Melbourne to Brisbane: The Ultimate Aussie Road Trip

My Melbourne to Brisbane Road Trip Itinerary

After living in Melbourne for 5 months I really couldn’t wait to get on the road and see even more of the fantastic country that is Australia - with a Melbourne to Brisbane Road Trip Itinerary.

I knew there was so much out there to see and experience. I was buzzing on the morning we left Melbourne, with the sun shining and I certainly had the familiar excitement and butterflies I felt just before my cousin, Jack and I left the UK to start our year-long backpacking adventure. This was a brand new chapter. Jack and I were travelling the East Coast with Jessie, from London, who is also on a year long working holiday visa. Her sister Annie flew out from England to join us too! 

Equipped with our Melbourne to Brisbane Road Trip Itinerary, we picked up our bright green and purple campervan (which we named Melvin)/ We loaded our backpacks into the back and headed on the first part of our Melbourne to Brisbane road trip itinerary, the famous Great Ocean Road. We were all so excited for this beautiful Melbourne to Brisbane coastal drive!  After relying on Melbourne’s very reliable public transport, it was still great to have the freedom of a car (or in this case, a big camper resembling something out of a cartoon). We stocked up on the essential pasta, tomato sauce, beer and cider and off we went.

Melbourne to Brisbane road trip itinerary

We drove through Torquay, the famous surfing town and then reached our first overnight stop – Lorne, a beautiful little town near Geelong. We drove slightly inland to Erskine Falls, a rainforest area with a beautiful waterfall. Such serene surroundings. I’m glad I have photos to convey even half of how beautiful this place and others truly are – as I’ve discovered many times, words simply do not do these places justice.

We stayed at a lovely campsite, and despite the weather being persistently cold and damp, we enjoyed our expertly cooked pasta and tomato sauce and kept warm inside the camper with a hot chocolate. As night fell, I was once again in awe of the starry night sky just as I was when we camped in America at the start of our travels. It takes my breath away each time. Camping under the stars is a truly special experience and one I will remember with fondness from our time travelling.

Great ocean road

We woke the next day to the loud sound of the many cockatoos which lived in the surrounding woodland. They were very tame and approached us, showing off their bright feathers on top of their heads.

I did a lot more driving on the second day, and driving the mountainous and green landscape of the Great Ocean Road is something I will never forget. The winding roads sat beside an endless stretch of beautiful golden beaches. We reached the famous 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, which were as incredible as I had imagined. The weather, again, wasn’t great but nevertheless, we were all able to admire the incredible natural creations. The sea was choppy and crashed against the rocks; these sounds really added to the special atmosphere. We also visited Thunder Cave, which actually created sounds like thunder when the waves crashed into it.

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We camped near the 12 Apostles in Princetown, and we were surrounded by wild kangaroos which were also very tame just like the cockatoos back in Lorne. The lack of light and the presence of the kangaroos made night-time toilet visits interesting, I didn’t really fancy getting into a boxing match with one!

12 Apostles

So following this, it was time for some more emotional goodbyes back in Melbourne as we went out for drinks in St Kilda at a bar appropriately named ‘The Vineyard’. It was great to go back and say a proper goodbye to people and the city.

The next step in our Melbourne to Brisbane road trip itinerary was Mallacoota, a beautiful beach town on the Eastern edge of Victoria. We arrived late after a 7 hour drive, so it was special to wake early the next day to one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. It rose over the lake and mountains and really was an unforgettable sight. The orange and yellow hues provided a great photo moment. Not something that 

We then moved on to Jervis Bay, another incredible Australian beach area a few hours south of Sydney. We stayed in Booderee National Park and it was great to be in the rainforest surroundings, with much wildlife wandering around overnight. We saw possums which were very friendly, and also many huge spiders which weren’t quite as cute! Waking up to the lush greenery and fresh air was wonderful and I was also lucky to see a kangaroo and its young Joey after my morning run on the untouched white beach after another impressive sunrise.

Following this we drove to Wollongong, where I participated in one of the best things I have ever done. That might sound clichéd but it is true! It’s hard to find the words to convey how certain experiences make me feel and my first skydive is certainly one of them. The feeling as we drove to the airport and boarded the plane is something I will hold with me for a long time. The loud sound of the plane engines starting up added to the feeling of how real this truly was. I had imagined my first skydive for a long time and the day was actually here.

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The 8 divers in the plane were all sat in a row, each paired with their dive companion. We were all sharing a mixture of emotions; excitement, anticipation, anxiousness, pure adrenaline! We climbed over the Wollongong coast and admired the views before our eyes. Just like a postcard. I knew I would be down on the ground soon enough, but I wouldn’t be stepping off the plane steps. I would be jumping out. Diving and free-falling at 200 kilometres per hour.

Once we did reach the jump point, the door slid up and the sound of the wind hit my ears. Wow. This was it. No going back now. I was shocked at how quickly each diver left the plane. Out of the door… 1, 2, 3. Before I knew it, it was my turn.

I didn’t really have time to think as I approached the open door. And before I knew it I was flying through the air. What a feeling of complete ecstasy. The feeling of free-fall. The force of the wind against my face. The ultimate adrenaline rush. I was literally on top of the world. No feeling can beat it.

I felt like I was flying, and I suppose I was.

After about 45 seconds of free-fall, the parachute was released. Suddenly the speed of fall decreased, and we glided slowly above the breath-taking views before us. I was even able to steer the parachute. Whilst taking the views in, I was also reflecting on what had just happened. So crazy. So memorable. So special.

We landed on the ground and it was great to see Jack who had dived just before me. I knew he had just experienced the same feeling. It was special to share it together. It is something I will treasure forever. It is also something I will always encourage people to do. The feeling, the adrenaline, the buzz, the memories. Nothing can beat it!!! Or maybe a bungee jump can; I guess I’ll be finding that out soon enough...

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Sydney was next on our list of stops and I couldn’t wait to see another famous Australian city after spending over 5 months in Melbourne. We stayed at a campsite just outside the city, with the main CBD a 20 minute train ride away. We arrived on a beautiful day which provided an excellent setting to view the famous Harbour and Opera House. Just as impressive as I had hoped and imagined! We had drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the Harbour and visited Bondi Beach the next day before venturing on a Bridge Climb over the Harbour Bridge; more great views of the famous landmark, with a lightening storm in the distance. Luckily we avoided the rain until the next day…

Harbour bridge

The Blue Mountains promised spectacular views on our next stop had it not been for the persistent rain which lasted for 48 hours from the time we left Sydney. Despite this, we all had a laugh and stayed warm in the campervan watching Finding Nemo, quite relevant after our visit to Sydney. It was a shame we were unable to see the great views but it is all part of the backpacking experience! I just looked on Google images instead!

