When I was searching for what to do in New Zealand for one week during winter, I searched and searched for someone to have written my exact title for this blog. Because I was not so lucky in finding one, I will create a blog for all people wanting to know about options for a one week trip to the North Island of New Zealand during winter.
The following was our itinerary in New Zealand and my recommendations:
Monday, August 29: Arrive in Auckland at 10:20pm. Go straight to Mercure Auckland (our hotel for three nights).
Recommendation - Do NOT stay at Mercure Auckland. It had a great location and low prices, but not the greatest hotel. Room was extremely small, there were no amenities (e.g., no alarm clock), and the street noise was tremendous.
Tuesday, August 30: Morning – explore neighborhood. Afternoon – Wine tour with NZ Wine Pro.
Recommendation - Check out the various discount websites (such as Groupon and Living Social). Matt and I were able to get this tour for half the price through Groupon New Zealand. Additionally, I highly recommend booking a tour with NZ Wine Pro. Matt and I had a private tour with John (the owner). We were taken to four vineyards, we had a wonderful lunch which was included, and we were taken to a beautiful beach.
Wednesday, August 31: Day tour to Waitomo & Rotorua including Polynesian Spa through Gray Line. Dinner at Viaduct.
Recommendation - Have dinner at the Viaduct. Waitomo and Rotorua are tourist destinations. If you want to see the highlights of New Zealand, go to Waitomo and Rotorua. And, don’t miss going to the Polyneisan Spa (although beware that you may have to get rid of your clothing afterwards due to the sulfur smell). However, if you are looking for a more geniune New Zealand adventure, skip Waitomo and Rotorua.
Thursday, September 1: Bus to Paihia, Bay of Islands. Boat ride to Russell. Stay at Waterfront Suites in Paihia.
Recommendation - Russell houses the oldest hotel and bar in New Zealand. Besides that hotel, there is not much to see in Russell. If you decide to stay in Paihia (which I recommend) stay at the Waterfront Suites. We got a good deal on Kayak.com to stay at this luxury hotel. Our suite had a living room, a full kitchen with all appliances, a laundry machine, and even a towel warmer.
Friday, September 2: Day tour to Cape Reigna through Great Sights.
Recommendation - I highly recommend this day tour through Great Sights. Matt and I were able to see the northernmost tip of New Zealand, jump into the Tasmanian Sea, and sand board and sled.
Saturday, September 3: Morning – Dolphin tour through Great Sights. Return to Auckland. Dinner in Sky Tower. Hotel – Sky City Hotel.
Recommendation - Stay at least one night at the Sky City Hotel. There is a casino and many restaurants in the hotel to keep you busy. Additionally, make reservations before your trip for dinner in the Sky Tower. With regard to the dolphin tour, it was nice to see the different islands and dolphins swimming next to the boat. However, it was very cold and at this point of the trip I was getting sick. If I had not been sick, Matt and I would have done the island stopover and probably would have enjoyed this tour more.
Sunday, September 4: Morning – Explore neighborhood. Afternoon – Flight back to the United States.
Recommendation - To save money on transportation to and from the airport, take the Super Shuttle. A final recommendation is to not spend much time in Auckland. We had fun exploring the shops and parks during our free mornings, but I can’t imagine spending more than a couple mornings exploring Auckland.