Beautiful New Zealand
We are back from our adventure in New Zealand and have 2 days to unpack, do laundry, and repack for our trip to Fiji tomorrow! I have uploaded the best 200 photos to Facebook (it was hard to narrow them down to that) for your viewing pleasure.
New Zealand was absolutely amazing! Everyone should really try to make it there some time in their lives. It is one of the last unspoiled places in the world.
It was the perfect trip, we flew in and out of Christchurch from Sydney and had 8 days to explore the Southern Island. We didn’t arrive to Christchurch until 1 a.m. and then we picked up our rental car and drove to our hotel for the evening. Neither of us had driven on the left side of the road and this was probably the worst way to learn (at 2 a.m. and in a city that is under construction from the recent earthquakes). Anyway, it took Oscar a little while to learn and we hit 2 curbs fairly hard, but we made it safely to our hotel. We spent a few hours the next morning exploring Christchurch on foot and saw the famous cathedral, the weekend market, and went punting down the Avon River. By 11 we were ready to hit the road and head to our next destination Franz Joseph via Arthur’s Pass. Well, when we checked out and got our car, somehow we had a flat tire! (it must have been from the drivers before us J It all worked out great though because we got to upgrade to a better car and have a good lunch before our long drive.
The drive to Franz Joseph via Arthur’s Pass was beautiful (I killed the word beautiful on this trip) and we must have stopped 10 times to take pictures and stare in aw at this beautiful country. We saw our first of many sheep (it is true, there are more sheep than people in NZ!) We arrived in Franz Joseph around 9 p.m. and luckily it doesn’t get dark until around 9 so we didn’t have to drive in the dark on any of our road trips.
The next day we went to see Franz Joseph Glacier. It was so incredible. You are surrounded by green rainforests and then there is this huge glacier! The pictures don’t even do it justice. We only went to the viewing point of this glacier and then drove about 30 minutes down the road to see Fox Glacier (the largest glacier in NZ). It was also amazing! The glacier water is so blue and clear and the entire area around the glacier is just picturesque. I want to take moment and give my gratitude for the weather we experienced. It was really foggy that morning and we were afraid we wouldn’t see the glaciers this day, but somehow by the time we got there and walked to the glaciers there was blue skies and it was perfect… and the rest of the week we had the most incredible weather – beautiful blue skies and warm!
So, after enjoying the glaciers and having a picnic lunch at Lake Matheson we made our way to Queenstown. Again, the entire drive was amazing! All of the South Island has beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes, and I think we enjoyed the drives as much as the destinations. We stayed at the awesome Novotel Lakeside in Queenstown (we highly recommend this hotel – perfect location) and had an ice cream and walked around Lake Wakatipu before calling it a night.
The next day we decided we would enjoy Queenstown and not drive in the car. We took the gondola ride up the mountain and had incredible views over the town and lake and did a fun Luge ride (kind of like a go cart, but no motor). After that we rented bikes and rode around the lake. This was one of my favorite things we did and we spontaneously stripped off our clothes and jumped in the freezing glacier lake! (no we didn’t skinny dip).
The next morning we went bungy jumping! We did the Kawarau River jump at 43 Meters. At first I was really nervous, but after seeing how professional and safe it was we both took the leap of faith (some more gracefully than others J. It was awesome! I went first and screamed the entire way down, and got to just barely dip my hands in the river below. Oscar did a belly flop type of dive and had a funny yell that made me laugh. It was such a rush and we loved it!
After that we had a 2 hr drive to Te Anau to spend the night. We took a boat ride across Lake Te Anau and got to see some cool caves with glow worms. The next morning we were picked up by Mitre Peak Cruises and took the coach to Fiordland National Park to see Milford Sound. I would also highly recommend this company. It is a smaller boat and group and the driver was hilarious and made the 2 hr drive really fun. It was also one of the most beautiful drives through the park to get to Milford Sound. The cruise was awesome too. Milford Sound is so amazingly gorgeous.
After that wonderful day we headed back to Queenstown for the evening. The next morning we got up early at 6 a.m. and made our way to Lake Wanaka to go canyoning. The canonying was so much fun. It was an all day activity and we got to do everything from sliding, jumping, repelling, zip lining, and swimming through the canyon. It was physical tiring and we had a good dinner and slept really well that night at another one of our awesome hotels in Lake Wanaka (I love working for Expedia – we got some great industry rates and stayed in the best places).
We enjoyed the hotel and relaxed in their hot pools that morning before we had our final day of driving back to Christchurch. Again, the drive from Wanaka to Christchurch was amazing. We stopped at Lake Pukaki and got to see amazing views of Mt. Cook (the tallest Mountain in NZ) and Lake Tekapo and saw the most incredible blue water (indescribable) with wild flowers called Lupins all around and enjoyed a picnic lunch overlooking the most beautiful scenery.
We stayed a final night in Christchurch at a cool hotel and then flew out the next morning. Over all, this was one of our favorite places we’ve been in the world and we want to come back (hopefully with some of you J). The entire trip was perfect and we wouldn’t have done anything differently. It’s crazy because I’m thinking how grateful I am for this trip and now I have to go finish packing for our 10 day adventure in Fiji and then we get to spend 3 weeks in Australia with my parents! All I can say is Life is Good and we are living up every moment.
I’ll try to write another update when we get back from our island hopping adventure in Fiji.
Love to you all,
Piper & Oscar