New Zealand – September 2016

Hello all! I wanted to share a few trip highlights, random thoughts on NZ, and our final itinerary.

First, my top 5 trip highlights:

  • HeliHike at Fox Glacier – this was our splurge item, and truly worth every penny.  We got to take a helicopter ride (our first time!) to land on a glacier, and then spent 3 hours exploring the glacier, sliding down caves, and seeing incredible arches.  Truly a fantastic experience!

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  • Waikite Hot Springs – so the hot spring pools themselves were cool, but Jack and I were both really impressed by the eco trail where you could walk to the beginning of the springs where the water comes up from the earth.   The weather was foggy/steamy, and the scene looked like something out of a movie.  I can only describe it as a fountain of youth.

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  • Wine Tasting in Waiheke Island – we arrived in Auckland around 8AM on our 6th dating anniversary, and we spent an amazing day exploring the island tasting delicious Syrah and eating yummy food.  Simply a perfect day ❤

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  • Marlborough Sounds at Sunset – I love boats, and the ferry ride from Wellington to Picton was spectacular.  Our boat was delayed around 1.5 hours which put us in perfect time to watch the sunset over the sound.  Really gorgeous place.

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  • Skiing in Wanaka – Jack and I have both become totally into skiing in the past year.  With the Jucy Ski4Free, all my lift tickets were free so we figured why not ski an extra day! Even if the snow was slushy, the view from Treble Cone was incredible, and the resort was pretty empty with no lift lines or waits.

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Second, a few random observations on NZ:

  • New Zealand is very similar to California/PacNW – I was surprised at how similar the two places are! They are the same latitude, and honestly driving down the coast I could have sworn I was in Big Sur! NZ is much more mountainous and obviously there aren’t glaciers near the beach in California, but both are beautiful places.
  • Gas: I found it really interesting that you pay for your gas after you have filled your tank! I feel like this would be a recipe for disaster in the US with people stealing gas, but I suppose NZ is more honest.  I’m assuming they also take photos of your license plate in case that happens, but still!
  • Coffee: the waiter asked us if we wanted coffee.  We said yes please.  Then he said what kind…..ummm…the normal kind?  Well apparently they don’t have drip coffee like we have in the states.  They only have espresso drinks, so we ended up ordering long blacks and flat whites.  Since all the drinks were espresso only, they were a bit more expensive.
  • Restaurant Service:  overall we had really great service, and I love that there is no tipping! I also definitely spent too much time waiting for the check the first few times we went out to eat until I realized you’re supposed to go up to the cashier to pay…
  • Free Wifi: I was pretty surprised that most places didn’t offer free wifi! It was fine because I wanted to disconnect, but just a little annoying when I needed to download driving directions for the next day.  If somewhere did have free wifi, it was often limited to 50-100mb.  Check a few snapchat stories and refresh Instagram – there goes your MB!
  • Driving: let me preface this by saying I’m already a terrible driver.  Add narrow windy roads, torrential rain, giant trucks whizzing by, and driving on the other side of the road, and it’s not a fun situation.  Jack had to drive most of the time because he was too stressed out while I was driving.  Oh well – we made it to Queenstown safe and sound!

Finally, here’s a breakdown of our itinerary!

  • Day 1: Flight from SFO to Auckland
  • Day 2: Waiheke Island & Auckland
  • Day 3: Waitomo Caves & Rotorua
  • Day 4: Wai O Tapu & Waikite Hot Springs
  • Day 5: Haku Falls & Tongarrio National Park
  • Day 6: Wellington & Interislander Ferry
  • Day 7; Nelson & Abel Tasman
  • Day 8: Abel Tasman Hike
  • Day 9: West Coast Drive & Hokikta
  • Day 10: Hokikta Gorge & Franz Josef Gacier
  • Day 11: HeliHike on Fox Glacier & Haast Pass
  • Day 12: Skiing @ Treble Cone
  • Day 13: Skiing @ Treble Cone & Queenstown
  • Day 14: Milford Sound
  • Day 15: Queenstown & flight back to Auckland
  • Day 16: Flight back to SFO

 

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