I visited New Zealand by accident on my round the world trip in 2003. By accident? Well, I was supposed to be in Hong Kong and Singapore, but SARS got in the way - and my company told me that I wouldn't be allowed back to work if I visited a SARS country - So I diverted to New Zealand for four days.
When the Immigration officer asked be how long I was staying in New Zealand for, and I said four days - you could tell that she didn't quite believe me. I explained that that I was supposed to be in Hong Kong but SARS had ruled that out. Her response was "well, you're not going to see much are you?" I was going to say that she should work for the Tourist Authority, but I just smiled instead.
I spent a day in and a night in Christchurch at the Windsor Hotel, and then flew on to Auckland for the rest of the time. Looking back on this, I wish I'd spent more time in Christchurch - but at least I did make it out of Auckland to Rotorua where there is a lot of activity - geo-thermal activity! There is huge area of bubbling water, mud, and smelly chemicals! As soon as I stepped off the bus I could smell the Sulphur. Wai-O-Tapu is home to the Lady Knox Geyser that is kicked into action with a few kilos of soap (yes, soap) each day at 10:15! They don't have to do that in Iceland.
I must admit, I really didn't get on with Auckland at all - although I did go up "one tree hill" to get some great views. You can see both the east and west coasts of the country up there!
If you are in Auckland, and you fancy some good Italian food then try Sottotono.
The Auckland Tourist Board will book any excursions you want to take, and they don't seem to charge you for this service.
I spent another couple of days in New Zealand on my round the world trip in 2007. This time I spent a bit more time on the south island, and got to see a number of places where Lord of the Rings was filmed. I made it out to where Edoras was built, and the amazing thing is that it's just like in the movie! No CGI was required!
I also made it out to Kaikoura to do a spot of whale spotting.