Jan 31, 2014

Traveling New Zealand over 28 days

Moraki Boulders, Hearst Castle,Railway Station, Dunedin Chinese Garden, Railway Station,...

This post appears in the Guinness Storehouse Travel Contest.

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Moraki Boulders, Hearst Castle,Railway Station, Dunedin

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Chinese Garden, Railway Station, Baldwin Street

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Queenstown, Milford Sounds

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Castle Hill, Agriculture Expo

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Thermal Park, Rotorua

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Akaroa, Picton, Ferry, Winery

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Akaroa, Castle Hill, Wellington

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Rose Garden, Taupo, Kayaking

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Auckland

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Hobbitton, hamilton gardens, one tree hill

Last year I traveled around New Zealand over the period of 28 days. I got to stay in nice, classy hotels and see most of New Zealand. Though there are still few places that I wasn’t able to cover which I wish I had. But I did ended up seeing most of the “must see” places in NZ. I’ll try to cover as much as I can about my trip and fun places to see including the cost and expenses. I took chance to do lot of personal photo shoots as well for my blog. You might notice some familiar photos if you have been checking my blog.
Two main airports in NZ are Auckland and Christchurch with Auckland being the busier one. If you got any food in your bag make sure you declare else you will be fined heavily. They want to keep NZ as beautiful as possible which no doubt is absolutely breathtaking once you step out of the airport. Recycling here is big thing so make sure you throw trash in correct bin.
Eating around NZ is slightly expensive. Its not like Applebees and Chillies here. A good dinner in restaurant will set you back $25-$35 per person. And there is no Chinese/Indian food buffet here unlike in US.
Being a small country flying here is also lot more cheaper. But I would pick driving since there is so much stunning landscape to embrace. Make sure you book your tickets in advance. Buses here are also very popular and not like Greyhound where you be travelling with drug addicts and homeless. Some bus fare cost as low as $1. I’ve also broken down the cost of my hotel stay. There are lot more affordable hotels but since we have membership rewards program with these hotels it made sense for us to stay with them and rack up points for future travels. The backpackers hotel cost about $30 per person for a bed which is great when traveling around on budget.

Christchurch: Hotel Ibis $140/night
Dunedin: Scenic city hotel for $175/night.

Queenstown: Crowne Plaza Hotel $240/night
Wellington: The rydges $165/night

Taupo: Hilton 210/night

Hamilton: Novotel hotel 164/night
Auckland: Crowne Plaza 220/night

Average car rental per day was $52. Make sure you buy insurance which will run for $14-$20 a day. There are plenty of campervans here with reasonable prices that are super fun to drive and you can sleep in them. Since roads here are mostly one lane and winding you got to be careful while driving.

SOUTH ISLAND:

Akaroa: This is small lovely french town just about hour and half drive from Christchurch. You can spend about half a day or so and just walk around, get on the cruise or do some water activity.


Dunedin: Called the Edinburgh of NZ this town has whole lot of charm. Some great places to see are, Hearst Castle ($24 entry), Cadbury factory ($20), Railway Station, Churches, University of Otago, Speight Brewery. Speight is one of the oldest NZ beer. Also see the world’s steepest st Baldwin street,just outside Dunedin. On your way to Queenstown you can stopover at lake Tekapo or stay at Mt Hutt. Both are stunning places and definitely worth your time.

Queenstown: Most popular destination of South Island by far is about 4 hrs drive from Dunedin and Christchurch. This is the must see place and got plenty of activities to do. Skiing is famous in winters, Bungy Jumping is big here and so is partying. Lots of good bars and nice places to eat out. You can also take cable car to get the birds eye view of Queenstown for $5. On top they got go kart racing which is quite fun too. About 4 hrs away is “Milford Sounds” which happens to be another popular destination. Lot of buses and shuttles go there everyday for around $80. The trip usually goes from morning and back in evening. On the way to Milford Sounds you can stop over at Fiordland park and do lot of hiking if that’s your cup of tea.

Picton: This is the last town on the tip of South Island. Before reaching Picton just an hr drive south of this town Blenheim and Marlborough are lot of beautiful wineries that I highly recommend you to see. Usually the winery tour will cost about $15 and takes about an hr or so from how the grapes are picked and wine is produced. From Picton port you take ferry for North Island. Costs $60 and if you wanna bring your vehicle it will be roughly around $200. Quite steep though in prices. The InterIslander ferry is awesome and lot of good seating available inside the ferry. Takes about 3 hrs to reach the port of North Island which also happens to be the capital of NZ, Wellington.


NORTH ISLAND
Welington: This is a metro city with few things to do. You can take a cable car ride up ($5) and get a good view of city. On top is Botanical gardens and then you can walk your way down. Once down you will reach huge Rose garden and possibly the biggest rose garden you will see. Also hike your way up to Mt. Victoria for stunning views of Wellington. This place kind of reminds me of my trip to San Francisco. Walk around on boardwalk or like I rented skate for $20 2 hrs and skate my way around Wellington. Lot of fun and quick way to do sightseeing. Te Papa museum is right on the boardwalk and entry is free. Good fun stuff to see and not to be missed.

Martinborough: This little winery town about an hr drive from Wellington got around 15 wine cellars and drive is absolutely great. Lot of twists and turns so keep your eye on the road.

Taupo: This little town has Lake called Lake Taupo and is one of the biggest lake I’ve ever seen. It almost looks like its an ocean but its a lake. You must see Huka falls free of cost. Also there is short hike next to huka falls about 30 mins where you can find a hot natural water geyser just under the bridge and lot of people go there. It was really nice to feel hot natural water and just soak in. I also did Kayaking on lake Taupo to see Maori carving. You will have to kayak 3hrs ($90) to see it and a tour guide will kayak his way so just follow his lead. It was super tiring but totally worth the time and efforts. Make sure you are fit and healthy to kayak 3hrs. On your way to Taupo from Wellington half way you will find Mt. Tongoriro National Park. We stopped over and did 4 hrs hike. It was just amazing with waterfalls and views.

Rotorua: Get ready to cover your nose cuz this town smells like rotten eggs. This place was an active natural geyser and there are lot thermal pools that you must absolutely stop over and have a look. I went to a thermal pool that was about $30 entry and I was quite amazed to see. totally worth the money.

Cambridge: This tiny town is home to “lord of the rings” This is the place where they filmed majority of “LOTR” movie. Cost about $75 entree fee. Though I seriously believe this is overpriced but again this is something you will just see once in your life. You get free pint of beer. But I liked the tour and it was day well spent though it rained in the middle of tour. complete bummer.

Hamilton: There is absolutely nothing to see in this town except for Hamilton gardens which is free of cost. Definitely worth seeing but that’s about it.

Auckland: The main city of NZ with highest population is one cool city. Have a visit to “One tree hill” free cost and you get to see all of Auckland Skyline. I took a ferry to Wahiki Island for $30 and then rented a bike and rode around city. Saw some wineries and relaxed on the beach. You can also go to sky tower for $25 and see all of Auckland. Kinda like Sears tower in Chicago. We did jetboat ride for $70 where the driver rides a jet boat real fast, make sharp turns, sudden stops and do 360 spin. quite fun if you like thrill.

Overall there is so much to do and see that I haven’t covered but it’s one of those country you must see and get captivated with immense amount of beauty it has to offer. Thank you so much for reading and Please VOTE.

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