New Zealand Road Trip: Queenstown to Auckland

After spending the last few weeks in Queenstown (one of our favourite places in the world) we spent 5 days driving up the country to catch our flight to Sydney. We managed to get a car for free using Transfercar – its a website that matches people with cars that need to be taken back to the rental places – I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for free travel in New Zealand. We left our little shared house in Queenstown and headed North in our unnecessarily large people carrier…

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We were originally planning to drive via Lake Tekapo but we were told to drive a different route due to a heavy snowfall the night before which meant we may not have been able to drive through Tekapo without snow chains… Instead we drove through The Lindis Pass which was one of the most beautiful roads we’ve ever driven. We stopped for a while to take the drone up and get some shots of the amazing snow capped mountains all around us.

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We arrived in Christchurch late after a really long drive through a whole range of different landscapes. The views did not disappoint. We checked into a huge ensuite room in YHA Rolleston house, made a veggie chilli and slept so well.

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The next morning we had only a few hours in Christchurch city before we had to get our car to the airport rental place so we headed out for a mini photo mission. 2 years ago we spent a few days in Christchurch over the Easter weekend which was eerily quiet so it was nice this time to actually see the city buzzing with people. If you’re ever around in Christchurch I’d highly recommend going to see the 185 White Chairs art installation on Cashel Street that was created in remembrance of the people killed in the 2011 earthquake, it was really quite powerful – particularly the tiny kids chair and the baby carry cot. 😥

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We made it to the airport in time and caught our flight to Wellington. After picking up our second transfer car, we headed to YHA Wellington, checked in, got a pizza and a beer and relaxed in their huge social area for the evening. While in New Zealand 2 years ago we spent 10 days in this hostel over Christmas with a whole bunch of amazing people and it really felt like home, we have so many great memories in this place. After spending most of the day wandering around the city and falling in love all over again, we headed back to the car park to find our tyre flat. Three hours and a new car later, we decided to chill for the evening in Oriental bay. The beach we had our Christmas BBQ on all that time ago seemed a little quiet now but still has that beautiful view of the mountains and ocean beyond.

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Living wall in Wellington

The morning before we left we drove up Mount Victoria – we really wanted to walk it (honest!) but we had a lot of driving to do this day so we cheated and took the car up to the viewpoint instead (there’s quite a big car park up there). It’s one thing we didn’t get to do last time so I’m so thankful we got to this time on such a beautiful morning! The views from there are truly stunning – and 360! – one of the best things to do in Wellington for sure! We then got back on the road and continued heading North.

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View of Wellington Bay from Mount Victoria

One of the things we were most excited about driving this part of the journey was that we’d be passing Tongariro National Park – home of the famous Tongariro Crossing and Mount Ngauruhoe (or Mount doom for the Lord of the Rings fans..). Typically, the weather pulled in as soon as we got there and we got absolutely zero view of the park and the mountains that were there somewhere hidden in all that cloud. So I didn’t take any photos (it would have just been a white-out) but one of my biggest recommendations for the whole of New Zealand is the Tongariro crossing. We managed to get a good day for it 2 years ago and it still stands as one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had.

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View of the Emerald Lakes, Tongariro Crossing (Dec 2015)

The sunset over Lake Taupō as we arrived was pretty magical (the cloud clearly hadn’t made it to this part of the island). We stayed at Rainbow Lodge which was such a special place to us last time we visited and still has that amazing homely feel. If you’re looking for a home away from home in Taupō, this has to be it. It’s also super close to the natural hot springs which has to be the best way to wake up ever, AND Huka Falls which is a must do in Taupō (particularly if you have a drone!).

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Spa Thermal Park – one of Taupō’s many natural hot springs
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Huka Falls from the air (yes, the water really is that colour)

We sadly left Taupō to drive the last leg of our trip to Auckland to drop the car off before getting an Uber to our accommodation in YHA Auckland City. The hostel has had a makeover since we were there last and it looks fantastic! A movie room and a reading room has been added and their sun deck looks super fancy with a view of the Sky Tower.  We have stayed in a few hostels in Auckland each time we’ve been there and this is officially our favourite. The sky tower is a little on the pricey side but we think it’s definitely worth it.

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View from the sun deck at YHA Auckland City

And so we caught our flight the next morning out of Auckland International Airport and our tiny tour of New Zealand was over! We both have so much love for this country, it’s beauty and it’s culture. We weren’t so sad this time as we know that we’ll be back. Thanks for putting us up for the week YHA New Zealand and Rainbow Lodge.* Some of the cosiest, welcoming places we’ve ever stayed!

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*This is not a paid post, I only ever promote businesses I truly believe in and I am always honest in these posts!

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