Which is the best way: in my opinion by rental car.
What should we see: depends on your personal interests and way of transportation. Here are some ideas. About most of these places you will find more info in my tips on VT. You also could read the VT TRavle Guide about New Zealand and you will even get more ideas about what to do/see (New Zealand Travel Guide
NORTH ISLAND White Island: my absolute number one spot in NZ, an active volcano near Whakatane (Bay of Plenty) 50 km’s off shore.
Tauranga/Mount Maunganui/Papamoa Beach.
Rotorua: with lots of interesting volcanic sights (we did like most of all: Wai-o-Tapu, Mt. Tarawera and a little bit further away Orakei Korako);
Tongariro National Park with the famous Tongariro Crossing and lots of other tracks (drive also along the so called ‘desert road’).
Palliser Bay: near Martinborough on the south end of the North Island, with lots of seals along the (gravel) road and the Putangirua Pinnacles with impressive scenery.
Wellington: absolute must see’s are Te Papa Museum and the Botanical Gardens with the famous red cable car.
Napier: art deco buildings and Cape Kidnappers with a large gannet colony, but also the splendid views from Te Mata Peak.
Mahia Peninsula: with sandy and lovely rock beaches; a very remote part of NZ.
Gisborne: with wineries and perhaps a visit to the village of Whangara, where the movie "Whale Rider" was filmed.
East Cape: attention it is a long drive !!
Coromandel Peninsula: lots of small beaches and Cathedral Cove the most lovely beach of NZ, Hot Water Beach; for walking/hiking the remote Kauaeranga Valley near Thames (the peninsula is more or less a ‘little New Zealand’).
Auckland Region; with lots of unexpected spots like Waitakere Ranges with the wild coast neaby Piha and the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach; Waiheke Island or Rangitoto (both accessible from Auckland city by ferry); Goat Island on the way to the north.
Bay of Islands: Waitangi, where modern NZ was born, Russell (‘swim with the dolphins’ or make another cruise) and Kerikekeri (on the way north take a look at the Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa).
Cape Reinga: with wonderful views over beaches, Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. With a side trip: near the parking lot is a trail that goes off to the West, about two miles long down to a large mostly empty beach. The beach itself is amazing. On the way to/ from Cape Reinga there is a walk (or drive) through a little stream with huge dunes - Te Paki Sand Dunes - to “ninety mile beach” (be aware of the dangers when driving the beach, mostly it is not allowed with a rental car).
Waipoua Forest: with large impressive kauri's.
Hokianga Harbour: with huge sand dunes and further away Mitimiti, a very remote Maori-village on the wild coast of the Tasman Sea ( use the ferry near Rawene).
SOUTH ISLAND Marlborough Sounds: with the famous Queen Charlotte Track.
Blenheim: with the wineries and Lake Grassmere with a sea salt plant and a 'strange' pink colour.
Abel Tasman National Park: famous coast track and golden beaches; stay in Kaiteriteri (just the name sounds great !!); make a trip with one of the water taxi’s.
Golden Bay: with Takaka Hill, Pupu Springs and a very remote beach called Wharariki Beach near Farewell Spit (sometimes with fur seals on the rocks).
Buller Gorge: on your way to/from Abel Tasman Nat. Park; with the Buller Gorge Swingbridge; or make a detour to St Arnaud with the Nelson Lakes in Nelson Lakes National Park.
Westport: with Cape Foulwind and its fur seal colony; the 'Coaltown Museum' is situated in this small town.
Wild West Coast: between Westport and Greymouth with Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks and blowholes; Paparoa National Park with its very very green rainforest, made for a walk through this native bush; look also for the rare Nikau palms; 5 km's north of Punakaiki is the Truman Track (15 minutes) to a spectacular beach.
Fox and Franz Josef Glacier - perhaps do some glacier hiking.
Arthur's Pass: alpine scenery, but also the ‘strange’ rock formations of Castle Rock and the Cave Stream Reserve.
Christchurh: with Bank's Peninsula and the ‘French’ town of Akaroa (also for dolphin watching).
Lake Tekapo/Twizel/ Mount Cook.
Cadrona Road, Wanaka and Haast Pass.
Queenstown and Arrowtown; especially Queenstown offers a lot of ‘wild’ activities and Arrowtown offers some old building and walks in the mountains.
Dunedin: with Otago Peninsula and its penguin and albatross colonies and Larnach ‘Castle’.
Mouraki Boulders: between Dunedin and Christchurch.
Happy travels !!!! Jaap
Thanks for the details we are travelling from Christchurch -Oamaru-queens town taking a tour toMilford Sound -Wanaka- Haast- Fox & Franz Joseph Glacier -Hokitika with a visit to Arthur's Pass -Greymouth & over to Kaikoura but don't want to miss any thing of interest also would like to visit the wine region of Malborough, can you suggest which would be the best way to do it? We are flying into Christchurch and flying home from Aukland. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Be the first to rate this answer!
Are you doing guided tours on the South Island; if yes, how many days take these tours ?? Do you intend to rent a car at all (South or North island) ?? How many days are left for the North Island ??
Be the first to rate this answer!