What I did in New Zealand, you ask? Well, wonder no more – here is my New Zealand itinerary.
I decided to travel the country by bus and booked the Funky Chicken bus pass by Kiwi Experience. Because I was traveling on my own and usually get annoyed with people after spending more than two weeks non-stop with them, renting a car or camper van with someone wasn’t really an option for me.
What I really enjoyed about going by bus was that even though you have a pre-planned route, you are still kind of flexible: you can choose when to hop on the bus, when to hop off, where to stay longer – or not, and the best thing is that the ticket is valid for an entire year.
Of course, I stilled missed the freedom that one has when renting a car, but for my first long-term and long-distance travel, going by bus was ideal for me.
Above you can see my itinerary. I started in Auckland and made my way down to the south island. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to see Northland, the northern tip of New Zealand, but if you have the option to go there, definitely don’t miss out. I’d recommend you to go there by car though rather than with Kiwi Experience, because I heard from quite a few people that the trip up north by bus is basically just sand boarding for 30 minutes, and a little hike – all of that for way too much money.
Hot Water Beach was my first highlight – it is in the middle of nowhere, but don’t expect the beach to be empty. When digging holes in the sand, hot water appears and starts to fill the hole – the water can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. It is so soothing to relax in the hot water whilst there’s cold rain falling around you.
Wai-O-Tapu, Thermal Wonderland, Champagne Pool
Rotorua is known for its extreme geothermal activity, and Wai-O-Tapu is a national park close to the city. The park itself is quite nice and has some amazing natural spectacles, but the Champagne Pool is without a doubt the most stunning – a definite must-see.
The Tongariro Crossing
Never have I seen anything this beautiful. The beginning of the trail is about one hour from Taupo, and you can easily get there by shuttle or by hitchhiking.
Make sure to be there at around 6am at the latest, because otherwise it will get too hot throughout the day, and the hike will take you between 7 and 10 hours – but believe me, it is more than worth it.
Even though you will probably wish for death multiple times throughout the hike, the view will make you forget all the pain. Not to mention that that is where Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings is located.
Tip: After you’ve passed the lakes, there is nothing much to see anymore and every minute will start to feel like hours. Also, you’d think that after the lakes and the main “attractions”, you’re almost at the end of the trail – well, you’re not. It takes about another two hours to get from the lakes to the bottom of the trail.
Click here to read more about the Tongariro Crossing and see more pictures.
Abel Tasman National Park
The Abel Tasman National Park is located close to Kaiteriteri – you can best reach the park by boat. There are several aqua taxis that pick you up in Kaiteriteri and drop you off on an island of your choosing, where you can either just relax or go for some walks.
I decided to go for a little hike (around 6 hours), and saw the most beautiful beaches – all of them completely empty.
Milford Sound / Marlborough Sound
Though they are at completely different locations, they are both absolutely stunning. Milford Sound is known for its many waterfalls, especially after a heavy rainfall, whilst Marlborough Sound is famous for the beautiful green landscape rising from the ocean.