At the end of 2008 I decided quit my job and in the new year start a solo trip my first in fact, backpacking to New Zealand it was.
This trip was 2009 so many things may of changed, and with that if anyone has been recently I would love to know more about these places I visited and what it is like now.
I took the NZ1 Air New Zealand from London Heathrow to Christchurch via Los Angeles and Christchurch. Which now seems an odd route, but didn’t care at the time the excitement was to much.
Arriving at 6 am with just a bag and nowhere to stay the adventure had started I was about to start backpacking through New Zealand
Christchurch was a beautiful and vibrant city, after arriving the the Cathedral Square and seeing i was delighted at how beautiful the center was. The city was alive we people packed into coffee shops and cafes. The sun was shining and everybody seemed to be happy.
Cathedral Square’s uniqueness and beauty was partly down to the cathedral itself a stunning piece of architecture, which was a pleasant surprise to fairly modern approach the city looked. Another great addition running through the city were the old style wooden trams which have been running for years.
I Was only to stay the one night, as I wanted to set my sights away from a city. So an early morning coach and I was off to Queenstown.
The drive into Queenstown was one I will never forget. The rugged landscape, wild rivers, unbelievable views and most of all perched in the middle of it all a picture perfect town.
Although known for its great ski resort, the town is also a huge attraction in the summer. With its wide range of extreme sports, jet boating, bungee to name a few.
With all the adventure that surrounds Queensland its quite amusing we got right into Frisbee golf of all things.
A course through the forest replacing clubs and balls with Frisbees and holes with buckets a game for anyone to play.
Want find out a bit more on this unique sport check out Chrstchurch Disc Golf Club for the rules, courses and a whole bunch of information and competitions.
The Best Hostel
Our accommodation was great, even nearly 15 years on now it was the best hostel we have stayed in hands down. With no large dorms and only 6 bed per room, with a share computer in each room. Breakfast items were layed out in the mornings and tv room with lounges made a great homely stay. Although the name didn’t lend to its quality “The Last Resort Hostel”
Getting The Wheels For The Road Trip
My friend who I was travelling with prior to me arriving managed to find tbis little cash buy of a couple in Queenstiwn. I think $800 was the price with plenty of room and not one problem the whole trip. It was a steal of a buy.
Dunedin was only a one night stop on our way down to the Catlins. One thing was for sure on this short leg was we wanted to get out onto the Otago Peninsula.
Sandfly Bay And Sea liins
We got down to Sandfly Bay late afternoon we heard this was a good spot to see Sea Lions.
Unfortunately for us we didn’t see any and we almost hit caught out with the light as it the night had closed in and an exit was only through a small gap at the top of a sanddune luckily we found our way through
Curio Bay was not somewhere that was on the radar but after a night out and when we got chatting to some fellow travellers and a recommendation was made to visit we duly obliged and headed down.
The little town of Curio Bay was tiny a little street one shop a few scatterings of houses and a hostel. I do wonder what in 2021 the Bay looks like now.
Yellow Eyed Penguins
Curio Bay visit was for one reason its one of the best places to view the rare yellow eyed penguins, with the long rocky beach front it was a perfect spot where the penguins came in at night.
Curio Bay Sunset
One thing I loved about Curio Bay the most was the sunsets over the adjoining Bay Purpoise Bay. We would sit out on the hostel veranda and take in all its beauty and relax.
We took surf lessons on our second day down on the Bay and we found out the the yellow eyed penguins were not the only rare local bread so to were the Hector Dolphins.
A very unique type of dolphin by the way they loved shallow waters. When we managed to stand up on the boards (which was not much) the dolphins would swim alongside us. It really was a surreal feeling and one to cherish.
The Milford Sound sits on the west side of the island, and even to this day is one of the most picturesque destinations i have been to. Its striking formation makes the trip into the sound jaw dropping and one we will never forget.
The Beauty Of The Sound
We arrived in a place called Te Anau just outside Milford Sound to stay in a cabin on top of the hills before our morning boat journey through sound.
It was a perfect morning we got to travel with the sun shining and very little wind.
As you can see below we navigated through the sound and its beautiful blue waters coming across many waterfalls and some stunning rock formations. We even managed to catch a rainbow or two as the boat reversed into the waterfalls for a bit of a thrill for those standing on the back balconies.
Seeing The Seals
One other sight to be seen in the Milford Sound is and all through the sound where the amount of seals that are about. We could see them lazing around on the rocks soaking up a bit of sun. We managed to get up close to some and it was a real treat to see them in there own habitat.
Apple Picking Farm
We arrived in Motueka when we scored a few jobs on a apple orchard in Motueka. Accommodation was provided albeit very basic but we didn’t care. And we set off for a 5 week stint at picking apples.
Home Away From
After finishing up at the farm we moved into town to the White Elephant hostel Motueka.
A small scale backpackers with dorms in the house, cabins out the back and also camping.
