We decided to make this year our bucket list travel year and first up was Australia and New Zealand. Phil and I had always wanted to go so when he got asked to perform on a cruise ship there, it was a no brainer! We ended up spending the entire month of March traveling around New Zealand and Australia. The scenery was breathtaking and the trip was everything I imagined it would be. Today I’m sharing Part I of our trip in New Zealand – Part II will be our Australia itinerary. Destination: Akaroa, New Zealand
1. Akaroa is known for its gorgeous scenery – case in point, above.
2. It’s located a short drive from Christchurch which is a popular tourist destination as well.
3. There’s an amazing fish and chips place located just along the harbor – Akaroa Fish & Chip shop.
4. Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can swim with Hector dolphins (the rarest kind). It was too cold to do it while we were there, but it is offered September through May. If we go back, I definitely want to do this!
5. There isn’t a whole lot to do here, but the scenery is worth the trip. If you’re visiting the nearby area it’s definitely worth a day trip.
Destination: Auckland, New Zealand
1. Auckland was our favorite place to visit in New Zealand because there’s SO much to do. The Sky Tower is the city’s iconic landmark – it’s the tallest building in New Zealand and has a restaurant and observation deck at the top. You can also base jump off of the top. Yikes! We stayed at the Sky City Grand Hotel and it was amazing. My room had a view of the Sky Tower and the hotel felt like something out of Paris. I highly recommend staying there.
2. There are some great wineries. We took the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island where Cable Bay Vineyards is located. Be sure to go for sunset! We grabbed bean bags out on the lawn and watched the sunset over the hillside. The food is pretty amazing too – just check out that charcuterie board!
3. Plan to stay a couple of days. Our cruise ship boarded here and we came in a day early which was great to be able to explore the city. We even added a day here at the end of our trip. There are so many great restaurants, shops and scenic views – you’ll definitely want a couple of days here.
4. Rent a car and drive to nearby towns. We rented a car from Rite Price Rentals and took it to the nearby city of Rotorua (about 3 hours south). The scenic drive was one of my favorite memories. You pass so many sheep farms on the way. Rotorua is known for its hot springs. We also went zip lining with Rotorua Canopy Tours which is New Zealand’s only native forest zip line. I have to admit I was terrified, but we had a blast and the crew was SO nice and patient – even when they had to rescue me on the highest zip line!..video coming soon.
5. For Lord of The Rings fans, Hobbiton is just 2 hours south. We didn’t get here because our cruise ship was delayed on the day we were supposed to visit, but if we were to go back, I’d definitely want to go even though I’ve never seen any of the Lord of The Rings movies.
Destination: Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
1. Seriously, the pics say it all! I can’t get over how BREATHTAKING it was.
2. We cruised through here twice – once on the way to Australia and once on the way back from Australia.
3. Milford Sound is the best sound – the views are amazing and there are so many great photo ops.
4. We passed through Fiordland on our cruise ship, but you can also get here by traveling to one of the nearby cities – Te Anau, Queenstown or Anaka. There’s a lodge at the bottom of the biggest waterfall and it looks amazing. We could see it from our cruise ship. Staying at that lodge is now on my bucket list!
5. You can see Milford sound by helicopter too – soaring over glaciers and waterfalls sounds like a dream doesn’t it?!
Destination: Wellington, New Zealand
1. Wellington is New Zealand’s capital so there is plenty to do here from shopping to eating – they have it all.
2. Eva Street is a MUST! This little street is a foodie’s dream. There are a number of cute local restaurants and businesses including peanut butter, chocolate and soda manufacturers. How cool is that?
3. The city’s iconic cable car takes you up the hillside for the best views of the city. It’s really adorable and the views are great!
4. We only spent two days in Wellington, but I could’ve stayed a few more. The shopping is so good and unique. I loved Cuba Street because there are so many unique things to buy like these laser cut wood butterflies.
5. We spent an afternoon at Zealandia which is an eco sanctuary for many rare birds (including the kiwi) and reptiles. It was a quick cab ride from the city center and we spent about two hours walking through it – mainly because I wanted to check out the suspension bridge. The views were pretty and the sanctuary itself was pretty quiet and relaxing.
Stay tuned for Part II of our Australia itinerary coming soon including video! I can’t wait to share it.