Manapouri, New Zealand: Everything you need to know

Manapouri is one of the most under0rated and STUNNING locations in New Zealand. I’ve spent a lot of time in New Zealand (I even lived there for a year!) and I never came across this little town. I hadn’t heard about in guide books, it was really mentioned on tour websites… but it’s so beautiful!

Manapouri New Zealand

It’s truly a hidden gem. With a population of only 300 people, this little town is truly tiny. 

Upon discovering it, I just had to write about this beautiful town in the South Island, so that other people could discover it and see how amazing it is! There might not be loads of things to do here, but if you’re stopping in nearby Queesntown, Te Anau, Invercargill or Christchurch, it’s definitely worth a road trip or a visit over there.


What is there to do in Manapouri?


Doubtful Sound tours

First on my list of things to do in Manapouri… Doubtful Sound. The main reason you’ll likely visit Manapouri is to go on a Doubtful Sound tour. Doubtful Sound is a beautiful part of New Zealand (accessible by boat) and most of the boat tours leave from Manapouri. It’s often likened to Milford Sound, but Milford Sound seems to be the more popular option with tourists because it’s a little bit easier to get to. Doubtful Sound is stunning, and if you left Milford Sound wanting to see more, then Doubtful Sound should be your next stop.

Kayak on Lake Manapouri

Kayaking on Lake Manapouri is next on my list of things to do in Manapouri. Lake Manapouri has some amazing views of the surrounding mountains and fiordlands, and you can easily rent kayaks, bring your own kayaks, or go on a kayak tour. It’s such a nice way to spend the day, and the water is really calm too – so conditions are easy and enjoyable.

Fraser Beach Manapouri

Have a picnic on Fraser’s beach

Fraser’s beach is one of the biggest and most heavenly beaches I’ve come across in New Zealand. It’s not just the beautiful sand, it’s the views across the lake, and also how calm and un-crowded it is there. It’s the perfect picnic spot. My only tip would be to wear bug-repellent, as there are sand flies on the beach like with most of the fiordland.

Manapouri New Zealand

Manapouri Hall & LotR location

A little community hub in the town, and also a filming location for Lord of The Rings!

Pearl Harbour (walking and cycling)

A lovely little harbour, where the boat tours depart from in Manapouri. It’s a lovely spot to walk around, and there’s a view point (and toilets!). There’s also a cycling track that starts here too, if cycling is your thing!

Visit the ‘Wee Bookshop’

Next on my list of things to do in Manapouri, is the Wee Bookshop! These are the 2 smallest bookshops in New Zealand… And definitely worth the visit! The smallest of the two bookshops sells second-hand children’s books, and the other ‘wee bookshop’ sells novels and other books (about everything else!). It’s such a fun and quirky thing to do in Manapouri!

things to do in manapouri

Manapouri hiking tracks

There are a few hiking trails in Manapouri, so there are a few options to try if you enjoy hiking. The Manapouri track is a 4 hour walk on the Circle Track, with further (and longer) detours up to Hope Arm and Mt Titiroa. The amazing views are definitely the highlight of these hikes. It’s also worth checking out this hiking brochure from Manapouri Council, it outlines all the main hiking tracks, and also tips on safety too.

manapouri travel


Where is there to eat in Manapouri?


Manapouri is well and truly tiny – so there aren’t many places to eat! Here are the main three cafes / restaurants that you could try out during your visit to Manapouri!

Manapouri Store & Cathedral Cafe – .

29 Waiau StManapouri 9679 – Click here for their Facebook page

Manapouri Lakeview Cafe and Bar

68 Cathedral Dr · In Manapouri Lakeview Motor Inn – Click here for their website.

The Church Manapouri

23 Waiau St, Manapouri – Click here for their website. 
the church manapouri

Travel times from other South Island locations


Travelling to Manapouri is pretty easy by car, the roads are nice and smooth, and not too difficult. If you rent a car, below are the driving times and routes for other South Island locations. Remember, with these drive times, that the approx times are with no stops! Knowing these drives (and how stunning the New Zealand landscape is) you’ll probably end up stopping a few times to take photos along the way!

Driving from Te Anau to Manapouri: Approx 18 – 20 minutes

Te Anau is one of the closest towns to Manapouri, and it has slightly more options in terms of supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, etc. So it’s a good place to stock up on supplies if you plan on stopping in Manapouri!

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Queenstown to Manapouri: Approx 2 hours

I absolutely LOVE this drive, you go through so much scenery and beautiful areas, and the roads are nice and easy to drive on too. Queesntown is one of the South Island’s biggest hubs, so if you fancy doing the day trip from here it’s a great choice as you could get there and back in a day.

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Invercargill to Manapouri: Approx 2 hours

Invercargill is located at the very south of the South Island, so if you want to start making your way up the island towards Queenstown, then Manapouri would be a great stop-off point along the way!

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Dunedin to Manapouri: Approx 3 hours, 30 minutes

Dunedin is one of the biggest cities in the South Island, so it could be where you’re starting your South Island adventure. Manapouri isn’t too far from Dunedin, and if you make it part of a Milford Sound trip, it’d totally be doable.

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Christchurch to Manapouri: Approx 8 hours

I wouldn’t recommend driving this route in one go (there are too many amazing places in-between you won’t want to miss) BUT I wanted to include it so you can get an idea of the scale of South Island. Christchurch is often the city people fly into if they’re exploring the South Island.

driving to Manapouri


 

 

5 of the Best Swimming Spots in Queenstown

If you’re visiting Queenstown in summer, you might want to find the best swimming spots in Queenstown and enjoy a dip in the lake! Lake Wakatipu is completely safe to swim in – and incredible clean too!

swimming spots in Queenstown the best areas


I do have a couple of tips though, before we get onto the best swimming spots in Queenstown…

Tip 1: The lake is cold! It’s the South Island and it’s a glacial lake – so make sure you have some dry towels to wrap yourself up in once you get out of the lake.

Tip 2: Find some swimming shoes. The lake in Queenstown is quite ‘stoney’ or gravely on the surface (it’s not smooth like sand) so you might want to wear something on your feet for when you’re walking in or out. Some cheap swimming shoes would work perfectly.

Tip 3: Wear suncream! The sun is so much more powerful in New Zealand, and it’s so much easier to burn. So if your in a bathing suit, be sure to wear strong suncream.


Now, onto the best swimming spots in Queenstown!


Queenstown swimming spot 1: Queenstown Beach

Yes, Queenstown might be a lake, but it has a beach! The beach is located right off the town centre, before you reach Queenstown Gardens. On a sunny day it’s a really popular swimming spot in Queenstown – as it’s close to nearby cafes and shops and there are public toilets too. The beach is a gorgeous place to take a swim in Queenstown, and it’s super easy to find and get to!


Queenstown swimming spot 2: Wakatipu Yacht Club (Kelvin Heights)

This little swimming spot in Queenstown is one of the most blissful in the town. It’s located on the otherwise of the Kelvin Heights Peninsula, and whilst it is possible to drive there, it’s much easier to get a water taxi from the town centre. The water taxi will drop you off on one of the jettys (pictured below!) right by the yacht club and then you can let them know a time when you’d like to be picked up again. It only costs a few dollars – and you basically get a whole beach to yourself.

swimming spots in Queenstown


Queenstown swimming spot 3: Kelvin Beach

Next on my list of the best swimming spots in Queenstown, Kelvin Beach is located about a 5 minute walk from the yacht club (above). The main difference is that you can swim off the beach, rather than jumping off the jetty. You’ll want to get the water taxi here as well (just get dropped off at the Wakatipu yacht club and walk the short distance to the beach). It also has an amazing view of The Remarkables (which I love).

Tip! There aren’t any shops or cafes at this side of the peninsula (it’s not as busy as the town centre) so if you want food and drinks, definitely take a picnic with you! 

swimming spots in Queenstown


Queenstown swimming spot 4: Closeburn Beach

Closeburn Beach is located a little way out of Queenstown (it’s a stop-off on the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy). It’s about a 10 minute drive out of town, but if you’re after a private swimming spots in Queenstown, on a stunning beach – then this is it! There are even picnic benches and toilets too!

swimming spots in Queenstown 2020


Queenstown swimming spot 5: Along the Frankton Arm Walk

Last on my list of the best swimming spots in Queenstown… If you follow the Frankton Arm Walk (or Queenstown Trail) from Queenstown towards Frankton, you’ll find loads of perfect spots for swimming. There are lots of jettys scattered along the walk, which you could take a dip from!

swimming spots in Queenstown..


I hope this list of the best swimming spots in Queenstown has been useful! Enjoy your trip to Queenstown, it’s the most beautiful place, and you’ll love it!

If you’re taking a vacation in Queenstown, these other blog posts I’ve written might be helpful!

Driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy – everything you need to know. 

Everything you need to know about the Queenstown Luge. 

How to find ‘That Wanaka Tree’ in Wanaka, New Zealand.

What is the best way to see and experience Milford Sound?

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant

Queenstown is an amazing destination, and it’s such a beautiful place to visit. However, if you’re pregnant you might be wondering what there is for you to enjoy – especially given that a lot of the activities in this beautiful town are adventure-themed or adrenaline-focussed. Hope this list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant will help you out, and give you lots of amazing activities to fill your time.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant…

Let’s get started on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant!

Idea 1: The Earnslaw boat cruise

The Earnslaw boat is a perfect option for things to do in Queenstown when pregnant. This relaxing boat cruise takes you all the way along Lake Wakatipu, and you’ll get to enjoy the most beautiful views from the boat decks. There are toilets to hand (that’s important!) and there are also plenty of places to sit too. There’s also a cafe on board, if you need a snack or feel a little low-energy. Tickets are best booked ahead (especially during peak times) and you can book tickets online by clicking here.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 3

Idea 2: Visit Milford Sound

There are loads of amazing day trips from Queenstown that take you into the heart of Milford Sound, one of the most beautiful destinations in New Zealand. Milford Sound is where a lot of Lord of the Rings was filmed – and it’s absolutely breathtaking!

the best way to see Milford Sound

A coach tour is perfectly suitable for you if you’re pregnant, and most of the coach tours will also include a boat cruise in Milford Sound too (again, perfectly suitable for pregnant ladies). It’s a lovely relaxing day trip, and you’ll get to see so many stunning areas of New Zealand during the trip. There are toilets on the buses, and the buses make regular toilets stops on the way too! Here are some tours I recommend…

Idea 3: The Skyline Gondola

Next on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant… The Skyline Gondola is a cable car that takes you up to the top of Bob’s Peak. This is one of the best places in Queenstown to enjoy magical views of the town, and the cable car takes you up into the Skyline resort complex where you’ll find a restaurant, a viewing deck, a cafe and the Queenstown Luge. The luge won’t be suitable for you if you’re heavily pregnant, but it’s worth visiting for lunch or dinner in the restaurant and also to enjoy the views from the viewing deck. They also do star gazing in the evenings, which is a gorgeously romantic activity!

You can book tickets to the Gondola by clicking here, or you can book for lunch and the Gondola (as a combo) by clicking here.

