5 reasons why you NEED to travel to new zealand

Why you MUST visit New Zealand some day.

I don’t know if this is just because I’m more aware of New Zealand now (since living there), or if because this is actually true but – I feel like New Zealand is a more “main stream” travel destination now.

Hey, I am not complaining! It is such a charming little country that I believe paying the extra money on flights to get there is 100% worth it! But I do understand it is a money and time commitment to go. My parents tried visiting me while I was living in Dunedin (in the south island) and it took them almost two days to travel, then two days to adjust to the time difference, and then it left them maybe a week to explore.

I’m also thinking of doing my money saving tips when traveling to New Zealand because when you’re there on a college budget, you come up with a lot of ways to save!!

If New Zealand peaks your interest I have LOADS of tips and tricks of all my hot spots that you HAVE to see.

Related:

Top 10 MUST SEE travel destinations in New Zealand

5 Coolest Hidden Beaches in New Zealand: shhh it’s a secret!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour: is it worth it?

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The Views

Both islands are filled with mountainous landscape, hidden hot springs, beaches, and rolling hills; the country offers a bit of everything.

So much is packed into the small land-mass of New Zealand, it’s quite incredible actually. New Zealand definitely has more perks if you are the outdoorsy type, with incredible hiking trails. But, regardless, it’s easy to find something to love about it.

Personally, I’m a sucker for a good view: whether I hiked, drove or took a tram up to the top to see it (NZ loves their trams)!

*pro tip* a lot more mountains and trails are in the south island, *cough cough* the better island.

Related: Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand: are the hot spots worth it?

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The People

I’ve mentioned it before but the people are so welcoming and judgement free. Coming from the States, that was such an eye opener to me.

When you’re in a taxi or an uber the driver actually shows respect and that they care about your day. The interactions are not forced & so much more genuine. Anytime I visit a cafe or a shop I’m always blown away by the hospitality and how they are so open to start conversations with strangers.

The culture behind New Zealand makes the quality of living so much higher and less stressful. I can’t stress enough how coming from the United States this all means to me. So grateful for my interactions with the local kiwis!!!

Related: Unforgettable places you NEED to visit in New Zealand & Getting adjusted // living in New Zealand

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The Cafe Culture

If you’ve seen any of my other posts you could guess that I sure LOVE cafe culture and a food flat white.

New Zealand offers both: the home of the mighty flat white (hence my blog name) and also a great cafe culture. They just know how to put a good menu together and offer you the freshest ingredients where the food also comes out fast!

Cafes act as a the epicenter for social hour – whether it’s to grab a takeaway coffee before work or a nice bite on the weekends. Because of the competitive cafe culture, they have to be designed with more thought and care as a result – some healthy competition!

But seriously, in places like Wellington if your cafe isn’t amazing in every aspect, then you don’t stand a chance. This also results in better coffee in general, which I can’t complain about! All of the baristas have to be well trained and on point with their milk frothing techniques. It’s a win-win!!

Related: Top coffee spots in Dunedin, New Zealand

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The Unique Wildlife

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taken from a no longer existing website – so I got it from pinterest

Oh yes, the unique New Zealand birds.

New Zealand cracks me up because no land mammals are native and the few they have (ferrets, hedgehogs, rats, etc.) are all considered a danger to these native birds. Of course there’s the kiwi bird – what an icon – but another favorite of mine is the blue one in the center, the “Pukeko”. Look them up they look ancient-like with long wobbly legs and are just hilarious to watch. The “Kea” is also a pretty funny one; they are the only polar parrot.

One of the many things I admire about New Zealand is their sustainability and their efforts to protect their natural wildlife & habitats. All over the country, there are sanctuaries for their native birds which give them a safe environment to live in free from land pests.

Besides the crazy birds, they offer so much more: penguins, whales, porpoises, dolphins, seals, sea lions, fur seals, and well….. random land mammals that are pests to the native birds. So lots of marine life and sheep pretty much.

gotta love all the sheep!!

Related: First full day exploring Dunedin, New Zealand

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The Isolation

Let’s be real, it’s no secret that New Zealand is an island nation off doing their own thing.

