This is a long one! I have so many pictures from the last month it was hard to decide which ones to include in this post for each destination.
I loved my time on the South Island of New Zealand. It has so much to offer in terms of the diversity of landscapes, wildlife, and outdoor activities. I would say if you had to choose between doing the North Island versus the South Island I would definitely recommend the south. Most of my highlights from the trip occurred down south like my day trip to Milford Sound, hiking Roys Peak in Wanaka, and doing a night excursion to spot wild kiwi on Stewart Island.
My highlight of the North Island would have to be the day trip I took kayaking to some hot springs and visiting a glow worm cave. Keep in mind there are glow worm caves on the South Island so you could just see them down there as well.
Our first stop on the South Island was the small town of Kaikoura famous for its abundance of marine wildlife. Most people come here to see dolphins and whales, and they actually run trips where you can swim with the dolphins which you don’t see very often. I opted out of swimming with the dolphins because I didn’t like the idea of being out in the open ocean in cold water. So I signed up for the dolphin viewing which was a better experience in my opinion because I got to see the dolphins from a higher viewpoint and had a 360-degree view of the area from the boat. The people in the water said it was murky and you could only see the dolphins if they came right up to you. On the day we ventured out we found a pod of well over 100 dolphins! It was the coolest wildlife experience I’ve ever had. The dolphins were so playful and doing flips out of the water everywhere you looked.
On our way to Christchurch from Kaikoura, we stopped at Greystone wineries for a little wine tasting.
We stopped in Christchurch briefly for an overnight stay. It was just enough time to go out and grab some dinner.
After leaving Christchurch we headed to Lake Tekapo. This is a dark sky reserve and one of the best spots for star gazing in New Zealand. I’m so glad I brought my nice camera and tripod with me on this trip because I was able to get some great photos of the stars here. Sometimes it’s a pain carrying around all the camera equipment, but when I get good pictures like the ones below it reminds me that it’s worth it.
After Lake Tekapo, we headed to Queenstown. We stopped a couple of times on the way for some must-see photo spots.
I ended up in Queenstown several times during my month in New Zealand. When I first arrived in New Zealand and found out my tour was canceled I flew straight down to Queenstown and rented a car to drive to Wanaka. Then during both organized group tours, we stopped in Queenstown. It’s really easy to see why so many people want to live here. The mountain/lake scenery is beautiful. The town also has tons of restaurants, bars, and shopping so you get the best of both worlds if you wanted to have a relaxing day in town. I got a massage one of the days we were there.
My last night with the first group ended in Wanka (which I had already visited the first week of my trip). Some of us decided to go on a happy hour boat cruise and it was a really nice send-off.
Milford Sound was one of the top three highlights of my trip to New Zealand. It’s out of the way and not all tours include it, but seriously don’t miss it! I added on a 5-day trip at the end of my stay just so I could go to Milford Sound. I had never seen a landscape like it before and I’m not sure I ever will again. All the waterfalls were amazing. I did a separate post on Milford Sound that you can check out by clicking -> here.
Nugget Point Lighthouse
On our way from Te Anau (Milford Sound) to the Catlins, we stopped at Nugget Point lighthouse for some great views over the Pacific ocean.
In the Caitlins, we stayed near Mclean falls. I thought the cabins we stayed in were really cute at first, but there was a terrible rainstorm with high winds the night we stayed and all the power went out on the entire property. There were no emergency lights, it was pitch black, and the bathrooms were separate from the cabins. I was a little scared because I had never heard wind that loud before and our cabins were shaking. It kept me up all night, but the waterfall was beautiful and I’m glad I got to see it.
My last stop in New Zealand was Stewart Island off the southern coast. I did a separate post on Stewart Island that you can check out by clicking -> here.
This concludes my posts on New Zealand. I hope you enjoyed following my journey. I just got to Australia this week and I’m excited to explore a new country with warmer weather and tropical beaches. Plus I have a few friends here that I met while traveling over the years that I can’t wait to catch up with.
Leave me a comment below about what you enjoyed reading about the most from my New Zealand trip!