Our New Zealand Travel Notes & Itinerary

April 1, 2017


  • New Zealand is expensive
  • Roads are windy
  • We shopped at Countdown and New World for groceries and food to save money
  • Invested in Systema plastic containers that we ate our lunches out of in the car
  • Booked most places a few days before once we knew where we wanted to be- used Booking.com most of the time, searched with Kayak.com
  • Saved money by staying at Holiday Parks
  • Splurged a few times to get apartments with washer and dryer
  • Take time to stop and take photos- forgot how beautiful it was!
  • Car seat standards are different than US. We asked for infant car seat for Oliver and it was more of toddler seat. They also put it in the car wrong, so we had to redo it.
  • Got vodafone sim card for Brandon’s phone for local calls when we needed it
  • Most places have we-fi- it’s limited and not super reliable and fast, but able to use libraries for booking


North Island

Saturday, January 28th: Traveling to New Zealand

Monday, January 30: Auckland/Mt Eden

  • took taxi from airport to 461 Mt Eden Road to flat
  • walked the street for food- aka pastries
  • took bus downtown and found Seeport- a free festival for families
  • got spaghetti ingredients and produce from market and cooked in flat
  • Blog post: Day One

Tuesday, January 31

  • Mt Eden Bakery for breakfast- better pastries than Europe
  • Melissa took kids to coolest park near Mt. Eden- walked there
  • Naps
  • lunch at Indian restaurant across the street from flat
  • Dinner at Buckners, collected seashells on beach by their flat, amazing Takapuna Park
  • Blog post: Takapuna and Tacos , The Coolest Playground ,

Wednesday, February 1

[Australia Adventure]

South Island

Friday, March 10th: Caloundra/Christchurch/Akoroa

  • Left Caloundra, Australia  and a piece of our heart
  • Flew to Christchurch then drove a few hours to Akoroa- no food along the way! Car seats were put in wrong, got an SUV to drive- fun! Windy roads
  • Found a bar open in Akaroa and ordered the fries they had left in the kitchen- ate at our hotel super late
  • Slept: Akaroa Village

Saturday, March 11: Akaroa/Geraldine

  • Slept in
  • Dad worked at Akorao Library while Melissa and kids explored town,boats and lighthouse
  • Weren’t able to swim with hector dolphins like we wanted
  • Drove to Geraldine (3.5 hours) and stopped at grocery store for lunch stuff
  • Checked into Geraldine Farmyard Park- pouring rain, but played outside and in game room
  • Slept in little cabin with bunk beds and tiny kitchenette
  • Posts: Our Stay at the Geraldine Farmyard Holiday Park , Akoroa Lighthouse

Sunday, March 12: Geraldine/Timaru/Tekapo

  • Drove to church from Geraldine to Timaru. Super tiny ward
  • The O’Sullivans invited us otver for muffins after church
  • Drove to Tekapo, Kids napped in car, pulled over at Lake Tekapo and all slept a little
  • Walked around Church of Good Shepherd and bridge across aqua water. color was unreal
  • Cooked spaghetti dinner in communal kitchen
  • Rained, so didn’t get to star gaze
  • Slept: Lake Tekapo Holiday Park in waterfront cabin
  • Blog post: Church in Timaru,  Lake Tekapo

Monday, March 13: Lake Tekapo/Lake Pukaki/Wanaka

  • Drove from Tekapo to Lake Pukaki
  • Threw rocks
  • Drove to Mt Cook National Park, raining but hikes to Tasman Glacier Overlook and saw Blue Lakes
  • Drove to Wanaka
  • Ate at restaurant on main road
  • Melissa and Brandon hot tubbed since it was right over patio
  • Slept: Distinction Wanaka Serviced Apartments
  • Blog post: Tasman Glacier Lookout, Mt Cook

Tuesday, March 14: Wanaka

  • Laundry
  • chilled at hotel
  • naps
  • swam in pool
  • made tacos for dinner
  • Melissa took kids to dinosaur slide while Brandon worked and grocery shopping
  • took photos of That Wanaka Tree with Blake and Evelyn
  • Slept; Distinction Wanaka Serviced Apartments

Wednesday, March 15: Wanaka

  • Hiked Mt. Iron- kids hiked the entire way
  • went swimming in pool/hot tub. Pool was right over private deck
  • Played tennis at hotel
  • Made tortellini pasta for dinner and ice cream for dessert in hotel
  • Melissa went for a run
  • took it easy
  • Slept: Distinction Wanaka Serviced Apartments
  • Blog post: Wanaka 

Thursday, March 16: Wanaka/Te Anau

  • Bike ride (rented from hotel) around the lake and in the reserve. Saw fall colored leaves
  • did laundry and checked out late
  • Went to Wanaka library for B to work a bit. Melissa went to op shop (thrift store) to get hats for Milford SOund
  • Got groceries and drove to Te Anau
  • Checked into Fiordlands Great View Holiday Park- slept in one room with bunks and bed
  • italian food for dinner from downtown
  • Watched stars. Best night view ever. Clear view of Milky way and south stars
  • Slept: Fiordlands Holiday Park

