North Island

Top 5 New Zealand Museums

New Zealand is full of rich, wonderful and culturally significant museums. I have chosen my Top 5 favourite museums across the whole of this beautiful country. Enjoy!

1. Te Papa, Wellington

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Probably New Zealand’s best museum, Te Papa has something to offer everyone. The museum’s website tells you when visiting Te Papa you will ‘discover the stories of New Zealand’. From the historic right up to the contemporary (The Lord of the Rings included!) the museum has a huge number of displays and art work, and hosts exciting events and amazing exhibitions.

The content and layout of the museum is brilliant. The variety of items in the museum, along with the innovative and interesting design make for a fantastic visit. Favourite sections of ours were the sections about New Zealand’s native wildlife, as well as the 20th century displays.

It is a place that has to feature on your Wellington itinerary!

  • Opening hours: 10am-6pm, 365 days a year.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Location: 55 Cable Street, Wellington.

 

2. Otago Settlers Museum

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IMG_0538The Otago Settlers Museum tells the stories of the people of Dunedin from the earliest settlers through to those who have recently arrived. The museum traces the lives of the settlers – indigenous Māori, the early Chinese, and other migrant groups – and their technological innovation, domestic life, fashion, art and transport.

It is an incredibly innovative and well-planned out museum. It has lots of interactive sections, and an amazing array of items covering a large period in history.

Immigration boat reconstruction

A special area of the museum is the reconstruction of being under deck on a boat that would have brought immigrants into New Zealand – it is dark and has all the noises as part of the reconstruction.

They state on their website they are ‘New Zealand’s newest and most innovative museum experience’ so be sure to check them out.

  • Opening hours: 10am-5pm, except for Christmas Day.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Location: 31 Queens Garden, Dunedin.

3. World of WearableArt™ and Classic Cars Museum, Nelson

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IMG_6772.jpgA unique collaboration of two very different interests, the ‘WOW’ (World of WearableArt) and car museum offers the chance to see the world-class collection of classic cars, as well as amazing wearable art from all around the world.

The selection and layout of cars is absolutely brilliant. The information about the cars is excellent and the cars are arranged thoughtfully, with extreme care taken over their preservation.

The fashion art gallery is very innovative and unique and unlike anything we have seen before. It contains over 60 World of WearableArt garments which are fascinating to see.

This museum is a fantastic collaboration and you find something for everyone on your visit.

  • Opening hours: 10am-5pm, except for Christmas Day.
  • Cost: $24 for adults and $10 for children, concessions also apply.
  • Location: Cadillac Way off Quarantine Road, Annesbrook, near Nelson.

 

4. Auckland War Memorial Museum

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IMG_9650A very popular museum, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is a large museum with a huge array of displays and exhibitions. It is set in a beautiful location with a view looking down towards the city.

Their website states they are ‘New Zealand’s first Museum’, and that the museum ‘tells the story of New Zealand, its place in the Pacific and its people’. It also has one of the top three heritage libraries in New Zealand.

IMG_9624The collections it houses include pre-eminent Māori and Pacific collections, social and military history collections, significant natural history resources and arts and pictorial collections. The museum is also highly involved in local education programmes.

With such a variety of collections, and in such a beautiful location overlooking the city, this museum is a must-visit on your trip to Auckland.

  • Opening hours: 10am-5pm, except for Christmas Day.
  • Cost: $25 for adults and $10 for children, free/donation for NZ residents.
  • Location: The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland.

 

5. Southward Car Museum, Paraparaumu

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IMG_1352Named after its namesake – Sir Len Southward – The Southward Car Museum is a wonderful collection of over 400 cars and bikes and really is a fantastic place to visit.

Their website claims they are the ‘largest and most comprehensive car museum in the southern hemisphere’ and their selection of vehicles are in beautiful condition and are really well presented in a huge exhibition hall. They also have a lower level within the museum, which is down some steps housing yet more cars.

More off-the-beaten track than the other museums in this list, this museum will not disappoint and may prove to be a highlight of your trip!

  • Opening hours: 9am-4.30pm, except for Christmas Day and Good Friday.
  • Cost: $17 for adults and $3 for children.
  • Location: Otaihanga Road, Paraparaumu, approx an hour’s drive north of Wellington.

There are other wonderful museums that could have made this Top 5 list, so feel to share yours with me! 🙂

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Categories: Activities, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 5 affordable places to stay in New Zealand

I have been debating whether to write this post and let out my secrets of some truly magical places to stay in New Zealand, but luckily for you I have decided to!

I am aware with an unlimited budget you could stay in places even more spectacular, but these places to stay are more for the ‘everyday’ traveller and will not blow your budget.

New Zealand has some of the most incredible and breathtaking scenery in the world, and whilst travelling through the country we stayed in some wonderful places. So, here we go with my Top 5:

1. Little Greenie, Golden Bay

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Buried away up a gravel track in Wainui Bay in the Golden Bay on New Zealand’s South island lies Little Greenie – somewhere so very special, that once you have stayed there no where else will quite stack up.

Lawrence and his team have created somewhere not only the most energy efficient and best eco-home in New Zealand, but somewhere you will never ever forget staying.

IMG_7141.jpgLittle Greenie is a completely liveable sustainable home (with electricity, hot water and indoor shower) and harnesses the sun’s power. Its unique position atop a hill over looking the bay is unique – you cannot see another person from this stunning vantage point. You can even take an outdoor bath underneath the stars!

Details:

Where? Close to Wainui Bay, Golden Bay.

Cost? $185 – $260 NZD per night.

Access? Up a narrow gravel road, accessible by 2WD car. Follow the signs.

 

2. Curio Bay Accommodation, Catlins Region

IMG_0363Curio Bay StudioTucked away in a quiet corner of the off-the-beaten-track region of New Zealand called the Catlins, lies Curio Bay Accommodation – a gem of a place.

Boasting incredible views these boutique studios are on the beachfront. Little blue penguins nest underneath the decking so you may hear then heading out to sea in the morning or returning at night. In the summer you may even see hector’s dolphins playing in the surf right outside your door. No wifi or TV so you can escape from it all.

Details:

Where? Curio Bay, Catlins region.

