Travel Diaries

Nicole on 4 months in New-Zealand & now exploring Europe while working remotely!

March 21, 2018 Facebook Page Twitter Page
The Waimangu Volcanic valley is unspoilt and preserved - how I would have imagined
Earth to look millions of years ago
The Waimangu Volcanic valley is unspoilt and preserved - how I would have imagined
Earth to look millions of years ago

Hi Nicole!

Tell us a little about yourself and your latest trip:

My name is Nicole and I am from a small town in Scotland. After being at university for 5 years and working full time after this I decided to take time out and go travelling – I haven’t looked back! I have just returned from an almost 4 month trip to New Zealand, which was absolutely incredible! We spent the first half of the trip traveling from the North Island all the way down and through the South island as well, where we finished off in Queenstown and stayed there to work for the last two months of the trip!

Wow, 4 months in New Zealand! What was the most memorable experience during that trip?
There are literally so many to choose from, so I’m going to give you my top 3!
  1. First one would have to be the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, located in the tiny village of Waitomo on the North Island. You are guided through underground caves, see incredible stalactites and stalagmites, then you take a small boat through the water and caves, it’s completely dark and then the full cave opens up and you can see millions of glow-worms on the cave ceiling above! The only way I can describe it is like looking at millions of stars – it was unbelievable!

  2. Second would have to be the Franz Josef Glacier! This is an incredible sight to see, located in Franz Josef, on the west of the South Island. You can either hike to the glacier (this is what we did), where you can look at it face on sitting between the mountains. You can also take a helicopter trip, which takes you on top of the glacier – from there you do a guided tour over the surface of the glacier! There are lots of great hostels in Franz Josef and it’s bigger than a lot of the other towns on the west of the South Island – although it is notorious for rain!

  3. Lastly, and probably my most memorable experience during my travels in New Zealand, was a two-day trip to the absolutely gorgeous Milford Sound. Located just outside of Queenstown, the fiord is not that far away, but due to the mountains and river you have to drive around, it takes around 4 hours to get there. We also stopped off at a few viewpoints along the way, including some landscapes where scenes of Lord of the Rings had been shot. When we arrived we took the Milford Sound Cruise – this is around a two-hour cruise, which takes you deep into the fiord where you can see the most stunning views. Milford Sound has so much rainfall, and it had been really rainy the few days before, so we were lucky that we got to see literally hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the sides of the mountains surrounding us! We also saw some sea lions, which were so beautiful! Afterwards, we drove to Te Anau, this town is about half way between Milford Sound and Queenstown, where we ate dinner and camped there for the night.

Any scary or heart racing experiences during that time?

Not in a scary way, but I would say an exciting heart racing experience we had was going on one of the jet boats in Queenstown for my 25th birthday. The jet boat takes you through the rivers in Frankton and the outside of Queenstown, and takes about an hour!

New Zealand is known for their natural landscapes, which one is your favorite?

One of my favourite was the Waimangu Volcanic Valley – this is a geothermal park located in Rotorua on the North Island, and is less touristy compared to its neighbour “Wai-O-Tapu”. The Waimangu Volcanic valley is unspoilt and preserved - how I would have imagined earth to look millions of years ago, and completely untouched. The Valley is also home to the world’s largest hot spring!

Amazing! Are there any unknown places in NZ that you visited and recommend?

Yes, loads! Here are a few outside of Queenstown:

  • Bob’s Cove – located about 20 minutes outside of Queenstown and only Queenstown locals seem to know about it. Quiet and secluded beach and pier, great for paddle boarding and relaxing away from the rush of Queenstown.

  • Arrowtown – about 30 minutes from Queentown, this historic gold mining town has lots of cute and quaint shops and café, along with a walking trail that takes you all the way back to Queenstown.

  • Wanaka – Just over an hour from Queenstown, the gateway to the Mount Aspiring National Park is just like how I would imagine Queenstown to look 10 years ago. It has one street that runs parallel to the lake with a cute beachfront. Don’t forget to check out the Wanaka tree, one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand, which sits alone in the lake. You could also try the challenging 10-mile return hike of Roy’s Peak – base of the trail is about a 15-minute drive from Wanaka.

  • Glenorchy – 45 minutes outside of Queenstown, this tiny village is great for those who love the simple outdoors. There are 2 cafes in Glenorchy, both of which are a 5-minute walk from beautiful panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu.

Do you have any travel routines?

I always try and stay active while travelling, whether that be by hiking or home workouts! I usually do HIIT workouts from home, which are great because they are only 15-25 minutes long! I also try to get up as early as possible to get out and make the most of the day!

And any travel hacks to share?

I would say one of the biggest travel hacks is to plan as far in advance as possible – obviously it’s sometimes impossible to plan weeks ahead, but to have a rough plan of where you would like to go and book your hostels/hotels as soon as you know this is a good idea – it’s a great way to save money! Another hack is to make sure you read reviews from hostels that you are thinking about staying in. I have spent a lot of time reading and researching hostels before staying in them, and every hostel we have stayed in has been amazing!

Tell us a little about your plans for your 3-month journey through Europe

We are planning on starting off in the South of Spain and visiting towns and cities in Andalucía, including Seville, Jerez, Malaga and Gibraltar. From here, we plan to go through Madrid, Barcelona, Andorra for skiing, and then into the South of France. From France, we are going to fly to Budapest, and then work our way back through Eastern Europe and then Germany. We are going to post photos and blog posts along the way with photos and travel trips for each city!

Looking forward to seeing these pictures! What do you hope to learn on this journey?

We are so excited to learn about the different cultures all over Europe! I have been learning Spanish and German, so really looking forward to visiting those countries and getting to practice!

Where can we follow your current trip and learn more about New Zealand?

On my wOndary profile, Instagram (@nikandcole) and soon on a blog ;)

Thank you Nicole!

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