New Zealand in 23 Days
A 23-day Honeymoon

To a couple who loves outdoor activity and natural scenery, New Zealand seems the perfect destination for honeymoon. Especially after we received two free tickets from Qantas, there was no doubt that we could finally visit our dream “Middle Earth”.

The initial plan was to go in May so that we could experience the winter chill and try out some winter sports; however, due to the workload and other side projects, we had to postpone it to late November. It turned out to be wisest decision we could ever make for this trip! We had nearly three hours longer of daylight time everyday to enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Here are some memorable numbers for this trip. In the 23-day honeymoon, we rented two cars, drove 4,865 kilometres, took 1,387 photos and 218GB of GoPro video, hiked more than 60 kilometres, kayaked more than six hours in the sea, and countless “first time in our life” events including meeting the friendly New Zealand policy officer and receiving our very first speeding ticket.

After months of planning, I can clearly remember all the interesting places in New Zealand and pinpoint them in the map. This is the map that I sketched which is the most useful item during this trip.

Cathedral Cove in North Island
Tongariro Alpine Crossing

There are numerous hiking tracks in New Zealand and Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the most famous one-day hiking choice in North Island. Lava flows, an active crater, steam vents, emerald-coloured lakes and magnificent views combine to make this an unforgettable walking journey.

We were amazed by the iconic and breathtaking scenery we saw when we standing on top of the mountain. With jet lag and only five hours of sleep, we managed to complete this 19.4km challenge. Even it took us a whole week to recover from this walk, we would still do it if we had the chance.

Emerald Lakes on Mt Tongariro
Ferry from North Island to South Island
Sea Fishing @Kaikoura

It was raining heavily when we were driving from Picton to Kaikoura. We kept our finger crossed all night to pray for a good day so that we could go sea fishing. Lucky us. The weather was wonderful the next morning.

Given the experience we had in Malaysia, we did not expect too much. But we were really lucky that day. We caught over 20 crayfish (we were only allowed to take 6 by law), a baby shark (we let it go after taking photos), a kind of long fish and some beautiful red fish we did not know the name of. In addition, we saw dolphins swimming beside our boat, an albatross which followed us for a long time, and a small penguin on our way back.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is so beautiful and special that we decide to take our pre-wedding photos here. Snow-capped Mount Cook, milky-turquoise blue Lake Tekapo, colorful and blooming lupins and the little stone church...All these make us want to come back. If we do, I will cycle with you around the lake, and count the star together at night.

Mt John, Lake Tekapo

Queenstown is heaven for people like outdoor activities. There are many adventure shops along the main street. You can do bungy jumping, sky diving, canoeing, jet boating, horse trekking, white water rafting and a lot more! Sunset is also a must see in Queenstown but just remember to wear warm clothes. Even we went there in December, it snowed!

Arrowtown, the small little town beside Queenstown, is so peaceful and relaxing. We took a walk along the river and found two lovely mallards swimming, a father cycling with his two sons.

Arrowtown, South Island
The Lord of the Rings

Welcome to Middle Earth! Middle-earth may have been a figment of author J.R.R Tolkien’s imagination but New Zealand - the youngest country on earth. Where is the most beautiful Scenic Film Location? Glenlochy, a small town 30 kilometres away from Queenstown. Glenlochy is also the starting point of NZ's most famous 3-day track - Routeburn track, which across the snow maintains from Glenlochy to Milford Sound. There is no sealed road after Glenlochy, but there is a jet boat tour which goes to the center of the snow mountains, experience the New Zealand made boat which can drive in low water level rivers

Glenlochy Town
Milford Sound
We took a few hours natural scenery cruise in Milford Sound. During the cruise, we relaxed to enjoy the waterfalls, seals. Other people can even see dolphins and whales.
We have the chance to experience a small part of the Routeburn track. It took us three hours to climb up to the Key Summit. When reaching the top, we were totally shocked. This is the view that is used in many post card!
Key Summit

I never thought I could have the chance to fly an airplane, but this activity seems really popular and affordable in New Zealand. The trainer plane was a four-seater jet. At the beginning, I was extremely nervous , so was my wife if not worse. She was sitting behind me taking video and photos. The coach let me try everything, and I felt that he either trusted me deeply or he had the confidence that everything was under his control. He just sat beside me and let me turn off, turn on/off the engine, flying, and even landing. It was awesome!

If I could do it again, I would make sure to study some basics before hand so it would be easier for me to remember all the buttons and master this skill faster. Probably I would stay in Wanaka for a couple of weeks to take the full pilot license course.

Rob Roy Glacier
Rob Roy Glacier
Fox Glacier

This was another first time in life activity - hiking on glaciers. We originally booked the heli hike one day package in Franz Josef; however, it was raining all day, so all the helicopter tours were cancelled. Luckily we got the last minute booking to Fox Glacier full day guided tour. Walking on the glacier was so exciting, and walking on ice in a such raining makes it one of our “first time in life” events in NZ.

Alpaca looking at my GoPro
Pancake Rocks
Rainbow on the way to Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track. We stayed in the park for two days. The first day, we took a water taxi from Marahua to Onetahuti Beach and walked all the way back to Anchorage Bay. We stay in the floating boat Auqa Packer. This was the first time for us to stay in a boat dorm overnight. To avoid seasick, we chose to stay in the lowest level where the crews normally sleep. We did feel a bit uncomfortable but it was not too bad.

The second day, we were taken to Onetahuti Beach for sea kayaking. We did kayaking before in Thailand, but this time, it was a much longer and challenging journey. In total, we kayaked for more than six hours and crossed around 10 kilometers. The two-day experience was exhausting but worth trying.

Accommodation in the Floating Boat
Skydiving @Abel Tasman

My wife is afraid of height and would never play roller coaster, so I tried very hard to convince her to skydive with me. Finally she agreed to have a look first. Surprisingly, it was her that decide to change from our original booking of 13,000 feet to 16,500 feet, the highest we could try.

There are another two people jumping from 13,000 feet in the same plane. Left with all the screaming, our plane continued climbing. We were asked to put on the oxygen mask to prepare for the final jump. At around 16,500 feet, the door opened which was, both of us agreed, the most scary moment for skydiving. My wife jumped out first and I followed closely. The free fall was around a minute but not as scary and uncomfortable as we thought. It was just too windy and we could hardly do the moves we planned. Skydiving is really awesome and we enjoy it a lot.

Water Rafting
Back to North Island

The last two days we went back to North Island for the thermal wonderland and white water rafting.

We found the water rafting place from the internet. It is not as popular as other places and located in the middle of the mountains where did not have mobile signal. There were several times that we thought we went to the wrong place or even that place did not exit. We finally arrived at River Valley. We did not know that water rafting could be so fun and exciting!

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
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