We went on a cruise to New Zealand in January 2017. We wanted to get such long flight days out of the way while we’re still young and not too creaky (and it was indeed a looong 2 flights). But it was worth it! New Zealand is so gorgeous, just like everyone says! Here are my four favorite memories from this trip.
New Zealand’s fiords are STUNNING! The photos will never do it justice. Our cruise ship spent a whole day sailing up and down three of New Zealand’s best: Milford, Dusky, and Doubtful Sounds. The weather got progressively wetter and colder as the day wore on, but that’s pretty typical of the area. People camped out on the decks with blankets and hot beverages, and it was so cozy.
2. Tunnel Beach
In Dunedin, we had even worse weather. It poured on and off the whole day. We had decided in advance that we wanted to see Tunnel Beach, which required using the local bus to get out away from the main city center. We asked the bus driver to tell us which stop to get out at, and he asked us, “Are you sure you want to go there in this weather?” But we only had one day, so it was now or never.
We got out in a very rural-looking area with no sidewalk or many buildings. We were given the general direction, and just started walking while it sprinkled on us. Eventually we found the spot without getting too lost, and the rain paused for us to take in the views.
Now there are technically two tunnels at Tunnel Beach, and I actually have no clue which one gives it the name. There’s the more visible one that was made by nature:
And then there is a smaller one carved into the rock so you can get down to the sand. This one actually gets flooded during high tide.
When we had our fill of the views, we climbed back up (which always makes me feel so out of shape!), and it promptly started raining again. I couldn’t believe the timing! We headed back to the bus stop, and waited ages for a bus to come by. We thought we would never get back to the ship on time, and we got so soaked! It wasn’t fun in the moment, but I’m glad we had such a memorable time.
3. Sail-away from Dunedin
One of my favorite memories from our New Zealand trip was just a little moment. After we got back and changed out of our wet clothes, we went to dinner, enjoyed the ship’s nightly game, and then spontaneously decided to throw on our swimsuits and head to the hot tub during the sail-away. It had been a chilly day, and it felt so nice to relax in the hot water while the clouds darkened outside.
Hardly anyone else was in the Solarium, and we just enjoyed looking out the big windows at the passing scenery. It really struck me how happy and grateful I was to have this alone time with my husband, halfway across the world together.
This was one of Kevin’s favorite activities as well. He’s a big Lord of the Rings fan. I’m not much into it really, but I do love filmmaking/behind-the-scenes, and Hobbiton is incredible for that! The tour includes many fun anecdotes, such as the story of finding the sheep farm, getting the New Zealand army to build a road to get the heavy equipment in (they later played orcs in the films), remaking a fake version of the iconic tree to have a younger one for the Hobbit prequels, painting the fake leaves on the tree one at a time because the green was incorrect, and many more.
The level of detail, despite potentially never being seen on screen, is just astounding.
Do you know how to tell how rich a hobbit is? The higher up the hill their house is, the richer they are! I won a fake leaf for answering correctly!
We finished up the amazing tour with a beer in the Green Dragon Inn, which also serves food.
It was a bit sad to leave and step back into the real world afterwards. We could have stayed longer! But alas, it was time to head back to the ship and on to the next destination…
These four experiences just scratch the surface of our trip to New Zealand. It was an amazing vacation, and Kevin is already trying to convince me to go back!