Month 20: Travel Summary & Statistics


Mount Cook views from Tekapo

Unsurprisingly, much like my previous summary, this past month has been jam-packed with fast-paced travel, very little rest (or work!) and heaps of beautiful scenery.

At the end of last month I’d just finished up in the North Island and was exhausted, tired of travelling and wondering how I would cope with continuing on at the same pace for a month in the South Island.

Here’s how it went!

I began this month with a drive from Christchurch to Tekapo, which we used as a base to explore gorgeous Mount Cook — somewhere I really would like to spend a lot more time in the future. We spent our only evening in Tekapo hanging out in the hot springs, which were wonderful. If I ever decide to own a house, I will have hot springs in my garden.

Mount Cook views from Tekapo

After Tekapo, it was time for a drive down to Dunedin via Oamaru. The main reason for us visiting Oamaru was so that we could check out the Steampunk Museum, which I personally found rather dull and unlike anything I would usually associate with Steampunk. Dave seemed to love it though, probably because he is a boy and likes looking at lumps of metal.

Continuing on with our theme of moving far too quickly, we decided to spend just one night in Dunedin, with our main reason for stopping being so that I could attempt to run up the steepest street in the world.

Unsurprisingly, I managed about 20 metres.

Before leaving Dunedin, we had time to cram in a visit to Cadbury World where I embarrassed myself by pushing in front of my fellow tour members to take three shots of melted chocolate the instant they were offered to us. I also discovered that most of the chocolate you can find only in New Zealand is horrible because it always seems to be chocolate covered marshmallow.

Next up, was the Catlins, where we spent three days offline exploring the southernmost area of the South island. The highlight for me was seeing wild sea lions and penguins casually hanging out on a beach. So adorable!

Sea lions on a beach in the Catlins

You may remember that my plan for my two months in New Zealand was for Dave and I to travel from the northernmost point of the North Island to the southernmost point of the South Island. In the Catlins we were able to visit Slope Point to check off our southernmost point! There wasn’t anything exciting there — a derelict lighthouse, a lot of wind and this sign.

Dave Lauren Dustin at Slope Point

We then began driving up the west coast of the South Island. One of the main highlights of this part of the trip for me was the overnight cruise we took in Doubtful Sound. There, I was able to try fishing for the first time in my entire life and to my surprise, found that I absolutely loved it!

Lauren and Dave at Doubtful Sound

After spending 24 hours exploring incredible Doubtful Sound, we decided to take a cruise on the more touristy Milford Sound to compare the two — and I ended up completely underwhelmed. If you’re ever trying to decide between the two then choose Doubtful Sound, it is a thousand times more impressive!

Next up, Queenstown! We managed to find an incredible hostel with super-fast, free wifi and, well, after having spent the past six weeks with horrible, slow, expensive internet, I’m ashamed to say that I spent the majority of my time in Queenstown on my laptop. I did, however, manage to squeeze in some time to pay a visit to Fergburger, where I attempted, and failed, to eat a burger the size of my head. I also spent an hour in a bird park and saw only three birds. Success!

In Wanaka, I was forced to visit Puzzling World. Because I am of a somewhat nervous disposition, Puzzling World was not something I found all that enjoyable. There were disorientating rooms with odd slopes and angles that made me feel like I was going to vomit or collapse. An interesting way to spend an afternoon…

Lauren and Dave at Puzzling World

One of the things I was most excited about for my time in New Zealand was finally getting to see a glacier for the first time! I managed to fulfil that dream with a half-day hike on Fox Glacier. It was full of incidents as I learnt how to use crampons and waved my hiking poles in the air as I struggled to stay upright, but it was still another magical first for me!

Hiking on Fox Glacier

With brief stops along the west coast, we ended up in Nelson, a city that I instantly fell in love with. While we were there, we happened to come across a sign pointing to the centre of New Zealand. Having visited the top of the North Island and the bottom of the South Island, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the centre of New Zealand to complete our collection!

Lauren Dave and Dustin at the centre of New Zealand

Next up, was a trip to Abel Tasman National Park to try yet another brand new activity — stand-up paddleboarding! As you can probably guess from my similar posts about my first time trying surfinghot air ballooningcycling and kayaking… I was terrified and convinced I was going to die.

