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

 

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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!

     

splash

 

Cheers!

  

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

  

skimming

  

Bruce bay

  

Haast

  

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

  

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!   

Makarora

 

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