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New Zealand & Australia


In 2018, our son decided to study abroad in Melbourne, Australia. I never imagined that four years after traveling to Australia, we would head back there again to visit him! Since we had already been to Australia, we decided that we would spend most of our vacation at a location on our bucket list, New Zealand. As soon as we arrived, I fell in love with the magnificence of New Zealand. The stunning scenery, delicious Pinot Gris wines, and the warmth of all the people made this vacation destination a place to return to, hopefully sooner than later!

My Itinerary

September 3

Fly to O’ahu 

  • Since we needed to have a layover somewhere, we chose Hawaii!

Check into The Royal Hawaiian

Dinner at Duke's 

  • Right next door to the hotel

September 4

Breakfast at Hula Grill

Fly to Auckland

September 5

Arrive in Auckland 

Stay at Jet Park Hotel 

  • We stayed at a hotel right near the airport, since we arrived late and left early the next morning

September 6

Breakfast at Jet Park Hotel 

Back to airport

Fly to Wellington 

Check into Intercontinental

  • A very nice hotel in the center of town

Walk to lunch at Curry Heaven

  • Very good Indian food

Shop a little 

Walk to Te Papa Museum

  • An extremely interesting museum where we learned a lot of New Zealand history

Walk along the waterfront

Have a beer and snack at Charley Noble

  • Fun place 

  • We sat at the bar and chatted with the bartenders. It’s always fun to chat with locals!

Walk to dinner at Nicolini's

  • Cute, small place

  • Food good but not great

  • NZ wine: Mt. Arthur Pinot Gris 

    • I like to take note of wines I like when I travel, so I can see if I can find it back in CA

Stop at crepe stand for dessert 

Back to Intercontinental

September 7

Walk to Cuba Street

Brunch at Fidel’s Cafe

  • Quirky place

  • Great chicken and waffles

  • Long wait, no reservations taken

Walk around city

Chocolate shop 

Go on Hammonds Wellington Tour 

Cool and breezy day

Dinner at Charley Noble

  • Really good food

  • We liked the bar so much that we decided to try their food. We had another great experience!

September 8

Interislander Ferry to Picton

  • 3 ½ hours

  • Beautiful 

  • You will see some of the most beautiful scenery ever! The crystal blue/green water and the lush landscape surrounding it are magical

  • We reserved seating to ensure that we would have comfortable seats inside the boat. However, we did find that there are a lot of seating options even if you don’t reserve ahead

  • I spent most of the journey standing on the deck enjoying the sites

  • Food and drinks are sold on board

Intercity bus to Blenheim

  • 30 minutes 

  • We still enjoyed beautiful scenery while sitting on the comfortable bus

Check into Chateau Marlborough Hotel

  • Great location 

Lunch at Watery Mouth Café

Walk around Blenheim

Dinner at Gramado's Restaurant & Bar

  • Brazilian

  • Very good, wonderful experience

  • Chef/owner great 

  • We did take a taxi there, since it was a little farther out of town. The hotel called the taxi for us and then the restaurant called us one for the way back.  When we were there, Uber didn’t exist there

  • We made a reservation ahead of time

September 9

Breakfast at Chateau Marlborough Hotel

Marlborough Wine Tours

  • All-day, private wine tour

    • Six wineries and a chocolate store

  • Lots of great Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris

    • This is one of the reasons we chose to go to the Marlborough region.  We love white wines!  My husband loves Sauvignon Blanc, and I love Pinot Gris, so it was a win-win for both of us!

  • Really fun day

  • Phil our guide

  • Although it was wonderful having a tour guide to ourselves, it is also fun to meet new people on these tours. About halfway through, we did connect with another group

Dinner at Eat Thai

  • Good Thai food 

  • Restaurant is right in town

September 10

Brunch at Saveur

  • Great bistro

Walk around Blenheim

Bus to Kaikoura

  • 2 hours

  • Pretty seaside

  • It is a little bit of a windy road, and at times narrow, but beautiful!

  • We saw so many sea lions just sunbathing along the seaside

  • The town basically consists of one main road and a few smaller streets surrounding it. This is a magical place where the ocean meets the snow-capped mountains. I have never seen anything like it before!

Check into Kaikoura Gateway Motor Lodge

  • Wonderful manager    

Walk around the little seaside town

Dinner at Zephyr

  • Very good 

  • Since it was off season we didn’t need to make a reservation before we arrived; instead wee made one that day. During prime season, I would recommend making a reservation before you arrive

September 11

Breakfast at Why Not Cafe

  • Good

Whale watching​ with Whale Watch Kaikoura

  • Kaikoura is known for whale watching most of the year. Unfortunately, we were there in the off season, so sightings are harder to come by

  • Since you are on the open sea most of the time, the water can be quite choppy. I highly recommend taking a Dramamine, or other seasickness medicine, ahead of time. If you are sensitive to motion sickness or vertigo, you may want to consider sitting this one out (my husband opted for that option). The boat does provide seasick bags just in case

  • Beautiful excursion, despite only seeing one whale.

Bus to Christchurch

  • 3 hours

  • Beautiful 

Check into The George

  • Nice boutique hotel  **Very nice hotel rooms with heated floors in the bathroom, which was nice since it was cold outside.

