New Zealand – Tour

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Visiting New Zealand has been a huge dream of mine for years. You can imagine my anticipation as we booked the flights half a year ago.

And we finally made it – we really had the opportunity to discover this wonderful country ourselves.

Here is our final tour map – it shows all the routes we took using our car as well as the ones using ferries, cruising boats and kayaks (although you might not be able to spot it in this huge map).


New Zealand - Tour map

As usual you can also find some of my impression on my photograhpy-website.

Auckland
Visited points: – Ferry House
– Mount Eden
– City Centre
Weather: cloudy
Summary: First day in the new time zone- worked out pretty well.
Auckland looked nice, we especially enjoyed the view from Mount Eden.
Coromandel Range
Visited points: – Hunua Falls
– Hot Water Beach
– Thames
– Coromandel>
Weather: windy and sunny
Summary: Nice coastal landscape but very small parking possibility at the cathedral cave
Waitomo
Visited points: – Ruakuri & Waitomo Glowworm Cave
– Mangapohue Natural Bridge
– Marakopa Falls
– Matamata
Weather: cloudy, rainy
Summary: Ruakuri Caves were impressive, but the Glowworm cave very touristic (I would skip that one), the valley of the Mangapohue Natural Bridge did offer a short and suprisingly nice walk.
Overall a good day, with two very exhausted travelers in the evening ;)
Waitomo & Central North Island
Visited points: – Ruakuri & Waitomo Glowworm Cave
– Hobbiton
– Roturua
– >Huka Fall
Weather: heavy rain, stormy
Summary: We started the day with a visit at Hobbiton – we took the first tour of the day and were absolutely happy about it (not so much tourists running through our photography’s). The rest of the day was actually drowned in heavy rain (as we heard later New Zealand was the victim of a heavy storm which destroyed woods, roofs and power supply lines).
Hawkes Bay, Wanganui-Manawatu & Wellington
Visited points: – Napier
– Hastings
– Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu
– Wellington
Weather: heavy rain, stormy
Summary: After a day of very stormy weather we started this one with the expectation to see something more than rain, deep clouds and fog. We made short stops in Napier and Hastings which reminded us a lot of USA.
Wellington
Visited points: – Weta Cave & Workshops
– Rivendell & Isengard
– Mount Victoria
Weather: rain, clouds
Summary: We started our day with a visit at Weta (Weta Cave Workshop Tour) – honestly it was a bit painful to see all those wonderful work, knowing that this would be the place where you very much would like to be. To continue our journey in the lord of the rings tour we stopped by at Rivendell and Isengard (you can read my impressions about that here)
Add. (blog) entries: The Lord of the Rings – Locations (Part I)
Malborough & Tasman
Visited points: – Queen Charlotte Drive
– Nelson
Weather: rain, clouds
Summary: We finally made our way to the South Island, using the ferry. The fjords on the south side remind slidly of Iceland and Norway.
Tasman
Visited points: – Kayaking in Tasmon
– Golden Bay
Weather: rainy and/or sunny
Summary: Today was our “rest-day” which actually included no rest at all as we went kayaking. We crossed the sea to a small island with a seal colony, which was wonderful – in contrary to the way back, which was – due to the heavy wind – a nightmare.
Tasman & West Coast
Visited points: – Te Waikoropupu Springs
– Pencake Rocks
Weather: rainy and/or sunny
Summary: Due to a little miscalculation of our days, we had to drive a lot today. We started early at the Golden Bay and made a quick stop at the Te Waikoropupu Springs – being the only visitors there we enjoyed the peace and the sound of the springs and the locals birds.
We followed the Buller River for a long time before meeting civilization again at the Pancake Rocks.
For the last two hours we admired one rainbow after another.
West Coast
Visited points: – Franz Josef Glacier
– Fox Glacier
– Lake Matheson
Weather: rainy, sunny
Summary: We started hour day early as we had to make hour glacier tour at 9:30 a.m. As we arrived as our guide told us, that this was the first day (since 5 days after the storm from last week), that they had power working again. We parked our bus at the verge of the rain forest, walked a few minutes and arrived at the end of the glacier – really fascinating how close those two climate zones are.
Otago (Queenstown)
Visited points: – Queenstown
– Riversurfing
– Queenstown – Bob’s Peak
Weather: sunny
Summary: Another day were we stayed on one place. In the morning we discovered Queenstown. Although being there off-season, the city was full of tourists, but surprisingly it didn’t fell to uncomfortable. We continued hour day we Riversurfing – one of the best activities I ever did – AWESOME
