After I left the South Island, the fight seemed to go out of me a bit. After only one night in Wellington, marked by dodging soused cricket fans and would-be Irishmen (an English-New Zealand cricket match and St Patrick’s Day are a perfect storm of English lousiness and public drunkenness. I find it all embarrassing), I headed to Rotorua for a stab at Maori culture. I found the performance a bit lame and sad: a great people reduced to putting themselves in theme park villages for the sake of curious tourists. Fat British tourists made up the bulk of the crowd, and the fidgeted through the cultural performance, eager to tuck into the buffet provided. I left early, having no stomach for this. But it wasn’t just a disgust at the zoo-like atmosphere of Rotorua. The town itself is depressing, with many shops closed. The only ones that seem to be thriving are rent-to-own shops, gambling dens and bars. The local Maoris wander the streets looking fierce and menacing. And like most other native populations that have been displaced by euro-settlers, they’re not doing at all as well (4.9MB PDF) in the various social development indicators. But at least the Maori aren’t invisible like the Australian Aborigines. They’re much more integrated into the social fabric of New Zealand, but still.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
What a sight it is to see a sky full of stars amidst the polluted cities which we live in. I crave to see stars in the night sky but I always fail. I look up to the sky almost every day expecting there to be some sudden change, some ray of shiny stars. There is a feeling of wonder and awe when you look up to the sky and see glitter in there. I felt this awe when I went to Waitomo and saw the glowworm caves there. Waitomo is a small town in the northern island of New Zealand. In Maori, the term Waitomo can literally be divided into two words- “wai” which means water and “tomo” which means hole. Waitomo consists of several caves after which it is named. These caves are the habitat of various glow-worms and I explored these through the streams which go through them.
Soon after we reached back at the base, we continued our journey. We had very less time with us and had a long way to go. We stopped at Lake Pukaki to admire the beauty of the place. Lake Pukaki is the largest lake in South Island covering an area of roughly 178 km square. There was a store from where we got fresh Salmon Sashimi. That was the best Salmon that I had ever.
Devonport is another island which can be reached in 12 minutes via ferry from Auckland Central. Victoria hill on Devonport sports is one of the oldest forts found in New Zealand. The lanes in the fort are quite narrow and spooky. People say that the air inside the fort is chilly because of the souls of ancient warriors that still haunt the place. Nevertheless, this hill is one of the best places to experience the beauty of the setting sun in this land of fire (Acronym given to New Zealand because of the numerous volcanoes the country has!! As a matter of fact, Hill Victoria is also an extinct volcano!!). The 360 degree view you get from the top makes you want to live here. FOREVER!!
Book the lovely Glacier Valley Ecotour for your hikes to the glacier valleys of Franz Josef and Fox plus the picturesque Lake Matheson which gives some stunning 'mirror' photos (weather and ducks permitting). You need a guide to hike in the valleys anyway, and these guys take care of every need - food, hot drinks, even rain wear - we hiked all day in the rain and were bone dry. We were the only two people on that day, so it was a private tour! Our guide drove us off into a field into the countryside and we had lunch with an unobstructed view of Fox Glacier - could you ask for more?
Carrying New Zealand currency is very important otherwise you will be charged currency conversion rate for every transaction made from you home currency card.Better carry traveller's card for hassle free transaction.REMEMBER NEW ZEALAND IS EXPENSIVE. And the adventure activities will lure you so much that you may end up spending more.
We spent our last day on the lovely Waiheke island famous for its beaches and wines. Take a bus/ Uber to the Auckland Ferry Terminal where you can buy a pass for a round trip to the island plus a bus pass for the island itself. Once on the island, you can explore wineries and tasting rooms at length, or head to one of the various beaches. The island is about 10km long and the bus goes from the ferry terminal to the last beach. We couldn't think of a better way to spend our last day in NZ that with the sun and sea with some fine wine. So there you go, NZ is absolutely doable without a car without compromising on the experience.
