Went to the North Island of New Zealand a few years ago. Loved Auckland. Headed to Rotorua for the thermal springs. Very intersting and unique. Our favorite though was to head farther north to the Bay of Islands. Wow. Beautiful beaches, very serene and peaceful. Not alot of tourists. We went on a dolphin trip where we went by boat and spotted dolphin groups. When they were spotted, a few people at a time would enter the water and enjoy them. (were told the dolphins like to interact with children!). We rented a small home in a remote beach town.
I moved to New Zealand in Jan 07 and am having a grand 'ole time. I've done a lot of stuff in New Zealand but mostly south of Auckland. I went to the Bay of Islands as well but unfortunately I was very unlucky with the weather. A cyclone was passing at the time. However, I had a really nice stay in the town of Russell, which is one of the first European settlements in New Zealand, went to the museum there and was absolutely fascinated by the history of that area. I'm planning to go back as soon as I can because even with the bad weather it looked amazing. I would also recommend one of the beach facing rooms at the Hananui Lodge.
sounds good! New Zealand is defnitely on my schedule for travelling. And reading the stories here gives me an idea of how to approach New Zealand. The weather is defninitely a challenge but the landscape is worth it.