The Ultimate 4-Week New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
We know that you have heard a million times: one month is not enough time to explore New Zealand. But if four weeks is all the time you have for travelling Aotearoa, then you can certainly have a good go at it! In the itinerary below, we go over how you can really make the most of New Zealand in four weeks.
The great thing about road-tripping around New Zealand for four weeks is that it opens many transport options for you to really make the trip your own. We go through a quick guide on how to get around New Zealand in a month before we get into the itinerary. For an idea of what awesome destinations to hit, as well as activities and budget accommodation, take a look at the 30-day New Zealand itinerary below. You’ll also get an idea of travel time between destinations so you can work out the perfect New Zealand trip for you.
What’s more, we show you how to plan this itinerary the EASY way with First Light Travel – more on that at the bottom of the itinerary.
New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary for 4 Weeks (30 Days): Overview
- Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Hahei (Coromandel)
- Day 2 – Hahei to Rotorua (via Hobbiton)
- Day 3 – Explore Rotorua
- Day 4 – Rotorua to Taupo
- Day 5 – Taupo to the Tongariro National Park
- Day 6 – Tongariro National Park to the Ruahine Ranges
- Day 7 – Adventure in the Ruahine Ranges
- Day 8 – Ruahine Ranges to Wellington
- Day 9 – Wellington to Picton
- Day 10 – Picton to Nelson
- Day 11 – Explore Nelson or Abel Tasman Day Trip
- Day 12 – Nelson to Punakaiki (via Nelson Lakes)
- Day 13 – Punakaiki to Franz Josef
- Day 14 – Franz Josef to Wanaka
- Day 15 – Wanaka to Queenstown
- Day 16 – Explore Queenstown or Milford Sound Day Trip
- Day 17 – Queenstown to Mt Cook
- Day 18 – Explore Mt Cook
- Day 19 – Mt Cook to Geraldine (via Lake Tekapo)
- Day 20 – Geraldine to Christchurch
- Day 21 – Christchurch to Kaikoura
- Day 22 – Explore Kaikoura
- Day 23 – Kaikoura to Picton
- Day 24 – Picton to Wellington
- Day 25 – Wellington to Whanganui
- Day 26 – Whanganui to Stratford
- Day 27 – Stratford to Waitomo
- Day 28 – Explore Waitomo
- Day 29 – Waitomo to Auckland
- Day 30 – Explore Auckland + Departure
How to Get Around New Zealand in 4 Weeks
We’re not going to beat around the bush there is going to be a lot of driving – A LOT. If you can handle it, then get yourself a rental vehicle and continue down to the itinerary below. Otherwise, if driving almost every day for an entire month does not quite sound like the trip you were imagining, then consider travelling New Zealand by bus. Here are your options when it comes to travelling New Zealand in a month.
Car or Campervan Rental
The itinerary below begins and ends in Auckland meaning that you can have the same rental vehicle for the entire trip and avoid those hefty “one-way” fees. Get started with planning your vehicle rental in New Zealand with The Guide to Renting a Car and The Guide to Renting a Campervan in New Zealand.
By far the cheapest option for getting around New Zealand is by coach. Get one of the InterCity bus passes to hit all of the destinations listed below. For more information, see How to Travel by Bus in New Zealand.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours
A hop-on hop-off bus is a flexible bus tour where you can hop off the bus at any point on the route and jump back on the bus at a later date. There are a few hop-on hop-off bus companies in New Zealand where their national bus passes have a minimum travel time of around 20 days, which you can discover for yourself in Hop-On Hop-Off Buses in New Zealand: Complete Guide + How Do They Work.
Escorted Bus Tours
All the logistics are sorted out for you, so all you need to do is enjoy. There are a number of bus tour companies offering 21-28-day tours around New Zealand following a similar itinerary to what is featured below, yet including accommodation, some meals and some activities. Check them out in The Best 20+ Days Tours of New Zealand.
For more ways to explore New Zealand, take a look at the 10 Best Ways to Travel Around New Zealand.
Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Hahei (Coromandel)
Drive time: 2 hrs 15 mins
You’ve arrived in Auckland, New Zealand! You will have plenty of time to see the city toward the end of this 4-week New Zealand itinerary, but for now, head south toward the Coromandel and the start of your one-month New Zealand adventure. Coromandel is the home of beautiful beaches, most famously, Cathedral Cove.
Things to Do in Hahei
These are pretty relaxing and accessible activities/sights to see for your first day in New Zealand:
- Hike to the famous Cathedral Cove and its beach with white cliffs and a giant coastal arch
- Take a boat tour with Hahei Explorer to Cathedral Cove
- Explore beaches and islands with Cathedral Cove Kayaks
- Go to Hot Water Beach at low tide to dig yourself a hot pool in the sand.
For more ideas, head to the 22 Best Things to Do in The Coromandel.
Accommodation in Hahei
See more like this in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in the Coromandel.
For more mid-range stays, take a look at the 15 Best Hotels & Resorts in the Coromandel.
Day 2 – Hahei to Rotorua (Via Hobbiton)
Drive time: 3 hours
Your final destination today is Rotorua, famous for its geothermal activity and for being the cultural heart of New Zealand. Before you get there, don’t miss the Karangahake Gorge, halfway through the drive. There are a number of walking tracks in the area between 45 minutes to 4 hours going through a historic mining area taken back by the forest and the river. Walk through mining tunnels, through native forest, alongside mining relics and to magnificent waterfalls.
Things to Do in Rotorua
If you get to Rotorua with time to spare, here are a few suggestions.
- Relax in a natural geothermal hot pool. There are paid options, such as the Polynesian Spa (more info on Klook or KKday), or go find some of the 5 Free Natural Hot Pools in Rotorua
- See an evening cultural performance at one of the Maori attractions
- Go for a bite to eat on Eat Streat and beyond
- See the forest decorated on the Redwoods Treewalk
- Have a race on the night Luge at Skyline Gondola.
For more recommendations, check out the 25 Best Things to Do in Rotorua.
Accommodation in Rotorua
For more options, check out the 20 Best Budget Accommodations in Rotorua.
See more stays in The 50 Best Accommodations in Rotorua.
More lavish finds are available in the 20 Best Luxury Accommodations in Rotorua.
Day 3 – Explore Rotorua
There is so much to do in Rotorua that it is the perfect place to have a break from driving. There’s a huge range of activities from adrenaline fixes, wildlife, Maori cultural shows, geothermal parks and so much more!
Things to Do in Rotorua
- Geysers, steaming lakes, bubbling mud, silica terraces and so much more can be seen in one of the many geothermal parks of Rotorua
- Catch a Maori cultural performance (if you missed doing so yesterday)
- Do some adrenaline activities
Zorb your way in a giant hamster ball down a hill, go luging from the top of the Skyline Gondola, hike or mountain bike in the Redwood Forest, jet boat or do a freefall experience at the Velocity Valley, and so much more!
- See native New Zealand wildlife at Wingspan or National Kiwi Hatchery (more info on Viator and Klook).
For more inspiration, get stuck into The Complete Guide to Rotorua.
Day 4 – Rotorua to Taupo
Drive time: 1 hour
Not too far from Rotorua is Taupo on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake! Again, there really is a lot to do here. If you want to skydive and/or bungy jump on the North Island then Taupo is a great place to do it. Plus, there are plenty of options to get out on the lake, relax in hot pools, see raging waterfalls and more!
Things to Do in Taupo
- Take a trip out on New Zealand’s largest lake, whether it’s fishing, kayaking, sailing, cruising or parasailing
- Bungy jump over the Waikato River with Taupo Bungy
- Do a skydive with Taupo Tandem Skydive
- Go on a white water rafting trip on the Tongariro River with Tongariro River Rafting
- Walk along the Waikato River to a natural hot pool at Spa Park, then onto Huka Falls
- Sail to the Maori Rock Carvings with Sail Barbary (more info on Viator and Klook).
