Most of us can only dream of getting paid to travel the world – but what if I were to tell you that I’ve been getting paid a career salary to travel the world for the past 6 years straight. And six figure salary too. And the best part? You can too!
Good, now that I have your attention, I have an announcement to make.
For the past couple of years I’ve been co-running an event in Australia called the Travel Bootcamp, where we teach you how to *actually* get paid to travel the world. Not just the fluffy crap concepts you see on Instagram that don’t really teach anything. This is LEGIT.
I helped launch the Travel Bootcamp in 2016 (remember?) along with two other industry leaders, famous travel editor Georgia Rickard (the current editor at large at Virgin Australia) and Lauren Bath, Australia’s first professional Instagrammer.
As three leaders in the travel industry, we decided to come together to reveal the secrets of making money while you’re on holiday.It’s totally possible. We’ve all been doing it for years and mentored plenty of others who have made it a reality.
Here’s a feature Forbes did on me and how I made blogging my career woot woot!
This is our way of sending the elevator back down and helping out the next generation of travel creators make their dream job a reality. It’s our baby.
We tell you all the things we wish had been told over the past decade, sharing personal stories and tips and tricks that no one ever talks about. Through a combination of travel writing, blogging, Instagram and photography, The Travel Bootcamp Queenstown guarantees to teach anyone how to get paid to travel the world.
The offline event – which takes place over a long weekend – is our brainchild and something we’ve been working on and perfecting for the past three years.
With five original Travel Bootcamps under our belt and one industry event completed, there is no one else more prepared to teach the ins and outs of this crazy but fun travel space.
With more than 600 success stories from previous Travel Bootcamp students, the results are undeniable and that’s why we are ready to take it to the next level with our Queenstown event which has expanded over several days from October 4th – 6th, 2019.
Beep beep – early bird tickets are on sale now here!
In fact, this is our 7th event and we’ve spent the past year revamping it, expanding it, and turning it into something new, fresh and incredible, and we’re excited that our first overseas event will by in my own backyard of Queenstown, New Zealand, perhaps one of the most “Instagrammy” places out there.
And is there anywhere more perfect than Queenstown, New Zealand to be inspired to take your goals to the next level?
As someone who’s been to 70 odd countries and all seven continents, I can safely say no haha.
The jewel of New Zealand, Queenstown is the perfect place to put all the practices we teach into place. From trendy bars and foodie spots, wildlife to wineries to fabulous hotels and adventure activities galore, this stunning mountain town has it all.
What do you expect from the place that invented bungy jumping?
And our event is being held at the QT Queenstown, my favorite quirky boutique hotel chain and the PERFECT spot for the event (special delegate rates available too).
I’ve poured my heart and soul into the Travel Bootcamp Queenstown and it’s a business I’m so proud and honored to be a part of with Lauren and Georgia. I’ve spent years speaking at events and conferences, learning so much and have taken everything I’ve been a part of and built something entirely new and me.
We swear. We laugh. And we have so much fun. It’s so much information and you won’t be bored at all. It’s an intense and wonderful weekend, and it’s not unusual to have our delegates crying tears of happiness and joy to be part of our community.
People have come from all over the world to be part of this amazing experience, and we’ve been able to offer some pretty incredible opportunities as part of the Bootcamp. Like paid trips and camera gear, not to mention some incredible networking. This time around, so much more is in store for you guys.
We tell stories we’ve never told anyone before, we share intimate inside knowledge of the industry and will have lots of delightful surprises, add ons, announcements and guests for you all to enjoy.
I love it so very much and can’t wait to share this one that’s so close to my heart where I live with you all too.
If you dream of getting paid to travel the world, we’ll give you a step by step guide of how exactly to make this a reality at our Travel Bootcamp Queenstown.
We’re going to be announcing a lot more exciting things soon, so be sure to grab your ticket before they’re gone.
Can’t wait to meet you all in Queenstown for a weekend that will change your life!
Hit me up in the comments or email if you have any questions about the Travel Bootcamp and if you need some convincing. What do you think? Spill!
If there was ever a place that captured my heart so entirely, it would be Stewart Island.
Tucked just off the end of New Zealand’s South Island 30 kilometers across the Foveaux Strait from Bluff, this tiny paradise represents the last piece of modern civilization before you hit Antarctica. New Zealand’s third island is remote and untamed, often overlooked by visitors here AND IT SHOULDN’T BE.
Rakiura, the island’s Māori name, means “glowing skies” which is a reference to the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) which can sometimes be seen from the island. You must visit Stewart Island.
Flanked by wild waves and even wilder weather, Stewart Island is wild, beautiful and offers a rare glimpse of a truly untouched NZ. With its rugged peaks, dense bush, vast beaches and fascinating history, you’ll leave here with your eyes wide open and your heart full.
It’s taken me up until now to reflect back on this trip with happiness, because a visit Stewart Island is the place where I found 150 beaching pilot whales, a traumatic experience I’m still reckoning with. But apart from that I spent a week there at the end of last year and it was incredibly special and I am so keen to go back again and again.
Rakiura stole my heart.
Oh and did I mention all the birds? Obviously I also love to visit Stewart Island because it’s where one of the very last populations of kākāpō were found, and if I have my way, they’ll eventually come back here too one day.
In fact, there are more (rare) birds than people (true story) here. And, it’s pretty near the only place in the country you have a real shot at seeing an actual, live, kiwi in the wild. And no, not just at the local pub at 5pm. I’m talking about the feathered variety.
Oops. I digress. Let’s move on, otherwise this post will become all about the birds and rugged kiwi men (hit. me. up.)
So if you’re looking for a unique kiwi experience off the grid with stunning nature and wildlife, here are eight reasons why you should make Stewart Island a priority on your next trip over. You’re welcome.
1. It’s a chance to experience the real New Zealand
Everything about Stewart Island is dialed back, and you only have to spend a few minutes there to truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time. With only 400 people permanently living there on an island that is 1,746 square kilometers in size, over eighty percent of the island is protected national park and uninhabited.
The wilderness is EPIC. It’s true when they say that Stewart Island gives you a glimpse of what all of NZ would have looked like before people came.
From the moment you board the ferry over from Bluff to the moment you leave the island, you’ll get a sense of wilderness unlike anywhere else. And in classic kiwi fashion, how boring would it be if the ferry ride was flat an average!
Sometimes calm, but mostly wild, the Foveaux Strait is short and shallow, and takes only an hour to cross, but be sure not to eat beforehand and nab a seat by the window. Or if you’re me and you’re lucky you’ll be next to a school group the day after a massive storm (big rolling seas) and listening to a bunch of youths spewing their brains out – *immediately refills my birth control*
2. You can spot a Kiwi in the wild
Um. Could this place get any better?