Cost? $160 – $200 NZD per night.

Access? Located on Curio Bay Road, route is a mixture of sealed/unsealed roads (depending on the direction you are coming from).

 

3. Oaks Shores Hotel Apartments, Queenstown

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IMG_9069The Oaks Shores apartments offer some of the best views for their price in the whole of Queenstown. Avoid the hotel rooms as they are pretty small, and opt for either a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment with a lake view (best views are from level 5). All apartments come with a full kitchen and underfloor heating and some have laundry, gas fire etc. Views of the surrounding mountains from the balcony are just out of this world! From here you can sit, relax, watch the sun go down and the moon rise.

Details: 

Where? Queenstown

Cost? 1 bedroom lake view apartments start from $214 NZD per night.

Access? Easy, off the main road heading into Queenstown on the lefthand side.

 

4. Abri Apartments, Paihia (Treetops chalet)

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The Treetops chalet at the Abri Apartments will provide you with a comfortable, relaxing and memorable stay. Sit out on your balcony and take in the wonderful view. The microfibre sheets in our chalet were the softest and most comfortable in all of New Zealand!

The chalet comes with air con, which is handy as the Bay of Islands experiences some of New Zealand’s nicest and hottest weather! And it also comes with a spa bath so you can relax and rest your legs from your day’s walking.

Details:

Where? Paihia, Bay of Islands

Cost? $149 – $299 NZD per night.

Access? Easy access, not far from the centre of Paihia, with 32 stairs up to entrance.

 

5. Aoraki Court, Mount Cook Village

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IMG_3521Aoraki Court is a brilliant alternative to the big-player in the area, the Hermitage Hotel (which is also nice, but just a different experience). It is a lovely boutique motel that provides luxury accommodation in the heart of Mount Cook Village. The units are extremely comfortable and have stunning views of the surrounding mountains with all directly facing majestic Mount Sefton. Parking is super easy and there is unlimited free wifi. Some units also have a spa bath – perfect for soaking in after a long day exploring the amazing surrounding scenery. It has all you need to relax and feel at home.

Details:

Where? Mount Cook Village

Cost? $165 – $325 NZD per night.

Access? By sealed roads, easy to locate in the village.

So there we have it – my Top 5 affordable places to stay in New Zealand. I hope you enjoyed reading about them and feel free to share any brilliant affordable places you have stayed.

Blue Penguin TravelIf you are interested in travelling to New Zealand and would like help planning your itinerary then let Blue Penguin Travel help. We are an independent travel company who offer a bespoke itinerary planning service, to help you create an amazing off-the-beaten-track travel adventure in New Zealand. Feel free to drop us an email: nicola@bluepenguintravel.com or check out our Facebook page.

Categories: Accommodation, Blue Penguin, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Destination Feature: Great Barrier Island

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Wild, unspoilt and stunningly beautiful – Great Barrier Island lies just 62 miles off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city – yet is a world away. 

With a permanent population of around 940 people, visiting Great Barrier Island feels like you have stepped back in time. It offers off-the-beaten-track bays and coves, stunning deserted beaches, beautiful rare birdlife, illuminating sunsets, peace and tranquility and a completely unique New Zealand experience.

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Seeking a truly special off-the-beaten-track travel adventure, myself and my husband took a trip to Great Barrier Island during a year we spent living in New Zealand and we were blown away by how different it felt from not just the rest of New Zealand, but from anywhere else in the world we had ever been.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take the 30 minute flight from Auckland. Immediately on landing you are aware you have landed somewhere special. You feel an imminent sense that you want to explore, and your best choice is hiring a car and exploring the island yourself. In fitting with the laid-back style of the island, the cars tend be a little ‘historic’, which only adds to the experience.

The stepped-back-in-time-feel extends to everyday basics one might usually take for granted – including electricity! There is no mains power on the island so they rely on generators and solar power. Arriving at a cafe at lunchtime one day we were offered ‘only coffee’ but we could have food after 4.30pm when they switched the generator on! The locals (many of them barefoot) were incredibly friendly and welcoming.

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Whilst being quaint and unusual Great Barrier Island also has much to offer the off-the-beaten-track traveller. Most of the beaches were completely deserted – shining with desolation and untouched beauty. The least accessible beach but perhaps the most stunning, was Kaitoke beach – down a steep gravel track and really worth the trip.

There are many panoramic lookout spots (Windy Canyon was our favourite) on the island that can be reached by a number of hikes. You can also take a hike to the fantastic Kaitoke Hot Springs and bathe in your own natural hot springs amongst the shade of the trees, listening to the birds sing.

The wildlife on Great Barrier Island is also very special – we spotted many smaller native birds (tui, brown teal) and were very lucky to see a few of the rare and beautiful North-island kaka. We also heard the little blue penguins on the beach at night.

The serenity and peacefulness, as well the stunningly beautiful scenery and very different way of life make Great Barrier Island a truly special and unique timeless paradise, and an escape from nearby city-life.

Make sure you include it on your New Zealand itinerary – you won’t be disappointed.

All photos are copyright of Blue Penguin Travel.

This article was also published in the Huffington Post’s Travel Section.

Interested in travelling to Great Barrier Island as part of your trip to New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We are an independent travel company who offer a bespoke itinerary planning service, to help you create an amazing off-the-beaten-track travel adventure in New Zealand. Feel free to drop us an email: nicola@bluepenguintravel.com or check out our Facebook page.

Categories: Destination Feature, Huffington Post, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First piece published in the Huffington Post!

I am delighted to announce I have been accepted to write for the Huffington Post in their travel section. I will be writing about my travel experiences all over the world, with a focus on off-the-beaten-track adventures in New Zealand (the speciality of my travel company, Blue Penguin Travel).

Check out my first post featured below that has been published on the Huffington Post. It is titled Great Barrier Island: New Zealand’s Timeless Paradise Close to The City. It is also currently being featured on the Huffington Post Travel homepage!

Please like and share if you want to. Thank you for your support! 🙂

GBI Huff Post Screenshot

 

 

Categories: Blue Penguin, Huffington Post, New Zealand, North Island, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My 50 favourite places in New Zealand

New Zealand leaves an imprint on your heart and will stay with you forever.

