A Guide To The Best New Zealand Holiday Ever: 13 Days And 12 Nights In Heaven

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A New Zealand vacation is all about learning to appreciate the marvels of nature. The island country is composed of two major landmasses in the form of the North and South Islands. Travellers love New Zealand because of its Alpinesque beauty coupled with cosmopolitan destinations like Auckland and Wellington.

A fascinating mosaic of the Maori culture (New Zealand's indigenous people) and contemporary Kiwi life, New Zealand is a progressive utopia. Picture rugged mountains, hot springs, lush meadows, mighty fjords, shimmering lakes, dormant volcanoes, and an environmentally inclusive political agenda to protect it all; that's New Zealand for you in a nutshell. Teeming with legends and geographical wonders, wonderfully maintained roads and timely transport, easy-going, warm and disciplined locals and perhaps every other imaginable excellence, the land of Sir Edmund Hillary is as close as one can get to the real 'Middle Earth'! (Lord of The Rings anyone?)

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How To Reach New Zealand

Travelling to New Zealand might be a tad bit intimidating considering how far it is from almost every place in the world. However, regular international flights (albeit long, with two stop if flying from most European cities) go in and out of the country. Booking your tickets much in advance is always a wise thing to do.

There are fourteen airports in New Zealand including five international airports. Auckland (North Island) is the busiest international airport in New Zealand. For direct access to South Island, Christchurch International Airport is the most popular. Other international airports are in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

Visa requirements to visit New Zealand

You have to apply for a Visa Online to visit New Zealand as a visitor. In some instances you need to send your documents to the embassy to get your visa, while in other cases you will be granted an E-Visa. This visa will be valid for nine months.

Citizens of 61 countries do not require a visa to visit New Zealand. For Indians, the visa fee is Rs.7918.04. For citizens of countries other than India, you can calculate your fee here.

Getting Around in New Zealand

In order to get around this beautiful country, you have excellent bus and train connections both of which are frequent and reliable. Additionally, the cities also have trams and metered taxis. A lot of travelers prefer renting cars and driving around New Zealand, however, you have to be quite a bit of an expert at the same. The fastest way of travelling across the two islands (North and South) is by taking a flight.

Where to go in New Zealand

Here is a 13 Day/12 Night itinerary to help you experience the best of this charming country and take home a truckload of happy memories.

Day 1

Head to Auckland for Two Days

Amidst colossal high-rises and marvels of modern architecture, Auckland offers glimpses of wildlife sanctuaries, vineyards, hot springs and lush green forests. Auckland is one of the happiest cities in the world with a consistently fantastic quality of life.

Photo of Auckland, New Zealand by Tripoto

Major domestic and international flights arrive and originate from the city of Auckland. If you are travelling from India, there might be quite a few stopovers along the way. The airport is some 20 kilometres from the city centre and you can either take a taxi or a shuttle bus to get to your hotel.

Amazing Things to Do in Auckland

Kickstart your New Zealand vacation to the core by treating your eyes to the magnificent views of the city of Auckland from the top of the Auckland Sky Tower. If you're wondering as to where to go in New Zealand, this icon with its adrenaline pumping activities and fantastic dining options is just the right place for you.

Photo of Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand by Tripoto

The largest art institution in all of New Zealand, the Auckland Art Gallery is a massive collection of local and international art.

A memorial for the Maori people, the One Tree Hill in Auckland is essentially an incredibly beautiful volcanic peak. While travelling to New Zealand, make sure you visit this place for arresting views of the city of Auckland. And yes, it has quite a bit of a connection with the insanely popular TV show of the same name!

Photo of One Tree Hill, Auckland, New Zealand by Tripoto

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 Auckland

1. Stamford Plaza Auckland - Rs. 9806

Photo of Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand by Tripoto

Best Rated Places to Eat in Auckland

Synonymous with fine dining in Auckland, the food served at SidArt is artistic and delicious in equal amounts.

Clooney serves mouth-watering contemporary cuisine and has a wonderfully friendly staff. Their menu is worth every penny and no, this place has nothing to do with George Clooney.

Day 3

Spend Two Magical Days In Rotorua

Rotorua is deeply entrenched in the culture and traditions of the Maori people of New Zealand and its landscape is a major illustration of that fact. This however, is not the only unique characteristic of this city. Rotorua occupies a special place in the heart of travellers from all over the world owing to its many hot springs, geysers and mud pools. This sheer historical and geographical delight is an absolute shining gem of the North Island.

Opt for an InterCity bus connecting Auckland and Rotorua. The bus services are fairly regular and come with WiFi, but you have to book your tickets in advance. They depart from Auckland Central and the journey should be around 3 hours long.