As I’ve already mentioned, a visit Stewart Island is literal heaven for a bird nerd such as me. But what makes it even more special, is the opportunity to see a real, live kiwi bird in the wild.
These birds are the national emblem of New Zealand and are incredibly rare. A significant amount of work by DOC has been put in over the last decade, to ensure the survival of these beautiful flightless creatures, and while Stewart Island still has a massive problem with feral cats going after their native birds, there are no stoats here which have partly allowed kiwi to thrive again.
I’ve managed to see several in the wild and I’ve gotten fairly good at spotting them. Being nocturnal, they’re often active here at dusk or right before sunrise and you can hear their high pitched calls and if you’re very quiet you can hear them stomping around in the bush. They are fairly noisy.
As kiwis are nocturnal, the best chance you have of spotting them is at night, on a dedicated Kiwi encounter tour.
Real Journeys run a two hour guided walk, limited to only 16 people per night, so as not to disturb the birds (a serious thumbs up from me). You’ll start at dusk, and via torchlight head out through native forest to Ocean Beach, a popular feeding ground for the Southern Brown Kiwi. NOT to be missed people!
It also books out super far in advance too, heads up. And if you can’t join in, just spend some time out on the tracks as the Stewart Island kiwi are often seen during the day too, and if you look carefully you can often see their footprints in the mud or sand, shaped like an arrow.
3. The history is fascinating and wild
Despite its remote location and obvious wilderness, Stewart Island actually has a long and interesting history.
Māori have been visiting and living around Rakiura for hundreds of years harvesting tītī (muttonbirds) and fish.
While tourism and fishing remain the primary economic industries, the late 1860’s saw much of the native Rimu forest felled for timber, while 1890’s brought a short lived tin mining boom, as well as being hub for both sealing and whaling. Shivers.
Remains of both the logging and tin mining operations can be visited, as well as an old tramway at Port Pegasus. You can also visit a Norwegian Whaling station at Paterson Inlet, and Ackers Cottage, thought to be the oldest building in New Zealand. And you can often find old whale bones out on the beaches too.
4. Check out Ulva Island (because birds)
A tiny forested island just inside the Paterson Inlet, Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara) is a picturesque, predator-free bird sanctuary – some of my favorite words! Definitely make time for a visit out here.
Here, native bush covers much of the land, providing shelter for weka, tui, bellbirds, kaka, the rare saddleback and kiwi. Many other birds thrive here, as well as several of New Zealand’s unique plant species.
Ulva Island is rather iconic in New Zealand as one of the few pest-free open sanctuaries in New Zealand – no nasty mammals like cats, rats and possums to eat the native birds and bush. Here in this unspoiled rainforest you have the chance to spot rare birds up close and personal in a safe environment mostly unchanged by humans. I. LOVE. IT.
A hoiho – an endangered yellow-eyed penguin
I took the Real Journeys Ulva Island explorer tour which showcased this unspoiled isle to its fullest extent. I was particularly impressed with the knowledge of the guides, who regaled us with tales of the local Māori and early European settlers as well as spotting sea lions, albatross and penguins on our way there and back by boat.
A warm and cloudless day, it was pretty special walking the little trails around the island and hearing the strong birdsong in the forest.
I loved having a little robin follow me the whole trail.
A curious male sea lion
5. Say hi to the locals!
The locals here are one of a kind (or 400 of a kind, if you want to get technical about it). They’re welcoming, friendly, full of interesting stories, even I disagree with many of them about pest control there – but that’s a fight for another day.
Despite the fact that thousands of us descend on their slice of paradise weekly, they remain happy, helpful and always willing to lend a hand. It’s small town New Zealand at their finest.
I recommend heading to the pub for a chat and a meal of fresh oysters, salmon or blue cod (most likely caught just a few hours before), but in summer sometimes it’s so busy you’ve got to book in your meals in advance or cook for yourself.
6. The tramping (or hiking as the rest of the world calls it) is exceptional
With nearly 300 kilometers of walking tracks on Stewart Island it’s easy to get lost – intentionally of course – but also not – plan accordingly!
Most of the tracks take you on a beautiful adventure through native rainforest and along vast golden beaches. Many are serviced by basic DOC (Department of Conservation) huts but you can bring your own tent if you wish too. One of New Zealand’s Great Walks is here – the Rakiura Track, a 3 day 32 kilometer loop track.
Be warned though – most of the overnight hikes here, while seriously spectacular, are grueling. Not because of big mountains or climbs, but rather because the bush here is dense and intense as I like to say, and when it rains it turns into a veritable bog. I’m talking mud up to your waist. It’s demanding but rewarding, but not to be taken lightly and many of the tracks have..
You know I’m all about women empowering other women, right?
If not, then you haven’t been paying attention. On my trip to the Victoria High Country last summer, I was more than a little thrilled to head out on a women-only overnight hiking trip with Skadi Adventures. I haven’t done much hiking in Australia, but it’s on my list!
The epitome of female empowerment, Skadi offers all-inclusive, guided girl power tours of the Mansfield Mt Buller region. Every age and every fitness stage is welcome. Plus they have a cool name (Skadi is the Norse goddess of the wilderness). Sold!
But first, coffee.
Nestled in the foothills of the Victorian Alps, Mansfield is the cutest little gold-mining town, and a starting point for several hikes in the area.
It’s also the gateway to some of Australia’s ski resorts (yes, there is snow in Australia) but I can happily attest that it’s pretty awesome come summertime too.
We stopped for coffee (essential) before heading out, but I wished I’d had more time to explore. Beautiful historical buildings line the main street, interspersed with artisan shops and gourmet eateries.
Our hike was a summit-to-summit adventure from Mt Stirling to Mt Buller and highlighted the versatility of the rugged Victorian wilderness.
Led by Ness Heinberg, our hike priestess (um hi!) we willingly submitted to finding our best selves in the mountains. All about getting all women into the outdoors, as much as I love hiking on my own, I also love being guided by passionate locals full of knowledge.
This part of Australia is pretty special. Beautiful with lovely birdsong and rolling mountains as far as the eye can see, it almost reminded me a bit of the Blue Ridge mountains where I grew up in Virginia! Just with more snakes and less rednecks.
The mountains are endless, rolling one into another as far as the eye can see.
Silvery eucalyptus, ash forest and gumtrees line the landscape while icy snow-melt streams forge a path. And though Mt Buller is renowned as a winter resort, guys, in summer it comes alive.
And it smells hot and beautiful, a totally different smell from our mountains in New Zealand.
Starting out off the mountain road you’ll first meander your way through forest before hitting a track, which leads you into the bush, expertly guided by Ness.
Purple heather adorns the trail and alpine flowers provide a colorful backdrop to the bleached pastels of the snow gums.
