Posts on New Zealand by Kyle the Vagabond:
If you love the outdoors, New Zealand will leave you wondering why you ever spent time anywhere else. What makes the land of Kiwis so unique is the convenient proximity of such a wide range of activities. With a car and a little bit of driving time, you can easily surf and sail on golden beaches, hike deep into lush rainforests and caves, raft a raging river, and snowboard or ski the deep powder of the Southern Alps all within a few days with minimal distance in between. Add to this the friendly local atmosphere, hearty food, wine vineyards that stretch for miles, and a landscape rich in Maori culture, and “Aotearoa” will leave you longing for days spent passing the night away under the glow of the Southern Cross.
New Zealand Dollar; Exchange Rate: 1 NZD = $.77 NZD (January 11, 2012). For currency conversion info visit xe.com
When To Go:
Located down in the “Roaring Forties”, New Zealand’s weather can be as rugged, varied, and dramatic as its terrain. With the prevailing winds blowing west to east, the west coast of both islands sees a lot more moisture than the drier eastern seaboard. The peak of summer runs from December to April with campervans and tourists coming out of the woodwork–but so do summer festivals and a slew of outdoor activities. In the winter months of June-August the Southern Alps absorb the moisture coming in off of the Tasman Sea in the form of heavy snows, leaving the slopes groomed for winter activity. Many of the beach towns during this same period however go into a form of hibernation. While the northernmost reaches of the north island see warmer year round temperatures than the rest of the country, as you move south down the country’s coasts the temperature drops and winters become just a little longer. Also, on the west coast of the south island in particular, the sandfly’s, or te namu, come out in devilish droves in the summer months.
The Vagabond’s Personal Top Picks
1. Sea kayak Abel Tasman
Choose your own private sandy cove to bask in amidst a jungle crawling right up to the sand.
2. Trek fantastical Fiordland
Whether it be the Kepler, Routeborn, or Milford Track, take in the views from the vaulted ridges of this splendid country.
3. Hike the Tongariro Crossing
Walk across deserted moonscape under the shadow of The Lord of the Rings’ Mt. Doom
4. Sail the Bay of Islands
Whether by HobieCat or charter boat, get offshore in these quaint little beach towns, and have a drink or three when back on shore.
5. Chill out in Mt. Maunganui
Put on your best beach vibe and relax in this chilled out North Island surf town
6. Absorb Te Papa Museum in Wellington
Take advantage of the plethora of knowledge on Maori and physical history that lies within six floors of this astounding national museum.
7. Get an adrenaline rush in Queenstown
Whether its bungee jumping, jetboating, or snowboarding in the winter, if it makes your heart race you can find it here.
8. Go to every festival you can find
Hokitika Wild Foods, Cuba St, BullerFest, Waipara Valley, Tauranga JazzFest…Kiwis love their festivals and know how to party.
9. Hike/Bike/Drink Marlborough Sound
Whether cruising down the Queen Charlotte Track or sampling the region’s wine selection, rolling hills set on calm waters is the backdrop for each outdoor activity.
10. Explore the vast dunes of Cape Reinga and the Northland
Culturally significant and sparsely populated, the northernmost tip of Aotearoa holds endless beaches with majestic dunes and wilderness as far as the eye can see.
11. Delve deep into the Coromandel
The North Island’s oft forgotten peninsula offers thick forests, giant kauri trees, an abundance of waterfalls, good surf, and simple quaint country living set amongst rolling green hills.