New Zealand quite literally took my breath away at every turn. It is without a doubt one of the most stunning places I’ve ever laid eyes on. Highways are gorgeous simply because the green pastures go on and on into the distance, rolling hills turn into glaciers and gigantic lake’s, that are so turqioise they look like they belong in Aruba, hug the roads for miles.
This January, Mike and I hiked and camped our way through some key places in the South Island. In case you like the idea of van-lifing it around NZ too, here is a little guidance showing how we divided our time:
- 2 nights Queenstown
- 2 nights Milford (or 1 in Te Anu and 1 in Milford)
- 3 nights Wanaka → including Mount Cook visit
- 1 night Arrowtown
- 1 night Queenstown
With plenty more to see, we will 100% be back as soon as we can. Here are some of our foodie highlights with a little list of fun activities we highly recommend.
Queenstown (recommend 3 nights)
- Vudu and Bespoke kitchen – owned by the same people with similar menu’s, both are worth checking out. Their pancakes are unparalleled, and the creamy mushrooms at Vudu are such a healthy, unusual spin on a savoury vegan brekky. Bespoke serves a vegan blueberry scone at the counter which is 100% worth it.
- Yonder – Amazing vegan corn fritters and a delicious DIY breakfast burrito platter. Don’t miss this one!
- Franelli’s Italian – They have an entire vegan menu that would make a non-vegan unsuspectedly enjoy a “cheesy” meal. We went here twice! Highly recommend the calzone, alfredo fettucini, napolitana gnocchi and arancini balls.
- Caribe – best burrito I have ever had! Not strictly Mexican-style, more Carribean. Bursting with fresh veg flavours and just the right amount of spice. Cassava chips are a treat as well 🙂
- Halo – Didn’t make it here but menu looked very vegan-friendly and accomodating.
- Fergburger – always has about a 40 min line around the block – But! We left dissappointed. Granted, they probably aren’t famous for their vegan burgers 😉 it just was a little underwhelming so not sure you should rush to it just because the line is so long. HOWEVER, Mrs Ferg gelato has plenty of amazing vegan sorbet’s which are delicious!
- Hike Ben Lommond all the way to the summit if you can. Unforgetable and the best type of challenge.
- White water rafting in the Shotover River
- Onsen hot pools – perfect if you’ve done a few hikes/activities and are looking for some relaxation with a view.
- Milford Sound lodge – you can camp here or stay in-house (much more expensive, but cabins look beautiful). The restaurant here is really good with a dietary key and a couple of vegan options. Mike says his espresso was the best coffee all trip. Kicking myself I didn’t try it!
- Kayak tour along Milford – Roscoe’s Kayaks
- Hike to Lake Marian *favourite hike all trip
- A bunch of 10-20 min short loops to see some waterfalls
Wanaka: (recommend 2-3 nights – can use this as a base to get to further north places and just do day trips to them, below)
- Big Fig – best coffee, great dinner and 1-2 vegan options for breakfast
- Food trucks – the best vegan dumplings! Burrito van is also great
- Hike Rob Roy Glacier Track
- Hire bikes and ride around lake Wanaka, see Wanaka Tree
- Go for a dip in Lake Wanaka – fresh!
- Day trips to Blue Pools on the way to Haast, Fountail falls, Mount Cook and/or Lake Tekapo
Mount Cook: (day trip from Wanaka or 1 night)
- The Cafeteria in the shopping/hotel centre is actually pretty vegan friendly. I had a curry and Mike had a burger.
- Stop along the way on the drive and admire the blueness of Lake Pukaki
- Hooker Valley Trail – Hike to a lake with small broken away glaciers floating in the water
Arrowtown: (day trip or one night)
- Provisions of Arrowtown
- Remarkables Lolly shop – vegan-marked section!
- Amisfield winery vegan degustation – they nail this! They are so accomodating it’s like they get asked to do this 20 x a day (maybe they do?). Seriously, it was that good. Worth every penny – great food, service, wine, setting, vibe.
- Do a lap of the street in Arrowtown to see the cute shops and architecture
- There are some short-medium hikes around here you can check out that range 30-90 mins