Deliberately we had planned our last stop in New Zealand to be Christchurch. For many, many years I have wanted to see the city. Ever since I was a boy I have been fascinated by the south pole and polar expeditions. Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and of course the norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who eventually ended up being the first man to reach the south pole. The two brits, Scott and Shackleton, both embarked from Christchurch about a century ago and since then the city has been the international center for scientific expeditions to Antarctica and the south pole. Hence my interest in visiting the city.
Viewing entries in
As we suddenly realized that we had a whole extra week more than expected, we grabbed the chance to once again see some of the places that we have liked the most here on the south island. Obviously we have always known our departure date, so it wasn’t actually completely unexpected that we had more days than we thought. It was kind of a “mental” thing... We had been rushing a bit and suddenly we realized that we didn’t have to.
After some very nice days in Waitaki Waters and in Oamaru we drove a few hundred kilometers further north, and ended up in the small town of Hanmer Springs. We actually hadn’t planned to drive this far in just one day, but as soon as we were on the highway, things went really well and with good pace, so within just a few hours we were there.
We have spent the last week or so by driving towards the central (inland) part of the south island. After Dunedin we drove to Alexandra - that is the name of the city - which turned out to be just a small town of little interest to us. It did, however, have one of the largest camping grounds we have seen, albeit a very worn down one of that. Anyway, we stayed there for just one night and then we drove directly towards our actual target: Mount Cook - the highest mountain in New Zealand.
After Queenstown and the breathtaking scenery of the Otago region, we drove further south towards Fiordland. It actually looks very much like the western part of Norway, with its fiords, where the steep cliffs abruptly meets the ocean and creates narrow but deep waters. We wanted to see Milford Sound which is a particularly beautiful fiord. Turquoise meltwater, grey rock and deep green rainforest all in one place.
We have arrived in Queenstown, in the region of Otago. It is one of the more central and strategic cities here on the south island. It is also the “Kitzbühel” or “St. Anton” of New Zealand, if not the entire Australasia. This is a paradise for adrenalin junkies. And there is plenty to do if you are into that kind of thing. Jet-boat trips on the local lake. Bungee-jump from bridges in the mountains. Various ski- and snowboard disciplines on the slopes around the city.
During our entire journey through New Zealand the landscape around us has changed almost by the hour. Mountains with permanent snow on top, rain forests with hundreds of different, green shades and endless beaches with the finest sand imaginable. All this within just one hour of driving with the campervan.
We have said goodbye to the north island. We left by ferry from Wellington and sailed to the south island, where we will be staying the rest of our time here in New Zealand.
I can hardly remember the last time I traveled by ferry! During my entire childhood, back in Denmark, this was an essential part of all my holidays. My whole family lived in rural Jutland, and as almost all holidays included visits there, ferries were our only way to get there. It meant bad and burnt coffee, old buns with dry cheese and omelets with rye-bread in the side. All ridiculously overpriced!
We have spent the past couple of days in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. It is a rather small capital with only around 400.000 inhabitants. The city is located in a “pot” with mountains at all sides where it does not meet the ocean. The total, geographical area is limited, which makes it an easy and foreseeable holiday destination. You will only need about a day to get a good feeling for the layout and to know where all the major highlights are located.
After our visit to Ninety Mile Beach we decided to stay for one night at the very top of New Zealand. Not far from Cape Reinga there is a campsite right by a small, isolated and very beautiful, white beach. There is no power and only cold water in the outdoor showers. You pay the overnight fees (6 NZ Dollars per adult per night) by putting money in small envelopes and dumping them into a small postbox. All per trust... It is run by the Department of Conservation, and all money goes to maintenance and wildlife preservation.