My top 5 things to do in New Zealand 

My trip round New Zealand was only 27 days long, and while I missed out on Milford Sound, Tongariro Crossing and Lake Tekapo (all things I wish I had had time to do), I also did a bunch of fantastic stuff!

So here’s my top 5:

1) Going to The Moari village of Whakarewarewa

image

Rotorua offers a couple of Maori experiences so to say. Maori culture is one of the things I really wanted to learn about whilst in New Zealand , so Whether you’re watching a Haka being performed, watching wood carving, or eating food, learning about the Maori culture is amazing and so fascinating. Whakarewarewa is a living Maori village, so getting to walk around where people live and seeing what they do in their everyday lives was pretty wicked. 

2) Snout track hike in Picton

image

Picton very quickly became one of my favourite places to visit, and one of the main reasons is because of this hike!

It was the most beautiful day when we did this hike! You can literally see for miles the further up you go. It’s so peaceful as well just looking over the sound, definately give it a whorl! 

3) Christchurch

image

I love love love Christchurch as a whole. It’s got museums and art galleries and great eateries. Even though a lot of the city is still being rebuilt after the earthquake in 2011,  the people of Christchurch are optimistic about what lies ahead. New building, new shopping centres, they look forward to the future of the city and I love the idea of that!

Christchurch had such a homely feel to me, so I definately look forward to heading back there in a few years.

4) Lake Wanaka

image

Lake Wanaka was literally one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen ever in my life! Close your eyes and imagine this for a second. The lake was almost still, and crystal clear on a clear day. Beautiful blue sky with the occasional fluffy white cloud with the mountains in the background. A light Autumn chill in the air, with the sun beating down. The tress changing colour from green to yellow. The Wanaka tree looking so green against the surroundings. Sound amazing, yeah? 

5) Greymouth

image

Many people were surprised when I said I was stopping in Greymouth, and advised me not to go there because there’s nothing to do. The thing is, I’m very good at making nothing into something, so I was pretty much busy everyday when I was there. There’s some super gorgeous hikes to do which gives the most amazing views of the town. Plus, it’s right by the sea! What’s better than taking a picnic down the beach, and just sitting and reading a good book?

Thanks for reading,

Jess xx

Last stop in Queenstown

So I had 3 days in Queenstown. As I’m not one for super adrenaline stuff, I gave the bungy jump and the canyon swing a miss. 

First thing I decided to do was to explore the city, and what better way to do that, than a free walking tour. I love these, as you’re given the tour by a local, and they show you all the best places!

The first place to see in the Queenstown Gardens, and take a little walk along Lake Wakatipu, which I must say is beautiful!

image

There’s also an ice rink in the gardens, which is so awesome!

I didn’t head to Fergburger, as my wheat intolerance was super bad while I was there so instead I opted for a more dietary friendly Mexican at Sombreros Mexican Cantina. I had the corn fritters, which were great!

image

I have also discovered Rehab. It’s a place on Camp Street and it’s does smoothies and hot food including soups. And it was amazing!

image

image

I popped in one night as I was craving something sweet, and landed with a berried alive smoothie instead, which my body was very thankful for! And the chicken pomodoro soup is amazing, definately great for a crisp autumn day.

Definately check out Ericks fish and chips, they have fish and chips annnddddd deep fried kiwis- whaaaattt?!

image

image

The kiwis were so amazing, that I had to go back and get a second!

Queenstown is so much fun, and will definately offer loads for everyone!

Jess xx

That Wanaka Tree (and the town Wanaka)

Wanaka is beautiful. There’s no other way to describe it.

I arrived in the evening onto Ardmore Street, which was alive with people as it is the main drag in the town. Tonnes of restaurants and eateries along there.

