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. Continue reading

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Eating in New Zealand

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One of my all time favorite things about travelling is the food!  I am always excited to try exciting new flavors, cuisine, and fresh local produce. New Zealand is not only known for their unbelievable natural scenery, Lord of the Ring movies, and a massive population of sheep, but also their amazing food.  Their cuisine is an interesting mix of Polynesian, Asian, and European flavors.

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Hiking Fiordland

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After spending more than two weeks in New Zealand, I can definitively say that the best way to experience the pure nature of this country is through hiking.  There are a network of well developed trails spread over the North and the South islands. From the volcanic terrain of Tongariro National Park, to the mountainous Rob Roy glacier, to the lush forests of Fiordland National Park; New Zealand has almost every type of hiking trail with picturesque and jaw dropping scenery.  It was here that I developed a new found love for hiking. So it was bittersweet to know that these would be our last hikes in New Zealand.  After 2 weeks of camping and hiking, I have to admit, I was ready to check into a hotel and relax at a spa, but the experience has taught me so many things and my appreciation for nature increased each time I pushed my body to the limit.  Here are two of my favorite hikes in Fiordland National Park:

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New Zealand: Milford Sound

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I’ve often heard that no trip to New Zealand is really complete without a visit to Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s natural wonders and a designated World Heritage Area.  The funny thing is that the name can be misleading because Milford Sound is not a ‘sound’ at all, but actually a fiord.  What’s the difference you ask?  A sound is a valley created by rivers while a fiord is carved by glaciers.  During the last Ice Age, glaciers carved out Milford Sound, a huge U-shaped valley with towering mountains, waterfalls, and rainforests. Continue reading

New Zealand: Mount Cook

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After a few days in Wanaka, we continued our journey onwards to Mount Cook, the highest peak in Australasia at 3,755 metres.  Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home to many other towering peaks as well as the longest glaciers in New Zealand. According to legends, Aoraki and his three brothers, the sons of the Sky Father, had their canoe overturned on a reef while on a sea voyage.  When the brothers climbed on top of their canoe, the freezing south wind turned them to stone. The canoe became the South Island (Te Waka o Aoraki) and Aoraki and his brothers became the peaks of the Southern Alps. Continue reading

New Zealand: Wanaka

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After a long day of driving through the Haast Pass, we finally ended up at the lake-side town of Wanaka.  Words simply cannot describe this beautiful and idyllic setting, but I will try.  Wanaka is located on the edge an alpine lake bearing the same name, and is surrounded by the spectacular Southern Alps. It is considered to be one of the hidden gems of New Zealand since it is not as well known as Queenstown.  With a population of less than 10,000, Wanaka feels noticeably less touristy than its sister city.  Here, you can walk down to the lakeshore on a sunny day and not be overwhelmed by visitors. Continue reading

New Zealand: Rob Roy Glacier

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What I absolutely love about hiking in New Zealand is that it seems like no two trails are alike.  Each one is challenging and great in its own unique way.  So even though we ended up hiking almost every day, the experience felt different each time.  There are tons of great day trails around the Wanaka area, and one of which is the Rob Roy Glacier track – the jewel of Mt Aspiring National Park.  It’s hard to believe, but after after almost 2 weeks in New Zealand, I still couldn’t get enough of the picturesque mountains, sheer rock cliffs, hanging glaciers, and alpine valleys. Continue reading

New Zealand: Roy’s Peak

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I’ve never been an avid hiker; I have attempted a few short and long hikes over the years, but it wasn’t until I got to New Zealand that I realized how much I enjoy hiking. The South Island is known for its incredible trails with captivating scenery.  Wanaka in particular has many must-do hikes, one of which is the popular Roy’s Peak,  a rigorous uphill climb with breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring, and the surrounding mountain peaks.  The exertion and pain is rewarded when you’re standing on a trail overlooking the the best views in New Zealand.
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New Zealand: Haast Pass

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Driving across New Zealand, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery and spectacular landscapes, so when I read that the famous Haast Pass is THE most scenic highway in the country I had my doubts – but it didn’t take long for me to completely change my mind. This 140 km section of State Highway 6 starts at the Tasman Sea and winds its way along rugged coastline, skirting lush rainforests, passing through steep mountain ranges, crossing tumbling rivers and finally ending at Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, two of New Zealand’s biggest mountain lakes.  The road follows an ancient trail used by the Maori people. Continue reading