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The New Zealand Travel Guide

Say ‘Kia Ora’ to a beefy travel post…

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New Zealand, eh? What a ride. A 26 day holiday (with two days travel on one end and one day of travel on the other – time zones BE CRAZY), with 11 destinations and countless rest stops to take in the views/top up on Arnott’s Mint Slices on the way. We had a ball if you couldn’t already tell from my beaming 2018 video debut, but I thought it might be handy to summarise our trip for those who are looking for some NZ advice.  There’s already a load of it out there, and that’s how we curated our trip from scratch. After we worked out what time it was feasible to take off of work and secured flights, we used a combination of the Lonely Planet Guide, the knowledge of our mate Matt who lived out there for a year and good ol’ Google Maps to plan a route. Then it was onto airbnb to find accommodation (with a few fancier stop offs because you know – HONEYMOON!). After that we went ham on TripAdvisor and booked in activities we wanted to do in each spot, before collating all the emails and tweets I received into our own mini travel guide featuring trails, view points, cafes, bars and restaurants to visit.

It sounds hefty (and it was), but being that this was a once in a lifetime trip, we really wanted to squeeze every drop of kiwi flavour out of it. So today’s post is literally a copy and paste of that big ol’ document. Say hello to Anna and Mark’s New Zealand TripAdvisor-esque extravaganza…

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AUCKLAND

Where we stayed: Hotel DeBrett – as the hotel was quiet we were unpgraded to a two-level suite which was BEAUTIFUL. A great quiet place to stay in the centre of town to shake off the first day of jet-lag.

What we did: We flew into Auckland and our main purpose of our time there was to kick jet-lag in the arse. We wandered around, finding great shops and cafes to stop at on Ponsonby Road – Burger, Burger in particular was delicious (and thanks to us eating at 5pm there was no queue!). Chuffed was a fab spot for brunch and was so good in fact that we had it again when we returned at the end of the trip for our flight home. Although we didn’t get a chance to, the Sky Tower and Botanical Gardens are apparently great spots to also have a meander around.


ROTORUA

Where we stayed: Willow Rest Cottage – a fab little Airbnb with friendly hosts who stock up the kitchen for you, like it’s their own. Plus, a stunning view over the lake can be reached very easily.

What we did: Although we only had one full day here, we managed to pack a fair amount in. We firstly hired bikes and went out on tracks in the Whakarewarewa Forest (we did the kid’s track twice – LOL). Then we wandered along the Redwoods Forest Tree Walk, before hopping back into the car and visiting the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, which didn’t smell too fab but looked bloomin’ beautiful. We ate well here, having dinner at Atticus Finch on the first night – the lamb was perfection – and Terrace Kitchen on the second – would highly recommend.


LAKE TAUPO

Where we stayed: Braxmere – a last minute accommodation change for us as it was closer to the Tongariro Crossing and it was a great find. The view was INSANE and the mini lodge spacious and well equipped.

What we did: Our purpose of our Taupo stop was to complete the Tongariro Crossing, apparently one of the best one day hikes in the world, which I can conclude was rather tough in places, but completely worth it. I’m not much of a hiker and we completed it in around six hours and the decent wasn’t too horrid on the ol’ knees. It’s not a round-trip walk, so you have to use a shuttle bus company to take you the start and pick you up from the finish. We used Roam and they were on time and cheery folk.

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WELLINGTON

Where we stayed: City Centre Flat – another Airbnb find that we picked because the reviews were all raving and rightly so. This is slap bang in the centre of town, but SO ridiculously quiet. Plus point – it has a washing machine and plenty of space to dry it all!

What we did: Everyone had said that we would love Wellington and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s a chilled city with cool little pockets to explore and delve into. I didn’t feel too fresh unfortunately whilst we were there, but we still managed to get the Cable Car to the Botanical Garden and have a wander around there. We also visited the Te Papa Museum which I would highly recommend – it’s free and air conditioned (it was BOILING whilst we were in Welly!). I visited Citta like you all recommended and of course I wanted to bring it all home. Ekor Book Shop & Cafe was a lovely spot to pour over books and grab a coffee, plus if you fancy a spot of pampering I can recommend Spring for a shellac mani that lasts about 87 years. Food-wise we loved Field & Green and Prefab for brunch (the former is much quieter and we actually preferred it), then for dinner Tatsushi was so fresh and delicious, and I’m still dreaming of the brioche bun and chicken fat butter from Egmont St Eatery.