Amazing Things to Do in Rotorua

The portal to discovering Rotorua's rich culture and history, the Rotorua Museum has a mammoth collection of art, archives, photographs and sculptures.

Photo of Rotorua Museum, Oruawhata Drive, Rotorua, New Zealand by Tripoto

The tranquil Lake Rotorua has this dream-like quality to it and is interestingly also home to perpetual geothermal activity. Moreover, New Zealand's most popular love story, the one about Hinemoa and Tutanekai, was set right here!

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You can't not explore the culture of the Maoris, the indigenous people of the country. The Tamaki Maori Village is the perfect place for you to witness the same.

Photo of Tamaki Maori Village, Hinemaru Street, Rotorua, New Zealand by Tripoto

An iconic destination for travellers, Te Puia is a thermal reserve and is home to some 500 hot springs. And isn't a New Zealand holiday all about cozying up to nature?

Photo of Te Puia, Rotorua, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand by Tripoto
Best Rated Places to Stay in Rotorua

1. Holiday Inn Rotorua - Rs. 6157

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Best Rated Places to Eat in Rotorua

Craving Mexican? Sabroso is your answer. With its fresh, spicy and flavoursome fare, this cosy joint has worked hard to establish itself as one of the most popular names in Rotorua.

A wonderful place for contemporary cuisine in Rotorua, Atticus Finch is popular for its pulled pork and braised beef dishes. The desserts served here are equally good.

Day 5

Make Your Way To Two Fun Days In Wellington

The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is vivacious for all the right reasons considering its many art galleries, museums, restaurants, pubs and high end boutiques. The traffic is the (not so sweet) cherry on top and makes it a bustling metropolis to the core. The weather is crazy but the city with its gazillion distinct features (including some great architecture and an impressive harbour) is beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable.

Photo of Wellington, New Zealand by Tripoto

The fastest way of getting to Wellington from the city of Rotorua is by virtue of a 1 hour flight, especially when you don't mind the expenses. The driving route, albeit long, is extremely scenic and if you have time in hand and expertise behind the wheel, rent a car and make several stops to admire the beauty of New Zealand.

Amazing Things to Do in Wellington

The protected eco-sanctuary of Zealandia is perfect for those who love to spend time in the warm embrace of nature. The icing on the cake is the fact that it is home to some extraordinary wildlife including the endangered kiwi, the symbol of New Zealand. Make your bookings here.

For absolutely stunning panoramic views of the city of Wellington, head over to the Mt. Victoria Lookout. This is an almost indispensable thing to do while travelling to New Zealand.

New Zealand is almost synonymous with Lord of The Rings and for fans of the franchise, Wellington is the right place to be in order to embark upon a day tour exploring the filming locations of the fantastical Middle Earth. Moreover, do not miss out on saying hello to Gandalf and Gollum at the Wellington International Airport.

Photo of Wellington International Airport, Stewart Duff Drive, Wellington, New Zealand by Tripoto

The Te Papa Museum in Wellington is literally a container of treasures and majorly focuses on the partnership between the indigenous people of New Zealand with the non-indigenous folks. For the best and the most enlightening museum experience in the country, make sure to include Te Papa in your New Zealand itinerary.

Best Rated Places to Stay in Wellington

1. CityLife Wellington - Rs. 8620

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Best Rated Places to Eat in Wellington

Cin Cin undoubtedly serves the best Italian fare in town and has great live music and a gingery atmosphere.

For those craving seafood in Wellington, of the fantastic kind as a matter of course, reserving a table at the Ortega Fish Shack is a wise idea.

Day 7

Hop On To Two Fantastic Days In Christchurch

Christchurch is an artistic delight and a paradise for those who love green spaces. Although it is still working on convalescing from a natural disaster, it is still vibrant and pretty in its own ways. The traffic can sometimes drive you nuts but the locals are warm and cheerful and the many parks and galleries are always welcoming. The Garden City of the South Island is quite a glorious place to be in.

Photo of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand by Tripoto

An hour long flight connects Wellington to the mighty Christchurch in the South Island. Make your way to the marvellous city of Christchurch to kickstart your second week in New Zealand.

Amazing Things to Do in Christchurch

The International Antarctic Centre offers you a taste of the amazing, unique continent that is Antarctica and is therefore an experience like no other. You must absolutely make it a part of your New Zealand holiday.

The one prominent public art gallery of the city, the Christchurch Art Gallery with its glass and metal facade is a marvel when it comes to modern architecture and you should therefore make it a point to see it.

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 Christchurch

1. The George - Rs. 16237

Photo of Orana Wildlife Park, Mcleans Island Road, Christchurch, New Zealand by Tripoto

Best Rated Places to Eat in Christchurch

What do you say to delicious New Zealand fare? Today! And Twenty Seven Steps allows you to do just that. Fancy yourself some great lamb and beef? This is exactly where you should be.

