Queenstown/Milford Sound

After spending three and a half days hiking in Mt. Cook, I knew I’d be shattered. It was still nice outside having arrived in Queenstown at 7pm, so I took the gondola up to the top of Queenstown Hill during sunset.

I’d used cookies and chocolate as incentives for reaching the end of hike a couple of days before. If I were to walk to the top of the hill, I would’ve probably had to use a trip to the pharmacy to get the over-the-counter strength ibuprofen as an incentive to do so. I was very sore.

Friday morning I wasn’t really feeling up to much. It seems that if you don’t want to hurl yourself out of a plane, jump off a bridge or be flung through the air on the Nevis Swing, there isn’t really much else to do. As I don’t have a death wish, I used the day to chill and recover after the previous three and a half days of hiking.

Saturday I took a daytrip to Milford Sound. Last year I visited Doubtful Sound, so had been a little on the fence as to whether or not to go this time around. I figured that I’d enjoy the day in Milford Sound a lot more than being in Queenstown, so off I went.

All in all, it was a 9-hour(ish) round trip, but Milford Sound is great. The cruise was two hours long. It’s meant to rain there 182 days of the year, but we had a blueish sky. It’s meant to be better in the rain as there’s a lot of temporary waterfalls, but can’t complain about nice weather.

This morning I was meant to go to Auckland from Queenstown. Instead, I have faced a 10+ hour delay, and sat in Dunedin Airport (east on the South Island, a four hour drive away), waiting for my flight in four hours time. The flight I was meant to get had to turn around from Auckland because of engineering problems.

I had the choice of having Air NZ put me up in a hotel and catching a flight tomorrow, but could be put on a flight as late as 7.30pm. I decided to call today a write off and get the long delay in another airport, so I can make the most of my day in Auckland tomorrow.

In light of the Coronavirus, I’ve had to cut my trip short and leave for the UK on the 25th. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment and I’m not too sure of the route I’m to take, as I will be facing border closures. With that said, I am relieved that this has happened right at the end of my time away, and haven’t quit my job and moved out of somewhere to find out that my plans have gone to shit.

Mt Cook

On Monday afternoon I arrived in Mt Cook, taking only a couple of hours on the bus. I changed into my walking gear, and went out. As most of the walks here are 3+ hours, I did a couple of smaller ones, saving the 3+ hour ones for my full days.

In the morning I did the Hooker Valley track, taking roughly three hours. The track is 5km long, with an incline of 120m, so a nice easy one, with great scenery the whole way too.

Over the past few years I’ve learnt to not get too excited and exhaust myself on the first day. Instead of going on another walk I went back to the hostel for some dinner, and had a chat with the people in the dorm.

On Wednesday morning I chose to do a track called Sealy Tarns. It’s dubbed as the ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ with over 2,200 steps, with a 600m height gain. The name is a bit sugarcoated as whilst it is a spectacular view from the top, I felt as though I needed an oxygen tent up there after getting to the viewpoint.

Like you would with a four-year-old child, I used the incentive of having a cookie at the end of the stairs. There was no visibility at the top, but after an hour everything cleared up and the view was spectacular. Well worth the effort to get there.

I left Mt Cook for Queenstown on Thursday, but not before fitting a cheeky hike in before the bus in the afternoon. It ended up being the perfect day to go hiking – blue skies all morning. Unforunately I was out of cookies and chocolate to use as an incentive to climb up more steps, but managed to do without.

Mt Cook was one of the places I wanted to visit the most whilst in New Zealand. It’s been well worth the wait. The weather couldn’t have been better, and some nice roommates too. The only downside has been that the dorm did have quite the smell with 8 peoples’ hiking boots in the evenings.


Friday was my last day of work for at least 8 weeks. During the last few weeks in Wellington I stayed in a hostel around a fifteen minute walk to the CBD, though I did not get up to much. The highlight was seeing our local celebrity (yes it really is a cat) strutting down the street. As I was running late for dinner I couldn’t stop, and he seemed to be on a mission to get somewhere.