The next morning was crisp and sunny, just like a perfect autumn day should be. So, I decided this was the perfect time to go and see Lake Wanaka and get a couple of great shots of the mountains. Literally, I couldn’t have photoshopped it, it was that beautiful. My photos don’t even do it justice!

image

I got a nice one of the Wanaka tree, which a lot of people take a photo of. But come on, how could you not, it’s so pretty! 

image

I had been recommended to go and hike up Roys peak, but I only had a short amount of time so I was going to opt for a quick hike up Mount Iron. But with the weather being so beautiful, and the lake so picturesque, I thought reading by the lake would be better. 

I had also heard about cinema paradiso. Which is obvs a cinema but it has sofas and it has a couple of cars you can sit in to watch a movie.

image

And a few cinema seats at the back. Anyway, I went to watch Kung Fu Panda 3 and it was awesome! They have an interval as well, and they freshly bake cookies so they’re ready for people to buy during intermission. Like amazing!

Go and see the movie, and go to Cinema Paradiso!

I can’t rave about Wanaka enough. I totally wish I had stayed here longer!

Jess xx

The town at the bottom of a glacier, to Franz Josef!

Our drive to Franz Josef Glacier was so pretty. We stopped to take a few photos of the Waikato River, which was so blue!

image

Apparently when it rains the river gets less blue, I’m so glad it hadn’t been raining over the west coast. 

Franz Josef is the smallest town ever. You can literally walk from one end of the main road to the other in under 5 minutes. 

I was meant to do the Ice Explorer trip onto the glacier, but it had been cancelled due to on coming weather. So instead I decided to hike to the glacier so that I would still get to see it. That’s when it started to rain. And then fog descended. 

So I only managed to get one good shot of the glacier, as by the time I got there you couldn’t see it.

image

image

As you can tell, I look like a drowned rat.

The next day was literally the sunniest of days, so why didn’t I hike that day instead? Oh well! One of the ladies in my room did the Ice Explorer and said it was amazing, and shed definately recommend it. Her photos were amazing and you walked through tunnel of ice and stuff and it looked pretty cool.

Instead I chose to have a down day, and just look round the town. There are hot pools in town that you can relax in (located next to the glacier guides). I recommend taking all jewellery off, as the minerals can tarnish them.

There’s also a little wildlife sanctuary which has a kiwi bird in it, which is pretty cool. The prices for these places can be a bit high, so check out bookme on the Internet for discounted activities.

Jess xx

Greymouth, pronounced grey mouth

The tranzalpine train arrived in Greymouth around 13:30, and it was a glorious day! When I say glorious day, it was sunny, but cold. 

image

First thing I did was walk to my hostel which was Noah’s Ark backpackers which was literally the cutest hostel ever! 

Greymouth is a very small town. According to wiki it has a population of almost 10,000 people! Even though it’s small, I still seemed to fill up my 2 and a half days there. 

There’s a wonderful viewpoint to walk  by the beach which is where loads of ships wrecked, so there’s a memorial and a bit of information on it.

image

It’s a very pleasant walk to the beach either via the roads or the walking track which takes you closer to the water.

image

On one of the mornings, I attempted to find a hike. So I walked up the road and came to a very very very steep hill and started to climb. It took me higher and higher and offered some amazing views!

image

But after seeing that the hill just continued up, I decided that I was not up for that and headed back down. 

The town doesn’t have a lot of shops, but I must admit, I really enjoyed visiting just for the views. Its a very relaxing place, and it’s definately worth a stop on your trail! 

Jess x

Tranzalpine train: from Christchurch to Greymouth 

Got up real early for my 6:55am pick up from the YHA in Christchurch to head to the train station to take the Tranzalpine train! 

I was so excited! Like jumping about excited! 

image

So I dumped my bag in the luggage carriage and headed to my seat. I was very lucky and got 2 seats to myself so I got a window seat, nice.

At 8:15am we were off.

Unfortunately, the day was super drizzly in the morning so it was pretty hard to see anything in the beginning. You’re provided with headphones, as there’s a commentary the whole way about the mountains and the surrounding land, the history and its purpose.

image

By the time we hit the mountains, the rain had dried up and it was a beautiful blue sky, with a few low clouds around the mountain peaks. 

