All good things must come to an end. This is our last entry that wraps up my 5 weeks trip in New Zealand. It was truly a spiritual experience to be able to travel through this wonderful country, making unforgettable memories with friends on the road.
My trip ended in Dunedin, where most of my time were spent on reuniting with many friends I made along the way. I couldn't have think of a better way to end my trip more than spending my time with those I enjoyed hanging out with.
From living like students in a student flat to being driven around by the local, here is what I did during my last 5 days in New Zealand.
Looking for a complete itinerary for New Zealand? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget.
New Zealand Travel Video
Dunedine First Impression
I took a bus early in the morning from Christchurch straight to Dunedin. I was expecting a red carpet, a sign with my name on it and champagne from Ashley and Rachel, who invited me to stay in one of the many student flats in Otago University. I got none of that but I was glad to see their faces again. Since I was there right at the end of a semester, the whole flat was empty. I was able to set up camp in the living room for that night. We spend a few hours walking around, trying one of the best Salmon rice balls at a nearby sushi place and ended the day with a movie night.
Visiting Aramoana Beach
Early in the morning, we met up with Ashley's friend, Jess from the university and we drove out to the Aramoana beach.
The weather did not look too good but we went out anyway and I'm glad we did. The beach was stunning even on cloudy days like this.
Four of us walked along the beach as the wind grew stronger and stronger.
We found this little guy hiding behind a rock by the beach.
Siege the day!
There were absolutely no one there except us. Understandable, since the weather looked like it was going to go down soon.
And it did! We took our last photo together and ran back to the car. As we were about to start the engine, Jess realized she forgot to turn the lights off, and the battery ran out. Jess went out and asked for help but no one had the jump cable.
Thankfully, one of the Britz campervans offered to drive us to one of the houses nearby to see if anyone had a cable. Luckily, the first car we found had the jump cable and the couple inside helped us jumpstarted the car. They even gave Jess the cable just in case! This act of kindness is what I love about the Kiwi.
That night we went out with a couple of Ashley's friends and celebrated their last day in New Zealand. We stayed up all night until dawn and we said goodbye to each other for the last time. As they went back to the States, initially I planned to rest for the next 3 days doing absolutely nothing. That was not the case..
After saying goodbye to the girls, I decided to go straight to my hostel and take a long power nap. As I drowsed off, a familiar figure appeared in front of me. It was Tulu, whom I met back in Lake Taupo. I remembered her very well because she was the one who gave me her sleeping bag, and without it, I would have frozen to death while on the Routeburn Track. Tulu and her friend Yvonne were going out somewhere but since I was way too tired to do anything, I decided to take a nap a little bit more and went out on my own.
It was a beautiful day, but I was not in the mood to do anything physical so I went to the Royal Botanic Garden, the oldest garden in New Zealand, and walked around for a few hours.
After spending a healthy amount of some "me" time, I went back to the hostel and caught up with Tulu and Yvonne. They were planning to go to the Peninsula the next day and so I decided to tag along.
Visiting Otago Peninsula via Hitchhiking
Early in the morning, we took a bus out to the closest station to the Otago Peninsula. We had no idea how far it was from the station to the Peninsula so we started walking.
After 2 hours of walking with no end in sight, Tulu decided to throw out her thumb and started hitchhiking. In minutes, an old lady in the car stopped and offerred us a lift. It took us less than 10 minutes to reach the Peninsula by car whereas it would take us hours to walk the same distance.
There was nothing much to do in the Peninsula except going on a tour to see the Penguins and the Albatrosses on one of their private beaches. We didn't mind paying but as it turned out, the tour ran only in the early morning and late evening. We decided to just sit and talk about all things travel. I always enjoy a deep conversation with fellow travelers. Oh, the things I learned from them.
We spent the next 2 hours trying to get a lift back to the bus station to no avail. Tulu mentioned that she was never picked up by travelers on campervans, only the locals do, and so don't get your hopes up when you see spacious campervans pass by. Eventually, we were picked up by an Aussie who were vacationing in Dunedin for a few days.
After our little adventure, we met up with Scott, a local whom Tulu and Yvonne met while hitchhiking from the airport. Scott drove us around Dunedin and showed us his home town.
Run Up the Steepest Street in the World (Baldwin Street)
We drove to the Baldwin Street (the steepest street in the world), to the top of Signal Hill, walked around the Royal Botanic Garden and ended our day at the St Clair beach.
