How To Make The Most Of A Long Weekend In Auckland

For a lot of travellers arriving in New Zealand, Auckland will be your first port of call after you get off that long flight! The misconception, I know we certainly had when we first visited NZ was that there wasn’t a lot to do in Auckland, the longer we lived (1.5 years in total!) in Auckland the more we discovered this wasn’t quite true.

Auckland certainly is a great place to base yourself for your first 2-3 nights in NZ as you adjust to a new country and time zone. Or if you’re like us and just want to visit the city for the weekend (something we did recently now that we live in Wellington) we do have a few suggestions of what you can do during a long weekend in Auckland:

Friday – You long weekend in Auckland starts here, Welcome to The City of Sails!

long weekend getaway to auckland

If you’re coming from the airport, its easier to just jump in a taxi upon arrival, the new motorway from the airport to the CBD (which opened last year) has sped up the time it takes getting to the city. Yes, you could wait around for a shuttle, but you would be roughly paying around the same price, and the shuttle doesn’t take you to the door!

On this occasion we decided to travel the slow way to Auckland from Wellington, we decided to take the North Explorer, the North Islands only rail service.

Why? Did I hear you ask! Well, we had time on our hands and thought it would be a good way to see some more stunning scenery of the North Island that we had not yet done before. I wouldn’t recommend it if you were a visitor to this country for a few weeks as you would be skipping out on a lot of the best bits of the North Island, but it is certainly a great way to travel for domestic tourists.

The journey in total was 10 hours and it was the most incredibly relaxing way to reach Auckland in our opinion, we were more tired on our return journey flying back to Wellington with Air New Zealand.  It must be something to do with airports, they can be just too stressful! Here is a little video of what we got up to on the North Explorer!

For us, the best place to stay in our opinion in Auckland is either in a centrally located Air B&B (close to the harbour) or one of the Waldorf Apartment Hotels. They are cheap, (but not too cheap), comfortable, clean and central.

Use your arrival day to get acquainted with the beautiful waterfront of Auckland. From the ferry terminal, you can walk all along the water’s edge, past the beautiful Wynyard Quarter (lots of great cafes and bars to choose from here) around to Silo Park (in the summer they put on free movies here, its great) and around towards Westhaven Drive and the Harbour Bridge. An even better idea would be to hire a bike and cycling the fully pedestrianized route in half the time.

Other great central parts of Auckland that are worth exploring on this day or another day would be Auckland War Memorial Museum, a must for any history lover and Auckland’s Sky Tower (you can’t miss this from the skyline of Auckland!). The telecommunications and observatory tower is home to SKYCITY entertainment complex with many bars and restaurants and even a casino. There’s a lift that will take you to the top to check out the incredible views of Auckland and if you want you can also jump off the building and walk around the top of the tower!

sky tower goingnz
A Must Do: Auckland’s Sky Jump

For dinner and drinks, we suggest anywhere in Britomart. It’s not just a train station anymore! This area has been revitalised with a small shopping mall and lots of bars and eateries overlooking the water. If you want somewhere romantic check out XuXu Bar, it’s quite hidden and down a side alley, their cocktails are incredible and the dumplings are just the perfect match!

Saturday – Explore the Hauraki Gulf:

Waiheke Island
Wine O’Clock of Waiheke Island

No trip to Auckland is complete without getting out on the water and exploring the harbour. We certainly think you have to visit Waiheke Island. We LOVE Waiheke Island, when we lived in Auckland we would always jump at any opportunity to visit the island. The island is just a short 35 minute ferry ride away but offers you a completely different pace of life! If you want a taster of what NZ is like outside of Auckland then visit Waiheke Island. To check out what to get up to on Waiheke click on our article here.

Another great island that we love is Rangitoto Island. It is basically an extinct volcano in the middle of the harbour. Fullers ferries will get you there is less than 20 minutes, take a packed lunch (as there is nowhere to buy lunch on the island) and go off and explore at your own pace. The most popular thing to do here is to climb to the top (takes about an hour) to the lookout spot, but we also love taking the detours to other sections of the island, don’t worry though, you can’t get lost!

Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island – A great day trip

Other ways to explore the harbour would be by the Americas Cup sailing experience (we are yet to try, but hear it’s great) or by getting out west to The Riverhead Tavern. An awesome pub/restaurant that offers some really great outdoor seating. Every Saturday they run a cruise that departs from the ferry terminal, it’,s a great way to see the harbour in all its glory!

 

Do what the locals do We personally love heading to where the locals go whilst we are on vacation and this boat cruise and an afternoon at their restaurant really does tick those boxes!

For evening activities, we would suggest staying late on Waiheke Island if possible to enjoy dinner at one of Waiheke’s best vineyards (we love Mudbrick and Cable Bay) or restaurants as the last ferry returns at 10 pm or if you chose one of the other harbour options above, then dinner and drinks at the Wynyard Quarter would be a good alternative!

Sunday: Discover More – Get Further.

Mission Bay – Simply Beautiful

The one thing we miss about Auckland now we live in Wellington really has to be the beaches! We never even knew that Auckland had some spectacular beaches until about 6 months into our 1.5 year stay in Auckland. We suggest using your last morning/afternoon in Auckland to get further out of Auckland and explore the surrounding areas of this beautiful region. Our favourite beaches are:

Devonport, North Shore: This is a lovely little settlement just opposite the ferry terminal, the other side of the harbour bridge. The best way to get there is by jumping on the Fullers commuter ferry to Devonport which takes around 20 minutes. The white sandy beaches right next to the ferry terminal is a great spot to watch the world go by for a few hours!

Mission Bay: Mission Bay is a very popular place with the locals of Auckland. You can get here by taking bus number 61 from the ferry terminal. Or better yet if you hire a bike you can cycle along the waterfront (there are cycle lanes) to Mission Bay in under 20 minutes. The white sandy beaches here are swimming friendly as well as family friendly. We also love this place as it has our favourite bar just across the road, a Belgian beer bar!

Out West, Piha, Bethalls Beach and Murawai: If you have a car then West really is Best! If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city this is a great option, it is just 40 minutes from the city centre. It has some of the best black sand beaches in the region and is very popular for surfing. Every time we head out this way we get reminded why we love Auckland’s beaches so much!

Do you have a tip to share from your long weekend trip to Auckland? Feel free to share them in the comments below! 

Marlborough & The Abel Tasman 10 Day Itinerary

In March 2018, we had the absolute delight in hosting Dawn’s parents in New Zealand for their second time to New Zealand. When we asked Dawn’s mum “Where do you want to return to this time around” before Dawn could even finish the question the reply was “The Abel Tasman”

Of course, it wasn’t hard to convince us not to return, it’s something about those white sandy beaches that make us feel like we are in paradise. So back to paradise we went!

This time around when the parents were visiting we decided to travel at a much slower pace and concentrate on two regions of the South Island instead of travelling the whole length of the South Island like we did back in 2016. This is the 10-day route that we travelled from Wellington.

Watch our video here to see what we got up to!

The Route:

top of south island

Highlights of this itinerary include:

  • The Queen Charlotte Track, hiking, and biking;
  • Pelorus Bridge;
  • Havelock;
  • A visit to Rabbit Island;
  • Numerous days of adventure at The Abel Tasman National Park;
  • An overnight stay at Awaroa Lodge;
  • Wine tasting in Blenheim’s top vineyards;

Please Note: This is not a sponsored post we embarked on this trip with our family and all views are based on our observations and experiences.

Want to explore more of the South Island? We got you covered – check out our 10 day itinerary of the South Island

 

Day 1: Ferry to Picton

We took a mid-morning Bluebridge ferry from Wellington Picton as we had decided to take our car over – perks of living in Wellington! The ferry ride itself wasn’t a bad journey, it was a calm sailing all the way. We kept ourselves busy by taking photos of the Wellington coastline as we left and the Marlborough Sounds as we arrived. We enjoyed the coffee on board and the TV Room.

