New Zealand – The Perfect Adventure Destination
New Zealand – The Adventure Destination
New Zealand had always been in my bucket list, and I had been trying to find ways to get there on a comfortable journey because it included a transit and sometimes two. And when I got an opportunity from Air New Zealand @airnz and Singapore Airlines @singaporeair , I simply couldn’t resist this offer. The entire experience was more than what I had expected from the journey. From comfortable seats to delicious food. From friendly staff to the pleasing ambience, everything was just right. And the best part was, they know how much it is important to make a traveler comfortable during transit flights. They had such a hassle free connection. They actually made me enjoy my transit time at Changi Airport with so many things to do. Did I tell you about the S$20 Transit Voucher that you get from Changi Airport for spending at any of the shops there? Oh yes, they actually give you S$20 to spend while you are exploring that huge airport.
Having extensively traveled, I always check for Airline Cabins for comfort and ambience. Because if the ambience is inviting and pleasing, I’m assured that I’m definitely going to enjoy the flight. That’s right, I’m talking about Air New Zealand @airnz . The interiors are designed in such a way that they offer comfort and are soothing to the eyes. When I first walked in to an Air New Zealand flight, I actually did not feel like a stranger. The conversation just hit off with the attendant who welcomed me and we just went on talking about my travel adventures, as and when she would cross my ultra-comfortable business premier cabin. That was my first interaction with a Kiwi national and she definitely made me smile with the warmth and friendliness. Most of my questions about New Zealand were answered on board, and when I landed in Auckland, I was confident exploring the city. Air New Zealand also operates domestic flights within New Zealand, in case you wanted to go city hopping from the north island to the south island. Since, we do not have Air New Zealand flying into India yet, the best thing to do is fly Singapore Airlines @singaporeair to Changi Airport and hop on to an Air New Zealand flight from there. Pretty relaxed connection and off you go!
The much awaited journey started when I landed in Auckland and I had Max waiting for me in this luxurious van ready to drop me at my hotel and trust me, the journey was not tiring at all. I could explore the city even at midnight after I checked into this beautiful accommodation called Hotel De Brett. And that was a comfortable luxury boutique hotel. Every room is individually designed and complemented with eclectic furniture, New Zealand art and photography.
Enjoyed a good night’s sleep and woke up to some delicious English breakfast off the buffet. Yeah, those sausages and scrambled eggs, and baked beans. And this is when I met Carole my coordinator. Today our plan was to explore the Waiheke Island. Let me tell you that you have to visit Waiheke Island if you are ever going to Auckland there are so many wineries there and beautiful beaches. Our plan was to visit 5 wineries. This day is one of my memorable days because I got to taste wine from 5 different wineries also I was on an island which had these expensive houses owned by some of the rich and famous people in Auckland. The beach was beautiful, the food was delicious and not to forget the wine which was the best. I was a little tipsy though. A good kind of tipsy.
After a fun filled wine tasting and winery hopping day visiting the Waiheke Island on a boat and back, Carole and I decided to have ice cream at one of the world’s most famous ice cream place. “Giapo”, I have a dedicated blog post on Giapo (make sure you read it). After having so much ice cream we also had plan for dinner at The Sugar Club by Peter Gordon. It is a perfectly located restaurant on the Sky Tower. Please have the fixed course meal there. It is true love.
Now the second day Carole and I had to leave for Queenstown on an Air New Zealand flight in the afternoon however we were not leaving Auckland without walking on the Sky Tower. Yes the most adventurous and adrenaline pumping part of my journey in New Zealand was the 40 minute walk on the Sky Tower. You will get to see my experience when I post my vlog. But trust me if you ever go to Auckland which you should, I repeat do not miss the SkyJump or the SkyWalk. It is a must do. Safe and handled by professionals. Do send me a photo when you do it.
The adrenaline rush after doing the SkyWalk kept me smiling all day and I couldn’t stop talking about it with Carole in the entire flight. That’s when she mentioned it was just the beginning. Wait till you reach Queenstown. Just before landing at Queenstown I saw snow clad mountains from the window. I was assured what Carole meant when she said it was just the beginning. The weather got colder than Auckland and I was surrounded by beautiful mountains. David picked us from the airport, and he is one of the best chauffeurs I’ve ever met in my entire life. Every question I threw at him had an answer. A descriptive answer with details.
Queenstown, New Zealand, also known as a resort town where the local culture and economy revolves around tourism, is one of the most beautiful places to plan a trip to. The town is situated around Queenstown Bay. Hundreds of travelers come to just view the natural beauty of the bay which is a part of the huge Lake Wakatipu, famous because of a few films shot there. One of the most popular activities at Queenstown is the Adventure Tourism.
Parked the night at Hotel St. Moritz, Idyllically situated in Queenstown, New Zealand, overlooking Lake Wakatipu to “The Remarkables” mountain range, Hotel St Moritz embodies the spirit of its location. And dinner that night was at Madam Woo (traditional Malaysian Hawker food and serves up big, fresh flavors in a vibrant, fun and modern setting) at the lakefront of Lake Wakatipu.
The next day was an early departure to Milford Sound. Yeah, remember the name Milford Sound. If you don’t go here when you are in New Zealand, I will definitely take offence, because you just can’t miss the natural beauty of the flight to Milford Sound or the winding roads you drive through to reach there. And to top it up, we have the cruise that takes you to the sea and back showing you high waterfalls and greenery and some adorable seals too. On our way back on that 12 seater aircraft, I was just thinking about this entire experience and admiring the seriousness of the Department of Conservation, New Zealand in preserving the beauty of the country. They are doing a marvelous job.