Dinner at Fiddlesticks Restaurant & Bar

  • Very good

September 12

Breakfast at Vic’s Cafe

  • Very good

Walk to Botanic Garden

  • Take tour through gardens

  • There is a tour tram on site that you can join once you are there. You just pay for it on board

Christchurch Tram City Tour 

  • Similar to a hop on/off bus. We didn’t get off

  • We rode the tram for the entire loop, which gave us a great overview of Christchurch

Lunch at Amazonita

  • Good

Punting on the Avon River through the Botanic Garden 

  • Similar to a gondola through the Venice canals

Walk through the Botanic Garden 

Dinner at Costas Taverna Greek Restaurant and Ouzo Bar

  • Very good

September 13

Breakfast at The George

Fly to Melbourne 

  • We had been to Melbourne before, so this time we tried to plan different activities

  • Our purpose of going this time was to visit our son who was studying abroad at Monash University

Check into Grand Hyatt Melbourne

  • Very nice hotel 

Dinner at Il Tempo

  • Good pasta/pizza 

  • Made reservations that day

September 14

Breakfast at Hardware Street Cafe

  • Great Belgian waffles and coffee 

  • Small little place along one of the alleyways

Walk through Queen Victoria Market

  • Some art shopping 

  • This is a great open-air market place similar to a swap meet

  • You can find souvenirs, art work, and good food

Lunch at Euro Lane Cafe

  • Laneway cafe near Degraves Street

  • Great little place

Walk to Royal Botanic Gardens 

Dinner at Grill Steak Seafood on Hardwood Lane

  • Very good food 

  • Made reservations that day

September 15

Brunch at RMB Cafe on Degraves Street

  • Good food

  • Sat outside

Go to the Old Melbourne Gaol

  • Old jail house

  • Very fun tour 

  • It was very interesting to see the old jail and learn the history of the criminals who were sent there

Lunch at Roule Galette

  • Crepes

  • Very good small place off Flinders Lane

Walk to see graffiti on Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane

Transport Bar for a beer and get out of the rain

  • Watched rugby

  • We met some very fun locals who were there to watch the big rugby matches

Dinner at The Crafty Squire

  • Pub good food 

  • Very traditional pub fare.  Made reservations that day

  • We had our son and two of his friends with us, and it satisfied everyone’s taste buds

September 16

Breakfast at Grand Hyatt Melbourne

Aussie Brewery Tour

  • 1st stop Napoleone Brewery and Cider House (find Jedi Juice IPA)

  • 2nd stop Hargreaves Hill

    • More tasting and good lunch 

  • 3rd stop Blueberry Winery

    • Blueberry wine and cider 

  • 4th stop Coldstream Brewery 

  • Tasted over 20 beers and ciders 

  • Exhausted!

  • Paul was our guide

  • We booked an all-day beer and cider tasting tour for us, our son, and his friends. It was a full bus load of very fun people from many different places. We had a lot to taste/drink and it was a great activity to do with three 20-year-old boys!

Ordered room service for dinner and stayed in

September 17

Brunch at Roule Galette again

  • Yummy crepes

  • It was so good we went back again!

ACMI Museum

  • Wonderland exhibit

    • Very interesting

    • *This was a temporary exhibit.. It was fun to experience Alice in Wonderland

Coffee and cupcake at Little Cupcakes on Degraves Street

Take train to Monash University to see our son

  • Walk around campus and visit a little

Back to the city

Dinner at Pastuso in AC/DC Lane

  • Very good Peruvian food

  • Best dinner in Melbourne

  • This was a fabulous find! We had walked by it on a different day and decided to make a reservation for our last night

September 18

Fly to Auckland 

  • Since our tickets were roundtrip from New Zealand, we saved Auckland for the end. This had  been recommended to us, since it is easier to get flights back to the US from here

Check into Hilton Auckland

  • Right on the water  

  • The hotel was nice, but, since it is right on the water, when the harbor boats are doing construction on the wharf overnight, it can be a little noisy

    • I don’t think I would stay here again.

Dinner at Soul Bar & Bistro

  • Very good

Our son came to meet us here for a few days

September 19

Quick bite at a small café near the ferry

Our son and his friend met us for our excursion today

Take ferry to Waiheke Island

Lunch at The Boathouse (permanently closed)

  • Really good

Wine tasting at a couple places

Ferry back

Dinner at Oyster & Chop

  • Good steaks

September 20

Last day in New Zealand

Breakfast at Hilton Auckland

Hop-on Hop-off bus in Auckland

  • See city

Go to Auckland Zoo

  • Lots of fun animals

Take ferry to Devonport Village 

  • A great day trip that you can do in a few hours

  • Walk up to Mt. Victoria lookout

    • 360-degree views of city and spectacular sunset 

  • Dinner at Buona Sera

    • Great Italian

    • We didn’t have a reservation, but it wouldn’t hurt to make one ahead of time

Go to airport

Fly to Hawaii at 11:55 PM

  • Longest day ever!

Arrive in Honolulu at 10:45 AM

Check into The Royal Hawaiian 

  • Again, we broke up the extremely long travel with a stop over in Hawaii!

Dinner at Duke's 

  • Right next door to the hotel

  • It was good the first time, so we went back. Also, it is very convenient

September 21

Fly home but had almost 2-hour delay 

Finally home at 2 AM!

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