To celebrate reaching 200 blog posts I have decided to write a post which reveals my 50 favourite places in New Zealand. Having been very privileged to have lived in New Zealand with my husband for a year, and visited New Zealand twice previous to this, I have been to some incredible, special and truly memorable places.

I thought now would be the perfect time to share them with you. There are many more I could have included and I could have written a 1000! Here we go:

1. QT bench   2. Mount Cook Kea Point

3. Medlands beach

4. franz josef glacier

5. Wilson bay

6. elephant rocks

7. Purakaunui falls

8. Mount Cook

9. boundary creek

10.petrifiedforest

11.glenorchyview

12 fire at hobbiton

13 milford sound

14 awana beach

15.babyseals

16. Clay cliffs

17.mountcook

18.lakematheson

19.lakepukaki

20.brucebay

21.moke lake

22.glenorchy pier23.cathedralcove

24.lakewakatipu

25.laketekapo

26.oamarubluepenguin

27.qtgardens

28hahei

29.gemstonebeach

30orakeikorako

31cathedralcaves.jpg

32 qthill.jpg

33marokopa falls

34.hanmerspringshotpools.jpg

35.rees river.jpg

36.greatbarriersunset.jpg37.governor's bay.jpg

38.mounthyde.jpg

39.climbersmemorial.jpg

40littlekaiteri.jpg

41gelrnochylagoon.jpg

42.hokitika.jpg

43. kingstonbay.jpg

44.allansbeach

45.capereinga.jpg

46.waiheke.jpg

47. hanmer springs conical hill.jpg

48.auckland

49.bagend.jpg

50.paradise.jpg

Categories: Activities, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photo of the Day: Hobbiton

Bag End

Bag End

Today’s photo comes from the amazing place that is Hobbiton! As a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films we had the most incredible time visiting the set and exploring the home of the hobbits. This photo of Bag End is one of my favourite of the day and brings back such wonderful memories. We visited Hobbiton back in May 2013 when we were exploring in New Zealand in our camper-car, the spaceship. Check out my blog post for a detailed description of the tour and our day. Hobbiton also features in my Top 10 things to do in New Zealand post.

If you are a fan you cannot leave New Zealand without visiting Hobbiton – you will remember it forever!

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in visiting Hobbiton and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

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Top 10 Things To Do in New Zealand

New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful country and has a huge variety of amazing activities to do. After having visited New Zealand three times in the last 9 years (including living there for a year), and started my own New Zealand travel company – Blue Penguin Travel – I have put together a Top 10 list of things to do in New Zealand. There are in no particular order but I have personally experienced all of them and in my opinion the activities below rank amongst the best things to do in New Zealand.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

1.   Milford Sound

❤   Take a magical boat trip deep into the heart of the Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.

?   Mitre Peak Cruises are an excellent option for the cruise – who offer a smaller boat with limited passenger numbers and a more intimate experience where you can get closer to the scenery.

$   From $70 per adult and $17 per child.

Clock face  7 times daily in peak season, starting at 8.30am with the last cruise at 4.30pm.

⧗  Cruise length is 2 hours.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

Tasman Glacier Lake

Tasman Glacier Lake

2.   Glacial boat trip at Mount Cook

❤   Experience an amazing boat trip out on the terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier, which includes being able to touch and taste the icebergs you encounter.

?   Glacier Explorers are the only company offering trips out on the lake. The package includes a bus trip out to near the lake and a walk to the boat start point.

$   Cost is $145 per adult and $72.50 per child

Clock face  7 times daily from mid Sept to end of May, starting at 8.00am with the last cruise at 5.00pm.

⧗  Total trip time is 2 hours 30 mins with 45 mins-1 hour on the lake.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

 

 

 

 

Hobbiton

Hobbiton

3. Hobbiton

❤   Visit Hobbiton – the home of The Lord of the Rings films, deep in the heart of Middle Earth.

?   Hobbiton Tours run official tours that depart from Rotorua, Matamata or The Shires Rest Cafe on site. Your guide takes you deep into the heart of Hobbiton so you can step inside the films and enjoy exploring the set – including hobbit holes and the Green Dragon. Your guide will share insights and details about filming and how the set was created.

$   Tour prices from The Shires Rest Cafe start from $75 for adults, £37.50 for youths and $10 for children.

Clock face  Tours from The Shires Rest Cafe run approx every 15 mins, starting from 9am with the last tour departing at 5pm in peak season. For details on other departure points see the website.

⧗  The tour from The Shires Rest Cafe lasts approx 2 hours including transport.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

Dart River Jet Safari

Dart River Wilderness Jet

4.   Dart River Wilderness Jet

❤   Take a diverse trip into the awe-inspiringly beautiful Mount Aspiring National Park and explore The Lord of the Rings country.

?   The Dart River Wilderness Jet experience combines an informative bus ride, a fascinating forest walk and an exhilarating high-speed jet boat ride, with the only operator allowed on the stunning Dart River.

$   Adult price is $219 and child is $119. Cost for a family ticket is $557.

Clock face  Departures from Queenstown (including bus transfer to Glenorchy) at 8.00am and 12.30pm in summer and 8am and 12pm in winter. Departures from Glenorchy (self-drive yourself to Glenorchy) at 9am and 1.30pm in summer and 9am and 1pm in winter.

⧗  6 hour return from Queenstown and 3 hour return from Glenorchy.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

Franz Josef Glacier Heli Hike

Franz Josef Glacier Heli Hike

5.   Franz Josef Glacier Heli Hike

❤   Take a scenic helicopter flight up above Franz Josef Glacier and land on the glacier. Walk amongst the stunning glacial formations including inside ice caves.

?   The Helicopter Line offer an excellent heli hike with experienced and professional guides to guide you on your adventure. Moderate fitness is required for the hike and they provide all equipment you need.

$   Adult price is $425 and child price is $395.

Clock face  October to April – 9.30am, 12noon and 2.30pm; May to Sept – 11am and 1.30pm.

⧗  Total trip time is 3 hours with approx 2 hours hiking on the ice.

