New Zealand – The place that stole my heart.I spend a month in this incredibly beautiful and wild country traveling by bus, plane and in a van camping in nature. I found the InterCity FlexiPass really easy to use and always had comfortable travels. But the combination of trying a little bit of everything was the best.
The kiwis are such warm and welcoming people, they say hi to you on the streets, offer to help you and let you in their homes (this coming from a dane, where you really do not talk to people in public if you do not know them – unless you have had a beer or two – well maybe it is not that bad but there is some truth to it). There are endless beautiful places and activities to do in this country, but I will try to just write about a few that made the biggest impression on me.
Abel Tasman National Park
While staying in the lovely town of Nelson (which by the way smells like flowers) I went on a day trip to go kayaking in ATNP and what a lovely place – It is highly recommendable. We were only four people including the guide on the trip with 2 hours of kayaking and 2 hours of walking with lunch included on the most beautiful little beach. I took the trip trough Wilsons who arranges loads of different tours around the national park, so whether you are into walking/hiking tours, kayaking, half day/full day or even multiple day tours – they have got it. Plus they are really nice people too. Tip! Remember sunscreen and insect repellant for the sandflies. Those tiny bastards will bite you and i tell you, the itch that comes with it will have your beauty sleep.
Located on the South Island just 1,5 hour drive from Christchurch and you arrive at most idyllic little place. Walk up the hills to get a great view of all the bays – it is an absolut must. Bring some lunch and sit in the high grass among sheeps and cows. Well maybe on the other side of the fence, so you can have your meal for yourself. Return to town and go get a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the walk up the street, with the lovely houses on the habour front, and head to the pier. Sit here and watch the sun go down, in good weather it is a rainbow of colours. If you are lucky dolphins might spoil you with a view of them cruising the bay. Hereafter walk to the light house and enjoy the view of the stars shining above the water and all the boats lying around the bay. (You wanna go right this moment right? – I sure would).
A small town (like all the others) located north of Christchurch. Follow Road no. 7 and enjoy the scenic drive along Waiau River, all the way to Hanmer Springs. Take stops along the way to go explore! The nature is wild and you will have it all to your self (It’s OK to be greedy, there is enough beautiful nature here for everyone). When arriving in Hanmer S, grab your swimsuits and go to the hot springs. There can be a lot of people and it is a bit like a water park, but still you have these incredible pools that’s heated by the warmth of the earth – that’s kinda cool, if you ask me?! So bear with the touristy touch of it – it is actually nice. After being around all of these people head up the Conical Hill Road to… yep, Conical Hill Recreation Reserve for a beautiful forrest and hill hike. Watch out for mountain bikers though!
North of Christchurch, also on the South Island is another beautiful place. It is a small fishing village and the home of encounters with both whales and dolphins. It has a beautiful beach with flat black stones and the moutains showing off in the background. I did the whale watching tour here, but after talking to other travellers it seems like the dolphin encounter is so much more of an experience as you swim in open water with A LOT of dolphins. If you are more into fishing there are som great fishing trips as well, where you cook your catch after the tour. The coastline to and from Kaikoura is filled with seals, but there is one tiny place that is so spectacular and not many knows it is there – The Oahu Waterfall Walk where baby seals stay from June to August while their moms hunt for food in the sea (I was there in september and they were still there). Tip: Bring tissues they are so cute you might cry a little.
Home of the many Fiords and crazy beautiful nature (it’s kind of theme troughout NZ, you have probably noticed). It is a 4 hour and 15 min trip from Queenstown by bus – but that is no problem! The busride it self to Milford is amazing. You drive up and through mountains and make stops as you come along to take pictures of the stunning surroundings. The boat trip itself is around an hour to 1,5 hours, at least the one I took, and here you see waterfall, sealions resting and sunbathing on the warm rocks and sometimes you can be lucky enough to see some penguins. I booked a day trip from Queenstown but the downside to this was, you did not have the time to do some hiking in the area, you have to get right back on the bus after sailing. So if you wish to do eg. Milford Track or other hikes, book accommodation closer to the Sounds like in Te Anau. I would definitely do so next time!