Ten Months of Travel: Summary and Review Part two

edited new zealand

Throughout my travels people had hyped up the South island so much I was actually scared that I would be disappointed. I’m glad to say that the South island actually took my breath away at every spot that I visited. The landscape is so diverse and untouched that it sometimes seemed too beautiful to be true!

 

We woke up early in the morning to catch the ferry to the South Island. For some reason the Kiwi experience lot dropped us off far too early and we spent hours waiting in the ferry terminal. By now I had developed an addiction to New Zealand chocolate and could easily devour a large bar of Whittakers in a day…

The ferry was really comfortable with affordable food so I decided to treat myself to even more treats. Unfortunately the weather was quite bad so the upstairs deck was closed. The ferry passes through the beautiful Queen Charlotte sound and our guide said that you can sometimes see dolphins and even whales!

Kaiteriteri

One of the most beautiful sounds in the world is ‘Kaiteriteri’ said in a Kiwi accent! We only spent one night in this beautiful place, I could have easily spent a week there. The beach was absolutely beautiful and apparently the weather here is beautiful all year round!

 

 

Westport

The drive to Westport was absolutely beautiful and I was starting to believe the hype of the South island.

In the evening we went on a little trek along the coast and spent the night around a campfire on the beach. Another beautiful experience that made me glad that I chose to explore this beautiful country with the Kiwi Experience.

 

Lake Mahinapua

The drive to Lake Mahnipua was along the coast and the scenery really blew me away. The scenery seemed to be getting better and better the more South we headed! Our guide said that most of this part of New Zealand hasn’t changed since the Jurassic period. There was something so uplifting about seeing scenery untouched by man.

Lake Mahnipua was a peculiar stop. There used to be a quirky old guy who worked at the pub near the lake who was quite a personality but he had recently passed away. We had a fancy dress night where people bought outfits from the local town. I decided not to spend $ on my fancy dress outfit so simply bought a sailor hat and wore a stripy top…

Before the party we had a delicious meal together of steak. I preferred staying in small hostels in New Zealand because we felt like more of a group. In the evening everyone had a great laugh and some of the outfits were amazing considering the limited time we had to plan them!

People said that the lake was beautiful too but I forfeited a walk on the lake for a well needed nap…

 

 

Franz Josef

I opened my mouth in awe as the big green bus headed towards magnificent snow capped mountains and shiny white glaciers. The small village of Franz Josef was sophisticated with the most beautiful views of the imposing mountains and kettle lakes.

My time in Franz Josef was action packed, I hiked on the vast glacier one day and Kayaked on a beautiful reflective kettle lake the next. I felt like a great explorer in Franz!

One evening we even went in search of glow-worms along a dark path. It was a lot cheaper than paying $40 to see some captive ones in a cave in Waitomo!

 

 

 

 

Wanaka

Wanaka, oh Wanaka. Every day in New Zealand I would see the most beautiful scenery in the world. I don’t think anything can beat the view from the beach in Wanaka. Lush green mountains, beautifully blue lake Wanaka and views of snow capped mountains in the distance all topped off with a quirky tree in the lake!

Wanaka is seriously beautiful but I found the actual town to be quite boring.

It was a friends birthday so we enjoyed an Indian and a few beers in a local restaurant and had an early night in anticipation for the early ride to Queenstown.

 

 

Queenstown

Queenstown is probably the liveliest place in New Zealand’s South Island. The whole town has a really cool chilled out vibe, there’s loads of restaurants serving most types of food and it has an amazing nightlife!

My time in Queenstown was spent on a bar crawl , eating numerous types of burgers from the amazing ‘Fergburger’, shopping and(Where we visited an Ice bar!) checking out the beautiful scenery around the lake.

I decided to Bungy jump in Queenstown and two of my friends even did a tandem jump!

 

 

 

 

Milford Sound

Prior to this trip I’d heard that Milford sound was supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth so I booked an excursion to go on a cruise there with high expectations.

Milford sound was beautiful, not as beautiful as other places that I’d seen in New Zealand though. The boat tour felt very touristy and although enjoyable was not a highlight of the trip.

 

 

Christchurch

On the way to Christchurch we stopped off at lake Tekapo, a lake that could rival lake Wanaka for it’s beauty! It’s the most beautiful turquoise blue colour and we visited a little chapel that overlooked the lake, apparently its booked up years in advance, and I could see why!

I was a little bit apprehensive about visiting Christchurch because of the earthquakes that devastated the city a few years back.

I found Christchurch to be a city of opposites. In one way it was a city of devastation, it was creepy to walk around at night because the streets were empty. It has little to no nightlife and you can feel sadness when you walk around this once great city.

On the other hand it’s a city of hope. In the day the streets are full of families enjoying street performances or bites to eat in the quirky refurbished centre which is now the Re:start mall where the shops and restaurants are housed in brightly coloured shipping containers!

Christchurch was where I said goodbye to all of my Kiwi experience friends. Everyday we said goodbye to someone until I was the last one left.

 

 

 

 

New Brighton

Due to unexpected circumstances (That I will talk about in a future blog post!) I spent my last few days in the normal working class seaside town of New Brighton. It’s not really a place that attracts travellers, more people on a working holiday visa.