I went to the airport straight after the shift to fly down to Christchurch, and got the extra leg space by getting an emergency exit seat. As I’d arrived during the evening, I couldn’t get a bus straight to Tekapo, so I stayed the night in a cheap hostel. Someone very considerately set the fire alarm off at 1.30am, a night where I wanted to get at least a half-decent sleep.

On Saturday I boarded a bus down to Tekapo. It’s a place well known for stargazing, and has international recognition for it as the sky is so dark at night. After arriving and sorting out the hostel malarkey, I went for a walk by the lake and ended up by the Church of the Good Shepherd, which is a church to commemorate the first settlers in New Zealand. Now it’s one of the most photographed spots in the country.

During the evening I went to the Dark Sky Project. It’s amusing how when I lived in Australia I would spend my evenings out drinking, but now in New Zealand I was intending to go out to look at the stars. There were two tours: 10.45pm or 1.15am. Both were cancelled as there was no visibility, so I saw how the weather looked on Sunday morning. In the end I opted to go to the Dark Sky Project during the day – it was an interactive experience. It was good, but a lot of science in one sitting.

Sunday morning was spent on a walk up to the observatories on top of Mt John. The weather was a bit crap, so I did the shorter walk and stopped off at the cafe on top. Every time I have a good walk up a hill, I swear there is a bloody car park on top. I raced down before it started really raining, and went off to get some more coffee in town.

An hour or so was spent at the Dark Sky Project, then I went back to the hostel to have some down time – reading and Netflix. I finished reading a book and bingewatched some of the Good Place.

At night I went out to the lakefront to look at the stars, as it’s the place in New Zealand to do so. When it got too cold, I headed back in and went to bed. The next morning I headed off to Mt Cook, where I am at the moment – it’s been great here so far.


I arrived back from Nelson around five weeks ago, just getting around to posting about it!

I drove to Nelson via a kayaking trip in the Abel Tasman, which was great. It was for a couple of hours, and went past a seal colony with cute baby seals.

After the kayaking detour, I went straight to Nelson. I couldn’t check into my room as I was there too early, so went straight to the most central point of New Zealand.

By now, I should’ve realised that to get to post places in this country, you have to climb up a hill. This was no different, and probably should’ve worn something other than flip flops to get up to the top.

For pretty much my whole trip in the South Island, my hostel roommates were nice, but just woke me up all the bloody time. I didn’t feel like doing much during my first day. Instead of forcing myself out to do something I went to the cinema and watched Jumanji.

In New Zealand there are what’s known as the Great Walks, which are essentially the best multi-day hikes. The Abel Tasman Track is one of them. I didn’t particularly feel like walking for two to three days with camping gear. Instead, I caught a water taxi out to the track, and walked back. It was definitely one of the nicest walks I’ve done in New Zealand.

My final morning in Nelson, I went for a coffee before catching a flight to Wellington, then started back at work the day afterwards.

Overall, the trip was great. Kaikoura was definitely the highlight, seeing whales, dolphins and seals. I did feel as though I’m getting old though, as I feel that I cannot really do hostels anymore. They just wind me up too much. Since arriving in New Zealand, I’ve done a pretty good job of seeing everything that I want to – now there’s only a few places left which is all booked up.

Takaka & Golden Bay

The drive to Takaka took most of the day – a good 8 hours, with stops. I ended up stopping at a waterfall that I can’t remember the name of, Nelson Lakes National Park for a quick walk, and Te Waikoropupu springs.

To get to the springs I had to drive through Takaka. I figured that it was the time of day where least people would be there, so it’d be easier to get a park. Google Maps did throw me off guard, as the springs are shortened to ‘Pupu Springs. When I heard “Head left onto poo poo springs…” I did laugh more than I probably should have.

Te Waikoropupu is the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand. It contains some of the clearest water recorded in the world, and is a place of great significance to the Maori people. The picture doesn’t do justice as to how clear the water actually is.