Things to do in Queenstown When you are Pregnant

Idea 4: Onsen Hot Pools

The Onsen Hot Pools are one of the most luxurious (but surprisingly affordable!) things you can do in Queenstown. Each hot pool has it’s own private suit, so it’s completely private – and each one looks out onto the beautiful views of mountains below. It’s honestly magical, very romantic, and unmissable. Don’t worry, the hot pools aren’t jacuzzis or hot-tubs – so there aren’t any bubbles (which means it’s pregnancy friendly).

For me, this is one of the best things to do in Queenstown when pregnant (or not!). You do need to book ahead though, this place gets busy and books up fast.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant onsen

Idea 5: Rent a car and do the Glenorchy road trip

Next on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant… A road trip!

Car rental is really easy in Queenstown (there are loads of places in town) and it’s also pretty affordable too. Renting a nice car for the day will cost you about $60-$80 (NZ dollars) and you can head off and explore the area at your own pace. I really recommend doing the Queenstown to Glenorchy drive – it’s been voted one of the most scenic drives in the whole world – and I’d have to agree! It’s not a super long drive (about an hour) and there are plenty of places to stop off and explore along the way.

10 Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant

Idea 6: Relax on the beach

Queenstown might be better known for all the adventure activities, but don’t underestimate how many scenic and relaxing places there are in the town too! On a sunny day, there’s nothing nicer than sitting on the beach front and just watching the world go by. You can get comfy, grab a decaf coffee, and just take the day as it comes. Some of the best things to do in Queenstown when pregnant aren’t necessarily day trips or tours, it’s just relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 2

Idea 7: Take a stroll through Queenstown gardens

Queenstown Gardens are located a 2 minute walk from the beachfront, and it’s a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon. The gardens are beautifully maintained, and have some of the most stunning views of the Remarkables and the town centre too. You can even play Frisbee Golf in the Gardens if you’re feeling a little more adventurous! The walking tracks that go through and around the gardens are pretty much flat, so it’s an easy walk, and there are toilets in the park too.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant

Idea 8: Drive to Arrowtown

Next up on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant, Arrowtown is a beautiful little town about 15 minutes from Queenstown and nestled in the mountains. It’s a lovely day out, and if you drive yourself (or if your partner drives) you can stop off a few different scenic spots along the route too. There’s not a whole lot in Arrowtown (it’s nowhere near as big as Queenstown) but it’s a really beautiful sleepy village, with lovely shops and cafes to enjoy. It reminds me of a cowboy town from an old western film!

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 4

Idea 9: Eat a fergburger!

If pregnancy means eating for two…, then you get to try to burgers right?! Fergburger is the most famous burger in New Zealand, and it’s delicious. There are loads of choices on the menu, and I can basically guarantee it’ll be one of the best things you’ve ever eaten. Top tip! The queue outside can get pretty long, but if you call them up ahead of time to place your order, you don’t need to queue up when you arrive. You just go straight to the front to collect.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 2020

10. Go shopping

Finally on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant… Shopping! There are actually lots of shops in Queenstown, from clothing stores, to food stores, to souvenir stores. So actually, browsing the shops makes for a really lovely afternoon. You could break it up with a decaf coffee at one of the many coffee shops, or even a scoop of the famous Patagonia ice-cream.

Queenstown things to do when pregnant

I hope you’ve found this list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant really useful! If there’s anything you’ve been looking at that isn’t on this list, and you’re unsure if it’s suitable – the best thing to do is ask. Give the company an email and get their advice – they’ve probably been asked many time before!

Mainly though, just enjoy your time in Queenstown. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world (hand down) and you don’t need to bungee jump or skydive to appreciate it!

What is the best way to see Milford Sound?

Have you been wondering what the best way to see Milford Sound is?

the best way to see Milford Sound

If you’re visiting New Zealand, one of the places you definitely won’t want to miss is Milford Sound. Milford Sound is one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty in New Zealand, so you’ll definitely want to find the best way to see Milford Sound for you. The area was made even more famous by the Lord of the Rings films (lots of scenes were shot in Milford Sound) so it really is an unmissable location in New Zealand.

There are lots of ways to see Milford Sound, depending on how you’re exploring New Zealand and what your budget is. In this post I’ll go through the best way to see Milford Sound and explore the different options open to you!


Option 1: Bus and Boat tour

First up on my list of the best way to see Milford Sound… This is the classic option that most people visiting New Zealand will opt for. There are bus & boat tours that leave from a few different towns surrounding Milford Sound, so if you’re using Queenstown, Wanaka or Te Anau as a base, you’ll definitely be able to get a bus and boat tour to Milford Sound from there.

the best way to see Milford Sound

The tours are a full day, usually departing at 7am and arriving back at 5-7pm. You’ll head to Milford Sound in a coach, making a few scenic stops along the way, and when you arrive at Milford Sound you’ll board a boat for your cruise in the sound. It’s a long day, but it’s so worth it for those amazing views!

The tours I recommend from Queenstown and Te Anau are below. I especially recommend the premium glass roof bus tour – it gives you so many more chances to enjoy the incredible views en-route.


Option 2: Helicopter tour

One of the quickest ways to reach Milford Sound is actually by helicopter. If you’re stopping in Queenstown and you plan on visiting Milford Sound from there, there are so many amazing helicopter companies that can take you over the the mountains in half the time a coach or bus would take.

the best way to see Milford Sound

Because of this, it’s definitely one of the best way to see Milford Sound! Taking a helicopter tour from Queenstown to Milford Sound lets you see all the best bits, without any of the coach journey, and it’s honestly one of the most magical experiences. And , of course, you get the most AMAZING views from the helicopter too! It gives a whole new angle on Milford Sound, and gives you so many photo opportunities.


Option 3: A scenic plane ride

Similar to a helicopter flight, a scenic flight will fly you directly to Milford Sound so you can enjoy all the views (without any of the coach journey!). The planes used for these scenic flights are pretty small – so you’ll be able to get really close to the mountains in Milford Sound and see some of the wildlife and amazing landscapes.

There are loads of different flights available – the main thing you want to look out for is how many landings you get during the trip. The more landings the better – as you can get out and explore on foot each time you land!

Here are some of the scenic plane rides I recommend…


Option 4: Drive yourself

If you can drive, it is possible to rent a car and drive yourself to Milford Sound. It’s quite a long drive from most bases in the south island (which is why I generally prefer the coach option if you’re going to go via road). But if you’re a confident driver and you have someone to split the drive with (don’t risk getting tired halfway) then driving yourself is a great option. There is a car park at Milford Sound, and once you’re parked up you can then book a boat tour separately and jump onboard!

scenic Driving from queenstown to glenorchy

 


Option 5: Hike it!

Finally on my list of the best way to see Milford Sound, if you’re driving to Milford Sound yourself, you can park up and actually do the Milford Sound hikes in around the Sound. It’s a pretty magical way to explore the area, but be prepared for a challenging hike, and make sure you’re ready with the right equipment and also water too. Hiking is an awesome option if you want to take your time enjoying the views.

the best way to see Milford Sound

I hope this list has helped you find the best way to see Milford Sound for you! Milford Sound is amazing from all angles, and whichever way you decide to see it will blow you away! It’s one of the most amazing places in New Zealand!

 

How to find ‘That Wanaka Tree’ in Wanaka, New Zealand

how to find That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

Are you looking for instructions on how to find ‘That Wanaka Tree’? Look no further!

That Wanaka Tree is one of the most photographed places in Wanaka, New Zealand, and it’s not really surprising. The whole scene is beautiful. You have the gorgeous tree appearing out of the blue lake, and the backdrop of snowcapped mountains. It’s picture perfect, so it’s no wonder people want to visit and take their own photo.

Finding ‘That Wanaka Tree’ isn’t difficult. It’s not located in the heart of town, but it’s only a short walk (or an even shorter drive). I’ve included to maps below, the first map shows you the general location of the tree, the second shows you where to park. There isn’t loads of room in the car park, but it’s worth seeing if you can squeeze your car in.

When searching for the tree using Google maps, search for #thatwanakatree – and it should pop up!

how to find That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

You’ll need to walk for about 5 minutes into the woodland next to the carpark, and you’ll soon spot the tree. Actually, you’ll probably spot other travellers and backpackers taking photos first!

It’s unlikely you’ll ever find the beach empty (if you do – you got very lucky!).

That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

It can get busy during peak holidays, and on sunny days – so if you want perfect shot without having to push your way to the front of the beach – it’s definitely worth getting there a bit earlier on in the day. Anytime before 9am is usually a good time, or in the evening when the sun is setting.

There’s also a picnic area near the car park, so you could head there with a little breakfast or supper picnic, and enjoy some food while you enjoy the view!

Wanaka new zealand 2020

how to find That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

I hope that has helped you, and now you’ll easily be able to find out how to find That Wanaka Tree in Wanaka!

Everything you need to know about Queenstown Luge

everything you need to know about the Queenstown luge go carts

Are you visiting Queenstown and needs to know all the information on the Queenstown Luge? Keep reading!

The Queenstown Luge is one of the best activities in Queenstown, and it’s so much fun. If you deciding whether or not to visit the Queenstown Luge during your stay in the town, hopefully this blog post can convince you how amazing it is, and answer some of your questions!

What is the Queenstown Luge?

Basically, they’re like super fun go-karts. You sit in your luge kart and you zoom down a course, with amazing views of the town below. You can go as fast (or as slow) as you like, and it’s a great activity.

everything you need to know about the Queenstown luge 2

Can I buy tickets online?

Yes! I’d recommend buying them online as it makes the process easier when you go to the Skyline Gondola. Click here to buy tickets. 

Is it the Queenstown Luge child friendly?

Absolutely! For children above a certain height, they can ride in their own luge kart, and for children who are a younger age, they can ride in the kart with their parent or guardian. Here is the official information from their website:

Children must be at least 6 years old and 110cm or taller to be allowed to ride the Blue Track unaccompanied.

Children must be 135cm or taller to be allowed to ride the Red Track unaccompanied.

Children under the age of 6 years old or under 110cm can ride the Luge in tandem on the Blue Track, with an adult aged 15+ years at a cost of $2 per ride (Future Luge Rider)

Is the Queenstown Luge safe?

I think so! It’s basically a go-karting course, with amazing views! There are no cliff edges or anything you could fly over (so don’t worry!), and there’s a beginner course and a fast course. Everyone has to complete the beginner course (which is a lot less steep and a bit easier to get around) before they can go on the fast course, which means you’re not bumping into newbies whilst going super fast. They also have loads of staff and helpers – if you did get stuck.

everything you need to know about the Queenstown luge for families

How long does it last?

That depends how fast you go! But I’d estimate one ‘turn’ on the course lasts for about 2 minutes. It’s pretty fast, but it’s so easy to head straight up to the top to ride it again.

How much does it cost?

Their pricing can change, but it generally tends to be around £30 – £40 (depending on how many luge rides you want). You need to buy a gondola ticket to get up to the top of the Skyline, so you’ll always be buying a combo ticket which includes the Gondola (as this is where the Queenstown Luge is). The only other way to get up there is to do the mountain trek!

