NEW ZEALAND, HOW I LOVE THEE. It was such an amazing trip and I loved every minute of it – even the cold, wind, snow, and rain. As you might know, NZ definitely can get the full range of weather in one day and we experienced every season in 2 weeks! Our trip started on October 14 (hello, 30+ hours of travel each way!). We arrived in NZ on Sunday the 16th and left on the 29th. I can’t believe how much we did and yet, at the same time, it was still not enough time. We dedicated the whole trip to the South Island so no Hobbiton for us. That’ll be for the next time we make it out to NZ 😉
Our good friends, Autumn (international travel buddies!) and Kevin met us in Christchurch. We were invited to join their big sabbatical trip (1 month in Australia and New Zealand) back in 2015 and we’d spontaneously agreed to join them for NZ! We drove everywhere, and by we, I mean Kevin 🙂 Our itinerary was FULL but worth every mile.
- Lake Tekapo/Lake Pukaki
- Mt Cook National Park
- Lindis Pass
- Skyline Gondola/Ben Lomond (hike)
- Lake Wakatipu
- Fiordland National Park
- Mirror Lake
- Key Summit (hike)
- Lake Marian (hike)
- Milford Sound
- Lake Wanaka
- Mount Aspiring National Park
- Rob Roy (hike)
- Lake Hawea
- Westland Tai Poutini National Park
- Franz Joseph Glacier (glacier hike!!)
- Paparoa National Park
- Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
- Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Devils Punchbowl Waterfall (hike)
- Castle Hill
From Christchurch to Lake Tekapo/Pukaki and Mt Cook
My first glimpse of the turquoise lakes made from glacial run-off. So astounding and surreal!
Beautiful landscapes AND A SHEEP CROSSING! They were so cute, extremely fluffy, and unfortunately very stinky. We were just entering NZ’s spring season so many sheep have not been sheared yet.
The absolutely gorgeous and charming Queenstown…filled with great restaurants and it’s an incredibly walking-friendly little city! We traveled up their Skyline Gondola for a breathtaking and iconic view of Queenstown and our first hike up the Ben Lomod track. I have no words for the views we saw along our way up and down.
Ben Lomond Track
We were supposed to go on a 3-day backpacking trip through the Routeburn track but when we arrived in Queenstown, we discovered the track had been waylaid by rockslides and was unsafe for passage. We took that in stride, spent an extra day in Queenstown and went on a side adventure to Te Anua to see the glow worms. That also ended in misadventure due to the rains flooding so we took a breather and used that time instead to cook our own meal in our hostel.
Traveling through Fiordland National Park
Mirror LakeKey Summit Track
Lake Marian Track
We went on a cruise around the Milford Sound and surprisingly, we got the most beautiful morning with not a cloud in sight! They even took us under a waterfall 😀
Another lakeside town that is a much more “sleepy” town than Queenstown, with its own equally charming atmosphere. It will always be remembered fondly as Autumn and Kevin got engaged here at Rippon Winery. We celebrated together with homemade steak and potatoes in the cutest little AirBnB we rented.
Passing through Lake Hawea
Blue Pools Walk
We came across this amazing little “pebble beach” filled with cairns galore on our way up to Franz Josef! We spent just long enough time there to build our own cairns and jetted away from the beach. There were a ton of sand flies there, nasty little buggers.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park
There is the tiniest little town here. The Alpine Fault line runs right through the town and their gas station even sits on the line. They’re due for an earthquake in the next 30-ish years since the fault line ruptures every 330 years. Crazy! TAKING A HELICOPTER RIDE & WALKING ON A GLACIER
Yup. My husband stuck his head in the glacial water and held it for as long as he could. Brave man, brave, brave man.
Paparoa National Park
We spontaneously decided to take a side trip past Greymouth (where we were staying for the night) and see the pancake rocks and blowholes of Punakaiki. No one knows still how or why these rocks formed. It was a neat sight and it was fun driving up the famous west coast of NZ.
Arthur’s Pass National Park
Sadly, there aren’t many photos of the last few days, due to lots of rain! I have almost none on our trek up to see Devils Punchbowl Waterfall but thankfully it wasn’t raining when we strolled around Castle Hill and its enormous boulders on our way back to Christchurch. Christchurch
What’s a trip without some lovely flowers? Spring was just beginning so we walked around Christchurch’s beautiful botanical gardens before our last hurrah dinner at Fiddlesticks with Autumn and Kevin.