A trip without a single Kiwi sighting, but we got magnets!
After a pathetic year and a half delay, I am here to talk about the beautiful New Zealand honeymoon that I took with my honey. Before the sh*t hit the fan, we managed to have the most wonderful holiday together at a breathtaking destination and it was essentially a travel adventure together after the wedding madness. Hopefully, whenever things open up, you’d be able to visit one of the most stunning places on Earth and experience it yourselves.
We were going to NZ in the peak of the tourist season and hence, I had made the bookings a few months in advance. We tried hiring a travel consultant to design our itinerary but the price knocked me off my feet. I sorted out our itinerary in half that amount and some change to spare. Yep, I am an expert itinerary maker by now! I can’t forget how I had to completely re-pack a day before our flights to India, because I had packed assuming that it’s summer time in NZ. But just out of curiosity, when we checked the weather, we saw a lot of stormy clouds and rainfall in Queenstown. So out came all the cute rompers and shorts, and in went leggings and long skirts.
We decided to fly out of New Delhi, travel across New Zealand and catch our direct flight back to LA. Our stopover to NZ was in China, and we spent a blissfully unaware 4 hours wandering at the airport. We were already sick(no thanks to Delhi December pollution) so no reason to suspect anything! They did take our temperatures a few times ,but who knows! We had sent sent our excess baggage back with friends, because NZ local flights are insanely strict about weight limits. Yes, they check 3 times and we had to wear 3 outfits and stuff our pockets to the oblivion each time. We had wanted to see both North and south Islands and hence we divided our trip into those parts. Our itinerary was Auckland-Queenstown-surrounding areas-Auckland and I had planned it so that we do some fun and touristy activity and then relax for a day or two. Both of us are also super into AirB&Bs and enjoy actually spending time and unwinding. So it was a go-go-go and a break sort of a situation. I will expand on our shenanigans further, location wise.
Auckland: We landed in Auckland on a sunny afternoon and reached our hotel close to the airport. We were going to spend the next day and half in Auckland, do touristy stuff, and leave for Queenstown. The touristy stuff included a tour to LOTR’s Hobbiton movie set and Waitomo glowworm caves. The tour was going to start bright and early, so we spent the evening lazing around, and pounding on the ‘honeymoon special’ cheesecake. I was all set on using the ‘newly wed couple’ card everywhere. And boy, did it get me desserts!
Hobbiton was very fun! I have to admit that I have watched only 2 LOTR movies and so has Mr. PB, but it was all very exciting nevertheless! The lush pastures of the Shire, the mighty trees, the little houses are adorable and beautifully preserved. Our tour guide was really fun and enjoyed regaling us with stories. We enjoyed some mulled wine and pints, and moved onto the the next part of the tour. The Waitomo glowworm caves are something that I could never imagine! We took a boat ride and had to try and keep our mouths shut for the fear of worm excretes falling in! It was visually stunning but we have no photographs! You aren’t allowed because the camera can scare the worms. While sailing through the limestone grotto, you have to be completely quiet since the worms get stressed by sound and stop glowing. It takes them a massive amount of energy to turn ‘on’ again. There is a part of the cave called Cathedral that has phenomenal acoustic quality and a number of musicians have performed there. It was a day well spent! The next day, our flight was in the afternoon, so we could laze around, and chill. Mr. PB got a haircut too, which I think is the weirdest thing to do on a holiday.
Queenstown: Imagine lush plains and field with a gazillion sheep on one side, and a massive lake on the other. Yep, that’s Queenstown. As soon as we landed, I was in love with the place! It was everything green and just so beautiful! Our AirB&B was right by the lake and the view was to die for! The living room and bedroom had floor to ceiling glass panes that made us wake up to serenity each morning. We had adventures planned for our stay in Queenstown. The city is famous for bungy jumping, canyon swinging, and other activities that involve falling off from great heights. And we did all that! What an exhilarating experience! The swoosh in the tummy while falling down is just something else. I absolutely recommend it! We had a great time walking around amidst the greenery and grabbing bites here and there. Heck, this girl even went running by the lake and it literally, never happens! We also visited a local lavender fam which made my pose-like-an-actress dreams come true.
