After dabbling with travel in New Zealand last year on two short jobs I was more than ready to get over for a longer period of time. The perfect opportunity presented itself when I was invited to the South Island for a ski campaign and to make things even better I was asked to select a second “instagrammer” to accompany me. (I chose my best friend Garry Norris) The stage was set for an epic adventure.
New Zealand is beautiful, I don’t really know how else to say it. The country is stunning but even better is that beneath the surface lays cultural beauty, the kindness of strangers and a thriving tourism industry.
Maori influence is alive and well and evident in the respect New Zealanders have for the land and it’s visitors.
From our very first morning Garry and I noticed how much nicer service staff were, how civilized the highways and how clean and well-maintained public areas looked. Not a bad undertone for the trip.
In nine days Garry and I had five ski days on four mountains, witnessed multiple sunrises and sunsets in some of the best light I’ve ever seen, cruised around Lake Wanaka in a vintage tiger moth, stopped the car for road shots more times than I can count and jumped out of a perfectly good plane.
All this while photographing and sharing our experiences online. If you’re thinking of “doing” New Zealand then here are my top tips.
Ski New Zealand
Ski! There seems to be a mountain to suit every type of skier in New Zealand and I should know after skiing family favourite Mt Hutt in Methven, boutique Roundhill in Lake Tekapo and Lake Wanaka options Treble Cone and Cardrona.
On the South Island everything is so CLOSE, we didn’t drive for more than a few hours in any stretch and we set up camp in Christchurch, Methven, Lake Tekapo and Wanaka. I would definitely recommend hiring a car or campervan and getting to as many spots as possible.
New Zealand attractions
Sightsee! Sightseeing is easy in New Zealand just open your eyes! Ha-ha. In all seriousness I found all of the locations I visited extremely scenic and I am someone who has been to a lot of scenic destinations.
Some highlights for me included Taylor’s Mistake in Christchurch, the Rakaia Gorge (do the Jet boat tour) , Lake Tekapo including stargazing at the Mount John Observatory, Lake Pukaki and the entire shore front of Lake Wanaka, especially that Wanaka tree!
New Zealand adventure
Adventure! There are adventures for all ages in New Zealand from snow tubing at Tekapo Springs to a bi-plane adventure in Wanaka to skydiving in a number of locations. (I jumped in Wanaka).
In all scenarios I found the staff to be extremely competent with safety a number one priority.
Watching Garry jump out of a plane for the first time was a trip highlight for me, especially since it was my fourth jump.
New Zealand food
Eat! If you love to eat then you’re in for a real treat in New Zealand! I am notoriously fussy with restaurants having been a chef for 15 years and now a vegetarian.
I can’t think of a single instance where I was unhappy with my meal! Some highlights included Café Primo e Secundo in Methven (home style meals, great coffee and all in an antique store), Run 77 in Lake Tekapo (for the love of god eat the caramel slice!) and Francesca’s Italian Kitchen in Wanaka. Just trust me on all of these, I know my food.
Relax! If all of the above sounds absolutely exhausting then you’ll be happy to hear that there’s lots of relaxing options in winter too.
My all time favourite was Tekapo Springs with their three thermal pools of varying heat, super awesome after a day on the slopes.
I also found the Wanaka tree a great place to sit and relax, I would have loved to have a picnic there.
Finally it always pays to ask the locals what’s going on, in Methven we were invited to go ice-skating on a natural ice rink fringed with fairy lights and crowded with eccentric locals.
My nine days passed in a flash and I’m already looking forward to my next trip to New Zealand.
As much as I love winter I really want to experience Autumn, Spring and Summer in one of my new favourite countries. Ah damn it, just move me there and I’ll be happy!