Travel - New Zealand

  • Hey guys, I'm currently back travelling and I generally try to keep a blog just to remember things after. I've decided, this time I'll put the blog online to see if people like it and find it helpful. I'm thinking of doing a new topic per country.

    So let me know what you think of them and where you think I should improve.

    Also I think it'd be fun if you picked out certain words I use too much and i'll try and impose a ban on those words. I want to do this just so I can improve how I write.

    I'm posting all my photos to flickr too. -

    I'd like to add them to the posts but I'm not sure how to size them so I'll probably leave them out for the time being. Anyway, on with the blog.

  • Queenstown to Te Anau

    I arrived from Sydney at 11:15am. Even before the plane landed, I knew I’d love it here. As soon as New Zealand is visible, you are surrounded by snowy mountains peaks. It looks absolutely incredible.

    The airport in Queenstown is pretty small so don’t expect much. I already had a car booked with Juicy rentals ($500 NZ). I’d highly recommend getting a car instead of using the bus. Just with the way the roads are structured here, it’s a lot easier and it seems cheaper too.

    Also I picked up a sim card since I’m here for 2 weeks which cost $50 NZ.

    Anyway, the journey to Te Anau was roughly 2 hours long. I was struck by how barren New Zealand is. When you’re out on the road, it’s mostly nature. Every so often you’ll pass through a ‘town’ which will have a few houses and shops/cafes at best.

    It took me about 2 hours to get to Te Anau. I checked in to my hostel, YHA Hostel. Really solid hostel. It has a pretty cool lobby, huge kitchen, the wifi is good and the beds are comfy. All you can ask for really in a hostel. 2 nights for a bed in a 3 bed dorm was $60 NZ.

    Te Anau itself, like everywhere else I’ve seen is very small town wise. Most places seem to be closed for winter here but there are still a few bars/cafes and supermarkets so you’ll still be able to get everything you need, just don’t expect a huge choice. Just to give an example on the size of the place, the local cinema only has 2 movie showings per day. :D

    So since I didn’t have much time, I just decided to go for a walk around Te Anau itself. I went towards the lake and followed it north east until I reached the beginning of the river and walked back into the town centre. It’s a lovely walk. If you like stony beaches and mountains in the distance, you’re all set. Took roughly 2 hours to get back into the town.

    After that I went to a place pretty near my hostel (I’ll need to remember the name) and got a huge meal. I’d barely eaten all day, so I needed it. It’s basically really good bar food. They have a mix of relatively expensive meals and value meals so it suits everyone really.

    And that was most of my first day. Other than that I just planned a little of what I was going to do the following day and chatted with some of the other travellers in the hostel.

  • Trip to Milford Sound

    First task of the day, turn on the car heaters. It’s pretty damn cold here this time of year… hence the snowy mountains. Once I’d sorted that out, straight to the supermarket and bought some things to eat for now and later.

    It was still very cold once I’d got on the road so it took me a little longer to get to Milford Sound as it was a little icy in parts. The views along the way were incredible. Huge lakes, more mountains, acres of fields, banks, rivers etc.. has it all really. There is even a huge 17km stretch of mountains full of snow and no stopping due to avalanche warnings. It was really cool. There’s a really creepy tunnel about halfway through. Creepy in a good way, it feels like a shelter from something.

    So I hadn’t done a huge amount of preparation for Milford Sound (hopefully this helps someone else) but things worked out really well. Basically the main thing to do while you are out there is go on a cruise. It so happened Juicy (the company I rented the car from) are pretty big around here and have their own cruise. It so happened that the boat was down for repairs so they put me on the southern discoveries boat for half the price ($35 NZ) so I was delighted with that.

    The cruise takes about 1 hour 45 mins. Unsurprisingly it’s a beautiful area. You’ll come across lots of beautiful scenery in mountains and waterfalls along with some wildlife like penguins and seals too at least. Overall I really enjoyed it and got a lot of nice pictures

    Once that was complete I got back on the road. Before I got on the cruise I picked up a map which pointed out the main stop off points between Milford and Te Anau. It’s worth stopping off on as many as you can but the definite highlight for me was Lake Marion. It takes 3 hours return to do the trek to the lake and it’s a pretty tough trek, even more so as the conditions are icy. There were times I was wondering if i was on a completely different trek but I kept on following the orange markings, determined to find this lake. By the way, you will need decent trekking clothes for this. Proper shoes and a pants and jacket at least.