For more inspiration, take a look at the 20 Best Things to Do in Taupo.
Accommodation in Taupo
Check out more options over at the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Taupo.
For more, check out the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Taupo.
Discover more upscale finds in the 15 Best Luxury Accommodations in Taupo.
Day 5 – Taupo to Tongariro National Park
Drive time: 1 hr 15 mins
Get up early and drive to the Tongariro National Park to do the Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand’s most popular day hike over the volcanic plateau. Otherwise, take your time getting to the Tongariro National Park and enjoy one of the shorter hikes in the area, still giving fantastic views of the Central North Island volcanoes. You also have the option of mountain biking or even skiing on the Whakapapa Ski Field in winter.
Things to Do in Tongariro National Park
- Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, taking you over the volcanoes of the central North Island. The 6-8-hour hike is one-way and requires some planning in terms of transport and keeping safe; take a look at our Guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to work out a plan
- Ski or snowboard at Whakapapa Ski Field in winter
- Choose from other hikes in Tongariro National Park, such as Tawhai Falls, Silica Rapids and Taranaki Falls
- Discover the birthplace of the Haka at the historical Opotaka.
For more ideas, check out the 15 Best Things to Do in the Tongariro National Park.
Accommodation in National Park Village
See more options in the 7 Best Hostels in National Park Village & Whakapapa.
Day 6 – Tongariro National Park to the Ruahine Ranges
Drive time: 2 hours
The mission today is to spend some time in the New Zealand wilderness. Ruahine Forest Park is an awesome place to do that and a local favourite! There are a few different wilderness lodges and camping options in the Ruahine Forest Park, as well as activities from hikes to horse riding to white water rafting.
Your final destination today will be at one of the accommodation options listed below. You’ll get more time to explore the area or do an activity there tomorrow.
Accommodation in the Ruahine Ranges
Day 7 – Adventure in the Ruahine Ranges
It’s time to relax/go wild in the Ruahine Forest Park! Whatever your bag is, you could do some white water rafting or horse riding at River Valley, horse riding, 4x4ing or claybird shooting at Makoura Lodge, or hiking in the Ruahine Ranges. Alternatively, relax at your farmstay to get a taste of Kiwi life.
Things to Do in the Ruahine Ranges
Day 8 – Ruahine Ranges to Wellington
Drive time: 3 hrs 20 mins
Your final destination today is the capital city of New Zealand! However, we recommend breaking up the drive by stopping along the Kapiti Coast, full of beaches and walks to check out! Walk over a sand dune walkway at Queen Elizabeth Park or relax on Pekapeka Beach. There’s plenty more to discover in the 10 Best Things to Do on the Kapiti Coast.
Accommodation in Wellington
Need more options? Head to the 15 Best Budget Accommodations in Wellington.
Check out The 50 Best Accommodations for all of your best options.
See more stays in the 15 Best Luxury Accommodations in Wellington.
Day 9 – Wellington to Picton
Ferry time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Today you have the treat of taking the ferry from the North Island to the South Island! We recommend a sunrise or sunset sailing for the best prices and the best light for a stunning journey across the Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds – see The Ferry Between the North Island and South Island: Full Guide.
Things to Do in Wellington
- Visit the Te Papa Museum to learn everything there is to know about New Zealand
- Go to Zealandia to see native New Zealand wildlife
- Do a self-guided Lord of the Rings tour or be guided by Xplor Tours
- Tour the city sights of Wellington from the Waterfront to Cuba Street to the Botanic Gardens to Mt Victoria. Find out more in our One Day in Wellington: City Walking Tour Itinerary…
… And more as listed in the 25 Best Things to Do in Wellington.
Things to Do in Picton
- Take the Beachcomber Cruises‘ mail boat cruise out onto the waters of the Marlborough Sounds
- Go dolphin swimming with E-Ko Tours (more info on Viator and Klook)
- Mountain bike the Link Pathway or Queen Charlotte Track
- Kayak around the harbour with Wilderness Guides
- Take a tour of the wine region and do some wine tasting with Sounds Connection.