Clock faceTake a look at my gallery of images below:

Thermal Pools

Thermal Pools

6. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools

❤   Relax and unwind in the unique and varied thermal pools in the scenic town of Hanmer Springs.

?   At the Thermal Pools and Spa choose from one of 15 different pools, including sulphur pools, rock pools, rainbow pools and the popular massaging aqua-therapy pools. They also have a waterslide and kids play area, and for the more relaxing choice they have many spa options – including massage and beauty treatments.

$   There are various price options. Child single entry starts from $11 and adults from $22. Concession prices available, as well as multi-trip tickets. Costumes, towels and lockers can be hired.

Clock face  The Thermal Pools are open 10am to 9pm and the Spa is open 10am to 7pm every day except Christmas Day.

⧗  Time spent in the pools is not capped so you can stay as long as you wish!

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

7.   Queenstown helicopter trip

Helicopter trip

Helicopter trip

❤   See Queenstown and its amazing surrounding scenery from the air and experience a memorable snow landing atop a snow-capped mountain.

?   The Alpine Scenic flight offered by Glacier Southern Lakes helicopter includes aerial views of the Queenstown basin and Skippers Canyon and a snow landing.

$   The Alpine Scenic Flight option costs $330 for adults and $230 for children. Reduced prices can be found on book me.

Clock face  Flights depart up to 10 times a day in peak season, on the hour – starting at 8am, with the last flight at 5pm.

⧗ The Alpine Scenic Flight lasts 35 minutes.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

Whale tail

Whale tail

8.   Whale watching in Kaikoura

❤   Visit Kaikoura – a small coastal town on New Zealand’s South Island – for their world-famous whale watching tour. Get up-close to the giant sperm whale in their natural environment.

?   Whale Watch Kaikoura are the only vessel-based whale watching company in Kaikoura. They offer a 95% success rate of seeing whales on your trip.

$   Child price is $60 and adult price is $145.

Clock face  Tours run up to 10 times a day at peak season, starting at 6.45am, with the last tour leaving at 3.30pm.

⧗  Total trip time is 3 and a half hours, with 2 and a half hours spent on the water.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

Image copyright of Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

Image copyright of Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

9. Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

❤   Visit the blue penguin colony in Oamaru and see the little blue penguins – the smallest penguins in the world – come ashore in their natural environment.

?   The Oamaru penguin colony offer self guided or guided day tours, or the very special evening viewing tours, where you see the little blue penguins come ashore from their day out at sea. The numbers vary from 30 to 200 to come ashore depending on the time of year.

$   Prices for tickets range from $5 up to $40, depending on the tour selected, and details can be found here. The premium seating for the evening viewing is recommended and is $40 for adults, $20 for children and $35 for concessions.

Clock face  Self guided tours are possible from 10am until an hour before dusk. Guided tours run between 10am and 4pm. Evening tours commence before penguins come ashore which is usually between 5.30pm and 9.30pm, depending on season.

⧗  Self guided tours are 10-20 mins. Guided day tours last 30-40 mins. Evening viewing is between and 2 hours.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of images below:

Entrance to the Kiwi Park

Entrance to the Kiwi Park

10.   Kiwi Birdlife Park

❤   Experience New Zealand’s amazing native flora and fauna at Queenstown’s brilliant Kiwi Birdlife Park.

?   The Kiwi Birdlife Park is located next to the skyline gondola in Queenstown. See kiwi being fed, or watch the informative Conservation show. You can also see a tuatara which is New Zealand’s living fossil and survivor from the dinosaur age. Explore the park by walking through the forests. A free self-guided audio tour is available.

$   All day access passes cost $43 for adults, $22 for children and free for under 5s. Private tours and group bookings are also available.

Clock face  The park is open 9am – 5.30pm. Kiwi feedings are at 10am, 12pm, 1.30pm and 4.30pm. The conservation show is at 11am and 3pm.

⧗  You can spend as long as you wish in the park as passes last all day.

Clock faceTake a look at a gallery of my images below:

All prices are in New Zealand Dollars (NZD). All details are correct at the time of writing.

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in doing any of these amazing ‘Top 10 things to do’ and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

Categories: Activities, Blue Penguin, New Zealand, North Island, South Island, Top 10, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Photo of the Day: Great Barrier Island Sunset

Multicoloured Sunset

Multicoloured Sunset

I have been looking back through all my favourites photos taken during our year living in New Zealand and have decided to post my favourite ones featured as a ‘photo of the day’. Today’s photo is a sunset taken on the beautiful and remote island of Great Barrier Island, off the cost of Auckland. 4 hours 30 mins away by ferry, or just a 30 minute plane ride the beauty of this place has to be seen to be believed! We spent 4 days living there back in October 2012 and read about our unique experience here.

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in visiting Great Barrier Island and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

Categories: New Zealand, North Island, Photo Of The Day | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guest post: 10 Non-Touristy Things To Do In Auckland – New Zealand

Today, and for the first time, I am sharing a guest post on my blog. This is written by Benjamin Tong who runs A Short Term Rental website, which specialises in short term rentals all around the world. I felt this post would be incredibly useful and interesting for anyone keen to experience the best Auckland has to offer, away from the busy typical tourist attractions.

Enjoy!

10 Non-Touristy Things To Do in Auckland – New Zealand. By Benjamin Tong.

“Auckland is synonymous with sailing, the Blues, Waiheke island, and the unfortunate term of four seasons in one day. All of which are pretty important clues for understanding what makes the Auckland region unique from other cities in NZ.

Sailing is a favorite past-time with an incredible 1 in 3 Auckland’s owning a boat, that’s higher than most cities car ownership statistics. With fantastic access to the ocean, Aucklanders love nothing more than being out on the water.

Aucklanders have a difficult relationship with their regional rugby team, with their performance in recent years being nothing to brag about. This is a little unfortunate as they love to talk rugby, fortunately the national team the famous All Blacks are still world class.

Waiheke island is Auckland’s island getaway, warmer and less rainfall than the mainland it is said to have it’s own microclimate. Waiheke is about relaxation, wine, artists and multi million dollar weekend/holiday homes.

