Published: May 5th 2012May 5th 2012
The ferry crossing to the South Island went smoothly and we were soon back on the road heading towards Motueka on the windiest road I've ever seen! We were up early in the morning to take a day trip to the Abel Tasman National Park which started with a bus ride. Next we got onto a boat which took us on a 2 hour tour of the coastline before dropping us at Bark Bay to start our walk. The walk was really fun and gave some amazing views. We also had to cross a swing bridge which was cool. We arrived in Torrent Bay with loads of time to spare so we decided to carry on walking to the next pick up in Anchorage so we walked about 10km in total. It was a really good day except for being eaten alive by sandflies when we were waiting on the beach!
From Motueka we drove to Kairkoura seeing loads of seals on the rocks along the side of the road. It was a nice sunny evening so we sat in the campsite reading and enjoying a cider each. The next day we took a walk through Kaikoura all the way
to the seal colony at Kean Point. We were so close to the seals as two of them were lying in the sun in the car park and one ran across the car park, they move surprisingly fast.
Our next stop was one that we'd both been looking forward to, the glacier at Franz Josef. It was quite a long drive there from Kaikoura so we spent a night in Greymouth on the way down to break up the journey. We'd been wanting to do the half day trek but when they got there we found out the part of the glacier had collapsed so it was no longer available. After going through our options we decided to stick with Franz Josef and do the 'Ice Explorer'. The day started out with us being fully equiped with waterproof clothes and crampons before getting a helicopter up the glacier. Rhi and I were in the front so we got an amazing view. We had about 3 hours on the ice with our guide Jimmy who seemed to have a very relaxed attitude which was good. He took us through some cracks which were so narrow they were touching our fronts
and backs. We also got to go through some ice caves which was really cool and then back down in the helicopter. The whole thing was an amazing experience and we were really glad we went with the helicopter. The trip also included free entry to the hot pools so we spent a bit of time there in the afternoon after a nice cafe lunch. It really was an amazing day!
Our next drive had a few stops along the way, starting with lake Matheson just outside the Fox Glacier township. The lake was really cool to see as it gives a very clear reflection of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Our next stop was for lunch at a little beach where sandflies instantly latched onto my feet and would not get off, not fun! From here we drove to Wanaka to visit Puzzling World which was full of optical illusions and outside a two storey maze. We successfully made it to each of the corners but did have to cheat once to find our way back out! It was dark when we finally made it to the adrenaline capital of the world, Queenstown.
We spent 4 nights
in Queenstown, our first activity being the Shotover Jet. Despite the fact that half my face got soaked it was really fun flying through the canyon with rocks flying towards our faces as we did 360 spins! In the afternoon we drove to Arrowtown as they were having an autumn festival. We missed the main parade but it was still nice to wander around the stalls and see a can-can performance. The next day we took a day trip to Milford Sound. There were some nice stops along the way including the mirror lakes and The Chasm but we weren't that impressed by Milford Sound itself, maybe because it was a bit overcast or because we've already seen so much amazing scenery in New Zealand. We'd debating doing a bungy-jump in New Zealand but decided we'd already spent quite a lot so instead our last day was spent exploring the town. We took the gondola up to get a good view of the town and we had a go on the luge before having a look around the shops. In the evening we went on a pub crawl which was really good fun especially as we some how won $25
worth of drinks in a quiz!
Feeling a little worse for wear, we left Queenstown heading for the east coast. We took a bit of a detour through Bluff getting about as far south as you can and seeing the signpost informing us we were about 19,000km from home! From here we continued the drive across the country to Dunedin. Dunedin was quite a nice town and we explored the town seeing the train station and visiting the chinese gardens which including a bit of dress up!
From Dunedin we went to Oamaru, stopping on the way to see the Moereki boulders. Oamaru was a pretty boring place but we were there for the little blue penguins. Each evening at dusk they come back from the sea and scramble over the rocks to get back to their nests. They were very cute and funny to watch waddling along tripping over each other. After we'd seen all the penguins safely back to their nests we headed back to the campsite for our last night in the campervan.
Our last drive was to Christchurch to give back the campervan and we managed to give it back with the fuel
light on as we'd pre-paid the fuel. We'd already left our bags at the hotel so once we'd dropped off the campervan we took a bus into the city centre. It was really odd to see Christchurch after the earthquake as quite a lot of the city centre is still in the red zone but it was interesting to see the Re:START shops which are in shipment container type things. In the evening we went for pizza and enjoyed the luxuries of a hotel room after 3 weeks in the campervan. Our last day in New Zealand was spent having a lie in and window shopping before packing our bags ready for a 6:15 flight to Melbourne.
There are more photos below