Attention customers, apologies for the delays, boarding has now begun. Our travel mad buddy AJ has come out of his hobbit-hole hibernation and is back with a (slightly late) travel thursday! Here he continues his Top 10 of New Zealand list!
5) Napier, Hawkes Bay
So what happens if you’re a city that’s been levelled by mother nature? Well you rebuild. Christchurch can learn a lot from the city of Napier, which in 1931 was destroyed by a magnitude 7.9 whopper (which lasted over 2 minutes!) Today the city is beautifully carved in Art Deco buildings and completely covered in incredible art. Some may call it pompous, but for me Napier is absolutely wonderful.
Main Attraction: Once the oldest penal colony in the country, today the Napier Prison is a backpackers and a tourist hotspot. With Napier home to plenty of gangs in the past, the prison walls hold many memories – hire a guide and listen to some shocking stories! You can even get a mugshot and stay overnight if you so wish, and if you want to see earthquake damage from the aforementioned ground shake, this is one of the only places left in the city that retains cracks caused by that beast.
My Recommendation: The National Aquarium of New Zealand can be found here, and it’s well worth a visit. Showcasing mostly New Zealand sea-creatures, the diversity on show is spectacular. Among the penguins, salmon and rare squid, you can also see some of the dirty migrants. An Australian salt croc is on display, as well as South American piranha. This is perhaps the best place in the country to find the national icon as well, the decidedly non-aquatic Kiwi-bird.
4) Rotorua, Bay of Plenty
There’s a putrid whiff of rotten eggs in this city, but you’re not going to let that get to you in Rotorua. With steam coming out of cracks in the parks, and unique sights and sounds all around, there’s something odd about this city.
Main Attraction: The Geothermal Wonderland is in all of the tourist books, sold as this great haven for yellow waters and a magnificent geyser. In reality it’s more of a money trap for foreigners getting used to our currency, with a geyser that leaves much to be desired. However, it’s still worth a visit, as the sulphuric baths and natural wonder of it all is absolutely magnificent.
My Recommendation: Rotorua lives in the shadow of Mt Ngongataha, and it is on this mountain where the first Skyline was made. Take a gondola up and enjoy the views, grab a glass of Volcanic Hills wine, buy a ride on the zipline, a giant swing, or even a fantastic dinner meal! Also on offer is the Luge ride, which is an absolute must.
3) Wellington, Wellington
Windy, windy Wellington. One city you do not want to be wearing a skirt or carrying an umbrella in. Absolutely terrifying to arrive in, but once you survive the landing of your plane, the city comes alive to you. This is a city where there’s everything to do, but still feels like one big town. Wellington lays claim to being the coffee capital, football capital, film capital, and quirky hipster capital of the country (as well as being the actual capital).
Main Attraction: Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum of the country, and it is a fantastic time waster. Often with help from Weta Workshops, this museum prides itself on being the forerunner for modern museums, viewed from an entertainment point of view. It’s informative, and interesting, and well worth a few hours of your time.
My Recommendation: Courtenay Place is known as the 24 hour zone of Wellington, so it is here you should definitely trek down. Nightclubs, bars, and fast-food will be the perfect spice to add with some good mates. The locals are incredibly friendly and no doubt you will meet new faces and new friends within instants.
2) Nelson, Nelson
A short road-trip from Picton takes you to the bi-annual sunshine capital of New Zealand. Cider is to Nelson like wine is to Marlborough, and this dazzling port city is an absolute must to visit. A glorious CBD, ravishing views, plenty of glorious parks and so much history to take in, this city will leave you completely satisfied.
Main Attraction: As soon as you enter Nelson you will be greeted by a beautiful beach and shoreline, and Tahunanui Beach is one of the best in the country. Pass the time watching wind-sailers, building sandcastles, the usual. If getting sand between your toes isn’t ideal you can always go just a little bit further up the road. A football pitch (which hosted the first concert I ever went to), GoKart venue, water slides, trampoline parks, and even a bird sanctuary await you all within walking distance. A fantastic way to pass the time.
My Recommendation: It’s only natural that in the centre of the smallest region in New Zealand lies the (oft-argued) centre of New Zealand. It’s a short, 30 minute hike, up to a monument marking the centre of the country, and from there the views of the city are absolutely stunning. Some of my favourite memories were made here, follow in my footsteps and bring some beer and some friends with you!
Where’s #1 AJ? Oh my beautiful followers, you’re going to have to wait a week for that one. What would top your list? Happy packing!