When I went there: September 2014
I was never going to go to New Zealand, I thought it will be just like the UK whats the point. As I travelled around Australia and met more people they all told me New Zealand is incredible and I must take a visit. So I spent the $2000 and booked a tour and I was not disappointed.
Arriving in Christchurch I realised one thing, I like the warmth. I flew emirates and got in at 1400. Looking around outside the airport I already felt like I was back in Scotland in February/March. I got a shuttle to my hostel and during the drive I did begin to feel a little depressed. We passed a Burger King and a BP garage with a wild bean cafe, I felt like I was driving through Aberdeen. It all looked to similar, I then realised I maybe don’t want to go home. Christchurch was so quiet and my first impression of New Zealand wasn’t good.
My hostel was called Jailhouse Accommodation. It was an old jail turned into a hostel. It was cold and empty. I felt like I was sleeping in a museum. My dorm was full of guys from the UK so I spoke with them about Asia mostly. As it got later, it got colder. The dorm actually had hot water bottles it was so cold.
The first day I was picked up with others from the hostel for my Topdeck tour. I got chatting with an Irish girl and two Australian girls. The first day we mainly travelled and passed through a few small towns. We had to choose activities for Fox Glacier and Queenstown. I originally chose a skydive for Queenstown but I backed out. I got so nervous and didn’t sleep the first night so I decided against it. The first mountain pass we drove through reminded me a lot of the Cairngorms. The mountains were spectacular, all the tops were covered in snow. We reached Fox Glacier and I had signed up for the helicopter hike. The first night I went to bed as I was so exhausted.
The next morning a lot of people were feeling rough from drinking the night before but I wanted an early night so I felt fresh for my hike. The heli hike was amazing. I had been told that to see the glacier by air and to climb it was worth paying for. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. We got to go inside crevasses, see streams created by the glacier and trek a long the ice. It was an amazing experience and something I couldn’t easily do again somewhere else.
After fox glacier we made our way to Queenstown. The town sits on a lake surrounded by mountains, it is so beautiful. I decided I’d ski on our second day, I skied when I was younger so I hoped id pick it up easily. Our first night we ate at a pub and all got an early night. I slept in the next morning then went up the skyline, the views were outstanding. Seeing Queenstown around the lake, the snow topping the mountains in the background and then it being a warm spring day was perfect. We all went out drinking that night, Queenstown is the place to party in New Zealand. On my last day I did my skiing with the friends I had made and I picked it up quickly but I need more practice. The views from the slopes over Queenstown were worth the trip up the mountain. The weather was perfect and the snow sparkled in the sun. For dinner a group of us went to Fergburger, famous in Queenstown. The burgers are the best I’ve ever tasted.
Over the next few days we visited Mt Cook, one of the highest mountains in New Zealand and some lakes, they called them reflection lakes as the water was so clear they reflected the mountains in them like a mirror. The water was so blue, it was beautiful. I decided that the South Island was a little similar to Scotland but on a much grander scale. I’ve fallen in love with the South Island and all the people on my tour made it perfect. After six days I had to say good bye to half the tour as they were not continuing North with us. We took a boat trip to Milford Sound and the views of the mountains was something else, I was hungover on this trip but tried my best to see all the views.
The remaining of us headed up to Nelson, a cute little town. It was bizarre seeing snowy mountains in the background of a beach with Palm trees. From Nelson we took a ferry to Wellington. We had a massive night out and all got pretty drunk. The night out was an awesome night and I really had made such great friends with everyone. The people on this tour definitely made it for me.
Our next stop was a national park full of volcanoes. We arrived at dark so couldn’t see much. I stayed in a cabin with my two friends from Australia, they had become like my sisters. The following day a few of us did a walk up to a really pretty waterfall. This area reminded me so much of the Scottish moors. We got a really pretty view of the mountain they use for Mt Doom from Lord of the rings. We also made a stop to Lake Taupo – another place with amazing views.
Next was Rotarua. I woke up that morning very ill and full of a cold so I was struggling. Rotarua is full of sulphur so stank like egg, I could smell it through my blocked nose. The first night we stayed in a mudeye (unsure of the correct spelling) with the New Zealand Moari people. They taught us songs and dance from their culture. We all slept in one big room. We did sleeping bag races and had great fun before bed.
I was supposed to do rafting the next day but I was so ill I didn’t do it. I went to Hobbiton that afternoon with one of my friends, it was so pretty and cute. I never realised how many hobbit holes they had actually built.
The tour finished in Auckland, just a large city with not much character. I just walked around with one of my friends from the tour till I had to go to the airport.
Verdict: New Zealand is by far the best place I have visited. The friends I made were amazing and the scenery was beautiful. The South Island is my favourite, like Scotland but on a grander scale and a thousand times better. The north was quite boring and felt like the drive from Aberdeen to Glasgow. Nothing special. New Zealand stole my heart, I saw so many stunning views that to mention all of them this post would be very very long. Go back? In a heartbeat