New Zealand- Kristen
This is just a quick reference guide for travellers coming to New Zealand for the first time and want to visit the North Island.
Getting off an international flight you will most likely start in Auckland. To get into the city centre I always use Auckland Supershuttle. They are cheap, reliable and a fantastic service.
Where to stay? The Crowne Plaza on Albert Street. This 4 star hotel is in the heart of it all and is a really beautiful hotel with great service. It is very close to Crowne Casino, lots of shops and a supermarket. If you are wanting to checkout the Auckland Zoo, there is a bus right outside the hotel that will take you there for a couple of bucks. I also reccomend visiting Kelly Tarltons, and stopping off at Auckland Harbour for some yummy food. Queen street is where you want to be if your looking to get into the heart of it all.
If your staying near the airport, to catch a domestic flight out, I reccomend staying at the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport. It is hosted under the IHG group, and they have a very good rewards system that can gain you free wifi so make sure you join! You can catch the yellow bus from Auckland Domestic and International Airport and it will take you to Holiday Inn for $6 per person, children under 12 free.
If you’ve got some time to kill while your either at the airport waiting or staying near the airport, and you have kids, make sure you visit the Auckland Butterfly Park. It is 5 mins from the airport and they will pick you up and take you back for free. It has a dinosaur section, a farmyard with lots of animals, a train, and also a butterfly and bug sanctuary. It’s really cool and you can easily spend 2 hours here.
Right so you’ve done Auckland.. where to next and how do I get there?. Well you could either rent a car, or if your not confident driving you can take the Intercity Bus. This bus service is of a high standard, cheap and frequent. There buses start as low as $1!.
So I suggest going to Rotorua next and staying 2 nights, the bus trip will probably take around 3 hours or you could drive it in 2. You can visit the luge which is super fun and has a gondola.
Some other activities I would reccomend would be visiting the Polynesian Spa which is just gorgeous after a long day, and also the Maori Cultural Centre if you want to learn about history/culture in New Zealand. The hotel I would reccomend is the Sudima Lake Rotorua. This is a very good 4 star hotel.
Next stop Taupo! (40 minute drive)
Taupo is such a fun place and an adrenaline junkies haven. I suggest staying here 1-2 nights.
If your into nature check out Huka Falls. You can visit and see this natural beauty for free, or for the more adventurous have a spin on the Huka Jet! It will make your heart race for sure.
You can also Sky Dive or Bungy Jump, or simply take a slow boat trip on the Taupo Lake. My favourite hotel in Taupo is called Beechtree Suites. This is a 4 star boutique hotel on Rifle Range Road. It’s not completely central but there is busses going into town frequently (about a 10 min bus drive). The service is impeccable. Make sure you don’t miss the restaurant accross the road called The Brantree Restaurant. Wow is all I can say, the food is to die for especially the Duck Leg. This is fine dining service.
Next stop Hawkes Bay! (About a 2.5 hour bus ride or 1.5 hours in a car)
This is my home town! Amazing food, and winery’s is what this town is great at. Hawkes Bay is really special. It is the Art Deco Capital of the world, so the whole town (in Napier City Centre) architecture is from this period. It also has the National Aqurium of New Zealand, and a great beach 40 minutes drive away called Waimarama Beach. You will find many of the locals here in the summer.
Next stop.. Wellington (about a 4.5 hour bus ride or 3 hour drive)
I suggest staying here 3 nights as there’s so much to see! This is New Zealand’s capital city. Make sure to check out Te Papa Museum and set aside a whole day to explore all the awesome exhibits. Wellington is a very trendy place to be in, with sidealleys, and hip coffee shops. It also has 4 seasons in one day so pack accordingly! A hotel I really love in Wellington is the Amora Hotel. Again a 4 star boutique property and a place where I send clients frequently with great feedback every time.
And that’s it! You’ve just explored the North Island in one week.. time for the South?
Signing out for now..
The Free Spirit Traveller