Must Do New Zealand Adventures: South Island

Last winter break I did a winter session course to New Zealand. It is even more amazing than what is portrayed in The Lord of the Ring movies. It is literally paradise on earth, you have the best of everything. There are a range of climates from mountains, beaches, rainforests and volcanoes. No one-cent and five-cent coins, which means that most prices end in a zero, or are rounded up. Crosswalks have no lights so you can basically cross the road whenever you like, though there are a few exceptions in very busy areas. It doesn’t mean that you should stop watching for cars, not everyone stops for pedestrians. Restaurant bills are not delivered to your table you will either pay beforehand or have to go up to the register to pay. In some places they don’t keep track of what you have ordered; they will just trust you to tell them what you had. There is no tipping! There are also no snakes, venomous insects, scorpions and only has one venomous spider, which is very rare up to the point it has an almost mythical status. These are just a few things that make New Zealand even better. Though you can’t forget about the amazing sites and activities. Listed below are some must do adventures on New Zealand’s South Island, in no specific order.

Queenstown 20160101_211016

Queenstown is your typical tourist town, high prices and many people. Disregarding those things it is a very picturesque town on Lake Wakatipu with street performers, stores and restaurants lining the streets, a gondola and a beach. It is a great town to stay at for holidays, night life and shopping. There is also a gondola where you can get breathtaking views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.  Queenstown also has a mouth- watering burger joint called Ferburger. Their line is usually a half block if not a block long and their wide varieties of burgers are about the size of a young child’s face. The half-hour wait is soo worth it. To end, Queesntown is world-famous for adventure, this leads into my next topic…

Extreme Sports:20151229_14500520160101_14251420160101_143416

Since Queenstown is the tourist destination in New Zealand they offer a wide range of extreme activities such as skydiving, jet boating and bungee/bungy jumping. If you don’t know, jet boating and bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand. And many times we do spontaneous things while on vacation, so might as well do one of these activities. Jet boating is the ultimate water sport where you power your way through narrow river canyons. You all know what bungee jumping is, and there are two iconic spots to bungee jump a hour away from Queesntown. The first is Kawarau Bridge, a 43 meter (~141 ft) jump into the river below. It is one of the most popular bungee sites, attrackting thousands of thrill seekers every year. For the more daring there is the Nevis Bungy which is New Zealand’s biggest at 134m (~440 ft) above the Nevis River. There are age, weight and medical restrictions for many of these activities. Unfortunately, I ran into this problem at the Nevis jump, I was a few pounds short for their weight limit. At least I was allowed to travel to the jumping site that is held above the river by two wires to watch.

Mount Cook20160102_143204
20160102_132211

Mount Cook is the highest mountain and longest glaciers in New Zealand. There is a lovely day hike (more like 4 hours) to a small lake at the base of the mountain. The hike is pretty flat and has several suspended bridges that are fun to bounce around on. The scenery is amazing, mountains, a river, and flora that were unlike anything I’ve seen. The flora actually somewhat reminded me or a Dr. Seuss book, there were rolling grass areas with these
spiky looking plants that shoot straight up in the air. The trail ends at the small lake which was the chalky white color with small ice blocks. There was a small rocky beach you can walk down to to get to the lake from the picnic area. I have to say, the hike to the lake was more enjoyable than the ending destination.

Kaikoura20160105_210731

Kaikoura is a very cute, small town that is on the ocean and has rocky beaches. Kaikoura itself wasn’t that outstanding as a town but it too had amazing views and was home to many Maori people, the indigenous people of NZ, consisting of 3% of the population. There is a Maori tour ran by a Maori that I thought was worth doing, to learn about their history and culture. Kaikoura is also a popular spot to go whale watching and swim with the dolphins. I was fortunate enough to swim with the dolphins and it is something that I will always remember. As I have never been snorkeling I really got the full experience in this activity. Everyone had to wear a head to toe wetsuits with goggles and snorkel. Since the suits were so buoyant there was no need for life jackets. This was an activity I highly recommend. You are delivered as close as possible to a pod of dolphins. The time I went there were 30 or more dolphins swimming around you,  it was awesome! If you are somewhat claustrophobic this might not be for you. Being encased in a wesuit add in being in the ocean you feel alone and closed in. Even I had a tiny anxiety attack. Also don’t worry if the dolphins move away you get back into the boat to follow them. The time I went we were on and off the boat 5 times before we headed back. And like many similar businesses if the weather is bad or no dolphins are to be found you get a refund and are able to reschedule.

