You then continue south to Wellington via the wine growing regions around Napier and Martinborough.The South Island begins with some relaxing time in the stunningly beautiful Marlborough Sounds before heading down the east coast to Kaikoura (where you can join a whale or dolphin spotting excursion) and Christchurch.The 45kms - The cute little village of Puhoi is just one kilometre off the main highway.
The 23m falls are more than worth a look and they are right next to the road.Plus there is an easy bush walk to the base of the falls.The problem is this city has so much to offer you may have trouble making choices.Buy a day ticket on the hop-on hop-off bus which makes stops at most of Auckland's attractions - you can choose to get off and catch a later bus, or continue to the next stop.The next community is Waiwera, famous for their pure bottled water as well as the hot-pools.200m up this hill you will see a sign for Wenderholm Regional Park. The road will take you down to the beach, which is well worth the small detour.
The park has a wonderful grove of Pohutakawa trees, a native with bright red flowers.It may be a little early to stop at the historic pub, but if you drive a further 3kms down this side road there is an excellent café at the cheese making factory called the Art of Cheese, where you can also see the cheese makers at work.The service and cheese platters are excellent here and there is a large selection of specialty cheeses for sale. 69kms – Ransom Winery (look for the turnoff left, just after the Honey Centre) has a casual restaurant with excellent platters of locally grown and produced gourmet nibbles.My recommendations for dinner are the seafood restaurant Harbourside back in the Ferry Building, or wander along to the Princes Wharf where you'll find several more waterside eateries.Head north over the Harbour Bridge on SH1 for 30 kilometres and take the 398 Exit to Silverdale (soon after the BP Service Station) and follow the ‘Free Route’ (and not the Toll Road) through Orewa.The only way to appreciate this aquatic playground is from the water and there are a daunting array of companies willing to take you there.