You’ll also see some pretty exceptional wildlife, with many local birds singing out, and also being on the outlook for snakes – hello Australia.
Also *pauses dramatically* there are wombats. WOMBATS!
Pretty much the cutest living doormats you have ever seen. Apparently, if you come across them at night they will follow your torchlight wherever you point it.
Wombats also apparently can charge you, like a bull AND they bite, so maybe don’t do that!
Another reason I love wombats is that they poop cubes. We found their treasures intentionally perched about on logs on the walks. Seriously, the coolest creatures.
Skadi Adventures provided literally the lightest gear ever so it wasn’t *that* much of a struggle. Except the heat, it was a perfect summer’s day!
We spent the afternoon taking out time and working our way up towards the Stirling summit where we would camp.
Early summer is the perfect time to get out amongst the hills in Australia before it gets too hot. The mountains also come alive with colorful flowers blooming, making it even more picturesque.
Some of the trees up near Mt Buller have been bleached white after a bush fire a few years ago, creating ethereal feel to the environment and a harsh reminder that mother nature always prevails.
Passing this ghostly skeletons we continued up eventually arriving to where we’d set up camp well before sunset.
Our packs were small and light, Skadi provides its guests with the lightest and newest gear (I seriously went out and purchased almost the exact same sleeping mat right after this trip!)
While Ness worked cooking up an amazing dinner involving fresh gnocchi (OMFG), I trotted around and took lots of photos as the sun began to dip behind Buller.
The food was divine but the company was even better. Ness is a truly amazing woman, passionate about the outdoors and sharing her home area of Australia with the world. Her beliefs about empowering women to get outside, experience nature and find themselves mirrors my own, and I don’t think stopped chatting til it was pitch black and time for bed.
After I made her check my tent for spiders. Sorry, Australia! No spiders.
I fell asleep hard but I woke up in the middle of the night – thank you insomnia!
Deciding to peek outside I had a feeling there might be amazing stars, since it was a still clear evening.
And I wasn’t disappointed! With no moon out, the entire sky was illuminated with millions of stars and a gentle warm breeze fluttering my tent! I stayed outside for the better part of an hour around 2am watching shooting stars and snapping a few pics of the Milky Way over my tent.
I’m always grateful to be in places like this with little light pollution so we can see the stars!
It seemed like I had just crawled back in my cozy tent when my alarm went off at an absurdly early time to watch the sunrise. I hate mornings!
But as soon as I unzipped my tent, I knew I was in for a treat as the sky began to turn every shade of red and pink imaginable. Ness and I quickly scrambled up to the proper Stirling sunset in time to watch the world wake up, and one of the best sunrises camping I’ve ever seen!
Thank you, horrible alarm!
After a beautiful brekkie with coffee we packed up shop and started to make our way downhill towards Mt Buller.
Today would be a day of downhill and then uphill before finishing, making our way back into the forest.
Continuing on, the trail widens and although straightforward, becomes a long descent to arrive at Howqua Gap – a clearing with several rustic huts – perfect for a breather (or chocolate stop) before the final leg.
From Howqua, it’s all downhill but is only a short, sharp climb – and believe me when I say, the hard work is worth it for the views!
Arriving at the summit of Mt Stirling, the dramatic vistas of the Crosscut Saw (an impressively jagged peak) and the mountains staggered me. I never thought Australian alps could be so beautiful! And to be honest, I never thought Australia had real mountains at all! (I can now confirm that they do) and it’s also a workout climbing them.
I’m sorry I doubted you!
Honestly, hiking around the Mt Buller area blew me away. Totally different than what I was used to, I really enjoyed my time there, and I know I’ll be back soon!
Have you been hiking in the Australian Alps before? Does this adventure seem like something you’d love too? Share!
Many thanks for Tourism North East for hosting me in Australia – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me!
A few weeks ago I was feeling sprightly and ready to fly to Christchurch from Queenstown for the weekend. I was nervous, having signed up to become a marine mammal medic with Project Jonah so I could volunteer and help out with future whale strandings in New Zealand.
I hadn’t been to Kaikoura in years. In fact, I hadn’t been since the big earthquakes a few years ago altered the landscape. Kaikoura has always been one of my favorite corners of New Zealand, a wild place where the mountains meet the sea and its rich blue coastal waters are home to many sperm whales, dolphins and seals.
It’s a delightful place. If I didn’t love Wanaka so damn much, I might have to move there!
Normally I’m always late to get to the airport but this day I left early and was ready to go! An hour away from my home and over a mountain, the Crown Range and New Zealand’s highest public access road, it’s rather a pain to get there. Can you even believe what happened next?
I parked my car in the airport parking and opened the back to realize I had left my suitcase at home in Wanaka. Who does that?
Because when you fly domestic in New Zealand, you don’t really need to get to the airport really early (usually an hour before your flight departs) I didn’t have enough time to run home to grab it. And it didn’t have my contact lenses and glasses in it, I would have just gone without it.
Luckily I have good friends who I can beg to bring my my luggage AND I always buy Air New Zealand flexi-fare flights here (you can change the time/day of travel) I was able to swap to a later flight for free. Phew.
Arriving in Kaikoura after an accidentally long day of trail, just after the sun set and as a soft fog had descended over the mountains and a drizzle began to tap tap on the roof, I was ridiculously excited to check back into the fabulous Hapuku Lodge.
I was first introduced the stunning Hapuku Lodge a few years ago on a trip to Kaikoura, getting to stay in one of their iconic luxury treehouses with friends and feasting away on incredible delicacies like local crayfish. It was a trip to remember.
I couldn’t wait to return.
Located just a few miles north of Kaikoura and one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, Hapuku Lodge is a 5 star Eco-Retreat home to their iconic treehouses 10 meters off the ground and nestled amongst native plants and a Kanuka grove overlooking the Kaikoura ranges with the sea in the distance.
To be honest, the setting couldn’t be more cozy, comfortable or just plain divine. Why would you ever leave?
Hapuku Lodge is also part of the Luxury Lodges of New Zealand, a extraordinary network of luxury lodges in exceptional locations, owned and operated by people who share a deep love and knowledge of their surroundings.
The alluring setting couldn’t be more ideal, with deer wandering on the resident farm, olive groves and a vineyard – all set up against the picturesque backdrop of the Kaikoura Ranges.
This time I opted to stay in one of the lodge rooms instead of the treehouses, which *I think* I enjoyed even more. The Hapuku Room is expansive and light-filled and so incredibly cozy.
I definitely emitted a seriously happy sigh as I walked into the room for the first time after a long day of travel.
With the fire going and the rain lightly falling outside, I sunk into the deep bath with a good book and refused to check my phone or computer for the rest of the night. I was in heaven.
