Universal Studios

Universal Studios is probably one of the best-known theme parks in the world due to it representing the almost countless achievements of Universal Studios as a production company. This park is worth visiting not just for the thrill rides but for the behind the scenes studio tour (the highlight of the park in my opinion). In addition to the thrill rides and studio tour, the park has a fantastic amount of movie/television themed atmosphere, along with highly engaging and informative stage shows and educational performances showing how movie magic happens. The studio is located in Hollywood of course and is an institution in both the city and film history. As stated, the behind the scenes tour is the highlight of the park, so I suggest prioritizing that over all other attractions. On this tour, you will pass through filming studios working on shows currently in production before heading into the sets used in numerous blockbuster hits. Some of the most famous sets of all time are located in this studio, such as the city block seen in numerous films including Bruce Almighty, the crashed plane from Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, the flooding subway set during an earthquake used in numerous films, famous cowboy and western sets, the town from Jaws, the town from The Good Place, Bate’s Motel, amongst countless others. Along the way, you will get to see numerous special effects in action such as flooding, pyrotechnics, earthquakes and more. This tour also includes 3D immersive rides such as King Kong and Fast and Furious. The second best attraction after this tour would be the studio’s Water World stage show which is honestly amazing. A team of actors with speedboats, jet-skis, high-pressure water cannons and some fantastic pyrotechnics and fake guns put on an incredible action-packed show full of stunts, fight scenes and explosions. The studios created themed world sections of the park such as Harry Potter World, The Simpsons World, Jurrasic Park World etc are also well worth seeing. The amount of detail in Harry Potter and The Simpsons worlds is extremely impressive and if you are a fan of the show/movies then its a must see. Finally, the rides at the park are a lot of fun, particularly in my opinion the Harry Potter 3D rollercoaster and the Mummy. Also worth visiting is the Walking Dead zombie walk, if you are a fan of haunted houses you will enjoy this. Make sure to stay late enough in the day to witness the Harry Potter Hogwarts light show as it is well worth waiting for and a great way to end your day in the park.

 

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Auckland

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and as such offers a wide variety of activities and attractions, restaurants, shops, bars and clubs and galleries and museums. The city itself has a fantastic vibe to it, being the largest city in the country but still relatively small by global standards. Like any city, it has a central hub, filled with backpacking lodges, hotels, restaurants and bars, which is also located a short walk to Auckland’s famous harbor. The city is known as the city of sails and has a large emphasis on its harbor. Auckland inner city nightlife has a fantastic energy, and a diverse spectrum of people. On a night out in the city, I began the evening drinking in the park as the sun went down with my South African friend, we were then joined by a French backpacker at our first pub, followed by two UAE guys, then two Germans and finally a middle aged Kiwi woman, who we spent the remainder of the evening pubcrawling with.

 

 

Kelly Tarlton’s

Kelly Tarlton’s is an Antarctic Centre/Aquarium located underground, just outside of Auckland city center. As a child, this was one of my favourite places and having returned as an adult, I can honestly say that I still loved it. Having been to several aquariums in sveral countries, this one is still one of my favourites. The easiest way to visit the aquarium if you do not have a car is to take the free private shuttle, which runs from in front of the city docks straight to the center and back throughout the day.

https://www.kellytarltons.co.nz/

 

Auckland Art Gallery

Auckland Art Gallery isn’t quite as large as those in other major cities, but has some great pieces and the building itself is a work of art. The gallery has a fantastic collection of early settler Maori portraits, which will give you a unique insight into Maori dress and culture prior to European arrival.

http://www.aucklandartgallery.com/

 

Sky Tower

Sky Tower is one of Auckland and New Zealand’s most iconic attractions. The building itself towers over the city skyline. At the base, there is decently sized casino with several bars. Near the top of the tower is the sky deck, which gives a fantastic 360 degree view of the city. Located at the very top of the tower is the sky walk and sky jump (bungee jumping) platform.

https://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/attractions/sky-tower/

Queenstown

Queenstown is in many ways, New Zealand’s number one tourist destination. The town is located between picturesque mountain ranges and a stunning lakefront with crystal clear water. The town is the capital of everything adventure, from sky-diving to bungy jumping, luging, paragliding, water skiing, BMX racing, you name it, it has it. In addition to outdoor activities, the town has some of the best food in New Zealand, with everything from gourmet burgers to fine dining. If you’re ever in town, make a point of it to visit Fergburger for one of the best burgers you will have in your life, but make sure to beat the lines for dinner and lunch or wait up to an hour to eat. If you want to fully enjoy the scenery, then either hike or take the gondola up to the Skyline building above the city. From this building, you will get an amazing view of the city in almost all directions. Also located in the Skyline are amazing jellybean pictures, including one of Frodo from LOTR. If Lord of the Rings is your thing, then make sure to head to the movie themed jewelry store located in the center of town. At night the city is full of fantastic bars and clubs, packed with people from around the world, if you’re looking to meet people then I recommend doing one of the pub crawls hosted by the numerous backpacking lodges in the city. For accommodation purposes, I would recommend using Nomads as it is an amazing hostel, affordable, friendly, clean and located right in the city center. For other evening activities, remember that drinking in public is legal in New Zealand and join countless others for a drink on the lakefront as the sun goes down, which is around 10pm in summer. If you’re interested in thrill rides or arcades, then make sure to visit the 4D interactive cinema called Dark Ride, it’s a great experience. For breakfast,I highly, HIGHLY recommend visiting Bob’s Weigh, for a meal that you will struggle to finish, but force yourself to, because it’s so damn good. Also when out at night, keep an eye out for the famous balloon man, who is always out at local pubs in the town making balloon animals until all hours of the night while intoxicated.

http://www.fergburger.com/fullscreen.html

http://www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/

http://darkridequeenstown.co.nz/

 

Nearby Attractions

Not far from Queenstown are numerous river filled gorges and valleys. Many of these rivers have begun to be used by tourism companies to run speed/jet boating tours. If you are able to, make sure to give this a try, it is absolutely awesome. Even if you aren’t the biggest thrill seeker, at least try this. I recommend using Skippers Canyon Jet Boating if you are on a budget, but if you have more to spend, then use Shotover Jet. The scenery in the surrounding areas is worth seeing, even if just driving through the area on the way to another destination. If you have a few free hours, make your way to Arrowtown, this small historic town is absolutely stunning. Once an old mining town, it houses an historic Chinese mountain village and is home to a ridiculous number of beautiful trees.

http://www.skipperscanyonjet.co.nz/

http://www.shotoverjet.com