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2 Week New Zealand North Island Itinerary

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Looking for ideas for the best 2-week New Zealand North Island itinerary? This is a destination that’s on most people’s bucket lists and it’s not hard to see why. Mind-blowing scenery, rich culture and an amazing choice of things to do make New Zealand a must for any avid traveller.

New Zealand is also an epic choice for a honeymoon if you want something different from the traditional break. Jaw-dropping landscapes, adrenaline activities and chilled-out beach days are the perfect mix for an unforgettable newlywed vacation.

New Zealand is without a doubt a trip of a lifetime and a vacation to this beautiful country will always be a good idea! If you’re fortunate enough to have plenty of time off, it’s best to stay in New Zealand for 3-4 weeks so you can visit both the North and South Islands. 

But, if you’re limited on time, I’ve got you covered!

If you only have two weeks in New Zealand, you’ll still have an incredible time. This New Zealand North Island itinerary will show you all the best bits and must-sees so you can have a brilliant, jam-packed adventure.

Why choose New Zealand’s North Island

If you only have 2 weeks in New Zealand, sticking to one island can help you make the most of what’s on offer. So which island do you choose for your two weeks in New Zealand? 

Both New Zealand’s North and South Islands have unique qualities and you really can’t go wrong with either. However, if you’re after white sand beaches, volcanoes and hot springs, the North Island is a winner.

New Zealand’s North Island is the warmer of the two and it’s the best choice if you want to immerse yourself in Māori culture. Plus, it’s also here that you have the vibrant cities of Auckland and Wellington, world-class wine trails and the famous Hobbiton movie set. 

This 2 week New Zealand North Island itinerary takes in all these amazing settings and experiences!

An emerald green lake and rugged landscapes at the top of a mountain in Tongariro National Park

Best time to visit New Zealand’s North Island

The great thing about New Zealand’s North Island is that it has a sub-tropical climate making it a great destination for any time of the year. 

In New Zealand, the seasons are the opposite of the northern hemisphere – meaning summer in New Zealand falls during British winter. So, if you’re specifically dreaming of sunbathing and warmer weather, visit during the peak season that runs from December to February. 

Otherwise, for fewer crowds and lower prices, the shoulder seasons (March-May and September-November) are always a great option.

Getting to New Zealand’s North Island

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest international airport and it’s on the North Island. Lots of airlines fly to Auckland including Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Emirates that connect via Los Angeles, Singapore and Dubai. 

If you’re travelling from the UK, economy flights typically cost £800-£1,500 and take around 25-30 hours. If you’re travelling from the US, there are direct flights to Auckland from several destinations.

After arriving into Auckland airport, there are many ways to get into the city from taxis and rideshares to buses.

Getting around New Zealand’s North Island in 2 weeks

There are lots of ways to travel around New Zealand and experience the best of this beautiful country. If you’re not confident travelling without a guide, there are organised group tours and hop-on-hop-off bus options like Kiwi Experience.

However, if you want more freedom, renting a car or a campervan for a New Zealand road trip makes a bucket-list adventure. Hiring a car is what I’d recommend (especially if you’re planning a couple’s trip or honeymoon). With this New Zealand North Island self-drive itinerary, you’ll be able to explore as you wish and stay in some great accommodation, too.

🚗 Want to find the best car rentals? Check out Discover Cars for all your options.

Best New Zealand North Island itinerary 14 days

Auckland's skyline with a view of the Sky Tower from across a harbour

Day 1-2: Auckland

Kia Ora and welcome to Auckland! If you’re anything like me (and travelling from the UK), a long, sleepless flight coupled with a 12-hour time difference won’t leave you feeling your best!

If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to take your first few days in New Zealand easy. And, if possible, arrive in the evening so you can rest straight away and ease yourself into your new time zone. 

If you’re travelling from closer, or you’re one of the lucky ones who can sleep on flights, arriving early on day one will help you maximise your time in Auckland. You might not be able to check into your hotel but you should be able to leave your bags and explore the city in the afternoon.

Depending on your arrival, you’ll have one to two days to explore Auckland, which is more than enough for the highlights. 

