Date of stay: 9th September – 10th October 2011 (Rugby World Cup 2011)
Where you stayed: Various hostels
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned self guided tour!
We toured New Zealand for a month during the 2011 RWC, fitting in as much as possible into 4 weeks. We looked at the activities on offer and mapped out our journey, but still we couldn’t fit everything in (we'll be back). Here are a few tips and reviews of different places and activities throughout both the North and South Islands that we'd recommend.
If you are keen on white water rafting, definitely do it in Rotorua. We used Kaitiaki Adventures who have excellent guides and provide some background on the Maori culture. You'll see beautiful scenery, have a good laugh and an excellent adventure rush.Finish off the day hoping in the Polynesian Hot Springs to relax while taking in a lovely view of the lake.
Mountain Biking tracks in the forest are superb, the best I’ve experienced anywhere. You can purchase maps for $5 and it’s definitely worth it.
If visiting Taupo definitely make a trip to Huka Falls and DO NOT miss the free natural hot springs, a short walk out of town past the Bungy Jumping. Just be wary of leaving valuables in your vehicle in the car park, apparently it’s quite the hot spot for thieves. We were advised by a local to park at the Bungy car park and walk the rest of the way.
Glow worms are definitely worth seeing and we did the Abyss Black Water Rafting tour with The Legendary Black Water Company.For us the glow worms are much more interesting with a combined adventure and the five hour abyss tour is an amazing experience.The instructors can come off vague and unprofessional at times which can be frustrating, however the overall experience is awesome if you’re keen for an adrenaline rush.Just be warned that the 5 hour trip combines abseiling, pitch dark flying fox, river tubes PLUS caving and a couple of challenging climbs of very strong waterfalls to finish up. It can be tight so pick a tour to match your preferences, this one is definitely not for the claustrophobic!
If you’re there, take a walk down to Cathedral Cove and if weather permits try snorkelling or diving in the Marine Reserve.
Definitely recommend the winery’s within the Marlborough region.Wine tours by bike is great, however the actual service is slightly disappointing.You could easily hire bikes on your own, grab a winery map and head out yourself so that you don’t have a time limit. If you do want to go through Wine Tours by bike, we'd suggest doing a full day tour rather than a half day. You'll have more time to relax and enjoy the vineyards rather than rushing through to get back on time.
If time permits, take a drive over the Takaka Hill (beware it’s a hell of a hill!) and explore the Able Tasman National Park by walking, kayaks or mountain bikes.Either way it’s spectacular.Take a drive to farewell spit and on the way stop off for a 20 minute walk to Wharariki Beach, a beautiful little walk through farmlands out to the west coast.Be sure to head right down to the beach where if you’re lucky you’ll find a handful of baby seals playing in the pools.It’s slightly off the beaten track but absolutely worth it!
A stunning city, but pricey and touristy.Everything adventure wise offered in Queenstown can be found elsewhere throughout NZ, so if you are travelling around NZ don’t get to caught up in the “Queenstown adventure hype”.Skiing and snowboarding here is highly recommended though! For beginners head to Coronet Peak – but be aware if you’re hiring gear they don’t hire gloves and goggles anywhere, no matter what anyone tells you! Cadrona Pub is definitely worth the drive for a beer (halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka).
Points to highlight:
Overall, NZ has so much to offer for everyone from the wildest outdoor adventures to beautiful scenery to drive, walk or cycle through.The people are VERY laid back and nothing is ever urgent or even rushed for that matter.Be prepared for some tours (and also the drives) to take longer than expected.While it can be frustrating, this is their way so it’s best to be prepared for that, accept it, adapt to it and more importantly ENJOY it!!
Would you recommend this destination: Yes, most definitely
Would you recommend your accommodation: Yes
Overall rating: 5/5
By: Lynette & CJ