If you're new here, or haven't tuned in for a while, the BF and I just got back from a 10 day // 7 night trip to New Zealand. This is part one of my trip recap. Stay tuned as I'll be back with parts 2 & 3 soon. As well as some tips on how to not strangle your significant other while traveling together.
It's probably worth noting that this was the first big trip together for the BF & I. We've camped, done a few long weekends away & a road trip or two, but nothing longer than 3 - 4 days. Luckily, we both operate under the premise that vacation is not for relaxing & sitting around. We would much rather cram as much as we can into each day & come home exhausted, but having seen everything we could.
This trip was booked through Groupon, though paid for with our own $$$, since I'm not nearly famous enough for Groupon to be comping my vacations. One day. Anyways, the trip included flight from LAX, hotel for 3 nights in Christchurch, 4 nights in Queenstown, rental car with unlimited mileage, + a few assorted tours which I'll talk about later.
So, first thing's first. New Zealand is FAR AWAY from Pittsburgh. I mean, duh. But, no, seriously. It took 4 flights. Pittsburgh to Charlotte to LA to Fiji to Christchurch. LA to Fiji was ~ 11 hours & Fiji to Christchurch was another 5 hours. Combine all that with crossing the dateline & we left Pittsburgh on a Thursday afternoon, to finally make it to Christchurch on Saturday afternoon. Phew.
|The BF enjoying a nice nap in Fiji|
We got into Christchurch ~230PM local time, and were through customs & on a bus towards our hotel all within 30 minutes. Such a simple, pain free process.
| side note | Since we "declared" hiking boots we were taken to the side to have them inspected. We cleaned them ahead of time knowing this was possible, so they were free of any large dirt clumps & visible dirt.
We stayed at the Rydges Latimer & were very impressed. It is located very near to City Centre which made walking to everything a breeze.
We showered before heading out to grab a bite to eat. It turns out the place that was recommended to us specialized in New Orleans cuisine. I ordered the chicken & waffles while the BF ordered a shrimp dish. While tasty, we both agreed their entrees were sized more like snacks. So much so that after an hour or two of exploring we headed out for dinner part 2.
dinner one : Stranges Lane
dinner two : Mexico
A walk around town included a trip to the grocery store. We picked up some essentials for lunches on the go. PB, jelly, bread, chips, apples & granola bars + some bottles of local beer & hard cider.
| side note | I was BEYOND impressed with the local selection of hard ciders. Every one I tried was delicious & all of their flavors unique. Everything I saw was NZ made, if not specifically local.
We woke up "early" (7AM) to discover that the city did not seem to wake that early. At the recommendation of hotel staff we walked 5 - 10 minutes to breakfast at a place called Supreme Supreme. After two disappointing dining experiences on Day 1 it was nice to have a tasty breakfast.
Afterwards we spent some time walking around the city. We were having so much fun & enjoying the perfect weather, that we ended up walking almost 8 miles by the time we made it back to our hotel. We headed up a road known as Dyer's Pass which awarded some astonishing view of the nearby hillsides as well as a glimpse as to how far away our hotel was. Oops.
After we made it back to the hotel we rested for a few minutes, then walked the few blocks to Cathedral Junction. One of the included Groupon tours was a Christchurch Tram tour. Our tickets allowed us to hop on // off at any of the 17 stops along the tour. We chose to ride the full loop without stopping, to rest our legs & enjoy the commentary before hopping off & walking the loop on the second go-round.
Our first stop was the Re-Start Mall. In order to jump start the economy after the devastating 2011 earthquake, shipping containers were used as temporary buildings, with many still standing today. This mall was one of the first things to open after the earthquake & stands still today. It has a "food court" boasting may food trucks stationed semi-permanently there. The shops seemed to be a nice mix of local flavor & brands you know, like Lululemon.
The BF& I grabbed a coffee & a bite at Hummingbird Coffee before continuing on.
| side note | NZ seems to take their coffee very seriously. Cafe coffee options are short, flat white, long black & a few others are fairly standard. I did not come across ANYWHERE offering drip coffee or just a standard cup of black coffee like we can get here in the US.
Our next big stop was the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Free to enter, and astoundingly large, like 52 acres in the middle of the city. We spent an hour or two enjoying the grounds & spent some time on a bench on the Avon River which runs through the gardens. The flowers & trees, many of which are found only in NZ, were impeccably maintained. We could have dedicated several more hours to exploring the gardens more thoroughly but we just ran out of time.
|Botanic Gardens selfie, which managed to capture none of the plants|
Dinner was had late, at the Bootleg BBQ Company. The food was good, I ordered the beef brisket, while he ordered the smoked venison. A few minutes of terrible TV later & it was time for bed.
breakfast : Supreme Supreme +
lunch : PBJ
dinner : Bootleg BBQ +
Day 3 held our drive to Mt. Cook & then on to Queenstown. Spoiler Alert, the drive was stunning. Check back later this week for more NZ trip recaps! And in the meantime...a little teaser...