A one hour cruise around Taiaroa Head. See three species of albatross, spoonbills, petrels, shearwaters soaring around the boat. It was almost as if the birds were choreographed. Excellent commentary from two very friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Hire a bicycle and cycle east along Oriental Parade, past the airport on the west side, cutting down to Lyall bay then on round to Owhiro Bay. Here the tarmac road ends but if you have a mountain bike you can proceed along the coast towards the Red Rocks seal colony.
Start from Oriental Parade on the Wellington waterfront.
Google map: bit.ly/13SPgXB
Diving the Poor Knights is a must for anyone in possession of a scuba certificate visiting New Zealand. There are many boats running day trips to the chain of islands but did a two day/one night live aboard with Ocean Blue. The obvious advantage to this is maximizing diving time along with the fun of staying on a boat and being looked after by the dive master qualified husband and wife team. Food was both all inclusive and wonderful.
The Poor Knights Islands and the waters around them are protected by 900m no fishing zone so the size of fish shoals can be quite staggering. Equally the diversity of soft corals growing on the walls and pinnacles, not to mention the animals that inhabit them, make diving there a unique experience. Larger predators, including Manta rays, Hammerhead sharks and even Killer Whales have been spotted there on occasion.
Watching the sun set over the islands with a sky full of returning seabirds finished off a fabulous day's diving.
... for awesome skiing in the South Island and an amazing view over Lake Wanaka. I'll always remember the tagline on the poster: '6430ft above stress level'!
There are a range of trips on offer, there is the normal tourist trip to the glow worm caves and there a range of more adventurous ones the best of which is Blackwater rafting: floating through the caves in a wet suit on an inflated rubber ring.
Just completed a mutli-million dollar refit and it looks stunning both inside and out. As good as you will get anywhere in the world.
Sweet Mothers is a larger cafe about 20m from Deluxe. It's got (retro/quirk) style, good food, good ambience and does do dinner - and, unlike much of the Courtenay Place area, does it well and affordably.
Deluxe is a small cafe at the far end of Courtenay Place, underneath the 1930s Embassy Theatre. It has good food that also suits most ethical and/or digestive needs and is cheap for the quality. Not really workable for dinner, but otherwise can suit through the day.
10 Kent Terrace, Wellington 6011
+64 (0)4 801 5455
Google map: bit.ly/jbbR6E
Nikau is at the back and side of the City Art Gallery, Civic Square. It's light, spacious, has good and pretty affordable food. You could (and lots of tourists do) do a lot worse.
New Zealand has the freshest sea food on the planet. Most Kiwis love nothing more than catching their own supper, but if they've not been "lucky" or want more variety they head to the Fish Market. Just a short walk from the Viaduct Harbour (soon to be on a tram line) the Fish Market stocks a wide variety of live, fresh and frozen sea food. For you tourists though there are several cafes and bistros that serve fresh seafood at reasonable prices. If you are visiting in the summer and are lucky you might be able to go to the annual Seafood Festival, which takes over the whole area for a weekend.
The Rock was the most fantastic experience we had in New Zealand as a family. It is an overnight boat trip which takes you out to the bay of islands where you can have a go at fishing, kayaking and looking at the night stars. We had a really nice meal and the kids were entertained by the young crew who were so friendly and attractive! We then drank in to the early hours and my husband played guitar with one of the crew.
The next day we could swim in the ocean and collect green lipped muscles which were cooked and eaten on board. Our daughter loved this and we saw her confidence grow as she swam in the water. We then moored up at one of the islands and went walking. As we kayaked back to The Rock we were joined by some dolphins which were very playful. We then headed back to shore. All in all one of the best things we have ever done and we met so many interesting people from all over the world.
Still the best coffee in town. OK so all the cool kids say "it's not as good as it was" - and it was great when it was in the old fire station garage - but that doesn't take anything away from the fact that they still do the best coffee in QT. Breakfasts are pretty good too.