I absolutely crave homey and cheerful places to stay when I’m traveling, and Hapuku ticks those boxes in spades.
With its incredible marine life offshore, Kaikoura has become a hotspot over the years for marine tourism. Here you can go whale watching with great success and even swim with dolphins and seals.
I’ve been to Kaikoura many times and participating in almost all of their activities again and again because I love it so much and being by the sea thrills me.
But this trip was different. I am still tender and a bit fragile after the end of last year between my experience with the whale stranding and the epic burnout that ensued afterwards. I’m very much aware that I’m still sitting in the recovery phase of an awful period and needing to look after myself.
This means not committing to too much and not biting off more than I could chew.
As part of my job I get to visit some of the most incredible hotels and properties around the world, and my complaint is almost always the same – I never get enough time to *actually* enjoy being in the room – instead I’m often slammed with a punishing itinerary of things to do, people to meet and stuff to photograph.
This time I was determined to really get to spend time at Hapuku, wander around and go for walks, take naps and long baths, and really get a feel for a beautiful place while looking after myself.
For those planning a trip to New Zealand and thinking, I highly recommend building in time for yourself to just relax instead of trying to see and do everything.
With its tranquil setting, beautiful cozy rooms and incredible dining in-house, Hapuku is the perfect restorative and relaxing atmosphere I can guess we all need in our lives.
One of the things I love the most about Kaikoura and Hapuku is their commitment to sustainability and caring for their environment. In 2002 Kaikoura was the first local authority in the world to become a Green Globe certified community.
With a goal to nurture the unique environment of Kaikoura and restoring it through planting native trees and re-introducing native birds, Hapuku also works hard also to be sustainable in their operations.
They source over 75% of their ingredients and products from local farmers and purveyors
The kitchen garden is completely organic, growing seasonal vegetables and herbs.
They are working towards becoming a zero-waste community.
The timber used in construction and interiors are responsibly sourced or recycled
Perhaps the heart of Hapuku is thier dining room, with the most fantastic breakfast you could dream up and dinners that will delight and surprise you. Trust me, it’s definitely the best meal you can have in Kaikoura and you’ll want to come back for more.
My time at Hapuku was exactly what I needed it, when I needed it. Here I felt like I could truly relax, melt into my surroundings and just enjoy being in a beautiful place with friendly people and be looked after.
Now, when can I come back?
Have you been to Kaikoura or heard of Hapuku? Is this the kind of place you dream of staying in too? Spill!
The leaves have turned golden, the wind has died down and the temperatures are quickly falling which means only one thing: winter is coming in New Zealand. Confusing, perhaps, if you live up in the northern hemisphere, but you get used to it. Winter here runs from around June through August.
While summer is by far Wanaka’s busiest season with our small humble town hosting thousands of visitors each week, I’m the first to say that Wanaka is so much more than warm days and dips in the lake.
It’s pretty awesome all year round, and I’d argue that it’s even more beautiful in the winter, especially with all the colors and snow on the mountaintops.
For those who live here year-round, we know that part of what makes this area so special is the magic that comes with a fresh blanket of snow on our already impressive mountaintops come wintertime.
The energy in the town starts to pick in May as seasonal winter workers begin to arrive to take up their posts at the ski resorts and the lull of the shoulder season starts to ebb by June, when fingers crossed, we have a very nice level of snow in the mountains.
With a different but equally awesome vibe in the colder months, if you’re looking for a holiday to a beautiful place where temperatures don’t matter, come visit me in Wanaka!
Here are five reasons you should visit Wanaka, New Zealand this winter.
1. Come shred some piste at Cardrona
It’s no secret that Cardrona is by far my favorite ski field in all of New Zealand, and my local mountain where I’ve held a season pass for the past couple of years.
It has been a long time favorite spot for locals as it continues to gain popularity worldwide, the ski field has responded by expanding its terrain to become New Zealand’s largest ski field yet. No long lines, no crowded runs. Just you and over 900ha of new terrain to explore and unlike neighboring ski fields, Cardrona has something for everyone from complete newbie to dedicated park rat to world class skiers.
Since I only learned to snowboard a couple of years ago in New Zealand, Cardrona has been instrumental in helping build both my experience and confidence. A friendly mountain, I head up all the time in the winter, even getting good enough last season to go heli-skiing with Southern Lakes Heliski in Wanaka.
But terrain aside, Cardrona in the winter is amazing for one other extremely crucial detail: it’s an easy way to get high above the dreaded Wanaka inversion layer.
Each year as the ground cools off during its transition to winter, a thick blanket of low lying cloud covers Wanaka. Sometimes it lasts only a few days but sometimes it can last weeks, depriving the town of some much-needed vitamin D.
While many people assume the cloud is impenetrable, locals know the truth. All you need to do is simply get a few hundred meters up which will land you above the cloud and directly in the sunlight.
The easiest way to do this? Drive up the Cardrona ski field! You’ll be basking in the sun and laughing at all the poor suckers in town stuck in the cloud.
2. It’s the perfect time to indulge in hearty winter food
Winter is the perfect time to nestle into your cozy clothes and indulge in some good old fashion comfort food.
Menus at the local cafes subtly change from salads and summery foods to hearty soups and decadent meat pies and decadent roasts.
Winter is the perfect time to try New Zealand’s famed lamb shank with mint sauce, roasted kumara, pumpkin soup, or venison bangers and mash.
My personal favorite is the seasonal seafood chowder, a rich and creamy soup stuffed with fresh seafood and served with a side of buttery crusty bread. Pair with a regional Pinot Noir or a local craft beer and your aprés ski just got infinitely better.
Book into Francesca’s (polenta fries!) and Kika or take away from Big Fig.
A post shared by kika (@kikawanaka) on Jan 28, 2019 at 7:21pm PST
3. Marvel at the still, perfect weather and glassy lake
If you’ve visited Wanaka in the spring or summer, you like noticed one thing about the weather: the often incessant wind that howls down the mountains and through the town center, often picking up in the afternoon.
It’s something that you learn to get used to, something that is rationalized away in lieu of the beautiful mountains and warm sun.
When the summer gives way to autumn, the wind slowly dies down until winter hits and there’s practically no wind at all. While you might not believe me, come mid-winter the weather is often blue skies and zero wind.
The air sits completely still and the lakes turn glassy giving perfect mirror reflections of the surrounding mountains.
Soaking in the winter sun will warm you right up, even if the actual air temperature is low and for those who can bear the cold water, winter is the perfect time to get out the kayaks or paddle boards and enjoy the eerily calm waters.
Trust me, it’s stunning.
4. Après ski, baby!
Let’s be honest, 90% of the reason I ski is so I can enjoy the après ski.
