After disembarking from the ferry that took us to Picton, we started our visit of the south island of New Zealand strong with an amazing drive along The French Pass. All the way at the top to the island, it is the most breathtaking road we drove, with a view over the coastal green mounts and fiords that give into the Tasman Sea. It was a long drive to get there but with a rewarding sunset and a gorgeous morning view over a peaceful bay and with just a few people living there.
In the 20 days that we spent in the south island, we started all the way at the top, headed toward Abel Tasman national park for a nice walk before driving all the way to Farewell Point, a 12km long beach with sand dunes we walked along under rain and wind.
On the way, we stopped at Anatoki Salmon fishing in Takaka, a really cool place that provides with all the equipment to fish your own salmon for free. You only pay for the actual catch 24$/kg. That’s how I caught my very own salmon, a beautiful 1,5kg fish. Adrien was brave enough to kill it before we had it smoked at the restaurant of that place. Delicious experience! Even if it was a long time fishing under the rain and I almost cried when we had to kill Smoky (yes, we gave a name to the fish….)
After the north, we drove towards the west cost and stopped in a town on the way to watch the first half of the All Blacks vs. South America rugby game in a pub. We found a cosy place to watch South America miserably loosing…
Greymouth was a half day stop story. It was poring rain leaving us not much better to do than hanging out in a café to get an internet connection and charge our laptop batteries, after what we hit the road again hoping to find better weather in the Glaciers areas. And lluckily, we did! We walked to Josef and Fox Glaciers on a grey but dry day. Now, not that we were disappointed but after having seen the glaciers of Argentina and Chile, truth be told we were not that impressed. We were actually more impressed to see where those glaciers stood a few hundreds of years ago and thinking that in a few more hundred years they might not exist any more…
We took the Haast Pass all the way to Wanaka lake and slept somewhere in the middle of the mountains on the way. That’s where we discovered our new hate: Sand Flies.
Wanaka was incredible! A beautiful lake surrounded by the mountains. We had a great hiking day to the top of Roy’s Peak that gave us a precious view on the area. We also had our coldest night in the POW in a freedom campsite at the bottom of the mountains, but waking up with a view on the snowy peaks was priceless!
We continued our road trip with a short stay in Queenstown and Fiordland National Park. We didn’t make it all the way up to Milford Sound which but decided to continue our trip on the east coast passing through Invervargill, Catlins Forest Park, Dunedin and finally Moeraki beach to see the strange formations of round rocks on the beach (which we are still convinced are not rocks but some sort of Alien eggs…).
On our last week, we headed back towards the inlands, to the lakes Pukaki and Tekapo from which we were able cast a glance at Mount Cook. During the time we were there, there were some very strong winds coming all the way from Tasmania (so we heard on the radio). We had one terrible night in the van, being woken up by a storm and almost praying that the van would not fall over pushed by the wind!
Finally, our last days were spent in the Ashburton Lakes region. We hiked around Mount Somers trail one day and Mount Sunday another (also known as “Edoras” in LOTR). Probably another of our favourite places in NZ!
And here we are, day 31 of our NZ trip, sitting in Christchurch at McDonalds once again (thank you for the free wifi!!). It seems like yesterday only we were picking up our POW!
It is hard to summarise our month in New Zealand in just two blog articles, a lot of stories are left unsaid, but that’s just to have more to tell when we come back!
But in short: we absolutely love the country, loved the friendly people, loved all the animals (except for Sand Flies), it’s a great country to travel around with a camper and September was the perfect month to do it after all! Mixed weather, not too cold, not too warm and some really nice sunny days. And the greatest thing of all: september is low season, which means a lot of places in freedom campsites and we spent 2000euros less than what we had originally planed to spend (1000/person)!
Now a new adventure awaits for us! And it is called Australia!!