Auckland- A perfect destination that offers an urban lifestyle full of boutiques and cafes, but very close to the ocean, mountains and beaches….something for everyone.
I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon sailing around Auckland Harbor, with the Pride of Auckland Sailing Company.
I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Auckland. This hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Auckland and offers very comfortable and spacious rooms with great views.
Waitomo – Waitomo Caves – Fascinating underground, limestone caverns. You may choose to take a boat ride through the grotto, after viewing the impressive caves, which is lit by thousands of tiny glowworms. This was such an amazing experience.
Rotorua – This is such a rare destination, filled with geysers, bubbling mud pools and surrounded by crystal clear lakes and streams. The Maori culture offers interesting history.
I went to Te-Puia Thermal Reserve. This location is filled with, mud pools, hissing steam and geysers. Also, a great look into the history of Maori culture.
Also, participated in Maori Hangi, which is similar to a luau and filled with interesting facts about Maori culture.
I stayed at Millennium Rotorua, which is a perfect location, in the heart of the city, with amazing views. The grounds are well kept and are very attractive.The rooms were clean and comfortable, but basic.
Christchurch – This city reminded me of a city in England. The Avon River flows through the city and there are tree-lined avenues and colorful gardens. Also, many high-end shops all within walking distance from many accommodations in the city.
I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Christchurch. The location is located in the heart of the city and right beside the Avon River. Great location for walking to shops and restaurants. The rooms were very modern, clean and comfortable.
We had many days of road travel, but the longest was from Christchurch to Mt Cook. The roads traveled offered beautiful views of the Canterbury Plains. We stopped at Lake Tekapo, which is glacier fed. There is a church located next to the lake that was built in 1935 out of locally gathered stone and oak. This is a perfect stop to have a picnic lunch during a long day of driving.
Mt Cook – Mt Cook National Park – Mt Cook is considered to be one of the most iconic images of the country. Inside the park, you may choose to take a guided tour to Tasman Glacier, which includes a hike to the zodiac boat launch. I went on the hike, but the weather was not cooperative to take the zodiacs to the glacier, however, we were able to view icebergs.
I stayed at the Hermitage Hotel, which is located in the middle of nowhere, inside of the park. The hotel is surrounded by mountains and offers amazing views. The rooms and the rest of the resort are very primitive in style, slightly motor inn with a lodge feel, but you cannot beat the views. You are right in the heart of nature. The staff was very friendly and accommodating.
We drove from Mt Cook to Milford Sound through small farming communities and quaint towns by the names of Cromwell and Te Anau. Cromwell, has a great roadside stand called Mrs. Jones’s, where they serve amazing ice cream and have many local treats. Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and is very picturesque. I enjoyed just sitting on a park bench and looking out at the lake. The drive to Milford Sound also involves driving through Fiordland National Park, which is one of the most memorable and beautiful sights I have ever seen. There are snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, mirror lakes and lush surroundings around every corner.
Milford Sound – I participated in an overnight cruise of the sound, aboard the Milford Mariner. The cruise starts at the base of the Sound and travels out to the Tasman Sea and circles back to anchor in the Sound for the evening. Once anchored you can relax on deck, or go for a guided tour with kayaks. The dinner and breakfast served aboard are served buffet style with many choices and the food was very good. The staff was very friendly and professional. The cabin accommodations are very comfortable and clean.
Arrowtown – This town is a former gold mining town. It offers spectacular scenery and quaint streets. Also, offers easy access to one of many AJ Hackett Bungy-jumping sites.
Wanaka – Voted in the top 10 world’s most romantic destinations. This was easily one of my favorite locations on the entire trip. Wanaka is surrounded by striking mountains, beautiful Lake Wanaka and a quaint town with unique dining options.
I stayed at the Edgewater Resort, which is located on the edge of Lake Wanaka. The rooms are very spacious and clean with amazing views of the lake and Southern Alps. I loved the intimacy of this resort and the close proximity to town, but also how tucked away it is.
Queenstown – This is such and amazing city. It is quaint, fun and full of adventure. There is an ice bar, shotover jet boating, bungy jumping, winery tours, unique restaurants, high end shopping and a hip nightlife.
I stayed at the Sofitel Queenstown, which is in the heart of the downtown area. This hotel is one of the nicest I have ever stayed in. It is a luxury boutique hotel, which is not lacking in any area and there is such attention to detail with every inch of the hotel. The rooms were richly decorated, comfortable and clean and were so pampering.
New Zealand is one of the top destinations I have traveled to in my 15 years as a travel consultant. There is so much to offer in both the North and South Islands. I have never been to a destination that offers so much diversity with the surroundings. It is the natural attractions that just have your jaw dropping many times per day. Snowy mountains, volcanoes, beaches, remote hiking trails, fiords, wilderness lakes and much, much more.