I visited New Zealand at the end of last year (2009) after promising myself that I would go there for years. I can honestly say I wasn;t disappointed and the place is amazing! I wished I had more time to see everything in more detail and visit more places but as with any trip like this, the best feeling is perhaps to be left wanting to come back for more.
I strated my adventure by flying in to Auckland and picking up my campervan from just outside the airport. I drove for about four hours north to a small town called Russell, home to the Bay of Islands. As the name suggests, there are a number of gorgeous islands in the area, some of which are inhabited, some not. A number of boat tours operate from here and you can expect to see a wide array of marine wildlife.
My next destination was Waitomo to attempt "black water rafting." This involved heading in to a cave and jumping on a tyre inner tube before floating through the glow worm lit caverns. This was an amzing experience and there is nothing more relaxing than bobbing along on the water in silence with only the green-blue glow of the glow worms lighting the way.
My next stop was Lake Taupo which is a beautiful area and quite a large town. The lake itself is the biggest in New Zealand and offers a number of photo opportunities with the snow capped mountains lining the far end. I completed a skydive over the lake and it was a truly awe-inspiring experience.
My next stop off was Wellington which was the first big city I had chance to discover. There was a plethora of shops to suit all budgets and some truly fantastic harbour-side restaurants offering delicious meals.
It was from Wellington that I caught the Interislander ferry to the South Island. The journey in was a breath taking one as the hilly tree lined scenery as I approached my first view of the South Island panned out before me.
I visited the Marlborough Wine Region for some delicious wine tasting, before the scenic wildlife resort of Kaikoura - home to whale watching tours galore. I headed on to Hanmer Springs and Greymouth before ending up at Franz Josef home to glacier country!
The two glaciers at Franz Josef and neighbouring Fox are like nothing I had ever seen before and quite literally took my breath away. To be able to get so close to a huge glacier is amazing!
I headed off to Queenstown next, home to all things "extreme" in New Zealand. There are more opportunities here than anywhere else in the country to thrown yourself off something or do things you never would or could at home! I opted for the more relaxing gondola trip up the mountian on the outskirts of town, offering a wondeful view of the town and surroundings.
My next stop off was Milford Sound which provides the kind of scenery you expect in New Zealand. Another boat tour allowed me to see penguins, seals and dolphins all in their natural habitat. Added to the incredible waterfalls and mountains, this was a truly memorable experience.
I headed to the historic Dunedin next before finishing in Christchurch, a quaint city that blances the old and new perfectly. The tram journey around the city is well worthwhile and the drivers provide an excellent commentary throughout.
Overall, if you have never visited New Zealand before I can fully recommend it, just make sure you have enough time to enjoy all of the incredible attractions!
New Zealand is a beautiful country which is well worth the visit. I visited New Zealand two years ago and was over there for a month and have to say it was the best holiday I've ever had. I can't wait to go back for another visit. There are two main Islands (north and south) and I spent 2 weeks on the north island and two on the south. Everyone is very friendly and there is so much to see and do so would recommend having a long holiday and traveling from place to place rather than making a base as there is so much to see.
The North Island
When I visited New Zealand my husband was doing some training and was based in Hamilton. This is where I stayed for 2 weeks. In hamilton there are a few bars for a night out, shops, the best cheesecake shop with cheesecake to die for and Hamilton gardens. If you base yourself in one place then you will have to organise your time and may have a few very early starts.
Auckland - I spent a weekend in Auckland and there is lots to see. I took a ferry to the nearby island of the volcanic Rangitoto and spent about 5 hours on this island. I walked everywhere and felt there was no need for transport but there are buses available. While I was in Auckland I had dinner in the sky tower (highly recommended) there are two restaurants to choose from (buffet and orbit restaurant) The orbit restaurant is the one I went to, it was a lovely night and saw many sights.
Rotoruia - here I visited the 'thermal wonderland' which had steaming hot springs and exploding mud pools. These were all very impressive but have to say it does smell of sulphur so you'll have to hold your nose.
Waitomo Caves - there are tours of walking, abseiling, rafting or rock climbing to take you through the caves to see the spectacular glow worms. I took the walking tour and really enjoyed myself however, you are not able to take photos of the glow worms but can buy photos or postcards of them after the tour.
Hobbiton - Hobbiton is where Lord of the Rings was filmed so if your a big fan then this is worth the visit. I found the tour very interesting and now every time I watch the film I think of being there.
Wellington - is New Zealands capital, it has an international airport and is where I got my Ferry from to go to the south Island. I didn't get to spend much time here but did walk up some steep hills to admire some spectacular views (remember to take a camera).
