A world of adventure awaits
A world of adventure awaits
Where do we start ... the land of the long white cloud is quite immensely diverse considering it's small size.
The harbour city of Auckland is a great place to start and visiting some of the islands is a great way to see the city from the water. A relaxing end to a trip is to spend some time in the Bay of Islands, fishing, swimming, diving, walking, golfing before taking a trip up 90 mile beach to Cape Reinga to the northernmost tip of the country. Heading south the Coromandel offers stunning coastal scenery, you can dig your own “tub” at hot water beach, there is also some great walking and arts & crafts in the area.
Rotorua is the closest habited place to the earths core and once you get used to the whiff of sulphur and steaming drains it is a geology lesson of note. The bubbling mud, geysers and hot springs are quite spectacular and we would recommend a guided tour here to get the most out of your visit. It is also a place with an opportunity to learn about the Maori culture.
Heading south Taupo and Tongariro are great spots for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake at Taupo offers some of the finest trout fishing and the tramping (walking) in Tongariro ranges to accommodate a gentle stroll through to some serious hiking. The east coast and the art deco city of Napier gives your first real opportunity to visit the vineyards and the birdlife in the area is renowned.
On down through the Martinborough region to the capital of Wellington, a couple of days here are a must with a visit to the parliamentary building the Beehive and the national museum of Te Papa. The Interislander ferry crosses the Marlborough Sounds to dock in Picton on South Island. Hire cars do not cross from island to island but campers do, the ferry is more like going through an airport with luggage coming out on a carousel at the other side – very efficient.
The train down to Christchurch also connects with the ferry so if you fancy a break from the hire car this is a good option. You can also break your train journey at Kaikoura which is world renowned for whale watching and open water dolphin swimming. Otherwise you may fancy a few days at one of the lodges in the Marlborough Sounds, a short water taxi ride from Picton. For anyone who appreciates wine a stay in Marlborough is essential – the Sauvignon Blancs are some of the best in the world and it is not all about Cloudy Bay! Any seafood lovers should look out for the green lip mussels – just fabulous washed down with a vino or two.
The sunniest part of the South Island is Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. Easily accessed via water taxi you can take it easy with a gentle tramp or head out sea kayaking with the marine wildlife, possible more of a second visit destination unless you are keen on the great outdoors.
The wild west coast in contrast has a wetter climate and if you don’t get wet you have done well! The rugged scenery makes for a lovely drive down to the glaciers at Fox & Franz Josef. Again lots of choices and you don’t need to be super fit to enjoy the glaciers, there is everything from a scenic flight to a heli hike and a half or full day walk. Just make sure you pre book and give yourself a bit of spare time in case the weather is not on your side.
A long drive is unavoidable as you wind down over the Haast Pass to Wanaka. This is a drive that you stop on every corner to take a picture as the view keeps improving! Wanaka is worth a stop, the lake is beautiful and there is plenty to do. Next stop is Queenstown, adventure capital of New Zealand and also a ski resort in the winter. You don’t have to jump off or out of things to enjoy the town though, the paddle steamer TSS Earnslaw is a leisurely way to cruise the lake, the gondola ride takes you to a great viewpoint and there are vineyards around the old gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. On the other hand if you need an adrenalin fix this is definitely your chance...bungy (4 sites at the last count), luge, jetboats, sky diving ...will that do for starters! There are also trips to the sets of Lord of the Rings, although nothing is left you can still get a feel for the staging of the movie.
From Queenstown you can take a short scenic flight over to Milford Sound, cruise and fly back – the flight is in a 6 seater so not for the faint hearted as there are a few good thermals going over the Remarkable Mountains. If you choose to go by road to Milford or Doubtful Sound it is over 12 hours for the round trip. We suggest you stay in Te Anau as this considerably shortens the road travel and it is a beautiful spot. From Te Anau you can head down to Invercargill to take the ferry to Stewart Island, or a short flight. Again this is probably more of a second trip visit unless you have specific wildlife or walking interests. Back on the South Island the next stop would be Dunedin, a lot of Scottish history and home to the world’s steepest street. The Otago peninsula is teeming with wildlife and a great day out from Dunedin.
Depending on your route from Queenstown you may cut up to Christchurch and stop at Lake Tekapo or Mount Cook which breaks the journey nicely. Christchurch is still looking a little beaten up following the recent earthquake but is still worth visiting as is the Akaroa area where there are lots of art galleries.
New Zealand has some great train journeys and also coastal cruises, it is also set up extremely well for camper van travel so don’t think you have to hire a car there are lots of options and you may even decide an escorted tour would suit to let someone else do the driving. Also consider stopovers carefully when planning a trip to New Zealand, there are lots of options and you may want a few days on a beach on the way back!
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