NZ road trip (part 5)

To quote Tyrii: “The South Island is epic.” We conclude our anti-clockwise tour and are left with beautiful memories (and a lot of photos) of some of the most amazing nature we have ever seen. During the last leg of the circuit we have a dip in the hot pools at Hanmer Springs, admire the Kaikoura ranges, go for a hike on Mount Lyford and have a brief stop in Blenheim. Then it’s back to Wellington for a quick pit stop before we slowly head north again.

Hanmer Springs


Mount Lyford


a hike on Mount Lyford, during winter this is a ski resort


as far as they eye can see


Kaikoura ranges


beautiful green countryside


Kaikoura flats


Kaikoura spray


seal spotting


outside the Blenheim aircraft museum


wartime planes beautifully displayed in the Blenheim museum


NZ road trip (part 4)

The South Island keeps delivering and the stable weather continues and brings out the best. From Stewart island we head to Invercargill and start making our way up the East coast with plenty of stops. We take the scenic coastal route through the Catlins and spend a night in Dunedin. Now we are in Akaroa where we arranged to join our friends from Phileas. Last time we saw them was in Minerva reef so we have a lot of catching up to do!

Akaroa is absolutely stunning. This historic French settlement on the Banks peninsula just South of Christchurch is nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. The very deep inlet makes for sheltered bays surrounded by rugged mountains. It’s beautiful and we’re very happy we made this little detour to catch up with our friends. It’s even warm enough for a swim! 

Slope point, the Southern most point of the South island

Old petrified forest, Curio bay: ancient geological site


Florence hill lookout, Papatowai


Larnach castle lookout, Dunedin


Larnach castle, Dunedin


beautiful gardens


on top of the tower


a pink sunrise


Moeraki, giant boulders on the beach


Akaroa seen from the hilltop as we approach


Yay! Happy to see my friend Virginie!






the view from our motel the next morning


We celebrate Athenais’s 10th birthday!


it feels like we’re in France here!


oohh la la


view from the other side of the peninsula


hike to the lighthouse


hole in the rock


the road back to Akaroa


NZ road trip (part 3)

From Fiordland we drive to the southern tip of NZ and hop on the ferry from Bluff to Stewart island. The Foveaux strait is notoriously rough and in “the roaring forties” but today all is calm and the crossing is very smooth. Stewart island is a special place with a strong Scottish heritage and its main town is called Oban. It’s St Patrick’s day when we arrive so we feel obliged to have Guinness for lunch accompanied with local oysters and crayfish. Delicious!

Ninety seven percent of Stewart island is national park and there’s an 11-day long walking track all along the top of the island. We go for a couple of shorter walks, spend time on the beach in Lee bay and take a trip to nearby Ulva island. We’re in love with this place and could easily spend more time here …

Roadsign in Bluff , 46 degrees latitude!

On the ferry from Bluff to Stewart island

Halfmoon bay, Stewart island

Oban waterfront

Lee bay

Dam building works

Sand sculptures

Giant tangle

Butterfield beach

Sunrise over Halfmoon bay

Water taxis waiting to take people to Ulva

The jetty on Ulva island

Tree swinging

Trees on the beach in Sydney cove, Ulva island

Great walking tracks through the forest

Boulder beach, Ulva island

West End beach

strong boys!

The perfect toadstool

Kiwi alert

The local phonebox


NZ road trip (part 2)

It’s hard to believe but it just keeps getting better! The scenery of the South Island is stunning. It’s grand, majestic and very impressive. From Franz Josef glacier we drive South through the Haast pass with many obligatory Kodak stops and a few hikes to admire the mountains. It’s a crime we don’t have our proper camera with us (long story short: it is being repaired) so we only have our phones to take photos with. 


Franz Josef glacier


Fox glacier


Mount Aspiring national park




Bruce bay




spotting seals on the rocks


We arrive in Makarora and decide it’s a cool place to stop.  We find some accommodation and settle in for the night.  Makarora is a small town in the middle of nowhere with a history of gold digging. 



Makarora airfield


stretching out after a long drive


The next day we head for Queenstown (again with many stops on the way). To avoid being in a city we stay in Cadrona and enjoy the fresh mountain air!   



