Many people in NZ recommend to go there, since it's so beautiful. In my honest opinion: DON'T DO IT!
This town is full of drunken adventure tourists, the town itself isn't as beautiful as described (there are just some mountains and a lake, nothing special if you're from Austria). Hostels are filled with 18-20 year old (mostly german) tourist on their round the world trip after school.
When you traveling down the Westcoast, you will pass Lake Mapourika. really beautiful and quiet, water is very clear. Stop by and have a short break there ;)
South Island, Westcoast
When going from Nelson to Queenstown, you can go either go along the Westcoast or Southcoast. Southcoast is a little bit faster, especially when hitch hiking. also you can visit Christchurch. On Westcoast there's much less traffic, but the landscape is more beautiful. We decided to go Westcoast. It took us about 2 days to get to Queenstown with hitch-hiking (about 800km).
15 February 2013
The Golden Bay near Nelson is full of awesome beaches. Just ask some people in nelson (not the tourist infos ;) ) for the nicest places.
centre of new zealand
The centre of New Zealand walk is a 30min walk to a hill in Nelson. Really nice view over Nelson - at the bottom of the hill there's a nice park, where the 1st rugby game ever was played!
Nelson, the town
really nice and small town, everything here what you need. some wonderful beaches (at golden bay, about 1h drive from nelson) are nearby.
14 February 2013
You probably have to take the ferry if you want to go the south island. very beautiful cruise, and you probably see some dolphins ;) It takes about 3 hours.
There's a really wonderful beach at Waikanae beach, about 1 hour north (by train) of Wellington.
For all couchsurfers: We spent 3 or 4 days at a nice house next to the beach. Our host was a real couchsurfing veteran, always hosting a few couchsurfers (we were 6 couchsurfer at this time). he prefers if you stay more than just a few days, so no problem if you want to stay for a week or more ;) he has an own room for couchsurfers. since this room was already taken, when we arrived, he offered us his room and was sleeping on the couch himself. best guy ever! (btw: brews his own beer ;) )
Wellington, 3 things to do
A nice guy from there told me 3 things what you should do when you're in Wellington:
1. take the wellington cable car from CBD through the botanic garden. nice photospot!
2. rent a kayak. you can often see dolphins and orcas at the bay.
3. visit Tepapa Museum in Wellington. There are really cool exhibitions (a part of the exhibition is mostly free, the rest is about 16NZD each)
(unfortunately I have no single picture of wellington, since I don't have an own camera. all my pictures are from people I met there. but I found some pics on google)
Wellington, the city
Wellington is a very nice and small city, with a very young population (at least it seemed to me). It is much more beautiful than Auckland. The CBD has about the same size as in Auckland, so everything is more close together. On my next trip there, I'll spend most of the time in Wellington and not Auckland anymore.
13 February 2013
Taupo's Giant Bike
In front of Taupo (town), you can find the biggest bike I've ever seen ;) you should definitely take a photo and post it to https://www.facebook.com/TauposGiantBikes
There's also a photo/sightseeing spot nearby (~100-200 meters away).
FYI: if you're hitch-hiking to auckland, start directly in the town. otherwise you'll have a ~5km walk to the next roundabout. nobody will stop on the highway between (believe me ;) )
Lake Taupo is a really beautiful lake. If you're nearby (e.g. when doing Tongariro crossing) stop by.
We did the Tongariro Crossing. It's a quite famous hiking tour to one of New Zealand's volcanos. There are a few different routes (starting from a 4 hour up to a 3 day hiking tour which you can choose from. It was really cool, but a little bit demanding). But I would really recommend to do this. If you have no car, there are some hostels nearby, where you can join a shuttle bus (think it was quite expensive, ~40NZD (incl return) each).
12 February 2013
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
We made a black water rafting at the glowworm caves. it was quite ok, but I wouldn't do it again (costs about 160NZD p.P., duration 3-4 hours). hitch-hiking to waitomo is probably not a good idea, since it's just a little town in the middle of nowhere. there's an intercity bus from auckland once a day.
there are a few hostel in waitomo, but I would recommend NOT to stay there, since there's really nothing else to see here. we went there by bus and hitch-hiked home to auckland (a participant of the black water rafting gave us a ride to hamilton, otherwise we would have waited really, really long to get picked up. so if you have no car, try to plan your drive!)
11 February 2013
Auckland Silo Park
It's a really nice place for a walk, chilling or grabbing a coffee or something to eat. There are a lot of restaurants, bars and cafes. There are also some chill-out areas and sport areas.
Mount eden is a dead volcano in Auckland. It's not very big, but you get a really great view over the Downtown. You can go to the top of the volcano by car if you have one, or just walk, which will take about 20min. At the bottom of the volcano, there are a lot of bars, cafes and restaurants if you're hungry after the "long" hike ;)
Devonport is a harbourside suburb of Auckland. It's a 10min ferry cruise from CBD (it's about 11NZD = ~7EUR, incl. return). There's a really nice beach there. Take the ferry back when it's dark, you have an awesome view of Auckland CBD!
Espresso workshop - best coffee shop in town
There are quite a lot of coffee shops in Auckland. Unfortunately, many of them serve quite bad coffee :/ At Espresso workshop you get really, really good coffee for a very reasonable price. you should definitely check it out.
Nice co-working space for developers and graphic designers
I rented a half-time flex-desk at Loft503. It is located directly at CBD. The price (compared to other co-working spaces in Auckland) was quite cheap. The office itself is very beautiful, I met really interesting people there, since the co-working space is mostly filled with software startups and freelancers.
Auckland, the city
Auckland is quite a nice city with about 1,5 million inhabitants, which makes it the biggest city in NZ, but the CBD, compared to its size, is very small. Most of the city's area are "suburbs". Public transport is very bad and quite expensive, so if you planning to rent a flat, take the extra money for a flat at or near CBD. People are mostly really friendly, no problems to find some mates there ;) I spent around two months there - all together, it was a really nice experience.
New Zealand, the country
New Zealand is a very beautiful country, with lots of nice people. Still, there are many tourists (especially these after-school-adventure tourists), so I would recommend to stay away from hostels and try to meet some locals (e.g. Couchsurfing). Public transport is very, very bad overall, so if you stay for more than a month, buy a car (they are quite cheap and you can resell it when you leave, many people do this - you don't need registration or insurance. You can also try hitch-hiking, which works out really well (we did it all the time, made it across the whole country ;). For longer distances, flying is quite cheap (www.jetstar.com).