Glenorchy & Queenstown, New Zealand

We spent our final day in New Zealand taking a drive to Glenorchy and chilling out in Queenstown. There isn’t a great deal to see in Glenorchy, but the drive from Queenstown is stunning, with views over Lake Wakatipu and a mountainous backdrop.

We had spectacular weather during our entire trip in New Zealand, except for our last day. It was cloudy, with a few light showers, but still fine enough to get outside and explore. And on the upside, the clouds and fog made for some great moody photos over the jetty in Glenorchy.

After taking a short walk around Glenorchy, we headed further north to a section of the Routeburn Track. We weren’t quite adventurous enough to organise a trek before leaving Sydney, but we did do a short walk for an hour or two along part of the track. Like most places in South Island, the landscape was beautiful.

So after a week exploring the South Island, it was time to return to Sydney. We were very impress with New Zealand, and it was a much needed short break after a few hectic months back home.

5451525355565758596061626364656667687071

Essentials:

Eat:
We didn’t line up for the famous Fergburgers, but we did stop by at the bakery for some cream buns. And oh were they great cream buns!
We also had a fantastic lunch on our way back to the airport before heading home at The Boatshed Cafe. They do great, value for money lunches, with a stunning view towards The Remarkables. Also, don’t forget to grab one of the savoury muffins for the road.

Advertisements

The Catlins, New Zealand

After a day exploring Milford Sound, we headed south-east towards the Catlins. After spending a night in Invercargill at a fantastic eco-guesthouse (see details in essentials at the end of this post), we headed north along the coast through the Catlins, finishing at Kaka Point. The Catlins are wonderful for nature lovers – the entire area is hardly developed, it’s easy to access, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and the landscapes are breathtaking. Set aside at least a day to drive along this stretch of coast, as there are many places to stop and things to see along the way.

I’d recommend downloading and printing a map of the area, which marks out places of interest, before heading off. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to see everything in one day, so chose one or two short walks and visited a few of the beautiful waterfalls. We didn’t venture too far off the main road, but felt we had a good mix of coastal and forest landscapes.

The most stunning place in my opinion was definitely Nugget Point, with its isolated lighthouse and fantastic views over the South Pacific Ocean. There is the possibility of seeing seals and penguins here, particularly at night, but we didn’t have such luck unfortunately.

All in all, I would recommend setting aside a day or two during a trip of the South Island to explore the Catlins, as they are a nice change from the mountains and lakes which dominate the landscapes of South Island of New Zealand.

3233343536373839404142434445464748

Essentials:

Getting There:
It’s roughly a 2.5 hour drive from Queenstown to Invercargill and a 3 hour drive to Kaka Point. Again, there isn’t any public transport, so you’ll have to hire a car. The roads through the South Island are well signposted, and if you have a simple map, it isn’t difficult to get around.

Stay:
We stayed at a fabulous guesthouse just outside Invercargill called Bushy Point Fernbirds. Ian and Jenny run a lovely eco-guesthouse, with three comfortable bedrooms set aside for guests. The house is located on a large property, bordering wetlands, which they have allowed native New Zealand plants to thrive.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

We arrived in Te Anau late in the afternoon to embark on a day trip to Milford Sound the following morning. Taking a trip to Milford Sound requires an entire day to be set aside at minimum. It is about a two hour drive from Te Anau each way, and the road from Te Anau is the only road in. Alternatively, you could always take a helicopter, if your budget allows for it. The road is straight for the majority of the way, and reasonably well maintained. But be careful, as there are patches of moss growing on parts of the road, which may make it slippery. Also, over the winter months the road is closed, making Milford Sound inaccessible by road.

We headed out early with our thermos of hot chocolate and a few snacks. We brought along one of those old-school green Stanley thermoses and it came in very handy. There are a number of scenic stops along the road and a few short walks to break up the drive. It’s worthwhile spending the time to stop at some of these places as the scenery is stunning and it really is part of the experience in visiting Milford Sound.

We were very lucky with the weather on the day we visited, as we were told that it had rained everyday for the previous seven days. It’s quite rare to get a sunny day at Milford Sound as the area has a very high rainfall. So we were very lucky indeed.

You cannot leave Milford Sound without taking a cruise along the sound. There are a number of companies that offer cruises, which more or less offer you the same experience. We chose on the basis that the one we went with offered a fish and chips lunch included in the ticket. When cruising along the sound you see the stunning fjords and a number of waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you may also see dolphins and seals. Most cruises last for two hours, during which you can relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape.

1516171819202122232425262927281330

Essentials:

Getting There:
Milford Sound is accessible by the Te Anau-Milford Highway. Make sure you fill up before you leave Te Anau, as there are no petrol stations along the way. It is about a 2 hour drive each way, without including stops.

Stay:
We stayed at a wonderfull bed and breakfast called The Croft. Jane, the owner, has two self-contained cottages on her property which she rents out as a bed and breakfast. The cottages are spacious and cosy, and she offers a wonderful breakfast.

Queenstown & Wanaka, New Zealand

In April this year, we spent a week travelling around the South Island of New Zealand. I had seen many photos of the south island, particularly on Instagram, and wanted to see the beautiful landscapes myself.

