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6 South Island Hiking Destinations for Backpackers

New Zealand is famed for its many magnificent backpacking destinations, so to help you choose where to go check out our list of the top 6 South Island Hiking Destinations for Backpackers.

The Mount Cook National Park has perhaps the best overnight hiking track. The Mueller Hut Route follows a three-mile hike up from the valley floor along a zig-zag switchback trail up a scree slope. The views of the brilliant blue meltwater pools and the winding rivers below are incredible, and the rugged glacial terrain rising above the path is impressive. Enjoy a contemplative night in the Mueller Hut on the plateau ridge observing the majesty of the sunset behind the 12,316-foot Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak.

The tiny town of Kaikoura offers some excellent hiking options. One of the most popular hiking trails is the one up Mount Fyffe, from the top of which you can see the North Island on a clear day. This hike can be completed in 8-hours, or you can get permission from the Department of Conservation to sleep overnight in one of their huts. . The Kowhai- Hapuka circuit is a 2-3-day tramping trail and is one of the most challenging long backpacking trips in the region. It is best completed in the summer as the alpine climate can change fast.

Queenstown is a great place for hiking, and kayaking on Lake Wakatipu. Enjoy a gentle stroll around the lake on the Frankton Track, or take a more challenging hike up Queenstown Hill.  Try the Tiki Trail up to Bob’s Peak for some postcard scenic views, and then descend along the One Mile Creek track. For the really adventurous, take the track which ascends from the top of the Skyline Gondola up Ben Lomond, the highest peak in the Queenstown area. Crossing the saddle and achieving the summit are tough climbs, but the incredible Alpine landscape makes it all worthwhile.

The Fiordland National Park is the perfect destination for an outdoor trekking holiday and has been deservedly named the walking capital of the world. Some of the best multi-day hikes in New Zealand include the Routeburn, Milford and the famed Kepler tracks which start out from Te Anau. The park also offers a great choice of shorter hiking trails with different levels of difficulty, along which hikers of all abilities can enjoy the spectacular Alpine scenery, rainforests, and lakes.

Dunedin is a great base to discover some of the hidden gems of the South Island, with a great variety of hiking and tramping trails for both short and long expeditions. Discover the beauty of the Otago Peninsula, hiking some of the spectacular Peninsula tracks considered some of the best day hikes in New Zealand. Try some of the rough tracks like the Morrison’s Burn Track which follow the original roads of Dunedin and give you a chance to discover some of the area’s history while enjoying the fantastic natural surroundings. Follow the figure of eight circuits made up of the Burns, Rustles, Burns Saddle and Pipeline tracks for some impressive views of the Waitaki Valley.

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of the best beach hikes in New Zealand. One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this is a popular destination for multi-day hikes ranging from 2-5-days one way. The track takes in granite cliffs, manuka groves, subtropical bushes, and miles of deserted beaches of golden sand. In the clear water, fur seals can be seen playing in the waves, and there is a multitude of different species of birds to observe. Enjoy the thrill of crossing tidal inlets and camping out at the D of C huts. A truly magnificent New Zealand hike.

There are plenty of incredible hikes across the South Island, so consider hiring a car from Queenstown or Christchurch airport when you arrive to ensure you see them all

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The Big Move

Making the decision to leave home and explore the world for the first time is almost always a hard one. You’ll be leaving behind your friends, your family, everything you’ve ever known – all in exchange for new places, new people, and new cultures. It can be daunting, and exhilarating, all at the same time. Once the decision has been made, all sorts of things start to happen. Saving money becomes a priority; stress and excitement start to set in; and of course all the destination planning begins.

Here at The Attic, we’ve met thousands of different travellers with hundreds of different plans. Sometimes it’s a short, one-destination “vacation”, and sometimes it’s something longer that lasts several years and includes multiple countries. Quite often, people begin by thinking they’ll only be away from home for a few months, but then end up sticking around for an entire year thanks to a working holiday visa! You might even catch the buzz of working in a new country, and decide to never go home!

