And so began the month-long adventure to New Zealand
- One of my best friends (Alana) and I booked our flights together Arrived at the airport at 6:30 to check-in and prepare board our flight at 8:45. We got all settled in and waited for the plane to take off.
- We arrived at Christchurch airport in New Zealand with no dramas whatsoever. While we were at the airport we picked up our rental car it was Toyota Corolla. The car was a good size for the three of us that are going to be in the car and with the amount of luggage that we had with us. Not too big and not too small. We would be having the car for about the next week as we made our way down from Christchurch to Queenstown.
- From the airport we drove straight to the hostel we were staying at for the first night. It was there that we met up with the other friend we were travelling with.
- We decided it for the first night it would be best to walk around Christchurch. While we walked we saw the all of the destruction that was caused by the Canterbury earthquakes.
- After we had a nice walk around the city we drove down to Sumner beach and walked along with it and then had fish and chips for dinner. We went there because it was recommended as one of the best beaches in Christchurch and they were certainly right.
- Right behind the hostel that we were staying at was a lovely street called Regent street. It was there that we went out for drinks at this little whiskey and cocktail bar.
- After we woke up and went for breakfast, we had to get checked out of our hostel and from there we made our way up to the gondola a little bit out of the city. The gondola provided picturesque views of the city along with the bay and the mountain regions.
- When we had finished basking in the gorgeous views we headed to our next destination. We made our way out of the city region and toward Otematata, this was the place in which we had booked an Airbnb.
- I fell asleep for most of the journey along the highway (which I tend to do rather easily) but once we turned off onto one of the less major roads I was awake for the rest of the journey.
The scenery that we passed as we made our way up to the highlands reminded me more and more of my journeys through the highlands and midlands of Scotland. It made me want to return to Scotland even more than I already did.
- Once we had settled in our accommodation we had to make our way to Lake Tekapo for a stargazing tour that we had booked.
- On the way to Lake Tekapo, we stopped whenever we could and also whenever we had enough time and space. The best photo that I got from that drive was seeing Mount Cook across a lake. Sadly we did not have the time to drive up and visit Mount Cook, so seeing it from afar was the best that I was going to get. It is one more thing for the bucket list for when I go back.
- We ended up getting there rather late and we had to have pizza at the only place that was still serving food – I felt that the 9” pizza was too small for my appetite 😂.
- From there while we were waiting we walked around and got to see the Church of the Good Shepard. This is one of the places that I have seen many of the travel pages on Facebook that have to do with travelling New Zealand. It is situated in one of the most picturesque points, with the backdrop of Lake Tekapo.
Church of the Good Shepard
- The stargazing tour was through Tekapo Stargazing. The whole tour consisted of a description of what the different stars were along with their names along with being able to soak in the hot pools and watch the stars.
- We were able to view all the different stars that they discussed through the telescopes that they had available.
- Later on, when the clouds began to roll over we made our move to the 38-degree hot pools (these pools were man-made). While we were relaxing, our guide told us old Maori stories about the gods and the stars and the formation of New Zealand. The clouds stayed covering the sky which meant we could see them while lying in the pool. The guide said it was the second time since the start of the year that they had cloud cover at night and it had to happen while we were on the tour.
- Afterwards, we were all exhausted and super relaxed form the pools that once we got back to the Airbnb we just passed out.
- When we woke up, we checked out of our Airbnb. We had breakfast at a little roadside van that was serving pastries and coffees. While we were still in the town we went up to see Benmore Dam. It was a nice little drive and the view over the valley was gorgeous. We walked around to get the best views of both the damn and down the valley before we had to leave.
- From there we made our way down the mountains and made our journey toward Dunedin. We had realised that it was going to take several hours until we made it to Dunedin. Luckily this time I was up in the front and a was able to see all of the views that were coming past. Being in the front is far better than being in the back.
- We decided to head to a Steampunk Museum in Oamaru and once we got to there we realised that it was located in the old section of the town with all the old designed buildings
- The Steampunk museum was rather interesting and not something that I would have thought to check out if I were by myself. They had so many different rooms and all of them were filled with many different elements that fall under steampunk. The best part of the museum had to be the lightroom. It had mirrors on all sides and then light that was hanging from the roof. You were given a light show that was paired perfectly with the music.
- We decided to stop off at Moeraki beach. the main reason this is such an interesting sight to stop off at on your way to Dunedin is because of the fact that they have these boulders lining the beaches that are almost spherical. Sure there were some of them that were broken but many of them were intact. I had visited that beach several years before with my family so it was good to see it once again.
Steam Punk Museum Moeraki Boulders
- In Dunedin, we stayed in an old hospital that had been converted into the Chalet Hostel. Each room felt like it had a lot of space to it because all of the ceilings were extremely high.
One of the good things that I had noticed about Dunedin was that it seemed to be more lively than Christchurch despite its smaller population.
- For dinner, I had a burger. I should have read the ingredients because it was a tad too hot for my liking. Because I didn’t even notice that it was supposed to be hot, I just saw the menu said the burger and chose that.
- Later that evening when we got back to the hostel after exploring the city we decided to head down into one of the common rooms and have a few drinks and play some pool. It was quite a relaxing way to end our first night in Dunedin.