Christcurch20160105_110507 20160104_110230

Christchuch is the largest city on the South Island. In 2010-12 Christcurch experienced devistating earthquakes which forever changed the city. When I visited the destruction from the earthquakes could still be seen around the entire city. This was eye-opening to see since in Montana earthquakes are almost nonexistent.  It was definitely surprising and heartbreaking to see all the damage left. But what surprised me the most was what the city did after the earthquakes. They turned a horrible natural disaster into a new beginning. All around the city there were little innovated places. One was an area of temporary trailer sized businesses, another a musical park made out of recycled material. There was an area testing out 3D printed designs to grow plant and shops made out of train cars. The street art all over the city was outstanding. I just happened to be there during the Spectrum Street Art Festival that consisted of street art, graffiti, video etc. all around the city.

Abel Tasman National Park20160109_101241

Abel Tasman is a coastal National Park that has several beaches and has a wide variety of Flora and fur seal rookeries and little blue penguin populations. It is usually recommended to plan a whole day just for this. There is a very easy trail that stretches along the coast that leads to several different beaches, depending on how long you want to walk. If wanting to stay overnight there are a couple of lodges and campsites throughout the park. I would recommend kayaking one way and walking back the other. By kayaking you get a better view of the seal rookeries and maybe a little blue penguin. You also get a better view of the smaller islands just off the coast. I kayaked to this small, somewhat secluded beach for lunch and relaxing and then walked back. If plan to go all day take water, sunscreen and a swimsuit. The burning time this far south is 10 minutes, yikes! There are water faucets available at some areas but they are more for washing and rinsing, not drinking. The water is so beautiful and clear it would be hard to stay away, hence the swimsuit. Warning the one bathroom that was at the beach I was at was awful, it stank to high heaven. Not sure this applies to all but approach with caution!

Milford Sound20151230_140805 20151230_125349

Milford sound is within Fiordland National Park. This too is an all day trip. Even though from Queenstown it is located an hour away, straight across, due to road regulations in NZ getting there was more like a 4 hour trip. If you do a bus tour you pass through stunning landscapes including mountain ranges, glacier-carved valleys, crystal clear lakes and native rainforest. There are several things to do at Milford Sound such as, hiking, kayaking and cruises. The cruise was an ideal way to see Milford Sound. It is just over two hours, you get to see wildlife as well as the stunning waterfalls and steep mountain sides. The sights rival that of Glacier National Park, daresay, maybe even surpass those of Glacier.

 

Advertisements

How many road signs can you guess right?

When did you get a driver’s license? I assume that it was a long time ago and you are an expert of the road signs in the United States. What if it’s road signs from other countries? I found some unique road signs around the world! Let’s try to figure out what they say so you can drive in foreign countries 🙂  The answers will be at the end of these signs.

 

  1.  What does this sign mean?

 

Road sign in New Zealand

HINT: This is a road sign from New Zealand.

 

 

2.  The sign says “_____” in Japanese.

Road sign in Japan

HINT: It’s a hexagon in America.

 

 

3.  What does this sign mean?

Road sign in China

HINT: Explosion! This is in China.

 

 

4.  What does this sign mean?
UK sing

HINT: What is the red car trying to do?

 

5.  This is an exaggerated depiction of ______.

Road sign in UK

HINT: The car is not in a gymnastic class.

 

 

6.  What does this sign mean?

Road sign of school ahead

HINT: It’s not a giant lollipop.

 

 

7.   Can you guess what country this sign is in?

Road sign in South Africa

HINT: It’s not in America.

 

 

The answers are here:

  1. “Kiwis are crossing the street so be cautious.” (New Zealand)
  2. ”Stop” (Japan)
  3. “Do not load explosives in your car and drive” (China)
  4. “Do not pass” (United Kingdom)
  5. “Accident Ahead” (United Kingdom)
  6. “School Ahead”
  7. “High-Jacking hot spot” (South Africa)

 

 

How did you do? Did you guess all the road signs correct? I hope you enjoyed these quizzes!

 

 

How to travel the air with comfort and style

Have you ever wondered while being on board of the plane how to make it more comfortable for you? Or maybe after the flight?
Thanksgiving break and Christmas holidays are quickly approaching and a lot of people will travel somewhere, probably home, on a trip, visit families and friends. As somebody who have traveled and flew quite a lot across the Europe and US and also overseas from Europe to US and Africa for several times I feel I am at least a little competent to talk about “how to” now. Although I don’t feel like I know everything and I think nobody does. There is still a lot of things I can learn and observe about flying. But experiences and mistakes teach us the most. And thanks to them we can find a lot of hacks for our own good, comfort and wellbeing. Some of them are very small things but especially on long flights or when there is a delay on your flight they can save you a lot of stress, money and time. As I learned a lot during that hours on plane or at the airport when I was cold, thirsty, hungry or bored, felt dried and my skin looked grayish I will share some hacks, observations and experiences with you so that you can think about it and enjoy your next flight in comfort and style. So sit back, relax and enjoy this article.