The South Island
I then took a ferry across to the south Island and stayed in Renwick. Here there are many vine yards and wine tasting is very popular. I cycled around the different vine yards tasting wine and enjoying the laid back New Zealand lifestyle.
From here I traveled up to Abel Tasman National Park where you can go around on foot or Kayak. I choose to Kayak as I've never done this before and it was a fantastic experience but can be very tiring on the arms. The tour included a lunch (picnic style) and we stopped about 3 times in total to admire the local sites. A great day out.
I then traveled down to Kaikoura which is a sea side town where you can go whale watching and swimming with dolphins. I did both of these. Swimming with dolphins is a great experience especially out at sea in their natural environment, however you must not touch them and let them come to you, which was not a problem as they were very friendly. I went whale watching by boat but you can also take a helicopter ride to see them. The whales were sperm whales and I saw many on this day but you must have your camera at the ready so when they dive you can get that perfect picture shot of their tail. Both of these will take about a day and to do both is expensive but is definitely worth the money.
As my holiday had finished I didn't get to do anymore of the south Island but I'm definitely going to go back and visit and concentrate on this Island. It was the best holiday ever and I have so many pictures and good memories, I just can't wait for the next time.
I speant a year living and working in New Zealand and had an absolutely amazing tme there. The country is like no other that I have been in - the geography, the people, the scenery, the sheep!
I arrived in Auckland in November 2002 after a long flight from a four day stop of in Singapore. that is probably the first thing to note about New Zealand - it is a hell of a long way away! But trust me, it is definitely worth it.
We stayed in the youht hostel, think it was a yha, at the top of the hill and acclimatised (went and got really drunk). After a few more days of acclimitasing, we realised that we needed jobs to sustain us, so off we went to a job shop place in a different youth hostel down the main street. I had not thought about what job I might do in New Zealand, as it had not really occured to me what there might be on offer, so when working in Montana vineyard was put in front of us we took the opportunity.
Now this did mean that we would have to relocate to Blenheim, which is at the top of the South Island, straight away, but from what we had been told ( and I will come back to this) the north island was not worth hanging around for.
Blenheim was a delight, a beautiful picturesque little town which we arrived at right in the middle of summer. We stayed in a hostel run by Doug, where pretty much everyone there worked in a vineyard. The work was not as much fun, up at 6 every morning except Sunday, working until 4, in blazing heat, walking miles! Made me appreciate Sunday's and Saturday nights even more.
After a couple of months of this, we went further south to Christchurch. Now, some of my travelling companions were not all that enamoured with Christchurch, but I quite liked it. i worked in The Bog Irish Pub for about 3 or 4 months and had great fun. The city is a bit strange, as it seemed to me to be mostly residential as there was not a big city centre as such. Again, I found the people extremely pleasant and friendly.
After that we went to Queenstown, the so called party townof New Zealand where we worked in Coronet Peak ski resort for 3 or 4 months. It was absolutely fantastic and it was a party town! Lots of great bars, everyone there was there to party and have a good time, the atmosphere was always good, I loved Queenstown.
We then had to leave and before heading back to Auckland, we decided to hire a car and drive back up to Auckland to get our flight. We did a big loop and went to Dunedin, the university town. Now maybe we were just unlucky, as it has a reputation as having a great night life, but it was pretty dull and wet when we were there.
We then went up the west coast and hiked in the Franz Josef glacier (check out my profile pic!). It was a truly amazing experience. They show you photos fro 100 years ago and you can see how much the glacier has 'retreated' as it is getting smaller.
Further travels up the amazingly beautiful coast brought us to the gold rush towns like Hokitika, which is absolutely dead now, but very quaint.
We went to Nelson for a flying visit to some friends we had met along the way. It was quite a cool, laid back town with some great bars. We stayed in a tent that night, sleeping under the stars, which were so crystal clear.
A quick 3 day hike through the Abel Tasman rainforest (which is not very very exerting, but not very very easy) was again another unforgettable experience, where I saw some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises in my life!
Over the Cook Straits to Wellington where we stayed with a friend that I worked with in Christchurch. Wellington was a really cool city and my favourite out of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. much more seemed to be going on here, there was a better fell amongst the city and a lot more to do.
A few days were spent here, before we hot footed it up to smelly Rotorua. it stinks of sulphur, thanks to the natural geothermal springs - you can go see the geysers here in the national park and it is very worthwhile. We also caught a traditional maori feast at the nearby village that has been restored. The show was excellent, the food authentic - definitely go do this.
We also visited Napier, the art deco town that was rebuilt in this style after it was destroyed.
Our final place to stop before Auckland was Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamatea turipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, close to Hawke's bay which has the longest place name in the world!
