So, if you haven’t heard yet, we’ve moved to New Zealand for the time being. We went right to Queenstown, skipping Auckland all together for now, and have immersed ourselves in the beauty of new mountains, forests, and lakes. The nature here really is incredible, a sight everyone should have a chance to see.
Queenstown is a bit like a much smaller Whistler. Surrounded by skiable mountains and right on a big lake, it has a tiny centre with lots of higher-end shops and many places to grab a bite. The amount of things to do as a tourist are endless and mainly adventurous- skydiving, bungee jumping, rafting, mountain biking, skiing & boarding, jet boating, etc. There are heli and tiny plane tours you can do as well to get the full experience of the grand mountains.
It’s been getting cold here, frosty mornings where you can see your breath inside and you have no desire to leave warm bed. A month ago the leaves were changing and with the rainbow of colours, were insanely spectacular. Something I hadn’t seen in a while, it was nice to experience autumn once again.
After a few weeks of being in Queenstown, we found a house, a car, and some jobs, although the jobs took a little longer than hoped. I am currently a salesperson at Icebreaker, a NZ brand specialising in merino wool with a heavy focus on the environment and fair wages/working conditions. I have a side job as a brand ambassador, and also a family/couple photographer. with a company called Sweet Escape. Harry is a stargazing tour guide on Bob’s peak, which you can either take the Skyline gondola up or go for a bit of a hike (not nearly as strenuous as the Grouse Grind).
So- what have we been up to? After we got our new lives sorted, we did get to do a few cool things. Before it got so cold, we went canyoning with our previous landlord (really cool guy) who also took us mountain biking, Harry went rafting and jet boating (I wasn’t keen on the cold water so skipped), we’ve done some crazy beautiful hikes, started rock climbing, and we’ve done a Milford Sound bus-cruise-fly tour.
I’ll start with Roy’s Peak. I was working in a small town called Wanaka, about an hour fifteen out of Queenstown (brand sampling some ethical chocolate), and Harry decided to join. We spent the night couchsurfing with a lovely couple and the next morning at 3:30AM, we got up to start our day. We packed some food and as many layers as we could, and drove to the base of Roy’s Peak. By 4:30AM we started hiking up the steep mountain, trying not to freeze at first, but eventually taking off a layer or two.
We didn’t take many breaks because if you stopped you got cold very fast, but we did take some time to pull out my camera and tripod and take some photos of the stars. They were super bright and really stunning, and you could see the galaxy as bright as ever.
After a bit over 2 hours, we made it to the top and huddled up with the rest of the hikers. We all froze while we waited for the sun to rise. When it finally did, it was completely worth all the effort and the cold. Breathtaking views that can never be captured the same as they are experienced in real life. We didn’t stay long though, because it was still cold and we wanted to keep warm when we could.
On our way down, without knowing it was here, we came across a famous “instagram spot” where people apparently line up to get their photo taken. Because we’re fast hikers, we were one of the first there. When we started taking pictures, we looked behind us and saw the line started. Maybe 20 people were already there, waiting to take their own photos. Kind of sad to see, proof that NZ is overrun by tourists and everyone here is, quite literally, a sheep. (New Zealand is famous for its large amounts of sheep).
Our next major adventure was the Milford Sound tour. One of the perks of Harry’s job is he gets discounts/free tours with certain companies with a plus one, so we took advantage of that and were lucky to get some seats on one of the buses.
It was an early, dark morning (doesn’t get light until 8:30AM right now), and we began the tour in the heart of Queenstown. We drove through the mountains and hills, saw more sheep than any one person needs to see in a lifetime, and took in the glorious views.
After about 5 hours and a few stops here and there, we got to the sound, which is actually a fjord but the people to discover and named it didn’t know any better. We hopped on a boat, and cruised through the fjord. There were some amazing waterfalls, more epic mountains, and some lazy seals lounging in the sun. We went all the way to the ocean before we turned around.
We were on the ferry for nearly 2 hours I think, and when we arrived back, we inquired about taking the plane over the mountains, to see if we’d be lucky enough that there were two seats available. Since we had Harry, of course we were! So instead of taking the 4 hour bus ride back, we took the 45 minute plane with a whole new set of beautiful views.
The white capped mountains were stunning from the sky. We saw glaciers, lakes (some frozen, some half frozen), and winding rivers. It was really something else.
My photos will describe the views much better than I can with words, so that would be your best bet in seeing how my adventures really were. We are now in ski season, and Harry has gone once so far, and I am waiting for my turn. Just need to see who I can borrow some great from and off I’ll go.
Until next time ~~/\~~