This has been a truly special holiday, if not the best we have ever had. What a stunner New Zealand is. Yes, it was very cold here and there, but having NZ more or less to ourselves was worth the travel in winter. We have travelled 2600km around the South Island and could have easily continued for more NZ!
This is our route travelling in a Campervan: Christchurch – Lake Tekapo – Lake Pukaki – Queenstown – Lake Te Anau – Milford Sound – Queenstown – Wanaka – Hokitika – Punakaiki – Abel Tasman – Kaikoura – Christchurch
These were the highlights:
Lake Tekapo – simply stunning with its turquoise colour. Don’t miss to visit the Astro Cafe with amazing views and lots of snow depending on the season.
Lake Pukaki – just as pretty as the Tekapo Lake and fresh Salmon is a must from the Cook Alpine Salmon Farm.
Queenstown – the place to be. Especially, when you are an adrenalin junky ;). We enjoyed an amazing Heli flight over the Mount Aspiring national park with a Glacier landing. Of course one member of our family had to do a couple of bungy jumps at The Ledge and Kawarau, finding the Kawarau more spectacular. Otherwise Queenstown is very pretty, relaxed and has very good food to offer. No matter, if brekkie or dinner! Our highlight was eating at the Stratosfare with amazing views over Queenstown combined with some Luge rides for the boys.
Lake TeAnau – stopped here for a night on the way to Milford Sound. So peaceful and remote. Even though the lake hasn’t got the turquoise color, it is still amazing and lies there beautiful in silence.
Milford Sound – all worth the trip. We were very lucky with bright blue skies, but I am thinking it might be even more spectacular with some clouds hanging around Mitre Peak.
Lake Wanaka – what can I say, I surely fell in love with the lakes of New Zealand. Find that little tree on the lake and wait for sunset. What a photo opportunity. This might be the most photographed tree in this world ;).
Also visit the Puzzling World, it is great fun for every age.
Hokitika and Hokitika Gorge – loved this little silent, little town (it becomes very busy in summer) and the Gorge ist a must with its r0pe bridge and the amazing water colour.
Punakaiki / Pancake Rocks – What a natural spectacle!
Able Tasman – we only walked 5km into the park, but that part of the track was already pretty enough to give us a good impression of how pretty it must be to walk the 12km track or take a water taxi (unfortunately they only travel limited times in winter).
Kaikoura – just before Kaikoura make sure you spot the seal colony. An amazing amount of seals posed for us to take some pictures. Then head onto the Ohau stream walk to find the seal pup nursery. Surely one of our highlights seeing these little, gorgeous creatures having fun under the waterfall.
Personally my biggest highlight was our swim with the wild dusky dolphins. Being surrounded by roughly 200 playful dolphins is hard to top. Freezing water temperatures didn’t stop us all to jump in with them for a personal encounter. Unfortunately no footage, as I was too seasick to take any pictures :(.
Christchurch – this town is still on the mend. 5 years after the awful earthquake Queenstown faced, the town is still a massive construction site. The people seem to hang in there and look on the positive site. Have a good walk around the city and discover the numerous, colourful street art. Make sure to visit the Re:START mall, a little mall made out of shipment containers. Very unique, very cool, very good food stalls, very good coffee. I was very sad to hear, that this is not going to remain and will be replaced by the usual staff.
This was a little bit of New Zealand for you. We loved every bit of it!