Hi to everyone out there, Ive been travelling for 4 months now in Asia and Australia and going to New Zealand at the end of the week. I wondered if anyone could give me any advice as to what is really good to do there. Starting with Auckland as thats where Im flying in.
Wow, where do I start?
For the record, Auckland is the only 'real' city in New Zealand. Don't say that to people from Wellington or Christchurch, as they'll probably be upset, but the truth is New Zealand has a population of just 4 million people, and Auckland and its suburbs are home to 3 million!
So if you like that sort of atmosphere about a place, then stay a while and look around.
Rotorua is a couple of hours drive south and is a must, for its thermal parks and Maori experiences. That said, I went to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds near Paihia up in Northland (about 3hrs north of Auckland) and it was exceptional. This is the place where the original treaty between Maori and Pakeha (europeans) was signed.
In the middle of the North Island, lies Tongariro NP, with Mt Ruapehu in the middle - looking like a slightly smaller Kilimanjaro. It is actually Mt Doom from LOTR, and you can see why. It's a ski destination in the right season I think.
If you stop at Waitomo Caves (Zip-wires in the dark, rubber rings in underground rivers) then look up Te Tiro cabins - 2 well equipped wooden sheds overlooking the volcanic wilderness, with glowworm caves outside. Stunning.
Wellington is a popular place and is said to have a good 'buzz', but I have no personal experience of the place.
The South Island is where you have to go for natural splendour, and less traffic. Camping or motorhoming is the ideal way to do it, as you have to move on pretty regularly to see it all. Christchurch is a pretty place, but you might not need long to see it. To its east, the Akaroa peninsula is very scenic. To the north of Christchurch, Kaikoura is the place for whale-watching, although there are no guarantees.
Further south, you have to go to Queenstown - for action and adrenaline, skiing, and also natural beauty. But not peace!
Nearby Te Anua is a tranquil spot and just as beautiful, and a good base to explore Fjordland (SW), especially Milford Sound - the drive to which is one of the most scenic you will ever see.
Further up the west coast are Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, but again I didn't get to those myself.
Feel free to ask any more!
I'm off to NZ for three weeks at the beginning of Feb, have one week driving around with my parents and then two weeks backpacking with my boyfriend. Thanks for giving me some ideas! As a matter of interest, how long were you there for? Will I get to see much in three weeks?
Thanks again for the help!
Thanks for that, sounds really good, Im just hoping I can get it all into 2 weeks. Sounds like its going to be a bit of a push.
While Stevieh has good intentions I think he may have received some of his false information from Aucklanders. I am also a semi-Aucklander and have never lived in Christchurch or Wellington, but feel it is important to clear up that only 1,300,000 people (1/3 of the poulation of NZ) live in Auckland. Another 3rd live in the rest of the North Island, and the remainder are blessed and live in the South Island.
Mt Ruapehu was not Mt. Doom, it's nearby neighbour Mt. Ngarahoe was. Ruapehu is however home to 2 major ski fields in the winter season between May and September.
You wont get to see a lot in two weeks unless you really rush about, and that may be a mistake. I recently visited Ireland for just one week (jessianne) and in that time went from Dublin to Cork, Cork to Killarny, round the Ring of Kerry, north to Galway and then back to Dublin. It was far too rushed to appreciate all of these places. Don't make my mistake.
I would be inclined to accept that you are only going to have time for one island, and not all of it. If you choose to stay in the North Island and visit scenic beaches and the volcanic central plataeu (Tongaririo National Park) then I recommend looking at the Coromandel and Northland.
If you are interested to see the mountains, lakes and natural beauty of the South Island then rent a car and drive from Nelson down the West Coast to Queenstown and the accross to Christchurch. I would be inclined to fly from Auckland to Nelson, then back to Auckland from Christchurch for such a trip.
I hope that some of this helps. I wish I could give you an extra few weeks as a gift.