I'm a dutch blogger who has the travelbug but i'm currently doing a internship in New Zealand. Read all about my adventures in kiwi land.
Do I need warm clothes? Do I need to bring my hiking boots? Or is my toothbrush, tickets and passport enough? In only a few days before I'm off to Thailand. I'm excited, chaotic and nervous. Its my third or fourth time that I will be visiting Thailand but I'm still worried. Worried I'll forget something.
Now I have to pack my backpack and every time its a challenge. I always pack too much, but for the first time I’m going backpacking for a short time. Only two weeks, which means that I don’t need a lot and anything which I forget I can buy in Thailand.
Queenstown oh yeah baby! Every tourist that goes to New Zealand, also goes to Queenstown. You would think it's really big, but it isn't. It's just an little town where the most tourist come to party and the locals to enjoy the amazing ski area called "The Remarkables"
The town was actually named after a queen Victoria because of it's beauty. A town fit for a Queen. I don't know if Queen Victoria was beautiful, but Queenstown was definitely amazing. Ok, it was overcrowded with tourists but that was exactly nice for a change. For the last couple of weeks I felt sometimes like the only tourist in New Zealand. Crazy right?
The first day I went for a walk to the skyline. Sure, could have also take the gondola but I decided to walk. Much cheaper and more time to make beautiful pictures. It took me 2 hours to get the top. I was totally exhausted when I finally reached the summit, but it was totally worth it. It was one of the most amazing views I've ever seen. The sky was blue so you could see as far as the eye could see. I took like a million pictures while I tried to catch my breath. Look at that amazing view...
On the top you have some tacky tourist shops and overpriced coffee, so I didn't stay too long. And took a different route down. It took me along an old waterpipe. One of the first in this area. It was a beautiful way down and in the afternoon I walked along Lake Wakatipu with the amazing mountains in the background. I now knew why everyone stayed here, it's such a magical place. Truly a one of a kind place...
After windy Surat Bay, I drove along the coast to Te Anau. Where famous sounds where. You know...the Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Te Anau was a really beautiful place with a beautiful lake and the refreshing background noise make it even more beautiful. It is a little town, mostly popular in summer but now, in the winter, it was almost desserted. No worries though -- without the tourists it was even more beautiful :-)
The next day I headed to Milford Sound. 120km to the Sound and 120km back. The highway to Milford sound dates back to the 1930's but I was happy it gave me the opportunity to go there. I also wanted to go to Doubtful Sound but that was almost impossible....unless you have lots of money ;)
Milford Sound is New Zealand's most famous tourist destination and tends to be crowded.
I was warned about the big buses headed to Milford Sound and told me to avoid the mornings and late afternoons. But of course I didn't listen. In Te Anau it was pretty much desserted, so Milford Sound would be the same, right? I was totally wrong!! Lots of big buses, especially Chinese. Yeah, Chinese tourists are pretty much everywhere nowadays. But in the end, I did a pretty good job of avoiding them. Cheers for me. :-)
And it was a pretty amazing view. I didn't do a boat trip to see the sounds up close but the drive was well worh it. Alrighty and now back to Te Anau. Another 120km's and after that heading to the party and ski town called: QUEENSTOWN!
Before I left Mt. Cook, I took one last look at the amazing view. Staying longer was no option, because there was so much more to see in the South. Early in the morning, when my carwindows were still frozen, I decided to drive more south, towards Oamaru. I drove along a few beautiful lakes that New Zealand has to offer: Lake Aviemore, Lake Benmore and Lake Waitiki.
Around noon I arrived in Oamaru. Best described as a sweet, little town. I rang the doorbell at the hostel, that was situated just off the main street. A woman in nightgown opened the door: "Love, come on in! It's a bit of a mess (you might say that!) but I decided last minute to go to London, to see the Olympics and my son, who lives in London." She decided to close the hostel for two weeks. "Oh, and you have to take this." She gave me a list of all the backpackers that made reservation in this hostel but were going to the Empire Hotel Backpackers.
Before she send me off for my mission, she gave me some tips about what I should definitely should see here in Oamaru: "You have to go see the penguins tonight, just after sundown, just follow the smell, oh and don't forget to go the farmersmarket, oh and you have to see this en that....." A lovely women but a minor case of ADHD.