I personally find the isolation aspect really enticing and also relaxing. The location makes it a lot easier to separate yourself from whatever the rest of the world is doing – in the best way!

I’ve never been a tropical island kind of person, so New Zealand gives me that isolation island feel but without all the sand….

ooooh!!! fun fact: New Zealand has both white & black sand beaches – check out post on the prettiest hidden beaches I’ve found in New Zealand here – 5 prettiest hidden beaches in New Zealand

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After living in New Zealand and being able to go back a couple times I feel like I still have so much to say about this lovely country. Any travel questions or post requests in the future please let me know in the comments!

Thanks so much for checking this out! I appreciate it so much.

foot

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Unforgettable Places you NEED to visit in New Zealand

Ever wanted to travel to New Zealand? keep reading!

After my couple visits exploring this magical country, I have finally put together a list of my MUST SEE spots in all of New Zealand.

Before I get into my Top 10 spots to travel to in New Zealand, I have a whole page on my blog dedicated to different places around the country so check that out here.

To really enjoy a lot of the spots I’m about to mention you should rent a car. If you’re looking for a really good deal head to Transfer Car NZ. The only downside with them is you can’t really book far ahead of time as the whole idea with the company is they let people rent cars really cheap (or for free!!) in return of them helping the rental company relocate their cars.

Let’s start with the South Island

Starting with the South Island, because the South Island is so much more memorable… oops! Although both the North & South Islands have stunning scenery, the larger mountain ranges, fjords and Mt. Cook are in the South.

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# 1 Otago Peninsula –

If you get one thing out of this blog post, let me say how incredible & memorable the Otago Peninsula is. The Peninsula is just a short drive outside of Dunedin, a small city on the East Coast of the South Island. The peninsula is known for their abundance in wildlife: the rare yellow-eyed penguins, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and New Zealand sea lions to name a few. It’s also famous for the immense about of hidden beaches.

You could spend a whole day alone just on this peninsula. There is a couple main roads that take you on a loop around the entire peninsula. Let me warn you, it is very windy and hilly but there’s ample amount of spots to pull off and enjoy the view.

I may be a bit bias as I studied abroad in Dunedin, but nonetheless its a spot that is sadly often forgotten *tear*.

*pro tip* if you don’t have a car you can still easily enjoy the peninsula by booking with a tour company.

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# 2 Beaches around Dunedin –

Tunnel Beach, Brighton Beach, and St. Kilda are my personal favorites. But there are many more!

I have a couple older posts exploring them in more detail:

Tunnel Beach – if I had to pick one go here

Brighton Beach

Tunnel Beach – south of Dunedin, NZ

Honestly just go to Dunedin and spend a couple days in that area alone. TRUST ME you will need it!!! There is endless beaches to explore & so much unique wildlife!! Also if geology or rocks peak your fancy, there’s a lot of cool beaches to admire that too.

# 3 Baldwin Street –

Known as “The Steepest Residential Street in the World” ahead of San Francisco. It is within walking distance of Northern Dunedin, but there’s also the bus system to make the walk a bit shorter.

*pro tip* this spot is very touristy! I mean full bus loads of tour groups, so keep that in mind when choosing when to go.

It’s not only a nice brisk up hill walk, but a form of entertainment stopping here. I think the funniest part of visiting here is seeing all of the tourists try to drive their rental car up to the top of the hill.

# 4 The Caitlins –

The final stop on the East Coast of the South Island before moving to the West – The Caitlins. Before traveling, I had no clue this area existed to be honest. This region encompasses the entire southeastern corner of the South Island.

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This is another spot that you really need a car to explore, or you can join in with a tour company. There’s many, many beaches and spots within the Caitlins to see but I’ll name my favorites.

Above is the fossilized remains of an old forest in Curio bay and below is around Nugget Point.

# 5 Queenstown –

Queenstown is landlocked on the Western side of the South Island. It’s located right in the center of some of the longest mountain ranges in all of New Zealand.

A very touristy place, but still a MUST. Queenstown itself is probably the most touristy area in all of NZ, in my opinion. Regardless, the area itself is so breathtaking that it’s impossible not to add it to this list.

