Category: New Zealand

Six Awesome Places North of Auckland

To conclude my three month trip through New Zealand I spent my last ten days exploring the area north of Auckland. South Islanders claim their island is the best, and of course North Islanders would disagree. The two islands are so different that it’s difficult to rank one before the other, but I really enjoyed my road trip north of Auckland. There was so much variety in things to do and places to see, ten days was hardly enough time to do everything the area had to offer.

North of Auckland

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Diving the Mysterious Milford Sound

New Zealand’s most popular destination is undoubtedly Milford Sound. The rain forest and dramatic cliffs leading into dark, ominous water gives it a sense of mystery. Being one of the wettest places on Earth, it can be difficult to catch this beauty on a clear day. However, its uniqueness is visible even at the cloudiest of times. A rainy day means less visibility but more beautiful waterfalls. I was fortunate enough to visit Milford Sound twice while in New Zealand. Once was to scuba dive the mysterious cold water, and the second time was to take a traditional boat tour. Both visits had their own charm and Milford Sound is certainly a treasure that everyone should experience.

Milford Sound

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Exploring and Kayaking Doubtful Sound

Looking at a map, Fiordland National Park takes up a huge section of New Zealand. Visiting the famous, but small, Milford Sound didn’t seem to do the Fiordlands justice. I wanted to see more of the awesome beauty this national park had to offer and my guidebook recommended Doubtful Sound. Although many people skip it, it’s just as beautiful and dramatic as its sister Milford. It’s also much less touristy because only tour operators are permitted and you cant drive yourself. I wanted to do something more exciting than a boat tour and kayaking seemed like a full day of fun and exercise. Kayaking Doubtful Sound was one of my favorite experiences during my entire New Zealand trip.

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Tongariro Northern Circuit

The 43 kilometer Tongariro Northern Circuit begins as a typical beautiful New Zealand hike. Further along the route it’s easy to see this is no ordinary hike. Walking through dramatic volcanic landscape feels like you’re on an alien planet. With steaming mountains on the left and Mount Ngauruhoe on the right, this Great Walk earns the title in every possible way. Everything about it is great, along with exciting and other-worldly. Out of every hike in New Zealand, Tongariro Northern Circuit was my favorite.

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Sunshine and Swimming on Abel Tasman Coast Track

The northern end of the South Island of New Zealand has many overnight hikes to choose from. After a bit of research I was stuck between the Queen Charlotte Track, Heaphy Track, and Abel Tasman Coast Track; all of which are known for beautiful New Zealand coastline. After speaking to a local friend of mine he couldn’t give a direct answer to which one was the best. However, I was running short on time and he bluntly told me Abel Tasman would be the easiest to check off the list. Queen Charlotte is tricky to organize, Heaphy is difficult logistically, but Abel Tasman Coast Track is all-around easy to plan. Thankfully there were still spots available and we booked them right away.

Abel Tasman

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Pretending to Be a Local in New Zealand’s Nelson Area

During my trip through New Zealand I spent two weeks with a friend in Nelson. After hosteling for the past 6 months I wasn’t sure if the two weeks would be a disaster or loads of fun. Thankfully it was the latter. My time as a local was action packed with hikes, excellent food, and great people. I would consider Nelson to be the California of New Zealand. Known for its perfect weather, consistent calendar of events, and tasty food, being in Nelson was a little like being home.

Nelson

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Is New Zealand’s West Coast Worth the Drive?

South Island’s West Coast is an area many travelers skip. This is understandable because of its remoteness and lack of regular services. However the West Coast offers several stops that make the venture into this part of New Zealand worthwhile. With some planning and a little luck with the weather it can be one of the most memorable parts of your trip.

NZ West Coast

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The Kepler Track

New Zealand has 9 Great Walks that consist of spectacular scenery and well maintained campgrounds/huts. Perhaps this is why the 9 Great Walk are so popular. There is a ton of information on these walks, so it’s a great option for people of all levels who are looking to get outside. As much as I wanted to do every one of them there was simply not enough time. 3 of the 9 Great Walks are in Fiordland and I opted for the 60km Kepler Track because it is a loop. Milford and Routeburn are supposed to be wonderful, but finding transportation from one end to the other made my head spin. There is no need to worry though because Kepler Track is full of excitement, weather, and views.

Kepler Track

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Weather, Hikes, and Glaciers in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

After being in New Zealand for two months I’ve seen some truly incredible places. It’s difficult to decide which parts have been my favorite but Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is definitely in my top three. The drastic scenery, crazy weather, and challenging hikes all add to the beauty of this National Park. This part of my trip was certainly a roller coaster ride but I look back on it with fond memories. The mountains, glaciers, lakes, and meadows all bring together this fantastic part of New Zealand that I am not likely to forget.

Mount Cook

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A Taste of Hiking in New Zealand

Lords of the Rings, Hobbit, and Chronicles of Narnia are just a few of the movies filmed in New Zealand. With stunning landscapes around every corner it’s easy to see why directors like it here. Although New Zealand isn’t a large country per se, there is a wealth of scenery to drool at. During my first two weeks I drove from Christchurch to Queenstown and hiked every chance I could. Eventually I got worried that I had already seen the best there was to see in New Zealand. I quickly found out the beauty here is unlimited, and I want to introduce you to some of my favorites during those first few weeks.

New Zealand Hikes

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