I woke on the morning of my birthday in Central Coast and was very relieved/happy that the rain had cleared and the sun had made an appearance. I opened some presents from home over our camp breakfast and we then headed towards Port Macquarie, with a stop at the Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park. We met many native Australian animals and I even got to hold a snake and a penguin! We then cooked up an Aussie BBQ including kangaroo burgers and enjoyed some beers. All in all, a memorable Aussie birthday!

We also enjoyed kayaking and paddle boarding at Settlement Point on an undisturbed tranquil river. It was such a relaxing and refreshing experience, we all soaked up the sun and drifted in the light breeze.

Coffs Harbour was next on the list, which boasted more incredible golden landscapes and breathtaking blue ocean waters. We had the unique experience of riding camels on this Aussie beach, and were even able to take selfies with the friendly animals. Such a special stop on this Melbourne to Brisbane coastal drive. 

The next location was probably my favourite during our East Coast adventure. I’d heard a lot about Byron Bay prior to our visit and listened to many glowing reviews of this famous chilled, hippie-like beach town. I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.

Cap Byron Lighthouse

I certainly was not left disappointed. The atmosphere and feel of the place was as I had imagined. So chilled, relaxed and laid back. People were simply wearing flip flops and wandering the little shops and cafés in-between beach visits. And it indeed had a colourful hippie look throughout. It was filled with personality and individuality even compared to other Aussie towns and was, of course, filled with quirky and humorous Aussie residents, alongside many visitors who were in awe of the place just like myself.

Kayaking 2

We were lucky enough to experience another unique activity: kayaking with dolphins! I was simply amazed by my surroundings. Simply stunning. The golden sand was paired with the light blue hue of the sky which met perfectly with the darker colours of the sea at the point of the horizon, as the golden sun shone down upon us. We floated in double kayaks and paddled on the ocean surface. This was enjoyable enough in itself, and low and behold, a beautiful dolphin dived out of the water in front of us. Magic.

We then ventured up to another iconic city, Brisbane, and stayed in our first hostel since landing in Australia. It was great to be in the hostel environment again. This was another impressive city, but of a slightly smaller scale to Melbourne and Sydney. We were in Brisbane less than 24 hours before we flew from the airport to start another stage of our adventure in New Zealand. After seeing the beautifully impressive, unmistakably stunning Australia with its different cities and towns boasting many unique personalities via our Melbourne to Brisbane road trip itinerary, I can’t wait to explore its neighbouring country and see its beauty with my own eyes.

Commonly Asked Questions:

How many days does it take to drive from Melbourne to Brisbane? 

The driving distance from Melbourne to Brisbane is approximately 1,680 kilometers (1,040 miles), and the driving time can vary depending on several factors such as traffic, weather conditions, and your route.

The quickest route via the inland highway, which goes through major cities like Albury, Wagga Wagga, and Dubbo, takes approximately 18 hours of driving time. If you plan on taking breaks or detours along the way, it is recommended to budget at least 2-3 days for the trip.

However, if you take the coastal route which passes through Sydney, it will add some extra distance to your journey but also provides some beautiful scenery along the way. This route could take around 20-22 hours of driving time, or 3-4 days if you want to take it at a more leisurely pace.


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Where to stop when driving Melbourne to Brisbane? 

There are many interesting places to stop when driving from Melbourne to Brisbane, whether you take the inland or coastal route. Here are some popular options:

  1. Canberra: Australia's capital city is located about halfway between Melbourne and Sydney and offers many cultural attractions, including museums, galleries, and Parliament House.
  2. Sydney: If you take the coastal route, you can't miss the opportunity to visit Australia's largest and most vibrant city. Famous landmarks such as the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are must-sees, and the city offers plenty of dining and entertainment options.
  3. Port Macquarie: This coastal town is a popular stopover point with a range of activities, including beaches, national parks, and koala hospitals.
  4. Byron Bay: This trendy beach town is a favorite among surfers and hippies alike and is famous for its laid-back atmosphere, stunning beaches, and alternative lifestyle.
  5. Gold Coast: As you approach Brisbane, you may want to take a detour to the Gold Coast, Australia's most famous beach resort. It offers a range of attractions, including theme parks, wildlife parks, and water sports.

These are just a few of the many great stops you can make on your Melbourne to Brisbane drive. There are plenty of other options, depending on your interests and how much time you have available.

What town is halfway between Melbourne and Brisbane? 

The town that is approximately halfway between Melbourne and Brisbane is Dubbo, which is located in central New South Wales. Dubbo is approximately 835 kilometers (518 miles) from both Melbourne and Brisbane and is situated on the Newell Highway, which is one of the main routes between the two cities.

Dubbo is a regional center and has a range of facilities, including accommodation, dining options, and attractions such as the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, which is a popular family destination. The town is also located near several national parks, including the Warrumbungle National Park and the Mount Kaputar National Park, which offer stunning natural scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities.

How much would it cost to drive to Brisbane from Melbourne? 

The cost of driving from Melbourne to Brisbane can vary depending on several factors such as the distance you cover, the type of car you have, fuel prices, and any accommodation or food expenses along the way. However, here is an estimate of the costs you may incur for a one-way trip:

  1. Fuel: Assuming an average fuel consumption of 10 litres per 100 kilometres, a one-way trip from Melbourne to Brisbane would require approximately 168 litres of fuel. If fuel prices are around $1.50 per litre, this would cost around $252 in fuel costs.
  2. Accommodation: If you plan on stopping overnight, you will need to budget for accommodation expenses. Prices can vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose, but budget options such as camping or backpacker hostels can cost around $20-30 per night, while mid-range hotels or motels may cost around $100-150 per night.
  3. Food: Food expenses will depend on your eating habits, but you can budget around $50-100 per day for meals and snacks.
  4. Tolls: If you take the toll roads, you will need to budget for toll fees. The total cost of tolls can vary depending on the route you take, but it could be around $50-60 for the entire trip.

So, in total, a one-way trip from Melbourne to Brisbane could cost around $500-800, depending on the factors mentioned above.

Agroventures - A Land of Crazy Fun in Rotorua

Rotorua, based on the north island of New Zealand with its iconic hot pools surrounding Lake Rotorua, is not just a treat for the eyes. Sightseeing and walking are fantastic past times in this beautiful New Zealand town, but you’re also free to enjoy the many exciting adrenaline activities that are on offer within close proximity to the centre.

Agroventures is no exception. It is a crazy adventure hub which has made quite a name for itself amongst residents and visitors. Here, you’ll find an array of exciting and thrilling activities all in one beautiful, countryside location.

