Our final leg of the month long holiday in New Zealand sees us driving up along the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. A rugged, tempestuous landscape, we explored glaciers, wetlands, wild water bodies and finally, crossed Arthurs' Pass back to Christchurch. In Part 2, we bring you with us over Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers by helicopter; and to Hokitika and a spooky campervan park where the kids swear they saw a phantom handprint pressed against the roof of Swiftly...
Our final leg of the month long holiday in New Zealand sees us driving up along the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. A rugged, tempestuous landscape, we explored glaciers, wetlands, wild water bodies and finally, crossed Arthurs' Pass back to Christchurch. In Part 1, we bring you through the start of Haast Pass, the beginning of Glacier Country, through to Fox Glacier.
On our second day in Queenstown, we took a bus ride through the mountains and Te Anau to Milford Sound, where we enjoyed a leisurely cruise, and a breath taking flight through the snow capped mountains back to town.
Our adventure continues in a 3 part blog on Queenstown...where we rode a gondola, a luge, a bus, a ferry, some horses, and even a biplane! In this 1st instalment of 3 parts, you'll see the ooey, gooey, crispy tacos we had, as well as our ride down the Skyline Luge. As an added bonus, lots and lots of bras...Read on to find out why!
After Aoraki/Mount Cook, we drove down to Lake Wanaka, which we were told, was beautiful. As usual - honestly, New Zealand, are any of your lakes NOT beautiful?
En route: Twizel and Ahuriri River
We drove past Lake Pukaki again on our way Southward, through Ben Ohau, and Twizel where we had a wonderful stopover and lunch. Check out Anais' cookie that's larger than her face!
There were also some interesting shops in this small town, including this one that sold curious room sprays...and no, I did not test them to see what they smelt like, although now I wish I had! I must have been under the weather that day not to have done so...
Along the way to Wanaka, we also chanced upon the Ahuriri River and its banks swelling with Lupine flowers. We simply had to take more family shots before heading off again toward Wanaka.
We bagged a lovely spot at Lake Outlet Holiday Park, a quiet, well supplied campervan park by the lake and we decided to head into town to check out the activities there. Not being super keen on crowds in Queenstown, we went ahead with a GoJets Wanaka Jetboat ride as we had been told that the waterways in Wanaka were much less crowded.
The GoJets team can pick you up from the Wanaka i-Site (tourist information site) on Ardmore Street or arrange a courtesy vehicle from your accommodation.
True enough, we pretty much had the whole river to ourselves! After a safety briefing, and a cheeky grin, the boat pilot Patrick asked us to hold on tight, and we found ourselves rushing down the mighty Clutha River. We went past several gold mining areas, the source of wealth in this area many decades ago.
The highlight of course were the 360 degree spins. I'm pretty sure Pat took it relatively easy on us, given there were 3 kids, but he really needn't have! The kids LOVED it. In fact they kept clamoring for more spins!
Kudos to the GoJets Wanaka team for giving us a wonderful trip. The ride lasted around 1.5 hours, but it felt so much shorter, as we were having oodles of fun! Highly recommended!
We stopped off for a nice lunch - the kids wanted Subway...go figure...so we found a nice cafe next to Subway where we would watch them while we had our meal.
After that, we took a quick walk along Lake Wanaka and let the kids have their time in the playground while I took a nap in the campervan nearby...
We did not have much time in Wanaka, as our itinerary was quite packed, so the next morning, we just managed a quick walk by the lake where we were camped. A beautiful rainbow greeted us, as we braved the cool, strong winds whipping through our hair. That said, we were incredibly lucky that none of our activities had thus far been derailed by bad weather.
Just before we headed off, Dany met a fellow drone enthusiast!
After a quick chat and exchanging notes on their drones, and a test flight, we were on our way to Queenstown...!
A Golden Sunrise
The following day, I awoke to find Dany peering out the campervan window, at around 5 in the morning. Not usually an early riser, this struck me as out of the ordinary. He whispered, "Come here. I think I was awoken for a reason..."
The view that greeted me was marvelous. The early morning sun was hitting the top of the looming mountain peaks, turning it golden. It was utterly surreal. I got my pullover on and nipped out into the nippy morning air, probably around 2-3 degrees Celsius at that time of the day, to get a better look and to snap a few choice photos.
