A Kiwi Road Trip

New Zealand (pt 1/3) - Queenstown, Milford Sound, Wanuka

As I alluded to in my Honeymoon post, my family went to New Zealand for a Christmas vacation. We were there for two weeks and road-tripped across both the north and south islands in a huge white van (keep in mind there's 7 of us and probably 14 suitcases).


We started out in Queenstown on the south island. The south island is known for having some of the most spectacular views in the world and Queenstown did not disappoint. It reminded me a lot of Lake Tahoe or Colorado with the huge mountains surrounding a body of water. It's also fairly touristy and normally a ski town when it's not summer (Christmas in the summer!). 

We stayed at the Rees Apartment Hotel which was one of my favorite hotels from the entire trip. It had a gorgeous lobby with stunning views and great hiking/biking trails right out the front door. 


On Christmas Eve, we took the gondola to the top of the mountains for a stargazing tour. On Christmas Day, we attended service at a tiny church in the middle of town and watched the SantaCon-ish Christmas celebration on the beach. I've never seen people in skimpy Santa swimsuits drinking on Christmas before.... and probably never want to again. 


From Queenstown, we took a day trip to the famous Milford Sound. Since my sisters and I didn't read the itinerary, we were on a five-hour Coach ride with no headphones or snacks... also did I mention the woman in front of me was throwing up the whole drive? Luckily the boat ride on the "Sound" was gorgeous and lived up to the hype. We then took a twin engine plane back to Queenstown (only took 35 minutes) and saw the most gorgeous glaciers and views of the mountains. The plane ride itself was one of my Top 3 activities we did in New Zealand. 


We then piled into the white van and headed to our next destination: Wanuka. Wanuka was definitely a hippie town filled with adventurers from around the world. It seemed like everyone was outdoors kayaking, running, etc. and everyone had tattoos, dreadlocks and a dog. It was the less-populated Austin of New Zealand.

After a hike, a few beers, and only one night in Wanuka, we were back in the white van and onto our next destination. Stay tuned for the next post....