    Finally I got to Lake Marion and it was really cool. It was completely covered in Ice and surrounded by mountains. The sun was pelting down so it was actually really bright, reflecting off the snow and ice. After taking so long to get here, I decided to take a little rest. Three people who I’d past earlier made it too and got much closer to the lake, I was a little concerned if something gave way, as it the ice was clearly melting in parts. The other awesome thing was you’d hear a loud bang ever so often and you could see a mini avalanche coming down the mountains. I loved that.

    Another cool spot I stopped at was Mirror lakes. As the name suggests, it’s like a mirror so you can see the reflection of the mountains in the background perfectly.. the upside down world…. easy reference! :) Anyway, it’s right by the roadside so no need to trek to this one. If you can only make 2 stops, make it those 2.

    When I got back to Te Anau, I stopped at the supermarket again to stock up on things like cereal bars, peanut butter, crackers and peanuts. These are kind of my essential travel foods. After that, I got back to the hostel, cleaned myself up and went to the same place for food. Again really happy with it and I’ll get the name of it tomorrow if I remember. Need to figure out what to do around Te Anau tomorrow. Right now I’m thinking part of the Kepler track but we’ll see.

  • Kepler Track and back to Queenstown

    I didn’t do too much today so this entry will be a lot shorter.

    I slept in a bit so by the time I checked out it was about 10 am. I decided to go to the Kepler track which can be a 3-4 day trek but I just did a part of it since I only had a few hours.

    I started off at Rainbow Reach and made my way towards the lake. It was a pretty nice trek. Most of the scenery is a forrest area you go through but there’s also swampland, beaches and some really cool sights of the river and lake around the area. You also go across 2 swing bridges which is always pretty cool. It took me roughly 3 hours return.

    Once I completed that I drove back to Queenstown, checked in at Sir Cedrics ($144 NZ for 5 nights) and got my snowboarding pass sorted ($500 NZ for 4 days, 2 of which are for lessons).

    As standard now, I was starving. I had a quick look on trip advisor and noticed a place called Taco medic was number 1. Due to the lore of the Taco Pizza, I had to go and see if they had it. Unfortunately they didn’t however the tacos were delicious. Then as I was walking back to the hostel I went to some cookie store and got possibly the best caramel sundae I’ve ever had. I’m so going to have it again before I leave.

    But that’s it really. Tomorrow I’ll head to one of the peaks and start snowboarding! :D

  • Queenstown

    As usual the surrounding area looks amazing. There is a walk you can do that goes around the smaller lake here which is supposed to be nice. Didn't get to try it myself. The town itself is very heavily based on tourism. It kind of feels like disneyland to me. There is no real local charm, everyone appears to be a tourist here. You can get some lovely views around the town centre itself.

    If you're any bit of an adrenaline junky, you should love it. As I mentioned previously, I came here for snowboarding but there is a tonne of other things to do like bungie jumps, skydives, lotr horse treks, clay pigeon shooting, haunted house shows and so on... So if you just want to spend a week somewhere and do something new everyday, this isn't a bad spot for it.

    I went snowboarding for the first time on Coronet and The Remarkables. I was actually incorrect about what I'd purchased. I thought it was 2 days worth of lessons but it actually included 4 days full of lessons. I spent the first 2 days learning on Coronet and was really happy with the progress I made as I was able to go down blue slopes (those are intermediate here, while back in Europe intermediate would be red) and I thought generally I was decent enough on the board so I was hoping to tackle the advanced slopes the next day. Unfortunately, I went to the Remarkables the next day and had one poor fall which caused me to pull a muscle around my ribs. I tried to board later in the day and the following day but I eventually had to give up as it was too sore and I was only getting worse. So I may have to rest up a little over the next few days, we'll see. Still, it was a fantastic experience. They wouldn't be my favourite slopes I've been on but with good weather conditions I can see them being a lot of fun for any level skiier/boarder.

    The hostel I stayed in Sir Cedrics, is decent. Has the usual solid stuff, free soup after 6 which is fine and people here are really nice. It will have the odd group who make a load of noise but that's where ear plugs come in. One annoying thing is the lack of plugs. Something to be aware of.