It is home to the speeding Agrojet boat, Xtreme Freefall, Swoop, Rotorua Bungy and the Shweeb, which is the only one of its kind in the world. So, you’re guaranteed a fun-filled, memorable day with a plethora of activities to keep you buzzing and entertained! The park is true New Zealand - exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping thrills galore!

Agrojet is a form of the iconic jet boat, famous as being created in the country in the 1950’s. It is a Kiwi gem, and its present in Rotorua for visitors to experience and enjoy. The focus of this jet boat, however, is not on the scenery. It is all about pure speed. The boat can reach incredible speeds of 100 kilometres per hour; making it one of New Zealand’s fasted jet boats, and the first to boast the ability to ‘sprint’. What’s more, full 360 degree turns make the adventure even more spine-tingling.

Just across the park from the Agrojet is Rotorua Bungy. If you’re looking for a pure thrill, then Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 14.00.05a bunny jump is definitely for you. Stand on the edge, and propel yourself head-first 43 metres above the ground. Take in the stunning scenery around you before you experience the ultimate adrenaline rush. This is a great option for those doing their first bunny jump, as you have the option to do it with a friend, or be guided by a member of staff.

The Swoop is yet another stomach-dropping adventure, high above the Rotorua greenery and mountains. This experience, as claimed by some, is even more breathtaking than the bungy jump! You’re placed inside a harness, covering most of your body, and raised a crazy 40 metres in the air. You’re then in control of your own fate as you’re free to pull the chord yourself, and propel you - and up to two other friends - through the air at 130 kilometres per hour. Prepare for screams; this really is the ultimate swing!

Have you ever been skyScreen Shot 2015-05-25 at 13.58.59diving? The feeling of freefall really is beyond words - and you can experience this at Agroventures, if you’re still craving thrills after all the other fantastic rides! the Xtreme Freefall simulates the skydiving sensation very realistically; the technology is even used to train professional skydivers. You’re given a flight suit and goggles before being given some tips from the professional staff, who will ensure you fully enjoy the experience by incorporating some twists and spins into the freefalling madness!

The Shweeb is completely unique in itself - it is the only one of its kind in the whole world! It is just like a human-powered roller coaster, and you can even race your friends! Lie down and pedal as fast as you can; will you be able to beat your friend and the world record in the process? There is a magnificent $1000 prize for anyone who does! If you pedal hard enough, you can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour on the 600 metre race. Who will come out victorious?!

So, overall you have a selection of five crazily memorable adrenaline activities to fill your day with fun and madness. Experience thrill after thrill in this unique park which boasts a plethora of options, a true New Zealand adventure park suitable from the young to the old!

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Interislander - From Picton to Wellington

Following our epic journey around the south island of New Zealand, discovering uniquely beautiful towns, high-rising mountains and stunning hidden beaches, I was excited to be boarding the Interislander ferry from Picton and making our way over the Cook Strait, with our campervan, to Wellington on the north island.

I felt a similar feeling of anticipation I felt during each of the chapters of my travelling journey. At each airport, the overriding feeling is one of expectation and excitement of starting  a new aspect of our adventure, and waiting at the ferry terminal was no different.11178376_761008854011873_6701118158753934914_n

The cars, lorries, campervans and other vehicles lined up in neat rows, awaiting the signal to drive on board. We were based in amongst campervans, lots of them, which really highlighted how many people were making the same journey as us, creating priceless memories along the way.

I knew the 92 kilometre journey would take just over three hours, and we left at 1.15pm, exactly as scheduled. The ferry had a number of different levels and was equipped with various facilities to make the journey as comfortable and entertaining as possible.

Not that much entertainment was really needed with the views that we were treated to along the stretch of ocean named after Captain Cook, who discovered New Zealand in the 1700’s. The Marlborough Sounds area, in which Picton sits, covers 20% of the New Zealand coastline, and is just stunning. The sun shone faultlessly on the sea and highlighted the surrounding hills, mountains and greenery on the mainland and the little islands which sit offshore.On Interislander

Picton is home to a beautiful little harbour, and is a wonderfully welcoming tourist destination, with many shops and cafes, alongside pleasant places to stay. It is the perfect location to either arrive at from the north island, or say goodbye to as you leave the south island and head in the other direction.

The ferry provides some wonderful refreshment options, including a large bar, serving a variety of alcoholic and soft drinks, alongside tea and coffee, and a selection of snacks. For a more substantial meal, the cafe areas serve hot food options such as fish and chips and lasagne, alongside sushi and sandwiches, biscuits and fruit. There really is something for everyone.

You are also free to travel at various times, with Interislander running trips as many as 11 times in one day during the summer months. You’re able Picton viewto take your vehicle on board so you can continue your journey once the boat reaches its destination.

Upon our arrival in Wellington, we were greeted with views of another harbour with a very different personality to the one in Picton. This is a city, the capital city, and its impressive vast buildings and stadiums were instantly visable. It was great to leave one beautiful, peaceful area of New Zealand and head over to the contrasting bright and buzzing capital city.

Travelling on Interislander was another unique aspect of my New Zealand experience as a whole. It was special to board the unique ferry which connects the two islands which make up this stunning country. As New Zealand so often promises, we were treated to breathtaking views along the way alongside some fantastic hospitality.

Visit the Interislander website today to book your unique ferry trip!

What are Base Hostels like in New Zealand?

Base Backpackers is a popular hostel with various locations in and around Australia and New Zealand. During my time in New Zealand, I was lucky enough to stay in five of these. This included stays in Queenstown, Wanaka, Wellington, Taupo and Auckland.

My flight from Brisbane landed in Queenstown, and for April, it was unseasonably cold. In fact, it had snowed over night, which provided stunning views of snow-dusted mountains as we approached the runway at the airport. After spending almost six months in Australia, where the temperature often exceeded thirty degrees and sometimes hit forty, the freshness in the Queenstown air was certainly noticeable as soon as we stepped off the plane.

Queenstown viewWe were swiftly picked up by an airport shuttle service and taken straight to our Base accommodation right in the centre of Queenstown. I was immediately in awe of my surroundings. Not just the vast mountains overlooking Lake Wakatipu, but also the beautiful layout of the little centre, lined with shops, cafes and companies offering a plethora of adrenaline activities. The brown, yellow and orange colours of the autumnal trees only added to the beauty in front of me.

Base Queenstown is located along Shotover Street, which is seen by many as the main hub of everything that goes on. You’re able to book a bungy jump, skydive, quad biking, jet boat adventure and canyon swing all within a few metres of each other. There is also the famous Ferg Burger, which is definitely worth a visit with its delicious offerings, causing a lengthy queue out of the door on a regular basis. I thought immediately how ideally located the hostel was.