Pedro's offers some delectable melt-in-your-mouth New Zealand lamb and is an extremely popular name in Christchurch.

Day 9

Head To The Franz Josef Glacier For Two Days

With its dynamic and thoroughly intriguing glacial environment, the Franz Josef Glacier is the ultimate natural experience. Legend has it that the tears of a certain 'Avalanche Girl' froze to form this giant of a glacier. Its hot pools, helicopter rides, hiking and climbing opportunities, have been delighting travellers since what seems like forever. Once here, you will feel like a character from Disney's 'Frozen'. Really.

Photo of Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast, New Zealand by Tripoto

The TranzAlpine Train and the InterCity Bus collectively connect Christchurch to the Franz Josef Glacier. The journey however can be a tad bit long and bookings need to be made in advance, preferably here.

Two Amazing Things To Do At Franz Josef Glacier

1. A major deal about travelling to New Zealand involves taking a scenic helicopter ride in order to explore the fascinating 'ice architecture' of the Franz Josef glacier. Witnessing the rugged beauty of the glacier is a once in a lifetime experience and you can book it here.

2. Yet another exciting thing to do at the Franz Josef Glacier is to soak in its many luxurious hot pools. Moreover, you could hike to your heart's content and even go fishing. This world is your playground!

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Best Rated Places to Stay in Franz Josef Glacier

1. Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier - Rs. 8849

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3. Lancewood Luxury Ensuite Room - Rs. 5837

Best Rated Places to Eat in Franz Josef Glacier

Photo of A Guide To The Best New Zealand Holiday Ever: 13 Days And 12 Nights In Heaven by Tripoto

A cosy little restaurant serving international cuisine, the Blue Ice Cafe is a popular stop for lunch in Franz Josef. Moreover, it offers free WiFi (As if you'd need that!).

Alice May is an old fashioned restaurant that offers tasty, healthy local fare. The service is reportedly excellent and so is the presentation.

Make Your Way To Queenstown For Two Amazing Days

Yet another charming Kiwi city, Queenstown is inherently cosmopolitan and brimming with energy, yet, on the flipside, it offers getaways of perhaps the most tranquil kind. With its many five-star hotels and fancy restaurants, brilliant sights and a thumping nightlife, it really is the place to be for all travellers. There is so much to do that you will never get bored. However, there are no dearth of opportunities to relax wherein you could just lie down and gaze at the stars.

Photo of Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand by Tripoto

While InterCity buses run between Franz Josef and Queenstown, the drive between the two is absolutely breath-taking and if you are a good driver, do not think twice before renting a car.

Amazing Things to Do in Queenstown

Day 11

The clear blue waters of Lake Wakatipu are impossibly beautiful and the alpine scenery will mesmerise you and perhaps cast a spell on you forever. This lake is mysterious to the core and a great way of exploring the same is by hopping on a cruise.

Photo of Lake Wakatipu, Otago, New Zealand by Tripoto

Yet another integral aspect of your New Zealand vacation should be the Skyline Gondola. This panoramic gondola ride that goes right up to Bob's Peak will help you relish the most arresting views of The Remarkables, the Coronet Peak, the Walter and Cecil Peaks, Lake Wakatipu and the city of Queenstown.

Are you a wine connoisseur? If the answer is yes, then nothing should stop you from heading to the scenic Gibbston Valley Winery in order to savour some wonderful handcrafted wine.

Image Credit : Shellie

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A memorable feature of every New Zealand holiday is driving from Queenstown to Milford Sound, a picturesque fjord that is also fondly referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. With its unparalleled beauty, Milford Sound will most certainly be a trip of a lifetime and while travelling to New Zealand, you must not, no matter what, miss out on this incredible road-trip.

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Best Rated Places to Stay in Queenstown

1. The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments - Rs. 10966

2. Crowne Plaza Queenstown - Rs. 8154

Photo of A Guide To The Best New Zealand Holiday Ever: 13 Days And 12 Nights In Heaven by Tripoto
Photo of A Guide To The Best New Zealand Holiday Ever: 13 Days And 12 Nights In Heaven by Tripoto

Best Rated Places to Eat in Queenstown

Undoubtedly the most popular food truck in all of Queenstown, Taco Medic has delectable pork and fish tacos and the ingredients are the freshest of the lot.

Bespoke Kitchen is essentially a vegetarian/vegan cafe serving the most epic breakfast/brunch in Queenstown. The design of the cafe is modern to the core and like most other 'hipster' establishments, it offers free WiFi.

All hotel prices are approximate and on a per day basis. They were last updated on April 12th, 2016.

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