New Zealand Trip – Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland
Planning a one-week New Zealand trip for my friends and I was quite a challenge for me. Discovering wonderful photos each day about the country before our trip made me realize that a week wouldn’t be enough. There is just so much to explore. Seeing photos of mountains, forests, glaciers, lakes and breathtaking landscapes, our list of places to go in New Zealand kept on adding up. But we only had a week so we had to trim down the places that we wanted to visit. Looking at the map for the best route and my archive of photos for New Zealand, we decided to spend our one-week vacation by going to Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland.
While my friends flew directly to Queenstown, I went to Christchurch first and spent a day to discover the city. Located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, I found it an amazing destination to begin my New Zealand trip. It features green parks, gardens, river beds, historical buildings and other interesting tourist spots. The city is also a place for arts and culture. If you’re up for an adventure, the city is also a gateway to New Zealand’s scenic roads, off-road trails and pristine coastline.
Christchurch is also a nice destination to start a New Zealand trip because the city is easily accessible on foot. As a budget traveler, it is a big yes for me if I would like to sightsee the city. So even if I only had a day in Christchurch, I was able to get around and go to some of the important city attractions. In one day, here are the places I was able to visit in Christchurch:
- New Regent Street Precinct
- Isaac Theater Royal
- Christchurch Library
- Christchurch Cathedral
- Godley Statue
- Canterbury Museum
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens
- Avon River
- Bridge of Remembrance
- High Street
- Christchurch Tramway
Located in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown is home to adventure sports, incredible sites and spectacular mountain scenery. It is one of the most beautiful destinations in New Zealand. If you would ask me, this town is my most favorite among the places that my friends and I visited. Every corner is scenic that sometimes I had to pinch myself if I was dreaming. Absolutely, Queenstown has some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen in my life. It has the most spectacular views making it easy for me to fall in love with this town.
Queenstown is also a jump-off point for many excursions in the region. We were able to visit a nearby town, go to a lake and join a day trip to Milford Sound, which is a world-renowned natural wonder. One of my friends and I also went biking along the coastline and visited a peak that offers an astounding view. In 4 days, we were able to do all these activities. We had an enjoyable experience and great memories here in Queenstown that makes it as the highlight of our New Zealand trip.
Things to do when in Queenstown
If you’re in Queenstown for 4 days or a week, here are some of the places to go and things to do.
Explore the town on foot
Queenstown itself is an exciting place to explore. Just walk around and you’ll definitely find something interesting. There are several shops around and cafes and restaurants to try. If you love scenic views, you won’t need to go far. In town, you will already be able to enjoy spectacular view view of the lake and the Remarkable mountain range.
Ride in Queenstown’s iconic Skyline Gondola
The Skyline Queenstown Gondola takes you 450 meters above the town showcasing the most spectacular panoramic views. We tried this activity on our first day and was able to have unforgettable views of the town and surrounding mountains. There is also hiking trail from Skyline going to Ben Lomond, which my friend and I actually planned of going. Unfortunately, we hesitated because it was already late in the afternoon when we went to the Skyline.
Join a Day Trip to Milford Sound
One of the most exciting activities that we had during our New Zealand trip was joining a day trip to Milford Sound. We were able to visit the country’s best known fiord. While on tour, we were also able to see some amazing landscapes and dramatic views of mountains and waterfalls. It was a great experience. Milford Sound is a wonder of the nature that shouldn’t be missed when in Queenstown.
Go on a Scenic Walk around Lake Hayes
Lake Hayes is a tranquil and beautiful lake offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Located 15-minute by bus from Queenstown, we visited this place and went for a short scenic walk. But if you would go around the lake, it would take about 2 to 3 hours to complete.
Arrowtown is a historic gold mining town, just 20 minutes by bus from Queenstown. After trying to go hiking around Lake Hayes, we spent the rest of our day in this charming and quirky town. We visited some interesting attractions and had a nice stroll down the main area of the town.
Road Cycling from Queenstown to Bob’s Cove
The part of the trip that I enjoyed the most is when my friend and I rented an electric bicycle. Then, we went biking from Queenstown to Bob’s Cove. Originally, I just wanted to go to Bob’s Cove but I couldn’t find a public transportation for us to be able to go there. Persistent to see the place, I asked one of my friends if she would want to rent a bike. Being an adrenaline junkie like me, she sais yes. So we rented a bicycle on our last day and biked for approximately 13 kilometers to reach Bob’s Cove.
This road cycling is definitely one of the best things that we did in Queenstown. We enjoyed this activity so much. It was tiring but rewarding at the same time. While we were on the road, my friend and I saw plenty of incredible views. There are times that I had to pull over to take some photos of the beautiful scenery. On our way to Bob’s Cove, we also stopped by the Seven Mile Point Track and Wilson Bay.
Go on a Hike to Bob’s Cove Lookout
After two hours biking from Queenstown, we finally reached Bobs Cove Recreation Reserve. We were so exhausted so after we parked our bicycles, we took some time first to cool down. After 5 minutes or so, we started to walk. We entered a forest and followed a trail. After about 10 minutes we reached the cove. It was beautiful. The was peaceful and so quiet. I was in awe seeing the turquoise water. I was also tempted. In my head I was thinking that I should have brought shorts so I could take a dip.
After enjoying the view of the cove and taking some photos, we started walking again to go to the lookout. We just followed the trail but as we went further up, it became rocky and steep. But remember what they say, the harder the climb, the better the view. And it was true. After reaching the lookout, we were rewarded with gorgeous views of the Bob’s Cove, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains.
This is the most famous place to eat in Queenstown. Every time we passed by this burger joint, there was always a queue. We tried it one day for lunch. I had the most basic level, which is The Fergburger. I must say the burger was amazingly good and tasted fresh.