So, given the fact you’ll be taking the skyline gondola anyway, the combo tickets work out the best value. The Gondola is an enclosed cable car, which takes you from the town up to the top of the Queenstown Hill (and the Luge is at the top of the hill). You could buy a skyline gondola ticket on it’s own first, and then add on luge tickets later, or you could buy the combo initially and have it all included. It’s really up to you.

Is the Queenstown Luge scary?

I guess that depends on how scared you get! There’s definitely an adrenaline rush, because you’re zooming down the hill! Another bit of the experience which people might find scary is the mini open ski-lift you have to take up to the top of the luge course. This is totally safe, but if you don’t like heights, you might find this a bit daunting! I’ve included a photo below so you can see what I mean! This open ski lift only lasts for 30 seconds (approximately!).

what you need to know about the Queenstown luge

Do you need to take your own helmet?

No, everything you need is included in your ticket – and that includes your helmet. They have lots of different sizes (which are colour-coded) so it’s really easy to find one that fits.

everything you need to know about the Queenstown luge 1

Is there food?

Yes, there is a buffet restaurant (which is actually really good value!) which overlooks the town, and a cafe at the back which serves things like chips, pizza and sandwiches. If you’re opting for the buffet restaurant, it can get booked up easily during peak times – so it’s worth booking ahead.

Do you need to book in advance?

No, you can buy tickets at the skyline gondola base at the bottom of the hill, and buy your Queenstown Luge tickets there also (in the combo tickets mentioned above). You can also buy top-up luge tickets once you get up there, if you want to keep going.

I would advise booking in advance though if you have access to the internet, because it saves a job, and it’s a way of guaranteeing entrance to the buffet (if you want that included in your combo!).

Can I use my camera on the luge?

You’ll need both your hand to break, so not really. If you have a body mount or a helmet mount for a Go Pro, you could use that though. I noticed some of the helmets had the Go Pro mount on them already, which is kind of cool. They do have cameras on the track though, so you’ll get snapped whilst you’re on there – and you can purchase any photos you like before you leave.

Are there places to take photos of Queenstown?

Yes there’s an amazing viewing deck where you can take loads of photos of Queenstown below. Once you’ve finished the Queenstown Luge (or before) you can head out there and enjoy the incredible views.

Driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy – Everything you need to know

Are you driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy? Here’s everything you need to know!

If you’re stopping in Queenstown, one of the things you absolutely MUST do, is the incredible drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. It has (quite rightly) been voted one of the most scenic drives in the world, and you’ll understand why when you get on the open road. The road between Queenstown and Glenorchy is surrounding by mountains, rolling hills and crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. It’s a stunning way to spend the day.

Here I’ll answer as many questions as possible about the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, so you can make the most of your time in New Zealand and this amazing scenic road trip!

How long does the drive take?

It takes about 45 minutes (without stopping) to drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to pull over a few times to enjoy the views along the road. I’d put aside about 90 minutes in total, leaving time for a few photo-stops, and a toilet break. Also, remember, you may get stuck behind slower vehicles on the route, which can increase the drive time too.

Driving from queenstown to glenorchy

Is it a difficult drive?

It depends on your level of experience driving, and how confident you are behind the wheel – but I would say the drive is pretty easy. You’re the best person to judge how confident you are – but there aren’t any ‘hairy’ bits on this drive that I found scary or intimidating. There are some areas that might be a bit trickier than other parts, but generally, the road is well maintained, and the incline is steady (nothing too drastic). If you’re careful and responsible about the drive, you shouldn’t really have any issues. Lots of camper vans and tour groups head down this road too, so you shouldn’t have any issues in a normal rental car. If you do find yourself feeling a bit nervous, maybe wait for a day with good weather, and avoid doing the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy on a windy or rainy day.

Driving from queenstown to glenorchy nz

Are there toilet stops along the way?

Driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy doesn’t take too long (so you might not need the toilet) but yes there are a few places to stop for the toilet! If you’re used to driving in the UK or USA where you have rest-stops and service stations, it’s not quite the same in New Zealand. Instead you want to look for ‘picnic’ signs – these are the rest stops that usually have toilets. They won’t be big buildings, it’ll usually just be a pull-off on the road, with a picnic area and a long drop toilet, or a shed toilet. They’re usually very clean though, and not too scary!

Is it easy to pull over to take photos?

Yes, and there are so many opportunities to pull over whilst driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy. In order to be completely safe – don’t every just pull over on the side of the road if it isn’t a designated area.  Along the Queenstown to Glenorchy route there are lots of designated places to pull over where you can take amazing photos – so use these to your advantage! It’s easy to spot them, usually they’re gravelled in stone, and usually there will be other cars parked up. The picnic areas (mentioned above, with the toilets) are also great places to pull over and take photos during the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

Below is a photo of one of my favourite pull-over areas. 

scenic Driving from queenstown to glenorchy

Are there any tolls to pay when driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy?

No, it’s a toll-free road! No charges!

What kind of photos will I be able to take?

If you’re driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy, you’ll have so many amazing photo opportunities. There are so many photo spots along the way! From mountains to lakes, to farm land and hills. Honestly, you’re spoilt from choice when driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

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Can I rent a car in Queenstown?

Yes there are loads of car rental places in Queenstown, so you should easily be able to rent a car (even at late notice) from Queenstown.

Can I take a tour bus instead?

If you’re feeling a bit nervous about driving, there are tour groups that can take you there instead. Those tours will stop at the photo spots, and also take you to a few secret ones too! It’s actually nice to let someone else drive A few tours I like the sound of are…

Lord of The Rings Jeep Tour from Queesntown to Glenorchy

Glenorchy and Paradise half day tour (from Queenstown)

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What is there to see in Glenorchy?

Not a whole lot in the town itself! But that’s kind of the charm, and why you visit. Obviously the town is surrounded by stunning mountains and the lakes, so there’s plenty of outdoors activities to get stuck into… but it’s a quiet little town, and it’s beautiful for that very reason. I’d recommend stopping at Mrs Wooly’s village store (they have pies, souvenirs, great coffee and toilets!). And then walk down to the pier and the Glenorchy ‘lake hut’ thing. That’s a great photo opportunity!

Where can I buy food along the drive?

I recommend stocking up on food in Queenstown, as there are loads of food options in Queenstown to choose from.  There are plenty of supermarkets in Queenstown, or you could buy yourself a Fergburger and save it to eat at one of the picnic spots along the way. In Glenorchy, Mrs Wooley’s is the best place to easily stock up on snacks at.

 

Review of the Ramada Central in Queenstown (Jan 2020)

Queenstown is one of the most incredible places in the world and one of the most beautiful places to spend time. But it’s not cheap in Queenstown, so to get the best value for money – you’ll want to make sure you find somewhere cheap and central!

Hostels are usually the best choice for cheap and central accommodation – but if hostels aren’t your cup of tea and you want a bit more personal space – then the Ramada Central in Queenstown is going to be for you. Because of how big Queenstown is (it may look small on the map but it’s actually quite a large town!) you’ll want to be in the heart of everything if you can. Being walking distance to the town centre (and Cookie Time and Fergburger!) definitely pays off!

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A brand new hotel in Queenstown

The Ramada Central in Queenstown is brand new and only opened in late 2019. I actually stopped here in January 2020, and was so impressed. We used to live in Queenstown and I really wanted to stop somewhere as central as our apartment used to be – and this hotel ticked all the boxes.

It’s by far the most amazing value I’ve come across in Queenstown, especially for the price, the quality of facilities, how modern the rooms are… and the AMAZING views on offer too. The rooms have floor to ceiling windows  – and when you’re stopping somewhere as beautiful as Queenstown this is a massive bonus! The views on offer are simple stunning, and the rooms make the views the full focus.

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The hotel and facilities

The hotel is small (compared to other nearby hotels such as The Copthorne and The Millenium) but this kind of adds to the charm. There are only two lifts, the lobby is small and cosy, and you’ll get to know the staff during your stay. The rooms are a good size, and our studio apartment even had a dishwasher (so we couldn’t complain!).

We found the the staff are super friendly and willing to help with just about everything. When we decided to rent a car spontaneously, they were more than happy to help us with garage parking and even offer a valet service from outside the hotel.

The location

It’s only a 5 minute walk into town too – so it’s very central! It’s on the slightly hilly side when you walk back from town – but Queenstown is an alpine town so you’ll find there hills and inclines just about everywhere. You’ll soon get used to the hills and the walking!

The views

Just check out the video below to see how amazing the views are… This was the view we woke up to every morning and it made the stay perfect. There’s nowhere in the world quite as scenic as Queenstown – and this hotel is an amazing place to stop if you want to make sure you’re enjoying the views on offer of the nearby mountains and lake.

 

How to get from Christchurch to Queenstown

Are you looking for tips on how to get from Christchurch to Queenstown?


Queenstown, set on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, is a breathtakingly beautiful town, and one of my favourite places in New Zealand. The spectacular mountains and the crystal clear lake play host to the many adventure sports available in New Zealand, so it’s somewhere the majority of travellers in NZ flock to. Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city; so it’s probably where you’ll fly into, or arrive at, and Queenstown may be the first stop on your trip!
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When I was travelling around NZ I did so much research on the different transport available, especially on the Christchurch to Queenstown route (and which was the best for me) so I figured I’d pop it all into one blog post and hopefully it’ll come in handy for anyone doing the NZ travel-route too.

Take to the skies

Christchurch to Queenstown is a popular route, and Air New Zealand flies this route approximately 4 times a day, Mon-Sun. In the summer months, they offer 5 flights some days of the week, though this varies. The flight is approximately 1 hour long, so it’s a pretty short hop over which is convenient if you’re short on time. Flight prices start from $69.

Recommended for: People in a rush, people who love incredible views (the flight over has some immense window views!).

Not recommended for: People who are scared of flying (the flight into Queenstown can be a bit daunting as it’s through a mountain range).

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Take the bus 

If you want to get the coach there, you can get a direct bus from several companies, or you can make the most of the journey and book a longer tour that’ll take you from one to the other. There are a few different daily direct service from as low as $39, which takes around 8 hours (about £20). The journey from Christchurch to Queenstown, or Queenstown to Christchurch is a long one – so if you can splash out on a comfier bus then do it!
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Also, if you get motion sickness – it might be worth taking a few just in case, as the journey is a little bit bumpy and winding at times. Obviously the south island is full of mountains and long roads, so if your travel sickness is easily triggered, it’s worth preparing for that.

Make the journey part of a tour

If you want to use the journey to it’s full potential, then fitting in a tour, or making the journey part of a tour is a really great idea. There’s so much to see along the way, and making the journey stretch to a tour (over a day, 2 days or even a week) then do it! New Zealand is full of so many hidden gems, and fitting in as many sights as possible, is such a great way to see the country.

Recommended for: People on a budget, who don’t mind a longer route.

Not recommended for: People who are impatient.

