South Island

We took the morning ferry from Wellington to Picton. It is called the most beautiful ferry ride in the world and we have to agree. It’s stunning.

When we got of we went to a vineyard in Marlborough. We tasted some wine and had lunch before we left for Nelson. Everything was closed, so we had a calm evening.

The following day we went to Abel Tasman Park to do some kayaking. We were lucky only to be four people in our group, ourselves + Kim and Alan from England. The weather was perfect, no rain and a lot of sunshine. We saw a lot of cute seals since we paddled through a seal colony. We had lunch in a beautiful bay before returning to our pick up point.

Our first sandwich-free lunch. Hurray! We went to Cape Foulwind that is the most westly area in NZ. We walked a beautiful path along the coastline before we continued our journey towards Greymouth. We traveled through some amazing scenery with rugged coastline.

We stopped by Punakiki rocks with it’s blowholes before arriving in Greymouth.

We went on towards Franz Josef in the morning. We stopped in Ross where Johan bought a beautiful wooden necklace. When we came to Franz Josef we took a glacier hike. It was really fun! We were lucky not to have rain, since it’s nearly raining all the time on the west coast. After trying out some shoes we took a bus to the glacier where we started walking. We climbed the glacier for a couple of hours, enjoying the wind and the ice before returning to the little village.

We went to Lake Matheson, also called the Mirror Lake since it reflects the Southern Alps and Mt Cook. It was very nice, but much smaller then you think. The cows that were grazing there must have the nicest grazing land in the world. What a view.

We also went to Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka, before continuing to Kawerau bridge where people did some bungy.

When we finally reached Queenstown in the evening we took a walk in the adrenalin city before we went to bed.

Milford Sound!
The 350 km to Milford turned out to be just as beautiful as the cruise. We stopped in Te Anau to grab a sandwich (what else) before continuing to Milford. The cruise was magnificent! We were not that many people on the boat so there was plenty of space for everybody. It was a very special feeling to go by boat next to those really high mountains. We had a lot of bottle nosed dolphins that joined us along the way.

The cruise itself was really short-just an hour and a half, but it was definitely worth it.

When we came back we jumped of the bus in Te Anau and stayed there for the night.

Doubtful Sound
We took both the Doubtful and Milford cruises. They were good in different ways, but if we had to choose we would have picked the Milford. The Doubtful cruise is longer, but more inaccessible. We first had to go by bus from Te Anau to Lake Manapouri where you go by boat. After that you go by bus again over the Wilmot Pass. When you reach Deep Cove you enter the 3 hour long Doubtful cruise.

We had really bad weather and it was raining a lot, but it was kind of fun. The mountains are not as steep as they are in the Milford Sound, but they are beautiful in their way.

The following day we did the Catlin’s Coaster. First we took a transfer to Invercargill. It was raining, but we were lucky to get good weather in the afternoon. Our guide for the day was extremely good and knew everything about every bird and stone along the way. We went to Waipapa Point were we saw a lot of sea lions and the place where St Tararua once sank and 131 people died.

The next stop was Curio Bay where we looked at 160 million year old fossil. Old forests from the mid Jurassic period have made plant impressions in the rocks. Very cool. We had a terrible lunch (worst sandwich ever) by Porpoise Bay and looked at Hector Dolphins. After that we went to the beautiful Purakaunui Falls.

Nugget Point was our last stop along the way. It was an amazing wildlife area with a lot of different birds, seals and yellow headed penguins. We saw eight of them! Very rare. There are only 4000 left of them in the whole world and they live in pairs and don’t like other pairs so it’s not very common to see that many of them.

When we finally got to Dunedin it was nearly 11 PM so we just went to bed.

We left Dunedin after climbing the worlds steepest street. It was steep! As usual we went through beautiful landscape with high mountains and beautiful green valleys.

We stopped by the Moeraki Boulders. According to Maori legend the Kai-hinaki food baskets were washed ashore when a canoe was shipwrecked while searching for precious stones. The scientists say that the boulders are 60 million years old. They started as lime crystals, which then attracted other minerals around it to make the boulder shape. They were really special.

We stopped along beautiful lakes along our way to Lake Tekapo where we looked at the statue over working Collie dogs in the area. We also visited the beautiful church and took the rest of the day off, just relaxing by the lake. That was a really special day. We were just sitting there on a couple of rocks and discussed life in general. We went to the store and bought some food and wine that we had before going to bed in the evening.

Our next day was a transportation struggle. We were going to Akaroa to swim with dolphins and to Kaikoura for a whale watch tour. We tried to book transportation along the way to Christchurch and it wasn’t as easy as you think. The bus company that drove to Akaroa didn’t answer and transportation from Kaikoura was a hard one. We finally booked a bus late in the evening.

We got to Christchurch in the afternoon and left Magic Bus. It felt pretty good be on your own again. We spent our day looking at Christchurch and book our last tickets.

Bad luck. We were going with Tranzalpine to Greymouth and back again. It’s supposed to be the most beautiful train route in the world. To bad parts of it were closed and we had to go by bus. The road was beautiful and we didn’t miss much, but we felt that we had already seen a lot of mountains by the time. It was very expensive and we could just as well have skipped that day …

Up early in the morning again to go on whale watch in Kaikoura. We went by bus the 300 km to Kaikoura. We phoned them in the morning to be sure that they didn’t cancel the tour because of the rain, but everything was in order. When we got there it was cancelled anyway. We spent the day walking in art galleries and when we returned to the whale watch center in the afternoon they had cancelled the last tour of the day as well. We didn’t want to wait till 20.30 to get on the bus back to Christchurch so we bought new tickets with another company and went back all 300 km again. A little disappointed but we had a good day in the art galleries anyway…

Finally some rest! We didn’t get out of bed until 8! New record. We took a shower and had a big breakfast. We walked to the botanical gardens and just enjoyed the day. We had a nice dinner at a French restaurant and went to an art gallery. We walked along Avon and tried to do some shopping, but Christchurch wasn’t a good town to shop in…

Our final day in NZ was spent in Akaroa. Unfortunately we couldn’t swim with the dolphins, since they didn’t feel like it. We saw a few of them next to the boat, but nothing more. We enjoyed the rest of the day instead and went back to Christchurch to pack in the evening.

Photos from South Island