Auckland is a fusion of natural wonders and city adventures. It has spectacular landscapes, interesting tourist attractions and huge range of activities. A large city in the North Island of New Zealand, the city is also a perfect base to explore North Island destinations.
With 3 days in Auckland, my friends and I explored the city, went to Devonport and joined a day trip for Hobbiton Movie Set. New Zealand is the location for the movies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbits. If you’re a fan or seen these movies and you’re visiting New Zealand, then it would be a great experience to visit at least one of the film locations. One of the most famous and significant location is the Hobbiton Movie Set.
Hobbiton Movie Set
Joining a day trip to Hobbiton Movie Set was the first activity that we did when we were in Auckland. Set on a beautiful countryside, the movie set is about 2-hour drive from Auckland. It was an experience stepping into the world of Middle-earth, the Shire, and Hobbiton. For more info about our Hobbiton Movie Set tour, you may read it on this link.
A Side Trip to Devonport
If you’re in Auckland and want to have a peaceful atmosphere, Devonport is the one to visit. It is just about 15 minutes by ferry from the city of Auckland. It’s a relaxing and quiet town located on the North Shore. It is one of the top spots to go when in Auckland offering wonderful sea and city views.
New Zealand Trip – Sample Itinerary
Here’s a sample itinerary that you may use as a reference when planning for your New Zealand trip.
- Flight from Melbourne
- Arrival in Christchurch
- Check in at the hotel
- Christchurch City Tour
- Flight to Queenstown
- Hike around Lake Hayes
- Visit Arrowtown
- Join a Milford Sound day trip
- Go to Bob’s Cove by bicycle
- Skyline Queenstown
- Explore Queenstown on foot
- Flight to Auckland
- Join a Hobbiton Movie Set Day Tour
- Auckland City Tour
- Side trip to Devonport
- Flight to Melbourne, Australia
- Flight to Manila, Philippines
Flights – From the Philippines to Australia to New Zealand
Only one airline is currently servicing flights directly from Manila to Auckland, New Zealand. That is Philippine Airlines but fare is ridiculously expensive. Roundtrip fare can be around Php40,000 (~US $770) per person. Other airlines such as Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Thai Airways, China Airlines and Singapore Airlines also offer flights to Auckland, New Zealand from Manila with stopover/s. Roundtrip fare starts from Php30,000 (~US $600)
But if you want the cheapest option, I suggest to book your flight from Manila to either Melbourne or Sydney with Cebu Pacific. Then from these cities, you can already book a flight to any destination in New Zealand. A roundtrip fare to Australia with Cebu Pacific during sale can costs only around Php7,000 (~US $135). I was lucky though because I was able to score a roundtrip ticket from Manila to Melbourne during a system glitch for only Php2,430 (~US$46). For flights from Australia to New Zealand, a roundtrip promo fare can cost around Php12,551 (~US $242). In total, that is only around Php19,000 (~US $386) – and for the flights that I booked, it was only Php14,980 (~US $288). If you’re worried about obtaining a visa for Australia, applying for a transit visa is actually free. You may check my blog here.
To compare and find cheaper fares for flight to New Zealand, you may use the flight search below.
Accommodations in New Zealand
My friends and I stayed in different kinds of accommodation in New Zealand. When I was in Christchurch, I stayed in a modern hostel. In Queenstown, my friends and I stayed in a private room in a hostel located in the city center. When we went to Auckland, we opted for an apartment room, which we booked through Airbnb. Then on our last day, we stayed in a budget hotel. Here are the names of the places that we stayed.
- Christchurch – All Stars Inn on Bealey
- Queenstown – YHA Queenstown Central
- Auckland – Airbnb and Kiwi International
For other hotel options in New Zealand, please find accommodations using the Agoda search box below.
Have an exciting and wonderful experience in New Zealand by booking amazing travel experiences with Awesome NZ or Klook. Find the best deals for activities and attractions by checking them below.
Budget for New Zealand Trip
To help you plan out your New Zealand trip, here’s the estimated breakdown of our expenses (per person).
- Cebu Pacific roundtrip ticket from Manila to Melbourne – Php2,430 ($46)
- Check in baggage for Cebu Pacific flights – Php4,505 ($86)
- Qantas flight from Melbourne to Christchurch, Auckland to Melbourne – Php12,551 ($242)
- Air New Zealand flight from Christchurch to Queenstown – Php2,560 ($50)
- Air New Zealand flight from Queenstown to Auckland – Php3,253 ($63)
- All Stars Inn on Bealey Double Room for two nights – Php5,190 ($100)
- YHA Queenstown Central private room good for 4 persons for three nights – Php19,980 ($385) or Php4,995 ($96) per person
- Airbnb Apartment in Auckland good for 4 persons for two nights – Php13,176 ($253) or Php3,294 ($63) per person
- Kiwi International room good for 4 persons for one night – Php4,813 ($93) or Php1,203 ($23) per person
- Skyline Queenstown – Php1,440 ($28)
- Milford Sound tour – Php6,540 ($125)
- Hobbiton Movie Set tour – Php5,150 ($100)
- Food and Drinks (estimated cost for my breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in 9 days) – Php10,800 ($208)
- Half-day bike rental in Queenstown – Php2,600 ($50)
- Christchurch transportation (estimated cost for bus and airport shuttle) – Php950 ($18)
- Queenstown transportation (estimated cost for bus and airport transfer) – Php500 ($10)
- Auckland transportation (estimated cost for ferry ride, bus, Uber and airport transfer) – Php2,400 ($46)
- Travel Insurance – Php797 (US $15)
- Tep Wireless WiFi Rental – Php3,600 ($70)
Total per person: Php74,758 ($1,339)
All dollar amounts are USD (US $)
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