From Fox Glacier we drove to Frans Josef Glacier and did the 90 minute return walk. It’s a super easy walk, and it’s packed, so many people. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a wall of ice. We got a cool rainy day and I really enjoyed the walk. If you have the money I’ve been told the helicopter flight and ice walk inside the glacier is epic and I would’ve done that if I had the funds. Next stop was Hokitika Gorge, which is very impressive, incredibly milky blue water. From there we drove to Arthurs Pass, no plans to go the whole way, so we just drove halfway to Okira Viaduct or Death’s Corner and then did the walk to Devils Punchbowl Falls. All delightful sounding places. To be honest I was disappointed in Arthurs Pass after all the hype. But I’m going to put it down to the fact that we only went halfway and the light wasn’t very good. From here we drove to Greymouth (I re-stocked my books and we grabbed a feed). We stayed at Greymouth Top 10 Holiday Park.
The next morning we made the long drive up to Abel Tasman National Park. We stayed at Pohara Top 10 Holiday Park. Once there we decided to do the coastal track. The track quickly goes from ocean views to rainforest and ascends quickly and for a long time. I wasn’t prepared for a tough walk and I was struggling in the heat. We only made it to the first beach before I called it quits and chilled out reading my book. After a while we noticed people coming from the point, and we made our way back this way instead (wayyyy more fun!) but only do-able at low tide obviously. We walked back up the beach and chilled out at some little inlets. I swear it was the hottest day ever and the water was unbelievably cold! Geez New Zealand is a tease!
Got a good feed and a Somersby’s at the pub across the road. Oh sweetness! Made me miss home even more. Next morning we needed to drive to Picton to catch the ferry across to Wellington.
So the story goes. I’m an idiot. I booked our flights home out from Christchurch, but booked the camper to be dropped off at Auckland. Wow so dumb. Anyway, the camper couldn’t be changed so we paid for a ferry to Wellington. This wasn’t an issue as we had plenty of days remaining and we wanted to check out North Island anyway.
So back to driving to Picton. Don’t trust Google Maps! We put in the destination. Checked the route. Perfect. 3.5hrs drive. Easy. Anyhow we made it to Nelson easy. Checked the route again before we left and off we went. Somewhere between Nelson and Picton it decided it would be fun to take us 90 minute in the complete wrong direction. I didn’t notice anything odd (maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention). Anyway we eventually came to an intersection and realized the sign said Picton was the other way. I honestly don’t know what happened. I’m guessing I took a wrong turn and the GPS was planning on me turning around eventually, somewhere, miles away.
Thankfully, our ferry wasn’t departing till 10pm so we had plenty of time. The ferry ride was 3hrs across to Wellington, so we booked accommodation in advance and got to bed around 2am.
We left Te Anau early and headed to Queenstown. Wow. The busiest place in all of South Island without a doubt. It was packed with tourists who looked like they just came from the snow (but it was summer). We wandered around a little. Tried to get some Ferg Burger but the line was ridiculously long, I’m talking halfway down the street. The place is open until 5am every day and they don’t get quiet til 3am (not even kidding), so we skipped that and got some treats from Ferg Bakery instead (delightful).
We booked a Shotover Jet ride the day prior and got a spot at 3pm. It wasn’t as scary as imagined but it was really fun, super fast through the Shotover canyon. I would highly recommend. Our driver was Jeremy (only been doing it for 6 months) but he was brilliant. It’s pricey $290 for 2 people, but everything is about that price in Queenstown.
Next we drove up to Glenorchy (really only so I could take a photo of the cute little boatshed, which ended up not being very exciting at all) but the drive itself was gorgeous and got some great shots of Lake Wakatipu. We then headed to Lake Wanaka as the sun was going down along Crown Range Road. Super super disappointed I didn’t have a chance to get any pics looking back towards Queenstown because the view was epic, probably better views than Lindis Pass or Arthurs Pass in my opinion.
That night we stayed at Lake Outlet Holiday Park in Wanaka. The next day we checked out the famous tree, and took a photo, because that’s what you do. We then headed to Haast Pass and the famous Blue Pools, which were amazing-ly freezing! Watched some crazy people jump off and then come up and swim as fast as they could to the shore. Then we went to Thunder Creek Falls and Fantail Falls.
From there we drove to Haast, possibly the tiniest town in South Island, and immediately left (after grabbing snacks of course) and headed up to Fox Glacier. We didn’t do the 90 minute walk as it was raining and getting dark, so we stayed there the night at the Top 10 Holiday Park. Excellent facilities.
