Posts from the “New Zealand” Category

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.

Moeraki & Surat Bay

Posted on January 19, 2014

Surat Bay, South Island, New Zealand and Moeraki Point, South Island, New Zealand:  On our 4th night in the camper van, we drove to the Catlins, another peaceful bay on the east coast of the South Island. The walk along the beach where the bay and ocean come together was deserted and quiet, and we were able to enjoy this cozy (and cold) spot near the southern-most tip of the South Island (hello, Antarctica).

Moeraki is a sleepy fishing village we discovered completely by accident (a good reason to cross-country camp without a plan). We chose a campsite overlooking the bay where a handful of fishing boats gathered, and we wandered over to the jetty where we were delighted to discover Fleur’s Place, a gem of a spot with breathtaking views of the sunset. This little village is a must-see for others meandering down from Oamaru to Dunedin.

Our first days in the camper van

Posted on January 16, 2014

Christchurch, New Zealand: On Tuesday, we picked up our Happy Camper in Christchurch and drove south towards Timaru. With provisions in hand we were all stocked up for 26 days in our new home. Out came the atlas since we hadn’t planned a route ahead of time, and off we went in search of a home for the night.

The first night we found an off-the-beaten path campsite at the base of the Opihi River where it feeds into the Pacific Ocean, a small community called Millford Huts. We ate some dinner, made up the bed and crested the hill to see 5-7 salmon fishermen working on a catch for the night. It was pretty magical to be situated on the ocean in such a quiet spot. Day 1 of camping was good.

We left Millford Huts on Wednesday, heading west & inland. We had a picnic lunch on the rocks at Lake Tekapo, a glacier fed lake with unbelievably green water. Heading a little north and west, we decided on a campsite in a more rural area away from the tourists at Lake Tekapo. We backed the van up against a babbling brook where a few ducks checked in to say hi, and then we were off on a hike around Lake Alexandrina. After a dip in the lake, Thomas grilled outside and dinner was served brookside on our little camp table. So far, we’re both loving this camper van plan.

Two days with Adie

Posted on January 12, 2014

Wellington, New Zealand: Our weekend tour guide was a 3-year old Spoodle (Cocker Spaniel & Poodle mix) named Adie. This sweet pup crafted a comprehensive tour of the city, which included time spent in both Eastbourne, a beautiful residential area of Wellington, as well as Mount Victoria which provided 360-degree views of the city.

On Saturday, Adie and her parents took us along the water over to Eastbourne, where we hiked Butterfly Creek. We crested the ridge to even more striking views of the city (notice the trend…spectacular views of this incredible city at every turn), and then descended into the valley. We set up camp along the water where Adie could swim and the adults could picnic. And then after filling our bellies and hiking back down the mountain, we went for a bay swim. We drank rosé on the beach and couldn’t get over the simultaneous sun & moon in the sky at 7:30pm.

Sunday came and Adie suggested brunch at the Maranui Surf Life Saving Club where we sat along the water and enjoyed views south of the city and of Lyall Bay. Afterward, we drove up to Mt Vic for the 360-degree views but nearly got blown over by the wind. Some cooler weather was heading in from Antarctica, so we quickly made it off the lookout point and hiked our way down so Thomas could shoot some spectacular pines along the hillside.