Welcome to part 2 of my amazing adventures in New Zealand! Last week, I introduced breakfast and lunch. Lets move on to dinner and then more exciting activities!
As a general rule, Kiwis do not eat dinner until late - typically around 7:30pm. Similar to Europe, dinner is a very relaxed meal that can last a good amount of time in good company. At restaurants, the waitstaff is not pushy and will never make you feel as if you need to "hurry up and leave".
Given that New Zealand is two islands, it won't surprise you that the seafood was delicious. Though prepared quite similar to the States, one could tell it was fresh (see picture of my partially-eaten seafood dinner). I regret to say that I probably could have eaten a bit more seafood during my time in NZ. And what better to go with seafood than wine? I was shocked to discover that there are vineyards in NZ and wine is quite a popular commodity - who knew?! After visiting a couple of wineries, I will say that I was quite impressed with the flavor and quality. For the most part, I observed more wine being drunk with dinner than beer, but breweries are quite plentiful as well, so we never seemed to be lacking multiple micro-brew options.
One more surprising dinner option - Indian food. I could not believe the number of Indian restaurants in every part of NZ we visited. There are likely many reasons for this, but we simply had to give in one night, even though we of course can get this in the states. One order of butter chicken, potato curry and garlic nann later....we were not disappointed.
Calling all adventure-seekers!
If there is one thing NZ will never be called, it's "boring". We could have done one crazy adventure after another and never run out of new things to try. Instead, we chose jet boating, kayaking, hiking, hang gliding, and bungy jumping
This is very popular all over NZ, but we chose to experience this at the Huka Falls. The idea is you sit in a boat with about 12 people and go flying down a narrow river canyon at unreasonable speeds, while the driver performs 360's and other daring maneuvers. Think of it as being on a group jet ski. While I thought it was a bit over-hyped, they still did a nice job with this.
We chose to kayak in the beautiful Milford Sound. Located in Fiordland, it is rich with phenomenal views that literally took my breath away. While the trip should have been fairly relaxing, an odd weather pattern creating a change in wind direction. Instead of few minutes of head wind with mainly tail wind otherwise, we had the opposite. Twenty-five minutes into the wind - lets just say it was epic!
Tangariro Alpine Crossing
This 19.4K hike is considered one of the most beautiful one-day hikes in the world. After completing this hike, I wouldn't doubt that! Temperatures ranged from 45 to 70 degrees and at the highest point, we were at 1900 meters! Absolutely amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. Read more about the crossing here. And yes - that IS Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings.
This has got to be the closest to flying anyone will experience. I was fortunate enough to fly with the World Champion of Hang Gliding. Therefore, he felt comfortable enough to actually stop the kite a few times during our flight so you were literally hanging in mid-air...crazy! The best parts were taking off (i.e. running off a cliff) and landing (flying at incredibly high speeds toward the ground and rolling along the grass - quite like an airplane!).
While I always said I would NEVER do this, who could go to New Zealand - the birthplace of bungy jumping - and not try it? Not only did we jump in NZ, we jumped at the location of the very first commercial bungy jump. It was a 150 foot jump, and easily the most terrifying moment of my life was standing at the top and looking down. However, contrary to my own beliefs, once I took the leap, it was not painful and in fact my stomach did not even drop - impressive! While I'm not sure I'll ever do it again, I would definitely recommend everyone try this at least once.
Visiting New Zealand left my husband and I wondering - why don't more Americans come here?! I would love to go back, and I hope each of you get the chance to experience this amazing countryside one day too.