Touring New Zealand (1 Viewer)

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Sep 1, 2019
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Hi all, we're planning a trip to tour both North and South Islands in a month next Spring.

Has anyone got any 'must not miss' tips? So much to see in such a short time.

TIA
 

Silver-Fox

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There’s quite a good thread about NZ that ran about a year ago.

But I can do a brief summary of when we went.

Started in the North and went as North as we could.

Always keep the coast on your left then it’s easier to pull into a lay-by.
We traveled near enough all the way round the island and skipped across when we wanted to.

Spent 4 weeks in the North Island.

Did a similar thing in the South but spent 5 weeks there.

Hire a SC Moho that allows you to wild camp and there’s plenty of places to do that.

We don’t do city’s so only looked in on Christchurch and Wellington.

Hired an older cheaper van so we could go off piste 😊

Join the NZMCA it’s worth it.

Try to avoid when the Asians are there.
They have a unique driving style 😊.

Most of all enjoy 👍😊
 
Apr 24, 2023
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Rotorua for the thermal springs and volcanic activity, Lake Wanaka for the skydiving, I think it's Arkaroa Harbour you can kayak with Hector dolphins.
Wellington is lovely.
I don't think you can go wrong wherever you end up. We went for a month with my parents and my dad kept journal's of everything, I was too young to bother and wished I had now.
 
Oct 18, 2022
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Loved the whole NZ thing, but South Island particularly so. Some highlights for us: Whale Watching at Kaikoura, Abel Tasman & Coromandel. Wild beaches around Waihi are stunning, The geo thermal stuff on North Island is amazing. Didn’t think much of Auckland City. We visited in 2011 and Christchurch had all but been destroyed by an earthquake. I think the plan was to rebuild the city in a more stable location, but not sure how that’s progressed? For me, one of the best places you could visit in a motorhome. I plan to return.

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suavecarve

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I would do a search in the top right corner having got onto the photo of the day thread and search for all posts by Kiwi Brit and kiwicampa and mark them up on a map if they hit my buttons.
Having done that I would chat them up for the secret ones they dont tell us about !
Reckon they will be along shortly
 
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StephB
Sep 1, 2019
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Rotorua for the thermal springs and volcanic activity, Lake Wanaka for the skydiving, I think it's Arkaroa Harbour you can kayak with Hector dolphins.
Wellington is lovely.
I don't think you can go wrong wherever you end up. We went for a month with my parents and my dad kept journal's of everything, I was too young to bother and wished I had now.
I have a niece near Rotorua, so she'll be our guide there. Arkaroa sound lovely.

Adventures are great when you're young, but you always realise you didn't appreciate it as much as you should have.
 
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We had an idea of some places we wished to go but only loosely kept to it. Allow yourself to make plans as you go along. Loads of places to stop, campsites and freedom camping stops. People there will give you information. We went with Wilderness who were excellent.
It also depends what you want to do.
Snorkelling - stingray bay (really has lots of stingrays) and gemstone bay full of beautiful fish. Near Harhei beach.
Mountain biking. We found great trails around Stoney Bay in Coromandel.
Fishing. Red snapper fishing over the mussel beds south of Coromandel town (hannafords wharfe)
Walking. Tongariro crossing.
Scenery and wildlife. Boat trip Milford Sound.
Bungee jumping - Queenstown. My son not me.
One of my favourites Okarito. Kiwi tours took us on a night time walk to see Kiwis.
And loads of other stuff. It’s a fantastic place.
 
Apr 24, 2023
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I have a niece near Rotorua, so she'll be our guide there. Arkaroa sound lovely.

Adventures are great when you're young, but you always realise you didn't appreciate it as much as you should have.
One bad thing about Rotorua is the whole place smells of farts. You do get used to it though!
 
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If you are interested in Military history, Waiouru middle of the north Island ,just off State Highway 1(signposted) is the NZ Army Museum.

South Island, "Someone's Darling " and the man that buried "Someone's Darling" if you are a fan of the obscure.

If in Wellington, the view point on Mt Victoria (on a fine day) , from there the Southern Alps can by seen, as well as the Harbour, Ward Island etc.

Bay of Plenty and the East Cape, Ohope Beach 7 miles long. The 800 year old Pohutikawa tree (a Maori religious symbol) if it's around Xmas it will be in Bloom

The Views from the Bay of Islands Golf Course are well worth playing a round.

Just a few bits:drinks:

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Feb 16, 2020
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=+1 Ohope beach, surfing. Very touristy, but don't miss Hobiton, the detail is staggering, have a pie and pint at the Green Dragon.
We did both Islands, but will only do the South Island when we go back in two years time. There's plenty to see on both islands, but the South Island did it for us. The cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch.
Oh, if your brave enough, you can run the highest commercially run waterfall in the world around Rotorua [ Ranganiki ?spelling] [ 7 mt.] as in my Avatar photo.
Mike.
 
