A few months ago, I participated in a unique web experiment – the #Blog4NZ Project. I was just one of hundreds of travel bloggers and writers who all joined forces for one week in March with the singular goal of helping New Zealand Tourism recover from the earthquake that hit Christchurch.
Blog4NZ was a grass-roots effort by the international travel blogging community to promote all that is good about travel in New Zealand. Immediately following the earthquake, the country was in shock. Tourism makes up approximately 10% of New Zealand’s GDP and it is essential for the world to know that New Zealand is open for business. The goal of the Blog4NZ event was to show people that New Zealand is a great travel destination.
I decided to join in this great effort to support friends and colleagues in New Zealand in their noble effort, I had no expectation of receiving anything in return. I hadn’t even been to New Zealand before, so my posts were mostly about things I’d like to do if I were to visit. Immediately following the event, I was notified that I was one of the winners as selected by Pure New Zealand based on my blog posts during #Blog4NZ. The prize? A week in New Zealand to experience for myself what makes the country so great.
These are the posts I wrote for the #Blog4NZ Project:
New Zealand Travel Wish List
I was of course thrilled beyond words and, after a few months of waiting, I can’t believe that later this week I leave for my first trip to Aotearoa – New Zealand.
Here is my itinerary for the week-long adventure, and adventure it is. I will be participating in some exhilarating, and a little scary, experiences that will create lifelong memories. As always, I hope you’ll follow along as I explore everything that makes New Zealand a fantastic vacation destination.
Day 1 – Waitomo Caves
I arrive and immediately make the short drive to the utterly unique Waitomo Caves. Most famous for its glowworm light displays, the caves are a complex of subterranean waterfalls, lost rivers and awe-inspiring rock formations. Not only will I get the normal tour, I’m also participating in black water rafting, a special way of experiencing the glowworm studded caves.
Day 2 – Rotorua
My second day starts with something I’ve been waiting a long time to do – Zorb! This is basically a water-filled, human-size hamster ball, in which willing participants are rolled downhill. After I recover my balance, I’m going to need to relax, so a visit to the Polynesian Spa is in order. One of the top 10 spas of the world, as voted by Conde Nast, the Spa features thermal rock pools overlooking Lake Rotorua. That evening I will get the chance to learn more about the Maori people at Te Puia, a unique cultural experience which includes a visit to the ancient valley where the Pohutu geyser still plays after 40,000 years.
Day 3 – Christchurch
I fly down to Christchurch where I start my day at the Antarctic Centre. The geek in me is thrilled to explore the centre and learn more about the various expeditions to Antarctica which have started there. I also hope to hug a penguin. After the penguin hugging, it’s back to the adventure side with an afternoon at Adrenalin Forest. This shy sounding place is a multi-level aerial obstacle course. It’s the first step in combating my fear of heights on this trip. If I survive the Forest, I will spend the balance of my day exploring Christchurch and learning for myself what makes it such a great city.
Day 4 – Christchurch – West Coast
This day really excites me and I can’t wait to board the Tranz Alpine train to Gerymouth. The Tranz Alpine is a scenic train journey through some of the most amazing areas of New Zealand. Day 4 is all about exploration, and after I poke around Greymouth, I drive on to Franz Josef. This is one of the few areas in the world where glaciers and mild climates coexist and I will get to experience the pure natural beauty for which this area is so famous. That evening I plan on indulging in a soak in the glacier hot pools, a rejuvenating experience under the stars.
Day 5 – West Coast – Wanaka
This is the day when the animal lover in me gets to shine a bit when I drive to the Westcoast Wildlife Centre. The Centre is famous for the rare Kiwi, along with the stories and tales of the people of the West Coast. After my cultural immersion, it’s off to jump into a helicopter for a tour of the glacier and Mt. Cook. Just a normal morning, right? After a thrilling experience in the skies, I drive on to Lake Wanaka for some rock climbing and hopefully a pint or two.
Day 6 – Wanaka
By this point I no doubt will have visited the chiropractor a few times, but will persevere as I join a jet boat trip down the Matukituki River. This World Heritage Area is also home to several Lord of the Rings film locations, as I will explore on my wilderness walk. After I’m rescued from getting lost in the woods, I will explore Wanaka on my own to discover what makes this area such a popular tourist destination.
Day 7 – Queenstown
This, my last day in New Zealand, will truly be an epic experience. I begin with a Ziptrek tour, a three-hour, high velocity zipline adventure that includes a kilometer-long line. While I’m still regaining my legs, it’s time to lose them again when I pit my fear of heights against the Kiwi tendency to fling themselves off things – The Ledge Bungy. That’s right, for the first time in my life I am going to attempt to bungy jump. I’ll let you know how it goes. Once I’ve stopped shaking, I get to explore Queenstown for the rest of the day before flying back to Auckland and then home.
I hope you’ll follow along as I visit New Zealand and please let me know if there’s anything you want to know about or think I should do!