However, it is important to note that do allow for more time than you think is necessary.  Our ferry on this occasion was late leaving thus late arriving, a 3-hour journey turned into a 5-hour crossing. It seemed to take them ages to unload and load us all, boredom was truly setting in! We were glad that our accommodation was only 25 minutes outside of Picton in a small settlement called Anakiwa.

As travelling days go this was quite a long one so I would advise you all not to underestimate the extra time it does take to make the crossing. It is timely and with the number of cars/cargo/lorries, they have to load and unload it does test your patience!

Top Tip:If you can take the ferry as a foot passenger we do recommend it, foot passengers were on first got the best seats on the ferry and off first – much quicker!

Wellington Ferry
Goodbye Wellington…

Day 2: Discovering Anakiwa & The Marlborough Sounds

Due to the impending turn of the weather, it seemed this was our only day to explore the Queen Charlotte Track. So, there we were thinking we were in for a leisurely morning of bacon and eggs instead by 10 am we were on the track trekking to Davies Bay.

Our accommodation came with some Kayaks and Mountain Bikes that we could use. So, whilst Isaac cycled the track (which you can easily do in the summer months when its dry) and got further we only went as far as Davies Bay (a two-hour return walk) and enjoyed a picnic lunch at a more leisurely pace!

Unfortunately, the heavens opened late into the afternoon. Our dreams of kayaking the bays vanished.

Top Tip:Anakiwa turned out to be a great base for walkers wanting to walk sections of the track as a ferry runs daily to certain points along the track. It was also considerably cheaper than staying in Picton.

Anakiwa
Rainy day at Anakiwa

Day 3: Pelorus Sounds & Kenepuru Sounds

The weather really did put a dampener on our experience of the sounds, we did plan to take a cruise and explore more of the sounds on foot, but it was a very wet day for us, so we decided to hop in the car and drive the incredibly scenic drive of the Queen Charlotte Drive & Kenepuru Sounds, taking plenty of stops for photographs. We would certainly suggest this as a great alternative for a wet day activity.

For dinner, we decided to eat at Havelock just a 25-minute drive from our accommodation. The Captains Daughter was our choice and we can highly recommend. It has very cosy and friendly atmosphere which was welcomed by us especially on the wet and windy day we were having!

Day 4: Travel to Motueka (2 hours & 15-minute drive)

This was our second travelling day of the vacation, as we had previously explored Havelock the day before in the rain our pit stop as such as Pelorus Bridge and the Café. We reminisced as this was one of the first stops we visited back in 2010 when we explored NZ on an epic 6-month road trip! Nothing had changed much!

We took a short 45-minute loop walk through the bush and along the river and enjoyed a quick coffee at the café before getting back on the road.

We had forgotten how incredible this drive is to Nelson! As soon as you drive over the hill you reach Nelson and the highway basically follows the sea all the around the bay. It’s an incredible coastline!

Our lunchtime stop was Jester House located on Aporo Road just off the highway as you get closer to Motueka. We were told by some friends to visit Jester House and to allow at least two hours there, we stayed for three! Jester House is a true kiwi gem. Their café was set up twenty years ago and is in the most beautifully presented gardens. They grow all their own fruit and veg and their love of food really is reflected in their menu.

It’s family friendly as well, they had a treehouse (yes I had to climb it!) with a slide, a children’s play area and a place where you can feed the ‘tame’ eels. Hours of fun to be had!

Pelorus Bridge
Beautiful Pelorus Bridge

Day 5: A day exploring Rabbit Island

As we knew we were spending a good time in the Abel Tasman National Park in the days to come we took the opportunity to venture further and explore a bit more of the Nelson coastline.

Rabbit Island is a small island located just 20 minutes from Nelson connected by a bridge. Cars are able to easily access the beach and its forested woodland. We had an incredible day relaxing at the beach (the sun was shining for us now!), swimming, going on long circular walks in the woods and enjoyed a picnic.

Top Tip:If you want to avoid the tourist trail then Rabbit Island is the place for you. The visitors to the island were clearly all kiwis (who else brings buses to be beach and camps up for the day?!) so we had a very relaxing local’s day!

Beach day at Rabbit Island
Beach day at Rabbit Island

Day 6: Kaiteriteri – Beach sunbathing

The weather had really started to pick up for us now, we were officially in vacation mode and loved every minute of the sunshine poking down at us! We decided to spend the day beach sunbathing at Kaiteriteri. But little did we know we had picked a day for the local fun run, the beach was packed!

We headed over too Little Kaiteriteri beach which was a lot quieter. Our afternoon was spent at the Sprig & Fern at Motueka’s craft beer bar, who doesn’t love a beer in the afternoon sunshine!

Kaiteriteri
View of Kaiteriteri

Day 7: Awaroa Lodge & Awaroa Inlet

This was the day we were all looking forward to the most and we were praying for the good weather to hold out, and it certainly did!

We took the 9:00 am Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles ferry to Awaroa Inlet from Kaiteriteri. I managed to get everyone there early (8.30) to check in and we were glad that we did as at 8.30 am no one was there queueing to check in but within 10 minutes the queues were around the block!

As we guessed the popularity of Abel Tasman has increased. After a bit of confusion of which boat we were on, putting up with a large queue to get on the ferry we were on our way!

Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles had very good commentary of the coastline, we got to see Split Apple Rock and as we headed up the coastline we really felt like we got a good tour of the Abel Tasman, as well as just a shuttle service.

Split Apple Rock
Split Apple Rock

Our accommodation for the night was at Awaroa Lodge, a four-star lodge in the middle of the bush a short 5-minute walk from the beach. Well, at least it would have been a 5-minute walk if the storm that hit the region a few weeks prior hadn’t damaged the wooden platform meaning the only way to get to the lodge was via a longer 20-minute walk, at least it was flat and sheltered!

We spent our morning exploring the Awaroa Inlet before the tide took it over and stranded us and we spent the afternoon climbing up to the viewpoint and walking a section of the great walk. The views up here of the inlet were incredible and we even came across a sketchy placed swing, which of course we had to try out!

Awaroa Lodge has two dining options, their outside Pizzeria or their in-house restaurant. As the evenings were getting considerably cooler we opted for the in-house restaurant, with no plans to consume a 3-course meal, but the food was so scrumptious we did overindulge slightly!

Our evening was topped off with a glow-worm spotting excursion of the wetlands, it was a beautifully clear night, one we will remember for a long time.

Top Tip:If you can stay overnight at the Abel Tasman National Park we strongly recommend it. In the evening all the day trippers have left and you get to enjoy the park the right way.

Chalet at Awaroa Lodge
Chalet at Awaroa Lodge

Day 8: Leaving paradise, travel to Blenheim. (2 hours & 45-minute drive)

Today it was time to leave paradise and head back to civilisation. We decided to stay in Blenheim for two nights so the journey back to Wellington wasn’t quite so lengthy.

We had a beautiful full English breakfast at Awaroa Lodge and made our own way back to the beach to await the ferry. We had to wait a long time at the beach for our ferry as the ferry was delayed but we didn’t mind too much as the sun was shining and the beach is so beautiful!

It was a quicker journey back to the mainland and we picked up our car which we had left safely in Kaiteriteri for the night. We didn’t reach Blenheim until well after 4 pm though, so if you do decide to do this route do bear in mind that most ferry departures from the Abel Tasman leave after the first schedule of their day. As their priority is getting the day trippers out and about in the park and they pick you up on the way home.

Top Tip:If you are going to have an overnight trip in the Abel Tasman then stay in Nelson the following night. The drive to Blenheim with the scenic stops was longer than we had expected!

Bye Bye Abel Tasman
Bye Bye Abel Tasman

Day 9: Wine O’clock – Blenheim

This was our day to get out and explore the incredible international renowned vineyards of New Zealand. We had our designated driver (so important) Dawn’s father (he pulled the short straw) and summer dresses (boys as well!) at the ready.

