I’m an Aussie but a self-confessed NZ-lover, having lived there for six years of my adolescent/teenage life.
In my mind it is one of the most Edenic countries on earth to live (minus the fact it is freezing, and sadly, well-paying jobs are hard to find).
It is an amazing place to go as a tourist, with everything so close together; so many beautiful natural wonders; and most NZers are super-helpful and friendly. Just walking down the street will elicit a few ‘hellos’.
I’ve toured all over the South Island so it will be my focus in this blog.
Favourite places/things to do in the South Island:
Christchurch, The Avon River and Botanic Gardens: It is beautiful, and you can swim in the river if you want to freeze your socks off, or go for boat ride, either by hiring a boat or a gondolier. The botanic gardens are great for roller-blading.
Christchurch, The Ice Skating Rink: Big, affordable, and fun!
The Port Hills: Just outside Christchurch. In winter they are graced with snow.
Enough about Christchurch. The best bits are outside the city. In no particular order:
Hanmer Springs: Love, love, love them! They are relatively cheap, compared to the Aussie ones. There are so many pools to bathe in, with all different temperatures. There are pools that flow into each other. There’s a cold pool to dip in to ‘increase your circulation’. In winter it is stunning to bathe surrounded by snow.
Maruia Hot Springs Motel: with hot spring bathing and bath house: You think you’ve seen a nice motel? This one is almost too stunning to believe! Imagine bathing in a Japanese-style bath house next to a huge window that overlooks the mountains! The pools for the natural hot springs have a natural look, with (smooth) rocks set in them. It is about an hour from Hanmer Springs and from memory allows you to pay for entry to the bathing, without staying overnight. (I would call ahead to check, just in case though – please don’t take my word for it).
The Cookie Time Factory: If you’ve got a sweet tooth you can’t miss this! I’ve never understood why no-one in Australia has figured out how to sell cookies that taste this good. It’s probably a good thing, or I’d have big dental bills.
Te Waikoropupu Springs: If you fancy drinking water straight from the ground, plus seeing beautiful clear rivers running over pretty stones, this is worth a taste.
Arrowtown: The cutest little town on the way to Queenstown. It is surrounded by hills. Autumn is the most stunning time to visit as the hills are totally blanketed in red, orange, yellow – every bright, Autumn colour imaginable. Still, it is cute at any time of the year, and if you have a sweet tooth, they have one of the best ice-cream shops in NZed.
Fun Things to Do in Queenstown (I’ve tested them out – except I was too young for the bungy jumping):
The Luge – it’s like go-karting down-hill
The Shotover jet-boat. It’s like almost crashing into the sides of the river.
The Queenstown Gondola – a steep and stunning view.
Bungy Jumping: Nevis Bungy – Nzed’s highest bungy, above a river. You have the option of dipping in the water when you go down (make sure your t-shirt is secured or you may be revealing more than just your sense of adventure). Need I say more?
Mt Somers: lovely place to tramp (NZed for ‘hike’): The huts provided for trampers are warm. The walk is challenging but not harrowing, though we almost got lost in the snow here, when it was knee-high and we couldn’t see the markers.
Mount Hutt for Skiing: “Voted NZed’s best ski resort in 2015” (quoting an internet site I just googled). I can understand why. It is affordable (especially if you would buy a season pass), and has great skiing for every level. I went here from beginner (when I skied straight down the mountain instead of going from side to side), to intermediate. I love the intermediate slopes. They are so fun, without being too steep. The snow is usually soft and powdery. I mostly avoided the advanced slopes. I left them to the expert two-year-olds, who zip along with skis bigger than themselves. Tip: When exiting the ski lift, don’t get your ski caught in it, or you will do the splits. Also, if you exit very fast, you could zoom over other peoples’ skis, and knock them flat on their back. Perhaps the reason why people opt for snow-boarding?
Milford Sound: All of NZed is photogenic, but this takes the cake! When we travelled through, we saw dolphins leaping behind the boat.
Fruit-Picking: Some of the best berry and cherry picking (when in season).
Sandy black beaches: Yes, the sand may seem coarse and the water freezing, but it is worth it, just to spot one paua shell! Anyway, a true NZer still swims at the beach in freezing weather (most likely in a bikini) and then goes for ice-cream.
I could go on and on about fun things to do and places to see in NZed. There are plenty of things I haven’t mentioned or tried myself. If anyone reads this blog, please share your favourite places or things to do! 🙂