Here are some tours worth looking at…

 


Make it a road trip

If you’ve got the time, the most satisfying way to do this route is by car, so you’re in control of which route to take and where to stop. There’s several routes available with some stunning scenery to take in along the way. I’ve only done this route from Queenstown to Christchurch (so the opposite way) but it should be pretty easy to reverse the routes below… (I hope anyway!)

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The coastal route:

This route takes a bit longer (643km, 7.5 hours) but has the beautiful coastal scenery. Head south from Queenstown to Dunedin via Alexandra, Roxburgh and Lawrence, taking in the Karawu Gorge along the way. From Dunedin you head north, following the coast up to Christchurch. There is plenty to see and there’s a few pleasant towns along the way, such as Oamaru and Timaru. Take a picnic for lunch!

The inland route:

This is the mountainous route; it’s 483km with 6 hours of driving. Just out of Queenstown, Cromwell has a few vineyards, if wine is your thing. It might not be directly on the way, but one of the main reasons to go inland is to visit Mount Cook, and if you’re looking to make an overnight stop, this is a very good place to do it. Back on the road, you’ll pass Lake Tekapo, then the town of Geraldine which has a very crafty, country vibe.
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Hiring a car is easy. The likes of Avis and Budget operate out of both the city and the airport and have offices at Queenstown (in the town and the airport), making a one-way hire simple.So it all boils down to how long you want to take, how much you want to take in and whether you want to sit back and enjoy the view, or take the wheel yourself.

Getting the train from Queenstown to Christchurch

A lot of people actually google search whether there’s a train from Queenstown to Christchurch – but the answer (sadly) is there isn’t a train option. Train travel isn’t very popular in New Zealand, especially in the south island. It’s because the mountains are such big parts of the landscape, and it just lend itself well to train travel.

5 Things To Know About New Zealand Before You Go

New Zealand is one of my absolute favourite places, it’s so unique, diverse and interesting – and the landscapes are probably the most beautiful in the world (in my opinion!). Before we visited, because it was such a long way to travel, I was doing tons of research to make sure we were prepared and would have everything we needed.

I figured it’d be good to write about a few things you definitely want to know before heading there, if you have a holiday to New Zealand planned!

It’s FAR away and JETLAG is real

The biggest shock when travelling to New Zealand, was realising just how far it is. Your body will feel a bit ‘muddled’ when you first land, and it may take a few days to adjust to your new timezone. The timezone is literally the opposite to the UK (if it’s 9am here, it’s 9pm there) so you’re whole routine flips. Before we jumped into the adventure of road trips, we made sure we had a couple of nights in a really comfortable hotel where we could just take it easy and recover from the jetlag. I can’t recommend this enough.

The North and South Islands have different climates

The North and South islands might not look too far apart, but the climates and temperatures do really differ. If you’re visiting in winter, then the temperature will be much milder in the North islands, but more ‘ski resort’ vibes in the South. If you’re visiting in the summer, then expect fresher temperatures in the South (maybe still a bit chilly at times) and more tropical heat (humidity) in the North.

(mountains in the south) 

(beaches in the north)

Remember if you’re planning to visit a lot of the country, you might need to be packing for multiple temperatures and different weather conditions! So pack smart!

Drive don’t Fly

If you’re planning on exploring lots of the country and visiting both islands, I’d recommend driving between locations (not flying). Flying is quicker (so if time is against you, then maybe it’s the better option) – but driving is SO much more scenic and you’ll get to see so many more landscapes. We stumbled across mountains and lakes we hadn’t even planned on visiting when we were driving – and some of them turned out to be my favourite locations.

The time of year will matter, as New Zealand has distinct seasons

The weather and activities you can do in New Zealand will vary depending on the time of year you visit. This is a good rough guide to go on:

  • Summer – December, January, February
    • Peak season, perfect time for adventure, hiking, scenic drives, picking fruit, wine tasting, beach activities, kayaking.
  • Autumn – March, April, May
    • Mild temperatures, good for summer activities (but for those who aren’t keen on hot weather). Weather might be more unpredictable but still good for hiking, picnics, kayaking, etc.
  • Winter – June, July, August
    • Skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities.
  • Spring – September, October, November
    • Day tours, sight seeing, hiking, kayaking.

You sunburn easier

Apparently, the ozone layer in New Zealand isn’t as thick as in other areas of the world – which means that you catch the sun easier. I always thought this was a load of crap, until we visited and I discovered just how quickly you burn and tan. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you’re using sun protection and SPF. Just a little thing, but getting burnt can ruin a holiday – so just a heads up!

 

 

 

Making the Most out of a Road Trip

As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of flying, trains journeys and road trips are still a very big part of the grown-up traveler lifestyle for me. Making a trip in a car is always more fun for me, as it means I can avoid the stress and anxiety of air travel. It also means I get a chance to see more of the country I’m visiting (for lots of destination inspiration check out this site), which is such a huge bonus – especially when you love photography and love capturing scenery along the way.

There are of course, a few road trip do’s and don’ts – a few of which I’ll talk about below.

Here’s how to make the most out of your roadtrip:

It’s Not Just About the Destination, It’s About the Journey

Regarding getting from Queenstown to Christchurch in New Zealand, I found that out of all of the ways to tackle this journey, driving was the most satisfying. There is so much to experience, and beautiful scenery to see along the way, that you would just miss out on if you chose to fly instead.

In general, New Zealand and Australia are countries that are greatly enhanced when experienced by road trips. As long as you plan out a good route with plenty to see along the way, and are sharing the trip with a really good co-pilot (make sure this person is fun, a good DJ, and can see you at your worst), then the journey itself can be just as wonderful of an experience as the destination. So, don’t just disregard the road trip approach and jump on a plane, or you will miss out on a lot of things in between.

Another thing to remember when planning the journey, is to book yourself a nice car! A comfortable ride is going to enhance the journey for you, so if you can afford to, pick a car you’re going to enjoy driving.

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Making the Best Experience Should Include Planning for the Worst

Of course just jumping in a car with a map and starting out on the open road isn’t a practical approach to road trips. Unlike the romantic “show up at the airport and pick a destination and just go” approach, a road trip requires some less romantic but very essential prep work. This means changing the oil and filter, refilling the windshield fluid and checking the tire pressure! Filling up your tires with air can not only help save you on the petrol costs, but can be essential in keeping you on the road and reaching your destination.

Remember to also keep other spare parts and essentials packed in the car at all times.

Embrace the Freedom

Part of why you are making a road trip to begin with instead of flying or taking a bus, is because you want to take advantage of the freedom. So while being prepared for anything is good practice, as far as your actual plans go for where you are stopping, eating, and sleeping… leave this open to chance and intrigue! Be open to improvising. You can obviously plan a few steps along the way that you thought of beforehand, but don’t research everything and create a rigid, impossible schedule with no room for flexibility. Sometimes the detours will be the most rewarding and memorable parts!

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Get out of the car!

Don’t forget to actually get out of the car and explore. Find a good place to pull over and enjoy actually getting out and stretching your legs. Roadtrips shouldn’t just be about getting from point A to point B, they should be about relaxing into it, stopping if you see something amazing, and using the car to explore places that would otherwise be out of your reach.

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3 Epic Places Not to Miss in New Zealand

It’s no secret that New Zealand is one of my favourite countries. Never will you visit somewhere more beautiful, epic and breath-taking! My husband I spent 6 months there a few years ago, and have been planning to go back ever since.

Recently though, a few friends have visited there too – and we’ve been the go-to couple for recommendations. Which I love! It’s so nice to be able to recommend all the beautiful places you seen and been to, and know that friends and family are going to adore them just as much.

Some people I know would rather book every location on their own with their own itinerary – but we’re not all adventurers, so for some people booking a tour is the best option. Some tours are a bit hit and miss on the locations they visit – but Distant Journeys is one company I’ve found who seem to include the best bits (in my opinion!) in their NZ tours. You can see more about their tours here.

So… Here are 3 epic places not to miss if you’re visiting New Zealand.

1. Queenstown

No list of NZ highlights, and no trip to the country, would be complete without Queenstown. It’s the most stunning mountain town on the South Island and in summer there are sunny days swimming in the lake – and in the winter you can ski and snowboard on the mountains. Sounds perfect right? It is! My heart belongs there, and honestly, there is nowhere I’ve been that’s more beautiful. You can skydive here, mountain bike, g0-kart, ski, snowboard, speedboat, boat cruise, hiking, golfing… the list goes on.

The mountains are huge, towering and intimidating (just the way I like mountains to be!), but the lake is serene, blissful and picturesque. The town is full of amazing restaurants, coffee shops, cars, pubs, etc – so even in the evenings, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. You can read my list of places to eat by clicking here.

2. Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is located at the other end of NZ to Queenstown, at the very top of the North Island. This is where doing a tour might come in handy – as you needn’t worry about getting from place to place (someone takes care of that for you). Bay of Islands feels like a tropical haven, it can get pretty hot in the summer, and you’ll definitely catch a tan (yes, even in NZ!). The Bay of Islands is a bay of hundreds of islands, and you can discover them by boat tours from the nearby towns. On a lucky day you might even spot dolphins in the waters around the bays, which is beyond magical – trust me!

I loved discovering all the hidden beaches and secret paradise islands, and I know anyone would love doing the same. There’s loads to do here, and you can read my list here.

3. Milford Sound

If you’re headed to New Zealand to see the the epic landscapes used in movies like Lord of The Rings – then Milford Sound is a MUST VISIT. There aren’t really any words to describe Milford Sound other than amazing, epic and mind-blowing. You recognise the landscapes without a doubt, and you’ll want to keep your camera at hand – because the photo opportunities are endless.

 

Tips for having an amazing New Zealand Holiday

New Zealand is a country I LOVE – and it’s one of those planes I tell people time and time again that ‘they have to visit’. There’s nowhere quite like it. In the same way that New York is overwhelming and feels like a movie set – New Zealand does too. But instead of skyscrapers, there are mountains and lakes.

I didn’t believe how beautiful it would be until I went for myself – and then within minutes of touching down on Kiwi tarmac I was totally sold and utterly convinced it was the most beautiful place on earth.
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There’s so much to see in New Zealand, it’s hard to make a definitive list. We lived there for 6 months – and there are things I didn’t get to see or do. Saying that though, here’s a list of some incredible things you MUST see or do, to make sure your holiday is amazing.

Visit Queenstown

Please don’t visit NZ and miss out this beautiful town. It is breathtaking, stunning, beautiful, magnificent – I can’t think of enough words to describe the perfection of this place. Say close to the town centre, so you’re within walking distance of everything – and (if you can afford it) try and get a room with a view. Queenstown is such a visual place – don’t waste your time there with a view of a brick wall. There’s nothing quite like waking up to the view of mountains.

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Hire a car 

New Zealand is beautiful from the sky – but the best way to get around has to be by car. Hiring a car is so cheap (and really easy) so there’s no excuse not to have the ultimate road trip. We used Budget Car Hire when we were there. Last time we were there, we did some small road trips, but Pad and I are planning an epic NZ road trip for our honeymoon later this year, and I’m so excited. You really see parts of the countryside and landscapes by car that aren’t really accessible by any other method of transport. You notice beautiful little details, amazing vistas, cool little picnic spots – it’s the perfect way to explore.