Brancott Estate was our first stop. Now this vineyard wasn’t originally on our radar as we didn’t really want to visit a well-known brand and wanted to try something a little bit different. But you really can’t fault their location and their presence in the industry.

Their website claimed to have a Heritage centre but all we saw was a T.V room where you watch a 6-minute video on the history of Brancott, that was not so impressive, but the wine tasting one on and one attention we received was outstanding.

There were 3 different wine tasting options, one for $5, one for $10 and one for $15, we opted for all three so we could all taste something a bit different. Of course, we left with a bottle or two – or three! As it makes the tasting free!

Top Tip:Let’s just say we were quite happy at 11.30 in the morning, as we were leaving the place was filling up so we would recommend coming to Brancott early to avoid the crowds.

The second vineyard on our agenda was Highfield Estate mainly for its Chateau-like building, they weren’t as attentive as Brancott but a lovely girl served us and for $5 we got to taste more than 3 wines each.

We weren’t as fond of these wines as much as we had hoped but you could certainly see this place was soon filling up, what we read online that this was the place to come for lunch.

The third vineyard and our lunchtime stop was Wither Hills, located on the main road but you really don’t notice it as they have built an enclosed beautifully landscaped courtyard. This time our wine tasting was done sitting down at a table. We felt less rushed this way and I think we all enjoyed it more for this reason. The lady was very attentive, gave us a map of the region which really helped when she explained about where the grapes were from!

After our wine tasting, we moved into the restaurant area and overindulged in large sharing mixed platter and of course a bottle of wine! It certainly was the definition of long lunch and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Wine Tasting in Blenheim
Wine Tasting in Blenheim

Day 10: Return back to Wellington

It was time to leave the beautiful South Island for another year. We filled our car with all the beautiful bottles of wine we had purchased the day before and took the early morning Bluebridge ferry back to Wellington. But it was worth it as this time we were on time and back at home by 1 pm, right in time for a spot of lunch!

There you have it, the Top of the South Island in 10 days, looking back, if we had to do it all over again we would have:

  • Stayed in Kaiteriteri instead of Motueka (nicer and more to do locally);
  • Stayed an extra night in Nelson after the Abel Tasman;
  • Not underestimate the time it takes to get from A-B!
  • Eat at Jester House more than once and;
  • Visited Golden Bay, which was originally on the agenda but unfortunately the storm that hit the region a few weeks beforehand meant the road was closed for repair.

Until Next Time South Island!

Visiting the North Island too? We got you covered – check out our Check out our 10 day itinerary for your North Island road trip!

Napier & Hawkes Bay Travel Guide

If you talk to your friends about how great NZ wine is then you are probably going to want to visit Hawkes Bay & Napier, NZ premium wine growing region. As you approach the Hawkes Bay region you start to drive along long (and we mean long) and wide roads where each side of the road is either an orchard or a vineyard. The beautifully flat plains along with its Mediterranean style climate (the temperature in Napier was 32 degrees whilst we were there!) makes this region the destination for wine, relaxation, a spot of cycling and a bit of beach hopping.

The city of Napier is a waterfront city renowned for it’s 1930s Art Deco architecture it is like stepping back in time! The city has a splendor of Art Deco Buildings along a long stretch of promenade following the beach.

We last visited Napier over 8 years so we were keen to revisit and see what had changed.

Don’t forget to watch our video of our time spent in this beautiful region, we had the best weather and had a blast!

 

 

 

Please Note: This is not a sponsored post we recently visited Napier whilst visiting family that live in the region. We have been twice now since our time in NZ and all views are based on our observations and experiences.

Napier Accommodation Options:

Napier has an array of different accommodation options for all types of budgets. We camped both times we visited this region (towards Cape Kidnappers) but we came across a small suburb of Napier this time around called Ahuriri. We thought this would be a great location to recommend to our reader, far enough away from the city that you aren’t in the actual hustle and bustle but close enough that you can drive too. Ahuriri has a lovely beachfront café and bar culture and a good safe, family friendly vibe about it. They even had freedom camping spots available at the car park!

Things to do in Napier:

Napier Waterfront, Beaches & Art Deco Buildings:

Napier Marine Parade
Beautiful Gardens at Napier’s Marine Parade

We were impressed with how much the promenade has expanded and developed since we were last here. Along the waterfront which is also home to a long stretch of beach you will find beautiful shady gardens, incredibly well constructed Art Deco Buildings, a children’s park, a skate park, a mini-golf club, a safe place for the kids to ride their bikes, walking tracks, fitness apparatus, and a outdoor swimming pool. We have probably missed something but trust us when we say there really is something for everyone along the Marine Parade and we are lead to believe it’s not even completed yet!

Te Mata Peak:

Te Mata Peak
Te Mata Peak You Beauty

A drive out to Te Mata Peak is a must. You can’t even explain how those hills were formed, think hobbit hills times a hundred! On a clear day all, you can see if hills for as far as the eyes can see. We went up at sunset when it was a little bit quieter and it really was quite magical.

Bluff Hill Viewpoint:

bluff hill napier
Tree loving at Bluff Hill Lookout

This is the lookout point between Ahuriri and Napier’s Marine Parade. It’s worth going up here as you can see the whole of Hawkes Bay and you can get your bearings of the region whilst up here.

Napier Wineries:

Craggy Range
Craggy Range

Visiting some of Napier’s wineries is a must whilst you are in the region. Along Marine Parade you will see a lot of shops offering cycling hire. This is because the region is very flat and cycling to the vineyards is a good afternoon activity to take part in. Most of them are self-guided (they give you a map!) but some are guided. Our two favourite vineyards in the region have to be Craggy Range (simply for its view of Te Mata Peak) and Mission Estate (they do the best Pinot Noir).

MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum & Theatre Galley:

This is a museum based along the Marine Parade (of course!) in central Napier. It certainly is a good rainy day activity, on the bottom floor you can learn and watch videos/ see photos of the historic 1931 earthquake that hit the city. It really is quite incredible to see how they restored the city after the tragedy. We only popped in for half an hour (to escape the heat!) but we would certainly return. Oh, and it is also free to enter, who doesn’t like free!

Cape Kidnappers:

We have never been to Cape Kidnappers, so can’t comment too much on this! But if you’re into nature and want to visit a Seal Colony it’s worth the excursion. You can’t get here your self though (well you can, you can walk the beach but we got told it’s 5 hours one way) so a tour is required. It’s certainly up there on the NZ must do list!

Don’t Miss – Napier’s Art Deco Festival:

Napier Art Deco Festival
Yes, he did read the book the whole time.

And if you visit in February (like we did in 2010) then make sure you visit during Napier’s annual Art Deco Festival. This is when the whole city comes alive, and it truly is like stepping back in time! The whole street is lined with 1930’s classic cars, people are dressed for the occasion and in the evening the street party begins! We had no idea this festival was happening when we visited 8 years ago, but we danced the night away in our poor attempt of 1930’s fancy dress and had a blast!

Napier Art Deco Festival
Evening Street Party at Napier Art Deco Festival

Enjoy Guys!

Did you enjoy this article? We also have comprehensive guides on most destinations around the North Island check out our travel map for more articles like this.

New Zealand Accommodation Guide & Cost’s

From luxury lodges, 5 star centrally located hotels, 4-star family hosted unique B&B’s, 3-star motel style accommodation, backpackers or cute Kiwi Bach’s NZ really does have it all!

Of course which options you choose all does come down to your budget. Each style of New Zealand accommodation offers something unique whether it be the location, the outstanding facilities or simply because they offer some classic kiwi hospitality. If you are wondering what style you can afford please use the below as a guide.

It’s difficult to give you an exact across the board cost for each style as costs do vary from region to region. For example, popular destinations like Queenstown will be more expensive than say the small but quaint town of Punakaiki, so do bear this in mind when you factor accommodation into the cost of your trip.

You could always mix it up and stay all of them at least once – after all, it’s all part of the fun when visiting NZ!

