Where does one go in New Zealand?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by James K., Jul 16, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. James K.

    James K. Silver Member

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    Hey there knowledgeable people all:

    I'm currently in the very early planning stages of an epic journey that will take my wife and I to Australia. Since we have limited time to travel, I figure we should go spend a week or so in New Zealand as well, because it's not like we're likely to be in that part of the world again any time soon.

    But while I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do in Australia, I don't really know much about NZ. Is it a place where the cities are lame and you're supposed to jet off to the nature-y parts? Or is Auckland awesome? I don't know much, and was hoping you fine folks could help a brother out, so to speak.

    The particulars are as follows: we'll be there for about a week, and it'll be in July. So winter I guess...weird. We like both urban adventuring and outdoors stuff. We like hopping about and don't mind 3 days here, 2 days there, etc. We'll be leaving out of Auckland so it would make sense to spend at least a day there.

    What say you, fine folks?
     
  2. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    We spent 5 days on the North half of the North Island in early June one year. We enjoyed Auckland for its small ethnic food court type restaurants that were in the bottom of office buildings with extremely small real estate footprints and hit up some farmers markets where we found miniature apples that looks perfect size for a child's lunch. We drove down to Napier to do some wine tastings with stops along the way for the glow worms and hot springs.

    Even though we covered only 1/2 the North Islands, and didn't go north of Auckland it was quite rushed with a lot of ground to cover. We reserved most of our hotels via http://www.wotif.com/. Here is a trip report http://www.budgettravel.com/blog/re...ealand-hotels-with-wotif-and-needitnow,11376/ .
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    We LOVED the South Island but you're not going to have a lot of time and many of the outdoors-y things we did will be very different in the winter versus in the summer (December/January) when we did it. Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier and more.

    My guess is that in the winter it will be more about skiing and less about hiking.
     
  4. canucklehead
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    canucklehead Gold Member

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    Auckland has been wet of late (or is this for next year?) For winter stuff, I would recommend the South Island for skiing. Otherwise, I have had fun at Rotorua (hot sulphur springs, aboriginal culture) and AKL on North Island (during NZ spring/summer time).
    I found AKL to be a very comfortable city to visit and with good foodie assortment. Queenstown was more like a resort town but certainly friendly and enough to do for a couple of days.
     
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  5. suenam

    suenam Silver Member

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    I actually loved both islands, and I visited both during NZ summertime, although in different years. The Bay of Islands area is very pretty and I just loved Kerikeri. Also, the far north, Cape Reinga, is very beautiful and has exquisite beaches. Silica sands. You could get a guide to take you on Maori lands and you could go on an ATV. Also, KeriKeri area has lots of vineyards and groves of fruit, etc. Reminds me lot of the California coast, but without all the people and traffic. It will not be too cold on the north island. Certainly not beach weather, but should be OK for other outdoor activities. We also had a lot of fun in Rotorua although it can be very touristy. We went for a mud bath and visited sulphur springs and even did some fishing. The South Island is just spectacular. We took a boat ride from Mt. Cook area to see the terminal face of the glacier. We also went to Christchurch which is a lovely small city with some good restaurants. The Banks Peninsula has some lovely towns, but we were there in summer. I'm not sure that there would be much to amuse in there in winter. Queenstown has lots to do in the winter and it is really beautiful in that area. We also spent a night in TeAnu before continuing on to Milford Sound. This is some of the most beautiful scenery in NZ. Enjoy your time. No matter where you go in NZ you will find beauty.
     
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  6. James K.

    James K. Silver Member

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    Thanks for the input guys. I'm not much of a skier (God that's a bizarre looking word) but I do like hiking. Admittedly a little bit less so if it's 40 Fahrenheit and raining, but nevertheless I want to find some I can do. Queenstown seems like it might be too cold to really enjoy, but I do want to go to the South Island.

    This is where being limited to (Northern Hemisphere) summer travels is annoying,
     
  7. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I once spent a week wandering the north island, and I felt that was not nearly enough - I didn't get into the Coromandel at all. Highlights were various bits of noting how the earth is still changing - seeing the volcanic wastelands in Tongariro National Park; the steam vents, mud pools, etc. at Craters of the Moon (highly recommended in preference to the commercialized sites); and, to a lesser degree, other geysers and hot springs around Rotarua.

    I enjoyed random short hikes - going to a waterfall, etc. I wished I had brought suitable gear for doing the Tongariro Crossing (day-long hike, with shuttle needed); in the winter I doubt it will be passable.

