10 DAY NEW ZEALAND ADVENTURE
New Zealand is our dream land! It is one of the most majestic, calm, natural, beautiful places in the world full of the nicest people. Every place in New Zealand is beautiful…I mean it, EVERY SINGLE PLACE!!!
Air: New Zealand Air or Qantas – New Zealand Air is one of the BEST airlines in the world but you might find a better deal with Qantas if you are adding Australia or are a member of the One World Alliance. You typically depart from L0s Angeles at midnight on a nonstop flight and wake up in New Zealand 9am..Easiest ocean crossing flight I”ve ever been on! Soon there will be a Real Food Daily at LAX airport (Terminal 4) so you can enjoy some local vegan food before you depart if you”re not an SoCal resident. Priceline has the best deals!
DAY 1: AUCKLAND
Stay: Sky City Hotel – the rooms are so-so but the location and price are just right! check out the deals on Hotels.com. You only need about one night to get your barrings and head out into the wilds of New Zealand!
Eat: Golden Age is Auckland”s only 100% vegan restaurant. It is located directly next to Sky City Hotel making for a convenient lunch or dinner. Its a branch of the Supreme Master”s Loving Hut concept so expect the usual Chinese vegetarian fare. 61 Victoria Street West
Jacket Potato Cart if you”re walking around the harbor keep your eye out for the jacket potato cart! Perfectly baked potatoes hit the spot!
SAFE Cruelty Free Shop Was a short walk from our hotel. The shop is small, but its PACKED with goodness. I highly recommend trying the Turkish Delight! There is a frozen foods section in the middle stocked with highly expensive tofuti bars, which are more for the sake of locals. Very helpful staff, even called and found out what vegan restaurants were open at the time for me!
See: You fly into Harbor city so you”ll either need to take a taxi, shared van or rent a car. We opted for the shared van and waited until we departed Auckland to rent a car. Auckland is an expensive and large city and a little overwhelming at first, but there is a vegan grocery store, and a vegan restaurant.
We stayed in CityCenter and it was nothing special, try really hard to find a good hotel in Auckland with free internet or you”ll be stuck with 5megs for $25. Internet is STINGY in New Zealand. The more comfortable and centrally located your hotel in Auckland the better your initial impression of New Zealand will be. We made the mistake of flying into Auckland with no hotel reservation and no plan we figured we”d just use the internet and wing it on the go and since you get like 5 megs you can”t do much. Walk around and explore, there is not much sight seeing in Auckland, just a few bungee jumps. Coffee shops give you 50megs sometimes, which lasts about 15 minutes on tripadvisor.com
Getting from place to place:
Rent a car when you leave Auckland. Driving in New Zealand is what its all about. Its so peaceful and each little town is a gem with its own personality. There are a million hikes. Also, there is an open source GPS map of New Zealand that you can download to any garmin.
Hotels are called Motor Lodges and Motels, don”t think that means they are low grade, even the cheapest motor lodge we stayed at was as nice as a four star hotel in the states. The Alpine Lodge we stayed at in Taupo had unlimited internet until 10pm when they shut it off :). Most of them have washer/dryer combos in the room, too!
DAY 2: Rotorua
Stay: Regent of Rotorua - Best Motor Lodge in the World! Brand new, affordable and fantastic & if you want to brave the stinking brew coming from the group they have a small hot tub!
Eat: Hell Pizza
See: Rotorua is full of hot, stinky sulfur springs and cyanide pools. It”s really cool because there is just steam coming out of the ground everywhere and mud bubbling. It is the geothermal dream.
The Rotorua Museum is another interesting spot that used to be a hot springs spa. Its a good location for photos. The town of Rotorua is a little worse for wear, but enjoy the geothermal and keep it moving!
DAY 3: Waitomo
Glow Worm Caves are a must see and only two hours from Rotorua.
DAY 4: Taupo
Stay: ALPINE LAKE MOTOR LODGE- the rooms are so-so but the location and price are just right! Also, they have free wifi, check out the deals on Hotels.com.
Eat: Fine Fettle Cafe
See: Taupo is a beautiful lake town and adventure point for airboat, steamship and airplane rides. Enjoy the lake views while sipping on a soy milkshake on the shore at Burger Fuel. Drive to nearby Huka Falls and witness a raging waterfall up close. (you can hike to the falls and watch people below on the airboats, which go like 100mph and do spins) The steamboat ride to the carving is rather dull, the carving was done a few years ago so its not as impressive as all the brochures that make you think its some ancient thing. If the weather is right you can also take a float plane up to the volcano in Tongariro National Park.
DAY 5: Napier
There is also a Vegetarian B&B The Green House on the Hill
Eat: Hell Pizza
See: Art Deco Tour In 1931 a 7.8 Earthquake unleashed massive geological damage and change on the town of Napier. They set out to rebuild the city in record time to avoid loosing population. The predominate Art Deco style is preserved and astonishing. The guided tours start from the tourist center, where tickets can be purchased.
Lex and I loved this place we are SUPER ART DECO FREAKS, so if your not into that it might not be worth the trip, if you do, take the Art Deco walking touch (there is a vegan B&B here, too the house on the hill or something like that) Its a town frozen in time because an earthquake wiped it out completely and they rebuilt it as fast as possible in the 20s. We stayed in a nice hotel with a kitchen. Fun antique shopping, etc.
DAY 6: Wellington
Eat: Common Sense Organic grocery store. Directly across from Museum Hotel you can score some great eats to prepare in your kitchenette at Common Sense Organic, which is possibly the countries largest grocery store.