Nothing like a long day on the mountain followed by wedges and beer at the local pub. Wanaka has a great après ski scene with most pubs offering happy hour after the ski fields close and if you’re looking for a local beverage, you’re in luck.
With dozens of craft breweries in Wanaka along, a local brew is never out of reach. Grab a beer at Kai and sit outside under the heatlamps discussing your tricks and turns in the park during the day or warm yourself by the fire at the iconic Cardrona pub on your way home from the mountain.
If wine is more your thing, we’ve got you covered there too. Local area wines are easy to find at all Wanaka pubs, and we’ve got a “new” wine bar right in the middle of town.
Most importantly, après ski snacks. Wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce, string fries with aioli, or cajun fries are all frequent menus items you must put on your list. Fried things are fine in winter, the carbs don’t count.
As a bonus, most of the bars in Wanaka overlook the picture-perfect lakefront so you can enjoy your brew with one of the best views in the country as the sun sets behind the famous Roy’s Peak.
5. Get inspired at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival
Contrary to what you’re probably thinking, snowsports and good beer isn’t all we have to offer our winter visitors. We have culture too, dammit!
Okay, okay it’s still heavily focused mountain living culture but it still counts.
Wanaka is home to the annual New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival that kicks off every year in July bringing huge crowds showing up for the nerve-wracking films and inspiring speakers. We crave adventure here.
It’s a very locally supported event, and if you’re thinking of coming to New Zealand in winter and want a taste for what Wanaka is all about, try to come to some of the events. I’ve even been a speaker a few times running workshops on how to build a successful blog to fund your adventures.
Legendary climber Lynn Hill climbing “Filibuster” 13a, in Rifle Mountain Park, Rifle Colorado.
Our humble little mountain town can attract some of the biggest names in the industry. We’ve previously hosted Alex Honnald, Conrad Anker and Leo Holding. This year is no different with world-renowned climber Lynn Hill as the prominent guest speaker.
This year the festival is from June 28th to July 6th, and festival passes and tickets are on sale soon.
The festival lasts for an entire week and has everything from local artists displays to book talks to workshops and of course, adventurous independent films. You can spend all day at the festival or catch the main events during the evenings after a day on the mountain.
Are you a fan of winter? Would you be keen to check out Wanaka in the winter months? Spill!
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know I love history. Any history! Basically all the old things.
So when the opportunity to visit a perfectly-preserved Gold Rush town in rural Australia visits me, I obviously say yes with gusto.
And although I definitely did not drift into a daydream about living in the 1800’s (would I own a horse and cart? Or have my driver take me in my brand new only-just-been-invented Rolls? Or would I be dead because I’m basically blind as a bat and good eye care hadn’t been invented yet) Beechworth, Victoria, delivered – in every sense of the word.
Quaint, photogenic and utterly charming this picture-perfect town in the Victoria High Country is an ideal mix of old and new.
From a beautiful historical Gold Rush town to great food and divine wine to stunning landscapes, Beechworth has it all. Here are 6 reasons why Beechworth should be on your next Australia trip.
1. Wander the old town and fall in love with its charm
A long legacy precedes Beechworth, beginning with the discovery of gold in the mid 1800’s at Spring Creek. The resulting gold rush saw the town boom, attracting over 8,000 miners worldwide.
Prudent investment in the towns amenities such as the hospital and mental asylum (um, what?!), meant that when the gold disappeared, the town continued to grow and stay economically viable.
Wandering the main street you’ll feel as if you’ve gone back in time. Perfectly preserved 19th century store facades line the road hiding cute artisan shops and gourmet eateries. Several pubs in original condition offer hearty food and local brews, while the courthouse remains – as it was – when the infamous outlaw Ned Kelly was arraigned (Seriously, how cool is that?!)
RIP Heath Ledger, you and Orlando Bloom in that Ned Kelly film were my biggest teenage crushes.
2. Explore the Beechworth Gorge at sunset
Speaking of Ned Kelly, the Beechworth Gorge right behind the town was once a hideout for Kelly and his gang, and is a beautiful, if not slightly eerie (I was the only one there) pitstop. I headed out at sunset, so it was extra pretty (ideal for my five million Insta shots of the pink sky threatening rain).
The steep sides of the gorge are forged by smooth granite rock, with several stunning waterfalls and small pools to dip my tired feet into. No wonder, Kelly liked it here. The vibes were beautiful and creepy.
There are also multiple bush walks throughout the gorge, none of which I did – I had a belly ache from eating too many cherries an hour earlier. Also snakes.
3. Pick cherries and enjoy the local produce
Just outside of Beechworth in the nearby town of Stanley is Black Barn Farm, with the most amazing cherry orchard. Full disclosure: come with very loose waistband. I spent several hours here learning about sustainable farming and living off the land, and of course, eating my body weight in cherries.
With many local food producers around Beechworth and nearby Stanley, you’ll never be in want of good local produce. Home to orchardists, beekeepers, winemakers and farmers, you will not only eat well but be rewarded by the stunning beauty of rolling hills and lush farmland in the Victoria High Country.
Cherry season is December and January.
4. Dig into a local event
There is a real sense of depth in Beechworth, yet the vibe is relaxed and fun. With plenty of local events on throughout the year, I definitely recommend hitting one of them up, like the Feast High Country.
While I was there, the old jail (or gaol as it was known back then) hosted an Asian street food festival inside its courtyard. Love. It.
I had an awesome evening making friends with locals and chowing down on some of my favorite dishes listening to local music. It was an awesome introduction to Beechworth.
You can also take tours inside the old jail, which is even more eerie than visiting Ned’s old hideout at dusk. It’s also a little bit thrilling, if you’re into that sort of thing. It housed Kelly before his execution, as well as his mother, and played a significant part in the dissolution of this well-known gang.
And if you’re really keen on the Kelly history, you can now go and see a permanent collection of Ned Kelly memorabilia at the Kelly Vault (located right next door to the courthouse). It is the largest of its kind in the world, and includes Ned’s gun, his death mask and even a suit of armor he once wore.
Creepy but cool.
5. Indulge at the Beechworth spa
Another must do, is a visit to the brand-spanking-new, Beechworth Spa.
Unsurprisingly, it’s located in a beautiful historic building, but inside – the old merges with the new seamlessly. Wood, natural fibers, and neutral colors abound. You’ll as if you’ve stepped inside the most relaxed version of yourself.
And the treatment rooms have baths, so you can have a soak in a custom blend bath salt afterwards. Heaven!
I left feeling truly rejuvenated.
6. Dine at Provenance
While I was here, I was lucky enough to get a table at Provenance, one of Australia’s top regional restaurants. The Japanese-inspired cuisine, a degustation menu paired with local wines and, once again, a lovely historic building make Provenance a jewel in an already sparkling crown.
