Just finished my reviews for our trip to the North Island at the end of October 2013.
We arrived Auckland, hired a car and drove to Paihia for 7 days. Then back to Auckland to pick up a campervan to go to Rotorua, Whakatane, Gisborne, Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Waitomo and back to Auckland.
We had a great time but I found it very expensive every time we wanted to do anything or eat anything. Day tours for $200pp seem to be the norm, every museum or site charged a substantial entry fee and it was well over $100 for 2 at any restaurant for a three course meal for 2 including drink.
I just think New Zealand is starting to price itself out of the market. Do others agree or am I just being stingy? It is much, much cheaper in Europe even taking into account the airfare doing the same sort of trip (by that I mean similar level of luxury or not as the case may be).
My trip report is here if you are interested: