precinct
- Get some naughty road trip snacks from Rainbow Confectionery.
Take a look at the 7 Foodie Experiences in Oamaru for more details on each experience.
Day 17 – Oamaru to Dunedin
Travel time: 1 h 35 mins
Head south today to the city of Dunedin, perhaps stopping by the perfectly spherical natural wonders of the Moeraki Boulders and grabbing a coffee at its cafe. Aim to get there at low tide for the best view of the boulders.
As always, we’ll discuss some of the activities in Dunedin tomorrow, some of which you’ll probably be able to fit into today. For now, book a table at Moiety for its fine dining plates of New Zealand fare in a casual setting. You might also like Bracken which gets you into the Scottish heritage spirit of Dunedin along with farm-to-table dining. Find out more in The Food Guide to Dunedin.
Accommodations in Dunedin with the Best Restaurants
See the 20 Best Hotels in Dunedin for more details on each accommodation.
Day 18 – Explore Dunedin
Dunedin is kinda famous for its beers, being home to one of the most popular Kiwi beer brands. Explore New Zealand’s oldest operational brewery on the Speight’s Brewery Tour. You can also do a chocolate factory tour at OCHO Chocolate Factory or treat yourself to high tea at Dunedin’s castle, Larnach Castle.
Food Experiences in Dunedin
- Tour the Speight’s Brewery with beer tastings
- Browse the Otago Farmers’ Market
- Join a factory tour at OCHO Chocolate Factory
- Drink real cow’s milk at Holy Cow
- Indulge in high tea at Larnach Castle.
Head to our 8 Foodie Experiences in Dunedin for more information on each activity.
Day 19 – Dunedin to Alexandra
Travel time: 2 h 20 mins
Today’s pitstops include Milton and Lawrence, the latter being a popular stop on the Clutha Gold Trail for quaint cafes. The Gabriels Gully Walk among a historic gold mining site is pretty cool too. You’ll also find plenty of walks in Roxburgh on your way to Alexandra.
Enjoy the rest of the day and tomorrow in the more off-the-beaten-track foodie’s paradise of Alexandra or the neighbouring town of Clyde. Speaking of Clyde, Olivers is a must-try eatery, or should we say three eateries! We also like Paulina’s Bar‘s pioneering railroad theme combined with Spanish, Italian and Japanese cuisine. You can even stay at a winery overnight – check out our accommodation recommendations below.
Food Experiences in Alexandra and Clyde
- Tour the boutique wineries of Alexandra
- Sample craft beer at the local breweries
- Check out the Alexandra Summer Markets
- Enjoy local cuisine at restaurants and cafes.
Check out the 5 Foodie Experiences in Alexandra & Clyde for more details on each experience.
Accommodations in Alexandra and Clyde with Restaurants and Vineyards
- Grey Ridge Vineyard Experience
- Hawkdun Rise Vineyard & Accommodation
- Olivers Central Otago Lodge & Stables
- Centennial Court Hotel
- Lavender Drive Bed & Breakfast
For more details on our top picks, check out the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Alexandra & Clyde.
Day 20 – Alexandra to Queenstown
Travel time: 1 h 10 mins
Your final destination today is Queenstown but not without passing through one last wine region in New Zealand, the Central Otago wine region. Your first port of call is Cromwell, proving its fruit-producing superiority with a giant fruit sculpture. You can stop by a few more wineries here, but we recommend waiting to take a wine tour from Queenstown (more info on Viator and Klook). That way, you don’t have to worry about appointing a designated driver in your group.
After passing by the vineyards of the Gibbston Valley, take a quick detour to Arrowtown for its charming historic buildings, sweet shops and ice cream parlours lining the town and Arrow River.
Queenstown is then your final destination on this foodie itinerary. Celebrate your amazing journey with a meal at the back alley-eatery of The Bunker. They specialise in game meats and cocktails. Or, let’s be honest, you just want to see what this “Fergburger” hype is about, so call in early to avoid the long queue. Check out The Food Guide to Queenstown for more suggestions.
Accommodation in Queenstown with the Best Restaurants
Find out more about each place to stay in our 21 Best Hotels in Queenstown.
Day 21 – Queenstown to Queenstown Airport
Travel time: 10 minutes
Book your flight out of Queenstown for the evening, because you’re going to want to spend as much time here as possible. After all, it’s your last opportunity to tour a wine region, whether it’s by bike with Around The Basin or on a small-group driving tour with Queenstown Wine Trail (more info on Viator and Klook). For something a little different by this point, we recommend experiencing a gourmet Kiwi barbecue on the high country farm of Walter Peak (more info on Viator, Klook and KKday).
Food Experiences in Queenstown
- Do a tour of the Gibbston Valley wineries (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Hop on a craft brewery tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Cruise and indulge in a gourmet barbecue at Walter Peak (on Viator and Klook)
- Browse the local farmers’ market
- Try a famous oversized burger.
For more information on each activity, check out 10 Foodie Experiences in Queenstown.
After you’ve ticked everything off your New Zealand foodie bucket list, it’s time to leave via Queenstown Airport. Catch your flight, whether it’s connecting to Christchurch, Auckland or Australia and beyond…
One final tip: there are some popular Queenstown brands at the airport should you need to pick up some last-minute souvenirs from The Remarkable Sweet Shop or Patagonia Chocolates.
More About a New Zealand Food Itinerary for Three Weeks / 21 Days
That’s it for our New Zealand food itinerary for three weeks (21 days). If this itinerary didn’t quite suit you, perhaps you’d be more into these alternatives:
- New Zealand in Three Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary
- New Zealand Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: Three Weeks / 21 Days
- New Zealand Honeymoon & Romance Itinerary: Three Weeks / 21 Days
- New Zealand Luxury Itinerary: Three Weeks / 21 Days
- New Zealand Family Itinerary: Three Weeks / 21 Days
- How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
Finally, get more advice for planning an entire trip to New Zealand surrounding culinary experiences in The Foodie Guide to New Zealand.