The Catlins was one of my top destinations to visit in the South Island of New Zealand. Known for its numerous waterfalls, long stretches of beach, and beautiful sunsets, the Catlins is a not-to-be-missed destination of the South Island. This is how to spend 24 hours in the Catlins.

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

How to Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

The Catlins is a roughly four hour drive from Queenstown, which makes it difficult to do a day trip. I booked an airbnb for two nights, and we drove from the Milford Sound. It was a long day of driving, and we got in late. We just enough time to make dinner and watch the sunset over the beach before going to sleep.

In the morning, we had a leisurely brekky at the airbnb and mapped out our adventure with the help of our host. We decided to drive all the way to the farthest place we wanted to visit and then stop at each destination on the way back.

Our rental car took us all the way to McLean Falls for our first stop. McLean Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Catlins, and is pretty impressive. I am a fan!

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

We stopped at the Whistling Frog on the way back from the waterfall for a spot of lunch. I asked about vegan options and the staff was super accommodating, making me a “veggie burger” (roasted veggies inside a bun).

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

Next, we had a quick stop off at Florence Hill Lookout. What a view!

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

Our next stop was The Lost Gypsy. Jenny, our Airbnb host, had described this magical place as a bus filled with little creations. Having no idea what that meant, we stopped in. I’m so happy we did, because this turned out to be a highlight of the day.

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

This old bus is filled with little creations that the owner has spent years and years making. It is a fantastic way to spend an hour. I could have easily spent an entire day in here.

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

A little coffee shop outside sells matcha lattes, coffees, and teas.

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

Don’t go to The Catlins without stopping here!!

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

Next, we headed to the famous Purakaunui Falls. This is the most well-known waterfall in The Catlins, for good reason. It’s a triple-tiered waterfall that is uber-photogenic. In the short time we were there, I saw at least five photographers with tripods and multiple lenses rock up.

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

One of the last, and best, stops was the Nugget Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was what I was most looking forward to visiting, but I didn’t want to go until sunset. This area got the name “nugget point” because when the sun sets, it glows on these little rocks, making them look like golden nuggets. How cute is that?!

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

The sunset was magical at Nugget Point Lighthouse. It may have been made even more magical with a cheeky bottle of New Zealand Sauv Blanc and a little spotting of seals and penguins.

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

How To Spend 24 Hours in The Catlins

The Catlins is an amazing place in New Zealand, I would highly recommend making time for a stop. This was how to spend 24 hours in the Catlins.

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You can’t visit the South Island of New Zealand without planning at least one day in Wanaka. Known for the beautiful Lake Wanaka, the Wanaka Tree, and the endless sights to see, Wanaka is a nature-lovers’ paradise. This is how to spend a day in Wanaka.

How to Spend a Day In Wanaka

How to Spend a Day in Wanaka

If you’re staying in Queenstown, the drive to Wanaka will take you just about an hour through Crown Range. Start your day off with a tour of the gorgeous Wanaka Lavender Farm, which is just on the outside of Wanaka.

Wanaka Lavender Farm

The Wanaka Lavender Farm consists of a little building stuffed with lavender-scented goodies and an absolutely adorable café serving up teas and cakes. You can take a tour of the farm and gardens for $2 in the off-season (from March to November) and just $5 during the high season (from December to February). Just pay in the shop, there is no need to book in advance. The entry fee grants you access to the gardens, which you can wander through at your own pace. There are animals on the property, including alpacas, sheep, bulls, a furry pig, and two ponies. The ponies are the friendliest and love being pet.

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

After a stroll through the gardens, take a break with a pot of tea in the little café. I ordered a lavender tea, and Michael ordered the strawberry plum. The café has the cutest, most relaxing tea-time vibes, with dried lavender hanging from the walls and beautiful photo books from which you can learn more about farming lavender and the uses of this medicinal plant.

 How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

The Wanaka Tree

Once you’ve had enough of the lavender farm, stop by the famous Wanaka Tree for a classic tourist photo. The Wanaka Tree is a well-known icon in this little town as it’s been growing for over 70 years in Lake Wanaka. Any time of year would be wonderful to visit this cute little tree; we went in autumn which was beautiful with the trees changing colors on the outskirts of the lake.

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

This could also be a great picnic spot, as there are a few tables just a short walk down the lake.

 The Blue Pools

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

After the Wanaka Tree, take a little bit of a drive to the beautiful Blue Pools. These crystal-clear pools are known for their bright blue color and pristinely clear waters. The walk from the parking lot will take 20 minutes to get to the pools. Once you get to the pools, you’ll walk over a suspension bridge for your first views of the blue river. If there has recently been rain, the color of the water may be a bit murky or green. Waiting a few days post-rain will give you the best color. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun, the fresh air, and dipping your toes in this refreshing water. Don’t forget your sand fly repellent as they are swarming this area.