However, it’s not always easy to gain permanent residency, and visas around the world can be difficult and time-consuming. This means that for some, the end of the road has arrived and it’s finally time to go home.

Going back to where you’re from can be just as drastic as leaving it for the first time. You’ve been gone for ages, have had so many new experiences, and most likely grown in so many different ways. You could be looking forward to going home, catching up with friends, eating all your favourite comfort foods – everything that makes home, home, right?

But sometimes, you realize that it’s just not the same as it was when you left. Something seems a little different, or slightly off; your home may still be home, but there’s definitely been a change. Before long, you’ll realize it’s you. YOU’RE the one who has changed. Your experiences abroad have helped you to grow, to see the world from a new perspective. You still have the urge for sun, for mountains, for exploring. You still crave to meet new people and create new stories. The hunger for something different always seems to stick around, even after you’ve returned home…

But all of this isn’t always a bad thing. It develops us into being better people, to try new careers, to be inspired by what you have seen throughout your travels and take a piece of that home with you. Who knows, you might inspire other people to try new things, reach out of the comfort zone, and changes their life. GO INSPIRE PEOPLE!!!!

And of course, that’s how we all end up planning our next trip around the world 😉

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Winter is here!

We are in full force of our winter and we all have the feels. At least we all have Game of Thrones to lighten our lives up a little. Also on the plus side for anyone planning on doing some snowboarding/skiing this year, it’s going to be treat 🙂

Happy winter all 🙂

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The Great South Island Bike Trek

The Great South Island Bike Trek


Biking throughout the world can’t get any more epic than in New Zealand, or more beautiful. On a bike you are at the center of the action; watching natural ever-changing beauty, breathing that mountain fresh air in your lungs, feeling the salty ocean breeze on your face, and not to mention the cool sweat on your back!

On this 10 day excursion we biked from Punakaiki down to Queenstown, covering an impressive 500 kilometres with nothing but the two wheels below us and the adventure inside us (not including nightly accommodation and daily shuttle rides to suitable starting points, we are far from rugged trekkers.)

We got to see the vastly varied and ever spectacular sceneries of quintessential New Zealand, including magnificent
glaciers, loaming rain forests, snow frosted peaks, countless fields of
sheep, and the sprawling Tasman Sea.

After long days of riding with sore rumps and legs like wet noodles, we found ourselves relaxing in some of the coolest spots south of the Welly. Our trek brought us through a handful of the greatest towns of the south; Greymouth, Hokitika, Okarito, Franz Josef, Haast, Wanaka, and finally to Queenstown.

The experience was sensational to say the least, no doubt a memory that will last us a lifetime.

 

A few quick tips for inquiring riders: stretch every night, pack plenty of trail mix, even more water, pack extra socks, be ready for the rain, and keep your head up!

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Destination: Taupo

Taupo is a popular stop on the North Island and for good reason. There are endless options for how you can spend your day – rain or shine! Here are a couple of our favorites

 

Huka Falls: Talk a stroll through the city to the crystal clear Huka Falls. There are no words to describe how beautiful it is so here just look at these pictures. 😛

Jet Boating: We’ve heard this is the most best of ALL of the jet boating adventures in New Zealand but, hey, don’t take our word – check it out yourself. Get up close and personal with the Huka Falls! Feel that water spray on your face and pray to God they don’t get too close so you don’t get pummeled by the cascading water.

 

Tongariro Crossing:

Lord of the Rings fan or not – this is a must do for everyone that is coming to New Zealand.

The Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand’s great walks and there is a good reason why. This can only be described as a volcanic moon-after checking out the crater make sure that you spend some time at the Emerald Lakes. This hike can be altered to be more difficult with extra legs just make sure you have enough daylight!

 

Thermal Pools: Taupo is riddled with natural thermal pools – free or paid!

The most popular among backpackers would be the Spa Thermal Park because, well, it’s free? Underneath this bridge there are a couple of waterfalls where you can relax in the heated water. Is it a bit too hot? Jump in the freezing cold river if you dare.

