Bungy Jumping and More: Camper Van Adventure Part 3

We arrived in Queenstown on Leap Day so it only seemed appropriate to honor this special day by partaking in one of Queenstown extreme sport activities, Bungy Jumping!! I had heard amazing things about all the extreme activities available in Queenstown and was really looking forward to splurging on something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Little did I know that New Zealand is actually home to the first commercial bridge Bungy jump in the world, founded by AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch on the Kawarau Bridge in 1988. The bridge is 142 feet tall and spans the Kawarau River and is just 20 minutes from Queenstown.

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Glaciers and Mountains: Camper Van Part 2

The long drive from Arthur’s Pass to the town of Franz Josef, home of the Franz Josef glacier would be rewarded by our first night at a holiday camp called the Rainforest Retreat. When we first booked this site we were a little bit confused by the name “rainforest” but later on learned that the beautiful glaciers of the west coast are the only glaciers in the world that back up straight into a temperate rain forest getting hundreds of inches of rain each year. This unique alpine-rainforest area is also home to the only alpine parrot in the world called, the Kea. We were lucky enough to see one up close in the village of Arthur’s Pass before heading out for the morning. I’d only heard of a tropical parrot before so it was weird and cool to see this strange bird up close. It indeed looked like a typical parrot but without the colors one would usually associate with a parrot.

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Our Camper Van Adventure Part 1

After spending the first five days of the South Island exploring wine country, Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson it was finally time to pick our camper for our nine-day adventure through the southern part of the South Island. Exploring New Zealand via camper is a very popular pastime for both Kiwis (New Zealanders) and tourists alike. New Zealand’s Department of Conservation runs over 120 different campsites consisting of both the North and South Island; many are located in beautiful isolated nooks and crannies, most of the sites have toilets and some running water. These campsites all run between $6 and $15 NZD a person and most are based on an “honesty box” format where you fill out a slip and place your payment in a box onsite. The money goes towards maintaining that particular campsite and based on the condition of most campsites we stayed at (quite good) people seem to be doing their part and contributing towards the upkeep of these well-maintained sites. There are also hundreds more of “holiday parks” which are campsites run by a company or family where you can hook up your camper to power for the evening, share kitchen and BBQ facilities and get a hot shower.

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Welcome to the South Island: Blenheim, Abel Tasman and Nelson

Our journey has moved South as we left the North Island via ferry and made our way to the South Island of New Zealand. We took a ferry from Wellington (we’ll be back Wellington, one night wasn’t enough!) to a little city called Picton. We weren’t too sure what to expect of our first ferry experience but apparently we got quite lucky. We had great seats looking straight out to the amazing views all around and most importantly smooth water, to avoid any morning sea-sickness.

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Tarungi, Napier and Wellington

If you happened to ask me what I was most excited about doing in New Zealand, I probably would have told you about the Tongariro Crossing. The Tongariro Crossing is an all day hike that traverses multiple active volcanos (including “Mount Doom” from Lord of the Rings) and has some of the most interesting landscapes in the North Island. We’d pre-booked a shuttle to take us on one of the two days we’d be in the area but nature seemed to have a different plan for us. Rain, lots and lots of rain. With rain, comes slippery slopes and falling rocks and so the whole Tongariro Crossing was shut down for three days in a row making it impossible for us to do the hike during our time in the area. Needless to say I was beyond disappointed, but part of learning to live like a traveler is rolling with the punches so we decided to turn the rain in our favor and booked a white water rafting trip instead!

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10 Things To Do in Rotorua and Taupo

Even though we have three full weeks in New Zealand we’re already finding it’s not nearly enough time to give each city the attention it deserves. But with nearly a dozen countries on our wish list we had to make some hard decisions ahead of time without knowing a lot about each city we’d be visiting. So with three days between Rotorua and Taupo, two cities in the center of the North Island, we crammed in as much as possible- already knowing we’d like to come back some day.

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Two Days in Auckland

Hello from New Zealand! Our adventure has officially hit the road and we’ve begun with a quick couple of days in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. With around four million people we felt Auckland had a bit of a San Francisco vibe with its hilly streets and hip outdoorsy feel but a Seattle look when viewing the city from one of the neighboring islands.
After three flights and crossing 18 different time zones we arrived at our Air BnB around 1:00am Auckland time and luckily were able to fall right asleep after almost two full days of traveling. We awoke to a beautiful morning (70+ degrees) and wandered into a nearby café for some much needed coffee and breakfast. We stayed in the Ponsonby neighborhood, just outside the city center. The main street, also named Ponsonby, was lined with restaurants, bars and cafes. The café culture is all around as there are coffee stands everywhere but not the Starbucks drip style, quick grab and go we are accustomed to. A cup of black coffee is practically the same price as a Flat White or Cappuccino because everything is made fresh.

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