When I travel, the goal is usually to shape an itinerary based on the type of experience I’d like to take away from the time spent in a destination. Reflecting on my most recent international trip to New Zealand in the Spring (their Autumn), we absorbed picturesque landscapes – our mouths perpetually agape and uttering blasphemous statements, “Queenstown, What. The. F***.” We revved ourselves up with takeaway after takeaway of flat whites, wiled the hours away on the sands of Waiheke Island, challenged our stamina to tough hikes and shared in generous libations with travelers from all over. Yet, I wish we could have done more.

Travel regrets are rare, however even after nearly three weeks in New Zealand (and brief stopovers in Melbourne and Sydney), there are plenty of reasons to return.

These are the top three things I’d do the second time around in New Zealand (and Australia):

  • Spend Every Day in the South Island: As I outlined in a previous post, New Zealand is an outdoor enthusiast’s mecca. During our first night in Queenstown, over a few pints of Speight’s and new company in town, one of our fellow travelers  said, “If you can, I’d skip the entire North Island and stay in the South Island.” Bold words to say about a country brimming with adventure, yet entirely fitting. He’d just returned from a jet boating trip, while our other new companion was prepping for a day of canyoning (we went with her). My travel partner and good friend Ayanna and I found ourselves at odds with choosing between various hikes and water activities. Many required a half-day bus trip or an overnight stay in a smaller town, which wasn’t efficient for our four-day stay. Even after the cardio we cranked out in our short time in Queenstown, we barely broached the South Island’s potential. Instead, we stayed the course and flew to the North Island, to the San Francisco-like hills and jammed cafes of Wellington and then further still to the bustle of Auckland, which was jarring after spending most of our time surrounded by sheep, meadows and lakes – when we weren’t tramping around.
Heading back into town after hiking up to Skyline in Queenstown.

Heading back into town after hiking up to Skyline in Queenstown.

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