Hello from New Zealand!
After saying good bye to Sydney and Australia, we made our way to our second country on the big trip, New Zealand!
New Zealand is a country we have both been particularly excited about. It was one of those places that the more we researched about, the more we wanted to go, the more things we wanted to do, the more places we wanted to visit!
We flew into Christchurch on December 30th and met up with some friends the following day, who happened to be there at the same time by pure coincidence.
Whilst here we learned about the history of the Maori and the settlers, visited the local Museum and Botanic Gardens, and took the tram which runs a route around the centre of town.
The idea was to spend a little under a week in the area and then hire a camper van to explore a bit more of the south island. But after a few days in Christchurch, we quickly found that “public transport” is not the Kiwi’s strongest point; we really needed a way to get around to make the most of our time here. With our accommodation booking coming to an end (and still a few days before picking up the camper van) we grabbed a last minute hire car and made our way towards the north of the island.
For a scenic and photogenic route, we drove up the east coast of the island towards Picton; a more cost effective alternative to the Coastal Pacific train journey we had looked into. That gave us similar views and allowed us to travel at our own pace.
Our first stop was Kaikoura. Known for its amazing seafood (‘‘Kai’ meaning food, ‘koura’ meaning crayfish) naturally we had to dig in. We went to the Sonic Bar & Restaurant and ordered an impressive sounding seafood platter to share, along with a stein of locally brewed ale.
The food was incredible, the ale was fantastic…oh, and the views weren’t bad…
Through Couchsurfing we found a very friendly couple to stay with at the Marlborough Sounds; the view from their patio was inviting to say the least. One of the many advantages of couchsurfing is meeting local people who can recommend the things to do in the local area. Thanks to our hosts we found the “snout track” which gave an amazing view of the sounds. We also took the ‘Mail’ cruise along the sounds; the sights were outstanding. The highlight of the tour was ‘Ships Cove’ – an island and spot which Captain James Cook visited on several occasions during his voyages.
Another recommendation was to drive through Nelson Lakes National Park and Lewis Pass.
The visit to the north of the island was brief, but very enjoyable. It was soon time to head back to collect our camper van to carry on with our exploration. Neither of us had camped since we were children so the thought of it was a little alien to us, but we got by. We found the camper van to be very comfortable to sleep in and adjusted quickly enough. Lake Tekapo was our first destination, and it was a great view to wake up to.
We then drove to Lake Pukaki. The first thing we noticed were the incredible striking colours; it was an intense mixture of icy blues and turquoise. The surroundings were very surreal: whilst the temperature was in the mid 20s, on the horizon was Mount Cook, the tallest peak in all of Australasia capped with snow.
Continuing on, we made our way to Cromwell and stayed for the night. It was a small ‘passer-by’ town and was close by to Clyde. This town had been recommended by guidebooks as a great place to eat and with good walking tracks as well; we were sold at the first mention of food. We found a local cafe/restaurant within the towns old post office and ordered a variety of things, all of it was delicious!
It almost goes without saying that New Zealand has raised the standard in amazing scenery and landscape views. We are in a constantly shocked state of mind: every time we turn a corner we get another stunning and yet different view!
We are heading south to continue our tour; stay tuned 🙂
Jake & Ana