Cook Islands, New Zealand, South Pacific

New Year Started with a Journey to New Zealand

Belated, Happy New Year to you all! Over the Christmas to New Year 2016, we took a 3 weeks vacation to the furthest place we could possibly reached by flight using miles – New Zealand! Our journey routing was quite not the ordinary…instead of going straight to New Zealand, we started with Tahiti, French Polynesia to spent the Christmas. Then, we catch their once a week Saturday Air Tahiti flight to Rarotonga. I bet when I said Rarotonga, most of the people would be clueless of where in the world that is! Let’s try this…how about Cook Islands? None of my coworkers ever heard of Cook Islands! Have you? We visited 2 of the 15 islands that made up Cook Islands: Aitutaki and Rarotonga (its capital). Aitutaki is the world’s 2nd most beautiful lagoon next to Bora Bora, I totally agree with that statement. Its sandbars are “heaven on earth”! I am sure after I show you photos, you’ll add it to your bucket list! If French Polynesia is too expensive for you, consider the Cook Islands! The only downfall is that there’s no such thing as free wifi in the Cook Islands and it’s VERY expensive. If you want to unplug from the rest of the world then it’s a perfect place to do so! After spending the New Year in Cook Islands, we took the Air New Zealand flight directly to Auckland, New Zealand! We did a few nights in the North Island and rest of the time in the scenic South Island. Here is our itinerary:

  • Thursday 12/24/2015 Boston to LAX to PPT
  • Friday 12/25/2015 Tahiti
  • Saturday 12/26/2015 Tahiti to Rarotonga to Aitutaki
  • Sunday 12/27/2015 Aitutaki
  • Monday 12/28/2015 Aitutaki
  • Tuesday 12/29/2015 Aitutaki
  • Wednesday 12/30/2015 Aitutaki to Rarotonga
  • Thursday 12/31/2015 Rarotonga
  • Friday 1/1/2016 Rarotonga
  • Saturday 1/2/2016 Rarotonga to Auckland
  • Sunday 1/3/2016 Arriving Auckland
  • Monday 1/4/2016 Auckland
  • Tuesday 1/5/2016 Auckland to Rotorua
  • Wednesday 1/6/2016 Rotorua
  • Thursday 1/7/2016 Auckland to Queenstown to Lake Tekapo
  • Friday 1/8/2016 Lake Tekapo
  • Saturday 1/9/2016 Lake Tekapo To Dunedin
  • Sunday 1/10/2016 Dunedin
  • Monday 1/11/2016 Dunedin to Milford Sound to Te Anau
  • Tuesday 1/12/2016 Te Anau to Lake Wanaka
  • Wednesday 1/13/2016 Lake Wanaka to Queenstown
  • Thursday 1/14/2016 Queenstown
  • Friday 1/15/2016 Queenstown
  • Saturday 1/16/2016 Queenstown to Auckland
  • Sunday 1/17/201 6 Midnight flight Auckland to Honolulu to LAX to Philly to Boston

Here are some photos to give you a preview of our trip, stay tuned for upcoming trip reports! Be patient, there will be a lot of photos to review and edit 🙂

Christmas performance at the Intercontinental Tahiti
Amazing sandbars and milky blue lagoon of Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Milky blue lagoon of Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Most colorful sunset I have ever seen in Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Most colorful sunset I have ever seen in Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Colorful volcanic valley at Rotorua
Driving to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
3 hours hike at Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
Lake Pukaki, the bright aqua color lake that no Photoshop is needed!
I have never seen so much stars with my eyes at Lake Tekapo! Milky way and the two Magellanic Clouds (can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere)!
Tested my balance on the boulders at the Moeraki Boulders Beach
After the two hours cruise of the famous Milford Sound
Driving from Te Anau to Queenstown via the Devil Staircase
Zig-zagging up the mountain via the Crown Range Rd to Lake Wanaka
The most scenic drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy

17 thoughts on “New Year Started with a Journey to New Zealand

  1. New Zealand and French Polynesia are the parts of the world that I probably won’t be able to go until retirement. Your pictures are amazing and I feel content for now just looking at them. I will be following your adventures religiously.

  2. Wow that’s ultimate list of a lifetime.
    more pictures pls and details how you earn and redeem those miles. How cold is it in New Zealand?
    Cook Islands indeed is a secret paradise.

    1. People said that New England weather changes fast, they probably never been to New Zealand lol! It could be sunshine blue sky one minute and then cloudy and raining the next! But the North Island was warm to hot up to mid-80’s during the day while the South Island was cold to warm around 60’s to lower 70’s. I am working on the post on how I redeem miles to get to New Zealand 🙂 Cook Islands is definitely a secret gem!

  3. Can’t wait to learn about your NZ trip report! NZ is in our bucket list but we have no choice but to leave NZ out for this year. Until we get our int’ driving licence … 🙁

    1. Nope all gone 🙁 They peak end of Nov and we were there early Jan so all gone. But there were plenty of lupines still in full bloom on the way to Lake Tekapo, I guess it’s windy at the lake so they didn’t last long. And then on the way to Milford Sound, we stopped by a field of lupines, it was beautiful!

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