BLENHEIM

Where we stayed: Boutique Bunker – an Airbnb that has been made with a lot of thought and love. So picturesque and I’d quite like to be adopted by the lovely hosts – Jo and Murry. They were some of the kindest NZ residents we came across and gave us so many local recommendations.

What we did: WINE COUNTRY! Our visit here was a bit of a blur and for food we basically drunkenly ate bags of pita chips in bed, but Wine Tours by Bike was so much fun. It’s a great concept. The owners pick you up and shuttle bus you over to the area of town where all the wineries are. They set you up on a bike, give you a map and then you just bike around, doing wine tastings, eating amazing food and filling up your bike basket with bottles. We stopped off for lunch at Wairau River and it did not disappoint. Also – get the tandem bike if there are two of you. It’s fun.


ABEL TASMAN

Where we stayed: Resurgence Lodge – this was undoubtably the nicest place we stayed in during our trip (and also the priciest), a great stop to make if you’re celebrating a special occasion. It was HUGE, came with amazing breakfast supplies and the views out of the balcony onto the native bush were unforgettable.

What we did: We booked on to the ‘Soul Food’ tour with Abel Tasman Kayaks and it was the best thing we did for the whole trip. So memorable, so beautiful and so many seals! I couldn’t recommend this more and if you end up having Jess as your tour guide then say hello from us! I genuinely hugged her at the end. The next day we visited Pohara Beach, Farewell Spit and Wharariki Beach and did a wee little beach-centric road trip. Pack your SPF for sure! For food you have to have a burger at The Fat Tui stand in Abel Tasman – it’s one of the biggest, and best we had.

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FRANZ JOSEF

Where we stayed: Kahere Retreat – super cute lodges that were made by a local couple on their land. They were very comfortable and had good little kitchenette if you fancied staying in for dinner. Also the view over the mountains from the sofa were top notch.

What we did: Hike time again! This time round we fancied a walk to get an up close and personal view of the Franz Josef Glacier. The town is basically geared towards this and there are organised walks you can do, helicopter tours which actually land on the ice, however we decided to take ourselves for a walk (mainly to keep the cost down because a 26 day holiday ain’t cheap, let me tell you). We did the Robert’s Point Track, which is perhaps one of the most challenging treks I’ve ever done. Think three hours of rock scrambling to get to the top. However the view was incredible – I mean, just look at the pictures – and I completely take back the whining that I did on the way up there. Poor Mark. We ate at The Landing Bar and Alice May, which were both pretty good for dinner. Thumbs up all round.


DUNEDIN

Where we stayed: Hereweka Garden Retreat – we stayed here on Christmas Day and it’s one we’ll remember forever. Not only do you get panoramic views across the Otago Peninsular, you also get a breakfast basket with fresh milk, eggs from their hens and homemade granola. Lovely couple, lovely property.

What we did: This was our stop that we made for Christmas. We arrived on Christmas Eve, left on Boxing Day and spent a rainy Christmas Day inside (our first day of rain on the trip!), cooking our own food and getting in an extremely competitive game of Speed. However on Boxing Day we visited the Royal Albatross Centre, paid for the tour and saw a MASSIVE albatross right in front of our eyes. It looked like it was actually posing for photos – quite the performer. We also made a stop in Dunedin town centre before we left and has a rather tasty lunch at the Perc Cafe. A mini Edinburgh on the other side of the world!


MILFORD SOUND

Where we stayed: Te Anau Holiday Park – accommodation around by Milford Sound is pretty scarce, especially because we visited here on Boxing Day, but this was super cheap and did the job. They also had a kid’s trampoline which of course I went on.

What we did: They call it the eighth wonder of the world and I can see why, because the scenery here is just beyond. I know I keep bleating on about the views, but they really are quite something – both on the north and the south island. Of course when you get here there’s only one thing to do – get out on the water. We chose to do a three hour cruise with Southern Discoveries and I would definitely recommend. They do some options on smaller boats, so you’re not so crammed in, but if you haven’t got great sea legs like me then don’t worry because the water here is practically like glass. Ain’t too much bobbing! The drive there is something else too – make sure you allow some time for extra picture stops. I’d also recommend going in the morning so you can avoid the droves of buses that ship people in from about lunchtime.

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QUEENSTOWN

Where we stayed: Forest Edge – an Airbnb that’s a short 6 minute drive from the centre of town and again has amazing views (are you sensing a trend here?). Top marks again for having a gigantic washing machine and garden area out the back which dried it all in about 2 seconds.