Learn more about these activities, as well as many others, in the 20 Best Things to Do in Picton.
Accommodation in Picton
If everything goes to plan and you do not miss your ferry then these are some excellent accommodation options in Picton.
For more ideas, check out the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Picton.
Check out the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Picton for more details on these accommodations and others.
Learn more about these stays in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Picton.
Day 10 – Picton to Nelson
Drive time: 1 hr 50 mins
Do one of the activities that you missed in Picton yesterday or hit the road to Nelson.
Stop by Havelock to take a boat cruise out into the Marlborough Sounds or join a kayaking tour with Pelorus Eco Adventures down the Pelorus River one of The Hobbit filming locations. For more inspiration, check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Havelock.
Then you will reach New Zealand’s sunniest city, Nelson, where you will have more opportunities to do some of the following activities…
Things to Do in Nelson
- Walk to the Centre of New Zealand found in the Botanic Reserve
- Step back in time and also try some craft beer at Founders Park
- See where the One Ring was made at the Jens Hansen Ringmaker store
- See native birds at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary
- Treat yourself to local Nelson cuisine…
… And the list continues over in the 20 Best Things to Do in Nelson.
Accommodation in Nelson
There’s a lot more listed in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Nelson.
Check out more options in the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Nelson.
More indulgent options await in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Nelson.
Day 11 – Nelson or Abel Tasman Day Trip
Drive time: 0-1 hour
Nelson is the gateway to three national parks in the South Island. One of which is the Abel Tasman National Park, full of pristine golden sand beaches backed with lush forest. Tours operate from Nelson daily taking you into the Abel Tasman National Park, such as Wine, Art & Wilderness. Either drive to Kaiteriteri yourself (1 hour one way) for maximum flexibility or take one of the shuttle services.
In Kaiteriteri, you have a great deal of Abel Tasman options from kayaking tours, water taxis to hikes, or boat tours…
Things to Do in the Abel Tasman National Park
- Paddle a traditional Maori canoe with Waka Abel Tasman
- Skydive over beaches with Skydive Abel Tasman (more info on Viator and Klook)
- Do some beach-hopping by kayak with Wilson’s Abel Tasman
- Cruise Abel Tasman from Kaiteriteri with Wilson’s Abel Tasman
- Take a hiking a boat cruise of Abel Tasman from Nelson with Wine, Art & Wilderness.
Learn more about these activities and more in the 20 Best Things to Do in the Abel Tasman National Park.
Day 12 – Nelson to Punakaiki (via Nelson Lakes National Park)
Drive time: 3 hrs 45 mins
There’s a fair bit of driving to do today but the beautiful views of the Buller Gorge help pass the time quickly. There are a few quaint towns to stop by for a coffee, such as Murchison. However, to really make the most of the drive we suggest taking a 20-minute detour into the Nelson Lakes National Park to see the beautiful Lake Rotoroa or Lake Rotoiti. Both are very similar in terms of views and short walks available so take your pick!
Once you arrive in Punakaiki, you have plenty of experiences to choose from but don’t miss the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes for their impressive and bizarre rock formations.
Things to Do in Punakaiki
- Do the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blowholes Walk
- Visit the Punakaiki Cavern
- Kayak on the Pororari River with Waka Puna
- Experience Barrytown Beach by horse wagon with Golden Sands Horse and Wagon Tours
- Sample the Paparoa Track, one of the New Zealand Great Walks.
Learn about all of these activities and more in the 10 Best Things to Do in Punakaiki.
Accommodation in Punakaiki
More details on these hostels can be found in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Punakaiki.
Day 13 – Punakaiki to Franz Josef
Drive time: 3 hours
Head to the West Coast’s Glacier Country where you’ll find some of the world’s most mesmerising glacier experiences. Franz Josef is your opportunity to walk on, crawl inside, fly over, skydive over or walk up to a glacier, as described in the 7 Ways to Take on New Zealand’s Glaciers. Nevertheless, there’s actually more to do here than glacier gallivanting! Check it out in the list below.
