Time for my third and final New Zealand recap post (here are part 1 and part 2 if you missed them!). From Kaikoura, we set out on our longest drive of seven hours to the opposite side of the South Island to see two glaciers. Yes, glaciers! We visited Fox Glacier first and were there around 8pm. Much to our delight, we were the only people at the national park!
So we goofed around to our heart’s content.
And then had dinner by Lake Matheson and took a hike to see some more glowworms in the forest. We stayed in a rustic lodge that night which had a breakfast room where you basically just helped yourself to whatever you wanted, so Apolinaras made us eggs and toast from homemade bread, mmmm. I was glad we fueled up so well because we tackled the Franz Joseph Glacier hike that morning.
And really enjoyed checking out not one,
but three waterfalls! It’s hard to tell in the last picture, but Apolinaras is actually underneath part of the falls and got pretty wet!
After lunch, we snuck in another hike through the rainforest before heading to Queenstown.
On the way, we spontaneously stopped at a beautiful beach so Apolinaras could go swimming in the ocean again. I call him my water baby sometimes – he just loves swimming, even in freezing cold water!
The roads and views while driving were just incredible. We stopped here for a quick picture – imagine scenes like this around every corner!
After arriving in Queenstown, we headed to Fergburger, which I talked about here. The next morning we went to Fergbakery and shared a brunch spread of lamb pie, carrot cake, chocolate croissants, and coffee, which we enjoyed in a quaint park.
Then we took a gondola up to the top of a mountain for breathtaking views of Queenstown and a ski lift up even further so we could race in a couple of luge rides.
Then we walked all around the city and explored a couple of parks. We enjoyed some fantastic Indian food and one of our bottles of wine from Marlborough that night and sat outside and fed the ducks. It was so peaceful.
The next morning we flew back to Auckland and went up in Sky Tower.
People regularly pay big bucks to jump off Sky Tower and you can also walk around an outside rim of the tower, while attached to safety cords, of course. I would be way too scared to do either, but it was fun watching the brave ones!
We also had coffee and pavlova in Sky Tower and really tasty pizza and gelato that night for our last dinner.
The next morning we checked out the Auckland Museum, where we learned even more about Maori culture. Then we had lunch in the Parnell Quarter, which brought things full circle since it’s also where we had breakfast our very first day of the trip, before flying home. We love hiking, exploring, and being outdoors, so visiting New Zealand was just a perfect vacation for us!
I’ve never been a huge meringue fan, but I really enjoyed my pavlova in Sky Tower. In fact, pavlova just happens to be New Zealand’s national dessert! It’s a meringue shell with a marshmellowy center topped with whipped cream and kiwifruit. I bought a cute retro magnet in Queenstown with a pavlova recipe on it, which I only modified below by adding a bit of cocoa powder. Of course, I had to give my dessert a little twist and topped my pavlova with Nutella mousse and chopped strawberries. This was my first time making meringue so I was pretty proud about how it turned out! Ah New Zealand, I miss you and already want to go back!
Nutella Pavlova with Strawberries
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup castor sugar (also called superfine sugar – the granules are larger than powdered sugar but smaller than granulated sugar – I found some at Whole Foods)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Nutella Mousse and Strawberry Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella
2 cups chopped strawberries
Heat oven to 300°F. Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium high until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Gradually pour in the caster sugar while beating, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Use a spatula to lightly fold in the cocoa powder, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and vinegar. Turn the mixture into the center of a pizza pan lined with parchment paper and shape into a circle with the spatula. Turn the oven down to 285°F and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 250°F and bake for an 1 hour. Turn off oven and let cool completely in the oven.
Meanwhile, make the Nutella mousse. Place heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a well chilled large bowl and beat with a mixer with whisk attachment until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Stir in Nutella until smooth. Top cooled pavlova with Nutella mousse and chopped strawberries. Slice into wedges. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition: 329 calories, 16.8g fat, 1.8g fiber, 4.6g protein per serving
Cost: $0.97 per serving