Fiordland: I had come across a ton of images while researching the beauty of NZ and the Milford sound fjords were in a lot of them. There is a U shaped valley, carved out by the Glaciers, 100,000 year sin the making, in the southern side of NZ. The valley is dotted with spectacular waterfalls! There are many more falls even on the way, and it’s a day long trip with plenty of stunning stops. You know the fields that you see in the movies with swaying long grass? Yep, here! Also, this was the only tour open on Christmas Day and it worked out beautifully.
Fox Glacier: After a few fun-filled days in Queenstown, we picked up our rental car and headed to Franz Glacier, which was 4-5 hours away. The travel had the most beautiful, lush fern laden sights and I could not help wonder if a T-Rex would suddenly emerge! It rained, it sunned, and rained again. When we reached, we decided to walk around and what a great idea it turned out to be! We went to check out a small trail called Minnehaha walk by our hotel, and ended up walking with a little French family with two young boys, who were looking for glow-worms! It was so exciting to peek into the dense, fern speckled trees and spot the glow-worms inside the hollow trunks. The kids were fearless and one gave me a sea shell that he had kept from a beach! ❤ This turned out to be one of the best highlights of the trip. The next morning arrived bright and early and we checked in for our helicopter ride and hike on top of a freakin’ glacier! Fox Glacier is a reminder of the might of the Earth as well as a grim nod to climate change. You can tell where the retreat and shrinkage has taken place and it all leaves you in a humble awe. We turned out to be quite lucky, as 80% of rides had been cancelled in the last 6 months because of the fickle weather. Also, once you get there, things can change really quickly, and the previous week, a tourist group had to stay in tents for 9 hours. They store everything at the heli landing site and have a very limited number of people that they take. This hike had me loaded with goosbumps throughout, and the beauty, beyond words. Thankfully, the sun was out for most of the time and we didnt have to wear our heavy jackets as much. We walked with our snow shoes on, and absolutely had to follow the guide. The guides have to come up with new trails everyday because of the ever changing conditions and safety of the ice. One wrong step, and sh*t can go south. But, dang, what stunning sights! Our last stop in Southern Island, was one for the memories. I may cautiously call it life-altering, because I have been inspired to be way more environmentally conscious than I was before. The glaciers tell a story, and the recent chapters are pretty emotional.
Auckland: This was the last leg of the trip, and I daresay, made me wish that I had skipped the city. The city is marvelous, no doubt, but is almost shut down between Christmas and January 5th. Very few restaurants were open, and the crowd was very touristy. We took the ferry on New Years’s Eve to go see a neighboring Island and spent the afternoon at a winery. We welcomed the 2020 with mellow fanfare on the terrace of our hotel, underneath the fireworks. It was a little underwhelming, and I wonder if the weird funny feeling in my tummy was an indication. Ah well!
We said goodbye to NZ on the 1st with a full heart and buckets of memories. New Zealand was phenomenal and we couldn’t be happier that we chose this country to begin our new phase of life. A small part of me was left behind in Queenstown, and it’s living it up in the rolling grass on the shores of the brightest, bluest lake ever!
I am posting some pictures, but they don’t do any justice, like none at all! Not just because the place is too beautiful, but also because my photography skills are non-existent. Ah well!
- If you are taking domestic flights in NZ, make sure you pack according to the weight restrictions and buy extra weight allowances well in advance for discounts. They are a nightmare when it comes to strictness!
- BOOK EVERYTHING 6 months before, as soon as you book your flights. Use free cancellations later. But the activities get filled out very quickly. December is the busiest time.
- It is southern Hemisphere for summer’s on in December, but it still gets cold and rainy. A rainjacket is a must. Queenstown rain can be heavy, so umbrellas are not that useful.
- The food was underwhelming for me as a vegetarian, but expect a lot of lamb!
- The wineries of NZ are famous for white wines, so drink up!
- Southern Island is better in my opinion if you like the nature. Northern Island has more big city vibes.