 

Backpackers:

Price Range: $70 – $140 NZD per night for private room.

YHA Rotorua

A dorm room or private room in a New Zealand hostel is your option here. They can come with ensuite rooms or shared bathrooms. All have shared kitchen facilities and modern facilities. If you are more of the adventurous type and love meeting new people from all walks of life they can be a great option for the budget conscious traveler! We have previously stayed in Base hostels and YHA’s nationwide and have come across all ages of people, they certainly are not just for the youngsters!

Kiwi Bach’s:

Price Range: $150 – $250 per night

kiwi bach
Beautifully unique kiwi bach near Nelson

If you want to holiday like a kiwi this would give you a truly authentic experience. BookaBach (the kiwi version of Air BnB) would be your go-to site to find kiwi’s holiday homes that they rent out when they aren’t using them. Perfect if you are traveling with a family or don’t want to be bothered whilst vacationing.

Motels.

Price Range: $140- $250 NZD per night.

motel accomodation
Your typical style of Motel’s throughout NZ.

Motels in New Zealand are often a little further out of the town centers, but they are really great value for money. They often will have free parking, free wifi, and a kitchen (or kitchenette) with the option of either one/two or three bedroom apartments with all the amenities you would need. They are great for an overnight stop to recharge your batteries before continuing the road trip the next day.

Family Hosted Bed & Breakfasts.

Price Range: $180-$250 NZD per night.

morepork lodge
Greeted with a glass wine at the Morepork Lodge, Paihia.

Kiwi’s are famed for their hospitality, if you want to meet the locals then this is the best way. They have converted and opened up their family homes to ensure you get a stay in NZ you won’t forget. They often only have 2-4 rooms, offer breakfast the next day as well as free parking and free wifi. This is a great option if you are after a more personalised service whilst in NZ.

 

4-5 Star Hotel’s.

Price Range: $220-$380 NZD per night

The Martinborough Hotel
One of our favourites, The Martinborough Hotel in Martinborough!

If you want the service without paying through the nose then hotels are a great choice. Rooms are often large, the hotels very centrally located and have the service to match. You can opt for a room only price range or room and breakfast. Often they will have all the facilities you need, a gym, a swimming pool, restaurants, and bars. Don’t expect free wifi or free parking though, they usually charge extra for these.

Luxury Lodges & Exclusive Private Retreats.

Price Range: $350 – $1,500 NZD per night. More if the retreat is all yours!

luxury lodge NZ
Luxury Accommodation at Mudbrick Vineyard on Waiheke Island, Auckland

NZ is fortunate to have some of the best scenery in the world, mix this with Kiwi hospitality with lodges in the most stunning remote locations imaginable and you will get the best of the best. Luxury Lodges in New Zealand will often only have a few rooms allowing for a more personalized service.

Amenities such as swimming pools, full meal options, spa treatments will be at your fingertips, you will be relaxed the moment you walk through the door and feel like royalty all at the same time!

Something Different?

Price Range: Depends on the style.

Treehouse at Hapuku Lodge, Kaikoura

Think Glamping, Glass Pods, Treehouses, Hobbit Houses accommodation and Farm Stays. NZ really has an incredible range of unique styled accommodation, designs you could only dream of! A quick google search of the above keywords will certainly bring up the types of places we are talking about. If you want a few tips just get in touch!

Camping & Freedom Camping.

Price Range:$24 – $55 per night for 2 people, possibly even FREE.

camping in NZ
Waterfront freedom camping spot in Wanaka

The camping culture is huge in NZ. Kiwi’s will often spend weeks upon end camping at their favourite campsites and return year upon year. Facilities differ from campsite to campsite. The Top 10 brand undeniably have the best facilities nationwide but they are also usually the most expensive. There is a great App that we love called CamperMate that you can download to find the campsites upon your route. In the busier months arriving before 3pm to get a spot (more so relevant if you haven’t booked) is a good idea.

Freedom Camping is also an option if you have a campervan/Motorhome. Basically, if you are fully self-contained you can camp in designated spots for free. To find out more information on both options above check out our guide to Freedom Camping.

 

The Ultimate New Zealand Adventure Itinerary

For our next instalment of our Ultimate Itinerary Series, we thought we would put together all of the best adventure activities that this beaautiful country has to offer! After all, New Zealand is an adventurer’s playground that can be consumed quite comfortably in 14 day, 14-night itinerary. This itinerary doesn’t include every region in NZ as you would certainly need longer than 14 days but this route does include the best award-winning adventure activities that we think you should not miss!

Queenstown is often referred to NZ’s adventure capital so with no time to spare this is where you should start! After an adrenaline filled couple of days in Queenstown we suggest you embark on a road trip of a lifetime in a campervan or a hire car concluding your journey in Auckland.

Not feeling so adventurous? If you would like some other itinerary ideas we got you covered – check out our 10 North Island Itinerary, our 10 South Island Itinerary. And our incredible See It All in 30 days itinerary.

Top Tip: If you want more information on each particular region/destination that we mention then do click on the hyperlinks within this article as it will link you through to our much more in-depth articles on that particular region/destination.

Please Note: All views are our own, this is not a sponsored post and as we have done the majority of these activities that is why we can confidently recommend the suppliers and the activities to you!

The Route:

Queenstown to nelson Goingnz

rotoruatoauckland goingnz

 

Highlights of this itinerary include:

  • Bungy jumping the world’s first commercial bungee jump over the Kawarau River with AJ Hackett in Queenstown;
  • White Water Rafting on the Shotover River;
  • Kayak and explore the Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park at sunset;
  • Heli Hiking the Franz Josef glacier;
  • Kayak and hiking in the Abel Tasman National Park;
  • Get off-road in Rotorua
  • Embrace your fears – skydiving in Taupo!
  • Canyoning in the Coromandel perhaps the most challenging adventure of your trip!
  • Black Water Rafting in NZ’s cave country, Waitomo.

The Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive at Queenstown, go Bungee jumping!

Most international flights will arrive in Auckland if you have an early morning arrival we suggest flying straight down to Queenstown upon arrival and transfer to your accommodation of your choice for a two-night stay. You really wouldn’t require a car for your time in Queenstown as the town is so compact and most of the activity providers will offer free transfers to the place where the activity actually is based.

In the afternoon, we suggest you hit the ground jumping, quite literally! With a bungee jump at the Kawarau Bridge courtesy of AJ Hackett. Transfers will be organised from Queenstown.

bungee jump Goingnz
Fancy dipping your head in that?!

Day 2: Explore the best of the best in Queenstown:

In the morning, we guarantee you will be thankful for a lie in, the jet lag may have caught up with you! If you are still feeling adventuress you could try your hand at the new crazes- Flyboarding or even White Water Sledging! Or how about something a bit more romantic? A Hot Air Balloon ride over the Otago region with champagne breakfast included.

No trip to Queenstown is complete without a trip out to the Shotover River. The jet boating excursion here is really popular but we loved getting soaked whilst White Water Rafting the Shotover River. Or for the real daredevils they even off a Heli Rafting option!

Queenstown Going NZ
Your options are truly endless in Queenstown

Day 3: Travel to Te Anau, Explore Milford:

On this day pick up your campervan/ hire car and travel to Milford Sound (4-hour drive) for an overnight stay in the Fiordland National Park. In the afternoon Explore Milford Sound with a difference. A sunset kayak and Rosco’s Milford Kayak on the Milford Sound, this is the best way of avoiding the crowds and see the sound at its best. Return to Te Anau for an overnight stay to break up your drive to Wanaka the following day,

picture of milford sound, new zealand
Milford sound awaits

Day 4: Stunning Wanaka:

Wanaka is often now given enough credit than its neighbour, Queenstown. However, there is still plenty of adventurous activities in this small lakeside town to make your overnight stay worthwhile. Something really fun and different would be the U Flying activity that Wanaka offers. It’s a chance to see Mt Aspiring in a unique and different way, whilst flying your own plane J

Day 5: Travel to Franz Josef Glacier – Road Trip!

