What better way to start the new year than to make the most of the great outdoors in New Zealand. South island is like one big rollercoaster with changing scenery. Lush green rainforest mountains with breathtaking river crossings next to gorges and shores with beautiful beaches that come in all shapes and sizes and waves to match. Lakes in different shades of blue and rivers running so crystal clear and ice cold you wouldn’t believe.
The hardest part has been putting it all into words since no amount of (my) pictures can capture the true beauty and magnificent scale of it all. I must have written this post a hundred times in my mind while driving. So here goes version 6277 😉
Picture this. Magnificent mountains with some snowy tops in between, driving thru a valley where crystal clear blue river runs along the road. That’s the road from Picton to Westport. Breathtaking views, crossing one lane bridges and little creeks, while the winding road takes you past lookouts and campsites where families have stopped to enjoy a gorgeous summer day. Once you get to the west coast there’s the Tasman sea waiting for you. Wow! Next stop Punakaiki. A small town ninety km south of Westport that has no petrol station, no shops or an atm. Sounds perfect. Only down side is that I am only staying here for one night in the cutest little hostel on the beach. Beach seems to go on for miles. There’s loads of driftwood. After a nice walk on the beach a small crowd starts to gather to watch the sunset.
I wake up early to continue my trip, first stop the Pancake rocks just at the end of the beach. Next stop is the Franz Josef glacier. It’s a hot day but since I’m headed to a glacier I decide to put on a hoodie. It’s almost too much. Still getting closer to the glacier you start to feel the breeze from above. Today you are no longer able to walk up to the glacier but 250 meters is quite close enough. It really is quite intimidating. You can see the change before your eyes. Water gushing down to the river down in the valley. Makes you think. Tonight I’m staying in a nice little hostel in Haast.
Saturday. Today I get to see the girls in Queenstown. Along the way there are more mountains, lakes and blue pools of ice cold water. I want to stop at every lookout. Passing more amazing campsites I’m now really looking forward to our camping trip.
Queenstown is a cool little town by Lake Wakatipu. Filled with all sorts of extreme activities, from skydiving and bungy to horse riding, jet boats and mountain biking. It’s the home of bungy so what can you expect! Ha!
The girls are there already. Lovely to meet new people and to explore this part of the country, in true outdoor adventure style, camping! After one days rest in Queenstown we start our journey towards The Fjordlands and Te Anau and Milford. Our plan is to camp out for three nights along the Milford road. Luckily the area has plenty of campsites to choose from and you don’t need to book, well you can’t, even though it’s high season.
First night. Campsite is by a river like most here with plenty of space. The views are to die for. It’s been a long and hot day, so I decide to take a dip in the river. Wow it’s refreshing! Feels great! Not the easiest of access but with a little imagination you can have a good wash there 🙂
For the next day we have booked a cruise on the Milford sound. Another early wake up and we are on our way to Milford. Passing more magnificent scenery we decide to stop on our way back. Milford sound, which is really a fjord is like a little piece of Norway. Once we reach the Tasman sea and turn around the clouds lift to reveal the mountain tops, it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon. These views leave you speechless. We get to see some seals sunbathing on rocks. I can recommend this to everyone! On our way back from Milford we see more of the local wild life, the mountain parrot Kea. Many of the campsites are quite busy by now but eventually we find an empty one with spectacular views and access to river. After a short walk along the river bed we get to a true gem of a swimming spot in the big river! Has to be the coolest place I have ever swam in and views to match! Our very own private lagoon and crystal clear if icy cold water. With the best camp fire on Milford road that evening thanks to Riika 🙂 we enjoy a lovely meal that evening. Perfect way to end a perfect day! That night I dream there is a small earthquake while I’m lying in my tent. Later turns out it wasn’t a dream! Wow!
On our last camping day we head down to Lake Manapouri. Another little piece of heaven by a quiet beach. What more can you ask for? Well maybe little less sandflies would be nice. Next day we return to Queenstown via Arrowtown and finally have a swim in Lake Wakatipu as well. For dinner we have the famous Ferg burgers 🙂 Thank you Queenstown! It’s been an absolute pleasure!
It has been THE BEST road trip in lovely company, thank you Riika, Anna, Nush and Andrea, it was a joy to share this with you! I’m off on my own again, still unable to operate the damn radio in the car because it’s in Japanese!! So I will continue this journey while listening to This Is War and Sonic Highways. Not bad at all! 🙂 After leaving Queenstown I have witnessed the steepest street in the world in Dunedin, some blue penguins in Oamaru and the wonderful Moeraki boulders, not to mention seeing a glimpse of the life of rebuilding Christchurch. Next stop, the amazing Kaikoura!
In a charming small sea side town Kaikoura I get to see more wildlife. Large seal colonies and whales cruising along the shore! Temperature must be close to 30 degrees! Sweet as! The time has come to leave this paradise for now. So much was left for the next trip and hope it will be sooner rather than later. Back to explore the amazing north island! Here are some views from the south!