You will be met on arrival to collect your rental car and check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to discover the many attractions of Auckland. Sights that we suggest include a visit to one of Auckland’s inner city beaches, Mission Bay, with its fantastical Pohutakawa trees. The trip will also take in sights such as Mount Eden, a stunning viewpoint and one of Auckland’s most famous volcanic craters and a visit to the famous Auckland Harbour Bridge. In the afternoon, take a trip to the top of the Auckland Sky Tower and view the City of Sails from 300 metres above. Enjoy dinner tonight in one of Auckland’s many waterfront restaurants as you watch the world sailing by. Overnight Auckland.
By now, however, flu and general exhaustion were catching up. I made my way in Auckland after a few days in Rotorua. I have no great impression of Auckland other than it’s a nice enough place. The Central Business District reminds me a bit of Soho in NYC in some places, but it’s still a small place
Wahike Island is famous for bike riding (cycling in common terms). You can hire a bike from Auckland itself, take it to Wahike with you on a ferry and prepare yourself for an adventurous ride!! I covered the entire bike route and also got a chance to meet professionals from France who were on a biking trip!! The ride is indeed tiring but the adrenalin rush makes it a must do!! Again New Zealand will amaze you with breath taking scenery and beautiful beaches during the entire bike trip. The cycle track is on a mountainous terrain, so be prepared for some thumping in the heart and loss of breath at times!!
My hotel, the Westin on Lighter Quay, was beautiful and had great panoramic views of the city. It was a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon in Auckland, mid-70’s and not a cloud in the sky, and it seemed like the whole city was out on the harbor front enjoying the day. I spent the afternoon walking around the city enjoying the weather and then had a terrific dinner of New Zealand green-lipped mussels on the waterfront (not exactly a burger, but when in Rome). I was so happy to be back in the land of my favorite wines…New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs! It had been weeks since I’d had a good glass of wine so, of course, that was top priority.
Skirting your way around Lake Wakatipu makes for some stunning photography and you will be amazed by the Remarkables Mountain Range, one of the most famous back drops for The Lord of the Rings films. You should arrive in Queenstown around midday and there is the opportunity to take a trip up the Queenstown Skyline Gondola for panoramic views of the mountains and Lake Wakatipu. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy at leisure. Overnight Queenstown.
But it was finally time to head out to Queenstown, and on Thursday, Feb 28 we headed out with Darren’s friend Chris through Central Otago to Queenstown. It’s lovely drive, once you get out of Dunedin, full of mountain roads, crystal streams and mirror-smooth glacial lakes. Eventually, with Chris as acting as tour guide, we made it to Queenstown.
Queenstown is the exception to South Island’s Britishness. It bills itself as the “Adventure Capital of the World” and it pretty much is. Every corner bursts with posters calling for you to hurl yourself from a bridge, a mountain or launch yourself into a canyon of glacial runoff, all for a rather hefty price. This is not a place for cheap backpackers, unless they’re willing to make Queenstown their sole splurge on their entire trip.
Once, twice, three times - three different years - I have been here to watch the sun send its rays in a final, flirting gesture towards The Remarkables, That first view I claimed as my own, a 12-month resident in this mountainous enclave. The second glimpse came quickly, a brief stopover on my way to somewhere else. And this, the third period of Queenstown, has been a two-week vacation inadvertently extended into seven. But, no matter how long I stay or how often I leave, always those snowy peaks await my return.
“I’ll be back” is a constant phrase among visitors here. Something about the New Zealand town – it’s energy, it’s friendly locals, it’s reputation for adventure, or, simply, it’s incomparable scenery – strikes a note of nostalgia in everyone.
It is, I think, a reminder that – at least in some places - life can be a constant holiday.
