3 Weekend Trips You Need to Take in New Zealand

Nicole Guinn is a student at the University of Mary Washington and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Dunedin, New Zealand.

  1. Milford Sound

Milford Sound truly is the 8th wonder of the world. Every 360 degree turn provided an incredible, eye-catching sight. We drove into the Fiordland National Park during the sunset. Our campsite was nestled in a valley between enormous mountains that towered overhead. Waking up in the morning was breathtaking. During the day, we went on two hikes called Key Summit and Lake Marian. Unfortunately, Key Summit was cloudy so we could not appreciate the outlook but the hike was enjoyable. The Lake Marian hike was entertaining because we climbed up rocks the entire time but night fell fast and so we doubled back before reaching the lake. Furthermore, I was able to cross off the #1 of my bucket list: Milford Sound. It was incredible to finally see with my own eyes the one thing I have been craving all my life. The next day, we completed the Gertrude’s Saddle hike.  It was incredibly challenging because we climbed up the entire side of the saddle; however, it is now on my top favorite hikes ever. There were beautiful waterfalls, melting glacier streams to drink out of, and remarkable rocks to scale.

milford sound
Checked #1 thing off the bucket list!
  1. Cromwell

Cromwell is located between Queenstown and Wanaka. We drove my kiwi host’s boat up to Lake Dunston in Cromwell. During the day, we went boating on the lake as well as knee boarding, wake boarding, tubing (aka biscuiting), and water skiing. I finally learned how to water ski and learned some new tricks on the knee board. Tubing was especially exciting because we made massive wakes and flew off our tubes. We camped out at a nice campground in Cromwell and had a hefty cookout with the most meat I have ever seen. The stars at night were stunning and the Milky Way was very prominent.

Flatmate killin’ it at water-skiing
  1. Moeraki Boulders

The Moeraki Boulders is a fanastic day trip from Dunedin. The rocks themselves are very intriguing. As a Geology major, I want to know exactly how they were formed but scientists are not entirely sure. The typical tourist thing to do is to climb all over the rocks and take pictures which, of course, we did just that. After the Moeraki Boulder exploration, we drove to the Moeraki Peninsula to see penguins and seals. To my absolutely greatest surprise, there were super cute, fat, fluffy, yellow-eyed penguins leaning up against a wire fence half asleep. We could have easily touched them but that is not allowed. I am a penguin obsessed lover so I stayed with them until we left.

My kind of rocks


Yellow-eyed penguins posing for a shot

Want to read more about Nicole’s New Zealand experiences? Check out “5 Surprises About Studying Abroad in New Zealand”