New Zealand

Kia Ora, New Zealand


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.

Wine Tasting in Marlborough

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…)

Abel Tasman and Golden Bay

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The northern coast of New Zealand’s south island is strikingly different than other parts of the island. The warm, golden beaches and bright-blue waters contrast sharply with the rockier and colder coasts to the south. The vegetation also takes on more of a tropical feel. Close by are lively towns like Motueka and Takaka that are bustling with tourists and locals.   (more…)

New Zealand’s Most Wanted

Suspect sighted. Shoot to kill!

New Zealand Possum

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…)

Highway 6 on the South Island

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Highway 6 runs along the western side of New Zealand’s south island. The drive seemingly takes forever, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Along the way you will find quaint towns, beautiful coastal views, and winding mountain passes. It takes around six or seven hours to drive from Greymouth to Wanaka, but its best to spend at least three or four days so you have time to take it all in.  (more…)

Tropical Glaciers & Pancake Rocks

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New Zealand is a country full of extremes, especially when it comes to natural phenomena. It can be snowing one week and then sunny and hot the next. You can see palm trees at the base of a glacier or observe stacked rocks that are flat as pancakes. These are some of the interesting natural wonders that make visiting New Zealand so unique.

Fiordland National Park

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Fiordland National Park is the largest national park in New Zealand and part of the Te Wāhipounamu UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in the southwestern corner of the south island, Fiordlands is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Many of New Zealand’s most-famous sights are located here, and it is a must-do for anyone visiting the south island. (more…)

Queenstown and the Lakes District

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New Zealand is known for its water features. Whether you’re talking oceans, fjords, rivers, waterfalls or lakes, water is everywhere. The Lakes District in southwestern New Zealand holds some of the most spectacular lakes in the country, including Lake Wakatipu, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. Many of the key attractions and towns of this area center around the water. (more…)