Now the real fun begins…Road Trip! An early start to travel to Haast Pass all the way to Franz Josef Glacier (4-hour drive tops). In the afternoon embark on a helicopter trip of a lifetime. Heli Hike the Franz Josef glacier – finishing in their hot pools (which is included in the package) to wind down after an exhilarating day.

dawn and isaac franz
Exploring the Glaciers is a must.

Day 6: Explore Punakaiki

Travel to Punakaiki (3-hour drive) to explore the west coast and world famous Pancake Rocks. Maybe even explore the tremendous caves that Punakaiki has to offer.  Or for something a little bit different we recommend a two-hour horse trek along the beach.

Pancake Rocks Going NZ
The West Coast is not to be missed.

Day 7: Fall in love with The Abel Tasman National Park.

Travel to Abel Tasman National Park (3-hour drive), ditch the car/campervan and explore the Abel Tasman the right way. There are overnight kayaking and walking trips you can do in this beautifully stunning national park. We suggest staying overnight in Kaiteriteri ready for an early start in the morning.

Day 8 & 9: Get off the beaten track in the Abel Tasman National Park

Wilson’s offer overnight kayaking and walking trips within the park itself, with all transfer at each end so you won’t have to worry about a thing. They also have access to the most beautiful lodges if you want your stay to be extra special. If you don’t mind a bit of camping then we recommend Abel Tasman Kayaks as they offer overnight walking, kayaking and camping trips within the park. They even supply all the equipment, all you have to do is bring your own food!

Kayaking Abel Tasman GoingNZ
A Kayak trip through Abel Tasman National Park is a must.

Day 10: Travel to Rotorua

Return your Campervan or hire car at Nelson Airport and to save time we suggest flying to Rotorua (via Wellington). Pick up a small hire car in Rotorua and discover the incredible geothermal activity that the region has to offer. Rotorua is the North Island answer to Queenstown, with a list of adventure activities as long as my arm! Off Road NZ have to offer the best 4WD adventure in the North Island, you even get to drive the car, it’s pretty fun! We also suggest getting off the beaten track and discovering the geothermal hot spots at these free locations around the city!

 

 

Off Road NZ
Get off the beaten path with Off Road NZ

Off roading isn’t for everyone, if you’d prefer to go mountain biking for the day Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Red Woods Mountain Bike Park has New Zealand’s finest mountain biking.

Day 11: Get Crazy in Taupo.

Time to get crazy…Sky Dive in Taupo (1-hour drive from Rotorua) the cheapest place in the world to sky drive. Your choice of options, 12,000ft or 15,000 ft., video and photo packages also available. It is pretty epic!

skydive goingnz
Us, just before we took the leap of faith.

Day 12: Visit the Coromandel Peninsula

Travel to the Coromandel Region (3.5-hour drive) – brace yourself for the best canyoning adventure in NZ around. The Sleeping God canyon tour is a vertical descent of over 300 metres, abseil, and jump and challenge yourself! You will have to leave Rotorua for this excursion as it is an all-day activity but it is certainly worth it!

Day 13: Travel to Waitomo

Travel to Waitomo, cave country to try your hand at Black Water Rafting, caving with a difference! You will tube through the majestic Ruakuri Cave and float underground in the river in rubber tubes, through in a few waterfalls and drops and it can get pretty exciting!

Day 14: Discover Auckland

End your vacation the exact way you started it – with a jump. Embark on the Sky Jump and Sky Walk of Auckland Sky tower – Goodbye New Zealand – hello memories!

sky tower goingnz
A Must Do: Aucklands’s Sky Jump

Please make sure you send us a postcard along the way!

A Weekend in Wellington on a Budget

Now we have spent a considerable amount of time in Wellington we finally feel comfortable to write this post. When we first arrived we pretty much didn’t know anything about Wellington, except that it was windy and that the city has a great museum. Which by the way, both are true.

If you are planning a weekend in Wellington anytime soon and are on a budget this weekend itinerary should be just what you are looking for!

Friday – Welcome to New Zealand’s coolest little capital!

 

Wellington GoingNZ

If you want to stay somewhere central, safe, clean and on budget Base Backpackers should be your base for the weekend (no pun intended, honest!) Located just off Courtney Place you won’t have to go far on your first night to grab some budget eats and some happy hour deals!

If you arrive by coach the coach stops at Courtney Place so you won’t have far to walk, a taxi from the airport should set you back $30 or less if you use Uber and Super Shuttle also offer shared transfers from the airport.

If you are arriving in your hire car you are in luck. Wellington is probably the only city in NZ that offers free weekend parking. After 8 pm you can park in the city for free, some zones have a strict 2-hour limit so do check before you park up for the weekend. This is valid until 7 am Monday morning.

Base GoingNZ
Base Backpackers

Friday nights should be spent discovering all that Courtney Place has to offer. Pretty much every bar you pass early on a Friday will be offering a happy hour deal of some kind and the city has an excellent range of microbreweries. Wellingtonian’s love their craft beers so much you can even pick up a “Beer Map” from the tourist information centre, it the ultimate pub crawl without even trying too hard! Our favorite has to be The Malthouse for some exceptional micro-brewed beer, at around 6 pm they serve free nibbles for the whole bar! 

If you want to venture a little further then Cuba Street would be a great stop, if you can find the Wellington Night Market you are in for a treat, budget eating at its best. The benefit of staying so close to Courtney Place is that you are so close to everything, Wellington is a very walkable city.

Saturday – Explore the best bits of Wellington.

Oriental Bay

Base Backpackers is great as it is simply a stone throws walk away from Mt Victoria, the best lookout in the city. We suggest walking along Oriental Parade and joining the path this way as it certainly a less steep of a climb and much more scenic as you walk along the seafront.

If you want to view the city from another angle we suggest taking the Cable Car, at the top, you will find The Wellington Botanical Gardens (worth a stroll) and The Cable Car Museum (free entry) we surprisingly spent an hour here – it very interactive and very informative!

Do check out our video of our time in Wellington – we love it here!

 

From here you can visit Zealandia as they offer free shuttle transfer’s to the countries best eco-sanctuary.  It is actually a fenced off eco-sanctuary where they take care of all things native, think Jurassic Park fences and you’re not far off! 

Allow at least two hours to explore the valley forest, Zealandia are doing a great work on their conversation project and your entrance fee goes towards maintaining the valley where you can witness remarkable native species of birds, reptiles, and insects. It really is an insightful and educating visit!

Zealandia
Zealandia, a land not too far away

If you have time after once you return down the Cable Car turn left for about 1km and here you will reach the Parliament Buildings, they are free to enter. Here you can visit the free visitor centre, take part in a guided tour of the government buildings and even sit in the public gallery as the MP’s debate the latest things on their agenda. It is a great place to learn all about NZ’s democratic processes.

The Parliament Buildings are very close to waterfront – a great alternative way to walk back to Courtney Place. Wellington without a doubt has one of the best waterfront’s in NZ, we walk it almost every week, it is fully pedestrianized and so beautiful!

For dinner and drinks, we suggest the waterfront, there are plenty of bars and restaurants. We love The Foxglove for its outside decked seating and delicious food. If you want somewhere closer to your accommodation but still on the waterfront then we suggest St John’s Bar and Restaurant, it is a bit more casual than The Foxglove and also has a great outside seating area.

Wellington Waterfront

Sunday: Discover More, Get Further.

No visit to Wellington is complete without a visit to Te Papa Museum, The Museum of New Zealand. Be warned, you could literally spend hours here though, allow at least 2 hours to really get a feel of it, the coffee on the 4th floor (there is also a cafe on the ground floor but the cafe on the 4th floor is more comfortable and quieter) is pretty good as well.

