New Zealand – a land of trekking and hiking. On the opposite side of the World. It was a goal for a long time. Finally in February 2015 I went there. All the preparations took long. Long research on possible flight connections, time required for all the treks, what to see and where to go, how to get visa, etc… All together took probably more than a month… Plus waiting about a month for the visa.

I’d like to say that it was worth it. But I can not. Taking into account distance, price and wow-factor it is difficult to say that New Zealand is a destination of a dream. It is far-far away, ridiculously expensive and yes, very beautiful. If it would be either closer or cheaper… But it isn’t.

Australia is a part of the itinerary because it is very common connection. You can stay for up to 3 days on each way in transit in Australia. So we stayed in Sydney and Melbourne. And for now I think I am finished with Australia and New Zealand for a long time.

But lets get back to the itinerary. This post is about it. All the details will come later…

Routeburn Track
Routeburn Track

Flights

All the trip took almost about a month. Just because it does not make sense to spend that much time for a flight and then have a short trip. The logistics on getting there wasn’t trivial – we took tickets Kiev-London-Kiev (which where cheaper than one-way Kiev-London, that we actually needed). Then we took tickets London-Sydney + Melbourne-London via Abu Dhabi. Then we took tickets Sydney-Auckland and Christchurch-Melbourne to get to New Zealand and back. And finally we took tickets Dubai-Kiev, for a shorter flight back home. It was complicated, really. We were looking for connections via Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji, etc. Finally realized that it will add too much time to the trip and stuck to Australia and New Zealand only. But I believe you’ll find your own way there ;) Do not forget to check all visa requirements during this process.

Australia

On the way to New Zealand we did a stop in Sydney. I can’t say there is much interesting to see and do there. Blue Mountains were interesting part in about 2 hours from Sydney. Sydney itself probably could be seen in a day. On the way back we had a stop in Melbourne. I liked it more than Sydney. We rented a car in the airport and went to Great Ocean Road, next point was Healesville Sanctuary but due to heavy rain we just returned car and went to our hostel. Melbourne itself may take a day or more.

So all together 3 days on way there and back is perfect timing for a brief visit to Australia. I am sure there is much more interesting to see there if you go deeper into the island. But for just a brief visit it is a good option.

New Zealand

And now the most important part. New Zealand has two separate islands that are connected either by ferry or by airplanes. The best way to get around is to rent a car. And if you rent a car and want to get from one island to another it is better to book ferry in advance.

So… All New Zealand is about trekking. It even has so called New Zealand Great Walks – a number of well maintained interesting trails. We did 4 of them. The most popular and famous is Milford Track, but all the huts on the trail were booked far in advance when we checked it. All the idea is that you book places to stay on the track (huts or campsites) and go. No additional permit is required.

So our full hiking / trekking plan looked like:

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing, 1.5 days (a part of Great Walks)
  • Mt Raupehu Crater Climb, 1 day
  • Routeburn Track, 2.5 days (Great Walks)
  • Kepler Track, 3.5 days (Great Walks)
  • Mueller Hut Track, 1.5 days
  • Abel Tasman Coast Track, 2.5 days (Great Walks)

We started from the Northern Island – from Auckland. And looks like a tendency, but it is not much to do here as well. Do not plan to spend more than a day here. On the next morning we rented a car and first drove to Waimangu Volcanic Valley. It is one of geyser parks near to Rotorua. We chose this one just by pictures and I think it was a good choice. After about 3 hours in this park we continued to Mangatepopo Parking Lot and hiked to Mangatepopo Hut. It was our start of Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Next day we finished it on the other side near to Ketetahi Parking. Took shuttle back to Mangatepopo Parking Lot and drove to the hotel nearby.

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Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Next day we did a day-hike to Mt. Raupehu Crater. It was really nice. I liked it even more than Tongariro. However each trail in New Zealand was pretty unique. In the evening we drove to the hotel near to the Auckland Airport, stayed overnight and next morning flew to the Southern Island – to Queenstown.

Mt Raupehu Crater
Mt Raupehu Crater

On arrival we had just 2 hours to pick up our pre-booked permits for the huts on Routeburn Track and took a shuttle to the beginning of the trail. Routeburn took 2.5 days and was very nice and interesting. On the finish of it we had shuttle to nearby Te Anau and then another shuttle to the beginning of the Kepler Track. As all these trekking is very popular here it is not a problem to arrange shuttles.

KeplerTrack
Kepler Track

Kepler Track took 3.5 days after which we returned to Queenstown for a day. Queenstown is the only cozy town we saw in New Zealand, most probably because of its location and dedication for tourists and different activities around. There we rented a car and first drove to Mt Cook Village for a trek to Mueller Hut, which I liked a lot. Unfortunately in the morning the weather conditions were very windy and we had to urgently go back.

Mueller
Mueller Hut

And after that we had almost 2 days way to the north of the Southern Island for an Abel Tasman Coast track. I didn’t enjoy it as it is not my type of tracks – just boring trail by the coast. If you enjoy swimming probably you’ll like it ;) After that track we drove to Christchurch, returned car there and headed to Melbourne.