Michael Ryan, award-winning owner-chef of Provenance is famed as Beechworth’s best chef, and a dinner here tops the list of many a foodie’s wishlist. Just remembering it makes me swoon.
Provenance has been an Age Good Food Guide two chef’s hat restaurant for the last 9 years running and is No. 30 in the current Gourmet Traveller Top 100 Australian Restaurants.
Make your reservations soon and if you only do one thing in Beechworth, make it dining at Provenance.
From gold to Ned Kelly, craft beer to fine dining, orchards to hiking, Beechworth, one of Australia’s best preserved gold rush towns, is a glistening education in both the old, and the new.
Beechworth is nothing short of cute, a charming town perched among a wild rocky landscape. As it steps into its role as a popular holiday spot for Australians and international visitors alike, Beechworth bridges the gap between new and old world tourism, making it a unique hot spot worth checking out!
Have you ever been to Beechworth? Do you swoon over historical places too? Spill!
Many thanks for Tourism North East for hosting me in Australia – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me!
The area around Colle Santa Lucia is one of my favorite parts of the heart of the Dolomites. From big mountains to wild adventures, it has it all.
Perched high above the two valleys Val Fiorentina and Val Cordevole below, and surrounded by the iconic mountains of the area, Civetta, Pelmo and Marmolada, Colle Santa Lucia is the perfect base for those who want to play in Italy.
It’s also the gateway to the Giau Pass, and if you’re lucky you might even hear the locals around here chatting in Ladin, their own dialect.
This is a seriously epic part of Italy, made even more so on a powder day in winter!
During my time in the Dolomites, I spent a fair amount of time having adventures around Colle Santa Lucia and the Passo Giau.
The top of the Passo Giau, which connects Cortina d’Ampezzo with Colle Santa Lucia and Selva di Cadore, is stunning.
On my second day I woke up to a layer of fresh snow on the mountains, with moody clouds drifting back and forth across their peaks, creating an atmosphere of mystery and beauty. Call me an Instagrammer, but I do love moody weather, which the Dolomites has in spades.
Today we were going snowshoeing with locally based operator TravelSport who runs guided adventures around the Passo Giau.
As we wound our way up towards the mountains, the clouds began to lift a bit, revealing a monochrome world with a little fresh snowfall.
One of my favorite things about traveling in the Dolomites (and in the mountains of Europe in general) is how people have settled for centuries high up in the mountains, and you can drive in between them all.
The roads can be terrifying, and don’t be like me, make sure you get a car hire with winter snow tires on a trip to the Dolomites in winter. Otherwise you’ll be stuck putting on chains which is SERIOUSLY the worst!
Also, please note that at least in Venice, they are now requiring all foreigners to have an international drivers license to hire a car (I’ve never needed it before, what a pain in the ass!)
I was able to get one expedited over but it certainly made the beginning of the trip a pain. On top of being American, where I still don’t know how to drive manual (most hire cars are manual in Italy), it means hiring cars are quite limiting.
Anywho, where was I?
Here chocolate box towns dot the mountainsides, and on the way up to the Passo Giau you’ll pass through many a quaint and charming village.
And if you’re a passenger in the car of a local, you might be like me, and yell “stop the car” every few minutes to take a photo.
But seriously, the light after a snowfall ends in the mountains is usually magnificent. The world is quiet and still and peaceful and you often get crazy beams and rays of lights as the sun begins to peak through the snow clouds.
And if the snow sparkles on the ground? Well, I’ve just died and gone to Instagram heaven.
Eventually we made it to our destination in the Passo Giau to go snowshoeing, right as the clouds began to pack in again.
A completely silent world of white, still and cold, noiseless except for the crunching snow beneath our snowshoes, we made our way into the clouds.
Man, there is nothing I love more than fresh snow.
Except for maybe Jon Snow. BOOM.
Every so often the surrounding mountains would peak through the clouds, showing their faces for a few minutes before disappearing into whiteness again.
So tantalizing, it was killing me!
Of course once we made our way back down for lunch at one of the chalets (show me the polenta) the clouds began to lift again.
I’d be back!
Later on, all on my own at the end of the day, I made my way back up the Passo Giau for sunset. Cold from a day out in the snow, I was bundled up and yes, I was wearing my favorite onesie for warmth. No judgements please.
There are dozens of hairpin switchbacks on the way up the mountain towards the top, and normally I am ok oh crazy mountain roads – I live in New Zealand after all – and I was decidedly lazy and really want to get to the top without putting the chains on.
Seriously if someone can teach me how to put on tire chains without my fingers freezing off and getting covered in dirty snow, I’d love a lesson.
Sliding in almost sideways I made it to the top in 2WD with summer tires, wahoo! Champion!
And man was it beautiful.
The clouds moved back and forth over the peaks around the Giau Pass, and I popped on my snowboots and followed some of the trails through the snow til it started to get dark.
Far off from the bottom south coast of New Zealand headed towards Antarctica, the Subantarctic Islands are about as remote and untouched as you can get, and quite possibly the coolest place you’ve never heard of. Uninhabited, wild and full of birds, it’s obviously paradise for me.
This past Christmas I swapped my usual yuletide festivities for a soviet-era Russian research ship and blank journal (no wifi at the bottom of the world) and headed due south with Heritage Expeditions, pretty much the only way you can get down there.
Huge seabird colonies and bright flowering megaherbs combined with quite possibly the worst weather on planet earth, make New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands a VERY unique place.
Combined with a human history that includes Polynesian seafarers, European sealers, castaways, wartime coast-watchers, scientists and failed farmers (honestly, who would think you could farm here?) makes the Subantarctic Islands FASCINATING.
Made up of five island groups in the Southern Ocean southeast of New Zealand, the Subantarctics lay between the Antarctic and Subtropical Convergences.
The Snares (smallest in area and closest to the mainland)
Bounty Islands (mostly barren rock, and have no beaches or easy landing points)
Antipodes Islands (the most distant from the mainland)
Auckland Islands (the largest group, with the longest human history)
Campbell Island (the furthest south)
Macquarie Island (technically part of Australia but geographically falls in the same region)
Along with my friend Talman, we headed south to the subantarctic with local kiwi company Heritage Expeditions on their Galapagos of the Southern Ocean trip last December, which included the highlights – Snares, Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island and Campbell Island (my fave).
Home to incredible biodiversity, these islands are a forgotten paradise for nature lovers. Offering some of the most unique plant and wildlife on earth, they’re also a key nesting place for about five bajillion penguins.
Oh, and seabirds. Lots and lots of rare seabirds. My fave.
But if birds don’t do it for you, get this – all the Subantantartics (or Subbies by expedition guides/DOC staff) have the highest possible conservation status – they are National Nature reserves as well as UNESCO World Heritage Status, meaning they are literally, officially, one of the best places in the world to visit. And yet, few people know about them.
