New Zealand: Day 1 & 2 on the South Island


Day 1 - Landing in New Zealand


Matt and I decided to skip having a formal wedding and “elope” in New Zealand instead. I lightly say the word elope, because 10 of our family members and my best friend decided to join us. I couldn’t bear the thought of going through all the rigorous long term planning that a wedding takes, hearing stories from friend who had to go through couples therapy when they couldn’t be on the same page through joint decision making or the idea spending nearly a 100k on a single day. I completely agree to each their own and I’ve been to spectacular weddings in the past, but it wasn’t for us. We wanted to embrace our traveling spirit by getting married in an exotic location, that also involves us getting married at the top of a 2,000 meter high mountain via helicopter, more on this later. 

We flew Air New Zealand and upgraded our seats to a Sky Couch meaning that we had a row of three seats to ourselves that convert to a mini bed. The flight was 13 hours and we were able to get rest, so the time went by quickly. We landed in Auckland and immediately got onto our next flight to Queenstown.

We landed in Queenstown at 10am and had an hour to kill until our rental car was ready. So in the airport we had some local New Zealand food... a cheese roll and mince meat pie.

We got our little blue Peugeot rental car and headed out onto the streets. The winter weather was clear, cold (higher 40s) and crisp. We drove through Queenstown and headed to Glenorchy which is a small town an hour way. It was beautiful and quaint with a fantastic lake front. We grabbed lunch at the Glenorchy Cafe and had a giant lentil soup, while Matt had a huge pork chop sandwich. We walked to the water to enjoy the serene calm lake and took some great aerial drone footage. After Glenorchy we hopped back on the road and headed to Arrowtown.

Arrowtown is another super small, quaint gold rush town with a few historic buildings, including an early Chinese settlement. Finally we headed toward Wanaka (one-a-kah) and arrived at our ecologically constructed Airbnb at 5pm. The temperature ended up dropping quite a bit and sundown quickly followed at 5:30pm.

We took an hour to relax after our long day on the plane and in the car and then we headed back to town for dinner. We were recommended to go to The White House for dinner but unfortunately it was closed. We stumbled upon Kika, this high end tapas restaurant, which was packed for the night. The food was delicious; beets, fried chicken, salad, and homemade pasta over turnips. We were so exhausted from the long day and delicious dinner and quickly fell asleep after we got home at 9pm.




Day 2 - Wanaka

We woke up early around, 6:30am, so we had plenty of rest (The sun doesn’t rise in winter until around 8am). We headed to town center for breakfast at Relishes, after two caffeinated beverages each we went out to see the local sites. Today was much colder than yesterday, so we extra bundled up with wool socks, extra layers, and hand warmers. We Followed a tourist pamphlet that took us to a few walking locations plus a few driving ones.

The first interest point was at the dock overlooking lake Wanaka. Then we headed toward the famous #thatwanakatree, Matt wanted to walk and we quickly realized it was very cold and very far away. We walked back to the car and drove to the tree only to find out how beautiful it was. It was relatively close to where we were,  but definitely worth driving.

After that we got in the car again and headed towards waterfall creek on the coast, a local told us that there were better waterfalls up the road because quite clearly, this one was “shit” and he was right.

We got in the car and headed towards where he told us to go only to find ourselves on a dirt road 4 miles into the mountains. We didn’t find what he mentioned but had a beautiful drive nonetheless.

We continued down the road and made our way to the glacier near Mount Aspiring. On the way there we saw deer, elk, reindeer, a herd of sheep in the middle of the road and plenty of cows. We drove until we weren’t able to cross this rushing water with our car and got out to enjoy the view of the mountains here. We later learned that it would’ve been super worth it to hike up by foot for another 15 minutes past this point. 

We were both getting hungry so we booked it back to town and immediately got pies from an award winning bakery (steak + cheese and chicken + leek + cheese) were fantastic. We were still a bit hungry so, we walked down the road to a pub and continued to eat. Matt had a salmon bake and I had a seafood chowder. Matt got a Pilsner and we were finally able to relax. We headed back to the house to take a nap, the jet lag was rough to get over.

We woke two hours later and grabbed a fish and chips dinner at the Lake Bar. We enjoyed Kiwi games of rugby and chariot racing on their sports bar televisions.