Usually, I post my concluding thoughts in my daily wrap up. With so many days/destinations in Australia and New Zealand, those wrap ups were plenty long enough as is. So I broke my concluding thoughts on each country out here.
New Zealand Concluding Thoughts
We loved New Zealand. We went to a lot of places and did a lot of things on this trip, but – if you made us pick a favorite spot – it would probably be New Zealand and especially the South Island. It is probably not fair considering we spent 18 days in New Zealand and much less in most other places…But, oh well, that is our answer.
Everywhere we went was very safe. We caught some of the local news shows, and rarely was there any crime to report. The people were very friendly and helpful on top of that.
The entire country was very beautiful, with a variety of landscapes. There was also a wide variety of things to do at all potential price points.
I was pretty excited to get to the South Island of New Zealand. The North Island was great, and everything I had read said that the South Island was even better.
The South Island –despite being the geographically larger of the two New Zealand islands – has only 1/3 the population of the North Island. In fact Auckland alone is home to more people than the entire South Island. Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island, and it is still recovering from devastating 2011 earthquakes.
Still, the people who call the South Island home live in one of the most scenic places on earth.
Day 1 (Golden Bay)
The North Island had treated us well, but it was time to move on to the South Island. We got up early to head over to the ferry. You have to be at the ferry and checked in at least an hour before it leaves. And this is not a ferry like you typically think of (at least in my case). It was huge – more like a ship at 600 feet long with 10 decks.
New Zealand is a relatively short flight across the Tasman Sea from Australia; it is also a former British colony. These two countries are pretty isolated from the rest of the world. Unsurprisingly, they are very similar in many ways.
Both countries speak English exclusively, complete with similar accents. New Zealand TV is mostly Australian TV Channels. Cars drive on the “wrong” side of the road in both countries. The people are all very friendly and approachable. Cuisines largely seemed similar. New Zealand has even been proposed to be added as the 7th Australian state several times.
Still, the countries are different in many ways. Australia is mostly desert – or “outback” – and much larger. New Zealand seemed very green top to bottom, with lots of scenic mountains and lakes. Look up a list of the deadliest/most venomous creatures, and Australia will be home to most of them. New Zealand on the other hand has produced defenseless, flightless birds. Australia’s population (22.3 Mil.) is a little more than 5 times New Zealand’s (4.4 Mil.); in fact, Sydney alone has a larger population than all of New Zealand.
I’m working on getting some of my wrap ups done and will probably have more time in the coming days, but – until then – here are some thoughts from the second portion of our trip.
Trip Itinerary (click to enlarge)
Arriving in Australia was great (outside of the fact that we felt like we had been run over by a truck). Being able to have conversations with everyone around you for the first time in nearly a month was a very welcome return to normalcy. Being able to look at a menu without being confused at all was another welcomed change…Outside of the fact that Aussies call appetizers “entrees” and entrees “mains.”
The South Island of New Zealand was incredible…We took a ton of pictures. The link to all of them is below – there are a lot of them…
Feel free to peruse them and only pick out some to look at; I may have got carried away with the picture taking with the unbelievable scenery.
I tried to upload less pictures directly to this site as it was causing problems previously with all the pictures on the blog posts. As always, all of the pictures are available at the link in full size:
Today was our last day in New Zealand. It has been such an amazing and beautiful country to visit. I know that we will be back one day, eventually…….
Today, we wanted to take it easy! In the afternoon, we visited the Kiwi Birdlife Park.
I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but New Zealanders refer to themselves as “kiwis.” This term refers to the rare kiwi bird. It is a flightless bird, which had no natural predators until settlers brought over cats, opossum, and other mammals that killed the baby kiwis. Now, it is extremely rare to see them in the wild.
I can’t believe I actually did it!
Like I said, New Zealand is the “adventure capital of the world!” There are thrill seeking opportunities around every corner. Before we got to Queenstown, I looked into skydiving as something I may “hypothetically” want to do. It sounded great and the company we chose, NZone, has a great reputation. I feel like I read hundreds of positive reviews. Apparently, they have done almost 180,000 dives without major injury. So, I mentioned it to Justin. I still wasn’t set on the idea. It sounded good in theory, but why would a sensible person jump out of a perfectly good airplane? I consider both Justin and I to be very sensible people.
Well, we were halfway through our time in Queenstown, and I still hadn’t decided what I wanted to do. Luckily, Justin made that decision for me. He said, “we’re doing it” and he called NZone to book our skydive for the next day at 11 am. And so the anxiety begins……..
We had an amazing first day in Queenstown! We took a helicopter to Milford Sound and landed on a glacier!
I suppose that I didn’t pay much attention to Justin when he was planning this trip, because I didn’t know that we were going to be doing all these incredible things!