- We were staying in Dunedin for several days which meant that we were going to be able to explore the city a bit.
- When we woke up made our way into the city went to the train station and purchased our Taieri Gorge Railway tickets. This was another thing I wanted to visit again since I went here when I was younger and wanted to feel a bit of nostalgia.
- While we waited for the time to get to the train station we visited the Chinese gardens. Since it was raining persistently and there wasn’t much else for us to do. While we were there we discovered that Dunedin’s sister city is Shanghai.
- When it was time we went back to the station and then went on the Taieri Gorge Railway. It had such gorgeous sights along the way. The train followed the gorge all the way, going through several tunnels that were only just wide enough for the train. As well as that we went over quite a few trestle bridges and of course I had to go to the back to get all the photos of them. when we reached the endpoint we had made it out of the gorge and we were allowed to stretch our legs for a short time. The best thing about the ride up was that we got perfect views of the gorge. We had to get back on the train and it was a good thing too because it began to rain heavily. For most of the ride back, we stayed inside our carriage because we did not wish to get soaked.
Taieri Gorge Taieri Gorge
- Along the way, one of the men working on for the company was telling all kinds of information about the railway and we found out that Dunedin is Scottish Gaelic for Edinburgh.
- Quote of the day: there are more baa’s than there are people (me)
- Today was the day that we had to get checked out of our hostel.
- We visited the worlds steepest street, Baldwin Street. It has been recognised in the Guinness book of records that it is one the world’s steepest streets. We weren’t game enough to try and climb it as we were getting increasingly hungry.
- Went up to Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula, the only castle in New Zealand. The rooftop of the castle provided a 360-degree view of the hills and of the bay. We had breakfast or more accurately lunch at the castle. The food was actually decently priced considering where we were
- From there we made our way down to Invercargill along the southern scenic route. Along the way, we had decided to stop off at a few different places.
- The most interesting place that we stopped off at was Pukerangi Falls. They were some falls in the middle of the Caitlin forest park and they are incidentally one of the most photographed waterfalls in New Zealand. You can definitely understand why. It was nice because they weren’t overly busy which meant we could get some good photos of the falls.
- We got to Invercargill several hours later and just settled into our little hostel and then went out for dinner and again came back and crashed. Because of the time that we arrived there wasn’t much that we could do in Invercargill and for us, it was basically just a stopping point between Dunedin and Te Anau.
- Once we had checked out we made our way to Clifden Caves. They were these limestone caves in the middle of nowhere, with glow worms inside the cave.
- We were underprepared, to say the least. There was a sign that recommended to have two light sources per person and we only had our phone torches. Along with that, we all had shoes with not much grip. We should have also worn helmets because of the number of times that we smacked our heads into the roof. We couldn’t make it from the main entrance to the third exit unless we wanted to swim in pitch black and we didn’t feel like doing that today. It ended up being about an hour and 20 minute round trip.
- I managed to break my glasses by standing on them, but only one of the lenses broke where it obviously was between a stone and my foot
- We checked into our hostel in Te Anau where we were staying in glamping tents. This place was the second-best place that we had stayed at on our road trip just purely because of the location.
- We had dinner and then wandered around the town while we waited for our time to board the boat for the glow worm tour.
- We went on the glow-worm tour at 8:15. The boat ride over there took about 30 minutes. Along the way, there were so many cool views of the mountains in the distance and also the fjords.
- We got into the caves after waiting for a few more groups to go ahead of us. Straight away we were able to see a few of the glow worms near the entrance. As we got further and further into the cave we were able to see more and more. The amount of water heading through the cave system was incredible. The boat ride at the end of the cave allowed us to get up close and personal with the glow worms and they were like little stars on the cave roof. The tour was as good as I remember it but luckily this time I didn’t have the need to pee the entire way through.
- At the end of the tour when we were waiting for our boat to come to pick us up and take us back to the township we were able to see a gorgeous sunset over Lake Te Anau
- Today was the last full day of our on our road trip. We checked out of our hostel and made our way to Milford Sound. It was going to be a long drive and it is a one-way road to and from the sound, so you had to make sure that you had enough fuel to make it all the way there.
- There were so many different places that we could stop off at along the way, but we couldn’t stop at them all so we had to be picky. The two main places we stopped off at were Mirror lakes and the other Eglinton Valley Viewpoint.
Mirror Lake Eglinton Viewpoint
- We had to rush to try and find a park because we thought that we were going to miss the available tour. Only to end up booking a later cruise anyway because it was going to be better.
- The cruise through the sound took us all the way along the side of the mountains right out to the edge of the Tasman Sea. There were so many waterfalls around the edge. We found out that Milford sound is one of the wettest places on Earth.
- About three-quarters of the way through we stopped and got off at the underwater observatory. Here we got to go down several metres under the water and see the sea life that was living within the sound. From here we went on the rest of the boat ride and made it back safely to the shore.
- After we had spent our time at Milford sound we had the long drive back to Te Anau and then from there to Queenstown.
- It was a very long drive. When we drove through Te Anau we ended up being stuck behind a tour bus for most of the drive to Queenstown. Because there wasn’t really any good areas to overtake them as it was very windy and always cars coming the other way