Kia ora from the Kiwis!
For a country about the size of Colorado, New Zealand packs in all the adventures in unbelievably gorgeous settings. New Zealand's two main islands (North and South) encompass nearly every environment on the planet: glaciers, white and black sand beaches, fjords, rain forests, alpine forests, active volcanoes and craters, pristine lakes, and agricultural plains. Home to 14 National Parks, vibrant cities, thriving native culture, and "Middle Earth" landscapes, New Zealand offers such a wealth of experiences that you'll never want to leave!
I've been lucky to visit New Zealand twice - once for work on a Quaker Oats ad shoot and the other for our honeymoon just a few months later. I can't wait to go back with my kids! I've designed an amazing two-week itinerary that hits many of the hot spots on both islands and can be customized to fit your priorities and budget.
New Zealand's high season is October - April (their summer and our winter). Christmas break is peak and is likely the only time that will work for our family's vacation calendar. Value season is their fall (March - May) or their spring (September - November). Keep in mind you'll need at least two weeks to make the trip to the other side of the world worthwhile.
Auckland, North Island
Your adventure will begin in Auckland, a stunning cosmopolitan city with culture and sophistication as well as an abundance of natural beauty - beautiful islands, botanical gardens, black sand beaches and more.
Spend the day on the lovely Waiheke Island recovering from the 13-hour flight from the U.S. west coast. You'll actually arrive 2 days after you depart given you'll cross the international date line. Plan on at least 2-3 days in Auckland before moving on.
Waitomo and Rotorua, North Island
On the way to your next stop in Rotorua, you can cave tube with glow worms before heading to "Middle Earth". Lord of the Ring fans will delight in seeing the Hobbiton movie set as well as experiencing Maori culture.
Queenstown, South Island
Next it's on to the stunning South Island where you can take a break from moving every couple nights and spend some time in lovely Queenstown with the Southern Alps as your background. As the "adventure capital of the world", Queenstown offers it all: bungee jumping, luge rides, whitewater rafting, jet boating, hiking and more!
Don't miss a daytrip to the stunning Milford or Doubtful Sound but splurge on a fly/cruise so you're not in the car all day.
Mt. Cook, South Island
The glacier-covered Mt. Cook will be calling your name for helicopter glacier hikes, iceberg hunting by boat, and stargazing before you begin making your way back toward Auckland to start your journey home.
Coromandel, North Island
If you want to relax on a beach with endless vistas before leaving New Zealand, then Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty are a beautiful stop just a few hours drive from Auckland.