Edit: Kia Ora is a traditional Maori phrase that can be used as a greeting or a farewell, similar to how Hawaiians use “aloha.”
New Zealand lived up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It’s hard to go anywhere in the country without encountering mountains, rivers or rocky coasts. Some of my favorite memories from my trip include:
- Viewing the colorful thermal pools in Wai-O-Tapu
- Hiking in Tongariro National Park
- Cave tubing under glow worms in Waitomo
- Getting my geek on in Hobbiton
- Hiking the Routeburn trail
- Taking a cruise into Milford Sound
- Window shopping and walking around Queenstown
- Tricking my brain in Puzzling World
- Kayaking around Abel Tasman National Park
- Walking the coast at Kaikoura
- Watching the seals sleep and play all over the south island
Kaikoura is a small coastal town located on the Kaikoura peninsula, about two hours north of Christchurch. There is a fur seal colony on the peninsula that is one of the major draws of the area. You can get up close and personal with the seals, as I did in a previous post. Just don’t get too close! The water and rocky coastline are beautiful, and the mountains complete the panorama. Whale watching tours are another main draw in the area. Kaikoura can be seen and explored in a day, but there are plenty of hikes and water activities to keep you occupied longer.
New Zealand is the fourteenth largest wine-producing country in the world as of 2014 (source). You hear a lot more about Australian wines in the United States, but New Zealand has a strong wine-making industry, with large-production and boutique wineries throughout. The Marlborough region on the south island is one of the largest wine-producing areas in the country, and a tasting at a cellar door is a great way to spend a day (or several days). The first thing I noticed during tastings is the lack of red wines on the south island. The climate in the Marlborough region lends itself much better to whites, so at best you may find one or two reds (usually Pinot noir) at a given winery. The Hawkes Bay region on the north island is supposed to have a larger volume of reds, but I can’t speak to that directly. (more…)
Suspect sighted. Shoot to kill!
The Australian Possum is one of New Zealand’s biggest pests. It also happens to be adorable. For those of us from North America, you are probably used to something like this or this when thinking of a possum. Why are our possums so much mangier here in the Northern Hemisphere? The New Zealand possums are even cute when they run. They have this awkward, but endearing, gait and a furry tail that flaps in the air. Yes, their cuddling quotient is off the charts, but massive campaigns exist all around New Zealand to obliterate these little guys. (more…)
One of the best parts of visiting New Zealand’s south island is viewing the colonies of fur seals that line the rocky shores. At times, the seals can be found swimming in the water and awkwardly waddling across the rocks. More than likely, though, you will find the seals passed out in the sun.