If you are a Hobbit fan then Weta Cave should be a must, here you can see exhibits of props from all of the Lord of Ring films plus watch a free documentary about the props. The Weta Cave Workshop Tour for $25 pp is also worth the extra expense. Here you can really learn the behind the scenes of how every element small or large from the films actually got made, plus you can have the chance to touch/hold some of the real props used in the films!

 

Hobbiton Going NZ
Weta Cave – Worth the excursion!

For dinner, The Bresolin on Wills Street is perfect if you want an early dinner, especially if you have to leave Wellington on this night. They offer $20 roast’s after 5 pm (be on time, it is popular!) they really are the best that we have found in town and trust us we have eaten loads of them – we are British after all!

 

The Coffee – Don’t forget your pit stops.

Coffee Wellington
So much love for Wellington Coffee.

To Wellingtonians coffee is everything. Before I arrived, I did not like coffee, now I drink it almost every day. However, believe us it is still possible to get a bad coffee in Wellington our top places if you would like to seek them out are, Aro Café in Aro Valley, Havana Coffee, Prefab and Peoples Coffee. They are also great places to get a spot of lunch.

 

Do you have a tip to share from your trip to Wellington? Feel free to share them in the comments below! 

5 New Zealand Destinations that should be on every persons bucket list

New Zealand has long been a destination upon the bucket lists of travelers from across the globe, with its prevalent heritage making for a country of cultural wonder. There is so much to see and do in this pint-sized country, here are 5 New Zealand destinations you should visit and consider for your trip of a lifetime to NZ!

 1) Doubtful Sound

 

The lesser-known big sister to Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, is practically a stone’s throw away yet goes largely unnoticed. It’s a shame, really ­– with a surface area ten times larger than the aforementioned Milford, it’s here you really want to go if you’re looking to escape from the world.

As mentioned, Doubtful Sound is missed by many travellers who pass it by without a second thought, meaning you’ll be free to explore this undisturbed natural paradise to your heart’s content. Cascading waterfalls drop from dramatic mountain faces, while the waters lay quiet and still. Cruise upon said waters to take in the surrounding scenery right in the heart of it all.

If you’re visiting Fiordland, make sure Doubtful Sound makes its way onto your itinerary. It isn’t something you should miss – never in your lifetime will you be able to discover such a majestic example of natural grandeur, made even better by the total absence of any other human throughout.

 

2) Rotorua

 Visit Rotorua if you want to discover the cultural hub of New Zealand. Maori culture is prevalent in Rotorua, as highlighted by our friends from this blog, and the welcoming locals will be sure to put on a show. Take a guided tour of one of Rotorua’s many villages and be greeted by the Maori people, gaining an insight into their day-to-day routines as well as watching chants and dances.

The geothermal activity in Rotorua is also something that has to be seen to be believed. Natural hot springs and geysers are wondrous enough but it’s made even better by hot baths you’re able to immerse yourself in – not to mention the health benefits and opportunities for relaxation, what with the natural spa-like qualities of the waters.

 

Rotorua 

3) Great Barrier Island

 

Being so close to Auckland, it seems almost impossible for Great Barrier Island to be as untouched as it is. In fact, it’s so off-the-grid that it boasts being home to the only community in the entirety of New Zealand without mains power. Instead, the residents of the island rely solely on solar and wind power. This stunning island is truly still on our Bucket List, hence why it is still worth a mention and we encourage you all to beat us too it!

It’s already pretty clear Great Barrier Island is the perfect destination for the traveler looking to escape for a while, but there’s so much to do here regardless of what you’re looking for. If you’re an avid hiker, for example, the rolling hills are home to countless tracks and trails to explore.

Great Barrier Island is also home to a diverse underwater community – you’ll be able to see everything from blue cod to snapper fish in abundance. If you a big fan of fishing consider sticking around for the Black Jug Fishing Competition, drawing in fishermen from nationwide each and every year.

4) Dunedin

 

It has to be said that Dunedin isn’t exactly a secret destination in New Zealand, but many travelers don’t bother to explore it simply as it is too far south. This effectively means a very authentic look into a relatively large Kiwi city awaits – there’s even a university here, meaning the influx of students has given way to a recent surge in hipster culture.

One interesting thing to witness in Dunedin is a prevalent Scottish influence, with the city’s history deeply rooted in Scottish Gaelic history – that’s after the first European settlers in the city during the 19th century were Scotsmen. Known as the “Edinburgh of the South”, expect to try a spot of haggis during your stay.

It’s also the perfect destination for the avid party-goer – as mentioned, the hundreds of students frequenting the city for years has made an impact on the local bar scene, with an energetic nightlife beckoning for you to come and let your hair down.

 

dunedin goingnz
The worlds steepest hill, worth the walk!

5) Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

 

Head to New Zealand’s Glacier Country to discover some of, if not the country’s most beautiful natural sites. This should simply be on everyone’s bucket list as they won’t be here for long, global warming is affecting the glaciers and they are eroding at an epic rate.

Franz Josef is the more frequently visited glacier – and for good reason. Being the fourth-largest glacier in the country, you’ll be overcome with awe as it comes into view. Being steeper than the aforementioned Fox glacier, the face of Franz Josef is effectively more dramatic – expect to see ice caves and crevasses, with the infamous “blue ice” making for an almost unbelievable photograph.

The township isn’t so bad either, head there to discover a selection of authentic bars and restaurants, where you’ll be able to sample some of the most delectable examples of Kiwi cuisine. It’s here that you’ll also be able to soak in the renowned glacier hot pools after a long, exhausting day of exploring.

franz josef glacier goingnz 

Do you have a kiwi location still on your bucket list and you want others to see it for themselves? Suggest your destination in the comments below 🙂

Milford Sound is Magical– even in the rain!

We finally got to visit Milford Sound:

A few years ago we were lucky enough to finally get around to visiting Milford Sound. When we traveled around NZ over 7 years ago now we never made it to Milford Sound (due to budget and time restrictions) so we were delighted to finally be able to visit in the summer or 2016.

We were praying for a sunny day, it started well, we woke up to blue sky and was able to take some wonderful photos of the drive along the journey, but then the clouds started rolling in, the skies opened just as we got on the cruise – it didn’t stop raining!

milford sound goingnz
The Beautiful Sunny Drive on the way to Milford Sound!

People told us it’s the wettest place in New Zealand – with almost 7,000mm of rainfall across 182 days of the year. That means in the course of 24 hours, Milford Sound gets as much as 250mm of rain. It felt like it on that day for sure!

In fact, many who ply the Milford Sound route daily will tell you that a rainy day is a perfect day for cruising. For us once the sky opened we noticed something amazing – thousands of stunning waterfalls start to form! We learned after that the granite peaks don’t absorb water and have no shorelines so the water comes cascading down the cliff face straight into the fiord – and it’s simply stunning.

Clouds & Rain Welcomed!

The rain will enhance your experience:

Aside from the instant waterfalls, there are several permanent ones in Milford Sound. And when it rains, it amplifies and intensifies the already strong downward current. We certainly felt lucky to see this.

The high level of rainfall in Milford Sound also helps the area thrive. The lush rainforest comes alive in the rain. The combination of sunshine with the high precipitation creates a tropical climate that benefits the flora and fauna of the surrounding national park.

Another benefit of the rain is that it creates the black appearance of the fiord’s waters. Milford Sounds sits on a fiord that is hundreds of metres deep – but the rain creates a fresh layer of water about 6 metres deep. The rain actually stains the fresh water with tannin from the forest, creating the uniquely dark hue.

In that moment, on that wet cruise after we learnt all this we were happy the heavens opened up on us!

milford sound goingnz
My Mother centre – Enjoying a brief moment of dry.

When to go and what to bring:

The peak period for rainfall is in the months of December and January. Keep in mind that while it is mostly wet during these months, temperatures can range from a low of 18 degrees to a high of 27 degrees Celsius – which means there’s going to be a lot of humidity. It is best to be prepared for this kind of weather by keeping clothing light, staying hydrated and packing a waterproof layer and maybe even gumboots. If you do visit in winter, opt for warmer clothing as the temperature drops to 4 degrees. Again, the rains may come so your raincoat should be ready.

