अपडेट करने की तारीख: 19 मई 2022
One of the most vibrant places you’ll ever go to in your life. Ever. Nowhere else in the world can you find water as turquoise and pure, contrasting the sky-high luscious green mountains. It is stunning. Immerse yourself in this country, be present, you will discover so much more than just the land.
I was on the south island for a week, a week that was jam-packed with adventure and memories so vivid I remember them to this day. If you have time, schedule a week on the North Island, I have never been, but I’ve heard it’s unlike anywhere else in the world.
We were on a bus from the company StayTravel.com. I highly recommend this company, however, you can also rent a car and take this trip on your own. We were on the “Southern Circle” route: 8 days at $785NZD which started in Christchurch. There isn't much in Christchurch, except that’s where the tour started and where the airport was. You won’t need time to explore this city, it was hit with a bunch of earthquakes from 2010-2012 and when I went, in 2015, there was still a lot of rubble and demolished buildings.
On your first day, you will bring driving to Franz Joseph. Your first stop will be about 2 hours from Christchurch at Castle Hill. This is a cool place with boulders that look like Bigfoot decided to randomly scatter them around. You can climb and run through the nature-made obstacle course for a little road trip break (photo).
Continuing the trip, you’ll then drive through Arthur’s Pass National Park. Take a moment here. If you want to spend some time exploring the waterfalls do so, but if not, stop for a minute, walk around a bit, and then continue to Franz Josef.
We stayed in Franz Joseph for two nights, I suggest you give yourself at least this much time. The main thing you will do here is to hike the Franz Josef Glacier (photo). You’ll take a helicopter ride to the glacier, hike around for a few hours, and then relax in the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools back at base. All of this is included in your tour. This will be a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life! Do this experience.
While in Franz Joseph, we stayed at the Chateau Franz. It was great accommodation with easy access to the town. We had dinner at MonSoon Restaurant. It had such a Kiwi (someone born in New Zealand) feel. After, we wanted to hike up to the Tatare Tunnels and see the bioluminescent creatures. But unfortunately, we were a bunch of 19 and 20-year-old’s, lost for about an hour, so we turned around. If you want to find them, leave with plenty of time and bring flashlights.
It is now day 3! Start your drive to Wanaka, you’ll spend one night here. Along the drive take time to stop at Haast Pass and Thunder Creek Falls. Haast Pass is stunning. This is the place I referred to earlier as having the most turquoise, crystal clear water you will ever see. Thunder Creek Falls is a big waterfall just 5 minutes off the side of the road (photo). Again, it’s a nice little stop to get out, stretch your legs, get in some nature, maybe grab a cool picture, and then get back on the road. If you really want, you can continue straight to Queenstown, where you will experience the most adventure. However, I think it’s important to take in NZ’s natural beauty, disconnect, and relax. You’ll have plenty of time for adrenaline rushes in the next two days, take this day to be present where you are.
One of the best places on earth in my opinion, but I’m an adrenaline junkie. If bungy jumping is on your bucket list, do it here. AJ Hackett, (the guy who invented bungy jumping) did it here in NZ. The bungy at Ledge Bungy is a bit different, it is attached around your waist, instead of your feet, so you can take a running start, do flips, go backward, or anything your heart desires. Nevis Bungy is NZ’s highest bungy at 134m (that’s 440 feet for us Americans). This one is attached to your feet. You can do both, or just one, I only did Ledge Bungy and was extremely satisfied, it’s up to you.
Head up the mountain on a gondola to Skyline Luge. You can see the gondola from downtown Queenstown, but in case you have trouble finding it, it's is at the top of Brecon Street. There’s no age limit to fun; this place defines that. You’ll be put on a luge track on top of a mountain overlooking the lake and town. You’ll get a helmet and that’s about it. Off you go! Three laps around the track as you race against your friends, family, and fellow travelers. Rediscover the inner child in you, this place is a blast. If adrenaline is not your thing, you can also ride the gondola up and hang out at the top of the mountain. There are restaurants and a gift shop up there, or feel free to just walk around!
There is plenty of stuff to do on and around the lake. Paddleboarding and parasailing are the two we opted for, but the options are limitless. Pick out a spot for dinner and after that hit up Minus 5º Ice Bar. You’ll be given a parka and. Trust me on this one. Just do it (photo of the river you ride through on Shotover Jet). out on the ice throne. Stay as long as you want!
Shotover Jet. DO THIS. 100% you HAVE to do this. Zoom through the canyons, avoiding boulders emerging from the cyan water, you’ll swear you’re on a roller coaster track but nope, that’s just how the Kiwi’s do it. These drivers are skilled. Trust me on this one. Just do it (photo of the river you ride through on Shotover Jet).
It is now time to leave Queenstown. From Queenstown, head back to Christchurch to fly out. On your trip back, stop at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Lake Tekapo. You’ll see other points along this route you’ll want to stop at, take your time. Enjoy your last moments in this land rich with nature.
Since I was in New Zealand on an already planned 8-day tour, I recommend this as your best option. If you choose to forego this, here is a list of my “must do’s”, foodies, and nightlife that left an impact on me.
o Must do’s
Franz Joseph Glacier
MonSoon Restaurant in Franz Joseph
Minus 5 Ice Bar