Franz Josef Glacier, Nelson Rings and Side Road Trips


Continuing our New Zealand journey from Queenstown, we made our way to Franz Josef via 5 hour road trip. Check out my Queenstown blog. We took a side trip to Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, where rocks look like they are flatten and piled on top of each other, like pancakes. They are actually limestones that are slowly being chipped away by the crashing sea. The blowholes were quite cool, especially when the light touches and form a rainbow.

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Picturesque Alps in Queenstown


Francis and I started our New Zealand journey on Nov 6 as we head out to Auckland. We stayed overnight at Ibis Budget Auckland hotel, which is somewhat walkable from the airport, then fly off to Queenstown with Jetstar. We figured to start our trip at the south and make our way back up to counter the tourist flow. It was a good move since our road trip had fewer cars and we get to enjoy the mountain scenery longer. It was 95 NZD for the domestic plane ticket.

To know more about our New Zealand trip in general, check out my introductory post. Let’s go exploring!

Queenstown is where the adventure activities shine the best. It is a quaint town filled with nice shops and restaurants. We just walked most of the time. We only rented a car after our Queenstown trip so we can head on to Franz Josef ice glacier. The real beauty is the mountains and the lake that gives this place a peaceful, if not exciting, retreat from the urban life. We didn’t come here for the bungee jumping, kayaking or skiing. We came here to hike, admire the mountains and fulfill our LOTR bucket list. If I were to pick a favorite place in New Zealand, this would be it. It is beautiful.

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New Zealand: Heading onward to LOTR


Francis and I are both fanatic of Lord of the Rings. It is our dream to visit the landscape that inspire Peter Jackson to recreate JRR Tolkien’s epic trilogy of elves, dwarves, wizards and human warriors battle against the ring who controls all. New Zealand, the destination, is quite distant to many countries, being located at the bottom of the earth. But if Maori managed to discover it long ago via long treacherous sea voyage, so can we travel south. Luckily, Singapore is one of the best hub to get there.

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Untouched Waters of El Nido


On May 30, Francis and I decided to visit the remote beaches of El Nido, Philippines. It is located at the northern tip of Palawan, a Philippine island nearer to Indonesia than to its own neighboring islands. I picked that over Boracay, another must-go beaches in Philippines (and in the world), because of the unsaturated chaos of tourism: the crowd, the jacked up prices and party atmosphere. In El Nido, you have the quiet white sand beaches, the serenity of the waves and virgin island mountains to explore.

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Kimonos at Kyoto


From Tokyo to Mt Fuji and then to Kyoto, there was never a dull moment in our trip. And how cool is it that there is a luggage service that brings your luggage from one city to the other? It is not free but it definitely saves you from lugging it to the train station (and at peak hours).

To know more on tips when traveling to Japan, visit my other article

In Kyoto, we made 2 side trips to Himeji and Nara since they were nearby and it saved us from booking another hotel for just a day each.

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