I would definitely recommend a visit to New Zealand, it truly has everything to do and see!!!
Fished up by a Maori God, Maui, in never-never-land tales, New Zealand is paradise, in the South Pacific. The myth tells that he stepped all over bush-clad land; leaving crystal-clear lakes in his footsteps, glistening in cool-green native bush, amid massive, rugged mountains, some so virginal they stand today, unconquered by man.
In the millions of years that this beautiful country has evolved it has seen primitive life, the Moriori, Maori and European settlement,less than 200 years ago - so it is a new country in civilised history.
It's thought that the Maori arrived in their wakas (canoes) around 1000 years ago, from an area you won't find on any map but it is loosely called Hawaiki. Maori legend tells of Kupe, the first warrior, finding The Land of the Long White Cloud - Aotearoa (Maori) or New Zealand, and the tribes following to settle in the land they have occupied ever since.
Troubles came when the Europeans arrived, mostly from Britain in the 1840's, and it's fair to say a time of `settling' followed - with Maori wars and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi all prominent in the country's early settlement days.
Time has passed and history has in a way returned to troubles between some of the Maori and the rest of the country, via the government's legalisation of modern Treaty law. The jury is still out on the controversial subject of the Treaty of Waitangi and how it is being administered today. As a traveller you will not notice any of the ''issues'' so it is not really the place to go into them here.
It is fair to say that many ``people'' from diverse cultures, who have moved to New Zealand from all over the world, have made this fairly young country a thriving, cosmopolitan place to be. When you live there you are one of over 4 million people who appreciate, stunning, beautiful countryside, known as ``clean and green'', freedom to live a life of choice, democracy where your vote determines the government you deserve (MMP system has resulted in people having the chance to govern who normally would not have a look in under the Westminster system), tolerance of others and of course good health, education and welfare structures.
You can drive from the northern most tip, (Northland) via the Cook Strait Ferry system, (Inter Islander)to Bluff in the South Island, then take a smaller ferry or fly over to Stewart Island, the third island that makes up the three main islands.
When you visit, you may well hear of the claim, ``I live on the Mainland''. It depends if you are listening to the view of a North Islander for a South Islander. Personally,I live on the South Island (when in New Zealand) so, of course I am writing this as a Mainlander, but would never dream of writing any bias into this review!!!
The Centre of New Zealand is in my hometown, Nelson which is absolutely beautiful with clean, safe beaches, lakes and rivers, wineries, orchards and a strong and vibrant art and craft community. Heaven!
Like the rest of New Zealand it has survived on exports, and in the early days the country pioneered frozen storage and transportation of sheep and beef products to the 'Mother-land' or `The Home Country', being England. This continues today with the Nelson Port being one of the busiest in the South Pacific Rim. Nowadays, it exports seafood, apples and other more specialist lines like MDF building panels,to the world.
Colonial life was a huge challenge for both men and women and it's that sort of hardiness which has seen the nation evolve to enhance a culture of 'do-it-yourself' where a 'Kiwi' can do anything. Talk to people and they will boast of doing all sorts of repairs and maintenance with a piece of number eight wire! Well, not everyone runs around with number 8 wire to do creative things but it does show that New Zealanders give it a go when it needs a little inventive, creative approach! Just a little aside and of no real travel interest!
New Zealand welcomes visitors, while always being known as 'friendly' I feel there was a lack of the necessary levels of service in years gone by. But, tourism is a major income earner now so training is in place to ensure visitors are treated well and assisted to get the best out of their travel dollar. Universities, polytechnics and Maori groups work hard to provide tourism industry graduates who can lead and develop a tourism industry the country can be proud of. That education is matched by keen, active 'Kiwi's who appreciate that people need the best when they are on holiday, or who are local and want the best for visitors and friends.
You'll find lots of motels in New Zealand, something I don't see so much of in the northen hemisphere so I'll mention a bit about them here. It is best to book in advance, when you arrive you will have a little home-away-from home. You pick the number of bedrooms you want, you get a well equipped kitchen, and of course the ablutions area. Then, your holiday us up to you: self catering, but some do have restaurants attached. There may be a swimming pool, spa, sauna, barbecue or other things to attract your custom. So, it's a convenient way to accomodate yourself all over New Zealand. The moteliers go out of their way to inform you about local attractions, events and inside information so use them well and be sure to really see and experience New Zealand.
Camper vans (mobile homes) are hugely popular in New Zealand and the roads are so less busy than others in many countries of the world. Whether you are in a mobile home or a rental car, you will drive on the left-hand side of the road. The open road speed is 100 km/h (60m/ph) and in towns you have to drive 50km/h; don't think of drinking then driving, the law is strictly adhered with police out on ''surprise'' breatherlyser checks, often. Seat belts are compulsory and if you are caught without one you'll get an instant fine.