It was great to check into our twin room, get settled in and warmed up. I love campervan travel for many reasons, but after spending 18 days in one during my time in Australia, it was lovely to be able to sleep in a proper bed with thick blankets and plump pillows. With it being so cold outside, it was cosy to be able to snuggle up in bed with a cup of tea and watch the buzzing Queenstown visitors pass by our window.

In our twin room we had our own spacious en suite with a powerful and hot shower, and enjoyed an all-you-can eat continental breakfast each morning. There was a wide selection of cereal, toast, spreads, juice, tea and coffee to choose from; and we were able to eat as much of it as wWanaka 3e liked!

The hostel runs various activities and events for guests, including pool tournaments and quiz nights. This is a great way to get involved in the hostel atmosphere and meet like-minded backpackers and travellers.

About an hour’s drive north of Queenstown is the equally beautiful and small Wanaka, which is known for its huge, stunning untouched lake. The Base hostel is also very centrally positioned; literally a two minute walk to the front of the lake. I noticed how modern the place felt, it was clearly a newly renovated building. This time, we had a double room each, which was rather luxurious indeed. I made the most of the complimentary tea and coffee before venturing into the town and admiring the perfect lake views.

The first true city experience we encountered was following our ferry trip over to the capital, Wellington. Once again, the hostel was based right in the centre. This hostel was huge and much bigger than the others we had stayed in, which I guess makes sense as it is city-based. It was within a very impressive, old fashioned building which had a noticeable unique atmosphere and personality about it. We were on the 8th floor, which highlights its size!

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 12.05.29We had a good-sized twin room with the same quality of facilities. It was great to be so close to the city and immerse ourselves in city life once again after being in quite secluded and quiet areas of the south island during our campervan adventure. Often, the Kiwi Experience bus would be stopping overnight at our hostel, meaning we had the chance to meet other backpackers and find out a lot about their journeys.

We made the most of the happy hour at the basement bar, and were even lucky enough to get a delicious meal with our drinks (sausage casserole and rice). As a backpacker, you really appreciate that kind of food, as it doesn’t come along very often! The hostel regularly organises a bar crawl, which involves free drinks at local bars. Wonderful!

We were once again treated to an all-you-can eat breakfast, I often chose muesli accompanied with peaches and yoghurt, which was a great start to the day and gave me a lot of energy to keep exploring the wonders that New Zealand has to offer!

Our next stop was Taupo, which is home to New Zealand’s largest lake. It was created by a volcanic eruption some 26,000 years ago, and provides a stunning view of almost endless blue waters. The Base hostel overlooks the lake and we certainly had close impressive sights of it from our individual double rooms. It was great to wake up in the morning and take in the beauty as the sun rose and reflected on the still surface.

We made the most of the bar offeScreen Shot 2015-05-23 at 12.03.34rings here, too, and enjoyed a $10 deal for a pizza and a pint. I enjoyed a chicken BBQ pizza alongside a local ale. It was delicious and a real treat, and it was even better as it was such a good deal. It proved to be another way Base really incorporate good discounts and offerings for backpackers who are watching their expenditure.

Last but certainly not least, we stayed for two weeks in Auckland. As ever, the hostel had a very convenient central location, right in the hub of the CBD. This one probably proved to be the largest we stayed in, and I really couldn’t believe its size. The reception area was spacious and offered plenty of services such as a gym pass and access to Airbus tickets for those catching a flight from the nearby airport.

Just a few metres away from reception sat a large dining table and computer area, for people to sit and use their laptops. Breakfast also took place here, and we enjoyed our usual continental breakfast, and even had the o1470289_765691333543625_5006192816942701339_nption of a delicious, freshly cooked full English.

We often cooked our own food using the impressive kitchen facilities. This area was also a good size, and all the necessary utensils were easily available. There were at least 20 cooking hobs, six sinks, microwaves, toasted sandwich makers and readily boiled water, alongside a large seating area.

Base Auckland is home to three bars, all of which have a different focus. We participated in quiz nights in one, and lively clubbing nights in another. We also got the opportunity to see a local rugby game at Eden Park; Auckland Blues vs Bulls. This was all organised by the hostel; for just $30 we received a match ticket, a drinks voucher and train transport to the stadium. It was a great night and I felt so pleased to be able to see my first live rugby game after seeing a lot of other sporting events on my travels so far.

11264838_769018709877554_8237374697519522115_nJust like all the other Base hostels we stayed in, we had access to modern laundry facilities, which always proved to be very useful. In the Auckland Base, we were surrounded by city life just as we were in Wellington. We were very close to all the shops, cafes, restaurants and bars we could possibly want. Auckland harbour was just a short walk away, as was the iconic Mount Eden and the lovely suburb of Ponsonby. We also had great views of the iconic Sky Tower from one of the rooftop bars.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 12.05.49The train station is also very close, and the Airbus does pick ups right outside the hostel and runs to and from the airport on a regular basis.

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at Base Backpackers during my time in New Zealand. Each location really provided everything we needed. We always received a friendly and helpful service from the staff and enjoyed being so close to the attractions and significant sights in each place. The facilities were very impressive, and our cosy rooms really made each location feel like home away from home.

Base Backpackers have locations in a lot of significant towns and cities throughout Australia and New Zealand, and I really believe that staying here will make your travels even more enjoyable. It is easy to become familiar with the facilities and services they provide, and you really know what you’re going to get. I was not disappointed at any location and would certainly recommend it to other backpackers and travellers who are looking for a clean and safe stay with friendly staff, excellent facilities and the availability of loads of activities for guests.

Mighty Joe the Campervan - A Room with a View

‘Freedom is Mighty’.

That’s one of the slogans of Mighty Campers; a company which offers campervan hire throughout Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Following my 28-day adventure in ‘Mighty Joe’ the campervan, which saw us exploring the north and south islands of New Zealand, I can confidently agree with that statement.

On a sunny morning in April 2015, it was noticeably cold and crisp in Queenstown, and I felt a true sense of anticipation before we collected our ‘Double Down’ four-berth camper.

10931075_764966740282751_5768893179912463871_nWe were met by extremely friendly and welcoming staff. The Queenstown head quarters of Mighty is based conveniently close to the airport for those flying in and collecting their camper immediately, and the company offers a complimentary pick-up service from the terminals. For those who are already in the centre of Queenstown, the airport is just a short bus ride away.

I was struck by the modern feel and cleanliness of the Mighty base, and this immediately filled me with promise. The staff, as mentioned, were very efficient and made sure we had everything we required. These two aspects certainly showed good signs that our campervan would be impressive, too.

I wasn’t disappointed, that’s for sure. The first thing that struck me was how spacious it was. You could stand up and move around freely; there was a good sized table area and comfortable chairs, plenty of cupboard space with all necessary equipment and utensils, a two-hob gas stove, microwave and kettle. This was a perfectly equipped kitchen area!

