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  1. BeyondBlighty

    That looks like an awesome itinerary…not too dissimilar from mine, but there are a few places I didn’t see, like the Bay of Islands and Dunedin, which I can’t wait to hear about!! Thanks for listing me as a source! As for Hobbiton, it is a tough call. If it was cheaper I’d say definitely do it. I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting and fun it was. This could depend to an extent on your tour guide’s sense of humour though 🙂

    • You’re welcome – your insiders knowledge on NZ was invaluable! Aha, good point on the cost of Hobbiton – something to think about for sure.

  2. Oh, my goodness. I’m dying over here. This is amazing, and fantastic, and I’m so excited for you. We spent about 5 weeks in New Zealand early last year, and it is easily my most favorite place on earth. I could blather all over about the great things to do…but I don’t even know where to start.

    If you’re looking to add additional fuel/confusion to the selection of your itinerary, you can check out the blog we kept of our adventures []; New Zealand was our first stop, so mostly the posts are in January and February. A few quick thoughts:

    1. You almost don’t need to go on a LOTR tour – everywhere looks like the movie set!
    2. If you can make it down to Te Anau for hiking, kayaking, etc. in the huge national park on the Southwest edge of the south island – DO IT.
    3. Fox Glacier >>>Franz. Much emptier, too.
    4. Tongariro Crossing is awesome. If you hike Mt. Doom, it might have a lasting effect on you.
    5. Taupo has the best food, because everything tastes better after Tongariro.

    And that’s just a few. Oh, my goodness. I’m getting butterflies, and I’m not even the one traveling! 🙂 And if you want any recommendations for places to stay in these areas, let me know. We have a spreadsheet with our itinerary details, and we liked most of the spots we chose (single rooms, but erring on the side of less expensive).

    • Holly, this is brilliant! I have made a note of your other blog and will most definitely be checking it out over the weekend.

      1. Makes sense!
      2. Ooo, had not even come across that places. Will need to consider.
      3. I was wondering about that. Good to get your opinion!
      4. How long does it take to hike Mt Doom? Perhaps it’s already on your blog…
      5. Awesome!
      6. 100% agree!! (In fact, kinda worried I’m going in summer!)

      I most definitely would like some recommendations, but I’m going to check out your recap posts first to see what nuggets of info I can glean off there. I’ll come back to you! Thanks so much for all the suggestions – super helpful!

      • Yup, just let me know. We had a pretty detailed spreadsheet (nah, not at all OCD around here…) that I’d be happy to share.

        You can do Mt. Doom as a side trip during the Tongariro Crossing, if the weather is good and you are in good shape and have some guts. The caveat is that most people do Tongariro with a bus drop-off/pick-up, and have to make the last bus back. So time can be a smidge tight, depending on how strong, and gutsy, you are. [The signs, etc. will tell you that Doom is not recommended, and you are climbing at your own risk. Lots of people do it anyway.] I think we hiked for 1-2 hours (~25-33% of Tongariro), spent 2-3 hours climbing and descending Doom, then had to hurry off quickly for the rest of Tongariro (we actually made it back in plenty of time; I’m a worrywart). I’m also vaguely recalling that I heard some noise about one section of Tongariro being closed earlier this year – not sure if it’s reopened now, how it was by-passed, and how that affected the overall hike. But there are plenty of internet resources on this adventure! 🙂

        PS Also agree with your friend above about Christchurch: We spent half a day driving around (admittedly, it was New Years Day), and were primarily struck by how empty and uninhabitable some places were. Lots of condemned buildings, Do Not Enter signs, etc – and the only people we spotted were in the casino. We’d planned for a whole day there, but ultimately ended up moving on pretty quickly.

        • Right, guess it’s one to play by ear on the day re: Mt. Doom but good to know that it is worth it!

          Yes, not feeling all too optimistic about Christchurch – I’ll see what other travellers say about the place once I’m down there.

    • Lee

      We are an older fit couple planning a 5 weeker in 2016. would it be possible to get your spreadsheet on best places to stay? We were thinking of renting a campervan but if it’s just as cheap to motel, we would be happy with that. We would like to do quite a bit of hiking and check out the wine country,

  3. Wow that certainly seems like a well thought out itinerary! I was in New Zealand for 2 months last year, and been to most of the places you have planned. It was the most amazing trip I’ve ever had in my life 😉

    If I may add, while you’re at Bay of Islands, make a trip up to Cape Reinga if you can. It has one of the best sceneries in North Island!

    As for the South Island, do consider Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook as well! Lake Tekapo is one of my favourite places in NZ. If you’re into wildlife, making a road trip through the Caitlins is also a terrific idea.

