Does anyone have any recommendations on good travel guides for travel in New Zealand? I'm in the very preliminary stages of research and planning and I'd love recs on good books to start looking at.
We've had good luck with the Eyewitness Travel Guides from DK Publishing - just like their format and presentation better than the others we've tried. Am using one now to plan our own trip to NZ next Feb/Mar. Can find used copies on Amazon for just a few dollars if you don't necessarily want to spend full price for the newest version.
You could also check your local library for other resources (Frommers, Fodors, Lonely Planet, etc) to see which one might most appeal to you before committing to a purchase.
I used two books when planning my trip to NZ - Lonely Planet NZ and the AAA spiral guide to NZ. Both were helpful. I'm not sure the AAA still publishes those guides so there may not be a current one. I do recommend the Lonely Planet guide. I also made good use of the NZ tourism website, I found it most helpful.
We also found both Fodors and Eyewitness to be very helpful for our NZ trip. The NZ tourism website was also very good. http://www.newzealand.com/us/
I just returned from Australia and NZ and I used the DK Eyewitness guidebooks. Another very useful tool is TripAdvisor. They have suggested short itineraries for many locations from travelers. the forum is a wealth of local knowledge. I read a lot about the roads in NZ and how tough it is to drive there. They were right. Narrow roads with lots of twists and turns and too much scenery for the driver to look at! It takes all of your concentration when driving. The speeds are a lot slower as well so expect to take much longer to get from point A to point B. I'm happy to help if you have any questions.
For off the beaten path places in NZ, check this out. Download the free sample chapter for a preview.
Disclaimer: Not associated with the publisher, just a satisfied customer.
Rough Guide to New Zealand had good coverage of the North and South Island, as well as smaller islands like Stewart. I also like that they included lodging recommendations in many price points - from high end to hostel. I always say check out what the local library has - even if it's a few years old - just to see which type of guide format you prefer before you actually go buy one.
I got the most help from the TripAdvisor New Zealand forum---they are very helpful. Our trip was in January 2015 and included the South Island only, as we focused on hiking. I highly recommend the Milford Track--we did the guided walk and it was the highlight of our trip.
Just make sure you try seeing the Moreiki Boulders north of Dunedin on the South Island and also check ahead of time to see if the Cadbury Chocolate Factory still gives tours, it's a hoot! The day train tour out of Dunedin is fun too. You must bungy jump off the Kawara bridge in Queenstown. It's isn't the tallest but it is the original. If you are on your own try going to an RSA ( Returned Serviceman's Ass'n) they love American's and serve good food and drinks. We played bingo there (most towns have one) and the prizes were meat cuts! Handy since we were renting a camper van. Try the Trans-Alpine Express from Christchurch to Greymouth (beautiful scenery) then take a bus to Hokatika. Lots of fun there to shop for their Greenstone, NZ jade. Check to see if there is a music festival on the North Island in the Bay of Islands area. One year it is country music and the next Jazz. You can't beat the scenery and quaint towns.