New Zealand ⋆ Travel Diary

I’ve been obsessing over this trip to New Zealand since June and was so anxious to make sure everything was prepared for. It was my best friends wedding and I was not going to miss that. I booked everything through Flight Centre who I can honestly say I’d never heard of before, but they really hooked us up! They bagged us 10 days there with hotels and flights for £2500. People spend more than that for a week in Spain, so I was buzzing!

We flew from Heathrow and had a stopover in Guangzhou, China which personally I found awful. It was muggy, expensive and the sheer amount of people was pretty overwhelming for someone like me. Fortunately, the layover wasn’t too long and we were on our way to NZ within a few hours. 

CHRISTCHURCH

Christchurch was an eye-opener. We didn’t expect the devastation from the Earthquake in 2010 to still be so prominent. But there were banks and shop based in shipping containers because they couldn’t rebuild. Car parks that used to be huge buildings, people living in their cars because their insurance has delayed the rebuild of their homes for so long (this is a good 5 years later). It was pretty hard to look at. But despite this, all the people were so friendly, generous and so welcoming.

The city has tried to make the best of a bad situation and has used the walls and structures that are laid bare following the quake as a canvas. Everywhere you look there are amazing graffiti and sculptures that have been created using the twisted metal, rubble and materials from buildings they couldn’t save.  I just feel like this summed up the city for me.  Even though things seem a little bleak, they look at the possibilities and the good rather than focus on the bad. They are doing their best to rebuild their community and welcome people to it, and I think that’s amazing.
Christchurch Street Art

After an overnight stay, we flew down to Queenstown where ultimately we would be staying for most of our time there. This place was nothing short of breathtaking. We picked up our rental car and drove to our hotel, Oak Shores, which was situated right on the edge of Lake Wakatipu! It was just mind-blowing to walk out to a scene like that in the morning. The water was crystal clear and stretched for miles. Every direction you looked in there were mountains; snow capped peaks and woodlands that looked like they were straight out of a painting. I never expected to fall madly in love with the landscape quite like I did, and I’m so sad I wasn’t able to spend more time there. We could have spent the entire time just gawping at it, but we had things to do and people to see! We made sure we were well rested after a long day of travelling and make preparations for the morning.

WANAKA

The next day we made our way up to Lake Wanaka, which was roughly an hour and a half’s drive to make the wedding. It was the most incredible day! The weather was supposed to be gloomy and raining, but it held out for the Bride and Groom and ended up being absolutely beautiful. It couldn’t have been any better.

The Venue (the name of the actual venue) was situated right in the valley and was 5 minutes away from the ceremony which was located in Wanaka Station Park.  
Kirsty and Josh - Wanaka Wedding
The aisle was this gorgeous row of coloured, blooming roses and the backdrop to that was the lake. Gorgeous, blue and infinite. They were married under this huge, beautiful tree redwood tree and my heart has never swelled with so much pride as it did for the two of them at that moment. The Groom cried, the Bride cried, we all cried. And we celebrated with champagne and went back to The Venue for a little surprise for them both. Those back home who were unable to make the wedding, and a lot of those who could, all chipped in so we could send them up in a helicopter with their photographer for a shoot at the top of Roy’s Peak. They were so surprised and the pictures were like they were straight off a postcard or magazine! It’s completely unreal with how beautiful they were. Just look at this…
Roy's Peak - Kirsty & Josh

Beautiful isn’t it?! The rest of the day was as amazing as the beginning. Great food, giant Jenga, drinking, food, dancing… it was the most amazing day and night and I will never forget it as long as I live. I felt so lucky to be there and we spent the night in a beautiful villa, making our way back to Queenstown the next morning for more adventures!

We only had 3-4 days left before we had to make our way back home, so we tried to fit as much into it as physically possible. We played mini golf at this AMAZING indoor course, we ate a late breakfast at Red Rock (highly recommended by the way!), we got the gondola to the top of the mountain and rode the Luge over and over again like big kids. It rained, it snowed it was warm and sunny – we had every shade of the weather and had a really great day!

We visited the Kiwi Birdlife Park and got a glimpse of what those things look like in real life. If you’re like me, you imagine them to be small and about the size of a large hamster? Well, they’re not. They’re the size of big footballs and I felt like I had been lied to my entire life, lol.

MILFORD SOUNDS

Kirsty asked if we’d like to go with her to Milford Sounds and see the Glow Worm Caves in Te Anau. My answer was hell yes! I knew they had some of those caves in the North Island but didn’t realise there were any in the South. So I was really excited! We drove most of the way there and took a little pit stop for some food and to feed some Alpacas. You then have to take a boat to get to the actual cave which takes about an hour, but it was totally worth it. They were completely amazing.

You’re given helmets and walked into the caves hundreds of feet down and you can hear this rushing water everywhere. They put you in this little boat, kill the lights and it becomes the blackest of blacks I’ve ever experienced. There was utterly no light. It was really eerie, you saw absolutely nothing, not even the hand in front of your face; then all of a sudden you see these twinkling blue lights and it’s like the night sky had burst into focus or some kind of ethereal fairy grotto. It was so so beautiful. You weren’t allowed to take photos in the cave because it can harm the glow worms, so you’ll have to make due with this image I found on their site. But this is exactly what it looked like and it was completely otherworldly and a privilege to see first hand.

Our last day we didn’t do much and drove around a lot. We soaked up the landscape and climbed the trees by taking a hike through Arrowtown’s nature walk. But the best thing we did was to throw ourselves off a cliff at the Shotover Canyon Swing.

CANYON SWING 

You’re dangled above the ground over the river, free fall for 60m and swing for 200m over the canyon. I screamed, Karne screamed, but the rush was incredible. I’ve never experienced anything like this! My knees and stomach were VERY wobbly for a good 30mins after we got our feet back on solid ground.

Here’s a video of us being scared completely sh*tless. Watch from 2:30 to avoid the boring stuff…

On our last day we had time to kill before our flight, so we booked a horse riding excursion. The place was a sanctuary where they took in ex-racehorses to save them from being put to sleep. And they were really passionate about their animals!
We got paired up with our respective horses and set off for a 2hr treck around the lake and woodlands. Everything was going really well but my horse didn’t appreciate not being at the front. So it was a struggle to keep her under wraps. Karne’s horse was a little old lady and seemed to be struggling. Right near the end of the trek she slipped and went down to her knees. Karne was thrown over her neck and slammed on his hip/back. They were really apologetic but we were more concerned about Sioux (Karne’s horse). He had to walk the rest of the way back, which wasn’t too far so it was ok. We were going to walk around a park afterwards, but he ended up in a lot of pain. So I had to book a hotel room for a few hours so he could rest. That was $200 we weren’t expecting!
Queenstown Horse Riding
New Zealand reminded us of how beautiful life can be and how much there is to do and see. It brought us both back to a better place, despite sh*tty news on the day we left. 
This trip was literally once in a lifetime, and we both fell in love with the people and the country. I can’t wait to go back and spend more time there. Ideally, we’d get ourselves a camper and drive all over the South Island and see EVERYTHING. I’m counting down the days.

Until next time ♡