20 days in New Zealand Itinerary

20 days in New Zealand Itinerary

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Route & dates

20 days in New Zealand Itinerary

Start: Milwaukee
bus + Fly:  24​h
1
Dunedin
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
2
Queenstown
— 3 nights
bus:  2​h 30​min
3
Wanaka
— 3 nights
bus + Fly:  7​h 15​min
4
Paihia
— 2 nights
+2
taxi + Fly + taxi:  3​h
5
Waitomo Caves
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h
6
Rotorua
— 4 nights
Fly + bus:  22​h
End: Milwaukee

2
nights
Dunedin

Dunedin ©
With its history proudly stemming from the Scottish settlers who came here during the colonial era, Dunedin's streets are lined with well-preserved examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, while a new culture of nightlife and fine dining takes hold around them.
Visiting Penguin Place and Tunnel Beach Track will get you outdoors. Step off the beaten path and head to Oamaru's Victorian Precinct and Olveston Historic Home. Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Dunedin: Oamaru (Lazy Cat Pottery and Tileworks & Moeraki Boulders Beach). There's still lots to do: sample the tasty concoctions at Speight’s Brewery, make a trip to The World's Steepest Street, take in nature's colorful creations at Lady Thorn Rhododendron Dell, and tour in style with a train tour.

To see reviews, more things to do, traveler tips, and other tourist information, you can read our Dunedin trip planner.

Milwaukee, USA to Dunedin is an approximately 24-hour combination of car and flight. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 18 hours traveling from Milwaukee to Dunedin. Finish your sightseeing early on the 5th (Thu) so you can drive to Queenstown.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks Tours Wildlife

Side Trip

Oamaru
Find places to stay Mar 3 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Penguin Place ©
Penguin Place
Tunnel Beach Track ©
Tunnel Beach Track
Oamaru's Victorian Precinct ©
Oamaru's Victorian Precinct

3
nights
Queenstown

Queenstown ©
Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
Take a break from the city and head to Arrowtown Village and River Rafting & Tubing. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Queenstown Hill and Skydiving. There's much more to do: see Off-Road Tours, trek along Ben Lomond Track, get engrossed in the history at Lakes District Museum & Art Gallery, and have some family-friendly fun at Fear Factory Queenstown.

To see other places to visit, traveler tips, ratings, and other tourist information, use the Queenstown trip planning app .

You can drive from Dunedin to Queenstown in 3.5 hours. Another option is to take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 8th (Sun) early enough to take a bus to Wanaka.

Things to do in Queenstown

Outdoors Tours Adventure

Side Trip

Arrowtown
Find places to stay Mar 5 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Queenstown Hill ©
Queenstown Hill
Ben Lomond Track ©
Ben Lomond Track
Fishing Charters & Tours

3
nights
Wanaka

Wanaka ©
Situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka in the Otago region, Wanaka has become a popular ski and summer resort area, owing to its extensive views of the lake and its proximity to some of the best slopes in the country.
Escape the urban bustle at Roys Peak Track and Speed Boats Tours. Explore hidden gems such as Wanaka and Parasailing & Paragliding. The adventure continues: hike along Mount Iron Track, do a tasting at Rippon Vineyard, stroll through Blue Pools Track, and pause for some photo ops at Wanaka War Memorial.

To see traveler tips, other places to visit, reviews, and more tourist information, refer to the Wanaka road trip site .

Traveling by bus from Queenstown to Wanaka takes 2.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 11th (Wed) to allow time to travel to Paihia.

Things to do in Wanaka

Outdoors Parks Trails
Find places to stay Mar 8 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Roys Peak Track ©
Roys Peak Track
Wanaka ©
Wanaka
Mount Iron Track ©
Mount Iron Track

2
nights
Paihia

Paihia ©
The main tourist town in the Bay of Islands area, Paihia gives visitors a good range of accommodations, a convenient town center, long sandy beaches, and interesting architecture.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Paihia Harbour and Rainbow Falls. Visiting Dolphin & Whale Watching and Nature & Wildlife Tours will get you outdoors. Change things up with these side-trips from Paihia: Kawiti Caves (in Kawakawa), Pompallier Mission and Printery (in Russell) and Tane Mahuta Walk (in Opononi). Next up on the itinerary: discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

To see traveler tips, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our Paihia route tool .

Traveling by combination of bus and flight from Wanaka to Paihia takes 7.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or do a combination of ferry and car. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 14th (Sat) early enough to travel to Waitomo Caves.

Things to do in Paihia

Wildlife Outdoors Tours

Side Trips

Pompallier Mission and Printery, Tane Mahuta Walk, Rainbow Falls, Kawiti Caves
Find places to stay Mar 11 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Rainbow Falls ©
Rainbow Falls
Paihia Harbour ©
Paihia Harbour
Dolphin & Whale Watching

2
nights
Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves
Head deep beneath the surface of the earth at Waitomo Caves, a village and cave system that draws both extreme sports enthusiasts and those wanting something a little more relaxed.
Kick off your visit on the 15th (Sun): take in the dramatic scenery at Marakopa Falls, surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour, and then explore the fascinating underground world of Ruakuri Cave. Keep things going the next day: head off the coast to Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, snap pictures at Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk, then explore the fascinating underground world of Caveworld, and finally hike along Ruakuri Walk.

To find traveler tips, reviews, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Waitomo Caves journey tool .

You can do a combination of taxi and flight from Paihia to Waitomo Caves in 3 hours. Other options are to drive; or do a combination of flight and bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 16th (Mon) early enough to go by car to Rotorua.

Things to do in Waitomo Caves

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari
Find places to stay Mar 14 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Ruakuri Cave
Ruakuri Cave
Ruakuri Walk ©
Ruakuri Walk
Caveworld ©
Caveworld

4
nights
Rotorua

Rotorua ©
Surrounded by lakes and featuring impressive areas of geothermal landscape, the city of Rotorua offers an otherwordly landscape and a welcoming, peaceful environment, with the culture of the native Maori people very much in the foreground.
Escape the urban bustle at Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Redwoods Treewalk. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Mt Maunganui Main Beach and River Rafting & Tubing. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Rotorua: Mount Maunganui Base Track (in Mount Maunganui), Ohope Beach (in Whakatane) and Monmouth Redoubt (in Tauranga). There's still lots to do: witness a stunning natural landmark at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, identify plant and animal life at Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park, trot along with a tour on horseback, and learn about winemaking at Volcanic Hills Winery.

To see reviews, ratings, photos, and other tourist information, you can read our Rotorua trip maker .

You can drive from Waitomo Caves to Rotorua in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. March in Rotorua sees daily highs of 73°F and lows of 60°F at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 20th (Fri) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Rotorua

Parks Outdoors Nature

Side Trips

Tauranga, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, River Rafting & Tubing, Ohope Beach, Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave
Find places to stay Mar 16 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Redwoods Treewalk ©
Redwoods Treewalk
Waimangu Volcanic Valley ©
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Mt Maunganui Main Beach ©
Mt Maunganui Main Beach

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