The subantarctic region is definitely one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Here’s my first blog and introduction to this incredible place. Enjoy!
The northernmost set of Subantarctic Islands, The Snares sit roughly 100 kilometers to the south-west of Stewart Island, or basically just far enough to feel like you’re truly screwed if anything happens.
Discovered in the late 1800’s by the Brits, The Snares are bordered by steep cliffs and choppy seas. Interestingly – no land mammals were ever established here – meaning the flora or plant life is in pristinecondition.
It’s also the only subantarctic island where we visited where we couldn’t actually land (no one is allowed), rather we had to zodiac cruise around and explore by sea, which was fine by me! I can’t even imagine walking a foot in that dense bush.
One of the great thing about doing guided expedition trips is that often the guides have a lot of experience in the areas we visit, and one of our guides on this trip actually worked a fair bit down on the Snares with Department of Conservation and had some amazing stories to share!
Eighty percent of the island is covered in giant tree daisy forest, some of it reaching up to five meters in height. There’s also about a million different species of lichen and moss, plus three different types of herbs found nowhere else in the world. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be looking a type of plant that is literally the only one of its kind. I mean, that’s amazing, right?
Now, the birds.
As there are no introduced predators to eat them, The Snares has a thriving bird population, including several endemic to the island. Nestled into the sides of the steep surrounding cliffs, hundreds share this island with only the wind and seals for company.
You’ll see mostly Shearwaters, crested penguin and petrels – but if you’re lucky you may spot an albatross or two.
The Auckland Islands
The largest of all the Subbies, the Auckland Islands are nowadays uninhabited, but settlements were attempted in and around 1990. In many ways it reminded me a bit of the Falkland Islands, with no Land Rovers.
Both wild and beautiful, this wind-worn landscape offers the last glimpse of vegetation before you hit Antarctica.
Thanks to introduced predators, much of the island’s foliage has been eroded, but measures have been put in place to rehabilitate the native flora and eliminate pests. While red rata blooms bright in the warmer months, megaherbs dominate the landscape – can you imagine walking through a field of supersized purple broccoli? Yeah, its weird but magical.
It was so gusty as we walked through these meadows to visit an albatross colony I about blew over.
The Auckland’s are also a protected marine reserve. They provide sheltered breeding grounds for southern right whales and New Zealand sea lions – of which there are only 10,000 left in the wild – making them some of the rarest on earth.
Unlike fur seals, they readily charge you, so we’re told to be on our guard.
Of course, they are also an oasis for mammals of the winged kind – many seabirds rest and nest on its shores before taking flight again.
While most of my fellow passengers were puking their brains out on the journey down to Macquarie Island, My face was glued to my portal eagerly watching for seabirds heralding land getting really excited.
Similar to South Georgia, for many Macquarie is the jewel of the trip because of its immense penguin colonies and feisty elephant seals.
Fellow bird nerds – take note – if you want the penguins and the seabirds and the wild antarctic weather without actually going to Antarctica, Macquarie is where it’s at.
At first glance you would be forgiven for being a touch nervous. Towering cliffs give way to turbulent seas, howling winds and about a million penguins. Oh, and the delightful stench of a million penguins. I loved it immediately.
The furthest isle from New Zealand on this trip, it sits halfway between here and Australia and is home to a permanent Australian research base, the Macquarie Island Station. Researchers take year-long posts monitoring the wildlife – including the resident albatross population, petrel colony and of course, the penguins.
Giant elephant seals are also abundant here, mixing seamlessly with the resident fur seal and penguin population.
While on the other subantartics, everything is supersized, on Macquarie everything is super small. Foliage rarely grows over one meter, testament to the severe weather conditions.
We first visited the Australian research base on Macquarie, getting a tour of the area and exploring around the base in the pouring rain. It was moody and mysterious and really wild, I loved it. Especially being chased by the baby elephant seals called “weaners” as they have just been weaned from their mothers.
Hardly “baby” sized this things guys massive!
Our other main landing at Sandy Bay we lucked out massively with incredible weather, blue skies and sunshine and no wind, it was almost hot!
Unusual in this part of the world where the climate can only be described as “shit awful” we certainly made the most of it!
Last year, I spent a week exploring Switzerland in June hiking the trails, wandering historic villages, and partaking of all the delicious local cheese.
Perhaps there are few places on earth that have a mountain as iconic as the Matterhorn. Lording over the quaint and charming town of Zermatt, deep in the heart of the Swiss Alps, it’s just about as picturesque as you can imagine.
Topping out at an impressive 4,478 meters (14,692 ft), the Matterhorn is a magnet for alpinists and mountain-lovers alive, and definitely lives up to its name “the peak in the meadows” in German. This mountain IS STUNNING!
Arriving on a fine early summer’s day by train from Täsch to Zermatt, the perfect snow-covered Matterhorn almost doesn’t seem real.
Hopping off the train, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised to find that this endearing Swiss village is car-free and full of charm.
Wandering amongst the narrow historic laneways and beneath the eaves of wooden chalets, you’d be hard-pressed not to be wooed by a part of Switzerland so quintessentially Swiss you almost have to laugh.
How is this place even real?
Zermatt is stunning any time of year, tucked away in the southwest of Switzerland, somewhat out of the way by Swiss standards.
Easily accessed from the main airport hubs of Geneva or Zurich via the incredible fast, efficient and reliable train network in Switzerland, I instead drove down, and was mildly surprised when Google Maps took me on a route that included an car train in the mountains on the way to Täsch, where you catch a short train up to car-free Zermatt.
After a bit of confusion, I realized you pay the toll and drive your car onto the open-air train carriage before heading off through the mountains.
Straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn is the most distinctive of all the alpine peaks in Europe, jutting up alone about the skyline like a shark’s tooth.
Finally tackled by British climber Edward Whymper in 1865, many mountaineers make the trek to Zermatt to tackle the Matterhorn, best climbed from July to September. Though perhaps more impressive was that less than a decade later Lucy Walker become the first woman to climb the Matterhorn, and she did it in a long flannel skirt too!
Over 400 km of hiking trails in summer and 360 kilometers of pistes in winter are right on your doorstep in Zermatt, with plenty of cable cars and mountain railways shaving off time to access higher parts of the mountain for hikes and walks, and most have incredible views of the Matterhorn.
After the massive winter snowfalls in 2018, even by June some of the trails weren’t open and were still covered in snow.
The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the largest and highest summer skiing region in Europe, topping out at 3,883 meters, with a cable car station, restaurant and even ice palace, the perfect day trip from town. And you can ski on the Theodul Glacier from there 365 days a year.
