10 Things You May Not Know About New Zealand

1. Kiwis are very tough to find. Because the kiwi is a semi-nocturnal, secretive bird, few New Zealanders have seen their national bird in the wild. The closest we came was in a kiwi rescue center in Rotorua.

2. Sheep vs. Cows. NZ is mostly known for their amount of sheep. In 2009 there were ten times more sheep compared with the human population. Apparently this has changed drastically in the last few years. Because of their booming dairy industry, New Zealand has seen a decrease in their sheep population and a big increase on their cow population. We sure saw a lot of both on our road trips!

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Jumping from the Nevis Bungy

Queenstown. I knew we were going to get here eventually and Adam would want to do the highest bungy jump, but I was trying to avoid the thought. Every time I would think about it my hands would sweat, my mouth would get dry, my face would turn pale and my stomach would go in circles.


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Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier

With crampons on we were ready to explore Glacier Franz Josef from within. The Māori name for the glacier is Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere (‘The tears of Hinehukatere’), legend says: “Hinehukatere loved climbing in the mountains and persuaded her lover, Wawe, to climb with her. Wawe was a less experienced climber than Hinehukatere but loved to accompany her until an avalanche swept Wawe from the peaks to his death. Hinehukatere was broken hearted and her many, many tears flowed down the mountain and froze to form the glacier.” Luckily for us, there was no avalanche that day.

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Roadside Charms

The west coast of New Zealand’s south island was quite a road trip (among the world’s top 10 according to Lonely Planet!). South island Kiwis take pride in their small population. I am surprised they have kept it that way since it is such a majestic place. Along the west coast it was only us, the Tasman Sea, a few surfers and a coffee shop here and there.

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Abel Tasman National Park, NZ

After getting off of the ferry on the south island of New Zealand, we headed west to visit the coastal paradise of Abel Tasman National Park. It was getting late, so we stopped in the small town of Motueka to get some sleep. The next morning we continued driving north to Abel Tasman. We were lucky this time with the weather and decided to do some sea kayaking. It was amazing! Definitely a must do on the south island.

Abel Tasman is the smallest but one of the most spectacular National Parks of New Zealand. While kayaking we were impressed by the forest extending right down to the water’s edge, an Indiana Jones like scene. The tiny, private, golden beaches were absolutely stunning. In addition, we were lucky to find some baby seals! They were super cute and playful. Adam patted the water trying to make them come closer and they came over to play with him without hesitation. It was a lot of fun! I would like to come back to camp and kayak for three or four days during our next visit to New Zealand.

Enjoy the pictures!

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A taste of Wellington

Our last stop on the north Island before we take the ferry to the south island. Although it’s hard to get the full grasp of a place when you only spend a few days there, Wellington seems to show off kiwi creativity and festivity mixed with fabulous landscapes and natural surroundings.

Some of my favorite shots from our walk around downtown.

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A hike in Mordor and Mount Doom- Tongariro National Park

I can now understand Frodo! Although the evil land was in real life a beautiful and peaceful park, it was still quite a challenge to hike it.

Part of our preparation before coming to New Zealand included watching all of the LOTR movies. It was exciting to see where some of the movie was actually shot. One is Tongariro National Park, centrally located on the north island, southwest of Lake Taupo. Keep reading!

Searching for Adrenaline– Waitomo Caves

It’s time for some heart pumping adventure! After our Panama cave experience we really wanted to do one of the many spelunking options that this area offers. After some research, we went with the Black Abyss tour.

This excursion begins with an abseil 35 meters into a black hole in the ground; the entrance to the cave. Immediately followed by a rappel and zip-line through the dark we found ourselves deep inside the cave (our guides made sure to add extra excitement to the blind zip-line!). Keep reading!

The north island of New Zealand – Bay of Islands, Raglan and Taupo

It’s official; we are living in a car – an old, white station wagon with an AM radio. But it’s not just any car, more like an Optimus Prime for travelers. It comes with a gas stove, a complete set of kitchen tools, bed linens, two mattresses and curtains. When it’s time to sleep, the back seats go down, a wooden insert folds over to create a makeshift platform for the mattresses with just enough room for Adam’s legs. Jealous?!

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