Article Explore the best itineraries in New Zealand with the Motorhome
You are looking for waterfalls, hot springs and geysers? You will find it in the breathtaking nature of New Zealand, on the other side of the world. But not only natural spectacles will impress you, also big cities like Auckland and Christchurch are worth a visit. But how can you combine all this the best? Rent a motorhome and drive easily from a waterfall to the next city. With SHAREaCAMPER you can choose your dream motorhome and decide where to go spontaneously. Here are the 3 best itineraries throughout New Zealand to help you plan your trip.
Southern Scenic Route
In the lower half of the South Island in New Zealand you will find the city Queenstown. This will be the starting point of the approximately 610 km long Southern Scenic Route. Before the journey ends in Dunedin, you will see Fiordland, the Purakaunui Falls, and drive along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
The city is especially known for adrenaline kicks and adventure. You can jump from the Kawarau Bridge or take a parachute jump there for example. But Queenstown is a good starting point for walks or leisurely trips as well. You can enjoy a magnificent view of the city, the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu from the summit of Ben Lomond. It's easy to get up there with a gondola. Vineyards and New Zealand's largest wine cellar is only about 20 minutes away.
Lake Te Anau
Further south you will find Lake Te Anau. This is the second largest lake in New Zealand after Lake Taupo in the North Island. Lake Te Anau is located in the Fiordland National Park and is especially popular for small hikes or boat trips. The view over the lake which is surrounded by mountains is beautiful. You will also find the Aurora cave system nearby. The Te Anau caves are also called Te Anau Glowworm Caves and are partially accessible for tourists.
After Lake Te Anau you can make a short trip to Milford Sound near the coast. This is one of the most famous tourist attractions in New Zealand and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can not only discover a beautiful flora and fauna, but also several waterfalls. You can take a boat trip across the fjord and if you are lucky, discover dolphins.
Tokanui and the Catlins
If you continue driving you will reach the beautiful viewpoint Mccracken's Rest and the two beautiful beaches Gemstone Beach and Monkey Island. On the Southern Scenic Route we continue to the small village Tokanui in the middle of the Catlins. The Catlins have a coastal landscape and a temperate rainforest. On the coast, you can spot sea lions and penguins. Beside the beautiful Flora and Fauna there are the Purakaunui Falls with a drop height of about 20 m.
Now you continue to the end of the itinerary to Dunedin. The city is scottish embossed, but still has a great chinese garden. Also worth seeing is the Botanical Garden or the Public Art Gallery. In the city you can also see the First Church of Otago and the Knox Church. A little further out of the city you can find the Larnach Castle.
If you have some time left after that, or if you want to return to Queenstown, we recommend taking a few minor detours to see, for example, the Moeraki Boulders (the well-known large round stones on the beach) or to discover penguins sea lions and seals at the harbor of Otago. If you have a lot of time, you can stop by Lake Tekapo and admire its turquoise, clear water. From there, it is approximately 250 km to Queenstown.
Round trip in the South Island
For the tour of the South Island you should plan around 4 weeks. The route begins and ends in Christchurch on the east coast of the southern island. From there you will start your trip over the entire island. Past Dunedin, Catlins Forest Park, Queenstown and Kaikoura.
In Christchurch, you can visit the beautiful Botanical Gardens, where you can also take a boat or a small train. Another attraction is the Canterbury Museum with its Paua House. Due to the earthquake in February 2011, unfortunately, many buildings are no longer accessible or destroyed. The monument "185 Empty Chairs" reminds of the 185 victims. Who ever wanted to swim with dolphins, is right in Akaroa. The reserve is the home of around 30 dolphins who are curious in swimming with you.
Continue south to Oamaru. The highlight in this city is the harbor. Not because it is especially beautiful, but because with a little luck you can watch penguins there. Especially in the evening when the penguins return to their nests, you can discover some. Before you can take a short walk through the historic old town.
Then continue south to Dunedin. The city is scottish embossed, but still has a great chinese garden. Also worth seeing is the Botanical Garden or the Public Art Gallery. In the city you can also see the First Church of Otago and the Knox Church. A little further out of the city you can find the Larnach Castle.
