New Zealand is incredible. Not much more needs to be said. It has everything and more to offer to a traveller. Many people ask us here at Ultimate long do I need to see New Zealand? Well honestly I’d say 4 weeks, about 28 days. However not everyone has this much time, so then lets go with 2 weeks. But if you only have 2 weeks then a good suggestion would be to choose between the North or South Islands. Both are incredible and both offer so much…I’m just glad I don’t have to choose! So here’s how I’d suggest you spend 14 days in New Zealand…

North Island New Zealand

Auckland is the main city on the North Island and definitely worth a visit! It is surrounded by volcanoes most of which you can climb and has parks where you can play frisbee golf! But I would recommend leaving the city after a short while, although Auckland does have great night life! North of the City of Sails is the Bay of Islands. Locals call it the land of eternal summer. The weather there stays very constant and a lovely warm temperature. Here you can go swimming with dolphins, hiking or visit Cape Reinga, the northern most point of New Zealand where the Tasman sea and the Pacific Ocean meets.

South East of Auckland you’ll find the Coromandel Peninsular and a little bit of paradise! Here you can dig your own hot tub at Hot Water Beach (original name I know!) and go to Narnia. Yes Narnia! Ok well actually where they filmed Narnia but still, all childhood dreams matched! In the Bay of Plenty further south there is White Island where you can visit an active volcano and walk among the sulphur and steam.

Visit the Coromandel Peninsula if you can only spend 14 days in New Zealand

In the middle of the North Island there is Rotorua, the cultural capital of NZ, also named ‘Sulphur City!…and also the smelliest place in the world. You’ll know what I mean when you go there! 😉 Once you have gotten over the smell of the bubbling mud pools you can learn all about New Zealand’s natives, The Maori. There is Waitomo Caves where you can go tubing through caves lit up by glowworms, nothing more to be said! Taupo is right in the middle of the island. Sporting the largest lake in New Zealand it is also the home to Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. You can actually climb the volcano just like Frodo and Sam while doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (a must do while you are here). Taupo is also an awesome spot to do a skydive if you dare!

Tongariro Alpine Crossing, aka Mount Doom, New Zealand

In the south of the North Island you’ve got some amazing places to do a spot of crazy white water rafting in the mountains. Then right in the south is the country’s capital, Wellington. While here in this sleepy chilled out city definitely check out the Museum of New Zealand, it has everything from history to props from the Lord of the Rings films. There are lots of other museums and art galleries here along with some amazing botanical gardens and a gorgeous view from the top of Mount Victoria.

Side note: If you are doing the North and South Islands then the ferry journey between the two across the Cook Strait will be one of the highlights of the whole trip, so grab your jumper and enjoy the view!

South Island New Zealand

The South Island is about twice the size of the North and certainly packs a punch! The top of the South Island starts with Nelson where you can take a calf burning (but well worth it) steep stroll up to the most central point of New Zealand. West of Nelson is the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you can get a boat to take you round to one of the incredible beaches, drop you off and then you make your own way back on foot. With hardly anyone around you’ll have beaches and forest to yourself, not to mention stunning views and incredible wildlife.

Heading south you’ll get to Westport, a super laid back surf town. Time to don the wetsuit and catch some waves here! On the opposite east coast you have Kaikoura, this is a marine wildlife paradise. You can swim with dolphins and catch the passing humpbacks during their migration. A bit further down you have Christchurch, although recently devastated with numerous earthquakes its still a beautiful city, earning its name of The Garden City. Its not all beautiful parks though, you can learn all about Antarctic expeditions or go shopping at a mall made out of shipping containers!

Franz Josef, New Zealand

Heading over to the west coast (through Arthur’s Pass, google it and you’ll just want to go!) you get to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Here you can hike on some of the fasting moving glaciers in the world meaning you’ll have to carve your own path through, or splash the cash and get a helicopter ride to the top and land on the ice!

Whilst heading south from here you’ll spot the highest mountain in NZ, Mount Cook, where Edmund Hillary practiced for his famous Everest summit.

