Te Wahipounamu

Milford SoundLocation: Fiordland, South Island, New Zealand

Visited: April 17 – 24, 2015

Site Type: Natural

Inscribed: 1990

Background and Opinion:

Te Wahipounamu includes the four national parks of Fiordland (home of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound), Mt. Cook, Mt. Aspiring, and Westland. Spanning 26,000 square kilometers, it is 1/10th the size of New Zealand, or roughly the size of Vermont. Calling it ‘massive’ is a bit of an understatement, and declaring it to be ‘impressive’ does not even begin to describe what a National Geographesque spectacle it is to your unprepared eyes. Call it the Angkor or Machu Picchu of nature. Yes, it is THAT good… and I never thought I’d say it… maybe even better. Read more

Itinerary – Three Weeks Across New Zealand

It’s been quiet for a while here, so let me start by saying hello to everyone… again! I missed blogging but man, it really is hard to get back on the wagon once you stop. I am applying for grad school and finally went on a longish trip (which is what this post is about) here in New Zealand, so sorry for my absence.

So, from April 8th – 25th, I went around both the North and the South Islands of New Zealand with Sid and Sarah. Lots of laughs ensued. I did manage to hit up 2 out of the 3 UNESCO sites in the country (the 3rd is, unfortunately, an almost inaccessible cluster of sub-Antarctic islands). For now though, I just wanted to take you guys on a short (okay, long-winded) overview what we did day by day. Let’s get this started…

North Island

April 8th (Day 0)

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Rotorua is Freakin’ Awesome!

Despite the forecast swearing that there was an 80% chance of rain, we would not be denied! Sid and I had the same day off, something that is becoming more and more of a rarity, so it was time to get out of Auckland and explore. Rotorua was in our cross-hairs.


What is a Rotorua Anyways?

Volcanic Lake along the  Rainbow Mountain Hike
Volcanic Lake along the Rainbow Mountain Hike

Rotorua is one of the most popular stops for visitors in the North Island of New Zealand and I must say, the reputation is very much deserved. This town sits on volcanic land and with that come geysers, mud pools, natural springs, tons of spas and of course, a bunch of volcanic lakes! Our only regret was not having enough time to explore more of it, but if there is one travel advice I have taken to heart, it’s “some travel is better than no travel and waiting for the ‘right time.'”


Off We Go

Rotorua Mud Flats

We left Auckland at the crack of dawn and after a few pit stops, arrived well before noon. Unfortunately, we found out that the main geyser shoots off at exactly 10:15 AM every day, so we missed it. Instead, we decided to check out the mudflats and went for a hike up Rainbow Mountain.


Where is the Rainbow?

Rainbow Mountain Hike

Upon deciding on this hike, I decided to look it up on my phone and see a couple of pictures. My mind was blown away when I saw this! I was in such a rush that I didn’t even notice that I was looking at pictures of Rainbow Mountain in China, not New Zealand! The view from the top was nice, but it is the blue crater lake a third of the way up that made the hike worthwhile.

Atop Rainbow Mountain

Dinner and a Walk

NZ $10 Note

We had some Tunisian food and couldn’t help but notice how everything in town was just lovely. The locals were friendly, the food was great (and not as expensive as in Auckland), and the whole ambiance was just perfect. After dinner, we went for a walk around Rotorua Lake where we spotted tons of New Zealand diving ducks. You might have seen this bird before on the back of the $10 NZ note.


Hamurana Springs

Spring in Rotorua

The sun was setting in two hours so we decided to kill some time on the north side of the lake and check out the Hamurana Springs. Who would have thought that this short hike would have been the highlight. Pukekos greeted us near the parking lot, and by now, you must be aware of how much I like this cute blue bird. The entire trail is less than an hour long in theory, but I dare you to do the whole thing without stopping multiple times and just standing in awe. There are wonderful pools, redwoods (yeah, the California variety), and some cool native birds just flying around. I managed to get a picture of a ‘tui,’ but also spotted parrots and fantails that were just too fast for my camera.

Hamurana Springs


As for that Sunset

Rotorua Sunset?

It never came! It got very cloudy and what would have otherwise been a spectacular sunset was a long streak of red in the distance. Everything else was great though, so we didn’t really mind. We packed up for the long drive back to Auckland where the empty roads reminded us that besides the city up north, this really is the edge of the world.

It really looks that good.
It really looks that good.