Auckland is probably the most famous city on the North Island of New Zealand. However, we don’t think this is a city where you should stay long. Arriving at the airport you can take a taxi or the Skybus to your hotel in Auckland. The price of a Skybus ticket is 16 NZD.
During our trip through New Zealand we stayed in Auckland for two night, which was in our opinion more than enough. Some nice things to see are the Sky Tower, which is 328 meters high and the Albert Park. You can also take a walk to the Parnell street where you will find a lot of nice houses, restaurants and coffeeshops.
After a four hour bustrip from Auckland you will arrive in a small village, called Rotorua. The first thing you will notice is the smell of “rotten eggs”. This is because of the volcanic activity in this area, resulting into boiling hot thermals releasing “hydrogen sulphide” (H2S).
You can’t leave Rotorua without visiting the Thermal Wonderland Wai-O-Tapu. The Wai-O-Tapu thermal area has the largest area of surface thermal activity of any hydrothermal system in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, covering 18 sq.km.
Some highlight are the Champagne Pool, Devil’s Ink Pots and Devil’s Bath.
An entree ticket and bustrip from Rotorua will set you back 65 NZD per person. If you have your own car you can buy an entree ticket for just 32,50 NZD. Other big Thermal parks worth a visit are Waimangu and Te Puia.
If you don’t have the budget or time to go to Wai-O-Tapu, there is a free park you can visit on walking distance from the city. Here you can see some small Thermals.
Another must see in Rotorua is the Rotorua Lake. This is the second biggest lake in the North Island of New Zealand. The lake is known for the large amount of black swans living here. You could also visit the Rotorua Museum, which is a perfect place for some nice holidays pictures. Entrance fee for the Rotorua Museum is 20 NZD per person.
The must-see place for all the Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings-fans is Hobbiton. Hobbiton, or The Shire, is the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set where The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed.
During an Aerial search, Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema discovered the Alexander farm just outside of Matamata, which would be the perfect setting for the classic works by J.R.R. Tolkien. Site construction started in March 1999 and is now a permanent tourist attraction.
A tour from Rotorua isn’t cheap, 110 NZD per person. If you have your own car you can just purchase an entree ticket for 75 NZD.
Try to avoid weekend-tours, because on these days there are way more tourists than on midweek days. Unfortunately we didn’t have any choice and arrived on a Saturday. On this day it was way to busy, making it hard to shoot pictures without tourists on the background. You also have to follow a guide, which gives you less time and freedom to walk around. At the time we arrived “1 november 2015” some buildings were under construction and the lake in The Shire was half empty. We also had little time left to enjoy our nice black beer in the famous Green Dragon bar.
Although we didn’t pick the perfect day, we still had a great time and advice all fans to visit Hobbiton whenever they have the chance.
South of Rotorua you will find Taupo. Taupo is most known for Taupo Lake, the biggest lake of whole New Zealand. If you are a golf player we advice you to try out the Hole In One Golf at the lake. You pay 10 NZD for a bucket full of golf balls. You goal is to hit one of the three little holes on the floating platform in the lake.
The must see attraction in Taupo is Huka Falls. You can go there by foot, which takes about one and a half hour. The track itself is even nicer than Huka Falls and on your way there you can take a break at the small Hot Water Stream or do a bungy jump at the river. Make sure you bring enough water, which is something we forgot.
Because of our delayed flight to Bali – Indonesia we had to stay 7 nights in Wellington. [Read about our bad hostel experience here.]
Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand, located at the south of the North Island. Because we didn’t have the budget to stay in Wellington, we decided to spend our time in the many free museums.
The Wellington Museum is a free to visit museum, where you can find out everything about the history of Wellington. If you are lucky “depending on the day you visit the museum” you can see a traditional Maori dance, which was a very impressive experience.
Te Papa is the biggest museum in Wellington and has been the best museum we have visited so far. The museum has 6 floors, each floor has its own theme, such as Maori history, animals, science, the earth and the Gallipoli War. Because you can interact with the museum facilities kids and adults stay entertained and learn a lot about the history. A good example is the earthquake house, where you can experience the feeling of a real earthquake.
Other museums you could go to are the Wellington Art Galley, the Cable Car Museum or Peter Jackson’s production facilities at Weta Studios. Also don’t forget to visit the Wellington Night Market where you can enjoy all kinds of Asian food.