What we did: Queenstown is where it’s at. A buzzing little town that’s packed to the rafters with adventure sports and water sports. We unfortunately only had one full day there, and one half day, but we still managed to do a Canyon Swing which was bloomin’ hilarious. I still get sweaty palms just thinking about it and even though it’s pricey and you’re on the fence about doing it – DO IT. I honestly didn’t think I’d feel too safe doing it, but the team there are pros. On our second day Mark headed out on a bike ride and so I headed back to the QT branch of Spring for a facial and an eyebrow thread. The Votary Facial was so dreamy and I think the therapist did a pretty good job with my brows that I’d been growing for three weeks and had merged onto my hairline. That evening we went to the Onsen Hot Pools that again was seriously swoony. A must-do! For food we did the tourist thing and queued for FergBurger (verdict: it was good, but not worth the hour-long wait) and also went to Bespoke Kitchen (nice if you’re in the mood for something healthy). If we’d had longer we would have loved to have visited Rata and Madam Woo.


WAIHEKE ISLAND

Where we stayed: Villas Waiheke – this spot is super new and so wasn’t the easiest to find online, but it could not have been more up our street. Scandi chic in the heart of Waiheke. If I could live here, then I would. Oh – there’s a pool too. SWOON.

What we did: Our final stop! Our trip here was a little sad because we knew that it was the end and we didn’t have amazing weather (can’t complain because the rest of our trip was glorious!). I’m so pleased we made this our end destination though because it was such a chilled place and full of great beaches, views and food – which ticks all the boxes for us. On the first night we found the pizza food truck – Dragonfired – IT. WAS. AMAZING. We loved it so much that we actually went back there for a second night! We also visited Mudbrick on New Year’s Day and it was just as incredible as everyone said. Definitely one worth booking in. The brunch was also spot on at Wai Kitchen if you fancy another food recommendation. In terms of things to do, the main town of Oneroa was great to wander around (stop off at the Island Grocer and Island Gelato Company) and a walk along Onetangi is breathtaking – just be prepared for a serious workout if you decide to rent out a paddle board. I think I still ache now…


Photos by Mark Newton

Comments

  • Sarah Wilkes

    Sounds like you had a really amazing time!!! Wonderful photos and I’m so glad you made a stop in Dunedin, I’m from Dunedin and love it when people come here! You have inspired me to be a tourist in my own country

  • OMG this travel was insane, I really would like to visit these places 🙂
    Miki x

    https://littletasteofbeauty.blogspot.it/

  • Rebecca Jenkins

    Definitely saving this for information for my next New Zealand trip. I’ve done a lot of the South Island but haven’t been to the North yet.

  • StingrayGirl

    Glad you loved NZ! I’m from the UK but live here now (in Mount Maunganui – come here next time!) and really feel like my heart is in two places on either side of the world! You flew out just before an EPIC storm that would have probable stranded you on Waiheke and made you miss your flight so your timing was impeccable!

  • ANNA, what an AMAZING trip!!! Everywhere sounds and looks incredible – such lovely photos too. I’m hoping to travel to NZ at some point so this post will be perfect when it comes to planning where to go and stay! So glad you had such a lovely honeymoon and a well-deserved break xx Jasmine | http://www.jasminehardingmakeup.com

  • Em

    Wow! The photos, the recommendations – it all looks absolutely incredible. You absolutely made me want to book a trip. Glad you had such an amazing time and honeymoon. 🙂
    xo,
    Em
    http://www.organicallyemily.com

  • I was in New Zealand in 2015 and reading your recommendations (which we did quite a few ourselves back then) makes me want to pack my bags and return there immediately!

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

  • New Zealand has been on my travel wishlist for a long time… Thanks for the guide!

    Besma | Curiously Conscious

  • Olivia

    Loved this blog post, such good pics! I’m from Auckland I think you’ve seen more of my country then me so might need to take a leaf out of your book. Nice to have you back on social media 🙂

  • MrsNoroelle

    This is gorgeous!!! NZ is on our bucket list as well…thanks for the guide!

