Hiking in New Zealand

They call it “tramping” here, but whatever you call it, hiking in New Zealand is a way of life. If you like to hike, New Zealand is paradise. It’s one of the best places we’ve been for hiking. Everywhere we visited on both North and South islands had nice hiking trails, thousands of them.

New Zealand Is a Hiking Paradise

One of our favorite ways to see a new place is by hiking. Especially after days on the boat, it’s a great way to stretch your legs and get fresh air. Sometimes you get to commune with local wildlife and people too!

hiking trail Greymouth South Island
An inviting trail in Greymouth, South Island

Some of our favorite places for hiking are The Marquesas and Curaçao, thanks to a variety of beautiful trails. New Zealand hiking is even better for variety and quality. The sheer number of well laid out trails means you can pretty much go hiking anywhere. It’s practically impossible to get lost because they are so maintained and marked.

Let's go Tramping sign
A well marked New Zealand trail

Brian and I marvel at the work that went into building these trails and then maintaining them. Someone has to bring loads of lumber into the forests to erect the stairs! Someone else carried in steel to build a bridge to cross the river. We are impressed at New Zealand’s trail infrastructure and reaped the benefits.

Pelorus swing Bridge
We hiked across this swing bridge on the South Island

Add to that the lack of dangerous animals and a temperate climate, and hiking in New Zealand is nearly perfect.

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New Zealand Road Trip Route

Our two month campervan road trip of New Zealand is over and we had a great time. The New Zealand road trip route took us from Tauranga, North Island to Fiordland in the South and back. We drove over 6200km and saw countless beautiful sights.

Freedom camping near the beach in Hawkes Bay
Freedom camping near Napier, Hawkes Bay

Planning Our New Zealand Road Trip Route

Small as New Zealand is – equivalent to Colorado – there’s a lot to see and do. Before we hopped in the van, we didn’t have much of a plan besides seeing as much as we could. We bookmarked Lonely Planet, read people’s blogs, and used Google Maps to decide where to go and what to do.

Once we started driving, we only knew where we were going next. Then, as the days progressed, we booked two things weeks in advance: the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise, and the Kaikoura Coastal Walk. Everything else we booked a day or two in advance or last minute.

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South Africa’s Garden Route

South Africa’s garden route is beautiful and world renowned as a great road trip. We drove from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, with stops in between, and the views were gorgeous.

About South Africa’s Garden Route

Technically, The Garden Route begins west of Stellenbosch, our first stop after Cape Town, and runs from Mossel Bay in the west to Storms River in the east, so we covered that and then some.

South Africa's Garden Route map
Garden Route map

Between Stellenbosch and Port Elizabeth, there are a lot of beautiful stops to make!

Oak Valley Wines

Oak Valley Estate on South Africa's Garden Route
Nice view with some wine at Oak Valley

Oak Valley was one of those fortuitous stops along South Africa’s garden route because we needed a break from the car. Plus, we had driven to the fringes of the wine region, and we wanted to visit another winery while we could. This was a good choice: the estate has beautiful grounds and some nice wines too!

On the way back to the highway, we stopped at an incredible “farm stand”/tourist attraction, where we stocked up on picnic foods and local craft cider.

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Cape Town Attractions

We spent four days in Cape Town and there was a lot to do!  On top of the walking tour, MOCAA and the hike up Table Mountain, we explored as much of the city as we could. Here’s a roundup of some other recommended places, the top Cape Town attractions. If you’re planning to visit South Africa for the first time, here’s a list of what to know before you go.

About Cape Town

Located on South Africa’s southwest coast, Cape Town is the capital of the country and its oldest city. The city is beautiful and offers opportunities for outdoor adventure, world class food, museums and more. It’s also conveniently located to The Garden Route and an excellent safari. Read on for some of the top things to do in the city itself.

V&A Waterfront: Top Cape Town Attractions

The V&A is an outdoor shopping mall and is very touristy, with a lot of shops and restaurants. There is a good variety of restaurants, and nice views of the harbour and the mountains. We had good service at the V&A restaurants.

V&A Waterfront Cape Town
V&A Waterfront at night.
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Kayaking With Penguins on the Western Cape

One of the most memorable and fun experiences of our South Africa trip was kayaking south of Cape Town. After our time in the city, we needed another opportunity to commune with nature and animals, so we took a guided tour of the beach home to cape fur seals and penguins in Simon’s Town. We loved kayaking with penguins on the Western Cape. You can do it too!

Paddle with Penguins

The two hour tour is called Paddle with the Penguins.  That much time spent on a kayak in the bay allowed us to see penguins and more wildlife. We were really lucky with the weather, which was warm and cloudy, and the sea, which was calm.

Our guide, Terry, a marine conservationist with Shark Warrior Adventure Centre, was a trove of information about the penguins. He also led us near seals and sea birds and told us all about these marine animals and their home in Simon’s Town, all while guiding 8 of us through the very calm but busy waters of False Bay.

kayaking with penguins western cape tour
Getting ready to kayak False Bay
And Seals!

The seals came as a complete surprise to us, and they were beautiful and plentiful! Many seals were lying on the rocks, and some of them swam around our kayaks. They are very playful and fun and got quite close to us!

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