Trip Report: New Zealand

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It’s not an exaggeration to say that New Zealand is without a doubt the most beautiful country I have ever been to! This incredibly diverse country has it all – mountains, forests, lakes, volcanos, fiords, beaches,  and the list goes on and on.  All of this nature can be easily accessed by well maintained hiking trails found throughout the country.

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We visited New Zealand for a little over two weeks and spent the majority of our time traversing the length of the country from the North Island to the South Island.  Our road trip in a campervan was an unforgettable adventure, we got to experience  the vibrant culture, delicious food, friendly people and stunning landscapes. Every road we drove down was another epic photograph waiting to be taken.  Some of my favorite memories from the trip happened spontaneously on the road, like pulling over at an empty beach for a picnic, or hiking through rough terrain to a glacial lake with the most breathtaking views. Here is a breakdown of our cost and 18 day itinerary:

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  • Time Cost
    • Total Days in New Zealand: 18 days
    • Total Days Off From Work: 12 days
  • Monetary Cost (in USD)
    • Flights: $3,015
    • Accommodation: $1,070
    • Campervan Rental (incl insurance): $2,070
    • Gas: $345
    • Transportation: $290
    • Food: $25 per person per day
    • Activities: $2,130 
    • Total Per Person: $4,915
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Our  trip to New Zealand was full of firsts.  First time we lived out of a campervan and loved the experience.  First time we went zorbing, hang gliding, and sky diving. This whole trip was about pushing us out of our comfort zone.  Each time we did something we hadn’t done before, it showed us that anything is possible.  And that is the reason why this trip is so memorable.  Even though we were only there for a short time, New Zealand totally has a hold on my heart and I cannot wait to return.

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North Island

  • Coronmandel (Days 1 – 3) – The Coromandel Peninsula, dotted with quaint little seaside towns and hidden bays, is renowned for its pristine sandy beaches, magnificent coastal scenery and rugged rainforests. From one of the villages, you can visit the famous Cathedral Cove or try your hand at digging a personal hot pool. 
  • Hobbiton (Day 4 ) – A trip to New Zealand is not complete without a visit to the number one tourist attraction in the country.  At Hobbiton, you can immerse yourself in the world of Middle Earth in this absolutely beautiful imagining of The Shire.
  • Rotorua  (Day 4) – Located in the middle of an active Volcanic Zone, Rotorua is known for its dynamic thermal activity and Maori culture.  This geothermal wonderland has many points of interest including the Pohutu geyser,  the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and many mud spas.
  • Taupo (Day 5) –  The spectacular 19.4 km Tongariro Alpine Crossing is known as New Zealand’s greatest single-day trek. It’s located within the country’s oldest National Park and a dual World Heritage Area, passing through alpine landscape, old lava fields, and an active volcano.

After Taupo, we headed down to Wellington to take an overnight ferry to Nelson. The ride crosses open water into the Marlborough Sound and takes 3.5 hours.

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South Island

  • Fox Glacier (Days 7 – 9) –  A visit to  New Zealand’s West Coast isn’t complete without a trip to the glaciers where the ice extends down to the sea, surrounded by lush, green forest covered with fern and moss. 
  • Haast Pass (Day 9) – The MOST scenic highway in New Zealand with spectacular landscapes consisting of rugged coastline, lush rainforests, steep mountain ranges and tumbling rivers.
  • Wanaka (Days 10  – 11) – Wanaka is one of the hidden gems of New Zealand, located at the doorstep of Mt Aspiring National Park with its glaciers, snow-capped mountains, alpine rivers, and forested valleys. It’s the perfect place with beautiful hiking trails like the famous Roy’s Peak and Rob Roy Glacier.
  • Mt Cook (Days 12 – 13) –  This is by far our favorite  stop of the trip.  The gorgeous milky-turquoise lake surrounded by the Southern Alps creates an unforgettable combination. We spent two days at the edge of the magnificent Lake Pukaki, frolicked in a field of lupins, and hiked to the base of Mount Cook.
  • Milford Sound / Te Anau (Days 14 – 15) –  No trip to New Zealand is really complete without a visit to Milford Sound,  New Zealand’s natural wonder with sheer rocky cliffs rising out of inky black waters.  This visually spectacular portion of the country also  features beautiful hiking trails that  pass through glacier carved fjords, high peaks, and hanging lakes.
  • Queenstown (Days 16 – 18) –  This picturesque town sitting on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the Remarkable mountain range is known as the adventure capital of the world where many adrenaline-filed activities such as bungee jumping, sky-diving, boating, and water rafting are offered year-round.

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12 thoughts on “Trip Report: New Zealand

      • Well, I am assuming the cities have changed a bit (grown and modernize) and we went before the earthquake in Christchurch so I guess that city would be quite different. I believe the Franz-Joseph glacier has retreated quite significantly. But you are probably right that is a certain immutability to NZ.

      • Yeah, exactly. We didn’t make it to the east coast with the road blockage and not enough time. Guess we will have to go back again. I didn’t get to go on Fox glacier either. We were there for 3 days waiting for the clouds to clear but it never did.

  1. One of my friends is traveling around New Zealand now and between her photos and yours I am wanderlusting hard! I have always wanted to go but the more and more I see and hear about how beautiful NZ is the more and more I want to go! Milford Sound is high up on the list for me! It looks like you guys had a great itinerary!

    • Milford Sound was beautiful but it was raining and foggy when we did the cruise so I couldn’t see much, but I love hiking Marian lake. I waited a long time to go too and it was definitely worth the wait.

  2. I love that photo on top of Roy’s Peak! I’ve been living/working in New Zealand since July 2016, and unfortunately today is my last day here! I am off on another journey that will bring me to working in Vietnam, but I’m still sad to say goodbye to New Zealand. This country really is wonderful, isn’t it?

    • That’s so exciting, working and living in Vietnam! That’s where I am from. I’ve thought about coming back to Vietnam a few times, but timing is not right yet. Where will you be in VN?

  3. Ahhh I don’t think I’ve seen a bad photo of New Zealand! I love the breakdown of your trip, and that budget actually doesn’t sound too bad considering how expensive NZ can get.

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