Just great coffee. Always full of uni and hospital staff nipping out for their, erm, fix, and a Dunedin legend for the last 10 years. If it shut the academic output of NZ would fall by 20% and the hospital would close! BYO food any time.
A campsite situated yards from the stunning Hahei beach. There's plenty of room to pitch up in this no nonsense, quiet site. Lots of communal barbecues and super retro wood chalets if you fancy. We had the best 7am swim in the sea, from which you can see Tuis in the trees, and hear them all around. There were plenty of bunnies hopping about too. You can walk to Cathedral Cover and Hot Water Beach from here too.
A gem of a restaurant and bar tucked underneath Winnies. First of all, you can't help but be amazed at the astounding decor. The whole place is fitted out like a trading emporium of the gold rush days. The food is classic gastro-pub style featuring plenty of 'kiwiana' which we loved. If you stay late enough you will find yourself dancing to classic retro tunes in the bar area, I know we did! The bar features a stunning array of local wines and there are some fantastic international beers on tap. We frequented this bar/restaurant quite a few times and were lucky enough to experience some great live music as well as a DJ spinning vinyl!
The BEST Pizza in Queenstown! Very family friendly and is totally unique. The roof opens! Have never seen that anywhere before. After dinner when the restaurant closes the bar stays open and Winnies turns in to a club. In the time I was there I saw live music, danced all night to DJ's, watched rugby and partied under the stars ... and snow! Love that roof! Love Winnies!
Luxury but extremely affordable B&B - four ladies travelling together had two very well appointed and comfortable bedrooms made up as twins - own bathroom and sitting room and extremely welcome hosts Pete and Gaye. Pete keeps some sheep and we had our own shearing session. One of us left camera behind which Gaye kindly left at our motel in Christchurch where we were heading a week later. Excellent breakfast and will do supper too.
45 Mairaki Road, Fernside, Rangiora 7471, New Zealand
+64 3-313 5180
Google map: bit.ly/f5nXde
A two or four day walk - better done in four to really appreciate it. A private track maintained by landowners starts in the Akaroa Harbour at Onuku heads up over the top and down into the penguin colony at Flea Bay. Stoney Bay is like a set from Lord of the Rings. Just beautiful. Otanerito is the last stay and the walk up through Hinewai Reserve managed by the famous botanist Hugh Wilson is stunning. You might be lucky enough to meet Hugh on the trek through. Finish off with a luxury spa bath and dinner at Matua Gardens Retreat and take in the delights of local cheese, wine and organic foods.
Vegetarian restaurant, run by the Hare Krishnas in Wellington. Staff are super friendly and food is absolutely delicious. Offers buffet style Indian food, where you can choose the size of your plate to suit your hunger levels. You never know what might be there from one day to the next, but some goodies include, delicious dhals, puris, rice, salads, tofu steaks, chickpea curries, halva etc. You can also have a takeaway, so can take your fab grub out to enjoy by the waterfront on a sunny day.
Customhouse Quay, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
+64(0) 472 2233
Google map: bit.ly/hjwTJg
Located less than an hour's drive from the popular destination of the bay of Islands in Northlands NZ, is Ngawha Springs an authentic and inexpensive thermal spa owned and operated by Maoris.
Ngawha features eight bubbling thermal pools which, unlike other more popular spas, are not cleaned or sanitised for cosmetic appearance but left as they have always been thereby retaining the essential restorative qualities contained in the variety of salts and minerals present in the muddy waters which fluctuate in colour from creamy white to deep black and in temperature from a tepid 26c to a hot 40c.
Although this unique resource is under promoted in NZ it is very popular with Maori families who are under no illusions as to the healing properties of these pools and encourage willing and adventurous visitors to daub their bodies in mud and dry naturally before showering off and emerging refreshed and invigorated by the experience. Highly recommended!
Ngawha Springs Road, Ngawha Springs
+64 (0)9 405 2245
Google map: bit.ly/giUVtd
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