1 Day in New Zealand - Option 1
How Unlucky! To make the most of your short time here, I recommend a personalized chauffeur driven tour to some of our favourite spots in and around Auckland. You of course can decide on the day, together with your guide/driver and depending on time frame, weather, interests etc. If I was choosing, my day would go something like this:-
Our Amazing New Zealand chauffeur can pick you up from the airport or your accommodation. Hopefully you will have 24 hours at least to enjoy Auckland, the problem is the city has so much to offer you may have trouble making choices. Today there is a chauffeur driven scenic drive planned to the outskirts of the city limits, you have a full day to explore at leisure the twin coasts (both west & east), home to famous Kumue Wineries and the Muriwai Gannet Colony intertwinned with the lush Waitakere rainforest, stunning beach vistas, waterfalls and ancient volcanoes.
You will first head to the rainforest on the Waitakere Ranges (Auckand's catchment area for our drinking water) where you can visit Arataki, the information centre of the Waitakere Regional Park before heading down to Karekare for a bush walk to the Karekare Waterfall followed by a walk through Pohutakawa tree grove to the wild windswept beach. Piha Beach offers stunning vistas and a sweeping surf beach dominated by the Lion Rock in the middle.
The journey north styas on the west coast and heads out to beautiful Muriwai Beach to view the Gannets. There is a short walk to the lookout where you can look directly down onto the nest sites and cute little chicks (springs through summer). Some of the nests are withing touching distance! You will be mesmerised with all the activity and flying skills opf the adults as they come into land with their two-metre wong spans. Muriwai beach was also the favourite hunting ground of the Ngati Whenua iwi evident in the multiple middens (pits) of shells where they would camp for months on end.
By now you may feel hungry, the Hallertau Boutique Brewery is one of my favourites.
You will then travel back to Auckland via stunning Kaipara Harbour on the west coast (one of the world's largest harbours) to the Hauraki Gulf on the east coast. Most residents of the cute little village of Puhoi are descendants from Bohemian immigrants. It is also home to the Puhoi Cheese Factory and Art of Cheese Cafe where you can also see the cheese makers at work. You can enjoy afternoon tea here in the garden (own expense), or if you prefer we can head to the historic (and rather eccentric) Puhoi Pub.
Your last stop of the day is the Wenderhold Regional Park, famous for its beach and wonderful grove of Pohutakawa trees, a native tree with bright red flowers. The other name for these ancient trees is the New Zealand Christmas Tree as they usually begin to flower at Christmas time. The trees are full of native Tui and Fantail birds. The journey south is via Waiwera (famous for the hot-pools) and the sweeping beach of Orewa where you can enjoy a leisurly stroll along the sweeping white-sand beach before heading back to your accommodation in the city.
Price per day for a guided personalized chauffeur-driven tour is NZD $720 per day, this includes transport of up to 7 persons, fuel and the chauffeur's expenses. itinery itinary
1 Day in New Zealand - Option 2
If you find yourself free for 1 day in Auckland and you haven't seen the city yet, then my day would go something like this :-
Hopefully you will have 24 hours at least to enjoy Auckland, the problem is the city has so much to offer you may have trouble making choices. Buy a day ticket on the hop-on hop-off bus which makes stops at most of Auckland's attractions - you can choose to get off and catch a later bus, or continue to the next stop. Start your tour at the Waterfront where you can find the extremely informative Maritime Museum - the displays are chronological, so you begin with the Maori migration across the seas, step back in time on board a European immigrant's ship, then appreciate New Zealand's proud yachting history including the Whitbread Round the World race and of course the America's Cup. After all, Auckland is known as the City of Sails. Kelly Tarlton was the inventor of the undersea walkway where you can view the fish from below without getting wet - the Antarctic Encounter and Penguin Encounter are worth stopping here on their own. You can't help but notice the Sky Tower. Admire the panoramic view, climb the mast, bungee jump from the tower or just have lunch in the revolving restaurant. The revamped old homes of Parnell has brick paved alleyways are full of boutique clothes stores, art galleries and specialty shops. Other stops if you have time include the Auckland Museum, Auckland Art Gallery and the Victoria Park Market is for the bargain hunters, Auckland Zoo has a walk through aviary full of New Zealand native birds and the Museum of Transport and Technology is for the history buffs. The bus will eventually bring you back to the Waterfront where you can head to the Ferry Building to take a ferry to Devonport. Wander along the waterfront to the right and up the dormant volcanic cone North Head, then wander down the steps to the popular Cheltenham Beach before heading back to the ferry. My recommendations for dinner are the seafood restaurant Harbourside in the Ferry Building, or wander along to the Princes Wharf where you'll find several more waterside eateries.
2 Days in New Zealand
With 2 days you can venture outside of Auckland to take in a little Maori culture. Head to Rotorua, famous for the sulphur hot-springs and where you can see and learn about all that is Maori.
Day 1 Auckland - Rotorua 232kms
Head south on SH1, direction Hamilton. The sooner you depart, the more you will be able to see in Rotorua!
52kms - After the Bombay Hill, turn left into SH2, direction Coromandel and after another 34 kilometres, follow SH2 around to the right at the roundabout (direction Tauranga). A few kilometres later, SH2 goes left but you should change to SH27, direction Matamata and Tirau. You don't actually turnoff, just follow the road straight and it becomes SH27, you should have the Kaimai Ranges on your left.