You can see spectacular things from the air
You can see spectacular things from the air

1. Stay hydrated!
It is more then essential to stay hydrated and it’s not always easy on board. My biggest hacks here? Thermal water in spray and empty bottle for water. It is essential to stay hydrated and it’s not very easy in an on board air and aircondition. Do you sometimes feel on a flight like your face is made of rubber? This is why, the air is very dry there. And this is what thermal water in spray will help you with. It’s very refreshing and it keeps your face “watered”. Also having an empty bottle for water, nobody will tell you anything and you can fill it almost everywhere. Remember you can always ask for a water on board anytime during the flight (probably not during takeoff and landing though) they don’t wanna faint you either. Also having a hydrating cream for face and hands is handy.

Make sure it is not over 50 ml / 1.76 OZ. This one is from Avene,but you can also buy Vichy, LaRoche or not branded one.
Make sure it is not over 50 ml / 1.76 OZ. This one is from Avene,but you can also buy Vichy, LaRoche or not branded one.

2. Don’t smell
Nobody wants to find out having a neighbour on a flight by bad smell. You know what I mean,some people sweat,some people sweat more and some people just smell a lot. Now,you can’t have big bottles, sprays or perfumes in your carry-on, so how to prevent from smell? Get small deodorant, either solid or spray. They have them in Target,Walgreens, everywhere for around $3. Also they fit everywhere, even a purse. If you really sweat a lot than having a spear t-shirt could help. Don’t wanna give up on your favorite perfume? Some brands have small perfume roll-on versions,if not buy perfume atomizer. Small thing you can fill up right from your perfume bottle,they have them in perfumeries or order online.

You can easily fill it with your favorite perfume and have it always by your side.
You can easily fill it with your favorite perfume and have it always by your side.

3. Freshness all over you
Maybe this applies just to women, but it’s important and nobody talks about it. Wet feminine wipes and maybe spare undergarment are life savers on long flights. When you fly from Europe to US and contrary you fly from 10 to 20 hours plus transfers. It is even worse on longer flights. You usually change your underwear at least once during 24 hours, right? This is the same time. Plus airport is usually not your final destination, you go to the hotel or straight downtown. Just think about it in advance…
4. Bacteria challenge
Do you know where on the plane is the biggest bacteria coverage? In recent article Business Insider revealed that places with biggest bacteria exposure are food trays, magazines and safety information in your seat pocket and WC handle aboard. It is very useful to have a small antibacterial gel or an antibacterial tissues on hand. Especially right before meal.
5. Cozy and warm
For staying cozy and warm have your own pillow, blanket or scarf and maybe pair of fluffy socks. You don’t wanna use airline’s pillow and blanket, because if you’re not first class they’re usually not very snug and clean. You can have inflatable pillow if you don’t wanna carry it around. For scarf you can easily style it with your outfit. And fluffy socks? Maybe also more feminine issue? They are great when you wanna take down your shoes, they will warm you and you can also walk in them around the plane, nobody cares there, plus it’s dark-ish there too.

Can serve as a scarf and a little blanket, 2 in 1.
Can serve as a scarf and a little blanket, 2 in 1.

6. Move it!
Don’t sit for over four hours. Sometimes you’re watching a movie or sleeping and really forget about time, but you should set an alarm and walk a bit, stretch and move your legs. It is not healthy for your muscles nor your veins to sit and not move too long. Doctors usually advise to set the alarm for every two hours. You’d also feel very stiff and even more tired after landing.
7. Entertain yourself
Especially on long flights it is very easy to get bored. You probably know that there is a free entertainment center or system provided by arline, you can even use Wi-Fi on board on most of the flights (pretty expensive one though). Any hacks here? Miss out some of your favorite show’s new episodes and catch on them on flight. Always have your earphones, it’s more hygienic to use them the one providing by airline and you don’t have to listen to every noise around. Don’t rely on the entertainment center and have your own book, iPod or whatever, it pays off when you find out there is nothing interesting on, it’s broken or you’ll eventually get bored of the center.

Find the perfect headphones for you and take them with you. Always.
Find the perfect headphones for you and take them with you. Always.

8. Where you going?
It is essential to think about your final destination. Especially about the weather and time difference. You can plan and layer your outfit according to it. Also you can try to plan your sleep a few days before your trip according to time difference and slightly adapt yourself to local time in advance.

You travel,you move from one place to another, think about your final destination.
You travel,you move from one place to another, think about your final destination.

Also don’t forget your camera, tablet with it or phone to capture the beautiful views from the plane.

Beautiful sunset somewhere over Utah
Beautiful sunset somewhere over Utah

Now, if you have any additional hacks or experiences feel free to write them in comments. They are appreciated. That’s the only way we can learn from each other and have more pleasant flights in the future. This is our final destination today, thank you for keeping with us.

The author is a university student from Czech Republic, currently on an exchange program at the University of Montana, USA. She likes traveling, exploring new places, skiing and going to the movies.