Midnight Espresso Bar 178 Cuba Street The tofu burger is of legend so we asked if we could get a low fat version w/o the oils/vegan mayos, etc. They said “we”ve got a whole kitchen full of food we”ll make you what ever you like” and they did! High marks too for the vegan soy hot chocolate!
Pranah Cafe 120 Riddiford Street, Newtown great spot for breakfast.
See: Wellington is San Francisco of NZ. It”s hip, gorgeous, and has the Te Papa Museum, which you could easily spend an entire day exploring. Tons of vegan goodies everywhere.
We took the ferry across to the south island…it took forever but it was beautiful and we really wanted to cross the cook strait! Once we got on the south island we hopped on the TranzAlpine Train for a nice ride down to Christchurch! It runs on the coast and there are seals the whole way.
You MUST TRY TO SEE a KIWI…they are CUTE! There are all sorts of cheese shops that ask for $ to see one in the little towns.
DAY 7: Christchurch (we”re not sure the current status of tour to Christchurch due to a recent devastating earthquake)
Eat: The Lotus-Heart Restaurant is a nice breakfast and lunch stop in the center of Christchurch on the second floor looking out to the main square.
Jacket Potato Stand in City Center
Piko Wholefoods Co-operative – Don”t miss out on the yummy vegan empanadas!
See: Cantabury Museum
My FAV PLACE!!! It”s very architectural and has such a great vibe. I love this bike tour we took as well, www.chchbiketours.co.nz Plus don”t miss out on the antarctic center and make sure to take a hagglund ride:))) There”s a great Canterbury Museum, too. Great vegan restaurant in the middle of town on the second floor, you”ll find it on happycow.net
DAY 8: Franz Josef Glacier
It”s a MUST to climb a glacier while you”re on the south island..it was cold and miserable but I”m glad we did it!! We took our tour through Fox Guides (ask for new socks or you get these wet socks the tour before you wore… nasty! well they go over your socks) NOTE: you must be in pretty good shape to make it up these hills ..but us Vegans have no problems here:D
Stay: BEACHFRONT HOTEL HOKIT HOKITIKA-great place to stay the night before the glacier hike, the rooms are so-so but very clean and the location and price are just right! check out the deals on Hotels.com.
Eat: hit up Woolworth. ttp://hellpizza.com/nz/stores/choose-region
See: The National Kiwi Centre - You can”t visit NZ and not see a kiwi.. I know it”s sad to not see them in there nature habitat but this wildlife sanctuary is a good second home.
DAY 9: Wanaka
After a full day of hiking the Glacier you won”t be able to make it all the way to Queenstown. We stopped along the way in the beautiful resort town of Wanaka.
Eat: Relishes Cafe 1/99 Ardmore Street- Relishes Cafe is a beautiful lake front cafe full of fresh food. They are happy to prepare vegan dishes and drinks.
See: The South Island is all about the Glaciers & mountain and lake scenery dotted by ski towns. They”re pretty fancy and touristy and honestly the most romantic place I could ever think of. Wanaka Lake is SO blue.
DAY 10: Queenstown/ Milford Sound
Stay: POUNAMU MANAGEMENT- this was bar far the fanciest place we stayed in New Zealand. Which was lucky since we had a few more days in Queenstown than we needed so we really were able to enjoy our luxury accommodations. You can book this or check for other deals on Hotels.com.
Eat: Hell Pizza, Destination Organic (small organic grocery store in town with tons of staples and treats to cook up back in your apartment), Fresh Choice Supermarket is a large market with an organic section in the back with many wholesome vegan items (pancake mixes, hummus, etc)
See: Take the Skyline Gondola up to the top of the mountain. Don”t forget to purchase two or more Luge tickets. One is NOT enough!
Walk along the lakefront trails.
Milford Sound. Queenstown is a launching pad for day trips into Milford Sound. These are 12 hour day trips, so you need to pack a full assortment of vegan goodies, sandwiches, etc.
Getting in and out of New Zealand:
See if you can fly into Auckland and out of Queenstown or vice versa, if not its not a big deal to fly back to Auckland, but its a nice progression to just work your way south and meander through the middle and not have to retrace your steps. WARNING: you must have/show your departing ticket or customs will think you are trying to STAY in New Zealand. Next time around we”ll just purchase a fully refundable plane ticket for our flight out and change it we want to see more. We would have gone on to see and spend much more $ and time in New Zealand had they not cramped our travel style!
NEW ZEALAND Vegan Staples:
Burger Fuel – soy shakes and veg society approved veggie burgers can”t be missed!!
Hells Pizza – I”ll go to Hell any day for one taste of the AMAZING Sinister Vegan Pizza
Wagamama- Asian UK chain, locations in Auckland and Wellington.
There”s a Subway on every corner of every town, too so you”ll never starve.
WoolWorth”s Grocery Store has the local soymilk/soy yogurt and these really awesome tomato basil pretzels. We hit up many or the restaurants listed on happycow.net, too.
4 THINGS WE WISH WE WOULD HAVE DONE if we”d stayed longer.
1. Dunedin hip college town where the beaches are filled PENGUINS! Plus seals and sea lions, but more importantly PENGUINS! There are some great wildlife tours, but you can also just go and see penguins yourself if you go during sunrise or sunset. They have blue penguins (the really little adorable kind) and yellow-eyed penguins (the rarest breed in the world).
2. Taken a plane ride over The Emerald Lakes and Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings) of Tongariro National Park / World Heritage Site. (We did drive up to the ranger station and took some wild photos)
3. Explored more of the very Northern Island..Places such as Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga (there”s a place where hot water bubbles up through the sand and you put your feet in it)