smitten studio sheep new zealandLast anniversary Rupert surprised me with tickets to Auckland! New Zealand has always been on the top of my list of places to go and I can not wait to head over there and explore. While he took care of the flights, we still have not booked all of our lodging or planned much of anything for the trip, which is now coming up very soon! So today my mind is in the green hills of the New Zealand countryside while I plan our adventure.

Any Kiwi’s out there with tips or must see sights? Or have you been? …any recommendations on things to see, places to eat, shops to be visited?

Image by sarah sherman samuel

  • Alexandria

    There’s a fantastic spa with private mineral pools for 2 that over look the lake. Here’s the link

  • I went to NZ last year, to Rotorua and Queenstown. Queenstown is a really beautiful ski resort town, although this time of the year you might not get snow, but it is still a beautiful city with The Remarkables mountain as the backdrop. I think the best attractions/places I went were: Milford Sound cruise, Mount Cook at Aoraki Village, and rafting on the shotover river. Those attractions are accessible from/in Queenstown.
    And I stayed at a very nice n clean B&B Called Chalet Queenstown.
    So if you have lots of time, I recommend you fly to Queenstown, but it’s on the South island, though. Auckland is on the north.

    -Wita @

    • Wita – Thank you for the recs… ah you have convinced me to try to make it to the South island as well. We rented a camper van but I’m looking into taking it on the ferry to the south island. Not sure if we can fit it all in though! here’s hoping.

  • I’m from NZ and there is so much to see if you just hire a car and drive around. Try to get to Wanaka in the south island and Coramandel (east coast) if your there during summer, you can lay around at the hot water beach and walk down to cathedral cove which is amazing!

    • Hi Emma, Yes… thanks we are renting a camper van to drive around for a good portion of the trip. Thank you for the tips.

  • We just went to NZ 4 months ago and LOVED it, you’re going to fall in love with the country, it’s beauty is out of this world!
    The first time we went there we only stayed in Auckland, I highly recommend visiting Waiheke island.
    On our second time there we traveled around the south island in a camper, which was one of the best experiences we’ve ever had! It really is the best way to the see the island. Some of my favorite places from the south island were Queenstown (gorgeous!), Wanaka (beautiful!), and Milford Sounds (breathtaking!)
    So jealous! 😉

  • KT

    My bro and SIL live in Auckland, so I am lucky enough to visit them often. EVERYWHERE is beautiful. The food, the wine, the people, the landscape, the hiking! Great wine tasting can be had on the southern part of the north island (go to Wellington too and visit the national museum – temata). Another great wine region is the northern part of the south island (you can tell where my love lies = wine).

    For a taste of what to expect and places to go, watch some “Hunger for the Wild” videos on YouTube. One of the hosts of the show has a lovely restaurant in Auckland called the Depot Eatery. Go there:

    For places to stay, the options are endless. We use and have stayed at some lovely bachs (aka cabins, b&b’s, houses for rent etc) that are reasonably priced. Have a fab trip!

  • BelindaJane

    Lucky you! I’m a born & bred Kiwi currently living in the UK and am homesick & envious everytime someone mentions going. Funny but you are the third blogger I follow heading to my home recently. You may get some inspiration from the gorgeous photos on &

    Tips from others above are great, especially Waiheke Island from a ferry in Auckland, get to Mudbrick for a cheeseboard, sensational wine & a game of boule amidst the vines overlooking the harbour. Have dinner at Soul in the Auckland Viaduct, check out the tiny but chic Debretts Hotel for a treat night away from the camper van & as suggested above eat at Depot.

    The Coromandel Peninsula is stunning & the South Island is breathtaking as has been said. The Marlborough wine region makes my most favourite ever Sayvignon Blanc…tasting tours abound & sit down in your favourite vineyard for crayfish & a crisp dry citrusy glass of wine for a simple perfect afternoon.

    There’s also a city guide that may be useful on Designsponge that maybe useful. I’ve been in London for a while so am not so up to date with everything but this may be useful…Auckland has great areas such as Ponsonby, Parnell etc

    It’s been a lovely summer at home this year so wishing you a warm sunny trip…very envious!

  • I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand! Have a blast!

  • Thanks Belinda Jane! So funny, I booked the Debretts Hotel for our first couple of nights! Pre-camper van. 🙂

  • Hi Sarah,

    I just recently found your blog and I really love it. I went to New Zealand this past summer to visit my best friend who married a kiwi. They live on the south island, and I realize that you will be on the north island, but I have to say, if you get a chance to go down to the south island you must see 1) Queenstown and 2) Milford Sound. I thought i could not see anything more beautiful and breathtaking than Queenstown until we drove into Milford Sound. Take the boat ride! It is so worth it and I cannot begin to tell you how breathtaking it is. Words cannot describe. I still think about it often. I hope you have a wonderful time and I’m super excited for you.


  • Anne

    I’m SO jealous of this trip. You’re going to have an incredible time and your pictures are going to blow my mind. I know it already.

  • you’ll love it. it’s amazing. best friend and i stayed a month and explored top to bottom. milford sound is definitely heaven on earth. kaikoura has the best ‘hokey pokey’ ice cream i’ve ever had. seriously, try it. while raglan is like a home away from home — a perfect little surf town with gorgeous beaches and excellent flat whites. have fun.

  • We went to New Zealand for our honeymoon. When I think about it now I miss it as though it’s a long lost friend. I blogged so many of our adventures there.

    On the North Island we went Kayaking to the Carvings in Taupo which was incredible. If you head to Taupo you must go to Paetiki Bakery for the best meat pies (and other assorted hand pies) ever! Stop by Huka Falls, the water is the most gorgeous deep aqua color.

    I’m a book nerd so we took a little tour of Hobbiton in Matamata where we also got to feed adorable lambs. WE loved Wai-o-tapu, the sacred waters and thermal hot springs outside of Rotorua.

    If you’re feeling adventurous, go Black Water Rafting in Waitomo. The surrounding rainforest is gorgeous and it’s really just tubing in the underwater cave system.

    Have fun, I’m so jealous!

  • laura

    Sarah – Love the blog. I’m really excited for you! You will have a great vacation in NZ. My husband and I went last year. The south island is gorgeous if you can make it down there. We actually flew into Auckland and took a domestic flight down to Queenstown to start a trip. We drove up the west coast of the south island and took a ferry across to Wellington and then a plane back to Auckland. There really is so much to see and do, you can’t go wrong. My favorite memory on my trip was the Waitomo Adventures 7 hour epic adventure. It really challenged me and it was something I had never done before. Also, if you get a chance, check out the local pharmacies in the area. They carry a lot more natural beauty products. I really love this one…Antipodes. Have a great time.

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