We stopped in Arthur’s pass, which is the middle of 3 passes in the mountains, this was to get a quick snap and to let off some passengers who were doing a day excursion.

image

10 minutes and we were back on the way to Greymouth. 

(There is a cafe carriage in the trains, serves muffins, cookies, sandwiches, wraps, drink etc. And it’s all very yummy! Especially the banana and chocolate muffin!)

We passed old towns which had a population of 40ish people, and even a town with a population of 1 (how very lonely).

We continued on our journey, and the weather dramatically improved. The river was flowing so blue, and the mountains were so green!

image

It was just so spectacular! We passed Lake Brunner which was just so beautiful. 

image

I don’t know what else to say, apart from this journey just shows you how beautiful nature actually is.

The one thing is was expecting was snow on the mountain tops. But I guess it was just the wrong season.

Go do this journey. It’s expensive, but it’s so amazing. And it’s a nice way to get from east to west coast! 

Jess x

I <3 Christchurch

I stayed in Christchurch for 2 nights. People warned me that there wasn’t a lot in Christchurch, as there had been an earthquake in 2011 and a lot of the buildings had been torn down. People said they wouldn’t spend time there because it would be too sad.

 Not gonna lie, some parts of the city are just rubble. I was there on a Sunday and there was no building work being done in an area, and it looked a bit like an abandoned town. 

Saying that though, I really enjoyed being in Christchurch. 

I arrived and stayed at the YHA Rolleson House and it was great! The girls in my room were awesome, one girls living in Melbourne as well! 

We headed out that evening to The Villas, which is a little restaurant that does really good muffins. We arrived there quite late a night, so of course, no muffins left. But there was a dessert menu and we happily shared a good pud and talked politics.

The next day I got up early to explore the city and started off with a walk round the botanical gardens, which is a must see. The flowers were so beautiful, and there’s a rose garden

image

which I sat down in and listened to the morning birds sing (bare in mind this was about 7am) so no one around which was great.

From there I meandered my way past the boat sheds, down to the Cardboard Cathedral. As it was a Sunday I didn’t venture in. It was a very beautiful church, with a very high pitched ceiling. I noticed that the sides of the building literally were shipping containers. 

Next I headed to 185 empty seats. It said on the map that it was a pop up/art piece I think. It represents the people that lost their lives during the earthquake and serves as a rememberance memorial. Each chair represented a different person. You were also invited to sit in a chair that spoke to you. It was very moving, but I do recommend you check it out. 

That end of the city is still quite empty, lots of flat land, old dis-used buildings, the skeleton of new buildings. Walking around, really does put into perspective how bad Christchurch was actually hit. But things are beginning to make their way back.

There’s the RE:Start mall, which is such a wicked idea. It’s a little shopping area made out of shipping containers!

image

They’ve got souvenirs there, clothes, and the best bit, the food! I got THE BEST frankfurter from Fitz’s wieners!

image

All the sausages come in a baguette rolls, plus onions and/saurkraut for free, so it only came to $6! Obvs plus free sauce too.

Canterbury museum is amazing! It’s got a tonne of things to offer for all ages and interests. I spent hours in there, and this is coming from a girl who’s been to every museum in every place I’ve been to. I can hear you saying ‘but surely you must have read everything now?’ No is the answer! It has the best exhibit on Antarctic explorations with the actually vehicles they used! 

image

A few things to note: theres a wood carving gallery on Worcester Blvd, as well a lady a few doors down from that who sells her art work on a lawn. Oh also check out the Cathedral, it’s half fallen down but it hasn’t been knocked down. It’s a very beautiful building, even just from the outside. 

I spoke to a few locals from Christchurch and asked them what it was like to live there. One guy said, it’s nice because with all the rebuilding, you have something to look forward to in the next few years. 

I really enjoyed Christchurch, it had such a homely feel about it. I really can’t explain it, but everything about the city intrigued me. I must go back!

