There are so many different reason why New Zealand should be on your bucket list this 2017! Whatever you are searching for, you will find it right here. Hayley Vincent is one of our favorite contributor and a regular here on Travel Junkie Diary.
Here are 5 reasons to travel to New Zealand
In search for peace and serenity
In a world where time is everything, where people’s lives revolve around getting from A to B or rushing to the next destination without ever stopping, it’s a welcomed change to arrive in New Zealand and find the urge to rush around has vanished. It’s been replaced with views of the most awe-inspiring landscapes and a laid-back, relaxed way of life, with time to just sit back, breath deeply and enjoy every moment. When you arrive you’ll be instantly in awe at how beautiful this country is, with snow-topped mountains, rivers and lakes surrounding every area, you’ll never be more than a few minutes away from a breathtaking view. With it’s population being only 4 million, it’s easy to feel like you’ve found a small slice of paradise away from the crowds, for me it was certainly a welcomed change to the 8 million people that populate London! Once you have left the cities, New Zealand becomes one of those places that you can get away from that busy, fast paced lifestyle which people get so used to, it’s not hard to feel like you can truly unwind when you could spend an afternoon hiking and find yourself not seeing anyone else for the entire day! Peace and serenity at it’s best. Throughout my time in New Zealand I was often told that I speak fast and walk fast and this got me thinking, maybe we do all need to take a step back, slow down, look around and take a few moments each day where we can really appreciate the amazing world we live in.
The People You Meet
I travelled around New Zealand on my own and to a lot of people this would be very daunting, I was a bit apprehensive at first but it was clear that from day one that were not reason for me to feel that at all. From the great people I met at the multiple hostels I stayed at, to the friends I made on a 5-hour bus journey down to Milford Sound, I was surrounded by like-minded people my whole trip. There were travellers from all corners of the world, eager to get to know one another and all excited about exploring what New Zealand had to offer.
Then there is the locals or Kiwi’s as they are known! They are some of the most welcoming people I have come across, making me feeling comfortable and totally at ease for the entirety of my stay. You can’t enter a shop or stroll past someone without them saying ‘How’s it going?’ with genuine interest.
The people you travel with play a huge part in how much you enjoy yourself and I managed to share my time in NZ with new friends that I have made for life.
In search of Adrenaline
For all those thrill seekers out there, New Zealand is definitely the place to go. Being the country that discovered the bungee jump and having the third highest jumping platform in the world, no wonder this place is known for its outrageously fun activities. On arriving in New Zealand I’d heard that it was a must to do something crazy, whether it be a skydive or a bungee jump, but in all honesty, I was feeling pretty apprehensive and they certainly weren’t on the top of my to-do list. However, after little bit if persuasion I soon found myself getting briefed on what to do during a skydive and then before I knew it I was up in a plane about to jump out 15,000 ft over Queenstown.
Verdict?…The best thing I have ever done.
If you know that throwing yourself out of a plane isn’t for you then don’t let that put you off, New Zealand offers such a wide range of activities to get your adventure juices flowing, water rafting, canyoning, hand gliding and jet boating are just a few of the other exciting activities on offer.
In Search of a Hikers Dream.
If you are anything like me then I know the thought of hiking through lush green trees and past crystal clear lakes, while being surrounded by snow capped mountains sounds absolutely idyllic. Whether it be up a mountain, along a coastline or traversing a glacier, New Zealand has it all. There are countless numbers of hiking trails and walks but the best have been mapped out by the National Parks and other explorers. Guide books and maps show you the length and intensity of these walks and once you begin, signposts guide your way. One of the most famous is the Tongariro Northern Circuit Crossing, this is a trail around two active volcanoes; Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. There are a variety of walks you can do at this crossing ranging from 3 days to just one day, with all of them you get to see unparalleled views of the North Island as well as other unique elements like thermal ,steams and craters.
For those interested in glaciers Franz Josef is the place to visit, it was by far one of the coolest experiences I had. Not everyday do you get the opportunity to fly in a helicopter to the top of a 7000-year-old glacier then jump out and spend a few hours trekking around it. As you squeeze through holes and gaps in the ice you get to see how much the glacier is changing and shifting every day, it’s a real eye-opener and a fantastic experience.
One of my favourite days was spent at Lake Tekapo, there was a relaxed, 2-hour walk that brings you up to one of the highest points around the lake offering views looking over the small town and out to the surrounding countryside. Once I got to the top I was completely astonished at the mesmerising tones of blue in the lake below, the formations of clouds were magical and it was as if they were spilling out from the tops of the mountains opposite. The whole area was stunning and if it wasn’t for the fading evening light I could have sat there for hours, certainly a must when visiting the South Island.
In search for Road trips.
Getting around New Zealand is not the easiest if you’re planning on using public transport, for me, jumping in a car with a group of friends, turning the music up and hitting the road is the best and of course the most fun way of seeing the country! There are so many hidden gems that you could stumble across on your journey, an archway of trees leading to a majestic waterfall or a short walk down to a remarkable mirror lake reflecting one of the many mountain ranges. Moments like these are magical and one of the reasons I love hitting the road with the freedom to go wherever I decide. Quick tip…Be sure you head out each day with plenty of extra time for all those unexpected stops, a two-hour drive can very quickly turn into a 5 or 6 hour one!
A must do trip is from Queenstown through to Milford Sound, within that drive you go through multiple different sub-climates, the landscapes are unreal and around every bend is something even more magical than the last. It’s easy to see why some of the most awe-inspiring blockbuster movies are shot here. Topping off the drive to Milford is Milford Sounds itself, with boat trips leaving all day it’s a must to jump on one and explore. Keep an eye out as you may get the chance to glimpse penguins and seals bathing in the sun!!
Another amazing drive is to Cape Reinga from Auckland. This beautiful drive takes you past rolling fields and wild coastlines, with some of the whitest sand beaches you have ever seen as well as the chance to hit the sand dunes on surfboards and try out some sand surfing! It finishes at the most northerly point of New Zealand which is a must see in itself. A short walk to the lighthouse and you can easily spot the dark Blue Pacific Ocean and turquoise Blue Tasmanian sea meeting and forming a perfect line of crashing waves where they collide. From there you could hit the hiking tracks along the coastline or spend you day on the beach in the sun or spend a few days up there and get a chance to do everything!