    I've eaten in a few places here. I went to Fergburger and Fat Badger (Yes.... combine it,minus a few letters and you get Fatburger!). Fergburger was a little disappointing as it seems to be really hyped up here. It is essentially a takeaway and the night I went it had a huge queue but the burger itself was solid... that's about it. Maybe I got the wrong one. Fat Badger was pretty good, a pizza bar. They had their own brewed beers and the pizza's were really good. Just a word of advise, one person will seriously struggle to finish a large.. it's pretty damn big.

  • Mount Cook

    I made my way towards Mount Cook. First I said I’d stop off in Wanaka as I was told it was a lovely town. I only stopped off briefly but as usual it is a beautiful little spot, very similar to Queenstown. I could see it being nice to rent a bike out around there. There’s also puzzle world here which I’ve heard great things about.

    Anyway it took me about 4-5 hours in total to get to Mount Cook I believe and it’s a pretty spectacular drive, especially once you get to the lake. There are plenty of lookout points to stop at and they are well worth stopping at.

    I stayed in the YHA hostel (I’m really liking this chain here) and it was really good. It’s funny as the village we’re in is so small that they are also the shop. It also had a dry sauna which was decent too. Internet was very solid (got a few rounds of Overwatch in) and the rooms/beds are great.

    There seems to be a lot of aerial rides you can get here to Mount Cook or the Glacier nearby however I spent my day trekking. I went to Hooker Valley which was roughly a 3 hour return trek and to the Tasman lake which was about an hour return trek in total although there is another path which takes 3-4 hours cycling I believe.

    Anyway both were really nice walks.Hooker Valley in particular is very cool as it ends at Hooker lake where it’s half covered in glaciers, so pretty awesome.

    If you do go out here, and I recommend you do, it might be best to bring some supplies with you so you can cook and make snacks on the go instead of depending on the limited stock in the area.

  • North Island

    I’m going to put this all in one post because I actually didn’t get to do that much even though there is plenty to do here.

    Unfortunately my injury didn’t help, it was really bothering me most of the time (went doctor again to make sure it was all good, was prescribed some other things)

    Firstly I spent all my nights at YHA hostels and generally I recommend all of these. The one in Hamilton wasn’t great in comparison to the others but it was still okay to sleep in. Generally they had excellent wifi, spacious dorms, excellent kitchens. So definitely recommended on the whole.

    Wellington is the first place in NZ that I’d actually call a city. It has a really cool waterfront, some cool graffiti area’s and a load of museums. I didn’t stay very long as I wanted to get to the tongariro area so I could do a trek (where Mordor was shot)

    So this is where I spent most of my time, unfortunately the weather was bad for most of the time I was there so I took it as an opportunity to rest up. But things didn’t get any better and as I said my injury was kind of getting worse so I left it in the end. Have to say I was a little disappointed as I really wanted to check it out. More reason to come back.

    So off I went to taupo to see a doctor primarily. He basically told me I’ll be like this for another 2 weeks, so probably won’t be up to too much during that time. Taupo seems like a nice scenic town. I went to a thermal spa in the area and it was fantastic. They had about 3-4 pools, the furthest one away being the warmest. This was exactly what I needed and I just relaxed in there for about an hour.

    Then I decided to make my way towards Auckland (flight out of NZ) and since I couldn’t check out Mordor, Hobbiton was on the way so I went there instead. I’d heard mostly decent to average feedback which is why I was going to skip it. You do have to go as part of tour which is something I’m not a big fan of. That said I did enjoy it for what it is. If you love lotr/the hobbit, you’ll definitely have a good time checking out the area, hearing some things from the guide. So I would recommend it.

    And that pretty much covers the trip, from there I just spent a night in Hamilton and then drove off pretty early to the airport the following day. Fire away if anyone has any questions.

  • Glad you enjoyed it, if I read this thread I would have said met up!

  • Ya I'm happy to meet up with allies where ever I go. I've made my way to Buenos Aires now.

    Where are you based in New Zealand?

  • @tokeeffe9

    Based in a town within Auckland called Papakura. You would have passed it coming back from Hamilton to Auckland Airport.

  • @jords Cool, ya you're right. I did pass through there.

  • All my pictures (well the decent ones) are online now -

  • Milford Sound is absolutely breathtaking

  • Just saw this thread now. I'm from Wellington. Sorry to hear that the weather wasn't great for you here, but that's just how things are around here, very wet and windy - especially in the winter. Regardless, skimming your post, sounds like you had a lot of fun adventures.

  • Oh for sure. I loved New Zealand. I'd be very tempted to come back again just so I could do the Tongariro alpine Trek at least :)