The first 2 days of our trip was spent exploring Queenstown and Lake Wanaka. We really enjoyed Queenstown. Being the low season, the town was quite, but it still had a great vibe. We particularly enjoyed walking around the botanical gardens and the food. Queenstown has a number of great restaurants and plenty great food outlets.

Our second day was spent driving to Lake Wanaka and visiting a few of the towns and lakes along the way. Lake Hayes was beautiful, being encased in stunning autumn colours, and we enjoyed wandering through the historic streets of Arrowtown.

Lake Wanaka was a lot quieter than Queenstown and perhaps not as beautiful. But we still enjoyed taking a walk around the lake and sitting on its shores to eat our lunch. We had wonderful weather, being not too cold, with sunny days and light breezes. We also thoroughly enjoyed seeing the autumn colours, which we don’t get in Sydney.

After relaxing by the lakes for a couple of days, we headed towards Te Anau and Milford Sound.

123456789101112

Essentials:

Getting there:
Queenstown Airport is located quite close to the city, about a 10-15 minute drive. We picked up a hire car at the airport and the way to Queenstown was well sign posted. There isn’t a great public transport system around the south island, so I would highly recommend exploring it with a car.

Accommodation:
We are great fans of Airbnb, so we booked a place in Arthurs Point, called Studio 28, which is about a 10 minute drive from Queenstown. It perhaps isn’t the best place to stay if you want to enjoy the nightlife of Queenstown, but we enjoyed the peace and quite, as well as the beautiful views of the pine covered mountains.

Eating:
We had a fabulous dinner at Sasso Italian. The interior was lovely, with stone walls and timber floor boards, and a fire blazing to make the space warm and cosy. The food was superb. I ordered the pappardelle with rabbit ragu (I love rabbit) and Jonathan ordered the seafood gnocchi. Both dishes were full of flavour and beautifully presented.

The Coromandel, New Zealand

A few weekends ago I spent the weekend on the Coromandel Peninsula, on the North Island of New Zealand. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best, I arrived in the middle of tropical cyclone Lusi, but I tried to make the most of the weekend. The weather on Saturday was that bad, that we had to stay in for the day. We ventured out a bit in the afternoon, but it was so wet, that you couldn’t really get out of the car.

Sunday was a little better. The rain had eased and we had a few patches of sunshine. We went for a walk to Cathedral Cove, which would have been absolutely stunning on a beautiful day. However, even though the weather wasn’t the best, it was worth the 1.5 hour round trip. The weather improved in the afternoon, and we managed to beat the tide and arrive at Hot Water Beach just in time to dig for the hot water. It was actually quite amazing – you have to search for the hot water, which is found in pockets along a 10 meter strip of the beach. You might dig and find hot water, but a foot away from you the person digging cannot. And the hot water is right beneath the service – you only have to dig a few centimetres to find it. So we joined the group of people frantically digging in search of hot water.

The afternoon was getting on, so we turned back and headed slowly back to Auckland.

I’m off to Japan in a few weeks, so stay tuned for some photos from Japan!

IMG_1265 IMG_1266 IMG_1267 Untitled-1 IMG_1285 IMG_1289 Untitled-2 IMG_1327 IMG_1365 IMG_1377 IMG_1380 IMG_1389 IMG_1393 IMG_1395 IMG_1405 IMG_1409 Untitled-3 IMG_1422 IMG_1424 IMG_1427 Untitled-4 IMG_1432 IMG_1437 IMG_1438 IMG_1442 IMG_1445 IMG_1453

Essentials

Getting There:
There isn’t a proper public transport system along the Coromandel Peninsular, so it’s best to drive. From Auckland, get onto State Highway 1, and then to State Highway 2. From there just follow the signs to the Coromandel.

Stay:
We stayed at the Top Ten Caravan Park at Hot Water Beach. Their cabins, especially their delux cabins are cosy and comfortable. And it is walking distance from Hot Water Beach and a couple of cafes.

Eat:
Being a rural area, with only a few small towns, there isn’t the greatest choice in cafes and restaurants, but the cafes we managed to find had fantastic food. We had great meals at both cafes at Hot Water Beach – the blueberry and banana pancakes at Hot Waves Cafe were great. Also try the Seafood Chowder at Cafe Luna in Hahei – delicious!

 

Wellington + Surrounds, New Zealand

A few weekends ago, my boyfriend and I, along with a couple of friends, met in Wellington to spend three days visiting the city and exploring the surrounding countryside.

Wellington is a relatively small city, and a day is enough to adequately experience the city (if you decide against visiting the Te Papa Museum). If you want to visit the museum, perhaps add another day, as I’ve been told that you need almost an entire day to get the most out of the complex. But a day is long enough to walk up to Mt Victoria to experience the incredible view over the city, take a walk along the harbour foreshore, enjoy a relaxing lunch in Cuba Street whilst listening to the street performers, visit Parliament House (known as The Beehive) and take a the cable car to Carter Observatory and wander through the Botanical Gardens. End the day with dinner at one of the many restaurants found in downtown Wellington, and don’t forget to stop for some gelato at Kaffee Eis.