Nga Manu Nature Reserve
We walked through the beautiful Nga Manu Nature Reserve in Waikanae, admiring the native birds in the walk-in avaries… and catching our breath at the scenic surrounds of the reserve and the rich mixture of flora, with the call of native birds following our every step.
The volcanic cone of Mount Eden is pretty much akin to paradise and will provide you impossibly beautiful views of the city of Auckland. Not including this stunning natural point in your New Zealand vacation will be an absolute blunder.Best Rated Places to Stay in Auckland1. Stamford Plaza Auckland - Rs. 9806
Penguin Place is a private nature preserve in Dunedin that's dedicated to helping endangered yellow eyed and blue eyed penguins. Many areas are off limits to visitors, and the tour is conducted so that you can observe the penguins without disturbing them. I was in love with this place until I observed penguins in the wild the next day in the Catlins, and nothing beats actually watching wildlife in the wild rather than in the confines of a preserve.
Shotover Canyon Swing
These guys are crazy. Since I had bungy jumped forward, they thought I should go off the Canyon Swing backward. Unlike bungy, where they tie your ankles, in the Canyon Swing, you're in a climbing type harness to keep you safe. Whereas the AJ Hackett folks tell you how safe bungy jumping is as they bind your ankles, these guys put the feat of God in you. Just when you think you're ready to go, they pull you back in. I asked if they wanted to know where I'd like to hit the water, because I'd told the AJ Hackett people I'd like to hit at boob level. They said: "Oh, you're supposed to stop about 100 feet above the water, so if you touch the water, something has gone horribly wrong." I immediately said: "I don't need to touch the water."
Of all the long-distance hiking trails in New Zealand, the track between Sandfly Point and Glade Wharf, in Milford National Park, is touted as the country’s greatest. Milford Sound is considered the eighth natural wonder of the world, so interested hikers should plan and book ahead of time to reserve a spot and beat the crowds. The trail can take several days to walk, but hikers can stay in huts placed strategically along the route by the Department of Conservation. In all this untouched fauna, you might just spot an elusive kiwi bird.
Tongariro River Rafting
Rafting opportunities are available in the Taupo region of North Island throughout the year. The rivers crisscrossing through the region offer adventure activities ranging from Grade 1 rafting on easy waters to Grade 5 extreme adventure rafting. On Tongariro River, you can enjoy a rafting experience from Grade 2 to 4. Experienced guides will help you understand the safety guidelines and gear is available at the site.You can also head to other white water rafting sites in the Bay of Plenty and the Hawke's Ba. Rafting opportunities are also available around Queenstown and the West Coast.
Keep a day to visit the absolutely stunning Milford Sound - it'll be a long day, but something you cannot miss. I strongly recommend the BBQ Bus - the only tour that provides a hot barbeque meal, along a stream in the middle of nowhere! The tour is not your typical sightseeing tour - it's more like a friend showing a small group of 10-12 his favourite spots. You pass the small city of Te Anau and the Fjordland National Park before you get to the Sound. The route itself is absolutely stunning and there's a photo op around every corner. So don't fall asleep. Milford Sound is a beauty that transcends worlds - the hour long cruise had me mesmerized for the entire duration. 3. Franz Josef
Orana Wildlife Park
The only open range zoo in New Zealand, the Orana Wildlife Park gets you up close and personal with the wild in ways like no other. The many rhinos, giraffes and lions will make sure your New Zealand vacation is memorable for all the right reasons.Best Rated Places to Stay in Christchurch1. The George - Rs. 16237
Rotoroa Island as the legend goes was once a rehabilitation centre for alcohol addicts. Well, as of now, in cooperation with the New Zealand Zoo, it has been turned into a wildlife breeding and trekking place. Once you get there, you cannot refrain yourself from the mesmerizing beauty of nature! The treks are phenomenal and the scenery you discover while climbing the south and the north tower peaks of the island will take away all your tiredness and will push you to go for more.