Okay, I know it’s been a while, but wedding season is finally slowing down and I have some time to catch up on my blog posts! Alright, I left off with our last day on the north island in New Zealand, so let’s start with our adventure on the south island! One thing Taylor and I loved about this trip was the diversity of different places we were able to see. The north and south islands are quite a bit different, but we absolutely loved them both and they provided for such different experiences. Taylor convinced me that it would be a good idea to rent a campervan, traveling all around the south island in it, and sleeping wherever we stopped at night. I’ll be honest that I was a little skeptical of the idea at first, but I am so glad we did it! If you ever travel to New Zealand, you absolutely have to do it in a campervan. We loved the freedom to stop wherever we felt like stopping, and it was pretty nostalgic as well for some reason. By the time we dropped off the campervan we had driven a little over 1,200 miles. We averaged about four hours a day driving, but with the scenery we were able to see along the way it didn’t feel bad at all. We had also downloaded a lot of good music onto our phones before so we were well prepared! Here are a few of our stops during the first few days of our south island adventure 🙂
Castle Rock. This is one that we kind of just ran into and that Taylor actually didn’t plan out beforehand (he was very good at planning and making sure we saw everything good that there was to see). Pretty cool rock formations that seemed very “Lord of the Rings”- esque.
Arthur’s Pass and Devil’s Punchbowl. We did a fun little 2 hour hike or so at this stop. Beautiful waterfalls are a pretty constant theme in New Zealand, and we made sure to stop and enjoy as many as we could. We saw a ton of Kea birds here (none pictured unfortunately) which is one animal that New Zealand is famous for.
One thing that was pretty constant on our trip was road construction. It didn’t cause us any delays which was great, and I actually quite appreciate that they work to keep the roads in good and safe condition. Taylor loved the symbolism in this picture with the man holding the “Go” sign, almost encouraging us to go out and explore! Another continual theme throughout the course of our road trip was a million sheep and cows (as you can see). I heard a stat that there are more sheep than humans in New Zealand, which I don’t doubt at all. Aren’t they so cute?
A couple classic campervan photos below. This was taken just down the road from our first camping site.
Lake Matheson: This is a must stop on the south island if you’re going close to the Fox Glacier area. It was about a 90 minute hike, but it was absolutely breathtaking and the reflections at sunset were incredible. We made the mistake of not bringing our bugspray and we kind of got attacked, but it was okay. The winding paths through the forestry and naturally mossy walls on the way to and around the lake were beautiful as well.
Fox Glacier: Here is some of the adversity that I mentioned earlier. Fox Glacier was a pretty phenomenal site to see. The first shot is one that was close to where we camped the night before, and early in the morning we went on the short hike up to the glacier. The aqua blue of the ice was something I had never seen before!
Haast Pass: After an early morning hike exploring Fox Glacier, we were back on the road again on our way to Queenstown. Haast Pass was one of our stops along the way. A lot of our time in New Zealand was rainy, but we didn’t mind much and it didn’t disrupt any of our plans. Haast Pass had some more breath-taking waterfalls, but the highlight was the super blue pools. Taylor was tempted to take a dip, but we were pretty high above them walking on some cool suspension bridges.
Classic nostalgic “rainy day driving in the campervan” pic:
Lake Wanaka: We loved the lake side towns in New Zealand, and Wanaka was one of our favorites. They have such a fun feel to them, and for some reason had amazing food! Urban Grind in the town of Wanaka was probably one of our favorite food stops in NZ. We went with a steak sandwich and pizza (of course going halfseys on both) and the best hot chocolate I have ever had (and I REALLY like hot chocolate). It even came with a little bar of chocolate to mix in, it was perfect for a little break from our rainy day outside. I’ve mentioned this before, but we love finding great local places to eat wherever we go. Lake Wanaka was pretty great too. Taylor had found a picture of this really cool tree in the middle of a lake when he was doing his New Zealand research before the trip, but he didn’t know where it was. When we got to Lake Wanaka, he about freaked out when he found his little tree, he is pretty cute on trips 🙂 We were lucky that the rain calmed down just enough for us to take a little swim in the lake after our hike up Iron Mountain, which provided some excellent views of the lake and town of Wanaka.
A few stops somewhere between Wanaka and Queenstown. This is what I was talking about when I said that we didn’t mind being in the car for four hours a day:
Arrowtown: A quaint little town outside Queenstown that we stopped in for dinner which had an old mining-town feel to it. We walked around main street and the river right next to town which was lovely!
Queenstown: Another nice lake-side town where we spent a night. A couple of the highlights here included a drive up to a ski resort called “Remarkables.” This provided for some excellent views of Queenstown, as well as the mountain range from The Hobbit called “Misty Mountains.” They were pretty amazing. We also went found a church we went to in Queenstown, which was great to meet and talk with some of the local members. Finally, some more great food at a lake-side restaurant. Taylor (and I) loved the way a lot of places did french toast in NZ, see below to understand what I’m talking about. And of course I got a yummy burger. Followed by incredible ice cream. Okay we didn’t do so good on our diet this trip, but it was so worth it!
Mirror Lakes: After a fun day in Queenstown, we were on our way to Milford Sound. On the way we stopped at Mirror Lakes, infamous for its beautiful reflections. It was a little rainy when we were there so the reflections weren’t as good as they could have been, but still pretty great. We found a little place to camp our campervan by the side of a lake (literally right on the shore of the lake) which was a pretty great camping spot. We met some German friends who were camping there too and we spent the night talking with them next to the lake, watching the sun go down, taking a time lapse (he was a photographer as well) and having a good conversation. We met a lot of fun people along the way, which we always enjoy.