We spent our second day further afield, visiting the wineries of Martinborough, including a delicious lunch amongst the vineyards. After lunch we headed to Cape Palliser (the southern most point of the north island). Here we stopped to take photographs of the seals (it was so incredible how close they allowed us to be) and climbed to the top of the lighthouse to witness the magnificent view.

After a comfortable night spent in Martinborough, day three was spent visiting the beach and lighthouse at Castlepoint. Again the east coast of the north island did not disappoint in its beauty. After a delicious and entertaining lunch in funky Greytown cafe, we headed back to Wellington and in a flash the weekend was over.

Untitled-1 IMG_9048 IMG_9059 Untitled-2 IMG_9071 IMG_9073 IMG_9092 Untitled-3 IMG_9117 IMG_9123 IMG_9133 Untitled-4 IMG_9141 IMG_9148 IMG_9156 IMG_9166 IMG_9178 IMG_9179 Untitled-5 IMG_9193 IMG_9197 IMG_9201 IMG_9208 IMG_9213 Untitled-6 IMG_9225 IMG_9228 IMG_9235 IMG_9237 Untitled-7 IMG_9250 Untitled-8 IMG_9256 IMG_9263 IMG_9265 IMG_9269 IMG_9286 IMG_9298 Untitled-9 IMG_9307 IMG_9312 IMG_9320 IMG_9332 Untitled-10 IMG_9365 IMG_9337 IMG_9339 IMG_9354 Untitled-11 IMG_9374 IMG_9381 IMG_9390 Untitled-12 IMG_9404 IMG_9403 IMG_9405 Untitled-13 IMG_9410 IMG_9420 IMG_9424 IMG_9438 Untitled-14 IMG_9456 Untitled-15 IMG_9463 IMG_9453 IMG_9466

Essentials

Getting There:
There are regular flights with a number of airlines from Sydney and Auckland, as well as other centres. Signup for Air New Zealand or Jetstar newsletters, as they often advertise specials. Wellington Airport is close to the centre. From about 7am to 8pm there is a bus every 20 minutes to the centre. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or the Super Shuttle.

Stay
In Wellington we stayed at Trek Global Backpackers. The rooms were clean, although a little noisy, but that’s to be expected in backpacker accommodation. In Martinborough, we were very impressed with the Top 10 Caravan Park, staying in their double cabins. Although small, they were extremely cosy and had that at home feel about them

Eat
Food in and around Wellington is something to rave about. In Wellington, try Sweet Mothers Kitchen, located in Courtney Place for some home food with a Mexican twist. Don’t forget to stop by Kaffee Eis, located a few doors down, for dessert. In Martinborough we had a delicious lunch The Vineyard Cafe at Margrain Vineyard Cellar Door, and in Greytown we had the most amazing chicken, bacon and egg burgers at Cahoots Cafe.

Matapouri Bay, New Zealand

A few weekends ago, I visited my boyfriend (who is currently living in Auckland, New Zealand) and we spent a weekend away with some friends in Northland, namely in Matapouri Bay. Many New Zealanders and foreigners alike constantly rave about the south island of New Zealand, but I think the north island is also spectacular (ok, I haven’t been to the south island yet).

Matapouri Bay, and the surrounding bays and beaches was breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, we had a bit of overcast weather which put a grey hue on the landscape, but once the sun came out, it sparkled. This area is perfect for walking, swimming and just enjoying the sunshine. There isn’t a whole lot to do if you need constant stimulation like me, but it’s a perfect place for a weekend away with friends and loved ones.

IMG_7481 Untitled-3 IMG_7504 Untitled-4 IMG_7509 Untitled-5 IMG_7521 Untitled-6 IMG_7532 Untitled-7 IMG_7538 IMG_7555 IMG_7559 IMG_7582 IMG_7590 Untitled-8 IMG_7606 IMG_7617 IMG_7640IMG_7700 IMG_7729 IMG_7733 IMG_7741 Untitled-9 IMG_7753 Untitled-10 Untitled-11 IMG_7758 Untitled-12 Untitled-13 IMG_7761 IMG_7763.1 IMG_7765 IMG_7766 Untitled-14 IMG_7776 IMG_7778 IMG_7788 Untitled-15 IMG_7796 IMG_7793 IMG_7799 IMG_7801IMG_7827 Untitled-16

Essentials:

Getting There:
We hired a car in Auckland and drive north. There are plenty of road signs along the way, so you don’t even need a GPS, or a map, but these could definitely be of assistance. It’s a leisurely 2.5 to 3 hour drive from Auckland, providing that there isn’t any traffic.

Stay:
Many people rent houses, known as baches, in beachside towns along the north island. Prices and standards vary, but there are plenty of options for every taste and budget. We found our accommodation on http://www.bookabach.co.nz.

Eat:
There aren’t many facilities in Matapouri Bay. If you have self-contained accommodation, stop in a supermarket in Whangarei for supplies for the weekend on your way to Matapouri. For a weekend away with friends, make sure you have a good supply of drinks, chocolate and other nibblies.