I'm dedicating the next few posts to New Zealand because I have received several inquiries about it lately and realized that BV is severely lacking coverage on one of my favorite destinations!
Chris and I spent two weeks in New Zealand a few years ago over the New Years holiday. We flew Air New Zealand from Boston to Auckland (connecting in Los Angeles) and it was, hands down one of the best flying experiences. We spent our layover in LA, outdoors on Santa Monica pier and then slept most of the eleven hour journey to Auckland. It was one of the few times I woke up refreshed and rested after an international flight.
We traveled at a fast pace on this trip and used air, ferry and rental car in order to see as much as possible in two weeks. I highly recommend driving around New Zealand as it's the perfect way to take in all the dramatic scenery. One doesn't mind driving long distances when the open road looks like this:
Day 1: Drove from Auckland airport to Paihia. Cruised the Bay of Islands in the afternoon.
Day 2: Left for Auckland stopping at Whangarei falls on the way. Explored Auckland on foot.
Day 3: Scenic Drive to Bethell's, Piha and Karekare beaches. Devonport in the evening.
Day 4: Flight to Queenstown; Explored Queenstown, Gondola & Mountain Luge.
Day 5: Queenstown - Nevis Canyon Swing , Shotover Jet Ride and Arrowtown gold mining town.
Day 6: Drove to Te Anau and hiked part of the Kepler Track.
Day 7: Te Anau - Milford Sound Boat Cruise & Observatory.
Day 8: Drove back to Queenstown & flew to Christchurch.
Day 9: Explored Christchurch. Drove through Arthur's Pass, Pancake Rocks arring in Nelson.
Day 10: Hiked Abel Tasman Park all day.
Day 11: Drove to Picton (Marlborough wine country). Visited vineyards.
Day 12: Scenic drive along northern coast.
Day 13: Ferry from Picton to Wellington; dined in Wellington.
Day 14: Explored Wellington. Departed in the afternoon for the US.
Our favorite parts of this trip were Queenstown, Abel Tasman Park, Marlborough Wine Country and the Scenic Drive on the North Island.
The only thing we would have changed about this trip was Christchurch. We would have skipped it, mainly because the city was empty resulting in an eerie, Twighlight Zone kind of scene. Christchurch had suffered several damaging earthquakes prior to our visit so both residents and businesses had abandoned it for safer cities in the country. Despite being ridden with cracks and neglected buildings, it was a very pretty city, with well maintained gardens and parks. However, it was not worth going out of your way for a visit. Also, it's still hazardous. Just two months after our visit, Christchurch experienced a terrible earthquake that toppled the steeple of the iconic stone cathedral in town center.
North or South Island
When planning a trip to New Zealand, people often ask me whether to go to the north or south island. I say visit both if you have the time, since you are traveling pretty far to get there. But if you MUST choose stick with south. The South Island offers more landscape diversity - the fjords of Milford Sound, mountains of Queenstown, beaches of Abel Tasman and vineyards of Marlborough. All different. All stunning.
Stay tuned for more coverage on New Zealand including some of my favorite pictures!