"Aotearoa ? The Land of the Long White Cloud" New Zealand by carteki
New Zealand Travel Guide: 14,440 reviews and 36,340 photos
New Zealand got its name from a Polynesian chief who, having been disorientated from a storm, followed a whale for 3 days until in the distance he saw a Long White Cloud and when he got there named the land Aotearoa.
This cloud is created by the hot winds that blow off the Australian continent, across the Tasmin Sea and suddenly come face to face with the New Zealand Alps - a ridge of mountains that runs the length of the south island, dipping down into the Cook strait and up about 1/2 the length of the north island. This heavy, moisture laded air cools as it rises and drops about 7m of rain on the western slopes of the southern alps each year, creating a rainforest environment south of the tropic of capricorn. As the air rises it cools and the remaining moisture in the air condenses and creates the cloud.
I spent an amazing 3 weeks traveling from Auckland to Christchurch via Queenstown. I have come home with 500+ pictures to sort out and label (what I'd do without my digital camera I don't know) and enough memories to last a lifetime - and I only scratched the surface of the main tourist trail, let alone the other hidden wonders the country has to offer.
From climbing volcanoes, to visiting the Te papa museum in Wellington and experiencing a pseudo earthquake, to hiking on a glacier and horseriding on a beach. Taking a boat ride through the Milford Sound and hiking along a golden beach in the Abel Tasmen National Park. New Zealand was everything I expected and more.
Details of my trip:
Day 1-3: Auckland with friends. I didn't do too much sightseeing, but did climb to the top of the crater on Rangitoto. Well worth it.
Day 2: Traveled to Rotoroua via Waitimo. The glowworm caves are a definite MUST see. Went to dinner at a traditional maori village in the evening.
Day 3: Traveled to Taupo. Worst waste of time on the trip. It took 6 hours to do 100kms due to tons of stop off's (most were not necessary).
Day 4: Completed the Tongariro crossing. A definite must. The views are spetacular, but watch out for weather changes.
Day 5: Went gliding in Taupo in the morning (see Things to do) and traveled to Wellington in the evening. First sighting of the NZ Alps.
Day 6: Visited Te Papa museum - another must not miss - and caught the ferry to Picton in the evening.
Day 7: Traveled to Nelson
Day 8: Abel Tasmin National Park - don't miss once again...
Day 9-11: Traveled to Westport and stayed with a friend
Day 11: Overnighted at Greymouth
Day 12 - 14: Frans Joseph glacier. I did a heli-hike which was amazing, but I found a bit of a stroll, rather than a hike. Quite heavy rain, but managed to catch up on my emailing etc.
Day 15: Climbed to the top of Iron Mountain at Wanaka and watched a movie at Cinema Paradiso
Day 16: Queenstown
Day 17: Took a bus trip to Milford Sound. An amazing experience. Do NOT MISS!
Day 18: Hired a car and drove to Mount Cook. Clear blue skies and bright sunshine all the way.
Day 19: Drove to Christchurch
Day 20: Visited Antartic centre in Christchurch - don't miss
Day 21: Flew home. Because of weather conditions the flight was routed down south over Antartica, rather than up to the equator. A fitting end to an amazing holiday...
I am slowly adding my tips, so please be patient! Where the tip relates to a specific place I have put it under the specific town, even if there is nothing on the homepage.
- Pros:An amazingly beautiful country
- Cons:Can be expensive
I spent 3 weeks traveling around NZ on Magic Bus - a hop-on-hop-off backpacker service and would do it again if I got... more travel advice
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