    You could go "black water rafting" in Waitomo - riding an inner tube down a river as it passes through a cave, part of which has glowworms. It's an adventure, though perhaps overrated and a bit expensive. There are plenty of other even more extreme sports - the national accident & liability insurance scheme makes running physically risky entertainments more tolerable in NZ than elsewhere.

    There are some interesting attempts in NZ at reintroducing and protecting native species. The Karori reserve near Wellington and the Kapiti Island reserve are examples.
     
  8. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    I was on South Island in Dec. i enjoyed the tran alpine train from Christchurch and the cute penguins in Dunedin. Not sure what Milford and Doubtful sounds are like in winter but the town of Te Anu in between was a nice overnight. I flew back from Milford to Queenstown and can only imagine it's even more stunning snow capped.
     
  9. lapointdm

    lapointdm Silver Member

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  10. jonspencer

    jonspencer Silver Member

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    NZ has so much to offer on both islands, the highlights for me in several visits over the last couple years are the
    Forgotten World Highway on the North Island
    The wineries and music clubs in the Wellington area
    Fiordland National Park on the South Island
    The Fastest Indian motorcycle + collection in Invercargill
    Bay of Islands off the North Island
     
  11. nonstopski

    nonstopski Silver Member

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    I spent a semester studying abroad out of Auckland. Auckland was unimpressive, but you don't go to NZ for the cities. Really. Although, Queenstown and Wellington are great little towns. And the small town feel of most places is charming.

    North land (which is where bay of islands and kerikeri is) shouldn't be missed if you're on the north. I'd do it over Coromandel, and I might skip it over a day trip to Waitomo Caves for a wet caving adventure, or whitewater rafting the highest raftable waterfall in the world in Rotorua.

    I spent around 4 days going up the east coast of Northland and down the west coast. That's the way to do it. And honestly, I'd avoid the bus and rent a car, because way more fun to explore this country on your own, allowing you to make your own stops. Matauri Bay is a small turn off between bay of islands and KeriKeri Peninsula, and I guarantee no bus is doing down there. It's worth going to that beach for the drive alone. But you really can't go wrong. Bay of Islands is super touristy. I prefered the town of Russell to the main bay of islands town. Go to Flagstaff Hill in russell and catch the view up there of all the islands near sunset/before sunset. Talk about gorgeous. You can also take an adventure from bay of islands for a day boat trip through the islands, see some dolphins, etc.

    But, you'll find that the beaches actually get better as you go further north. KeriKeri Peninsula is definitely worth exploring. 3-4 beaches there (one with white sand that you need to take a gravel road to). Mostly deserted, but there's a hostel or two on the peninsula. Accomodations are limited in northland past KeriKeri. There is one hostel/campaground about 30 km or so from Cape Reinga. I'd reccomend the few turn offs to the right before Cape Reinga which take you down to the pretty little beaches/camp grounds. If you can see the sunset at Reinga (less people there, and it's gorgeous), I'd recommend it. Go see the stars at one of those turn offs there. No light pollution. Amazing.

    On the way down the west side, gotta go the sand dunes (Maybe this is actually on the way up, I don't remember) and you can actually rent a boggee board from a guy and "sled" down the sand dunes. Walking up is a work out and a half. But it's really fun. Also, the total randomness of there being sand dunes in what otherwise is thick trees/rainforest-ish, is kind of amazing. Kauri trees also can't be missed. There are some walking paths that all the tours stop at, and it's worth spending an hour or so going through all those to see all the ENORMOUS ancient trees.

    I did the tongariro crossing 1 day trek/hike. It was really nice. We did the extra 3 hours to go to the top of the volcano. Totally worth it. If you want something more serious (and way more drastic and pretty), the Milford Track (which can take days to hike, but Im sure there are ways to do it in less time) on the South Island is world renowned.

    The South Island is unreal, more unreal than the North Island... sure, but they're just different. Northland is amazing, and my favorite part of the North Island, with special mentions to Rotorua, Waitomo Caves, Coromandel, Wellington, and Tongariro National Park.

    South Islands... Queenstown, Franz Josef Glacier, Milford and Doubtful Sound, I'd skip Christchurch and Dunedin personally, and stick more to the south west/western coast of NZ. Also, i never made it up to the northern part of the south island, but there are *incredible* beaches up there.

    NZ is a natural wonderland, and kind of has any kind of natural anything you could want, all packed into a tiny island.
     

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