Regardless of the time of year, there is the STUNNING mountain ranges lining the lake and surrounding areas. I HIGHLY recommend dropping the money on going up the tram to the top of one of the mountains. It’s the one tourist attraction that really is a must.

Moving to the North Island

# 6 Napier –

Located on the East Coast of the North Island, Napier is inspired by the 1930s Art Deco period. The town itself has a small airport to fly into, or it is about a 4 hour drive north from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington.

I have already done an entire post on Napier here, but I couldn’t help but include it in this list. The entire town is filled with stunning architecture; it’s just a nice town to explore and walk around.

# 7 Craggy Mountain Range –

Craggy Range is a smaller mountain range not far from Napier, New Zealand mentioned above. As you can see from these photos, the range itself is so unique and breathtaking.

What brought me here specifically was a winery WHICH WAS INCREDIBLE so if you want to sip on some great wine while overlooking this mountain range then head to Craggy Range Vineyards. Out of all of the wineries I’ve visited in NZ, this one was by far the most memorable and personable.

Like a lot of the other spots mentioned, I’m sure there are many wine tours that go around and explore this area. The Hawkes Bay Region is one of the top wine regions in New Zealand.

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# 8 Coastal Walkway

Now that we’ve appreciated the east of the North Island, let’s head to the west!

The Coastal Walkway runs along New Plymouth, New Zealand, it’s a series of paths that connect to wrap around the coastline. New Plymouth also has a small airport and the walkway itself meets downtown for easy access.

What’s great about it, is you can start the path at any point and still get gorgeous views of rocky beaches and (if you’re lucky) Mount Taranaki.

These pictures don’t completely do it justice as I had horrible luck with the weather for the most part.. There is supposed to Mt. Taranaki (this gorgeous, dome, dormant volcano) through the end of those white arches.

So insert this mountain (when I had good weather) in that white archway & call it a day 🙂 But seriously, it’s just such a peaceful walk and theres some insanely cool tide pools that get exposed during low tide. New Plymouth PRIDES themselves on the Coastal Walkway it’s so cute!

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#9 Mount Monganui –

Moving to the north part of the North Island, we have Mt. Monganui.

The towns surrounding Mt. Monganui are nice but the mountain itself is the real destination in my opinion. You can do around a 2-hour hike to get to the top (which I keep bugging my boyfriend that we have to do at sunrise) and I’m positive the few is absolutely stunning.

I found this little peninsula to sit an watch the sun set down behind the mountain.

# 10 Hobbiton –

Last, but certainly not least, Hobbiton. I have a whole post going more into detail about my experience at Hobbiton here. Hobbiton is located a couple hours southeast of Auckland, in the middle of vast farmland and rolling hills (I completely get why Peter Jackson chose here as a filiming location)

Even if you don’t care for the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies, I still think this is really worth the money. Before going here, I honestly barely watched part of one movie…. oops. There’s so many tour options to get here and explore (from Auckland, Rotorua, etc).

Each tour even includes a free drink at the Green Dragon!

*pro tip* try to go for the final tour of the day: I did and we got offered all the extra beer that was already poured for free.

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Thanks so much if you’ve read this far. I’ve been meaning to put this list together for a while now & I had so much fun putting it together. ANY questions at all about New Zealand or ANY travel questions please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments! I want this to be helpful for you.

Have you ever wanted to travel to New Zealand?

What places on the list sound most interesting to you?

Lots of love,

foot

Coromandel Peninsula, NZ: are the hot spots worth it?

One of my stops on the North Island a few weeks ago was the Coromandel Peninsula. Its an area just to the east of Auckland (around a 90 minute drive). With only a day or so in the area, I made sure to stop by the “top spots”. When researching where to go, the main two places were: Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach…. so its safe to assume I made sure to stop by.


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If you are headed this way: RENT A CAR! The drives everywhere are gorgeous and filled with endless pull-offs.

