9 Day Sweet as South with Contiki
After having such an awesome time in Europe on Contiki in 2016, I thought I was time to do it again – in New Zealand this time!
In October 2017, I flew over to Christchurch with Emirates two nights before my tour was set to commence. I travelled with one of my good friends and it was both our first time to the country. We spend the first two days exploring all that Christchurch had to offer. Unfortunately, Christchurch is a city still rebuilding after the 2011 earthquakes however there is still so much to do to fill your time. Although it was quite cold, we had great weather! We wandered through the Botanical Gardens, admired all the street art and murals and caught a shuttle bus from the city to the Christchurch Gondola for some spectacular views over snow-covered mountains in the distance as well as the eastern coastline.
Day one of the tour saw us up bright and early, ready to get on the road to Lake Ohau. Along the way we stopped at Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki before finally reaching our destination. The lodge was situated right on Lake Ohau with amazing views over the snow-capped mountains surrounding the lake. That evening we watched the sky turn a beautiful pink-purple-blue colour as the sun set.
After a day of driving, we reached Dunedin in the afternoon. First stop was Baldwin Street – the World’s Steepest Street. Slowly but surely we all hiked our way to the top for a great view over the city. We also paid a visit to the famous Dunedin Railway Station, the Speight’s brewery and stocked up on some chocolate at the Cadbury Factory. We spent that night in Dunedin before making tracks to one of my favourite places!
The next day was both exciting and terrifying – Bungy Day! On our way from Dunedin to Queenstown we had the opportunity to Bungy Jump at the original home of the bungy – Kawarau Bridge. What an experience! Only nine of us participated in the jump from the group – myself being one of them. Definitely a must if you’re travelling to Queenstown.
We then carried on into Queenstown. This ended up being my favourite place on the trip. We had four nights here and every second of it was jam-packed full of awesome activities. This is where the majority of the optional tours take place. I swang through Shotover Canyon on the Canyon Swing and ziplined down the mountain with Ziptrek – just to name a couple. A highlight for me though was the view from the top of the Skyline Gondola! It’s well worth the trip to the top of the mountain. You can then enjoy the view again as you take the Luge ride back down.
Our final stop was rainy Franz Josef Glacier. It rained non-stop for the two days we were there but that didn’t stop us from making the most of it. Being only a small town and with the weather we were experiencing, we only had a few optional tours to choose from. Quad-biking was the most popular choice. It was great for all skill levels and lots of fun. That night, we had our final group dinner and celebrated the awesome trip and even better friends we had made in such a short period of time.
On the last day, we drove from Franz Josef to Christchurch with a few stops along the way to help pass the time including Hokitika, Arthurs Pass & Springfield! On arrival back in Christchurch, we said goodbye to everyone we had met along the way before spending a final night in Christchurch and flying home the following day. It was only a quick little tour but we both had the best time! Can’t wait to go back to New Zealand one day to see the North Island.