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14 day New Zealand north island honeymoon suggestions

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Jan 10th, 2018, 01:27 PM
  #1
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14 day New Zealand north island honeymoon suggestions

We're considering honeymooning on the North Island in late May/early June (although we may consider delaying - see bottom of post). Neither of us have been there, and doing research has been a little overwhelming - it's bigger than I anticipated - so I apologize in advance if this is long winded. Probably better to just highlight everything that comes to mind in one place now rather than breaking it into a dozen or more separate posts.

First, I'm thinking it would make sense to work our way across the island, and come in/leave from different cities (Auckland to Wellington, or vice versa) so we don't have to waste time doubling back - any suggestions on which city to arrive and which to leave out of, and why?

We would probably spend a third of the time in the north end, a third in the middle, and a third in the south end. perhaps it needs to be split into quarters?

Second, we don't want to stay in the cities - we'd like to stay in smaller towns, but that still offer a decent selection of cool local shops and restaurants, and within driving distance to good attractions; areas situated to act as a good staging base to maximize exploration of that area - i.e., i'm thinking more in the center of the island so we can travel in any direction. But we're open, if there is a "must see" that's out of the way. we are OK, however, venturing into the cities to visit things like a great natural history museum.

Major things we really want to do/experience:

- local Maori culture - more immersive the better, so long as it is not kitschy or exploitational. how is a visit to Rotorua? i hear there is a "living Maori village" there?
-ziplining
-Waitomo caves - i've seen various types of tours for these caves, including tubing, glowworm boat tours, caving, etc - any recommendations?)
Kawiti Caves (maybe? compared to Waitomo?)

-visit the Hobbiton movie set (does this require a tour guide or anything like that?) and/or any other cool filming site tours?
-tour Peter Jackson's studio (if possible?)

-waterfalls, volcanoes and other "must see" natural wonders

- native wildlife, up close and personal - any good wildlife centers?

-we're also big foodies - cool restaurants that serve local dishes/specialties that can't be found elsewhere else; HOWEVER, we prefer little "mom and pop" owned restaurants that serve local favorites over expensive haute cuisine

- wine tasting - whites or reds, we like 'em all. I see there are multiple regions that seem to specialize in certain varietals? are there any places that have a wide variety so we aren't running all over to get a more comprehensive experience? how much does the average tasting run?

-i'm also very interested in agriculture, so any recommendations on places that make great cheese, meats and other charcuterie, etc, would be appreciated. I've also read something about a Farm Stay program there? any thoughts? considerations?

She also loves scuba diving and beaches. This is why I mentioned that we may delay the trip until summer (new Zealand time) so she can experience this.

recommendations on great diving (most importantly to see wildlife), and also great beaches - particularly local favorites over the busy tourist beaches - is also much appreciated.

Also, any special considerations/advise on renting a car?

Last edited by Ty520; Jan 10th, 2018 at 01:46 PM.
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Jan 10th, 2018, 01:42 PM
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Scuba diving in NZ is COLD year round. My dive master spouse has only dived there once in some 14 visits, because the water is so cold. Take a look at Poor Knights. I haven't figure out how to post a link with the new format.

For some fabulous reds, take a look at Martinborough. Nice little town too.

Don't miss Te Papa in Wellington. Incredible.

That's it from me - I much prefer the South Island over the North, but I'm sure others will chime in soon.
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Jan 10th, 2018, 10:03 PM
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Keep in mind that it's been almost 14 years since we were on the North Island, but definitely visit Te Papa in Wellington.

We really enjoyed the Black Labyrinth cave tubing tour in Waitomo, and we also went for a nighttime walk along a path by the Ruakuri caves that had a lot of glowworms.
http://www.waitomo.com/black-water-r...s/default.aspx

Te Puia is the New Zealand Maori arts and crafts village They put on a really good evening concert and hangi. It didn't feel overly touristy and we really enjoyed it. https://www.nzmaci.com/