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Stop one: Paeroa

I stayed in an Airbnb just south of the peninsula in a small town called Paeroa. It is home to the famous Kiwi drink “L&P” (theres an L&P cafe, and a massive L&P bottle in the middle of town). But back to the important stuff, my air bnb; it was behind this adorable, rustic cafe called The Refinery.

I’m really bummed I didn’t get the chance to sit down and take it all in (I was running around like a maniac, no surprise). They had a wide array of coffee (which i had on the go), food and also a cute front courtyard filled with lots of greenery.

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Stop two: Thames

Thames is small town just on the southern west coast of the Coromandel. As you can tell from me above, I decided to have lots of fun being a marine biologist (my friends thought I looked like Darla from Finding Nemo, which i now can see).

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More beach sunset pics???? of course!!!

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stop three: Waiau Falls

The next day started with some gorgeous coastal drives (I highly support the western coastal road to drive on, here’s some proof).

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I decided to make the trip up to Waiau Falls. Whats very convenient, is its located just off the road; what is inconvenient, is its located down a windy gravel road that cuts through the center of the peninsula. The North Island really takes the cake with breathtaking trees (don’t worry South Island, cabbage trees I love you). Of course the renown silver ferns, and other ferns for that matter, never disappoint.

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is it worth the trip? I would give it a 50/50 depending if you feel comfortable driving down a loose gravel road.


stop four: Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is on the Eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. It is really easy to find with lots of signs helping the lost tourists, like me. It is famous for its “Cathedral” shaped rock formation (wow, cathedral at Cathedral Cove???), which paints the frame for a gorgeous white sand beach.

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What they don’t tell you, is to get to Cathedral Cove you have to hike up and down a winding path from the car park. Even though the walk one-way only takes about 25 minutes, I wouldn’t say its the kind of stroll to do in flip flops; the scenery is stunning so it made the steep inclines worth it. Of course being a tourist beach it is going to be crowded but the beach wraps around a bit so there’s plenty room to explore. What I found funny, was there was a water taxi that was around 15$-20$ per person and apparently drops you off closer to the car park to decrease your hike up. It was very popular but I was perfectly fine walking it (more money for coffee). I would block off at least 2 hours to do the trip, enjoy the view and walk back.

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is it worth the trip? 100% a must-see!


stop five: Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is just south of Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel. A hot water stream runs underneath the beach and is exposed around low tide; it is recommended to visit in the period two hours before or after low tide to feel the “hot water”.

(sorry I have no photos! I didn’t want to get my phone soaked!)

It was very crowded; what they don’t tell you is how small the area of the geothermal “hot water” actually is. So most of the foreigners (like me), who went to visit and try their luck, found themselves on the sidelines waiting for a group to leave to take their already dug-out pool. No it is not impossible, but I am assuming those who snatched a good spot in the sand got there well before the recommended two hours before the tide. On top of that, 50% of the already small geothermal beach area makes it difficult to keep a continuous pool of water. As you can guess, the sand caves in, or gets pushed in, or gradually builds up over time.

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The pool me and my friends ended up snatching was a decent sized one but was further away from the water. The water was BURNING hot, so the family who dug it had the hot water streaming into a pool of cooler water farther down so it was kept at a more pleasant temperature. Once we had the pool, we were surrounded by those who didn’t have one and were looking for one. Safe to say there is a lot of competition and unneeded drama. OH AND BRING A SHOVEL! Most people didn’t want to share :/

is it worth the trip? Yes I do recommend going for the heck of it, but you have been warned.


As touristy as the Coromandel is, its touristy for a reason; I’m so happy I made the road trip.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Monthly update: blogging motivation

It has been a while and I didn’t intend for that to happen. I have traveled around New Zealand so much more and have wanted to post about it, but haven’t found the time or motivation. I am blogging for me first and foremost; I guess I needed time to breathe a bit and miss it.

Mid-semester break was not too long ago. Since then, school work has piled up & balancing that with travels has been hectic. I plan to make posts about some of the awesome places I’ve visited: Coromandel Peninsula, Tauranga, Auckland, New Plymouth, Taupo, Te Kuiti, etc. So they are coming don’t worry!!!!! ALSOOO simultaneously popping by new coffee shops in Dunedin and thinking of following up on this post.