Few cities in New Zealand can boast four seasons in one day – nor perhaps would many want to. Auckland more regularly than many would like, produces crazy weather patterns making in sometimes impossible to ‘dress for the conditions'”.

Check out the infographic below for 10 of the best non touristy things to do on your Auckland trip. 

Non-Touristy Things To Do In Auckland By Short Term Renting
Courtesy of: Short Term Renting
Categories: Activities, Food, Guest Post, New Zealand, North Island | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback time – Bay of Islands and Breaching Whales!

Whale breaching

Whale breaching

Jumping dolphins

Jumping dolphins

This time two years ago we were travelling around the beautiful Bay of Islands region of New Zealand. Exploring the area was great and there were some really beautiful things to see. Take a look at my blog post about our trip for details of exactly what we did – this is a rather honest account where I had some issues with the ‘Dolphin Discoveries’ boat trip we took. However this also brought us one of the highlights of our time in New Zealand – seeing beautiful humpback whales jumping out of the water! I was able to capture a few shots of them (again see my post for more!) and the above shot is my favourite. Apparently this is a very rare sight in this area and only 2-5% of trips are as lucky as we were. We also saw dolphins who put on a bit of a display with their acrobatics – jumping high out of the water.

Photographing wildlife is one of my favourite things to do, and check out my photography website for more shots of some wildlife I have been lucky enough to capture.

Cape Reinga signpost

Cape Reinga signpost

We stayed in Paihia, which although one of the busier areas of the Bay of Islands was the perfect location to get out and explore the best of this area. Other highlights of our trip included the long drive up to Cape Reinga (where we timed our trip perfectly so we were the only ones at the famous signpost and lighthouse which was great) and exploring off the beaten track and seeing the kauri trees and the beautiful Rainbow Falls. We were also blessed with gorgeous weather during our stay and enjoyed the warm sun and clear blue skies.

The Bay of Islands has the perfect mixture of beautiful scenery, beaches and wildlife – with easily enough to do for a short break.

Categories: Activities, Flashback, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beautiful Hahei Sunrise

Sunrise in Hahei

Sunrise in Hahei

I thought I would share one of my favourite sunrise photos from New Zealand today. It is of a sunrise in Hahei on the gorgeous Coromandel Peninsula. This photo was taken back in 2010 when my husband and I were in New Zealand on our honeymoon. We were lucky to be staying in a beautiful holiday house that overlooked Hahei beach and the sea and one morning awoke with a bright red light streaming in our windows and looked out to see this absolutely stunning view! Just one of so many happy memories we have of this incredible country 🙂

If you are interested, prints and products with this image (along with many of my other New Zealand photographs) can be purchased via my Redbubble page.

Categories: Accommodation, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top 5 pizza places in New Zealand

Winnies

Winnies

Having done a few other New Zealand Top 5 blog posts (Top 5 things to do in NZ, Top 5 best kept secrets, Top 5 walks, Top 5 road trips and Top 5 things to do on South Island) I thought it was time for something a little different. Being a huge fan of pizza I just HAD to post about some of the delicious pizzas places we visited during our time in New Zealand. It is some of the most amazing pizza we have ever tasted!

1. Winnies Gourmet Pizza Bar and Restaurant in Queenstown: We became frequent visitors of Winnies as loved their varied menu (including very delicious pizzas) and excellent offers including their lunch deal. In a great location just steps from the beautiful Lake Wakatipu we also loved the laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff.

2. Pizza from Shawtys in Twizel: In an excellent location on the road between Christchurch and Queenstown (and not too far from the stunning Mount Cook) we often found ourselves passing through Twizel. When researching places to eat one day on our car journey not far from there we came across their amazing Trip Advisor reviews and just had to stop off and are so glad we did as it became our go-to place whilst travelling that journey. Their pizza is simply delicious and we always found it a warm, cosy and welcoming place.

3. Black Rabbit Pizza in Kaikoura: With limited options to eat in we often had takeaway from here or had it delivered. This a strong contender for the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted!! They are very experimental with their toppings and have become an iconic pizza place in the beautiful town of Kaikoura.

Ratbags and Innocent Bystanders

Ratbags and Innocent Bystanders

4. Crust Pizza and Hell Pizza – both takeaway pizza places from various locations: I have included both Crust and Hell together here as feel both are equally delicious! We have eaten these in a variety of places including Queenstown, Auckland and Rotorua. They are so much better than the traditional chains (e.g. Dominos) and easily top any takeaway pizza I have tasted back in my home country of the UK. Highly addictive too so beware!!

5. Ratbags and Innocent Bystanders in Dunedin: The unusually named ‘Ratbags’ is another unique and simply awesome place to get some pizza. They are famous for their half metre (photographed) and metre pizzas and are a must-visit food place in the lovely city of Dunedin.

I hope anyone who was searching for great pizza in New Zealand found this helpful. My mouth is watering just thinking about all this delicious pizza! Enjoy 🙂

Categories: Food, New Zealand, North Island, South Island, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beauty of New Zealand Video

Recently I have been reminiscing about our amazing time in New Zealand a lot. I came across the video I made during our stay in New Zealand – including a variety of photographs and some video taken over the course of the year. It includes New Zealand’s stunning scenery and wildlife. I thought it was worth sharing this again on my blog and I hope you enjoy watching it! New Zealand = awesome!

Categories: Activities, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Memories of New Zealand at Christmas

Queen Street Santa

Queen Street Santa being constructed in Dec 2013

Santa in 1960

Santa in 1960

Despite not living in New Zealand any more I still like to keep up with the news and recently one Christmas-related story in particular caught my eye. It was about the famous big Santa who lives on Queen Street in Auckland around Christmas time. I remember the first time, when walking through Auckland that we clapped eyes on the 18 metre height Santa. They were in the process of constructing Santa in his usual spot above Whitcoulls. Being a huge fan of Christmas I instantly loved it! And although some feel it is over the top and extravagant I think it is unique and memorable!

The story I refer to explains how the funding was cut for the big Santa and as such he would not be appearing in his usual home on Queen Street. Yet just the very next day the NZ Herald then reported that in fact big Santa had been saved by funding offers from an Auckland property development firm and SkyCity.

