Part 2 – New Zealand
I am just so excited to share with you all the details of this trip! I cannot tell you how many people have asked for our itinerary, so I really hope this helps! New Zealand is THE most beautiful country I have been to yet. It truly gave us multiple climates during our trip. We went in October and it was great weather! Most of the time, it was in the 50’s-70’s. It was also cool enough to pack a medium weight jacket and even saw some snow! I would HIGHLY suggest looking at the time of year to visit. Unless you want to do some extreme snowboarding, I would aim for anytime past October. We had some dreary days and some activities canceled, as their weather is very unpredictable in winter/spring/fall! Their seasons are opposite of us, so when we were visiting they were just leaving winter and heading into spring! Their “holidays” are normally their summer! How weird is that?
We spent hours researching the different areas of NZ. The country consists of two major islands, the North and South. Almost every piece of advice from friends who traveled there told us the same thing. Go directly to the South Island, since we only had one week. My husband wanted to see the Hobbit filming scenes but we simply didn’t have time since it is in a very secluded area. So, we took their advice and flew on Air New Zealand from Fiji to Auckland, had a quick overnight stay, then flew to Queenstown on the first flight out. We were so lucky because an old college friend of mine lives in Auckland. They were SO incredibly generous and picked us up, took us to dinner, gave us a warm bed to sleep in with her cat Taco. THEN took us back to the airport in the morning. One day, I want to go back and enjoy the beautiful summer in Auckland and the North Island has to offer. It was so great to see them, Thanks Camile & Mark!
Ok, so off to Queenstown we went. My favorite city in the world! Since it was our honeymoon, we tried our best to avoid any group outings! We didn’t want to be on a bus with anyone else or on any excursions. We wanted to explore in the raw form…privately! After all, that’s what a honeymoon is right? So, we rented a car and decided to do it all on our own! We decided to stay at a hotel to begin with to get some luxury, then end with an Airbnb. Little did we know the luxury that would hold! Our first two nights were at the Rees Hotel. Talk about a view from our balcony…
The Rees concierge was incredibly helpful! They booked the few things we wanted to do and even threw in a 6 course meal with wine pairing for the night when we arrived! They put it all together in a price and it WAS NOT BAD. I will be real for a second. Fiji was pricey. New Zealand was so affordable! We found that we were continually shocked with most of the prices! The conversion is 1NZD/.73USD.
The weather was incredible! So crisp but not too cold. It was such a nice change from being in Fiji the week before! Our meal was soo yummy. We had to keep slowing down on the food because we couldn’t finish our drinks fast enough! The waiter was very kind and talked with us a ton explaining each wine and what region of NZ it came from. With his expert knowledge, we picked his brain on what wineries to visit! Ya’ll, he literally drew us a map of his favorites! Most of the people in Queenstown are transplants from somewhere else. We met people from all over the world and learned so much. I truly recommend always chatting with your waiters as you will get the inside scoop that isn’t as touristy as the public advice. More to come on that!
6 Course Meal With Wine Pairing
Queenstown, New Zealand
When we arrived, we strolled around getting our bearings! The Rees sits on Lake Wakatipu. It has stairs leading down to a walking trail that leads directly into town. It is about a 2 mile walk to get there so we decided to start off with that! One great but terrible thing about vacation is you are eating and drinking more than you normally do. (Well we do and especially at a 6 course meal!) So we always try to get exercise in where we can! You most likely worked out and prepared your body for this trip so don’t let that go to waste and ruin it! Enjoy the food but keep proportions limited when you can so you don’t over indulge too much.
Tea On A Boat
After our walk into town we relaxed on the cutest house boat/coffee shop! In NZ they call blankets “rugs” and always have them available to use. It was dreamy sitting on this boat with my new husband sipping coffee/tea with this view! Perky’s was the cutest!
The famous burger shop in Queenstown is Fergburger! The line is always long but moves pretty quickly. We decided to bring it back to our room and relax of course with some wine since the area was so crowded. Um. YUM.
We were told to book our adventures the first few days there and have “back up days” after, since the weather is so unpredictable. It may be sunny and 70 in Queenstown but Milford Sound could be a completely different story! We signed up for the Fly-Cruise-Fly along with sky diving. This essentially means we would take a heli from Queenstown, flew to Milford Sound, hop on a cruise for a few hours then reverse back. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us. After being canceled the first TWO days (So yes, have back up days!) we finally got the green light. With bad weather rolling into Milford Sound later that day, we didn’t have enough time to cruise so we had to take that part out. Here is the secret, we were SO happy it ended up like that! Our pilot told us that it can be actually kind of boring because the Milford Sound is very short so they basically take you very very slowly down there. He said we lucked out not to waste 4 hours of our day doing that when we fly over it anyways. Instead….he took us to a glacier and the coast line after landing in Milford! Now, if anyone did the math right, we weren’t even staying at the Rees Hotel anymore at this point! But they were so kind and still scheduled a car to pick us up from our Airbnb and brought us to the airport to get on the heli, since we had already paid for it.
