Working in software in Sydney I meet a lot of people from different parts of the planet who, upon learning I’m from New Zealand, ask me where in New Zealand they should visit while travelling. I’m no expert on the matter, however I’ll share what I do know (mostly North Island) and I’ll update this post whenever I can harass more information out of my compatriots.

Auckland

SYD-AKL is just over a 3 hour flight.

Waiheke Island - a thirty-five minute ferry from Auckland where you’ll find vineyards, cafes, hotels and these activities

Rangitoto Island is a volcano that last blew up 600 years ago. Catch a ferry from Auckland there (25min) and climb up (and into) it.

Hunua Ranges Regional Park. Easy to walk to Hunua Falls and some great walks that sometimes cross streams around the Regional Park.

Bungee off the Harbour Bridge or jump off the Sky Tower. It’s not for me, but it might be for you.

Bars & restaurants in the CBD would include Ponsonby Road, the Viaduct Harbor and Princes Wharf. Up Queen Street you’ll find my favorite restaurant ever, Tanuki’s Cave - go down the stairs.

North of Auckland

Kauwau Island much less people than the other islands and further away from Auckland, requiring you to drive to Sandspit a catch a ferry. If you’ve got a mate with a boat, you just anchor in Mansion House Bay and swim up.

The Leigh Sawmill is a funky spot, check the gig-guide, and while you’re in Leigh check out the fish at Goat Island. Last time I went Auckland Uni had a visitor center at the Marine Reserve also.

The Bay of Islands is three hours drive north of Auckland and is a beautiful location with lots to do.

Cape Reigna is at the top of of the North Island at the very tip of State Highway 1. It’s an important place in Māori mythology and the view of the Tasman Sea hitting the Pacific Ocean is pretty epic.

South of Auckland

Karangahake Gorge - just driving through it is a sight to see, but stop off at the carpark and take on one of the walks through abandoned rail tunnels, the ruins of old mining sites, there’s a suspension bridge somewhere in there too if I remember correctly.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour it’s expensive ($90/person) and you need to book beforehand, and get yourself to one of the pickup points on time. It’s a good time though and I support anything that finishes with a beer.

Driving around the North Island is great, especially with friends, stopping in at little towns along the way like Pokono for Ice Cream, Paeroa because of that big L&P bottle, Waitomo ‘cause those glow-worms. The drive through Desert Road has some stunning scenery - I’ve only driven through in summer months, it often closes during winter.

Rotorua is a very unique spot with geothermal sites, the evening experience at Tamaki Maori Village is pricey but a must-do if in the area.

Mount Maunganui is a fun spot, but you better be sure to book accommodation if you’re travelling in holiday periods and probably skip it altogether at Christmas time - or at least check the alcohol bans at that time.

Whangamata is great for surfing, if you want less people but still have some civilisation try Whiritoa.

Wellington

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South Island

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