top of page
  • lifeunbound21

New Zealand

Updated: Mar 4

By far, the best trip I have taken. If you get the chance, go!

Here is the order we did this trip.

Arrive into Aukland from the US (stay 3 days)

Flight to Queenstown (stay 5 days)

Flight to Sydney (stay 2 days)

Depart Sydney to US

If I did it again, I would reverse the order. Personally, nothing beats New Zealand. I think I would have enjoyed Australia more if I would have started there.

The north part of New Zealand is beautiful. It has a lot of dormant volcanos that offer rolling hills and has great wineries, beaches & seafood. 💙 If you go, learn about the Maori people. They are the indigenous people of New Zealand and their culture is an integral part of the country. A guide told us that when Britain colonized, they partnered with the Maori to form the government. While Britain sought to make New Zealand progressive, the Maori ensured changes would not harm the environment or the inhabitants. Because of this, everything is so clean, the water so clear, the air so fresh. It's like nothing I've ever seen.

They drive on the other side of the road and they also walk on the other side of the side walk so that was something to get use to (especially when crossing the street). I think I could drive here pretty easily though as the traffic isn't to heavy. If I ever come back, I’ll try.

Here are some of my favorite things from the north island/Aukland area.

We stayed at Voco (owned by Hilton) which was conveniently located near food, cafes and shopping. It was also easy walking distance from the water.

Day one we walked through Aukland Domain park and then down to the water. We had a pit stop at Miann Britomart for some gelato before heading to the wharf and then made our way to The Shucker Brothers for oysters and wine.

I highly recommend this lunch spot. It has great views of the water and great food. The gelato stop is a must too. It housed some of the most creative/artistic cakes I have ever seen.

After lunch we got ferry passes and spent the afternoon in Davenport. We walked the beach and hiked up to the top of Mount Victoria for 360 views.

Day two we went up to One Tree Hill. Here we learned about the Maori people, how they first inhabited this land, how the British came in and took over their land and how since then, they have learned to work together to allow both sides to equally contribute to what New Zealand is today. The museum in Aukland Domain Park is great place to learn more about this history.

We visited two wineries - Soljans Estate Winery & Westbrook Winery with a pit stop between at Muriwai Beach.

We were lucky and got to go at low tide so we could scale the rocks and see the Gannet colony perched on the rocks. These birds live here until about 3 years old and there very first flight from the rocks is to make the long (1-3 week) journey to Australia. When they mature to a reproductive stage, the head back to Muirwai Beach where they choose a mate for life. I love their story and this spot is definitely worth going to see. I would have extended our short stay at this beach to an entire day if we would have had more time.

Day three we took the ferry over to Waiheke Island. We visited an olive grove (Allpress) and sampled different kinds of olive oil. From there we did a loop hike along Tarata Loop Track, an 3 mile loop trail with a small waterfall and a beach stop. It was an easy trail with beautiful ferns and palms throughout. We finished up this day with a wine tour at Mudbrick Vineyard, probably my favorite of the three tours we've done here so far. The grounds remind me of Tuscany with rolling hills and an Italian feel throughout the property.

Day four we flew to Queenstown. A noteworthy reminder about this 2 hour flight from the north to the south island, carry ons cannot weight more than 7 kg. This meant that our typical carry on and personal items had to be checked. Since we did this trip with no checked luggage, that meant checking bags on this flight. Without even thinking about it (or any signage from the airport), we failed to remove our batteries & portable phone charger from the now checked bags. They were taken, never to be seen again. Bummer!

On an upside, our hotel in Queenstown (The Crown Plaza) was great and ideally located right in the heart of the city center with great views of the water and mountains. Another perk of this hotel is they have a washer & dryer for guests which by this point we needed!

Day five was a 13 hour excursion to Milford Sound. We booked this through Viator. The 4 hour drive there was broken up with a few quick stops at a cafe and some photo ops. We spent two hours out on the water with sack lunches and took in incredible views of mountains waterfalls, seals & penguins. The drive back was quiet and enjoyable as our guide had made a soundtrack for the trip that was energizing on the way in and soothing on the way out. Her knowledge of the area and folk lores made the driving part of the experience really fun. I highly recommend!

Day six, pre race day! Our first priority was to get to the expo and get our race packets. Then we headed up to Arrowtown for shopping. Arrowtown is an old mining town outside of Queenstown and is a great place to find the famous jade stone. Legend has it, you should buy Jade as a gift vs buying it for yourself if you want to experience good luck. This day was cool and rainy so it was a perfect day for wondering the town and getting our shopping done. In Arrowtown you can also find a delicious fudge shop which make Hokey Pokey fudge (only found in NZ). We traveled easily by Uber.

Day seven - Race Day!! The Queenstown Marathon/Half marathon/10K is the most beautiful course. It starts with about 2 miles of pavement and then switches to hard packed gravel trail for the majority of the path. It's got a down hill grade but there are a few sneaky (and steep) hills in there. The views all the way along this course makes it my favorite by far. The sunny and cool weather was perfect too, starting in the mid 40's and climbing to low 60's by mid afternoon. There were 11,000 participants in this race and delicious flat coke at the aid stations. We celebrated that night with dinner at Finz and drinks at the Ice Bar. Definitely an experience to try at least once.

Day eight we went paragliding. What do I even say about this..... Do it! I'm terrified of heights and this is something I will do again. It's not as scary as I thought it would be because you just run walk down the hill until the wind scoops you up. I was tandem with a guide and the whole time we were up there, he was working the sails to pull us down. It was smooth and peaceful with incredible views. I felt very safe.

Day nine was spent traveling to Sydney Australia, but before we left New Zealand we took a walk through the Queenstown Gardens. This hidden gem is like a secret garden across the water from the town. We were there in November so it was spring and everything was in full bloom. Azaleas as big as small buildings! This statue was my favorite and I love being able to set her here.

As far as Sydney Australia, we took full advantage of our 48 hour layover here. Day one we took the ferry past the Opera House to Mainly beach. This was a great surfing beach, if we would have had more time I would have loved to try a surfing lesson here. There were plenty of companies offering them. Of the two beaches we visited, Mainly was my favorite. its not as touristy and had a more active crowd. It was really beautiful too, but a bit further from Sydney as it required the ferry for us to get there.

Day two we used Viator to take a guided tour. We visited Featherdale Wildlife Park and fed Koalas & Kangaroos. Then we headed to the Blue Mountains and saw the Three Sisters mountain peaks. The Blue Mountains got their name from the blue hugh thats put off by the eucalyptus trees. The sandstone ridges against the blue fog is breathtaking. This was a full day trip but very worth it.

Day three we had a late afternoon departure so we took an Uber to Bondi Beach and did some shopping. This beach was pretty touristy but its easy to get to and has lovely sand.

Thats a wrap on a very epic tour!

Huge shout out to Marathon Tours and travel for getting us there.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page