How to Spend Your Midterm Break in New Zealand - Part II

Nov 11, 2019 9:14:00 AM / by Minh Ta

As promised, Minh delivers part 2 of his adventure-packed trip to breathtaking New Zealand. In this blog, Minh shares mountain and lake views from his road trip, and shares photos of some pals he meets along the way. Trust us, you won't want to miss this!

This blog is a continued story from last week’s blog. If you haven’t checked that out already, click here to explore the first part of my New Zealand adventure. Other than that, let’s get started!


Let’s pick up where we left off. I mentioned the thermal activities in Rotorua in the last blog. In fact, I did check out the geysers and hot springs in Rotorua! It takes about 20 minutes to get to the geysers in Te Puia. The geysers were so astonishing and stunning that pictures alone would not describe it all.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Rotorua Geysers in Te PuiaRotorua Geysers in Te Puia.

After the long walk, I was really tired but I heard about the magical hot springs that could cure any exhaustion. I was a little doubtful but seriously, the springs were the reason why the township of Rotorua was created. After discovering the hot pools and its wonderful effects, the government built up a spa utilizing the hot springs and a town surrounding it and that is how Rotorua comes into existence. Why would this spa do any good you might ask. There is a legend of a man who walked for a while and got wounded on the way, but he discovered the hot springs in Rotorua. After dipping himself into the spring, he was surprised that his legs were cured and he was able to walk back home again right after leaving the hot pools. Even though I am not sure if that is a legitimate story or is it just an advertisement, the hot pools really did work. I came out of the spa at around 9 so I couldn’t really go anywhere afterward. If I knew how vitalizing it was, I would probably head to the spa earlier so that I can plan out something else in the evening. Regardless, it was all good relaxing in my comfortable bed after a long day.


My schedule was really tight so I had to catch my taxi at 3 in the morning. I spent the day getting back to Auckland and flying down to Queenstown. The fun really started in the afternoon when I got my hands on my rental car. I am really up for some scenic adventures.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Mountain View from Queenstown WaterfrontMountain view from Queenstown waterfront.

Day 1 - Arrival & Quick Prep

The very first thing I did after I settled everything down in my Airbnb room was to check out Queenstown Central. My accommodation was 15 minutes away from Queenstown CBD (Central Business District) so I had to hurry. After a quick TripAdvisor consulting, I chose to stop by Fergburger for a quick dinner and it lived up to its promises. As a Queenstown must-try, Fergburger delivered a rich burger experience at a reasonable price. It cost me $NZ 15 for a giant fish burger and I swear that is one of the best burgers I have tasted. I ended the night with a visit to a grocery store on my way home to stock up for tomorrow’s road trip to Mt. Cook. Keep on reading because Mt. Cook is gorgeous!

Day 2 - Hit The Road

Roadmap: Queenstown - Twizel (High Country Salmon Farm) - Mt. Cook

This road trip was probably the whole point of my New Zealand trip. I had been waiting for this for so long and it’s finally here.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Mt. Cook Road PhotoRoad to Mt. Cook.

We took a few pictures here and there along the road. I was so tempted for the fresh salmon though! It took about 3 and a half hours to get to Twizel. I chose Twinzel as my lunch stop because I LOVE salmon sashimi. On this farm, you’ll get salmon as fresh as it gets. No preservation, not frozen, entirely fresh.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Fresh Salmon Curry - CopyFresh salmon curry.

And then here we are, at the iconic road leading to Mt. Cook. I drove back after hanging around for another while. Here are some other photos I took during the road trip.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_New Zealand Cow FarmNew Zealand cow farm.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Beautiful New Zealand Mountain and Lake - Copy - CopyBeautiful New Zealand mountain and lake.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Snowy Lindis PassSnowy Lindis Pass.

Day 3 - Arrowtown & Glenorchy

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Arrowtown - The Gold Mine TownArrowtown - The Gold Mine Town.

Have you ever wondered what a gold mining town would look like in real life? Look no further because it’s just 15 minutes away from Queenstown. You will surely find yourself immersed in the life of a gold miner in the 19th century. The experience of the settlers who have discovered this gold mine nearly 200 years ago is still passing down to today’s generation through various stories and artifacts.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Arrowtown Chinese Settlement - CopyArrowtown Chinese Settlement.

Realizing that I still had half a day left and I hadn’t seen an alpaca yet, I drove to Glenorchy to meet my new buds.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_My New Bud AlpacaMy New Bud Alpaca.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Cute Baby Sheeps Lying on the Field - CopyCute baby sheep laying in the field.

Day 4 - Departure & the Unexpected

According to my plan, I was supposed to end my adventure in New Zealand on this day. Luckily, I checked my email before heading out to the airport and found out that my flight got canceled and rearranged to the day after. I was slightly disappointed but a day extra in Queenstown was fine too. As a result, I had to arrange another accommodation though and lucky for me the apartment had a lovely view of the mountain range across the river.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Kevin Heights Through My Bedroom Window - CopyKevin Heights through my bedroom window.

I took this extra day to visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park in which I saw some Kiwi birds for the first time and took more photos along the way. Unfortunately, Kiwis are nocturnal birds and are very sensitive to light so I could not take any photos of them.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Kiwi Birdlife Park - CopyKiwi Birdlife Park.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall 2019_Sydney_Minh Ta_Scenic Road TripScenic road trip.

All good things must come to an end. It was a memorable trip as I was awed at every moment by New Zealand’s untouched beauty. If I ever have another chance to visit New Zealand in the future, I would not give it a second-guess. If you like this blog or if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line and I would love to share more. Have a wonderful day!

Thanks, Minh!

Minh Ta


Minh Ta is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2019, sharing his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Computer Science and Applied Math major at Augustana College, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Minh's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Sydney, Australia, Local Culture