Jess x

A day stop in Kaikoura

Kaikoura took just over 2 hours to get to, and it was a beautiful journey driving through hills and along the coast. 
Kaikoura is also very beautiful, lots of mountains with low lying clouds. It’s all very picturesque.

The first thing I did once I checked into Dusky Lodge (it’s a BBH) is walk to the viewpoint past the peninsular. There is a population of New Zealand fur seals down there, keep an eye out when spotting them because they’re brown and they look like rocks!

image

It’s a very pleasant walk along the peninsular. I tried to spot whales and dolphins whilst walking, but unfortunately no luck! 
The town is very cute, offering quite a few clothes shops as well as souvenir shops. There’s also a cute little gallery that sells some really nice jewellery and crockery.
It’s definately noticeable as I travel further south, that the weather is getting a little colder and a little more miserable. Let’s hope the pouring rain holds off. 

image
Jess x

A journey to Picton

Took the interislander ferry yesterday from Wellington to Picton (from north to South Island). And it was beautiful!

image

You should take the ferry just for the views! We saw dolphins swimming along side the ferry and one of the girls in my hostel said she also saw penguins and a whale! So jel! 

You also get to sail through the Marlborough sound, so you get a bit of an idea what it’s like, but if you want to see more, you can take a boat around Marlborough sound and the Queen Charlotte sound.

image

I thoroughly underestimated Picton. When I looked at google maps, it looked a little grey and people told me it wasn’t worth going to. And how wrong we all were. 

First of all, we arrived and it was a fantasticly sunny day. I checked in a my hostel (the villa, I think it’s a YHA) and took of with one of my roommates for a hike.

Firstly we headed towards Bobs Bay, which is a bay named after Bob the fisherman apparently and took a little over half an hour to walk there maybe?

image

We weren’t rushing. We continued on to the snout track after, in an attempt to hike to Queen Charlottes view which would have taken about 50 minutes from the car park I think. But after a lot of uphill walking, we found the most amazing lookout and decided not to continue, as we would have had to go downhill and walk uphill on the way back, and it just was not very appealing at all.

image

I explored the town the next day, which took probably about half and hour in total. They have very cute shops though, and there’s also a great bakery next door to the Villa hostel, so do try that! 

Picton is a gorgeous place, and I wish I had spent more than 1 day and 1 night there, so I think I will be heading back st some point!

image

Don’t skip Picton on your journey!

Jess x

A beehive, a giant squid and a beautiful bay- Being in Wellington

So, I took the 315am bus from Taupō to Wellington. I still think it was a good idea! Got into Wellington just after 8am, dumped my bags at my hostel (Hotel Waterloo & backpackers) and set off to explore the capital of New Zealand.

Wellington is quite small, but given that I had 2 whole days I wanted to pack in as much stuff as I could do.

The first day I headed straight for Te Papa museum. So many people I have met along my travels have said it was a must, and it was! The first exhibit I headed for was the marine exhibit (mainly to check out what molluscs they had on show), and there was a colossal squid on show!

image

It’s pretty wicked, there’s a video that accompanies it, that explains how the deep sea creature tried to at one of the fish that was caught by a fishing boat.

There’s also an earth exhibit about tectonic plates and earthquakes, and an exhibit on Gallopolli during WWI which I raced through because it was really sad and I was trying not to cry the whole time! There’s also a large exhibit on Maori culture, and much more. Plus a wicked cool exhibit on dream works animation that, unfortunately, wasn’t open when I went but peeking through the door it looked pretty sick! 

I was also advised to go to oriental bay, which was a real nice walk around the waterfront to a little beach area which was very relaxing.

image

Places to definately see, is the beehive and government libraries- both fantastic buildings, as well as old St Pauls church also pretty great if you like churches (which by now, you know I do).

image

Civic square is a great place to sit in the sun and chill, and there’s an art gallery which has some pretty great exhibits on at the moment, so go go go!

Jess xx