We’re following Clarissa Louis (IG: @clarissalouis) to the charming land of New Zealand for this month’s Wanderlust! Read as she traveled through the enchanting and peaceful scenery of the country that’s often dubbed as the Middle Earth.
Hi Clarissa, tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m a full-time property consultant since 2014 and two years ago, I also started a florist business with my friends, @scarletandwild. Architecture and nature inspire me a lot.
Why did you choose New Zealand as your destination?
We initially planned to go to Sapporo, but then we heard about the outbreak of rubella in Japan. Since one member of our travel group is an expecting mother, we cancelled the trip and chose New Zealand instead. Therefore, North and South Islands were part of our itinerary.
What was the weather like?
It was Summer in February. Around 25°C during the day and 10°C in the morning and at night in both islands. Light jacket was enough, the weather was really nice. However, when we went to Mt Cook area, there wind was extreme. You might need a windbreaker if you want to visit the area!
Tell us about the places you visited?
Auckland: the capital city of New Zealand. If you’ve been to Sydney, Auckland looks like a mini Sydney. Go stroll around the city to see the Sky Tower and Britomart area, where there are many cafes.
Rotorua: The main reason we go to North Island is to visit the magical Hobbiton Movie Set! The details of the set were amazing, there were so many hobbit holes for everyone to choose and take photos in, 44 in total.
Queenstown: THIS IS MY FAVORITE CITY! Surrounded by the Southern Alps and set on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, every corner of Queenstown is picturesque. Our road trip in South Island began here!
Christchurch: The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 2011 so they rebuilt it again. Made a quick walk to Christchurch Botanic Garden, where there was a beautiful rose garden. So sad to hear the tragic incident that happened recently in such a peaceful city.
– What kind of activities did you do there?
Exploring wineries: Queenstown is home to some of the world’s best Pinot Noir. Many Queenstown wineries have cellar door tasting, so we visited one of them called Stoneridge Estate. It was a beautiful winery with a view of Lake Hayes. Not sure which was better, the wine or the stunning estate where they are located. Don’t forget to pair your wine with their creamy local cheese platter and wander around their extensive flower garden by the pond.
Hot Tubing at Onsen Hot Pools: Beyond excited when the pools were available since the place is always fully booked. Home of the best onsen view in New Zealand, just sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
Day-trip to Glenorchy: A beautiful 40 minutes scenic drive from Queenstown, also known as the “gateway to paradise”. The road weaves through the forest, along cliff edges, next to mountains, and along Lake Wakatipu. Visited the iconic red shed and played with the sheep and alpacas at Glenorchy Animal Experience. Planned to go horse riding in one of LOTR’s filming locations, too bad it was fully booked.
Trekking at Mt Cook: The most popular track is Hooker Valley Track, which we initially went on. Due to extreme wind, we stopped our journey. The next day, due to tight timing, we chose Tasman Glacier track, which was a short 30 minutes track heading to Tasman River with a view of icebergs and snowy mountains.
Glamping at Valley Views: One of a kind experience! My first glamping experience, sleeping in a geodesic dome under New Zealand’s stars. This eco-friendly glamping site is located in the middle of a family owned kettle farm with views of valley, hills and mountains. Totally recommended!
Where to eat and what was your favorite menu!
Fergburger: This is a must-visit in Queenstown. Big buns, fresh ingredients, and crazy queue at all hours during its 21 hours operation everyday, Ferg is worth to try! My personal favorite is Tropical Swine which consists of prime NZ beef, bacon, cheddar cheese, grilled pineapple and veggies, add extra brie cheese!
Mt Cook Alpine Salmon: Enjoy fresh sashimi and smoked salmon at a picnic by the lake. Superb view of Mt Cook and Lake Pukaki!
Riverstone Kitchen: Peacocks, a castle and amazing flower garden, topped off by beautiful food with produce grown on site. Located in rural Oamaru, we stopped here for an enjoyable lunch. I had a salad with Waitaki nectarine and prosciutto, so refreshing!
What kind of person should go to New Zealand for their next trip?
Adventurous! New Zealand is not a place for shopaholics, but for those adrenaline junkies who love the outdoors, there are so many things to do, e.g. bungee jumping, sky-diving, hiking, rafting, skiing you name it! Too bad I didn’t have time to try those activities but they’re on my bucket list!
– Any tips for fellow travelers out there?
Plan your trip and book the activities ahead especially when you’re traveling in big groups to avoid disappointment. Availability is usually limited, so it would be best to book things 4-6 weeks in advance.
If you’re planning to rent a car, book from outside the airport’s car rental as price might be doubled.
What are the things that you must pack when you’re going to NZ?
Even when you’re visiting NZ in Summer, please prepare your light jackets or cardigans to stroll around, windbreaker and training pants for hiking and swimsuit for hot tubs!
What are the souvenirs you brought home with you?
I’m obsessed with products that contain Manuka! Brought home plenty of raw honeys, chocolates, teas, soaps, and even lip balms!
See more pretty pictures in the full article of #Wanderlust at 247 COTTONINK Magazine!