Things to Do in Franz Josef
- Do a heli-hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides
- Do one of New Zealand’s highest skydives over the glacier and the Southern Alps with Skydive Franz Josef & Fox Glacier (more info on Viator and Klook)
- Hike to the Franz Josef Terminal Face
- Relax in the Waiho Hot Tubs
- Kayak on the reflective waters of Lake Mapourika with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours (on Viator and Klook).
Get much more details over in the 25 Best Things to Do in Franz Josef.
Accommodation in Franz Josef
Discover more affordable stays in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Franz Josef.
Head to the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Franz Josef for more recommendations.
For more details, check out the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Franz Josef.
Day 14 – Franz Josef to Wanaka
Drive time: 3 hrs 40 mins
You’ve got a long drive ahead today but plenty of reasons to stretch your legs. You’ll be going through another super scenic road on the Haast Pass where we recommend you stop at Thunder Creek Falls just a minute’s walk from the road. Then don’t miss the Blue Pools of Haast. This is a 1-hour return walk through the forest to some of the clearest and bluest rivers you will ever see!
This evening, you will have the time to relax by the beautiful Lake Wanaka.
Things to Do in Wanaka
- Hike up Roy’s Peak
- Climb a waterfall with Wild Wire Wanaka
- Visit Puzzling World and get lost in their giant maze
- Skydive over beautiful Lake Wanaka with Skydive Wanaka
- Cruise to a sanctuary island on Lake Wanka with Eco Wanaka Adventures.
Head to the 25 Best Things to Do in Wanaka for more ideas.
Accommodation in Wanaka
More cheap stays can be found in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Wanaka.
- Club Wyndham Wanaka, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
- Archway Motels & Chalets
- The Moorings Motel and Apartments
Check out the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Wanaka for more ideas.
More recommendations can be found in the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Wanaka.
Day 15 – Wanaka to Queenstown
Drive time: 1 hour
Time to hit the “Adrenaline Capital of the World”! Take the Crown Range to be the best views on the way to Queenstown. Once there, you have so much to do! Take a look at The Complete Guide to Queenstown or the list below.
Things to Do in Queenstown
- Do a bungy jump; you have three to choose from in Queenstown
- Do a giant swing with Nevis Swing or Shotover Canyon Swing
- Experience the thrills of a jet boat ride
- Go skiing or snowboarding at The Remarkables in winter
- Hike Ben Lomond.
The possibilities are endless, as described in the 45 Best Things to Do in Queenstown.
Accommodation in Queenstown
Choose from more affordable stays in the 15 Best Budget Accommodations in Queenstown.
Browse all of the top stays in The 50 Best Accommodations in Queenstown.
Day 16 – Explore Queenstown (or Milford Sound Day Trip)
With towering mountains, untouched rainforest and unbelievable scenery, Milford Sound is an unforgettable journey.
To have a break from driving, we recommend taking one of the many bus tours to Milford Sound and then boarding a cruise of the fiord. Bus trips give you plenty of opportunities to hop off the bus and do multiple short walks on the way. For more information, get your head in the 10 Best Milford Sound Tours from Queenstown & Te Anau.
If a 13-hour bus and cruise trip doesn’t appeal, see the 6 Best Scenic Flights to Milford Sound from Queenstown instead.
However, if you want a break from the road, you have plenty more options for things to do in Queenstown listed above as well as some more inspiration in the 45 Best Things to Do in Queenstown.
Day 17 – Queenstown to Mt Cook
Drive time: 3 hours
If you have not had enough of epic scenic drives, then here’s one more for you through the Lindis Pass on the way to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.
On the way to Mt Cook, consider stopping by the Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell to challenge your travel buddies to go-karting or stop by Omarama for their hot pools with a view. Additionally, there is a pleasant river walk in Twizel.
Once at Mt Cook, you have a lot of options to explore the heart of the Southern Alps with its glaciers, but we’ll get onto that more tomorrow.