Visit Mount Cook if you can only spend 14 days in New Zealand

You will soon hit Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the world! You could spend weeks here with so many activities that change with the seasons. You could go skiing, skydiving, jet boating, hiking, bungy jumping, zip-wiring, white water rafting, rock climbing, the possibilities are almost endless. If extreme sports aren’t your thing then its ok, Queenstown boasts some amazing bars and also maybe the best burger joint in the world, Fergburger. Speak to anyone who has been to Queenstown and I guarantee they will have eaten one if not seven.

If you’re not satisfied there then the must see place to see on the South Island is Milford Sound. Words can’t describe the beauty of this place, you have to see it.

So there it is plenty to fill two weeks of your time in New Zealand and this has only scratched the surface there is more then enough to fill lifetime. Which would you chose? The North or the South? I’m glad I don’t have to choose, perhaps a piece of advice – Go for longer and see all of it!

Thinking of travelling to New Zealand? Check out Ultimate NZ to get you started and get in touch to chat about your plans!

Why you should visit Fraser Island

When I first left Sweden to travel to Australia, I was told Fraser Island was the place to go so I had pretty high expectations to begin with…and it definitely didn’t disappoint!

I loved everywhere I travelled in Australia but my time spent on Fraser is definitely one of the main highlights! Here’s why I think EVERYONE needs to visit Fraser on their Aussie gap year…

Drive a 4WD on the world largest sand Island!

There aren’t many islands in the world you can road trip around, especially the largest sand islands in the world! 4WDing on Fraser Island lets you explore the island with the fun and freedom of seeing the best spots! Fraser Island is known for its long white beaches (basically its motorway!), rainforests and some amazing crystal clear freshwater lakes. 

I visited Fraser Island on a group tour which for me was the perfect way to explore it! You can take it in turns driving along the sandy beaches, crank up the music and meet other backpackers – the dream roadie! I will never forget the feeling I had driving around in the sand with my group of 6 in the back of the car. I’ve never laughed so much and all the beautiful places we visited were just amazing. 

There were only 4 people including me in my group who had a drivers license, which meant more driving time for us, LUCKY ME! Although saying that those without their drivers license got to chill in the back, drinking beer and goon and taking in the views which doesn’t seem like a bad alternative! 😉

We spent the 2 days following our tour leader, who led the 4WD’s around the island, stopping off at Fraser Islands most picturesque spots along the way – absolute paradise!

4WD around Fraser Island

Champagne Pools – Fraser Islands natural ocean Jacuzzi

If you’re a water lover, Fraser Island is the place to go! This beautiful island has more than 100 different freshwater lakes that are safe to take a swim in. When I booked my trip to Fraser, I knew there were some different freshwater spots, but not that there was one place where I could swim, named after my favourite drink, Champagne!

It’s easy to understand why the Champagne Pools is a favourite spot in Fraser. You can sit in the rock pools, relaxing and watching the waves crashing over the side of the rocks, settling into a fizzing foam – hence the name! Once you’ve been here it’s safe to say you’ll be saying a toast to Fraser Island’s very own, Champagne Jacuzzi!

Champagne Pools, Fraser Island

Three Words: Crystal Clear Lakes

When you think of swimming in lakes, some of you may be imagining wading through a brown bit of water with no idea what’s lurking underneath – well not at Lake Mckenzie!

Frazer’s freshwater lakes are set, in the top of the sand dunes, through rainforest, high above sea level. Of all of the lakes on Fraser Island, Lake McKenzie is most peoples and my personal favourite, and when you see the pics you’ll understand why!

If you can tell me a lake more unique and beautiful than this I’ll be surprised as Lake Mckenzie is just amazing. Our tour guide told us to brush our teeth and scrub our bodies with the white sand, and so we did. The sand is made of 100% pure white silica so is ideal for a bit of exfoliation and natural teeth whitening! It was definitely a spa experience on another level and one I didn’t think I’d be getting on an island! 

