In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, the travel blogging community is uniting to promote tourism in New Zealand and assure wary visitors that New Zealand is still a hot destination. To find out more about the movement and New Zealand, check out the Blog4NZ’s Facebook page.
This cause is especially close to me because I spent eight months doing a working holiday in New Zealand, four of which I spent in Christchurch. When I made the decision to become a nomad, New Zealand was my first destination. The country will always hold a special place in my travel memories – not to mention it’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Ever felt like petting a lion cub? Want to get up and close to New Zealand’s wildlife? Paradise Valley Springs is located just outside of Rotorua and makes a great day trip. Most interesting is the lion’s feeding time at 2:30 p.m. every day.
Though most visitors opt for the neighboring Franz Josef glacier, Fox Glacier is just as worthy. My brain had difficulty comprehending the wild changes in landscape in such a small area. First, I walked a short trail through a dense rainforest, and further along the road leading into the town is a turnoff for the glacier. As you get closer to the glacier, the temperature drops and the terrain gets more and more surreal. When the ice formations finally came into view, I felt like I was witnessing one of the Earth’s miracles.
While not the most interesting town, Kaikoura is worth a stop to get up close and personal with the massive sperm whale. Heading out on the rocky boat and seeing the enormous sea creature dive for food, tail fin in the air, is an image I’ll have burned in my mind for a very long time.
New Zealand is all about rugby, and every year in Wellington they host a rugby tournament called the NZI Sevens. This event is a Halloween-like holiday where everyone in town dresses up in crazy costumes -the more outlandish, the better. Even if you’re not a sports fan, head to Courtenay Place for the after party, one of the biggest of the year.
On the outskirts of Wellington at the very bottom of the North Island, Cape Palliser is a wide expanse of rocky beach where you’ll truly feel at the edge of the earth. Seals lounge on the shores, making for great photo opportunities – but don’t get too close! Climb the 200-plus steps of the lighthouse for an awe-inspiring view. The best part of Cape Palliser is the stunning sunrise.
Though I didn’t check out the hot springs while I was there, Hanmer Springs is a beautiful spot and an easy day trip from Christchurch. During the fall, the leaves offer a stunning range of oranges and reds which I haven’t seen anywhere else.
How many adjectives can I use here? Milford Sounds, the surrounding park, and even the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau are stunning, gorgeous, inspiring, moving, and breathtaking times a million. Definitely one of my most memorable travel experiences ever.
Have you been to New Zealand? What are your favorite spots?