With a blissful week in Fiji behind us, it was time to return to winter in the Southern hemisphere. All but one of my previous trips to New Zealand have been during the sunny summertime months of January and February. And while the North Island has generally mild winters, we wanted to give ourselves the best chance of the warmest temperatures so we decided to focus on the northernmost part of the North Island – the Bay of Islands – for our New Zealand stop.
Made up of 144 subtropical islands, the Bay of Islands is known for the beauty of its untouched beaches and the historical significance of its many Maori cultural artifacts. Just a 3 hour drive north of Auckland, it’s a popular destination for both Kiwis and international tourists alike.
The Maori were the first settlers in New Zealand, arriving in canoes nearly 1,000 years ago. The first European to sight the country was a Dutchman but it was the British who later made New Zealand part of their empire with the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The treaty established British law and is considered the founding document of New Zealand. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the treaty was signed, is one of the most significant historical attractions in the Bay of Islands.Read More
In the shadow of Auckland’s famed Sky Tower (close enough to hear the screams of the Sky Jumpers!) and just 5 blocks from the water, this apartment is one of the best finds in all of my travels, Altitude Auckland. With a stay of 7 nights or longer, this two-bedroom penthouse apartment called the “Sky Deck” in the Altitude building can be had for less than $100 a night. While the apartment itself is small in size, the million-dollar views from the wrap-around deck complete with picnic table and hot tub are worth three times the price. This is my favorite place to stay in the city since I happened upon it 3 years ago. In fact, I hesitate to post this one at all since I want it to be available the next time I head to New Zealand! I won’t post detailed information here, but if you catch me in a generous mood, I might be willing to provide it by email to RTWin30days subscribers.Read More
Just the inspiring views of Queenstown New Zealand from the air before touchdown had me instantly wondering why I’d never taken the short flight from Auckland before. If New Zealand is the adrenaline capital of the world, then Queenstown is certainly the adrenaline capital of New Zealand. From the hometown inventions of bungee jumping and jet-boating to the rush of paragliding through mountain peaks and any number of other death-defying activities, Queenstown has an electric vibe like no other alpine town. Fuel your adventures with a visit to Fergburger for a truly original Queenstown culinary experience. After 7 previous trips to New Zealand, my week in Queenstown made me realize that if you haven’t been to Queenstown, you haven’t really been to New Zealand.Read More
Still basking in the happy glow of Vanuatu, I landed in one of my favorite cities in the world – Auckland, New Zealand. But on this trip Auckland is merely an idyllic stopover on the way to my true destination, Queenstown New Zealand. I have one night in Auckland on each end of my Queenstown stop to enjoy my favorite restaurants and the summer energy of this great city. With only a one night stopover, my usual apartment rental was not an option and unfortunately the Westin I’ve stayed at before is no longer a Westin so I had to resort to the hotel I stayed at on my first visit to New Zealand, the Hilton Auckland.
Located right at the end of Princes Wharf with marvelous harbor views, the Hilton is beautiful but usually pretty expensive so I’ve avoided it on my last few trips. But thanks to Hilton’s new cash and points redemption option (borrowed liberally from one of my favorite features of the Starwood program) I was able to get a decent deal on a room.Read More
It is here, at the northeastern tip of the South Island, that New Zealand’s booming wine industry first took flight. It was the late 1970’s when Marlborough New Zealand vintners began to capitalize on the region’s hot, dry sunny days and cool night air to produce exceptional sauvignon blanc grapes. Today the Marlborough region produces 79% of New Zealand’s total wine output and has put the distinctively zesty Sauvignon Blanc varietal on the worldwide wine map. In addition to the world’s finest Sauvignon Blancs, the area is also well-known for delightful Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Marlborough’s crisp, fruity Sauvignon Blancs (my favorite) pair perfectly with New Zealand’s delicious green-lipped mussels and just might be the country’s most perfect meal.Read More
After 4 nights in a row sleeping on airplanes, I arrived in Auckland from Guam feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.
I was exhausted and in the early stages of what promised to be a very nasty cold. Luckily, I’d already had the foresight to schedule the remedy – a morning at the spa! Thanks to my daily deal e-mails from Auckland’s “Grab One” (the NZ version of Groupon), I’d gotten a steal on a massage and Japanese Stone Spa treatment at a spa only two blocks from my rental apartment. Since I couldn’t pick up the keys to the apartment until 2pm and I landed at 9am, I scheduled the spa appointment for 11am.
It was exactly what I needed and highly preferable to sitting around miserable for 3 hours waiting for the apartment guy. After a few hours at the spa, I was feeling almost human again.
I had just enough time to run by the grocery store for a few essentials (i.e. wine…and some food) before heading to the apartment.Read More