You might notice we have been staying in a lot of Top 10’s throughout the journey. This isn’t a wise option if you are on a budget (we were supposed to be) as most places were between $40 and $60 depending on your location. But they usually had good facilities, wifi, we could get a powered site, do a wash, and close to town.
So we left at a reasonable hour this morning and headed to our first stop Purakaunui Falls, the first of many falls in the Catlins National Park. They were nice, packed with people and the sun was high in the sky so it didn’t make for the most wonderful photographs. Oh well. We then did, Matai Falls and Mcleans Falls before heading to Tautuku Bay. Lots of driving today, we stopped briefly at Invercargill for lunch then onto Te Anau where we stayed at Fiordland Great Views Holiday Park. This place had horrible reviews on Campermate (mostly due to the supposedly cranky reception lady) but we had a lovely stay and the showers and bathrooms were completely brand spanking new, plus the shower was incredible! Hooray!
The next day we booked a bus to take us to Milford Sound, a bit pricey but we wanted to enjoy the journey instead of worrying about driving. It was a great trip, the driver was excellent and we stopped multiple times on the way up and back for photos. Milford Sound would have to be the highlight of New Zealand for me. We got a cruise around the Fiords through Jucy Cruise (and a free feed) and it was spectacular. Like another world! Don’t come to New Zealand if you’re not going to do this!
Left Oamaru mid-morning and headed down the coast to Dunedin. It was New Years Eve but the place was super quiet. Checked out the cool street art walk in Dunedin and it almost felt like a tour group walking around with a bunch of others doing the same thing. The drive along the peninsula is super weird, right on the edge of the bay and no barriers to stop you going off if you miss judge a corner. We did a bit of a wander up someone’s property (supposedly a proper walk) and saw lots of sheep and lots of mist, not much else. We stayed the night Portabello Village Tourist Park, it was okay, out of the way. Don’t recommend the showers.
Left Otago pretty late and headed to the Catlins! On the way we stopped at Nugget Point Lighthouse and Tunnel Beach. This was a bit of a lazy day. We stayed at a Christian camp ground which was really weird and seemed like it was just “park wherever” in the backyard of someone’s house. Wouldn’t really recommend this place. The showers were pretty bad but the gentleman at the office was lovely!
Okay so we arrived in Christchurch at 3.30pm on the 29th Jan. Our flight was delayed an hour in Sydney. Once we arrived at the airport the first thing we did was buy credit so we could use data (google maps!) throughout the journey. Our Visas decided not to work. Yay. 40 minutes later and we finally decided to figure out where to pick up our camper. Oops last pick up 4.30pm. 20 minutes left. Shit. Jumped in a cab and thankfully it was just down the road. Luck!
We eventually headed off after over an hour of sorting forms, signing stuff and showing us the van. First stop Countdown (Woolworths). Loaded the camper up with everything we needed for the first week. Next stop Burgerfuel (because yum). Needless to say we wasted too much time in Christchurch.
Hit the road and the sun was already going down. The plan for tomorrow was Lake Tekapo but we wouldn’t make it there. Instead we parked behind a church in Fairlie and slept there the night. Not ideal but not an issue. No fines in the morning. Winning.
In the morning we headed to Lake Tekapo and had coffee and breakfast by the lake, very peaceful. Still snow capped mountains. Gorgeous. We drove around the lake a little and almost got bogged on the first day. Luckily my ace driving skills saved us. Checked out Church of the Good Shepard (disappointing we couldn’t do some astro stuff here but still lovely). Drew got to have a float on his Christmas present and was super relaxed.
We then drove to Lake Pukaki and took some more photos. Such a gorgeous first day weather wise. Then it was off to Lindis Pass, after which we stayed the night at Oamaru Top 10 Holiday Park (best showers of the trip so far!)
If you’d like to check out a video of the whole trip click this
Wandered down to the Needles at Engadine. Cool little swimming hole, plus dogs are allowed! Click this for a link to the video I made.
Found this little gem in our own backyard. Just outside Campbelltown is Minerva Pool in the Dharawal National Park. Super easy walk on a clearly defined track leads you to a few different spots, we picked the closest spot which turned out to be this gorgeous pool. Looks super deep and clear. Will definitely be back with some floats for a dip!
Link to a little vlog I made of the trip here