10 Days In New Zealand

05.29.2021

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10 days in New Zealand will give you the opportunity to see what this special country has to offer! It is truly a spectacular place, with magnificent sites, a rich culture, delicious food, and VERY friendly Kiwis! I am going to share some basics first, before I get into the details of the 10 days in New Zealand funventures!

10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days IN New Zealand

Know before you go

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!

 

Cost

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. 

Car

Transportation

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.

Travel Tips

For 10 days in New Zealand, all you need are exercise leggings, hiking shoes, jacket layers for rain, and a bathing suit. Add one nice outfit, just in case. It is a casual country and you will be active and outdoors most of the time. 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!

#1

Auckland

Fly into Auckland Airport on the North Island. After a night’s sleep on the plane, jet lag may not really be an issue, depending on where you are flying from. The time is only four hours earlier than in California. Of course, it is an entire day later, but it is basically just the same time of day! 

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.

10 Day In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand

#2

Waitomo & Matamata

Pick up the rental car you reserved from the downtown Auckland Hertz.

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! Glow worms live in these vast caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites. You are guided through folding shawls of limestone formations and crystal tapestries. It is 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! Part 2 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.

 

#3

Hobbiton & Rotorua

The Hobbiton tour cost $84 per person but is totally worth it. You will want to reserve and purchase your tickets in advance. It is very popular! You will have time to run on the paths, enter a Hobbit Hole, take photos by the party tree, drink beer at the Green Dragon, and hear all the marvelous stories of how the films were made. It is a total tourist trap and we loved it! 

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. 

10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand

#4 

Rotorua

Tour the Whakarewarewa Village, a living Mãori Village, and the Agrodome Farm. The village tour is an absolute MUST SEE. The Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao people have lived and worked in this village for centuries. While the culture and city around them has changed and grown, they have been able to preserve their homes and traditions and share them with tourists from around the world, like us! The town is built surrounding the mud pools and boiling mineral springs, right next to the erupting geyser. The people were kind, proud, and clearly work very hard to keep their lifestyle alive in today’s world. It is not easy to raise children in that village, send them to school in the city, and inspire them to keep their native traditions relevant. As part of the tour and all that we learned, we were able to eat corn that had just been cooked in the geothermal community cooking pool and watch a performance with 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.

 

#5

Queenstown

Drop the car off at the Rotorua airport and fly to Queenstown on the South Island where you will pick up another car at the airport at Jucy or Hertz.

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. A very energetic town filled with young people from around the world, and stellar views everywhere you look.

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 some husky young men 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!

10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand

#6

Milford Sound

Walk to a nearby parking lot to meet your bus tour to Milford Sound. It is a four hour bus ride from Queenstown through a rain forest. The bus driver will stop in a quaint town for snacks and bathroom breaks and in the forest to introduce you to the rare Kea birds. 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. Some say, it is the world’s smartest bird and rivals the intelligence of the monkey. These birds are clowns and thieves. They even consider a group of Kea to be a circus! One bird will distract the human while the other one steals the human’s food!

Upon arrival in Milford Sound, you board a boat cruise through the fjords.  Milford Sound is a world heritage site, known for its spectacular waterfalls and breathtaking scenery. This cruise is not for the sea weary traveler. If you think you might get sea sick, take some drugs. 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. We were outside most of the time, but you need a little break from the chill, and need to warm up for a few minutes with some hot cocoa. The whole experience is stimulating for all the senses. 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.

#7

Wanaka

Drive to Wanaka. Stay at the charming, yet funky, Wanaka Hotel. After exploring the lake and visiting the famous Wanaka Tree, go to the Cinema Paradiso! It is a classic and tiny old theater, filled with cozy couches and chairs, and even an antique Morris Minor car! They serve food and freshly baked cookies, drinks, and homemade ice cream. This place is a New Zealand treasure. Definitely go!
10 Days In New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand

#8

Minaret Burn Track

Venture out to the Minaret Burn Track. This is a lovely and picturesque hike with beautiful views of the mountains and lots of cows! Afterwards, stop at the Wanaka Lavender Farm. Owned by a lovely Canadian woman and her Kiwi husband, this charming farm is dedicated to growing lavender. A sweet café serves you lavender tea and lavender cookies. You can purchase lavender soaps and lotions as souvenirs before you 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.

#9

Dunedin

Climb Baldwin Street, New Zealand claims it is the steepest street in the world! Wander through the tunnels, rocks and cliffs at Tunnel Beach, and visit the Otago Museum. 
10 Days IN New Zealand
10 Days In New Zealand
#10

Time to pack up and return the car at the Dunedin airport. Fly back to the Auckland airport, on the North Island, and head back home. You will have plenty of time to look at your photos on the plane! Enjoy!

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