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How long for nice NZ visit?

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
146 posts
53 reviews
How long for nice NZ visit?

Howdy folks, and thanks in advance for your advice:

My wife and I are just starting to think about a trip to NZ in late Feb/early March of 2010.

We would like to drive and explore both North and South islands.

How long is a reasonable period of time for this trip? 14 days? 21 days? or???

Also, which would you recommend: renting a car and staying in motels, or renting a small RV ?

Thanks for any and all help in our planning.


Level Contributor
452 posts
20 reviews
1. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

Hi Dick,

We just got back from a 2 week trip to NZ - one week NI, one week SI. We focused on what we really wanted to see & stayed in motels/B&B for at least 2 nights in every location to really get a feel of the place; we felt 14 days was enough for what we saw. If you have 21 days do it - you'll see more. The campervan would probably allow you more flexibility, cost savings & you'd see more. Or you could do motels/car on NI and campervan on SI. The SI has so many beautiful parks you can just park out overnight & wake up in total paradise - before any tourists arrive..

Scunthorpe, United...
Level Contributor
1,734 posts
77 reviews
2. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?


How long's a piece of string? It depends on your interests and travel style, free time and budget.

Short answer: minimum of three weeks.

Now for the long answer. A couple of years back my wife and I decided on a self-drive trip in NZ. We started off with the idea of one week in NI and two weeks in SI. Further research suggested we were much more interested in SI so thought three weeks there. When we finished finding out what we wanted to see we decided on just over four weeks all in SI. For us that was about the right time to do what we wanted to.

We hated the thought of hauling a truck round and living in it (especially as we'd never done it) so had a car and used motels. We did one farm stay and would have liked to do more.

This may be of interest:



New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
30,074 posts
93 reviews
3. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

Hi Dick :)

you'll need a minimum of 3 weeks, one week North, two weeks South Island, but as you begin to plan you'll realise it still isn't long enough.

Forget the campervan idea, rent a car and stay in motels and B&Bs. You'll meet the locals and get invaluable local knowledge.

Feb is a wonderful month to visit, Mar also - though some evenings will be cooler.

You have lots of planning to do, but that's half the fun of any trip... enjoy :)

Level Contributor
452 posts
20 reviews
4. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

Quick note to add - we are REALLY glad we saw both islands - the terrain is so different from north to south; I feel I would've missed out by only going to one.

I think the length also depends on how you like to travel - we like to go-go-go, get up early, see as much as possible. NZ for us wasn't really about relaxation - tried to see as much as possible, but we still really got a local feel by staying in each place a few nights.

Destination Expert
for New South Wales, Noosa
Level Contributor
3,289 posts
6 reviews
5. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

Minimum of 3 weeks for me, and then if you are planning on Bay of Islands in the far north (and very nice), and going to a complete circular route of the south Island including Queenstown and Milford Sound even 3 weeks is not really enough.

You could easily spend 2 weeks in the north.

3 days Bay of Islands2 near Auckland

2 Rotorua

3 East Cape/Napier

3 central area/ Tanaka

2 coast just nth of Wellington

2 Wellington.

Likewise for south

4-5 days Nelson/Abel Tasman/Golden Bay area

3-4 West Coast

3 Queenstown/Te Anua/Milford

3 far south

2 Dunedin

2 Christchurch

2 more for Akoroa or Kaikoura.

There 5 weeks.

I'd suggest if you can afford it and like the idea, a motorhome in Feb/Mar is ideal......especially for a longer trip.....freedom to stop as you please, it is warm enough at that time of year that a camp ground (for electricity for vehicle heating) isnt essential every night. There are areas in NZ where non park camping is still permitted, but tourist parks are plentiful and usually in good locations. Motorhomes are not cheap in the peak season, so compare the motorhome/tourist park/extra fuel consumption of this type of vehicle as opposed to car/other accommodation and decide. Lots of fresh fruit from road sides stall and other things like seafood to buy as you travel, so a motorhome with fridge is really great.

Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
909 posts
51 reviews
6. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

Hi Dick,

My sister went for a 14 days tour and her comments are such that 14days to cover the main attractions of North and South is tiring.

It really depends on your interests and how you want your holiday trip to be... Some pple like it to be action-packed, that everyday is kept busy.

Some pple want it to be a relaxation trip, and so for every destination they reached along the way, they rest for a night or two, this will require a long holiday i guess, considering NZ as a very large continent.

My coming trip this Saturday to NZ is just a 9 days trip, and how i wished i have your 21 days! Surf the websites, and you'll see how much NZ has to offer if you are a nature/adventure lover.



Keighley, United...
Level Contributor
401 posts
44 reviews
7. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

Coming from as far away as the UK, we wouldnt have even contemplated a visit to NZ for less than 3 weeks. I total we were there 28 days. Is wasnt enough. We were a good fortnight short. You havent a hope in hell of 'seeing NZ' in just two weeks. Youd maybe manage the North Island - at a push.

Surrey England
Level Contributor
2,372 posts
91 reviews
8. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

like YorkshireMixter we were there for a month and still didn't get to cover all the places we would have wished.So we are returning next year for another month.

I strongly advise you to take as long as possible for your trip.

Keighley, United...
Level Contributor
401 posts
44 reviews
9. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

We have pencilled in our return visit for Christmas 2010 - the very back end of next year.

While not wanting to hijack someone elses topic, can anybody tell me if the accomodation costs are waaaay above normal, or just a modest price raise for the season?

Surrey England
Level Contributor
2,372 posts
91 reviews
10. Re: How long for nice NZ visit?

YorkshireMixter---we may see you there then!We are planning on being there for Christmas.I think'SimmoSimmo' is also planning a December 2010 visit.

When we were there before we did not pay any extra for the hotel we stayed in on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day but not sure if this applies to all places.