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka

When you’ve had enough of the Blue Pools, hop in the car for the two hour drive back to Queenstown. Take the scenic route and stop at a winery or two in Otago. We stopped at an absolutely amazing organic winery called Aurum Wines. I highly recommend making the stop here for a quick tasting. Grab a bottle to take back to Queenstown and watch the sun set over the lake.

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka : Wine Tasting

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka : Wine Tasting

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka : Wine Tasting

How to Spend A Day in Wanaka : Wine Tasting

 

Wanaka is a beautiful area and a destination not to be missed on your trip to Queenstown. This was how to spend a day in Wanaka.

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There are so many things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand. When I looked into visiting, I knew I’d want to go on a few rewarding hikes. The Ben Lomond trail in Queenstown kept coming up as one of the best hikes in the city, so I put it on the itinerary.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown, New Zealand

The Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown is classified as a challenging hike. It’s not recommended for those who aren’t in good physical shape. Bringing children on this hike would not be a good idea.

There are a few ways you can hike this trail. The first option is by starting on the Tiki Trail, which is at the bottom of the Skyline Gondola. This is said to be the locals way of hiking this trek. The second option is to take the gondola up to Bob’s Peak and start the hike from there. This will carve off about an hour of steep inclines.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

 

Both Michael and I have past injuries in our knees, which makes long, steep hikes difficult and painful. Because of this, we decided to opt for the second option of taking the gondola up to Bob’s Peak to start the trek. Though this option is definitely more expensive (it’s $35 per person for a return ticket on the gondola), we figured it would be the better option due to a late start and our physical conditions.

From the top of the gondola, the trek up the Ben Lomond trail in Queenstown will take you about 2.5 hours. We stopped a fair amount for water, and also had a lunch break on the way up. This made our time about three hours from the gondola to the peak.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

The trail is composed of mostly constant incline. There are very few flat areas, which coupled with the altitude, makes this a very challenging hike. Bring some snacks to keep your sugars up, and make sure to take lots of water breaks.

The top of the mountain has absolutely stunning views of Lake Wakatipu. This is the only place in Queenstown that you’ll get 360 degree views like this (unless you take a helicopter tour). Though the hike up is very difficult, the view at the top was completely worth the hard work it took to get there.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

We even found snow at the top and made little snowballs to throw at each other.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

A not-so-little native Kea bird frequents the summit. He was trying to get food and even got into one girls bag and stole her tobacco! Watch your bags if he is there, as he is able to open backpacks with his beak (you can tell he has experience). The locals request that people do not feed the Kea birds, as this will promote these behaviors.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown : Mistakes & Successes

We made a few mistakes on this hike, the main one being that we brought one backpack between the two of us. With enough water for two, lunch, snacks, and layers packed into a 28 liter backpack, our bag weighed about 10 kg. This added another challenge to the hike.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

The best thing we did on this hike: pack enough water, bring lots of snacks (I’m obsessed with vanilla Bliss Balls – shown above – or Tom & Lukes Salted Caramel balls), and wear sunblock and hats! We also brought plenty of layers, which we took on and off often.

Something to keep in mind while doing this trek: allow yourself enough daylight hours! We had a late start (due to the bathroom at our airbnb being occupied for 2 hrs in the morning…), and by the time we got to the top of the gondola, it was already past 11 am. Be prepared to take loads of photos from Bob’s Peak before heading off. We started the actual hike around noon, and we arrived back to the gondola at 5:30 PM. During the autumn months, the sun sets around 7:45 PM.

Be prepared to pee outside on this hike. There are no toilets after the gondola. However, I did find one big rock just past the saddle that when hidden behind, was perfect for a pee break. Have your hiking partner keep a look-out though; this is a busy trail!

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Overall, the Ben Lomond trail in Queenstown was one of the most amazing hikes I’ve ever completed. The views are amazing all the way up, the terrain is constantly changing, and the summit is just breathtaking. I highly recommend trying it out if you are in Queenstown (and physically able!).

 

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A fitting post right after the Best Coffee in Auckland, today is all about how I keep my teeth white while continuing my love affair with coffee. We all know that coffee can be so staining to your teeth (it doesn’t help that I’m also obsessed with chocolate & red wine), but just because I love coffee, chocolate, and red wine, doesn’t mean I need to have yellow teeth. This post is all about whitening coffee stains (stay tuned to the end to win your own whitening kit!)

How I Whiten My Teeth

How I Whiten Coffee Stains

I am a bit obsessed with having white teeth. In the past, I’ve tried everything from whitening toothpaste, to brushing my teeth with black charcoal, to whitestrips. I’ve gotten different results from all of them.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a whitening product produced by Smile Brilliant. I had never used whitening trays before, but it seems like it would make the most sense to whiten quickly and effectively.