Studying abroad comes with a lot of free time, a lot of time to let your mind wander or even get lost. It’s mini trips or walking around new places in town that grounds me. (like I am in New Zealand huh???)

I have to admit the one thing I have been keeping up with for the most part is my twitter (so check that out for more photos & updates).


Sorry this has been more of a ramble, but the plan this week is to get back on the grind.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

67 hours in Rotorua, New Zealand

This past weekend was JAM packed 🙂

Rotorua is a popular tourist destination located around 2-3 hours from Auckland in the North Island of New Zealand. Rotorua is known not only for their famous geothermal pools, but also because of their close proximity to Hobbiton!!! (I did a whole post on Hobbiton here).

lets do this


Kuirau Park

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Rotorua is famous for their geothermal pools. Whats convenient is you can visit some for free and they are just off the main street in town. There are some more elaborate ones and pools you can swim in; some are free and some cost a lot so keep your eye out.

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What I found funny, was how these hot spots will pop up occasionally at random spots (even peoples backyards!) I loved the eeriness of this walk. Its a pretty big park with a bunch of geothermal areas to explore.

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Skyline Rotorua

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Next up was Skyline Rotorua. It is one of those super tourist attractions with a bunch of activities at one spot. BUT it is still worth the trip 100%!

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The gondola ride to the top of the hill (maybe it was a small mountain??) was gorgeous. There was a mountain biking festival going on that weekend, so going up and down the hill you could see people doing fancy tricks.

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The luge had three tracks: a skyline beginner track and then an intermediate and advanced. The advanced was my personal favorite because there are little jumps that you don’t expect. There is padding and such at some of the sharp turns in case you spin out. The luge rides you can buy on its own in different quantities or in conjunction with other experiences. This picture above is the chair lift to take you back up to the top after going down the luge. At the top once you get off the gondola is a restaurant, gift shop and jelly belly store oddly enough.

Canopy Tours

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Canopy Tours is a zip lining experience through the canopies of a rain forest. Whats awesome is its not just a zip line adventure, the company are advocates for looking after the native bird populations. So not only do you get to admire the forest, but the cost of the trip gives money to their organization to protect New Zealand’s native birds.

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Of the 6 zip lines, the longest was 220m and I even got to zip line upside down!!!!!

Te Puia

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Te Puia is a geothermal park/kiwi bird house/ Maori culture experience extravaganza. It is a massive complex with all the tourist activities you could need. Although I did not get to see it go off, there are 3 geysers that go off a few times a day. The park is pretty to walk around and learn a lot about the area and its culture. I highly recommend doing a day tour; the woman who gave mine was SO knowledgeable.

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Along with the day tour, I did their evening culture experience. I think its so important to immerse yourself in different cultures and be open to the ways that other people live. The experience included a dinner as well.

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe

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Now, if you know me. I can never pass up an opportunity to go to a cat cafe (check this out)! What was different about this one versus the others I’ve visited, is this one has some rescue cats but a majority are bred, fancy cats (ha! fancy meow cat cafe is fancy! who would’ve known)! Both kittens and older cats reside here and all are up for adoption. Did I mention that I love how cat cafes work??? It’s a meet and greet with loving creatures that just want a forever home.

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Admission to the cafe includes a hot drink which was awesome!!! As you can hopefully see above is that they have a cute menu with cat-like names and yeah, I love it. The cafe looks a lot smaller from the outside, but once you go in there is a massive room around the side. The 17 cats that were there had a lot of room to themselves and places to escape to be away from any visitors.

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There were many rag doll cats & I was very excited about it because I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting one before. Yes, they were very soft. The cafe is in the center of town so it’s really convenient to get to.

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Lake Rotorua

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Last stop was Lake Rotorua. Even though it was raining, it was a nice walk & I mean the ducks looked like they were having a great time so it’s a win-win.

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I’m really thankful for all of the adventures I have been able to go on. There are so many more to come very very sooooon!!!!!!!!! While in Rotorua I visited Hobbiton but gave it it’s own post if you want to check that out.

(peep some pictures flying over Christchurch)

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot
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