I recently put this information together for a friend, and figured that it might be useful for others, so if you are interested in visiting New Zealand, particularly the North Island, these were some of the highlights for us. We went in February and it turned out it was just after schools went back in from holidays, and just before the hotels/attractions closed for the winter – February/March was great timing (check New Zealand school holiday calendars to get the post-holiday period).
Some notes first:
- We went to Christchurch first for DH’s work, so there are some south island references here
- We don’t like to spend a fortune on accommodation as we don’t spend much time in the room
- Black water rafting (we did the abyss)
- White island volcano tours:
- White Water Rafting near Rotorua:
http://www.riverrats.co.nz (we did Kaituna River)
- Taupo Lake was a bit touristy – but they have higher bungy jumping than Auckland (where I went) – See http://www.taupobungy.co.
During that trip (in 2013) we also visited:
- Cathedral Cove (in the Coromandels) – stunning
- The Waitomo Lodge was good, reasonably priced accommodation and made of plywood! This was DH’s favourite motel on the trip
- Christchurch Red Zone Tours (the earthquake zone, now called the rebuild zone)
- The Re:Start mall, Christchurch – a mall built out of shipping containers. Some cool shopping for those who like some alternative NZ products – http://www.restart.org.nz
- Russell (the north-most tip of NZ) and Waitangi (where the treaty between the Maoris and the British settlers were signed)
- Bungy jumping off the Auckland bridge with AJ Hacket – this is the company (or guy, I should say) that started it all, and I had a blast!
- The polynesian spa at Rotorua – Because of the thermal springs around Rotor, it is quite famous for its mineral baths
We rented a car in Auckland and drove the following route:
- Auckland to Russell
- Russell to Auckland
- Auckland – Waitomo (stayed in Te Kuiti)
- Te Kuiti to Rotorua (stopped in Taupo for lunch)
- Rotorua to Tauranga
- Tauranga to The Coromandels (we stayed in The Church, Hahei, went to Hot Water Beach, and Cathedral Cove – see link above)
- The Coromandels to Auckland
Accommodation was motels most of the way, booked through wotif, direct through the website of The Church @ Hahei, and booking.com.
Some things I’d change if I did it again:
- Breakfasts… we were idiots and did the cafe breakfasts most of the trip. They ran to $20-30 /head. We could have saved hundreds by carrying a collapsable cooler bag/esky (known as a chilly bin by Enzedders) and take our own from motel to motel, especially seeing as we were driving.
- Spend more time in the south. The whole visit-a-glacier-trip was always going to be a second holiday for us, but I should have gone whale watching while we were in Christchurch. Ah well, there are always more things to see. 🙂
- Seeing more of The Coromandels – we could have explored a lot more around the Bay of Islands. Awesome area.