Over the summer of 2017/2018 I embarked on the Sweet as South Contiki around the South Island of beautiful New Zealand. I hadn’t been to the South Island before, so I was as excited as any other tourist… if you can even call yourself a tourist when you’re from Auckland, that is!
As a 23-year-old, it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to ever see the snowy mountain tops of the Southern Alps, or experience the iconic taste of a Queenstown Fergburger, it was just a matter of when.
So why choose a Contiki to do so? There were five specific reasons why I chose to go with a tour company to explore my own backyard…
It’s easy as, bro
One of the greatest perks of doing a Contiki is that the transport and accommodation is all included. I could have hired a car (a popular thing to do when visiting New Zealand) or even taking good ol’ public transport around the place. It’s not like it was a foreign country where you drive on the opposite side of the road or can’t read the road signs! But I was looking for a holiday, and for me, a holiday entails being relaxed – not stressed about Google Maps or late public buses.
All about the company you keep
Yes, I could have tried to organise a group of fellow Aucklander friends to take the trip with me. I likely would have needed to postpone the trip for a later date (to give a friend or two more time to save money) or compromise on which date we booked, as it also depended on when we could all get annual leave from our jobs. But with Contiki, friends are included, too! Just show up solo and you’ll be making new buddies in no time.
For the New Year’s Eve adventures
What better way to see in the New Year than with your newfound Contiki pals? We spent NYE at Franz Josef Glacier, a gorgeous little township surrounded by snowcapped mountains and forests. Before I booked my trip, I had absolutely zero plans for NYE. My friends were going to be scattered all over, or otherwise pre-occupied with plans that were organised months in advance. In the end, I guess you could say I had the most enviable NYE out of all of them!
Getting to see it all
It’s no secret that a tour is a brilliant way to get around the main sights of any particular country (or region) – and it’s the same when exploring your own country. The main destinations that our tour encompassed were Christchurch, Queenstown, Franz Josef, Dunedin and Lake Ohau. So, what better way to see it all than on a pre-packaged tour? Sure, there are more places I’d love to visit in future, but this gave a great taste into the more well-known and popular destinations of the South Island.
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Learning about culture and history
One of my favourite parts of travelling is soaking up all the culture that the world has to offer. It goes without saying that being there in the flesh is so much more fun than reading from a textbook. It’s also safe to say that I learned quite a bit while venturing around the South Island – more than what I already knew of course. But I believe that it’s super important to have a good understanding of the culture, history and land where you come from, wherever you’re from.
I highly recommend doing a Contiki tour around your own backyard; you’ll see it from a different perspective that you may not have seen otherwise. And last but not least, you gain so much more appreciation for it. There’s truly no place like home.