A couple of years ago me and my boyfriend went to New Zealand on a month-long roadtrip. Since I have about a billion photos and a lot of tips, I will divide the New Zealand travel story into two parts, the first being about the north island and the second about the south island.
We arrived to NZ on New Year's Eve and because of the holidays we had to spend the first three days in Auckland before we could get our rental. We aren't fans of big cities, so if it would have been possible, we would only have stayed a day or two in Auckland. It's a nice city, but still, we don't like concrete and cars that much, haha. Anyway, Auckland provides some really nice places. On New Year's we took the ferry over to a small "island" called Devonport. From there you can watch the Auckland skyline, which is really great. I also recommend the Auckland Sky Tower, which is 328 m high and gives you the most stunning view of Auckland city. We visited the Sky Tower twice, the first time in the afternoon and the second time in the evening. I cannot say what I liked most, the day time view or the night view. It was really nice both times.
We also explored the many parks of Auckland and I recommend that you visit both Victoria park and Albert park. Bring a good book and some coffee and spend the afternoon outdoors. If you like animals and want to take a closer look at penguins, sharks and lots of different fishes, you should not miss the Kelly Tarlton's underwater world.
Another thing you shouldn't miss in Auckland is the marina. Take a stroll and watch all the expensive sail boats. When you're tired of boats, you could enjoy some coffee or a cold beer at one of the restaurants or coffee shops by the water.
If you have the time I think it's really nice to visit the northern part of New Zealand. Our schedule was quite full so we didn't have the time. Instead, we drove to Rotorua, located about 230 km southeast of Auckland. Rotorua has a lot of geothermal activity and hydrogen sulphide emissions, which you indeed can smell. This town is so, so cool! To explore the geothermal activity to the fullest, I recommend that you pay Wai-o-Tapu a visit. This geothermal park will show you something different, I promise. For example, visit the "Champagne pool" (first photo below) or the "Devil's bath" (second photo below). We spent a few hours in the park and were absolutely stunned by all the amazing pools, geysers and boiling mud. A must-do!
There is also another thing that makes people travel to Rotorua. It's the home of Hobbtion! If you have seen the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies you probably know of this place. Visit the Shire, just like it is in the movies. Go and knock on Bilbo's door and take a look into the real hobbit holes (they are so small!). Participate in a guided tour and learn all about the movie set, the props and check out the vegetable garden. When the tour is over you'll get a beer at the Green Dragon. Yes, the real pub, just like it is in the movies. Hobbiton is actually located outside Rotorua, in a place called Matamata. If you plan on going, check out the official website for Hobbiton here.
From Rotorua we continued south. The next stop was Waitomo and the glow worm caves. In the Waitomo caves you get to learn all about glow worms and the best is of course when you get to see the real glow worm caves. It's completely dark, you have to be quiet as a mouse and you aren't allowed to take photos. When you look up, there are billions of glowing worms, giving the caves a blue-ish light. I'm not kidding when I'm saying that this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. No words can describe it, really.
After the tour in the caves we continued south to a small town called Wanganui. We stayed at the Astral Motel, where the cutest owner gave us fresh strawberries in our room. We liked this town so much that we decided to stay for two days. We had dinner at a Turkish restaurant both days - it was soooo good. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of it, but you should try to find it if you're there.
From Wanganui we took the car up in the mountains and went for a small hike. Since there are way more sheep than humans in NZ, you shouldn't be surprised when you are face to face with this view on the road:
We also passed the volcanos on our way south. If you have time I believe a hike near them would be really cool. If not, watching them is good enough. Just stop the car somewhere and enjoy the view and some fresh air. You'll make many stops along the way because NZ is full of amazing views and landscapes.
The final destination on the north island was the capital Wellington. We only stayed for one day so I cannot give many recommendations. I can only say that we liked Auckland much better than we liked Wellington. From Wellington we took the ferry over to the south island so the story about the north island pretty much ends here. Read all about our adventure on the south island here!