Eli Creek, another fave is the largest freshwater creek on the Eastern coast of the island –  It’s an area of exceptional and pristine beauty.  The blues and greens of the lake are so spectacular, me and my friends thought we were in a tropical jungle! Eli Creek is an ideal place for swimming or even better for the lazy swimmers amongst us! The water flow helps you float down the lake so you can just lie back and enjoy the blue waters, the white sands and the amazing nature.

Chilling with mates at Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island

Camping – “what’s happens when you camp on Fraser Island, stays on Fraser Island”

Fraser island an awesome place to camp, especially if you’re on a trip with heaps of other backpackers like I was. We slept in a big camping area in tents for both nights of the tour. The best thing about being in a big group is that there are so many nice people to meet and hang out with. I’ll never forget the fun we had in the evenings during our Fraser trip – actually, I’ll tell you the truth that some parts are a little bit cloudy…too much fun and too much goon! 😉 We spent the evenings enjoying dinner together around the camp fire, chatting, playing drinking games, listening to a guy play the guitar, dancing and singing… yes it was exactly as crazy as you imagine!

If you prefer a little comfort, there are some awesome tours you can do that include resort accommodation for the evening where you still get to hang out with new mates and have fun on the island, just with a little extra comfort!

Meet the locals 

Have u heard about Australia’s native ‘dog’, the dingo? Dingoes are the infamous local residents of Fraser Island and they need to be treated with respect but also with caution – no rolling around in the sand play fighting with these pooches! Dingoes are wild and as any wild animal can be, they can be dangerous. Fraser Island is one of the opportunities you’ll get in Oz to see these animals in their natural habitat so keep your distance when you encounter them in the wild.

Fraser has got some amazing wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, emus, turtles and native birds. Indian heads, a lookout at the Northern end of the famous 75 mile long Eastern surf beach has an amazing vantage point over the island offering panoramic views of Fraser’s awesome beach and is also a pretty good wildlife spotting area! We were lucky as the weather up here when I visited was so clear and I saw so many things. The wonderful view over Manta Rays, Sharks, Dolphins and Turtles swimming in the water below was one of those unforgettable travel moments – amazing!

Having fun with friends in Eli Creek, Fraser Island

Top secret…

The worst question you could ask me when I’m travelling? “What was the best thing during your travels in Australia?”

It’s the most difficult question to answer as every place/experience and moment has been unique but this time I hold my hands up and say: My best memory from travelling the East coast of Australia was definitely Fraser Island!

My last tip – Don’t forget to bring your waterproof/sand proof camera! You’ll need a sand proof cam for fairly obvious reasons and even though you’re not likely to forget Fraser Island any time soon, I promise that the pics will come in handy when you try to explain to your friends and family how amazing it was! Anyway it’s time to set a new ‘like’ record on your Insta feed isn’t it?! 😉

Thinking of travelling to Fraser Island during your gap year in Oz? Check out the Ultimate East Coast package or get in touch with our travel crew to organise your Fraser Island Adventure.

Check out our Instagram & FB page for travel inspo and get in touch to start planning your trip today! 

When people go travelling it is so easy to boast about it nowadays. Social media has given all of us a platform to post that ‘perfect philosophical” sunset pic, that “just woken up” selfie and the “I’m having the time of my life” jumping photo. Not to mention that you can just click to check-in and tell people you are in this awesome pool bar in paradise or got a free upgrade at your swanky hotel. Boasting is easy and so many of us do it. Don’t we all crave that stamp in our passport just for the bragging rights that come with it?

When I speak to people who have just been travelling (and yes I am guilty of this myself) they never ever tell you about the bad bits, the uncomfortable nights with no sleep, the dodgy tums, the strange mozzie bites. You’ll only hear about the things you’ll be jealous of. But here it is Ladies and Gents…Travelling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows! There are 5 things that I say are big points that people just don’t tell you about.

Travel is stressful!

