Shobhit always wanted to visit this stunning country and as a teen I had visited New Zealand and still after visiting more than 40 countries, it stayed in the top 5 countries I would like to go again & again. Its simple, New Zealand is just EPIC in one word. I think we have lifelong love affair with this country. We drove around the country and took an internal flight to get to north island from South Island. However, if you have time, you can take the car in the ferry and drive all the way up! You need to witness the beauty yourself to believe that it is one of the most beautiful country in the world. We have listed a detailed route for you guys to plan your trip well. We traveled in early winters (May) and loved the weather. Plus it was an add on benefit as it was less crowded and we could sometimes have the most famous lakes by ourselves to enjoy for hours and get some great drone shots and have small picnics 😊. Oh, what a memorable experience.
Shobhit arrived from the States via Aussie and I took flight from Mumbai. Our meeting point was Auckland though we spent just a day there staying at Sofitel Viaduct Harbour. We thought of trying some Asian food around the corner at XUXU Dumpling bar which had a very chilled out ambience followed by the world famous Ice cream place called Giappo and we could try some ice cream with French fries. I know it sounds like a weird combination but both are my favourites 😉, and eating it together was a unique experience. They have other interesting ice-creams and savories which you must try.
Giappo Ice cream
We flew into Christchurch and picked our rental car booked on Avis. Being preferred members, we had some added benefits & got the car upgraded into an SUV! We picked quick lunch on the way and started to drive to Lake Tekapo. After a few miles of the highway, we got into the inside scenic road & the excitement and expectation just doubled up within seconds looking at the stunning scenery around. Being winter, the days were short so as we arrived, we stopped by the lake and took some pictures and then visited the church of Good Shepherd. Checking into our hotel room at Peppers on Lake Tekapo, we just relaxed for a bit and were preparing ourselves for an amazing stargazing experience at night followed by a dip in the hot springs. Gosh, this was an extremely amazing experience to soak under the stars, and you can read more about this in our upcoming blog!
Next morning, we again stopped by the church to admire some views and get some food from local supermarket as we had a long drive ahead to Wanaka while enjoying the views of Lake Pukaki and Mount cook on the way. I think this was our favourite day of the trip as every corner was another photograph waiting to be taken! Read more about this day in our most memorable NZ drive blog . Arriving into Wanaka we stopped by the #thatwanakatree- apparently the most photographed tree in the world. Later in the cold evening we treated ourselves with some great authentic Italian food at Francesca’s.
Our hotel was right on the lake with a great sunny start to the day enjoying views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, Edgewater Wanaka is the place to stay. We relaxed by the lake flying our drone and catching up some excellent aerial views. The center of Wanaka is nice to stroll around and then we visited the winery up on the hill offering inspiring views with some great local wines. Our drive then continued to Queenstown and instead of taking the regular route, we decided to go with the scenic one via Crown’s range, We could find so much snow around all over the mountains and even at the base to enjoy! Arriving into Queenstown, don’t miss the best burger in town- Fregburger offering the Bombay Burger (You can ask for veg replacing chicken with Tofu for veggies 😀 ) & Bun laden with some fries.
We checked into Hilton Queenstown and we got our room upgraded to lake view with just few extra dollars and it was simply amazing to wake up to a beautiful view! And not just ending our day with this, but a short drive to something magical- The Onsen Hot Pools. We specifically chose the late evening spot to relax in the hot pool after a long day and not just that but the cute lantern lits and the scenery to watch a giant snowy white mountain under the stars. Just another insane view for life!
Onsen Pool by the Night
The next morning was set up for some thrill & adrenaline rush even though the weather was around 0 degrees. While you are in Queenstown, you cannot avoid the Adventure sports this lovely town offers. Shobhit and I opted for the Nevis swing as traveling to so many countries we never found any such activity so we decided to go for this. It is the world’s largest swing with 70m freefall drop, 300m arc over 3 rugby fields & 120m swing rope that leaves 40m above the riverbed. It’s a moment to be cherished for lifetime. Fraction of seconds and you feel so good about yourself. A must do for each traveller and add to your bucket list. After an exciting day, we tried some South American food at a cute place in the town called Caribe. We both love to try different cuisines around the world and this one had food from Columbia and Venezuela. We got something like this for the first time traveling to many places then. The sun was yet to set so we thought of taking the Glenorchy drive to watch the sun go down.
Nevis Swing Experience
This day was kept open to explore the scenery of the region and we decided to drive to the little town of Te Anau. As they say, the journeys are more beautiful than the destination, and this was one of it! Not only some great views of the lakes and the mountains but we found many herd of sheep with more than 100 of them grazing around with picturesque backdrops of Snow-capped mountains. Having relaxed at the Te Anau lake for a while, we ended up driving to the village of Manapouri and found a great small beach by ourselves called the Fraser beach where we enjoyed the scenery capturing the beauty with our drone. After a long tiring day, getting a spa treatment is just like cherry on the cake. We were extremely amazed with the 1 hour spa we took at the hotel. It was so much more than our expectation. I think for me it was one of the best spa I have had after Bali & Fiji.
Herd of Sheep along the highway
Our short & sweet Queenstown holiday came to an end and we flew up to explore north. And you cannot miss the Patagonia ice creams at Queenstown airport or city! We picked our rental car and drove to Waitomo glow worm caves- known as one of the best in the world. It was my second visit here however, I felt it has become too commercial now than what it was before. Disappointed me quite a bit even for the price you pay & the whole experience. But if you have never seen the glow worms before you should try it. Post this, we drove into Rotorua and I booked a motel for this night as we had heard a lot about the cute motels in New Zealand & this was a great experience too! There was a Thursday night market in the town, so we tried some local Mexican food which was offered by the foodtruck of El Mexicano restaurant. And because we heard a lot about the pure veg Indian restaurant called Steam, we thought of trying some food there but it was a huge disappointment! Coming back to our motel, we could find some DVDs and laze out watching movies before going to bed.
Queenstown airport is quite a sight!
Waking up relaxed, we decided to visit Wai O Tapu, New Zealand’s most unique & colourful geothermal reserve sculpted by thousands of years volcanic activities. A must do thing while in the north! It has a geothermal park having the most stunning Green sulphur lake & the Champagne Pool, the lady knox geyser & the Mud pool. After spending half the day here doing the full trail, we drove towards Lake Taupo stopping by the Hukka falls and the crater of the moon site.
The colorful lakes in Wai O Tapu
After having seen so many sheep driving around the country, we were quite excited to watch the Sheep show at the Agrodome farm where they introduce you to some of the best sheep in the world offering the finest quality of wool. We kept some time free to shop locally & got some fast lunch from Imperto Pizza at the eat street. Drove to Hobbiton Movie set tour & joined a guided 2 hour tour. The tour is great for the fans of the movie but even for those who are not as the location is great and they give major information about the place over the movie shots. They have shuttle service to & from both Auckland and Rotorua. Driving backward to Auckland, we went for fine dining at Italian restaurant Prego to celebrate a great trip and our last night in this beautiful country.
Hobbiton Movie Set
We stayed at Skycity Grand hotel the last night to complete our New Zealand experience visiting the casino for a while and checking out late visiting Sylvia park & having a quick bite at Pita Pit before we embarked our flights back home 😊