Travel to Middle Earth and visit the spectacular country of New Zealand! With stunning mountains, bright blue waters, and rugged terrain, New Zealand has some of the very best scenery in the world. You could spend months exploring all of the gorgeous country and going on crazy backpack adventures. If you have a short time, then you can find my itinerary for two weeks in New Zealand here.
In my junior year of college, I was studying abroad in Australia and my parents wanted to travel with me at the end of my semester. We ended up deciding to go to New Zealand for two weeks and driving around the South Island. Even though it was raining for the whole first week of our adventures, we still had an amazing time and saw so many crazy sights. Below are the places you should go and what you should see when you’re there. I can’t wait to have the chance to go back to New Zealand some day!
Table of Contents
New Zealand Road Trip
We started our two weeks in New Zealand by staying in the capital city before heading to the South Island. Wellington is actually the southernmost capital city in the world! Even though it’s fairly quiet there is still plenty to do there.
Things to do in Wellington:
Abel Tasman National Park
After our stop in Wellington, it was time to head to the South Island. We took the ferry from Wellington to the city of Nelson on the Northern tip of the South Island. Nelson is a quiet town with quaint homes and nice scenery.
We drove from there to Abel Tasman National Park. This park is known for its beautiful coastline that is protected by the bush all around. You can take the famous coastal track or try to spot wildlife in the park. There are hundreds of walking trails to enjoy in this park!
Head South from Abel Tasman Park to reach the small town of Punakaiki. The main tourist attraction in this area are the Pancake Rocks. These rocks are made of limestone rock and resemble stacks of pancakes. Amongst the rocks, you will also see blow holes where waves crash through and spew upward.
We stayed in a nice place on the coast here and I saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. The colors were incredible with shades of pinks and purples and when you turned around there was a giant rainbow overhead! I will never forget the sunset that night.
Franz Josef Glacier
If you love visiting glaciers, then this is the place for you! At one point, Franz Josef Glacier extended from the mountains all the way to the sea, but now the only way to access it is by helicopter. Unfortunately, while we were there the weather was too rough for them to fly, so we had to observe it from afar.
However, you should definitely book a tour to trek on the glacier. Since we had rough weather, we decided to visit the hot pools and soak in the warm water while the rain fell around us. It was a wonderfully relaxing way to spend a rainy day.
Wanaka was my favorite spot on our journey. It’s a quieter version of Queenstown, with its turquoise lakes and beautiful mountains that loom over town. It’s a wonderful spot for anyone that loves to spend time outdoors adventuring.
You can go on plenty of amazing hikes, paraglide over the mountains, take a horseback ride, go on a scenic bike ride, or get out on the water! Our favorite part was going on a Jet boat tour with Wanaka River Journeys. The jet boat took us down the gorgeous river, then we set off on a short hike to an outcrop where a helicopter picked us up and took us all around the snow-capped mountains. It was truly a delightful experience!
This is a great hub for all adventurous activities and you can’t miss it when you’re spending two weeks in New Zealand. If you are a ski buff or an adrenaline junkie then you will adore Queenstown. Backpackers flock here, because there is just so much to do! If there’s only one place that you have time for, then Queenstown is definitely the place to go.
The gorgeous Lake Wakatipu sits under the Southern Alps and provides a wonderful backdrop for all activities. You can go hiking, skydiving, biking, paragliding, wine tasting, and so much more! We went jet boating and bungee jumping and they were unforgettable experiences. There’s nothing like doing something that gets your heart racing while surrounded by unreal beauty.
After a couple days of thrill seeking, we changed it up with some peace and solitude. New Zealand has a few famous Fiords in Fiordland National Park, but the most famous are Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Milford Sound is easily the most visited, but we decided to see the quieter Doubtful Sound.
We spent a night on an overnight cruise exploring this amazing fiord and the wildlife within it. Every time I looked outside, I was overwhelmed with all of the beauty that surrounded me. During our cruise, we saw cascading waterfalls, lush mountainsides, playful penguins, and magnificent whales. Traveling through the fiords is a unique experience and one that you must do while you are in New Zealand.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and there are plenty of fun things to see there. Definitely spend a day exploring the city, boating across the harbor, going up the Sky Tower, or visiting museums. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, then you won’t want to miss taking a day trip to Hobbiton, the home of the hobbits.
Did you find Two Weeks in New Zealand helpful? Don’t forget to pin it to save for later!