Accommodation in Mt Cook
You know the drill; check out 5 Best Budget Accommodations in Mt Cook.
See the 10 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Mt Cook for your top options.
Go high-end with the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations in Mt Cook.
Day 18 – Explore Mt Cook
There are many ways to enjoy the impressive landscape of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, from glaciers to lakes to mountains, so you’ll want to spend a whole day doing some or all of the following activities!
Things to Do in Mt Cook
- Walk the Hooker Valley Track
- Land on the Tasman Glacier in a ski plane (more details on Viator or Klook)
- Do a heli-hike on New Zealand’s longest glacier with Mt Cook Glacier Guiding
- Go boating on the Tasman Lake with Glacier Explorers
- Stargaze in the Aoraki Mt Cook International Dark Sky Reserve.
That’s right, you can learn more about these experiences, as well as many others in the 20 Best Things to Do in Aoraki Mt Cook.
Day 19 – Mt Cook to Geraldine (via Lake Tekapo)
Drive time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Next stop, Geraldine! This is not without an obligatory stop at Lake Tekapo with its vibrant blue lake and the most scenic church in New Zealand, The Church of the Good Shepherd. We have a list of experiences for you in the 10 Best Things to Do in Lake Tekapo.
Stop by the Fairlie Bakehouse for one of their award-winning New Zealand pies, then onward to Geraldine. You have time to either do an activity this evening or tomorrow morning so take your pick from the following!
Things to Do in Geraldine
- Do grade 5 white water rafting on the Rangitata River with Hidden Valleys
- Go canyoning in the Kaumira Canyon with Big Rock Adventures
- Walk in the Talbot Forest Scenic Reserve
- Explore the Orari Gorge Track
- Visit all of the town’s vintage museums, including the Geraldine Vintage Car & Machinery Museum, Route 79 Museum, Roger Mahan Heritage Centre and Geraldine Museum.
All of these and more are listed in the 10 Best Things to Do in Geraldine.
Accommodation in Geraldine
Day 20 – Geraldine to Christchurch
Drive time: 2 hours
If you missed any of the awesome activities yesterday, take the time to do them before you hit the road to Christchurch.
Things to Do in Christchurch
- Wander around the Christchurch Botanic Gardens
- Visit the Canterbury Museum
- Take to the skies in a unique way with Adventure Balloons NZ
- Take a hop-on hop-off tram tour of the city (more info on Viator and Klook)
- Feel the freeze at the International Antarctic Centre
- Try some Kiwi cuisine in Christchurch.
Get more details in the 15 Best Things to Do in Christchurch.
Accommodation in Christchurch
See more reasonably-priced stays in the 12 Best Budget Accommodations in Christchurch.
All the top recommendations can be found in 20 Best Hotels in Christchurch.
For the cream of the crop, check out the 15 Best Luxury Accommodations in Christchurch.
Day 21 – Christchurch to Kaikoura
Drive time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Enjoy a coffee in Christchurch before hitting the road toward Kaikoura, the marine wildlife mecca of New Zealand. The drive is a scenic one along the coast until you reach the small coastal town famous for its seafood and sea life. Although you have a full day to make the most of Kaikoura tomorrow, there is so much to do that you can start exploring straight away!
Things to Do in Kaikoura
- Walk the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway with multiple viewpoints over seal colonies
- Catch a scenic flight with Wings Over Whales (more info on Viator and Klook) to see whales from the sky
- Join a wildlife boat tour to see whales with Whale Watch Kaikoura (on Viator and Klook)
- Have a close encounter with seals with Seal Kayak Kaikoura (on Viator and Klook)
- Try some famous Kaikoura crayfish at the local restaurants.
More details can be found in the 20 Best Things to Do in Kaikoura.
Accommodation in Kaikoura
Find more affordable stays in the 15 Best Budget Accommodations in Kaikoura.
For more options, take a look at the 21 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Kaikoura.
Discover more details in the 15 Best Luxury Accommodations in Kaikoura.
