We’ve come to the end of our five week trip of New Zealand’s South Island, so it’s no surprise that we’ve been hit with a bit of reflection.
We’ve travelled over 6000km starting in Dunedin and finishing in Picton. We’ve argued over directions eight times, even with sat nav! We’ve visited 46 different places. We’ve seen the extreme South of the mainland (Slope Point) and the far North (Farewell Spit). We’ve watched the sun rise over the Eastern shores and set over Western waters. The map below shows our route.
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We’ve each slept in 13 different beds. We’ve had our first experience of staying in a youth hostel as a family - much to the surprise of some of us, it was pretty good, albeit a bit nerve wracking every time we saw a jar of peanut butter. We may even do it again sometime. Mr T has got his bach booking skills down pat and become quite a master at getting excellent rates, so that’s been our main accommodation while we’ve been moving around. We’ve also stayed in a couple of motels and one hotel, but it was no Ritz, believe me! We made one accommodation stuff up, but one's not so bad, in the grand scheme of things, and it meant that we added Akaroa to our list of places visited, which was definitely a good thing. I’m still hankering after a campervan experience and trying to work out how to achieve that.
The littlest hobo has coped with the changes in our lifestyle well, and for the most part seems to be enjoying it. We've managed well with her allergies and intollerences, as long as we made sure we stocked up on oat milk in bigger towns we didn't have any problems. Her asthma and cough seemed better when we were in rural areas, and I am glad to say that the epipens remain snuggled in their packaging. When I asked her what her favourite things in New Zealand were she said 'playing and cafés', but I know from the look on her face that Penguin Place, the Queenstown luge, Hamner Springs thermal spa and staying on the farm in Tasman all ticked the boxes for her. We were all very fond of Queenstown, with so much to see and do in and around there (and the blog posts about that are still to come... we were too busy experiencing it all to write about it at the time) plus we had warm, comfortable, well equipped accommodation with amazing views, which is always a bonus.
|The view from our Queenstown apartment made staying in quite appealing|
We’ve encountered yellow eyed and blue penguins, sealions and seals, two gigantic sperm whales, a pot bellied pig, chooks, goats, horses, cows and approximately three million two hundred and eighty nine thousand and seventeen sheep. We’ve been bitten by more sandflies than I care to remember, and have the war wounds to prove it.
|Cows and sandfly in the middle of a long white cloud|
We’ve munched our way through seventy two inches of Subway seven dollar sandwiches, and at least one of us thinks that that is quite enough for now, thank you. We’ve also enjoyed our fair share of eggs, veges, fruit and milk fresh from farms we’ve stayed on and roadside stalls, and this is something that I love.
I've made over 1600 photographs, and so far the netbook is still standing under the weight of it all. That's a hefty slideshow that somebody will have to sit through at some point.
We’ve spent roughly NZ$8000 which is only $1,500 over our original (and possibly slightly unrealistic) budget.
On more than one occasion we’ve been convinced that ‘the land of the long white cloud’ is a truly apt name for this enchanting landscape. Our best view was over Lake Wakatipu on the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy - actually, that was my favourite view ever, not just in New Zealand.
Never have I experienced such diversity in such a small area - from the towering wonder of fjordland to the terrifying beauty of the glaciers and the sobering tragedy of Christchurch, all within a few short hours drive of each other. The glorious isolation and tranquillity that encapsulates you in the soft rolling hills of Tasman is an equally necessary part of the South Island experience alongside watching dusky dolphins dance along the Eastern shores and getting an adrenalin fix in Queenstown (on the luge, of course!).
I didn’t really appreciate mountains until I came to the South Island - the place is covered in them, but they are all so different, and that realisation has been a bit of an awakening. Seeing the mountains swathed in cloud which slowly burns away with the warmth of the sun is a fantastic way to start your day, as is dipping your feet into an icy cold glacial mountain stream.
You could drop a destination or two from our itinerary, but it wouldn’t be the same experience. You could do it in half the time, but then you wouldn’t really feel everywhere, just see it through a glass window. You could double the time we spent, and you wouldn’t be bored; we left most places wanting more, which is a good feeling to carry around with you.
New Zealand’s South Island was everything we expected and more. If it isn’t on your bucket list, it might be time to start reconsidering.