It was here we met some great friends, had some great laughs and I believe shared a drink or two.
We settled into the white elephant for a while and found another job in a factory. It was here also that I joined Motueaka FC soccer club and signed on for the season. It was starting to feel very homely.
The Finest Beaches
At the weekends we tried to get out and explore and to our joy there were plenty of little hidden sandy beaches to be found around the area. With little hidden coves to long stretches so beautiful to see.
We had seen some great Coastline along our journey but this had a different feel gone were those rugged shores and with crystal clear blue water its was beginning to be more paradise.
Right at the top of the South Island is the Farewell Spit. A large sand spit, full of sand dunes and eye catching views. It runs east from Cape Farewell which is the south island most northern point.
We took a day trip there, a fine day and the views were breathtaking. We climbed sand dunes, swam and nestled into a picnic, there are certainly not many better picnic spots than Farewell Spit.
I heard so much about the Abel Tasman, it was one I was looking forward to the most.
We wanted to camp in the national park by one of the remote beaches. And with that we found a campsite and a completely remote beach not accessible by car so we had to take a boat.
After arriving at the beach we got parked up and hoped on to the pristine sandy beaches, was this heavan ?
I remember it being very quiet with only a handful of people.
We were surrounded in lush forest with walkways and entries to walking tracks into the Abel Tasman National Park.
About half way up the beach we found an opening in the forest which lead to a small scale campsite. We fired up the camping stove and got cooking.
Finishing The South Island
A fair few months later after working hard we decided to pack up and end over the Tasman and give Australia a go.
Landing in Brisbane in May 2009 to start a new journey which eventually lead to the Gold Coast were I spent 13 great years.
Fancy following on our journey then check out some adventures we got upto on the Gold Coast.
19 replies on “Backpacking New Zealand 2009”
So nice to reminisce on past trips. Let’s hope that we can all resume travelling to faraway places in 2022!
It’s my goal to visit New Zealand someday. We’ll have to see how it goes with the country’s travel restrictions, but hopefully, I’ll make it over one day. I’ll be keep this post of yours for posterity!
New Zealand seems great from what you’ve wrote in your post. I’m surprised Frisbee golf exists outside of the US. Great post
I love reading about first times in traveling, especially the first time solo traveling. Sounds like you did a better job than I did on my first trips^^
Milford Sound looks so pretty! Those are some great pictures. I’m happy for you that you had the opportunity to do this trip. It gets harder and harder as we get older.
What an absolutely amazing trip. Loved your description of surfing with the dolphins – what a wonderful experience! And the photo of them in the wave is fantastic. Milford Sound looks stunningly beautiful. We’ve never been to New Zealand but would definitely like to visit one day.
What an absolutely amazing trip. Loved the description of surfing with the dolphins – what a wonderful experience! The photo of them in the wave is fantastic. Milford Sound looks stunningly beautiful. We’ve never been to New Zealand but would really like to visit.
Looks like you had a great time and saw an awful lot on your first solo trip. Great post looking back at a time when so many of us look forward 🙂
You did far better than me on my first solo trip. I think back to the huge bag I was carrying. How I didn’t topple over, we’ll never know. Well done. Thank you for this nostalgic look back!
Sounds like a fab trip! It’s interesting reading your account of Christchurch as that would have been before the big earthquake. When I visited in 2016 it was like a ghost town of reconstruction. Very sad, and the locals were frustrated with how long it was taking. I’d be interested to go back now and compare.
You had much better weather in Milford Sound than us, anyway! Looks beautiful in the sun.
What an amazing story, Richard. And it went quite smoothly too..!!! Your first solo trip sounds great. Love all the pictures. I think I would’ve enjoyed apple-picking, and certainly can’t go wrong with Queenstown any time of year.
I hadn’t realised you went straight to Brisbane/Gold Coast, going full-blown world citizen.
We enjoyed the Sounds, such a stunning part of New Zealand. We also saw Hector Dolphins on our trip but weren’t lucky enough to be so close to them like you. What an incredible experience! A pretty impressive first solo trip too.
Lots of familiar places! 🙂 How cool that you stayed for long to explore South Island. Have you actually played the season in Motueka soccer team after you signed up?
Love your adventurous spirit! Arriving in Christchurch with one bag and no plans would be our ideal situation too. Sometimes making plans gets in the way of the best experiences. Loved reading about your journey and we’d do it this way in a heartbeat.
It was certainly a journey i enjoyed so much and would do again in a heartbeat. Having no plans or anything does make it all the more interesting also.
What a fantastic adventure! I’m sure at the time it was a huge, brave leap but look at what it brought in return (and ever since)! I hope to visit New Zealand some day.
This was quite the adventure! I still haven’t been to NZ and would love to see it one day. Those sunsets were really popping too!
What a trip to start with. This must have been immense. I’d love to do New Zealand some day, Milford Sound looks quite amazing.
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