Day 22 – Explore Kaikoura
Because there is so much to do in Kaikoura, we recommend spending the day doing any activities you missed yesterday. Plus, here are some more things to do in Kaikoura, which are best done if you are spending a whole day here.
More Things to Do in Kaikoura
- Hike Mt Fyffe for some epic views.
- Swim with dolphins in their natural habitat with Dolphin Encounter
- Land in the majestic Kaikoura Mountains with Kaikoura Helicopters
- See the world’s largest seabirds with Albatross Encounter
- Trek through woodlands with a special friend with Kaikoura Llama Trekking.
Again, more details can be found in the 20 Best Things to Do in Kaikoura.
Day 23 – Kaikoura to Picton
Drive time: 2 hours
Next stop, Picton! As you travel to Picton, be sure to stop off in Blenheim. Blenheim is surrounded by vineyards and is in the centre of New Zealand’s biggest wine-making region. Take advantage of that fact by going on a wine-tasting tour or hiring a bike for a self-guided tour among the vines. Check out our top recommendations in the 15 Best Things to Do in Blenheim.
Once you reach Picton, again, you have a lot of things to do from exploring the Marlborough Sounds to mountain biking to hiking. Take a look at the list on Day 9 to see if there was anything you missed, or get more inspiration from the 15 Best Things to Do in Picton.
Accommodations in Picton are also listed on Day 9.
Day 24 – Picton to Wellington
Ferry time: 3 hrs 30 mins
We recommend taking the ferry early today to give you enough time to explore Wellington – see The Ferry Between the North Island and South Island for a full recap.
Was there an activity that you missed in Wellington? Check Day 9 for recommendations or simply head to the 25 Best Things to Do in Wellington.
Then have a relaxing evening in New Zealand’s capital city, perhaps indulging in its food scene (see The Food Guide to Wellington), before hitting the road up north tomorrow!
Day 25 – Wellington to Whanganui
Drive time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Make your way back up north via the west coast of the North Island to see some wild coastline and the perfectly-shaped Mt Taranaki volcano. The journey begins by heading toward Whanganui, a coastal town with a culturally important river and a whole lot of charm.
Things to Do in Whanganui
- Check out Victoria Avenue for its shopping and historic architecture
- Walk the tunnel to the Durie Hill Elevator then climb the Durie Hill Tower!
- Visit the stunning Kai Iwi Beach
- Watch the insane amount of birds at Virginia Lake
- Experience the Whanganui River by canoe with Ki Tai.
More ideas can be found in the 15 Best Things to Do in Whanganui.
Accommodation in Whanganui
Check out the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Whanganui for more ideas.
Get more inspiration from the 20 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Whanganui.
Find alternative upscale stays in the 7 Best Luxury Accommodations in Whanganui.
Day 26 – Whanganui to Stratford
Drive time: 1 hr 30 mins
On today’s drive, you’ll get to see the wild west coast of the Taranaki region as you make your way up to Stratford. Stratford is on the edge of the Egmont National Park with the impressive Mt Taranaki at its centre. Stratford gives good access to the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre and the Stratford Plateau on Mt Taranaki giving you a great deal of walking and hiking options through enchanted forests to waterfalls and volcano views!
Things to Do in Stratford
- See the town centre Glockenspiel that performs at 10 am, 1 pm, 3 pm and 7 pm
- Do the Wilkies Pools Loop Track and Dawson Falls Track
- Take a stroll around King Edward Park
- Step back in time at Pioneer Village
- Check out the Percy Thomson Gallery.
Accommodation in Stratford
Day 27 – Stratford to Waitomo
Drive time: 3 hrs 15 mins
Now it’s time for an ironically unforgettable journey through the Forgotten World Highway. Fill up with fuel before delving into this historical and isolated part of the North Island.
You will get breathtaking views of Mt Taranaki as you leave Stratford. Stop by the Republic of Whangamomona and get your passport stamped. After that, you will go through old tunnels (or over them if you are too scared), as well as through the wild and wonderful Tangarakau Gorge. There are plenty of photo opportunities along the way. You can find a few in our 10 Places You Can’t Miss on the Forgotten World Highway.