Things to see & do in Auckland

As New Zealand’s biggest and busiest city, there’s lots to see and do in Auckland. The first thing I’d recommend doing is joining a free walking tour. 

Walking tours are one of the best ways to experience a new city – they’re often run by locals so you’ll get stories and insights into the place you’re visiting as well as recommendations for other things to see and do. Auckland Free Walking Tours is a good option that takes 2-3 hours.

In the city centre, the iconic Sky Tower is a must-visit and is one of Auckland’s top attractions. As the southern hemisphere’s tallest free-standing structure, its observation deck offers mesmerising 360° views across the city. If you want an adrenaline fix, you can also try the SkyWalk where you walk around the outside ring. Or you can opt for the 629ft SkyJump.

Auckland is surrounded by dormant volcanoes so if you’re already craving nature, an afternoon visit to Mount Eden is a great option outside of the city. Only a 10-minute drive from the centre, an easy hike up Mount Eden will give you amazing views.

If you have two days in Auckland, a trip to nearby Waiheke Island is also a great experience. Reached in 40 minutes by ferry, this pretty island is famous for its beaches and wineries so it’s the perfect introduction to New Zealand’s gorgeous scenery.

Once you’re there, you can hop on a bus or rent bikes to explore. If a guided tour is more your thing, there are lots of food and wine tasting tours to Waiheke Island that you can join from Auckland.

Where to stay in Auckland

Set in lively uptown Auckland, Cordis, Auckland is an ideal base for a short stint in the city. This modern hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay and also has a rooftop pool and spa if you need zen to recover from your journey.

Auckland at a glance

📸 Auckland attractions: Sky Tower, free walking tours, Auckland Botanic Gardens, Mount Eden, Waiheke Island, Devonport, New Zealand Maritime Museum

🏡 Best hotel: Cordis, Auckland

✈️ Getting there: International flights arrive into Auckland Airport (AKL)

Day 3-4: Paihia (Bay of Islands)

The next stop on your New Zealand North Island itinerary is the beautiful Bay of Islands. Often overlooked by travellers hurrying south, the North Island’s northern tip is a tropical gem that needs to be on your radar.

A good base for your time in the Bay of Islands is the cute coastal town of Paihia. Just a 3-hour drive from Auckland, Paihia is the gateway to the best that the Bay of Islands has to offer – think sandy beaches, secluded coves and days spent on sparkling waters.

While generally mild year-round, the Bay of Islands is best in the summer or shoulder seasons when you’ll hopefully luck out with great weather. 

In the summer months, it’s common to experience temperatures of around 25°C, so this is your chance to top up the tan and enjoy New Zealand’s beautiful coastline.

There’s a plethora of activities to enjoy in the Bay of Islands and all are within easy reach of Paihia. Whether you’re after lazy days on the beach or something a bit more active, you’re sure to find something you love.

A look-out towards several scattered islands surrounded by turquoise sea

Things to see & do in Paihia + Bay of Islands

Thanks to its climate, there are lots of amazing water activities that you can take part in in the Bay of Islands. From kayaking to sailing and scuba diving, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

For an iconic experience, one of the most popular things to do in the Bay of Islands is to join a scenic Hole in the Rock Cruise. The Hole in the Rock is quite literally a huge hole that goes through a tall, rocky island in the sea. 

Cruises to the Rock depart from Paihia and last 3-4 hours. During this time, you’ll typically learn a little about Māori culture while being treated to gorgeous views across turquoise waters. If you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins alongside the boat.

If you want more to fill your time, you’ll also want to consider a day trip to Cape Reinga from Paihia. This is the northernmost tip of New Zealand’s North Island and a place where you can see two oceans meet. It’s also a significant place in Māori culture. It’s believed that Cape Reinga is the departing place for spirits on their return to the homeland of Hawaiki.

Path leading to Cape Reinga lighthouse on a sunny day

An organised tour is the best way to experience Cape Reinga from Paihia – highlights include a drive along 90 Mile Beach and sandboarding at the Te Paki sand dunes. 