Catlins Forest Park
The Catlin Forest Park has a temperate rainforest and a great flora and fauna. Sea lions, penguins and several waterfalls can be seen there. You will also find the imposing Cathedral Caves and Slope Point, the southernmost point of New Zealand. Especially popular is Nugget Point. On this steep headland stands a beautiful lighthouse, which is surrounded by rocks in the sea. From time to time you can also see sea lions and penguins here.
Lake Te Anau
After Lake Taupo in the northern part of the country, Lake Te Anau is New Zealand's second largest lake. Lake Te Anau is located in Fiordland National Park and is especially popular for small hikes or boat trips. Especially beautiful is the view over the lake which is surrounded by mountains. Nearby you will also find the Aurora cave system. The Te Anau caves are also called Te Anau Glowworm Caves and are partially accessible to tourists.
Continue driving north you will reach Milford Sound. This arm of the sea is one of the most famous tourist attractions. The 14 km long water belongs to the Fiordland National Park and also to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage. When you get there, you can admire the wildlife and even discover dolphins during a boat trip. You can also discover several waterfalls. These include, for example, the Stirling Falls with a drop of about 151 m and the Bowen Falls with a drop of about 162 m.
Driving a bit more inland you will reach Queenstown. The capital of adrenaline and adventure offers a lot of fun and action. But even for cozy hours, the city is a good starting point. For example, discover the Queensland area on a hike and enjoy the views of the Alps, the city and Lake Wakatipu from the summit of Ben Lomond. In the evening you can also watch the sunset while you taste a good wine in the nearby vineyards.
Wanaka / Lake Hewea
If you want to continue the next day, we recommend a trip to Wanaka and Lake Hawea. The mountains and lakes around Wanaka were used as a filmset for many scenes for the films "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings". In Wanaka you can visit "Puzzling World". This is a two story labyrinth that is fun for the entire family. After finding your way out of the labyrinth, you can visit Lake Wanaka or the smaller Lake Hawea. Boths lakes were formed by glaciers. With a depth of 392 m, Lake Hawea is much lower but is great to visit in summer, especially for fishing.
After about 260 km in a northerly direction, you will reach the glacier. You can book breathtaking helicopter flight over the glacier and the surrounding area. You can also experience unique glacier walks and discover the ice caves of Fox Glacier. All adventurous trips can be found by searching on the web page of New Zealand tourism. https://www.newzealand.com/int/
Mount Cook National Park
In this National Park you can experience breathtaking nature on an area of approximately 707 km². Mount Cook is the highest mountain in this area and also namesake of the National Park with 3.724 m. Since 1990 the whole area belongs to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage. Leisure activities such as hiking, mountaineering and skiing in winter are particularly popular here.
Right in the Paparoa National Park you will find the Pancake Rocks. The pancake rocks have got their name through the rock formations. These look like stacked pancakes. Blowholes are visible often through the strong surf and audible by hissing noises. You have a breathtaking view over the Tasman Sea and the National Park from various platforms.
Abel Tasman National Park
The National Park is well known for its many coves, sandy beaches with turquoise waters and granite cliffs. Adventure meets relaxation in this National Park. To relax, you can choose one of the beautiful bays and just lie on the beach and look at the surroundings. Adventurers can rent a kayak and participate in various tours through the waters. Of course hikes through the cliff landscape and coastal paths are also possible. In Abel Tasman National Park you are also able to combine kayaking and hiking.
In the far north of the South Island you will find these arms of the sea. You can experience sheltered coves, secret beaches and calm waters. In this romantic mountain and water world you have breathtaking views while hiking, or you can simply discover the most beautiful bays. Especially popular are boat trips or tasting of the largest wine region in New Zealand.
The perfect way to end the round trip of the South Island is Kaikoura. Kaikoura is mainly visited to see whales, dolphins and seals. Especially popular is whale watching and swimming with dolphins. A culinary specialty here are crabs. Not for nothing is the place translated from the language of the Māori, as much as crab meal.
Explore the North Island
No matter what time of year you are in New Zealand, it is always a bit warmer in the North Island than in the South Island. Find an itinerary here that will let you discover the North Island. For this itinerary you should plan for about 20-30 days. You start in Auckland, drive through Matamata and Lake Taupo to Wellington.
