How to Spend 10 Days in New Zealand - United Hub

How to spend 10 days in New Zealand

By The Hub team

Plan your trip to New Zealand with this action-packed travel itinerary.

There's a jaw-dropping landscape around every corner in New Zealand. With its wild coastlines, mountain-ringed lakes, and cinematic Middle Earth vistas, the country is the ultimate adventure-lover's island getaway — and a bonafide Instagram dream. For many, the journey here ventures into trip-of-a-lifetime territory, with travelers packing in as much as they can in a short amount of time. The truth is, you could spend months in New Zealand, and still leave wanting to explore more.

The best time to visit New Zealand is between December and May, the country's summer and fall seasons. Ten days allows for ample time to explore the both the North and South Island, on a self-drive itinerary that lets you control the journey. Here's how to do it.

Day 1: Auckland

Fly into Auckland on the North Island and pick up a rental car at the airport (remember to drive on the left!) before heading to the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour. New Zealand's largest city is as metropolitan as this country gets, especially in the downtown CBD (Central Business District). Dig into local Orongo Bay oysters at Depot Eatery, then ride 1,000 feet up to the top of the Sky Tower for sweeping North Island views. A 20-minute walk leads to the bohemian Ponsonby neighborhood and an array of funky boutiques and buzzing cocktail bars on Ponsonby Road.

Piha BeachPiha Beach \Shutterstock

Day 2: Auckland

Wake up early and drive an hour west to the stunning, black-sand Piha Beach. Kick back and watch surfers conquer impressive Tasman Sea breaks, or hike up the relatively-steep-but-short Tasman Lookout Track for the best coastline views. Head back to Auckland (leave your car at the hotel) and walk over to Queens Wharf to take the Fullers ferry to Waiheke Island. The 35-square-mile island is home to nearly two-dozen wineries (chalk it up to dry summers and very agreeable soil conditions), and it's easy to book a private tour or buy a ticket to ride a hop-on, hop-off wine-tasting bus.

Hobbiton VillageHobbiton Village \Shutterstock

Day 3: Rotorua

New Zealand takes scenic drives to new levels — there's rarely an “Are we there yet?" moment as you cruise past lush, rolling countryside dotted with grazing cows and sheep. (There are more sheep in New Zealand than people.) From Auckland, it's a three-hour drive to Rotorua; the route takes you through the heart of Middle Earth. Tolkien fans have to stop in the town of Matamata, home to the Hobbiton Movie Set, for a two-hour tour of some Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit filming locations. In Rotorua, check into the Treetops Lodge & Estate, before a twilight stroll at the Redwoods Treewalk Rotorua.

Champagne Pool, a geothermal pool in RotoruaChampagne Pool, a geothermal pool in Rotorua \Shutterstock

Day 4: Rotorua

Rotorua is one of the North Island's biggest tourism hubs, and there's a lot to do here when it comes to adventure and Maori culture. Learn about the Maori — the indigenous people of New Zealand — at the Mitai Maori Village, go whitewater rafting on the Kaituna River, or soak in the area's geothermal mud pools in Kuirau Park.

Gondolas at Skyline QueenstownGondolas at Skyline Queenstown \Shutterstock

Day 5: Queenstown

It's easy to get between the North and South Islands — flights are frequent and inexpensive. Wake up and drive back to Auckland, return your car, and fly to Queenstown. Established during the island's 1860s gold rush, Queenstown overlooks Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain rage. Ease into the South Island portion of your trip with an afternoon exploring this quaint, postcard-worthy city: take a gondola ride at Skyline Queenstown, linger over dinner at Rata (or grab a burger at the extremely popular Fergburger), and sip nightcaps at Little Blackwood. Queenstown is popular with backpackers, so there are plenty budget and hostel options, as well as several surrounding guesthouses. For something more upscale, the city's grande dame is Eichardt's Private Hotel, which holds court over the lake.

Milford SoundMilford Sound \Shutterstock

DAY 6: Queenstown

Queenstown is the gateway to Fiordland, the country's rugged, Southern Alps-lined southwest corner. No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to Fiordland's crown jewel, Milford Sound. (Rudyard Kipling once called it the eighth wonder of the world.) You can drive to Milford Sound from Queenstown, but it will be a long day, with at least eight round-trip hours in the car and lots of white-knuckle mountain passes. Other options: Book a coach tour, or spring for a helicopter or floatplane ride from Queenstown to the sound. The latter option has you back in Queenstown by early afternoon — plenty of time for a bungee jump (which was invented here) or a jet-boat ride down the Shotover River. This is the adventure capital of the world, after all.

Queenstown's wine regionQueenstown's wine region \Shutterstock

Day 7: Queenstown

Queenstown is also a popular gateway to even more stellar winetasting. Spend a day winery hopping in the Central Otago Wine Region, known for its bold Pinot Noirs. (Most hotels and lodges can arrange a tour.) Stop for lunch in Arrowtown, a quaint gold rush village along the Arrow River outside of Queenstown.

A night sky over Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie RegionA night sky over Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie Region \Shutterstock

Day 8: Mackenzie Region

While North Island scenery deals in rolling hills and wide-open spaces, the South Island delivers spectacular mountain ranges and gorges. Today, drive two-and-a-half hours north to the Mackenzie Region, in the center of the South Island. The region is one of the world's International Dark Sky Reserves, which means stargazing here is incredible — especially if you check into a place like Skyscape, a small house made entirely of glass in the middle of a 6,000-acre sheep and beef farm. The remote, middle-of-nowhere accommodation is well worth the splurge.

Hiking in Mount Cook National ParkHiking in Mount Cook National Park \Shutterstock

Day 9: Aoraki/Mount Cook & Christchurch

Start the day with a 45-minute hike on the Governors Bush Walk in nearby Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (home to New Zealand's highest mountain), before the four-hour drive northeast to Christchurch. Don't rush it — the joy of a South Island road trip is in taking it slow, pulling over to gape at amazing views whenever the mood strikes, which is often. (Many travelers actually rent campervans and drive around the country in those — it's legal to pull over and sleep on the side of the road in many parts of New Zealand.) In Christchurch, check into The George, a boutique property on the Avon River.

Sidewalk cafes along New Regent's Street in ChristchurchSidewalk cafes along New Regent's Street in Christchurch \Shutterstock

Day 10: Christchurch

Spend the morning exploring Christchurch, the first British Colonial settlement on the South Island. The city is still rebuilding from a devastating 2011 earthquake that caused severe structural damage, but several new attractions and public spaces will open in 2018, including a food hall and a new public library. In the afternoon, hop a one-hour flight back to Auckland to connect to your late-evening flight back home.


This article was written by Amy Cassell from Islands and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

Scroll to top