I drove with my list to the Empire Hotel Backpackers where I also was staying. It took me quit a while to find the hostel. You wouldn't think it would be so hard because it was on the main street. When I arrived, I was one of the few in the hostel, but that didn't matter. It was a beautiful old building from 1867 with a lot of history and I enjoyed the little town and the nice weather. At night, I went to look for some penguins. I smelled the smell, but sadly saw no penguins....
This morning I looked out of the window. It was mostly grey, but on the bright side....it didn't rain. Yeah, just another day in the fall. Falls here in the Netherlands are mostly like that. You are lucky when it doesn't rain and really, really lucky when you see some sunshine. But the weather doesn't get me down, or at least i'm trying, but this make me also realise that I was really lucky in New Zealand.
Even in the winter I got lots of sun. On the westcoast it was raining, buy hey...when doesn't it not rain on the westcoast, right? But it's not only the sun that made me have a fantastic time. It's also the amazing people i've met during my 9 month stay in New Zealand, but what are now the most awesome things about New Zealand:
Relaxed lifestyle: That's not only the best thing in New Zealand, but the best thing when you travel. The only thing is what you think about is what are you going to do today and where are you going to sleep tonight. That's most awesome feeling in the world and that's why I love travelling so much. No worries about money or things that you have to do. Just living your life and enjoy :-)
The charm of the traffic: Ok New Zealand isn't most biggest country and certaintly doesn't have the biggest roads, but that doesn't matter. It makes people more nice, they are taking an effort. It's normal for trucks to stop along the road to pass you by. Everyone actually stops when you want to cross a road. Yeah, I know! Unbelievable, right?
The stunning scenery: I travelled quit a bit in Asia (8 months) and in Australia (4 months) and off course Europe, where I'm from, but there's nothing like the scenery in New Zealand. It's the most amazing scenery I've ever seen. Lakes, Mountains, Forrest and you gotta love all the desserted beaches. Can also be quit anoying, though. You have to stop like every 10 minutes, because of the change of landscape and the amazing view, but it's all worth it.
Pub and cafe culture: New Zealand has just like Australia a big pub and cafe culture. A good barista isn't hard to find. So do you have a business meeting or just meeting a friend. The barrista is bet place to go and on friday everyone heads to the pub. Have one of the most amazing wines of New Zealand or one of the different beers New Zealand has to offer. Always a good way socialize with your colleagues or your best mates! :-D
Toilets everywhere: Oke, so if the last 4 reasons didn't convince you. This one definetly will. You probably know the feeling, you're in the middle of nowhere and have to pee. No worries, even at the most desserted places there's a toilet and always super clean and free of charge. One time I was doing one of the great walks, the Abel Tasman track. I found myself on a totally desserted beach. Just me and the birds. I almost felt like Robinson Crusoe totally on a desserted island. There was literally nothing there except a toilet hidden in the bush. What more do you want, right? ;-)
UPDATE: Meanwhile I'm already back in Holland and started my first week back at school but I'll still want to share my stories and adventures around the south island of New Zealand. Hope you enjoy it! :-)
The first thing I did the next morning was look out of the window. It was totally blue! After I had my breakfast and dressed, I walked outside. It was magical with the amazing blue sky and the high mountains of the Southern Alps. Totally different than yesterday, when it was raining and cloudy and you couldn't see a thing.
I packed all my things because my plan was to drive to Lake Tekapo today, but first I had to get a icescraper because it was quit impossible to get the ice of my windows (I tried it with carton, but the layer was so thick that, that even was impossible). I found one, but I had to be careful because even the streets were frozen (I almost fell becaue of the ice!!). I drove the whole day. Ok, normally it only takes a few hours to drive to Lake Tekapo but that's impossible, because every 10 minutes you see some amazing nature and everytime it's totally different.
So in the end I had way to much photo's :-) Around 4 I arrived at Lake Tekapo and I was not the only one, there was a whole bus load of backpackers. Yeah, lake Tekapo was pretty touristic but still amazing with the blue-green colors and the southern alps on the background. I enjoyed the beautiful sunset and after that I went straight inside, because it started to get really cold, it was almost freezing. I choose a nice comfy chair near the fire and drank a nice warm tea. One of my roommates just arrived.