Make sure to keep an eye on your belongings while you’re there and not to bring anything too valuable.

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Destination: Matamata

When visiting New Zealand most people will make a stop in Matamata. Ugh hello! Hobbiton!? After travellers tick this off their list it’s standard to pass through to (supposedly) bigger and better destinations.
Recently I spent a couple of days based out of Matamata and I was pleasantly surprised by how close it is to some relatively low key super awesome attractions.
Let’s start with the obvious…
1.) Hobbiton:

I’m not a massive Lord of the Rings fan but I was pretty keen to check this out. The 45 minute guided tour is led by fanatics that have an insane array of knowledge on the production, the films and the location. The tour ends with a stop in Green Dragon in where you can have a complimentary beer or cider – specific to Hobbiton. If you don’t drink alcohol they also have a variety of choices for you!

The other tour option is to do the dinner… looks more like a feast fit for a… orc? Those are those big things right? Giants? I’m not sure I told you I wasn’t that informed on the films.

 

2.) Wairere Falls
At 153m this is the highest waterfall in all of New Zealand’s North Island. In my opinion it is also one of the most spectacular. The hike up to the top is steep but the view points along the way are a constant reminder of why it’s worth to keep going.
Once you get to the top you’ll be wowed. Mother Nature did real good with this one.

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Blue Springs – Te Waihou Walkway:
The Waikato region has so many special spots but the Blue Springs is one of my favourites. This spring produces 70% of the countries fresh water which is cool and all the colours of the water and scenery… we are not worthy.

 

 

 

4.) Tirau:

Not going to lie the only reason we went here was because their I-Site is this massive metal dog and next door to it they have these giant really suspicious looking sheep. Worth a 10 minute detour after the Springs Walk! 

Posted in Backpackers Activities


The Change from England to New Zealand.

When you’re moving to another country it can always be daunting, especially for your first time living in another country, let alone getting out your country for the first time. Our manager gave us an insight on what his experience was like.

When the first thought came around of moving to another country I thought it was next to impossible, especially getting paid rubbish and working long hours. When my mate convinced me to move out here telling me everything
would be ok, I quit my job. Best feeling I ever had. Now I knew my dreams were coming true, but not yet. I still didn’t have a passport or a visa. Almost missed my passport appointment, which was 6 weeks before my flight, and visa only got approved 10 days before I flew. Living on the edge some might say.

Now I’m on my flight, never flown before, and watching copious amounts of films. The layover in Hong Kong was far too long and a very strange experience for the first time in another country. Didn’t have a clue how much the currency was
worth. Now on my way to New Zealand I was trying to imagine what New Zealand would be like.  Would the people be nice? Will I be able to understand them? Will it be too hot?
As soon as I got here all my fears or any doubt was gone. The people were so nice and the city of Auckland is so beautiful. My first ever hostel staying in was actually The Attic Backpackers, what a great start if I say so myself. First taste of hostel life and I loved it. Wanted the opportunity to work in one and within 2 weeks I was. The Attic gave me a great
start to New Zealand and gave me lots of help and advice for the rest of my time in New Zealand.

Now what I wasn’t expecting is how expensive food and alcohol was, I was shocked. I just assumed that it would be cheaper then England but apparently not. I was also surprised with the accent, I genuinely thought it was the same as the Australian accent. Also how chilled the country was as a whole but still very health and safety conscious. This proves how blind sighted I was to the rest of the world.

But within a matter of weeks I was settled, had a close group of friends, had a job, and was exploring NZ on my days off and seeing what it had to offer. So New Zealand was a great choice. Such an inviting country to all people of all nationalities and so easy to immigrate to.