So, when you’re planning your Milford Sound cruise and the forecast says rain, don’t let the grey skies and misty views get you down like we thought it would. Milford is actually at its most beautiful in the wet weather.

Enjoy!

See New Zealand In 30 Days With Our New Zealand Self Drive Itinerary

Continuing on from our ultimate itinerary series we thought we would put together all our favourite spots of New Zealand into one awesome itinerary. You can visit both the north and south islands in 30 Days very easily by following our 30 day New Zealand self drive itinerary which starts and finishes in Auckland.

This truly is a road trip of epic proportions, if you know New Zealand is going to be a  once in a lifetime opportunity and you want to see it all then this self drive, fast paced itinerary is perfect for you.

We have travelled the country in depth which took us 6 months in total to complete, this one-month self drive itinerary for New Zealand does visit quite a few “off the beaten track” destinations and often a first-time traveller to NZ may not have heard of all of them. But if you want to visit the true beauty of NZ we highly recommend these regions! So grab a campervan or a hire car and hit the road as this is our suggested self-drive itinerary including all the destinations within NZ that we think you should not miss!

Not got 30 days? If you are short on time, that is okay, we got you covered – check out our 10 North Island Itinerary and our 10 South Island Itinerary.

Top Tip: If you want more information on each particular region/destination that we mention then do click on the hyperlinks within this article as it will link your through to our much more in-depth articles on that particular region/destination 🙂

The Route:

 

Highlights of this itinerary Include:

  • Sandboarding at Cape Reinga,
  • Exploring Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel
  • A day trip to White Island
  • Discovering Art Deco Napier
  • TheMarlboroughh Sounds
  • Kayaking at the Abel Tasman National Park
  • Heli hike at Franz Josef Glacier
  • Queenstown (nuff said!)
  • Getting away from it all in Stewart Island
  • Penguin watching at Oamaru,
  • Whale Watching in Kaikoura,
  • The Tongariro Alpine Crossing,
  • Surfing in Raglan

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland 

If you have an early morning arrival then you could pick up your hire car or campervan straight away and travel north to Paihia, (2.5 hours’ drive) the home of the Bay of Islands and your gateway to the Northland. Suggestions include: A visit to Waitangi which is close to Paihia and where the treaty between Maori chiefs and the British were signed back in 1840 it is well worth a visit. Or take the car ferry to the historical quaint village of Russell or jump on a boat cruise to explore the bay and its 144 different islands.

An alternative option would be to spend the day in Auckland, relaxing and exploring at your own pace and head up to Paihia the following morning.

Auckland Rainbow

Day 2: Explore Cape Reinga

You could drive to Cape Reinga as it is a great way to explore the Northland region at your own pace. Or you could let Salt Air take you by helicopter to Cape Reinga. Cape Reinga is the most northern point of NZ here your guide will take you along 90 mile beach and you will even have time to go sand tobogganing! All in the name of fun – it really is pretty awesome!

Sand boarding Fun!

Day 3: The Coromandel Peninsula 

Today you will travel south for around 5 hours to reach your next destination – the Coromandel Peninsula. It is a beach lover’s paradise! Stay overnight at Hahei and you will be close to all the highlights, Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove and Cooks Beach the region’s best beaches.

hot water beach going nz

Day 4: Beautiful Tauranga

Today make your way further south towards Tauranga (2.5 hours drive), there is plenty to see along the drive. Take a detour via the Karangahape Gorge and explore the walkways that follow the old railway lines along a jaw-dropping Canyon or climb Mount Maunganui for some incredible views of the Bay of Plenty.

Beautiful Tauranga

Day 5: Incredible White Island (Active Volcano)

Up early today to travel to Whakatane (1-hour drive), Whakatane is home to White Island. New Zealand’s only marine volcano. After an hour boat ride to the island, you will get a 2 hour guided tour of the island learning about the history of the miners in the island, the volcanic importance of the island and even get close to the active crater. Something truly and unique and possibly something you will only ever do once!

white island

Day 6: A Days Drive Around East Cape (Rural New Zealand at its best)

The Waioeka Scenic Drive from Whakatane to Gisborne (3.5-hour drive) takes you though the bush clad Waioeka Gorge, this narrow and winding gorge is a beautiful drive, takes your and time enjoy the views. After a spot of lunch in Gisborne, continue to your overnight spot just outside Art Deco Napier (3-hour drive).

An alternative option to this would be to drive straight to Napier and explore the city at your own pace, Napier is a beautiful small city with a stunning waterfront, marvel at the stunning Art Deco buildings, it is like stepping back in time!

East Cape Light House

Day 8: Drive to Wellington

Get up early to drive to longest place name in the world! This a photo opportunity you can’t miss! 85 characters long, but locals just call it Taumata Hill. Continue (4-hour drive) to Wellington where you can recharge your batteries for South Island ferry in the morning.

A great lunch time stop along the route is also the Wairarapa region. Stop for a spot of wine tasting at one of Martinborough’s award winning wineries.

Vineyards in Wairarapa
Vineyards in Wairarapa

Day 9: South Island!

Take the Interislander Ferry to the South Island (around 3 hours) enjoying a journey through the incredible Marlborough Sounds as you approach Picton. Upon arrival to the South Island travel to the Pelorus River. An opportunity to relax in the refreshing forest and river a must see for any Lord of the Rings fan.

picton going nz
Beautiful Picton

Day 10: Explore the Abel Tasman National Park

Today explore the Abel Tasman National Park with a days kayaking trip discovering all the hidden bays of the park. Enjoy a fresh picnic lunch half way through the day, enjoy a swim, snorkel and relax at the end! Find out about our fantastic day in the park here!

abel tasman

Day 11: Bullers Gorge

Travel to the Bullers Gorge Swing Bridge (2-hour drive) 110 metres in length in spans the Buller River and is NZ’s longest swing bridge. Over the other side, you can zip line across the river, take a jet boat ride, go swimming on walk one of the many trails following the earthquake faultline which was the epicentre of the 1929 earthquake that caused the land to rise more than4.5 metres. After, continue your journey to Punakaiki, home of the pancakes rocks and the beginning of the west coast highway.

Day 12: Explore Punakaiki and drive to Fox Glacier

Punakaiki is limestone country and is packed with caves systems that need exploring! The Charleston Glow worm cave tour explores the amazing underworld caving system you will see amazing displays of glow-worms and photogenic stalactites and stalagmite formations. In the afternoon travel to Fox Glacier (3-hour drive) and take in the stunning scenery at Lake Matheson.

pancake rocks goingnz

Day 11: Heli Hike Franz Josef Glacier

In the morning embark on a helicopter trip of a life time. Heli Hike the Franz Josef Glacier with the team at Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Explore spectacular ice caves and arches and access parts of the glacier that many don’t get to discover. In the afternoon travel to the Haast Pass (1.5 hours drive) a good overnight spot.

Exploring the Glaciers is a must.

Day 12: Blue Pool’s Track – Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park features the popular Blue Pool’s Walk. The short and easy walk leads to a viewing platform over the Blue Pools. Walks in these regions shouldn’t be rush bring lunch and enjoy the scenic surroundings. Continue your road trip to Wanaka before reaching your overnight destination in Queenstown.

haast pass

Day 13: Queenstown – Yes it really is incredible!

Queenstown is best known for its adrenaline filled fun! Rafting down the shot over the river has to be one of the exhilarating experiences! Other suggestions include: Stroll along the lakefront and take in the scenery or enjoy some down time in one of Queenstown many cafes and restaurants. You could try the world famous burgers at Ferg Burger for lunch, but go early there will be queues!

Queenstown Going NZ

Day 14: Travel to Te Anau – The Gateway to the Fiordland National Park

Travel to Te Anau (2-hour drive), stop at the visitor centre to learn about the many freedom hikes you can spend your day doing in this region. A section of the Routeburn Track or Kepler Track? You decide.