What’s more, the camper was cleverly designed to allow 11140259_753186998127392_7099831339459699513_nspace for two double beds. The first was made neatly from the seating area at the back of the van, and the second slid out to form a type of bunk bed. This also provided useful storage space during the day.

We had plenty of bedding to ensure we were warm at night, including duvets and pillows. The nights were sometimes cold and it was so cosy to be able to snuggle up in the warm campervan with a hot water bottle and cup of tea. To be able to make our cups of tea inside the van was very useful! We also woke up and enjoyed a warming bowl of porridge on a regular basis. Just perfect!

We were even presented with our own little cardboard campervan, which we had great fun with! We got some wonderful photos of 'Mini Joe' in various scenic locations.

In the past, I have driven various vehicles but nothing of this size. The length was the most noticeable aspect. However, I felt the van drove very well and it didn’t take me long to get used to the size and the automatic controls. Despite it being a heavy van, it managed steep incline11178376_761008854011873_6701118158753934914_ns well, which aren’t uncommon throughout New Zealand! It also navigated around the many mountainous bends that we encountered on our travels, especially in Abel Tasman, which sits in the northern area of the south island.

Overall, we completed around 3,500 kilometres in 28 days. This included trips to Queenstown, Wanaka, Haast, Franz Josef, Christchurch, Kaikoura, Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park, Picton, then over to Wellington, Taupo, Rotorua, Waitomo, Whitianga, Helensville and Auckland.

So, we did manage to see a large amount of New Zealand, which pleases me immensely. From the stunning snow-dusted mountainous views of Queenstown, to the calm untouched lake in Wanaka, the farmland and winding roads in Abel Tasman, the vast natural volcanic creation that is Lake Taupo and the busy city atmosphere of amazing Auckland, we were able to fully immerse ourselves in everything.Mighty

Our wonderfully unforgettable experience wouldn’t have been so magical without the reliability and flexibility offered by ‘Mighty Joe’. We did not have one issue when driving it, it drove smoothly throughout, and really did become a companion on our travels!

Campervan travel has provided me with so many memories and I would recommend it to all who are backpacking or just generally wishing to venture around on their adventures, however long the duration may be. I believe the flexibility you gain from this transport method cannot be beaten.

Sometimes, we decided to drive a few kilometres off the main road to explore a nearby look-out point or beach. Our itinerary was tweaked regularly and we stayed at various hidden away places. These aspects would not have happened if we had travelled via another method; on an organised bus tour, for example.Motueka sunrise

Mighty Campers really do provide a ‘room with a view’. I lost count of the amount of incredible sunrises we awoke to. I’d just have to peer outside the back window of the van to view breath taking countryside and mountainous scenery. It was stuff dreams are made of, and I’d often whisper to myself ‘wow’ in response to the view before me, although I was frequently lost for words, too.

Anyone who is wanting the freedom and the flexibility to truly immerse themselves in a country in their own way, then campervan travel is for you; and, with Mighty Campers, you are guaranteed comfort and reliability on top of this.

There is a world out there, and what better way to experience it than driving your own way around, camping in uniquely stunning locations, and creating wonderful memories everyday. Freedom certainly is Mighty!

Mighty Collingwood

A Magical Whale and Dolphin Encounter in Auckland

I’m sure most people would experience a feeling of delight and excitement upon the prospect of witnessing wild whales and dolphins with their own eyes. I know this is how I felt as I awoke one Sunday morning knowing I would be embarking on aDSC00741 Whale and Dolphin Safari in the New Zealand city of Auckland.

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is surprisingly close to Auckland itself and is, even more surprisingly, visited by an incredible one third of all marine mammals found throughout the globe. It was established in 2000 and protects the features of the Hauraki Gulf, including the plants and wildlife.

The trip departed at 12.30pm on a mostly sunny day. The sun shone through the clouds and glistened on the calm waters of the Viaduct Harbour. The Sky Tower peered impressively over the top of near-bDSC00742y buildings.

We boarded the ‘Dolphin Explorer’, a modern vessel which was purpose-built for whale and dolphin watching. There were areas outside and inside of the boat to sit or stand and admire the views surrounding us.

We set off and slowly made our way out of the harbour. The sight of the city moving further and further away was quite staggering, and definitely to proved to be a view worth photographing!

We headed north west of Auckland into the Marine Park, which is part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an incredible 1.2 million hectares. It also includes the Waitemata Harbour, Firth of Thames and eastern coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula. Its huge size may explain why such a vast amount of mammal species visit the area; at least 25 ofDSC00748 the 37 southern hemisphere marine mammals have been identified within the perimeter of the Park.

The crew of the Dolphin Explorer pride themselves on being heavily involved with research programmes within Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. They work with educational institutions to assist research and learn more about the mammals which live and thrive within the waters. Therefore, the Dolphin Explorer facilitates the completion of vital research methods whilst allowing visitors and tourists to enjoy everything the Marine Park has to offer.

Impressively, the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari sees dolphins on 93% of its trips. These can incluDSC00753de the Common, Bottlenose or Orca species (these are killer whales which do belong to the dolphin family). They like to swim along with the boat as it travels over the water, and some dolphins can reach impressive speeds of 50 kilometres per hour.

Furthermore, up to 22 species of whale have been found within the Marine Park, and sightings occur on 75% of the trips, which can include Bryde’s Whale and Fin Whale species.

Seabirds also call the Park home; about 24 species in total. These include Australasian Gannets, Petrels, Shearwaters and sometimes even penguins are sighted. These birds all have interesting behavioural patterns which makes for good viewing from the Dolphin Explorer. Gannets don’t hang around when they hunt - they dive into the water from heights of 30 metres, at speeds of around 140kph! Shearwaters follow whales on the basis that they will disturb the fish, and then swoop down to catch them from under the surface.

On this basis, during our 11169073_10155738210020105_7997853969450734990_ntrip, the boat followed the direction of the many birds that we saw. There was a good chance there would be whales and/or dolphins in the areas where a lot of birds were gathered.

We ventured right out to sea and even spotted a seal on the way. I think we surprised him as much as he surprised us! The boat picked up quite a speed and it was lovely to stand on the front of the boat and feel the wind on my face, whilst taking in the ocean air and the picturesque surroundings.

Before we knew it, hundreds of dolphins gathered in front of us, with their fins just appearing above the water’s surface. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought we would see dolphins but not that many so close up!

I expected the dolphins to be a little shy and avoid the boat, but I was wrong. Astonishingly, they swam right next to the boat, and seemed to try to keep up with it or even race with it. They dived in and out of the water. It was a strikingly impressive scene and I won’t ever forget it! We had some perfect photo opportunities too, the dolphins seemed to be showing off a little and often all dived out of the water together.

dolphin-jump

Woaaah a dolphin having fun!! Racing with our boat....

