I’m biased because FI is a kiwi, but it really is absolutely beautiful. We were actually back for a visit in May (we live in Canada), and did a ton in the time we had.
We spent a lot of down time in Wellington, but we also flew up to Auckland and did the surrounding areas up there.
Wellington has gorgeous beaches and has a pretty cool “scene”, lots of independant coffee shops, theatres and restaurants. If you want to go surfing, Lyall Bay is always packed. Zealandia is a bird sanctuary that does night-walks where you might get lucky and see some kiwi birds. Wellington Zoo has a one-legged kiwi named Tahi, so you’re guaranteed to see one there! Te Papa is a must see museum. It was an awesome place for us to “land”, because it’s at the bottom of the north island. So, you’re really able to hop on a short plane ride and be at the top or the bottom of the country. <br /><br />Auckland itself was nice, but we didn’t spend too much time there, honestly. From there we hit Rotorua for the hot pools (which was incredible, but be prepared, it stinks like eggs from the sulfur!), and Waitomo for the glow-worm caves (this was so surreal, very touristy but worth the drive & experience!).
When we got back to Wellington, we spent a few days relaxing and then drove down to Nelson Lakes. We hit a few wineries along the way, and then spent a few days in his family “bach” (cottage). Nelson Lakes is gorgeous. A great place to go if you’re into hiking (or tramping as they call it), and theres something very romantic and secluded about it. It was probably my favourite part of the trip. Again, tons of wild-life! Kiwis (you can hear them at night), countless birds, eels, fish, etc.<br /><br />The thing with New Zealand is, it’s expensive but you can really see highlights of the country pretty easily in two weeks. And if you book a bach instead of staying in hotels, you can do it much cheaper than you’d expect! You can even rent cars for free, because the companies can’t always relocate the cars back and forth between the islands. They basically let you drive it back for them.
Also, when we booked our flights we went with Air New Zealand, it ended up being about $1000 less than it would have been with Air Canada. We ended up on an older plane (we boarded in Vancouver), so the entertainment system wasn’t as great… but the food and the service was amazing. I’m not sure where you’re located, but I know that they are running their newer planes out of LA, and those things are insane. Reeeeally nice new fleet!
Bach Rental:<br />http://www.bookabach.co.nz/
Cheap (or even free) rental cars:<br />https://www.transfercar.co.nz
Waitomo (glow worms):<br />http://www.waitomo.com/waitomo-glowworm-caves.aspx
Rotorua Hot Pools:<br />http://www.polynesianspa.co.nz/
Rotorua Hot Springs/Geysers:<br />http://www.rotorua.nz.com/geothermal.aspx
Nelson Lakes National Park:<br />http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/national-parks/nelson-lakes/
Te Papa:<br />http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/pages/default.aspx
Air New Zealand:<br />http://www.airnewzealand.com/airfare-deals-new-zealand
I’m sorry this was such a ramble. I’m at work and am no good at multi-tasking! I hope there’s at least something of use in here!<br /><br />P.S. The formatting of this looks all screwy to me… not sure why 🙁