Day 15: Doubtful or Milford Sound?

Travel to the Doubtful Sound, the second largest fiord in the Fiordland National Park. Take a cruise along Lake Manapouri the wildlife is in abundance here, bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and rare crested Penguins can be seen here.

Another great alternative would be a visit to the Milford Sound, very similar but we personally prefer the Doubtful Sound as it is less visited, meaning fewer tourists!

Road to Fiordland

Day 16: Stewart Island

Travel to Stewart Island via Invercargill (2-hour drive) today. The one-hour car ferry will take you to Stewart Island. The island is well off the beaten track a great escape for a couple of nights.

Day 17: Free day on Stewart Island

Today you will be able to explore Stewart Island in your campervan at your own pace. The island is part of the Rakiura National Park, with its densely forested hills, tiny population, and untouched coastline and golden sandy beaches it is a wonderful place to unwind and enjoy the nature that surrounds you.

stewart island goingnz

Day 18: The Catlins

Heading back to civilization your overnight spot tonight will be in the Catlins (1.5-hour drive from Invercargill). The tranquillity of this region will blow you away, the untouched stunning bush land and rugged coastline is everywhere you turn.

Day 19: Visit and Explore Dunedin

Travel to Dunedin today (2-hour drive). A city renowned for its Maori and Scottish heritage, spend the afternoon exploring the city at your own pace. Suggestions include Visiting NZ’s only castle, Larnach Castle, a trip to Cadbury world, a chocolate lovers delight! Or walk up worlds steepest street!

dunedin goingnz

Day 20: Moeraki Boulders & Oamaru

On the east coach beaches north of Dunedin lies the Moeraki Boulders, this a must see! The huge spherical boulders are scattered along the beach a perfect photo opportunity for that empty photo frame that you have sat at home. Stay overnight in Oamaru just 40 minutes away from there is a – penguin colony. A sunset each night the Penguins come up onto the beach to rest, so close you could almost touch them!

 

Day 21: Mt Cook National Park

The drive inland to Mt Cook National Park (3-hour drive) will take in breathe taking panoramic views of lakes and mountains. There will be plenty of time to stop for photo opportunities. Enjoy an afternoon in Mt Cook Village exploring the serenity of the Southern Alps region at your own pace before resting up for the night under the stars.

Mt Cook Going NZ

Day 22: Tekapo and Travel to Christchurch

Tekapo is just an hour drive’s drive from Mt Cook, giving you plenty of time to relax and slow down the driving pace. Don’t forget to drive to the top of Mt John for non-interruptive views of Lake Tekapo. In the afternoon continue to Christchurch (3-hour drive) for your overnight stop.

goingnz

Day 23: Visit Akaroa

Today you will visit the very best sights of Akaroa (a 2-hour drive). Suggestions include: A cruise of the harbor and peninsula, visit the largest penguin colony on the mainland, swim with dolphins or take one of the many scenic walks in the region. Overnight in Christchurch.

Day 24: Visit Kaikoura – Whale Watching

Travel to Kaikoura (2-hour drive) in the afternoon catch the last cruise to do a spot of whale watching.

kaikoura goingnz

Day 25: Head back to the North Island

Travel north back to Picton (2-hour drive), to catch the afternoon ferry to Wellington overnight in Wellington.

Please note: Due to the recent earthquake in November 2016 the coastal road, unfortunately, received some damage. Currently, this road is blocked and you have to drive the longer 7 hour inland route via Blenheim (great wine region!) to reach Picton. We suggest if this still affects you when you visit NZ to maybe remove the Kaikoura or Akaroa day visit and take your time with the drive, some great overnight spots include Hamner Springs (awesome thermal spa) and Blenheim (for the wine of course!)

wellington Going NZ

Day 26: Visit the Tongariro National Park

Travel to Tongariro National Park (4-hour drive) to explore what the volcanic region of NZ has to offer. There are walks ranging from 1-8 hours in this park, visit the visitor centre for maps and advice.

tongariro goingnz

Day 27: Embark on one of New Zealand’s best day walks.

Up early for the shuttle transfer to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, this 7-8 hour walk passes some of the most stunning scenery the North Island has to offer.

Tongariro National Park

Day 28: Visit Waitomo and/or Hobbiton – Lord of the Rings

Depending on your personal interests on this day you could travel north to Waitomo, cave country. (2.5 hours’ drive). Here you can spend the afternoon exploring the glow worm caves but if you already have done some caving on the South Island you may find this very similar.

An alternative option would be to head to Rotorua if exploring some of NZ’s best geothermal spots is more your thing. If you are a huge Lord of the Rings fan then you could also visit Hobbiton on this day as it is very close to Rotorua.

Rotorua GoingNZ

Day 29: Raglan – for the surf of course!

Travel to Raglan (2.5 hours’ drive). A beautiful beach side town where the Kiwis holiday. Hire a surf board and ride the waves!

raglan goingnz
Surf at Raglan

Day 30: Goodbye New Zealand!

Today your road trip ends, return your campervan or car hire at Auckland Airport (2.5-hour drive) in time for your departing flight home – now that is what you call a road trip – make sure you send us a postcard!

Travel Apps for New Zealand

With the popularity of people traveling with just their trusted Iphone, Ipad or let’s not forget the less restrictive Android devices travel apps have become increasingly popular.

Travelers can now download many travel apps to help them whilst they are on the road. 🙂

Who is with me on these pet peeves?

Have you ever read an article on a bloggers website and then lost it days later?

Did you wish you could save that article somewhere useful to use as a guide when you are in that destination?

Have you ever read about an awesome place to stay, place to eat but then forgot to save it?

Have you ever had trouble finding an affordable place to stay whilst on vacation?

Do you have trouble keeping in contact with family and friends whilst on the road?

If you are nodding strongly then we suggest you get some of these apps in your life.

These are our top 5 tried and tested favorite apps you can use to ease your stay in NZ:

  • CamperMate was of the first apps we discovered during our road trip back in 2009, it was extremely user-friendly and full of crowd sourced, free information. It details locations of public toilets, rubbish bins, campsites, free wifi, dump stations, supermarkets and much more all over New Zealand. Pretty much anything you would need to make your road trip around NZ a breeze, especially if you are freedom camping.

 

  • TripAdvisor, who doesn’t know of Trip Advisor?! I never really thought about using their app until last year on our road trip around the South Island. We were able to download offline ahead of time the places we were visiting so we could easily decide where to stay, where to eat and what activities are in the area. You just can’t go wrong with trusting Trip Advisor!

 

  • GPSmyCity have created a great travel article app to do just that. GPSmyCity coordinates and embeds the information from that article into their app and creates a great nifty map that you can use when you are in that destination. The app is free to download and you don’t even need the internet once you have the app! So you can read your latest download’s on the plane, on the beach, in bed, basically wherever and whenever!

Going NZ GPSmyicty

  • Airbnb is our go too app for accommodation when we are preplanning a quick getaway. We much prefer this value added option and even hosted our house for a while when we lived in Auckland. If you want to meet the locals there is even a option for you to rent out a spare room in people’s homes a sure fire way to make some friends for life, learn about the lifestyle and the culture – you will be a kiwi before you know it! If you are not a member you can sign up via our link here, this will give you 30 GBP off your first experience with Air BnB – winning!

 

  • Viber is a paid calling account, we top up by around a dollar every month and that is all we need to make our phone calls back to the UK. This is especially great for those family members who don’t have the internet. This is loads cheaper than Skype and we have actually registered our telephone number with Viber, this means that when I make a paid call to the UK it comes up as my UK telephone number. People tend not to want to answer withheld or international numbers, you never know who it might be or what it’ll cost. This way, they know it is you and because the call originates from within the UK it doesn’t cost them. Great for calling the bank!

If you have any awesome apps that you use whilst traveling around NZ, we would love to hear from you so do drop us a message on the comments below!