10 Days In New Zealand
Spend 10 Days In New Zealand
10 days in New Zealand will give you the opportunity to see what this special country has to offer! It’s truly a spectacular place, with magnificent sites, a rich culture, delicious food, and VERY friendly Kiwis! I’m sharing some basics first, before I get into the details of the 10 days in New Zealand funventures!
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Best Time To Go
My first bit of advice has to do with airline ticket prices and time of year. The Longest Day in New Zealand is December 22. A beautiful summer during the winter solstice. However, the ticket prices in December double!
Plan on spending 10 days in New Zealand in November, just BEFORE the longest day in New Zealand! While November is still a bit damp and chilly, there can be plenty of nice weather and no crowds.
Feel free to experience the longest day in New Zealand on the gorgeous beaches, but for half the price, November weather is great!
New Zealand is overall relatively inexpensive when it comes to food, lodging, and domestic transportation. One New Zealand dollar is equivalent to .72 cents US.
The pricy parts of the trip are the activities/excursions. While there are plenty of free things to do, New Zealand is all about adventure, and adventures cost money.
Reserve ahead, look for discounts, and pay in the months and weeks before you go to spread out the expenses.
No, on public transportation. Rent cheapo cars from Jucy or the standard cars from Hertz, etc.
Please note that they drive on the Right side of the car, but Left side of the road. Just like in the UK. Don’t freak out. You can do it!
The roads are simple to navigate and practically abandoned. Really, there is NO traffic there! Once you get the hang of where the blinkers are vs the windshield wipers, you are good to go!
Take a short flight between the islands, to make the most of your 10 days in New Zealand.
For 10 days in New Zealand, all you need are exercise leggings, hiking shoes, jacket layers for rain, and a bathing suit.It is a casual country and you will be active and outdoors most of the time.
Add one nice outfit, just in case.
Make as many reservations as you can prior to your trip. I do this for most trips, but the NZ adventure has a lot of moving parts so you will want to be organized.
Pay attention to this itinerary because you can reserve the cars, plane tickets, lodgings, and excursions all in advance. That way, you will only need to find food, which is super easy and delicious in NZ!
Follow this itinerary to make the most of your 10 days in New Zealand!
Stay at the Hotel Parnell. It is basic, suitable, and they will schedule taxi pick up from the airport for $40.00. Take a shower and get some food and venture out to explore the city of Auckland and the lovely islands just off shore. This is your jetlag day, so it’s an easy one!
First stop, the Mt. Eden Volcano site. Auckland’s highest volcano spot with stunning views of the whole city and harbor. Inactive, of course, the volcano area is filled with grass and looks like a big abandoned crater.
Next, take the ferry ride from Auckland Ferry Terminal to Waiheke Island. A 40 minute ride to a beautiful small island with a lovely beach, walking trails, shops, and restaurants. Easy to stroll, wander, and not feel pressured or too busy, just in case you do get a wave of jet lag! Later, dine at the Devonport Bayside Village area with loads of cafes and pubs.
Waitomo & Matamata
Drive 2.5 hours through green rolling hills covered in sheep to the Waitomo Caves.
Reserve the combination 2 hour tour of the Ruakuri Cave and the Glowworm Cave. $89 per person. Not cheap, but completely worth it!
You are guided through folding shawls of limestone formations and crystal tapestries. It’s quite magical.
Enjoy the special Cathedral Cave which feels like a giant Gaudi church dripping with limestone. You may even hear your guide sing an ancient Mãori folk song!
Glow worms live in these vast caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Part 2 of the tour takes you through an adjacent cave with water pathways. In the pitch-black bottom of the cave, you climb into a boat.
The guide, a Mãori descendent of the chief who originally explored the caves, stands in the boat and pushes off the sides of the cave to keep the boat moving through. In complete silence, you are surrounded by ceilings and walls of glowworms.
You can eat at a local spot before driving just over an hour to Matamata.
Stop in at the Otorohanga Kiwi House along the way if you have time. Try to catch a glimpse of the famous Kiwi Bird. Kiwi are nocturnal, so their habitat is indoors and in the dark. Not easy to see, but you can say you saw a Kiwi bird!
