New Zealand and Tahiti 2019
January is a great time to get away from the cold and enjoy some sun. Travel Zoo offered a great deal through Air Tahiti Nui (310-662-1860, 5901 W. Century Blvd. Suite 1414, Los Angeles, CA 90045)
Leaving out of Austin we flew to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tahiti for three days. The flight left LAX at 10:40 pm and arrived in Papeete, Tahiti the next day at 5:05 am.
This package included a 3 night stay at Hotel Tahiti Nui Resort (Avenue du Prince Hinoi, Pape’ete French Polynesia, +689 40 46 38 99)
From the airport you can take Le Truck bus, $1-2 per trip, which you catch along the roads. Red and White buses travel 5 miles along the west coast. Greenand white buses travel 6 miles along the east side of the island. Orange and white buses travel all the way around the island. It is a distance walk from the terminal to the road, so I recommend a taxi.
While in Appetite, you can catch the west coast buses near the marketplace on Rue du Marechal Foch and the east coast buses from Boulevard Pomare opposite the cruise ship dock. These are inexpensive and a great way to see the island
The beauty of Tahiti are its beaches and surrounding islands. From the bus you can hop and off to differentbeaches around the island. Ask the locals for the nicest beach near you. The water isclear, coral is alive, and the fish are colorful. Most other Americans moved on to surrounding islands.
In Pape’ete don’t miss the market with colorful island crafts, the local bars with musicians jamming while customers danced between the tables. The atmosphere was relaxed and inclusive.
From Tahiti we flew to Auckland, New Zealand. Our nine-day journey began at the Economy Rent-A-Car (Auckland Intl Airport, 5 Airport Dr., Auckland, NZ 2022) The rental location is not really at the airport. You take a shuttle to a small offsite location which is only certain hours. The prices were great, but I was concerned about access if we needed assistance. Fortunately, all was well.
Driving from Auckland south, we traveled through Napier which was just getting ready for its Art Deco festival. If we go back, I would like to see that. The town is very pretty. Continuing south we stayed at Wine Country Motel Havelock North (2 Arataki Road, Havelock North, 4130, New Zealand (Hawk’s Bay), +64 6-877 1107) This was a great motel with an engaged and helpful innkeeper. From here we travelled out each day to explore.
Wineries and vineyards are everywhere, and most have tasting rooms/restaurants. Check in advance for reservation requirements as there were some that were full. Many of the Marlborough wineries have vineyards here and many of these wineries have Marlborough vineyards. Of all the wineries that we visited, I would recommend Craggy Ridge. The winery is lovely, the wines excellent and the views and history very interesting. There is a park lookout above the winery on the cliff that is worth the drive.
From Hawk’s Bay we drove south to Wellington where we caught the Bluebridge Cook Street Ferry. From Wellington to Picton. (50 Waterloo Quay, Wellington)
Departing Wellington at 1:30 pm we arrived in Picton at 5:00 pm. There we stayed at the Scenic Hotel Marlborough (65 Alfred St., Blenheim, 7201, New Zealand, +64 35206187, email@example.com) It is a beautiful winding sailing through history rich Cooks Bay and mussel farms.
This time of year is the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival. What a great way to spend the day, listen to music, see all the local wineries in one place and enjoy wine and food from the region. It is well organized with bus pickups from the downtown area right across the street from our hotel. If you choose to drive, check the laws. At this time the alcohol tolerance is .05 and they have a carpark station at the festival where you must pass a breath alcohol test before being allowed into the carpark area. Those who do not pass are provided a “resting tent” where they can visit and wait.
The farthest south we traveled was Kaikoura where we enjoyed mussels and stopped at the overlook and watched the seals play.
Returning to North island we took the 2:00 pm Ferry at Picton (1 Lagoon Road, Picton) which arrived in Wellington at 5:30 pm.
This time we drove on the west side of the island back to Auckland. It was nice but we enjoyed the east side more. If we had it to do over again, we would fly into Queensland and rent a car to drive to Auckland. The people are friendly; the island is small and geographically diverse, so you see many interesting terrains and plant life. Look for the fern tree! It is fascinating.
The sheep graze openly on the uniquely ridged hills. We were told that this was possible because there are no predators that bit on the islands – no ants that bite, no alligators…
Other destinations that were recommended which we did not make were Nelson (there were fires at the time there), Waiheke Island (they say it is beautiful), sets and locations for the Lord of the Rings( there are several but one major one), the mountain range in South island.
We flew home on Thursday, February 14, 2019, leaving Auckland at 4:55 pm and arriving in Los Angeles the same day at 10:10 am – a double Valentines day!
Things to look for:
Beaches are a must see. The water is so clear and blue. You can see living coral in shallow waters.
Hedgerows every where are tall evergreen living fences that are pretty and very effective.
Throughout the islands are sites for the Lord of the Rings movie sets. We did not attend any of those, but I understand that they are great. In the antique stores you can sometimes find props from the movies.
We love fish markets, antique places, and tasting the foods of the area. We found these in each community we attended. In Auckland try Baduzzi’s.