When using Smile Brilliant, you get to have custom made trays to fit to your teeth. I was really excited about this and had a great time with the molds, making my own little trays! The trays were delivered quickly and I got to whitening.

My favorite part about this system is the desensitizing gel that I get to use after whitening. While using whitestrips in the past, I had a lot of teeth sensitivity. The desensitizing gel really decreased the sensitivity of my teeth after each session – sometimes, I had absolutely no sensitivity on my teeth.

How I Whiten My Teeth

I used three syringes of whitening gel in three months. You can whiten your teeth for anywhere between forty five minutes to three hours. The longest I left mine in was an hour and a half, though my teeth were really sensitive the next day even after the desensitizing gel.

I’d recommend working up to leaving it in longer, not just jumping in full force like me. I loved whitening my teeth while watching Netflix! It feels like you’re being productive while watching TV.

I whitened every other day, or three days a week.

How I Whiten My Teeth

How I Whiten My Teeth

Though my teeth were already pretty white to begin with (told you I was obsessed with whitening 😉 ), I found that my teeth got a bit brighter after using the Smile Brilliant system.

How I Whiten My Teeth

How I Whiten My Teeth

I tend to get dull looking teeth due to drinking black coffee every day. Though I love coffee, the downside of this is that it wreaks havoc on my teeth! The good news is that whitening can help, but the bad news is that drinking coffee after whitening (even the next morning) can cause re-staining. That doesn’t help for whitening coffee stains. Luckily, with Smile Brilliant, you can drink your coffee and have white teeth too!

Overall, I am really happy with the results. I am now more confident with my smile and am no longer worried about my teeth looking yellow or dull.

How I Whiten My Teeth

 

I love the results and can’t wait to see what Smile Brilliant can do for your teeth. If you’d like to win $149 credit to get your own Smile Brilliant kit, click here to enter the giveaway.

If you don’t want to wait, use the code amandaroundtheglobe15 to get 15% off your order at Smile Brilliant.


Tooth Whitening Gel

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As a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast living in New Zealand for the past four months, I’ve spent my time scouting out the best coffee in Auckland. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee In Auckland

Kokako Cafe

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

This little gem is hiding just South of the city in a barely labelled building. (What is it with Auckland cafes not having signs outside??) Step inside for bright, sunny Sunday morning vibes. The cafe is filled with tables, coffee drinkers, and smells of brunch. Kokako roasts coffee themselves, which is all brewed here at the cafe, to pair with your brekky. Not only do they have remarkable coffee, but their menu is incredibly vegan-friendly. Kokako should be a do-not-miss on your trip to Auckland, as this one tops my list for Best Coffee in Auckland!

Rad Coffee

Best Coffee in Auckland

My first stop was the hipster-friendly, Mount Eden cafe called Rad. The name says it all – this cafe is completely Rad. The coffee is amazing, the menu has a cheeky twist to it, and the decor is simple and modern. While living in Mount Eden, this was my go-to coffee spot. If you live nearby, make sure to get a coffee card, and you’ll get your 8th coffee free.

Atomic Coffee Roasters

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

Another favorite was Atomic Coffee Roasters. This modest cafe is simple on the outside, but bustling with hipster vibes on the inside. The employees rock mohawks and piercings, and are never nametagged. Michael and I enjoyed the coffee, ugly bagels, and free sparkling water. Unlike many cafes in Auckland, Atomic has free wifi as well.

Allpress Cafe

Ahhh, the famous Allpress. This little coffee roaster is brewed throughout New Zealand AND Australia at many a coffee shop. Known for their incredible array of beans and designed for flavour, Allpress is a well-known brand of coffee beans throughout Australia and the Shaky Isles. I was excited to head to their little cafe in Ponsonby for a coffee from the source. The cafe is tiny, as are their cups of coffee to be had on-site, but the flavor will hit you like the bright sun on a Sunday morning. If you need a wake-up, head to Allpress. It’s easy to see how Allpress made the list of Best Coffee in Auckland.

My favorite thing about this little cafe is the availability of specialty roasts, like Rangitoto & Ponsonby. What a great little gift to bring home!

Petit Bocal

Best Coffee Auckland

If it’s latte art you’re after, head to Sandringham to the adorable French cafe, Petit Bocal. Known to have the best latte art in Auckland, Petit Bocal will not let you down. In the instances I’ve been, I’ve had a kitten and a Santa Claus in my coffee (head there on Christmas Eve if you’re searching for Santa). They don’t have many vegan options on the menu, but if you’re hungry you can order a little sourdough baguette with avocado for a delicious brekky.

Best Coffee in Auckland

There is so much amazing coffee in Auckland. I feel like I’d have to live here for years to try it all! I love coffee and have thoroughly enjoyed all of these coffee shops.

What do you look for in a good coffee shop?

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