We went on an adventure in search of a seal colony along the shore of Kaikoura on our summer trip to New Zealand. This small seafood town was definitely a favorite of ours because of its unique pebbly, rocky beaches and the friendly community. After nearly getting mauled by an angry seal and watching a sheep sheering, we strolled back to town as the sun set through the clouds and over the calm sea and pastel mountains.Read More
The world’s first ever commercial bungee jump is just outside of our favorite area of New Zealand: Queenstown.
Even though neither of us jumped, we had the awesome opportunity of watching many of our new friends take the leap off of the infamous Kawarou Bridge. We don’t blame our brave-souled friends for choosing this location as their first ever bungee jump. Some people were strapped to their best friend or spouse while others chose the more extreme approach: to be dipped into the crystal blue water below.
Maybe next time we’ll be brave enough…Read More
It’s only been about two weeks since we’ve left and we are already wanting to be back in Kiwi land! Thinking back, we realize that it was such an adventure seeing so much of both islands in just 15 days! At times, all of the days seemed as though they rolled together and we just wanted time to slow down so that we could take it all in. Our only time to rest was when we were on the long Stray bus rides every other day or so.
We fell in love with every single stop in New Zealand. From the “ooh”-ing and “ahh”-ing at every sheep paddock we passed, to our jaws dropping at each of the snow-capped mountains hidden around every bend of the roads, we couldn’t hide that fact that we felt as though we were on another planet. And we weren’t the only ones who felt that way!
We’ve compiled a list of our top five moments from New Zealand below:
Since it was our first true NZ experience, our Franz Josef hike rolls in at number five. We didn’t want to throw all our money away at the very first place we went to by going with everyone else in the group on the helicopter ride up to the glacier – so instead we took a nice, yet challenging, walk up to Lake Wombat and then ventured over to see the glacier from a popular hiking path. It was crazy because our hike up to Lake Wombat was incredibly freezing, yet just a few hours later when the sun was out and we had made it to the glacier view path, we were extremely hot and had to rip off all our layers of jackets!
The longest amount of time we had allotted in one place was in Queenstown and that stay was extended when we missed our bus! Coming in fourth place is the time we spent there. We enjoyed delicious food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, luging with our new friends from around the world, a day trip to the quaint gold-mining community of Arrowtown, swinging in the park, and walking around the beautiful Lake Wakatipu.
What we’d claim the third best moment of our trip is when we saw Milford Sound. We were slightly disappointed with the weather at first since it was raining when we arrived in the national park, however we immediately realized that the rainy days are in fact one of the best days to see Milford Sound. There were thousands of waterfalls and hundreds of rainbows… It couldn’t get any better than that!
The runner up favorite of our trip would have to be at the Bay of Islands when we saw a pod of dolphins playing around our boat. As we drove away, they all did tricks for us as they played in the wake! Nothing brings a bigger smile to your face than a pod of wild dolphins playing, laughing, and doing tricks because they are happy and they want to! (it’s not the same at Seaworld!)
Last but most certainly not least, our favorite part of New Zealand all together was the most terrifying and beautiful thing that we have ever done… We jumped out of a perfectly fine, bright orange airplane twelve thousand feet above Lake Wanaka at sunset.Read More
We arrived in Auckland a few days earlier than we had planned so we decided to take an extra two-day trip with Stray to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. It’s only about a 4 hour drive, but we stopped at some pretty amazing places along the way.
Our first stop was at the Kauri tree which is an 800 year old (baby) tree. Apparently it is one of the oldest trees in the fact that it was one of the prehistoric trees during the dinosaur age! Pretty awesome, right?
Next we stopped at Te Hana village where we watched one of the coolest Maori shows and took a tour through the tribe’s village.
The owner of the village is the “elder” of the tribe and he trained his students to act out how the Maori were back in the day when they lived in their villages. The tribe members took us through their village and it was so interesting to see inside the huts, be welcomed in their traditional ways, and even see some of the food they ate. It was an incredible experience…
The next stop was the most amazing one of all, believe it or not! We stopped at a bird rehabilitation center which holds the only Kiwi in all of New Zealand that the public is allowed to pet. The Stray bus is lucky enough to be the only group that they allow in the center for the opportunity to pet and interact with Sparky the one-legged kiwi!
We also met some other really neat birds! One of them talked and told us he was cold. Another is famous for enjoying untying shoelaces! One of the newest was an injured hawk.
We arrived at the Bay of Islands just in time to go out fishing with our group of 5 girls before the sunset. It was just us girls and the bus driver so we started to feel bad for him. I can’t think of many guys who enjoy teaching a group of girls how to fish… Two of the girls seemed like they had never been around water, let alone a fishing pole. All of us kept getting our hooks stuck on the bottom rocks and one of the girls who had no idea what she was doing tried reeling in her “giant fish” when in actuality she was attempting to reel in the bottom of the ocean. We had quite a laugh when somehow she managed to get the fishing line tangled up in a ball around the pole…
That night we walked around searching for a good place to eat (what most of our days consist of). We stumbled upon an Italian restaurant called Ruffino’s. We were so hungry and excited to have some pizza and pasta to end the day… However, this was probably the worst “Italian” meal we’ve ever had. Their signs claim their food is homemade and fresh… No way. Our food tasted microwaved and stale. The food was ridiculously over-priced and their menus and signs are very misleading. We were honestly worried about getting food poisoning.
The next morning we woke up early because we had to catch a boat tour around the Bay of Islands. We were taking our time getting ready before we both lost track of time and realized that we were about to be late. We bolted out the doors to check out and store our bags, then we ran down the street to the boat dock.