Where to stay in Paihia

If you want a boutique option, consider Paihia Beach Resort & Spa. This beautiful hotel is just 20 yards from Te Tii beach and is within walking distance of Paihia Wharf. If you want to soak up the sun, make the most of the hotel’s outdoor swimming pool.

Paihia at a glance

📸 Bay of Islands attractions: Water activities, dolphin & whale watching, Hole in the Rock, island hopping, hiking, Cape Reinga

🏡 Best hotel: Paihia Beach Resort & Spa

🚗 Getting there: It’s a 3-4 hour drive from Auckland to Paihia

Day 5-7: Coromandel Peninsula

Staying on the coastal theme, the next stop on your New Zealand North Island travel itinerary is the gorgeous Coromandel Peninsula. Famous for its natural beauty, the Coromandel is all about valleys, rainforests and golden beaches.

Only a few hours from the bustle of Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula feels a world away. Quiet seaside towns, hidden bays and laid-back vibes sum up this part of New Zealand and its natural scenery offers a tropical back-to-nature retreat.

Things to see & do in the Coromandel Peninsula

A holiday to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Cathedral Cove. This is one of the country’s most famous attractions and is an absolute must-visit if you have two weeks in New Zealand. 

Found on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, picturesque Cathedral Cove is only accessible by foot (or kayak) and attracts visitors from around the world. It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours.

Slightly further south from Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach is another great attraction. This is a beach that’s formed on hot springs, with water that bubbles up through the sands. Either side of low tide, you’re able to dig a hole in the sand to create your own thermal pool – you can rent shovels from the local store.

For active travellers, there are also many walking and cycling trails in the  Coromandel Peninsula which will take you past gorges, waterfalls and forests. Full-day or overnight hikes include the spectacular Coromandel Coastal Walkway and the Coromandel Pinnacles Walk. For something shorter, try Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.

Where to stay in the Coromandel Peninsula

Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park is the perfect base for a Coromandel adventure. Within the park, there’s accommodation for every kind of traveller – from apartments and deluxe villas to cabins and camping. There are also powered areas for campervans and electric vehicle charging sites.

If you want somewhere slightly more secluded, consider Wairua Lodge. This boutique option is a 15-minute drive from Whitianga and a 30-minute drive from Hot Water Beach. Or, for accommodation in Coromandel Town, The Olive Motel is highly rated. 

Coromandel at a glance

📸 Coromandel attractions: Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, hiking & cycling trails, kayaking

🏡 Best hotel: Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park

🚗 Getting there: It’s around a 6 hour drive from Paihia to Coromandel

Day 8-9: Rotorua (via Matamata)

To get the famous Hobbiton photos – Matamata is next on your New Zealand itinerary! A relatively unknown destination 20 years ago, this small farming town now sees flocks of visitors descending on the Hobbiton Movie Set.

Lush pastures and rolling hills make this part of New Zealand undeniably picturesque. So whether you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings or not, a visit to the Hobbiton village will be absolutely magical. 

View across the rolling green landscapes of Hobbiton and beyond

Then, from Matamata, it’s on to the city of Rotorua. A must for any New Zealand North Island itinerary, it’s in Rotorua that you’ll find surreal geothermal landscapes with bubbling mud pools, geysers and neon lakes. 

Things to see & do in Rotorua

En route to Rotorua, you’ll definitely want to stop at the Hobbiton Movie Set. I really enjoyed reading The Hobbit, but I’m not a huge Lord of the Rings fan… However, I LOVED visiting Hobbiton! 

The Hobbiton Movie Set is open 7 days a week but tickets can sell out in advance. Tours take two hours and include a bus ride from The Shire’s Rest to the movie set, a guided walk through the village and a drink in The Green Dragon.

When you get to Rotorua, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained, too. This is a part of the world that’s known for its incredible scenery, so I’d highly recommend going to Te Puia Geothermal Park. Spanning 70 hectares, here you can explore the geothermal valley with a tour past active geysers, mud pools and hot springs. 

Rotorua is also the best place to immerse yourself in Māori culture with an evening or overnight village experience. If it’s your first time visiting New Zealand, a cultural Māori stay is non-negotiable! Tamaki Māori Village (Te Pā Tū) is an award-winning cultural attraction, where you can gain genuine insight into Māori life. 

