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WTC Travel Stories – New Zealand

New Zealand is (seriously) the magical land under down under. You will find nature here that can’t be found anywhere else. There’s glaciers, blue lakes, and endless mountains (it’s also the land of the hobbits). We just love this place and want to share the best of it, so here are the real-life travel experiences of our intern Josefin for your reading pleasure!  Check out her great photos too…



Auckland is the largest and most populated city in New Zealand. It is located on the North Island, and is a good starting point before “the adventure begins”. The city has a little bit of everything and you can combine beach-life with city-life pretty easily. There are a lot of restaurants, bars and also a nice harbour. The highest building in New Zealand is Auckland’s Sky Tower, where you can go up to get a 360 degree view of the city. Auckland is built up on craters, which means that there are many beautiful hills, so it was a really beautiful way to see the best angle of Auckland.



Bay of Islands 

At the top of the North Island is the Bay of Islands, which is a large area with around 150 little islands together. It’s really a sub-tropical paradise where you can go whale-watching, swimming with dolphins, and fishing. We stopped in Paihia, located in the heart of the Bay of Islands. Here we went on a boat watching dolphins, which was absolutely fantastic. We also took a day trip to Cape Reinga, the most northern point of New Zealand, where we walked out to the lighthouse and the lookout. Furthest out at the tip is also the place where two oceans meet – The Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east! We drove down a long, beautiful beach and to finish the day tour we went sand boarding. It was so much fun!



Waitomo Caves

South of Auckland, under the green hills of Waitomo, you have this labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area’s name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole). You can either take a day tour, or stay over for one night. On the tour, we first climb down in the caves, then we floated on a tube through the water rapid. The best thing about this was to see the glow worms on the walls and ceiling of the caves. It looks like a sky full of stars, it’s incredible!

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Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the central North Island. When we came to Tongariro we walked The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is one of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand. Tongariro’s nature is a long range of volcanic mountains and the hike passes over active volcano Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom). A fun fact: Mount Ngauruhoe was used as a stand in for the fictional Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings movies. We decided to climb Mount Doom, but it was pretty difficult to do this, so I would recommend that you are a little bit experienced with this kind of mountain climb before having a go at it. Otherwise it was a really cool experience 😉




Picton was probably one of my favourites, despite it not being one of those places where many people stay; a lot of people just arrive here from Wellington to continue travelling down south, as it’s just a small town on the north of the southern Island, nestled at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. A good way to see Marlborough Sounds is from the Wellington – Picton ferry. When we arrived we stayed at a “hippie” hostel, which was a cool place, and also really cheap.
One of the best activities here is to go out by boat in Marlborough Sounds and go swimming with dolphins! We went out with the boat early in the morning, and on the way we saw the beautiful scenery of the valley and animals like albatross and the (typical New Zealand) Hectors Dolphin, which is a smaller type with a round fin on the back and completely adorable! After that we got our swimsuits and rocked out to the place where all the big dolphins were. We jumped in the water and the tour guide asked us to make noises and sing, because that would attract the dolphins. Imagine a bunch of tourists splashing around and make funny noises in the water, it must have looked so ridiculous! When the dolphins finally found us, they were not shy at all. It’s so cool when they swim under you and jump just beside you, just as curious and happy to see us as we are to see them. It was an amazing experience!

Another thing that Marlborough Sounds is well known for is the wine, with some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc being grown here. In the afternoon (the same day as the dolphin tour) we went for a wine tour and visited the famous vineyards Cloudy Bay and Saint Claire. It was a good tour, and we got to taste some beautiful wines (best part). In the evening, we went on a night-walk in the forest around the valley, where we saw even more glow worms! This day was really one of the best days of my whole New Zealand trip, and it all happened in the small town of Picton.










Nelson is located by the water of Tasman Bay a little down south from Picton. The most common thing to do here is to explore the Abel Tasman National Park, which we did, of course. We took one of the coastal track walks, and had some lunch at the beach (where you also could take a dip in the beautiful clear water). We walked up to some of the lookouts, and ended the walk by a beach where we took a kayak to paddle back to where we started. It was a very pleasant hike and it wasn’t so rough to walk (like Mount Doom…). We also got to hear a lot of history about Abel Tasman, which kept the walk extra interesting!



Franz Josef Glacier

This is a real adventure place. It’s located in the western part of the southern Island and the main thing to do here is climb the glacier. One reminder is to stay there for a couple of days because, when it’s bad weather, the climb usually get’s cancelled. We were lucky to finally go on our third and last day, after it’s was cancelled two times already! We started by going up in a helicopter to reach the spot to start the climb. The helicopter ride was so cool! While up there you felt like a real wilderness adventurer, with full-on equipment like spike shoes and ice pick. It was a really cool experience to walk through all the ice caves and see the AMAZING views from the glacier. We also walked to see the bottom of the glacier on another day, and did some pretty fun horseback riding just outside Franz Josef. Don’t miss this experience!




Fox is a really small town just below Franz Josef. The thing you do here is to go see Lake Matheson, called “Mirror Lake”. Not many people go all the way out here, but we wanted some more time to really explore the lake. We took a bike-ride early in the morning, when the the lake is really still (and actually looks like a mirror!) and went all around the lake. It was incredible to see the reflections from the mountains, which are New Zealand’s highest peaks – Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman are just behind the lake!




Queenstown is located in the mid-south of the southern island, and is the epicentre of adrenaline and partying. Here you have one of the worlds biggest bungy jumps – Nevis Bungyjump, a serious 134 metre drop!! It’s also a good place to go skydiving but, unfortunately, we didn’t do either of these things. Instead, we did something that was just as scary: hang-gliding! I have skydived before, but this was way scarier. We first took a bus on really bumpy and narrow roads up a mountain, and then basically jumped off the mountain cliff. It’s terrifying at first, but everything is going slow when you’re up there, so you have the time to calm down and take in the beautiful view.  Hint: Make sure to eat a Fergburger while you’re in Queenstown; you can’t miss the queue.

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The Roteburn Track

The Roteburn Track is located just north-west of Queenstown, and is arguably one of the world’s most beautiful walking tracks. We took a 3-day hike, which you have to book early because the cabins that you stay in along the way get fully booked really fast. You’ll need all the proper equipment like hiking clothes, sleeping bag, and food for a solid 3 days on the track. We stopped by 4 checkpoints, two being overnight stays, and two lunch breaks. Thankfully, there were toilets at every checkpoint and some had kitchen equipment too (the checkpoint, not the toilet, that would be weird…).  The first day we walked through the enchanted forest (!!) and the second day was up in the mountains, which were both pretty tough hikes. It pays off though, with amazing views over the mountains and the valley. It was totally worth going uphill for a while to see that 🙂 The third day was a hike down through the valley, and it was really beautiful. A fun thing here: it’s really common to see the New Zealand Kaka, which is a parrot that lives in the forests of New Zealand and is super cute.



Lake Tekapo

If you go by bus between Queenstown and Christchurch, along the way you can see Lake Tekapo. It’s one of the bluest lakes in the world and it was amazing to see in person! You can also go horseback riding around the lake, which I definitely recommend.

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The last stop on our journey was whale watching in Kaikoura.  Located off the north-west coast of the southern Island, it’s very common to see sperm whales here – but, unfortunately, we didn’t see any of them. One thing we did see was a load of seals, just lying around and relaxing on the cliffs. You could get really close to them if you wanted to, so we did!


Want to experience it for yourself?  Our travel desk can help you plan the same kind of journey that Josefin experienced, just send us an email here!

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