New Zealand: Food, Fiordland, and Finally Home

Our first day in Queenstown we spent the morning exploring and walking around the city visiting many of the shops and restaurants. Not just a city center we also walked along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains surrounding the city.

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We enjoyed an early lunch at Fergbuger, renowned for being open 21 hours a day and having long lines at any time; it was a place all of our friends told us we absolutely had to go to and it was worth the wait.

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In the afternoon we made our way to the top of Bob’s Peak, opting to take the steep hike up the Tiki Trail, which offered panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

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After spending part of the afternoon above the city, and making our way back down, we stopped for a bite to eat at Taco Medic, a food truck that is actually the number one rated place to eat on TripAdvisor in all of Queenstown. The tacos did not disappoint and fueled us as we prepared to head off to our hostel in Te Anau.

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After spending the night in Te Anau, including an extra hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings which takes place on a different date than at home, we had to leave early the next morning for our cruise in Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. On the drive there we were faced with towering peaks, and thousands of waterfalls due to the rain which had us a little worried about the status and quality of our cruise.

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We were promised by everyone beforehand that because of what the rain does for the waterfalls it is often better to visit Milford Sound when it is raining, and fortunately we experienced the best of both worlds as about halfway through our cruise the rain was seemingly instantly swapped for blue sky and sun that quickly brightened up the whole day.

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Milford Sound, which is not actually a sound, but a fiord formed by glaciers, is New Zealand’s most famous destination and one of the top sites to travel in the world despite its remote location. Milford Sound is home to rainforests and abundant wildlife including seals, penguins, and even the occasional dolphin or whale, as well as a wide variety of geographic features carved away by the glaciers centuries ago. Highlights of our cruise included views of the two permanent waterfalls, as well as the hundreds of temporary waterfalls running down the rock due to the morning rain, the many peaks lining the fiord, and then finally the wide open Tasman Sea, separating us from Sydney to the northwest by 1800 kilometers. We also had the opportunity to drink water directly from one of these waterfalls and view seal rock where fur seals are able to climb up out of the water year round.

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Following our cruise we took our time on the way back to Te Anau, stopping at many locations along the Milford Road including the Mirror Lakes and the Chasm, formed by rushing waters and stones swirled around by the current.

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After a stop in Te Anau, we were headed back to Queenstown for our final night in New Zealand, which we spent at different locations around town with friends we had met up with.

The next morning we were up early again to drop off our car and head to the Queenstown airport to begin our journey home. Part of the group had a flight straight to Sydney, however a few of us opted for a longer layover in Auckland on the North Island. We took this opportunity to take a bus from the airport into the city where we walked along the water near Queens Wharf, through the University of Auckland Campus, and other parts of the city.

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After our short excursion on the North Island it was time for our flight back to Sydney, and by the time we arrived back at UNSW I was exhausted from the day of travel and the entire week, and was ready to immediately fall asleep, especially with the two hour time difference between the countries.

Between all of the locations and sights that I experienced throughout my time on the islands, and all the places left unexplored, I would need months to fully experience everything available in New Zealand, and I look forward to a time when I am able to visit again!

 

New Zealand: Part 2

New Zealand: Part 1

 

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