Santa himself has a long history on Queen Street and in fact was first constructed (with a somewhat different look to nowadays) back in 1960 above the original Farmers building on Queen Street.

The New Zealand Herald are calling it an Auckland miracle – brilliant! 🙂

A festive Auckland sky tower

A festive Auckland sky tower

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Thinking about this made me remember our time in the weeks leading up to Christmas that we spent in Auckland back in December 2012 – including seeing the beautiful Christmas lights on the famous Franklin Road. We took a walk through Auckland to look at them one night, and also witnessed the Sky Tower lit up so beautifully!

We were then lucky enough to spend our first kiwi Christmas with my family who flew over from both the UK and Australia to be with me and my husband. We enjoyed an amazing traditional UK Christmas dinner cooked by my Mum in our gorgeous holiday home we had rented overlooking Queenstown lake. Lovely memories 🙂

Family Christmas in NZ

Family Christmas in New Zealand

Categories: Christmas, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking of Hobbiton . . .

With the release of the final The Hobbit film this week it got me thinking back to our visit to the amazing place that is Hobbiton back in May 2013. Being big fans of The LOTR trilogy and the newest The Hobbit films we were really keen to visit the land of hobbits and took our chance whilst touring both islands of New Zealand in our Spaceship for 9 weeks (during our amazing year living there).

I wrote about our wonderful day at Hobbiton right here on this blog last year.

It also featured on my Top 5 things to do in New Zealand blog post I also wrote last year.

Hobbiton really does look exactly like it does in the films! We feel really privileged that we were able to visit during our time in New Zealand. We loved every second of our time there and also felt lucky to have visited on such a wonderful sunny day.

Hobbiton really is a magical place so if you are interested in visiting take a look at the official website for tours now!

Categories: Activities, Flashback, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, Spaceship | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

New Zealand = the best country in the world!

Beautiful New Zealand

Beautiful New Zealand

New Zealand has been voted the world’s best country in the Telegraph Travel Awards 2014 – to read the article click here. The article asks why it is the third year in a row that it has won the award and answers: “Perhaps it’s because New Zealand is a country that delivers almost everything a traveller could want in one easy-to-use package”. I couldn’t agree more! Having been lucky enough to spend a year travelling around New Zealand with my husband – exploring almost every corner of this amazing country – I completely agree and had the most incredible time.

The Telegraph have come up with 26 reasons why New Zealand is the world’s best country – so take a look here to see their reasons.

I have come up with my own Top 5 reasons I believe you should visit this phenomenally beautiful country and wanted to share them with you:

View of Lake Hawea on the way to Queenstown

Stunning scenery

Top 5 reasons to come to New Zealand:

1. The scenery is amazingly beautiful, varied and unspoilt – covering rain forests, glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains, beaches, glaciers and much more!

2. The road trips – The roads in New Zealand are easy to navigate, well-kept and surrounded by such beautiful scenery that driving almost anywhere is a pleasure.

Gorgeous scenic drives

Gorgeous scenic drives

3. The kiwi people – Laid-back and incredibly friendly and welcoming the New Zealand people make New Zealand that bit extra special.

Amazing wildlife

Amazing wildlife

4. The stunning and unique wildlife – rare and endangered animals can be seen in the wild if you know where to go – including kiwis, whales, dolphins, blue and yellow-eyed penguins, and birds such as the kaka, kakapo and kea.

5. The weather – with a temperate climate New Zealand has a well balance climate, with very lovely and long hot summers and winters with enough snow to enjoy and for snow activities.

If you are tempted by this wonderful country and are interested in planning your own trip to New Zealand then please take a look at my own travel company’s website – Blue Penguin Travel or get in touch via email at nicola@bluepenguintravel.com

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 5 things to do in New Zealand

It has nearly been a year over here in New Zealand – so I thought it was time for a Top 5 things to do in New Zealand (after previously blogging about my Top 5 things to do on South Island) – although it could so easily have been a Top 10! I feel that having spent so long over here (as well as taking two prior trips here in 2006 and 2010) I can choose my ultimate 5 paid-for activities I would recommend doing in New Zealand. Obviously these are down to personal taste, and the weather also played a factor in our decision. I have also chosen different things to those in my Top 5 to do on South island – it was so hard to choose and any of those could easily have made this list!

1. Helicopter trip over Queenstown – with snow landing.

Helicopter trip over Queenstown

Helicopter trip over Queenstown

Snow landing

Snow landing

We took a scenic helicopter trip over Queenstown with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters to celebrate my 30th birthday recently (check out my previous blog post for more details). We chose the alpine scenic (flight 104) which included a snow landing and it was the most perfect choice! The scenery was completely and utterly stunning. We flew up with two other passengers over Arrowtown and Skippers Canyon and landed atop Mount Hyde. Here we spent time in the snow and it was great fun! The 360 degree views were just amazing.

Views from the helicopter

Views from the helicopter

The weather was also just perfect – which we think made a real difference. There had recently been a fair amount of early snow in Queenstown (we went in early May) and this coupled with clear blue skies meant we had the best of both worlds – summer sun and skies with the winter snow! Our pilot was great and took some great photos of us while in the snow. On the journey back I was able to sit in the front seat so had the most wonderful view of Queenstown – as we took off and circled round with Queenstown below us – I also managed to take some great photos. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience and one we will never forget!

Details:

Cost: $310 per person – although we got a reduced rate of $199 each via a discount website called Book Me.

Times: Often throughout the day – depending on demand.

Activity time: 40 mins.

2. Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Mirror Lakes

Mirror Lakes

We took an amazing boat trip (see my old blog post for more) out on Milford Sound with Mitre Peak Cruises. We chose this company because they used smaller boats than other bigger companies (such as Real Journeys etc.) so we could get a more personal and close-up experience.

One of the main reasons Milford Sound makes the Top 5 (as well as the brilliant boat trip) is the road to Milford. It really is one of the most scenic roads we have ever driven on! We were very lucky that the weather was clear and we had great views all the way along. There are loads of different stops on the way – our favourites being Mirror Lakes and Lake Gunn, and lots of places to pull in and take photos. It is also quite windy and steep and care needs to be taken. It was fun passing through the Homer Tunnel and the view that greets you the other side is beautiful. We loved driving the road, and definitely one of our favourite road trips from the year.

