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New Zealand: A Short Survey of New Zealand Destinations – On First Look

Hobbiton in New Zealand

At roughly 1600 km long (990 miles), New Zealand’s two islands are about the length of a third of the continental United States. That’s a nice drive in America of about 18 hours depending on which states you go through and the maximum speed limit. I have been told that’s not the case in New Zealand. The roads aren’t highways. They tend to wind and have lower speed limits. The other impediment to drive time is the ferry. It may not run in inclement weather, and of course, it only departs at certain times of the day. The cost is also something to consider. I was told around $200 NZ for a car and two passengers.

With all of this in mind, choosing destinations for New Zealand is going to depend on what we really want to see – not the road or the inside of a car – and what we can get to comfortably. Personally, I don’t necessarily want to spend my time driving at all. On the other hand, my second hand knowledge has said that public transportation doesn’t exist, and the buses that go between towns take even longer than cars.

Before knowing any of this, the destinations that caught our eyes were Auckland, Hobbiton and the glow worm cave, the volcanoes, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and the Milford Sound. These are spread out among the two islands from north to south and east to west, so it seems like it might be too much to cover in the time we have while still keeping the trip relaxing.

Auckland – Arrival City

We’re arriving in Auckland, so we’re going to spend at least a couple of days there. Basically, if we do decide to rent a car, we were advised that we shouldn’t get off our 20-hour flight and get into the car expecting to drive on the left side of the road very well or for any length of time. A couple of days will give us the opportunity to get over any possible jet leg while acclimating to New Zealand.

As far as I can tell, the big draw to Auckland is some tower walk, which will probably be out of our price range thought the views look spectacular. Auckland is also home to an authentic Hangi restaurant on the wharf somewhere; we might try to hit that up. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a bookstore or two. I wish I had my business cards. I also have an archery friend in New Zealand. Maybe, he’ll be around to have coffee with.

Hobbiton and the Glow Worm Cave

Hobbiton is supposed to be about two hours from Auckland, and the Glow Worm Cave is nearby. I’m not the biggest Lord of the Rings (LotR) fan, and I only saw one of the Hobbit films. (Full disclosure: I do own, and have seen, the extended versions of the film [affiliate link].) That doesn’t mean I’m going to miss my chance to check out this iconic location from the film. After all, I did go to the studios in Bavaria to ride Falkor.

The Glow Worm Cave doesn’t allow filming or photos as far as I know. Still, it’s a rare natural wonder that everyone should see.

The volcanic area of New Zealand is supposed to be nearby. It would allow me to see the differences between New Zealand’s active volcano and that of Lassen Peak. I’m just not sure we find the time to visit. I’ll need to do more research on distances and appropriate time needed.

Wellington – Capital City

Wellington is home to Weta Workshop, the place where the effects for several well-known series and movies were created, including the aforementioned LotR. As the capital city of New Zealand, it also holds the title of the Creative Capital of New Zealand, and it’s not even close. This is a city I’d like to visit to see what makes it so creative and if there are ways to get involved.

On the South Island

I have friends in Christchurch. They adopted Checkers. (He has his own Instagram.) As long as I’m down this way, we should try to meet up with them. At least for lunch or something. On the map, it looks relatively close to Dunedin, which is where the live penguins are. There are three species of penguins in New Zealand, and Dunedin is the jumping off point to seeing two of those species and other wild animals.

Milford Sound seems like it’ll just be too far away to get to comfortably, but it is one of the highlights of New Zealand. There’s also a tree in a lake somewhere that’s supposed to be the most Instagrammable spot in the world. I have no idea where that is.

So far, that’s everything I know about New Zealand and its attractions. I’m going to continue doing research, but if you have some hints and tips, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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