Calling all Kiwis (and New Zealand Lovers)*Revised*
It seems like only yesterday that my husband and I were deciding where our next trip-of-a-lifetime would be. Thailand was mentioned. I thought Spain and Morocco or Greece and Turkey would be the ticket. We tabled the discussion when my husband was called to Dubai. He returned and was singing the praises of New Zealand. That’s where he wanted to go. Since I chose our last trip-of-a-lifetime (Rome), I figured that it was his turn to pick.
I didn’t know much about New Zealand, but was more than willing to learn. And the more I discovered, the more I knew that New Zealand could just be the most beautiful place in the world. By all accounts, three weeks only allows a visitor to scratch the surface of what the country has to offer. Alas, that’s all the time we have, so we need to be efficient, but not rushed.
I’m asking for advice and input on our itinerary. All accommodations are reserved and I’m not willing to change any of them…I’ve done that several times over the last six months. Consider it set in stone. I’d love to hear about awesome views, delicious meals, cool bars, special locales, interesting stops, beautiful trails, and whatever else you think we shouldn’t miss. Or maybe there’s something that you were underwhelmed by or just consider a tourist trap. We’d love to hear it all. Please keep in mind that our trip will take place in New Zealand’s early summer.
7:15 am arrival in Auckland
Waitomo: Maybe we’re crazy, but as soon as we get off the plane and get our rental car, we’re headed to the Waitomo Caves for a tour with the Black Water Rafting Company. In my mind there’s nothing better for jet lag than squeezing into a wet suit, diving into cold water, and abseiling through the glow worm caves.
We’ve been invited by a New Zealander friend of my husband’s to come to his home near the Auckland airport. He’s offered us a place to stay and to take us for a ride through the bush. This option sounds outstanding as well. We just don’t know if he’ll be in the country at that time, so we’re just playing this day by ear.
New Plymouth: Another Kiwi friend of my husband’s lives just north of New Plymouth on the ocean. He has generously offered us a place to stay and to be our tour guide. We’ll explore his slice of New Zealand and go out on his boat to dive for crayfish. Unfortunately there will be no trip to New Plymouth or crayfish diving. Our friend will still be in Singapore. So, luckily I had a contingency plan.
Rotorua: We’ll visit the Waimangu Thermal Valley, an active volcanic area with one of the largest boiling lakes in the world. Waimangu Thermal Valley with its geysers and hot mud pools is also going to be a stop. I will go zorbing for sure! Depending on time, the bowling greens of the Government Gardens may require a visit. And we can’t even think about going to Rotorua without getting a taste of Maori culture at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. We may or may not include a traditional Maori hangi on our agenda.
Wellington: I’m ashamed to say, but I haven’t done a whole lot of research on the capitol city; I just didn’t anticipate having much time to spend here. By all accounts, it is a fantastic place, and I’m excited to get a chance to explore. We’ll only have 3/4 of a day there since we’ll be getting up early to catch the ferry to the South. But, I’d love some advice on things to do and see. Places to eat would also be awesome!
Stops: Please tell me what we can’t miss between Rotorua and Wellington. I’m definitely going to research this a bit more.
Marlborough Region/Blenheim: We’re going to get up very early
to drive to Wellington in order to catch the ferry. Our plan is to arrive into Pickton in the early afternoon and explore the sounds a bit. Havelock and its famous greenshell muscles would be a fine place for an early dinner before heading to Bleinheim where we’ll be spending two nights. Day five is dedicated to a bike tour of the Blenheim-area wineries. We have yet another Kiwi friend who lives part-time in Nelson and may join us for the winery tours.
Hokitika: Upon the advice of our Kiwi friends, we’ve decided to add a stop in Hokitika. Originally we planned on driving from Bleinheim to Franz Josef. Apparently it is a terribly long drive, and Hokitika is a great stopping point. Who are we to argue with a local? Research tells me that Hokitika has a nice arts and crafts scene and a jade factory.
Stops: Punakaiki Rocks and Monteith’s Brewery
Franz Josef/Fox Glaciers:We’ll be staying in Fox Glacier, but I’m not sure which glacier we will hike. We welcome suggestions on this one. Helicopter? No helicopter? Guided? I’ve read so much that it made my head spin. A walk around Lake Matheson is also a priority.
Stops: Ross, Okarito Lagoon, Knight’s Point, Thunder Falls, and Gates of Haast
Queenstown: We rented the most fantastically awesome house overlooking Lake Wakatipu. It’s a 15 minute trail walk by the lake to town. The plan is to do all the usual stuff: bungy jump, Shotover Jet, gondola, tramping, and rafting. A Skipper Canyon tour and a TSS Earnslaw ride could be on the agenda as well.
Day Trips: Arrowtown, Wanaka, and Milford Sound*
*I know a Milford Sound day trip makes for a really long day, but it’s just something we’ll have to deal with. Besides, I understand the drive is the best part of the trip.
Mt. Cook: We’re thinking of visiting the Sir Edmund Hillary Museum and taking a boat trip with Glacier Explorers on the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.
Stop: Lindis Pass
Lake Tekapo: We’ve rented an apartment overlooking the Church of the Good Shepard. A drive up to the observatory on Mt John for the view of the Mackenzie Basin is on the agenda, as well as a drive along the lake.
Christchurch: I’m sad that we don’t have more time for Christchurch. When we initially made our itinerary, there had been additional aftershocks causing more damage. We thought it best just to spend one night near the airport since our flight leaves so early in the morning. It will certainly be on the agenda for our return trip.
Depart New Zealand.
Ok, so that’s the abbreviated version of our itinerary. Kiwis, let’s hear it. Also, I know so many of you out in the blogosphere have spent time in New Zealand. Feel free to link your posts in the comments section. Your help is greatly appreciated!
Featured Photo: Zac Henry via Flickr