15 days in New Zealand & Cook Islands Itinerary

15 days in New Zealand & Cook Islands Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Pacific trip planner

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Rotorua, New Zealand
— 4 nights
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Avarua, Cook Islands
— 1 night
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Aitutaki, Cook Islands
— 2 nights
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Queenstown, New Zealand
— 4 nights
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Rotorua, New Zealand

— 4 nights

Sulphur City

Surrounded by lakes and featuring impressive areas of geothermal landscape, the city of Rotorua offers an otherwordly landscape and a welcoming, peaceful environment, with the culture of the native Maori people very much in the foreground.
Escape the urban bustle at Huka Falls Walkway and Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Change things up with these side-trips from Rotorua: Waitomo Caves (Caveworld & Ruakuri Cave) and Taupo (Kinloch Beach & 9 Hole Golf Course). And it doesn't end there: whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, witness a stunning natural landmark at Te Puia, take a pleasant ride with a tour on horseback, and take a memorable tour with Redwoods Treewalk.

To find traveler tips, other places to visit, maps, and tourist information, read our Rotorua trip planner.

Singapore, Singapore to Rotorua is an approximately 16-hour flight. Traveling from Singapore to Rotorua, you'll lose 4 hours due to the time zone difference. Plan for much colder temperatures traveling from Singapore in July, with highs in Rotorua at 17°C and lows at 7°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Mon) early enough to travel to Avarua.

Things to do in Rotorua

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Wildlife

Side Trips

Avarua, Cook Islands

— 1 night
Kick off your visit on the 6th (Mon): indulge your thirst for a good beer at Matutu Brewery, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Titikaveka Beach, and then kick back and relax at Muri Lagoon. On the 7th (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: tour the pleasant surroundings at Black Rock Beach, then enjoy the sand and surf at Aroa Beach, then stop by Tivaevae Collectables, and finally take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports.

For maps, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our Avarua trip maker site.

Getting from Rotorua to Avarua by flight takes about 10 hours. The time zone changes from New Zealand Standard Time to Cook Islands Standard Time, which is usually a -22 hour difference. Expect a bit warmer weather when traveling from Rotorua in July: highs in Avarua hover around 29°C, while lows dip to 23°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 7th (Tue) so you can travel to Aitutaki.

Things to do in Avarua

Outdoors · Parks · Beaches · Tours

Side Trips

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

— 2 nights
Aitutaki's triangular barrier reef surrounds a turquoise lagoon of crystal clear water.
Start off your visit on the 8th (Wed): enjoy the sand and surf at O'otu Beach, tour the pleasant surroundings at Aitutaki Lagoon, then stop by T & S Artworx, and finally see what you can catch with a fishing tour. Keep things going the next day: get outside with Akaiami, step off the mainland to explore One Foot Island, and then take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Mount Maungapu.

For photos, reviews, where to stay, and tourist information, you can read our Aitutaki day trip planning app.

You can fly from Avarua to Aitutaki in 3 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 9th (Thu) to allow time to travel to Queenstown.

Things to do in Aitutaki

Outdoors · Parks · Beaches · Nature

Queenstown, New Zealand

— 4 nights

Shallow Bay

Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
Visiting The Remarkables Ski Area and Kiwi Birdlife Park will get you outdoors. Explore Queenstown's surroundings by going to Milford Sound (in Te Anau) and Milford Foreshore Walk (in Milford). On the 11th (Sat), dedicate a day to the elevated beauty of Coronet Peak. There's lots more to do: relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, tee off at Queenstown Golf Club, learn about winemaking at Peregrine Wines, and take a memorable tour with Tours.

Plan my Queenstown trip by asking Inspirock to come up with tips and suggestions.

You can fly from Aitutaki to Queenstown in 13 hours. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 22 hours traveling from Aitutaki to Queenstown. On the 15th (Wed), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Queenstown

Parks · Outdoors · Nature · Winter Sports

Side Trips

New Zealand travel guide

4.5
Specialty Museums · Hiking Trails · Landmarks
Land of the Long White Cloud
Far-flung New Zealand has become known for its astounding topography, singular biodiversity, varied climate, and for marrying native Maori and post-colonial European cultures on its two main islands and the multitude of smaller landmasses dotted around them. Free-spirited New Zealanders cultivate a love of sports, sustainability, and the outdoors. Far from other landmasses, the islands existed for millions of years before being inhabited by humans, so an abundance of species have come to thrive in the thick, wild rainforest, vast and rugged backland, and extensive surrounding marine areas. While much of New Zealand tourism centers around adventures through this spectacular scenery, take time to explore the nation's rich cultural heritage as well. The traditions and history of the Maoris, and the industry and internationalism of the descendents of the first European settlers endure in fascinating attractions, ranging from museums, to farms, to places of worship.

Cook Islands travel guide

4.2
Beaches · Concerts & Shows · Scuba & Snorkeling
Scattered across a 2,200,000 sq km (849,425 sq mi) zone in the vast Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, the Cook Islands are about as remote a holiday destination as you will find. With their pristine white-sand beaches, tranquil azure lagoons, lush tropical jungles, and teeming coral reefs, the 15 islands seem plucked from a picture postcard of paradise. Relaxation comes first and foremost, for locals as much as tourists, and you will find the laid-back lifestyle of the Cook Islanders as infectious as their warm smiles. As tempting (and fulfilling) as it might be to spend all day swinging lazily in a hammock strung between shady palm trees, plenty of adventures await exploring the idyllic scenery overland, on the waves, and undersea.