Off Topic: New Zealand

Image: Matt Ferguson

I'm finally going to have a holiday at the end of this week. I'm going to New Zealand, and I've heard only the nicest possible things.

For the most part, the trip is pretty carefree. It's meant to be a celebration for my 30th, although I'm fairly casual about it all - I've never been huge on birthday celebrations as an adult, even though I remember some great times with water pistols as a kid.

I'll be with my partner in Wellington for four days, one of which we've booked out to do a full Lord of the Rings tour. From memory that will include some location visits and a tour of the Weta Workshop, although I've not looked into it too deeply. I'm pretty happy to just discover it on the day; I'm also pretty happy to relax and get away from emails for a bit.

My partner also found a place serving incredibly elaborate cocktails, one of which I'm pretty sure was called The Best Espresso Martini Ever Made or something. It sounds like a fun way to end off a night, at least.

Have you been to New Zealand, or do you live in and around Wellington? Any advice on things to see or places to eat? And if you haven't been to New Zealand before, why not?


    I've only been to Auckland (furthest south I went was Hamilton), but from what I saw, it's one of the nicest countries I've been to.

    Only ever been to Christchurch and surrounds - had 5 nights over there a few years back (after the big quake, a lot of the city was still freshly bulldozed). Got our LotR on by doing a tour out to the location of Rohan's capital Edoras - a ridiculously spectacular glacial valley with howling gales on a calm day...

    Great food, great beer, and friendly folks. Capped off by a great match between the Crusaders and the Melbourne Rebels... :)

    Have a brilliant time!

    I've only ever seen the interior of Auckland airport, but I highly recommend Air NZ as an airline. Definitely best service I've ever had flying internationally and a great all round product in their aircraft.

    Lived in Wellington for 4 years.Near the corner of Willis St and Mercer St in Wellington City there is a little fish and chip shop that sell some great food and just happen to have pictures with about 5 of the 9 Fellowship as they used to eat there while filming. Great picture of the owner with Viggo on the counter!

    Went there about 20 yrs ago, first week snowboarding, second week touring. Christchurch was lovely (pre quakes), scenery was lovely, basically the best word to describe the whole trip/South Island was lovely.

    Took a helicopter up onto the Fox Glacier, which was amazing (and lovely). Was also amazed how far the glacier had receded when I went (there where markers showing where it was in various years on the trail up to the face), from what I've seen though with the further recession the bit I walked on doesn't exist anymore. Which feels weird.

    Edit - realised it was 20 yrs, not 15... Where did the time go...

    Last edited 07/02/17 12:05 pm

    I'd recommend grabbing a hire car and do a lap of the North Island. Plenty of motels in every town and the scenery is awesome. However, you only have 4 days. You could still drive through the Hutt Valley and out to Martinborough if you are into wine/food.

    Amazing and beautiful country. I did a two week trip in a campervan around the south island, starting in Christchurch. Make sure you visit Queenstown.

    Wow are you in for a treat! New Zealand is one of the most amazing and beautiful countries I've been to. It compares to amazing places like Norway and Switzerland. My wife and I have been to NZ many times and we loved it so much we got married there last year :)

    If you have more time (perhaps another trip after you're hooked), I'd definitely recommend seeing the South Island. Hire a car and travel around particularly during winter. It's such a beautiful place and you'll find yourself pulling over to enjoy the scenery and take photos everywhere you go

    We went to Noth Island, Hobbiton, a volcanic lake whose name escapes me at this moment and many places in between. Everything was gorgeous and that weird kind of uncommon that people often call "magical". It was awesome.

      Rotorua? That's the famous one - stinks, but nice for a (short) visit.

        Yep, that's the one. Stayed 4 days and the smell wasn't that bad. (btw, for people who doesn't know, it's smelly because the sulfur released by volcanic activity, not because poor conditions--it's actually a super clean place.)

    Wellington is great. I lived there years ago, probably too long to know where to go to eat/drink.
    However I can recomend: the weta giftshop, the national museum Te Papa, and watching a movie at the Embassy. Also walk down Cuba St & Courney Pl at night for food/drink options.

    Hey. Hey Alex. Do you know what you should do.

    Ask a kiwi to pronounce 'Mass Effect.'

    Go on. Do it. Do it.

    Do it.