Lee Ann
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Jan 10th, 2018, 11:22 PM
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It does seem a shame to come all the way here and only visit the North Island. Try and squeeze in a few days in the South.
Start with Rotorua. The Maori culture is done well and sensitively and you can see one of the thermal parks as well. My favourite is Orakei Korako but it's a bit of the beaten track.
Hobbiton (awesome and loved it) can be done as a day trip from Rotorua. You have go to on their tours as it is on private farmland and they take you there on a small bus. There's no way can you just wander in to see 'a bit of it'.
I've never heard of Kawiti Caves so that's something new. I'll have to look them up.
By Peter Jackson's studio do you mean Weta Workshop? That is in Miramar in Wellington and worth a visit. At Te Papa there is another PJ exhibition about the 1st World War which is so worth seeing as well. He and his team are so talented.
Food - well NZ food is amazing. I'm biased but we have fresh and delicious food everywhere. The Mom and Pop places will be everywhere so just avoid anything that looks like a chain -Lonestar, Hog's Breath you'll soon see what to avoid. Although outstanding chefs are usually young people with great ideas about food.
Head over to Waiheke for exceptional food and wine. Here I will digress into a geography lesson because Waiheke is quite fascinating! It has a rock and soil structure very very different to the rest of New Zealand so it is like a little Mediterranean island in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf. Everything grows well and tastes even better. There is red wine, white wine, beer and gin all within a short walk of each other so head to Stonyridge, Wild on Waiheke, Tantalus, Dellows and my favourite Te Motu. Try lunch at The Shed (Te Motu's restaurant) we took my sister in law there in December for an awesome lunch.
Hawke's Bay is also good for wine and Martinborough region.
Auckland 2 nights - recover from jetlag, head to Waiheke
Rotorua 3 nights - includes day trip to Hobbiton
Napier - 2 nights
Greytown - 1 night
Wellington - 2 nights fly to Queenstown
Queenstown -3 nights more wineries and gorgeous red wine than you can drink in a few days. Besides you get the big imposing mountains in the South Island which are not in the North. I was born in the South Island and now live in Auckland and the things I miss are crisp winter days and looking at the mountains!
Auckland - 1 night before home?
For diving you have to be north - the Poor Knights is the best place. The water IS cold even in the summer.
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Jan 11th, 2018, 09:25 AM
  #5
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this is some good advice!

mind if I ask why you picked where you picked for areas to stay? (rotorua clearly being within distance to hobbiton, for example)
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Jan 12th, 2018, 10:43 AM
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My choices were made based on your wish list of smaller towns with charm and character, innovative restaurants, quirky shops, wineries nearby and some beautiful scenery to drive through to get there!
Going through Hawke's Bay gives you wineries and nature activities like the gannet colony to visit. Napier is much more attractive than Hastings so it's a no brainer to stay there. Besides it's all Art Deco architecture as it was destroyed in 1931 by an earthquake then totally rebuilt. From there you can hit Wairarapa and I picked the more attractive places there. Greytown is a bit bigger than Martinborough with more shops and restaurants but then Martinborough has about 5 wineries very close by and people hire bikes to ride between them. Take your pick!
Taking the ferry across to the South Island will use up too much time likewise driving the coastal route from Blenheim to Christchurch so I suggested flying. The coastal road WAS very beautiful but destroyed in an earthquake in 2016 and only just opened this summer for traffic during daylight hours only. It was a mammoth job to rebuild it.
Queenstown is lovely and if you only have time for 1 area of the South Island then it's the best choice. Have a look at Wanaka if Queenstown does not appeal. Big red wines are a feature of the Otago area and fabulous food is everywhere. Even the humble burger has reached epic heights at Fergburger where people queue for half an hour just to place their order. Try the gelato next door and the chocolates along the road.
Alternatively you could drive down the middle of the North Island via Taupo and Waiouru and the Desert Road has some great scenery. Mt Doom (Mt Ngauruhoe) is visible from the road and is an inspiring sight. The downside of this is it's a bit boring and there are no cute little places to stay the night and Rotorua to Wellington would be too long in one day.
As for the farm stays - great if you are interested in that. Most of the North Island is one big farm! Less in the South as those mountains get in the way. In Queenstown visit the Walter Peak sheep station and Mt Nicholas both working sheep farms. The Waikato region (Hobbiton is there) is famous for it's dairy farms. Really depends what sort of farm you are most interested in.
Whitestone cheese (Oamaru) pops into my head as a good place but I have not been there and we often head to Puhoi Cheese (north of Auckland). Barry's Bay near Christchurch make good cheese as well. But with only 2 weeks chasing off places just for cheese will use up a lot of time. Head to a big supermarket and buy some from there.
You are best to hire a car (or 2 hires - one North Is and the other South Is).
BUT BUT BUT seriously consider coming in the summer. It can be cold, windy and miserable in late May/June here so it's not really the best time. Days are short and no one is swimming at the beach then.
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Jan 12th, 2018, 11:27 AM
  #7
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excellent - thank you again!
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