During your evening visit, you’ll experience a ceremonial ritual, cultural performance, storytelling and traditional hāngi feast. This was a highlight of my trip to New Zealand!

If you want some downtime during your stay in Rotorua, the Polynesian Spa is also fab. It sits overlooking Lake Rotorua and the main draw is the spa’s mineral-rich natural pools, but there’s also a treatment menu if you want extra relaxing.

About a 2-hour drive from Rotorua, you’ll also find the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. These caves are a really magical setting and a must for most travellers to NZ – options include a boat ride or black water rafting.

Where to stay in Rotorua

For a contemporary stay, Pullman Rotorua is ideal. Located in the city centre and moments from the lake, you’ll find comfy rooms and suites as well as a gym, private parking and on-site dining. 

Rotorua at a glance

📸 Rotorua attractions: Hobbiton Movie Set, Te Puia, Tamaki Māori Village, Polynesian Spa, Waitomo Glowworm Caves

🏡 Best hotel: Pullman Rotorua

🚗 Getting there: It takes around 3 hours to drive from Hot Water Beach to Matamata. It’s then a further hour on to Rotorua

Day 10-12: Taupo

On the doorstep of the North Island’s most impressive scenery, Taupō is a great base for outdoor adventures. Home to the largest lake in New Zealand, Taupō itself is famed for its natural beauty. But, it’s the nearby Huka Falls and Tongariro Alpine Crossing that are the highlights.

While Taupō itself is small, having a few days will allow you to explore Tongariro National Park, do the Alpine Crossing and recover before a longer drive to Wellington. 

A surreal, barren landscape in Tongariro National Park

Things to see & do in Taupo

Huka Falls is an incredible natural attraction in New Zealand – you’ll see turquoise water crashing at amazing speed as it bursts over the Falls. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you could go for a jet boat ride on Huka Falls.

If that’s not your thing, you’ll also find scenic walking and biking trails in the area so it’s great for time in nature.

Back in the centre, Lake Taupo is the town’s main attraction. You can head out on a lakeshore hike or spend your day sailing, jet-skiing, and swimming. For more adventure activities, you can also go white water rafting on the Tongariro River and bungy jumping.

One of my favourite days in New Zealand was when we did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike. It’s an absolute highlight of a North Island New Zealand itinerary and if you’re the active type, you’ll LOVE it. 

Rated as the best hike in New Zealand, the trek takes you across 19km of dramatic volcanic landscape – think mountain springs, glacial valleys and dazzling emerald lakes.

The Tongariro trek can be done without a guide (shuttles are available from Taupō), but it’s not recommended in winter.

Looking up from a bright green lake towards the top of a climb on the Tongariro hike

Where to stay in Taupo

Hilton Lake Taupō is the region’s only five-star international hotel and offers gorgeous views across the lake. There’s a choice of accommodation from guest rooms to apartments and suites. You’ll also have access to a heated outdoor pool, sauna and steam room – definitely what you need after a hike!

Taupo at a glance

📸 Taupō attractions: Huka Falls, adrenaline activities, hiking & biking, Lake Taupo, Tongariro Alpine Crossing 

🏡 Best hotel: Hilton Lake Taupō

🚗 Getting there: It takes an hour to get from Rotorua to Taupo

Day 13-14: Wellington 

The capital Wellington is the final stop on your New Zealand North Island itinerary. While smaller than Auckland, there’s a host of things to see and do in the city. And, as you’ve probably come to expect from New Zealand, it’s a pretty picturesque place!

Your time in Wellington can be as busy or relaxed as you want. There’s lots to see and do, but, it’s also a lovely city to unwind and take it easy during your last few days in New Zealand.

Things to see & do in Wellington

The classic attraction of Wellington is its red funicular cable car, which takes you from the heart of the capital to a panoramic lookout high above the city.

Another great lookout point in Wellington is Mount Victoria. If you have energy for another hike, a nature trail to the top is a must. If you don’t want to walk, you can catch a bus to the top instead. Once there, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city, harbour and ocean.

