This is a time-old question and one very familiar to the Silver Fern staff.

As New Zealand travel specialists, we can put together tailor-made travel plans and itineraries which begin on either island. We can start your trip from any of the air gateways or cruise terminals in the country, depending on your needs and requirements.

In fact, personal needs often play a big part in the direction people choose to travel through New Zealand. 

Some travellers may ask for a starting point or wish to include a destination in their trip to meet friends or family there. Requests like these usually determine the direction of travel.

Some of our travellers meeting up with friends.

Why travel from South to North?


If there are no personal reasons to consider, the determining factor is often the weather conditions – particularly in the months approaching winter.

During these months (late May, June and early July) you can certainly feel the difference between the alpine South and the warmer climes of the North. For this reason, many travellers prefer to start in cooler weather and end their trip in higher temperatures.   


Some international flights only depart from Auckland and not from the southern international airports of Christchurch and Queenstown. Depending on connection times, it’s often more convenient to conclude your holiday in Auckland.

A new airport transport hub being built in Auckland combines both international and domestic terminals under one roof, so this will be less of a factor in the not too distant future. 

Essentially, this means you will only need to move from one part of the building to the other, rather than hauling your luggage all the way to another airport. 


It is true that some rental car companies scale their charges in favour of a journey starting in the South because they want their vehicles returned to an Auckland depot where there is more demand for rental cars. 

However, our preferred car rental company, Budget/Avis, offers favourable rates so the difference is nominal, but this really shouldn’t be a factor in your decision-making.  

A birds-eye view of Auckland, which is the main entry point for many airlines.

Why travel from North to South? 

Auckland is the Main Air Entry Point into New Zealand 

Most international airlines will have Auckland as their main point of entry. So if you wish to start your journey through New Zealand in another part of the country you will have to transfer to the domestic terminal then await your flight connection. 

The transfer to the domestic terminal is an easy 10-minute walk but after a long 15 or 24-hour flight, the idea of a connecting flight is often too much hassle.

Understanding New Zealand  

Most Silver Fern travellers will have done some background reading on the country and its origins, but if not, we think if you start in the north (in the Bay of Islands more specifically), you’re really starting at the beginnings of modern day New Zealand. 

Here, you can visit Waitangi where the Treaty between representatives of the British Crown and Maori chiefs was signed in 1840. This document has guided the development of the country and is the basis for New Zealand’s constitution as we know it today.

The excellent visitor centre at Waitangi features presentations and displays that tell the country’s story and give visitors a background to the current issues debated today.

The visitor centre at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which opened in 2016.

A Succession of Wow’s!  

Think of your travels through New Zealand as a three act play. The climax comes towards the end of Act III, and the preface is Acts I and II.

Whilst the North Island has some outstanding natural features, the South contains no less than 10 National Parks, one of the best coastlines in the world, two glaciers (Franz Josef and Fox), and two magnificent sounds. It even has the highest mountain in New Zealand, the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook

It makes sense to see these sights in Act III of your trip to make sure you end on a stunning and dramatic climax.

An Easy Final Drive 

You’ll be amazed by the sights you see and the experiences you enjoy as you travel around New Zealand, but you’ll probably be a little travel weary too. So what better way to conclude your journey with an easy drive across the Canterbury plains rather than plunging headlong into the Auckland traffic?

The incredible sights of the Canterbury Plains.


Whichever route you choose to take on your New Zealand holiday, you can be sure our teams both in the UK and New Zealand will be there to support you all the way. If you have more questions about which direction to travel around New Zealand, just get in touch