It was nice to spend the last few days of my trip on the beach though. Before I knew it I was on a plane that would take me to Dubai for a night and then back home to spend Christmas at home with my family and friends.

So this concludes the monthly roundup of my big trip! Have you ever travelled with the Kiwi Experience gang? If so what did you think? How did the North Island compare to the South Island? Did you love Milford sound more than me? 

Please ask me any questions you like!

 

Ten Months of Travel: Summary and Review, Part One

north island

My tenth and final month of travel was spent in beautiful New Zealand. After feeling thoroughly underwhelmed by Australia, a country I had initially dreamed of emigrating to I had no idea what to expect of Australia’s quiet neighbor. I had nothing to worry about, I soon fell in love with the natural beauty and laid back lifestyle. The food was amazing and the people were genuinely friendly with a similar sense of humour as the British.

It was just what I needed.

The first week was spent visiting family who I had never actually met before! Initially I was nervous about sopending time with someone who I’ve never met before but after a week I didn’t want to leave. My Dad’s cousin was absolutely lovely and made me feel very welcome. I also got all of the inside gossip about what New Zealand is REALLY like!

 

 

The beautiful Coromandel

I went for a weekend away to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsular with my cousin’s workmates, (Who were all midwives…). Apart from hearing far too many gory stories about childbirth I had an amazing weekend. I visited a winery and vineyard, saw a pod of killer whales just ten metres from the beach and even got a proposal from a Kiwi boy who didn’t want me to leave New Zealand!

Was it a sign? Am I meant to live in New Zealand?

coromandel cheeseandwine

Look at that beautiful food and wine!

I discovered that the world is a very small place when an acquaintance messaged me on Facebook to tell me that her best friend was in New Zealand, alone and wanted someone to travel with! Could the timing have been any more perfect?! Her best friend actually went the same school as me and it was so nice to travel with someone with the same accent, who knew the same people and places that I grew up with.

My initial plan was to rent a car and drive across New Zealand, my friend Ashley had actually booked to travel on the Kiwi Experience bus, a sort of semi organised tour. I decided to join her and had a very easy, fast paced month of travel where I met some amazing people and did many things that I would only do once in my life!

 

All aboard the Kiwi bus! I’m rocking head to toe grey…

The first stop on the Kiwi Experience bus was the Bay of Islands in the North. Most people stayed here for a few days but we decided to stay just one night. I enjoyed getting to know other travellers on the Kiwi experience bus and took a ferry to the cutest little island Russell where I saw a manta ray in the clear blue waters of the marina!

kiwi

Auckland tower

The next stop was Auckland, I stayed there in the suburbs for the week I spent with my family but I never actually had chance to explore the actual city. My friend took a few of us on a whistle stop tour of the city and I ate one of the most delicious burgers of my life.

We travelled up to the Coromandel Peninsular to the amazing hot water beach, it really does have to be seen to be believed, like many of the crazy geo-thermal wonders of New Zealand. We dug our own hot spa on the beach, such a surreal experience.

hotwater

Helping to dig the thermal spa on hot water beach!

In Waitomo I got to see glow worms! It’s hard to believe that the actual ‘glowing’ part of the worm is it’s faeces! As we travelled down the country to Rotorua we visited the amazing Hobbiton. I’m a big Lord Of the Rings and The Hobbit fan so I was in my element posing near the cute Hobbit Houses. I really was in my element!

hobbiton

 

Rotorura is a small town that smells like eggs because of geothermal activity. Right next to the hostel that we were staying at there were bubbling pools of mud and water that were only surrounded by fences the year before. The Te Puia geothermal reserve was where I saw a geyser erupt and ate an egg that was cooked in a geothermal pool.

egg tepuia

Te Puia

Then we travelled to Taupo, a place I was dying to go to and secretly dreading because I would have to jump out of a plane at 12,000 feet. Luckily I didn’t wimp out and skydiving was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Even to this day I still can’t believe that I had the guts to willingly jump out of a plane! In the evening I went on a relaxing cruise on Lake Taupo and wore my skydiving T shirt with pride! I wanted to hike the Tongariro crossing but unfortunately it was closed due to bad weather. I was still buzzing after skydiving so I had a well needed chill day in the hostel.

 

boat

Feeling on top of the world after jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet!

River Valley was a peculiar stop. It’s not really on the tourist trail and it’s basically a lodge in a secluded location. Most people went white water rafting but I used the time wisely and had a nap. I was finding this fast paced travel really enjoyable but also really hard. I was used to travelling at my own pace and staying in each place for a minimum of 3 days, here I was lucky if we stayed somewhere for 24 hours! It was good not having to book or research anything and to have a ready made group of friends for a month!

My last stop on the North island was the surprising little city of Wellington. It lived up to it’s name of ‘Windy Wellington’ but was a charming and beautiful little city. One day we took the cable car to the  botanic gardens at the top of the hill which had fantastic views of the Sea and the city. I also had a much needed Chinese massage for only $20. It’s a place where I could see myself living in the future.

wellington

Have you ever travelled to New Zealand? If so did you find it very different to Australia? Have you ever travelled on the Kiwi Experience bus?