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Hi all, we're planning a trip to tour both North and South Islands in a month next Spring.

Has anyone got any 'must not miss' tips? So much to see in such a short time.

TIA
We did it in 2016. It was much bigger than we thought, each island is about as big as GB mainland, we had a month in a Mh and only got around South island from Wellington and even then rushed some bits. There was so much to see and with the free camping it was so easy and had some great views. When we went Kaikura was out of bounds following earthquake damage.

We saw some of North island in the other 2 weeks doing car and motels, which was definitely not the same. We intend to go back at some point and do North Island properly and would probably allow another 4 weeks for it.

Would definitely join NZMCA. You do need to be wary of the motorhome rental people, they re a bit naughty with extras. They will rent you a people carrier with a self contained sticker on it ( you need this for some of the stops) but the toilet will be in a bag, if you use the toilet it was cost NZD90. They will also restrict some of the roads you can drive on. But just be aware, don't let any of this put you off, its a great place to go motorhoming.
 

dabhand

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I went in 2002 and did a tour around both Islands (NOT in a moho) I rooted out my travel log a while ago for some other Funsters who were going, re posted here, bare in mind it will not be up to date.


Rooted out my old travel log!


Hope the below is of some use and not out of date too much!, obviously tastes differ and some of the things/restaurants etc which we enjoyed may well have changed since 2002 and so may not be to your taste, we used the AA Explorer New Zealand map and guide book which I will be happy to send to you however, there were major works going on all over NZ especially Auckland whilst we were there so you may find a more up to date book more useful. I have also included some areas of possible interest that we did not have time/inclination to do and have noted this wherever possible. Time constraints will also affect what you are able to do.

Auckland

The Waterfront – lively area lots of shops, restaurants, ferries and other craft. Don’t miss the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, Hobson Wharf, which is well worth a visit, along with Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World (quite expensive) near Orakei Wharf to the East of the city. There are many other marine type attractions around Auckland. If you fancy a nice meal in different surroundings, The Sky Tower has a decent restaurant (328m high, observation decks and revolving bar and restaurant with great views over Auckland) and is part of the Sky City casino, hotel and shopping complex, you don’t have to be a member to get into the casino, well worth spending an hour here after a meal. There is also a great Tepanyaki (Japanese food cooked at your own table) restaurant in Auckland, but I can’t remember the name of it.


There are many islands and beaches around Auckland to numerous to mention. You are best deciding whether you want history, geography or culture etc before you pick one (if at all) However we had a day on Waiheke Island which is the largest and busiest and about 35mins. By ferry from Auckland. Thriving arts and crafts community with many galleries and craft shops, great beaches, restaurants and cafes and about 25 vineyards and wineries. We did a tour of one of the vineyards and quite enjoyed it. You can take your own (hire) car if you have one although I think buses taxis etc are ok.

Round and about Auckland there are many places worth a visit, we liked Parnell one of the oldest inner city suburbs – lots of activity, trendy boutiques, ethnic restaurants, wine bars, art galleries craft and curio shops, and if you like flowers Parnell Rose Gardens and various churches (not my scene). Devonport – lots of ferries (every ½ hour, 10-15mins $7) from the North Shore Peninsula. The landing place of the great canoe Tainui lots of bookshops, craft galleries, outdoor cafes and antique and souvenir shops.

If you have plenty of time in Auckland another interesting day or evening out is to go “To the Trots” there are at least two racecourses, one standard and one more like an arena where you can go in the evening and be seated in a large restaurant overlooking the arena and have a meal and a little flutter whilst the harness racing (horse and cart if you know what I mean) takes place. It really is quite fun and not that expensive. Neither is packed and it’s very relaxed, if you go to Auckland races (the main racecourse) just wander in to the owners enclosure it’s unlikely anyone will stop you, if they do just tell them your looking for…. (pick an owner) and ask if he has any horses running, , no one will ask, say he’s an old friend.

Bay of Islands

We really liked the Bay of Islands; we stayed at the Blue Pacific Apartments overlooking the bay and Russell. Although it is quite busy in high season (now) so you will need to book things when you know what you want to do. Go down to the wharf and book the EXCITOR, (or newer) don’t even think about it it’s brilliant, it’s a jet boat that takes you through the “Hole in the Rock” lots of fun and exhilaration at 40 knots plus. About an 11/2 hour trip. Sit on the raised seats at the back of the boat, (the front is up in the air) it’s a better view. Try and go when the sea is calm as the boat doesn’t always go through “the hole” if it’s too rough.

We booked the Omata estate Vineyard and Restaurant ( “Where the vines meet the sea”) and caught the ferry to Russell one evening, (earliest European settlement in the country and once the most lawless place in the world, where all the whalers and fishermen used to frequent) it was lovely, a nice setting, semi open air, although my notes say the restaurant is in a lovely location on the top of a hill overlooking the sea and surrounded by vines, the location didn’t quite make up for the food which was ok but not outstanding We did however have a great night as we were with a gang and had lots to drink. The restaurant's staff gives you a lift back to the wharf to get the water taxi (about 10 mins) back to Paihai. You could spend the day on Russell if you are in the area for a while as there are a number of museums, visitor centres, churches etc.

Waitangi National Reserve ($9 each in 02) People tend to visit here whilst in Paihai and surrounding area, this is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed where the Maori chiefs accepted the Queens governorship and she in return guaranteed them the possession of their lands, forests, fisheries and any other valuable property they possessed. There isn’t a tremendous amount there and you wont need a day unless you go walking in the reserve, it’s pleasant, has The Treaty House, Maori War Canoe, Maori Meeting House and the famous flagpole, I don’t know if it’s a regular thing but whilst we were there they were practising for Waitangi Day, and had Maori canoe racing and dancing and a demonstration of the way they used to fight etc.

Depending on how long you are in the Bay of Islands area if you get the chance go to Cape Reinga. The drive from Paihai is about three hours and the last 20k is a gravel road, the drive is fairly uneventful although there are some nice spots on the way. When we were there, there were very few places to stay around the Cape so it was a day trip for us, but I think you’ll find somewhere to stop in a camper van. It is the one place that I remember most, again, there is very little there, but there doesn’t need to be that’s the beauty of it, you just have to see it, honestly, go, it’s breathtaking, my notes at the time say – “Cape Reinga itself is an awe inspiring place, it’s like being at the end of the world. The Maori believe it is the legendary point of departure of the Maori spirits returning to their mythical homeland of Hawaiki”. There are numerous day trips to Cape Reinga, from Paihai it’s a 500km round trip and a long day, you would get more time to stop at other places of interest if you left from Kaitaia or Mangonui in Doubtless Bay which is the main settlement and has the “world famous Mangonui Fish Shop which is next to the wharf, which is allegedly the best chip shop in the world”? We had ‘Blue Nose’ and chips, curry roll and fishcake $23 for four. It was actually superb and seated on a deck overhanging the sea. They did charge 50c for vinegar which I noted the “best chip shop in the world!! Is the only place I have ever been charged for vinegar. Also around this area is Kerikeri which is a pleasant little place with workshops selling ceramics, woodcarvings, jewellery, and other arts and crafts along with the Makana chocolate factory with free viewing and tasting this is on Kerikeri Road on the way to the Stone Store.

I don’t know where you are staying in the Bay of Islands but the main tourist centre is Paihai, not a particularly attractive place but if you go to the Maritime Building on the Quayside all the main booking and information offices are there and you can arrange trips to all of the above and more. The Visitor Information Centre is also here (well it was when we were there!).

ROTORUA

I don’t need to say much about Rotorua as you will probably have heard most of it, or as the guidebook says “One of the country’s most popular and commercialised tourist resorts, with a range of large-scale attractions geared towards the incoming busloads.” However, it’s a great place with lots to do and see in the surrounding area. We went to see a HANGI and CONCERT at Whakarewarewa This is probably the best in the area don’t miss it, here you can see all the thermal activity of the area, geysers etc. We had a little old Maori woman called Christine, who was our guide. She was very informative and gave us a potted history of the village and explanations as to how they utilised the boiling spring water and mud in their everyday lives. How food was cooked to perfection by cooking it underground, how they made their Tea Tree Oil and how they bathed and washed their clothes in the boiling water, and how it took the water 3 hours to cool down enough for them to be able to bathe in it. It’s worth going just for this but it is also contains the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where you can watch the Maori at work and also see the replica Maori village which has a daily cultural show, try and make sure your visit coincides with the show, it’s really pleasant and quite moving. We also went to The Buried Village (buried by the eruption of Mount Tarawera in June 1886) in Tarawera Road this is also worth going to as it contains the Museum of Te Wairoa, Blacksmith’s, Stone Chimney, Trout stream and Te Wairoa falls.

In Rotorua itself you have the usual shops, bars and restaurants and if you are desperate for a decent pint there is an Irish Bar in the centre which serves good Guinness and Murphy’s. We also went to the Sirocco restaurant and had a decent meal (fish). There are also many hot thermal spas which you can soak and relax in.

TAUPO

Didn’t spent a lot of time here although we did drive all the way along the lake. It’s a big trout fishing area with lots of good scenery and action activities such as rafting, mountain biking, helicopter sightseeing and tandem parachute jumps (as if). However, most of this can be done at Queenstown if you are there for longer.

NAPIER

Completely rebuilt in the Art Deco Style after an earthquake in 1931. Art Deco weekend in Feb. Also wine and food extravaganza in Feb. Hawkes Bay Museum, Kiwi House. Quite a few interesting places to see and things to do. Pick up the local guide to restaurants and wineries. “A Guide to Hawkes Bay Wineries” there’s about 20 or 30 of them. They are often a great place to go for lunch if you have time, I can’t remember which we went to in this area.

