Day 6 – Feb 2nd – Day 3 of 3 on Hollyford Track – Beaches, Snapper and a Helicopter ride into Milford’s Sound

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Chris at Milford Sound – where we arrived by helicopter.

The last day on the Hollyford Track, they let us off easy. We jet boated out to the sand bar where many a ship had crashed trying to service the few settlements back in the day. I could try to retell the hilarious and harrowing stories of the hard-core settlers, and Maori legends that explained the biological idiosyncrasies of the indigenous plants, but there’s no way I could capture the magic of hearing it all from your guides when you’re standing on a at the edge of a tiny island in the middle of the pacific ocean.

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Day 5 – February 1st – Hollyford Track day 2 of 3 – Baby Seals, Jet Boats and Fungi by Anthropologie

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Maori ship builders would turn their tree trunks in Lake Alabaster for two weeks to find the natural balancing point.

Day two of the Hollyford Track started out with the obligatory fantastic breakfast of eggs benedict and then we were off into nature.

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The World of New Zealand Web Series – or – New Zealand Film #NotJustHobbits

Flock of sheep, New Zealand, Pacific

Captive audience.

One of my many jobs in the US is writing a column on web series for the LA Weekly. I often do additional articles for the blog extension of the column — The Tangled Web We Watch — including this one on web series in NZ. Figured it might be a nice addition to this guide if you are looking to learn more about the entertainment industry in NZ before your trip OR want to watch some local film makers’ work.

Web series are becoming  popular all over the world. From Marseilles to Vancouver to Hollywood, festivals are popping up to celebrate the genre and award exceptional shows.

I just got back from my honeymoon in New Zealand (I’m actually a Kiwi transplant from Christchurch myself), so of course I started asking myself — what’s it like to create web series in NZ?

Sure Aotearoa may have made a name for itself in the film industry as the location of Kiwi Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series and the shooting location of the next three Avatar movies, but with limited local industry opportunities, few TV channels and film funding available only for approved subject matter, aspiring film makers on this island of 4.4 million are turning their creative energies to the web with increasing enthusiasm.

And the GOVERNMENT is helping fund them — up to NZ $100k per series! Holy cow.

Fiona Powell

Fiona Powell

But where can current and future eyeballs go to see all these series? Luckily, award-winning magazine editor and publisher, film maker and entrepreneur Fiona Powell has created a sleek platform for NZ to show off its best and its brightest:  Web Series Channel – NZ’s home of indie web TV.  CLICK HERE to read my interview with Fiona about everything going on in digital on the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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Day 4 – January 31st – Hollyford Track Day 1 of 3 — 10.4 Mile Rain forest Hike!

Starting our 10.4 mile hike - Day 1 Hollyford Track

Starting our 10.4 mile hike – Day 1 Hollyford Track

A splurge of our trip that was worth every penny was a guided 3-Day hike along the Hollyford Track.  Our guides, Mush, a geologist and hiking enthusiast, and Kahu, a recent high school grad with a new found enthusiasm for his Maori heritage lead us from the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps, though native rain forest, myth and history rich rivers and lakes, and to the remote sand dunes and surf of the rugged West Coast.

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Day 3 – January 30th – Day of Adventure!

Skippers Canyon Road - (not my pic)

(not my pic)

Today, we took advantage of what Queenstown is all about – extreme sports and the great outdoors. At 8am a bus from Queenstown Rafting picked us up and drove us through the countryside, then up one of the most dangerous mountain roads in NZ – the sheer-cliff-hugging Skipper Canyon Road. (If you rent a car anywhere in the country, it’s written into the contact that you will NOT be covered if you drive this path)

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Day 2 – Jan 29th: The Most Tiring Honeymoon Ever BEGINS!

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Our overall plan for our trip was to fly from Auckland (cheapest city to fly into) down to the lower South Island (Queenstown) and work our way back up to eventually fly out of Auckland at the end of our trip.

A 7:00am bus ride to the airport had us admiring the massive mountains of Queenstown – NZ’s ‘adventure capital’, from the tarmac by 9:30am. The flight down was a sightseeing event in itself with great views of the coast and active volcano Mount Taranaki.  Queenstown’s downtown and sailboat-strewn suburbs are scattered along the bright blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, shaped like a giant in repose. There’s a great Maori Legend as to why this is so.

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Day 1- Jan 28th: An Evening in Auckland

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Sorry NZ’s largest city, we only gave you an evening, but you proved yourself and we’ll be back. I wish we’d had a full day to explore the rose garden in Parnell, the suburb of Devenport and the Art Gallery and its surrounding parks, but by the time we cleared customs  at the airport and caught the Air Bus straight to downtown, it was 6pm. But we made the most of it!

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Travel day: LAX->SYD->AKL — FUN FACTS!

Landing on the North Island

Is this place real?

FUN FACT: Turns out you need a VISA to visit Australia, and when I say ‘visit’ I mean ‘your scheduled flight has a layover there on the way home’. Lesson learned.

