New Zealand may be a fairly small country, but you won’t be short of places to see and things to do. We crammed our eight-day trip with as many experiences as possible and still have plans to return one day (hopefully soon!).
One of the highlights of the trip was the Auckland Bridge Climb. You ascend from the base to the summit of the bridge as your friendly guide answers all your questions and points out the landmarks along the way — it’s the perfect introduction to the city, and although at 200 feet it’s not exactly close to the ground, it’s not a difficult walk.
There was no way I was leaving New Zealand without visiting Hobbiton, the village created especially for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies. The attention to detail is astonishing, with every little detail thought out, and I got a real kick out of seeing the film sets in person.
We were able to combine this trip with a visit to the Waitomo Caves, where we sailed underground to see the glowworms. Ticking off two excursions in one package was cheaper than going on separate trips, and it meant we got to see more in one day.
We planned our time in New Zealand by researching and booking everything we really wanted to do before we went, leaving enough free time to explore on foot and be spontaneous. A last-minute bus trip led us to Napier, where we explored exhibitions at MTG Hawke’s Bay and strolled along the elegant Marine Parade.
In hindsight, we probably could have split our time between the two islands more equally. It’s easy to get carried away when there are so many interesting places to visit and I’d like to see more of the south island next time.
We spent a day in Wellington, riding the cable car and visiting the Carter Observatory, before hopping on the ferry and heading south for a scenic bus trip from Picton to Christchurch.
There’s lots to do for adrenaline junkies, including an aerial obstacle course, bungee jumping and a tandem skydive in nearby Canterbury. I couldn’t quite bring myself to brave the bungee jump, but we did hire mountain bikes and go on a cycling tour through the pine trees of Bottle Lake Forest. Of course, if you do find yourself trying some of the risky things New Zealand has to offer, make sure you’re covered. Apparently, 28% of travellers don’t have the right insurance cover – so something to be wary of.
New Zealand has stunning scenery nearly everywhere you go, and this was what made the trip so special. Lush greenery, rocks and mountains, glaciers… they’ve got it all, and you’ll find yourself staring constantly. Take pictures, but don’t get too carried away — this is a country best appreciated away from the camera. I’ll be heading back as soon as I get the chance.