Just when I was letting the feeling sulk in, Carole got this idea of having a burger for lunch. And I was thinking we would just hit some famous burger joint. That is when we entered this restaurant with a long queue of people waiting to get their hands on this famous burger place in the world. Yes, I’m talking about “Fergburger”. We grabbed two burgers, drinks and onion rings. Sat next to Lake Wakatipu devouring this culinary masterpiece. Lunch was definitely fun and sumptuous that day. Now that the burger was over, I had my next activity for the day. Moving at the speed of 0 to 85 kmph within seconds on a jet boat, dodging rocks, in 10cm deep water, along the famous Shotover River in New Zealand and deep into the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. I got a video on that too. See it below:
The rest of the day was at leisure as my hotel room window gave me this mesmerizing view of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains surrounding it. Had to spend time sitting there and relaxing before leaving for a town called Wanaka next day.
Another early day after breakfast and 90 kms from Queenstown is Lake Wanaka, although before reaching there I took a halt at AJ Hackett’s first ever commercial bungy jumping site. One memorable moment that. And the Cardrona Hotel and the Cardrona Bra Fence which are on the way from Queenstown to Lake Wanaka. You will definitely like the halt at these places. Worth it.
Had a 4 wheel drive safari scheduled for me. This 2.5-hour adventure offers Wanaka’s finest lakeside scenery plus an exciting and fun 4WD journey through a real alpine, mountain farm. Up-close encounters with Red Deer, Angus Cattle, sheep and horses. I fed some sheep and alpacas. They were fluffy!
Lunch was at “Big Fig”. It is slow food, served fast on the Wanaka lakefront. Slow-cooked lamb shawarma, big-flavor meatballs, spiced-up free-range rotisserie chicken, hot veggie dishes, super tasty salads, fresh out of the oven pittas and more Middle Eastern-inspired deliciousness. All yum. Later, checked in to Edgewater Lake Wanaka, was spellbound by views of the magnificent Southern Alps and azure blue Lake Wanaka, which was only meters from my room. Loved my stay there.
Went for a walk in the evening and this Lake definitely has some breathtaking views to offer. If you are a photography enthusiast or love capturing memories when traveling, a walk at this lake is something you have to do, with the “Wanaka Tree” being one of the most photographed trees in the world. More photos are posted on my Instagram. Do check them out. I loved one particular bench facing the lake which was under a tree, where I sat for a while in the cold.
Dinner was at Bistro Gentil where I learnt a new way of ordering wine, from a wine dispenser. Yes, a machine that dispenses wine from the available options. Well, I agree I had quite a lot of wine that day with dinner while playing with the dispenser. Since I had a transfer to Christchurch from Lake Wanaka the next day, I chose to sleep early as it was going to be a long drive with David.
On the way to Christchurch, New Zealand from Lake Wanaka, there is this place called Lake Tekapo. Well, Lake Tekapo is something you can’t describe in words. The blue water, that “Church of the Good Shepherd” near the lake. Those snow clad mountains and their reflection in the water. You have to be there to experience what I can’t convey in words. David was kind enough to even take me to the observatory called “Earth and Sky” from where you get this unforgettable view of Lake Tekapo and the town. This place is etched in my memory and I will never forget how beautiful it is. After a long drive through clouds and breathtaking views of lakes with blue water, that evening was parked at Chateau on the Park in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 5-acre property – boasting a moat, a vineyard and a beautiful rose garden.
The city of Christchurch, New Zealand has bounced back from the earthquake in 2011 and is as beautiful and dynamic as ever. With a number of stunning green spaces, fascinating architecture, and a vibrant culture that comes out in the chic restaurants and trendy bars, Christchurch is indeed a paradise on Earth. Christchurch is widely residential and spread out—and this means you have no better chance to experience Kiwi life than now. You can kick back and sip a beer out in the garden, take long hikes and see the natural landscape, enjoy live music festivals and incredible food, and just enjoy a completely laid back way of life here.
That said, Christchurch is an amazing destination for people from all walks of life. You’re sure to find something that will take your breath away. You’ll definitely be wanting to come back soon!
Below are some activities I enjoyed doing:
• Mount Sunday – Mount Sunday is a stunning site with expansive views of the Rangitata River and the surrounding mountains. Lord of the Rings was shot here. Mount Edoras in the movie. Yeah.
• Ko Tane Maori Experience – The South Island’s only Māori Cultural Performance and Hāngī Dinner. Nestled amongst the native trees and ferns and alongside New Zealand wildlife, Ko Tāne guarantees a real, up close and personal experience. Ko Tāne performs within Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and through them you will learn the relationship between āaori, culture, wildlife and conservation to give a real “Kiwi” experience.
And after so much of cultural and natural beauty being captured through my lens. It was now time to come back home and tell you guys about New Zealand. It did hurt a little leaving that country, however, my parting gift had a message on it that read “Arrive as a stranger, Leave as a Whanau (Family)”. I am definitely going back to this paradise again.
Known to be an aviation trendsetter, I had the chance to experience @singaporeair again on my way back to Mumbai. What sets it apart from the rest? World-class service – From the Lounge at the airport to the business seat you rest yourself on. For the few hours you travel with them, they just pamper you with kindness and inflight services that make you feel at home. There was not an instance where I wasn’t surrounded by smiles. Food being my priority on flights, I had an option of choosing my own main course from their “Book the Cook” selection. And when you land, the warm welcome and hassle-free experience at Changi Airport just adds that much awaited icing on the cake.
I am definitely visiting New Zealand again and traveling on a Motorcycle from the North Island to the South Island to live my dream. For now, I leave you with a Video of my Sky Tower Experience!