After many wonderful trips to Europe, Rob and I decided as we were vacation planning this year that we wanted to try something a little different. New Zealand came to mind and we figured, what better time than now, before we have kids! We certainly plan to still travel once we do, but a 20+ hour flight would just be… well, a terrible idea. So NZ it was!! I was immediately overwhelmed with things to do in our two short weeks. I think people tend to believe it’s a small place, but let me tell you — it’s PACKED with things to see and do! We landed on doing just over a week on the South Island and just under a week on the North Island. Our journey started on the South Island and so, so will the posts!
We knew before we arrived that NZ was infamous for it’s rain. When we landed, we were greeted with — you guessed it — rain. Determined not to let it stop us from all the outdoor activities we had planned, we pressed on. The first two days we drove towards Queenstown and stopped at a ton of beautiful lakes and mountain ranges in between! The lakes were the purest blue you can ever imagine; so much so that they made the grey skies actually look blue above them! Our views were a bit hindered by the clouds, but it was STILL such a beautiful place regardless!
When we landed in Queenstown, we had a ton of excursions planned! Since we were on limited time, it was pretty much go, go, go every day! We got to see so much and I certainly don’t regret a thing. Rob, on the other hand, never wants to drive again, but that’s another story…. First up, we visited a farm that provided afternoon tea, live sheep shearing demos, herding, and a feeding zoo! It was the perfect rainy day activity.
Next we flew, yes flew!, to Milford Sound!! This place is absolutely unreal and was a must see for both of us. It’s also incredibly hard to get to and can take upwards of 6 hours one way. To save time, we took a small flight and landed in less than an hour. The view from the plane was actually one of my favorite things from our entire trip — it was a view that not many get to experience but it was just perfect.
Finally, we headed to Glenorchy to do a “Ride of the Rings” tour where LOTR was filmed! Rob is a huge fan of the movies, so this was another must! He rode Pip, a cheeky little horse that loved to nip the butt of the horse in front of him, and I rode Scar, the most mild of the pack who liked to hang near the back. It was such a blast and the weather was perfect! We also rode a 4×4 through Paradise!
The next day we woke up early to do a 6-hour hike up to the peak of a mountain! If you know me at all, you know I’m not athletic… I can barely run a mile to save my life. But I was so determined to make it up those seemingly endless switchbacks and wanted to cry by the time I got to the top! It was SO worth it once you made it though. The view was never ending. It made for quite the accomplishment and I’m still proud I actually did it — totally thought I was going to give up like 25 minutes in! That night we stayed in our most… rustic… location of the trip, but we were so far away from civilization that the stars were unreal — you could see the Milky Way Galaxy!
We were on the road again, this time exploring the west coast of the South Island! It was filled with crazy falls, mountain views, the endless ocean, and so much more. Rob drove us up the entire thing, all the way to our ferry crossing where we boarded to head to the North Island!
More on the North Island coming next week!