In the spring of 2016 I was lucky enough to spend 6 weeks in New Zealand, visiting both the North and South islands. The landscapes and jaw-dropping beauty of New Zealand left their mark and I can only hope to get the opportunity to return--especially to explore more of the rugged beauty of the South island! Here are photos from the places I would definitely recommend you explore along with my top 5 tips when visiting. Enjoy!
Milford Sound, South Island
Top 5 Tips!
- When visiting the south island, you MUST rent a van! Many of the sites are remote and it makes more sense to drive to your destination and sleep/wake up on site vs. staying at a nearby hotel or hostel. We used Jucy vans (a very popular choice--you will see the green and purple cars everywhere!) but did have some trouble with quality. Our window wouldn't roll up along with other electrical issues; however, to their credit, they were quick to fix the problem and reserve us a new van. You can get better vans/deals but we were on a budget and running out of time. If you can, it will be much better to book your van in advance so you don't run into the same issue we did.
- Look up camping recipes and ideas before you go. If you do get a van, it's easiest to go grocery shopping and make your own meals and snacks on the road plus it will be a lot cheaper since New Zealand isn't the cheapest of places. If you do need something already prepared, we found Pita Pit to be pretty good, well priced and if you are super cheap like us, you can spread it out to 2 meals for about 7$ US.
- If you head to the north island, don't miss Te Waihou Walkway and Blue Springs! This may be one of the most beautiful places I've seen. The water is crystal clear and vibrant blue, surrounded by lush greenery. If you want to swim in the water, I'd recommend a rash guard because it is always 11 C (I'm a wimp in cold water so you may be just fine without it).
- If you are looking to get in some exercise while visiting Milford Sound (the ultimate must-see!), I'd recommend taking a kayaking tour. We went for an early morning tour and got to see the sun peak out over the sound. Sometimes you can also see penguins (sadly we didn't) and other wildlife to keep things interesting. We were lucky enough to have dolphins chase the waves from our boat before getting dropped off at the kayaking point.
- Although New Zealand is an incredible place to play outside, there are some really great museums to visit! One of my favorite exhibits of all time lies in the Te Papa museum on the north island in Wellington, the exhibit being Gallipoli: The scale of our war. The larger-than-life models are incredible and made by the famous Weta Studio who have worked on props for various movies like The Hobbit, Avatar and many more. If you happen to be in Wellington (especially on a rainy or windy day) this is definitely worth checking out.
I'd love to hear from you--leave comments below!