All the New Zealand part took 19 days and it is pretty enough to see different parts of this country. Probably it was even possible to do everything in 16-17 days if we skip Abel Tasman.

And fully detailed itinerary:

Kiev – London
Short time around London
Generator Hostel London

Compton Place, Off 37 Tavistock Place

Take train to airport
London – Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi – Sydney
Arrival to Sydney

T2 Train Line to Central Station [30 min]

Just buzz around, have some dinner
Bounce Sydney Hostel

28 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Bradfield Park
Bounce Sydney Hostel

28 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills

Sydney – Katoomba

Blue Mountains ExplorerLink Ticket [57 AUD], includes Hop On - Hop Off bus

Red Explorer Bus Around
Katoomba – Sydney
Bounce Sydney Hostel

28 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills

Some more time around Sydney
Depart to the airport

T2 Train Line

Sydney – Auckland
Take AirBus [40 min]
JUCY Hotel Auckland

62 Emily Place

Stray around the town

Parnell Village, Auckland Domain... As per Wikitravel not much to do in Auckland. So just look around...

JUCY Hotel Auckland

62 Emily Place

Rent a car

And drive to Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Hiking, allow at least 2 hours. Starts at 8:30. Last admission at 15:00. [36 AUD]

Waimangu - Mangatepopo Parking
Parking – Mangatepopo Hut

30 min, 2 km

Mangatepopo Hut
Mongatepopo Valley – Soda Springs

1h - 1h 30m, +200m

Mongatepopo Valley – Soda Springs

1h - 1h 30m, +200m

Soda Springs – Red Crater

2h, +500m

Roundtrip to Tongariro Summit

1-2h

Red Crater – Ketetahi Shelter

1h 30m - 2h, +100m -600m

Ketetahi Shelter – Ketetahi Parking

1h 30m, +100m -600m

Shuttle to the beginning
Skotel Alpine Resort
Start Mt Raupehu Crater Climb

Start from Iwikau Village, Whakapapa Ski Area. You can take chairlift to save 2 hours, operates from 9am. From the top of the Waterfall Express chairlift travel to your right past the Knoll Ridge T-bar pylons and over to Restful Ridge. Stay on Restful Ridge as you climb towards the crater area. You will go up a series of rises. At the top of Restful Ridge there is a more open face. From this point follow the narrow foot track zigzagging up the side of and along Dome Ridge.

Return to Auckland Airport
Auckland Airport Kiwi Hotel
Drive to the Airport
Auckland – Queenstown
Shuttle from 37 Shotover Street
Routeburn Shelter – Routeburn Flats Hut

6.5km, 1h 30m – 2h 30m, +200m

Routeburn Flats Hut
Routeburn Flats Hut – Routeburn Falls Hut

2.3km, 1h – 1h 30m, +250m

Routeburn Falls Hut – Lake Mackenzie Hut

11.3km, 4h 30m – 6h, +300m -300m

Lake Mackenzie Hut
Lake Mackenzie Hut – The Divide

12km, 4h – 5h 30m, +75m -200m

Shuttle to Te Anau
Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park
Shuttle to Kepler Track
Kepler Track car park – Luxmore Hut

13.8km, 5–6h, +950m

Luxmore Hut
Luxmore Hut – Iris Burn Hut

14.6km, 5–6h, +300m -750m

Iris Burn Hut
Iris Burn Hut – Moturau Hut

16.2km, 5–6h, -300m

Moturau Hut
Moturau Hut – Rainbow Reach

6km, 1.5h - 2h

Shuttle to Te Anau
Te Anau – Queenstown
Around Queenstown, enjoy ;)
Nomands Queenstown Backpackers
Rent a Car

Apex Rental

Queenstown – Mt Cook Village
Village – Mueller Hut

5km, +1000m, 4h

Mueller Hut
Mueller Hut – Village

5km, -1000m, 3h

Mt Cook Village – Methven
The Blue Pub
Methven – Motueka

With stops for launch and photos

Motueka TOP 10 Holiday Park
Motueka – Marahau
Marahau – Anchorage

12.4km, 4h

Anchorage – Bark Bay

11.5km, 4h (arrival around 18:00)

Bark Bay Hut
Bark Bay – Awaroa

13.5km, 4h 30m (Low tide at 15:00!)

Awaroa – Totaranui

7.1, 2h 30m (arrival around 17:30)

Totaranui Campsite

Tent is required!

Totaranui – Marahau

Book in advance!

Marahau – Motueka
Motueka – Christchurch
Jailhouse Accommodation
Return Car
Christchurch – Melbourne
Rent a Car
Teddy’s Lookout, Apollo Bay, Otway Lighthouse, Port Campbell National Park, Twelve Apostles
Port Campbell Hostel
Drive to Healesville Sanctuary

30.8 AUD per person

Return car in the airport
Greenhouse Backpackers Melbourne
Around Melbourne

Federation Square, Queen Victoria Market, Parliament House, etc...

Takes 20 min to city, runs each 10 min [18 AUD]
Melbourne – Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi – Dubai
Some time in Dubai
Just go to the airport!
Dubai – Kiev

Story in Details