FUN FACT: It only takes two minutes to obtain a visa at the Virgin Australia Desk an hour before your flight, making this the most efficient place/time to get a visa, anyway. Score. Lesson learned.

FUN FACT: Airport bartenders are vulnerable to sentiment and will give you a refill on your glass of wine if you mention that it’s your honeymoon. Offering to ‘check out their band’s website’ may also be required.

FUN FACT: Swear words aren’t allowed on in-flight movies, but instead of recording alternate lines, someone just SHOUTS a less offensive word over the actual word. Shit is exchanged for… spit, whenever possible.

FUN FACT: Your small hair gel container that is approved for travel around the fear-mongering US is actually too big to get into Australia.

FUN FACT: The Sydney terminal sells FLIGHT ENERGY DRINK CONCENTRATES in 100ml bottles. If you chug the horrible stuff you can then replace it with hair gel.

FUN FACT: Standing at security for ten minutes pumping a hair gel into an energy drink bottle is embarrassing, but you will feel proud and resourceful when you triumph.

Three different depths of water, approaching Aotearoa

Three different depths of water, approaching Aotearoa

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Itinerary

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It’s an impossible feat to see the entire country of New Zealand in seventeen days, but we’re nuts, so we tried. If you’ve got sixteen days and want to go gung ho and see both islands, here’s one way to do it.  I’ll report at the end of the trip what exactly we recommend and what we wish we had done better.

OUR ITINERARY:

Travel Day: January 26th

LAX – SYDNEY- AUCKLAND

DAY ONE: January 28th — AUCKLAND — We lost a day! – NZ is 18 hours ahead of the US.

Arrive at Auckland Airport at 2:40pm & take the Airbus to Downtown Auckland

Explore Auckland! (if not exhausted)

Stay 1 night at the  Shakespeare Hotel & Brewery

*We intentionally are not spending another day in Auckland as we’re focusing on nature for our trip and spending time in the cities where we have family.

DAY TWO:  January: 29th

Take the Airbus back to Auckland Airport  in the AM

Fly down to Queenstown

Stay in Latham’s flat – thank you Verity & Latham!!

Explore Queenstown all day: Lake, ride the sky Gondola, hike down to town,e tc.

DAY THREE: Thurs – January: 30th

Whitewater River Rafting  on the Showater River with Queenstown Rafting.

5.30pm

Pre- Hollyford Track Hike Briefing Meeting

Dinner in town & stargazing

Fri – January: 31st

6:30am – Pick-up for Hollyford Track Three Day Guided Hike through the wilderness

HERE’S the link to the company we’re going with

Sat – February 01

Hollyford Track

Sun – February 2nd:

Hollyford Track – End

Last night in Queenstown

Mon – February 03th:

Drive to Franz Josef glacier

1:00pm – Franz Joseph Glacier Climb

5:00pm – Check in at Chateau Franz Hostel

7:20pm (approx) – Okarito Kiwi tour – find kiwis in the wild!

Tue – February 04th:

Drive to Christchurch  (where Steph is from!)- via pancake rocks??

Stay with Verity & Latham – yay!

Wed – February 05:

Christchurch – city tour with Amy Bowie & Kirsten Simpson – yay!

Thurs – February 06th:

Christchurch – Waitangi Day — maybe Akaroa?

Fri – February 07th:

Rent a car in ChCh drive up the coast to  Picton via Marlborough wine country.

7:00pm – Take the ferry across Cooks Straight from Picton to Wellington to meet Kirsten

Sat – February 08th:

Explore Wellington with Kirsten

Sun – February 09th:

Enjoy drive from Wellington  to Tongariro. Visit Carole on the way.  (stop in wineries?)

Stay at Asure Parklands Motor Lodge

February 10th:

Shuttle to Tongariro National park and HIKE Tongariro Crossing – full day

Perhaps relax in the evening at – Huka Falls, or Tokaanu Hot Pools

February 11th:

Drive to Rotorua

Stay at Gibson Motel

7:30pm – Tamaki Maori Village Experience, yeah touristy, but fun and interesting!

February 12th:

Coromandel Peninsula – Explore the beach, hike around.

Stay at Hahei Bed and Breakfast

4:45pm – Cathedral Cove Sunset Kayak tour

February 13th:

Drive to Auckland and fly to Brisbane at 3:00pm

Visit cousin Andrea and her kids Rosie and Max – yay!

February 14th

11:15am Fly from Brisbane – HOME!

THE END!

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Thank You

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We want to thank from the bottom of our hearts all our incredible, generous, kind friends and family who not only trekked all the way to the tiny town of Lyme, New Hampsire to share our wedding day with us, but also helped us go on the honeymoon of our dreams to New Zealand. We wanted to make this blog to share with you the adventure that you made possible. And if you ever travel to the Land of the Long White Cloud yourself, perhaps this can be a guide. We love you SO much and you will be in our hearts every step of the way.

Love,

Steph and Chris

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