Before we start this New Zealand travel itinerary, remember that it is divided into 3 parts and that this is the second part. To see the other parts, go back to the previous page after finishing this one.
7 days IN NEW ZEALAND ITINERARY
- Eighth Day: Drive to Wellington
- Ninth Day: Wellington
- Tenth Day: Ferry to the South Island
- Eleventh Day: Abel Tasman National Park
- Twelfth Day: Abel Tasman National Park
- Thirteenth Day: Marlborough Wine Region
- Fourteenth Day: Kaikoura, Christchurch, Banks Peninsula
Eighth Day: WELLINGTON
Total driving distance: 325 km Total journey time: 4 hours Today you drive south to Wellington. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and the second largest city after Auckland, but it still feels very small. Here are some of the top experiences in Wellington Enjoy views of Mount Victoria. For the best views of Wellington, walk or drive to Mount Victoria Lookout. Visit Te Papa. Learn about New Zealand’s history and culture at Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand.
Visit Weta Cave. Weta Workshop is a company that makes props, costumes and digital effects for LoTR and Hobbit films. While visiting here, we also learned that Weta Workshop has been working on other films like Avatar, Narnia and Spider-Man.
Cuba Street. Filled with bars, cafes and boutiques, this is a lively area not to be missed in Wellington.
Ninth Day: WELLINGTON
Spend the second day in Wellington. This gives you plenty of time to visit all the main attractions of the city. I hear Wellington has more bars and restaurants per capita than New York City. The city is full of extraordinary restaurants. So why not have a leisurely day and end with a nice meal tonight?
Tenth Day: TRAVEL TO THE SOUTH ISLAND
Total driving distance: 180 km + ferry
Total travel time: 2.5 hours by car, 3 hours by ferry
Take the ferry from the North Island to the South Island in the morning.
The Interislander ferry is bigger. Since this is a larger boat, it is less likely to be cancelled in bad weather, and there is plenty of room to get up and move around.
We sailed with the Interislander and thought it was great. We can get up and walk around whenever we want. The ferry feels huge, with multiple decks, cafes, TVs, and I think it even has a cinema!
Here’s the two companies. Check ferry prices and availability. I recommend booking your tickets in advance as they are sold out.
- Blue bridge
Once in Picton, drive to Motueka or Nelson and check into your hotel. This will be your base for exploring Abel Tasman National Park.
Days 11 and 12: Abel Tasman National Park
Located on the north coast of the South Island, the Abel Tasman is one of New Zealand’s multi-day hiking trails, aptly named the Abel Tasman Coastal Trail. The total length is 51 kilometers, and it takes 3 to 5 days to walk the whole route. You can do this by adding time to this itinerary or swapping out the full-day Wellington itinerary for a third day at Abel Tasman’s.
If you don’t have the time or interest in a multi-day hike, you can still have a great time in Abel Tasman. You can hike the day part of the Coastal Walk or explore the coast by kayak.
Our original plan was to kayak for a day, followed by a day of hiking as part of the Coastal Trail. Unfortunately, torrential rain all day kept us indoors.
On our precious day we rented Wilson for cruising and hiking. We drove an hour along the coast, then hiked 6 miles from Medland Beach to Anchorage. It was a beautiful day and this part of New Zealand with its lush tropical vegetation and lush forests looks and feels very different from the rest of New Zealand.
Motueka and Nelson have more work to do. You can stroll along Wharariki Beach, hike to Wanui Falls or explore Kahurangi National Park.
Drive to Blenheim in the evening so you have a full day to explore wine country tomorrow (2.5 hours, 160 km from Motueka).
Thirteenth Day: MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION
The Marlborough Wine Region is New Zealand’s premier wine region. The region is known for its white wines, mostly Sauvignon Blanc, but also produces some lighter reds.
You can explore the Marlborough wine region by car or bike. We thought it would be more fun to explore the area on a bike, especially since it would burn off some energy for Taylor and Kara between tastings.
We rented bikes from Wine Tours by Bike and did a self-guided tour of wine country. The owner gave us a map and winery suggestions. We ride all day from one winery to another.
It was fun for our whole family. Tim and I love tasting these wines. Tyler and Kara love to bike through wine country. We had cheese and crackers at the winery. When we did, it was April, so New Zealand was lit up with autumn colours. This remains one of my fondest memories of New Zealand.
Fourteenth Day: KAIKOURA & CHRISTCHURCH
Total driving distance: 310 km
Total driving time: 4.5 hours
Today you work along the South Island. The day ends in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula. Along the way, you can choose to make a pit stop at Kaikoura.
Kaikoura is less than a 2-hour drive south of Blenheim. This is one of the best places in New Zealand to go out to sea, whale watch, fish or swim with dolphins.
If you want to swim with dolphins in New Zealand, this is the place for you. We skipped that one and now I regret it. The day we cruised around Kaikoura was windy, cloudy and cold, and the kids and I were not too keen on jumping in the water, even though we did get close to the dolphins.
Earthquakes hit Christchurch in 2010 and 2011, severely damaging the city. During our visit in 2015, we could still see the scars left by the earthquake in the city.
We didn’t spend much time here other than a short drive through town on a coastal road trip. Instead, we spent our time on the beautiful Banks Peninsula.
Bank Peninsula and Akaroa
Banks Peninsula is south of Christchurch. The drive from Christchurch to Akaroa City is beautiful. Green rolling hills, thousands of sheep… beautiful.
Tonight you can choose to stay in Akaroa, Christchurch, or, if you really want to live in a unique place, visit SiloStay in Little River. The brand new silo has been converted into an eco-friendly one bedroom apartment. How often do you get a chance to sleep in a silo? And unexpectedly luxurious.
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