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my partner and I spent three weeks in New Zealand on both islands doing lots of adventure stuff, seeing nature, relaxation and learning some native culture.
had a one night stopover and managed to do a circle island tour with Carl's Tours, which I highly recommend, especially if you are short on time.
Air Tahiti had a great deal on our one night stopover. Though we barely got to spend time in our room, it was one of the nicest places that I have ever stayed before with a huge balcony overlooking the ocean. I would love to go back and stay for a few days at the resort. The only downside is that it's kind of far away from a lot of things.
one of my favorite places on our trip. Many people say it's too "touristy" but that's a big part of all of new zealand's industry. They have many great cafes and restaurants plus it's the adventure capital...and incredibly clean!
we got the "sleep n go" deal, with is on a higher floor but still nice rooms. From our little balcony, we had a great view of lake wakatipu and the mountains...would definitely stay here again.
a nice excursion on the ts earnslaw steamship across the lake to the farm where they served us a nice dinner (we did the sit-down dinner and not the buffet, which most people did) and then we got to see a sheep-shearing. Not much adventure, but a great look into new zealand life...
small group, friendly guides, beautiful scenery...I highly recommend doing your milford excursion with them!
Jet boating was so much fun that we did it again later on our trip in Taupo. This one was my favourite, though...
we booked the combo with them to do a half day rafting on the shotover river, along with the shotover jet and it was great fun! If you are going to do any whitewater rafting in New Zealand, the shotover river is great!
our first taste of new zealand's version of mexican food and I thought it was good. I tried a kiwi margarita, which I had never heard of before...it was just okay...
they have a floatation tank, which is an interesting experience. I also had a massage, which was pretty bad...
Although it's very touristy, it's kind of like a rite of passage for any tourists in Queenstown to go see it. The mountain is HUGE and very steep (we did the one in Rotorua and it was much smaller) and there's a bunch of things to do at the top. Try the luge! It's so much fun!
ricotta fig pancakes for breakfast...absolutely amazing!
very relaxing! They have transportation, too....
the most beautiful driving scenery that I have ever seen! Make sure you stop at the blue pools and do the short walk...also bring bug repellent because the sandflies are vicious!
we stayed in a treehouse hut...loved it!
if you are visiting the glacier, don't leave without doing at least a half day hike. It's an experience of a lifetime!
get a private pool for a great soak in warm, fresh glacier water. The private pools are secluded in the rainforest with your own shower/bathroom/changing room.
unbelievable scenery. I took so many pictures that I am still sorting them out...
we had dinner in the restaurant. The food was decent but the view of the beach was heavenly.
great little motel, not too far from the beach and the pancake rocks
another great adventure, unlike anything that I have ever heard of. We were told that it's better to do down on the south island than on the north island at the waitomo caves, but we wouldn't know the difference because we didn't do them at the waitomo caves...
a small, unimpressive little town on the way to Nelson..
nice hotel and the restaurant is good, too...though it's actually not in Nelson. It's right next to the airport. Our window was facing the road right near where the planes were landing. It's only slightly loud because the planes that land and take off there are all small planes.
you paddle out to a certain spot in Abel Tasman park, then the water taxi picks you up and takes you further, then you hike for a couple of hours and then the water taxi brings you back to where you started. It was hard choosing which company to do the trip with because they all seemed to have the same kind of trips, but I finally chose this one and am glad I did.
scenic microlite flight over a little of Abel Tasman park and Motueka. This is a great little company and a great experience that i would recommend to anyone who wants to try something a little different. It's not scary at all...
I kind of liked this little town...
an old converted church that is now a really good restaurant serving incredible food...definitely one of the top meals of the trip.
we just drove through on our way to blenheim, but stopped for a for minutes to have breakfast.
if you are near the area, stop and do the skywire ride.
Nigel is really nice and knowledgable about the local wineries. You go at your own pace and he supplies everything. The only bad thing is riding on the gravelly roads while the cars speed by you.
a very nice place to stay..and quiet.
the marlborough sounds are beautiful and there are tons of dolphins. They swim fast, though, so if you are swimming with them, you are told to keep your head under the water or you will miss them swimming by.
we should have stayed here instead of blenheim...
good food and friendly service
the lowlight of the trip.
really nice, new, modern studio apartments...but there's all kinds of people downstairs and in the building partying all night and it's really loud at all hours of the night.
one of the best museums ever...
we did a half day tour of matiu somes island in the wellington harbour, which is a bird sanctuary. tim, our guide, was very knowledgable.
It's a very popular restaurant and I totally understand why. My best meal the whole trip and also the nicest server...
the lake is beautiful and so clean. If you fly in, you might laugh at the size of the airport, which is one small building. You collect your bags on a little rack.
Seemingly underrated...this place had everything that we needed, even a spa tub in the living room! The receptionist, Jess, was incredibly helpful, too!
half day kayak trip on lake taupo to view the maori carvings on the cliff
Out of the choices of all the thermal parks, everyone suggests picking one. We decided to do this one because it's always the most advertised. It's very smelly but some beauful volcanic action.
it's a little off the beaten path, but worth going to. Soaking in the cooled-down hot springs is a great experience. You get to actually see the stream with the steam coming off of it. It's also the least expensive of the thermal pools.
we were told that rotorua isn't very nice and were pleasantly surprised when we got there. It's was one of my favourite places. I was expecting if to smell really badly, but that was a surprise, too...only in a few places.
possibly the best hotel of all the ones we stayed at this whole trip. You can get private thermal pool rooms to soak in, too...it's inside.
we had to go to this place again to see the difference between queenstown. The gondola is smaller but the luge is actually even more fun. We did five luge rides and that's actually the best deal.
an unexpected surprise. when I was doing my research, I thought this place was just another park exploiting animals and i was very wrong. It's a very nice little place and their kiwi conservation is very inspiring. We even got to see a kiwi in the exhibit.
another great place to soak. It's a little smelly because it's right next to a sulphur lake, though.
the best vegetarian salad that i have ever had.
another place that everyone says is not that great...I was pleasantly surprised because for a big city, it was slightly inviting. We based ourselves here for four nights to do tours that went out of the city.
This hotel is a great value!
when you go out in the harbour you actually get to see why they call Auckland the city of sails...a nice night out on the water
a little touristy and you only can spend 30 minutes in there. That's all that they allow...but the ice sculptures are cool.
canyoning...one of the most challenging things that I have ever done. We did the blue canyon tour. If you want a rewarding, tough, fun adventure, I highly recommend this.
One of the best tours ever. If you want to do a tour that encompasses mostly all of what New Zealand is, then do a full day tour with Stu and Donna. You will see the aritaki visitor center and the rainforest, wine tasting, honey tasting (you will get lunch there, too), visit craftsworld (with only new zealand made products), visit the gannet colony on the beach and then visit Donna and Stu's farm where you get to feed the little lambs and sheep, see all of the animals, learn about a real new zealand sheep farm and life, sample some new zealand food and learn about maori culture...
basically a tourist trap, but as a tourist, I felt compelled to check it out. It's very tall...
if you like to gamble....I do sometimes...
a small town on the coromandel peninsula. I personally wasn't very impressed with the town.
it's a quirky little place where everything revolves around water for power. They have a couple of little ziplines that are really fun.
I was actually expecting it to be lame, but pleasantly surprised.
not friendly to tourists...actually about the most unfriendly place of every restaurant that we were in on our trip.
one night stopover on our way back. The next time I am in LA, I will stay here again. The front desk is really friendly and very accommodating..
my favourite restaurant and right next door to our hotel. We had dinner with family and friends that live in Los Angeles.