After a long drive to Waitomo, just relax in Waitomo in one of these affordable accommodations.
Accommodation in Waitomo
Learn more in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Waitomo.
See more options in the 10 Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Waitomo.
Day 28 – Explore Waitomo
Now you have the whole day to enjoy one or more of the epic glowworm and caving activities in Waitomo. Join one of the caving operators in Waitomo, throw on a sexy wetsuit and tube/abseil/climb your way through the glowworm caves! There are a few walks in the area too if you are still feeling active.
Things to Do in Waitomo
- Explore the Waitomo caves with one of the 8 Best Waitomo Cave Tours
- Do a walking tour of the Ruakuri Cave or the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
- Do the Ruakuri Bush Walk at night to see glowworms
- Go on a caving adventure with Waitomo Adventures, The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. (more info on Viator and Klook) or Cave World Waitomo.
Check out the 15 Best Things to Do in Waitomo for more recommendations.
Day 29 – Waitomo to Auckland
Drive time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Take your time driving up to your final destination on this four-week itinerary of New Zealand. There are a lot of quirky little towns to stop by on the way like Otorohanga with the best public toilets in New Zealand and the Ed Hillary Walkway in the centre of town. For a bit of nature, do one of the short walks of the Pirongia Forest Park, or revel in what people can do with nature at the Hamilton Gardens.
You’ll then reach Auckland city where you can relax tonight at one of the harbour eateries or on top of the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, the Sky Tower (more info on Viator and Klook). Well give you more ideas on what to do in Auckland tomorrow, but if you have time, you can fit in some activities this evening.
Accommodation in Auckland
More cheap stays can be found in the 20 Best Budget Accommodations in Auckland.
There’s a lot more where that came from in The 50 Best Accommodations in Auckland!
See more stays in the 25 Best Luxury Hotels & Accommodations in Auckland.
Day 30 – Explore Auckland + Departure
Drive time: 45 minutes
Alternatively, this could be your last chance to do a skydive in New Zealand with Skydive Auckland or jump from the Sky Tower. You can even cruise out into the harbour searching for whales and dolphins with Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari (more info on Viator and Klook). Auckland really has a lot to offer!
Things to Do in Auckland
- See T-rexes and Maori artefacts at the Auckland Museum (more info on Viator and Klook)
- Walk up the volcanic Rangitoto Island
- Drink wine and be merry on Waiheke Island
- See protected wildlife on the Tiritiri Matangi Island bird sanctuary
- Do a skydive at Skydive Auckland
- Jump off the Sky Tower with the SkyJump or walk around the top of it with the SkyWalk
- Take a whale-watching cruise with Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari (on Viator and Klook)
- Walk to Mt Eden for some city views.
And the list continues over at the 50 Best Things to Do in Auckland.
Departure from Auckland Airport
Then, it’s time to return your rental car and head to Auckland Airport for the next step of life’s adventure. You can either return your vehicle at your vehicle rental company’s Auckland Airport depot and then the company will likely provide a free shuttle to your requested terminal.
Alternatively, you can return your vehicle to the Auckland city depot (perhaps on Day 29) and take an airport transfer to the airport – take a look at The Cheapest Airport Transfers for Auckland Airport for recommendations.
Plan This Itinerary with First Light Travel
If you like this New Zealand road trip itinerary for four weeks 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 road trip itineraries in New Zealand. 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 self-drive 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 New Zealand Itineraries for 1 Month / 4 Weeks / 30 Days
That’s the end of our New Zealand road trip itinerary for four weeks / 30 days. If this itinerary didn’t take you fancy, see our alternative one-month itineraries:
- New Zealand Budget Itinerary: 1 Month
- New Zealand Family Itinerary: 1 Month
- New Zealand Honeymoon & Romance Itinerary: 1 Month
- New Zealand Luxury Itinerary: 1 Month
- New Zealand Food Itinerary: 1 Month
- How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.