Road trip: 3 Weeks in New Zealand Itinerary

Madison, David and their two kids spent three weeks road tripping around New Zealand. They picked up a Stationwagon from Travellers Autobarn Christchurch and made their way up to the North Island, ending in Auckland. Here is a recap of their experience…

We recently spent three completely dreamy weeks driving around New Zealand. We planned carefully so we could fit in as many highlights as possible, but because we were in a campervan (which we highly recommend as a means of travel), our plans were flexible. We did end up changing our plans at times (I’ll note where our actual travel differed from what we’d planned), but for the most part, we felt like this was an excellent itinerary to experience some of New Zealand’s best bits.

A word on pace: New Zealand is an incredibly scenic, vibrant, and activity-packed destination—it’s impossible to fit it all into a short trip, and we’d love to return one day and spend much longer! But we also realize that most visitors to this country won’t have the luxury of a slow exploration. Normally we love travelling more slowly: seeing less, but seeing it more thoroughly. Here we opted to fit in as much as we could, partly to give ourselves an overview and partly just because New Zealand has always been one of the places we were most excited to visit and we’d accumulated a long list of must-see sights for ourselves. If you’d like a calmer trip, it’s well worth thinking about spending all your time on just one island, and/or choosing a small handful of places to base yourself for several days each (we’d recommend Wanaka, the Coromandel, Northland, the Catlins, the West Coast of the South Island, or the Marlborough Sounds.)

This itinerary has you starting in Christchurch and ending in Auckland. An open-jaw flight will allow you to spend more days exploring instead of getting from place to place. Renting a campervan will allow you to see more and spend less; while rentals can get pricey, you’ll save money on accommodation and food (if you cook for yourself.) There are also plenty of deals to be had on camper rentals—check for relocation specials or off-season deals. If you want to be able to free camp (stay overnight in a spot without paying), your camper will need to be certified self-contained—it’ll have a blue sticker on the back to show authorities. Download Travellers Autobarn’s app for guidance in finding campgrounds or legal free camping spots.