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New Zealand

New Zealand, felt like a home away from home. This beautiful island nation is easy to navigate, once you get the hang of driving on the left-hand side of the road. The kiwi are laid-back and welcoming, which makes this country a great destination for first-time world travelers. For hiking destinations, we also give New Zealand an A+. From jaw-dropping views to perfectly maintained trails, you could hike for weeks in this beautiful place and never get bored. New Zealand also offers interesting culture history with its active Māori population. 

Things To-Do

Queenstown Area:  Situated on South Island's Lake Wakatipu, this popular tourist destination was easy to access with a short flight from Auckland to Queenstown. Highlights of our time here included visiting #thatWanakatree, hiking Roy's Peak, Canyoning in Wanaka, and visiting the classy Queenstown central district. 

Te Anau Area: We used this cute South Island town as a launching point to hike the gorgeous Routeburn and Kepler Tracks, kayak Milford Sound, and visit the famous glowworm caves. From Queenstown, it is a scenic 2.5 hour drive through the countryside to our lodging location in Te Anau.

Abel Tasman: Founded in 1942, this 38,000 acre park is the smallest of New Zealand's National Park system. It is located approximately 2 hours from Nelson, on the North shore of the South Island. Access to the Park is primarily by water taxi. Within the park you will find a series of well-kept trails, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and lush vegetation. Unlike other parts of the South Island, this area is a banana belt, with dense vegetation, warm waters, and popular beaches. The area is also known for agriculture because of the warmer climate.  

Wellington:  Much like our home City of San Francisco, California, Wellington features wind, art, cable-cars, 19th century architecture and even earthquakes. The two cities seem remarkably similar except for overall size, with SF being nearly four times as large, and much larger if you take into consideration the neighboring cities that make up the Bay Area. Tip: Central Wellington is very walkable. Skip the rental car and explore this pretty City by foot. Take a walking tour, enjoy the seafood, and be sure to visit the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa). 

Auckland Area:  Auckland is a melting pot of culture, with 39% of its residents born overseas. Even with such large foreign influence, in recent years, New Zealand has shifted its focus to include Te Reo Māori (the native language) as an effort to revitalize the native Māori culture. This is evident throughout the city with bilingual signage posted throughout. Another example is the All Blacks rugby team, are known not only for being the most successful rugby team ever known, but whose players famously begin each game with a haka performance. In Auckland we visited the Auckland Museum, the iconic Sky Tower, participated in the All Blacks Experience, took a walking tour, and visited the Maritime Museum. From Auckland, we also took a day trip to West Auckland. 

Where We Stayed

For each of our stops, we stayed at AirBnB's. Generally we like them because we can cook breakfast for the family, pack a lunch to go, and then eat out if we want (or not). We like the flexibility and space that renting a house or flat offers. Pro tip: Book one year in advance; all the best places for the best prices book early. 

QueenstownWe really lucked out with this one. The price per night has since sky-rocketed for what was a brand new listing at the time. If you can swing it, this was quite the little gem. 

Te Anau: This affordable spot is spacious and clean. It is also walking distance from central Te Anau and has a lovely back yard. 

Abel Tasman. Lodging in the Abel Tasman area is particularly difficult to find. This AirBnB was more rustic (or well-loved) but it offered little features that we quite enjoyed, like cornhole games out on the lawn.  

Wellington. This spot was a little out of the way but spacious and well-acquainted.  

Auckland. Also out of the way but the price was right for this condo in Auckland.

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Blog Posts - New Zealand
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