Spend the night at one of the many choices for lodging in Matamata, near Hobbiton.
Hobbiton & Rotorua
Next, you have a one hour drive to the original Zorbing site in Rotorua. OK, a ridiculous amount of money for such a silly thing ($35 per person for a single ride.), however, I guarantee you have never laughed this hard in your life! Jump into a giant ball with splashing water and roll down a hill, spinning and tossing around for a few minutes. The whole adventure lasts about 30 minutes. Worth It!!
Now you are ready for Rotorua, one of the most memorable and wonderful spots in NZ! Plan on two nights there because there is so much to do. Be prepared for the odor of this city. You may find it a little offensive. Sulfur permeates the air because it is built on bubbling mud pools and geothermal activity.
Rotorua is steeped deeply in ancient and current Mãori culture. Everywhere you go, find another bubbling spot, emerging from the earth, reminding you that the land is active, and alive.
Stay at the Sudima Hotel, on the banks of Lake Rotorua. The steaming lake is difficult to describe because the activity, color, and atmosphere create a haunting, while also calming, experience.
On your first evening, get reservations at the Polynesian Spa, across the street from the hotel. Soak in a private outdoor tub of natural hot springs, in the dark, sipping water, and relaxing overlooking the lake. The 30 minute soak costs $35 per person. Healing and decadent.
Tour the Whakarewarewa Village, a living Mãori Village. The village tour is an absolute MUST SEE. The Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao people have lived and worked in this village for centuries.
The town is built surrounding the mud pools and boiling mineral springs, right next to the erupting geyser.
We ate corn cooked in the geothermal community cooking pool and saw traditional dance, singing, and of course, the “almighty HAKA.” BIG highlight of the trip.
View the Pohutu and Prince of Wales Geysers, two of New Zealand’s most famous and active geysers!
The Agrodome Farm is a working sheep farm. Watch the sheep performance, visit the alpacas and cows, and of course, the café! Buy sheep and possum yarn and head back to town for dinner and bed.
Stay at the Rydges Lakeland Resort, right on the bank of the lake, with a balcony in the room and free parking! Time for lunch in the very charming town with a little wild west, meets outdoor activity hub.
Next stop the Shotover Jet that has “thrilled over 3 million people since 1965!” These are speed boats, driven for thrill rides in the Shotover River Canyons. The boats speed up to 85kph in as little as 10cm of water. The highly trained drivers do 360 degree turns, nearly crash into cliff sides, and completely take your breath away, in a good way! It is not cheap, over $100 per person or $300 for a family, but this is an authentic New Zealand adventure not to be missed!
Queenstown is also the home of the famous skydiving trips and the original bungy jumping bridge. The Kawarua Bridge is the world’s first commercial bungy jumping site, established in 1988. The lodge is booming with people, loud music, and a ski resort vibe. There are no waivers to sign, no high tech devices, no big fanfare, just people diving off a 141 foot bridge and bouncing up and down until they get scooped up by in a boat below. You can zipline and bungy jump if skydiving is not your thing!
Back in town, dine at the famous Ferberger, where you wait in line for an hour to get any kind of New Zealand beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, or steak burger, or a falafel pattie named Bun Laden on a gluten free bun!
The Kea Bird, a nationally endangered species, is of the parrot family and lives only in this alpine, rain forest, region on the South Island. One bird will distract the human while the other one steals the human’s food!
In Milford Sound, board a boat cruise through the fjords. Milford Sound is a World Heritage site, known for its spectacular waterfalls and breathtaking scenery.
Sitting inside the very large dining cabin with tables and chairs is warm and dry, but also a bit wavy. Standing outside is gorgeous, but also intense because of wind and water.
Visually remarkable, physically invigorating, and emotionally inspiring.
After a nap in the bus ride back, have a fun dinner and dessert by the lake before bed.
Drive to Dunedin at the tip of the South Island. Dunedin is a university city, on the Pacific Ocean, with plenty of lodging and dining choices.