We saw both islands… and you can too!
DESTINATION: NEW ZEALAND
TIME SPENT AT DESTINATION: 8 Days
APPROXIMATE TOTAL COST: $2,200 a person
There is a common misconception about how much time people need to visit New Zealand. We've met quite a few people who feel like they don't have enough time to explore this beautiful country. To help inspire those who don't have months of vacation, we're sharing how we took this dream trip, one we can’t stop talking about, and did it in eight days.
Eight fun-fueled, adventure-ridden, not-so-budget-breaking, road tripping days.
During the duration of our trip, we visited Auckland (North Island), Waiheke Island (North Island), Christchurch (South Island), Franz Joseph Glacier (South Island), Queenstown (South Island), and Mount Cook National Park (South Island). We chose this location because of the great reputation this country has in the travel community. Adrenaline-filled adventures, great wine, inviting locals, stunning nature and scenery, along with fresh local cuisine made this an easy choice.
Auckland/Waiheke Island: We spent our first 2 nights in Auckland and while we didn’t see the entire city (obviously), but we did manage to make the most of our time there and stumble upon some amazing places. Our hotel was at the Viaduct Basin, a great location for the money and right on the water with a beautiful surrounding harbor. The area had a lot of great restaurants/bars nearby and most importantly we were across the street from a ferry that took us to Waiheke Island for some wine tours and hiking. Don’t miss Waiheke Island – it’s seriously amazing! On top of that, we also had some time to check out amazing city views from Mount Eden Summit. Time spent: 3 days
Christchurch/Franz Joseph Glacier: Next, we departed Auckland and flew into Christchurch where we rented a car and began our long drive to Franz Joseph Glacier. This place was the most underrated part of the trip as we only planned it as a hotel stop on our way to Queenstown, yet it turned out to be one of the most gorgeous little towns we’ve seen. We stayed at an amazing little hotel in the middle of a rain forest with stunning views of mountains/glaciers. It’s hard to imagine seeing both in one spot until you experience it for yourself. We even had time to take a nice long hike to see the glacier. The town also offers quick helicopter tours that allow you to walk out on the glacier if you’re running short on time. Time spent: 1.5 days
Our next stop was Queenstown: This was another stunning town nestled on Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by mountains. Adrenaline Junkies and Foodies can be found from all over the World in a town where it’s impossible to be bored. One of the highlights of this place was taking a scenic walk on Queenstown Trail along the lake, taking a boat tour around Lake Wakatipu, having drinks at the Ice Bar, and of course, Bungee Jumping off the Kawarau Bridge with AJ Hackett Bungee. Time spent: 3 days
Mt. Cook National Park: Again, a place you must see with your own eyes in order to understand it. We stayed just outside the park as we couldn’t score a hotel inside the park, but we did manage to find out just outside which allowed us to do some great day hike inside the park and get a great feel for the place. It was a great way to end the trip and head back to Christchurch from which we took a flight back to Auckland and headed back home. Time spent: 1 day
This doesn’t nearly begin to cover this amazing trip, but we’re hoping it leaves enough room for you to make your own memories in New Zealand.
And when you do, here are some helpful tips for visiting this destination:
- If you’re staying around the Auckland area you can easily get around using public transportation and Uber. Skip the rental car, take the ferry.
- Get NZ currency at your local bank to avoid high airport charges. Nobody likes losing money by being up-charged at an airport.
- Renting a car seemed on par with renting one in the US as far as rates/insurance go. Think about taking a road trip to see more of the island first-hand – you can literally stop & smell the flowers when you do.
- We downloaded google maps on our cellphones (before our trip) and used GPS in airplane mode. Some places are remote and had no service, so this saved us. Plus, you save on precious data if you don’t have unlimited internationally.
Can’t Miss: We couldn’t just pick one for this trip. Honestly, this country is just too amazing but if we had to narrow in on that can’t miss experience(s) we’re saying bungee jumping off AJ Hackett and Franz Josef Glacier. The bungee jumping – it was literally invented in New Zealand, so if you’re going take the plunge, this is the place. Franz Josef – This awe-inspiring place is a must!
In our opinion: Everyone needs to visit New Zealand! It's amazing how much you can do there in less than 10 days. And the locals, food, amazing wine, endless adrenaline filled activities, and stunning nature will keep you entertained for as long as you stay.
Don’t let the long flight intimidate you. For the cost of flying to Europe, you can easily get to New Zealand in a similar amount of time with less jet lag – the country was only four hours behind our time zone.
Just remember you can visit that far place even for a week and still come home full.