    I’m in full support of your plan to skydive in Lake Taupo, climb Mt Tongariro, do river tubing in Waitomo and the full day glacier hike as I’ve done all of them before. They were all amazing!

    After writing all these, I’m actually pretty envious of you right now 😛 New Zealand is a place you’ll never forget…

    • Great to hear you had such an amazing experience in NZ!

      I hadn’t come across Cape Reinga – I’ll check it out! Yes, one of my friends had suggested Lake Takapo and I had thought, meh, what’s another lake after Lake Taupo? But it sounds as if I should reconsider!

      Ahh, so many wonderful things I want to see! Thanks for your suggestions Aaron!

      • I’d second Tekapo (granted we did Tekapo before Taupo, and didn’t go long/far around Taupo) – but the city area around Taupo is built up like a lakeside beach area, with hotels, beaches, residences, etc. Compared with that, Tekapo feels virtually untouched, and is quite lovely if you can spend an hour or two, wandering the beach, snapping some pics, and exploring a really neat little church there. Most of the tourists do an in-and-out, 10 minute look – but if you can take a little more time, you’ll be rewarded. So although I’ll admit we only saw a slice of Taupo, but the two places felt like totally different experiences.

  4. eemusings (NZMuse)

    Oh man! When do you get to NZ? We’ll be back in Auckland from mid Nov – would love to help show you around, especially stuff out west – the bush, beaches, waterfalls etc – and give you tips (we may not have a place of our own yet by then – we’ll probably have to stay at our parents’ until we get settled back in from our RTW trip – but if we do you’re welcome to crash on our couch). Why Waikumete cemetery? (Granted, I’ve only ever gone past by car a million times, but is it really all that enticing?) Email me if you like – eemusings (at)

    How are you getting around NZ? Bus?

    The Coromandel is one of my favourite places ever. You can’t go wrong there.

    I also love the scenery of the Desert Rd, if you’re going through by any chance.

    And if you have time, Matakana and Tawharanui (just north of Auckland) are ace.

    Huka Falls are great – definitely try to get there.

    Chch is still pretty broken. A wee drive around will give you an idea of the state of things. Aside from that, well, there’s the huge parks and gardens, otherwise I don’t find it a particularly exciting place.

    In Wellington, have a peanut butter milkshake at Sweet Mother’s Kitchen.

    Aaron’s right, the Catlins are amazing if you have time to go a little further south. You can see penguins there too, (we did) but from quite far away (not sure how close up you get in Oamaru).

    Never been to Hobbiton, but you know, as a Kiwi, it’s not really high on my priority list. And I’ve never been up the sky tower.

    Fingers crossed for good glacier weather for you – it was disappointing when we went last year :/

    • Hi NZMuse! That’s super kind of you to offer! I will definitely be dropping you an email to get a local’s POV! Re: the Waikumete Cemetery – I only went by what I read on various guides…if you have alternative suggestions I’m definitely open to hearing about them.

      I will likely be using the Intercity buses to go around NZ. They seem quite convenient and should go to most of the places I have identified.

      I’m going to have to revisit my itinerary this weekend to do more reading up on these new suggestions! This is great – loving all these suggestions!

      Also would be great to hear about how your RTW trip went? 🙂

    • I had a hugely difficult time deciding what I wanted to do during my time in NZ – there are just too many amazing things to see and experience! 🙂

  5. Londoner Kate

    I wasnt going to add NZ to my trip but it seems crazy not to because so many people rave about it! Your list will help me figure out if I should go

    • You know, for the longest time I paid no attention to NZ at all. But then, like you said, so many people have told me how amazing it is that I thought I’d better make a proper trip of it. I’ll be sure to update the blog on how I get on once I’m there. 🙂

  6. Steve

    Your itinerary looks amazing!!! My girlfriend and I have booked our flights out to NZ in November this year, we are so excited! Would it be possible for you to send us the spreadsheet you made for your trip, we would love to see what you’ve put down and compare to what we ready have. We would really appreciate it!

    Many thanks

  7. Margie Ng

    Hi Jules,
    I am planning to travel in NZ in two weeks in 2016. It’s short so I am confusing where I should do and visit. Too much to do …
    Would it be possible for you to send me your spreadsheet of the places to stay and visiting? Your itinerary looks very interesting and make sense
    Many thanks for your sharing !

  8. Pallavi

    Hi Jules,

    This is such an awesome list! We are planning a 4-5 week trip to NZ in March/April 2016. And before I found your post, I had started putting together a list. After stumbling upon your blog, I realized that there are a lot of common places between our lists. Could you please email me your spreadsheet? I’m sure it will be insanely helpful.

    I have been reading all your NZ posts and am loving them! I’m so excited about our upcoming trip!!! Yippee!!


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