The Big New Zealand Roadtrip
One of the many adventures planned for the near future is a 3 week excursion to New Zealand over the new year; needless to say, I am very excited! New Zealand is such a beautiful country with incredible views wherever you look, the people are so friendly and the whole place has such a nice feel to it – I can’t wait! I was fortunate enough to live there for a couple of years when I was young, and returned for a holiday about 10 years ago, but haven’t been back since!
I thought I’d write a blog post telling you a little bit about the things I’ll be getting up to – none of these plans are set in stone, so if you have any suggestions of ‘must-dos’ please get in touch! I’d like to document my time in the country, gets some wicked snaps, and offer some advice to anyone travelling to New Zealand soon!
The Plan: Auckland to Stewart Island
I’m heading out to New Zealand with my family on Boxing Day this year (2015) and before we can enjoy what New Zealand has to offer, we’ll have a 24 hour flight ahead of us. We’re flying from London, via Hong Kong, to Auckland in New Zealand’s North Island. We plan to hire a 4×4 from Auckland and make our way down the North Island, ferry across to the South Island and drive down the West Coast to Queensland with a short flight to Stewart Island to top off the trip. The roadtrip will conclude with a drive back up to Christchurch and a very long flight home.
The Tree Church, Ohaupo
We start our trip in Auckland, and will be driving our way down to Wellington over the first few days to ferry across to the South Island. About two hours drive south of Auckland is a church building made from plants, grown around a frame; I’m very intrigued to see how manmade can interweave with natures beauty and I bet the most impressive thing will be to see the light seeping through the leaves on the inside. For more info, check The Tree Church.
Geothermal Springs, Rotorua
There are plenty of hot springs all over the world and the most well-known are probably those at Yellowstone National Park in the USA. However, equally as impressive are those on the North Island of New Zealand; plenty of hot mud, sulphur pools and the Lady Knox Geyser (erupts at 10:15am every day so I’m told!). Rotorua is the cultural centre for the indigenous people of New Zealand too, so if the springs aren’t my thing (which I very much doubt!), there’ll be plenty of Maori culture to get my teeth stuck into.
Photo: John Englart
Glowworm Caves, Waitomo
To be perfectly honest, I’m not a fan of small spaces, but after seeing pictures of the Waitomo Caves I think my phobia will have to stay at home for this trip. The caves look stunning on their own, but throw in a few (hundred) glowworms and these caves are something really quite incredible; perhaps nature at it’s finest. I expect the caves to be one of those things which photos simply can’t quite do justice!
Photo: The Chive
Mount Tongariro, Tongariro National Park
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t normally look forward to walking long distances. I think the plan is to drive to Mount Tongariro, stay at a backpackers lodge for New Year’s Eve, and go for a day’s hike through Tongariro National Park. From the pictures I’ve seen, the landscapes are remarkably beautiful; I think I’ll be able to forgive my feet on this occasion. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of opportunities for photos here!
Franz Josef Glacier
You would think New Zealand couldn’t get much better than what I’ve already mentioned, but the Franz Josef Glacier is another incredible spectacle of nature. The glacier is 12km long and nestled in the Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand; stopping here will form part of our journey down the West Coast of the South Island down to Queensland, and then on to Stewart Island.
It’s a real a shame that global warming has contributed to the decline of the glacier, but I’m still expecting an incredible sense of perspective. The last time I visited this part of New Zealand was 10 years ago so I expect there’ll be plenty of changes to the landscape, particularly where there’s ice involved!
I’m so (so) excited about the couple of days we’re spending in Queenstown in the second week of our trip. If you don’t know already, Queenstown is arguably the extreme sports capital of the world and I’m hoping to squeeze in a bungy jump if I get the get the chance; who knows, perhaps a jet boat ride is a possibility as well.
I don’t think I’ve visited Queenstown before, so I’d like to spend a bit of time exploring and there’s always the opportunity for a boat trip out on the lake. If the picture below is anything to go by, I’m expecting mountain ranges and beautiful landscapes. New Zealand… when will you stop being so beautiful!
Photo: Tom Hall
Stewart Island is a small-ish island off the southern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, and not a place I’ve been before. The previous 2 weeks will have been spent driving from one place to another with no more than a couple of nights in one place but we’ll be spending 3 nights on Stewart Island, and hopefully this will give me a chance to relax and have a bit of time to explore with a camera.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think there may be the opportunity to hire out bikes and kayaks too, so I’m definitely up for sunrise & sunset adventures – this may be the only time you’ll see me get up early! I’ve heard rumours of yellow eyed penguins, sandy beaches, lots of wildlife (including the Kiwi Bird) and if there’s a sunspot, maybe even a glimpse of the Aurora Australis (though I think this is very unlikely!).
Photo: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner
I’m insanely excited about spending 3 weeks in New Zealand over the new year and feel very fortunate to be able to be in a position to do so. I can’t wait to see gorgeous landscapes, incredible wildlife and very friendly people – hopefully I’ll be able to capture some of this for the blog in pictures and videos.
One of the difficult things I’ve found trying to put together this blog post is the lack of good quality, free to use photographs, so I may consider making some of my own snaps free to use after the trip. Some other things I hope to share are tips for flying, packing, travelling, road-tripping and exploring New Zealand – hopefully (fingers crossed) I’ll be able to give this beautiful country the credit it deserves!
Are there any places I have to visit that I’ve missed out? Let me know below – I’d love to hear from you!