WELLINGTON

Huge harbour and very windy. Lots to do as in any major town also departure point for ferry to South Island. Lots of entertainment, festivals, ballet, Orchestras, culture, museums, cable cars, botanic gardens, shops, cafes bars and restaurants. If you are here for any length of time I would get a local guide to what’s on.


SOUTH ISLAND

NELSON

Ferry arrives here (2hrs 45m. crossing time). I thought Nelson was a bit of a hick town, great if you like pottery although there is the usual Museums etc we saw quite a good band playing U2 numbers in one of the bars and that’s about all I wrote about it although I did note it had a McDonalds (not sure why). Picton which is not far away is worth going to if you are staying nearby, lovely harbour town. Cloudy Bay vineyard is also near here as is the Allan Scott Vineyard where we had a superb lunch of rare beef and salad.

GREYMOUTH

We only passed through Greymouth I noted it was nothing special with not much there, however we did have a fantastic lunch here (turbot and Salad bar) If you are staying here I would imagine its because 13km south is Shantytown which is a reconstruction of a gold rush settlement. I don’t want to sound to negative about Greymouth but you have to remember that there are many towns in NZ that although pretty naff in themselves, only serve as watering holes for touring the surrounding area, although I can’t remember much about this place!! Although KNIGHTS VIEWPOINT on the way out is pretty good. For instance we stayed in HAAS just further down the coast, there is absolutely zero there but there was some great scenery on the way in and out.

FRANZ JOSEPH GLACIER

This is quite spectacular; you can take a small plane or a helicopter flight around the glacier if you’re feeling brave although they are often cancelled because of the weather. DONT DO IT, there have been many fatal crashes, one of which was the plane we were supposed to be on, but we went to a tepanyaki restaurant in Queenstown and got a bit lashed, getting up to late for the flight, which crashed killing everyone on board, another occasion where alcohol has saved my life! Hallelujah, praise be to gin :giggle: (y) Many guided walks shortest about three hours, all details in visitor centre.

QUEENSTOWN

Absolutely loved Queenstown loads to do great town, great scenery lots of activities. We stayed at the Gardens Park Royal which had just had a $33 million dollar refurbishment, King-size beds with a small balcony overlooking a small garden with a view of the lake. (I only mention this in case you intend to book any accommodation, although I would imagine you will stay in the moho.) We didn’t book any accommodation in advance we just went on spec.

Another good tepanyaki restaurant in Queenstown, can’t remember the name but there was only one when we were there. We had an absolutely action packed time in Queenstown, most of it thrill seeking.

Para Flights – (Parachute tethered to the back of a boat.}Every hour from the pier, take a tandem one and get a bird’s eye view of Queenstown.

Shotover Jet – “The world’s most exciting jet boat ride” It’s not scary just thrilling, free courtesy bus from town about every 15mins. Allow about 90mins. 30 there, 30 on boat, 30 back. If you don’t do anything else in Queenstown, do this. $79 each

Kawarau Suspension Bridge – Bungee – jumping second to none. (Big balls required)

The Skyline Gondola – Base station at end of Brecon Street past the Motor Museum, cable car up the mountain, (you can walk up if your feeling energetic) great views take the Luge run back down great fun, but don’t do what I did and forget to use the break, ouch!

Flight Park Tandem Paragliding? – Off the top as the same mountain as above. It’s a tandem jump and quite brilliant, running to the edge of a cliff and jumping off with a parachute (and another fellow) strapped to your back isn’t as mad as it sounds, great views of Queenstown as well. If you do this take off from Coronet Peak as the take off is higher, you get longer in the air and you aren’t as rushed like you can be if you take off from the Skyline site.

We did all of the above in a day, most of the activities are quite close together so you really can squeeze loads in.

ARROWTOWN

N E of Queenstown, historic settlement, quite quaint and worth seeing gives a good impression of an old settlement town, shops, restaurants etc and a decent museum. Doesn’t take long to get there from Queenstown

MILFORD SOUND

The road route is 119km from Te Anau. If it’s not on your itinerary but are staying anywhere near try and get there it really is fantastic, book the Cruise and Milford Deep Underwater Observatory Tour from Milford Wharf it is about $65 each, and takes about 3 to 4 hours. I noted that it was “very picturesque, an experience everyone should have in life” The drive to Milford Sound (from TE Anau) is absolutely spectacular, if not on your itinerary beg, borrow or steal a car and go, you won’t be disappointed, although you should be able to get there in a moho or can fly from Queenstown to the tiny airstrip at Milford Sound, in a plane or helicopter!

LAKE TEKAPO

Didn’t go here.

CHRISTCHURCH

Lively city, arts and culture, easy to explore on foot or tourist tram, theatres, shops restaurants, museums, botanic gardens and arts centre.

I think I have mentioned about the wine tours, There are vineyards all over NZ they are normally free to get in (they want you to buy the wine which is generally very good) but it’s worth having a guide to them as some of the best lunches were had at them.

