New Zealand, land of the Kiwis (the people, bird, and fruit), and the home of some of the most stunning landscapes on Planet Earth. For 30 days I hitchhiked my way from coast to coast exploring as much of this great country as I possibly could before my short time here was up! Did I miss a good amount of things that I would’ve loved to have hit?? Absolutely, there is so much to do here and I only hit the tip of the iceberg. But did I love every single second of the places that I was able to explore? You bet!
The 30 day visa here was not enough for me, as I have a strong feeling that I’ll be back soon enough to more thoroughly explore New Zealand, it’s just one of those places that has a little something unique around every corner, and it’s an adventurers dream! The landscapes are awe-inspiring and even with the land mass being on the overall smaller end, it manages to pack in a little bit of everything from black sand beaches to icy glaciers. The best part being that such differences in climate and landscape are ridiculously close to one another, so you can be driving along a rainforest and within a few hours time be down by snow capped mountains in an entirely different feeling area!
The people are about as friendly and accommodating as it gets, to this day the Kiwis hold a special place in my heart. They made sure that a traveler can feel like a real part of the country, with many examples of the locals practically giving me a shirt off their back, not to mention free rides around the whole country with nothing more needed than an opposable thumb and a smile! Looking for a little more info on the hitchhiking? Please check out this blog, it details everything you could possibly want to know about it! http://nztravelscout.com/how-to-hitchhike-a-short-guide-to-hitchhiking/
1. Trekking on Fox Glacier, South island
The keyword here would be blue, all ervrythaaang. The glacier formation is mesmerizing, you never truly realize the sheer size of it until you’re up close and walking around it, here’s a hint; it’s massive. You could spend hours just getting lost around the caves and crevices, just be careful not to get stuck in said caves and crevices because they can be a little claustrophobic.
2. Hobbiton Movie set, north island
If you’re a major movie buff and love the Lord of the Rings movies, then this is definitely the place for you! Though expensive to get to (they make it VERY clear you must go on a tour, which sucks, but I digress). They will take you through all the memorable spots from the movies, explaining in detail the scenes that took place in each location, as well as let you walk inside the hobbit holes themselves and with your free time you can check out the Green Dragon Pub, which is an actual functioning bar with movie themed alcoholic beverages. Even for someone like myself who’s really not that into the movies, it was still a very unique place to experience, something I would’ve regretted not going to!
3. Mt Eden summit (auckland), north island
Think that New Zealand’s largest city would be the one place to escape beautiful landscapes and trekking? Think again (though I’m not sure why you would want to escape it in the first place, if so then you crazy). On the south side of the city sits a large hill with a path that wraps around the mountain eventually looping you to the spot you see in the photo, the perfect place to take in the cityscape for a sunrise/sunset and see the true beauty of Auckland!
4. thunder creek falls, south island
One of countless natural wonders that are simply a couple meters from the main interstate in the South Island, which seems to happen often! No need to look far for views like this, just always be on the lookout when traveling on the road for places to randomly stop such as this, you won’t regret it!
5. Hitchhike anywhere and everywhere
Just to beat the dead horse, I can’t stress how much of a random thrill this the first couple of times you try it! Double points if you don’t truly have a set schedule or destination and just go with the flow of whomever if giving you a ride, that’s some real adventure right there!
6. wanaka lake, south island
Made famous for the “Wanaka Tree” that you see below, it’s a gorgeous area that harbors some of the South Island’s best hikes in close proximity as well as the pristine lake itself surrounded by snow capped peaks. The town of Wanaka I compare to being a more low key and less touristy Queenstown, but it should be noted that both are picture perfect places to check out!
7. black sand beach (name unkown), south island
This is a place that I literally stumbled upon by being dropped off around the town of Punakaiki from hitchhiking. I made my way around the middle of nowhere until I found this black sand beach, completely empty not a soul around for sunset. The whole entire coast going all the way up the West Coast of the South Island is filled with little beaches like this, so you can’t really go wrong, pick a beach any beach!
8. Mt. cook/aoraki, south island
New Zealand’s tallest peak is breath taking to say the least! The whole Mt. Cook area is secluded, there are countless treks in the area, so many possibilities it will make your head spin! Climbing the mountain itself is a whole different story (one I know nothing about), but the views of it are well worth any of the hikes around here. We got to this location on the lake at the same time large chunks of the ice sheet were breaking off, so we could hear nothing but silence and the movement of the ice all around us, perfect.
It should also be noted that for any astrophotographers out there the Mt. Cook area is world famous for having some of the best opportunities for seeing the Milky Way and Solar Systems, which I can vouch for, the sky is so clear you’ll think it was a dream. There is no light pollution and it’s just the perfect place for star gazing, truly an amazing place!
9. lake pukaiki, south island
Again located in the Mt. Cook region, it’s a gorgeous landscape consisting of clear skies, some of the most naturally blue water around, and the highest mountains in New Zealand surrounding you, get out your camera and get ready for some damn good shots here (I wish I was into real photography and had my DSLR for this whole trip…but oh well can’t change that now, so if you have a real camera, bring it to New Zealand and you’ll know what I’m talking about)!
10. TOngariro alpine crossing, north island
I think that this was my favorite trek in all of New Zealand, even though it was covered in snow, the landscape simply looks photoshopped all around you. As an added bonus you get to trek up the mountain that was used as Mount Doom in the Lord Of The Rings, so get your ring ready! Fun fact; I bought this little $1 prop ring to bring up to Mount Doom as a photo gag, not meaning to actually drop it down the mountain, I was screwing around with my friend and accidentally dropped the ring down the mountain, couldn’t have written it up better. There was a long pause between us and then just a comment of; “really you dropped the all powerful ring?? You brought it cllllll the way up here and dropped it?” Yup, I would have been the worst Frodo ever….
11. location unknown, south island
Jot this one down as one more random stop off while out hitchhiking with strangers. Not entirely sure where this one is but I believe it’s somewhere between Punakaiki and Nelson, which is a lot of ground to cover. The calmness of the lake at this moment was better than any therapy anyone could ever need.
12 and 13. adventure sports around queenstown, south island
Queenstown is one of the extreme sport capitals of the world, and for good reason, this place is nuts! I couldn’t imagine a town more perfect than Queenstown, it has nightlife, every extreme sport possible around it, hikes everywhere around the city, beautiful landscapes and a small ski town feel to it. Queenstown was my own piece of frozen paradise that I desperately wish to return to (though terrible for my bank account). Pictured first would be the world’s tallest canyon swing, that would be my friend Alli and I both screaming like little girls ( I was winning I think). Pictured second would be paragliding around the mountains by Coronet Peak near Queenstown after a sketchy and ridiculous windy take off from the peak.
14. hooker valley, south island
Honestly this is one of the best named hikes I’ve done to date, couldn’t find any hookers here, a little deceiving for my tastes but still beautiful! It’s a quick 3-4 mile hike that takes you over several suspension bridges, past clear blue rivers and rocky terrain until you reach the sight of Mt. Cook the largest mountain in New Zealand and all its breathtaking goodness at the end, worth it!
15. helicopter to the glaciers, south island
Get to the choppa’!! (kiwi style). Though kiwi pilots are a little out of their minds and get bored easy, that just adds to the fun of taking the helicopters around. My pilot was a maniac who asked if I wanted to have some fun, of course I said yes, and from high up he nose dived the helicopter over one of the mountains that you see in the background of this picture. If you ask them to do it, there’s a good chance you’ll get more than you asked for! #kamikazekiwis it’s trending…
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