Out on Milford Sound

Out on Milford Sound

Back to the cruise itself – we much preferred being on a smaller boat. It also wasn’t full so we had space and could move around. We queued up early for the boat and so were able to get a seat up top outside which was great. We then spent about 2 hours out on the sound. We passed beautiful waterfalls (Bowen falls was our favourite) and saw wildlife such as seals. We went right up to the Tasman sea and then turned back into the sound. The scenery along the way – as we passed Mitre Peak itself – was just gorgeous. Another definite highlight of a wonderful year in NZ!

Details:

Cost: $80 per person.

Times: Up to 7 times a day in peak season.

Activity time: 2 hours.

3. Dart River Jet Boat in Glenorchy

Dart River Jet Safari

Dart River Jet Safari

Me on the Dart River Jet Safari

Me on the Dart River Jet Safari

Back in December we experienced an incredible trip on the Wilderness Safari with Dart River Jet Safaris – check out my blog post for more details about our trip. This was our first jet boat trip – and we had read so many amazing reviews about it being the best – so it was a great choice! The Wilderness safari is split into 3 main parts – the bus journey from Glenorchy through Paradise (where we can get out to take some photos) and learn all about the movies and adverts filmed in this area. The next part is a 30 minute guided walk through the beautiful forest. And finally the last part was the awesome jet boat ride!

On the jet  boat

On the jet boat

We were on the jet boat for about 1 hour 30 (so much longer than other jet boat companies), and our driver Simon was amazing! He was so careful negotiating the pretty dangerous river, and we always felt safe. It was such thrilling ride and we really did love every second. Some of our favourite parts were the 360 degree turns we did in the boat – we got a bit wet but it was great fun. Travelling along at speeds of up to 80kmph with the wind in our hair (gripping on tight!) was simply amazing and the whole trip was a fantastic experience.

Details:

Cost: $219 per person (they offer free transfers from Queenstown, although we drove ourselves to Glenorchy as its a stunning drive).

Times: 8am and 12pm (from Queenstown), and 9am and 1pm (from Glenorchy)

Activity time: 3 hours

4. Hobbiton

At Hobbiton

At Hobbiton

At Bag End

At Bag End

Definitely one for fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (which of course we are!) but in our view no trip to New Zealand is complete without a trip to Hobbiton. We visited on a stunningly beautiful sunny day back in May (check out my detailed blog post about our trip) and the trip completely and utterly exceeded all of our expectations! The trip felt so real and authentic and not anywhere near as touristy as I was expecting! They have really sensitively planned the tours, to make the most of the location and to maximise the experience for guests. Our trip started with a old but quaint bus picking us up and driving down the gravel and windy road to start our tour at Hobbiton itself. Over the course of an hour or so we spent time exploring Hobbiton – accompanied by our awesome guide. We saw lots of hobbit holes (including Sam and Rosie’s and Bag End) and took endless awesome photos (see my blog for loads more!).

A pint in The Green Dragon

A pint in The Green Dragon

We also saw the famous ‘party tree’ and party area, as well as the bench where Gandalf and Bilbo have their smoke hoop competition. We really were walking exactly where the stars of the films had, and at every turn there was a sight you recognised from the films – amazing 🙂 The best part was to come with a visit to The Green Dragon to complete our trip. We enjoyed a lovely cold ginger beer by the fire, while we explored The Green Dragon inside and out – which had been incredibly well replicated. It really was the perfect end to the perfect trip and one we will always remember with excitement and fondness.

Details:

Cost: $75 per person.

Times: Tours run every half an hour starting at 9.30am and 4.30pm from the Shires Rest cafe – there are also various pick up options from Matamata and Rotorua.

Activity time: 1 hour 45 mins.

5. Heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier

Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier in 2006

Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier in 2006

Us on Franz Josef glacier

Us on Franz Josef glacier

This is the only one of the Top 5 not from our 2012/2013 trip – this was back in 2006 on our first trip to New Zealand. It really truly was one of the best things we have ever done, and still holds its own amongst so many amazing things we have done this time around. We took our trip with The Helicopter line who were amazing from start to finish. They were incredibly professional and our guide was fantastic – so knowledgeable and above all safe – we never felt any danger or risk whilst walking on the glacier.

Inside an ice cave

Inside an ice cave

Our trip took us up to land on the Franz Josef glacier, and the journey up was spectacular! It was our first ever time in helicopter (we have been in them a further 3 times since!) and we loved every second! After landing on the glacier we hiked across it – using crampons attached to our shoes. We climbed through ice caves and spent lots of time exploring. The scenery was simply incredible and it was such a memorable trip.

Details:

Cost: $395 per person.

Times: Up to 2 or 3 times a day depending on season.

Activity time: 3 hours.

If you are planning a trip to New Zealand and would like help putting together an awesome itinerary (specialising in amazing off-the-beaten-track places) then feel free to take a look at my website – Blue Penguin Travel, check out some of my wonderful testimonials or drop me and email 🙂

Categories: Activities, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Treehouse anyone?

Our treehouse in Auckland

Our treehouse in Auckland

So for the next stage of our amazing New Zealand Adventure we have been living in Auckland – and staying in a beautiful ‘treehouse’ in Ponsonby. We are renting it from an amazing woman called Beth who runs the nearby B&B 23 Hepburn street. It really is one of the loveliest places we have ever stayed! We have been here for a couple of weeks working from home and enjoying Auckland’s sights before the next chapter of our adventure begins on Weds – more about that in another post!