They are the most beautiful of mammals, but are in fact some of the most fierce creatures in the sea. They do not mess around when it comes to catching prey! However, they did put on a good show for us which looked amazing. I really was shocked at the vast amount of them that were roaming around together in certain areas of the sea.

In a four-and-a-half-hour trip, we saw lots of dolphins, and it was definitely worth the wait to see them. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a whale, which is apparently rare when so many dolphins are present, as they like to hang around together. However, it was a magical experience. A true dolphin encounter.

To top it off, the staff on the boat were very welcoming and friendly. It was also great to be able to roam around the boat, stand outside to take in the sea breeze and fresh air, and then warm up inside the comfortable lounge areas.

The captain spoke to us on regular intervals over the intercom, and was very relaxed, knowledgable and humorous. He definitely added to the trip as a whole, and it was certainly obvious that he has 15 years experience on the Dolphin Explorer.

This is a great way to truly immerse yourself with wild marine mammals which thrive in the waters surrounding Auckland. I found it quite hard to believe there were that many dolphins living so close to the city itself. A fantastic day trip for all ages, and a definite must-do whilst in New Zealand!

You can buy your Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari Tour from our website and save $30. Book Now

Discover Nature on the Glass Bottom Boat, Whitianga, New Zealand

Whitianga is a beautiful little beach town sitting on Mercury Bay, on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s north island. It boast an incredible stretch of beach and a picturesque harbour, home to hundreds of impressive boats.DSC00684

Understandably, Whitianga is a popular tourist attraction due to its serene surroundings and relaxing atmosphere, alongside the offerings of many tours and activities to get your imagination flowing, alongside a selection of cafes, restaurants and shops, meaning the town really does offer something for everyone.

During our one night stay, Jack and I were very grateful of the opportunity to join Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga on their morniDSC00693ng tour. It was a crisp and bright Monday morning with a slight breeze; perfect for a tour of incredible coastline.

The boat was a noticeable blue and yellow colour, and was a nice size; not too big and not too small, which allowed for a very personal experience with the four other passengers and our captain and tour guide, Mark. The boat can seat up to 24 passengers at a time.

We slowly left the Whitianga Wharf, taking in the beautiful surroundings. It was so calm and peaceful; the sun glistened perfectly on the surface of the sea. Some boats surrounding us were moving along at  their own pace, allowing fisherman to pass the time in the autumn sunshine whilst try to make a catch.

DSC00705The cliffs and rocks surrounding the coastline were immediately quite striking. Much of these were formed millions of years ago by volcanic activity, and the build up of layers in the rock is clear to see. Mark compared Shakespeare’s Cliff to that of the White Cliffs of Dover in England. I would most certainly agree; they had a certain pale grey colour about them and certainly looked similar to the iconic cliffs which sit only an hour’s drive away from my home town in Kent, UK.

Mark would make regular stops and talk about the area surrounding us as well as some local knowledge and history.

We headed towards Cooks Beach, which takes its name from Captain Cook, a British explorer who mDSC00710apped the coastline of New Zealand in the 1700’s, becoming the first human to sail all the way round the coast of the country. The beach has strikingg white sand and its a popular destination for holiday makers.

We then ventured into the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, which has held this status since 1992. The reserve covers nine square kilometres and sits between Hahei and Cook Bluff. Marine reserves are created in order to protect the landscapes surrounding marine areas and also the wildlife within them. As a result, plants and wildlife within these areas thrive, as fishing and other activities are against the law, and severe punishments result if these rules are breached.

The areas was made a marine reserve due to its impressive varied rock formations, reefs, caves and underwater arches which provide the ideal habitat for fish, molluscs and plants. Snorkelling, diving and boating are still permitted within the reserve as long as suitable precautions are taDSC00713ken. There are many walking tracks around the coastline of the reserve, too, which are enjoyed by locals and visitors.

During our time in the reserve, the glass bottom of the boat was lifted and we were treated to views of many fish. They were noticeably big in size, which was probably due to the protection given to them via the marine reserve. Fish which roam in the area include snapper, leatherjacket, certain types of salmon, marble fish, amongst others. We also saw plenty of sea plants within varying depths of water. Dolphins and orcas have also been spotted in these areas!

After admiring our first sightings of fish, we headed towards the iconic Cathedral Cove, which stands as an impressive formation in the ocean, and proves to be a fantastic photo opportunity with the surrounding bluDSC00724e colours of the ocean and greys/browns of the rock.

Champagne Bay provides even more stunning sights of volcanic rock formations. Intriguing shapes have been naturally created via years of erosion from the sea and weather. We were able to spot more beautiful marine life at this stage, too.

We were then given the unique opportunity to peer right into one of New Zealand’s largest sea caves, named Orua. The boat heads right inside and we were able to glare right up inside it, where it appears quite dark and eerie, but the colours of the rock will keeps your eyes DSC00732transfixed. The cave is a staggering 15 metres wide and 15 metres deep, and really proves to be a treat for the eyes.

During this trip you will be presented with many opportunities to witness the impressive and tranquil surroundings of the Whitianga coastline and beyond, discovering amazing facts about the area and intriguing history which has contributed to its presence today. Keep your eyes out for many sea mammals including fish species, seals, blue penguins, dolphins and orcas.

This is a true opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and nature that New Zealand has to offer. Sit back, admire the scenery and discover plenty about this wonderful ocean and coastline.

Book your unforgettable Glass Bottom Boat experience through Backpacker Deals and make a great saving!

Quad Biking Adventures in Stunning Franz Josef


Franz Josef is based along the middle of the west coast on the south island of New Zealand. It is famous for its two magnificent natural creations; the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. It is also known for its wet weather, and I had heard on numerous occasions that it receives a large amount of rainfall every year, an amount which is well above average for that part of the world.

Fox GlacierIt certainly did rain whilst we were there, including 140mm on the Sunday. On that day we had planned to experience quad biking with Across Country Quad Bikes. The company themselves claim that experiencing this in the rain is so much fun, and even better than when it is dry.

We were kitted out with plenty of wet weather gear, and were mostly covered head to toe. We received helmets, water proof jackets and trousers, gloves and boots. I had prepared to get wet anyway, but was impressed with the equipment we were able to wear to minimise how drenched we did get!

The rain seemed relentless and was falling down in sheets. This actually increased the anticipation and excitement as we expected a lot of mud and puddles to test our navigation of the quad bike.

There were five of us in total alongside our tour guide. He allowed us to drive on a practice route around tyres, and through a little stream so we could familiarise ourselves with the controls before venturing out onto the main track.

