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Last week I posted Our Travel Wishlist. After posting, a friend asked me:

What about all the great stuff in New Zealand? Why isn’t any of that on your list?

New Zealand sees 2.5 million international visitors a year, many of them travelling a long way to visit. So, why aren’t we exploring our own country? We’ll be spending the second half of the year in New Zealand for a number of reasons – Lee wants to snowboard over the NZ winter, we’re got a number of weddings coming up that we’d like to attend and, the big one, we’re waiting for our house to sell.

We don’t have to travel at weekends or school holidays like most other domestic travellers, unless of course we’d like an adults only weekend where we leave Reuben with his doting Aunties. We know lots of tricks to getting cheap domestic flights and accommodation and, thanks to having an extraordinarily large family, I have relatives that can put us up in many cities across the country.

Le Bons Bay, Banks Peninsula

I’m going to approach it like I’m researching travel in a new country.

Here’s what Lonely Planet would have me do:

  • Abel Tasman National Park – Best in Summer and conveniently we’re going to a wedding near here in December so should be able to tack on a trip to this National Park, maybe even camping – which would be a bit of a stretch for us but a good challenge.
  • Auckland – An easy one. We have family and friends here. I lived in Auckland for a few years too so know it well. It’s easy to get cheap flights from Auckland to Christchurch.
  • Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers – Driveable from Christchurch and I’m sure it’s spectacular in the Winter or Spring.
  • Kaikoura – Another easy one. It’s only a few hours drive from home and friends have a “bach” (basic, Kiwi holiday home) here.
  • Raglan – Not entirely sure why this one is on the list so I think we’ll skip it. Been to lots of similar spots along the West Coast of the North Island and I think the South Island is better (and more accessible for us).
  • Napier – Defintely high on my to-do list. I’ve never been and have wanted to go for years. Direct flights are expensive so we’ll have to look for a deal or combine it with Wellington.
  • Tongariro National Park – I’m not sure we’re ready for a 20km day trek. Might need to save this one for the future… when Reuben’s legs are a little longer!! I have read about a six-year old doing it but that’s a few years off for us.
  • Rotorua – Another spot that’s been high on my to-do list for some time.
  • Whanganui National Park – Would be a good stop on a North Island road trip. I’m in no hurry for this one.
  • Wellington – Cheap flights from Christchurch to Wellington are easy to come by plus we have friends there. I’m sure Reuben will love Te Papa (the museum).
  • Whitianga – I’ve been to Whitianga a couple of times – it’s a popular place for weekending Aucklanders. I’d probably choose to go elsewhere in the Coromandel Peninsula to experience something new.
  • Te Anau to Milford Sound – I feel guilty for never visiting before. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the country. I don’t think we could manage the famous walk but we could certainly drive and combine with a road trip to Quuenstown, Wanaka or even the West Coast.
  • Marlborough Wine Region – We’re not big on wine so this isn’t of much interest to us. We’ll pass through the countryside en route to the Abel Tasman National Park.
  • Banks Peninsula – Another easy one. It’s a popular spot for a night away or even a Sunday drive from Christchurch. Nicer in Spring or Summer.
  • Cape Reinga – The northern most tip of New Zealand. I’ve never been this far and would like to go.

Southern Alps in Winter

Plus a few more places off the top of my head:

  • Queenstown and Wanaka – Spectacular in the winter and has great snowboarding. We’ve been before and we know we like it.
  • South Island’s West Coast – Where I grew up and a great wild part of the country. I’d love Reuben to see it as I have some great childhood memories of spots like Punakaiki.
  • Mt Ruapehu – Again, for snowboarding. Easy sidetrip from Wellington.
  • Stuart Island – The third, and smallest, island making up New Zealand’s mainland. A friend has done this so I’ll have to Skype her and get the details.
This should keep us busy for at least a six months!



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