Back in the centre, Te Papa Tongarewa is well worth a visit. This is New Zealand’s national museum, it’s located on the waterfront and is free to enter. You’ll also want to visit Oriental Bay, which is one of Wellington’s prime suburbs and is a lovely place for a sunny afternoon on the beach or a wander along the promenade.

Wellington is also a foodie paradise and known for its beer scene – so make sure you check out the amazing eateries and specialist brew bars that are dotted across the city.

Where to stay in Wellington

Surrounded by lush botanic gardens, Sofitel Wellington is a trendy choice for a stay in the city. With its central location, you won’t be far from the best of what the city has to offer. The luxurious rooms will also feel like a sanctuary after a day exploring.

Wellington at a glance

📸 Wellington attractions: Cable Car, Mount Victoria, Oriental Bay, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington Botanic Gardens, Cuba Street, breweries & eateries

🏡 Best hotel: Sofitel Wellington

🚗 Getting there: It’s a 5-hour drive from Taupo to Wellington

Onward travel

And that’s it! After 14 incredible days, your New Zealand North Island itinerary comes to an end. If you have more time in this beautiful country, you can hop on a ferry to the South Island from Wellington.

But, if it’s time to head home after two weeks in New Zealand, you can book a flight out of Wellington airport with a connection in Auckland or Sydney. 

NZ North Island itinerary FAQs

A view towards a volcano in New Zealand

Is it worth going to the North Island of New Zealand?

I think it’s safe to say that New Zealand’s North Island is an epic destination. There’s so much to love about this island. Whether you want nature and scenery, adventure activities, cultural attractions or cities, there’s so much to experience.

I loved both the North and South Islands when I visited New Zealand – but, the North Island really surprised me. It has so much to offer and I’d recommend it to anyone!

How many days do you need to see New Zealand’s North Island?

Ideally, you’ll want at least 2 weeks to explore the North Island. Any less than that and you might feel rushed to take it all in. There are so many great spots to explore that it’d be a waste to not fully appreciate it.

Is it worth going to New Zealand for just 2 weeks?

It depends on where you’re travelling from, your budget and the amount of time you have available. If you’re travelling from Europe, I’d honestly recommend a longer trip to make the most of your far-flung adventure. If you can, visiting both the North and South Islands in one trip is ideal, but this is usually best to experience in 3-4 weeks.

If you’re travelling from Australia, or can benefit from a direct flight from the US, you might prefer a 2-week vacation on one island, knowing it’s easy to return at another time!

Is the North Island better than New Zealand’s South Island?

Both of New Zealand’s islands are special and, if you can, I highly recommend visiting both. While the South Island has the most breathtaking mountains and lakes, I found that the North Island had so much to see and experience. They are equally amazing and both a North and South Island itinerary should be on your list!

How much does two weeks in New Zealand cost?

New Zealand is an expensive country. And, depending on where you’re travelling from, flights can be spendy – from the UK, your flights will likely be around £1,000. The other things to consider in New Zealand are the cost of fuel, hotels and activities – none of which come cheap.

Unless you’re happy to stay in hostels, expect to pay at least £150 per night for hotels. Activities can be up to £80 each. New Zealand is a bucket list destination and it’s one you’ll want to save for – but I promise it’s worth it! 

When I visited New Zealand in 2019, I spent £765 on my return flights from London, and the total cost for one person for a 4-week trip to both islands was £3,200. However – we stayed in several hostels and cooked most of our meals rather than eating out to bring down a lot of the costs.

Is New Zealand a good honeymoon destination?

Yes! New Zealand is an amazing honeymoon destination! If you want something unique with a bit of added adventure, you can’t go wrong with a honeymoon in New Zealand. There’s so much to see and do that it’s perfect for a once-in-a-lifetime getaway. You’ll also find gorgeous accommodation, breathtaking scenery and so many bucket list experiences to tick off together.

New Zealand is an amazing choice for an unforgettable vacation. Whether you’re just focusing on the North Island, or you’re combining it with the South (or a trip elsewhere in Oceania), you’ll have an incredible time.

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  1. I have always wanted to visit New Zealand as I am a huge LOTR fangirl but now I have an itinerary for the trip that I must insist my husband take me on!

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