New Zealand

The mini plane ride to Milford Sound was probably the highlight of our trip to New Zealand. The plane took us to a ferry boat - the boat took us to Harrison’s Cover where we kayaked around the fjord. Out of this world gorgeous! 
— Katie K.
  • More about your Oliver Guide: Katie Kelly

  • Trip Type: Adult Only 

  • Ideal Length of Trip: 14 Days

Queenstown

  • Length - 4 days
  • Arrival into Queenstown International Airport
  • Notes: Great little ski town with an awesome laid-back vibe.

STAY

  • Commonage Villas. LOVED our condo! It was nice to be able to walk down the hill into town and were given taxi coupons for the way back up (steep climb!) Wonderful to have a kitchen and everyone had their space- INCREDIBLE view looking out to Queenstown.
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DO

  • Scenic flight to Milford Sound. The mini plane ride was probably the highlight of our trip to New Zealand. The plane took us to a ferry boat - the boat took us to Harrison's Cover where we kayaked around the fjord. Out of this world gorgeous! 
  •  The Luge. Take the gondola up and ride the luge! It is best to go after 4pm or earlier in the day when it is not as crowded.
  • Visit Arrowtown (15 minute drive) for cute shopping - picturesque historic gold mining town. If you don't want to shop - then Bungee Jump - original bridge where bungee jumping was first done!
  •  Dart River Boat trip- gorgeous scenery & a ton of fun. Fun fact: Several scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy were shot in this area. 
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EAT & DRINK

  • Pedro's: Incredible lamb and rosemary potatoes- it is all they do and they do it well. Only for takeout. Recommend ordering ahead. Be sure to get bread to soak up the juices!
  • Jervois: Steak house; great steak- better cocktails. One of the best old fashions I've had.
  • The Cow: Fun, family-friendly joint, great pastas and pizza.
  • Fergburger: Great burgers if you are willing to wait in a long line! 
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Franz Josef

  • Length: One Night
  • Arrival - 5 hour drive from Queenstown

TO & FROM (Queenstown to Franz Josef)

  • We drove from Queenstown to Franz Josef.  We started on Crown Range Road - New Zealand's highest road for the most stunning high country scenery. The drive then took us alongside blue lakes before reaching Haast Pass. Make sure you stop by the beautiful Lake Matheson & Fox Glacier before arriving at Franz Josef.

Stay

 Do

  • We came here to take a helicopter up to the Franz Josef Glacier, but our trip was cancelled due to the weather. Have heard that this is a trip highlight though.
  • Not a lot to do in town - although there are great hikes, including one my mom and I went on through caves to see gloworms

Hokitika

  • Length: One Night

  • Arrival: 2 hour drive from Franz Josef
  • Notes: Little (kind of run-down) beach town. Stopped here on our way to Nelson - wouldn't go out of your way to visit, great driftwood on the beach, great place to buy greenstone (New Zealand jade).

TO & FROM (Franz Josef to Hokitika)

  • Short drive thru the lush green rainforests and through small historic gold mining towns to Hokitika.

 Stay

EAT & DRINK

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NELSON

  • Length: Three Nights
  • Arrival: 4 hour drive from Hokitika to Nelson
  • Notes: A small, touristy town. I wouldn't plan to stay more than a couple of days.

TO & FROM (Hokitka to Nelson)

  • Four hour drive from Hokitika. Our final drive on New Zealand's west cost - drive included dramatic coastline with soaring sea stacks - inland thru the Buller Gorge - ending our drive traveling thru the orchards & farms of the Nelson region.

STAY

  • Rutherford Hotel : Our hotel was pretty outdated - would probably recommend finding a cute B&B instead.

 DO

  • Be sure to go to Neudorf Vineyard for wine tasting! It is the most beautiful setting. Bring a picnic - Very kid friendly, too! 
  • Fun to rent bikes and ride around
  • Morning drive to Stephens Bay & spend your day cruising the Abel Tasman National Park- definitely a highlight of the trip! We chartered a boat and rode around to see the seals and the views in this incredible national forest. Highly recommend our charter!

EAT & DRINK

  • Moe's- Great local beer place with great burgers
  • Cod and Lobster: Great place for seafood and a fancy dinner
  • Urban Oyster Bar and Eatery: FAVE of the trip. Incredible food, small plates fun to share. Highly recommend getting the lamb here! And the oysters are to die for. 
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Hawkes Bay

  • Length: Two Nights
  • Arrival: Fly from Nelson to Napier
  • Notes: Fun town with great shops right along the beach

TO & FROM (Nelson to Hawkes Bay)

Beware! The plane ride from the south island to the north island was SCARY. Super windy, the plane was going back and forth... apparently it is always like this! And the boat ride is supposed to be worse. Take your dramamine!

  • Fly Air New Zealand from Nelson to Napier - at the Napier airport, pick up your rental car.

 STAY

 DO

Eat & Drink

  • Lunch at Black Barn was best meal of the trip! HIGHLY recommend. I had the oysters, tomato carpaccio and venison tartare which were to die for. The reserve chardonnay was fantastic, too. 
  • Milk and Honey: Low key place with great breakfast food and dinner spot. Asian fusion with farm fresh foods - well known for their custard.
  • Thirsty Whale: Good beer/seafood place with laid back vibe

Rotorua

  • Length: Two Nights

  • Arrival: Three hour drive from Hawkes Bay

  • Notes: A bit stinky of a town because of all the natural sulfur & hot springs. If you come here - definitely take the helicopter ride to the volcano!

TO & FRom (Hawkes Bay to Rotorua)

  • Three hour drive from Hawkes Bay - you'll drive and see evidence of the geothermal region you are entering in the way of steam rising from the vents in the earth.

 STAY

Do

  • Helicopter Ride! Depart Rotorua Lakeside aboard your helicopter to experience the thrill of combining landings on both Mount Tarawera and White Island.

Eat & Drink

Auckland

  • Length: Two Nights
  • Arrival: 3 hour drive from Rotorua
  • Notes: Great city with lots going on - tons of shopping, restaurants and tourists

To & From (Rotorua to Auckland)

  • Three hour drive from Rotorua to Auckland - over the green rolling farmland of the Waikato to Auckland

Stay

  • Hilton Auckland - great, central location with gorgeous views looking out to the water

Do

  • Walk to the North Wharf - newly developed with modern, industrial feel. We had fun walking to one of the restaurants on the wharf for a glass of wine - looking out at all of the fancy boats & yachts in the harbor.
  • Waiheke Island: If you are staying in Auckland, plan on at least a day trip to this island. There is a ferry (~$20 per way) that runs every hour. So many great wineries to visit! Favorite was Mud House.  

 EAT & DRINK

  • Oyster and Chop: We came here for the spring lamb, probably the best rack of lamb I've ever had. The oysters (Te Makuta) were so delicious, too.  (*I wish was had tried the green lipped mussels. They were highly recommended)
AustraliaJen Lane