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Don’t get hung-up on your jet lag

My next suggestion may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I wanted to include it. When me and Pad landed in Auckland (after 30 hours of flights) we checked into the Sky City Casino Hotel. Now, this particular hotel was great for two reasons. One – it had the comfiest bed ever, and really good black out curtains, which meant you can sleep at any hour. Two – It had a casino and bar that was open round the clock, which meant that even if jet lag was keeping us up past 3am, we weren’t wasting time, and could still have some fun.

Be Spontaneous 

New Zealand isn’t the kind of place where you need to plan and plan and plan. The beauty of NZ is that you can spontaneous, and explore at your own pace. Of course, during peak times it’s always best to book accommodation ahead of time, but for day trips and excursions – it’s always best to just play it by ear. Especially as the weather in NZ can be so unpredictable. Don’t book yourself up too much, leave yourself with free time, so you can sign up to tours spontaneously, or last minute. It also means, if you fall in love with a place, you can stay there longer!

Save money for spending! 

New Zealand isn’t cheap – in fact it’s pretty expensive (food, drink, tours and excursions) – so make sure you’ve saved enough spending money. I know a lot of people who went to NZ thinking it’d be back-packer prices, and were unpleasantly surprised. The day trips, activities, and food make up some of the most fun bits of NZ, and some of the parts you’ll remember the most – so don’t let yourself miss out. Even if it means delaying your trip so you can save more for spending… you’ll be thankful for it.

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Don’t be scared of hostels! 

In parts of Europe and Asia, hostels have a really bad reputation. You hear horror stories of bed bugs and used sheets, and gross toilets. But in New Zealand, the majority of hostels are more like B&Bs, and are a really good standard. We always used Hostel World when booking ours – as they had reviews. I never once stopped in a ‘bad’ hostel in NZ, in fact some of the best places we stayed in were hostels and cost us next to nothing. The standard is definitely higher – so don’t be scared of booking a hostel bed if it’s all you can afford.

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Don’t forget suncream! 

One quick tip as my last tip! Don’t forget to wear suncream! The ozone layer is thinner (or something like that) in this part of the world – so you catch the sun so much quicker. Slather it on – burning isn’t any fun!

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Tips for visiting New Zealand’s iconic movie locations

We all know that big American cities like New York and Los Angeles have provided us with some seriously iconic movie locations. But the nation of New Zealand has also delivered some stunning scenery for some massive blockbusters in the past couple of decades.

New Zealand is actually one of my favourite place in the world – and somewhere I’m mega excited to visit again later this year! When Pad and I lived there we literally lived in one of the country’s most famous movie locations, but I thought it would be interesting to check out the best way of seeing some of these other epic vistas that have inspired the massive films.

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New Zealand has  definitely become a lot more recognisable thanks to the famous movie director Peter Jackson. The Wellington native used the wild terrain of the country to great effect in movies like King Kong and the Lord of the Rings series. And with a movie museum planned for Wellington, it’s evident that New Zealand is showing an increased appetite to display its cinematic legacy.

If you’re keen to check out the real-life locations of the Lord of the Rings movies, then where better to start than by heading to Matamata in the North Island to take a tour of Hobbiton.

Given the sheer scope of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, there’s no shortage of Lord of the Rings locations to visit, whether you want to stroll in Fangorn Forest on the South Island or prefer to see the site of the epic battle between the Rohan and an orc army in Mackenzie County.

We lived in Queenstown, which is actually where a lot of the case lived whilst filming, and the surrounding mountains were used a lot in shots and panoramas in the LOTR movies.

There are plenty of online resources that can help pinpoint these filming locations as many more tourists head to New Zealand thanks to the way that Lord of the Rings has become an endlessly appealing merchandising opportunity.

The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has also had a hand in establishing the Weta Workshop that has pioneered many of the cutting-edge design aesthetics of many modern movies. This can be seen courtesy of a visit to the famous Weta Workshop museum that showcases how the Wellington company has managed to create eye-opening special effects for movies as far-ranging as Mad Max: Fury Road and Thunderbirds Are Go.

So as well as the far-reaching effects of Lord of the Rings reaching mobile casino sites, it looks like New Zealand’s cinematic influence will soon many more movies hitting our cinema screens soon.

 

10 Unmissable Things to do in Wellington, NZ

I fell a little bit in love with Wellington when we visited. It’s one of those cities that is the perfect mix between between scenic and quirky – always my favourite kind of place and exactly what you’d expect from the capital of New Zealand. There are so many things to do in Welling, for every kind of person – so I figured I’d put together a list of my top picks.
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As with all of New Zealand, the city is surrounded by lush green parks and nature, and the sea is crystal clear and picture perfect. In one place you have bustling city streets with coffee shops and lively bars – and then on the other there are palm tree lined beaches, spectacular vistas and beautiful city parks.
It’s a city to explore and enjoy, and we enjoyed it far more than we expected to. Aside from Queenstown (which I think is classed as a city) it’s definitely my second favourite city in New Zealand (I much prefer it over Auckland and Christchurch). It has character, it’s quirky, it’s fun and there is tonnes to do and explore.
If you’re planning a stay, here are my recommended things to do in Wellington…

Wellington Cable Car
www.wellingtoncablecar.co.nz

For over 100 years, the Wellington Cable Car has offered residents and tourists the chance to enjoy scenic views on its short journey from Lambton Quay to the Botanic Garden, from where a number of other attractions, including the Carter Observatory, can be easily reached. At selected times of the year, visitors are also treated to an impressive light show as the cable cars pass through two 100m long tunnels.

Services run every 10 minutes throughout the day, with adult tickets costing $4 and $7.50 for single and return journeys respectively ($2 and $3.50 for children). I can’t remember queuing for very long when we visited – I think it was about a 15-20 minute wait.

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The photo below is the view from the top of the cable cars!
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Zealandia
www.visitzealandia.com

Located 10 minutes from the centre of Wellington, Zealandia is an unmissable nature reserve covering 225 hectares which is sure to delight visitors of all ages with its extensive collection of rare birds, insects and reptiles living freely in their natural habitat. Guided tours (including a night tour), wildlife feeding and an interactive exhibition provide wildlife lovers with a chance to learn about the rich variety of species as well as 80 million years of natural history. I have a massive soft-spot for nature stuff and zoological gardens – so if you’re like me you’ll love it.

Entry costs $17.50 for adults and $9 for children; under-5s go free.

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Wellington Botanical Gardens
wellington.govt.nz

Officially classed as a garden of national significance, the Wellington Botanic Garden is a haven of tranquillity and has some of the best views in the city! I spent about 20 minutes just snapping photos before we had even headed into the park. It’s seriously gorgeous, and once you arrive at the top of the cable car (mentioned earlier in the article) you can walk down through the gardens and it’s a pretty leisurely stroll (all downhill… yay!).

Entry is free.
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Wellington Zoo
www.wellingtonzoo.com

Another zoo for my list! Branding itself ‘the best little zoo in the world’, Wellington Zoo is such a winner. With approximately 500 animals, including critically endangered species such as the Cotton Top Tamarin and Sumatran Tiger, the collection also features some native animals that cannot be viewed elsewhere. You can also learn more about the different species or the conservation work of the zoo through the regular animal feedings and zookeeper talks. My favourite part of the zoo was that certain animals (ducks for example) were just walking around freely, and it was adorable interacting with them and their babies.

Entry to Wellington Zoo costs $21 for adults and $10.50 for over-3s. Concessions are available.

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Museum of New Zealand
www.tepapa.govt.nz

The Museum of New Zealand, known locally as Te Papa Tongarewa (which translates as ‘container of treasures’), features six floors of exhibits and displays covering a wide range of the country’s cultural, art and natural history. Using state-of-the-art 3D animation and conventional story telling techniques, visitors can enjoy an interactive and innovative peek into New Zealand’s past, come face-to-face with a giant squid or experience the fear of an earthquake! Pad and I went here one rainy afternoon and at the time it really was one of the best things to do in wellington for that kind of weather. We spent a couple of hours walking around the exhibitions and had loads of fun.

Entry to the museum is free; admission charges to special exhibitions may apply.

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City Gallery
http://citygallery.org.nz

I didn’t make it to the gallery during my visit, but this is one of New Zealand’s leading art galleries. The City Gallery in Wellington is host to a variety of national and international artists and is renowned for its innovative exhibitions of contemporary art, design and architecture. Visitors can engage with art through workshops, lectures and talks while temporary exhibitions have featured the work of prominent artists including Tracey Emin (one of my favourites) and Frida Kahlo, making the City Gallery unmissable for anyone with an appreciation of artistic culture.

Free admission.

Carter Observatory
www.carterobservatory.org

Worth scheduling this on the same day that you visit the Botanical Gardens and do the cable cars too, as it’s all in one place. The Carter Observatory is ideal for young and old to come face-to-face with the universe, and you can literally do that in their sky room where you sit on reclining seats and listen to the expo. We loved that part of the tour – but (unluckily) were in the same group as a school trip – who were a bit rowdy at times! For night owls, the observatory opens late on selected nights for telescope viewing, giving you a first-class view of the solar system in its unobscured glory.

Adult admission costs $18.50; child admission is $8. Under-4s enter free. Concessions available.

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Weta Cave
http://wetaworkshop.com

New Zealand has long been associated with international movie making and avid fans are sure to revel in the Weta Cave, a small museum run by the company which brought to life ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’. It’s a real wild-card activity and it’s super fun to see all the props from the movies and know that these people actually had a hand in making the films. If you’re a bit of a LOTR geek like Pad and I, you’ll love this.

Admission for over-12s $24, 6-12 years $12.

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Wellington Waterfront
http://wellington.govt.nz/

For a relaxing day at your own pace, Wellington Waterfront is an ideal destination, where you can pass the time exploring one of the heritage trails, take a paddleboat or kayak ride to the harbour or simply watch the world go by from an outdoor table of one of the many restaurants and cafes. It’s a perfect place for people-watching and in the sunshine – there’s no nicer place to be in the city.

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Eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes 
There are a ton of restaurants and cafes in the city (apparently more than NYC!? Someone told me that, I don’t know if it’s true!) and the few that we ate at during our time there were awesome. My favourite was the Flying Burrito Brothers (best breaded Jalepenos EVER).
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Daydreaming about our Honeymoon!

The next big holiday Pad and I take will probably be our honeymoon… For two reasons mainly. Firstly, this year we’re going to be pretty busy attending other people’s weddings – which can get pretty pricey and means most of our summer weekends are taken up with hen / stag do’s and the weddings themselves. Secondly, we’re saving up for a wedding – which of course means that the holidays have to be trimmed down a bit, in order to save up for wedding stuff.

