After 5 Days in New Zealand’s North Island, the three hour InterIslander ferry to the South was errr – bumpy, windy and very choppy! But nothing a glass of Vino can’t solve for – we arrived safe, sound and excited!
New Zealand’s South Island is considered to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth and we now know why – it’s like driving though a continuous nature theme park, where each town is a transition into new breathtaking views, climates and scenery. The only constant seems to be the fact that there are sheep literally everywhere – approx 30 million in total which is seven sheep for every one person!
We 100% get why the Lord of The Rings is filmed here! You’ve got everything from crystal clear blue lakes, acres of vineyards, snow capped mountains, glacier-carved fiords, strong orange sunsets and extraordinary coasts & waterfalls.
And 1,900km and 2 weeks later, here were our favourite views of the the South Island…!
1. The Vineyards of Marlborough Sounds
Our first few days were the best for a wine lover!! We were welcomed to the hundreds of thousands of acres vineyards and sunshine. We drank (and learnt) so much about the famous Marlborough wines and can finally order a glass of wine we like based on the name and description – full wine tasting for dummies blog here. As a bonus, we also think we can match which cheese goes well with it woohoo!!!
2. Nelson Tasman area
Next up, we have Nelson – the sunniest region of NZ. Driving alongside untouched long golden beaches was one of our favourite and peaceful drives – we couldn’t stop stopping along the way for photo opps and coastal walks. Our favourite stops were walking alongside excited dogs down Tahunanui Beach and drinking local wine in Mapua!
3. Abel Tasman National Park
Time for a one-day, flat and easy hike with stunning views of waterfalls and lakes across the cliffs (some people do a 3- day version?!). It ends on a breathtakingly romantic isolated island where you can have a bite to eat with no other tourists around. A must see/do!!
4. Pancake Rocks
What do you think when you hear Pancakes – nopeeeeee, not the edible ones! We hit the pancake rocks in Punakaiki – rocks that look like pancakes because of some sort of erosion! Anndddd, what’s cooler is that the sea shoots through the blowholes in the rocks. Ah you’ve gotta love Mother Nature.
5. The Kiwi
We saw our very first Kiwi (we mean the National bird of NZ, not the fruit!) This rare nocturnal bird is such an awesome lump of cuteness, but you really have to keep your eyes open and have a lot of patience as they are hard to spot!
6. Hokitika Sunset
Hokitika town is a really nice spot to chill and relax, but the best part is that you’re a stones throw away from a beach where you can see the most exaggerated sunset with the Southern Alps in both directions – a must see!
7. Arthur’s Pass
The road taking you from Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch was one of the best drives on the trip for mountainous views. We also randomly passed a town called Springfield which has a donut structure dedicated to the Simpsons!
This city is practically a walking museum following the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011! The city roads are surrounded by collapsed buildings, empty un-liveable housing, memorial sites, inspirational street art and never ending construction sites. But with bars, restaurants and shops scattered around the city, it was great to see the progress that’s already been made. Check out what we did with 24 Hours in Christchurch City!
9. Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki
We saw a number of lakes in the South Island, but these two were our favourite. They had the best elements of nature combined into one photo – orange sunshine glistening over naturally aqua blue water with snowy Mount Cook in the background. We couldn’t resist spending extra time there than planned soaking in peaceful, calming environment.
10. Mount Cook
Another spectacular windy drive up to the majestic Southern Alps. The best moment was taking a helicopter flight right up to Mt.Cook and landing right in the middle of the Tasman glacier. You are surrounded by nothing but snow and a few little huts used as base camps for the extreme hikers or skiers.
11. Doubtful Sounds
After the snowy weather conditions stopped us from visiting Milford Sounds, we decided to do Doubtful Sounds instead. The drive up was like being in Narnia – inches of snow covering the roads, trees and mountains. We then took a boat trip to see the Doubtful Sounds, and although it was freezing, the fiord views on the outside deck were worth it! The rainy and snowy weather definitely had it’s advantages – – waterfalls were created and the seals were out to play!
Welcome to backpacker and tourist central where you are required to do two things; firstly, eat the famous Fergburger and indulge yourself in an adrenaline inducing activity (we opted for Luging and Jet Boating to burn off the Fergburger!)
And after Amar finally learnt how to use the camper van dumpster, it’s time for an emotional goodbye to New Zealand!