154kms - Waharoa is a good option for a coffee break...look for the Kaimai Cheese Factory on the right, just before the village. Here you can see the fresh cheeses being made a well as enjoy a wonderful selection of cheese themed dishes.
164kms – Matamata also makes a great coffee stop – try the Workmans Cafe on the left just past the tourist office (which is on the right just over the railway tracks.) Lord of the Rings fans may like to take a 2 hour tour to the film set of Hobbiton. The set has been rebuilt for the Hobbit movies so it is looking particullarly beautiful! Semi-fans may be contented with a photo of the "Welcome to Hobbiton" sign on the traffic island in front of the tourist office. Continue south on SH27, direction Tirau.
180kms – On reaching SH1, turn left into Tirau - the town has a bit of a love affair with corrugated iron, there are quite a few imaginitive signs right the way along the main road, including the giant corrugated iron sheepdog housing the tourist office and a giant sheepdog next door which houses the Big Sheep Wool Gallery. Other tourist shops worth at least a peek at is the Jade Factory - they specialize in Maori Koru necklaces. Or for something unique, try the Natures Touch Gallery.
Change to SH5 two kilometres further south at the new roundabout. You will soon encounter the unusual terrain of the Mamaku District where mini volcanic cones dot the landscape, some showing their solidified lava core.
222kms - The Agrodome’s principle attraction here is the Sheep Show, a highly entertaining explanation of sheep and, the farming of said sheep – the mainstay of New Zealand’s exports. Other attractions invented by enterprising New Zealanders on site include Zorbing (rolling down a hill in a giant plastic ball), Swooping (a glorified swing), bungee jumping (jump from a massive height with an elastic cord tied to your ankles), farm tour (on the back of a tractor) and jet-boating (the art of speeding in a tiny boat over very little water).
232kms – You will probably smell Rotorua before you see it, as the area is still active with sulphur escaping from the earth's crust (think rotten eggs). don't worry, you will get used to the smell. The city lies on a beautiful lake, actually a flooded volcanic crater - the surrounding hills are the remains of the rim of the giant volcano. Rotorua sits seperately on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so the volcanic activity is part of the city's past and present.
Rotorua has become New Zealand’s second largest tourist centre – so if you’d like to make the most of what Rotorua has to offer and all that is thermal, here are some possibilities :-
- The tranquil Hamurana Springs are well worth a visti! A short peaceful 15-minute loop track will take you via a beautiful clear fresh water spring that attracts abundant birdlife. The spring is 15 metres deep and produces 4 million littles of fresh water per hour!
- Kuirau Park has the largest display of steam and mud pools... and it's free! An eruption took place here as recently as 2001 when mud, steam and debris were thrown 200m into the air. Springs regularly just appear, resulting in families being forced to move and the land having to be given back to nature.
- Wander around the original Maori settlement at Ohinemutu. The church is worth a look at, as is the Marae (Maori meeting house) across the courtyard. Wander the tiny streets where everyone has their own private hot-water bore to fill their bath in the outside shed...just follow the steam and stay on the paths!
- Visit Rainbow Springs and try out the Big Splash ride. In keeping with the park's conservation theme, the nine-minute long journey through time that features an iformative narrative, state-of-the-art animation bringing to life Dinosours, Moa and the Haast Eagle and an adrenaline boosting plunge at the end.
- If you have time, soak in the reputedly therapeutic thermal pools at the Polynesian Spa, a delightful but busy public pool. If you wait until tomorrow morning the spa is less crowded and it is a wonderful way to start the day - relaxing with serene views across the lake.
- The excitement junkies can take the Gondola up Mount Ngongotaha for awesome views, interspersed with hair raising rides on a luge (3 levels available, so suitable for children).
- This evening don’t miss the excellent Tamaki Brothers cultural show followed by a traditional Hangi (earthen cooked meal). Pickups from your accommodation in a waka (war canoe) cleverly disguised as a bus, followed by a fun evening superbly hosted and entertained by local Maori.
Day 2 Rotorua - Auckland 235kms
Head back to Auckland on SH5 and SH1 via pretty Cambridge and Hamilton. Cambridge lies in the heart of champion horse breeding country. The charming town has streets lined with exotic trees, antique shops and a pavement featuring mosaics of hometown horses that have done well - Sir Tristram and Zabeel to name just a few.
235kms - Return your rental car and utilize the Hop-on, Hop-off bus which can take you to as many of Auckland's highlights as you can fit in. Start your tour at the Waterfront where you can find the extremely informative Maritime Museum - the displays are chronological, so you begin with the Maori migration across the seas, step back in time on board a European immigrant's ship, then appreciate New Zealand's proud yachting history including the Whitbread Round the World race and of course the America's Cup. After all, Auckland is known as the City of Sails. Kelly Tarlton was the inventor of the undersea walkway where you can view the fish from below without getting wet, the Antarctic Encounter and Penguin Encounter are worth stopping here on their own. You can't help but notice the Sky Tower. Admire the panoramic view, climb the mast, bungee jump from the tower or just have a meal in the revolving restaurant. The revamped old homes of Parnell have brick paved alleyways are full of boutique clothes stores, art galleries and specialty shops. Other notable stops could include Auckland Museum, Auckland Art Gallery, or the Victoria Park Market is for the bargain hunters. The bus will eventually bring you back to the Waterfront where you can choose any number of excellent restaurants for dinner. My recommendations are the seafood restaurant Harbourside in the Ferry Building or wander along to the Princes Wharf where you'll find several more waterside eateries.
We know New Zealand - we live here!