New Zealand is a beautiful country. It has many natural wonders including lush forests, fine mountains and hills, huge lakes and stunning gorges spread across its vast land.
However, if you’re not really the outdoorsy or adventurous type, New Zealand can prove to be quite a challenging place to visit. If you have no interest in trekking through the forests or camping by the river, your other options would be bungee jumping, white water rafting, mountain biking, skydiving, Zorb-ing, horseback riding or any other adventure-type activity.
Sure, there’s also Hobbiton and Maori villages to visit, as well as pretty parks and botanical gardens to walk through and take pictures, or even pubs and nice restaurants to hang out at – but these places can only entertain you so much. Plus, it would only take you about three days to finish doing all these.
If you’re considering putting New Zealand on your holiday list, here’s some sound advice: Really take your time to soak in everything that the country has to offer – don’t rush. That means, you should not travel to both the north and south island on the same trip, unless you are planning to be there for more than two weeks.
A typical itinerary for a week-long holiday in New Zealand’s north island would most probably include a road trip from Auckland to Rotorua or Taupo. It’s an easy, scenic drive and you can make stopovers at the numerous small towns along the way. Car rental prices are quite reasonable, while bed-and-breakfast joints and motels are aplenty.
For a more unique experience, rent a campervan or motor home. Camping grounds for campervans are easy to find in the north island as many locals also prefer to holiday this way. Be aware that you are responsible for your own, um, body waste. (Some camping grounds have dumping stations.)
There are several interesting towns and places that you can stop at during your road trip. The city of Hamilton has a gorgeous garden, and it is close to Matamata, where Hobbiton is located.
Hobbiton is, of course, the place where much of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and The Hobbit movies were filmed. There, you can find some of the hobbit homes featured in the films, as well as replicas of props and sets like the Green Dragon Inn, where you can enjoy a pint of ale or cider.
Other places of interest are the Waitomo Cave (to see the glow worms), Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village (where you can learn about Maori culture from a Maori who actually lives in the village), The Redwoods and Whakarewarewa Forest, Karangahake Gorge and the Great Lake Taupo. However, apart from the forest, gorge and lake, most of these places have high entrance fees so remember to factor this in when planning your travel budget.
Once you’re all nature-d out, and are too tired to do anymore adventure stuff, you could just take a walk around town. Paeroa, a small town where the local soft drink, L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) is made, has some interesting “antique” stores worth checking out.
These shops actually sell second-hand items but if you’re keen enough, you might just get your hands on some real treasures like old coins, vinyls, jewellery and books. At one shop in Paeroa, my eyes were fixated on some old dolls. One of them looked like US President Donald Trump!
I wanted to get a few of the porcelain dolls because I have always liked them and they were cheap (between NZ$5 and NZ$15, or RM15 and RM45) but my friends vetoed the idea, saying they looked too scary and “might” be possessed …
I also fancied an old typewriter at a shop in Rotorua but could not buy it because it was too big and heavy. One friend, who makes furniture for a living, scoured through drawers of old door knobs and other knick-knacks she could use in her designs.
There were some beautiful tea sets going for really cheap, too, but I was worried they would not survive the 10-hour flight back home.
In the end, I settled for a nice little handbag from another shop at another small town, which the shopkeeper said was from the 1950s. I have my doubts on the authenticity of his claim, but I liked the bag and it was only NZ$15 so it didn’t matter much to me.
But I’m still thinking of that Trump doll though.
Flights from Kuala Lumpur:
Malaysia Airlines has one direct flight to Auckland daily.
AirAsia flies to Auckland daily, with a layover at Gold Coast in Australia.