We went to many other places which I don’t think are on your route such as Curio Bay in the Catlins, the very South East of South Island, and one of the few places in the world where the Hector dolphin breeds. If there are places on your route not mentioned above let me know.

Anyway just chill you will love NZ, have a great time and I hope the above, although well out of date, is of some use.

Have fun


Simon (dabhand)
 
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Plus Akaroa (about 50kms South of Christchurch). Town with French connections resulting from their attempt to get NZ before we did) Interesting. It's situated in a flooded caldera.

Also don't miss the little blue penguins at Oamaru , between Timaru and Dunedin. If you go pay extra for the closer of the two viewing galleries.

Fabulous country.

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Used to travel to Wellington for work 4-5 times a year and loved the place. The museum (yes I know!) provides a great insight into indigenous people, but it’s just a fabulous city!

Teddy B are doing a tour at the moment, so worth asking Brian and Lee what their highlights are?
 

Silver-Fox

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Will be keeping an eye on this thread as we are hiring a MH over there at the end of next year. (y)

Evening Paul

If you don’t mind driving and being sen in an older C Moho go for the cheaper option.

The company we went with were spot on.
The vehicle was well run in but it also allowed us to use roads you couldn’t go on in the “posh” ones.

Only four roads we were banned from one being 100 mile beach but I did drive onto it and back off 😉😊

You feel less pressure trying not to scratch an older van.

This is who we went with a bit blurred I’m afraid

FAB53705-D3F5-418C-BC35-F33671AF8170.jpeg
 
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StephB
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=+1 Ohope beach, surfing. Very touristy, but don't miss Hobiton, the detail is staggering, have a pie and pint at the Green Dragon.
We did both Islands, but will only do the South Island when we go back in two years time. There's plenty to see on both islands, but the South Island did it for us. The cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch.
Oh, if your brave enough, you can run the highest commercially run waterfall in the world around Rotorua [ Ranganiki ?spelling] [ 7 mt.] as in my Avatar photo.
Mike.
Unfortunately, we both have health issue which prevent us from doing some of the more exciting activities, but we're really looking forward to it.
I went in 2002 and did a tour around both Islands (NOT in a moho) I rooted out my travel log a while ago for some other Funsters who were going, re posted here, bare in mind it will not be up to date.


Rooted out my old travel log!


Hope the below is of some use and not out of date too much!, obviously tastes differ and some of the things/restaurants etc which we enjoyed may well have changed since 2002 and so may not be to your taste, we used the AA Explorer New Zealand map and guide book which I will be happy to send to you however, there were major works going on all over NZ especially Auckland whilst we were there so you may find a more up to date book more useful. I have also included some areas of possible interest that we did not have time/inclination to do and have noted this wherever possible. Time constraints will also affect what you are able to do.

Auckland

The Waterfront – lively area lots of shops, restaurants, ferries and other craft. Don’t miss the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, Hobson Wharf, which is well worth a visit, along with Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World (quite expensive) near Orakei Wharf to the East of the city. There are many other marine type attractions around Auckland. If you fancy a nice meal in different surroundings, The Sky Tower has a decent restaurant (328m high, observation decks and revolving bar and restaurant with great views over Auckland) and is part of the Sky City casino, hotel and shopping complex, you don’t have to be a member to get into the casino, well worth spending an hour here after a meal. There is also a great Tepanyaki (Japanese food cooked at your own table) restaurant in Auckland, but I can’t remember the name of it.


There are many islands and beaches around Auckland to numerous to mention. You are best deciding whether you want history, geography or culture etc before you pick one (if at all) However we had a day on Waiheke Island which is the largest and busiest and about 35mins. By ferry from Auckland. Thriving arts and crafts community with many galleries and craft shops, great beaches, restaurants and cafes and about 25 vineyards and wineries. We did a tour of one of the vineyards and quite enjoyed it. You can take your own (hire) car if you have one although I think buses taxis etc are ok.

Round and about Auckland there are many places worth a visit, we liked Parnell one of the oldest inner city suburbs – lots of activity, trendy boutiques, ethnic restaurants, wine bars, art galleries craft and curio shops, and if you like flowers Parnell Rose Gardens and various churches (not my scene). Devonport – lots of ferries (every ½ hour, 10-15mins $7) from the North Shore Peninsula. The landing place of the great canoe Tainui lots of bookshops, craft galleries, outdoor cafes and antique and souvenir shops.

If you have plenty of time in Auckland another interesting day or evening out is to go “To the Trots” there are at least two racecourses, one standard and one more like an arena where you can go in the evening and be seated in a large restaurant overlooking the arena and have a meal and a little flutter whilst the harness racing (horse and cart if you know what I mean) takes place. It really is quite fun and not that expensive. Neither is packed and it’s very relaxed, if you go to Auckland races (the main racecourse) just wander in to the owners enclosure it’s unlikely anyone will stop you, if they do just tell them your looking for…. (pick an owner) and ask if he has any horses running, , no one will ask, say he’s an old friend.