If you have just landed, we recommend that you will rest a few days first. To save your valuable holiday time, you can begin your tour of the North Island directly in Auckland. Even if you have been traveling through New Zealand for some time, we recommend you to visit the 328 m high Sky Tower. You can get a unique view over the city. If you are particularly brave, you can also plunge from about 200 m into the depths. Also for the adventurous is an ascent of the Harbor Bridge. Those who prefer to stay on the ground can hike the volcano Mount Eden or see fine art in the Auckland Art Gallery.
Bay of Islands
High up in the north, you will find this coastline. In absolute tranquility, you can wander through the wonderful nature, enjoy beautiful views and discover a unique flora and fauna. Bay of Islands is especially known for its recreational activities such as fishing and sailing, but also for the great beaches. Anyone interested in culture will also be fascinated by Maori culture.
Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga
Ninety Mile Beach is a long beach on the west coast. It stretches for about 88 km from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga. The landscape is extraordinary. Because on one side you can walk through forests and on the other side through the big Te Paki sand dunes. If you drive to Cape Reinga, you can see the lighthouse, which marks the northernmost point of the North Island.
In the Coromandel Peninsula, you can kayak to the caves of Cathedral Cove. You will find one of the most beautiful beaches. A real highlight is Hot Water Beach at Mercury Bay. If you dig a pit in the sand on the beach, it soon fills with warm water. This is because hot water has accumulated from previous volcanic activity. However, you must be careful to visit the beach within 1-2 hours if the tide does not cover that spot. Because not all the beach will fill your sand holes with warm water.
Just outside the city, you can visit a film set of the "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies. After filming the Lord of the Rings the farm was restored to its previous state, after they filmed the Hobbit they left everything like it was prepared for the Film, so you can still see the great Shire and the houses caves with the sweet round doors. After visiting Hobbiton it takes about half an hour to reach Wairere Falls. This waterfall has a drop of about 153 m, making it the highest waterfall in the North Island.
When you arrive in Rotorua, you will quickly notice the smell of sulfur. This smell comes from the fact that the city was built on a volcano. As a result, the landscape is very marked and you can discover many geysers, hot lakes and bubbling mud pools. A truly extraordinary sight and very fascinating.
Frying Pan Lake
The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is home to the country's youngest thermal area. At the same time you will also find the world's largest hot water source: Frying Pan Lake. The lake was created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera and today lies in the Echo Crater. This is surrounded by lava rocks. In addition to the Echo Crater, there are also the Southern Crater and the Inferno Crater.
Taupo Lake is a crater lake and the largest lake in New Zealand. It was formed almost 2,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption. Today it is especially popular with tourists and invites you to swim, hike and canoe. Near the city of Taupo you will also find the Huka Falls. They originate from Lake Taupo and are a popular attraction.
Tongariro National Park
The oldest National Park in New Zealand is the Tongariro National Park. He is both World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO. In the park you will find three active volcanic mountains: the Tongariro at 1,968 m, the Ngauruhoe at 2,291 m and the Ruapehu at 2,797 m. The most popular activities there are mountain biking, rafting, fishing and hiking. On a hike you can pass hot springs, active craters and a unique volcanic landscape.
Whanganui National Park
A good starting point to visit the National Park is the town of Pipiriki. The area is only partially accessible. It is almost completely wooded and is located directly on the Whanganui River. You can also cross this by boat. A highlight in the park is the "Bridge to nowhere". It was originally built to connect the farms to the nearest town, Taumarunui. Today, the bridge leads nowhere and can only be reached by boat or canoe. As a result, it is mainly used by tourists, but is still protected from mass tourism.
At the end of the itinerary you will reach the capital of New Zealand. You can visit the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington. It interactively displays the history of New Zealand from the very beginning. You should also take the Wellington Cable Car. The cable car runs between the Lambton Quay shopping street and the town of Kelburn. During your trip you will experience great views. From the Victoria University of Wellington you also have a great panoramic view of the city. For another great view, visit the viewpoint of Mount Victoria. You can reach it within 10 minutes by car or, of course, by a little hike.