We are now in New Zealand! Much of the scenery so far has reminded us of Norway. Smal two lane roads, mountains, farms, and beautiful hiking. Except everyone speaks English, which makes traveling a little easier. Although we also speak English there are moments when we have to try and figure out what someone is really trying to say as in America we use different words for different things. On multiple occasions we have been asked if we were from Canada. I guess they might get more Canadian tourists than from the states.
Arriving at the airport around 5am we headed towards immigration and customs. Just like Australia there was no need to wait in any lines as so much of it is electronic now. Simply enter your passport and get your photo taken.
We waited around, slept, and got a SIM card until our 8am shuttle arrived to take us to get the rental car. Knowing we would have only had a few hours of sleep we opted to stay in Christchurch the first night in New Zealand.
Finding a lovely botanical garden with lots of parking we took a nap for a few hours before walking around. All the flowers were in bloom! Below are some of the roses.
After we were rested we headed into the center of Christchurch. Sadly in 2011 there was a major earthquake (as New Zealand sits right next to a fault line) that destroyed much of the city. There is a lot of construction to this day as they try and rebuild. The church in the center of town was severely damaged, we could not find if they were going to rebuilt it or not.
By 2pm we were finally ready for some lunch. Heading to a local cafe we enjoyed breakfast food: eggs, toast, and tea. New Zealand is two hours ahead of Australia and it is now apparent that we did adjust to the Australia time zone shift. Making me wonder how much it will stink heading back to Ohio.
Driving about 20min out of town we took a gondala ride up a hillside that overlooked some of Christchurch, an old volcano and the ocean. Although cloudy we still got some good views and information.
From the top of the gondala we were able to see a pier in the distance. We decided to drive to the pier and see the ocean. Turns out many locals were there fishing for crab!
After the pier we went to check into our hotel before heading out for “authentic” Mexican as it was the best rated restaurant within walking distance. I would say the only thing that was authentic was the margaritas.
Sleeping in as late as we could before our 10am checkout was much needed! We grabbed a hot chocolate and muffin at a local cafe and headed toward Hanmer Springs. Navigating the roads were easy as there are very few roads compared to the states.
Hanmer Speings is known for their hot springs, hiking and skiing in the winter. We opted to relax in the hot springs for a few hours. It was cloudy and raining slightly so we figured it was perfect weather to just relax. It was quite the attraction, with around 9 pools in addition to a kids pool and two waterslides there was something for every age.
We grabbed some lunch and stopped at the grocery store for some dinner items. Our next motel (what they call most hotels or b&bs) was not near any restaurants or other stores. We opted for simple pasta and fresh baked bread. It ended up being a relaxing day for us.
Today… we had sun! And some rain but mostly sun. We were able to see out of our motel room much better than the night before. We stayed on a farm that had three studio rooms for guests.
Traveling about 2 hours into the mountains we stopped at Mt. Robert for a 4hr loop hike to the top of the mountain. Although raining at first the sun decided to come out right before we reached the top. There were wonderful views and we were able to get a full 360 degree view while hiking.
There are two lakes below that locals use for fishing and boating. After our hike we enjoyed some snacks in the car while driving another few hours to Rowan’s near the Abel Tasman national park where we will spend the next four nights.
Our lodge is a boutique style with nice gardens, a large shared kitchen, outdoor seating, bbqs, and near vineyards. Although secluded the lodge is only a short 5 min drive into town where we got Thai takeout and got groceries for the next few days. Little did we know before our trip there is a lot of Asian influence so lots of Asian restaurants.