Did I mention that the campsite we were at is called White Horse Hill? Such a romantic sounding name... The area is named after a nearby hill, and is situated on a valley floor amidst massive mountain ridges. The peak we were looking at was probably Mount Sefton, brimming with glaciers, even though it was early summer.
After a slow start, with the kids rolling out of bed for a simple breakfast of English muffins (gluten free diets went out the door on many days that trip), butter and Marmite (yum), we headed over to the Tasman lake hiking point about 5 minutes drive away from White Horse Hill.
That day was HOT...dressed for the cooler weather we'd experienced in the previous few days, we were perspiring and ready to rip off our Uniqlo HeatTech tops by the time we were half way through this trek. Little Naked Bear, however, was thoroughly enjoying the sunshine, as he stayed behind sunbathing in Swiftly as we were hiking.
The hike to the Tasman Glacier View was not as beautiful as Hooker Valley...or maybe it was just the heat getting to me. It took us past the Blue Lakes (which are no longer blue) and after an arduous 45 minute walk, we reached the Tasman Glacier, where, once again, you are greeted by a sign that tells you how everywhere you looked at then and there once used to be covered in ice. Now, after our various walks, lasting 4 to 9 hours, you'd think a 45 minute walk would be easy-peasy, but for some reason it really wasn't. It was the heat - the heat was NOT my friend. Even the kids found it challenging...
It was also sad that the Blue Lakes are now Murky Green Lakes, because since the lakes were cut off from the melting glacier, it is now filled with rain water, and therefore, "stagnant" pondlife (read: algae).
Nevertheless, the Tasman lake itself was pretty stunning, and well worth the huffing and puffing in the heat (mind you, it was probably around 20 degrees Celsius, which is cool by home standards, but ...long sleeved HeatTechs...)
As if it heard my silent complaints, the skies opened up with rain just as we reached the carpark where we'd left Swiftly at the start of the hiking path. And so, we drove off, tired but relieved, toward our next stop, Lake Wanaka.
Camping and hiking beneath the powerful Aoraki/Mount Cook, a nice last minute detour on our way through South Island, New Zealand.
Driving through the lake district of South Island New Zealand, amidst a purple and pink splendour.
14 hectic, crazy days of having 5 people stuck in a large van, without sufficient water. Thankfully the beautiful, awesome locations and oodles of family fun made this an unforgettable experience!
A full day, "can't turn back" trek across the volcanic landscapes of the Tongariro National Park. Breathtaking views, and an even more breathtaking climb!
Day 9 of 28 (Rotorua): Rolling down the hill in a big wet ball, followed by a lovely dip in the natural thermal waters of Kerosene Creek.
Days 5 to 8 of our 28 day trip: Hobbiton, Tauranga and searching for dolphins!
A charming, slightly spooky old school house between Auckland and Hobbiton was our Airbnb stay for our 4th night in New Zealand... definitely a unique experience that was out of the ordinary!
A day trip to Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary, home to unique NZ native birds. A dream come true for this "fake Kiwi" girl who grew up reading about these lovely creatures. And her family!
In a couple of weeks, we are setting out for a 28-day car/ferry/campervan trip to New Zealand. As it's both too long and too short a trip for winging it, I have put together a fairly comprehensive itinerary and will share this along the way and post-trip.
We'll be covering both the North and South Island and one of the highlights of this trip is the 19.4km Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike, which thanks to the Selim Family's awesome blog, we feel quite confident we can do as well!
The pictures of the Alpine Crossing that we've seen are simply amazing, and we know from experience NZ photos are the epitome of #nofilter. Check out the photos on Wanderlusters.com's article here.
So... until then, we're doing some 8-10km hikes to the the kids and ourselves ready, plus some gear as we have been couch potatoes for a little too long!
Some of the other highlights are Alpacas - they're incredibly cute looking but we've hear can be quite the spitters. Wish us luck!
Oh, and night eeling near Rotorua. Keep an eye out for pictures on that!
The second half of the trip starting from Christchurch will be in a 6-berth Campervan from Iconic Motorhomes. This will be our first time campervanning and hopefully we can all get along beautifully for 14 days in a tight space, and having to take turns clearing out poo!
We're so stoked though and the kids have been prepped with YouTube videos like this one on what to expect! Wish us luck!