Otago
Visited points: – Hollyford Valley
– Milford Sound
– The Chasm
– Mirror Lakes
– Lake Matheson
Weather: heavy rain, sunny, windy
Summary: What a day. We started with heavy rain and miserable sight until we arrived Milford Sound in the late noon to take a boat onto the fjord in the afternoon. Our captain told us, that the weather had been so bad, that all the boats stayed grounded the whole morning. It still rained when we started but it lessened and we got rewarded with a few rainbows between the steep cliff edges.
The way home finally showed us the whole beauty of the Hollyford Valley – the landscape was just STUNNING!
Add. (blog) entries: Milford Sound
Southland
Visited points: – Clifden Suspension Bridge
– Bluff
– Curio Bay
– McLean Falls
Weather: sunny
Summary: Another road-day. We made quick stops on the above mentioned points. Bluff is the most southern part of the South Island of New Zealand. Overall the area wasn’t our favorite, since the low hills felt kind of boring a the coastal area a bit crowded after the awesome mountain range of Milford Sound. Nontheless also here we could see the stunning color of this countries landscape.
Catlins
Visited points: – Purakaunui Falls
– Nugget Point
– Dunedin
– Moeraki Boulders
Weather: rainy, sunny
Summary: We started the day with another waterfall and a lot of sandflies – god, I hate them!! Afterwards we headed of two the historic city Dunedin. As usual we didn’t feel very comfortable in a city and
Canterbury
Visited points: – Mount Cook
Weather: heavy rain
Summary: Today we tested our cars ability to drive in „deep“ water – apparently it is quite capable ;). But I think they had to close the road not long after we went through because of the heavy rain. We came through the area around Twizel where we searched for the Lord of the Rings locations once again, but continued our way to Mount Cook shortly after to escape the uncomfortable weather. There being forced to remain in the hostel the afternoon and evening we watched the movies instead.
Canterbury
Visited points: – Mount Cook
– Lake Pukaki
– Lake Tekapo
– Mount Sunday
Weather: sunny
Summary: In compensation for the weather of yesterday we awoke with clear sight of Mount Cook (Aroaki) and started our small hiking tour in sunshine.
We continued our drive around noon and headed to the lakes Pukaki and Tekapo. Former one has a strange cyan color like the river which ends in it. Tekapo Village is popular with tourists but offers a nice view over the lake and the surrounding mountains. We dedicated the last hours of the day once again to our favorite New Zealand movies and visited the location of “Edoras”.
Add. (blog) entries: The Lord of the Rings – Locations (Part II)
Canterbury & Malborough
Visited points: – Christchurch (Botanic Garden)
– Kaikoura
Weather: sunny
Summary: Not much to say to Christchurch. The Botanic Garden is nice and for free. Kaikoura was again a city full of tourists, but had its own charm. We stayed there a while to watch the seal colony. The animals feel so much at ease that they just lay around everywhere. On the beach, the rocks, the pedestrian ways and right in front of a bench.
In the evening we took the ferry to Wellington – unfortunately because of heavy swell the trip took one hour longer (4 instead of 3 hours) and the motion sickness bags were quite popular among the passengers.
Wairapa & Wanganui-Manawatu
Visited points: – Wellington
– Putangirua pinnacles
Weather: sunny, cloudy
Summary: Reluctantly we continued our way back on the north island. We both can feel now, that the journey is slowly coming to an end, which is just sad.
Anyway, we enjoyed breakfast in Wellington and drove afterwards to the Wairapa area. We hiked to the Putangirua pinnacles to follow Aragorn’s path and discovered another one of New Zealands countless Reserves.
South Taranaki District, Stratford District, Waitomo
Visited points: - Tongariro National Park
– Taranaki Falls
– Mount Ruapehu
Weather: sunny
Summary: Driving to our next location through green hills and wood we where a bit surprised to spot the two white mountain tops at the horizon. Getting closer the area resembled more a steppe. We hiked the 2 hours trail to the Taranki Falls and rested there in the sun. A lot more lazier we reached the higher area of Mount Ruapehu by car. Although covered in snow we could walk there in simple t-shirts.
Whangarei, Far North
Visited points: - Orewa
– Paihia
– Ninety Mile Beach
Weather: sunny
Summary: Coming soon
Far North, Kaipara, Auckland
Visited points: - Waitangi Treaty Grounds
– Waipoua Forest (Tāne Mahuta)
– Auckland
Weather: sunny
Summary: Coming soon

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