So, know that our next big trip together will be our honeymoon, I’m spending at least an hour a day daydreaming about it and the kinds of places we could go. At the moment, we’re planning a mini-moon straight after the wedding, and then a bigger honeymoon (for a month – maybe up to 6 weeks) later in the year.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking for the mini-moon:

Ibiza 

I love the idea of renting a luxury villa in Europe for 5-7 nights and just having some sunshine and an amazing view and a pool (there has to be a pool… extra points for infinity pools!). I know Ibiza has a reputation for being a party island but I’ve had so many friends and family recommend the island to us now for a more relaxing kind of getaway – that I want to see what all the fuss it about. The areas of Ibiza further away from the party towns look gorgeous, and would be the perfect luxury getaway for a few days straight after the wedding, plus it’s only a few hours by plane (so no jet-lag – yay!). I love how close to the sea we can be, the views we’d have are amazing. I’ve seen some lovely ones and I’m pretty sure I could find our dream holiday villa in Ibiza somewhere.

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The Caribbean

My other choice for the mini-moon is the Caribbean. Pad and I went for the first time last year (for our friend’s wedding!), and loved every second of it. The clear blue sea, the white sandy beaches, the all-inclusive resorts…. we just loved it. You can get direct flights there from here in London, and the packages are really reasonable – so this would be ideal too. It’s a little further away, but the all-inclusive deals make things so effortless, that I don’t think it’d matter to us too much. I’ve been looking at holidays to the Grenadines (which is part of the Caribbean we haven’t yet explored) and the beaches and sunshine send me right into a daydream.

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Here’s what I’ve been thinking for the longer honeymoon….

AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND! 

OK, so this bit, we’ve already kind of decided. Pad and I have a love affair with Australia and New Zealand, and ever since we came back 2 years ago we’ve literally been scheming about how we can get back there, and when. It turns out, our honeymoon is the perfect opportunity.

I think we’ll head over to Sydney first (maybe stopping on the West Coast of the USA on the way) and spend a week or so in Sydney – a city which we both fell in love with back in the day. We’ll maybe even try and squeeze in a weekend trip to Hamilton Island too (on the Whitsundays) and do a little reef tour.

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After that, it’s onto Queenstown, a small town in New Zealand’s South Island, where we both lived together a couple of years ago. It’s our ‘special place’ so it’ll be awesome to go back and just enjoy the town again. I don’t think we’ll do much more than that – Queenstown is the place we’re really excited to get back to, so we’ll probably just spend our time there doing all the things we loved. Like eating at our favourite restaurants, taking walks to our favourite places and just standing in awe at the view!

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In a dream world….

We’d love to go to Bora Bora for a week or two – but right now that is way way out of our budget. Maybe for our ten year anniversary!? 😉

What it’s like to be a New Zealand expat

New Zealand is one of the best places I’ve ever lived (and I’ve lived in a fair few places). When living in New Zealand, we lived in Queenstown – a town in the South Island mainly known for it’s mountains, lakes and um, tourists.

All I can say is, if you’re contemplating whether or not to make the move over to New Zealand, just do it. It’s one of the best decisions my partner and I ever made and it’s a country we miss every single day now we’re back living in London.

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But let me go into a little more depth… here’s what to expect when moving to New Zealand as an expat…

There are some good things, some bad things on this list – but for me it all balanced out. Queenstown is the most beautiful place I have EVER lived – and that was definitely worth paying a bit extra for my weekly shopping.

1. It’s safe (like no big deal to walk home at 2am, kinda safe) 

I can only speak for my own personal experiences here, but I never felt unsafe in Queenstown. Not once. Not ever. I like to think of myself as pretty street-smart (oh cringe!) so it does take a lot to spook me, and as a general rule I’m always on my guard. New Zealand is one of the only places that made me drop that guard, because I never felt at risk, I never felt threatened and I never felt intimidated.

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Now, I know the story may be different in some of the country’s cities – but I did visit most of New Zealand whilst living there, and this feeling of safety was a constant wherever we went. New Zealand is the kind of place I’d want to raise my children, because it’s somewhere I know they could grow up exploring, playing and having fun – without worrying about all the things I’d fret about in London or a UK city.

For me, Queenstown had that sense of community which ushers in a sense of safety too. It’s a lovely place to be 🙂

2. The people will welcome you with open arms

It didn’t matter who we met, whether they were locals, other New Zealand expats or tourists – everyone was just lovely and always welcoming. Our landlord in New Zealand remains the nicest landlord we’ve ever had, and it was a refreshing change to deal with a landlord who was a real genuine guy – and not a scary property shark with a contract.

3. It’s not just a new version of the UK (and don’t move there expecting it to be)

I think a lot of British people move to New Zealand in the hopes it will be a new and improved version of the UK. I didn’t find this to be true. I didn’t actually draw many comparisons between UK culture and New Zealand culture. This country has it’s own identity and it is it’s own entity.

Don’t move there if all you want is Manchester with mountains. Or London with lakes.

If anything I found the culture more similar to that of the USA. The streets are usually set out in blocks, the postal service is a bit like the US, and the traditions are more similar to the US than they are the UK. BUT even saying those things, NZ is completely its own. It has it’s own history, it’s story and that what makes it so magical and such a wonderful place to live. It’s not just Eastenders with an extra dash of Milford Sound.

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4. It’s more expensive than you expect (and I’m a Londoner who know about high prices!) 

Of all the amazing things, I have to say this – NZ is expensive and having been a New Zealand Expat, this was one of our hardest realisations. In London (and bear in mind – London is about as expensive as the UK gets) we would pay about £70 for a weekly shop for two people (this doesn’t include alcohol). In New Zealand a comfortable shop, with the same items, would cost us the equivalent of £120-£150.

This would go up big time if we wanted any luxuries like alcohol, etc.

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It is expensive – so make sure you’re ready for that! Why is it expensive? I think it’s because nearly everything is imported. Oh – and don’t even dream of buying anything off the ‘special imports’ shelves…. £10 for a bottle of Robinson’s Squash? No thanks!

Which brings me onto my next point…

5. THEY DON’T HAVE NORMAL SQUASH

During an average week in London I go through about 2 bottles of fruit squash. You know, the no added sugar, Robinson’s kinda goodness. In New Zealand (and this is random and weird) but they just don’t sell it (except from on the expensive import shelf). They don’t have any local / less expensive alternative.

They have this weird powered stuff, but it confused me and freaked me out a bit (“juice from powder?! I don’t understand!”) and they had sugar-loaded Ribena / syrup drinks – but no low-sugar cordial. Anyway, rant over.

6. Medical care might not always be accessible

During my time in NZ I was luck not to become seriously ill, or injured – except this one time when I nearly severed off my fingers whilst zip-lining. I was hastily rushed off to the ‘medical centre’ (basically a big doctors surgery) and told I had very nearly severed the tendon of my two fingers.

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The photo on the left was taken just seconds before the ‘incident’. Look how ignorant and happy I am…!

Luckily – I hadn’t. But if I had (and I came very close) I would have had to be helicoptered to the nearest hospital to get myself into surgery. THAT’S A LOT OF INSURANCE MONEY – or normal money if you don’t got no insurance. It was then I realised that we were quite literally living in the middle of nowhere, and should something serious happen, the medical care might not have been that easy to get hold of or access.

7. It’s remote. And a bit isolated. 

This kind of leads on from the previous point, but I’m talking on a larger scale. If you’re moving from the UK, NZ does feel very far away. It can be hard to get hold of family and friends (because you’re always either 11 or 12 hours apart). Basically the only times you can talk to home is early morning or late at night – which works fine, until you realise you like having lie-ins! 😉

Keep it in mind, that you may struggle at times with the time difference. It does make you feel a long way from home.

8. Internet is slower (I know you don’t think this is a big deal right now – but just wait until your buffering the next episode of Breaking Bad). 

The internet is slow. Saying that though, as we were leaving NZ, there were improvements being put in (our whole street was being dug up to make room for faster cables) so maybe it’s getting better. It is slow though.

HOWEVER you’ll have way better things to be doing than being on the internet anyway. You know, like climbing those mountains right outside your front door.

9. Rent is expensive 

I’m not sure how this fares around the rest of the New Zealand – but rent in Queenstown was a lot of money. I guess this is inline with the sheer demand there is on properties there though. We splashed out and lived somewhere incredible, because we’d saved so hard beforehand – but not everyone has that advantage. So remember to do your research before landing.

Also keep in mind it’s calculated by week (not per month – which is the norm in the UK).

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10. I forgot to put this above – but eating out is affordable (even is grocery shopping isn’t) 

Eating out in NZ is actually (surprisingly) affordable. More so than cooking at home at times. You have the cheap prices of the USA – but without the obligation to leave a 20% tip. We usually left between 10-15% tip but I think some people wouldn’t have even left that (we are self confessed generous tippers having both worked in hospitality when we were younger).

On a side note – Queenstown has some of the best restaurants EVER. It’s crazy that so many amazing food places exist in such a small town.

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expat new zealand

11. There are so many amazing places to see and so many things to to do

New Zealand isn’t just mountains and lakes, there are beautiful beachesincredible coastlines and quirky, fun cities too. There are so many places to go and see – and I didn’t realise quite how varied the country was until I arrived there and started exploring. It really is a beautiful country. You could spend years exploring and still not scratch the surface.

expat new zealand

expat new zealand

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Are you a New Zealand expat? What things have you learnt about life there so far?

It’s so easy to fall in love with New Zealand

I recently read a blog post by the wonderful Geraldine from The Everywhereist about a trip she had taken to Bushman’s Kloof in South Africa (you can read her post here). In the post, Geraldine talks about her attachment to this beautiful place, and how when she and her husband Rand visit, it’s like being where they belong.

It’s their favourite place. It the place that brings out the best in them.

It really hit a chord for me. When I was reading it, I was mentally agreeing with everything she wrote. Except my Bushman’s Kloof, is Queenstown in New Zealand.

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I really miss it there, and it took reading Geraldine’s perfectly beautiful description of her own ‘happy place’ to make it sink in. Queenstown is the place where Pad and I adore, it’s the only place I’ve ever called perfect. It’s the most magical, beautiful, breathtaking place, that I can’t even believe exists in real life.

That’s where we’d belong if the world wasn’t so big, flights weren’t so expensive and jet lag didn’t exist.

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In our London apartment I surround myself with photographic reminders of Queenstown (we lived there for 6 months, so it’s not like I have a shortage of photos to choose from). I have a canvas in the living room, I have magnets on the fridge and I have countless frames in the bedroom.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – London is amazing and we’re beyond happy here too – but the muddy brown Thames doesn’t quite match up to the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. And I’ve yet to find anything in London that captures my imagination in the same way The Remarkables do.

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So I guess that’s all this blog post is about. I miss New Zealand. Quite a lot actually.

But, I guess it’s justified. I mean who wouldn’t miss a place this beautiful?

JUST LOOK AT IT. IT’S LIKE SOMEONE DREAMED IT UP. 

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Where is your happy place?

Things to do in Paihia, Bay of islands, NZ

It may not be one of New Zealand’s main tourist hotspots – but this little town at the very top of the North Island is jam-packed with amazing things to see and do.

We visited in November and stayed for 7 days (and 2 of these days were spent on the Rock The Boat Cruise – which I’ll talk about below). I’d say that this is more than enough time to spend in Paihia, in fact I reckon you could get away with spending 2/3 days on dry land exploring the area, and then another 2 days doing the boat cruise which we did, because that was my absolute highlight, and something you won’t want to miss!