Friday, March 17: Te Anau/Milford Sound 

  • Left Te Anau in morning and drove to Milford Sound with a few scenic stops along the way, including the Chasm– so cool!
  • Children loved the mountain tunnel. roads are gorgeous
  • Took 1:45 Milford Sound cruise on Mitre Peak cruises- small boat free hot chocolate. Really windy and chilly but fun experience. Breathtaking waterfalls weren’t as big because it wasn’t raining
  • Drove back to Te Anau
  • Ate tomato soup, grilled cheese in communal kitchen
  • Slept: Te Anau Holiday Park
  • Blog posts: Lucky Day at Milford Sound

Saturday, March 18: Te Anua/Queenstown

  • Brandon’s birthday!
  • He caught up on a little work
  • Packed up and left holiday park
  • Drove to downtown Te Anau
  • Went on Te Anau lake and Glow Worm Cave tour. Most unique and amazing experience
  • Played at city park with swings and zipline near waterfront
  • Drove to Queenstown. 2 hours, kids fell asleep. B got pulled over and got $80 ticket
  • Checked into hotel- Garden Court Suites
  • Walked to downtown Queenstown to get dinner. Ate at London Pizzeria
  • Watched Batman
  • Blog posts: Brandon’s Birthday , Te Anau Glow Worm Cave/Park

Sunday, March 19: Queenstown 

  • Went to church at 25 Douglas Street . Tiny branch
  • Naps and lunch at hotel
  • Drove to Edith Cavell Bridge, skipped rocks
  • Spontaneously drove to Glenorchy and then on to Paradise. Set for Lord of the Rings. Green rolling hills with sheep. Looked unreal. Sunset over mountains.
  • Blog post: Sunday in Queenstown
  • Slept: Garden Court Suites

Monday, March 20: Queenstown

  • Oliver napped in morning
  • Walked to Fergberger for lunch- good, famous burgers
  • Rode Gondola to top of mountain and did luge rides with kids taking turns. Amazing views.
  • Came back to hotel for nap
  • Drove downtown for Brandon to get Taco Medic and then played on Queenstown beach, watched street performers
  • Got ice cream from grocery store and ate it at hotel
  • Slept: Garden Court Suites Queenstown (booking.com)
  • Photos from today  

Tuesday, March 21: Queenstown/Napier/Havelock North

  • Packed up room
  • Kids had Katie, babysitter while Melissa and Brandon went on the Shotover Jet Used Babysitting Queenstown babysitter service.
  • Lunch date downtown Queenstown at Sombreros
  • Picked up kids. Flew out of Queenstown airport to Auckland. 3 hour layover. Flew 1 hour to Napier airport
  • Turleys picked us up
  • Slept: Turleys (Brandon’s business partner)

North Island

Wednesday, March 22: Havelock North/Napier

  • Hung out at Turleys
  • Kids picked berries and grapes from backyard
  • Stayed up late to talk
  • Slept: Turleys

Thursday, March 23: Havelock North/Napier

  • Hiked to Te Ana waterfall
  • Naps, laundry, babysat Turleys, kids played
  • pizza for dinner
  • Slept: Turleys
  • Blog post: Te Ana Falls and the Turleys

Friday, March 24: Havelock North/Taupo/Rotorua

  • Left Turleys, drove towards Taupo
  • Stopped for a nap on side of road, saw beautiful hills and sheep
  • Once in Taupo, went to grocery store for lunch stuff
  • Ate lunch at Spa Park, by river. Didn’t swim because too crowded
  • Drove to Huka Falls, most amazing, waterfall- 200k liters flow every second
  • Drove to Rotarua. Spontaneously stopped at Tamaki Maori Village and got in for evening show. Ate dinner cooked in ground.
  • Trouble finding hotel last minute in this stinky city. Literally.
  • Slept: Rotorua Hotel
  • Blog post: Rotorua Adventures , Huka Falls,

Saturday, March 25th: Rotorua/Hobbiton/Hamilton

  • Left Rotorua, grocery store for breakfast
  • Drove to Hobbiton, tickets were sold out until late afternoon. Able to get in to 12:30 showing
  • Hobbiton was amazing! worth every penny
  • Went to Hamilton Temple for initiatory
  • Anne bought us fish and chips for dinner to eat at her house
  • Slept: 18 Foster Road Hamilton (Anne’s house)
  • Blog post: Hobbiton!

Sunday, March 26: Hamilton 

  • Church right across the street from Anne’s house
  • Naps
  • Went to Hamilton Gardens- amazing park with all types of sceneries from around the world
  • Visited with Anne
  • Slept; Anne’s house
  • Blog post: Hamilton Gardens 

Monday, March 27: Hamilton/Pauanui 

  • Left Hamilton
  • Stopped by Hamilton LDS Temple
  • Wendy’s for lunch!
  • Drove to Pauanui, swam in pool- only ones in hotel,
  • Slept: Ocean Breeze Hotel

Tuesday, March 28: Coramandel Peninsula 

Wednesday, March 29 : Pauaunui 

  • Rainy day- relaxed
  • Walk on beach across hotel
  • Slept: Ocean Breeze Hotel

Thursday, March 30: Cathedral Cove/Pauanui/Home

  • breakfast from hotel owners- heart waffles and buffet since Brandon helped them with IT stuff
  • drove back up to Cathedral Cove- warm beach! Cool hike along the coast– totally worth the drive and effort!
  • went back to room, packed up, finished laundry,
  • drove to Auckland airport
  • Flew home
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