PureNZ the website to go with the advert...
I went for 6 weeks in 2001 (NZ only as my mums family are all aussies now so I've been many many times) and loved every second of it. Am going to go back once I get myself sorted here.
I can't remember all of what I did so I'll just say - if you see any adverts for any of the following playing live, cancel anything else you had planned and go and see them (these are all just off the top of my head, I could think about it and make a definitive list but we'd be here all night) -
David Kilgour/The Clean
Chris Knox/Tall Dwarfs
But especially Fang. Go see Fang.
Umm the Kings Arms in Auckland is lovely - it claims to be a pub but ha! you won't ever see a pub that nice over here! It's more of a ski lodge. But in central Auckland... great live music, nice atmosphere, pool table, garden & BBQ. What more could you want? Have I said you should see Fang yet? They're very good. Other venues I can think of - Fu Bar (Why is it pitch black in there?? WHY? One of the presenters of The Wire said he fell down some stairs in a central auckland nightclub and nearly broke his ankle. I reckon it was probably Fu... what with the lack of lighting, all those smoke machines and the strategically placed stairs. Nice place though. ), Rakinos, Temple (is it moving? I think its moving...), Galatos erm... oh and the St James. There are many more of course - these are just the ones i can think of.
I liked Dunedin lots. The Otago Penninsulas really cool. Elm Wildlife tours are great, they're run out of Elm Lodge backpackers place.
Which brings me onto the BBH card. get one. It's fantastic. Much better than YHA in NZ as there are more places that take BBH cards than YHA's and its a phonecard too. There was a website around here for it somewhere.... ah yes, here it is - http://www.backpack.co.nz I arranged my trip over there the other year 4 days before I was due to take off and they got my card to me in the UK from NZ in about 2 days! I was mighty impressed. The Brown Kiwi in Auckland is a lovely place to stay - its on the link bus route, theres the post office & several banks round the corner, a supermarket down the hill & a street full of cafes/bars next to it. It's also only $8 to the Kings Arms by taxi (or about 15 minutes walk when you're drunk & $2 short of the cab fare to the top end of Ponsonby road) and $5 to Queen Street (I suppose these may have gone up since i was there, but still, rough idea eh...).
Umm... I thought Te Papa was brilliant. The Arc cafe in Dunedin does fantabulous coffee and has free internet. The Clean have been known to play there as well...
Oh I got a rail pass thing to travel round - you buy a set number of points and then use the points on the trains/buses/ferries and if you buy the right thing planes to travel round the country. I'm not sure if they still do them. If you have a rough idea of where you want to go then its a good thing, possibly not so great if you're just gonna turn up and decide whenever - you might end up spending all that money on one of them only to find you like it too much in one place. It was one of these - http://www.bestpass.co.nz/ . I viewed it that it was good to get that all paid for and out of the way than to have to keep some money aside to get around the country once I'm there, and I did manage to use all of the points.
I can't think of anything else that would be useful at the moment - apart from locations of music shops
GO! Go now! It's brilliant. Chances are you won't want to leave either.
PS: You should all check out Fang. They're excellent...