So… Here are my recommendations for how to spend your time in Paihia. Enjoy!

Enjoy the view

The beaches in the town are lovely and the views are pretty gorgeous (even in the rain). Take a stroll along the beaches and just take it all in. Beware of sand flies though… I got bitten so much from a quick walk on the beach, and there’s nothing more annoying than sandfly bites on your feet!

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Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

This was a truly eye-opening experience and something so special. The treaty grounds are a huge part of New Zealand history and as you walk around it becomes evident how much this place is treasured by the locals. It’s not only a beautiful park (the treehouse style walk way is so beautiful you won’t want to leave), there are also demonstrations, traditional dances, museums and all sorts of others things to explore too.

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Take a drive over to Haruru Falls

A short drive out of the town, Haruru Falls is a lovely waterfall definitely worth seeing. There’s even a hotel at the bottom of it you can visit for lunch or dinner afterwards.

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Walk around the coastline

This is more for the view than anything else – because it’s truly beautiful. As you can probably tell from my photos, we didn’t have the best weather the first few days we were there – but even in the rainy, overcast weather the beauty of the place can still be appreciated.

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Take the ferry across to Russell Island

If you fancy taking a little trip across to another island, then Russell Island is a great choice. The ferry only takes about 20 minutes and you’ll get some incredible views along the way. Russell doesn’t have a huge amount on offer, but there are some nice cafes, restaurants and gift shops, and the island has some beautiful traditional houses too which are lovely to look at.

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Eat at Shippey’s Fish and Chips

If you’re after something nice to eat in the evening, then Shippey’s is an awesome choice – and you won’t be disappointed. They serve up home-style fish and chips and have loads of seating too. Also… WHO DOESN’T WANT TO EAT ON A SHIP!? It’s awesome!


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Look out for interesting boats and bits of history

Taking a walk around the marina area and beaches (especially the beaches a little further out of town) and you’re bound to find amazing little boats and stuff – like the one pictured below. I love that photo!

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Go dolphin spotting

There are a few dolphin tours in the town you can choose from, and although it’s not guaranteed you’ll spot them – there are so many dolphins in the sea around Paihia, that you’re bound too – and they have a full-refund policy if you don’t get a glimpse of any. It’s kind of fun to sail around as the skipper radios with other boats in the area to see if any have been spotted. And then when the moment comes and you finally see them – it’s just breathtaking. By far one of the most beautiful moments you could experience.

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Visit some of the smaller islands in the bay 

Don’t forget there are loads of islands to explore. You never know what gorgeous hidden spots you might discover! The island below had nothing more on it than a cafe and a toilet block. Random, but fun!

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Do the Rock The Boat Cruise 

This was my absolute highlight from our time in Paihia, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s jam packed full of activities and fun – and the staff are encouraging, friendly and legends in their own right. It’s everything a little adventure-cruise should be. We booked the boat’s only double room (lucky us!) but there are also dorm room and twin rooms available for larger groups too.

The cruise last two days (one night) and is worth every penny. I really can’t recommend this enough – if you’re going to Paihia, don’t miss out o this, you’ll regret it!

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Have you been to Paihia? What are your favourite things to do there?

The Restaurant list: Best Places to Eat in Queenstown

You’d never imagine that a small, tiny, alpine village in the remote country of New Zealand would be such an AWESOME place for food. Seriously.

Queenstown is the best place for food in the entire world. I lived there for 6 months – and in that time experienced the following things:

The best burger I’ve ever tasted, the best ribs I’ve ever tasted, the best sushi I’ve ever tasted, the best Chinese take-out I’ve ever ordered… the list goes on. If you’re visiting Queenstown make sure you save money for dining out – because you’re going to need it. There are so many incredible choices.

Here are my favourites….

Flame: www. flamegrill.co.nz

Hands down, the best ribs I have ever had. With no exceptions. Flame have nailed it.

I would pay a huge amount of money to get some shipped over to the UK right now. Wouldn’t that be something.

I don’t care if you don’t like ribs. If you go to Flame you should get them. Try them. And then eat your words as well as your meat. It will blow your mind. They also do amazing cocktails – because obviously you need something to wash down all the ribs and steak you’ve ordered. The portion sizes here are huge – but the quality isn’t compromised by the size, which make it all the more enjoyable. If you do anything whilst you’re in Queenstown – make it Flame.

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flame ribs queesntown

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FergBurger: www.fergburger.com

If you’re heading to Queenstown you’ve probably already heard of Fergburger. It’s like this urban myth. Travellers talk of a huge burger so juicy and so delicious you’d eat there every day if you could. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

It’s basically a take-out burger place (if you do manage to grab a seat – you’re very lucky, as there aren’t many) so it’s perfect for a sunny day, when you can grab a  burger and go sit by the lake. The portions are also huge here – so unless you haven’t eaten in weeks all you need to order is the burger… no chips necessary! My favourite was the CockadoodleOink – but in all truth you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Except maybe the vegetarian options…. because then WHY!?

fergburger review queenstown restaurant

fergburger review queenstown restaurant

fergburger review queenstown restaurant

Palace on the Lake: www.lakesidepalaceatqueenstown.com

Chinese food is one of my favourite kinds – so I really wanted to track down a decent Chinese place in the first couple of weeks of living in QT. This is a great choice for dining in or dining out. Try the lemon chicken. YUM.

FAT BADGERS: www.fatbadgerspizza.com

I’m pretty sure one of the first things you do when you move to a new place is order pizza take-out, right? So we were pretty chuffed when we stumbled upon Fat Badgers. Don’t go to any other pizza place in town – because I’ve tried the rest and they don’t even come close to Fat Badgers.

Fat Badgers is amazing. No, scrap that, IT’S THE BEST PIZZA YOU’LL EVER HAVE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE – so much good pizza yummyness. Get the Smokey Badger (personal favourite) and make sure you’re hungry because these pizzzas are HUUUGGGGGEEEE.

fat badgers pizza Queenstown

fat badgers pizza Queenstown

Patagonia: http://www.patagoniachocolates.co.nz/

This place is great for those with a sweet tooth or a coffee habit – because you’d be beyond satisfied here. The do this amazing ice-cream (every flavour ever in the world) and also incredible sorbet too, the have the biggest range of home-made chocolate I’ve ever seen, and they also do good coffee. Oh, and there is free-wifi and it’s right by the lake so the views are great.

The Sushi place on the Mall Highstreet

I went here at least 4 times a week when we lived there (probably more…) and it was awesome. If you like sushi you’ll love it here. It’s a tiny place, tucked somewhere in the middle of the high street. Get there around midday for the best selection, because once it’s out it sells out fast. Why? Because it’s delicious and cheap. Perfect for a quick lunch.

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Johnny Barr’s Sandwiches: www.johnnybarrs.com

Another great choice for a quick lunch – this place does the best sandwiches in town. My favourite was the pulled pork with coleslaw (I could’ve eaten those every day). Chow down inside the deli, or grab yours to go and eat it on the beach. Either way, don’t give this place a miss – it’s scrummy.

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Could I look any happier about that sandwich??

johnny barrs queenstown review

johnny barrs queenstown review

The Remarkables Sweet Shop: www.remarkablesweetshop.co.nz

Got a sweet tooth? Go and grab some amazing sweets or homemade fudge from The Remarkables Sweet Shop. Top tip? If you head in and look curiously towards the fudge fridge, they’ll let you try the fudge FOR FREE. So much yummyness, so little time.

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Cookie Time: www.cookietime.co.nz

Another choice for those with a sweet tooth… head over to Cookie Time for cookie happy hour (buy one get one free!). Such a treat, and full of loads of flavours and choices. Always warm and chewy, and there are cold crunchy ones too for those who prefer them. I try not to think too much about Cookie Time now I’m back in the UK. It just makes me sad. And hungry.

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A few other places worth noting…. 

– Winnies (good pizza, and a great lively atmosphere and bar in the evenings)

– Moto (a solid choice for breakfast!)

– Vudu (another solid choice for breakfast!)

Where are your favourite places to eat in Queenstown?

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

Exploring Christchurch – New Zealand

Our last couple of days in New Zealand were spent in Christchurch, as that’s where our flight to Australia left from. There’s quite a lot I want to say about Christchurch, and I meant to write this post a few months ago, put had trouble fitting it all in. So here goes again.

I had never visited Christchurch before the earthquake 2 years ago, so I had no prior expectations for this city. Pad had visited a few years ago though and had seen the city at it’s best – before the earthquake had hit it. He had told me of this gorgeous little city, with a river running through it and old English-Style colonial buildings, and a great cafe-culture. We had both talked about whether we would go there during our time in NZ, as Pad was worried seeing it after the damage would be a bit sad, seen as he’d seen the city beforehand and loved it so much. But as our friend Hannah lives there – who we really wanted to visit – Christchurch became somewhere we did indeed finally get round to seeing.

Like I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the earthquake had been a big one – but I’ve never visited somewhere after a natural disaster, so I wasn’t sure what the city would be like and what kind of state it would be in. Pad had painted this picture of this gorgeous little city – so in a way I was expecting some reflection of that. Maybe there would be a few buildings knocked down, maybe some parts of town would still be in recovery – but I expected some essence of the original city to still be there.

I was wrong.

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From what I can tell, and from Pad’s reaction as we looked around the city, the entire city has completely changed. I personally couldn’t believe the state of repair the city was still in and how restricted our access to it was. There are parts of the city completely blocked off to the public, I think they were referred to as red zones – where there was still extreme danger.

Buildings were abandoned left right and centre, with entire streets just closed off, empty and left behind. It was upsetting to tell the truth – even for me, someone who has personal connection to the city. I can’t image how difficult it must be for those who have grown up in Christchurch, to see this beautiful city they loved fall down to ruins.

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However the city is undergoing restoration – however slow it may be – and there are parts of the city that are now re-open to the public and provide some uplifting relief from the damage. The pop-up container mall is an example of this, and the bright colours and quirky nature of this, really make it something special. We actually sat down whilst here and got talking to a local security guard who said how much he still adores Christchurch, despite all the damage and loss of business. His optimism was really inspiring, as was Hannah’s – our friend who we stayed with. Instead of dwelling on what’s been lost, it seems the city is excited for what they can now become. Which is refreshing.

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But it’s not just the city centre that was affected by the earthquake, the suburbs of the city were affected too. Hannah drove us around the local beaches nearby, all of which were absolutely stunning – but many of the surrounding houses and towns empty and abandoned. The beautiful houses below positioned in a prime location above the beach, might look perfect from the outside – but most of them are now empty as they are unsafe to live in.

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My favourite part of visiting Christchurch was actually getting out of the city and seeing all the beaches and beautiful views that New Zealand is so famous for, because it really didn’t disappoint. But saying that, I can’t wait to visit the city again in 20 years time and see just how much it has changed and how much it has grown. It’ll no doubt be a long recovery process but the city will be even more amazing once it’s done, Christchurch was clearly a great place to live before the earthquake – so they’re building on strong foundations and I imagine the city will be even more beautiful once it’s all finished once more.