And, well, you can probably guess how it turned out too… I loved it! As with surfing, I found that my balance on water is so much better than on land; while Dave flailed around in the ocean, I barely fell in, standing proud and upright for the entire lesson. I love paddleboarding!

Paddleboarding in Abel Tasman National Park

From Abel Tasman, we travelled to Collingwood so that we could explore Farewell Spit — the longest sandspit in New Zealand, stretching 26 kilometres into the sea!

The tour we had booked was cancelled at the last minute, but Dave and I had an amazing day nonetheless, spent wandering over the amazing sand dunes and playing on the beach.

Sand dunes at Farewell Spit

And then I took a deep breath and relaxed for the first time in months.

We were finished.

We had one week left in New Zealand and all that we had planned for this time was relaxation and work. I am currently writing this post from Ashburton — Dave’s hometown! I’ve been dying to visit Ashburton for over a year and so I’m pretty excited to finally be here. I am going to spend the next few days forcing Dave to show me around so that I can get an insight into Childhood Dave’s life. It’s going to be so much fun (for me!)

… Onto the statistics for the month!

Distance travelled: 3079km

Countries visited: 1

New Zealand

Cities visited: 14

Tekapo, Oamaru, Dunedin, the Catlins, Manapouri, Queenstown, Wanaka, Franz Josef, Punakaiki, Nelson, Collingwood, Hanmer Springs, Christchurch, Ashburton.

The next month:

I leave New Zealand in a couple of days and while I’ll be sad to leave, I’m incredibly excited to get back “home” to Asia. I can’t wait to have decent internet again so I can finally catch up on my travels over the past few months — I have so many crazy adventures I can’t wait to share with you all.

As for where I’m going in Asia? All will be revealed in my next post. All I’ll say is that it’s a brand new country and somewhere I’m VERY excited about!

Looking to follow along with my travels through my monthly summaries? You can read the previous month’s summary here, the next month’s summary here, or head on over to the monthly summary page to read from the very beginning!

29 Comments

  1. Glad you posted about Doubtful sound, we are going to NZ Nov 18- Dec 3 so we have 2 weeks. We were planning on getting a campervan and going around the South Island only. We read so much about Milford sound, and just didnt get the hype…a friend of mine was in NZ a few weeks ago on her honeymoon and also said Doubtful sound was the way to go! So now hearing it from you too, thats what we are going to do!! Sounds like you had a great month, with another great month ahead! Safe travels!

    • March 16, 2013
      Reply

      Definitely go to Doubtful Sound, it was so amazing — Milford Sound was boring in comparison. Have a great time there! :)

  2. March 16, 2013
    Reply

    So it’s true what they say about the beauty of New Zealand. It’s been looking pretty incredible from your pictures and tales & I look forward to reading and seeing more when you get the chance to settle down a little.

    I’m curious as to how much it may have cost you without the comps as we might end up there sometime in the next 12 months (maybe, maybe), so if it’s more than £40 a day we might struggle

    • March 16, 2013
      Reply

      Definitely, New Zealand has to be one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited! I can’t wait to get writing about it in more detail :)

      Without the comps it would have cost me around 3 or 4 times more, I’d guess. Accommodation is around $30 for a bed in a dorm room and $40 for a private room (both of these per person). Activities ranged from $125 for glacier walking to $500 for the Doubtful Sound cruise.

      So it would probably be more like £70-100 per person per day, depending on the activities you wanted to do.

  3. T.J. & Charlotte
    March 16, 2013
    Reply

    I love the sea lion. They are such funny animals. Also, looks like you did a good job with money. :)

    • March 16, 2013
      Reply

      The sea lions were awesome… until I almost trod on one that was hidden in the sand!

  4. Chris
    March 16, 2013
    Reply

    even more stoked for the south island now…just a bit worried now my budget will go right out the window!hahaha!

    • March 17, 2013
      Reply

      Hahaha, yeah it’s certainly a huge shock after Vietnam! You’ll love it though :)

  5. Sky
    March 16, 2013
    Reply

    Sounds like an exciting month! I’ve never had much of a desire to visit New Zealand but it looks so gorgeous. Also, the sea lions are so cute!