      As a kiwi I feel I am duty-bound to inform you that you would be hearing correctly, perhaps for the first time in your life. #anzac #underarmincident #bledisloecup

    Kiwi here. Wellington's a nice town, fun cafe / art / music scene. We do genuinely apologise for the wind.
    It would absolutely be worth jumping on the ferry across to the South Island (Wellington-Picton) and doing some walks or kayaking around the Malborough Sounds area. Beautiful spot.
    There are some cool little towns about an hour's drive north of Wellington - Martinborough's a lovely relaxed place for wineries and just general typical small NZ town scenery.
    For 4 days I reckon Wellington town, LOTR tour, Marlborough Sounds, and Martinborough.

    Also it's pronounced Miss Uffuct.

    Last edited 07/02/17 12:50 pm

    If you don't get a look at the roxy cinema on a tour it's worth a visit. It has a great 1920s theme and a really cool dr grordborts ceiling upstairs. Then round the corner is a cafe called chocolate frog, always had good food and service there. It's out Miramar so should be on the way if you are going to weta.

    The craft beer scene is fantastic as well with bars like hashigo zake, rogue and vagabond, fork and brewer and goldings to name a few goldings has a cool pop culture / star wars theme going on.

    Cuba street has a good mix of bars cafes and restraunts. Midnight espresso and fidels for good coffee. Grill meats beer is meant to be good for dinner though I haven't been. Flying burrito brothers does good mexican and logan brown has a more upmarket menu.

    My husband and I just got back from NZ a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing! We flew into Auckland, got a car and drove south, seeing Hobbiton, Rotorua, a bunch more geothermal stuff, Lake Taupo, and Wellington, before heading to the south island for a medieval recreation event (because we're nerds). My husband (a sculptor) was almost in tears during our tour of Weta. Also, don't miss The Scale Of Our War exhibition at Te Papa Museum, Weta did the large sculptures in there and the craftsmanship is breathtaking.

    The craft beer scene in Wellington is absolutely phenomenal, if you end up in any craft beer bars you should be able to pick up this excellent map that shows you all the breweries in the CBD. We weren't planning on getting on the piss on the nights we were there but once we had a map, it would've been rude not to! Highly recommend Garage Project and Black Dog.

    Have fun!

    New Zealand is stunning. My wife (girlfriend, then fiance at the time) and I spent 3 weeks driving around the north and south island. We only stayed in Wellington overnight in order to catch the ferry to the south island. The weather was pretty average so we didn't see much. For us, there wasn't much there which made us want to stay longer anyway. But in saying that, it was quite a nice city.

    There's so much to see in NZ, you'll want to go back for sure. When you do, spend a few weeks, there really is a lot to see.

    Is that the Hawthorne Lounge?
    NZ doesn't have a bunch of stupid rules like we have so they have some really good microbreweries. Of the mass produced beers the tuatara is quite good, and it helps that is has a god damn living dinosaur on the bottle.
    In wellington itself the cable car is a nice little ride, and there is a traditional french perfumery who makes all his own perfumes that can be great fro gifts. And worth it just to check it out.

    You are going to just miss the Art deco festival but Napier is a wonderful place that we leveled by an earthquake and then rebuild in art deco style

    Last edited 07/02/17 1:12 pm

    It's tough to say, my only real suggestions for Welly are Weta, Te Papa and then all of the craft breweries around town. My personal favorite is Black Dog but the others are still really great if you like a nice beer. If you have the time I would definitely consider Moabboy's idea of going to Martinborough, the food and wine is great but the drive can be a bit tough if you get motion sickness. Apart from that the fun of Welly is really taking the time to just walk around town, the CBD is tiny and can easily be walked in 1-2hours. Just make sure if you want to have a look around the Botanical Gardens you take the cable car up if you are staying down the bottom of the hill.

    Hope you have a heap of fun on your trip! C:

    If you're up for a bit of hiking, the Tonagirio Alpine Crossing is commonly included on 'best one day hikes in the world' lists. It's pretty long (20km+), but it's the shooting location for Mordor, so there's that.

    Wellington born and bred. Live in Wellington at the moment as well.

    For fancy cocktails I presume you will be heading to Hawthorne, Matterhorn or The Library.
    Plenty of tasty little eating spots but if you want tasty grub over flashy appearances then you can't go past Sweet Mother's Kitchen. If you can find a place to sit down with the food Taste of India is incredible (unfortunately take away only).

    If it's a nice day you could also take the ferry over to Eastbourne or Somes Island. Eastbourne is a nice secluded area with plenty of bush to walk through or just chill out at the beach and nearby park. There is usually plenty of gigs on in the city as well or nice spots to get a beer in the sun. Personal favourites for those days are Dirty Little Secret, Foxglove, St Johns or Mish Mosh.

