Tuesday, 9 September 2014

How to spend two weeks in New Zealand

I've just been asked for advice by a friend who's taking three weeks in the South Island of New Zealand. I explained that actually, I've only ever been there twice so I'm really not an expert, but there are lovely things in the North Island to see...

It's not the first time I've been asked for tips by people taking a trip to New Zealand, so I thought I'd share my suggestions.

1) If coming from Europe, spend a night or two in Singapore as a stopover. I've raved about Singapore before in this post, so I won't go on here.

2) You will probably fly in and out of Auckland so here are some ideas about what to do with a few days in Auckland (Hint - hire a car and avoid the central city 'cos it's crap).

3) Depending on how long you've got, you can drive up north to Kerikeri and the Bay of Islands via some of the most stunning beaches in the world in Northland. You can even go all the way up to the top at Cape Reinga and see the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meeting up in a visible wave.

I miss hot pools!

4) Then drive down to Rotorua and Taupo for huge lakes, trout fishing, adventure tourism, Maori culture shows, seeing kiwi and possibly patting baby lions in the animal parks and most importantly, thermal hot pools! There is a hot pool you can sit in and look out over Lake Rotorua - gorgeous, especially when the weather's a bit cooler.

5) If you want, depending on the season, you could check out the three mountains near the middle of the North Island and take in a bit of skiing. There's also some lovely walks/ treks to do in summer.

Contrary to popular belief, NZ isn't all hobbits and wild places!
6) Next, drive down to Wellington and stay somewhere central. Soak up the atmosphere, the cafes, the art scene, the harbour. Go to the Zealandia bird sanctuary.

7) Take the car ferry over the Cook Strait and spend a bit of time touring wineries in Nelson and Marlborough. Take a boat trip through the fjords (and take a waterproof coat!).

8) Fly down to Queenstown for incredible scenery, skiing in winter, adventure tourism etc. (I've never been, but I hear it's excellent). Then fly back to Auckland and back home or...

9) If you've got the time and money, consider a side trip to Australia while you're in the area. Or a Pacific Island (I like Samoa). Or a stopover somewhere interesting on the way back (Hong Kong is cool).

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