Kia Ora! Every single day I was greeted by the most amazing people in a land where you experience breathtaking alpine views, world-class wines, glacier valleys, volcanic and geothermal landscapes along with an amazing sense of adventure. This city has stunning views in every corner, in every town and hence the best way to see it is to hire a car and drive around!
When you think of the most romantic places, New Zealand definitely is on top of the list. Its scenic beauty captures your heart in a way that no place does. You can experience an intimacy with nature or just fill your holiday with adventurous activities. Since we had twelve days in hand, we embarked on a journey to Auckland-Queenstown-Christchurch-Bora Bora (French Polynesia)-Rotorua and back to Auckland.
Too excited to land in Auckland, I couldn’t wait to get to the hotel. We spent the first two nights at Sky City Grand and the last one at Sky City Hotel. Both the hotels are just opposite each other and equally good.
This being the main city, it’s bustling with activities. The Sky Tower is a must see and gives you 360 views of the entire city, you can also walk around the pergola or try a bungee from the top, a view that we could enjoy daily from our room. Also if you’re lucky with Casinos try your hand at the Sky City Casino, well we almost missed our flight because of this. Since the city is quiet during the weekdays and buzzing on the weekend make sure you plan your stay accordingly. Queen Street is the city’s main strip buzzing with cafes, pubs and restaurants. For some shopping you can head to Britomart or Newmarket. Also the harbour area is great, you can enjoy some great sunset views while indulging in fish and chips and if interested you can climb the harbour bridge. In the city you can check out K street, Wynyard Quarter, Ponsoby (a hip street) and Mission bay.
If you have extra days then you can take day trips to Matamata, Rangitoto Island, Waiheke island, Wellington, Bay of Islands and the Tongariro National Park.
After a fabulous stay in Auckland we boarded our cool black flight to Queenstown. This is by far the most beautiful town I have ever seen. We stayed at the Rydges Lakeland Resort, situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu but you can also consider Copthorne or Novotel which definitely looked better in appearance.
Bubbling with activities, buzzing cafes and pubs, breathtaking alpine scenery, this town has it all. Even the four nights that I spent here were not enough. The best thing to do is hire a car or bicycle and go around the town. You could spend the day here chilling by Lake Wakatipu or Lake Wanaka. Also a tourist famous place is Milford Sound, a fiord that can only be accessed by road. Magnificent views greet every turn during the four hour drive from Queenstown. Honestly even though the rock cliffs and cascading waterfalls were mesmerizing I found the Milford Sound cruise a little boring. According to me you can totally skip this and instead take a day trip to Glenorchy or a half day safari at the picturesque Paradise Valley where the region is packed with movie locations. You can even try a few of their costumes for some good clicks. So much fun!
Queenstown is also the Adventure Capital of the World. From river rafting to bungee jumping, sky diving to snowboarding it’s all possible here. I finally gave in to my inhibitions and tried the NZone Skydive. I have to admit it was by far the best experience of my life. One adventure that cannot be missed is the Shotover Jet – a famous jet boat ride that is dramatic and breathtaking with an exhilarating 360-degree spin in the narrow canyon. If you have some more days to spend you can head to Mount Cook, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, Arrowtown and Wanaka.
Bordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, this garden city is New Zealand’s second largest. Since I spent only one night here, I tried the famous punting in the river Avon and hopped a few trams and explored the city center. I probably had the best experience sitting by the cafes, sipping on some local wine and relishing a good Italian meal. If you love nature you can visit the Botanic gardens or experience polar life at the Antarctic Centre. You can explore this city by foot, a guided bike tour, hop on hop off bus, tram, a gondola or a helicopter. According to me two nights here are good enough.
Home to the Maori tribe, this town is buzzing with tourists and has the most stunning scenery and countless geothermal attractions. Since it has a fascinating history, a trip here would be incomplete without a visit to the Maori village. It’s the closest encounter you can have with the tribe. You also experience some amazing cultural performances and can try the food cooked in an earth oven. Even though I did not like the food too much, the whole experience of the tribal village is absolutely worth it!
Since this is a volcanic wonderland you must visit the Pohutu Geyser, Wai-O-Tapu thermal pools and the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. I also enjoyed my visit to the Polynesian spa, where you soak in a relaxing hot thermal pool overlooking the lake making you forget all your worldly worries. You can spend your days by the lake sampling some local wine, relishing good meals or by the Hot water beach and Hells Gate for a geothermal mud bath experience.
Here we stayed at Novotel Rotorua Lakeside, which is situated on the shore of the lake and the rooms offer picturesque views. Also, just an hour and a half away are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. You will be amazed as you glide in a boat through a sparkling labyrinth of millions of glittering glowworms on the roof that create a surreal experience, one that you cannot miss.
Don’t leave without:
-Trying the local wine
-Trying delicious sea food pasta at the local cafes in Queenstown
-Skydiving and Shotover Jet
– Visiting the Glowworm caves.
-Trying the hot chocolate and desserts at Patagonia in Queenstown
-Going to Matamata. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, then Matamata is a must see. It’s an hour from Rotorua and two hours from Auckland.
-Bunjee Jumping from the world famous Kawarau Bridge.
– Stopping by the Ohau Point Seal Colony- great pull off area to view seals
There are countless reasons why I love New Zealand and its stunning landscapes, so much that I could spend months exploring everything this beautiful country has to offer. Also, If you’re on your honeymoon, do consider flying to Bora Bora from Auckland.
Click the gallery below to view pictures!