Originally a gold mining town in the 1860’s and surrounded by a mountain range so remarkable it is actually called The Remarkables, today’s Queenstown is widely considered the adventure capital of the world. The colorful downtown area is bordered by the bay of sparkling-blue Lake Wakatipu on one side and snow-capped mountains on the other making it one of the most visually stunning towns I have ever laid eyes on in all of my travels. Queenstown offers all sorts of adrenaline-inducing activities that I, as a reasonable adult, would likely never attempt: bungee jumping, sky diving, hang-gliding, canyoning and even something called the world’s highest sky swing (whatever that is).So, since I’d ruled out bungee jumping a long time ago, a jetboat ride was definitely on my to-do list. As well as a ride up the mountain on a gondola to take in the panoramic views over Queenstown. Other than that, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.
The adventure hotspot of New Zealand, you can get your thrills from various adventure activities like bungee jumping, canyon swinging, skydiving, horse trekking, jet boating, and river rafting. Apart from these, Queenstown also has lovely hikes and trails through some gorgeous scenery. Just so you know, large parts of the 'Lord of the Rings' films were shot here, so you'll actually be walking through Middle Earth!
Amazing burgers in Queenstown. Fergburger is a burger joint that is famous the world over for its burgers. They have managed to gain such fame with just a single location, so you can imagine how good the burgers must be! If you like spicy, go for Bombay chicken.
This town should be on everyone's bucket list, even if you want to stay indoors and just get a spa treatment at the Sofitel or taste wine at Amistead Winery. And if you thrive on adventure, Queenstown is the place for bungy jumping, tandem skydiving, white water rafting, jetboating as well as hiking options (that I have yet to explore).
At Queenstown, I stayed at The Spire hotel. On the 1st day at Queenstown, I took the gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for an amazing view of the area. The next day I went for the Milford Sound Helicopter Excursion with Glacier Landing. The experience was surreal. The helicopter sweeps through the Southern Alps, over the secluded alpine lakes and lush forest of Fiordland National Park. We flew the full length of the fiord before reaching the rugged West Coast with several landings en-route. On my last day in Queenstown I went for a jet boat wilderness safari through the Dart River.
And the South Island is veddy, veddy British in many ways. Especially in the far south. Dunedin is a nice little university town with excellent coffee and a good music scene. The University of Otago give the whole town a youthful buzz. It’s the kind of place where you go to the bandshell on the weekends in the botanical gardens and listen to the local brass band resolutely huff and puff their way through Sousa and Dion alike while the sun shines down and you feel the grass between your toes.Read More
And the South Island is veddy, veddy British in many ways. Especially in the far south. Dunedin is a nice little university town with excellent coffee and a good music scene. The University of Otago give the whole town a youthful buzz. It’s the kind of place where you go to the bandshell on the weekends in the botanical gardens and listen to the local brass band resolutely huff and puff their way through Sousa and Dion alike while the sun shines down and you feel the grass between your toes.
Today take the drive to what can only be described as a spectacular look-out point. At 1000m above sea level one really does have a feeling of being at the top of the world here. Also en route will be a stop at the historic Church of the Good Shepherd, featured on all New Zealand postcards. You will arrive in Christchurch sometime in the late afternoon where you can take a city tour. Spots that will be marked on your map include: Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, Christchurch Gondola, Re-Start Mall and New Regent Street. We will also recommend some great dining in the central city. Overnight Christchurch.
Today after dropping your rental car back to the Wellington base, you say farewell to the North Island and take a 3 hour ferry crossing through the Marlborough Sounds to the South Island of New Zealand. Upon arrival in the South Island, collect a new car. Driving south, head through the Marlborough wine growing region, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc among other varieties. We will mark out some of our favourite establishments for you so that you have the opportunity to visit one of or several of these fantastic wineries. Further down the coast, make a stop in Kaikoura to see some New Zealand fur seals in their natural environment. Also head to our number one Kaikoura look out spot where you will experience the startling beauty of the mountains meeting the Pacific Ocean. You will arrive in Christchurch sometime late afternoon/ early evening. Overnight Christchurch.