I'm on my way to New Zealand! and today you're going to get a sneak peek at a few of the places I'm going to be visiting, thanks to Dannielle from Chicadeedee. since she has spent time living in NZ, she has plenty of posts from her travels [which you can bet I started scouring as soon as we booked our trip!] today she is sharing some of her favorites, and you'll be seeing more of these places since we plan to visit at least 3 of these destinations during our south island road trip.
Hi Ink & Adventure readers, I’m Dannielle and I blog over at Chicadeedee where I share my life and travel adventures. When Jamie asked if I wanted to do a guest post while she was off traveling to my most favourite place in the world, I knew immediately that I wanted to post about some of my favourite places in New Zealand. I live in England now, but before I moved here to be with my boyfriend, we both lived in New Zealand for a year. I decided to narrow it down to five places in the South Island as that’s where we lived for most of our time there. We visited so many wonderful places and I have so many memories and pictures to share so it was really hard to only pick five, but here goes.
KaikouraFirst up is the town of Kaikoura. It was just three hours away from our homebase of Christchurch so we came a few times. Kaikoura is probably best known for it’s whale watching tours, and also it’s abundance of seals. As you drive along the coast, in all the little alcoves and sometimes right up on the beach are tons of seals amongst the rocks. Although they may look cute, watch out, they are pretty vicious and faster than you’d think so be careful how close you get to them.
Just outside of the town about a five-ten minutes drive is a trail leading to a waterfall where the baby fur seals hang out until they are old enough to go back into the ocean. It is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, hundreds of baby seals frolicking in the river and the waterfall, with a ball that some stranger must have tossed in for them. Not to be missed are amazing hiking trails that gives panoramic views over the Kaikoura peninsula and the coastline.
Hanmer SpringsHanmer Springs is probably best known for it’s thermal pools and spa facilities. Only a couple of hours away from us, we may have taken a trip a time or two on a night just to sit in the hot pools. It was always the nicest at night, not as crowded and with the steam rising on the pools it created more privacy and a pretty cool atmosphere. There is also Conical Hill, which you can walk up and get some nice views over the area. After you’re done, you can then always pop to the hot pools to ease your tired legs.
Milford SoundMilford Sound is definitely worth a visit, and as it’s a bit out of the way, we decided to book a last minute overnight cruise and boy am I glad we did. We got an awesome deal as it was a last minute booking and the cruise included our meals, guided tours of the sound, and also kayaking and swimming if you wanted to. I’d definitely recommend taking some sort of boat tour, even if it is a day one as you can’t really see as much from the roads end. The drive to it is stunning with stop off points through the mountains, so I don’t think you’d be disappointed no matter what your plans.
Watch out for the Kea’s in the area though, as they are super friendly and even more troublesome. They like to pick the rubber off from around your car windows and windshield. Not to mention snatch up whatever else may be lying around, so keep a watch over your things.
QueenstownQueenstown is the place to go if you are into adventure sports. There’s bungee jumping, paragliding, sky diving, skiing, jet boating and more, but it’s also a nice place to just go and chill out along the water. It’s got cute cafes and restaurants, and a pretty active nightlife with lots of bars to choose from. We took a drive on a scenic road to a small town called Glenorchy, which isn’t very far but is well worth a drive for the views. Have you figured out by now there isn’t really a non-scenic drive in New Zealand? You can pretty much get in your car and drive anywhere and see some pretty spectacular sights.
WaiparaWaipara is a wine region just outside Christchurch, and oh man, the wines are good. I grew up in the Finger Lakes wine region in New York, so I felt right at home with the mix of wineries, friendly staff, and delicious wine. I was surprised to learn that even the smaller wineries tend to export a lot of wine all across the globe, so check your local supermarket or liquor store and grab yourself some New Zealand wine. The wineries host events and festivals a lot in the summer months, so it’s worth checking out if any are going on if you’re passing through.
ChristchurchOk, so I added a sixth place, but I couldn’t not talk about the city that was our home for eleven months, Christchurch. We lived there pre-earthquake, so it’s hard to even want to tell people about it now, but it was amazing. The people there are resilient and working hard to get Christchurch back on its feet, so I hope to go back one day.
The main draw in Christchurch (and our hangout on nice days) was the botanical gardens. Every sort of tree and flower imaginable it seemed like, and even at it’s busiest you could still find a quiet place to have all to yourself. It was also the first place I ever saw a silver fern, which you’ll see represented many places throughout the country. If you’re passing by, check in on Christchurch for me and say hi.
I hope Jamie gets a chance to check out some of these great places, and loads more. I tell everyone who is going to New Zealand that it’s such a beautiful country, all you need to do is hop in the car and drive. You’ll run into something amazing.