We came to a realization that having a local to drive us around is the right way to see the city. In only 2 hours, we saw more of the city with Scott than if we were spending 8 hours on our own.
We walked along the beach for 20 minutes before we headed back to the city and said goodbye to Scott.
Tulu and Yvonne were planning to go to Kaikoura the next day whereas I would be flying back to Auckland in the afternoon.
Visiting the Tunnel Beach
In the early morning, Yvonne went out to one of the place where you can get a free vehicle in exchange for the service of relocating a car to their designated destination. She came back with a luxurious Audi that looked like it was owned by a spy or someone important.
We took this opportunity to take it out for a spin to the Tunnel beach.
They would not call it the tunnel beach if we did not have to go through a tunnel!
The Tunnel beach was quite impressive with a tunnel that looked almost like a secret passage leading us to some tressures.
I am glad that I met Tulu and Yvonne right before I left New Zealand. Otherwise, it would have been tortured for me to spend the last 3 days alone.
Not to mention, they were such a fun people to be around with!
Since my flight was at 2 PM, we left the beach by 11, had lunch at one of the town nearby and they dropped me off at the airport. We said goodbye to each other and went separate ways.
Right before I boarded the plane, I received a message from Viola (whom I met back in Franz Josef and Mt Cook) saying that she would be in Auckland as well. Since I was planning to sleep at the airport anyway, I went into the city, meet up and had our last burger in New Zealand.
The trip could not have ended in a better way for me. Being around people I enjoyed spending my time with was the best conclusion to this epic saga.
It has been months since I started writing about New Zealand and there has never been a day that I don't miss the place. It was truly a spiritual journey and the memories I had will forever be with me. I hope you enjoyed all the photos and blog posts in New Zealand. My adventure did not stop there though as I will be writing about my trip in Vietnam in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned.
Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
I’ve spent 5 weeks backpacking in New Zealand and I have written a ton more about my journey traveling throughout New Zealand from the North Island to the South Island that you might help in your trip planning.
Here’s a selection of articles about New Zealand:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to spend one month in New Zealand on a budget? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget - The Perfect Backpacking Itinerary.
- New Zealand has a special place in my heart. It is one of the most memorable trips I have ever done and here are 10 things I love about New Zealand.
- If you are planning to start traveling in New Zealand from North to South, Rotorua is a great place to visit on your way South from Auckland. Here is a travel guide on things to do in Rotorua.
- Did you know that you can climb Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings in real life? Along the Tongariro Crossing trail, you have the option to summit Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as a reference for Mount Doom in the movie. Here a travel guide on how to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
- Crossing from the North Island of New Zealand to the South is an experience in and of itself. See how to cross from the North Island to the South Island in New Zealand here.
- One of the first big city you will travel in the South Island is Nelson which has a laid-back vibe while Motueka, a sister town makes a great base to traveling to Abel Tasman National Park. Here’s a quick travel guide on things to do in Nelson and Motueka.
- One of the best Great Walk you can do is in the Abel Tasman National Park and you can do parts of it in one day. Here’s a complete guide on how to hike parts of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in one day.
- The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is not very popular among travelers, making it a great place to go off the beaten path. Here’s a travel guide on things to do, and where to go in West Port, New Zealand.
- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, a question that has been asked for as long as travelers start traveling in New Zealand. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as both are a great place to go ice climbing. Here’s a travel guide on how to go ice climbing on Franz Josef glacier with Ice Explorer.
- You must have a seen photo of a lone tree in a lake with beautiful mountains as a background somewhere. That’s in Wanaka, New Zealand and here’s travel guide on things to do in Wanaka in one day.
- Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. If your body can endure it, you can find it in Queenstown. Here’s a 3 days itinerary on things to do in Queenstown.
- Queenstown is also one of the best places in the world to go skydiving. Here’s my experience skydiving with the NZONE in Queenstown.
- The Milford Sound is touristy, there’s no denying it and you are not wrong to be skeptical but I can assure you, it is worth the hype. Here’s a travel guide on which cruise to pick for the Milford Sound and how to get there.
- One of the best Great Walk in New Zealand you can do is the Routeburn Track. Here’s a complete 3 days itinerary and travel guide on how to trek the Routeburn Track.
- Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the best way to see it is to hike the Hooker Valley trail. Here’s a travel guide on visiting Mt. Cook and hiking the Hooker Valley trail.
- Not convinced by my words about New Zealand? Come follow me and I’ll show you New Zealand in 70 photos.
- You can see all my New Zealand travel guides and related articles on my New Zealand Travel Guide page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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