Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Baldry's Best & Worst of New Zealand

After reviewing our blog posts over the last few months and stapling our kids to the table for 15 minutes, here are our votes for the best things we've experienced in New Zealand.

Best Places To Visit

  1. Queenstown. Hands down winner! An attractive town in a stunning setting. There are tons of great activities to do in and around town and a whole slew of excellent restaurant and bars where you can relive your adventures of the day. Invest in the flight across the Southern Alps to Milford Sound. It's worth it.
  2. Wellington. A very hip and cool city with a good dose of culture, several great bar scenes and some fantastic restaurants.
  3. Taupo. Adventure capital of the North Island, although a mere shadow of Queenstown. Great trout fishing and water activities.
Dishonorable mention: Wanganui, Rotorua

Best Activities

  1. Skyline Luge, Rotorua. Popular vote from the kids. What better way to spend a school day afternoon than careening down a mountain at 60km/hr in a sled on wheels.
  2. Shotover Jet, Queenstown. Awesome jetboating activity through the gorges of the Shotover River. Look for the red boat.
  3. Splash Planet, Hastings. Not a particularly great water park, but was definitely at the right place at the right time.
Dishonorable mention: Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, Auckland,  Sharika Farm, Hawke's Bay

Best Beach

  1. Waimarama Beach, Hawke's Bay. The nicest beach we have ever seen. Far enough away from the nearest town (45 minutes from Havelock North) to be unspoilt. So beautiful it could be on the set of a movie. Everyone enjoyed the surf.
  2. Opunake Beach, Taranaki. Quiet black sand surf beach off the Surf Highway framed by volcanic cliffs on either side. There was more heat coming from the black sand than from the sun.
  3. Porangahau Beach, Hawke's Bay. Great setting for a late fall stroll. Completely deserted.
Best Hotel

  1. Lakeridge Condos, Queenstown. A 10 minute hike up the hill out of town, but with great views over the lake and super-luxurious.
  2. Alpine Springs Motel, Hanmer Springs. With the Southern Alps as a backdrop, the sunset over the golf course was spectacular. Very luxurious and a 6 minute walk from the hot pools.
  3. The Claremont, Martinborough. Spacious and luxurious although a little out of the way.
Dishonorable Mention: Southern Comfort Motel, Christchurch.

Best Restaurant

Mackenzie digging into a Fergburger
  1. Flame Restaurant, Queenstown. The clear winner for the incredible ribs.
  2. Fergburger, Queenstown. Heavenly gigantic custom made burgers according to your exact specifications. Apparently repeat visitors make a specific pilgrimage back to this place.
  3. Izakaya Yatai, Palmerston North. Our local favorite. Atypical Japanese restaurant within walking distance from our house. We've been 6 times and will spend our last evening in New Zealand here.
Honorable Mention: Oh Calcutta, Parnell, Auckland, Istana Malaysia, Wellington
Dishonorable Mention: Every single Italian restaurant we tried, The Garlic Press, New Plymouth.

So that's the best and worst we've experienced in New Zealand among a very long list of activities, hotels and restaurants.

It was fun to reminisce about the places we've visited, but we're all starting to feel a little nervous about leaving in 10 days time. I think we all share the same feeling of excited anticipation at adventures to come and our Montreal homecoming, but are introspective about the journey's end.

Next Post: How to Visit New Zealand

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