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Martinborough wineries

Posted on January 31, 2014

Martinborough, North Island, New Zealand:  We arrived in Wellington to much warmer weather (please let this heat last), and immediately headed up to wine country.  Situated in the Wairarapa Region, the 20+ wineries making up the Martinborough growing region are all very unique.  We visited Poppies, a lovely boutique winery run by a husband & wife team.  The next day we headed to Murdoch James for a vineyard & cellar tour and tasting out on the sunny terrace.

Ferry crossing to the North Island

Posted on January 31, 2014

Picton, South Island, New Zealand:  After 16 nights on the wild & rugged South Island, we took the Cook Straight ferry over to the North Island. The 3-hour ride was beautiful, passing hundreds of small islands, inlets and bays, and even some dancing dolphins along the way.

Three days in Golden Bay

Posted on January 29, 2014

Golden Bay, South Island, New Zealand: On our way from Hokitika, we stopped at the incredible limestone pancake rocks & blowholes, which at high tide, spout water high from the Tasman Sea. After a few hours admiring the tropical surroundings of the Paparoa National Park, we were on to visit the amazing Davies family of Takaka, Golden Bay.

Jono, Sophie, Hester & Clara welcomed us to gorgeous Takaka on Saturday night. Their idyllic home is set amongst nashi trees, maiz fields and a babbling brook, and we were lucky enough to stay with this generous family & call this beautiful place home for the next three days.

We hiked to Wharariki Beach where the magnitude of the dunes cannot be captured by words or photos. Both Thomas & I felt a little lightheaded after exploring this moon-like landscape. The next day, we set out to hike a coastal trail in Abel Tasman National Park that’s only accessible during low tide. Taupo Point was hidden gem, isolated, desolate & perfect for a quick dip in the (still cold) bay. It was such a treat to slow down, spend some time in Golden Bay and finish out our time on the South Island with such wonderful friends.

Driftwood sculptures in Hokitika

Posted on January 24, 2014

Hokitika, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand: This cool little hippie beach town was such a pleasant place to explore after a cold & rainy night at Lake Kaniere. We discovered a little rainforest garden café on the beach where we took in the sun over lunch. Afterward we walked the beach and discovered Penguinville, an interactive program where local residents build sculptures & little communities out of driftwood. What a beautiful way to create art from tree graveyards on the beach.

The rainforest & the glacier

Posted on January 23, 2014

Franz Josef Glacier, South Island, New Zealand:  One of the thousands of things surprising about New Zealand is the diversity of climates bumped up against each other.  Franz Josef Glacier was one of those places: a tropical rainforest coexisting with a polar glacier.  We stayed in a campground brimming with palm trees and traditional kiwi ferns overhead, and then hiked over to the glacier with bright blue icicles piercing the surface.  The rain poured down on us (again), but that was ok since we got to see even more waterfalls.

One week in the camper van

Posted on January 21, 2014

One week ago today, we picked up our Happy Camper in Christchurch.  We have camped in Temuka, Lake Tekapo, Moeraki Point, Surat Bay, Milford Sound, Queenstown and Lake Wanaka, which pretty much covers the entire southern part of the South Island (map to follow at some point). We have 8 days left on the South Island so it’s time to slow down a bit and take our time getting back north when we take the ferry over to the North Island on 29 January.

Above is a collection of photos from our stay on a farm in rural Athol, the 12-Mile Delta just a few minutes outside Queenstown and Boundary Creek campground on the shore of Lake Wanaka.

Milford Sound

Posted on January 20, 2014

Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand:  This is a must-see in every New Zealand guide, so we found ourselves steering our camper van in its direction.  This natural wonder was formed tens of millions of years ago by glacial cutting, and the resulting fiord is of astounding magnitude. Unfortunately, this area gets about 200 days of rain a year and we were (un)lucky enough to camp up there on one of the coldest, rainiest and windiest days. This weather, while tough to sightsee in, made for the most impressive waterfalls. The Sound normally has 2 waterfalls; on this crazy weather day, we were able to see thousands.