    • March 17, 2013
      Reply

      New Zealand is definitely the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to… you should try and get there!

  6. March 16, 2013
    Reply

    New Zealand has never been on my list of ‘Places I Want to Visit’… until now. What stunning scenery!

    • March 17, 2013
      Reply

      Glad to hear you’ve now put it on your list! Wait until you see my posts coming up over the next few months :) So. Pretty!

  7. Nicole @ Suitcase Stories
    March 18, 2013
    Reply

    This post makes me want to go back to NZ! We did a road trip on both north and south islands about 5 years ago and absolutely loved it. Some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever witnessed.

    I cant wait to read about your plans for Asia. We are heading there later in the year so I’ll be keeping an eye out for your Asia posts to steal ideas of where to do and what to see ;)

    • March 22, 2013
      Reply

      I agree — I couldn’t get over how beautiful New Zealand was! I already have around a year’s worth of Southeast Asia stories on here but yep, lots more coming up soon!

  8. Hogga
    March 18, 2013
    Reply

    The sky is so BLUE! That’s insane!

    • March 22, 2013
      Reply

      I know! And it’s New Zealand so normally all you can see is cloud.

  9. Amanda
    March 19, 2013
    Reply

    Totally agreed with you on Doubtful Sound! I liked it better than Milford, too.

    And you go with the paddleboarding!! I wasn’t fantastic at it the first time I tried (I fell off 3 or 4 times), but it was a lot of fun!

    Sounds like your NZ trip was pretty epic… I’m jealous!

    • March 22, 2013
      Reply

      I can now say that I can see what you do in New Zealand. No need to be jealous, you’ve been more times than I! It’s such a wonderful country :)

  10. March 19, 2013
    Reply

    We’re currently in the North Island and will be heading South soon so it’s great to see what you did there. Thanks for the tip about Doubtful Sound, we were going to do the Milford cruise but are having a rethink now. What was the hostel in Queenstown called with good wi-fi? We’ve found some free internet in public libraries but on the whole I agree that it’s expensive – so is bread and cheese!

    • March 22, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Amy,

      I’d definitely choose Doubtful Sound — there was no comparison really. The hostel was called Haka Lodge — it’s one of my favourite hostels from NZ so I’d definitely recommend it :)

      New Zealand is horrible for trying to get online, hey? :)

  11. Bianca
    March 20, 2013
    Reply

    New Zealand is a great country for road tripping. I travelled around in a campervan in 2011, seems so long ago now.
    I loved the glaciers as well. We were too soft to hike so took a helicopter to the top of Fox Glacier. It was the first time one of my friends had ever touched snow… pretty spectacular way to cross it off his bucket list!

    • March 22, 2013
      Reply

      I agree! I was so glad we decided to rent a car to do it rather than doing the whole Kiwi Experience thing…

      That’s an amazing way to first experience snow — glaciers are awesome.

  12. Scarlett
    March 20, 2013
    Reply

    You’ve been doing SO MUCH cool stuff! I’m particularly jealous of the glacier!! xx

    • March 22, 2013
      Reply

      Too much cool stuff! I need to stop moving! Ah, we’d have so much fun on a glacier together because we would be complete disasters and fall down an ice hole.

  13. itsoknoproblem.com
    March 22, 2013
    Reply

    Hi, Lauren! First pic is soooo peaceful! Pretty tough travel, fourteen, in one month… Would love to go there, too!

  14. Gayla
    March 25, 2013
    Reply

    What an amazing adventure you guys had! Beautiful photos of some truly remarkable places, but I so want to go there just for the shots of melted chocolate! I’d probably even enjoy the chocolaty marshmallow things, too ;-)

  15. March 30, 2013
    Reply

    I absolutely loved the four months I spent in NZ last year. Doubtful Sound and hiking the Tongariro Crossing were two high points for sure as was hiking/kayaking Abel Tasman. Can’t wait to return.

    • March 31, 2013
      Reply

      Abel Tasman was the one hike I missed out on that I really wanted to do! Next time…

  16. TammyOnTheMove
    April 2, 2013
    Reply

    Aww, the photo of you at the glacier looks stunning.:-)

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