When Wilba Came to Town - New Zealand part 1

When you're living in the South Island and your brother comes to visit for 5 days, you know you have to create the perfect itinerary.

Wilba is my brother and he is just the best. This was his first trip overseas since being diagnosed with Leukaemia in Feb  2016, pretty tough to here at age 23. Not going into it but more or less after 8 months in hospital, you'd be anxious to get overseas too. The legend put on his timberlands, cracked on and we had the best time AND I am delighted to share with you our itinerary:

So, hypothetically speaking you just landed in Queenstown and you have 5 days to explore the island - what do you do? 

Day 1 - Queenstown/Wanaka

As soon as you land, if you're staying Queenstown head straight to Fergburger. If you're heading to Wanaka like Will was with us - it's straight to the Burrito Van. Our heavenly non-vegetarian treat. (Honestly this van is the best money you will spend in the whole of the South Island, the burritos are life changing). 

Some random tips: 

In Wanaka there is also a Korean Barbecue Restaurant called Shinaburo, definitely worth a go. Kai seems expensive but it's still my favourite for coffee. 

Queenstown is great for a pint when you arrive but be warned, the nightlife can get you. I once went from Surfing in the Catlins to drinking at a bar named 1876. Next minute I had a 1 litre beer in my hand hugging an oversized bear structure, to then find myself dancing to genuine top 40's in another bar around the corner. Just saying...

Day 2 - The Haast Pass

The Haast pass connects Wanaka with the West Coast. It is 1.5 hours on desolate twisting roads with forever changing and genuinely mesmerising views as you weave through the tantalising landscape.

When you do it, stop off at little green signs on the side - like a park sign on the side of the road. It may say 'Fantail Falls ' or 'Thunder Creek Falls', there's about 5/6 in total.  9/10 times you will walk about 500 meters and there will be some ridiculously stunning waterfall cascading above you.  You'll see another secret spot on the way below. 

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On your way to the Haast Pass from Wanaka direction is a town called Makarora. Here, it is famous for the Makarora Blue Pools - YOU HAVE TO STOP HERE. Seriously. Don't let the time put you off, it's really only a 10 min short stroll through an awesome forest until you reach a suspension bridge over the bluest water you've legit ever seen. 

As you drive out of Makarora, you'll come out into a sort of, rainforest road. Keep your eye out for a sign saying Blue Pools and there's a car park on the right. 

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Day 3 - time to head to Milford

Milford is a journey from Wanaka or Queenstown. There's no camping at the dock's where the ferries leave. Having done this prior, we decided to split the trip up and spend the night somewhere which would give us time to make the morning departure. We booked a night at the one and only Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park. The three of us spent the night, in the cosy quarters of a caravan home. 4 hours from Wanaka which gives you time to make a couple of stops. It was great, we had a bathroom and a tv, fridge, kettle. 

*Camping alternative - about 1.5 hours from the ferry is a site called Cascade Creek. James and I shacked up in the rooftop tent there one night, it costs around $25 NZD for a night BUT the value is there. You wake up in quite an amazing place.

For our journey - We left Wanaka and stopped in Arrowtown on the way for a pie from the bakery, highly recommend. It's a sick little town. Arrowtown is worth a stop anytime, 20 mins out of Queenstown and can easily be done on the Crown Range route. 

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I have to tell a funny story. We went to eat in town at Te Anau, our selection was pretty miminal as most places were closed/closing. We decided to hit up this place called the Ranch. We found Coruba and Coke Stubbies, country music videos, live sports and a lovely waitress. It was so good we went back for lunch the next day! 

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Day 4:

Milford Sound! Make sure you're bloody electronics are charged, film loaded and get ready to be in full on photo mode. I guarantee you will take a photo of the exact same thing over and over again, it just doesn't look real. 

Better to get there early, there's a cafe if need be which sold a mean toastie. We always went with Mitre Peak cruises, it's great value for money to get the ferry for $20NZD. 

We chose to leave Milford and head back to Wanaka or stop in Queenstown if we needed. With the ambition of Queenstown and a Fergburger, we ended up stopping at the exact same place we'd had dinner the night before. The Ranch - Te Anau. 

Full and ready for bed, we made a few coffee stops and went from Te Anau to Wanaka. I'd recommend spending a night in Queenstown - have a couple of beers and check out the town. 

 

Day 5: 

Leaving day for Wilba and he hadn't even seen Queenstown! We got up early and headed in and parked up at the bottom of the Gondola. We then after minimal debate purchased 3 x Passes For Fun - we went luging at the top. Do it, it's hilarious. 

After we got Will his first Fergburger then dropped him off at the airport :( 

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James Topliss