Bay of Islands

We really liked the Bay of Islands; we stayed at the Blue Pacific Apartments overlooking the bay and Russell. Although it is quite busy in high season (now) so you will need to book things when you know what you want to do. Go down to the wharf and book the EXCITOR, (or newer) don’t even think about it it’s brilliant, it’s a jet boat that takes you through the “Hole in the Rock” lots of fun and exhilaration at 40 knots plus. About an 11/2 hour trip. Sit on the raised seats at the back of the boat, (the front is up in the air) it’s a better view. Try and go when the sea is calm as the boat doesn’t always go through “the hole” if it’s too rough.

We booked the Omata estate Vineyard and Restaurant ( “Where the vines meet the sea”) and caught the ferry to Russell one evening, (earliest European settlement in the country and once the most lawless place in the world, where all the whalers and fishermen used to frequent) it was lovely, a nice setting, semi open air, although my notes say the restaurant is in a lovely location on the top of a hill overlooking the sea and surrounded by vines, the location didn’t quite make up for the food which was ok but not outstanding We did however have a great night as we were with a gang and had lots to drink. The restaurant's staff gives you a lift back to the wharf to get the water taxi (about 10 mins) back to Paihai. You could spend the day on Russell if you are in the area for a while as there are a number of museums, visitor centres, churches etc.

Waitangi National Reserve ($9 each in 02) People tend to visit here whilst in Paihai and surrounding area, this is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed where the Maori chiefs accepted the Queens governorship and she in return guaranteed them the possession of their lands, forests, fisheries and any other valuable property they possessed. There isn’t a tremendous amount there and you wont need a day unless you go walking in the reserve, it’s pleasant, has The Treaty House, Maori War Canoe, Maori Meeting House and the famous flagpole, I don’t know if it’s a regular thing but whilst we were there they were practising for Waitangi Day, and had Maori canoe racing and dancing and a demonstration of the way they used to fight etc.

Depending on how long you are in the Bay of Islands area if you get the chance go to Cape Reinga. The drive from Paihai is about three hours and the last 20k is a gravel road, the drive is fairly uneventful although there are some nice spots on the way. When we were there, there were very few places to stay around the Cape so it was a day trip for us, but I think you’ll find somewhere to stop in a camper van. It is the one place that I remember most, again, there is very little there, but there doesn’t need to be that’s the beauty of it, you just have to see it, honestly, go, it’s breathtaking, my notes at the time say – “Cape Reinga itself is an awe inspiring place, it’s like being at the end of the world. The Maori believe it is the legendary point of departure of the Maori spirits returning to their mythical homeland of Hawaiki”. There are numerous day trips to Cape Reinga, from Paihai it’s a 500km round trip and a long day, you would get more time to stop at other places of interest if you left from Kaitaia or Mangonui in Doubtless Bay which is the main settlement and has the “world famous Mangonui Fish Shop which is next to the wharf, which is allegedly the best chip shop in the world”? We had ‘Blue Nose’ and chips, curry roll and fishcake $23 for four. It was actually superb and seated on a deck overhanging the sea. They did charge 50c for vinegar which I noted the “best chip shop in the world!! Is the only place I have ever been charged for vinegar. Also around this area is Kerikeri which is a pleasant little place with workshops selling ceramics, woodcarvings, jewellery, and other arts and crafts along with the Makana chocolate factory with free viewing and tasting this is on Kerikeri Road on the way to the Stone Store.

I don’t know where you are staying in the Bay of Islands but the main tourist centre is Paihai, not a particularly attractive place but if you go to the Maritime Building on the Quayside all the main booking and information offices are there and you can arrange trips to all of the above and more. The Visitor Information Centre is also here (well it was when we were there!).

ROTORUA

I don’t need to say much about Rotorua as you will probably have heard most of it, or as the guidebook says “One of the country’s most popular and commercialised tourist resorts, with a range of large-scale attractions geared towards the incoming busloads.” However, it’s a great place with lots to do and see in the surrounding area. We went to see a HANGI and CONCERT at Whakarewarewa This is probably the best in the area don’t miss it, here you can see all the thermal activity of the area, geysers etc. We had a little old Maori woman called Christine, who was our guide. She was very informative and gave us a potted history of the village and explanations as to how they utilised the boiling spring water and mud in their everyday lives. How food was cooked to perfection by cooking it underground, how they made their Tea Tree Oil and how they bathed and washed their clothes in the boiling water, and how it took the water 3 hours to cool down enough for them to be able to bathe in it. It’s worth going just for this but it is also contains the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where you can watch the Maori at work and also see the replica Maori village which has a daily cultural show, try and make sure your visit coincides with the show, it’s really pleasant and quite moving. We also went to The Buried Village (buried by the eruption of Mount Tarawera in June 1886) in Tarawera Road this is also worth going to as it contains the Museum of Te Wairoa, Blacksmith’s, Stone Chimney, Trout stream and Te Wairoa falls.

