New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world. I spent over a month there exploring, camping, and volunteering in different conservation projects. I would visit New Zealand 1,000 times again. Almost all of the land is protected under National Park status, and there are more sheep than people. I rarely saw anyone walking around while on the phone. The Kiwis are too social and outdoorsy for that.

I spent a lot of time in New Zealand, so I went to a ton of different places on the North and South Island. Here are my suggestions for a shorter trip to NZ, along with the foods you should try.

All pictures are my own and property of © The Baking Tour Guide. All rights reserved.

Where to Go:

My campsite at the Bay of Islands. Not too Shabby!

My campsite at the Bay of Islands. Not too shabby!

You must see Auckland, the most populated city of New Zealand, but I wouldn’t spend the majority of my time there. I’d start by heading to the Bay of Islands. I camped there for 5 days and did some conservation work in the area.

The views are exquisite, and there are multiple trails for hiking. I ate sea urchin right from the ocean, and saw my first wild dolphin.

Remind me again why I did this?

Remind me again why I did this?

During the adventure I decided to go bungee jumping. If you’re going to do this at some point in your life, make sure you bungee jump in New Zealand. They know their stuff.

Be sure to visit Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. The city is right on the water, and this is where many of the Lord of the Rings tours take place.

We were also in Wellington during Rugby Sevens, the biggest Rugby tournament around. The whole town dresses up in costume during the games. It’s like a giant Halloween celebration for sports.

Make sure you stop in Nelson, a cute city in the South Island. I was there on Waitangi Day. This national holiday celebrates the Treaty of Waitangi, which instituted New Zealand as a country.

Trail maintenance in Kahurangi.

Kahurangi.

My favorite National Park was Kahurangi National Park. My team and I worked on trail maintenance in the area. The views are unreal. You can drink the water right out of the stream, too.

I also went caving in Kahurangi. My group and I had to make our own pulley system to get into the cave.

Take a trip down the West Coast and Punakaiki. The beaches are incredible, and there are plenty of places to stop and take pictures. Hitchhiking is common in New Zealand, so you may have travelers asking you for rides.

Glacial water

Glacial water near Christchurch

You have to go to Queenstown. It is where all of the adventure happens. You can go bungee jumping, swinging through canyons, horseback riding, hiking, biking… the options are endless. I traveled from Queenstown to Glenorchy to go horseback riding in the Misty Mountains from LOTR.

Drive to Mt. Cook if it’s nice outside, and then make your way to Christchurch. Sadly, Christchurch was subject to a terrible earthquake in 2011. Much of the town was destroyed, but  make sure you pull over and take a picture of the glacial water. It’s the bluest water I’ve ever seen.

What to Eat:

Eating some really fresh sea urchin.

Eating some really fresh sea urchin.

Have some seafood. I had some really fresh sea urchin… so fresh, in fact, that I ate it straight from the water in the Bay of Islands. Our tour guide took the sea urchin out of the water and cracked it in half. I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste, but it was still interesting to try something like that.

The pavlova was so good that I couldn't even take a picture of it before half of it was gone.

The pavlova was so good that my friends and I ate half of it before the picture was taken.

Pavlova: Pavlova is a meringue shell filled with whipped cream and fruit. It was named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballet dancer. It’s thought that the dessert was inspired by the dancer’s visit to New Zealand in the 1920s.

Kumara chips: Kumara chips are actually sweet potato fries! Kiwis often use purple yams to make these delicious creations.

Manuka Honey: Manuka honey is one of the most praised honeys in the world. It’s used as an antibacterial, therapeutic good in Australasia. It has a delicious floral flavor, and is produced when European honey bees feed on the manuka or tea tree. Manuka honey costs 10 times more in the U.S. than it does in New Zealand, so you have to try it in its native land. I think I ate 3 jars of it before I left New Zealand.

Fergburger in Queenstown

Fergburger in Queenstown

Fergburger: Fergburger is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Queenstown that’s famous for its tasty burgers. There’s always a 2 hour wait, but it’s completely worth it. I recommend trying the “Little Lamby” burger, because it’s a necessity to try lamb in New Zealand. Sometimes the kiwis also put beet slices on their burgers.

Sneak preview of Ginger Beer and Tim Tams

You HAVE to try Tim Tams and Ginger Beer, but I will save the description for the Australia post. Here’s a picture of them in the meantime.

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