New Zealand in 9 days, . . . they said it couldn’t be done . . . they said I was crazy! Every single person I spoke to about my trip before we left, shook their heads in disappointment . . . said I needed much more time.
I planned and researched this trip. I knew I was taking a big bite. I considered it a “drive by” visit of the country. I only had 9 days, so I was going to make the most of it. If I get back there someday, great, if not, I did or saw many of the key things on both the North and South Islands.
The itinerary was packed tight with little time to mingle or pause to catch our breath:
Day 1 – drive from Auckland to Matamata for a Hobbiton visit then to Rotorua for a geothermal experience
Day 2 – drive from Rotorua to Wellington – stops for photos, lunch and gas
Day 3 – full day in Wellington walking the city, Mount Victoria Lookout, visit Te Papa Museum
Day 4 – take the ferry across Cook’s Strait to Picton, then drive to Westport
Day 5 – drive from Westport to Fox Glacier with walks to a seal colony, the pancake rocks and to the terminal viewing point of the glacier
Day 6 – drive from Fox Glacier to Wanaka with walks around Lake Matheson and to the Blue Pools of Haast and Lake Wanaka
Day 7 – drive from Wanaka to Te Anau in time for a glow worm cave on Lake Te Anau
Day 8 – small tour group, Trips and Tramps, to Milford Sound and back with stops for little walks to The Chasm, Cascade Creek and Mirror Lake
Day 9 – drive to Queenstown for a short visit and flight to Sydney, Australia
Days 2, 4 and 9 were essentially driving days. But what glorious country-side we saw!
Things to know about New Zealand:
- It takes a long time to get there, you will be tired and your internal clock will be turned upside down. So take time to sleep when you arrive and re-set your personal clock to minimize the stress of driving on the left side of the road. This was a big help for us.
- The road signs are good, pay attention to them (they know best, really!). Give way, mind your speed and stay left. We didn’t get lost at all.
- The food was very good, no matter where we ate. Wines and local beers even better!
- There are many one-way roads or bridges where one direction of traffic has the right of way. Normally you can see the entire road or bridge as well as on-coming traffic. However, there were a few where you can’t see the other end and there are no signal lights indicating if traffic is coming. So you cross your fingers and proceed with caution. That was a little scary!
- The kiwis are passionate about their Country; they take good care of it and it shows.
Every single thing we did . . . tourist stops . . . nature walks . . . museums . . . guided tours . . . or simply a day of driving was worth it and did not disappoint! So if you ever have a chance to go, do not hesitate. It was beautiful, picturesque, amazing, welcoming, breathtaking to list a few of the many adjectives that I could use.
I have a travel journal full of fun memories from New Zealand and our subsequent transpacific cruise, but I will save that for another post.