When you go on a 2 week cruise round the Greek Islands or an all inclusive trip to Bora Bora I expect that the main desire of this holiday is to relax. Travelling isn’t very relaxing. In fact I am a firm believer of taking a holiday within your holiday. On my first Backpacking stint I spent 2 weeks in Hawaii as my holiday in my holiday and when I went to South America I went to the Galapagos Islands! The thing is with travelling you have to organise where to stay next, ask yourself ‘can I afford that ice cream in my budget?’, how do I get back from this bar, how am I going to get from A to B… Travelling is not relaxing. However it is the most rewarding thing you can do and part of the fun of travelling is learning how to look after yourself and travel independently. You learn an excessive amount about yourself and grow massively as a person. Before I went travelling I could hardly even walk into a bar on my own now I’ve done four major backpacking trips by myself!

Take a holiday within a holiday as you travel

You will get Homesick

I often think I don’t get homesick and being on the road for 7 years on and off (yes I have been home lots of times in the 7 years) I have to finally admit that I do. You might not see it coming, it’ll creep up on you in the dead of night or on your birthday or perhaps Christmas but trust me it’s going come if it hasn’t already! Most people think that homesickness means you’re crying in bed, curled up in the foetal position on the phone to your mum. It isn’t always this. Mine gets me when I’m craving gravy on my chips, or my friends organising a night out on whats app, I even get homesick when I can’t find the mascara I like over here. I don’t go and eat a whole tub of ice cream and start Googling flights home, I just get on with it. I keep myself busy and then I don’t have a chance to think of home or what I’m missing. When you first land and you want to go home in the first few days, promise me this – You will power through! Trust me when I say it’s worth it and you’ll forget about how you felt as fast as it started when you begin to experience everything!

You have to be an adult…sort of.

This is quite a abstract point. I am potentially one of the worst “adults” out there. What I mean is you have to be mature sometimes. So don’t get that drunken tattoo of your hostel’s logo or think you can cliff dive where no locals are. Perhaps I should call this one: You have to use common sense. If you have to catch a bus that you paid $230 for which leaves at 4:30am, don’t party all night…Mum isn’t there to wake you up anymore. I first went travelling when I was 18 and this whole using your common sense thing was hard because I wanted to go crazy. I partied so hard and did all these crazy things and sometimes wonder how the hell I survived or at least returned with all my arms and legs. I’m not saying have a shit time and stay in and wrap yourself in bubble wrap, I’m saying that one of the best things about travelling is fending for yourself in the big wide world and for some it’s like the first time they have really left their mothers womb. But please be cautious and do things within reason then you won’t fuck up and end up in hospital or worse…have to go home!

Stay safe when travelling and look after yourself

Travel is exhausting

People don’t tell how exhausting travelling is! Because travel is stressful (see point 1!) it makes it tiring. Again this goes back to have a holiday within your holiday! But seriously don’t forget to sit back and stop a little while. Not only does it give you a chance to catch up and rest but also to appreciate what you are doing. It’s easy to want to cram everything in with so much to see and do and so much fun to be had but you don’t have to be doing an activity all day everyday! Sometimes you need a day chilling on the beach, reading a book in the park or pigging out in front of Netflix. Reward yourself with sleep as there is not much better in life than a damn good nights sleep. If someone does come back from traveling without taking some days off here and there they will, no joke, sleep for a week.

Travel is addictive.

Plain and simple. Honestly it’s a much healthier addiction than smoking or drugs but it still catches. You go to one place and experience a crazy amount of culture, stunning landscapes and eat incredible food and that’s it, you want to go to the next place. When I was a kid I had all these dreams of things I wanted to do and zero of them have been accomplished (mainly because my plans have changed now, for the better). Once you go and make all these amazing friends and unforgettable experiences its hard not to plan the next trip and the next and the next…before you know it you’re 45 living out of a suitcase with only $3 to your name but it’s ok because you’ve got a passport full of stamps! Thinking of going travelling? Do it! Just be prepared to never be able to settle in one place after!

So there it is, the harsh truth about travelling. It’s only 5 small points and there’s no denying the negatives are well and truly worth it for that perfect sunset moment. I would do it all again just to swim with penguins once more! I mean come on…its just all about boasting and bragging isn’t it and I have plenty to brag about!

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