Here’s a link to a behind the scenes video from a photoshoot that Trey Ratcliff did in Hobbiton for Air New Zealand. I love New Zealand and this video really took me back, I hope you enjoy it!
Milford Sound was wonderful. I wanted to stay there, and briefly thought about applying for a job with Real Journeys. Alas, I could not, I had clients waiting for me upon my return. Leaving Queenstown after Aggie Football I awoke with a start at 4:30 the following morning (and by “start” I mean “loud alarm”). I wasn’t concerned with jetlag or the long drive ahead of me that morning, my focus was half a planet away in College Station, Texas. The Fightin’ Texas Aggies were taking on the Rice Owls in American College Football, and they needed my support. Thanks to a good friend, also named Andy, I was able to watch the game via his BelkinTV app. I watched the sun rise over the top of my iPad as the Aggies deftly handled the Owls. I knew I needed to leave by 9, so the Aggies had a schedule to keep. They did. The victory was ours just before 9am. I quickly packed my things, grabbed a shower, and hit the road for my final journey in New Zealand: driving to Christchurch. As expected, the views were scenic, if not a little foggy at first, which made me feel like I was in a horror movie. The fog eventually lifted, which was nice as it meant I could see farther than a kilogram or so ahead. The drive was mostly uneventful. I enjoyed mostly empty roads that were quite desolate at points. I had heard the drive had a… read more
Rudyard Kipling very famously (and unsourcedly) called Milford Sound the Eighth Wonder of the World. I’ve often called Rudyard Kipling the Eighth Most Uninteresting Writer Based on Half of a Book I Read in High School, so the connection was immediate. Put simply, Milford Sound is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. My journey to Milford Sound started very similar to many others. There are quite a few tour operators that will trot you out to the Sound for a scenic boat tour, and the one with the best reviews on Tripadvisor was a lovely organization called Real Journeys. If you’re in Queenstown they’re hard to miss. Or even if you’re on the internet, they’re hard to miss. The second you type in New Zealand to Google, for about the next six months all you’ll see are Real Journeys ads. I found them a good value with great service. They sent a taxi to pick me up at 7am from the Hilton (included in the tour ticket) to take me to the bus station. It was a bit chilly that morning, so the taxi driver very graciously offered to let me stay in the cab where it was warm. Soon enough the bus pulled around and we were on our way. Real Journeys has coaches that are perfectly suited for sightseeing in a place as dramatic as the Milford Road, with clear glass windows and seats that are angled towards the windows. Milford Sound is near pretty much nothing,… read more
So I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of the last post. Hopefully it’s worth the wait. If it’s not, I’ll happily refund your money. Getting to Queenstown So why did I pick Queenstown? One of the travel bloggers I follow pretty closely, Lucky from One Mile at a Time, rated this as one of his favorite places in the world, and quite frankly I didn’t really know what else to do, so I thought why not? Liked I mentioned before, I booked a really pricey flight to Queenstown because I waited for the last minute and there weren’t really any cheap options in the first place. As I was quasi-planning this trip, I had to constantly remind myself that August is the height of winter down there, which is Queenstown’s busy season, so it made sense that there weren’t cheap flight options available. We flew from Wellington in an Air New Zealand ATR72. I actually like turboprops, but this flight got a little cantankerous for me. The weather was pretty bad in Queenstown, so the closer we got the cantankerouser it got. I’m fine with bumps and turbulence that’s up and down, but this turbulence felt like the back end of the plane wasn’t going in the same direction as the front, so it was a little worrisome. The approach path into Queenstown is between two mountains, so there was a bit of a wind tunnel effect that I wasn’t expecting. Whenever there’s turbulence… read more
I awoke in Taupo the following morning, very jetlagged. I eventually made my way down to breakfast, which was in the restaurant attached to the hotel (which, in an effort to serve you better, I faithfully forgot to take pictures of) and…went back to bed for a nap. My nap came to a peaceful end around 11am, at which point I decided my vacation would be better spent doing things than sleeping, so I got dressed and tried to figure out what to do. New Zealand is very volcanic, as the islands are quite new geologically (geologists universally agree that New Zealand was formed at least 40 years ago). The Taupo area is particularly volcanic, with geothermal vents/pools all over the place (there’s one literally next door to the Hilton Near Lake Taupo). One of the highly-rated ones from TripAdvisor is Orakei Korako, so I made my way back to the epic and legendary Nissan Tiida and made my way in the right laneNO OK IN THE LEFT LANE to the highway. After a short drive, I made a right turn and followed the signs. New Zealand handles tourism very well, as the roads have great signage pointing you to all manner of attractions, so I was able to get there pretty quickly (it’s about 30 minutes from the hotel). So, a short aside (I know, I don’t really do short asides, but bear with me). I talk often about how much I love driving in foreign lands. I love… read more