Travel

New Zealand: North & South Island Itineraries

Are you thinking about taking a trip to New Zealand, but are not sure where to start planning? Or are you in the midst of planning, but having trouble making a few decisions? Then you’ve come to the right place!

New Zealand has so much to offer, from heart-stopping thrills, outdoor adventures, and jaw-dropping scenery to culturally and historically interesting sites.

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I absolutely fell in love with New Zealand during our trip and believe that it has so much to offer anyone interested in visiting, whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or not.

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Take a look at our itinerary for our trip to New Zealand along with any of the related posts I’ve linked to below to see which places interest/intrigue you.

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Coalition Snow: Innovative Snowboards for Women, by Women

I recently had a chance to chat with Jen Gurecki, founder and CEO of Coalition Snow, and to try out one of their snowboards in Mammoth, California. I have admired this companies’ products and mission since I first heard about them, but after riding one of their boards, and getting an inside look at how the company was created and the people behind the brand, I am even more impressed.

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Jen has been skiing and living in the mountains for 20 years now, and is incredibly passionate about snow sports and the mountains. She originally grew up near Phoenix, but since moving to Flagstaff for college, she has lived in the mountains ever since. Jen wholeheartedly loves the snow and lives for those epic fresh powder days on the mountain.

Where did the idea for Coalition Snow come from? Continue reading

Tips & Tricks for Booking a Campsite in Yosemite During Peak Season

I’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite. This year, I’ve made it a priority to get there and check off this long standing bucket list item. Thanks to some help from my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, we are finally going to make this trip happen!

The first obstacle was to obtain Half Dome Permits in August. Thankfully, that panned out, as we all applied to the lottery to increase our chances, and we ended up getting offered way more permits than we actually needed. That’s my first tip, have several people in the group, if not all apply for the permits to hike Half Dome on your preferred dates, as the permits are limited in the peak season.

Sweet, now that we had Half Dome permits, we needed to actually figure out where we should camp, and how to get a site for the dates we needed. I knew it was tough to get a decent campsite closer than an hours drive from the main entrance to the National Park, but who knew it was more like trying to win the actual lottery??

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The Tallest Mountain & the Clearest Skies in New Zealand

After departing Dunedin, our travels led us back through Queenstown and then up through the center of the South Island of New Zealand to Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and Lake Tekapo.

We had a few good Paleo eats along the way as well. In Dunedin, we had breakfast at this great spot called Good Oil Cafe. They had delicious coffee and food with tons of healthy options. I had the kumara (sweet potato) hash with poached eggs and smoke salmon…however it appears I was too hungry to consider a picture at the time!

For lunch, we ate in Cromwell, a city outside of Queenstown with a cute little historic part of town.

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The Grain & Seed Cafe, despite its name, had healthy paleo options as well. Everything was made from scratch, delicious, and the place is adorable! I had a tasty salad with a mint and honey vinaigrette.

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Are the Penguins Worth It?

What penguins am I referring to?

The awesome little blue ones (the smallest species of penguins in the world) that you can find in a few different locations on the South Island of New Zealand (and Southern Australia). So, is it worth it to take a road trip detour?

Why yes, yes it is.

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If you have a soft spot in your heart for penguins (or obsession, like me), then you might find a detour to visit one of the spots where you can witness hundreds of them waddling ashore as the sun sets behind them well worth the trip.

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If you don’t have a soft spot in your heart for little penguins, then you may not be human? (just kidding!) But really, how can you not think these little ones are adorable?

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These little guys reside on the Otago Peninsula – just about a 30 minute drive from Dunedin, which also happens to have the most photographed building in all of New Zealand:

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In order to see the penguins and satisfy my obsession, we went to the Royal Albatross Centre in the evening after a pretty delicious dinner at Velvet Burger in Dunedin. If you are interested, there are more than just the penguins to see. They also have the only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross (a large sea bird) and interesting historical and educational exhibits. Plus, the beauty of the peninsula is not so tough on the eyes.

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My favorite part about the center is how close you can get to the penguins. They literally waddle right by you to get to their nests. Some of them even waddle around under the platform, and if you lie down you can get inches away from them (resist the temptation to touch them though). It took all of my willpower not to take one home…

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Not to mention, while the little ones are making their way to their nests, the sun is setting and creating an incredibly beautiful backdrop.

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We debated for quite awhile if we should take the time to drive to Dunedin, but in the end, I thought it was well worth the detour. We had an amazing time and seeing the penguins turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip for us.

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Dunedin itself looks is modeled off of Scottish towns and is also home to NZ’s Speight’s brewery.

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Not to mention, we stayed in a cozy hostel in Dunedin called Hogwartz, complete with room 9 3/4, reading loft, and awesome outdoor space.

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Clearly, Dunedin and the penguins brought my childlike enthusiasm to an entirely different level…

10 Tips to Improve your Trip to the Milford Sound

Interested in visiting the Milford Sound while in New Zealand? Here are some facts and tips for making your visit to the Milford sound the best it can be.

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The Best Kept Secret of the Routeburn Track?

If you’re planning or have planned a trip to the South Island of New Zealand, you may know that the Routeburn Track is arguably the most popular and best of the Great Walks. Some may regard the most popular sites as tourist traps or steer clear of them to get the most “authentic” experience when visiting another country. Generally, I agree with this, and like to seek out the road less traveled or find that hole in the wall local shop/restaurant/bar. However, in my opinion, this would be a mistake when it comes to the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.

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