My friend and I recently took a trip to New Zealand and Australia. I was so excited to experience New Zealand’s beauty! We did a Haka Tour and took advantage of the fun activities it offers. Haka pairs you with a tour guide whom chauffeur’s your group around. We chose to do the South Island. The drive itself is part of the fun as you get to see so much of New Zealand. Even though it was the beginning of the year, I was so ready for a great vacation and I love to travel. This was a fun girl’s trip.
There’s so much to do so I’ll narrow down the highlights and must do’s.
- Lake Tekapo – This lake has beautiful turquoise water with mountains in the background. All the lakes in New Zealand were stunning and this was no exception. What’s great about this area is that it’s considered a dark sky reserve so the stars and constellations are glowing at night. It’s one of 3 observatories in the world that has no pollution so star gazing is exceptional!
In fact, astronomers come here to study the night sky. We star-gazed at 12:30 in the morning. We saw several constellations, Jupiter, and looked through telescopes to other galaxies. They sky was literally lit up and it was breathtaking! Since you’re so close to the south pole, you can see the stars moving in a circular motion around the southern hemisphere. Truly one of the best places to star gaze!
Tips: For your hotel room, get a lake front view and watch the sun rise. Check out Mackenzie’s Stone Grill for dinner. Make a reservation as it gets super busy but word to the wise, we didn’t have a reservation and ended up coming back after the line went down and was able to get a table.
2. Lake Wanaka – This is a cute, quaint town! Word on the street is that Shania Twain has a house here, and I can see why! This was one of my favorite places on the trip. You can also skydive which I attempted and got up to 10,000 feet but with so much cloud cover, we had to land and couldn’t do the jump! I was a bit relieved but also disappointed.
Tips: Rent a bike and ride around the lake! Check out the Wanaka tree that is sitting in the middle of the lake. This town also offers great bars and restaurants ride along the main road parallel to the lake.
3. Milford Sound – This is by far one of my favorite parts of the trip and one that is not to be missed! It’s considered the 8th wonder of the world. It’s a long ride to the Fiordland National Park but gorgeous waterfalls flank it. We took a ferry ride through the sound out to the Tasman Sea and back. It was raining earlier in the day so the sound had multiple waterfalls which made the rugged, pristine landscape that much more special. This is a must do on the trip and can’t be missed!!!
4. Franz Josef Glacier – This is located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the west coast of New Zealand. If you’ve never seen a glacier, I highly recommend you do a glacier hike. We hiked up to the glacier in the mountains through waterfalls and streams. Another highlight of the trip was a helo ride around the Tasman glacier with views of Mount Cook. We landed on the mountain and got out and took pictures. This is the best way to see the mountains and glaciers. The views are spectacular!!!
5. Queenstown – I loved exploring this city. It was a beautiful sunny day and we went on a hike after we had brunch down on the waterfront. The town is nestled into mountains and water and offers several activities like bungee jumping, gondola rides, and hang-gliding to name a few. My friend and I rode the gondola to the top of Queenstown and it has the BEST panoramic views of the city!!!
Tips: You MUST go to Fergburger!!! They have the best burgers and fries and offer an extensive menu. Keep your receipt and bring it back the next day for 10% off breakfast.
Ok, now that we have covered the tour, lets talk about how to pack. We just packed one carry on luggage because we had several connections to make and didn’t want to run the risk of losing our luggage. This is what you need:
- Yoga pants! And lots of them. The weather in the summer in NZ can be cool so you’ll need comfy, warm pants.
- Rain jacket
- Power bars
- Water bottle
- A great camera!!! – I shot most of my photos on a Canon camera but did use my iphone on occasion.
Australia: Melbourne and Sydney
After being in a car for several days, I was looking forward to the hot Australian sun and it did not disappoint. The average temp was about 86 degrees. I’m always cold so this was the best weather and perfect for the beach.
We started our destination in Melbourne. Melbourne is known for it’s coffee culture. I am obsessed with coffee so needless to say, I was looking forward to checking out their coffee scene. We started brunch at the The Journeyman Cafe. I bought a bag of coffee because it was soooooooooooo good! The secret is in the way they roast it and how the barista’s make it. You don’t want to miss out on coffee when you come to Melbourne.
After Melbourne, we flew to Sydney. We stayed downtown at The Grace Hotel. A few of my favorite places and things to do are taking the Manly Ferry to Manly Beach. Spend the day there and soak up the sun and swim in the Tasman Sea. There is a cute town there with some shopping then head over to Hugo’s for a drink and food! Hugo’s has a Hamptons vibe so dress accordingly.
The ferry ride to Manly is spectacular. You get a great view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Cute places to check out for shopping are Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, which is on the way to Bondi Beach. Once at Bondi, do the Cogee Walk past the Iceberg pools!
Back in the states, it was Super bowl weekend, which meant the game was on early Monday morning. We decided to check out The Rocks district in Syndey, which is a quaint old area. We watched the game and had lunch at The Glenmore Hotel. They have a great rooftop for happy hour and Friday/Saturday nights.
The trip was a once in a lifetime destination and was 2 weeks and 2 days long! That’s how much time you need to experience it all. I’m so glad I did! I can’t wait for my next adventure!