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What People Don’t Tell You About Skydiving:

  1. You can’t physically throw up when you’re that scared so you can’t use your hangover as an excuse to get out of it. You might throw up afterwards though.
  2. You will be strapped into the lap of a beautiful, usually foreign, stranger that chases summer so they can do this all year long. And this puts you at a vulnerable position because even if you change your mind they will full on carry you to the edge of the plane. You have no choice in this matter.
  3. After the plane takes off your mind goes into autopilot and you just will become submissive and you just come to terms with your impending death. Don’t be so dramatic , you’ll be fine – what’s the worst that could happen?
  4. The staff will try and psyche you out for fun. The people at Skydive Taupo will remind you on multiple occasions that a plane crashed last year – but everyone survived so why are you so scared?!
  5. When the gas masks fall… so does your stomach and all possible positivity you’ve had that you might actually survive this.
  6. Don’t worry, your instructor will tell you everything you need to know. But the plane is super loud so you won’t hear a word they say.
  7. You think of really weird things when you’re plummeting to the Earth and unimaginable speeds. Like for example, “Shit I should’ve tied my shoes tighter they’re definitely going to fly off and hit an unsuspecting person in the face.”
  8. The skin on your neck and face will gloriously flap in the wind. You majestic creature, you.
  9. They’ll TRUST you to guide the parachute. Ahhhh whaaaaaaat. The chute deployed so we narrowly escaped death and now you’re trusting me to take the reigns? You must be crazy (but we already thought that since you jump out of planes for a living).
  10. You’ll share a really intimate experience with a complete stranger and then leave thinking, “Wow, Renee had really soft hands.”
  11. Before you go you thought “I’ll only do this once in my lifetime just to say I’ve done it.” – Nah, after the first jump you’ll want to do it all over ago but this time LET’S GO HIGHER. 😀
Posted in Auckland Activities, Backpackers Activities


Weekend trips From Auckland

One of the best things about Auckland it’s in such close proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches, cutest towns, red wood and Kauri forests and more!  This is exactly what makes the big smoke a perfect base to explore the North Island! So if you fancy a little getaway but don’t have that much time off here are our tested and true mini road trips that will will have all of your friends going #travelgoals.

Tawharanui:

Tawharanui Beach

Drive under an hour to this little paradise on an isolated Eastern Peninsula. This is an Aucklander’s  favourite destination for a little R&R and who can blame them?  Complete with white sand beaches and rolling pastures. There are even a couple vineyards on the wayso you can have a bottle… or five! Treat yo’self.

Muriwai:

Gannet Population at Muriwai Beach

You don’t even need to go more than 30 minutes outside of Central Auckland to find a little place to unwind. Visit one of Auckland’s finest black that’s popular with surfers. If you get bored watching the wild waters of the west coast and some of Auckland’s finest surfers – you can take a short hike to admire the area’s impressive gannet population.

Karekare Beach

Want to go to an even more desolate beach? Try going to Karekare and you’ll nearly have the whole beach to yourself. Oh baby.

Matakana:

Brick Bay Vineyard, Matakana

How underrated is Matakana? Heaps of vineyards, a lovely little river flowing through the centre and the sweetest little city center filled with chic gastropubs make it a favourite among our friends. If you’re lucky enough to be out on the weekend hit up it’s farmers market and buy some locally sourced produce!

Finished there earlier than you thought? Take a short drive over to Goat Island Marine Reserve and enjoy some of clearest snorkeling and diving conditions in the North Island. Or if you want to try something new try the Clearyak – a clear, glass kayak that allows you to see all of the marine life below.

Raglan:

Bridal’s Veil Falls, Raglan

A surfers paradise. This little seaside town explodes a hollistic, hippy lifestyle. Have a little surf at one of the black sand beaches, go for a cheeky hike up Mountain Karioi or check out the resident waterfall Bridal Veil Falls. You’ll leave a zenned out, surfer dude, yogi master – what more could you want?

Whangarei:

Mermaid Pools, Matapouri Beach

EVERYONE goes to Paihia but Whangarei is a less popular destination. This is a crying shame because it’s definitely one of the Northland’s hidden gems. The city center has a waterfall in the middle of the city center – no big deal – and it’s super close to amazing beaches. Our favourite? Matapouri beach. It’s a really nice beach but, more importantly, it has crystal clear rock pools where you can pretend to be a mermaid.

Posted in Backpackers Activities, Weekend Trips Auckland