He didn't had a lot of money left and there was no ATM arround and he still had to pay the hostel for the night. I would've offered him some money, but I also didn't have a lot of money left. His plan was to maybe play some gitar, and sit in the middle of the room, to see if people would give some money for him. After 5 minutes, he was already back....the hostel gave him a free night! How nice....gotta love NZ!
Slowly it’s getting winter over here but the sun is shining every day. In Holland, I heard it should be around 30 degrees but despite that I am enjoying everyday here in New Zealand. Enjoying the kiwi culture and the country that has his own will and some very special things:
Only in New Zealand there’s beer ice cream. Yeah, for real! When I first arrived in New Zealand I saw a big poster of the Icebar company. I thought they were joking. Icecream with alcohol? Icecream is for kids, right? Not in New Zealand apparently. After a few weeks I finally tried it and it was delicious. You should try it!
Only in New Zealand we have rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain, sunshine. That’s pretty much the weather for one day in New Zealand. In New Zealand you can have literally four seasons in one day but don’t be sad because most of the times the sun wins. Give it up for the sun!
Only in New Zealand there’s a sheep festival. Who comes up with these things? With so many sheeps (for every kiwi there are nine sheeps available) there’s no way denying, right? And it’s a once in a lifetime experience. (Find out for yourself on my blog about the sheep festival.)
Only in New Zealand hitchhiking is as normal as anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, black, white, man or woman. Kiwi’s are the most friendliest people and if they can help someone, they always will. So if you’re not in a hurry, hitchhiking is the best way. It’s even possible in Auckland, when you meet the right people...like, Brent. It was friday afternoon and I went to La Zeppa (a local pub) with my manager, Brent. On our way back, when we walked to Brent’s car, we bumped into 3 german girls. They where looking for Ponsonby Road. “Yeah, that’s at least an half hour walk up the hill” I told them, but Brent had another solution. Why not drop them off. Yeah, why not? First the german girls weren’t so sure but after I told them I was Dutch they didn’t have much doubt. So off we went!
Only in New Zealand do they have longest name for a place and shit that name is loooonnnngggg. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupo-kaiwhenuakitanatahu. Yeah, try to pronounce that. I dare you!
Most of the residents of New Zealand live in Auckland and not without reason. Auckland is amazing! You never get bored. Not even when you're on a budget and staying in Auckland. So here the five things you should do for free in Auckland:
For culture you have to be in Auckland. Enough museums to visit and the Auckland Museum and The Gallery of Modern Art are even for free. The Auckland Musuem teaches you about the Maoris and the history of New Zealand, plus even has a section about the amazing flora and fauna and information about volcanoes with a real simulation room; how would it feel to experience a real earthquake. Pretty cool!
The Gallery of Modern Art is the opposite of the Auckland Museum and focuses more on experimental art. So if you like art with a sharp edge? Than you should certaintly go to the Gallery of Modern Art.
Yes, Auckland has enough volcanoes to satisfy everyone -- approximately 50! So search for a volcano near you and enjoy the view. Some top volcanoes in Auckland are Mount Eden and One Tree Hill (U2 even wrote a song about this one). You have a beautiful view over the city and even at night it's a nice sight to see with all the lights. And who doesn't like lights, right!
Also the big city Auckland has a lot to offer when it comes to nature. Nature here in New Zealand is never far away. Go to Mission Bay to enjoy the sun and the ocean off to Waikere Ranges where you can enjoy a nice walk or a nice "barbie" (barbecue) with your friends. Lot of hiking trails to keep you busy all year long
The harbor has a lot to offer and there's a lot to see. Enjoy the beautful blue waters or visit the information center of head for the Wynyard Quarter where you can see amazing, big, luxurious yachts.
There is always something going on over there, or just enjoy the New Zealand cafe culture. Or just relax in the grass. Everything is possible in the harbor.
The French Market, the Fish Market, Victoria Market... Auckland has a lot of markets and all are within easy reach. What better way to spend a saturday? Especially the French Market in Parnell is worth to pay a visit. Try all the different free french foods. What more do you want?