Like any place I visit, I always reflect on my trip after I have left and summarize my highlights. New Zealand is a country from another world as if I had landed on a different planet. It really had it all: turquoise, beaches, mountains, glaciers, culture, marine life, kiwis, and friendly folk. Although I only had three weeks in New Zealand, I saw more than I could have imagined on my Stray Bus hop-on-hop-off pass. Stray’s jam packed scheduled allowed me to see all of the main destinations on both the south and north islands, while flying in between to save time. Continue reading
From the Waitomo caves, we crossed the Bay of Plenty to Mourea to stay at a Maori marae-a Maori meeting place. Mourea is home to a number of small Maori communities. The Ngati Pikiao people, a sub tribe of the New Zealand Iii of Te Arawa are some of the most spiritual and inviting people I have met throughout my travels. Their traditional welcoming onto their land gave me goose bumps as we walked silently toward their scared marae. Continue reading
Waking up in the small town of Franz Josef at the base of Franz Josef Glacier was beyond words. When I first exited the lodge in the morning, I was left speechless while looking at the fresh snow capped mountain range in front of me. The gigantic mountains in the Westlands towered over the Rainforest Retreat. Apparently, it had been 6 months since the locals saw the mountain peaks with snow on them. I was told that winter is near. I arrived just in time. Continue reading
Heading south on the western ‘wild’ coast of the south island in New Zealand was a spectacular drive. According to Lonely Planet, the drive from Marahau (Abel Tasman National Park) to Punakaiki is one of the top ten drives in the world. I can now see why. The rugged coast overlooks the dramatic beaches along the way.
We stopped at Cape Foulwind Walkway to see the surfers on the beach and after a short walk, we observed a nearby seal colony resting on the black rocks. The jagged giant rocks were jetting out of the sea as if they were reaching toward heaven. I wondered to myself if the views could continue to get better and better the further south I went. Continue reading
The drive from Kaikoura through Havelock and Nelson to Marahau was out of this world. The stunning mountain views were like a mirage in front of my very eyes. The drive from Kaikoura to Nelson is known as the winery route. Endless vineyards sit at the base of the mountains along the scenic drive. The backdrop was as if it were a painting, too good to be true. The drive from Nelson to Marahau was along a steep curvy road through the mountains. The magnificent views during the long slow drive made it worth it. As I sat silently on the bus looking out the window, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in that moment. Continue reading
Although I only stayed in Picton for one night along the drive to Abel Tasman National Park, I found the small city charming. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the next door bakery, fish and chip shops, and second hand stores. I enjoyed wondering around the cute town in the quiet morning with the warm sun on my face. The art-deco buildings, palm tree lined streets, and welcoming harbour burrowed a place in my heart.
Even before arriving in New Zealand, I knew I would love it. From what I have heard about it and the glimpses of what I had seen in movies I knew it would be amazing. I’ve heard that it is similar to Canada in many ways. Only now that I have landed and have been driving on the windy roads throughout the country, can I see the similarities. New Zealand is the perfect mix of eastern and western Canada with a dash of the central plains thrown in there. The spectacular mountains tower over the coastline in a way I have never seen before. The lush green rolling hills cover the south island in a magical way I’ve only previously seen in movies. It truly is one of a kind. Continue reading