    If you're in Wellington for longer than just your Weta Workshop tour, I cannot recommend the "Gallipoli: The scale of our war" exhibit at the Te Papa museum enough. It's a WWI interactive/limited-time exhibit, but regardless of whether you're into that kind of thing (I'm a young 30's male, and am general ho-hum on war exhibits) it was absolutely mind-blowing. I almost didn't go until our Weta Workshop guide recommended it - turns out Weta constructed the human statues on display, all of which are approximately double life-size (so 10-15 ft tall people). The exhibit as a whole is very well put together, but the craftsmanship on the statues is stunning.

    The museum is free to get in, but the Gallipoli exhibit had its own lineup inside of the museum - it's worth getting there right when the museum opens (which is still like 930 or 10 am) to avoid standing in line for an hour.

    I Highly recommend the Gallipoli exhibit at Te Papa!!! Especially since its a big part of our ANZAC history. Freakn incredible display....lots of amazing work done by Weta workshop.
    There is often a queue but don't let that put you off as it moves quite fast and its well worth the wait. I personally found it super emotional!
    -No entry cost!

      I'm a big fan of the War Memorial in Canberra, and @teganjones is a huge history buff (double history major, to be more accurate). I think we'll probably end up doing this, cheers.

    I live in Wellington, lots of good places to crab a coffee. If beer is your thing then check out rouge and vagabond or garage project, some tasting places for craft beer. Places to eat: ombra is my favourite, dragonfly, monsoon poon is good if you like spicy food, maranui cafe is nice , it's next to the beach right nearby the airport.

    So much amazing stuff to do! My advice is to get a car and just DRIVE.
    There's the obvious things you have to do (Milford Sound!) and the South Island is full of stunning scenery. But a couple of ones that you might not have considered...
    * Go black-water-rafting in the Waitomo Caves. One of the best things I've ever done on a holiday.
    * Visit the THIRD island, Stewart Island. If you like walking, it's stunning.

    Ferry trip to Marlborough is interesting but would be pretty expensive and you'd spend six hours on the boat - instead of that take the local harbour ferry to Somes Island (in the middle of the harbor) it's a nature reserve, nice walks and great views of the harbour. Then take the same ferry to Days Bay on the other side of the harbour for a great little beach with good cafes & icecreams. Look at "East by West Ferries" for details.

    Logan Brown is really nice but pretty expensive. +1 for Flying Burrito Brothers. If you like seafood then there's Ortega Fish Shack which is really nice. Fidel's Cafe is also a local Wellington favourite. For coffee check out anyone of the many Mojo coffee shops around Wellington. We had three Starbucks, one closed for lack of business and one got wiped out by the earthquake but we really love our 21 Mojo's around the city, including the roastery on the waterfront which you can visit.

    In four days you aren't going to get anywhere too interesting and back to Wellington without a whole lot of driving. If you do want to get out town then get a rental car and do a day trip to Greytown, Martinborugh and it's a bit of a drive but easily all doable in the same day down to Cape Palliser lighthouse. There's not much civilisation down near Cape Palliser but it's a fantastic drive. When driving in NZ because of the tight windy roads budget on 80 km/hr average even though speed limit is 100.

    If you like the Gallipoli exhibit there's also another WWI exhibit in the old War Memorial Muesuem called the "The Great War Exhibition" (google it) that's really good also done by Weta/Peter Jackson.

    If it's a Cruise Ship day watch out for the crowds on the cable car to the botanic gardens, either go really early or leave it until after 3pm. Just hope the weather holds ok for you, it's been a completely crap summer this year.

    I jumped the ditch from Brisbane to the Waikato in NZ about 8 years ago, been living here since. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to see that much, all of the really amazing scenery is either way up north past Auckland or way down south....I'm told.
    Where I live, smack bang in the middle of the north island, it's full of green (Brown at the moment) and cows, hills, a few big hills, some mountains and there is a lot of stuff tucked away if you're willing to look. Stay away from Auckland, you might as well just go visit Sydney.
    I've been to Wellington once, I can't really liken it to anything, it's different, fresh....windy...
    The beauty about living here in NZ, is that you can get in a car and drive in any direction and find something interesting without going that far. I never really had that experience in Brisbane. I'd have to agree with Irvyne on this one, if you run of of specific things you want to do, get a car, drive!

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