Perhaps what makes the area around Zermatt so unique to us in New Zealand, is the vast incredible network of railways and gondolas that connect the terrain high above the town of Zermatt. We don’t have anything like that here.
Open both in winter and summer, along with an endless amount of hiking trails of all levels, with little chalets, restaurants, hotels and well-appointed mountain huts at your disposal.
Journey up by cogwheel train to 3,089 to Gornergrat from Zermatt for the best views of the Matterhorn with plenty of trails at your disposal. Stay the night at the Kulmhotel Gornergrat, and have the mountain to yourself once the day trippers head back home.
Known for being one of Switzerland’s glitziest and glamorous resorts, Zermatt doesn’t disappoint and has something for all types of travelers on every budget.
The 5-star Mont Cervin Palace is an incredible splurge for those on holiday in Zermatt, and looks like it would fit right in in a Wes Anderson film.
No matter where you travel around Zermatt, you will find everyone spellbound and captivated by the sheer beauty and impressiveness of the Matterhorn, a mountain you just can’t seem to stop looking at.
Have you seen the iconic Matterhorn? Is Zermatt on your bucketlist? Share!
Many thanks to My Switzerland for hosting me on my adventures – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!
New Zealand is full of hidden secrets and interesting little fact bombs. Next time someone tells you there’s one person for every 9 sheep in New Zealand, hit them with these much more interesting factoids.
They’ll be totally impressed. You’re welcome.
1. Kiwi fruit is not native to New Zealand
It may seem counter-intuitive since the word Kiwi is synonymous with New Zealand. The citizens are casually referred to as Kiwis, the fruit grows in abundance throughout the country and of course, the national bird is the kiwi, a flightless nocturnal bird that is rarely seen and endangered.
Despite this country’s undeniable love for all things kiwi, the kiwi fruit is actually not native to New Zealand. It comes from China and is also known as a gooseberry. Chinese gooseberries were exported into New Zealand in 1904 and were originally marketed under the name ‘Zespri.”
When New Zealand began exporting fruit to the USA in the 1950s, the name Chinese Gooseberry was a marketing disaster waiting to happen so instead, they suggested the name kiwifruit.
2. New Zealand is home to the longest place name in the world:
If you actually tried to sound that word out, kudos to you because my brain skipped over the word after the second syllable.
Often shortened to Taumata, Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu is a Māori name referring to a hill in Hawkes Bay on the North Island.
For those who didn’t count, the word has 85 characters, 40 syllables and roughly translates to “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his kōauau (flute) to his loved one.”
3. About 1/3 of the country is protected national park
You probably know this already but New Zealand is a pretty beautiful place and while it continues to gain popularity and be developed for human gain, a large part of the country is preserved as national park or conservation areas, many looked after by the Department of Conservation or DOC as it’s locally known.
With 13 national parks and thousands of designated conservation areas, New Zealand is doing its best to preserve the magic of wild land.
All of the National Parks are easily accessible and you can literally find conservation areas everywhere you turn so getting into nature is super easy here.
4. Bats are the only native mammal in the country.
For thousands of years, birds dominated the animal kingdom in New Zealand. Almost no land mammals existed at all here, except for a species of bats. All of these species currently are either thought to be extinct or are critically endangered.
Human settlement has a truly detrimental effect on the number of bats in New Zealand. Logging and clearing of lowland forests have destroyed their habitat and the introduction of predators (like rats and stoats) has threatened their existence.
6. New Zealand is the least corrupt nation in the world
Anyone who lives in New Zealand will tell you it’s a pretty easy place to call home.
Things are straight forward and the small population makes it easy for change to happen and the people who live here are simply incredibly straight up and genuine. You never really have to guess what’s really going on in New Zealand because it’s mostly all out in the open.
According to the Corruptions Perception Index, New Zealand is the least corrupt nation in the world scoring 89 points out of 100. People value the concept of being fair and understand the importance of press freedom, access to information about public spending and independent judicial systems.
New Zealand continues to top the list year after year along with other non-corrupt countries such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Switzerland. Hell yeah!
7. Their hottest election of the year is for a bird
In the USA, years are spent carefully crafting campaigns around the presidential election. Billions of dollars are spent during campaign season, it’s nearly impossible to watch tv or listen to the radio without hearing a political commercial.
In New Zealand, the presidential campaigns have a short build-up and are quick to finish. But there’s on campaign in New Zealand that sparks outrage and combat every year: The Bird of the Year.
Each year New Zealanders ban together and decide on which of their beloved birds should be crowned with Bird of the Year and each year, tears and outrage ensue. In fact, last year there were even reports of cheating with over 300 votes for the shag coming from the same IP address. This is the sort of corruption that stopped us from getting the full 100 points in the Corruptions Perception Index.
For those of you who care, this year’s bird of the year is kererū, a stupid fat wood pigeon, who loves to get drunk on fermented berries and fall out of trees. Sigh.
8. New Zealand is home to a giant carnivorous snail
As it turns out, New Zealand does care about other species other than birds. A prime example is the Powelliphanta snail, a giant carnivorous snail found in the South Island. This snail can be as large as dinner plates and feeds on earthworms, sucking them up like a piece of spaghetti.
These snails lay about 5-10 large eggs a year with each egg measuring up to 12 mm long and once hatched, the snails can live up to 20 years, however, these giant snails are at serious risk from predators like stoats and possums as well as habitat loss.
I haven’t seen one, thank god!
9. New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote
New Zealand was embracing feminism before the rest of the world granting women the right to vote in 1893. In most other democracies, women did not gain the right to vote until after WWI. The women’s vote can be largely attributed to suffrage campaigners led by Kate Sheppard, who is now featured on the $10 note.
Granting women the right to vote laid the groundwork for centuries of starving for equal rights for women.
Three out of New Zealand’s 40 Prime Ministers have been women. Sure that number looks grim but it’s a lot better than many other democratic nations (I’m looking at you, USA).
10. New Zealand is home to the first commercial bungy jump
New Zealand is often credited with inventing the idea of bungy jumping and while it’s certainly a big part of our tourism identity, New Zealand was far from the inventor of this completely insane idea.
The first modern bungy jumps were made in the late 1970s from a suspension bridge in the UK by a professional climber who was inspired by “vine jumping,” a ritual carried out by the people of Vanuatu.
Nearly a decade later, a New Zealander by the name of AJ Hackett picked up the idea and decided to turn it into a commercial tourism activity. He had made his first jump off an Auckland bridge then continued to jump off insane heights (like the Eiffel Tower) before opening the world’s first public bungy site. AJ Hackett Bungy is still operating between Wanaka and Queenstown of if nearly jumping to your death is your thing, you’re in luck.
Whatcha think? Feel more knowledgable about New Zealand now? Any other facts to add? Share!