For my first whole day in Takaka I drove up to Cape Farewell. You can’t walk past 4km onto the spit, unless you are with an organised tour. I had a bit of a walk on there, then drove up to Wharaiki Beach.

There’s been very few times where I’ve gone for a walk in flip flops and been really glad that I did. This was one of those walks. It’s a bit of a walk onto the beach, and then it got really, really windy once on the beach. It’s one of the featured wallpapers on Windows 10 computers and the most northern point of the South Island.

Afterwards, I went back to Takaka, stopping off at the Labrinth Rocks. It’s a bit of a hard one to explain – it’s a maze of rocks, with toys scattered around it. I had the Pikachu toy that I won on a claw machine in Tokyo on me, so it made some new friends.

On the final day there I headed off to Wainui Falls – the walking track was quite short, around 20 minutes. After, I went to Rawhiti caves. The road there only allowed one car to go in either direction, so it did put my reversing skills to the test.

The walk to the top certainly was not the easiest, but I was really surprised by the caves – I was expecting a small area, but these were huge. I didn’t take my camera camera with me, just my phone camera, but better pictures can be found with a google search :).

I left Takaka early in the morning to go to Nelson, via kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Hanmer Springs

After Kaikoura I went to Hanmer Springs. It only took a couple of hours to drive there – I was expecting a good few hours at least.

As I arrived around midday, I was expecting the thermal pools to be busy as. Instead, I went for a coffee, passing the springs, which confirmed my assumptions. I checked into the hostel and then walked up Conical Hill – the view from the top was pretty sweet.

Afterwards I went for a cheeky beer, and then to the pools – a great spot to chill for a couple of days. I very quickly found the pools that children were not allowed in which was great.

For New Years, there was literally nothing on apart from a couple of pubs being open for the countdown. There were people in the hostel going to bed at 10, so not really anything worth doing. I had a quiet night in, and went to bed at 12.10.

I started the new year at a petting farm. I was trying to find a waterfall, but the GPS was giving me directions after I had passed the turnings. I’ve been to numerous waterfalls including Victoria Falls and Niagara, so I thought I could live without seeing it.

Instead, I petted some llamas – amongst elephants and sloths, they’re some of my favourite animals. One of the llamas was a shit and spat at me whilst I was feeding them. At least the year can only go up from there. I’ve been asked if I spat back at it by quite a few people, but I was a bit too startled to think of that.

Besides going to the springs and petting cute animals, I didn’t do much in Hanmer Springs. Afterwards, I moved on to Takaka, Golden Bay.


During the end of autumn and winter I didn’t really get up to much. I’ve stayed in Wellington, and haven’t done much apart from work, yoga, and going to the pub. The highlights have been doing the Paekakariki Escarpment Tracks – one of the most reputable walking tracks near the city. I finished a 40 day yoga challenge – did something like 28 classes in that time – it’s nice to finish something that isn’t a packet of biscuits every now and then.

I had some time off over Christmas – supposed to be two weeks off, but I managed to score almost three. The last place I visited in the South Island was Kaikoura for just a day which was not enough. So I took the ferry over, drove for a couple of hours and had dinner on the beach.

Whilst on the ferry, I had to make a phone call to the car rental company and confirm that I was making my way over. The response was “we don’t have a booking for you,” so spent a good hour or so sorting that out. I was hoping that due to the faffing around, I would get a nice car (preferably a ferrari) but instead got a Mazda that had definitely seen better days.

I wanted to come down to Kaikoura most to go whale watching. Last summer I’d booked up to go, but the trip was cancelled. This one went ahead with a high sea-sickness warning, and I’m so glad I bought some tablets. The boat was kind of like being at work the day after a staff party – no one felt particularly great, and a few people were ill.

The whale watching was great – we saw three sperm whales, quite a few albatross and a shark. You can’t really see a huge amount of the whales from the boat; you can see when they’re at the surface, and their tail when they go back down under.

