I spent 6 months in New Zealand but never had time to make a blog to share with everyone. So, although a little late, here it is!
New Zealand is filled with so many beautiful and amazing places and when it comes to picking my favorite, it’s hard to boil it down to just one. So, I’d like to share a few of the places that I just can’t seem to forget.
Karamea is one of the most remote locations I visited, by far the most beautiful and relaxing. Going to Karamea was never part of my plan, but rather a gem that my friends and I stumbled upon during a road trip. The only plan that we had was to freely travel the South Island- which entailed catching a ferry, renting a van, and winging it. Karamea is just north of Westport, a tiny town on the West Coast of the South Island. We spent two or three nights camping right on the ocean. We spent one day hiking the Heaphy Trail, and the other day exploring Scott’s Beach. I really can’t put words to how amazing this beach is – it almost felt strange to be there …like we all lost our sense of reality. We were on the beach for probably 5 or 6 hours, at times together and at times in our own separate paradise. The rocks on the shore of New Zealand have a unique shape and are often posted up slightly off the coast and look tall, round, and skinny, kind of like a giant oval coming out of the water. These were all over Scott’s beach. It had the most beautiful white sand, and waves bigger than I’ve ever seen (and I grew up on the ocean!).
Abel Tasman National Park
The Abel Tasman is located in the north valley of Takaka in the South Island. It is a beautiful coastal hike with versatile terrain in a plush tropical forest. My friends and I decided to do the hike one day. It was absolutely amazing and we were having a great day. We ran into a little bit of an adventure, though. Since the trail is along the ocean, there were some small islands that were accessible off the coast. Us, being silly and not thinking, decided to cross over to an island to check it out. Little did we know, you can only get to and from the island when the tide is low. We crossed at low tide, hung out nonchalantly on the other side for a few hours, and then realized that the tide was coming in quickly, and soon we would not be able to make it back to the mainland. In fact, the tide was already crossing over the sand that we once crossed to get to the island, and the water was already up to our waists. The distance across was long enough that we thought we would get stuck in the middle of the incoming tide, being forced to swim (which wasn’t cool since we had our day packs with wallets, cameras, passports, etc.). The boys we were with decided to take on the challenge and try to cross. The girls, being a little more sensible (as we thought), decided it was a safer idea to backtrack the perimeter of the island and find the trail on the other side and go along the edge until we found a trail, instead of going straight across. Wishful thinking. As we were going along the edge of the jagged island, the tide was chancing us at a pace that we couldn’t really beat. We ended up finally finding a trail to the main island, only, it was not the trail that we hiked originally. So we hiked for a while and then ended up hitch hiking in the back of a van. It was a scary but awesome adventure.
Queenstown isn’t called ‘the adventure capital of the world for nothing’. I went there twice, both times equally as fun but the first time slightly more ambitious. I was there traveling with two of my best friends from college. We covered a lot of ground there, but one memorable day consisted of speed boating, followed by an exhilarating helicopter ride through valleys, canyons, and mountains that eventually landed us at the top of a river, which we proceeded to white water raft down. Not bad for one day. The next day we went bungee jumping, which was sweet. We also went canyoning- zip lining through jungles, propelling down into flowing, icy cold valley water, and making our way down by sliding on and jumping off rocks. I could write a novel on Queenstown, but I’ll keep it short and sweet.
Milford sound is a fjord in the Southwest of the South Island. I went on a boat cruise through it, which was breathtaking. Dolphins swam along the side of the boat for almost the whole cruise. The water is dark but crystal clear, with abrupt mountains shooting out of the water all around. It was calm and peaceful. It reminded me of Alaska, which is kind of strange because I’ve never been there.
Tunnel Beach is in Dunedin, which is at the southern point of the South Island. Although it’s right on the ocean, it’s not much of a beach. It is a landscape that has sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves. It was a really powerful place that I’ll never forget. Looking down 100 feet to the crashing waves gave me a sense or empowerment, but also, feeling a force that strong can be intimidating.