  • all that jae

    Gorgeous photography! So glad to hear that you and mark enjoyed your trip to NZ. 🙂
    http://www.allthatjae.com

  • I love absolutely everything about this blog post even more so that my boyfriend and I are planning a trip to NZ in 2019/2020! It looks absolutely amazing!!! Katie x

  • Natali

    You guys had the best of honeymoons!!! Incredible photos!!

    https://lartoffashion.com/best-year-yet/

  • Sounds like you had an amazing trip – these photos are so beautiful! I would have been SO scared to walk across that long bridge! x

  • Alexandria Williams

    This is a great post. I’d love to read more about your trip and travels. Peoples travel photos are helping me stick to my spending ban! I’m doing a second European road trip this summer but could always use road trip trips and essentials lists.

  • Your pictures are gorgeous!!! We are definitely filing away this blog post for when we finally plan a trip for us to New Zealand! We can’t wait to visit! Glad you two had a fantastic time on your honeymoon!
    -Ash & Shelbs xx
    http://www.astoldbyashandshelbs@gmail.com

  • What a wonderful trip this must have been! Definitely the trip of a lifetime, especially for your honeymoon. It makes me want to travel so much – I’d definitely follow your advice especially on where to eat – thanks for the Tripadvisor-esque info haha!

    Julia x
    http://www.juliaspeaksbeauty.blogspot.co.uk

  • HarrisonBeach

    It’s getting me excited for my 3 week NZ trip next year!!
    http://www.byharrison.com

  • Tracy Abbott

    Sounds like you had an amazing time! If you ever get a chance to go back. Add, Waitomo Caves, the West Coast of the South Island, Kaikora, Northland and Coromandal to the list! X

  • This looks AMAZING and makes me feel so excited about my honeymoon that will hopefully happen this september. I just don’t know where to go yet!!

    The Lisa’s World

  • Barbara Lofgren

    So glad you enjoyed NZ and visited some of my favourites in Wellington. Ekor Bookshop and Cafe is my regular stop on a Saturday morning pre Pilates!

  • Antonia

    Hi Anna, I have been a long-time reader/viewer and have recently made the massive move to NZ (Wellington) from London, after getting married a few months ago. It is SO lovely to see that you enjoyed your trip! Since I moved I always watch your channel and feel like I am connecting to home in a happy/sad way, like connecting with a friend, but reading your post totally affirms why my hubby and I decided to move. We are here on work visas for a few years and of course trying to make the most of the great outdoors whilst here – so you have definitely helped me add a few places to my hitlist! Anyway, i also wanted to de-lurk to say great post, but also that I love what you do and think you’re fab, so keep at it!
    Antonia x

  • Looks beautiful! <3

  • Looks like heaven xxx

    http://www.themollyellis.com

  • This looks amazing, makes me want to visit even more now xx

  • Sophie

    Looks amazing!!!! What did you think of the backpack??? I’m seriously thinking of getting one too. Thanks girl for sharing the pictures! We sure missed ya! 😁😉

  • This looks like the most incredible trip! You’ve pushed New Zealand even higher up on my travel wish list – going to file away this post for all the tips when I finally make it there!! Natalie x

  • Flo la vita

    I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand, it looks gorgeous xx

    http://www.flolavita.co.uk

  • Wow it sounds like y’all had a relaxed, adventurous and fun honeymoon!!! Thank you for sharing this with us. Y’all really made every day count. 🙂

  • Sounds amazing! As a New Zealander it’s always interesting to hear about other people’s experiences in NZ. I’m glad you two had such a good trip! I actually want to plan something similar as although I’ve lived here my whole life I really haven’t seen enough of the country… Will definitely be checking out your reccomendations x

  • This looks so incredible Anna! I hope both you and Mark had an amazing time.
    I’m currently travelling Australia for the UK and I can safely say I’m a sucker for the mint slices too!! We need this in the UK..haha.

    Sophie xx

    https://sophheydoll.blogspot.co.uk

  • Freya Parr

    This is SO useful. Literally decided last week to do a big NZ trip next year, and now it appears my itinerary has been done for me! You star.

    teawithfreya.com

  • Nice post! I would love to visit New Zealand. 🙂

  • Fiammetta

    What a fantastic post Anna. So useful!! I want to go for my honeymoon

  • Morgan Hartley

    lovely pictures, so beautiful! quick question. Did you rent a car?

  • Laura Bloom

    Wow, it all looks incredible! I hope I get the opportunity to visit NZ in the future.

    Laura x
    LookAtMyClothes

  • Sepideh

    I love being able to see pictures of your adventure! WE WANT MORE!!

    Seppy | http://www.elleisforlove.com