I will be going to nz this feb and march, for 3 weeks. I will arrive at Auckland on 13th February, will stay there for one or two days. After that, head to South Island. I would like to spend three to four days in a place. The question is, I don't know where I should start. Anyone can recommend me which places shouldn’t I miss? Thanks.
Beginning on the north island, as you are, like i said the main highlight is the Tongariro Alpine crossing, it is a 19.4km hike across, as you would expect - alpine terrain. It is basically mordor and you would even have the opportunity to scale 'mount doom' (the weather had got too bad when i was there). Leave yourself a day for this for an easy pace anlthough it is easily acheivable in far less than the guide time. There are two options for the crossing - drive to the centre get a bus to the start and back from the finish or just drive to the finish and just get the bus to the start in the morning - however bear in mind that this is a hot spot for thieves. You can book everything at the visitor centre in Taupo. Whilst you're there check out the bungee just outside of town...one of the best i saw.
Rotorua is a fairly nice place although only really worth a visit if you plan on relaxing in one of the hot springs
Napier is a nice shore town, a walk along the front is well worth it and while you are in the area check out cape kidnappers - there is a walk along the beach to see 2 colonies of gannets, however must be done at certain times due to the tide, so check on that at a visitor centre! Also...how weird is the caravan park you go through to get to the walk..swings made from old tyres etc perculiar bunch ay!
Apart from that there is Wellington which you will obviously visit for the ferry, get there early and get up to the lookout - cant remember the name but you will find it! Lovely view and a chance to see one of the shortest runways at any commercial airport in the world!
Okay so now over to the south - there are literally too many opportunities here it bloody fantastic!
So straight of if you fancy getting out of the crowds and drive some of the best roads in the world head towards Nelson, along route 6 but take the turn off towards french pass, past okiwi bay and drive into the sounds. Out of this world. Past Nelson, which is lovely incidentally and well worth a walk up to the lookout point, there is Abel Tasman national park - just the drive to takaka is fantastic! Basically straight over a mountain - its spectacular! More info on the are is available there - do the cave thing its pretty damn cool!
So then, i came up the west coast well worth a stop at painakiki to see the rocks and where i saw the one and only wild kiwi - seemingly in the whole country! Greymouth is nothing special so continuing you get to the two glaciers! I didnt walk on them but apparently this is phenomenal! What i can recommend is stopping at the famous lake for fantastic reflection shots of mount cook. I cant quite remember the name but as around and you will easily find it. I believe it is just after Franz Josef (if you're heading south). Haast pass is enjoyable which leaves you in the area of: Wanaka/Queenstown
The lake is beautiful at wanaka, well worth a stop even if just to have a brew and take it all in. Plus if you fancy it - there is a nice cosy home style cinema along the front which serves beer and pizza!
So now queenstown - i dont think you need much on this, my only advice would be FERGBURGER! Get on the bambi!
The milford sound is breathtaking both the view and the drive - alothugh it is along way and you have to drive the same road back...which isnt always a bad thing! WOuld definately do it again personally! If you dont fancy going that far Te Anau is a lovely place to stop and look out for the raod callec 'wong way' :P
You mention the coast road to/from Invercargill - do it! Also the bluff - same old get up that look out!
I really liked dunedin - and a dive around the otago peninsula is well worth it - try to do both routes (one there, the other back) although the shore road is by far the most impressive!
So now you will continue north - i cant reccommend enough that you drive into the centre of the islandjust after Oamaru along route 83. You will arrive at Omarama. Now head along route 8 towards Lake tekapo - a detour toward mount cook is optional, it would really depend how much time you have! Nice but you will have seen mount cook in its glory from the west coast, especially at the lake! But this is really one of the best stretches of road i drove in the whole year! After tekapo is up to you have you plan your way to christchurch. Is all quite similar around here and im sure you can find something that interests you!
If you arrive in cc early a trip over to Akaroa wouldnt be regretted. Enjoy some nice fish and chips and possibly whale watch!
If you want any more info let me know, places to eat/stop for the night etc let me know! Hope you get this okay!
Take it easy
Thanks for your info Mike, it is very useful, appreciate that
I will start planning my journey. If I want more info, I will let you know.