Where to go in New Zealand?

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My advice (FWIW) is to start with Auckland. As you're essentially a tourist, Auckland is far better positioned to see many of NZs attractions. The bay islands up north are great in the summer, the Coromandel over summer is quite simply a most beautiful and relaxing spot to chill out and surf or fish if you're into that, as are the western beaches. Black water rafting at Waitomo caves I can genuinely recommend and there still may be some last of the season skiing at Mt Ruapehu but regardless Ruapehu is a great tramping mountain in summer and the bubbling active crater lake at the top is well worth seeing (and not too difficult, even for me). Of course there are the old favourites like Rotorua to visit (hint, Rotorua has many free geothermal attractions like mud pools and hot springs...you don't have to ripped off by the exorbitant prices charged for the touristy ones), but there are many, many very picturesque towns which are surprisingly steeped in history for such a relative young nation that are easily accessible from Auckland like Cambridge to the south and Kerikeri to the north. There's a great bicycle ride for a long weekend. Just past Paeroa, starts the historic Hauraki Rail trail and traverses the stunning Karangahake Gorge and even through the old 1.2km long railway tunnel beside the Ohinemuri River. A very memorable few days which doesn't have to cost you the earth to experience. I'd also be amiss not to point out Tauranga and "the Mount" (New Zealands answer to Surfers Paradise) and the enjoyable drive around the Bay of Plenty to Gisborne. There's Hot Water Beach up the Coromandel and the short drive between Waihi and Whangamata is a favourite of mine for nothing other than it's a winding and fun road to drive bordered by lush pastures and well fed dairy cows. Taupo is also a lovely spot to visit and I can recommend having a look at the unusual Huka Falls. Lake Taupo is the headwater lake for the mighty Waikato River and the amount of water that pours through the narrow egress gorge from the lake is quite breathtaking. Of course if you enjoy the bike riding, the Waikato iself has many trails to enjoy as well.

Honestly, I could rabbit on about it for ages, but you might have noticed I'm more a Nth Island fan. The south Island to me, is wind swept and desolate (obviously with some trivial boring little redeeming features :cool:) but I do believe you'd be best to start in Auckland and then, once you have an idea, look for other work a little further way from civilisation!
 
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Warks

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My advice (FWIW) is to start with Auckland. As you're essentially a tourist, Auckland is far better positioned to see many of NZs attractions. The bay islands up north are great in the summer, the Coromandel over summer is quite simply a most beautiful and relaxing spot to chill out and surf or fish if you're into that, as are the western beaches. Black water rafting at Waitomo caves I can genuinely recommend and there still may be some last of the season skiing at Mt Ruapehu but regardless Ruapehu is a great tramping mountain in summer and the bubbling active crater lake at the top is well worth seeing (and not too difficult, even for me). Of course there are the old favourites like Rotorua to visit (hint, Rotorua has many free geothermal attractions like mud pools and hot springs...you don't have to ripped off by the exorbitant prices charged for the touristy ones), but there are many, many very picturesque towns which are surprisingly steeped in history for such a relative young nation that are easily accessible from Auckland like Cambridge to the south and Kerikeri to the north. There's a great bicycle ride for a long weekend. Just past Paeroa, starts the historic Hauraki Rail trail and traverses the stunning Karangahake Gorge and even through the old 1.2km long railway tunnel beside the Ohinemuri River. A very memorable few days which doesn't have to cost you the earth to experience. I'd also be amiss not to point out Tauranga and "the Mount" (New Zealands answer to Surfers Paradise) and the enjoyable drive around the Bay of Plenty to Gisborne. There's Hot Water Beach up the Coromandel and the short drive between Waihi and Whangamata is a favourite of mine for nothing other than it's a winding and fun road to drive bordered by lush pastures and well fed dairy cows. Taupo is also a lovely spot to visit and I can recommend having a look at the unusual Huka Falls. Lake Taupo is the headwater lake for the mighty Waikato River and the amount of water that pours through the narrow egress gorge from the lake is quite breathtaking. Of course if you enjoy the bike riding, the Waikato iself has many trails to enjoy as well.

Honestly, I could rabbit on about it for ages, but you might have noticed I'm more a Nth Island fan. The south Island to me, is wind swept and desolate (obviously with some trivial boring little redeeming features :cool:) but I do believe you'd be best to start in Auckland and then, once you have an idea, look for other work a little further way from civilisation!

Wot 'e said.

Have enjoyed many of the features listed above and last week I drove around Waikato/Bay of Plenty with a sense of wonder even though I'd visited before - saying out loud in the car "Man this place is beautiful!" Yes going crazy!

Saying that we're off to the South Island for three weeks after Xmas so I'll find out how windswept and desolate it is! Have been to Christchurch and Queenstown before but only for work/conferences so looking forward to a decent look.
 
D

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Saying that we're off to the South Island for three weeks after Xmas so I'll find out how windswept and desolate it is!

My windswept and desolate quip was designed to gain a bite, but no takers......a bit like me trout fishing around Wanaka. :evil: Honestly though, each time I've been to the Sth Island, it's been for skiing so the miles of tundra was brown rather than green and lush, the winds howling and cold and I guess I only endure cold for skiing! Having said that, I can come clean and say I did enjoy many Sth Island attractions (especially an overnighter spent out on Milford Sound) and Queenstown is certainly a fun little spot to hole up in for a while. I do recall the funniest reaction from a B&B lady in Christchurch when, after returning from a walk in the park, I commented to her that I thought the creek bubbling happily through the park was quite lovely........"Creek!" she exclaimed with sheer horror, "that's the Avon River"..............

Tiniest river I've ever seen :cool:.
 

Altair

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Scenery wise.
How long do you have?
If a few days Auckland is the best place to base yourself, for longer periods like all subsequent posters have said NZ is the place for scenery, it all changes very quickly and if you love mountains it is wonderful. Just prepare yourself for times of rain and overcast skies it is not called Aotearoa for nothing!
 

Warks

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Yes the green landscape and flowing waters are a product of the climate!
 
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