Before visiting New Zealand, I read in many blogs, that said the South Island is better. However, I really cannot make preferences, to me it was equally beautiful as the North Island. The landscape is quite different, there are massive mountains and even less people 🙂
1. Nevis Swing
Do you love swings? How about the tallest swing in the world which begins with a 70 meters free fall? 🙂
I was super excited (and terrified) about the Nevis Swing. We left Queenstown with the bus and after 30 minutes we arrived to a huge gulch. It is clearly very safe and after seeing other people doing it, I knew I must do it too. YES, hanging there 300 meters above the gulch sitting just on the stripes with my husband, was very scary. It all happened so fast! I am so happy that I did this, when I think about it, I still feel as if my heart just stops beating. The moments of free fall really took my breath away, that’s exactly the feeling that I am looking for: ultimate freedom.
Would I do it again? HELL, yes! 🙂
Queenstown is my favorite city in New Zealand by far. The city has great vibes and the way it is settled between dramatic mountains by a beautiful like, it’s truly breathtaking.
The city is quite small, I don’t think there is much to do in the city itself, but this is the capital for Adrenaline seekers, hundreds of cool activities such as driving, shooting, flying, shotover jet, etc. all start from here.
The city center is next to the lake, where there are many beautiful outdoor terraces, having dinner with this view is really unique.
3. Milford Sound
The drive to Milford sound lead through the magical Fiordland. The view was so dramatic, we felt as if we were in wonderland. We chose the most touristic Milford Sound Cruise to see this amazing scenery, but there are also many long hikes around.
Milford Sound is a very remote area, no phone connection, no internet, no radio, just you and the nature 🙂
The drive to Milford Sound took us about two hours from Manapouri and we stoped many times, because there were beautiful waterfalls, rainforests on the way. The Cruise itself was breathtaking. The most picturesque landscapes with mountains and waterfalls. Our cruise was 2 hours long, but I think we could have gone for even longer. We also got so close to a waterfall that the brave ones could go under it. The weather wasn’t very friendly here, but luckily it wasn’t raining. After the cruise we stayed around the lake just to keep staring at this beautiful view.
4. Hang Gliding
Have you ever though of flying free like a bird? This is exactly how we felt!
When getting ready for the shotover jet, we were looking around the tourist office and we see that there is Hang Gliding nearby. Luckily, they had free time so we could come the same day. The guide was professional, we felt very safe. A small airplane took us up and than let us go, so we were descending very slowly. The views were fantastic, the wind wasn’t too strong, it was really enjoyable. Up in the sky, I came to the conclusion that my guide’s has the best office in the world 🙂
5. Abel Tasman National Park
New Zealand’s weather is really diverse. Few days before getting burned while kayaking in Abel Tasman, I was freezing in the 5 degrees temperature on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Hike. Abel Tasman is a beautiful little city. There are many ways to discover this beautiful national park and we went for kayaking, sailing and hiking.
There are organized kayak tours, but you can also find a place to rent by yourself. We don’t like groups, so the two of us went for a 4 hours kayaking adventure. The way was very long, to reach the small island nearby, but we knew what we came for: to see the sealions. The sealions did not disappoint us, we saw dozens of them enjoying the sun. It is not see easy to see them because they lay on the rocks which is the same as their color. We also stopped on the small inhabited island, where we were all by ourselves, it was beautiful. The high shore and low shore difference is unbelievable, so if you leave during lunch time, when you come back, you will have a long walk back to your car 🙂
We stayed in the most beautiful accommodation we ever stayed in New Zealand, in the Abel Tasman Lodge. This is a family run hotel, super beautiful, friendly, it is the ultimate holiday experience. The morning after we went for an early morning sailing, the weather was fantastic. We did not see the dolphins, but we saw more sealions and beautiful little islands.
There was an option to do the sailing till the end of the national park and on hike the way back.
The hike was quite easy and it had stunning views all way long. We saw many people camping in the forest and on the beaches too.
6. Franz Josef
Franz Josef is home to the famous Glacier. We decided to explore the area by ATV, hike and the unique helicopter glacier hike.
The 3 hours ATV was a great experience, a bit hard for me, but I enjoyed driving through the river, mud and forest 🙂 The guide was awesome and it was only 5 of us plus him, so we didn’t need to slow down to wait for many people.
After the ATV, we went for a short and easy hike to see the Franc Josef Glacier. This glacier is moving back every year and within the next 10 years it is expected to disappear.
We booked the heli hike, which is one of the coolest activity in New Zealand, but unfortunately, the weather conditions did not make this happen. The 4 hours activity would be a 20 minutes helicopter flight up to the glacier and than hike through the naturally formed caves and formations with special equipment. I am really disappointed that we could not do this, but all flights were cancelled for the next 2 days and actually 60% of all flights get cancelled.
7. Nevis Shotover Jet
I love to take a cruise on rivers, but this was another level 🙂
The Shotover River itself is an attraction as it is so beautiful. The Shotover Jet is operating direct shuttles to the river from the middle of Queenstown.
I watched the video, so I knew what is coming, but definitely wasn’t prepared for how it felt. It was super scary! The jet was driving really fast and literally missing those big stones by a few centimeters. Everybody in the jet was really enjoying themselves, we were laughing and screaming the whole time. It was my best jet ride in my life for sure, if you come to Queenstown, you cannot miss this 🙂
8. Lake Wanaka
We did not plan to come here, but as we were driving towards Queenstown, we had to stop by this small city which is surrounded by stunning mountains. We drove to the lake and rented a small speed boat. You may also kayak around or go with the cruise. The waves were big and I was told before, that the lake is up to 300 meters deep so I really wasn’t in the mood for swimming 🙂
Luckily my husband can drive the speedboat, so we did not need a driver and could enjoy the beautiful scenery all to ourselves as we passed through other little islands within the lake. I wish we had more time to go for a hike here.
+ 1 People: I love Maori People! Before we went to New Zealand I did plenty of research and I chose my main interest points and planned the days around it. I was never disappointed or felt ripped off anywhere. People were always extremely cool, I mean we came to the conclusion that New Zealand people are the coolest in the entire world. They made us laugh so much and they are extremely laid back and helpful. Many times we were late or lost and they always went an extra mile to help us out. If our activity got cancelled they were trying to help us reschedule or book another trip. As we tried many extreme sports, we always felt super safe. I was terrified when we flipped in the white water rafting but the staff was professional and always saved everybody, you can count on them taking good care of you.