During the last two weeks I almost traveled through the whole South Island and it was absolutely amazing! On Friday the 21th of December my journey began by flying to Christchurch early in the morning. After I arrived there I firstly relaxed a bit after the exhausting flight and then my first spot were the famous Botanic Gardens in Christchurch! Especially the Rose Garden was stunning and additionally I really enjoyed the narrow river that goes through the Garden! In the afternoon I went to the Quake City museum that deals with the severe earthquake that happened in Christchurch back in 2011.
On the next morning my journey continued to Kaikoura, where we arrived after three hours of driving! Immediately after we arrived we went to a Whale Watching station, where we hopped on a boat that brought us on sea! After ten minutes of driving through the rough sea almost everybody was already suffering with seasickness caused by the huge waves! Nevertheless we already saw a few sperm whales after a short drive and for this reason the seasickness was quickly forgotten !
On the next day we continued driving to Kaiteriteri that is a small village located next to the Abel Tasman National Park. We were not lucky with the weather at all, because it was pouring all the time! Additionally we didn’t have the opportunity to see the actual Abel Tasman National Park, because we arrived in Kaiteriteri late and went on the next day! Even though we were all a bit disappointed by that, we ate dinner in a very nice restaurant located next to the beach, because for us Europeans it was Christmas Eve! Directly after that we went to sleep with full tummies, to be ready for the early departure on the next day!
The next morning was the actual Christmas celebration for the Kiwis and we heard Christmas songs in the bus all the way to Westport, a small village on the West Coast! We stayed there in a small surfer hostel that is run by two professional surfers! For this reason the majority of our group went either surfing or stand up paddling in the afternoon, because you were able to hire boards there! Me and some friends decided to do a SUP session and it was really worth it, even though I fell in the cold water once.
After an almost sleepless night, as a result of noisy people in our dorm, we continued our journey to the Lake Mahinapua. Our hostel there was literally located in the Middle of Nowhere, but we still had direct a beach access and only a short way to the beautiful lake! After we enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the beach, we had a really funny costume party going on that night!
The next morning everybody was kind of hangover and tired, but we still continued our way to the Franz Josef Glacier! During the bus drive we already decided that we wanted to do the Heli Hike on the Franz Josef Glacier, which contains a helicopter flight on top of the Glacier and a guided 3 hours hike there! Even though the Heli Hike was really expensive, it was definitely worth the price! The helicopter flight over the mountains and on top of the glacier was absolutely breathtaking! Additionally the hike on the glacier felt unreal and was for sure a once in a lifetime experience! I never saw such a huge amount of ice before and I’m still wondering how the glacier is able to survive in between all the mountains! The next day we still stayed in Franz Josef, because some people did sky diving on that day! We just relaxed and went hiking in the bush!
On the next day our following destination was the Lake Wanaka, where we arrived in the late afternoon after we made a few stops at some waterfalls and the famous Pancake Rocks! I directly liked the scenery of the lake that is surrounded by mountains! For this reason we spent the rest of the evening in front of the lake with nice snacks and drinks! Some people even went for a swim in the lake, but I felt more comfortable just in front of the lake!
Our next destination than was Queenstown! Everybody was excited about that city, because it is known as the “capital of adrenaline” in New Zealand, additionally it was our location for New Years! As we arrived in Queenstown, it was definitely smaller than expected and it was already super crowded, because of New Years Eve coming up! For this reason I was a bit disappointed, because I had really high expectations concerning that city! It still had a beautiful scenery, because the city kind of surrounds a lake and has a beautiful mountain chain in the background, but in general I just expected more! The next day my personal highlight was coming up, the day trip to the Milford Sound! First of all we had to drive through the Fjordland National Park and the mountain scenery there was unbelievable! Because of heavy rain in the morning, there were hundreds of waterfalls coming from the summits of the mountains! Additionally it was really foggy and that emphasized the mystery atmosphere even more! As we arrived at the Milford Sound, I was even more impressed by the scenery of the lake that goes through the mountains! We hopped on a boat there and made a boat trip through the Milford Sound! The combination of waterfalls, mountains, a beautiful lake and the fog was breathtaking! I took thousands of photos and I couldn’t stop smiling, because I was so glad to see such a spectacle of nature! As we arrived at the hostel after a long day, we had to change quickly for the upcoming New Years! We went partying only until midnight, because it was super crowded in the clubs and you weren’t even able to move! In my opinion New Years in Queenstown is overestimated and only the firework at midnight was special!
The next day we continued our journey to one of our last stops! We drove to the Lake Tekapo, after we made a short stop in between at the Lake Pukaki with his crystal clear blue water! Our hostel was directly located next to the lake and we were able to see the lake out of our room! The rest of the day we just relaxed in front of the Lake Tekapo and watched the stunning sunset in the evening! Additionally we were able to the thousands of stars in the sky during night and it was absolutely amazing! The next morning we woke up extra early, so that we were able to see the sunrise and it was definitely worth the lack of sleep! After that we drove back to Christchurch, where my whole journey began! On the 4th of January I took the plane back to Auckland super early.
All in all, I’m more than thankful that I was able to do the trip to the South Island! I saw so many beautiful places and met a lot of amazing people from all over the world! From now on I’m even more keen to explore the beauty of New Zealand!