Wow. What a wonderful trip!
I am currently in the Patumwan House Hotel in Bangkok... I had an overnight layover. My flight yesterday was direct from Auckland to Bangkok and took 11.5 hours. Now there is just a 1.5 hour flight between me and HCMC!
I enjoyed my stay in Wanaka a lot. Great place... beautifully set on the lake with mountains behind. After going to Queenstown my first full day in Wanaka, I woke up my second and last full day in the area... New Year's Eve!... and decided to go on a short hike. The sky was blue and it was the start of a gorgeous day!
The hike I went on was the Mount Iron Hike. The wind had picked up but the sun was still out and I climbed the steep, winding path up to the top. The hike, I believe, was just over 4k and took me about an hour and 10 minutes. The view from the top was great -- panoramic views of Lake Wanaka, the town of Wanaka, sprawling fields, and the surrounding mountains, such as The Remarkables. 'Twas remarkable indeed! Pictures to come soon!
I didn't plan on doing much for New Year's Eve night, as I had a morning flight out of Queenstown the next day... but I ended up eating dinner at the hostel with the lovely Australian lady, Afna, from my dorm room. We chatted for a while and then I played Scrabble with some guys who work in Christchurch. The three guys were from Scotland, Bulgaria, and the US... Chicago! They then got me to go out for a drink but I left early... making it back to the hostel before midnight AND before the rain began :P
My flight from Queenstown to Auckland the next day was fine... and I had a good part of the day left to enjoy Auckland. I like traveling to smaller, quaint towns... but I enjoyed Auckland! Cool city.
Lots of places were closed, being New Year's Day, but I walked to the harbor and then walked around to see the city's public library and the Sky City area with the tower.
Yesterday's long flight went smoothly too and now my fabulous holiday travels are wrapping up! I really, really loved New Zealand. I hope I will be able to make it back there again someday and go to more areas. For now though, it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that was awesome. :)