Crown range pass


Sublime colouring over Lake Hawea , name the cloud type competition?


the view towards Queenstown


Next up is Fiordland… We pick Te Anau as a base and from here do a few excursions. It’s raining when we arrive so the perfect opportunity to visit the glow worm caves across the lake. No photos allowed in the caves and we have to be superquiet to not disturb the worms. The following day the sun is back and we get to see Milford Sound in glorious sunshine. The drive from Te Anau to Milford is stunning and then the boat trip is breathtaking. So much unspoilt beautiful nature. We see dolphins and seals, spectacular waterfalls and rugged snow covered mountains.  

it’s busy on the road to Milford,


the sun comes out as we approach Milford


impressive mountains everywhere


waterfalls in Milford Sound


Milford Sound


more Milford Sound…


and more… with snow in the distance


it’s fun on the boat trip


seals on the rocks


NZ road trip (part 1)

On a rainy Monday morning at the end of February we decide it is time to go travelling. Our very generous friends Paul and Vanessa have lent us their second car so we stuff the boot with some clothes and essentials and hit the road South. We have no plan or reservations and decide to book B&B places along the way. Our first stop is Rotorua, probably the smelliest town in the world. Hot bubbling mud pools pop up everywhere as well as geishers and other volcanic phenomena and it smells like rotten eggs. We stay for two nights and have a lovely walk in the Redwoods forest where it is not smelly.


hot bubbling mud pools in Rotorua


The view from our B&B over lake Rotorua


Redwoods Forest

Next stop is Tongariro, a national park with ski resort in winter. We stay in Chateau Tongariro which feels like an old English manor but without the dress code ( In New Zealand nobody seems to ever get dressed up when on holiday). The Alpine crossing is supposed to be beautiful but a whole day walk is a bit much for the boys so we do a more gentle walk in the morning which is very enjoyable for everyone. 

Tongariro national park

Chateau Tongariro

gentle alpine walk


cool streetsign!

The next leg of the journey takes us further South and after a brief stop in Taupo and Whanganui we arrive in Wellington where we receive a very warm welcome from Seathan’s uncle Colin and aunt Susie.  I’m pleasantly surprised with Wellington, it’s a fun, vibrant and laid-back city by the water. There’s an arts festival on and dragon boat racing and we visit the very educational Te Papa museum. We also catch up with Seathan’s dear friend Simon and his wife Debra and their kids. It’s been 25 years since Seathan and Simon saw each other so there’s a lot of catching up to do! We finish the afternoon with a walk through the botanical gardens and the next day take the ferry to the South Island.  

Wellington’s laid back and vibrant waterfront


Te Papa museum


jumping platform on the waterfront


dragon boat racing


indoor wall climbing


island bay at sunset


on the ferry to the South Island


We alight in Picton and head west to Queen Charlotte Sound. Our first stop is Ngakuta bay where we find a B&B right by the waterfront ran by an couple from northern England who live there with their four kids. After a lovely cooked breakfast the next morning we head further west and admire the stunning scenery on the way. We take a short detour to Okiwi bay and then head to Nelson for the night where we are lucky to find a B&B late in the afternoon with amazing views over the harbour.

Ngakuta bay, our first stop on the South Island

brief detour to Okiwi bay


watching the Wednesday evening races from the terrace of our B&B in Nelson


sunset , Nelson


view from our B&B in the morning

From Nelson we head to Abel Tasman and we drive over the hill to Golden Bay where we find a great B&B in Takaka ran by a Belgian couple from Lint who moved to New Zealand four years ago. This is a beautiful area and we decide to a stay an extra day as there is so much to see. We visit springs and waterfalls both accompanied by a lovely walk and feast our eyes on amazing scenery. There is one negative though: sand flies. Luckily they don’t seem to bother the boys…

Waikoropupu Springs, some of the purest water on the planet apparently


water bubbling up from the springs


the walk to Wainui Falls


Wanui Falls


beautiful clear water and nobody around but we’re not brave enough for a dip…


the path to Wharaniki beach


amazing landscape changes from woodland to dunes


Wharaniki beach


soft dunes, great for running around

From Abel Tasman we head further South although we have to head back over the hill first as there is no way through the northwestern tip of the South Island. We get some miles (or rather kilometres as we are in NZ) under our belt and drive all the way to Hokitika to discover all accomodation is booked and there is a weird food festival on. It’s still only mid afternoon so we decide to go further and find a lovely B&B underneath Franz Josef glacier. It’s getting dark when we arrive but we get to see the snow on the mountains at breakfast.

quick stop to admire the scenery on our way South


hops everywhere! We’re already looking forward to our evening beer…


Franz Joseph view from our B&B this morning