It has lovely views over beautiful Western Park and is really spacious and sunny inside. It has also been quite an experience staying here during the storms that recently hit New Zealand. Whilst Auckland actually seemed to get off lightest (they have had crazy amounts of snow on the South island and a massive storm in Wellington) we still had our own storm here in Auckland. On Thursday night we had thunder, lightning, very strong winds and torrential rain and hail. Luckily there was no damage and we watched the storm come in from our huge windows in our treehouse.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Treehotel in Sweden – photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Anyway, I was also recently sent an email from Tripadvisor highlighting Top 10 treetop hotels so I thought it was perfect the perfect time to share the link for anyone interested in staying in such unique places (one is also in NZ in Kaikoura, although we haven’t yet stayed there)!:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/InfoCenter-a_ctr.treehouseEN1

I just thought it was interesting to collect these unique treehouses all together, and we certainly have enjoyed staying in our very own treehouse right here in Auckland! 🙂

Categories: Accommodation, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My ‘The Beauty of New Zealand’ short film

I thought I would share with you a short film that I made recently titled ‘The Beauty of New Zealand’ using iMovie on my Macbook – under the name of my travel consultancy company Blue Penguin Travel. We are spending a year in New Zealand and our time here is coming to a close (we have trips to Australia and the Cook Islands coming up before heading back to the UK at the end of August) – so I have made this homage to the beauty of New Zealand using my own bits of video and photographs I have taken whilst over here. Enjoy! 🙂

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living in a Spaceship for 9 weeks: 7000km, ultimate freedom and amazing New Zealand adventures

Spaceships - awesome!

Spaceships – awesome!

“That’s the longest anyone has hired a Spaceship for!” – is what we were told when we collected our Beta 2 Berth Spaceship (Mysteron) from the Queenstown Spaceships depot.

So we are trailblazers! Awesome! 9 weeks is a long time – but the only way to spend enough time exploring New Zealand fully and we wouldn’t have shortened our time in our Spaceship by even a day.

Spending a year in New Zealand my husband and I had been doing a mixture of work and travelling. We planned a well-deserved holiday as a break from work and decided to return to some of our favourite places as well as explore places we hadn’t yet seen.

Our awesome Spaceship

Our awesome Spaceship

For us, Spaceships was a pretty easy choice. We didn’t want a huge monster of a camper-van, but also wanted its freedom – being able to sleep in it and cook food. Having seen them driving around we looked Spaceships up on their brilliant website – and they were the perfect solution! We chose a Beta 2 Berth model Spaceship which are really unique and an amazing mix of a campervan and a rental car.

On the road to Milford Sound

On the road to Milford Sound

We really had the most incredible 9 weeks in our Spaceships Beta 2 Berth. We travelled all over New Zealand and saw such wonderful sights. Some real highlights on our Spaceships Adventure for us included: waking up at the stunning Moke Lake after our first night in our Spaceship, the amazing road to Milford and a brilliant boat trip out on Milford Sound; finding off-the-beaten-track hidden delights such as Gemstone beach in the Catlins and Clay Cliffs near Omarama; seeing yellow-eyed penguins come ashore and watching hector’s dolphins play in the surf in the Catlins area; being able to access Cathedral Caves at low-tide as dawn was breaking; seeing the morning mist drift across the Otago Peninsula; exploring the Otago Peninsula’s gravel windy roads to get to stunning Allan’s beach; seeing the majestic Mount Cook on the drive alongside Lake Pukaki; exploring the wonderful West Coast and walking to Franz Josef glacier and seeing Lake Mathieson’s incredible reflection; taking a helicopter trip over Queenstown with snow landing; relaxing in the thermal hot pools of Hanmer Springs; taking our Spaceship over on the Interislander from south to north island; travelling to Cape Palliser lighthouse along the scenic coastal roads; meeting Manukura the amazing white kiwi; spending time in sunny and picturesque Napier; having geothermal adventures in Taupo and Rotorua (including an awesome trip to Orakei Korako); walking where Frodo and Gandalf had exploring hobbit-holes at amazing Hobbiton and having a drink at The Green Dragon, and witnessing the beauty of the Coromandel peninsula’s beaches.

Being in the Spaceship also provided me with an amazing opportunity to do research for my own travel consultancy company – Blue Penguin Travel – helping people have their own amazing off-the-beaten track adventures in New Zealand! 🙂

Picnic near Cape Palliser

Picnic near Cape Palliser

As I am sure you can imagine, living in our Spaceship for 9 weeks was an incredibly long time – as you certainly have to know the person you are staying in it with well! 🙂 It is compact sleeping in there, but really designed so well, it is comfortable and just a genius design. For those of you that have followed my blog throughout our 63 days you will know we didn’t spend every single night sleeping in it – as needed a TV for the odd important football game when in Rotorua, or just a little more space. But that is another amazing thing about the Spaceship – it is the size of a car so can be parked anywhere.

We were also lucky enough to have a bond with two spaceships – as we swapped Mysteron halfway through (because he needed a well-deserved service) for the even more awesome Draco!

In summary, some of the main positives from our Spaceships adventure are:

  • Fantastic customer service: From pick up through to drop off (including the demonstration and customer service on the phone) the communication from Spaceships was amazing – they were incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.
  • Complete flexibility and freedom: Spaceships allow you to travel wherever you want and make up your own unique itinerary. You can picnic amongst nature and stunning scenery. We camped at beautifully scenic DOC sites – they are cheap and offer a convenient loo and fabulous scenery!
  • Small enough to drive comfortably: The spaceship really drives like a car and does not feel cumbersome. We covered 7000 kilometres and many of the roads were gravel, windy and narrow and our Beta 2 Berth Spaceship allowed us to travel on them comfortably and with ease (where large camper-vans would have struggled).
  • Innovative features: We loved the unique features – especially the fridge and DVD player. We spent many a night snuggled up in our Spaceship listening to waves or a nearby river outside watching a film.
  • Dual battery system: This was an incredibly useful feature – we could power our fridge, DVD player and internal lights off a second battery. 
  • Amazing value and a low cost option: The price we paid was comparable to hiring a car and they offer a huge amount more than a hire car so was exceptional value.
  • It is the ‘Swiss army knife’ of campervans: Spaceships really can do everything!

Spaceships offered us the freedom of a campervan with the advantages of a car – and it definitely suited to us! We will always think of Mysteron and Draco fondly. Spaceships really gave us some of the most memorable adventures of our whole lives and we would recommend Spaceships unreservedly to anyone considering hiring one! 🙂

Me and Mysteron

Me and Mysteron – our Spaceship

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Categories: Accommodation, Activities, Blue Penguin, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island, Spaceship | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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