North or South New Zealand?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific North or South New Zealand?

1. Posted by smith77 (Budding Member 11 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!


We are going to New Zealand for a month and in the lonely Planet guide the North sounds better than the South? Any recommendations?


2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5293 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

It slightly depends on which time of the year, and on what you're looking for, but I'd definitely and highly recommend the south over the north.

Lake Tekapo, Mt. Cook and the glaciers (make certain you do the walk to Peter's pool and further at Franz Josef) - and I guess Milford Sound, although I personally wasn't all that impressed by it - all rank above anything the north has to offer. Excepting perhaps the Tongariro Crossing.

In general the South is better for beautiful nature (especially around the winter, with the Southern Alps all covered in snow), while the North is better for activities/partying/culture - but then, the north has the aforementioned Tongariro National Park, while the South has Queenstown.

But really, a month is long enough to see at least a bit of both. You could rent a car and from Auckland (3 days) drive north to the Bay of Islands / Cape Reinga (4 days total), south to Matamata (Hobbiton - 1 day), Tongariro National Park (3 days), Wellington (1 day), take the ferry to Picton and head on to Nelson (1 day), Westport / Punakaiki blowholes (1 day - make certain to be here around high tide), the glaciers (2 days), Queenstown (3 days), Mt. Cook (3 days), Lake Tekapo (3 days), Christchurch (3 days) with bus daytrips to Milford Sound (1 day from Queenstown) and Kaikoura (1 day from Christchurch), and you'd still have a day left to take things more slowly somewhere, or add in something like Whitianga in the Coromandel, or to explore the Nelson Lakes area or, if you really want to smell the stink, go to Rotorua.

3. Posted by FionaNZ (Respected Member 903 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Quoting smith77

We are going to New Zealand for a month and in the lonely Planet guide the North sounds better than the South? Any recommendations?

Really That quite amazes me, as even us North Island Townies admit to the Sth Island being far more scenic

Sander has it fairly well sorted for you.. other options are the tranz scenic rail from Christchurch to Greymouth/driving through Arthurs Pass is a beautiful trip. Blenheim is a great area if your into Wine, more vineyards than you can poke a stick at mmmmm Sauvignon Blanc And rather than Rotorua to check out the geothermal activity, I'd suggest Orakei Korako

4. Posted by danhosk (Budding Member 14 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

dont cut yourself short with south or north island, do both. i did it all and south was only slightly better due to franz josef, milford sound and some good times in queenstown. but north island - bay of islands was excellent. south island is more about the scenery and nature. you pretty much cant go to wrong though in NZ, i was there a month a moved on from places pretty quick - few days here, few days there and it was good. but perhaps a little more time in sth island than nth.

5. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

For a month, I would say spend maybe ten days on the north island and twenty on the south. The south is simply more stunning, and has the pick of the adventure-type things to do (tho they are a bit cheaper on the north island). If you're intent on doing just one island then go south!

6. Posted by rhiannon (Full Member 52 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!


We managed to do the North and the South is 2 and a half weeks! I don't think there was anywhere that we missed, although we spent alot of our time driving in the car! A month is plenty time to see both islands, alhtough I would probably say, spend more time in the south.

It depends what you're into and when you're going to be there, the south island is more glacial (if that's a word?!) If you're into winter sports and you're there in winter, you'l have a ball in Queenstown, and won't want to leave! The glacier walks are good aswell, although very tiring!

In the north island, head to Taupo if you're wanting to skydive, it's meant to be the best place in the southern hemisphere, and my mate dived there, she said it was brill. Rotorua is nice, with polynesian spas, nice for relaxing. And the Bay of Island, at the top of the north island, is lovely. Boat trips take you out past off the island, and there's a chance to swim with the dolphins (we didn't get to, as all the pods had young with them

There's so much to see and do in NZ, and the scenary is out of this world. If you want to ask anything else, just PM me


7. Posted by majito (Respected Member 442 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

The North has volcanoes, geysers, hot water beaches; its very lush. There are a lot of activities to do and great day trips in places like Rotorua, Raglan, the Bay of Islands, Cape Reinga,and the West Coast. The South is stunning, and you may need more time there than the North. Like the North you will be spoilt for choice of activities. Try and do both by doing it one way from top to bottom and flying back to Auckland or wherever your start point is. NZ is a small country; journeying between destinations takes little time and you'll be amazed at how the landscape changes along the way. But one mistake people often make in a small but diverse country like NZ is not allowing enough time.

So plan carefully