After getting off the boat I went for a bite to eat, then decided to go to the seal colony. The area is so nice with a couple of different walks – nothing is fenced off, so you can walk in the same area as the seals. It’s recommended that you keep 10 metres away from seals (I used the zoom on my camera), but there were quite a few people who didn’t adhere to that advice.

The following day I got up early and drove to Mt Fyffe, with the intent to go hiking. I got about 20 minutes in and was just not feeling it. A further five minutes later I thought sod it, and went back to the hostel.

I was in the car deciding what to do with my day. With a quick Google search, I saw that I could go watch some dolphins and got the last spot on the trip. It was so much better than hiking would’ve been, and ended up seeing heaps of dolphins.

Overall, Kaikoura was great. I feel as though I’ve done pretty much everything there that I would like to do. Moving on, I drove to Hanmer Springs.

Six Weeks in Wellington

It’s been around six weeks since I’ve moved into an actual house. There was little thought as to why I should move to Wellington; I had my mind made up before I even got to New Zealand, and it’s worked out pretty well. Now I’m out of hostels, it’s so, so nice not sharing a room with anyone, to chill out in a blanket burrito with Netflix on, and to sleep without much disturbance.

Trying to balance waking up for work is a bit tricky – I snooze until 5.25 and leave at 5.40am, and finishing at 2.30 gives me the rest of the day to myself, but I’m also sleepy by that point. I also feel as though I’m catching up on around 8 months worth of sleep so I’m taking things easy. My job is going well; it’s probably the easiest job I’ve had to date.

Since my second year in Australia, I’ve learnt that I should try to look after myself and have learnt that my body(/liver) is not a machine. I’m not turning up to work in questionable states as a result of the previous nights shenanigans, working less than ten hours a day and I’ve been taking good care of my back. I’ve even Googled dehumidifiers for my bedroom, so I guess I’m a grown up now.

Outside of work and the house, I’ve completed the beginners yoga course which I’d signed up to – it’s been a while since I’ve completed something that isn’t a packet of party mix or a book, and have moved onto taking classes without having to trek into the city. Been out for drinks a few times, but nothing really of much interest. The other week I experienced my first earthquake and a bit of sideways rain, which I guess adds to the list of expanding weather conditions I’ve experienced.

This past weekend was the first where I’ve left the house to do something somewhat touristy, and I returned to Zealandia which is an eco-reserve for birds. By the time I’d woken up and taken the 20 minute bus ride there it was 2pm, but only really spent a couple of hours there. There was more wildlife when it was hot outside a couple of months ago, but now winter is about to start, there were less birds around. There’s also night tours that run there and thinking of going within the next few weeks.



Over the Easter Weekend I’m off work so I’m going to be going away, maybe hiking but haven’t really looked too far into it besides car hire and booking accommodation.

The North Island

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks travelling the North Island with a friend from Australia. She’s returned home and I’ve come down to Wellington.

Exhibition in the Te Papa Museum, figures of the soldiers made by Weta Workshop

Toasted marshmallows at Haikai

We started off in Wellington; visiting the Weta Studios, the Te Papa Museum and Zealandia Ecosanctuary. We also found a Wellington Craft Beer map in the first pub we headed to, which kept us busy. There’s the show ‘The Final Table’ on Netflix, showcasing chefs from around the world. One of the contestants runs the restaurant Haikai, focusing more on indigenous ingredients. We had the ten course menu there which was amongst the best food I’ve ever eaten.

Following Wellington, we stopped off at Napier for a night. It wasn’t really anywhere too exciting, just a nice little town, then off to Taupo. The main stop was the 19.4km Tongariro Crossing, where the scenes for Mt. Doom were filmed in Lord of the Rings.

