From now on, I will be sharing my past travels as part of my Travel Throwback Thursday.
To kick of my Travel Throwback Thursday series, I will be sharing posts from my trip to New Zealand, which to this day is still one of my favorite countries I have been. What better way than a quick photo essay of the places I visited.
The trusty camper van!
After our long flights, we arrived late in Christchurch. After picking up the camper van, we all (Danielle, Kyle, Andy, and I) decided to test out the camper van and sleep in it across the rental pickup. The next day, we explored Christchurch a few hours before heading south to Dunedin. One thing that we were able to see is the Cathedral that would later be demolished after an earthquake in 2011 destroyed it.
Dunedin is a quaint town with many attractions to see. Moeraki Beach was on the way, so we couldn’t help but roam around and taking in New Zealand’s Coast. We also headed to Otago Peninsula to try our luck at seeing penguins at Sandfly Bay and albatrosses flying around. We were able to see one penguin from a far distance and an albatross flying around the rocky peninsula coastline.
I only had time to drive to Milford Sound, but the drive from Te Anau is one of the most beautiful I have done. Wishing we could have hiked part(s) of the Routeborn Track. The sound was gorgeous and like nothing I had seen. I fell in love with the fjord-lined sound.
Even though there are tons of hiking trails, kayak tours, and boat tours that see more of the Milford Sound, Andy and I decided to spend our time kayaking Doubtful Sound. We left Danielle and Kyle with the camper van as we crossed a lake and dirt roads to get to Doubtful Sound for our kayaking tour. Even though the weather was not on our side (more later), we met some pretty cool people and enjoyed our time at the remote fjord.
New Zealand, at the time, was the first country to bring in the New Year. We chose to ring in the New Year in Queenstown–the adventure capital of the world! Since this was an outdoors trip, Andy and I hiked Queenstown Track that provided great views of the city and the Remarkables.
After ringing in the New Year, it was time to put on our hiking boots once again. With plans on doing the Cascade Saddle route in Mt. Aspiring National Park, we headed to the ranger station. Unfortunately, the weather report was not favorable, so we opted out and hiked Rob Roy Peak and Rob Roy Glacier.
Rob Roy Peak
After the main road washing out, we were stuck in a rain storm in traffic for hours. Fortunately, a local farmer helped repair the washout with his own machinery so cars could pass. Such generosity! With a larger vehicle, we were one of the first ones to attempt to drive through. Not being able to get close to the glacier without paying for a tour, we found a hike with distant views. Walking through the plush green forests and seeing the historical markers of where the glacier was throughout decades was a fun alternative and money-saving activity.
Franz Joseph Glacier
Strapping our Chacos onto our backpacks, Andy and I walked against the current of the glacier run off of the Franz Joseph Glacier. Andy had fun by throwing large ice chunks towards me. It was fun walking through the waters even if it was freezing cold!
Pancake Rocks and Fox River Caves
Pancake Rocks have natural blowholes and will blow water if the wave swells are large enough. The rock formations look like stacks of pancakes hence the name. It was a cool but touristy attraction. After Pancake Rocks, we found a highway sign indicating a cave to explore. The four of us had caving experience from the Outdoors Club of our university, so we decided to hike to the caves and check them out.
Excited to go down the Earthquake Slip Rapids, we headed to the tour company from our DOC campsite to check in. After getting in our boat, we discovered that the owner of the tour company, Doc, was our guide. Doc had many fun rafting stories and was a unique guy. Doc provided some great local information and geographic history as well. What a find!
Nelson and Picton
Nelson is a famous wine destination, so we explored the area by driving around to find local gems. We stumbled into Glover’s Vineyard for tasting samples and souvenirs. Rabbit Island’s beach was a great place for a picnic dinner and a quick dip. On the way to Picton, we stopped in Havelock for its famous green-lipped mussels, which were delicious and huge!
Queen Charlotte Track
Danielle decided to kayak instead of joining Kyle, Andy, and I on mountain bikes. I grew up on a mountain bike but hadn’t ridden one for years. Andy and Kyle were biking experts and would have to wait for me. The views were amazing!
Queen Charlotte Sound
Taking the ferry from Picton to Wellington to get back to the North Island was an adventure. After the ferry ride, we explored Wellington for a few hours before heading north for our last few days.
If I had to pick one thing to see on the North Island, it would be Tongariro Crossing especially if you enjoy to hike. To this day, it is one of my favorite and memorable hikes. I wish I saw more on the North Island, but this stop made me want to return for more exploring.
With little time left, we checked into a hotel for hot showers and space to repack our bags for returning back to the States. Even though it was a lot of driving, it was an trip of a lifetime full of outdoor adventure!
*Partial photo credits from Andy Crampton.
New Zealand Series:
- Two and a Half Weeks through New Zealand
- New Zealand: Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
- New Zealand’s Milford Sound – A Photo Essay
- Trip Report: Kayaking the Doubtful Sound
- Queenstown – Trekking and Celebrating a New Year
- Wanaka – Tramping Rob Roy Peak and Glacier
- Touring the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers for Free
- South Island: Exploring New Zealand’s West Coast
- Things to Do in Nelson, New Zealand
- Mountain Biking above the Queen Charlotte Sound
- Connecting New Zealand Islands: Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferry
- Trip Report: Trekking Tongariro Alpine Crossing