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Trip Report 16 days all over New Zealand

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Just got back from a memorable 16 day tour of New Zealand, our first to this beautiful country. Hard to concentrate on work, with images of “snow-clad peaks alongside the ocean and lakes” flitting through the mind constantly. Now that the jetlag is over, and we are slowly limping back to normalcy, I am venturing starting this Trip Report. Hope I manage to finish it before my upcoming business travel in 3-4 days time.

OK, we are a couple from India, in early fifties. Avid travelers, but first time to NZ. And we were accompanied in this trip by my brother-in-law (BIL) and his wife (SIL, I guess). Both about the same age as us. And everyone a vegetarian, although that was not much of a problem in NZ. We had researched our trip relying on Lonely Planet guidebook, the Fodors guidebook, and of course various inputs received from this site. Our special thanks to Melnq8, mlgb, kiwi rob and many others who really helped us plan this trip with their sound advice.

We were flying into Auckland, and flying out of Christchurch. We had decided to rent a car for the entire duration of the trip, and drive through both islands. Our broad itinerary was:
Auckland – 1 night
Rotorua – 2 nights
Wellington – 1 night
Nelson – 2 nights
Punakaiki – 1 night
Fox Glacier – 2 nights
Queenstown – 2 nights
Te Anau – 2 nights
Twizel – 1 night
Christchurch – 2 nights
Everyone on this site had advised us against covering both islands in 16 days, but we ventured nonetheless; although it was a bit hectic on 2 or 3 days, I think we managed well, and covered a lot without feeling too rushed. Anyway, here goes the first installment.

Day 1: Monday, Oct 19th : AUCKLAND
Our Singapore Airlines flight left Mumbai on 18th at 11:45am as per schedule. Reached Singapore at 7:30pm local time. Comfortable 90 minutes changeover time, during which we helped ourselves to some complimentary foot massage on offer everywhere at the terminal ! Then on to our connecting flight at 9:05pm, reaching Auckland the following morning at 11:40am. Swift baggage retrieval, and we hopped on to the Airport shuttle bus, which offers door to door service for the reasonable cost of NZ $ 50 for 4 people put together.

We reached our hotel, the Auckland City Hotel on Hobson St by 1:45 pm.Turned out to be a good choice. Very centrally located (2 min walk to Sky City). Nice spacious rooms, at very reasonable costs. Showered and refreshed, we were off by 3:15pm. First we walked over to the Sky City, and changed currency. Noticed that the rates in the city were the same as the airport.

Went for a late lunch at the “Raw Power” restaurant on Vulcan Lane (just off Queen Street).Awesome place. Had lasagne, filos, feta avacado & hummus on bread, with wonderful juices, smoothies etc. Excellent food, very colorful décor, and highly recommended.

We strolled around a bit on Queens St, which appeared to be the most lively street. Then wandered into Albert Park. Relaxed on the hilly terrain and the neat landscaped gardens of the park. Saw the university Clock Tower, and exited near the Civic Theater. Then strolled back on Queens Street all the way to the Viaduct Harbour. Went into the lovely Ferry building, and bought return ferry tickets for Devonport.

The ferry to Devonport was a pleasant 15 min cruise. On reaching there, we just aimlessly strolled around Devonport. Most shops and eateries had already closed down, as it was getting to 6 pm (it took a few days for us to adjust to the reality of everything in this country virtually closing down after 5 pm !!). Strolled into a supermarket, which was about the only thing still open. Ambled back to the harbour, had superb icecreams, and took the return ferry at about 7:30 pm.

My SIL had started feeling unwell; guess the fatigue of the journey was getting to her. We dropped her back at the hotel, grabbed some pizza slices for dinner, and went back to the hotel for rest. It had been a great day weather-wise, but a slight drizzle had started. Hit the bed and crashed out by 10 pm.

Everyone had warned us that Auckland was not a great place to visit, but I guess it was not bad for half-a-day. Anything more would have been painful.

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