New Zealand has a well deserved reputation for its cultural events, like the Wearable Arts Festival, the South Pacific Festival and a strong New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Ballet Company. Its historical heart is Te Papa Museum in Wellington. ''Our Place - Te Papa'' is an ideal way to learn about where the country has come from and how it is dealing with life today. It's a happening place, not really a traditional museum.
Best months to visit are late January through to early March as the weather is so much more reliable if you like the summertime outdoors. Adventure tourism is hugely on the rise and throughout the country you can absail, parapont, tandem skydive, rock wall climb, tramp, white-water rafting, jetboat riding and a host of other white-nuckle activities. The country is surrounded by water, the Pacific ocean, so water sport and recreation is big with fun in the sun, the right of all New Zealanders.
New Zealand is a travel destination where you can experience just about anything you like in a holiday. Be sure to take lots of time in this holiday haven - it's a long way to go to get there so make sure you don't short-change yourself when you do go.
You fly to New Zealand. There are an ever increasing number of cruise ships visiting but generally the usual way to get there is by international flight. Several airlines operate out of Auckland, Wellington in the North Island and Christchurch and Queenstown in the "Mainland" South Island. (Just a little bias creeping in there!!).
If you did a stunning New Zealand drive from it's northern most tip, Cape Reinga to it's southern most city (on the "mainland")South Island, Invercargill you would have driven 2008km (1245 miles) and it may take you around 30 hours (without the 3 hours Cook Strait ferry crossing). But, you would not have explored and visited so many fantastic towns, cities and attractions of Aotearoa.
If you fancy a New Zealand driving holiday, contact the
AA (Automobile Assn) who will make sure you get maps along your chosen route - then you won't miss things along the way.
If you don't want to drive within New Zealand you can take a bus, fly on several 'national' airlines from regional and link airports or on a train from Wellington to
Auckland or the Picton to Christchurch daily route. Bus tours offer a 'guided' way to see and learn about the country and can be combined with self-drive if you wish, either before or after your tour. Eco-tours are popular too.
Special Maori performances, whale watching and swimming with dolphins are some things worthy of consideration and there are plenty of internet sites which specialise in more indepth information about these.
The Christchurch to Greymouth train offers alpine scenery you'll never forget. It's timely to say that train travel is not a high priority in New Zealand so don't rely on daily trips like you may be used to in most of the world. There are of course the metro links in the major cities like Auckland and Wellington but not in other towns or cities.
Some small points but things which may just add to your comfort on your New Zealand holiday journey.
(a) Night can be a little chilly, even in summer so take warm clothing.
(b) Some parts of New Zealand you will be inconvenienced by sandflys or mosquitos so include an effective insect repellant. (Bush and beach areas are at risk.)
(c) Take note of beach notices about swimming, boating and other local marine hazards. Use sunblock generously as there is a hole in the ozone layer above NZ and the ultra violet rays are strong, burning is quick in summertime.
(d) In high season, December to March it pays to book accommodation in advance. Most restaurants appreciate you booking.
(e) If visiting a Maori Marae (community facility) do be sure you know the protocols. There are plenty of Maori sites on the internet to advise on custom and culture.
(f) The currency is NZ Dollars and cents.
(g) Banks open Monday to Friday - usually 9am to 4.30pm (I think this is still the time structure!!!)
(h) The Department of Conservation (DoC) has reliable information on National Parks, all over the country and the way accessibility can enhance your visit.
A New Zealand High Point: Mount Cook, (Aoraki in Maori) in the Southern Alps, South Island. 12,316ft (3754m) high - the place where Sir Edmund Hilary, New Zealand's famous first climber to reach the top of the world's highest mountain - Mount Everest, practiced his alpine experiences. It's now a part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. Alpine enthusiasts will marvel at the unusual plants and animals which have adapted to life in the Southern Alps, formed by two tutonic plates crashing together, forming 19 peaks over 3000metres (10,000 ft).
The beauty of New Zealand is that you can travel along the road and the landscape/scenery changes in a mile or two. Particularly noticeable in the Mount Cook - Mackenzie country.
Some accommodation options:hotels, B&b, backpackers, hostels, lodges-(both luxury and not so 'posh'), farm stays, home stays, motels, camping grounds and private home swaps.
Finally, Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud must have been a welcome site to those ancient Maori warriors when they rowed their primitive canoes through dangerous Pacific waters..... today it welcomes people from all over the world whether they travel to it for a holiday for for a new place to live - the visit will be what you make it. Prepare well in advance, pack your camera and then just plan on having the time of your life in New Zealand.