One of the reasons I wanted to visit New Zealand was Milford Sound, so I was very happy to finally get to go! It was seriously like landing in a Jurassic Park movie and especially since we were in a helicopter. This area is completely remote. You can only fly in or take ONE road and that is why the weather is such an issue. People get trapped there a lot because any weather issues the road closes and all flights are halted. It is basically a small fishing village besides the tourists coming in.
Hanging On The Edge Of A Glacier
Our heli landed like this… When we got out, I was terrified! I literally ran away from it because I thought it may fall off the glacier at any moment. Our pilot explained to us the tail end has to be hanging off so it doesn’t clip any of the snow and cause an avalanche. No big deal. Just avoiding falling off and taking the whole mountain down with us. This was one of the most thrilling and absolutely breath taking things of my life!
Landing On The Coast
Our next stop was the coastline! This area can only get to via helicopter! The tide is too rough to have any boat come in and it’s too rough of a terrain to walk anywhere near that. It was pretty cool besides the sand flies!
When our Milford Sound was canceled twice and Sky Diving canceled twice, we increased our wine exploring! This was when a car and that map from our waiter came in handy. We literally just took off driving on the wrong side of the road with no service on our phones or GPS. We drove about and hour and a half through the most beautiful terrain. I’m talking sheep grazing on the side of the road and views like no other drive! Now the ride is very steep up the mountain, so I would only go if nice weather or you are bound to get stuck or simply drive off the mountain. I am not even kidding, you wind around that thing so close to the edge. Austin had to make sure to only have one glass of wine on this trip for our safety. Our absolute favorite was Lake Wanaka and Rippon Winery. I literally found it on a postcard and asked our waiter, “where is this? I want to go.” These pictures were taken with my iPhone as I didn’t have a DSLR yet, so you can just imagine how incredibly beautiful this place is. We sat there talking and enjoying the early sunset. Doesn’t it look fake?
Our next few wineries were still beautiful! All the tastings in NZ are free, so we would taste a few samples, hear the history of the wine, then purchase a glass to say thank you! Central Otago region is known for its Pinot Noir, but we actually found a new delight in NZ Sauvignon Blanc! Here is us at sitting at Mt. Difficulty Winery outside with some rugs.
The path to even the local wines cross the most beautiful landmarks. This is the Roaring Meg Gorge. There are many scenic turnoffs so we decided to take advantage of this one.
Our Beautiful Airbnb
After our amazing stay at the Hotel Rees, we were almost sad to go to the Airbnb. Until we got there… It had the MOST amazing view of Queenstown, since it sat high up on the hill. We even had our own private hot tub! It was so cozy and perfect for the last few days of our honeymoon because by this time, we were TIRED! From the crazy wedding week to traveling across the world and drinking NZ of it’s wine stock, we were exhausted. We ordered pizza one night and literally watched Netflix. It was perfect. If you have not used Airbnb before, I highly suggest it. We have always got a more local experience but also beautiful views in all our trips! You can very easily read the reviews on the places to make sure they are up to your standards. They are a great deal cheaper and we have found the experience surpasses our expectations! We are traveling to Italy in a few weeks and literally staying in Airbnbs that are castles for half the price of hotels!
This picture was taken from our living room, through our window. Like…what?
Surprise Snow Fall
We were super surprised to wake up the morning of our heli tour to snow on the ground! I was so disappointed to see it because I thought, for SURE it would be canceled. Well, remember when I said the weather in Queenstown can be different than Milford Sound? This was proof. It also gave us more “powder” to land on the glacier. Our pilot said sometimes he is not able to land when its too low so it worked out perfectly. Plus, check out this view!
Jumping Out Of A Plane At 15,000ft.
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world, there is seriously every outdoor sport here. They have skiing, snowboarding, sky diving, bungee jumping, river rafting etc. Actually Shawn White was on our plane down there, kid you not. The bungee jump off a bridge was actually started here. We decided to forgo that since I have some neck injuries. I figured my chiropractor would kill me to find out I did that. But, sky diving? Check! Everyone asks if we loved it. The easy answer to that is, heck no!!! The weather on the ground and above the clouds was nice enough for the green light but unfortunately, it was pretty chilly this day and that suit I’m wearing, is mighty thin. Those gloves? Ya, no warmth. My toes hurt so bad they were so cold from being damp. That wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was falling from from the sky through an ice storm! Sleet literally pounded my face and my goggles slid off my eyes. It was an amazing experience jumping out of a plane at 15,000 ft. but let’s just say… been there done that and never doing it again. (This smile is PRE sleet storm hitting my face.) We booked through NZone and their service was 5 stars!
One thing we did not get to do because it was also canceled due to a power outage was Onsen Hot Pools. We had the romantic package with candles planned. We were very sad to not be able reschedule to as it was our last day there. If we ever go back we WILL do it.
After this we flew out the next morning to Auckland and then directly back to Houston on Air New Zealand! We flew backwards in time so we got to live Friday, October 14th twice in our life. Not many can say that! It was a wonderful two weeks traveling to Fiji and New Zealand. We bonded more than I ever could imagine spending that much time together only us. It was so much fun! If you have any questions on our trip, feel free to comment or email me!
Check out Part 1 of the trip in Fiji here.