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How long should we stay in New Zealand?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific How long should we stay in New Zealand?

1. Posted by pumpkin74 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6y

Hello,

my boyfriend and I plan to travel in NZ from Germany at the beginning of the year.
Probably it will be THE trip of our lifetime.
It has always been my dream to travel there, especially in the south island.
Talking to friends, they say we better get 3 months off to travel comfortably in the two islands.
My boyfriend finds it way too long.
I wonder how much time would you dedicate to NZ, concentrating mostly on the south island, renting a car, hiking, and not missing any of the greatest spots it has to offer?

Tnx
Maya

2. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 6y

Quoting pumpkin74

Hello,

my boyfriend and I plan to travel in NZ from Germany at the beginning of the year.
Probably it will be THE trip of our lifetime.
It has always been my dream to travel there, especially in the south island.
Talking to friends, they say we better get 3 months off to travel comfortably in the two islands.
My boyfriend finds it way too long.
I wonder how much time would you dedicate to NZ, concentrating mostly on the south island, renting a car, hiking, and not missing any of the greatest spots it has to offer?

Tnx
Maya

Your friends are right, so dump the boyfriend and see ya there! haha

Seriously, 3 months would probably give you ample time to get around and see everything. I'm sure it can be done in a shorter time too, but how much time for travel is pretty subjective. I hate to rush around, and where others can see a whole country it might take me the same time just to explore one city. You are right this probably will the trip of your life time, so make sure you and your boyfriend are seeing eye to eye on what you plan to do. Travel can be surprisingly stressful and two people with different opinions on what they want to see and do is a recipe for trouble.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 6y

Quoting pumpkin74

Talking to friends, they say we better get 3 months off to travel comfortably in the two islands.
My boyfriend finds it way too long.
I wonder how much time would you dedicate to NZ, concentrating mostly on the south island, renting a car, hiking, and not missing any of the greatest spots it has to offer?

You can have a decent overview of New Zealand - having gotten a taste of all the different types of experiences it has to offer - in 3 weeks. That won't be in depth, won't include more than a dayhike or two (so none of the Great Walks), and will just touch on places lightly. You would be able to say that you've "been" to all the popular tourist destinations (or at least somewhere nearby), but you wouldn't *know* any of them.

I personally spent a year in New Zealand, and still have a long list of places I didn't get to see and want to go back for.

So yeah, you can go in depth there for a really long time. Three months is a good estimate for "travelling comfortably" and getting to *know* places a bit, staying everywhere for a few days, and maybe a week or two at those place which most appeal to you. You might acquire favorite cafes that you return to a few times, maybe get to know a few locals, and meet fellow travellers several times as your paths cross. It sounds to me like this is what you want, but that your boyfriend sees the trip only as a vacation, not really wanting to get to know the country well enough to feel at home there.

4. Posted by jjones42 (Budding Member 9 posts) 6y

Hi, I went to NZ south island and saw everything in two weeks. We spent a lot of time driving and didnt stay at each place very long which made the trip a bit drawn out, but I could have definetly spent a little longer in Christchurch and Queenstown. I think 3 weeks would be an absolute maximum for the South Island.
Hope this helps :)

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4811 posts) 6y

Quoting jjones42

Hi, I went to NZ south island and saw everything in two weeks.

Really, everything? I suspect I might be able to recommend a few places and experiences you ended up missing, every single one of them being worth a trip to the South Island in its own right:

  • Drinking hot chocolate in the observatory cafe on top of Mt. John at Lake Tekapo, with 360 degree views of the Southern Alps and the MacKenzie plain.
  • Looking out over the Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown from on top of Ben Lomond.
  • Walking over the sculpted rock of the Promenade Shoreline Walk at Kaikoura (e.g. around the headland) and stumbling over the seal colonies.
  • Gazing into Peter's Pool and hiking through the lush rainforest of Robert Point Track at Franz Josef Glacier.
  • Climbing Mt. Isobel at Hanmer Springs and cooling off in the stream below Dog Stream Waterfall on the way back down.
  • Lazing a day away in a hammock with views over Endeavour Inlet at the Queen Charlotte Track, eating homemade chocolate cake and watching the glowworms at night.
  • Having Milford Sound all to yourself, free of the tourist crowds, by spending the night there on an overnight cruise.
  • Being at Punakaiki at high tide to see the blow holes perform.
  • Hiking through knee-deep snow on top of a glacier, after having crossed the Great Divide by helicopter and landed there.
  • ...etc, etc.

And that's just things which you can rely on always being there. Far more important still are the ephemeral moments: The sudden dying down of the wind and breaking through of the sun through the grey cloud cover which turns one of the largest lakes in New Zealand into a silver mirror for a magical two minutes. The spontaneous performance of a kiwi singer-songwriter at an anonymous hostel lounge as she's waiting for the bus. The sunrise which turns the sky and mountain tops a stunning pink beyond words.
These are the experiences which make you linger; the experiences you can't begin to plan, but which pop up with surprising regularity if you take the time to soak up a country and pay attention to what's happening around you.

Three weeks isn't a maximum - it's an absolute bare minimum. :)

6. Posted by Steve79 (Respected Member 330 posts) 6y

Quoting Sander

Three weeks isn't a maximum - it's an absolute bare minimum. :)

I have to agree, I spent about 4 and a half weeks on the South Island, and it wasn't long enough, I would have liked at least 6 weeks, and more preferably around two months to make the most of the South Island and Stewart Island.

7. Posted by merry558 (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

hello...me and my family went to new zealand and its our first trip together...we all really very excited for this trip ..can anyone suggest us for how many days we have to stay at new zealand

8. Posted by melliset (Inactive 15 posts) 6y

I am first time going for a holiday in New Zealand. Please help me to suggest a beautiful place over their and suggest me the hotel or resort that doesn't cost more.

9. Posted by Rogo (Budding Member 36 posts) 6y

Hi I'm considering a working visa in nz. Can anyone reccomend anywhere to live/work. My 2nd year for Oz was rejected and I'm in the uk! I have never Visited nz so all advice welcomed!! Thanks

10. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 6y

New Zealand is lovely and well worth any trip of between 2 weeks and a year!

Personally, I went for 2 months and saw most of the things I had planning on seeing, but not quite all, so 3 months sounds sensible to me.