Jack and I shared a quadQuad Biking1 bike so it was nice to be able to experience being both the driver and  the passenger. I knew Jack certainly wouldn’t hold back…

Soon, we were off on our epic journey through rainforest, rivers, pools of mud and steering around and over rocks and tree trunks which were peering above the ground. I couldn’t believe how powerful the quad bike proved to be. Any obstacle we would come across, it wouldn’t be held back. It powered up steep inclines in the surface, and left thick mud behind via its four wheel drive capabilities.

The rain didn’t only add to the fun and excitement, it also increased the eeriness of the atmosphere. The sky was grey and merged in with the dark waters that flowed relentlessly in front of us. We drove through this deep water and, again, the quad bike forced through as if the water wasn’t really there.

Going through the rainforest paths was probably one of the highlights. I felt like I was living the scene of a film, such as Jurassic Park or similar. The emerald colours of the trees and shrubs merged with the browns of the tree trunks and the thick mud surrounding us. We sped past braces and leaves and even had to duck down at certain intervals to avoid any stray ones in the way of our path. We certainly had to stay alert!

It was great to enjoy the ride and really take in the scenery as a passenger, and also experience the thrill of driving the quad bike myself. They have so much power and really can build up quite a speed! The rain was brushing my face, alongside the cool wind. It was a mixture of feelings for all the senses. The sights, the sounds, the feelings alongside the experience of pure adrenaline and anticipation.

Whatever the weather, this is guaranteed to be the ultimate fast and exhilarating quad biking journey over a mixture of terrain, paired with incredible scenery and surroundings. What’s more, you’re free to enjoy it as either a driver and/or passenger, to experience the best of both perspectives!

White Water Madness on the Kaituna River

Before now, white water rafting was something I had heard a lot about but had never actually participated in myself. I had been told what a thrill it was, and how it was a ‘must-do’ during my travelling year.

I was delighted to confirm the booking with Kaitiaki Adventures, based in Rotorua, on the north island of New Zealand.

I had previously heard a lot about the company and how they are known as being one of the best for white water rafting and sledging. After learning so much from other people and finding out about their individual experiences, I really couldn’t wait to get on the water and it experience it for myself.

DSC_0009After a few rainy days in the iconic town, known for its adrenaline activities, a bit like Queenstown on the south island, we awoke on the Saturday morning to beautiful sunshine. It was a crisp autumn day, and it really set the tone for the exhilarating activity we were about to face in beautifully serene surroundings.

DSC_0014Jack and I drove our Mighty Camper out to the Kaitiaki Adventures base and parked up. The company do offer a pick-up for anyone without their own transport, and have ample parking for those who do.

We made our way through to their hut-like reception area which really set a feel of nature within rainforest surroundings. We were given all necessary equipment including a wetsuit, spray jacket, thermal jumper, life jacket, boots and a helmet. I immediately felt fully eqDSC_0018uipped and as the anticipation grew, I also felt a feeling of complete assurance that I was in good, professional hands. The instructors were relaxed and welcoming yet clearly showed their knowledge and prior experience.

There were about 14 participants in total, and we all loaded onto the bus and headed off to the river, which immediately struck me as being yet another stunning example of the sights New Zealand treats us to. An untouched river, the water was an incredible deep blue colour, and the trees and plant-life which sit on the bank reflected brightly on the surface alongside bright rays from the sun.

I love being in this perfect environment. It isn’t only a treat for the eyes, but also other senses. I could smell the fresh scent of the rainforest greenery, and the cool freshness of the air touched my face. The sound of the water gushing in the rapids was unmistakable. I knew, soon enough, I would be rushing through them in a boat, paddling my way through with my fellow rafters.

I boarded the boat with Jack, and a guy and girl who were travelling with each other from America. We were joined by two of the instructors, Jimbo and Hemi, who had a typical Kiwi humour and were clearly very experienced in their field.

DSC_0089I had a mixed feeling of excitement, anticipation and, in all honesty, I was a little nervous. The instructors revealed that we would be tackling a seven metre waterfall, named Tutea Falls, a grade 5 waterfall which is officially the highest commercially operated in white water rafting. This would mean the boat would be almost vertical as it went over the waterfall, and would be submerged by the rush of the water at the bottom. There was also a small chance that the boat would flip over. They thoroughly highlighted the procedures we should take if we fell out or the boat capsized. I felt confident I knew what to do, and was also reassured by the professionalism of both Jimbo and Hemi.

We practiced working together on forward and back paddle, and were quickly greeted by a fast flowing rapid, which threw the boat about, it certainly added a further buzz.

We tackled more rapids and small waterfalls (one and two metre in height). We then approached the big one. The seven metre waterfall. This was it. What was going to happen? How high would it feel? How much would we submerge? Would the boat flip?

We were talked through the position we should hold when going down the waterfall. As we approached, we all jumped into this position and braced ourselves whilst holding on tightly. I could hear the water gushing at the bottom, crasDSC_0045hing against the rocks on the riverbed.

We dangled over the edge and boom, over we went. It all happened so quickly. We submerged fully and I held on tightly, and we were quickly up and back on the surface of the water. Jimbo and Hemi both said we weren’t submerged for long, and the nature of the water flow worked in our favour. The water was cold and very refreshing!

I felt an immediate burst of adrenaline and even a sense of achievement. I had done it. Despite the nerves, I had fully immersed myself in the experience and enjoyed every minute of it. Often, it is the nerves that really add to the thrill of activities such as this.

The thrills weren’t over, though, as we were invited to jump into the water and flow down a rapid by ourselves. I jumped in anDSC_0112d was overjoyed at the incredible feeling of the water. It was cool and crisp, and felt so special to be surrounded by the river and the wonderful rainforest surroundings. Going down the rapid by myself created another adrenaline rush and it was great to be immersed by the fresh water once again.

Overall, this was a stand-out activity for me during my time in New Zealand. It creates a mixture of special emotions in unique and beautiful surroundings. It is true New Zealand, and really is a must for anyone visiting Rotorua.

Book your thrill of a lifetime with Kaitiaki Adventures through Backpacker Deals and make a great saving!

What makes New Zealand's South Island so cool?

I feel very lucky to have seen some amazing and beautiful places on our travels so far. New York, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the incredible beaches of Fiji and plenty of places along part of the East Coast of Australia. However, I can safely say that New Zealand has blown me away more than any other location. It’s topped the lot. I’m not sure how I’m going to find the words to convey its beauty and how it makes me feel. But I will try.

Queenstown landingJack and I woke early on Monday 13 April to fly to Queenstown. I had checked the weather forecast a few weeks in advance and saw that snow was on the cards. Surely not? April is autumn in New Zealand and Australia. I immediately knew we’d have to adapt quickly to these temperatures after spending seven months mostly warmth and humidity!