In Rotorua itself you have the usual shops, bars and restaurants and if you are desperate for a decent pint there is an Irish Bar in the centre which serves good Guinness and Murphy’s. We also went to the Sirocco restaurant and had a decent meal (fish). There are also many hot thermal spas which you can soak and relax in.

TAUPO

Didn’t spent a lot of time here although we did drive all the way along the lake. It’s a big trout fishing area with lots of good scenery and action activities such as rafting, mountain biking, helicopter sightseeing and tandem parachute jumps (as if). However, most of this can be done at Queenstown if you are there for longer.

NAPIER

Completely rebuilt in the Art Deco Style after an earthquake in 1931. Art Deco weekend in Feb. Also wine and food extravaganza in Feb. Hawkes Bay Museum, Kiwi House. Quite a few interesting places to see and things to do. Pick up the local guide to restaurants and wineries. “A Guide to Hawkes Bay Wineries” there’s about 20 or 30 of them. They are often a great place to go for lunch if you have time, I can’t remember which we went to in this area.

WELLINGTON

Huge harbour and very windy. Lots to do as in any major town also departure point for ferry to South Island. Lots of entertainment, festivals, ballet, Orchestras, culture, museums, cable cars, botanic gardens, shops, cafes bars and restaurants. If you are here for any length of time I would get a local guide to what’s on.


SOUTH ISLAND

NELSON

Ferry arrives here (2hrs 45m. crossing time). I thought Nelson was a bit of a hick town, great if you like pottery although there is the usual Museums etc we saw quite a good band playing U2 numbers in one of the bars and that’s about all I wrote about it although I did note it had a McDonalds (not sure why). Picton which is not far away is worth going to if you are staying nearby, lovely harbour town. Cloudy Bay vineyard is also near here as is the Allan Scott Vineyard where we had a superb lunch of rare beef and salad.

GREYMOUTH

We only passed through Greymouth I noted it was nothing special with not much there, however we did have a fantastic lunch here (turbot and Salad bar) If you are staying here I would imagine its because 13km south is Shantytown which is a reconstruction of a gold rush settlement. I don’t want to sound to negative about Greymouth but you have to remember that there are many towns in NZ that although pretty naff in themselves, only serve as watering holes for touring the surrounding area, although I can’t remember much about this place!! Although KNIGHTS VIEWPOINT on the way out is pretty good. For instance we stayed in HAAS just further down the coast, there is absolutely zero there but there was some great scenery on the way in and out.

FRANZ JOSEPH GLACIER

This is quite spectacular; you can take a small plane or a helicopter flight around the glacier if you’re feeling brave although they are often cancelled because of the weather. DONT DO IT, there have been many fatal crashes, one of which was the plane we were supposed to be on, but we went to a tepanyaki restaurant in Queenstown and got a bit lashed, getting up to late for the flight, which crashed killing everyone on board, another occasion where alcohol has saved my life! Hallelujah, praise be to gin :giggle: (y) Many guided walks shortest about three hours, all details in visitor centre.

QUEENSTOWN

Absolutely loved Queenstown loads to do great town, great scenery lots of activities. We stayed at the Gardens Park Royal which had just had a $33 million dollar refurbishment, King-size beds with a small balcony overlooking a small garden with a view of the lake. (I only mention this in case you intend to book any accommodation, although I would imagine you will stay in the moho.) We didn’t book any accommodation in advance we just went on spec.

Another good tepanyaki restaurant in Queenstown, can’t remember the name but there was only one when we were there. We had an absolutely action packed time in Queenstown, most of it thrill seeking.

Para Flights – (Parachute tethered to the back of a boat.}Every hour from the pier, take a tandem one and get a bird’s eye view of Queenstown.

Shotover Jet – “The world’s most exciting jet boat ride” It’s not scary just thrilling, free courtesy bus from town about every 15mins. Allow about 90mins. 30 there, 30 on boat, 30 back. If you don’t do anything else in Queenstown, do this. $79 each

Kawarau Suspension Bridge – Bungee – jumping second to none. (Big balls required)

The Skyline Gondola – Base station at end of Brecon Street past the Motor Museum, cable car up the mountain, (you can walk up if your feeling energetic) great views take the Luge run back down great fun, but don’t do what I did and forget to use the break, ouch!

Flight Park Tandem Paragliding? – Off the top as the same mountain as above. It’s a tandem jump and quite brilliant, running to the edge of a cliff and jumping off with a parachute (and another fellow) strapped to your back isn’t as mad as it sounds, great views of Queenstown as well. If you do this take off from Coronet Peak as the take off is higher, you get longer in the air and you aren’t as rushed like you can be if you take off from the Skyline site.

We did all of the above in a day, most of the activities are quite close together so you really can squeeze loads in.