If you’re wondering why there are no photos of our fishing experience, we’re about to tell you why…
We were running down the sidewalk, looking like total tourists. We arrived on the boat with just five minutes to spare and as we put down our backpacks, Laura realized her bag came unzipped as she was running. She happened to have placed her small digital camera right on top inside her bag, so it flung out sometime during our morning run… She ran out to trace her steps before the boat departed but she didn’t have much time and the camera was no where in sight. One of the boat dock workers was extremely nice and went looking a few times to try and find her camera but had no luck. We decided to keep our fingers crossed and pray, hoping to find her camera when we got back.
The boat ride was actually fantastic apart from our morning tragedy. We rode with Dolphin Discoveries and were able to get a half off deal since we were with Stray (only $48 per person). It was a four hour trip which took us to see many beautiful islands including the famous Hole in the Rock.
We also saw an incredible pod of about 30 dolphins. They were so friendly and came right up to the side of the boat. We had front row seats to a wild dolphin show!
For lunch we stopped off at a little island that had one restaurant and a quaint beach. It was so cute…
After the four hours flew by, we began our search for Laura’s camera. We only had an hour before our Stray bus departed for Auckland so we ran up and down the sidewalk as many times as we could and asked every store if anyone had turned a camera in. We also filed a lost item report at the police station… Hopefully it will turn up, but for now Laura’s camera status = stolen. We are kind of creeped out knowing some random person probably went through our photos and is living vicariously through our two week journey around New Zealand!
We headed back to Auckland and ate a great Thai dinner (much needed) at Zap which is very affordable and filled us up with their large portions! We then made our way back to the hostel for the night.
We had a six-bed dorm room at our hostel which was shared with a really nice Italian guy, two British girls, and… wait for it… an 80-year-old man. A very interesting last night in NZ!
We got a good hour or so of sleep before leaving for our flight at 3 am, which concluded our two week trip around New Zealand. It was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives!
We arrived in Hamilton Island this afternoon and made our way to the beautiful Toscana Village Resort in Airlie Beach! We’ve got a full itinerary and we’re excited about a week full of Aussie adventures, so stay tuned!Read More
This morning we departed Rangitata and drove into a sunrise that turned the clouds pink and the mountains purple. It was a beautiful ride all the way into Kaikoura.
Being such a gorgeous day, immediately upon arrival we threw our bags in our room in headed out to check out the small town. We relaxed on the pebble beach while Laura tried her very first kiwi!
We then took a walk and bumped into our friend Stefan from Germany that we met on the bus. He said he’d tag along with us as we figured out what we wanted to do…
We heard there was a seal colony nearby so we all headed to the information centre to find out where to go. The lady pointed us in the right direction and told us it was about an hour walk. We started the long beach-side trek and enjoyed the scenery and nice weather.
Now before we tell you about the greatest moment of the day, let’s backtrack and tell you that we have been wanting to pet sheep for, oh I don’t know, our whole lives. Ok, now back to the story…
We came across a sign in front of a little farm that read: “The Point sheep shearing show at 4:00.” Claire instinctively pulled out her phone to check the time. No joke when we tell you it was exactly, on the dot, four o’ clock.
Can you say meant to be?
We RAN up to the fence and saw the sheep. After about five minutes of freaking out, taking hundreds of photos, trying different “sheep calls,” and Stefan making fun of us, the farmer walked up to us and asked if we were ready for the show. We were more than ready…
Rewind… In Queenstown, we almost paid $200 to watch a sheep shearing show. This amazing guy only charged us $20 total for the three of us (like $7 each). Best. Deal. Ever.
We had such a blast and Stefan secretly fell in love with the incredible sheep! I don’t think we ever stopped smiling… It was the best moment ever.
Time was flying by and before we knew it we were turning into sheep ourselves…
We then headed onward to find our seal colony! It wasn’t but 2 minutes into our walk when all of the sudden on the side of the road we spotted… A SEAL… Just chillin’ five feet from the edge of the street. No big deal.
We freaked out. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better…
We walked back to the town after seeing the seal just as the sunset over the mountains. It was the most beautiful sunset we have seen so far.
Tomorrow we are heading to Wellington. We’re excited to take the ferry across to the north island!Read More
The other day, we got up early and DIDN’T miss our bus (hallelujah). We had a short bus ride to Mt. Cook where we stayed in a little lodge in the middle of nowhere. We went on a really short hike because it started raining so we had to turn around.
The weather kept getting worse as the day went on and by the time we were in bed we were pretty sure the hostel wouldn’t be standing in the morning… We’ve never experienced winds like that before. It was crazy.
This morning we got up and the Stray bus took us to Rangitata, which is known for white water rafting, but since it’s winter they aren’t running any rafting trips and the weather was still pretty bad so that left us stuck in the hostel for the night. It actually turned out to be a fun night because we got to spend time hanging out with our new group and getting to know some really cool Norwegians. Oh, and our bus driver, Rob, made us dinner and dessert. For dinner we had a Thai green curry and dessert was a chocolate pudding cake. Both were really good!
Also, we watched Lord of the Rings! Neither one of us had ever seen any of the movies (We know…where have we been?) It was a pretty cool experience watching it for the first time in New Zealand, even though it was the second one and we were totally confused. Our bus driver pointed out some places that we have been in the film which was cool. We’ve even met a few people that came here solely because of Lord of the Rings. When we get home we are definitely going to join the real world and watch the rest of the films…maybe in order this time.
Next destination: KaikouraRead More