I love the feeling when waiting at the airport for a flight. It’s the anticipation before our next journey. And I think this felt extra special because New Zealand wasn’t on our original itinerary, and I had heard so many good things about it. Many had said how it beats Australia in so many ways. Apparently, if I loved Oz I would love NZ even more. I couldn’t wait to see the country for myself.

I had been told, also, how the flight into Queenstown is something special. I knew it would be quite overcast but we were still treated to special views of snow-dusted mountains which peered through the clouds. We circulated in the air for a while, and were lucky not to be delayed any longer due to the snow that had fallen the day before.Queenstown view

When we stepped off the plane it was actually quite refreshing, the low temperature was immediately noticeable, and it felt just like home in the UK. It made me realise how humid Australia actually was, but I guess I had become quite used to it. However, the cool temperature was definitely more familiar to me.

We stayed for our first three nights in Base Backpackers hostel in the middle of Queenstown. The hostel was centrally located and close to all you could want, including the famous Ferg Bergur. I did indeed tryMountains a Ferg Burger and a Ferg Pie, and they definitely lived up to the hype. Absolutely delicious!

The town was noticeably small and quite cute, with a buzzing atmosphere, and a completely different feel to any other towns we had been in. Small independent shops were sat next to plenty of companies offering adrenaline activities. AJ Hackett bungy, Skippers Canyon Jet, Hydro Attack, skydives, quad biking, you name it, alongside the famous Luge and Gondola. Jack and I were lucky enough to experience many of these activities during our 8 nights in Queenstown. I had a fantastic time!

I was shocked by the scenery surrounding the local area. Lake Wakatipu looked astonishing with the Remarkables mountain range in the distance, and the snow just added to the beauty. We were fortunate to witness this picture-perfect view with the added touch of snow. It was one of the most beautiful views I had seen.

I experienced two AJ Hackett activities; the Kawaura Bridge bungy and the Ledge Swing. Both were great! It was the first time I had experienced these two thrills, and it was amazing to do them both on the same day. The bungy was in a stunning location, surrounded by mountains, and I jumped from the bridge above faultless turquoise-coloured water. It was the ultimate adrenaline rush. If you’re in Queenstown, it is certainly a must-do!Bungy

The Ledge Swing was based at the top of Bob’s Peak and provided stunning views over Queenstown. And it was literally that; a huge swing. I would say it was more daunting and definitely more of a stomach drop than the bungy, yet another amazing thrill! It was great to try out both in two amazing locations. I also paraglided from Bob’s Peak with G-Force Paragliding, and got to see Queenstown from an unforgettableSwing birds-eye view.

We are spending most of our time in New Zealand in a Might Campers 4-berth campervan. We were quite overwhelmed by it when we first picked it up. It is so spacious! It has a large kitchen area complete with a microwave, kettle, toaster, fridge, a running tap and two gas hobs. It has two spacious double beds, one which is completed from the seating area and another which pulls out and is formed as a bunk bed. It is definitely the complete moving home! And in New Zealand it is certainly a ‘room with a view’ to say the least. Campervan travel really does provide flexibility; you’re free to go wherever you want and aren’t tied down by a set itinerary. It truly allows spontaneity!

After Queenstown, we headed an hour north to Lake Wanaka. Another beathtakingly beautifully awe-inspiring place. I’m runniMighty camperng out of words to describe these places. It feels impossible to put across the true beauty each place boasts. We had lovely weather whilst there. It is another small little town with a big personality, sat beside a huge, calm and untouched lake. It just looked like a painting with the hills and mountains in the distance next to the blue sky. Perfection.

We then drove up the West Coast towards Haast, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. It rained consistently for around three days, but we were fortunate enough to time it right to see the Fox Glacier in all its glory. A really impressive natural creation, unlike anything else I had seen. Over a build up of years, the ice forms at the top of the mountain and then, due to gravity, the ice moves down the mountain and gorges out of the valley, creating a very impressive view.

In Franz Josef, we kayaked in the torrential rain on Lake Mapourika with Glacier Country Kayaks. What an incredible experience! It was a shame we couldn’t see past the thick clouds but to experience this in the rain was special in itself. We moved up the lake and through narrow creeks, which had a really eerie atmosphere. When the rain fell, it felt amazing, and really added to the whole time on the lake. It is something I’ll never forget.11182058_1089422774417595_5361992553596497015_n

Jack and I also rode quad bikes with Across Country Quad Bikes in the Franz Josef rainforest (in torrential rain again)! This was also amazing! We went through streams and lakes, thick mud, rocky ground and beautiful rainforest paths. And the rain made it even better! It was just crazy, I loved it.

We didn’t originally plan to visit Christchurch but we were excited to alter our plan and visit here for one day. We drove from Franz Josef through Arthur’s Pass, which looked incredible even through the thick cloud. Christchurch was quite striking. It is a wonderful city which is still recovering from the earthquake which hit in February 2011. My heart is truly with the city and its residents. I have no doubt it'll recover to become the vibrant place it once was, and still is, with the help Seal Kaikouraof much artwork which adds colour to the city centre. Shops have been created in old shipping containers, which are really innovative. I look forward to returning one day.

Kaikoura is based further up the east coast of New Zealand and proved to be a beautiful little seaside town, with some fantastic coastal walks which boast incredible scenery alongside many views of the town’s lively inhabitants - seals! We were blown away by the number of baby seals which were swimming in and out of rocks. We even got up close to a very tame one who seemed keen to pose for a photo!

Nelson is located at the north of the south island and was probably the most city-like place we’d been to. It was still small though, but had all the shops and cafes you could possibly want. We enjoyed a few drinks in a local bar and took in the buzzing atmosphere. I had heard that Nelson prides itself in being one of the most popular locations for both holidaying Kiwis and overseas tourists alike, and also enjoys a lot of sunshine hours. This alongside the impressive array of entertainment options makes it easy to see why.

Split Apple RockWe ventured further north to the incredible Abel Tasman National Park, seen as one of the New Zealand’s most treasured locations. It was stunning. We even timed it perfectly to see a rainbow stretching over the hidden gem that is Split Apple Rock. It is a golden beach bay with an iconic rock sitting in the ocean - which looks as though it has been cut in half, just like an apple. There were a lot of references to apples in the place names in the north of the south island, largely due to the high amount of farms which grow and sell fruit in the area. It is also well known for its vineyards and wineries.

We then ventured to Picton which is another small and unique town, known largely for its harbour and ferry ports which link the south island with the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. We will now be exploring the north island during the second part of our fantastic trip. Each and every day is different and I am loving it.

All I know is, I love New Zealand. What an amazingly beautifully incredibly breathtaking country it truly is. There really are no words, but I have tried to find them…

The journey continues.