Now for a few uplifting photos… Here is what you can find just a 20 minute drive from the city. Pretty gorgeous, I think you’ll agree!

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That Night We Slept in Jail.

Not a real Jail. 

So if you came here looking for some hilarious travel story about me getting arrested – sorry to disappoint. This was the night we spent in Christchurch (NZ). We had to quickly snap up somewhere to sleep for the night very last minute – and our friend Hannah managed to grab us a room at the Jailhouse Accommodation – which is a hostel converted from a big jail building.

It’s pretty impressive, and even with the (very un-romantic) twin beds, it was a hilarious and very amusing way to spend the night.

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

The rooms have huge metal doors (we think they were the original prison doors) that were super heavy and add to the whole authentic feel of the place. Although saying that, everything else in the room is new. New bed, flooring, and all of that – and nice curtains and blankets to make it seem a little less prison-ish. Saying that though – when you’re lying in the bunk beds during the night and you hear people walking up and down the corridors outside, it’s a whole different story! The hostel even provide you with fitting attire… if you fancy it.

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The hostel has a lovely little sun lounge at the front with board games, books and magazines, etc. They even do coffee and have a movie and pool (as in snooker, not swimming) room upstairs.

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

It took all our self-restraint to not push this button. WHAT IS THE CELL ALARM!? I kind of regret not giving it a try now.

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

The above photo is one of the un-converted original cells. It’s only there to show you what once was (you don’t have to sleep in that one – thank goodness!) but it’s awesome to see what the place once was like. Not keen on the ensuite though… bit awkward.

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

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Jailhouse Accomodation Hostel Christchurch NZ

Overall we actually really loved staying here. It was something different, and a great experience and we can now say we’ve slept in a jail! It’s an awesome choice if you’re in Christchurch and you want somewhere fun and central to stay in, that is a little more unusual and unique than the average YHA. I think they do offer double rooms as well as twins (we had to opt for the twin because we were booking so last minute) so it might be a good option for couples too if you can grab one of the doubles up.

Here’s the website! Jail.co.nz

 

A few words about this beautiful place. Queenstown.

When Pad and I first started talking about New Zealand – we were also talking about moving to New York. New York is my ultimate destination – the city I’m probably most in love with – and Queenstown was Pad’s equivalent of that.

Moving to New York seemed a stretch for us at the time (all I need to say is Green Cards and you’ll get the picture) but New Zealand seemed much more in reach – so that’s the destination where our plans settled.

And I’m so glad they did. 

Queenstown has completely won me over, and I didn’t think I’d be this sad leaving it behind. 

Queenstown is this phenomenally beautiful (devastatingly so – someone tweeted me yesterday) town.

It has these incredible sweeping vistas that surprise you at every corner you turn. I’ve never woken up and not been amazed at our view. There has never been a day when I haven’t been stopped or taken aback by it’s beauty, even on foggy days when all I can see is whiteness – I can feel the mountain air on my face and that’s enough. When somewhere is this overwhelming it demands your attention and you give it willingly, in whatever way you can.

I love the way the clouds cling to mountains and cut off the pinnacles on stormy days, tricking you into thinking there are no mountains there at all. I love it when the sun is so bright you have to shade your eyes and the sunset casts such long deep shows on even the smallest pebbles. I love the colour of the lake and how it’s the bluest water and cleanest water I’ve ever seen. I love it in the distance on windy days, when it looks like dolphins are jumping from the waves. I loved the snow and waking up to a white mountain top, that was green and brown only hours before. And falling asleep on the balcony with thunder and lightening happening right around me.

I cannot count the times when Pad has caught me just staring out of our living room windows. Sometimes if a TV show is boring – I’ll just stare out of the window instead – because the view is forever changing and much more interesting. There is a spot on the window with my hand prints where I just stand and look. No where has ever quietened me like Queenstown before.

Queenstown has this purity about it, and there is this peacefulness and beauty that swallows you up just being here. 

But saying that – the adventure and adrenaline that Queenstown serves up is something special too. Whilst it’s views and landscapes may stun you into silences – it doesn’t require you stay that way. Scream, and do it loudly. You’ll have no other option as you throw yourself from a plane, or down a zipline, or across a canyon. You’re spoilt for choice here and everyone knows it. There is no other place in the world that so magnificently caters to everyone.

Hopefully a few of these photos and this video can do it justice….

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Queenstown in Video

So over the last 6 months I’ve been filming a few bits here and there, on and off. And this is the end result. I hope it does Queenstown justice, as the gorgeous place it is!

I’m actually hoping to make more of these little videos once we set off travelling next week, and I’m planning on making a mommoth one of the whole trip at the end of it all, so keep an eye out for them 🙂

Here it is….

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Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand! from Elle-Rose Williams on Vimeo.

ZipTrek Eco Tours – Queenstown

 

Yesterday we went up the Gondola again (yay!) for an afternoon of ZipTrekking through the Queenstown forest! We were really lucky to have been given some complimentary tickets, so it was a great chance to enjoy one of Queenstown’s lesser known activities.

The ZipTrek tour is found at the top of the Gondola in Queenstown (where you’ll find some incredible views, an amazing restaurant and also the luge) and it’s a quick 2 minute walk from the Gondola to the left of the building. So easy to get to, and it was an awesome way to spend the afternoon – especially as a group of 4. We were in a tour group of about 8/9 (I can’t remember) who were all lovely. There was a variety of ages in our group, and everyone had a good bit of banter and chat along the way which was lovely – some of the older people in the group were actually the first to try spinning upside down! So kudos to them!

The tour starts with dressing up – in harnesses. Surprisingly – the harnesses were actually really comfy to wear and easy to get on. But don’t worry about this too much – the two tour guides who take you round will take care of getting you strapped in. Once you’ve got it on, you barely remember it’s there. So don’t worry about uncomfortable wedgies or anything…!

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

It’s a short walk along the amazing tree-houses to the first zip-line, and they definitely ease you in. Once you’ve done the later ones – the first one seems relatively tame in comparison  We were the first ones off this Zip-Line and it was great. I’m no adrenaline junkie – and was pretty nervous about the whole thing – but actually it was great. You feel really safe when you’re attached, and the tour guides who take you round will put you at ease and encourage you if you’re a bit slow off the edge. Which I was a few times!

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

Just in general, the tour is fantastic for sightseeing a bit of the nature surrounding Queenstown – and catching some gorgeous views. The tree-houses are so scenic, and reminded me of being a kid again. I mean – how much would the ten year old you have loved this treehouse?! Some of the views along the way were just magical, as you can see above. There’s about a 20 minute walk towards the end of the tour, downhill through the forest – and you can take the time to enjoy the views during that time – incase you missed them whilst zooming through the trees earlier.

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

After your first try on the zip-wire, the tour guides (ours were TJ and Rich) will teach you some tricks along the way. If you’re brave enough, you can swivel upside down along the way (props to Paddy for doing it!) and at one point you can also do a leap of faith – type thing off one of the platforms. Definitely a bit scary – but really cool. This was Paddy’s favourite part of the tour – which doesn’t surprise me as he loves jumping out of planes and stuff.

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

If you’re a bit of a fraidy-cat (like me) the nerves do wear off as you go along – and you become more confident. I don’t look nervous at all above – which I think was our 4th zip-line. I enjoyed the 4th and 5th zip-line’s the most as they were a little longer, which meant you had more time to enjoy the views along the way.

Another thing I’d recommend (if you’re a traveller experiencing this solo, which a few people in our group were) is to swap cameras with someone. That way you can each take photos of each other on the zip-lines.

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

This was one of my favourite views of the entire tour. It was great watching people zooming through the gap in the trees – and how photogenic is the view? This was one of the longer zip-lines, and one of the most enjoyable too. You had some great views of the lake as you went across – a paraglider even floated past as I was on it- which was bizarre!

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

The last treehouse of the tour is above, which is one of the steeper zip-lines and takes you down the last leg of the mountain! And of course – special mention to TJ and Rich who were our tour guides for the afternoon, who were awesome! And Jada who we met when the tour finished! 🙂

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

If you’d like to book yourself a place on one of ZipTrek’s tours you can do so here, on their website. We’d all recommend it as a fun afternoon in Queenstown – and they run all year round which is great too. So you can either do the tour during ski season – or during summertime. As I mentioned before – it’s something that is relatively hidden – but super easy to get to and a great thing to combine with the Skyline restaurant and Gondola beforehand.

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Cheap Thrills on the Thunder Jet, Queenstown

We managed to score some super cheap tickets on the Thunder Jet in Queenstown today (from the BookMe.co.nz website) so that was the morning activities taken care of. Up early (well earlier than usual) and by 10am we were zooming at 85 KM/Hour along Lake Wakatipu. Definitely a good way to start the day and get you up and awake.

Thunder Jet Queenstown

We are the annoying rowdy ones in the back.

The Thunder Jet is the cheap version of the Shotover Jet that leaves from the centre of town, but there is such a huge price difference. Shotover Jet is about $129 for 30 minutes, whereas Thunder Jet costs around $90 for a whole hour (and that’s without a discount – our tickets actually cost £65). If you’re on a budget – the Thunder Jet is an awesome alternative – and you get more time in the water anyway – and you see some gorgeous sights as you’re whizzing round The Remarkables, so it’s worth every penny.

I decided to do something a bit different this time, with the photos – as we took a few clips of video too. So I’ve compiled it all together into a little movie below. Enjoy!

(It’s best to watch it in the small sized screen here – any bigger and the quality suffers a bit) 

 

Swimming in the Lake: Queenstown

You can’t visit Queenstown in the summer without getting in the lake. Swimming in the lake in Queenstown is one of the most fun things you can do in the town, it’s amazing!

Lake Wakatipu is huge, and there are loads of places you can go for a day of swimming by the lake. We headed to Kelvin Heights Golf Course and set up a little picnic by the big jetty. It’s only $10-ish return on the water taxi (which leaves from the centre of Queenstown every hour) and it feels a million miles away from the busy town centre.

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The first time jumping in the lake was COLD. I mean really cold. But it’s so worth it.

It’s so nice swimming in the lake, because it’s not salty and you can open your eyes under the water – and not have to worry about swallowing horrible salty water unexpectedly. Which makes it pretty awesome – even though it’s freaking cold.

The second, third and forth times we jumped in though – it got much more bearable. Maybe our skin was just going numb though and we weren’t noticing the cold as much as before… If you have a little wet-suit type swimming costume you might be able to bear the cold a little better – so I’d definitely recommend wearing one if you can!

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Make sure you have some towels handy for when you get out – because you’ll need them! I also recommend having some food and drink handy too – there aren’t really any food shops or vendors near the area where the water taxi drops you off.

If you can time it right, I’d grab a few fergburgers before jumping on the water taxi, and then you literally have the most epic snack ever for you time by the lake.

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Your transport for the day will be the water taxi. It’s a little tricky to board it from such a high jetty – but it’s all good fun and I guess if you fall in the lake whilst doing so – it’ll be something to tell the grandkids. The water taxi is actually a pretty awesome way to see the lake from the water too on your way over – it’s cheap and cheerful, so it’s a pretty cool experience in itself.

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