It’s actually quite possibly a really dangerous walk, starting with what’s called ‘the Devil’s Staircase.’ Living up to both the Names ‘Devil’s Staircase,’ and ‘Mt. Doom.’ I suggested the rule for first person to fall over had to buy the first beer afterwards, and I fell over. Three times. By the time we thought we had ten or so minutes or so left, we saw a sign saying that we in fact had 45. It’s by far the hardest hike I’ve done, and apparently in the world’s top five most challenging day hikes – according to the fitbit, it was the equivalent of 330-odd flights of stairs at 25,000 steps. I can’t find any trustworthy information ranking it, but I’m hoping it’s more like #2 or #3, rather than #5.

Looks like I’m looking out into the distance. Actually looking for the next lot of toilets on the map.

Fall #2

Following Taupo was Rotorua, where we went to the Glowworm caves. We chose a package that included two tours; the first was excellent with a really enthusiastic guide, but the second wasn’t too great. It was a boatride with a kind of tour through a cave, but you couldn’t hear the guide as there were too many people and children. Hiking Mt. Doom left us both sore for days, but conveniently the area is well known for having geothermal mineral springs.

From Rouorua we also went to Hobbiton, the filmset of the Shire in Lord of the Rings which was brilliant. We could see the layout to make the hobbits appear a lot smaller than Gandalf in the movies, and had the location of parts of the movies pointed out to us. They also provided a beer at the end, which was needed as it was so hot. The only downside is that we didn’t see the resident cat.

At Bag End, Bilbo’s house

Our last stop was Auckland. We took the ferry to Waiheke Island for a wine tasting which was great, though a bit pissed by the end of it. We stopped off at three different vineyards and an olive oil tasting place.

On Sunday I returned to Wellington and have a busy week with interviews, trials and flat viewings, as well as all the fun stuff like setting up a bank account, filing for a tax number etc.


Most of the previous couple of weeks I’d booked and planned whilst back in the UK in December. It left me with a few days in the Christchurch area before either flying or getting the bus up to the North Island, probably via a detour.

When I first landed and spent the day there I didn’t think much of Christchurch in terms of things to do. It’s still quite clearly recovering from the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake. Nothing really appealed to me in the area apart from going to the Antarctic Center next to the airport. I wanted a day off my feet so I caffeinated myself up and watched Mary Queen of Scots at the cinema.

The hostel I was staying at was affected by the Earthquake, but was hoping to be fully refurbished by 2016. The ceiling was starting to fall apart and the room was branded as a “Flashpacker Dorm” – the only thing flash about it was the speed I would expect someone to fall through the ceiling at.

The main reason I went to Kaikoura was to go kayaking around the seal colonies; there’s also the option to go swimming there. For me I’d rather give the seals an option of whether or not to approach, plus I can’t swim. Originally I’d booked for a sunset tour though it was cancelled due to weather – the company, Levi’s Seal Kayaking, were kind enough to re-arrange around the bus timetable to allow me to join.

The tour was great, probably the highlight of the South Island. We had a blue penguin chill next to us on the water and some dolphins jumped up from under one of the kayaks which was great to see. Our guides didn’t think the penguin was injured, but they took pictures to send to a blue penguin research center. We also saw seals getting in/out of the water and chilling on the rocks. The kayaks we were travelling on were controlled by pedals, which was a lot easier on the body.

Yesterday morning I managed to book a ticket to go whale watching during the evening. I wasn’t expecting to go on the tour as the evening kayaking was cancelled, but Kaikoura is supposedly the best place in the country to do so. The morning tour managed to see Orcas, but the evening tour did get cancelled. I could’ve gone first thing this morning but it would be cutting it fine with being able to get up to Wellington tonight. With that said, I think Kaikoura is a place that I would like to spend a few more days in. In a few weeks time I’ll have to commit to grown up responsibilities by getting a job, but it’s easy to get in and out of.

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with a friend to travel the North Island with for a couple of weeks. I probably won’t post that much. We’re starting in Wellington for a few nights and will end up in Auckland. I’ll be spending tonight finding some food and either binge-watching the Peep Show on Netflix or reading Lord of the Rings.