ARROWTOWN

N E of Queenstown, historic settlement, quite quaint and worth seeing gives a good impression of an old settlement town, shops, restaurants etc and a decent museum. Doesn’t take long to get there from Queenstown

MILFORD SOUND

The road route is 119km from Te Anau. If it’s not on your itinerary but are staying anywhere near try and get there it really is fantastic, book the Cruise and Milford Deep Underwater Observatory Tour from Milford Wharf it is about $65 each, and takes about 3 to 4 hours. I noted that it was “very picturesque, an experience everyone should have in life” The drive to Milford Sound (from TE Anau) is absolutely spectacular, if not on your itinerary beg, borrow or steal a car and go, you won’t be disappointed, although you should be able to get there in a moho or can fly from Queenstown to the tiny airstrip at Milford Sound, in a plane or helicopter!

LAKE TEKAPO

Didn’t go here.

CHRISTCHURCH

Lively city, arts and culture, easy to explore on foot or tourist tram, theatres, shops restaurants, museums, botanic gardens and arts centre.

I think I have mentioned about the wine tours, There are vineyards all over NZ they are normally free to get in (they want you to buy the wine which is generally very good) but it’s worth having a guide to them as some of the best lunches were had at them.

We went to many other places which I don’t think are on your route such as Curio Bay in the Catlins, the very South East of South Island, and one of the few places in the world where the Hector dolphin breeds. If there are places on your route not mentioned above let me know.

Anyway just chill you will love NZ, have a great time and I hope the above, although well out of date, is of some use.

Have fun


Simon (dabhand)
Thank you, dabhand, so much information. It sounds as though we need 6 months there.
 
May 13, 2016
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We did it in 2016. It was much bigger than we thought, each island is about as big as GB mainland, we had a month in a Mh and only got around South island from Wellington and even then rushed some bits. There was so much to see and with the free camping it was so easy and had some great views. When we went Kaikura was out of bounds following earthquake damage.

We saw some of North island in the other 2 weeks doing car and motels, which was definitely not the same. We intend to go back at some point and do North Island properly and would probably allow another 4 weeks for it.

Would definitely join NZMCA. You do need to be wary of the motorhome rental people, they re a bit naughty with extras. They will rent you a people carrier with a self contained sticker on it ( you need this for some of the stops) but the toilet will be in a bag, if you use the toilet it was cost NZD90. They will also restrict some of the roads you can drive on. But just be aware, don't let any of this put you off, its a great place to go motorhoming.
New Zealand as a whole is only slightly bigger than the UK but seems a lot bigger because of the relatively small number of motorway or dual carriageway miles available (a bit like Wales :whistle2:). We did the South Island in 3 weeks but didn't get to Invercargill or Dunedin because we got stuck in Queenstown for 5 days because all roads out were closed by landslips due to 'the flood of the century' in 1999 when almost 2 metres of rain fell in 2 days. Quite an experience.
My cousin tells me that Queenstown had another storm only a few weeks ago which wasn't quite as bad.
Never seen a lot of the North Island as we flew to Rotorua before travelling to Auckland by coach. Did hope to return and see the North Island but sadly never managed it:frowny:

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Nov 5, 2013
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Out first trip after we retired in 2012 was nearly three months in NZ,we're more scenery than action people so saw a fair bit during the 11,000 km! The highlights for us were the whale watching at Kaikoura,we thought Milford sound was spectacular but then did Doubtful Sound,both on smaller locally owned boats 🙂 and not forgeting Arthurs pass that we managed to fit in three times👍
 
Jun 10, 2010
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Jan 22, 2012
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We did 6 months in Oz and NZ in 2016. When in NZ we hired a camper , ok but expensive. Went back to NZ this year and just used airbnb and the national buses found this way better. Here are the videos i made of the 2016 trip, the first one has a bit of Oz on it so skip forward.


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Jun 10, 2010
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Sorry it was 2014 when we went . I kept a blog of the trip and like most blogs read from the bottom of the page first and click on photies to get larger version.
Each to their own but if there s a camper option we re going to do it. I think it would be a shame to do NZ without using the Freedom spots.
 
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StephB
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May 13, 2016
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The Punakaiki Pancake rocks and blow-holes on the west coast of South Island is worth a visit, best at high tide.
Also Franz Josef Glacier is a must see, complete with it's Kea mountain parrots who strangely have a liking for rubber wiper blades and tyres!
I remember an advert for an insurance company on TV which said something like, 'We will cover you for anything......' then it cuts to a car sitting on bricks with keas picking away at the tyres, then it continues, 'Well almost!' :ROFLMAO: The day we were there was misty/ murky and the valley almost felt foreboding, even prehistoric, very atmospheric with waterfalls tumbling down all around the valley.
 
May 13, 2016
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Hi all, we're planning a trip to tour both North and South Islands in a month next Spring.

Has anyone got any 'must not miss' tips? So much to see in such a short time.

TIA
Keep in mind that Spring here is Autumn in NZ ;)

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