Alternative holiday ideas for New Zealand?
September 27, 2009 11:46 PM   Subscribe

It's a common enough question, what should I do on my holidays in New Zealand? But we're not regular folks so finding good information has been difficult. We have 10 days in late October and we fly in and out of Auckland. We're Australian but well traveled and will most likely stay on the North Island unless some compelling information arises. We've hired a campervan and intend to travel about and camp where we can. Maybe a bed and breakfast or two. Though we are on a budget the main goal is to relax and enjoy the scenery rather than try and cram in too much.

With our particular interests can mefites offer some good advice on where to see and do things that we'd find appealing. We're reasonably fit but not hiking all day up mountains fit.

I have a keen interest in permaculture and city farms/community gardens. My partner loves alpacas and all sorts of animals whose fleece can be shorn spun and knitted, ideas for seeing spring, lambs? She also has a keen interest in Neil Finn so the museum is on our list. Any excellent craft and/or local food markets?

We both love coffee and tasting local delicacies. Especially wine! Mud baths and sulphur springs sounds cool as well. We're looking to experience some of the natural beauty that New Zealand has to offer.

As we are in Australia the odds of a second trip are probably high. But may be a few years off. This time of the year it looks like the weather will be cool and wet. So are there things to do that work well in that kind of weather? Many thanks in advance!
posted by dinoworx to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wine: maybe Waiheke Island in Auckland Harbour? There's a regular ferry from the centre of Auckland. Or the Wairarapa, just north of Wellington.

Coffee: Wellingtonians are obsessed with the stuff and convinced that Wgtn is the coffee capital of the universe. Plenty of good cafes in Auckland too.

Mud pools: I guess you know about Rotorua, then?

If you feel like lying by the beach in beautiful and hopefully unspoiled surroundings, then head to the Coromandel Peninsular (south of Auckland). Not sure how the weather would be at the moment though.

There are definitely some good markets in Auckland but I don't know much about them, not being from there.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:20 AM on September 28, 2009

Best answer: Alpacas, spinning and knitting: Call Creative Fibre NZ (formerly the Spinners and Weavers Guild) and explain your interest. I'm sure they'll be able to put you in touch with an alpaca farmer. Ask the farmer if they're open to farm stays.

Coffee, wine and local delicacies: You need to go to Martinborough, home to the exquisite Shoc Chocolate and much of the NZ wine industry.

Mud baths and sulphur springs: Rotorua. The Polynesian Spa is nice, you can sit in a thermal pool and look out over a lake. Waiotapu geothermal area is beautiful, too.
posted by embrangled at 12:45 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nature and countryside-related -- you could go a little north of Auckland, check out the marine reserve at Goat Island, then maybe do a day trip to Kawau Island and enjoy the irony of seeing wallabies that are preciously endangered in Australia being a local pest.

Taking a campervan up the Coromandel peninsula is ok if you don't go further than Coromandel itself -- the roads get a bit hairy after that -- but you could then check out Driving Creek Railroad and the Waiau waterworks, not forgetting the big kauris up the 309 road on the way.

I hear there's a good farmers market manifesting in Grey Lynn these days in Auckland.

The most distinguished wine regions are a lot further south than Auckland, but there are some remnants in the Henderson/Massey area of Auckland, where there used to be a lot of Dalmatian-run vineyards and their heirs and successors are still running little wineries. You could pass an afternoon pootling around there -- I'd buy some port from Mazuran's myself.

All locally-roasted coffee is acceptable to great.

If you're making a pilgrimage to Te Awamutu (Finn birthplace) then detours to Waitomo caves and the kiwi house at Otorohanga seem obvious. The Waikato Art Museum in Hamilton has a lot of Maori art and cultural material.

If you're really thinking about making other trips, one idea would be to plot a northern trip going up to Cape Reinga from Auckland and back over 10 days, and then a later trip going south and taking in Taupo, Rotorua, and maybe one other centre like New Plymouth.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:57 AM on September 28, 2009

Best answer: It sounds like Matakana will delight you - an hour's drive north of Auckland it's a village with a farmer's market, surrounded by great wineries, galleries/craft co-ops, views and lots of things to do for a few days. The Black Dog cafe in the village is great. Omaha Beach is 5 minutes away.

As for your interests, you could take a tour of Rainbow Valley Farm, which is just up the road from the market - a gorgeous permaculture farm with adobe house. The people there are lovely! Sheepworld (yes, an entire world) is close by too.
posted by teststrip at 1:47 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

We will be traveling to NZ for a month next March. These are great tips. Thanks.
posted by birdwatcher at 2:48 AM on September 28, 2009

I recommend a drive from Auckland to Napier in the Hawkes Bay. You could go through the Coromandel, Rotorua and Taupo along the way. Driving straight from Auckland to Napier takes about 6 hours by car. So over Ten days a very easy task, you could detour to Te Awamutu on the way back if you wanted to. Lots of camping spots everywhere. Roads in New Zealand are hilly and small in the country side, so expect to add a few more driving hours driving a campervan.

In Auckland go the beach KareKare....Neil Finn has a recording studio out there, so look out for him walking his dog. But apart from that the beach is quite amazing, rough. Walks in the hills are possible as well. If you want to be a complete stalker visit Neil's wife's chandelier shop at the top of Kyhber pass in the city, Neil's main studio occupies the floor upstairs. Coffee and Cafes in Auckland are great.

The Coromandel great scenery and walks. Lots of Hippy culture and markets, but don't let that put you off, they do make great food and coffee. Go to Cathedral Cove for one of New Zealand's nicest little walks (40 minutes). The end beach is spectacular.

Rotorua doesn't really need much introduction. Not my cup of tea, touristic, but with great thermal baths and springs.

Taupo, has the lake and great views of Ruapehu on a good day. There are many walks around that area, tramping wise the Tongariro crossing is supposed to be amazing.

Napier, is like a very small Wellington, people from Wellington and Auckland have moved here for a quiter life and brought wine, coffee and food in a big way. There are many excellent wine tours and internationally renowned wineries. The weather is usually good also. For walks go to Havelock North and walk up Te Mata Peak for a great view of the region and the Pacific Ocean.

Also the trip to Napier from Taupo is great....lots of Sheep Farms so bound to find what you're looking for. Enjoy your time.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 2:59 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

A few hours south of Auckland is the PinnaclesTrack in the Coromandel (photo 1, and 2). It's about a half-day walk in and out along a good track and it's got one of the best huts in New Zealand.
posted by holloway at 3:51 AM on September 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks a lot everyone! I am quite excited about the trip. First trip in a long while where the goal was to soak up the scenery and slow down.
posted by dinoworx at 7:22 PM on September 28, 2009

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